This week we learned about cradle-to-cradle processes and the differences between several systems. I was honestly very surprised that this lesson came so late in the semester because the things we covered are usually what comes to my mind when thinking about sustainability. I originally learned about cradle-to-cradle a couple years ago, and ever since then it has been tied with sustainability and recycling.
I did learn several new things in this lesson though, like cradle-to-cradle is not just a one-stop shop for how you want your manufacturing processes to be sustainable. There are several considerations to think about. There are two types of nutrients in the materials you want to recycle, either biological nutrients or technical nutrients. I think these two nutrients are what I really learned the most about this week. Biological nutrients are derived from nature and are biodegradable while technical nutrients are manmade and cannot be biodegradable but can be reused over and over again.
I always knew that some things could be broken down naturally and others couldn’t, but I never really understood why, and learning about biological and technical nutrients showed me the missing piece of the puzzle. How materials are made have a huge impact on how they can be disposed of, and how they can be reused. I know that I will take more considerations into how I can reuse items I want to pass on, whether I can compost them or if I would need to recycle them. I always just assumed that if I wanted to be sustainable recycling was the only way to go, but now I know there are more options and I know how to determine which option would be best!