New training tool will increase understanding and sympathy for environmentally sustainable product design

Ecodesign is a new concept in product development that accounts for the whole lifecycle of a product, from raw material extraction and processing through to the end of the life of the product, rather than the traditional concerns of product production and use. With this concept in mind, environmental communication company, Shot in the Dark, has developed a training guide intended to aid design teams in their understanding of both the concept of increasing productivity whilst reducing environmental impact, and the need for it.

The training package consists of a manual containing training exercises that can be used in workshops, including the regeneration game, in which contestants learn resource conservation using a bowl of sweets; and an exercise that introduces the concept of ‘backcasting’ which helps trainees work out the environmental consequences of their actions or products, helping them produce more sustainable solutions. The package also includes two videos – one more conventional documentary-style approach to explaining the concepts of ecodesign, and the other, entitled ‘Lets Go Make a Camel’, a more entertaining look at the use of ‘idea!’ (Integrated Design Abacus), is a method of measuring the sustainability of a product’s lifecycle.

“We’ve developed a 12 step system to provide a common language for the design team,” a Shot in the Dark spokesman told edie. “What we’re trying to do is make the theory a reality.”

This approach to design can also directly raise quality of life. Outlining two scenarios for the design of a wine box, one in which it is made out of cardboard, and the other out of a combination of cardboard with polystyrene, the guide points out that the second is made from a non-renewable resource – oil, is not recyclable, and requires greater energy and emissions during its manufacture. The box made purely from cardboard, however, can be either recycled or shredded and used for animal bedding, which can then be composted in a wormery, the worms being used as food in a fish farm, and the compost being used as plant food. One example is a farm in West Yorkshire, which is manned by people with special needs who would not otherwise be able to take up meaningful employment.

Further information on ecodesign can be found at Shot in the Dark’s stand at ET2001, number ET526.

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