Will we ever get there?

I sort of had an epiphany this week. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know, but I think it’s something I often forget about. I think it’s often pushed aside in public knowledge. I’ve always had the since society is just waiting around for some science genius to come up with the renewable, sustainable energy source to all our problems.

When I hear about Izzy Lane and biodegradable shoes, I think “What the heck are we doing?! Why are we producing the way we do?” It seems that we have been fooled into thinking the way we produce goods is the only way possible. Much of sustainability talk has to do with energy. It seems as though the general public’s opinion on sustainability depends on finding alternative energy resources. While this is certainly a key factor, and needed, there is so much it seems we can do (and some people already are) to improve the way we consumer resources that goes beyond energy.

The product service system as researched by SusProNet, a Sustainable Product Development Network, turns out to be very similar to most ‘solutions’ to sustainability in design…riddled with positive and negatives. The product-service system can be sustainable by creating incentives for products to be created with life cycle cost and longevity in mind. The business owner largely remains the owner of the product and retains more liability over quality and damage. It remains along the lines of empathic design because it focuses on the users/consumer’s needs, typically via service component.

I found the reading this week to be a little confusing. I certainly had to read it over again to attempt to grasp all the business aspects discussed. Many things already in place are product-service systems we over look daily, like public transportation as a pay per use type of PSS. It seems to me that a PSS in the interiors field would have very limited success and impact. Homes are very personal, individualized areas. To achieve the greatest amount of sustainable impact through a PSS, there would need to be a product sharing, or pooling, type of system in place.

The article suggests that Functional results oriented PSS would create the most sustainable impact because producers would have the incentive to radically innovate to create the most efficient service possible. I don’t completely agree with this. Innovation is expensive. Radical technological change takes capital to invest in research, specialist, and overhauling their ways. I would assume most producers would continue to produce products/services in a way that were cheapest for them to maintain. If dollars are all that matter to the provider, they will not necessarily seek out innovation. It’s exactly what, in my opinion, has held society back from implementing changes that would reduce environmental impact. They aren’t feeling the incentive to innovate as it is.

I think in interiors one of the major concerns is product waste. Chairs, desks, mattresses, don’t break down naturally. I live in a university apartment and students are always moving in and out. At nearly any time of the year, furniture can be found place alongside the trash dumpsters for disposal. Maybe there needs to a service (as the product) that will take any type of furniture/interior goods, break them down into their usable pieces, provided those pieces to companies for recycling, and create a way to more adequately dispose of non-useable pieces. I’m not sure what all that would take, but it seems like a common void. When your fridge dies, where do you take it? If you couch breaks, can it just be repaired? When an office chair is no longer comfortable, where should it go?

As I look around my apartment, I see a lot of temporary pieces, eclectically collected from yard sales and handed down from friends. They are what I could afford, but are not thing I’m attached to. I’d love to mature beyond my fuzzy purple couch. Now, because of this class, I’ll have an even greater since of guilt with just taking things to the dump. I will need to find another home for these things like they belonged to a little of puppies. More than likely I will give them new life through restyling them. I already am thinking up ideas for my pieces, but not everyone sees the potential in old furniture. Maybe we just need a HGTV show called Dorm Redo, and they can take all the old, mismatched furniture, and show everyone how to make over their furniture.

There are probably already things of a similar nature out there that I just don’t know about. There have been some really good ideas from the class, which I am not sure I can improve on. I’d like to understand better what makes a successful PSS and what is already being done. Where can I find my place in encouraging change as I become a professional? Answering that question is my ultimate hope for this class and my senior year.

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3 Responses to Will we ever get there?

  1. Dr. Cosette Armstrong says:

    Excellent reflection! Very critical. You highlight a very important problem in society today in that we perceive most objects as disposal. We rarely engage with them in a thoughtful way. PSS might be a way to create mechanisms for greater thought.

  2. wimbeldonbear says:

    I totally agree with your point. I live in an apartment complex as well and furnitures around the dumpster are common stuffs. Couches, mattresses, shelves, desks- many of them are not even broken, in fact they look pretty brand new! A lot of time, people just choose to throw away their furnitures when they have to move out from an apartment or they bought new furnitures and I believe that should and could be changed. One time I moved to a new apartment, I donated a lot of my old furniture to the salvation army and they came pick up my furnitures for free! I didn’t have to carry them myself and those good ol’ furnitures get to prolong their lifespan. Win-win!

    • okieproud says:

      I didn’t know the Salvation Army would come pick stuff up. That’s good to know! Something that may not be widely known either. They should make a bigger deal out of that in college towns like this one, or have a furniture only donation based store. I don’t always thinking of donating big pieces because stores don’t typically carry large pieces, so I forget all about it. I will certainly remember that for the spring. 🙂

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