Thursday, December 1, 2011

Green Design - From the Start!

lawn mowerWith all that is going on with the environment and global warming these days it should be obvious that we have a problem and need to get something done about it. In fairness I know this is kind of wishful thinking, and there are crazy people out there that actually think nothing is wrong, but at least there are more and more people that understand the truth these days. 

Anyway, with that said I know we aren't going to realistically drop what we are doing as a society and just start tomorrow with a carbon neutral society, even if we were all on the same page and really wanted to. The trick I think is to understand that something is wrong and at least start making steps in that direction. At least when the climate crashes to a point where it has a serious impact on our lives, or more realistically when we run out of affordable oil and it impacts our life seriously, then the landing can be softer!

Green Design

I think one big thing we could easily start doing is making products right from the beginning with green design in mind. So right when someone is conceptualizing a product, it should be part of our culture that we factor in green design. How could it use the least amount of power possible, and how could you have it make the least amount of impact on the environment (both during operation and in disposal)?

So if you are thinking about producing a new lawn mower then of course you are going to think about all the things that a person would want a lawn mower to do well. But then, right from the original planning stage, you also need to factor in how you could design it to use the least about of power (gas or electricity) during it's useful life. Next you should also be factoring in how you could design it to make the least impact on the environment when it's disposed of when that useful life is over. So maybe that means you are going to use as many parts as possible that can be recycles easily into some new product. Or maybe it means that you are going to use parts that will decompose more quickly with a lower impact on the environment. Or maybe some other totally new factor that would help with it's impact on the environment because that is the type of thought process and breakthrough that would likely extend to all products and really give us the leap forward that we need!

Existing Products

Of course we should always be trying to improve the design of existing products so that newly manufactured ones can have a lower over impact on the environment then the ones products last year. If that was a solid part of the process for all products then we could really make strides on global warming and hopefully start to turn things around.

What keeps this green design from happening more?

The major issue is that for the most part it isn't profitable for companies to incorporate these types of design factors. They have no real cost when you decide to throw our their product and for the most part they don't care how much energy you burn when using it. The exception is in a case like cars where they can use it as a selling point to get you to buy more. But that is the point after all. If the consumers don't require it then it won't ever happen. Green design factors are only going to hit the companies bottom line when consumers start including green thought into their buying decisions. I promise you companies will always respond to consumer needs and wants. If not they would stop selling their product and go out of business.

So maybe the next time you are making a buying decision, whether it be something small as part of you weekly grocery shopping or something big like a new TV or new car, try to factor in the green aspects of the product. I promise you start doing this whenever you buy something, then manufactures will too! Then we'll all be in a better place!

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