Category Archives: Materials education

Paper, Plastic, or Jute: what’s best for shopping bags?

carrier-bagsFew products get a worse press than plastic shopping bags.  They are distributed free, and in vast numbers.  They are made from oil.  They don’t degrade.  They litter the country side, snaring water-birds and choking turtles.  Add your own gripe.

Paper bags are made from natural materials, and they bio-degrade.  Surely it’s better to use paper?  And come to think of it, why not bags made out of jute – it’s a renewable resource – and use them over and over?  That must be the best of all? Continue reading

Green is the new Gold

rohsRegular readers of this blog will know all about gold. Now I’m going to talk about why green is the new gold, focusing on why companies are trying to deliver greener products, and providing some tips for how to do it.

Why greener products make good business sense

Companies often find that trying to lower the environmental impacts of their products also leads to lower manufacturing costs, through the reduction of materials, energy and waste. For designers, thinking about sustainability issues can offer a new and fresh perspective on the products they develop—helping them to spot opportunities for waste and cost reduction. Smiths Detection provide a good example of this. When redesigning an existing product with sustainable design principles in mind they were able to save nearly $160,000 per year in manufacturing costs (download the case study in PDF format here). Continue reading

A Materials Take on Going for Gold

goldAs the 2012 Olympics open in London this week, athletic achievements, and gold medals in particular, are drawing everyone’s attention. At the original Olympics in ancient Greece, the winner simply received an olive wreath: when the games first restarted in 1894, winners received a trophy. For most of the recent Olympic history, however, the crowning glory of any athletic career has been the Olympic Gold Medal. But behind the excitement of                                             sporting prowess, we wanted to know more about the gold in the medals                                         themselves.

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