The Attainability of Sustainability
When something is called Green or Sustainable it is just a name, just adjectives. A description like green does not make it the right or better solution, it just makes it an alternative. These ideas need to be described in a way that references concrete economic, political, and cultural terms instead of just some new buzzword. We should be focussed on what underlying concepts make something sustainable. Let’s talk about what makes sense, use real world terms, and do not mention global warming. We must push progressive reform on design and commerce. This is more than just green or sustainable.
Most design is part of the problem, driven by the same waste and lack of connection to what “matters” just like the rest of our culture. Design needs to reconnect with the principles of where, why, and how things are created if it wishes to push forward and stay at the progressive edge. A combination of evolving folk vernacular and modern technology are required to make a difference.
But how to judge truly attainable sustainable solutions without having to name them as such? The recent flood of Green design and products have used the name so marketers and advertisers can make a few more dollars. Sustainability needs to become more than this. It needs to become an overarching mindset,the best way of thinking about things and solving problems, the only way.
As design educators and as students we can help instill changes in society and culture. We can make sure future designers (ourselves included) are able to understand and solve the problems of sustainability.
Originally written and published on Better Living Through Sustainability in mid-2008 at some point; Anyway, this version contains some updates, revisions, and improvements.