Blog Action Day: Awareness for the Environment Through Design

Designers can make a difference in helping the environment. Perhaps it is suggesting recycled papers to your clients, or encouraging the members of your studio to drink from reusable mugs instead of Styrofoam cups (thanks to Sara in our office). Some solutions are common sense and easy implementations, others take some planning. But the good news is there is a lot of help out there to get you started.Blog Action Day: Awareness for the Environment Through Design

According to sustainability is:

a systemic concept. It relates to the relationships between economic, social, institutional and environmental aspects of human existence. It organizes decisions to allow for current economic needs to be met while preserving biodiversities and ecosystems to maintain the same quality of life for future generations. Sustainability calls for humans (as civic creatures):

  1. Respect and care for the community
  2. Improve the quality of life
  3. Conserve Earth’s vitality and diversity
  4. Minimize the depletion of non-renewable resources Change personal attitudes and practices to keep within the planet’s carrying capacity

Some great advice from is to “Design for the Death of your Piece”…

As opposed to designing strictly in a linear fashion (cradle to grave), keep in mind how your piece will be used when its past its useful life. Consider the “death” of your piece in the initial design process. This concept is explained more in depth in the “cradle to cradle” method conceived by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their book “Cradle to Cradle: Rethinking the Way We Make Things.”
Here are the basic principles of Natural Systems Design:

  1. Ask more “why” questions. “Why is this project necessary?”,” Why are we doing it this way?” etc.
  2. Ask more “what if” questions.” What if we did this?”,” What if we minimized effort here and exerted more here?” etc.
  3. Ask more “how” questions. “How is this piece going to impact the world while in production and after? “,”How can I minimize these impacts?” etc.
  4. Minimize and simplify your design
  5. Design for cycles (reuse, remanufacture)
  6. Design for durability not obsolescence
  7. Choose vendors that use renewable energy
  8. Optimize your process, reduce your print waste, make sure its non-toxic
  9. Support sustainable forestry, choose post-consumer waste (PCW) paper, FSC certified vendors
  10. Rely on other designers, and vendors as a community of support
  11. Communicate openly to your client about any concerns and help educate each other on the impacts of the project

Other sites dedicated to empowering designers for environmental change:

Design Can Change
Provides tips on producing more sustainable design and resources, including successful projects, that help raise awareness for environmental issues

The Center For Sustainable Design
is dedicated to providing designers with a wide range of information regarding sustainable business practice. Through case studies, interviews, resources and discourse, this site will encourage and support designers as they incorporate sustainable thinking into their professional lives.

The Mighty Odo
Their mission:
1. Use our creativity to try and rekindle a connection between people and nature.
2. Help foster a new sustainable design model based on nature’s laws through education, exploration and example.