Summary of Cradle to Cradle

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Cradle to Cradle book summary


8 Overall

6 Applicability

10 Innovation

8 Style


This is an extraordinary and unlikely book. It is not printed on paper, but on a waterproof polymer with the heft of good paper and more strength, a substance that reflects the right amount of light, yet holds the ink fast. It seems like an impossible fantasy, but so does much of what the authors propose about design and ecology. They speak with the calm certainty of the ecstatic visionary. Could buildings generate oxygen like trees? Could running shoes release nutrients into the earth? It seems like science fiction. Yet, here is this book, on this paper. The authors make a strong case for change, and just when you’re about to say, "if only," they cite a corporation that is implementing their ideas. However, it’s hard to believe their concepts would work on a large scale, in the face of powerful economic disincentives. The authors do aim some of their criticism at obsolete marketing and manufacturing philosophies, but, says, the overall critique is well worth reading.

In this summary, you will learn

  • A fascinating new way of thinking about ecologically harmonious design, or
  • The wooly-headed daydream of a couple of green geeks. Which you learn is up to you.

About the Authors

Time magazine recognized William McDonough, architect, as a "Hero of the Planet" in 1999. He has also received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, the U.S.’s highest environmental honor. Michael Braungart, chemist, founded the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) in Hamburg, and formerly directed the chemical section of Greenpeace. He has received numerous awards, honors and fellowships.



This Page is Not Paper
Every day you expose yourself to poison. You do things that cause pollution. You use products and services whose design makes destruction of the ecosystem inevitable: the chair you sit in, the computer you use, your shoes. You wear clothes made by exploited Third...

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  • The Upcycle

    William McDonough and Michael Braungart

    North Point Press, 2013


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