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1 + intro to sustainability in design Design and Technology Student resource

2 + what does ‘sustainability’ mean In 1987, the United Nations Brundlandt Commission defined ‘sustainability’ as: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” what does this mean? we want our children and the children of others around the world to be able to live their lives well (e.g. meet their needs in terms of food, water, shelter, stability, etc.) – so we need to live our lives in a way that doesn’t have a lasting negative impact on the world and all it contains

3 + three pillars of sustainability sustainability covers three main areas environmental the world around us – the animals, plants, land, air, water, natural systems, etc. social people – individuals and small/large groups, communities, societies, cultural groups, countries, etc. and economic sustainability money – the financial systems that keep the world functioning

4 + why? concepts of fairness and equity underlie sustainability thinking environmental sustainability – that animals and plants should continue to exist, that future generations should enjoy the natural environment that we enjoy, that we should reduce the damage humans cause to natural systems. social sustainability that people should be treated fairly, that communities and societies should be allowed to continue and thrive, and that one group’s behaviour shouldn’t have a negative impact on the lives of others. economic sustainability that people should have access to economic opportunities, they should be treated fairly in financial terms (e.g. be paid fairly for their work), that the economic opportunities of certain groups of people shouldn’t be restricted or harmed by the activities of others. These are the aims of sustainability thinking and action

5 + key problems These problems are related to unsustainable development population growth population growth puts pressure on the natural environment, increases demand for food, water, other resources, and puts pressure on social systems damage to natural systems permanent changes to systems that control weather (climate change), water cycles, ocean currents, forests, etc. degradation of natural resources reducing the quality and quantity of useable air, land and water, use of finite resources limited resources are being used up with increasing speed loss of biodiversity the endangering and extinction of creatures and plants landfill and waste waste and landfill is being created faster that it can be managed

6 + product design and sustainability Why is it important to think about sustainability when designing products? products use resources when they are made when they are used products create waste when they are made when they are thrown away consumers are buying more products this increases the impacts of products products change the way we live behaviours are changed by the introduction of new products - some impacts are negative not everyone benefits from products the development and use of products may mean some people are worse off – negative social, health and economic impacts access to products is uneven

7 + life-cycle thinking if a designer uses “life-cycle thinking” when designing a product, they aim to: lessen the negative impacts of a product during the different stages of it’s life the life-cycle stages are: material sourcing and processing production transportation product use product disposal

8 + materials Wherever possible, designers need to choose materials that are: renewable recycled sourced locally safe to use from companies that treat and pay their workers fairly cause minimal environmental damage when sourced are processed without using lots of electricity, water, pesticides, etc. and without causing pollution and waste can be recycled when the product is disposed of

9 + design features Designers can improve how sustainable their products are by designing them: to use less materials to do more than one thing (so that fewer products are needed) – multi-functional to be more durable so that they can be repaired so that they can be up-graded to include new technological developments to be easily recycled – the materials can be easily separated when the product is no longer useful

10 + reduce fuel, energy, waste Designers, manufacturers and retailers need to: limit the number of kilometres that materials travel when they are sourced and used in production, and when the product is transported for sale and taken to the customer for use. Fewer km = less fuel = reduced use of non-renewable resources reduce the amount of energy used in the production of products, and make products more energy efficient when in use limit the waste and pollution created by products when they are made, and while they are used reduce the resources needed to maintain products

11 + what can you do? Brainstorm what you can do to design and make more sustainable products:

12 + what can you do? As a student designer, you can choose to: use local materials where possible make sure materials are sustainably sourced – e.g. FSC, Fairtrade use recycled materials the amount of material used, and choose fewer different types of materials use mechanical joins that can be undone for transportation and disposal (e.g. screws rather than glues) reduce waste during production use non-toxic chemicals in production make the product durable and long lasting design products that have more than one function design products that won’t go out of style make sure the product can be repaired and maintained easily limit the energy needed to make the product work design a product that can be easily recycled Genna Kulesza, Top Designs

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