The cradle to cradle theory is not new, but it is applicable and useful as a design help to improve the design in a sustainable way. It is a biomimetic approach to the design of systems. It models human industry on nature’s processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. It suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature’s biological metabolism while also maintaining safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and synthetic materials. Put simply, it is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not just efficient but essentially waste free. The model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many different aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics and social systems.
The theory in short is based on energy, water and social responsibility through the following tenets:
Eliminate the concept of waste. “Waste equals food.” Design products and materials with life cycles that are safe for human health and the environment and that can be reused perpetually through biological and technical metabolisms. Create and participate in systems to collect and recover the value of these materials following their use.
Power with renewable energy. “Use current solar income.” Maximize the use of renewable energy.
Respect human & natural systems. “Celebrate diversity.” Manage water use to maximize quality, promote healthy ecosystems and respect local impacts. Guide operations and stakeholder relationships using social responsibility.