Industry giant PUMA formally announced its InCycle collection of apparel, shoes, and gear. After a long, happy, useful life with their delighted purchasers, these amazing products will return safely to nature or industry.
PUMA product designers worked closely with Cradle to Cradle® experts at EPEA to develop products that meet the requirements for Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM "BASIC", the first step on a path of continuous improvement. Products pursuing this path are aiming at a world where nothing humans make puts hazardous materials into the environment and where nothing humans make winds up in incinerators or landfills.
At Greenbuild last month, Dan Probst from Jones Lang LaSalle discussed four advantages of applying Cradle to Cradle principles to the two billion square feet of real estate his firm operates:
- Helps clients optimize use of space, materials and energy
- Pushes demonstration projects like their landmark sustainability program at the Empire State Building and the energy retrofit of Moscone Center in San Francisco
- Helps to educate clients on the value of a green work place and how fresh air, thermal comfort, and a chemical free environment reduce absenteeism and make employees happier and more productive
- Drives clients’ dollars to suppliers who manufacture Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) products
“We’re in a great position to have a tremendous opportunity to improve the performance of buildings while creating a better and healthier work environment. We push LEED, Energy Star, and Cradle to Cradle [Certified] because we’re in this for the long term and we want to ensure a healthy planet for our future generations,” said Probst.
The principles of Cradle to Cradle are vital to driving innovation and giving us a world with safe and healthy buildings and the products we use inside those buildings.
Thank you Dan, and Jones Lang LaSalle for leading the way!
Photo credit: Jiuguang Wang.
Congratulations to Dr. Michael Braungart and the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) for 25 years of dedication and progress in making the world a healthier place.
EPEA’s very name says something important about who Michael is and what the organization that he founded represents. The word “encouragement” distinguishes EPEA from both NEPA (the National Environmental Protection Act) and EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), which are respectively a landmark American law and a regulatory agency. I serve on an advisory board for the EPA. A fundamental problem with that agency is that it is almost entirely focused on doing less bad. EPEA, through its approach of encouragement, cooperation and innovation, is focused on doing more good.
One of the great honors of my life has been to take Michael’s simple and inspiring ideas as manifested in the certification program and are the foundation for the new non-profit organization, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The Institute is global in scope, and is committed to scaling the ideas that have driven EPEA--making them available for more and more people and organizations to adopt. Michael, and his American collaborator William McDonough, have generously shared their work with the world via the Institute.
The leadership of Michael and everyone at EPEA have inspired so many of us over the past quarter century.
Happy anniversary EPEA, and thank you!
Photo caption: Dr. Michael Braungart and Bridgett Luther in San Francisco, June 2011.
Rachel Carson photo from Smithsonian Institution.
Rachel Carson played a critical role in shaping how people in the US and around the world view humanity's effect on nature. Her book Silent Spring was published 50 years ago. An accomplished scientist, Carson asserted that blindly spraying chemicals such as DDT throughout the natural world was having consequences that, if unchecked, would lead to a springtime where no birds would sing because they would be dead from human-made poisons.
Last month the Institute’s senior scientist, Dr. Susan Klosterhaus, joined other leaders to discuss new laws taking effect in California to protect people from hazardous chemicals in products. These new laws, and the work of the Institute, are a direct extension of the work of Rachel Carson.
There is no doubt of the media and entertainment industry’s impact on fashion. The designs worn onscreen and in real life by leading personalities can inspire the choices of millions. One of the best examples in recent pop culture is in the film The Devil Wears Prada. Meryl Streep’s character, Miranda Priestly, reminded us of the impact of leaders in the fashion industry, stating that the exact color of our lumpy blue sweaters is directly influenced by the pantone choices of the couture fashion houses in previous seasons.
With design, it is often the most aspirational creativity that drives the look of our cellphones or the color of our socks. Today, consumers are increasingly aware of the “story” of their fashion - wearing clothing that reflects a personal belief or philosophy about where fabrics come from and how people and the planet are affected along the supply chain.
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute believes that consumers have a choice in the health, safety and social responsibility of the clothing they wear. The problem today is that very few affordable choices exist in “eco-fashion” and consumers are not well informed about what exactly “eco-fashion” means. In fact, many consumers may avoid engaging in sustainable fashion purchasing decisions because the landscape has been too complicated for self-education.
Today, many apparel brands are joining the sustainable metrics journey. When companies such as Walmart ask their suppliers to provide them with detailed accounting of the environmental impact of their products, we know the world is changing. But Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) thinking captures only one part of the picture. We also need to look closely at how the product was designed in the first place and whether the design will allow a product’s materials to be reused. As the Institute’s certified products program envisions, there will be no waste in the new economy, only nutrients for continued value to nature or industry – polymers to polymers, metals to metals, and safe biodegradables back to soil.
