Cradle to Cradle

This morning on the CBC radio program “Next”, I was listening to an by Nora Young interview with Michael Braungart, co-founder of the company MBDC “a product and process design firm dedicated to transforming the design of products, processes, and services worldwide.”

He was talking about “cradle to cradle design“, which is something I had not heard about before.

Cradle to Cradle

Basically, cradle to cradle design uses “eco-effective” processes and designs to produce products which, rather than being simply “recycleable”, are entirely recoverable or not only create no impact on the environment, actually improve the environment. Two examples that he referred to were Unilever, which has ice-cream packaging created from leaf-litter which not only bio-degrades in just a few hours, incorporates seeds from rare plants; and the Ford Motor Company which has introduced the Model U, produced using green materials and processes like soy-based componants and corn-based fillers in its tires, as well as green technologies, such as a revolutionary Hydrogen Internal-Combustion Engine which producess pollutant emissions at near zero (including carbon dioxide).

In fact, Ford is working towards a vehicle with a 5-year life span, at which point, Ford would accept back the entire vehicle. The vehicle then would then be dissolved in a solvent, the polymers recovered, and resued in the creation of new vehicles. Certainly, a revolutionary concept. The test, of course would be with the consumer.

If the price-point on cars with designed-in life-spans is acceptable to the consumer, the concept will work.
In fact, many other companies are already using cradle to cradle design.
Victor, a leader in producing fabrics for furniture and commercial interiors, had adapted itself to the concept and not only produces materials which are up the the cradle to cradle specifications, it draws from partners who are also dedicated to the concept, and with processes which are also in keeping with the philosophy.    
Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer has turned to a non-PVC carpet backing and will have completely stopped using PVC-based adhesives by the end of this year. Shaw has received a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a recipient of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.
The MBDC strategies are quickly becoming the standard in companies engaging in cradle to cradle design. MBDC has hosted the EPA Cradle to Cradle Design Award for E-Commerce Shipping, Packaging and Logistics Competition.

Enviro Packaging

In April, the EnvironDesign 8 conference included a presentation by MBDC co-counders McDonough and Braungart on the cradle to cradle approach to sustainablilty.

China has now embarked on a sustainablity program, again using the MBDC strategies. 

MBDC describes cradle to cradle design thusly:

“The cradle-to-cradle model recognizes two metabolisms within which materials flow as healthy nutrients. Nature’s nutrient cycles comprise the biological metabolism. Materials designed to flow optimally in the biological metabolism [such as Climatex Lifecycle], which we call biological nutrients, can be safely returned to the environment after use to nourish living systems. The technical metabolism, designed to mirror the Earth’s cradle-to-cradle cycles, is a closed-loop system in which valuable, high-tech synthetics and mineral resources—technical nutrients—circulate in a perpetual cycle of production, recovery and remanufacture. “


What Was Lost in Translation

The following is the full text of the scene in Lost in Translation where the director is telling Bob his vision for the Suntory Whiskey.

It’s Suntory Time

DIRECTOR (in Japanese to the interpreter): The translation is very important, O.K.? The translation.
INTERPRETER: Yes, of course. I understand.

DIRECTOR: Mr. Bob-san. You are sitting quietly in your study. And then there is a bottle of Suntory whiskey on top of the table. You understand, right? With whole hearted feeling, slowly, look at the camera, tenderly, and as if you are meeting old friends, say the words. As if you are Bogie in “Casablanca,” saying, “Cheers to you guys,” Suntory time!
INTERPRETER: He wants you to turn, look in camera. O.K.?
BOB: That’s all he said?
INTERPRETER: Yes, turn to camera.
BOB: Does he want me to, to turn from the right or turn from the left?
INTERPRETER (in very formal Japanese to the director): He has prepared and is ready. And he wants to know, when the camera rolls, would you prefer that he turn to the left, or would you prefer that he turn to the right? And that is the kind of thing he would like to know, if you don’t mind.
DIRECTOR (very brusquely, and in much more colloquial Japanese): Either way is fine. That kind of thing doesn’t matter. We don’t have time, Bob-san, O.K.? You need to hurry. Raise the tension. Look at the camera. Slowly, with passion. It’s passion that we want. Do you understand?
INTERPRETER (In English, to Bob): Right side. And, uh, with intensity.

BOB: Is that everything? It seemed like he said quite a bit more than that.

DIRECTOR: What you are talking about is not just whiskey, you know. Do you understand? It’s like you are meeting old friends. Softly, tenderly. Gently. Let your feelings boil up. Tension is important! Don’t forget.
INTERPRETER (in English, to Bob): Like an old friend, and into the camera.
DIRECTOR: You understand? You love whiskey. It’s Suntory time! O.K.?
DIRECTOR: O.K.? O.K., let’s roll. Start.
BOB: For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.
DIRECTOR: Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut! (Then in a very male form of Japanese, like a father speaking to a wayward child) Don’t try to fool me. Don’t pretend you don’t understand. Do you even understand what we are trying to do? Suntory is very exclusive. The sound of the words is important. It’s an expensive drink. This is No. 1. Now do it again, and you have to feel that this is exclusive. O.K.? This is not an everyday whiskey you know.
INTERPRETER: Could you do it slower and ?
DIRECTOR: With more ecstatic emotion.
INTERPRETER: More intensity.
DIRECTOR (in English): Suntory time! Roll.
BOB: For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.
DIRECTOR: Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut! God, I’m begging you.

Star Axis

Hour Chamber


I was remarking to a friend this evening, that I had heard a talk a few years ago, about Star Axis.

Star Axis is an immense star observatory being created in New Mexico.

The artist, Charles Ross, is digging into a mesa to create his naked-eye observatory, a monumental work which is inspired by the ancient observatories of the peoples of the American Southwest, amongst others.The subject of Charles Ross’ art is light itself. Using sunlight and starlight as its source, the work manifests experiences of primal solar color, and star geometry in sculptural form. Ross’ work includes photographs, paintings and drawings, site-specific prism/solar spectrum light installations, Star Maps, Solar Burns, and his enormous earth/sky sculpture and naked-eye observatory, Star Axis.

Other works incorporate the use of prisms in light sculptures which move as the sun moves through the sky.


Lines of Light, Rays of Color

Plaza of the Americas, Dallas, Texas


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