Is Sustainability “Boring?”

That’s what Michael Braungart claimed at the “Cradle to Cradle Design & Intelligent Materials Pooling in Practice” workshop, according to Gil Friend in his most recent Sustainability Sunday essay at WorldChanging. Gil quotes Braungart saying:

“We still have people talking about ‘sustainability’! Nothing is more boring. Are you proud if your marriage is ‘sustainable’? We feel guilty, and cut our hair to use less shampoo. It’s guilt management and celebrating mediocrity.“

Powerful words, but Braungart, as anyone who’s read Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things knows that Braungart and partner William McDonough are quite comfortable shaking up conventional wisdom. Braungart’s notions for going beyond sustainability:

…is the transformation of environmental issues into issue of quality. “First be effective — do the right thing; then look for the right tools. Efficiency may be one of them, but there’s no point being more efficient at producing a harmful outcome.”

The new design criteria, according to Braungart: Cost, function, esthetics, ecological intelligence, fairness, fun: Total Beauty Design. “It’s not beautiful if it’s toxic, and if you can’t make a living.” The design principles: Waste equals food; Use current solar income; Celebrate (don’t just respect) diversity.

I’m just giving you a taste here — go read the rest of Gil’s piece, and prepare to go away thinking…

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