I just read Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. It is a very interesting look at a new approach to creating stuff, whether it be buildings, things we buy in stores, or parts for manufacturing processes. First of all, the book isn't printed on paper, it's printed on a plastic that can be recycled into a new book of the same quality. While this is great if it does get recycled, I wonder how many will.
The premise of the book is that instead of thinking of a product's lifecycle from cradle to grave (from when it is made to when it is disposed, or thrown away), we should look at products from cradle to cradle - from when they are made to when they are finished with that life, and made into something new, or completely returned to the earth. It is a great idea, and the authors talk about how it isn't necessarily more expensive to design and create that way, it just takes a new way of thinking.
This book is pretty high level - great for budding designers and architects, and interesting to others, but not necessarily providing anything that "regular people" can do in their daily lives. In some ways it is very inspirational - there are ways out there to do things better, and some people are doing them, and in a way, it's discouraging - you realize how many people are not doing them, and how the concept of returning something to the earth rather than throwing it in a landfill, is very foreign to a lot of people.
I give this book 3 out of 5 stars for the average reader, 5 out of 5 if you want to go into design or production. It's worth it to find it in the library and feel it's heft (due to the plastic pages) and see what you think of this book material!