Our penultimate topic in this series is “Good design is concerned with the environment”.

To me this topic is more than just concern for the environment. In the modern world we have to be concerned with all aspects of sustainability and how to incorporate good practices into our designs. 

Firstly lets understand the terms. Sustainability is defined as a “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED 1987). Through this definition however it becomes apparent that sustainability isn’t just the management of ecological resources, it also includes the management of economical and social factors. Incorporating sustainability into all forms of design has become an important factor because it is one of the main areas that can influence the public into using less resources, even if they are unaware they are doing it. Whilst it is an influencing factor within designs it can sometimes be pushed aside to meet cheaper production methods and resources, and as such this can be detrimental to successful sustainable development.

Products should be designed with end of life disassembly in mind, the parts should be able to be taken apart fairly easily and clearly labelled which materials the components are made from. This allows for efficient recycling. Another material consideration is reducing the number of materials within the design itself, as it allows for greater speed during disassembly. By clearly labelling parts, then components that can be reused within the same or some other function can be removed and returned to the manufacturing line after testing.

Sustainability in design is a massive area to cover and far to much to cover here. If you would like further information I would recommend checking out the Ecodesign Centre Wales. It is a Centre devoted to implementing sustainable practices within the design process and has some good real world examples.