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Ecology + Design?

Österlin La Mont, Amanda (2013) In Diploma work IDEL01 20131
Industrial Design
Abstract (Swedish)
How can design be used to minimize negative environmental impact?

I strongly believe that we, human beings, are facing
an unavoidable paradigm shift. The world we have
created for ourselves is a ticking bomb and we
need to rethink the fundamental system in order
to have a future at all. In this project the goal was
to understand what role design can play in the
process of reaching a more sustainable society,
and to see how the design of an object affects the
global production system and our earth. I decided
to focus on the ecological aspect of sustainability
and investigate how it can be included in the design
process.

In nature there is no such thing as waste. The
ecosystem is optimized in a closed loop where
leftovers... (More)
How can design be used to minimize negative environmental impact?

I strongly believe that we, human beings, are facing
an unavoidable paradigm shift. The world we have
created for ourselves is a ticking bomb and we
need to rethink the fundamental system in order
to have a future at all. In this project the goal was
to understand what role design can play in the
process of reaching a more sustainable society,
and to see how the design of an object affects the
global production system and our earth. I decided
to focus on the ecological aspect of sustainability
and investigate how it can be included in the design
process.

In nature there is no such thing as waste. The
ecosystem is optimized in a closed loop where
leftovers from one process are a resource in another.
All parts are closely related in a complex symbiotic
system. Inspired by natural systems, this project
has been an attempt to find a more holistic and
sustainable approach to design by applying cyclical
thinking to the design process.

The first part of the project was very theoretical,
including a lot of research and reading to collect
all necessary knowledge. The research consisted
of learning about Eco design methods, recycling
processes and manufacturing techniques, as
well as by practicing system thinking. A deeper
understanding of consumer behaviours was also
an important part in identifying what designers
can do to change existing patterns. The theoretical
phase was followed by a reflective part where
important conclusions, that became cornerstones
for the project, where made. These conclusions
where then applied and tested during the practical
phase. During the whole project the aspect of
zooming in and zooming out has been important to
understand how the system at macro scale affects
the microscopic parts in it, and vice versa.

I think designers have a great opportunity to
influence the global system and change living
patterns into a future balance between ecology,
economy and social aspects. With a unique overview
and possibility to affect different parts of the
system, such as users and producers, we need to act
responsibly.

To visualise my research and conclusions, I chose to
work with the toothbrush. It is an everyday product
with a short life cycle, and therefore important to
recycle after usage. The necessity of the product it
self is justified from a sustainable point of view, as
people need to maintain basic mouth hygiene. The
biggest problem with the toothbrush today is the
complex combinations of different materials, which
makes recycling impossible.

The final concept, “My precious toothbrush”, is
based on European waste regulations and strives to
minimize waste by providing a reusable toothbrush
handle and a recyclable toothbrush head. Because
of the complexity in choosing the right material for
the handle, two different concepts were developed.
Both handles are designed to achieve a longer life
cycle with proper care. One handle is produced
from recycled aluminium, and the other from birch
branches and other leftover pieces. The toothbrush
heads are made from 100 % polyamide and can
be recycled up to ten times. After usage, the heads
are sent back to the factory for reprocessing.
The material is then used in processes where the
demand on material quality is lower, such as in the
construction sector. In addition to the toothbrushes a
distribution system based on the "take back" strategy
was designed, to facilitate recycling of the used
heads. The cyclic system works with two reusable
metal cases; one to store the toothbrush, and one as
a refill case for distributing used and unused heads.

This project has been a starting point for me and
a motivation for my future career as an industrial
designer. I consider myself to be in the beginning of a
process of practicing a new way of thinking. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Österlin La Mont, Amanda
supervisor
organization
course
IDEL01 20131
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
publication/series
Diploma work
report number
ISRN: LUT-DVIDE/ EX--13/50197—SE
ISSN
ISRN
language
English
id
3807266
date added to LUP
2013-06-05 16:07:49
date last changed
2013-06-05 16:07:49
@misc{3807266,
  abstract     = {How can design be used to minimize negative environmental impact?

I strongly believe that we, human beings, are facing
an unavoidable paradigm shift. The world we have
created for ourselves is a ticking bomb and we
need to rethink the fundamental system in order
to have a future at all. In this project the goal was
to understand what role design can play in the
process of reaching a more sustainable society,
and to see how the design of an object affects the
global production system and our earth. I decided
to focus on the ecological aspect of sustainability
and investigate how it can be included in the design
process.

In nature there is no such thing as waste. The
ecosystem is optimized in a closed loop where
leftovers from one process are a resource in another.
All parts are closely related in a complex symbiotic
system. Inspired by natural systems, this project
has been an attempt to find a more holistic and
sustainable approach to design by applying cyclical
thinking to the design process.

The first part of the project was very theoretical,
including a lot of research and reading to collect
all necessary knowledge. The research consisted
of learning about Eco design methods, recycling
processes and manufacturing techniques, as
well as by practicing system thinking. A deeper
understanding of consumer behaviours was also
an important part in identifying what designers
can do to change existing patterns. The theoretical
phase was followed by a reflective part where
important conclusions, that became cornerstones
for the project, where made. These conclusions
where then applied and tested during the practical
phase. During the whole project the aspect of
zooming in and zooming out has been important to
understand how the system at macro scale affects
the microscopic parts in it, and vice versa.

I think designers have a great opportunity to
influence the global system and change living
patterns into a future balance between ecology,
economy and social aspects. With a unique overview
and possibility to affect different parts of the
system, such as users and producers, we need to act
responsibly.

To visualise my research and conclusions, I chose to
work with the toothbrush. It is an everyday product
with a short life cycle, and therefore important to
recycle after usage. The necessity of the product it
self is justified from a sustainable point of view, as
people need to maintain basic mouth hygiene. The
biggest problem with the toothbrush today is the
complex combinations of different materials, which
makes recycling impossible.

The final concept, “My precious toothbrush”, is
based on European waste regulations and strives to
minimize waste by providing a reusable toothbrush
handle and a recyclable toothbrush head. Because
of the complexity in choosing the right material for
the handle, two different concepts were developed.
Both handles are designed to achieve a longer life
cycle with proper care. One handle is produced
from recycled aluminium, and the other from birch
branches and other leftover pieces. The toothbrush
heads are made from 100 % polyamide and can
be recycled up to ten times. After usage, the heads
are sent back to the factory for reprocessing.
The material is then used in processes where the
demand on material quality is lower, such as in the
construction sector. In addition to the toothbrushes a
distribution system based on the "take back" strategy
was designed, to facilitate recycling of the used
heads. The cyclic system works with two reusable
metal cases; one to store the toothbrush, and one as
a refill case for distributing used and unused heads.

This project has been a starting point for me and
a motivation for my future career as an industrial
designer. I consider myself to be in the beginning of a
process of practicing a new way of thinking.},
  author       = {Österlin La Mont, Amanda},
  issn         = {ISRN},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Diploma work},
  title        = {Ecology + Design?},
  year         = {2013},
}