Monday, September 6, 2010

Cradle to Cradle

Day 210 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project and my son is reading Cradle to Cradle for his design class in college because the teacher was wise enough to use the students' lab fees to provide this wonderful text. Subtitled Remaking the Way We Make Things, it is a completely waterproof and highly durable book by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, an architect and a chemist who advocate making high quality products in safe ways and to eliminate harmful waste that comes not only from many production processes but also from some forms of "recycling."

My son's example is that making carpet from recycled plastic bags just makes a carpet that 1) involved toxins in its making and 2) will still end up undecomposable on a dump.

These guys advocate stuff like edible plastic bags, non-toxic materials, soil-based roofs, and designing "eco-effective" products from the start, not the "down-cycling" that is a re-use of eco-ineffective products.

I am so glad that my son is getting this exposure to a kind of environmentally aware kind of industrial design as part of his education! Seems to me the USA would surely benefit from a return to an ethic that respects the product, the worker, and the customer, and involve everyone in the making of something they can be proud of, reversing the current practices of making the cheap/disposable/designed-to-go-obsolete product that disrespects the worker and the customers and junks up the environment. I hope we don't just "go green" in the pseudo-jump-on-the-bandwagon way that simply continues business as usual, which would just give us greed combined with "feel good" green labels. We know better, but we don't always do better. Sigh....

Meanwhile, my daughter is also learning about food health issues, but when I recommend Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, she rolls her eyes and says, "Don't tell me to read about food!" Her brother laughs and says, "You read about food all the time on the Internet!" Etc., etc. They are both learning good stuff at school, in whatever ways they read, listen, learn, and think.

And the rocking boat cradle is from Nerd Approved!


Susan said...

Maybe your daughter would like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver?

Also: I too, am troubled by the corporate co-opting of "going green." *sigh*

Kathleen said...

Yes, this would be another good book choice. We have one at Babbitt's, so maybe I will snap it up and spring it on her.

Of course, I did this with The Elegance of the Hedgehog, too, to encourage some reading of fiction while she had time over the no avail...

Indeed, sigh.

David Schmitt said...

This was the cradle wherein Ahab was whelped. He was walloped elsewhere. Your son might also like to read Design for the Real World, by Victor Papanek. It's from some time ago, but still valuable.

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the recommendation, David.