Cradle to Cradle
The concept may sound like the perfect title for some kind of Cat Stevens song, but what you are looking at in Cradle to Cradle design is the future of REAL sustainable production. I’m actually surprised to realise that I don’t think I’ve ever really committed a whole post to this concept yet and believe it or not, it’s one of my favourite sustainability concepts. The crux of the Cradle to Cradle moment (often called C2C because none of us have time or Twitter character space for whole names anymore) is that products that aren’t designed with the whole lifespan in mind aren’t really sustainability designed. I know what you’re thinking… ‘yup, I’ve heard it all before…buy compostables’, but C2C design is more focused on creating products and product management systems that allow product lifespan to extend ‘beyond the grave’. In that companies take an active approach to making sure that their end-of-life product never reach the ‘grave’. That they are given a new lease on life as a new (or the same) product. That we stop thinking of ourselves as a throwaway society or production system and start to embrace a Futurama style production system where old sandwiches become new sandwiches (a bit of an out-there suggestion I know and I don’t know how easy or nutritious it would be, but anything could be possible). It might seem like a World where we can take our old clothes to become new clothes might be a ‘far away’ premise, but it’s closer than we think and there is even certification schemes to go with it! Yay!
With the aim of changing the production landscape ‘company by company, product by product’, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute is changing the way we make things with their C2C certification system. This non-profit organization, educates and empowers manufacturers of consumer products to become a positive force for society and the environment, helping to bring about a new industrial revolution. The Institute administers the publicly available Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard which provides designers and manufacturers with criteria and requirements for continually improving what products are made of and how they are made. The Cradle to Cradle Certified™ mark provides consumers, regulators, employees, and industry peers with a clear, visible, and tangible validation of a manufacturer’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and to their communities. For us fashion minded folk C2C means Fashion Positive Materials collections, a digital resources for designers and consumers to source textiles, yarns and apparel that meet (different levels of) C2C certifications. This is an exciting moment forwards to holistic sustainable design, one that includes a focus on more than just biodegradable swing tags or the inclusion of organic cotton components (which are all great steps in the right direction, just not looking at the full production picture). If you are keen on knowing more I highly recommend grabbing a copy of the book that started it all to keep on your reference shelf (on in the toilet, my copy is apparently waterproof).