Principled Design Based On The Laws Of Nature with William McDonough

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What is meant by the idea of “Cradle to Cradle?” What is the difference between technonutrients and bionutrients and how can we safely recycle both? How can we turn sewage treatment plants into nutrient management plants? What is happening in China? McDonough says, “Things are designed to either go back to biology or back to technology without contaminating each other. . . Technonutrients can be recaptured to be reutilized forever, in safe healthy ways.” He tells us that we can and must design things to go back into an intelligent material pool for human benefit without contaminating the environment. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


William McDonough is an anticipatory design architect. But more than that he is a philosopher for the 21st century and is asking some of the most critical questions we should be thinking about in these challenging times. He’s the former Dean of the Architecture Department at the University of Virginia, and was named “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine. He’s also the winner of three U.S. presidential awards including the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development. 

He is the author with his partner, Michael Braungart, of:

To learn more about the work of William McDonough go to and

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is meant by the idea “Cradle to Cradle”
  • What is the "technosphere" and why must it be kept separate from the biosphere
  • What is meant by accruing a “materials bank”
  • What is the difference between a consumer and a customer
  • How China is looking at sustainable development
  • How we can turn sewage treatment plants into nutrient management plants
  • How humans can become tools of the natural world once more

Host: Justine Willis Toms       Interview Date: 11/15/2012       Program Number: 3455

Music Playlist

From Album: Beautiful Wasteland
Artist: Capercaillie
1998 Survival Records #RCD 10441

Opening Essay: Track 09 Kepplehall
Music Break 1:Track 01 M'Ionam
Music Break 2 Track 09 Kepplehall (reprise)
Music Break 3: Track 06 Co Ni Mire Rium