If you’ve read “Cradle to Cradle” and you come here regularly, chances are you’ll be as excited as I am to learn about the sequel : ‘The Upcycle”.
10 years ago William McDonough and Michael Braungart published one of the most important environmental manifestos of our time.
Based on biomimetics, Cradle to Cradle design is an approach to the design of products and systems. It models human industry on nature’s processes viewing materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. The book states that:
“All products can be designed for continuous recovery and reutilization”.
Every product can and should be conceived with the reuse of its materials in mind and every material can and should be conceived to be used again. Just like in nature, nothing goes to waste.
If you have not read it, McDonough’s TED talk Cradle to Cradle design will probably make you want to give it a go.
In their newest book The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance, McDonough and Braungart go further than ‘Cradle to cradle’ saying that we should be ambitious about our role on this planet.
“Industry can do better than “do no harm”: it can actively improve everything with which it comes into contact.”
Thus the title, The Upcycle. Upcycling is about converting waste materials or useless products into better materials or better products. We should not just protect the planet from ourselves but redesign our activity to improve the planet.
Easier said than done ? Well just as in Cradle to Cradle McDonough and Braungart bring in case studies from their own work and they envision beneficial designs of products, buildings, and business practices—and they show us these ideas being put to use around the world as everyday objects like chairs, cars, factories and the Hoover dam are being reinvented not just to sustain life on the planet but to grow it.