Cradle to Cradle: Beyond Sustainability
Our work is grounded in the Cradle to Cradle® philosophy developed by our founders, designer William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart in their 2002 book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (North Point Press). Cradle to Cradle encourages us to step back from the routines of daily problem-solving and rethink the frame conditions that shape our designs. Rather than seeking to minimize the harm we inflict, Cradle to Cradle reframes design as a beneficial, regenerative force—one that seeks to create ecological footprints to delight in, not lament. It expands the definition of design quality to include positive effects on economic, ecological and social health. Cradle to Cradle rejects the idea that growth is detrimental to environmental health; after all, in nature growth is good. Instead, it promotes the idea that good design supports a rich human experience with all that entails—fun, beauty, enjoyment, inspiration and poetry—and still encourages environmental health and abundance.
The Cradle to Cradle framework is fundamentally about constantly improving and moving from simply being “less bad” to becoming “more good.” Conventional eco-efficient demand side approaches often simply seek to reduce or minimize damage and shrink your “negative footprint”. Efficiency is simply good business. By adding what we call eco-effective supply side approaches and integrating positively defined goals based on Cradle to Cradle values and principles, we are able to direct innovation and leadership towards a “positive footprint”.
Cradle to Cradle Principles
Material Health: Value materials as nutrients for safe, continuous cycling
Material Reutilization: Maintain continuous flows of biological and technical nutrients
Renewable Energy: Power all operations with 100% renewable energy
Water Stewardship: Regard water as a precious resource
Social Fairness: Celebrate all people and natural systems
Learn more about MBDC’s work helping companies apply these principles and work towards a “beneficial footprint” using eco-effective strategies.