Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Doggone it, you’re eco-confident

By Travis Lee on August 24, 2009

Confidence is an amazing thing. Some believe it can make athletes more adept, students score higher on tests and people in general more attractive. Those with confidence hold their heads high, speak with authority, are willing to take risks and are less likely to hesitate. These are key ingredients in the recipe for getting things done. And while it’s important to avoid becoming arrogant, stubborn, or unwilling to listen, a little confidence can be a sustainable designer’s best friend.

We’ve been conducting sustainable design workshops here at LUNAR recently and are finding that one of the largest obstacles between designers and sustainable design is not a lack of knowledge; it’s a perceived lack of knowledge.

Most sustainable design principles like increasing modularity, consolidating materials, shrinking and lightening, etc., are just plain common sense and the majority of our designers already know a sizable handful of them. They just don’t know that they know. As a result, they feel unequipped to even take a crack at a more sustainable design.

With some simple training sessions to go over the basics, it becomes easier to convince designers that they can design in this sustainability arena with some confidence, which leads to more experimentation, creativity, and ultimately better products.

Now I understand that encouraging a designer with a basic or even flawed knowledge of sustainable design principles to confidently charge forth can be seen as irresponsible. What if they try to make a product more useful but end up making it unnecessarily complicated? What if they add superfluous fasteners in an attempt to make something easier to disassemble?

Well…so what if they do? If they tout their design as an attempt at sustainability, someone will point out the flaws, they’ll learn from their mistakes and move on to their next, better attempt.

Because the real danger is not that designers might fail in the name of sustainable design. It’s that they might not even try in the first place.

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