Despite all the good that has come out of the industrial revolution, it has also produced unintended negative consequences which are becoming more apparent over time. A book by German chemist Michael Braungart and architect William McDonough has shown the dramatic effects and the changes needed to change the Cradle-to-Grave method to a more environmentally friendly Cradle-to-Cradle model.
Cradle-to-Grave is also known as the life cycle analysis, which is the evaluation of the environmental impacts of a given product to when it becomes waste. At its heart, the industrial revolution is built on a linear, take-make-waste model of material flows. All this waste pollutes the air, water, and soil and valuable or recyclable materials are lost to incineration or landfill.
Cradle-to-Cradle is the assessment, where the waste step for the products is used in an eco-friendly recycling process to create goods and services of ecological, social and economic value. This model designs ways to demonstrate practical ways to change the design of the world.
A company in Oregon is setting a benchmark for organisations to evolve change from Cradle-to-Grave to Cradle-to-Cradle methods and practices by carefully dismantling buildings and homes. Furniture like cabinets, and other household necessities such as windows, doors etc, are all resold. Any aluminium can be sold for scrap as nails and glued backing make it impractical to remove intact. Designed homes that avoid glues and rely mainly on screws make the disassembly process more practical. The Japanese tend to build their homes from minimal timber which slot into each piece. If the concrete house foundations cannot be reused they can be crushed to make substrate for roads.
We all need to make changes in our own lives to help make the Cradle-to-Cradle model work to help the longevity of this planet. This was evident in analysing buildings. As a designer we need to avoid such mistakes as solving a five-minute problem but instead, trying to design with a fifty year solution.