Cradle to Crade and LCA

This page will be updated as needed throughout this unit!

William McDonough TED Talk

Here is the 22 minute TED talk (Technology, Engineering and Design) by William McDonough, a developer of the Cradle-to-Cradle concept.  It is well worth watching, but you will get more out of it if pay attention.

HOMEWORK for WEEKEND (1/30/14 to 2/3/14)

Find out where aluminum comes from.  Get the details, not just a word or sentence.  A diagram would be nice...

Story of Stuff

We may watch this in class if time, but it is interesting enough to watch twice.  This traces a generic life cycle of some common products and discusses (among other things) the idea of "shifting" environmental damage intead of preventing it.  It is very accessible (not boring) and provides a lot to think about and discuss.  (~21 minutes long)


Here is a link to the video we watched in class.  If you were absent, make sure you watch the part(s) you missed.

How Paper is Made   (In class, 2/11/14)

Paper Cuts: How paper is made

Photo grid


How a T-shirt is Made  (In class, 2/14/14)

COTTON: Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt

Part I:  Material Acquisition and Processing

Part II:  Manufacturing


 HOMEWORK OVER BREAK:  (2/14/14 to 2/24/14)




Analysis of at least 4 components of your item

to the degree we have practiced in class.



Examples from Class on 2/14/24

Cotton Growing Impacts/Inputs

  • "Anti-poison chemical"  GMO (Genetically modified organism)
    • More chemicals are used! 
    • Potential damage to water supply
    • contaminate soil
    • kills things across the board - include butterflies!


  • Energy is used for the machines to pick the cotton
    • Comes from fossil fuels
    • Damage land and water getting them out
    • Damage air being used/air pollution
    • Greenhouse gases/global climate change


  • Water is required to grow cotton
    • If rain, possible no negatives
    • If irrigation using groundwater
      • Salinity of soil possible
      • Ground water depletion possible


  • Huge fields of cotton reduce biodiversity and take over habitat


Cotton Processing and Manufacturing Impacts/Inputs

  • Water is used to wash the cotton
  • Degrades water quality; water must be treated
  • Soap used may or may not be biodegradable


  • Fuel/Energy source for the machines
  • Probably from fossil fuels
  • Land degradation
  • Air/atmosphere pollution/climate change


  • Cotton is dyed
  • Dye may or may not be biodegradable


  • Extra cotton/scrap cotton might be landfilled


  • Transportation
    • Boats use fossil fuels
    • See above
    • Boats might sink and/or pollute



Coggle It Mapping Website (to make diagrams like the one we worked with in class):


If you want to research further (the next steps of the life cycle:  packaging, transport, use, end of life...) go for it!  When we return we will set a final due date and exact minimum requirements.

Have a good week!

Social and Human Rights Safety Issues Matter Too -

Chinese Mine Kills and Traps Miners 

Miners Trapped after Accdent in Illegal South African Gold Mine

Mining Accident: Four dead, over 50 killed in Dhanbad

-links will be updated after technical difficulties are resolved -

End of Life Example - What happens to t-shirts?

The Aftermath of American Clothes

Bar Mitzvah T-Shirts in Africa

- links will be updated after technial difficulties are resolved -