At Granta, we recently ran a survey to explore the challenges of teaching sustainable development. Key findings, from 200 plus responses, indicated that academics would welcome more case studies with real data, and a global perspective on interlinked environmental and social impacts. The feedback was consistent with my own experience, as a PhD at the Centre for Sustainable Development where I did research in social and environmental impact assessment tools. I was also closely involved in teaching, and subsequently co-developed a start-up company focusing on software and learning. From these experiences, it was clear that software can have a large impact on teaching and outreach. I’m now working as Development Manager and Sustainability Consultant in the Education Team at Granta, collaborating with the academic community and Professor Mike Ashby to develop teaching resources that support the sustainable development subject-area.
Few 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
Regular 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