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The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance: Summary

The book The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance by McDonough and Braungart is a famous sequel to their previous book Cradle to Cradle. The Upcycle presents the authors’ innovative view on how humankind should interact with nature for mutual benefit. In particular, McDonough and Braungart affirmatively state that not only do people should reuse or recycle natural resources but also make an effort to improve the environment. One of the best ways to do this is to redesign human activity and assets, including products, factories, cars, chairs, and other items, to provide sustainable, abundant life and growth. Thus, the authors propose readers become co-creators of nature and leave beneficial traces on the face of the Earth.

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In the extensive Introduction, McDonough and Braungart explain the issue and related terms, such as upcycling or abundance, using illustrative and clear examples and outline the goals of the given book. Specifically, they indicate that large-scale factories and skyscrapers swallow much energy and material, usually in vain, and managers and owners cannot reduce this consumption significantly. In this regard, the authors provide the most widespread causes of why large companies fail to conduct productive, sustainable policies, despite their interests and desires. In addition, the book contains instances of the application of the Cradle to Cradle strategy in the real-life world. Overall, throughout the introduction, the researchers encourage executives to invest in recycling and upcycle standards by presenting logical arguments.

The section Upcycle begins by presenting the two overarching flaws of people’s perceptions of nature. The first is that individuals are inclined to romanticize nature, while the second is that people should leave the footprints of their activities as little as possible. These flaws of the perceptions typically lead to the wrong understanding of ecologism, which generates burdensome rules, standards, and obligations. McDonough and Braungart invoke to reject the path of limitations, especially the intention to achieve zero effect on the environment, and cooperate with nature fruitfully, arranging symbiosis.

Additionally, the authors criticize the strategy of burning wood pellets instead of fossil fuels, in detail describing its adverse effect on the environment and mankind and the absence of positive outcomes. Finally, the book encourages readers to interact with nature more closely instead of leaving it untouched. People should be creative in treating the environment and its richness, including forests, valleys, lakes, and open spaces.

In the chapter Houston, We Have a Solution, McDonough and Braungart detail their potential proposition of improving the relationships between humankind and nature. As usual, the authors supply the sections with convincible examples, gradually coming to the solution. In particular, many technical nutrients cannot be subjected to their reuse cycle and eventually are dumped into the biosphere. These harmful chemicals or materials can be used for other products and purposes. Moreover, large objects can be redesigned to make them consume less energy and other resources. The most relevant example is the plane invented by MacCready, which was highly energy-efficient to fly due to the proper selection of materials and the right design.

In this chapter, the authors are also concerned about how individuals can redesign buildings or optimize cars or other items to make them eco-friendly. Herewith, they specify that this activity can require much time and strenuous efforts and entail risks, obstacles, and failures. Finally, McDonough and Braungart discuss the most prevalent problems among companies that attempted to employ upcycling, namely, the role of metrics and values in design. They recommend setting values and determining the principles before developing goals, strategies, and metrics of the plan’s effectiveness to increase the likelihood of success.

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StudyCorgi. "The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance: Summary." November 19, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-upcycle-beyond-sustainability-designing-for-abundance-summary/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance: Summary." November 19, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-upcycle-beyond-sustainability-designing-for-abundance-summary/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance: Summary'. 19 November.

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