By William McDonough and Michael Braungart (North Point Press, $25)
McDonough and Braungart practice what they preach. That’s why chapter one of this environmental design team’s new book is titled “This Book Is Not a Tree.” What it is, is a waterproof, synthetic “paper” made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers that can be broken down and completely recycled into another book without any waste.
And that’s the crux of the duo’s sermon: no waste. Forget recycling, reducing, and reusing. McDonough and Braungart say it’s time to follow nature’s lead and eliminate the concept of waste altogether.
Their arguments and examples are common sense, but unlike many ideas on the tree-hugger side of the fence, they also honor the most basic business prin-ciple: “A company’s first order is to make money, and we understand that. If we can’t do that with a product or idea, we don’t do it,” McDonough says. And the duo has attracted some heavyweight interest. Simply by word of mouth, the two have garnered such high-profile clients as Ford Motor Co., Nike, and BASF, all seeking help with making their manufacturing more eco-friendly.
At the very least, this quick read inspires a reexamination of current environmental wisdom. After all, today’s ideas are all about being “less bad,” McDonough says. But is being “less bad” the same as being good?