HP’s entry to the Walmart packaging competition is an original approach to packaging. Instead of shipping the laptop in a box with foam inserts, they propose to ship the box, and all the dongles and other parts in a messenger bag. These are shipped three at a time in a simple cardboard box.
Now, I definitely have questions about solution. For example, is the messenger bag’s construction and material impact less than that of the box and foam inserts? I think not–by a large margin. If people actually use the messenger bag, and don’t purchase one of their own (or discard their old one), then it definitely saves some materials and energy. However, most people already have a perfectly good messenger bag. What are they supposed to do with it?
Perhaps, this works best for new laptop owners (as opposed to those upgrading)?
What do you think?
It’s still only in beta but if you’re looking for an easy-to-use tool to assess the environmental impact of your product, Sustainable Mind’s latest tool is fantastic. It’s still evolving, of course, as you would imagine. Over the next two years, expect it to be flushed-out for even more industries and categories. However, it’s really the thinking embedded into the product that is its biggest asset. This tool follows the Okala Curriculum closely so that it’s as much a tool to use to orient your thinking and planning in developing new products and services as it is a tool to assess impacts.
In fact, for designers, this is one of the few tools that can actually be used effectively during the design process, not only at the end of the process when you have a manufactured item.
Today, I posted the slides from the Design is the Problem Webinar onto the site Slideshare: www.slideshare.net/NathanShedroff/design-is-the-problem-webinar
Some of the diagrams in the slides are updated from those recorded in the webinar. These reflect a new arrangement of the three domains of sustainability: social, environmental, and financial impacts. Hopefully, these will be put into the book itself at the next printing.
Also, you’ll see in the slides and the webinar a new arrangement of the frameworks. This comes our of work ‘Ive been doing with the Presidio School of Management. The information in the book is still correct and current, but I’ve split five of the eight frameworks into a new category of “tools” since they don’t so much represent a fully unique perspective for approaching sustainability.
Allison Arieff’s commentary in the NY Times yesterday, Designing Through a Depression, has spurred a nice conversation about the role design plays in both the causes and the recovery from an economic downturn.
Perhaps, the most important design project of the next decade will be to redesign the economy for a post-consumer model and experience. As some of the commenters have pointed-out, we can’t have a lot of hope for longer-lasting products when the market still rewards continuous turn-over and replacement. We need wholly new models and while this isn’t the usual domain for designers, it puts design skills to good use. We need collaborations between enlightened and daring economists as well as designers.
Now that the book is out, I wanted to thank my advisors who have helped me guide the material. I am fortunate in having some world-class thinkers and practitioners in both sustainability and design on this team:
John Thackara, Visionary
Eric Corey Freed, Organic Architect
Ric Grefe, AIGA
Hunter Lovins, Presidio School of Managemnt and Natural Capitalism Solutions
Simran Sethi, Journalist
Chris Choate, NorCal Waste Management
Just two days ago, Core77 published an interview with me regarding the book. Allan Chochinov is one of the most conscientious writers in the entire design world. He read the book cover-to-cover more than a month ago and his questions reflects a deep understanding of both design and what the book is saying.
Or, for that matter, with creating software?
These are two, common questions I get and they’re important ones–that has several answers:
• First, one of the most important design strategies for sustainability is to make things useful, usable, clear, and meaningful. UX people are already oriented to doing this, though in the book we describe some elements (like Meaning) that are fairly new to most. As such, UX folks are already increasing sustainability because when we do our jobs correctly, we meet peoples’ needs without requiring more and more solutions to be developed.
• Next, even though many of us are typically only responsible for the software side of the experience, these are still completely intertwined with devices since all software has to run through some kind of physical, sensorial interface. This means that in order to design a complete solution, we need to get involved or (at least) consider the physical side as well. This gives us an opening to champion sustainability design strategies to our peers working in products and other physical device.
• In addition, we often need to make our case to peers, customers, and bosses in their language and to their issues. Understanding sustainability across the domains or social, environmental, and financial impacts helps us make our case more convincingly. It also requires us to understand a broader perspective than only the things we happen to touch and it allows us, ultimately, to better coordinate with our peers in delivering more successful, enjoyable solutions as well a more sustainable ones.
To all of those on the Webinar this morning/afternoon, thank you for attending. We had some bad static on the line at the very end and I went a little over anyway so, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have via email.
The book is finally shipping as of today!
I’m really excited as it’s been a long journey. The book looks fantastic (if I do say so myself) as do the two PDFs. This is the first of Lou’s books to include a separate printable PDF so people can print it locally. Both PDFs are included in the same download so there’s on optimized for reading on screen and the other optimized for reading on paper (should you need to print it). For international buyers, this may be a faster, less expensive, as well as more sustainable option to get the book.
On March 25th, I’ll be giving a live webinar on sustainable design, speaking about some of the highlights from the book, Design is the Problem, but also including some other topics. The webinar will be available after that date as well but live participants will be able to ask questions.
Design is the Problem Webinar
March 25, 2009
1 pm – 2 pm ET
10 am – 11 am PT