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Publisher's Summary

"Reduce, reuse, recycle," urge environmentalists. In other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in this provocative book that this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates back to the Industrial Revolution, a model that casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. They challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world. Why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective. "Waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new - either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are).
Elaborating their principles from experience redesigning everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.
©2002 William McDonough and Michael Braungart (P)2008 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"An inspiring reminder that humans are capable of much more elegant environmental solutions than the ones we've settled for in the last half-century." ( Publishers Weekly)
"A readable provocative treatise that 'gets outside the box' in a huge way. Timely and inspiring." ( Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Andy on 01-10-10

a step ahead

McDonough and Braungart lay out a good case for designing products so that everything can be reused once the product is beyond its useful life. Moreover, they are big fans of upcycling rather than downcycling, which they explain well. Narration is solid.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 05-16-17

Good Idea, but little more

I read this when a friend was looking into joining an Intentional Community and this was one of the books on their suggested reading list. This is a bit long for the amount of information presented. The basic idea is simple; we can now use technology to create products that are designed to be fully reusable after they outlive the original use. This seems a bit simple and obvious, but it is not quite as simple as it sounds. The authors do not ignore the difficulties of successfully marketing, and they give a few examples, but they don’t provide a lot of specifics or strategies.

I did not find this book worth my time, simply because, once you get the simple idea, there is little more presented except a few examples with the various difficulties and successes involved.

The narration is good, but not great.

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