Cradle-to-Cradle is a way of designing products to reduce environmental waste.
LUMA-iD are big believers in real change by good design. Well-designed products mean fewer products-for-landfill and a better world for us all.
A lot of modern day products are designed to a cradle-to-grave mentality. Think of the world of consumer electronics - ever year a new phone is released with built-in obsolescence, and most of which will end in a landfill. Cradle-to-grave is an unnatural process invented around the time of the industrial revolution, but it's not the only way. Architect William McDonough called for a new industrial revolution in his book Cradle-to-Cradle, and good industrial designers should embrace this alternative.
Rather than minimising the harm we inflict, we reframe design as beneficial and regenerative, creating ecological footprints to enjoy, not regret. Design should support a rich human experience with all that entails - fun, beauty, enjoyment, inspiration and poetry - and still encourages environmental health and abundance.
“Efficiency is simply good business.”
True sustainability comes from remaking the way in which we make things, not the day-to-day problem solving, abundant within ecological product design. Making truly good and lasting products is by nature better for the world, by eliminating built-in obsolescence. We must change our eco-efficiency thinking from ‘less bad’ to ‘more good’.
Cradle-to-Cradle Design Principles
Material Health - value materials as nutrients for safe, continuous cycling
Material Reutilization - maintain continuous flows of biological and technical nutrients
Renewable Energy - power all operations with 100% renewable energy
Water Stewardship - regard water as a precious resource
Social Fairness - celebrate all people and natural systems
In Cradle-to-Cradle, McDonough argues that all good design gives back to its 'cradle' - or source - as opposed to its 'grave' - landfill. For example, if the Styrofoam littering our landscape could instead contain seeds and be biodegradable with the nutrients to help the seeds grow.
‘We could even plant signs that say “Please Litter.”’
"This concept is precisely that of fruit – a seed container with nutrients for the seeds to flourish – so returning to the huge amounts of food waste we produce, it seems so simple to give food back to its cradle of soil." (Braungart, McDonough, 2009:140-141).
Since the release of Cradle-to-Cradle in 2009, the non-for-profit organisation The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute has been launched with the aim of certifying products and materials which fit into the Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy. For example, the example above from McDonough has since become true with Mushroom® Material, a Mycelium Styrofoam.