Stuff doesn't have to be a problem. Yes! We can have our stuff and feel good too. We just need to adopt the Cradle to Cradle design method into our business practices. According to Bridgett Luther, President of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2C), people are starting to set up the infrastructure to salvage the expensive materials needed for manufacturing. Entrepreneurs are beginning to see a future where all 9 billion people want stuff on a planet with limited resources—while everyone has stuff that’s created in harmony with nature and each other. And, it’s possible by applying the C2C design method.
Rethink. Recycle. Reward.
Luther shares some amazing success stories of companies doing well by doing good. She speaks to “leaving positive footprints.” One such company leaving behind a positive footprint is Method, a cleaning supplies and personal hygiene company that’s goal was to create a soap that would not harm the waters of the San Francisco Bay. Another example Luther provides is I:Collect. I:Collect’s system is simple yet ingenious. Men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, leather clothing and furs, underwear and socks, belts and bags, bed, table and household linen and cushions are all collected. I:Collect then arranges for environmentally-friendly removal, sorting and reuse. This creates the basis for the permanent, 100 % reuse of resources. The company’s aim is to integrate all collected textiles and shoes into a recycling process by 2020, while completely eliminating waste products – actually taking fabric out of mainstream landfills and creating businesses in trafficking old goods to new homes with the fabric eventually becoming insulation for homes, thereby making good use of a global glut of wasted fabric.
Making Noble Profit—All the Way
All it takes is the intention to create a positive, lasting impact when conceiving a product. Then the solution becomes the design challenge, which is a game changer from the standpoint of innovative, disruptive thinking.
When an entrepreneur’s intention is to create a product that will never see a landfill, the creative mind begins to approach design in an entirely different way. At the end of it's life cycle, the jacket, toaster, car, refrigerator, will be reborn. The object is conceived into a new context with value and meaning.
If everything we create is designed to become better and better, and at the same time diminish its impact on the environment, we will eventually achieve zero impact. In heading up the sustainability institute, Luther has seen over 120 companies go through the process. Her examples of the Cradle to Cradle model show how businesses are becoming so successful they are leaving behind positive footprints while generating profits.
The C2C Products Innovation Institute has blossomed into a multinational nonprofit organization with a main office in San Francisco and a European base in the Netherlands. The Institute was created to bring about a new industrial revolution that turns the making of things into a positive force for society, economy and the planet. It offers Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Product Standard certification, using a multi-attribute, continuous improvement methodology that provides a path to manufacturing healthy and sustainable products.
The Next Industrial Revolution Is Here—Are You Ready to Get Involved?
The impact of C2C is huge. “It’s a different design assignment,” states Luther.
The path to C2C success involves becoming familiar with the approaches being used to solve complex problems companies face such as waste removal, water use, the use of toxins, and a myriad of other issues.
During the process of certification, a company learns what they need to do within their current structure to change – so they can create a positive impact on the planet.
Luther notes in the video below: if every single factory in China followed the example of the Swiss textile factory that became certified, every river in China could be clean within our lifetime. And, if every company practiced this philosophy, everyone in the world would be able to have the stuff they wanted without using up the planet’s resources in the process.
The book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, provides a refined approach to rethinking business based upon circular manufacturing. Putting into practice the notion that nothing a product is made of shall ever end up in a landfill, the authors offer the practical advice to put this design model in motion. There never needs to be a death of any one part of anything—all things can move into a rebirth cycle. Quite a zen philosophy.
When looking at the complex problems of the world related to every aspect of business and manufacturing, we can rethink how we make things and create a positive impact in the world.