Transformative Thinking Blog Entry #8 – Cradle to Cradle

The term “Cradle-to-Cradle” was coined by William McDonough. He explains it from a scientific view where the universe is always increasing in entropy. However, nature somehow always finds a balance and creates a closed-cycle loop. The way McDonough explains cradle-to-cradle is by thinking of waste as food. By doing so, one can design products and systems with the intention of reusing the waste products as something else.

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Biological Nutrition

His biological cycle consists of 4 steps: Manufacture, Product Use,Decomposition, Biological Nutrients. The idea is that materials are not consumed, but instead “borrowed” and need to be later returned to mother Earth. Furthermore, the Cradle-to-Cradle model also encourages the use of renewable energy only. Using renewable energy means you can use it endlessly.

Technical Nutrition

Technical nutrition consists of materials that can be continuously recycled. These materials do not have to be continuously used by the same company. Interface’s carpets is one such product, as they recycle the old carpet to make new carpet. They also use recycled car wind shields to make parts of their carpet.

Does this System Work? 

In short, yes. The Cradle-to-Cradle concept encourages recycling and the use of renewable energy. The goal is to create a zero-emission environment where we stop destroying the environment in which we live in. However, the cradle-to-cradle model does not reach the ideal stage of design, which is regenerative design. It is when the product/system can actually restore and improve the environment.

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