profession December 4, 2017

Eco-friendly design: your part of the deal

I could start this post in a very hypocritical way and tell you that I don’t like Black Friday. But I would be lying to you, and so I won’t do it. Instead, I can tell you that it’s ok for you to take advantage of these days to go shopping (I do it too!), but (and this is a huge one) don’t lose your mind over it. Don’t sell your soul on account of a few discounts. Once you consider everything, you will see that you spent more money than you planned and all for nothing. By the end of the day, you just have more stuff but aren’t necessarily happier.

How did this commercial frenzy start in the first place?

According to History, the first time someone used the term Black Friday was in 1864. It’s a reference to the financial crisis of the U.S. gold market.
Two wall street guys decided to buy as much gold as they could to increase its price and resell it at a much higher price. Unfortunately for them, on a Friday the conspiracy was discovered, and the market went into free-fall, and everyone went bankrupted.

However, the most famous story associated with this day is linked to retailers and consumerism. After losing money all year, – and because of that declared to be red (financially speaking) -, stores would earn profit from post-holiday shoppers. That way, on this day, they would pass from red to black.

Eco-friendly design leads to better products, and that translates into less need for replacements

The truth is, as I grow older, I realize that the cliché of “less is more” is true. Including in design, including in the material aspect of life and how you choose to see it.

Even if you are not directly involved in selling or creating new products, you are still accountable for the way you design to attract people into buying more. And you are also responsible for the way you behave as a consumer.

Think about it: are you happy because you bought that new smartphone even though yours is perfectly fine? Are you ok with eluding people by telling them that they will be better perceived if they spend 150 euros on a new pair of shoes? I know that I’m not.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop and reflect on what we can do to change, even if it’s on a smaller scale.

I’m aware that this is still a utopic view on life. We still have the fast fashion industry, fast technology, and fast market as a whole. We feel the need as consumers, and the pressure as designers, to buy more so we can keep up with the latest trend and the “best technology.”

Still, we have to fight this urge to consume, consume and consume some more. We should be rethinking and focusing our efforts into creating a better future.

Of course, that science and technology are going to move forward; I’m not trying to say that we should go back and shut down progress, but we can use them to come up with new ideas and new ways to improve the world instead of constantly destroying it.

Actions are being taken, and reasonable efforts are noticed

Design is shifting from the sellers/visual point of view into something more meaningful, that focus on the experience and the consumer but, most of the times, isn’t eco-friendly and sustainable enough.

I believe that it’s in everyone’s interest to re-educate people to consume less and to consume with quality instead of quantity. To do that, designers need to be the most prominent advocates on this subject.

Conferences like Design for Sustainability are the first step to re-educate people about the circular economy and the best design practices for a more eco-friendly world.

Also, movements like The Minimalists, are spreading across the globe and gaining a lot more exposure.

Ultimately, we need to think more about eco-friendly design to design better and to live longer, better lives.

Examples of brands and designers already practicing eco-friendly design

In the Product and packaging category, there are multiple studios and professionals looking for alternative and ecologically friendly materials instead of the more traditional ones.

In the fashion industry, social influencers play a significant role when it comes to helping to shift people’s mind into a more mindful and conscious attitude towards consumerism. One person that does it very well is Signe Hansen with her blog and Instagram account, Use Less.

Keep in mind the consumer but aim to design for the planet

At the core we are designers, and we will never let go the obligation we have towards consumers. Still, we can help them change their minds and show them better alternatives. Isn’t that part of our jobs as well?

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2 Comments
  • Rita
    Rita
    December 4, 2017

    I can see myself in that consumerism fashion. Still, I try everyday to reduce, to reuse. Interesting insight on this matter.
    I think I will not be a minimalist anytime soon, but going to start on a path to live with less.
    Thanks for the post, Natacha!

    Reply
    • natacha oliveira
      natacha oliveira
      December 5, 2017

      Hi Rita!
      Thank you so much for your feedback and you’re welcome ☺️
      As you’ve said, the important part is trying.
      I try everyday and still feel that I could do more to reduce waste and to have a more eco-friendly mentality.
      Hope you stick around and enjoy the topics ?

      Reply

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