This proposal becomes more of a challenge when we looks at textiles and apparel, as many fiber types are not easily reclaimed. At best, they are down-cycled or composted. At worst, many fabrics are complex blends of fibers that can’t be easily separated on the backend. Institute co-founders McDonough and Braungart called these fabrics “monstrous hybrids.”
Susan discusses problems we face as we work to remake our material world with healthy and safe materials.
Prior to joining the Institute, I spent more than 15 years conducting research on chemical contaminants in the environment, studying to what extent they accumulated in wildlife and their potential toxicity. The first paragraph of every research paper I wrote began with answering the questions: ‘Why are we studying these chemicals?’ and ‘How did they end up in the estuary or in the dust in our homes?’ The answer was, because they were or are still used in consumer products that surround us -- flame retardants in furniture and baby products, surfactants in detergents, and antibacterial chemicals, plasticizers, and other chemicals in a variety of personal care products and other common household items.
After reporting to what extent these chemicals have accumulated in our homes and environment, I concluded the reports by answering the questions: ‘So what does this mean?’ and ‘Are the chemicals going to negatively harm us or wildlife?’ And the answer was always the same: “The chemicals have been associated with a wide variety of effects but few toxicity studies have been conducted and therefore the potential impacts are for the most part unknown.”
In fulfilling our mission to see a world where products are designed and manufactured using only healthy and safe materials and processes, we recognize how complicated this can be. Fortunately, the Cradle to Cradle® methodologies originated by William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart provide an elegant framework for our Institute to assess and certify products.
Health concerns regarding PVC provide an especially interesting challenge for manufacturers. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the third most widely used plastic in the world, yet in many current applications it is toxic to human health and the broader environment.
A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle reports on how Marin students are using social media and an online petition to ask Crayola to recycle the 500 million markers it produces each year.
The Cradle to Cradle International Conference in San Francisco last month brought together leaders from business who are innovating how they make their products.
Highlights from the conference:
In this update:
• The Institute partners with industry leaders in joint statement to the USGBC advocating for performance standards such as the Cradle to Cradle certifiedCM program.
• LEED 2012 public comment period opens – we need your participation
• The Institute meets with USGBC LEED Staff
So what's in all the kisses you will be giving and getting this holiday season? Maybe something like EBDT? (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid — wikipeda link). Evidently it makes cosmetics softer, smoother, and more stable. In talking about chemical substances in skin and hair care products last summer, Institute co-founder Michael Braungart called EDTA "a very nice chemical". But when it gets to the environment, as when you wash it off, it is very slow to degrade. "So if you look at San Francisco Bay, 80% of the all heavy metals that are there are in the water are there because of just one chemical, EDTA, because it always resuspends the heavy metals from the sediments and makes them available for the biosphere."
So among the "50 Recommended Cradle to Cradle® Cosmetic Ingredients" he announced that night was "L-Glutamic acid N. N=dicetic acid, tetrasodium salt" a replacement chelating substance for EBDT that rapidly degrades in the environment.
Michael gave his research to the public good as an invitation to others to "come up with more" so together we have a list of ingredients for cosmetics that do what's needed for product quality AND can safely go into biological systems. In the cosmetics section of the Innovation Hub on this website, industry experts to sharing what they have and what they are looking for. Join the conversation here.
A core principle of cradle to cradle is the idea that technical nutrients don't belong in biological systems and some toxins just shouldn't be in our world at all. So we look with interest and concern at the growing number of articles talking about environmental toxins and the rise in autism cases.
On November 4th, over 50 thought leaders and professionals met at the Autodesk Gallery in downtown San Francisco to lay the groundwork for recommendations to move California towards a sustainable and abundant economic future. Those recommendations are likely to include ideas like adopting a zero waste policy for the state of California, holding foreign waste processors accountable to California's own health and safety standards, and encouraging Producer Responsibility Organizations (third party groups funded by producers to handle end-of-use waste issues - these have been popular in Europe). In concert, policies like these would create a viable local market for recycled materials, while at the same time giving manufacturers incentive to design away waste and take responsibility for the collection of its own discards. Value is retained and added within the state, and waste becomes a thing of the past.
Here's a headline no parent wants to read today: "Hazardous heavy metals contaminate most Halloween make-up, tests show"
What kind of toxins? Cadmium, which causes cancer. Mercury, which impairs neurological development. Arsenic, which was the poison of choice for Aunt Martha and Aunt Abbey in the classic Arsenic and Old Lace.
On Friday, November 4th, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute will be convening an invite-only forum, in partnership with a cadre of Bay Area organizations interested in seeing California define the New Economy: “right livelihood” jobs that ensure a healthy, safe and abundant future, with green chemistry at the center.
