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A Design Concept Whose Time Has Come?

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green_leaves.jpgManufacturing is often perceived as a downward-spiraling one-way street: Choose raw materials with little or no consideration of the environmental or health impacts; use energy to make products from them; use more energy to distribute, market and use the products; then throw everything - whether packaging or product - away when it's outlasted its usefulness.

Wrong, Chuck Bennett told a full house at this week's Frontiers in the Environment event: "We have a system problem - the cradle-to-grave industrial paradigm."

Vice president of Earth and community care at Aveda, an international personal care products company, Bennett believes in - and pursues - a better way, based on the principles and practices made famous a decade ago by Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough in their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things.

The Cradle to Cradle approach, Bennett told his audience, is built on three premises:

Waste = Food

Use Current Solar Energy

Celebrate Diversity

Waste = food, Bennett said, is a matter of mimicking nature, where the products of one activity become the inputs for another. In nature's economy, he said, materials are continuously recycled; Cradle to Cradle brings this thinking to the industrial economy as well.
Using current solar energy is a matter of tapping the sun's resources now rather than relying on the limited supplies of fossil fuels. Celebrating diversity - a concept Bennett said is central to the Aveda brand - means valuing the richness inherent in biological, cultural and conceptual systems.

"All of this translates to a bigger vision for the company," Bennett said.  

Like to learn more? Check out the video of Bennett's talk, "Cradle-to-Cradle: A Design Concept Whose Time Has Come?" here.

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  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.