William McDonough on cradle to cradle
William McDonough, architect, author and pioneer of the circular economy talks to us about design principles for the creating in today’s world.
It’s called “Cradle to cradle” and it’s design thinking that marks a tremendous departure from the way we currently make and take things to market. It challenges the linear economy’s “business as usual” approach by closing the loop on “take, make, waste”. That is, to employ tactics and strategies that eliminate waste, upcycle materials or find a new lease of life on materials that would normally reach the end of its life cycle in landfill.
“Design is the signal of human intention,” says McDonough and the intentions he sets as a practitioner and economist is that we need to be coming to design with intentions that are fair for the environment, people and society. “If you intend for things to not contaminate the world, then you change your design”.
Cradle to cradle is applicable to all product design. We’re especially seeing it take hols in the apparel industry. McDonough and his team were also very active in the creation of the world’s first Cradle to Cradle certified recyclable/compostable t-shirt for the global retailer C&A.
Invariably, this way costs more. The accountants start to raise their eyebrows, the balance sheets start to look a bit unwieldy. But if given the chance, at the end of it, there is a product that exists to perform its function and it does so beautifully, but not at the expense of polluting the environment that we need to stay healthy to ensure our species’ longevity.