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Module 1: Sustainability in the Design Process

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The Cost of Looking the Other Way

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I love the story of stuff, I think all of us need to watch it every 6 months, just toremind ourselves of so, many things that we do not think about.Annie Leonard went on to make more such videos.Like ‘The story of solutions’ and others on consumerism.‘The true cost of bottled water’ you will see the links in the reference tab on thecourse platform.You know these are really things we cannot not afford to think about, especially whenwe design for sustainability, you know.We have to be conscious about the planets limited resources and focus on materials andprocesses that aim for zero waste and we have to think about, how we change the way we produceand consume and how we distribute how we recycle and this is really one of the 3 R’s comein.The 3 R’s - Reduce Recycle Reuse.Exactly you know the story of stuff was made in 2009 and things are even worse today forsure because even though the video was made for a US context it applies equally so, forour environment today.We are losing natural resources like forest cover at top speed, industries are pollutingair, water and soil.Tribal populations are being displaced by corporations, they have no right to that land.In India also the economic model has been largely wasteful in terms of being linearmodel.You take resources from nature and you design these products, make them and ship them tothe customers and it has a certain planned duration of use.After that it needs to be replaced by other products.So, the consumption is largely wasteful and lot of the end of life products just end upin the environment not in a form the nature can process it and therefore, it becomes disruptivein some ways and also destructive to the environment.So, that is why I think the conscious designer needs to think more in terms of sustainabilityand be more sensitive to the damage caused to the environment.So, here we are not only talking about responsible consumption of resources, can those productsbe designed in such a way that some parts of it can go directly into nature and be processedby nature and some other parts of it can be reused or repurposed or recycled so, thatthe waste stream is reduced and it does not disrupt the natural cycle.And therefore, the outputs are recycled, reused in such a way that it closes in.Yes the purely economic approach did not look at closing the loop between the inputs theywere using and the waste being generated.Right and it is not as if suddenly the old way of doing things has vanished you knowdesign for sustainability in the contemporary industrial context is yet to become widespread,it is not a way of thinking that exists at the moment and it exists only in some pocketswhere people are becoming environmentally conscious or socially conscious, but largelypeople are not concerned about the future of the planet that were leaving behind.Where people do not care or do not care to know, that is an attempt to bring in lawsthat regulate these matters.Now, you know, but there are always people opposing these laws and are looking for loopholesthat may allow evasion to some extent and in fact, legal measures may not always havethe measured or the required effect that we’re looking for.I think it requires a change in thinking, you know and in the way we think about theplanet and resources and in fact, a recent move in sustainability has been towards leanthinking.Lean thinking became a very important aspect to consider especially on the economic factorsof cost quality and lead time.This was largely successful for many of the Japanese car manufactures grabbing a hugemarket share, because of the way they designed their products using lean thinking.These key principles guide us when applying lean techniques and tools and it became newway of thinking for both product design and for manufacture.So, Tesco is one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK and Terry Leahy who is theformer CEO of Tesco explains how lean thinking is applied for sustainability in the contextof the chains’ operations and it is a huge supply distribution network that links thefarmer with the home consumer.Its time for a pause as you go to the next tab and follow the link.