Principles Design Based On The Laws Of Nature with William McDonough

McDonough is committed to helping humankind remake how we make things so as to not pollute the environment and therefore ourselves. He’s convinced that we can live a healthy and sustainable life on the planet if we start asking ourselves the right questions. He speaks about how we need to look closely at nature where nothing is thrown away. Everything in the natural world is used and reused over and over. This is what he means by the endless cycle of “cradle to cradle” rather than “cradle to grave.”  He says we can decide to design things to “either go back to biology or back to technology without contaminating one or the other.” He gives examples of how techonutrients can be recaptured “to be reutilized forever, in safe and healthy ways.”He says we need to “design what we make to go back into an intelligent material pool for human benefit without contaminating the environment.” We need to ask better questions. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)

William McDonough is an anticipatory design architect. But more than that he is a philosopher for the 21stcentury and is asking some of the most critical questions we should be thinking about in these challenging times. He’s the former Dean of the Architecture Department at the University of Virginia, and was named “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine. He’s also the winner of three U.S. presidential awards including thePresidential Award for Sustainable Development. He is the author with his partner, Michael Braungart, of the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (Farrar, Straus and Geroux 2002). To learn more about the work of William McDonough go to and

Topics explored in this dialogue include:

  • What is meant by the idea “Cradle to Cradle”
  • What is the technosphere and how can it
  • What is meant by accruing a “materials bank”
  • What is the difference between a consumer and a customer
  • How China is looking at sustainable development
  • How we can turn sewage treatment plants into nutrient management plants
  • How humans can become tools of the natural world once more

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