If you are unfamiliar with the concept of cradle to cradle, it originated with the very smart, incredibly innovative duo: William McDonough and Michael Braungart. McDonough and Braungart are pioneers in the world of waste. In their premier novel, Cradle to Cradle, the pair imagine a new life for all the things that we purchase and inevitably throw out. If you think back to all the furniture, baby clothes, and random other junk you have tossed over the years, I bet you’d be left with a veritable mountain of stuff! If you added your mountain to the mountains of all the other people in the world, we could probably make an entire mountain range of old dial-up phones, pokemon cards, and whatever else made its way into the trash.

To try and solve this trash problem, McDonough and Braungart designed a truly sustainable system that looks into the ENTIRE lifecycle of the things we buy and use, giving them all a future beyond the trash heap.

Going one step better than recycling, cradle to cradle imagines a whole new life for every single item that you own. Think of it like upcycling (check out these mac books that were turned into cat beds!) But, sometimes mustering the creativity needed to wholly transform an old/falling apart couch can be daunting and it really is best to just send it off on junk day, but if you then find yourself in the market for a new couch, you can’t buy one that has already been designed with its future in mind (less creative thinking for you!).

Lucky for you, McDonough and Braungart don’t just write about cradle to cradle products, they help make them a reality! You can now buy products that are “cradle to cradle” certified, meaning they were created with five principles in mind to ensure their up to environmental and human health standards. The five principles the certification considers are as follows:

  1. Material Health – Products are made with materials that are safe and healthy for humans and the environment
  2. Material Reutilization – Products are designed so all ingredients can be reused safely by nature or industry
  3. Renewable Energy – Products are assembled and manufactured with renewable energy, non-polluting energy
  4. Water Stewardship – Products are made in ways that protect and enrich water supplies
  5. Social Fairness – Products are made in ways that advance social and environmental issues

So the technical stuff aside, here is an easy guide to help you shop cradle to cradle and make sure your stuff doesn’t end up being part of the Pacific Trash Patch.

1. Cradle to Cradle Personal Hygiene

From the chemicals used to formulate plastic bottles for shampoo, body wash, and lotion bottles, to the gunk that gets added like parabens, phthalates, and EDTA, personal hygiene products get real dirty, real fast when they’re unleashed into the environment. Cradle to cradle hygiene products are clean from start to finish. Look for bottles made from environmentally friendly materials that biodegrade or can be recycled (if you can find glass jars, that is the best!). Next, look for all natural ingredients that will not pollute water, or cause harm to your health.

Here are some products to look for that have gold level cradle to cradle certifications:

2. Cleaning Cradle to Cradle

Like personal hygiene products, household cleaning products can be really wasteful. Check out these cradle to cradle certified products for all your cleaning needs!

3. Snooze Cradle to Cradle Style

You can even make your bedroom cradle to cradle friendly. Check out these sustainable supplies that will help you sleep easy!

4. Ambitious And Eco-Friendly Office

From office supplies to furniture, cradle to cradle certified products help to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals from traditional plastic and polymer furniture. Try these awesome alternatives that are made with the environment and you in mind:

And More!

Do you wish everything you bought was made with the environment and your health in mind?

Cradle to Cradle certified products are gaining popularity and as more consumers opt for sustainable products, more companies will pick up McDonough and Braungarts innovative designs! You can find more products that are certified on the Cradle to Cradle Website, just click here for more!

Image source: Jamie / Flickr