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March 3, 2010

This is my reflection from a book "The Green Imperative".It is about Eco Design and Good Design.

It is short as a geraffe! 6500 words... I don't know how i got that much.. but i would not read it if im you.

Papanek made a really good point in his book. "Ask yourself a question what is the impact of our work to the environment". There are always something that we are doing in our lives that is harming our environment. As a design student what can I do for our environment?

Maybe I can cut down the use of papers and photocopies. Uses computer to store data instead of the papers. Most importantly, knowing what is a good design.

From the book it says "Western Europe, Canada, Japan and USA there are now more than 250 different video cameras available to consumers; the differences between them are minimal - in some cases they are identical but for the name-plate. the choice of consumer products in the west is highly artificial." Ask yourself a question do we really need to produce that much products that has almost no differences between them? As a businessman "Yes". As a designer "No". And what happened to those products we bought months later? They ended up in the landfill. According to data 95% of world products goes into the landfill within only 6 months

As a designer how do we know what is a good design? .

Papanek think most architects and designers (especially younger industrial designers) feel that high technology is bound to disturb the ecological balance even more profoundly. They express this concern through a nostalgic longing for the past, in an attempt to return to a seemingly simpler, more primitive way of life. Yet one cannot turn back the clock, however good the reason may seem. others- equally concerned with the environment- are convinced that the problems of high technology require a techno-fix, that is, the use of even more technology to solve the technology-based problems that we face on the planet.

He think both viewpoints are wrong. He said useful answers to many of these problems will frequently come from areas we normally associate with high technology such as electronics, computers and microchips. The importance of computer modelling in exploring the growth of ozone depletion cannot be overstated. Remote sensing from space satellites has given us a profound understanding of how far pollution, desertification and droughts have already changed the land.

So high technologies is not the issue of harming our environment, what is?

There are few things that are strongly connected to a our daily products. Material, Manufacture, Packaging, Transportation, Repairing and Recycling. What kind of materials that we designer use that won't harm the environment? What is the durability of those materials? Do the materials release toxic or chemical emissions day by day? How well do they stand against nature?

As a designer or manufacturer we really need to know the idea of using Less. Less waste of material. Less energy to produce. Less Carbon when producing. We always wanted to minimize waste as much as possible. A bad example would be one of my project last year. I was told to design a sustainable chair with cardboards. One of my mistake was ignoring the left over materials when they could be part of my product or to produce more. A good example would be a F1 car, where they uses the minimal amount of materials and pushes them to their limits.

At the moment, packaging generally involves the use of metal, cardboard, wood, plastics and paper. There are few effects on the ecology by using paper on our packaging. Cutting down forests and trees has been one of the biggest issue, and the pollution from producing paper has been another one. The people now days have better knowledge about how to manage forests commercially so they can continue function as renewable resources, but timber industry refuses to continue planting forests and to employ clear-cutting of established woodlands. Now days, lots of paper packaging has become the product itself. Products such as cereals, cigarettes, herbs and powder packaging. I believe we could design a system that allows these packaging to be re-use over and over again.

Long ago in China when they first started shipping between Western world. The Chinese were mainly exporting china, tea and silk clothes. When they were transferring their goods, they filled the Chinas with tea leaves, and wrapped the china with clothes. When they arrived at the port they sold them all. There were no extra packaging needed when shipping. The products protected each others from getting damaged. And there were no left over containers when they shipped back to China, so they could buy as much Western products as they could, and sold it back in China.

The space and lightness of a product highly affect the energy and time use to transport it. Take the Chinese shipping as an example, if we could design a product that is the packaging of itself, we could reduce the material waste to produce it. We could minimize the amount of space taken to transport, which would allow us to transport more quantity per time. We could reduce the energy waste for transporting the product from the factory to the store, and from the store to the house. Take a car as an example. 95% of the energy waste on a car daily is from its own weight. While most car designers now days are seeking ways to make cars quicker and more horse power, no one really think about how to make car lighter and more durable.

One of my group project last year was to redesign a personal fan heater, which has a bad repairing system. How often would I have to repair this product? How easily would it be repaired? What extra material do I need for it to be repaired? How much will it harm our environment when I repair it? When most medium and small companies create a product, they do not think much about repairing. What if the product break down? Should we buy a new one? Where will we put the broken one? The answer is often just throw it away. Most electronic companies do not have a repairing system. They often sell product parts to repairing companies and rely on them for repairing. This is not a good system because the repairing companies may not have best system to repair 3200 electronic products around us. But in another view, if a product has a very good durability it does not need to be repaired.

According to Papanek, our Ozone hole in 1994 were increased 2ce the speed than what we predicted in 1987. It has been estimated that the average family in the technologically developed countries throws away from 16 to 20 tons of garbage and waste each year. Our waste has become one of the biggest harm to our environment since the start of the industrial revolution. In my personal opinion a good design product should be re-usable. It also has to be recyclable or co-recyclable. If it really does not work it has to be at least biodegradable.

Most people attempt to leave the global warming issue to the professionals. But I attempt to ask myself "If not me, who will?" From the previous lecture in Sustainable Practice I heard the government in Netherland has been doing a really great job on saving the planet. Why can't our government does the same? For example, if our government create (or increase) trash or waste tax. It would definitely change the way we buy or throw away our products; in term, it would affect how the company design, manufacture, package, transport, repair and recycle the product as well.

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