Socially Responsible Product Design
While our CSR course here focuses more on sustainability programs within companies, I am passionate about creating products that are fundamentally sustainable themselves. If customers see cool, visually appealing, highly functional products that are also sustainable, then hopefully we can change the general opinion that “green products” are somehow second rate.
Through our “CSR in the News” segment of class, I’ve shared a lot of great products that happen to be both green as well as satisfying really creative needs. My personal favorite products came towards the beginning of the semester. The SOccket is a soccer ball that generates electricity to power a lightbulb. A German design firm created a product called Swirl that helps people to do their laundry and transport water without it seeming like a chore. The element of fun as well as sustainability is very important because Kellie makes sure that we remember that sustainability should be fun too!
Even highly functional products can be sustainable as well. Recently, it seems like a lot of architects have been taking the level of sustainability in buildings far past the LEED certification craze and building energy efficient buildings by adding power generation into the building design. The new Strata tower that’s going to be built in London will have wind turbines built into the building to generate 8% of the energy used by the apartments inside. Another UK company, Affresol, is making modular homes out of recycled plastic. It appears to be a very scalable, cheap, yet still durable alternative to traditional modular homes.
I hope that all of these very cool products will start convincing consumers that purchasing sustainable products is not only good for the environment but fun and beneficial for them as well. I look forward to seeing how the green design trend continues to produce ever more usable, fun, and function products.