Creating a New Useful Life

Although this week I did not have an epiphany, I did see potential for application in the principle we discussed, cradle to cradle.  The article we read, “Cradle to Cradle; Remaking the Way We Make Things” by McDonough & Braungart really opened my eyes to the current cycle society is in and the benefits that changing this cycle would create.

The current cycle that society has created is cradle to grave, or basically we create a product for it’s current purpose and when we are through with it, we dispose of it.  This cycle is counterproductive because there are so many ways to utilize pieces of current products to create new products when their current useful life is complete.

This is so relevant to our industry because we can take the fibers that created one garment and remake them into an entirely new garment.  It is also useful to the industry because this could significantly decrease waste.  The problem with this practice is the labor.  In the article I used for the L.O.L.A. show, I learned about a company called Nudie Jeans that has a cradle-to-cradle approach with their denim products.  They will take denim product you are no longer wearing and break it down to fiber form to be produced into a new product.

As I said before, the problem with this is the high labor costs incurred when breaking down these products.  In the case of denim, you have to remove the rivet, zippers, and other metal pieces by hand.  This creates a huge labor cost.  Nudie Jeans believes that this creates job, and therefore creates human profit.  They measure wealth more by human profit than monetary profit.  The issue with this is although it is wonderful to create human profit, you cannot continue paying your human profit and maintaining your company without a monetary profit.  So although in theory we could create more jobs, it may also make people lose jobs in the end if there is not enough monetary profit to support the current workforce.

Completing this cycle by creating new products out of no longer used materials is a useful process for the future of the industry (us) to understand.  This new process could completely turn around our industry and if we could find a way to balance the human profit and the monetary profit to make a mutually beneficial relationship, I think we are really coming onto something!

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