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Less really can be More..

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I find sustainability to be a daunting concept; in fact I think this is a thought shared by most people when they are told the truth about our environmental state. The human race is greatly underestimated in its understanding when it comes to grave, global issues such as global warming and sustainability. The press is littered with shocking statistics and dictating pieces on all the new ways in which the world will end and the human race will perish; they all take a negative stance on the subject. They’ve had their impact and it is safe to say that we have all got the point. No more facts and figures from the last decade could possibly make any more people understand the current environmental climate. Those who care, understand and those who don’t, never will.
The problem of sustainability is starting to become a burden and awareness is growing steadily. It is now time to take a more positive look at the situation by trying to find an easy way to help the problem and integrate an effective solution into everyone’s everyday lives. There are some things that are beyond the capabilities of an ordinary working person. People cannot walk everywhere, nor can they adjust the engineering in their car to be more fuel efficient. They can turn out lights and re use plastic bags, but how much of an impact does this really make? The truth is no matter how much of a difference people want to make, individually they can never make a notable impact on the global environmental state. Geologists and environmentalists can push and shock people as much as possible, but it will not make a difference; they need to target the right people: designers and large governing bodies.
With the help of people with a bigger impact, change is actually achievable. We need the help of people who set the rules and make it unavoidable to be sustainable, almost subliminally. The unfortunate, sad truth is that anyone with such power and impact does not use it in the right way. The majority of big brands are not sustainable. Sustainable, eco brands do exist, but they are not stylish enough or fashion forward to become trend setters and make the move to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Surely the only way to ensure the use of sustainable materials is to amend the current European standards in order to restrict the use of unsustainable materials such as hardwoods from tropical rainforests. There are talks of a new legislation by the European Union about energy usage in vacuum cleaners. It would put a cap on the size of motor allowed in any future vacuum cleaners and is thought to bring substantial environmental benefits. The European standards should also give a tighter figure for the amount of waste produced and energy used by products on the mass market.
In addition to this, there are some ways that designers can make a difference to the perception of sustainability. To an extent, sustainability can come as a by-product of being strict economically. Therefore, we should strive to reform and develop products that are already on the market to make them as economical as possible, thus making them sustainable as well. By devising ways to use less energy manufacturing and distributing them we will pollute the environment less, create less toxic, damaging waste and use less of the precious, non-renewable fossil fuels. If products are engineered to use less energy and require less fuel, they work out cheaper in the long run, offsetting any initial costs for the consumer. By using less packaging (cardboard, plastic or otherwise), there are less materials needed and so there is a cheaper manufacturing cost and less waste to dispose of in an eco friendly way. It is in the interests of the environment, the future and the profits of the business to take this attitude to design and therefore it must be emphasised during this sustainable revolution.
I think the world is ready for the sustainable revolution and it is ready for the reformations to our lifestyle to begin. It is foolish to wait for the masses to make these changes because they won’t- not because they are opposed to the idea, more because they don’t know where to start. Due to the nature of design, I think responsibility falls on the hands of designers to lead the way. Recycling and reusing is certainly one way to make our lives more sustainable, but instead of working out what to do with the waste, maybe we should work on not producing it in the first place. Frugality in design and manufacture is definitely the way forward. The phrase ‘Less is more’ really is the essential motto for a sustainable designer.





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