Just recently the California legislature passed a bill to ban the chemical BPA from baby products and legislators came closer than ever before to banning the use of plastic foam containers in restaurants and grocery stores, as discussed in a recent Huffington Post article.
Method, in partnership with Envision Plastics (the technology leader in curbside collected, recycled polyolefin plastics), has developed a novel and potentially profound new plastic material; Ocean PCR. The idea was born when, after achieving 100% post-consumer material in our packaging, we started asking ourselves a simple question: what is the ultimate post-consumer material?
Method recently had an exceedingly rare joint visit from Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough, the co-authors of Cradle-to-Cradle and principals of MBDC. In the green design world, this is like spending the afternoon working on a script with Pacino and DeNiro, like jamming with Jagger and Richards, like fighting evil with Batman and Robin...
Michael and Bill are in San Francisco to work on the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute and to explore ways for C2C thinking to be formalized in the State of California's Green Chemistry Initiatives.
In producing the Sayl chair, we removed 30% of the materials for a chair in this category, of this caliber. The first consideration in building a chair is structural. When we removed so many materials, less had to do a lot more. The materials we chose had to carry a lot of weight and maintain structural integrity and function. The choices were not about what the material was, but more along the line: “This material of reinforcing fibers (glass and nylon) is what’s allowed without having a visual implications or being oversized.” It was a game of visual and size considerations to accomplish structural integrity.
The evening with William McDonough and Michael Braungart was an amazing event. The room was packed full of enthusiastic supporters eager to hear the dynamic duo. I was extremely greatful to have the opportunity to meet so many who were also passionate about C2C. It was actually the first time I got to meet Michael Braungart so I was extremely excited the entire day. In fact, I was so full of energy that I had to bust out my pocket camcorder and just start recording! Check out the video below.
Time and time again we hear that C2C makes business sense. Is it really that hard to understand that our "take, make, waste" system isn't going to take us into a bright future? Just take a look at this excerpt from a new ebook about how C2C pays off. You can download the entire book here.
Here is an excerpt:
This booklet is about the results of one and a half years of dedication of the Cradle to Cradle Learning Community. A total of seventeen companies took part. In the course of 10 sessions a wide range of topics was handled, from internal support to the closure of cycles. The participants unanimously concluded that: Cradle to Cradle pays off for profit, people and planet!
It’s been a little over a year since we publicly launched the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, and now with this new website, we’re taking the first of several steps onto a path which will allow a product manufacturer to have a product certified. Over the next few weeks, we’ll begin re-certifying products and getting ready to train consultants on the new 3.0 protocol.
Plastic has been all over the news over the past years, from David de Rothschild building a catamaran partially made from reclaimed post-consumer plastic bottles called the Plastiki in 2010 to the most recent, Cola Wars escalated to Bottle Wars as Coke launched their "Plant Bottle," a plastic bottle made 30% from renewable materials, only to be one-upped by Pepsi's 100% renewable bottle (to debut in 2012). In time for Earth Day, a major bio-plastic manufacturer announced a new recycling symbol they had created to differentiate bio-plastic from "regular" plastic.
In the late 1990s, office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, Inc., entered into a collaboration with architect William McDonough to create a system for designing cradle-to-cradle products. This collaboration led to the creation of a tool—the Design for Environment (DfE) product assessment tool—that evaluates progress towards cradle-to-cradle products. The first product Herman Miller designed using the DfE product assessment tool was the Mirra chair. Over the course of the chair’s development, the DfE process generated a number of design changes, including selecting a completely different material for the chair’s spine, increasing recycled content in chair components, eliminating all PVC (polyvinyl chloride) components, and designing the chair for rapid disassembly using common tools.
This year’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting (CGI) has been all about commitments that will make a positive difference around the world. Yesterday, during the Market-Based Solutions for Protecting the Environment session at CGI, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (formerly the Green Products Innovation Institute) joined industry and NGOs on stage to contribute its own global commitment to train at least 100 assessors and certify 1,000 products by 2015.
When I first saw images of the Sayl chair designed by Yves Behar for Herman Miller, I fell in love at first sight. But today, spending time sitting in this chair, I was able to enjoy the comfort that thoughtful engineering provides. Originally inspired by the engineering of the Golden Gate suspension bridge, Yves designed the Sayl chair for maximum support and flexibility while using minimal materials. Rather than having the material that a wrap around frame requires, he instead uses a center vertical support with a patterned mesh, creating a 3-D intelligent back that has different degrees of tension for each part of your back. Not only does this mean there is less material required, less cost, but it is also extremely comfortable. Plus, it is 93% recyclable and is certified Cradle to Cradle Silver.