Everyone can do their part

bad design, blogging, climate change, environment, good design, Industrial Design, reliability

Finally an excuse to rant about an environmental issue. Blog Action Day has asked that bloggers around the world call attention to the global issue that affects everyone, the environment. Here’s the details:

Publish a post on their blog which relates to an issue of their own choice pertaining to the environment.

For example: A blog about money might write about how to save around the home by using environmentally friendly ideas. Similarly a blog about politics might examine what weight environmental policy holds in the political arena.

So here’s my take on what designers everywhere can do to help.

Every little bit counts

Save your money. This a simple step that everyone can get behind. I’m not saying to stop spending, but think twice before you buy. If the product you’re looking at is only going to be useful for a short time, or it’s an impulse purchase…maybe you don’t need it. As a designer I walk through the aisles of products and can’t help but think how many products out there are crap. Novelty items, poorly constructed, or just plain wasteful. Stop buying things that are so cheap that they will end up in the trash when they break in a month. Do you really need another gadget? Do your kids need a cheap, useless toy with their happy meal just because a new movie came out?

Buy smarter

Stop buying products that have better alternatives. No more incandescent bulbs, SUVs to commute to work in (or drop your kids off at school), and mass produced food. Compact fluorescent bulbs are getting cheaper everyday, and they save you money on your utility bills. SUVs are only necessary when you are taking more than five people, with cargo. How many times do you see single drivers in a 17mpg gas guzzler? What a waste, especially for the owner. If you don’t need the room why are you wasting your money? If more consumers stopped buying these beasts, maybe auto manufacturers would stop designing them. Most people don’t realize that mass produced food is actually costing them more than the fresher alternatives in the grocery store. If you are fighting weight problems diet soda is not helping you. Frozen dinners are not healthy even if they are from weight watchers. Fast food is the enemy.

Green is good for business

The economy couldn’t possibly be hurt by going green. Making smarter products that use less resources and are re-usable or recyclable costs more? Why? If something takes less resources to produce it should cost less. If you can reuse portions of the products at end-of-life for new products doesn’t that bring costs down? If oil and coal companies invested money into solar, wind, and hydro couldn’t they make just as much money in the long run? Why are we subsidizing ethanol, and corn for fuel when we could be offering these benefits to technologies that will improve mileage not degrade it? If a company made a product that would save you thousands of dollars on transportation costs annually by eliminating gas, filters, and oil changes wouldn’t you line up to buy it? Why couldn’t GM, Ford, and Chrysler make these products?

Going green can only hurt companies that can’t adapt to the changing market. Let’s help them on their way, whether that’s success or failure. We owe it to ourselves to design, buy, and lobby for products that help everyone, not just the people and companies that are already rich.

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