Over the last 30 years, there has been a lot of talk about sustainability especially as the impacts of climate change, rapid population growth, and ecological degradation is felt. The threat to future generations has been highlighted countlessly, and philosophies composed especially in the creation of goods and services for our consumerist culture. Increasing awareness, education, and global connectivity have highlighted the need for sustainability efforts, and consumers are beginning to demand more sustainable products. Designers have also picked up on the craze, both from a real need to be sustainable as well as a PR drive. Governments have instituted many policies on sustainability, and resolutions were drawn to combat issues like climate change. Companies that flout these policies have been severely punished, the recent victim being Volkswagen and its emissions scandal. It can thus be said that consumers and designers feel a real need for sustainable design.
There are many approaches to sustainable design that I find interesting, particularly the aspects of energy efficiency and low-impact materials. The oil crisis of recent years has highlighted the increasing energy demands of the planet, which will put a pressure on non-renewable energy sources. Power outages have also plagued many cities, which have also been faced with traffic challenges and prompting people to adopt services like Uber and Carpooling. The world’s energy resources are depleting fast, and it is time to find ways to reduce energy use in our manufacturing processes and make products that require less energy to operate. I intend to use the notions of renewable energy not only in championing for sustainability but also in finding innovative ways to produce and operate. These notions will also inform my daily routine as well as purchase decisions.
While many ideas on sustainable design are useful, some may prove problematic. It is, for example, hard to design impact measures for total carbon footprint assessment, especially since there are many opposing influences on carbon emissions. The current assessments are too complex for many people, and their accuracy has been cause for debate (Vallero and Brasier). Also problematic is emotionally durable design, since efforts at emotional durability may have the unintended consequences, case in point the smartphone that has made people into ‘technology zombies.’ More research and funding is needed in these fields, and governments, non-governmental organizations, and industry bodies should help in this endeavor. These stakeholders may also help create awareness through advertisements, civic education drives, as well as change the curriculum to incorporate sustainability education.
The best way to change a society is through changing its ideologies, and efforts at imprinting the sustainability idea in people are the best way to ensure sustainability. Civic education and grassroots environmentalism are already working, and are responsible for unearthing major scandals such as the Volkswagen emissions scandal as well as the exploding Samsung smartphones. They are also responsible for the adoption of novel technology such as hybrid and electric cars, and many companies are branding themselves as ‘green.’ These awareness efforts are pivotal for increasing discourse on sustainability and finding ways to reduce ecological degradation.
The issue of sustainability has been widely debated, with many people proffering conflicting opinions on the issue. Discussions on how long earth has before the real impacts of climate change and whether the earth has exceeded the limit of renewable are of much interest to me. Are we doomed as a generation? These are questions that many people ask, and many scientists are afraid that the path of degradation that earth has taken cannot be reversed, and man will eventually be wiped out. Many companies have tapped into this talk of theeventual demise of earth’s population to much effect, with the movie and gaming industries leading the charge. Movies of apocalypse times where the world is inhabited by zombies fill people with notions of eventual destruction. It almost seems inescapable, and thus there is no need to enhance sustainability efforts. The philosophy of creating educational documentaries on ways of attaining sustainable development had the most appeal to me. This is because the world needs education on how to actually achieving sustainable development on both an individual and community level. Documentaries have the added advantage of visual appeal, hence drawing a bigger and more diversified audience to the sustainability drive.
In the end, designers and consumers have a big role to play in sustainability efforts. Designers must ensure that their manufacturing processes are energy efficient and their products low-cost and renewable. Designers should also ensure that they are ethical and do not lie on sustainability. Consumers, on the other hand, must learn to uptake products and services that are sustainable. They should also lobby the government to institute and enforce regulations on sustainability. Consumers can also help create awareness in the community bout sustainability, and encourage others to purchase from ‘green companies.’
To improve sustainability efforts, production processes must use the least amount of energy, which should ideally be renewable such as solar energy. They should also have biodegradable waste and one that does not cause air pollution. The materials should also be biodegradable upon completion of their shelf-life, be low-cost, non-toxic, and durable. The world should also not innovate to a degree that labor supply will exceed demand. The idea of emotionally durable design is also appealing because the effects of technological change, for example, have had huge ramifications on how humans form relationships (Lacey).
Lacey, E. ” Contemporary ceramic design for meaningful interaction and emotional durability: A case study.” Journal of Design (2009): 87-92. Document.
Vallero, D. and C. Brasier. Sustainable Design: The Science of Sustainability and Green Engineering. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc, 2008. Document.