You know the saying about how one person can make a difference? Well what if a bunch of people (our fellow developing designer selves) decided to make a difference together? A difference in the way we design products and how people think of sustainability! This ideal unity could affect the apparel and interior design industries substantially, I mean we are the next generation to take over our fields after all. “Designers play a key role in creating sustainable solutions for clothing, and making ethical fashion appeal to the mainstream consumer.” In the article Fashioning Sustainability: A review of sustainability impact of the clothing industry, many elements that have contributed to unsustainability in clothing design and suggestions on how to contradict them, designers being seen as a key contributor for the movement of sustainability. As designers we set the trends and are big persuaders of sustainability being “cool” in all fields of design! Cosette M. Armstrong and Melody L A LeHew point our in their article, Shifting the New Dominant Social Paradigm in the Apparel Industry: Acknowledging the Pink Elephant, If designers are perceptive and open to the principles of sustainability, the concept of fashion may be used to attract attention, energy, and imagination around sustainable solutions. So as you see we can make a difference in some major ways involving design, but first we need may need to clarify what it means to design sustainable and how we can go about doing that.
Sustainable design has seemed to adopt many definitions but the definition that I feel relates to designers the best is: “Theories and practices for design that cultivate ecological, ecological. economic, and cultural conditions that will support human well-being” (The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability, Ann Thorpe) How beautiful is the idea that we as designers are contributing human well-being? We are more than someone designing a new dress or a new office building, we are humans helping humans in the end with what we choose to create for them. We can design with sustainable morals in the materials we choose, the way we establish to create a product, recycling materials and products to create a new one, creating products that can be upgradeable by switching out panels or changeable elements like slip covers, and the list could go on and on. We can influence consumers to desire more sustainable product in the way that we design. We can make sustainability an even bigger trend than “Going Green”
Lately “going green” seems to be the new trend and not just for produces of almost every product but also for the everyday consumer. Labels that mention anything about a product being green seem to appeal to consumers and thats because consumers care. It makes one feel good after purchasing a product that helped keep the world a little bit better than an ungreen product would. This trend makes apparel and interior industries hopeful that consumers will start demanding more sustainable products and an even more movement could emerge. As the “Going Green” trend is a good start ”We must go beyond the marketing and labeling of "green" products good for the environment and recycling as "feel good" or "only action" solutions. Society must examine environmental issues in the broad global context of finite and renewable resources. Shifting our balance to reliance on more renewable resources is a priority” (Beyond green: From issues to initiatives, Niemeyer, Shirley Francis, Charles A.) So to be proactive, once we can engage people to “Go Green” we can them captivate them to understand just how beneficial and substantial their want for sustainable products is. Once consumers understand this their demand will rise and we as designers can fill that demand with the products we create.
Nike is a great example of a company of doing this by using their designers as the start to create sustainable products and encouraging customers to help in making the world “better”. In fact they are a great example that strives for sustainability in general with many commitments to strive for the best by creating value for their business and innovating for a better world (http://nikeinc.com/pages/responsibility) Below are a few videos that just make me as a designer smile with pride for the steps our industries are taking to promote sustainable designs. I am a huge Nike fan and just as a consumer I love that I can buy their products with an eased mind!
Now I would like to make it clear that I am not saying that designers are the ones to blame for the problems of unstainability over the past years but I am saying we can be part of the change we are wishing to see in our industry if we want to. I dont know about you but I plan on living on this planet for a while an would like to keep it as nice and life sustaining as possible! Therefore I am signing up to be an environmentally aware designer and you can join me! If you do we could make a difference together!