A collection space for my personal and professional works, as a portfolio, a curriculum vitae and as a personal record for myself.


Cradle To Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things


From a biomimetic standpoint, I take a particular interest in the processes and cycles of nature. ‘Cradle-to-cradle’ design, a term coined by German chemist Michael Braungart and U.S. architect William McDonough, is a sustainable way of looking at the manufacturing model. In their 2002 book, ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ Braungart & McDonough spell out a new philosophy that goes to the heart of design, and calls for a revolution in the world of manufacturing and architecture.

The text discusses the underlying idea of ‘Waste = Food’, a basis concept of organic waste materials becoming food for the system, creating a continuous cycle. All materials and products we consume would provide nutrition for nature and industry-a world in which human activity generates a restorative ecological footprint.


April 3, 2010



Today’s cradle-to-grave industrial system is unsustainable, and good fundamental design based on the laws of nature can transform industry and consumption of resources into a regenerative force. Designers and industry can employ the intelligence of natural systems and the effectiveness of nutrient cycling, to create cradle-to-cradle systems.

In the natural world, the waste of an organism cycles through an ecosystem to provide nourishment for other living things. Each organism contributes to the health of the whole ecosystem, a naturally determined role within the greater system. This can especially be seen in the routine of ant colonies. Cradle-to-cradle materials can circulate in closed-loop cycles providing nutrients for nature or industry. This model recognises two metabolisms within which materials flow as healthy nutrients.

Cradle to Cradle Book Cover

The first is nature’s nutrient cycles. These constitute the biological metabolism and materials are seen as biological nutrients. Products such as biodegradable packaging are designed to be used and safely returned to the environment to nourish living organisms. A good example of this could be the blossom of a tree. Each year, in the springtime, a tree enters its flowering stage. To attract pollinating insects to the tree necessary for the cross-pollination with the similar species of tree, the tree produces an abundance of flower blossom. Following the pollination stage, this blossom naturally ends up scattered across the ground around the tree. What may seem a wasteful process is in fact highly beneficial to the tree and its surroundings. The scattered blossom provides organic material beneficial to the soil surrounding, and provides essential food for fungi and insects. As fungi and insects break down the material they feed nutrients back into the soil, and are themselves food for birds and other species.

The second is the technical metabolism. This is a closed-loop system in which technical nutrients circulate, based on the way nutrients circulate in nature. Technical nutrients are materials that can be used in the idea of a ‘product of service’ where instead of buying a product, such as a carpet or washing machine, a customer would rent the service of a product. At the end of a defined period of use, the product would be taken back to the manufacturer, and turned into a new high quality product instead of going to landfill – the ‘up-cycling’ of resources rather than recycling of resources.” A good example of this could be the reuse of sea snail shells by hermit crabs. Hermit crabs form a continuous ‘housing chain’ by which shells outgrown by larger shells become the home for smaller crabs, which in turn abandon their shells to smaller crabs. The production of a single shell by sea snails consumes a large amount of energy and time, and therefore each has its own inherent ‘embodied energy’. It makes sense, therefore, to reuse and ‘up-cycle’ such a ready products for the benefit of wider ecosystem.

About The Author

Michael Braungart

Michael Braungart is a German chemist who advocates that humans can make a positive instead of a negative environmental impact by redesigning industrial production and therefore that dissipation is not waste.

William McDonough

William McDonough is an architect and globally recognized leader in sustainable development. He served as the inaugural chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy.


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