Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cradle to Cradle - A book review

I've been in an eco-book mood lately and have hungrily been "eating up" any of the recommended environmentally-inspired books that my local library current has in its collection. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, having been out for 7 years, has certainly received it shared of rave reviews. Finally, I had the chance to experience it myself.

Immediately impressive was the fact that this book is not actually made of paper (trees everywhere applaud), but rather of plastic resins and inorganic fillers making it waterproof, durable, and recyclable (into a product of equal quality). The material was developed by a manufacturer who dared to think outside the box, which is truly what this book is about - rethinking the manufacturing of the products we all enjoy.

To be honest, I was initially hesitant as I read through the early chapters which included 'Why being "less bad" is no good' - basically the general environmental efforts to date only slows the rate waste instead of eliminating all together, that cutting back (which I advocate myself) just doesn't solve the problem.

Now prepared to hate the rest of the book, I was instead pleasantly surprised at the thoughtfulness that was actually being promoted - not just rethinking the overall system, but rethinking each part of the process, making each power plant, each manufacturing process unique to its location and, in the processes, supporting local economies. And there I was back on track.

With wonderful examples of how both McDonough and Braungart have already started working with large companies to make products that actually benefit nature (not just create "no impact" but positive impact), Cradle to Cradle is an inspiration to anyone looking to make changes to the bigger picture of human consumption.

Personally, I prefer books geared towards what the individual can do to make a difference (working with individuals vs. system), but even for those of us who prefer this individual level inspiration, Cradle to Cradle is a great reminder that we need to challenge our assumptions about consumption, to think outside the box.

Check it out!


JAM said...

Heather, This book sounds interesting - I've just requested it from the library - thanks for the review.

hmd said...

JAM - Anytime! I'm a book-o-holic so there's always more to come :)

Lisa said...

Thanks for the review! This is the one I have thought about reading.