- Paperback: 227 pages
- Publisher: North Point Pr; 1st edition (16 April 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0865477485
- ISBN-13: 978-0865477483
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 21.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Upcycle Paperback – 16 Apr 2013
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"Asking how a cherry tree would design an energy-efficient building is only one of the creative 'practices' that McDonough and Braungart spread before their readers. This book will give you renewed hope that, indeed, 'it is darkest before the dawn.'" --Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club on Cradle to Cradle
"[McDonough and Braungart are] masters of holistic environmentalism . . . [They] have a knack for combining big ideas with commonsense practicality, which leaves readers feeling excited about the future." --Bruce Barcott, Outside Magazine on Cradle to Cradle
About the Author
William McDonough is an American architect and founding principal of William McDonough + Partners. Michael Braungart is a German chemist. Together they cofounded McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, and in 2002 they coauthored Cradle to Cradle.
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I really like the idea of this, go back to the start redesign your process to adhere to a “Triple Bottom Line” according to your values. But the last part of that sentence is where I get stuck, “According to your values” I'm of the strong belief that most companies are amoral, and are going to do whatever they can to make money now. Unless, they are being led by someone who is able to steer them towards this mythical “Triple Bottom Line”. This becomes more troublesome when the company is a public company. With all that said, I do believe that the premise of this book is entirely achievable, but it's going to take a major philosophical change. We need design for perpetual use, not just for first use.
Some quick points about the book
1. The book takes a negative stance towards environmental regulations despite the good that they do.
2. In regards to point #1, the authors are in the business of selling the sustainability idea to business executives that are not too fond of regulatory requirements.
3. Sometimes the examples are overly simplistic for something as complicated of a change as the authors are proposing.
4. Much of what they authors are proposing are conventional wisdom, renewable energy, non-toxic manufacturing, design for re-use.
This is a well written book that may be simplistic on purpose. Once businesses decide to take the reusable design road there will be many obstacles to over come and that will be their job, not the authors in this case. There is an inertia problem with companies currently, and the time and cost for a large company to move down the renewable route is something many of them cannot afford.
William McDonough, an American architect, and Michael Braungart, a German chemist, combined to write Cradle to Cradle (C2C). C2C, published in 2002, discusses product design, with emphasis on materials utilization efficiency in an environmental context. C2C proposes that product design consider negative effects, especially toxicity, to humans and the natural world at every step in the product's value chain, including disposition when the product is no longer useful. In essence, C2C goes beyond "cradle to grave" design, which ends at a landfill or an incinerator, to "cradle to cradle" design, where non-toxic materials are reclaimed, recycled or reused in generation after generation of products.
Recently, the same two authors published The Upcycle. The Upcycle isn't really a sequel to C2C. Rather, as its title implies, it is an expansion on C2C, based on experience -- in this case, two decades of experience. Think of The Upcycle as another generation of the same product, rather like release 1.0 and release 2.0 of a software package.
Here are a few of the key ideas from The Upcycle:
>> More good, rather than less bad: The general approach to environmental impacts and human well-being is to do less bad -- reduce atmospheric emissions, reduce industrial accidents and reduce waste to landfill, for example. The Upcycle asserts that reduction, even reduction to zero, isn't sufficient. Production should aim beyond shrinking its negative footprint on the world to producing an increasing positive footprint. Where the term "sustainability" confers a sense of steady state, "upcycle" suggests continuing improvement, product generation over product generation
>> Design as a latchkey to abundance: I bought The Upcycle because of its subtitle: Beyond Sustainability -- Designing for Abundance. The book proposes that design -- tangible product design, as well as process and systems design -- can lead to upcycling, and that an emphasis on upcycling leads away from a world of scarcity to a world of abundance.
>> "Biosphere" vs. "Technosphere": The Upcycle distinguishes between the "biosphere" -- the natural world and its biological cycles -- and the "technosphere" -- the realm of the synthetic. Natural products and natural cycles provide models for design within the technosphere. However, the recovery processes in the two spheres differ significantly, such that mixing natural materials with synthetic materials in the same product may impair upcycling.
>> Regarding toxicity: C2C and The Upcycle both regard toxicity as both cumulative and pernicious. Cradle to cradle design relies on detailed assessment of the potential toxicology of all components of every material used in the manufacture of a product. The level of concern goes well beyond most governmental regulations on toxicity, as they existed at the beginning of the current century.
The Upcycle provides the term "enchanted skepticism", which describes my general reaction to that book. Many of the ideas are fascinating. I'm quite convinced that radical improvements in materials utilization, across product generations, are possible. Recent product and process design innovations in the automobile industry and in building construction present interesting cases in point, although The Upcycle affords little attention to either. However, favorable examples are one thing. Broad practicability across a wide range of manufactured products may be another.
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