Sunday, 28 November 2010

‘Cradle to Cradle’

This novel ‘Cradle to Cradle’ written by Michael Braungart and William McDonough focuses on how we can avoid environmental disaster. From reading this book it gives the reader a totally new perspective on the phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ which is so commonly used when discussing environmental issues. They challenge us to take a new, innovative approach, to turn your thinking around and instead of focusing on eco-efficiency to apply direct concentration on eco-effectiveness. It discusses many pressing issues which commonly aren’t thought about for example the real implications from recycling.

The key question posed within this book is how it is time for a paradigm shift from trying to make products ‘less bad’ and figure out how to be ‘good’ i.e. minimizing damage isn’t good enough. The authors discuss how up-cycling may be the secret answer to this global problem. We need to rethink our design processes.They discuss how the use of the ‘cradle to grave’ approach to product cycling which many environmentalists are using ends up producing waste and how this needs to transform into the ‘cradle to cradle’ approach which is a natural process. This approach enables the change of one material to enable and nourish another. A good example of this would be how the decomposition of a leaf enables nutrients to be released into the soil resulting in providing more encouragement of growth. This brings ‘cradle to cradle’ to the conclusion that waste simply does not need to exist.

Throughout the book the authors use various diverse examples and key sources to back up their theories and opinions which makes it easier to visualize just how important it is to take this suppressing matter so seriously.

I found the last chapter entitled “Putting Eco-Effectiveness into Practice” the most engaging and informative. We are told in this chapter Albert Einstein cleverly observed that if we are to solve the problems that plague us, our thinking must evolve beyond the level we were using when we created those problems in the first place. (M.Braungart & W.McDonough, 2009) It all seems to come back to being innovative to the highest possible level of our ability and through our creativity constantly challenging our design processes. Braungart and McDonough in this chapter have come up with 5 key methods with are vitally important in relation to putting eco-effectiveness into practice. We as upcoming designers need to address these ideas and take them onboard otherwise eco-efficiency will never fully transform into eco-effectiveness.

One of the main assumptions made by the authors in my opinion is that everyone is willing and ready to truly fight for these issues discussed in this book. They assume that every designer and consumer sees the need and has the desire to come together to combat this environmental problem rather than sit back and watch it slowly perpetuate. If we do take their approach and line of reasoning seriously a huge environmental transformation could potentially be reached which would sustain the precious world we live in today for many future generations. This could also have an enormous effect within design and how innovative we can become. We need to address the other side too, the implications for us if we fail to take the author’s line of reasoning seriously. If we ignore them I think it is pretty clean cut, if we continue using the worlds resources as we are now and wasting too much we are facing an environmental disaster which is mind blowing so much so I feel we could face an end to society concerning the worlds design industry.

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