The current economic system is built on constant growth, and growth has come to be synonymous with ever increasing the amount of material goods produced. This model of growth is highly unsustainable and environmentally destructive. Even if the energy used in manufacturing is eventually generated by only renewable means, the products would still consist of nonrenewable materials obtained through mining.
To reduce the amount of resources required for the ever increasing production of material goods, cradle to cradle product development needs to become the standard. Cradle to cradle refers to products that have a life beyond their initial purpose. Products are designed to either be biodegradable or completely recyclable so that their impact on the environment is minimal. This form of production is not necessarily sustainable but it is a large step in the direction of wisely using resources and reducing the human impact on the environment. By manufacturing products in a way that prevents them from simply becoming trash, the amount of waste entering landfills would be drastically reduced.
Though widespread development of cradle to cradle products may not exist currently, there are a number of companies that are producing cradle to cradle certified products. Below are just a few examples of the cradle to cradle certified products available today.
HomesHouse with Bark House® siding
Highland Craftsmen Inc. has produced Bark House® shingle siding. These exterior shingles are certified as cradle to cradle because they are made from reclaimed poplar bark from a sustainably designed forest. The bark is harvested within 100 miles of the manufacturing site to reduce transport of materials. The process of preparing the bark for siding does not require water, harsh chemicals, or large amounts of energy. The product is durable and has been proven to last 80 years maintenance free. The product is also completely biodegradable, creating no waste once the siding is removed.
gDiapers are the only cradle to cradle certified diaper currently available. These diapers are unique because they are a diaper cover with a non-plastic, flushable, and 100% biodegradable insert. The product creates no landfill waste and is also compostable and breakdown completely in 50 to 150 days.gDiapers are an environmentally conscious alternative to disposable diapers.
In addition to the product itself being environmentally friendly, gDiaper also participates in GreenShipping. GreenShipping allows for the carbon generated from the shipping process to be calculated and offset by other conservation methods to make shipping carbon neutral.
furnitureHerman Miller’s SAYL chair
The Herman Miller SAYL Chair is designed to use fewer materials than conventional work chairs. The backing is made of a mesh that uses less plastic to produce. The entire chair is 93% recyclable and manufactured using 100% renewable energy. The company of Herman Miller has established sustainability goals to be attained by 2020 that includes a carbon footprint of zero, no landfill waste, and no hazardous waste creation.
PlaygroundsThis is one of many cradle to cradle certified playgrounds produced by Playworld Systems.
The company has been consistently dedicated to green development and has recently taken action to reduce their carbon footprint during. Most building materials for their play sets are made from recycled metals, the product’s packaging is recyclable, manufacturers are located within 150 miles of the facility to reduce transportation, and 90% of waste generated by the company is recycled. In addition to reducing carbon, their products have been made more environmentally friendly by no longer contain PVC.