We have poisoned the ground and the air, we have overfished the oceans and we have roo- ted out the forests. In the face of this résumé it would be a logical conclusion to perceive mankind as an environmental burden. However, this would also lead us to assume that humans are always in contrast with nature, and must only reduce the destructive actions. We don‘t agree with that view!
According to the Cradle to Cradle school of thought, man can be a beneficial organism and a part of nature: we live in it, interact with it and, as living beings, belong to it. That‘s why we neither refer to man‘s dominion over nature nor to „mother nature“, but instead talk about a partnership with nature. As partners we contribute our share but we also have the right to exist and to act.
Up until recently we have mainly been thinking about restricting our actions, about reduction, abstention and our negative environmental footprint. But why should we only strive to be less bad when we could also be good? Let‘s leave behind a positive footprint! Not only does this kind of self-perception break up old patterns of thinking, it can also encourage us to outgrow ourselves. The Cradle to Cradle school of thought isn‘t aiming to improve existing frameworks. Instead it is actively looking for entirely new ways: products and services are being re-imagined from start to (re-)start – from cradle to cradle.
Nature itself can show us how to go about this task. Ants may be much smaller than us but taken together their biomass exceeds ours by a factor of four. Although they have settled in nearly every kind of habitat their existence doesn‘t pose any problems for the environment. What is their secret? They are true masters in the art of recycling.
Not only do they re-purpose their own raw materials, they also re-use the waste products of other organisms. Food is also perpetually being recycled. Waste simply does not exist.
When it comes to the sensible utilisation of resources we are hopelessly being outperformed by ants so far. Thanks to our economic system, which is a legacy of the industrial revolution, almost all raw materials and nutrients are currently being lost. They end up in incinerators or in landfillsites where they are of no use at all while potentially emitting dangerous substances into the environment. Ants demonstrate that another system is possible. The perpetual circulation of healthy materials within substance cycles would allow us to exist on earth in harmony with its natural systems. What we need is a new form of interaction with our resources and material flows: based on the abundance of nature we choose intelligent design for abundance instead of mindless squandering.
The C2C school of thought takes entirely different perspectives in order to meet today‘s global challenges in an intelligent manner. Our ambitious goal, which is to re-align the entire world economy according to C2C principles, is still far in the future. But we shouldn‘t let that fact discourage us. After all, history teaches that time and again mankind has been able to achieve progress in ways that previously no one would have thought possible. Change requires time. The C2C school of thought is convinced that we can do things right. If we start to think in cycles, understand products as nutrients and see the human potential we could become beneficial organisms. The core message of the C2C school of though therefore is as follows: Be courageous and leave behind a beneficial footprint.