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The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  435 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews

From the authors of Cradle to Cradle, we learn what's next: The Upcycle

The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestoes of our time. Now, drawing on the green living lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice with businesses, governments, and ordinary people, Willi
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by North Point Press
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Todd Martin
In The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability-Designing for Abundance , the author’s argue that companies can solve all of our environmental woes through better design of their products. The book somewhat builds upon their earlier publication Cradle to Cradle, though it’s more a reiteration of the same principles presented in this earlier work.

McDonough and Braungart’s contention is that if every product and process were designed in a way that they not only did not create pollution, but actually benefi
Mike Moskos
Finally an environmental book with a positive message.

Theirs is a simple idea really: prevent environmental damage by designing things properly from the start to use only those chemicals that won't ever present a problem. Not as simple as it sounds, but as more companies embrace the idea, recalcitrant companies will be forced to since costs will be lower.

The smartest ideas are always the simplest.

Patrick Dean
Feb 04, 2014 Patrick Dean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thesis of "The Upcycle" is that...well, here's a quote: "Abundance -- of us, of our products -- is not the scourge: Society can accommodate and encourage even hundreds of thousands of products, from thousands of cultures, and even honor every one of the 10 billion people predicted to be here later in the century."

McDonough and Braungart posit that the idea of lowering one's carbon footprint is a bit too negative, too pessimistic. Instead, humans should seek to add sustainable abundance throu
If someone has told you to read Cradle to Cradle, but you haven't yet, just read this instead. Newer, clearer explanations of the same material.

This book is great content wise. The ideas of how to think about products, resources, etc. are all wonderful. However, I think this is still too naive that all we need to change is the way we go about working in our current consumerist culture, not analyzing the idea that we should and can just consume whatever we want.

This book when combined with “Flour
Brian Tracz
This book had some interesting ideas about sustainability, and I am not really in a position to criticize their recommendations on scientific grounds. The overall message is that better design, with an eye to not only human needs but also human desires, is the primary solution to our environmental woes. As the authors note, we tend to design for the first use, not for perpetual use. There is a plethora of optimism in the book, such as in McDonough and Braungart's claim that "we don’t have an ene ...more
Lance Eaton
Sep 28, 2015 Lance Eaton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
McDonough and Braungart's follow up to their previous book, Cradle to Cradle, is a solid book to help think more critically and creatively about developing a more sustainable world through human efforts. They highlight a variety of work that is already being done with regards to upcycling and where more work can be done. At its core is the argument is that there isn't a "waste" problem insomuch as there is a design problem that we must think more proactively about design with the full cycle of t ...more
Ron Moss
Jun 03, 2013 Ron Moss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most hopeful books I have read in a long time. We not have an energy problem, we just have our resources in the wrong places. For instance, carbon is great for soil but not the atmosphere. With proper design, all currently scientifically possible, there will be no waste, just nutrients for other things. The sad part about reading such a positive book is it makes it harder to take the nonsense Republicans spew out every day, trying to do their job of winning power so they can further e ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought The Upcycle, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, to find out what happened next in the story they began with their first book Cradle to Cradle. The full title of the book, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability–Designing for Abundance, gave me pause. I pictured a wide gulf of uncharted territory between sustainability and abundance and was intrigued to learn how the authors would bridge it.

On a mostly blank page, just before the table of contents, readers will find one sentence that
Kirsten Zirngibl
I like the sentiment. Really, I do. However, there is a lot of self-repetition, and gets a bit too syrupy in tone. Also, it doesn't really discuss the macroeconomics of the shift it proposes. Because it is speaking to business execs and bureaucrats, I think it should have better covered how to hurdle those kinds of obstacles rather than just the technical ones.
Filip Kis
Jul 30, 2016 Filip Kis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very inspiring book from the authors of Cradle to Cradle book (and principle) that shifts ones perspective about sustainability. Though environmental crisis is here and global warming is a problem, scarcity and reduction of "consumption" doesn't have to be the solution (and let's face it, many people deny these problems exist for fear of those solutions that limit their way of life). But rather, buy designing our products, our systems and our businesses to use resources in truly renewable and su ...more
Hannah Debelius
Jun 17, 2016 Hannah Debelius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book that makes you feel creative and solutions oriented. Written similarly in tone to "Green Think," it's simultaneously a theory, dire call to action, and pat on the back for a select few large scale solutions. A follow up to "Cradle to Cradle" it was a much needed book to remind me that as a sustainability professional I can be creative and come from a place of abundance. A good reminder to get away from "zero goals" and restrictions and focus on how to do more good as opposed to less b ...more
Angel Oakley
Sep 12, 2013 Angel Oakley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book! Bill is spot on. We need to rethink our use of materials. It starts with being conscious of what we support with our buying power. Wide-scale adoption has a pretty big bell curve, lots of awareness and education needed in this area. Amen to the concept!
Mary Revoy
Jun 21, 2013 Mary Revoy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a just read for everyone. Truly inspiring ideas contains in this book. I enjoyed reading it. I can't wait to see more and more things upcycled!
Jun 10, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My most often recommended book was Cradle to Cradle. Now it is the Upcycle. Upbeat and right on target. Read it, then change the world.
Camille McCarthy
I thought it couldn't get any better than "Cradle to Cradle," but it did. "The Upcycle" takes the ideas presented in "Cradle to Cradle" and "upcycles" them: makes them clearer and gives more examples. This book is even more inspirational than "Cradle to Cradle" because it has more real-life examples and the ideas presented are more clearly defined. I recommend this book to everyone, but especially to those who are interested in environmental ideas but feel depressed and bogged down in misery fo ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the McDonough/Braungart works because they add some poetry to the predominantly pessimistic subject of how to rebuild the world before we crush ourselves under the weight of toxins, emissions and discarded consumer goods. You can enjoy the pleasant and optimistic language throughout the book and be inspired by a dozen or so unique and positive design references and appreciate the life work of some fellas who seem to have a knack for making good ideas that compound value going forward.

