The Cradle to Cradle Principle – What it Means to Us

Ever heard of the Cradle to Cradle principle? Or of “everything is food”? Imagine littering as something beneficial, where what you throw out actually fertilizes soil or breaks down completely. Where throwing away things helps instead of damages. Where everything is truly recycled, or better, upcycled and reused. Where buildings double as water cleaning habitats that create their own power to run. Impossible? Not! Two men joined to achieve just that, inspiring companies, corporations and governments to give their brilliant ideas a try.

As an introduction, watch William McDonough’s refreshing, candid, humorous and inspiring TED Talk about Cradle to Cradle Design:

Ready for more? Let McDonough & Braungart show you how far reaching their ideas are, and how they get applied, on ever increasingly larger scales, as seen with the Chinese example. To me, what they do is the present and the future, and it is ever so inspiring and impressive to see what’s possible. It doesn’t get any more “holistically holistic”! How can we jump on to this? A first step would be to simply know about Cradle to Cradle. A second, to support companies who embrace its philosophy. See some companies offering Cradle to Cradle products in the references below. As this list is likely incomplete, I invite you to research a little more, and to also ask the seller of a given product the simple question if it is based on the Cradle to Cradle principle. And if they don’t know about it, there’s your chance to educate and share the knowledge.   =)

How did McDonough and Braungart arrive at their philosophy? By asking high quality questions (“Why me?!” is certainly not one of them…): “How do we love all the children of all species for all time?” “How can we secure local society, create world peace, and save the environment?” And also, as their philosophy developed, by phrasing everything in the affirmative, positive. Silly? Not at all. Try it in your life and watch what happens. You’ll be amazed at how many times a negative thought crosses your mind. When it does, just immediately turn it into its positive equivalent. And with a bit of practice, you turn into a naturally positive person.  =)   This actually works. Why? Because you retrain yourself to thinking differently. Thoughts cause feelings – you’ll end up feeling a lot better in the process, too! Because less negative is only that: less negative, but NOT positive! It can never turn into positive. So entertaining positive thoughts to begin with is an excellent habit. That way, it only gets better and better. How great can it get? How does it get any better than that? Questions worth asking.   =)  Also, see the last video for a way to exemplify this for others. Bill McDonough does a beautiful job alerting us to the importance of language use in thought, speech, and life. Language does shape feelings and perception. Therefore, using it wisely makes the difference between inspiration and desperation, healing and illness, enthusiasm and boredom. Which would you rather live?

The Cradle to Cradle goal is:

“A delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world with clean air, water, soil and power – economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.”

And they are taking massive steps toward that, as mentioned above and shown below. I could not embed the video, so linking to it on Vimeo (click image). Enjoy and share! This is too good to not know about.

cradle to cradleMichael Braungart (top) & William McDonough


Lastly, I cannot resist sharing another video, that of The Upcycle book launch presentation by Bill McDonough. In it he shares how Cradle to Cradle design is driven by values, not metrics, how to use wind for growing strawberries, why it’s safe to eat your airbus seat in case of disliking airline food, and a new way of viewing products and services, where companies take back their products in order to reuse and recycle their components. So instead of throwing out your old carpet and turning it into an environmental burden (1.4 billion pounds each year in the US alone), you return it to the manufacturer who produces a brand new carpet from its materials. Basically, a customer provides a convenient, temporary storage facility of future company resources. Same for cell phones, computers, etc. Imagine! Awesome stuff. And it’s happening. Be part of it!

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Cradle to Cradle designed Books:

William McDonough & Michael Braungart. 2002. Cradle to Cradle – Remaking the Way We Make Things.    

William McDonough & Michael Braungart. 2013. The Upcycle.

William McDonough bio & Amazon page

Some Cradle to Cradle Companies & Products

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute – an overview of participating industries with over 200 products, as well as the C2C certification system, if you would like to register your product.

EDAG Light Car ~ A small C2C commuter car, especially great for city traffic. Rent it with your smart phone!

Gessner AG ~ Climatex Fabric: C2C material that does not emit harmful chemicals (outgassing).


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