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Publisher's Summary

"Reduce, reuse, recycle," urge environmentalists. In other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in this provocative book that this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates back to the Industrial Revolution, a model that casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. They challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world.

Why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective. "Waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new - either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are).

Elaborating their principles from experience redesigning everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.

©2002 William McDonough and Michael Braungart (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An inspiring reminder that humans are capable of much more elegant environmental solutions than the ones we've settled for in the last half-century." ( Publishers Weekly)
"A readable provocative treatise that 'gets outside the box' in a huge way. Timely and inspiring." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about Cradle to Cradle

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

a step ahead

McDonough and Braungart lay out a good case for designing products so that everything can be reused once the product is beyond its useful life. Moreover, they are big fans of upcycling rather than downcycling, which they explain well. Narration is solid.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Must listen/read!

Easy to listen to! Demonstrates opportunities to create/consume in a productive rather than destructive way. Very relevant to the world we live in today.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Execution

I learned a lot about the cradle to cradle method regarding materialistic goods. I found this book to be very helpful in raising awareness for the environment, and how I may or may not be deliberately contributing harm towards the envirnement. The narrator did a phenomenal job! This book was very information heavy and was difficult to follow at times. With that said, I have to listen to this book again to pick up what I've missed. This is the reason why I'm rating it 4 stars instead of 5. Despite the difficulties of following, I still highly recommend this book for those looking to improve their lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly or to gain a deeper understand of reduse, reuse, and recycle.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Monotone and dry

I didn't finish this book even though it is quite short. It simply couldn't hold my attention or interest for long enough.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not What I Expected

Every year, I pick a topic to read and learn about. This year’s topic was sustainability. Friends who are well-versed and well-read in this area recommended this book as a good starting point, so I expected it to provide more theory and fewer anecdotal examples. It’s an interesting read and a thoughtful perspective, but definitely leans on the latter to make its point, which weakens its arguments.

Maybe it’s just me, but I also found the narrator’s tone a bit...pedantic? Not a huge deal, but it clashes somewhat with the authors’ relatively humble and practical message.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Should be a world wide requirement all businesses

so important. I hope this book gets out to all business leaders and as quickly as possible

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Im still amazed

This is one of the best books I ve read, though it provides tons of details it is very easy to understand. Sustainability is now the future and the only way. Here you learn to breakdown the cycles from scratch and understand all and that is the part that wows me . I could read it again easily. Plus is enjoyable and provides so much insight in many aspects of life.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great

Great book with great ideas! I would highly recommend this book to any aspiring environmentalists!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Book, Sub-par Narrator

I came across this book as a tenth grader and found the first few pages mind-blowing at the time. After finally listening to it, years later, in full, I am still quite impressed. The concepts discussed are fascinating, and more importantly, NECESSARY TO IMPLEMENT, if there is to be any hope of future quality of life on planet Earth.

I say all that with the small disclaimer that the tone and choice of words do carry a white/western/male perspective. I include that, not to disparage that perspective, but to remind people that other perspectives do exist. Contributions from various perspectives should be included in the conversations and research surrounding sustainability, as the book itself subtly acknowledges.

Regret to say that the much-needed message of the book is a little overshadowed by the reader's inflection, which isn't monotonous, exactly, but repetitive. It makes paying attention more difficult, and the replayability virtually non-existent, for me. I have since obtained physical copies of both this book and its successor, "The Upcycle".

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Good Idea, but little more

I read this when a friend was looking into joining an Intentional Community and this was one of the books on their suggested reading list. This is a bit long for the amount of information presented. The basic idea is simple; we can now use technology to create products that are designed to be fully reusable after they outlive the original use. This seems a bit simple and obvious, but it is not quite as simple as it sounds. The authors do not ignore the difficulties of successfully marketing, and they give a few examples, but they don’t provide a lot of specifics or strategies.

I did not find this book worth my time, simply because, once you get the simple idea, there is little more presented except a few examples with the various difficulties and successes involved.

The narration is good, but not great.