Rather than the cradle-to-grave design where there is birth and then death, the idea of cradle-to-cradle (also called regenerative) design implies that materials, resources, and products are created with the intention of being used again and again. Other terms for this are cradle 2 cradle, or C2C. This concept is an approach to the design of systems and products which uses biomimicry, which means using the model of nature to create human systems. Designs made through Cradle to Cradle concepts make considerations based upon the enrichment of ecosystems, sets of life-giving transformations, efficiency, and lack of waste.
Motivations for Regenerative Design
While the industrial revolution brought with it a great deal of progress, it also brought with it large amounts of waste and pollution. In an effort to counter-act this negative impact humans have had on the environment, green companies have begun to re-think the way they design and implement products and systems in order to make them less damaging and healthier for the environment.
Breaking it Down
One of the first responsibilities to green technology through regenerative design is identifying the composition of raw materials and determining the source and risk of each ingredient. The next important part of the process is planning ahead for re-utilitizing the products and/or materials when the product is no longer of use. Other factors in creating regenerative products is determining the amount of energy used in the production of the product, using a majority of renewable energy sources (such as wind energy, solar power, etc.), attention to the good stewardship of water and waste factors, as well as assessing production practices to ensure that fair labor practices are used.
Although some companies fear that the application of green technology practices will increase the cost of production and ultimately make their products less profitable, many regenerative practices are actually able to lower costs. Many of the practices which make production green also increase efficiency. Some of these practices include using rainwater cleansing systems rather than mechanical or chemical water treatment systems. These innovative designs which have multiple “lives” often cost less to produce and also remove the need for landfills or other waste treatment needs.
One of the other residual benefits of regenerative design in green technology is that the practice of using clean energy, outputting clean water, and recycling or composting materials is that there are less negative health consequences for the environment as well as humans. Because less chemicals are used to clean up messes, and less hazardous gasses are released into the air from landfills, regenerative green technology benefits plant, human, and animal life. Because C2C makes an effort to remove the use of these harmful substances, there are direct and indirect benefits to the health of people and the planet.
Cradle to cradle design is beneficial on a variety of levels and has very few drawbacks. As we continue to look forward to leaving a healthy planet for future generations, applying regenerative design is a field which is likely to continue growing and changing for the better.