Rethinking Design

My last blog post touched on this article a little about how there is biological and technological consumption. How keeping these separate will be more sustainable because they are more easily recycled and continue in a closed loop. The difference between a closed loop and an open loop is that in a closed loop nothing is tossed, it is continually reused. Whereas an open loop is in reference to biodegradable products so that it can have a long life, but then return back to the earth. I have talked a lot about how my family has a compost pile, this is an example of an open loop. It allows for us to dispose of food waste and green materials; such as grass clippings and leafs. We can turn it into reusable fertilizer and soil. This is allowing us to dispose of materials without them ending up in a landfill where they will produce methane into our air instead of purely carbon dioxide, like our compost bins.

Today we watched a ted talk about how we should be designing to change people’s behavior rather than the actually functionality and production of products. This is one thing I had never considered. An example was the teakettle often used in the U.K. Because people would boil tons of water for just one cup, the maker’s concerns were valid asking how to stop this issue. The real trouble was the energy people were using. A solution was to require the consumer to hold down a button to heat the water. As this is inconvenient for the consumer, they will choose to boil just enough water for their required cup. I think this is a very innovative idea, but what prevents the consumer to purchase an easier to use kettle? The issue is the habits of consumers and the need for designers to make cheaper and more functional products. Changing this point of view is a much bigger issue than just redesigning products. She told a story of a company stating that they knew that they were going to save money and become more sustainable, but they had no interest in becoming a pioneer. Pioneers get arrows in their backs. This is perfect story to reflect what I have been saying. I am not saying that changing habits and empathic design aren’t good things, but I think getting to the root of the problem is the first step. Convenience will always been peoples’ priority.

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