Smart, eco-friendly design making inroads in the business community

The seminal 2002 book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, inspired a slogan for 21st century designers: “Pollution is a symbol of design failure.” They proposed that every material used in manufacturing should be capable of either biodegrading harmlessly into the soil or returning with no loss of quality into the manufacturing process. More and more businesses are embracing the C2C concept, for economic as well as environmental reasons. Office design company Herman Miller Inc. hopes to have 50 percent of its products meet C2C specs by 2010. Carpet maker Shaw Industries now offers to pick up and recycle all of its carpet tiles, reducing both waste and money spent on new materials. Office furniture company Steelcase has released “Think,” a 99 percent recyclable office chair. Going C2C is getting easier, too, as industry introduces new eco-friendly materials and economies of scale push the prices down. As that happens, more companies, says Shaw’s Steven Bradfield, “will quietly adopt this as a basic business practice.”