The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, the most consequential ecological manifesto of our time. Now, drawing on the lessons gained from ten 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 reuse resources with greater effectiveness, we actually improve them as we use them.
For McDonough and Braungart, the questions of resource scarcity and sustainability are questions of design. And 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 reinvented not just to sustain life on the planet but to grow it. It is an eye-opening, inspiring tour of the next industrial revolution as it unfolds in front of us.
The Upcycle is every bit 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: We should not just protect the planet from ourselves but should redesign our activity to improve the planet. And that goal is well within our reach.
"With their landmark work on designing zero-waste merchandise, Cradle to Cradle, 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, Booklist Praise for Cradle to Cradle “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
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.