Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Upcycle - William McDonough & Michael Braungart

As I mentioned with my review last week of The Secretary, I'll be posting some Shelf Awareness reviews here that are not crime novels. In this case, I'm sad to say The Upcycle had to be cut from April's Shelf schedule because of a conflict that resulted in less review space this month. The Upcycle made me so excited; I wanted to go out and do something toward improving our resources. It's a motivating book and I encourage everyone to consider taking a look at it because it is an issue that affects us all. The book is written on a global scale because it's a global issue, and it's only going to work if we all work together. Anyway, here is my review of The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance.

First line: "Imagine you are sitting in the top-floor boardroom of a major United States consumer products company and you are meeting one-on-one with the company's executive in charge of sustainability."

In 2002 William McDonough, an architect, and Micheal Braungart, a scientist, published their visionary ideas for the planet in Cradle to Cradle. Over a decade later they have written The Upcycle, an inspiring book detailing how everyone can “do good” instead of “doing less bad.”

The present, dominant mindset is one of “doing less bad.” Creating less waste, using less resources. McDonough and Braungart advocate for a planet where people don’t think about less, they think about “what’s next” and a product is designed to have a constant life. Once its present life is completed, the product should be able to be recycled into something else or become a nutrient that can be safely returned to the earth or the atmosphere. “Upcycling eliminates the concept of waste.”

Instead of harvesting resources from the earth that are finite, destructive and possibly war-inducing, humans need to harness the resources that can be safely used again and again, much like the plant’s system of photosynthesis.

McDonough and Braungart use examples of projects they’ve been directly involved in as well as other efforts that are happening around the world to illustrate the concepts are achievable when values and not the bottom line are the first priority. The bottom line will come through long-term solutions and innovation.

From CEOs of major corporations to consumers of goods, The Upcycle will provide all readers a new way to look at our planet and will motivate us to “do good” so we can focus more on abundance not minimizing.

The Upcycle is available in trade paper (ISBN: 9780865477483) from North Point Press and there is also an unabridged audiobook version (ISBN: 9781452612317), narrated by Alan Sklar, from Tantor Media.

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