Book review: The Upcycle


‘The Upcycle’ by William McDonough and Michael Braungart,

(Sequel to their best seller entitled ‘Cradle to Cradle’)

McDonough and Braungart have an attractive philosophy: we can live an abundant life in an era of diminishing resources and growing population – we just need to rethink how we manage our lives and resources to preserve our world into the Future. Their view is that a growing population is not something we should be fearful of – rather we embrace it as this will provide a greater number of minds to resolve the issues we see ahead.

They strongly support the use of Renewable energy as they believe that this is currently an underutilised resource – we have that big bright ball in the sky pumping out endless energy which is not being used to the fullest extent. They believe nuclear energy is not the answer to the long term energy needs of the planet owing to its waste disposal issues.

They tell stories of their experiments with housing in particular:  replicating a space station where all the resources are continuing being recycled and energy harnessed from the sun and wind to produce a self-sustaining system. They argue that all building structures be designed with this mindset.

Their view is that we should not put targets on our aims as this restricts what might be possible – ie open your minds and allow the mind to think without restrictions. They even considered that cost should not be taken into account when developing new ideas as this can just place another restraint. If an idea is proven to be successful, cost will come down with increased output or a cheaper alternative may be developed to produce the same result.

I really enjoyed this book because of its mind-expanding qualities and its uplifting tone (goodness knows there is enough gloom!) Well worth a read to help see what might be possible.