Monday, May 26, 2008

JADE - cradle to cradle:cradle to grave

It is time for our society to change the way we live, work, travel, design, build and consume. To think that we are doing our part simply by driving a hybrid car and recycling our paper, bottles, and cans is a risky illusion. For years, environmentalists have been telling us to do more with less in order to change our dangerous situation. We are going to have change the way we design products, industries and cities. The recycling methods we use today are inefficient and only serve to enable the “cradle-to-grave” manufacturing model that we’ve been using for hundreds of years.

In “Cradle to Cradle” production all material inputs and outputs are seen as technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality and biological nutrients composted or consumed. At the end of a product's useful life, the materials become "food" for other systems. Cradle to grave, on the other hand, refers to a company taking responsibility for the disposal of goods it has produced, but not inevitably putting products’ components back into service.Their main point is that we can be "wasteful" if the products we produce all go back into nature or are entirely reborn as new products. Using a cherry tree as an example, they note how "wasteful" it is. Each year it dumps a great pile of fruit and leaves on the ground to rot. But all of this waste goes back into nature to be reborn as new trees, bacteria, birds and other parts of the natural ecosystem. According to the authors, we should try to imitate this natural system instead of trying to do more with less.

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