Cradle to Cradle Book Summary - Cradle to Cradle Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Cradle to Cradle summary

William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Remaking the Way We Make Things

4.2 (100 ratings)
16 mins

What is Cradle to Cradle about?

Cradle to Cradle (2009) exposes the fundamental flaws of manufacturing and the damage it inflicts upon our environment, even as we attempt to be eco-friendly. These blinks also introduce you to ways in which you can make a positive impact on the planet, and guide you through the process of rethinking your business in order to become eco-efficient.

Table of Contents

    Cradle to Cradle
    summarized in 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    Industry is fundamentally damaging to the environment.

    During the Industrial Revolution, man strove to achieve production that was ever more efficient and profitable. Who considered the ecological consequences of this? Nobody. It was widely believed that humans had access to an endless supply of resources from Mother Earth, that the environment was a bottomless provider that simply wouldn’t degrade over time.

    Today, industry still functions as a linear system. It goes one way, from the producer to the consumer to the garbage, without anything going back to nature. Think about it: What do you own that isn’t designed to be thrown away when you’re finished with it?

    In this way, industrial production relies on the cradle-to-grave model, where resources are extracted, shaped into products, sold and eventually disposed of in a “grave” of some kind. Just consider how it’s often more expensive to repair a damaged item, like the broken shoe, than to buy a new one.

    Corporations also design products and processes for worldwide use with a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, people in places in the USA with soft water, like the Northwest, only need small amounts of detergent to do their laundry, while in the Southwest, where there is hard water, more detergent is needed. However, major soap manufacturers choose to save money by producing a strong detergent that caters to the hardest water, despite the environmental damage this creates.

    Further examples of the way humans take from nature on a massive scale include mining, burning fossil fuels and land-clearing for monocultural agricultural properties, where natural diversity is destroyed to make way for a single crop that’s cultivated for our consumption. At every level, our industry is built in a way that reflects the idea that nature is not something we work with, but rather something that exists for our use, and this fundamental principle wreaks incredible damage.

    But we’ve made progress, haven’t we? We’re aware that our environment needs taking care of. However, our industries have yet to approach the problem of pollution with the effort that it really requires. Find out more in the next blink.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Cradle to Cradle?

    Key ideas in Cradle to Cradle

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    Best quote from Cradle to Cradle

    Efficiency has no independent value: it depends on the value of the larger system of which it is a part.

    —William McDonough and Michael Braungart
    example alt text

    About the Author

    Michael Braungart is a German chemist who holds a chair in industrial ecology and Cradle to Cradle management at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He is a visiting professor at TU Delft, The Netherlands. He was one of the founders of Germany’s Green Party.

    William McDonough is an American architect and founding partner of William McDonough + Partners. In 1996, he received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development. In 1999, Time recognized him as a “Hero for the Planet.”

    Who should read Cradle to Cradle?

    • Businesses looking to become more environmentally friendly
    • People interested in the impact of industry today
    • Anyone curious about alternative approaches to doing business

    Categories with Cradle to Cradle

    Books like Cradle to Cradle

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    26 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 5,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial