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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

4 out of 5 stars
By Anonymous User on 07-02-18

Great Book, Sub-par Narrator

I came across this book as a tenth grader and found the first few pages mind-blowing at the time. After finally listening to it, years later, in full, I am still quite impressed. The concepts discussed are fascinating, and more importantly, NECESSARY TO IMPLEMENT, if there is to be any hope of future quality of life on planet Earth.

I say all that with the small disclaimer that the tone and choice of words do carry a white/western/male perspective. I include that, not to disparage that perspective, but to remind people that other perspectives do exist. Contributions from various perspectives should be included in the conversations and research surrounding sustainability, as the book itself subtly acknowledges.

Regret to say that the much-needed message of the book is a little overshadowed by the reader's inflection, which isn't monotonous, exactly, but repetitive. It makes paying attention more difficult, and the replayability virtually non-existent, for me. I have since obtained physical copies of both this book and its successor, "The Upcycle".

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