As o
Mehad Habbab
Oct 05, 2013 Mehad Habbab rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't think of a better sequel to Cradle to Cradle!

Cradle to Cradle left us with many questions regarding how should we design a product or how can we close the loop whether it be the technical or biological nutrients. This is where Upcycle comes in. It provides us with different examples on how to approach the problems we face. It also makes think about terms such as "less bad" and "emissions" differently. The example about emissions not being entirely bad as living things like a tree releas
Leland Beaumont
Jun 27, 2013 Leland Beaumont rated it it was amazing
Waste does not occur within natural systems. The materials expelled by one organism are precisely the nutrients needed by some other organism. This creates a complex web where materials are reused endlessly, without degradation. There is, of course, an unfortunate exception to this, that being modern humans’ expenditure of materials. The upcycle challenges us to learn from nature and design products and systems that recycle materials endlessly without degradation while they derive energy from re ...more
Jun 09, 2014 GONZA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Updates to the first book, which was already beautiful and interesting on its own. Now, after nearly a decade, here are provided more examples and clarification of certain issues relating to the sustainability of upcycling. However, a great read.

Aggiornamenti al primo libro, che giá era bello ed interessante da solo. Ora, dopo circa un decennio, vengono forniti piú esempi e chiarite alcune problematiche relativi alla sostenibilitá dell'upcycling. Comunque una grande lettura.
Mar 22, 2016 Maddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I happened upon this book after searching for sustainability design books at my local library. I found the book to be very insightful and inspiring, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the environment and sustainable design- especially if you are seeking to learn more about how people are developing creative solutions to our current problems.
The message is good, but needlessly repetitive. I got very frustrated, and almost didn't finish it. I'm not sure how much this book adds to the Cradle to Cradle concept. If you took out all of the repetition and the pedestrian hand-holding, they could have simply gotten away with an addendum to a new edition of Cradle to Cradle. Now THAT'S the upcycle.
Was not a literary masterpiece. Got the idea he just spoke into a Dictaphone and someone typed it! It read like marketing info for their Cradle to Cradle process. I loved the info on how they designed buildings to take advantage with ecological considerations. Bought an LED bulb. ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
Much like their first book on this topic, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, I think that this is a book that everyone should read. I was truly inspired by their ideas and strategies for humans to not just be "less bad" but rather, design our products, buildings, and lives, in ways that actually leave the Earth better than we found it.
Aug 28, 2015 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the sequel to Cradle to Cradle. It was a slog to get through. The authors seem very self-promoting about their business helping firms become more sustainable and a lot of what is discussed is common sense and too much explanation.
Daniel Tavelli
Concept of the upcycle is pretty cool and they give a few detailed examples that are interesting but there is no flow to the book at all. It jumps from random story to story with some lofty prose in between. I didn't read cradle to cradle, so if you are going to read one of the two I would start there. They mention the phrase "cradle to cradle" a few hundred times throughout the book which gets a bit tiresome.
Sep 11, 2014 Haley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to start MAKING a difference instead of dwelling on the doom and gloom of environmental problems we currently face. RE-DESIGN our future.
bibliotekker Holman
I read the author's previous work Cradle to Cradle several years ago. This book, continues the conversation about improving sustainabilty through good design. More philosophical than technical, it provides a roadmap for rethinking the way we make things. The idea of thinking of waste as a "nutrient" that goes into making new products or soil instead of being thrown away is a value we have lost and need to regain. Part of this involves a process of redesign that finds new materials to replace tox ...more
May 15, 2014 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Upcycle" is a great book for those wanting to reduce the carbon footprint of businesses. The book points to ways that are BIG in ideas, not just recycling, but designing (or redesigning) businesses, acquiring products locally, etc.
Rob Jackson
spent a little too much time on starter material
Suzanne Hazelzet
"Waste is Food" .. No wait, there is no waste! There is only food, and energy. The glas is always full, with water and air. Great read on designing for abundance, health, diversity and joy!
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eBook Irony 1 11 Apr 16, 2013 07:56PM  
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