Design and the 3 R’s

With the advent of a looming energy crunch (not the shortage, the price!) designers are facing new challenges all the time. What material to choose, which resin will give the strength, colour and surface finish that is desired?  What about shrinkage and embrittlement over time?

Well here are some new questions.  Questions to ask the client before the design process actually starts.  What about the 3 R’s?  Repair, Reuse, Recycle. (some might say reduce is one of the R’s but that is a primary design function anyway.)  Consumers are finally becoming more away of these issues because of some incentives such as community “blue box” efforts and the every increasing cost of items, despite Walmart’s efforts to lower the price on everything.  Perhaps it is time to look at how can this item be repaired to extend serviceable life.  At the end of the life, the items that can be recycled should be easily disassembled into recycling streams, reducing the amount of labour required to separate the constituent components.

It is up to designers to bring these questions to the forefront, because our work is where it all begins, and where the biggest change in attitude can be fostered.  In the end it is the client’s decision, but, we can be a force for the better use of our finite resources.

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