In the not-too-distant past, it was common to view materials through a “cradle to grave” lens. Raw materials would be harvested and turned into products, which would then serve a purpose. These products would eventually break, wear out, or go out of style, at which point they would be discarded and never thought of again. The flow of materials was linear, with a starting point and an ending point.
This model may have seemed viable in bygone eras, but the impacts of exponential population growth and a corresponding increase in consumerism, consumption, and waste reveal the limitations of “cradle to grave” thinking. Resources are finite, and waste is outpacing landfill availability.