Cradle to Cradle Design: A Deeper Shade of Green

Watch for products that meet this stringent new eco-certification standard.
By Amanda Kimble-Evans
February/March 2011
Add to My MSN

Cradle to Cradle encourages the development of products that benefit “people, planet and profit.”

Content Tools

Related Content

Green Clean: Method Cleaning Products Receive Cradle to Cradle Certification

If you still want to do everything you can to make your home healthy—for your family and the planet—...

Future of Small-Scale Wind Power

Wind power is one renewable energy source that’s fixing its flaws and being used for small-scale pro...

Most of us have heard the term “cradle to grave.” Something is created, used and then thrown away. Now a new twist on the phrase is becoming a merit badge for eco-conscious corporations: cradle to cradle design.

Cradle to Cradle, a certification framework created by architect William McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart, encourages the development of green products that benefit “people, planet and profit.” It’s a stringent, comprehensive set of green business standards that calls for manufacturers to design products that can be part of a continuous life cycle.

Although the term “cradle to cradle” gained popular recognition relatively recently, McDonough and Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) has been operating since 1995, making the founders’ theory of infinitely sustainable commerce a reality for the burgeoning corner of industry with an environmental and social conscience.

With Cradle to Cradle certification, not only are a product’s components reviewed, but each component’s base ingredients face strict guidelines as well. Products receiving basic, silver, gold or platinum certification must have been successfully designed to “eliminate the concept of waste.” A product’s “waste” must become either “biological nutrients,” or be recycled as “technical nutrients.” Five criteria regarding a product’s safety, recyclability, renewable energy use, water stewardship, and the company’s social responsibility efforts must be met in varying degrees for each level.

So who is leading this charge toward healthier and more sustainable products? Beauty products company Aveda has seven individual Cradle to Cradle products that have attained gold certification, and cleaning-product company Method has more than 30 silver-certified products. Proctor & Gamble has several certified hair care products, and some Pendleton wool fabrics have also been certified. Many other Cradle to Cradle certified products are in the architectural or construction industries (see MBDC’s Cradle to Cradle website for the full list).

A platinum product certification has yet to be awarded, meaning no company to date has met McDonough and Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle ideal. But the fact that an ideal has been defined opens the door for more companies to move toward MBDC’s vision of leaving a positive footprint on the planet, instead of simply reducing a negative one.

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.