The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance

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From the authors of Cradle to Cradle, we learn what's next: The Upcycle

The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestoes of our time. Now, drawing on the green living lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice with businesses, governments, and ordinary people, William McDonough and Michael Braungart envision the next step in the ...

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The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance

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From the authors of Cradle to Cradle, we learn what's next: The Upcycle

The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestoes of our time. Now, drawing on the green living lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice with businesses, governments, and ordinary people, William McDonough and Michael Braungart envision the next step in the solution to our ecological crisis: We don't just use or reuse and recycle resources with greater effectiveness, we actually improve the natural world as we live, create, and build.
For McDonough and Braungart, the questions of resource scarcity and sustainability are questions of design. They are practical-minded visionaries: They envision beneficial designs of products, buildings, and business practices--and they show us these ideas being put to use around the world as everyday objects like chairs, cars, and factories are being reimagined not just to sustain life on the planet but to grow it. It is an eye-opening, inspiring tour of our green future as it unfolds in front of us.
The Upcycle is as ambitious as such classics as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring--but its mission is very different. McDonough and Braungart want to turn on its head our very understanding of the human role on earth: Instead of protecting the planet from human impact, why not redesign our activity to improve the environment? We can have a beneficial, sustainable footprint. Abundance for all. The goal is within our reach.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In their 2002 Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough and Michael Braungart (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 9780865475878, $27.50) presented a persuasive case that we should replace reductive thinking about ecology with a creativity that follows the lead of bountiful nature. In The Upcycle, these earthbound visionaries show how the proposals in their previous book have blossomed into practical designs of products, buildings, and business practices. This truly exciting book holds the potential to change the way we think about saving—and replenishing our planet. Editor's recommendation. A trade paperback and NOOK Book original.

Kirkus Reviews
Architect McDonough and chemist Braungart (co-authors: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, 2002) tender both an attitude and a strategy for a better-designed world. The authors caused a splash a decade ago with their notion of cradle to cradle: that our goods and services can be designed with the intentionality of reuse. Here, they expand on that notion, firing off examples of achieving the upcycle--"a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world with clean air, water, soil, and power, economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed"--through the proper use of design. The book is a heady engagement, a powerful to-and-fro between the authors and readers. Who would quibble that design ought to take reuse into account, that regulations are a red flag indicating the need for redesign, or that using positive ingredients to begin with is better than having to eliminate dangerous byproducts? Most interesting are the hands-on, root-to-rebirth projects they, or others, have accomplished: Their design of an experimental, high-sustaining building for NASA is a vision brought to life; infusing objects with color via reflected-light polymers rather than poisonous dyestuffs; providing plants with the specific light energy they need with solar-powered LEDs. But the authors examine wind turbines as a "pleasant visual" in one instance and a potential "blight" in another, and some readers may wonder who decides "those things we like, that are useful, pleasurable, and healthy." The authors end with a "What's Next?" section, a list of 10 points to remember, including "We Don't Have an Energy Problem. We Have a Materials-in-the-Wrong-Place Problem," "Always Be Asking What's Next" and "Add Good on Top of Subtracting Bad." Mostly stimulating and inventive.
From the Publisher
"Stimulating and inventive." —Kirkus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865477483
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 297,599
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

William McDonough is an American architect and founding principal of William McDonough + Partners. Michael Braungart is a German chemist. Together they cofounded McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, and in 2002 they coauthored Cradle to Cradle.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2013

    "Take only pictures, leave nothing but footprints" is

    "Take only pictures, leave nothing but footprints" is an established code for the wilderness hiker. Now consider a new code that says,
    leave only footprints and take only pictures and the trash you find in the woods. The old rule maintains the status quo, the second makes 
    things better. The difference is consistent with what the authors challenge us to do in "The Upcycle" - to go beyond minimizing harm to
    having a positive impact, to not only be "less bad" but "more good."
    The authors clearly want to be known as idea people and there are indeed many good ideas here. Some are concepts turned into
    demonstrated success stories while many other ideas are presented as "what if" visions. Dream first, the authors advise, and worry about
    practical details later.
    Some positions the authors take will be disputed. For example, in contrast to an established ecological maxim which states that no
    population of species can increase indefinitely (i.e. there is a limit to growth due to resource limits), the authors claim that "limits to growth"
    is a false concept, and that the real problem is one of design.
    Also likely to be challenged is the lack of metrics needed to provide clarity and substance for the goal of being "more good." "Less bad" is
    a goal which lends itself to quantitative measurement (fewer accidents, less waste, etc.) and appropriate metrics for "less bad" drive
    progress since what gets measured usually gets done.
    Considerable time is taken to review their previous and highly successful book, "Cradle to Cradle." So much so, however, that it
    sometimes sounds a bit like an advertisement. One also wonders, just what exactly is new here, given not only "Cradle to Cradle" but
    other background such as the principles of green chemistry and green engineering, ecological maxims, team problem solving techniques,
    the precautionary principle, and of course, the intent behind the concept of sustainable development and much progress toward it.
    Still, there is value in restating things in a different way or context. While reading "The Upcycle" it is easy to generate your own ideas on  
    ways to improve products or even to manage your own property in a way that eliminates waste or that will make life better for the next
    generation. It is that birth of ideas in the mind of the reader which makes the book worthwhile.             

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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