How to become a sustainable designer

After watching endless big data and human technology relation projects I noticed a strong trend in the acceptance of the fact that futures would entail the dominance of technology in everyday lifestyles. Although I was proud to be apart of a group aspiring to see environmental change and a sustainable futuring scenario, I found myself saddened that my peers were not as hopeful as ourselves. But what if we saw classroom of students hopeful for a world that wasn’t killing itself with pollution, global warming and technological dominance. After all, technology is designed right? Nothing unsustainable appears out of nowhere, it is first designed. But what if we saw a new generation of designers with sustainable thinking, practices and outcomes. What would that mean for our future as we know it?

Take Yves Behar for example, he has completely reinvented a shoebox buy decreasing the packaging material volume and using a cheap environmentally friendly soft case “shoe bag”. This in turn reduces waste and CO2 admissions contributed by shoe packaging (Mitchell, R. 2014). Now I might be a little bias because I work at a sneaker store and have the pleasure of encountering such a simple yet innovative and sustainable piece of design on the regular. But this is exactly the type of thinking our design faculties need to start embedding into education and the design process. Designing should be much more than meeting a need in an aesthetically pleasing way. Design is about creating solutions for global issues that can potentially save the population, not merely for the pleasure of status and career benefits (Broschke, M. 2014).

“Clever Little Bag” shoe package by Yves Behar

“Clever Little Bag” shoe package by Yves Behar

Innovative Sustainable Design

In my ideal reality of the design world, we will all be creating sustainable design that addresses the economical and interpersonal needs of present consumers without compromising resources and lifestyle standards of future generations (Mitchell, R. 2014). The key of achieving this is reaching into the root of our conceptual thinking. We need to apply Yves Behar’s way of thinking by reinventing the familiar by looking at it in an alternate light and detailing these ideas with the practice of sustainability.

We designers all know by now that the conceptual stage of the design process is imperative, and must be strong in order to produce successful functioning design. But I challenge you now to take this one step further by considering this:

  1. Can it be smaller?
  2. Can it be lighter?
  3. Can it be recycled?
  4. Can you reproduce it with less materials?

Your new motto: “Waste is a design flaw” (Matthews, T. 2013)

If we change our thinking by embedding sustainable, future considerate and innovative ideas in our design process, we may even go as far as reversing our damage and saving the world

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