Monthly Archives: December 2013

Re-making the way we make things

One of the highlights for me from the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference, which took place on Oct 17th at the Vancouver Convention Centre, was having the opportunity to see and hear Dr. Michael Braungart. He is one of two authors of the fantastic book: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things, a book that has greatly influenced my thinking around sustainability.

Although I think he might have rubbed some audience members the wrong way by questioning Vancouver’s Zero Waste initiative (he asked, why not Positive Waste?), I feel that what he really wanted us to do was to be better critical thinkers.

In his own words, “support the good, not simply, the less bad.”

He reminded the audience of the importance to reflect on the question “What is the right product?, rather than, “How can we optimize an existing product?”.

And he has a point, why do we just want to settle for improving something that has problems when we can re-make things the right way around, or in other words, so that a negative environmental or social impact doesn’t even exist.

In the book, the authors refer to this as eco-effective design and advocate for: Products that, at the end of their useful life, do not become waste but can be tossed to the ground to decompose and become food for animals and plants and soil nutrients, or alternatively, can return to industrial cycle to provide material premium quality new products.

What do you think about remaking things the right way around?

What do you think might be some of the challenges to achieving an eco-effective design process?

How can we overcome these challenges?

You can also check out author William McDonough on TED Talks explaining Cradle to Cradle design: