Cradle to Cradle is a concept created by William McDonough in his seminal book published in 2002, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things that advocated rethinking the entire product lifecycle from production and manufacturing to use, and disposal with the intent to shift our current model of “cradle to grave”.  He and his partners have developed a certification institute Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.  The fashion industry is one of the largest producers of waste from industrial waste in the dying process, to crop waste and agriculture destruction from cotton, harm to animals (think wool and goose down), and fast-fashion that encourages wear it once and throw away brands like Zara.  

Wikipedia has a nice summary of Cradle to Cradle.

Cradle-to-cradle design – Wikipedia

Cradle-to-cradle design (also referred to as Cradle to Cradle, C2C, cradle 2 cradle, or regenerative design ) is a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems that models human industry on nature’s processes viewing materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. The term itself is a play on the popular corporate phrase “Cradle to Grave,” implying that the C2C model is sustainable and considerate of life and future generations (i.e.

Below is an excerpt from the article posted:

Systems thinking and the two loops you should design for

In order for your products to be truly circular you need to understand the system they exist in. According to the C2C principles it is not enough to use recycled polyester if you don’t know how the bottles used to make the recycled polyester were made. If you don’t know the origin of your material you don’t know which chemicals have been used and thus, you don’t know how they will affect the cycle you are designing for. Thinking in systems will help you understand, which questions you need to ask your suppliers.

In the C2C framework there are two systems or loops you can design your products to fit into:

  1. The biological loop is for natural products that can biodegrade and thus become nutrients to make new products.
  2. The technical loop is for synthetic materials such as polyester, which can never biodegrade. Instead the materials will be cycled endlessly in a closed loop.

In order for your products to really belong to one of these loops you must understand how they have been produced. The building blocks library, which Fashion Positive is working to create will include (and already have some) materials that have been certified according to the C2C principles.

The five pillars of the C2C Certified Product Standard

In order to design products for the two loops you must use materials that have been designed to fit into the loop you choose. This is where the C2C certified materials come into play. All materials are assessed and verified through the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard with requirements spanning five categories:

  1. Material Health is about knowing the chemical ingredients in every material in a product, and optimizing towards safer materials.
  2. Material Reutilization is concerned with designing products made with materials that come from and can safely return to nature or industry.
  3. The Renewable Energy & Carbon Management category touches upon envisioning a future in which all manufacturing is powered by 100% clean, renewable energy.
  4. The Water Stewardship category is about managing clean water as a precious resource and an essential human right. It’s concerned with addressing local geographic and industry water impacts at each manufacturing facility.
  5. In the Social Fairness category focus is on designing operations to honor all people and natural systems affected by the creation, use, disposal and reuse of a product.


How to design for a closed loop: Cradle to Cradle® in Fashion – Circular Economy Club

The Cradle to Cradle® philosophy focuses on designing products to never go to waste. In order to do this, products must be designed with the end in mind. According to Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart, the authors behind the seminal book “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” from 2002 products can be …