SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES – WEEK 1

This week we began our first constellation study group, I was certainly looking forward to delving deeper into the subject. We were almost instantly split into groups, given post it notes and asked the question; ‘What does sustainability mean to you?’. I liked that we were split, giving us the opportunity to mix with people from other disciplines, allowing us to gain and share ideas with and from people we wouldn’t necessarily otherwise work with. It was interesting to see how people from different disciplines had different opinions and views on the matter. This discussion helped open my eyes to how broad the subject actually is from single material choice to the whole design process and beyond.

Following this, we arranged ourselves back into our course specific groups to discuss how the matter directly affects our practice and how our practice can be made more sustainable. I think, as a product designer, I could make changes in various aspects of my practice to make it more sustainable. Product designers are sometimes to blame for ‘unsustainability’ as they are often at the forefront of the whole design process of a product and therefore, arguably, the ones that could make most change.

We began exploring the back story and context of unsustainability. I was really interested in this as it’s something I’ve never really learned or considered. I was shocked to learn that unsustainability can be tracked all the way back to the first industrial revolution where we started to become very good at making things. I learned about the linear economy which demonstrates intensive recourse throughput, fast consumption and a large amount of waste – arguably an extremely unsustainable economic model! As a result of growth in population and consumerism, this intensive recourse throughput was accelerating so, an alternative in the sustainability debate is the circular economy where restoration and closed recourse loops are key focus’ encouraging slower consumption and therefore a more sustainable economy where retaining the maximum out of resource before it goes to waste is a big focus. However, I learned that this doesn’t engage with the problem and act of consumption itself, it’s simply trying to slow it down. I began learning that the significance of sustainability is only going to grow and that the matter of consumption is a big problem and key player within this.

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