The Upcycle by Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart

Discussion in 'Book Reviews and Useful Articles' started by Doug, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. Doug

    Doug Administrator 2013 Industrial Waste Survey Participant

    Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart have just released The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance . The book is the next step in the "Cradle-to-Cradle" journey by the same authors. The best part of the book is that it is an antidote to the doomsday sustainability folks that say we (and the planet) are screwed by our over consumption. Upcycle calls for a rethinking of how we design products so that they can be put through the maximum number of positive life-cycles. A main part of the book is that the game is won or lost at the product design phase. That we as product developers needs to consider the next possible phases of the products we create. A repeated theme is that there is no "shortage" of anything. The things we need are simply in the wrong place or in the wrong state. As an example the book points to is CO2. It is too simplistic, the authors claim, to think if this as just a polluting greenhouse gas. In the ground or in a factory process or as plant food CO2 is extremely valuable and productive.

    A shortcoming of the book is that it is short on real life examples - not withstanding President Bill Clinton praises of their lifetime of work as practical useful ideas that can be implemented now. The best example of abundance offered is solar hot water heating and therefore the ability to take as many long hot showers as we like without worrying about energy consumption.

    The book was refreshingly positive after reading The Responsible Company: What We've Learned From Patagonia's First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard - a self professed pessimist-leader on sustainability. McDonough and Braungart layout an uplifting and positive path forward that could keep all of us busy designing for "abundance" for a long, long time.
    Andy likes this.
  2. Andy

    Andy Administrator Waste Min Publisher 2013 Industrial Waste Survey Participant

    That's a very thoughtful review... Thanks Doug!

    If there is one struggle I've had, it's that most of the books/resources out there now are long on theory and short on practical ideas/case studies. Also, a lot of "selling", not so much "doing."

    That's why this Forum exists... for all of us share those best practices and case studies that ACTUALLY help reduce waste and save money. The rubber has to meet the road somewhere!