As indicated at my main site, it is only rational that we completely re-think the way we live. In Cradle to Cradle William McDonough and Micheal Braungart show us some of the comprehensive changes that are necessary for a healthy and happy future. It is interesting that this book is paired with Natural Capitalism at Amazon.com as the authors rightfully point out that there must be a paradigm shift if we are to live well in the future -- and the changes outlined in Natural Capitalism will not be adequate.
...we have to introduce a concept that goes hand in hand with the notion of a technical nutrient: the concept of a product of service. Instead of assuming that all products are to be bought, owned, and disposed of by "consumers," products containing valuable technical nutrients -- cars, televisions, carpeting, computers, and refrigerators, for example -- would be reconceived as services people want to enjoy. [p.111]
Even today, most cutting-edge environmental approaches are still based on the idea that human beings are inevitably destructive toward nature and must be curbed and contained. Even the idea of "natural capital" characterizes nature as a tool to be used for our benefit. This approach might have been valid two hundred years age, when our species was developing its industrial systems, but it cries out for rethinking. Otherwise, we are limited to efforts to slow the destruction of the natural world while we sustain the current industrial system of production and consumption for a few hundred years more. With human ingenuity and technological advances, we might even be able to create sustaining systems for our own species beyond that, after the natural world has greatly declined. But how exciting is sustainability? If a man characterized his relationship with his wife as sustainable, you might well pity them both.
Natural systems take from their environment, but they also give something back....[p.155]
Design is based on the attempt to fulfill human needs in an evolving technical and cultural context. We begin by applying the active positive list to existing things, then to things that are only beginning to be imagined, or have not yet been conceived. When we optimize, we open our imaginations to radically new possibilities. We ask: What is the customer's need, how is the culture evolving, and how can these purposes be met by appealing and different kinds of products or services? [p.180-81]
Innovation requires noticing signals outside the company itself: signals in the community, the environment, and the world at large. Be open to "feedforward," not just feedback. [p.184]