Fast Company’s Ariel Schwartz published a review of McDonough and Braungart’s new book, The Upcycle.
Here’s an excerpt:
William McDonough’s newest book picks up where his groundbreakingCradle to Cradle left off, advocating that we continue to revolutionize our business practices to make them as sustainable as possible, while still making things we want to use.
This week, architect William McDonough released his first book in over a decade: The Upcycle. Considering the impact that his last book had on the world of sustainable design, we should all pay attention.
William McDonough has long been famous for his work as an architect, but it wasn’t until 2002 that he became well-known outside the sustainable architecture world. That’s the year McDonough and his business partner Michael Braungart released Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things . The manifesto endorses closed-loop manufacturing processes, where products do no harm from the time they are produced to the end of life.
The book was more than just a hit–it triggered the launch of the nonprofit Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute as well as a decade-long global discussion about “cradle to cradle” innovation.
In The Upcycle, McDonough and Braungart take the next step beyond just discussing the cradle to cradle philosophy; they now have over 10 years of experience implementing it in real products, and the book reflects that. “I think Cradle to Cradle put a fulcrum on the ground. For us, it was so much the opportunity to say, ‘What if you had some bedrock principles, and what would they be?'” explains McDonough. “We wrote this for two reasons: one is it allows us to use Cradle to Cradle as a fulcrum–the thing that does not move–and then what kind of levers would one use against that fulcrum?”
In some ways, The Upcycle is an updated version of Cradle to Cradle–one with numerous examples of how the book’s philosophy has worked in the past and how it can work in the future. But don’t read this book looking for a step-by-step guide on how to implement cradle to cradle thinking on a broad scale. The Upcycle is a book of what McDonough calls “evocation”–it paints ideas with broad strokes, imagining what might happen if we implemented them.