|Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart|
One thing I learned is that current recycling practices are not necessary safe for us. For example, the plastics and paper that I dutifully place in the recycling bin are "down-cycled" into a mish-mash of low quality material that will never be "as good as new." Furthermore, the recycling process itself releases chemicals that are harmful to us.
I used to think that plastic is, well, plastic - and that it all gets recycled and reused en mass. Now I understand there are many different kinds of plastics that cannot be mixed without detracting from the quality of the original materials. In fact, only soda and water bottles are currently made into new soda and water bottles.
Much of the material we "recycle" is not reused at all. For example, most of our plastic is ground into pellets, which we then throw away to be eaten by animals. "Cradle to Cradle" says that this happens because designers don't think about a product in terms of the next product that can be made from it.
Imagine a world where each thing we use can seamlessly flow into the next creation, inspiring creativity, fun, health, and wealth. Why not take the opportunity to design our intelligence and infinite potential into each product and manufacturing process?