I think the concept of Green is really confusing people. There was a little shop/studio that opened up here in town. I talked to the owner and his whole business plan was to have designers pay him for a space to make and sell “green” merchandise from found or thrown away materials. It reminded me of that goofy cable show where they turn trash into products. I tried to mention the book Cradle to Cradle and the ideology behind it but he clearly wasn’t listening and just kept talking about “upcycling”. I think the whole idea is commendable but the execution falls a bit flat.
I ended up at a party last weekend, the home owner was showing me the “chairs” he had bought from the studio. I say “chairs” because what they were was a pair of shopping carts with the front cut out and a cushion stuck in the middle. He then showed me the matching “table”. It was a 2 liter soda bottle case with a pole stuck in the middle with another flipped upside down for the tabletop…ok.
First off, what exactly is sustainable about these products? One day it will break and still be thrown away AND now you’ve added a coat of paint and a cushion. So now you were be throwing away more material than would have been thrown away in the first place.
Second, what qualities does a shopping cart posses that would make it well suited for seating? Just because I CAN sit in a newspaper rack doesn’t mean I’m going to take it off the corner and replace my La Z Boy with one.
I’m kind of rambling here but I just kind of wanted to vent. Sustainable design has always been one of my favorite fields of study and its just sad to see people trying to do the right thing, yet not quite understanding the bigger picture.
One example that really gets me everytime I see is an ad for a cell phone (don’t remember which, but some cheap dumbphone, maybe a samsung or LG), that is all about how green it is. They show a guy throwing a waterbottle for a dog to fetch and the dog comes back with the phone. Tiny mouseprint at the bottom says the phone is 10 (maybe 20% made from recycled waterbottles). Whoo-freakin’-hoo. I guess it’s better than nothing, but do people really buy these things and feel green?
To add insult to injury, I just saw a transit ad for the same phone the other day. It was a huge lenticular plastic thing that changed images depending on viewing angle. Small print said the ad would be recycled, but recycling a giant plastic sign when a paper one could also be recycled and cost less to make, ship, recycle… insanity!
I’m by no means super green myself, but can’t stand hypocrisy when I see it.
I really have no idea why the bottled water market hasn’t came up with the idea to sell a nice durable bottle that could just be refilled at various locations, gas stations, grocery stores ect… or something like that. Sorry it just seems like a really obvious solution to me. It would be a whole new industry for whoever jumps on it first. Why do we have to make all these bottles into something in the first place? Ok I have t-shirt made out of recycled bottles…great. Well now that the shirt is worn out we might as just well throw it away I guess. So…what progress was made?
‘Green’ is being abused now because it is a ‘buzz’ word. Suddenly everything is green. Green packaging, Bio-food, Bio-fuel…everything recycled…or so you would believe. Just look at the packages in the supermarket. Suddenly they are all green or have a green-approval-mark on them (which they created themselfs
The Green they is use mostly pure marketing bullshit. And in the best cases it’s a less bad alternative.
As for the shop…I agree partially.
I do like the concept/idea that he is selling. Do something more with something you will throw away (anyway) -and thus expand its lifecycle- But what would be even better is that the shopowner created a little workshop so people could come there and hack the products. And what would be even better is repairing them.
For me that would be the ultimate green. Not recycling, but repairing so that products can last for decades.
We should propably be able to upgrade them to. A little bit utopian I know. But my grandparents had there radio’s and television for more than 20 years. When it broke My granddad or father fixed it.
Now every product has a very short life-expectancy - created off course- Look at the new Iphone. People are smashing their perfect fine older model just to get a new one.
There’s a long way to go before we’ll be truly green.
Or we take a shortcut and every designer swears to only make green necessary products developed according to the cradle-to-cradle use and the consumer will not be able to buy a bad product. Nor would marketing be able to sell you one
When a designer is planning to develop a “sustainable product,” what should be the goal?
Using recycled content is a great place to start, but this single definition of a sustainable product is incomplete. For example, recycled content can be subject to contamination by toxic heavy metals, coatings, colorants (e.g., chlorinated pigments in green, red or yellow printing inks) or other additives from its previous application.
This is where an ounce of prevention can readily surpass a pound of cure. In addition to looking back in time (up the supply chain) for a recycled material – requiring the supplier to document the chain of custody and previous application of the material, verifying ingredient formulation to the greatest extent possible, and testing for the most likely contaminants – a designer also should look forward in time, and design the next application to enable future recycling of the material. Components within a product should be combined in a way that facilitates easy disassembly after the use phase, to divide the materials into their separate recycling streams.
Ideally, a designer also should collaborate with other organizations – governments managing public recycling systems, companies that collect and haul discarded materials, processors of recovered materials, manufacturers or suppliers that could use the material in the future, and others – to help enhance the system to recover the product after its use and recycle its component materials.
Product sustainability cannot be judged by a single attribute, such as recycled content, ingredient composition or recycling used materials, when such items are inextricably linked and should be intentionally developed to work together as effectively as possible.