Sustainable innovation

23 Jan 2006|Added Value

This weekend I attended the compostmodern conference in San Francisco, a collaboration between the AIGA and IDSA to promote sustainability. I was inspired by the likes of Kalle Lasn from Adbusters and Chris Hacker, Senior Vice President of Global Design and Design Strategy at Johnson & Johnson, that latter underscoring the business case for environmental sustainability – a nice change from the typical “do it because it’s good for you” message.

Paul Saffo wrapped up the conference on a more threatening note, essentially saying “do it or perish.” He too noted that we need to create a stonger motivation in order to shift from a throw away culture to one that values conservation, environmentalism and sustainability. Like all the speakers who proceeded him, he made a strong case for the power of design.

Implicit in Saffo’s talk was the message that in order to inspire change via design, it’s essential to understand underlying motivations – few if any of us do anything just because it’s good for us, whatever “it” is. It’s easy to see the role meaning plays here.

On a similar note, I came across a couple sustainable designs today that I found clever, and if not entirely meaningful, at least relevant to my lifestyle… and a bit fun.

Appealing to my love of fashion, the Solarjo Power Purse uses a skin of solar cells and an internal USB port to power portable electronics (a good excuse to take your purse out shopping for a little fresh air and sunshine).

And supporting my green thumb, as well as answering the question “where do old cell phones go to die?” a biodegradable phone has been develoed by materials engineers at Warwick University.

Kind of gives a new ring to the phrase “pushing up daisies.” (Sorry – couldn’t resist)

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