Cradle and all

A catchphrase of all things green-marketed has been around for at least five years, but now, like eco-products themselves, it’s turning up everywhere. Read any environmentally related book, article or website, and the phrase “cradle to cradle” can likely be found, written in a way that assumes the reader knows what it means. One can guess: With a second “cradle” replacing the more common “cradle to grave,” perhaps “cradle to cradle” means something that never finds the grave. Well, sort of. Architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart used the phrase back in 2002 in their book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. It pops up most often when describing green design methods, be it for architecture or toothbrushes. The “cradle to grave” model was one where a product was destined for the landfill. Cradle to cradle is a form of green design that takes into account a product’s ability to be recycled, the use of renewable and recycled resources in its construction, and its eco-toxicological effects. It adds an environmental factor to a business norm that formerly only considered cost, marketing and performance. McDonough and Braungart have now developed a Cradle to Cradle certification, which companies can earn to let consumers know their product was created with consideration for the environment. So there you go.