By Karina | September 3, 2008
Cradle to Cradle Certification is awarded to products that pursue an innovative vision of ecologically-intelligent design that eliminates the concept of waste. This USPS packaging has been certified for it’s material content, recyclablity, and manufacturing characteristics. Please recycle.
I didn’t realize that last year the USPS has teamed with the product and process design firm MBDC to achieve MBDCs Cradle to Cradle Silver certification! This is a very long and robust process designed to ensure that the components include in, and the end-of-life of your product, are environmentally sustainable. There’s plenty of detail about the process here, both in generalities and with respect to the USPS.
The concept of Cradle to Cradle design is outlined at some length in the book by the same name, written by the founding partners of MBDC. Now, I will admit here that I haven’t reviewed this book on Tiny Choices (yet?) – partly because the tone of my review would be along these lines, written by the author of Fashion-Incubator, an amazing resource of a blog subtitled “lessons from the sustainable factory floor.” But to summarize: Cradle to cradle means that every component of a product can be taken apart and outside of this product, and reused as if it were a raw material again. Cradle to cradle maintains that recycling should be called down-cycling, and that it is inherently a wasteful process. There’s a little more information at the wiki page, if you don’t want to read the book.
To put it simply: Cradle to cradle does NOT support Individual Tiny Choices. It calls for a system-wide change, and while I agree that eliminating waste and being more efficient with our resources are Very Good Things, it can be discouraging to the individual to be told that Hey: your recycling efforts don’t really matter. You’re just DOWNCYCLING. What’s the point, you know? Cradle to cradle tells the individual that there is nothing you can do – and places the entirety of the burden for sustainability on the manufacturer.
Anyway, regardless of how I feel about cradle to cradle, this is the part that I find extra boggling: USPS has this little logo on their priority mail envelopes, saying please recycle. But no where on the envelope does it say HOW to recycle! I went to their press release and found some information buried at the bottom – but it’s a dead link. FYI, you can send Tyvek envelopes to Dupont and THEY will recycle them. Information is here.
But USPS, it would be a lot simpler if you told us how to do this straight out. Or even more innovative: print the address and shipping information on the inside of the priority mail envelope so we can just flip them inside out, slap a stamp on them, and send them off to their happy second life as more Tyvek. If you’re going to be so careful about making sure your products can be recycled, you should make it a lot easier to actually recycle them.
What do you think? should I tell you what I REALLY think about Cradle to Cradle, or is this entirely enough of that?
[Image from flickr user kelsey * via creative commons license.]
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