Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ISTC Sustainability Film Festival 2014

A guide to resources relating to the three films screened during ISTC's Sustainability Film Festival, held from April 22-24, 2014. They are: Living Downstream, Terra Blight, and Waste = Food.

Waste=Food Synopsis & Trailer

In a world where more and more societies with high consumption rates generate excessive amounts of waste, traditional environmental notions of reducing or recycling waste products are no longer sufficient. The new theory of ecologically intelligent design, green design and building, argues that manufacturers' products, when discarded, should either be completely recyclable in the Technosphere or become biodegradable food for the Biosphere.

WASTE = FOOD explores this revolutionary "cradle to cradle" (as opposed to "cradle to grave") concept through interviews with its leading proponents, American architect William McDonough and German ecological chemist Michael Braungart, coauthors of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Their ideas are increasingly being embraced by major corporations and governments worldwide, unleashing a new, ecologically-inspired industrial revolution.

The film shows how their "intelligent product system," utilizing completely non-toxic and sustainable production methods, has been adapted by major corporations, visiting a Swiss textile factory, a German clothing manufacturer, the Nike shoe headquarters, a U.S. furniture manufacturer, the Ford Motor Company, and a government housing project in China. The manufacturers discuss the concept of "eco-effectiveness," designing for eco-safety as well as cost efficiency, in their respective industries.

WASTE = FOOD also illustrates McDonough's environmentally focused architectural designs, where buildings function like trees, and become part of nature rather than conflict with it, including his designs for Ford's new River Rouge plant, a GreenHouse factory for the Herman Miller company, and a model village in rural China.

The DVD of this documentary should be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only. For more information, please see the Icarus Films web site at

Learn More

Use the resources below to learn more about sustainable design, the 'cradle to cradle' concept, and projects of McDonough and Braungart.

What You Can Do

These links will help consumers find sustainably designed products and businesses that work to reduce waste and produce greener products. There are also resources for businesses that wish to be greener.

Film evaluation

Please take a few moments to give us feedback on the film. Your input is appreciated so that we can gauge our efforts in public engagement on important issues in Illinois and the world.