How Cradle-to-Cradle Became a Foundation for Method's Design

Method recently had an exceedingly rare joint visit from Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough, the co-authors of Cradle-to-Cradle and principals of MBDC. In the green design world, this is like spending the afternoon working on a script with Pacino and DeNiro, like jamming with Jagger and Richards, like fighting evil with Batman and Robin...

Michael and Bill are in San Francisco to work on the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute and to explore ways for C2C thinking to be formalized in the State of California's Green Chemistry Initiatives.

We took advantage of their time here by having them in to chat with our team. We spoke about what's inspiring them, what their favorite examples of applied C2C thinking are, what they'd love to see method do next, and how to keep this evolving domain of thought central to method's thinking.

Here's a little background on how method has integrated C2C into our ethos and product development process.

In 2006, one of our founders read Cradle-to-Cradle and had multiple, successive and powerful epiphanies:

  • "Wait, method should focus on being good for the environment, not just less bad."
  • "My god, chemistry is the key to great design. And design is the key to great chemistry!"
  • And "Whoa -- Cradle-to-Cradle is how we make environmental design about value creation rather than risk mitigation."

Shortly after, Method started working with EPEA, the Hamburg-based environmental research institute that Michael had founded, and MDBC, its U.S.-based sister firm. Both firms are staffed by chemists, material scientists, designers and biologists who complete the materials assessment research required for C2C design. In short, their research gives the necessary information and guidance for clients to safely design the next life into their products.

Since 2006, EPEA has been method's materials research partner. They assess all prospective formulation ingredients -- such as solvents, colorants, chelators and surfactants -- against a comprehensive list of toxicological and environmental criteria. These criteria span from health endpoints like skin and eye irritation, to acute toxicity and chronic effects like carcinogenicity and developmental toxicity, and environmental factors like biodegradation and aquatic toxicity.

Next page: More from the rockstar design-chemists' visit