I recently read this amazing book that was recommended to the delegates at the Sustainable Fashion Forum Conference this past year. This book was called Cradle to Cradle written by two extremely knowledgeable people, Michael Braungart and William McDonough. To put it into simple terms, this book talks about circular design, also thought of as a closed looped system of design.
Now before reading this book I had heard a little bit about the idea of a closed loop system and I am intrigued at the thought of it. Wouldn’t it be truly amazing if everything we created could easily and safely break down into a safe and natural form once we were done with it? But is this truly possible?
After thinking about it a bit further I had a painful realization; the time we have with any material item is but a small chapter in a long book that makes up the life of that object. Some may argue that it is the most important chapter, and in the case of a company’s profits yes I agree. But in terms of the social well-being of all those involved with its creation/ destruction as well as the environment/ resources that are impacted by its creation, this chapter is but a drop in the bucket.
So why do we design and create with this one chapter in mind while ignoring all others? And as consumers, why do we ignore the rest of the book? These are the questions that keep me up at night and that I hope to try and find answers to in the future.
I do feel that when it comes to customer consumption, a general lack of knowledge is partly to blame. People have truly lost touch with the real-life processes that are behind the object they purchase. They forget where their food comes from, how it’s grown and the places it goes before they drop it into their carts at their local grocery store. They have no clue how their clothing is put together let alone how the fibres were created, dyed, transported etc. It’s as if the clothing just appeared one day in the store out of thin air, ready for them to pick it up and take it home.
Maybe its ignorance, or maybe it’s something people choose not to think about because of the guilt it would bring them. Who really knows. What I hope will happen in the future is a shift towards this cradle to cradle model of production. If you want to learn more on the topic, I urge you to take a look at the book and have a read. You won’t be disappointed.