William McDonough and Michael Braungart (2002) argue in their provocative, visionary book, that the mantra of “Reduce, reuse, recycle” perpetuates a one-way, “cradle to grave” manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution. This approach 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, suggesting that nature becomes our model? They propose that products 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). Based on their experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, they elaborate on a viable, exciting case for change.
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