And what is Environmental Stewardship anyway?
The world has limited resources, and some of them are finite in nature. There is only so much gold for example. There is no more being created (at least unless the sun goes nova), so once it is all dug up, that is the end of it. The good thing about gold is that it is so precious to us that it almost always gets recycled. Too bad the area that surrounds gold mines is not nearly so precious. The record that mankind has left in mine tailings, some of which are toxic to life for decades is dismal.
Now that is one type of resource that I am referring to. Space on the planet is finite. There is only so much. And only so much of it is arable; useful for the growing of food. Another is the air that we breath, there is only so much of it, and we dump mega tonnes of waste into that resource, then later, we breath it. Got a house way out in the country away from the pollution? Isn’t that the same as having a pool party and asking everyone to only pee in one end of the pool? Your safe in the “non-peeing” end of the pool.
Well what does this have to do with Industrial Design?
Industrial Designers hold a special place in the manufacture of products that we all use, and the resulting use of materials that may be finite, or renewable. We are in a strong position to influence the choice of materials, the way that they are used, and the end of life disposition of the product. When you are making material decisions, think of what does it mean to the environment if you make a choice of one material over another. When considering cost, think too of the cost to the environment of your design decisions. Can we save the environment from catastrophe? Not by ourselves, but we can make a difference and if enough of us take this challenge seriously, then there will be a significant difference. Furthermore, if we can influence others in other disciplines to do the same, then the effect is multiplied, and maybe there will be a chance for this old planet after all.
And that is why the environmental summit meeting in Cancun is so important. The leaders of our nations have to send a clear message to us all that they take this seriously, and that we should do the same. In a way, it gives us a mandate. Personally, I am not waiting for that mandate, because I got that from my children and family, not to mention friends and fellow inhabitants of the Earth.