- Paperback: 227 pages
- Publisher: North Point Press; 1st edition (April 16, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0865477485
- ISBN-13: 978-0865477483
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance Paperback – April 16, 2013
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With their landmark work on designing zero-waste merchandise, Cradle to Cradle (2002), architect McDonough and chemist Braungart launched a revolutionary program that encourages manufacturers to substitute environmentally unfriendly products with those that generate as few toxic footprints as possible. In consulting for corporations as far afield as Ford and Nike, the pair has demonstrated that nonpolluting goods, from carpets to shoes, can win consumers over without sacrificing the bottom line. Now the authors take their sustainability philosophy an inspired step further, arguing that industries can do better than simply trimming down the garbage and instead become “part of the natural cycle of regeneration on the planet.” Drawing on multiple examples from nature’s endless food chain, where one creature’s waste becomes nutrition for others, McDonough and Braungart debunk the notion that ecological measures inevitably steal profits from business and joy from life. The authors’ many reports on industry innovators give readers a peek into a future where mankind might one day stop destroying the environment and, instead, add to its abundance. --Carl Hays
“Asking how a cherry tree would design an energy-efficient building is only one of the creative ‘practices' that McDonough and Braungart spread before their readers. This book will give you renewed hope that, indeed, ‘it is darkest before the dawn.'” ―Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club on Cradle to Cradle
“[McDonough and Braungart are] masters of holistic environmentalism . . . [They] have a knack for combining big ideas with commonsense practicality, which leaves readers feeling excited about the future.” ―Bruce Barcott, Outside Magazine on Cradle to Cradle
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Top Customer Reviews
I really like the idea of this, go back to the start redesign your process to adhere to a “Triple Bottom Line” according to your values. But the last part of that sentence is where I get stuck, “According to your values” I'm of the strong belief that most companies are amoral, and are going to do whatever they can to make money now. Unless, they are being led by someone who is able to steer them towards this mythical “Triple Bottom Line”. This becomes more troublesome when the company is a public company. With all that said, I do believe that the premise of this book is entirely achievable, but it's going to take a major philosophical change. We need design for perpetual use, not just for first use.
Some quick points about the book
1. The book takes a negative stance towards environmental regulations despite the good that they do.
2. In regards to point #1, the authors are in the business of selling the sustainability idea to business executives that are not too fond of regulatory requirements.
3. Sometimes the examples are overly simplistic for something as complicated of a change as the authors are proposing.
4. Much of what they authors are proposing are conventional wisdom, renewable energy, non-toxic manufacturing, design for re-use.
This is a well written book that may be simplistic on purpose. Once businesses decide to take the reusable design road there will be many obstacles to over come and that will be their job, not the authors in this case. There is an inertia problem with companies currently, and the time and cost for a large company to move down the renewable route is something many of them cannot afford.
McDonough is the Trump of industrial ecology, an egomaniac claiming that he invented everything while perpetually referring to himself. He does not want us to know about originators Bucky Fuller, Victor Papanek or Sim Van der Ryn. He does not want us to know about Greenscreen, Greenseal or the Living Product Challenge. His 'visionary' message is that our only hope for the future is through his consulting services.
Most people would assume that 'Upcycle' means recycling done right. But 'upcycle' is another self serving term McDonough made to mean anything that demonstrates 'Cradle to Cradle' design. I regret wasting money on this advertisement.
I was almost salivating at the prospect of reading The Upcycle.
What a let down. One part a ham fisted attempt to describe systems thinking, one part shameless self promotion and one part something that reads like a 10th grader's rushed book review of C2C done the night before it was due.
If you want to understand how you can execute the ideas developed in Cradle to Cradle get a copy of Ackoff's Redesigning the Future and read it with the C2C principles in mind.
The Upcycle, written as it is in a condescending style and with little new in the way of ideas, is a very disappointing follow-up to C2C.