Bill McDonough

A decade ago, William McDonough co-wrote “Cradle to Cradle,” a manifesto advocating the design of products with many lifecycles, such as bottles made solely from biodegradable materials. His new book “The Upcycle” expands on these ideas by applying design solutions to global environmental challenges like food scarcity, clean water and climate change. McDonough urges us to think beyond simply minimizing our impact and to envision a world in which everything we do actually improves the environment.

Bill McDonough: ‘Upcycling’ and Sustainable Design 18 April,2013forum

Bill McDonough, architect and founder of McDonough Advisors, co-author of "The Upcycle" and of the 2002 book "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things" and recipient of the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development

  • McLovin

    Ban plastic. This is the best solution. It might also help to ban imports from China. But the 1% is profiting from plastic, China and the ongoing environmental Holocaust, so these measures will never be adopted.

    • thucy

      What is plastic? It’s a synthetic, usually derived from petrochemicals. It has amazing properties, and can be implemented to resolve issues of food and water scarcity. It shouldn’t be over-used, but it doesn’t need to be banned.

      What should be banned, restricted, or taxed into obscurity is the burning of petroleum products for private transportation in these United States. That’s the real problem, Mr. McLovin, but it can’t be addressed because addressing the most urgent problems first makes too much sense. And we can’t do that.

  • William – SF

    It’s time to focus on sustainable living standards — jobs, jobs, jobs! The right kinds of jobs, please, ones that provide a sustainable living.

    I’m all for taking care of our environment – it’s a given. Any chance we can take care of ourselves too?

    Why not focus on supporting / improving the lives of people on this planet, or do we still need to focus on accumulating money?

  • Chemist150

    Exceeding colonial capacity and colony collapse could easily be a natural part of evolution and by design of evolution in order to force the benefits of evolution.

  • thucy

    Forum Staff:
    Can we please have a link to the expose on the guest that Krasny brought up?

    • Amanda Stupi

      Here you go:

      • thucy

        Thanks, Amanda! That’s a BRUTAL takedown of the guest. I’d wager we could all learn more from that article than listening to McDonough. Kudos to Krasny for bringing it forward.

  • warrenk
    • Erich

      Is there any need? He was so unconvincing in the first 2 minutes that I switched it off. These freakish 1%ers only appear believable to themselves and to their brown-nosing media lackeys.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    We belong to the Small House Society which is all about living in homes 500 sq ft in size and even smaller.

    This means one has less ‘stuff’ and what you have is needed and used, and has to last longer and like in decades past, can be repaired rather than replaced.

    Also means no more than two children. Kindles instead of lots of books in shelves. Food that is nutrient rich and not wasted. Less is more. Innermost House speaks to this well.

  • Kristilinamarie

    Don’t forget we are part of the “environment.” We know less carbon and pollution in the air lead to fewer deaths from respiratory and cardio-pulmonary diseases.

  • Alice

    If Bill McDonough

    could run the world for one day, i am dying to know what would he do first?

    • thucy

      Well, per the Fast Company article, he might first create flawed designs, charge an insane amount of money for it, and then deny that his creations and happy-talk don’t match reality.

  • dmoore

    How do we get all the leaders who can write the laws and create the programs to move faster towards these ideas?

  • Robert Hunn

    I am a true disciple and believe in upcycling products, green buildings etc. Can you comment WHY it is so difficult for industries and people to adopt your principles outlined in Cradle to Cradle? I know it is a paradigm shift but the approach is a win-win with reducing waste, increasing energy etc.. As you say it is all connected

    Robert Hunn Mill Valley

  • Caitlin

    Why do you concentrate a lot of your work internationally? Why not take your efforts to here in the States? Does it have to do something with government?

  • Chris

    Could you comment on Water recycling/re-use/re-purposing??….Capturing rain water from your roof to irrigate, fill toilets, etc., recycling grey water for landscaping purposes…..They are all really easy to implement, if more people did it, the impact would be huge.

  • Re: Wineries, Frank Leeds, of Frog’s Leap Winery and Chavez & Leeds Family Vineyard, was just feted by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers. He uses dry-farming methods that don’t rely on drip-irrigation and saves millions of gallons of water per year.

  • Jonathan Cano

    McDonough’s idea of “upcycling” is a great one. That said, his comments about population are pollyana-ish. He images a best case scenario of some time in the near future where everyone is doing what they ought to. Ask elephants and other species under threat from loss of habitat whether human population is a problem.

    Might the current population be sustainable with a good standard of living for all in some hypothetical future (global cooperation is very hypothetical)? Sure but the technology is the comparatively easy part — getting a planet full of humans to do the right thing (or a critical mass of them) is the hard part.

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