25 Feb Exploring the Concept of Cradle to Grave Thinking
Cradle to grave thinking is essential not only for product manufacturers but designers, retailers and more.
You might be more familiar with this concept under the moniker “lifecycle thinking”, but whether you call it cradle to grave thinking or lifecycle thinking, it amounts to the same thing. It’s a new way of looking at your products or services, the value they bring to your customers over their lifecycle, and what happens to them at the end of that lifespan.
Cradle to grave thinking begins before the product is even “born”. Where do the materials in the product’s construction come from? What sort of environmental impact is made by extracting those materials? For instance, many consumer electronics, including smartphones, tablets and laptops, require rare earth elements that can only be extracted from the ground in ways that damage the environment. Is there a better source for those materials, or alternative materials available? To use the consumer electronics example once more, one alternative would be recycling old smartphones, tablets and other devices, allowing the reuse of those materials without the need to extract more from the earth.
The next step in the cradle to grave thinking is the impact of the product on your customers, their homes and lives, and the planet as a whole during the product’s use life. Are there toxicity worries during usage? Does the product contaminate or harm the environment?
In the end, cradle to grave thinking is also concerned with product disposal. What happens when the product is disposed of? Are there elements that might cause pollution or contamination if they were to seep into the soil or groundwater? Can any of the materials be recycled? Are there toxicity concerns with disposal, such as mercury?
Cradle to grave thinking is essential not only for product manufacturers but designers, retailers and more. Small or large, businesses must develop this mindset to protect the planet and the future.