A brave new world

Our materials economy is a system in crisis. Surely there are lessons to be learnt from the coronavirus lockdown


In our last article we touched on how Product Designers can help influence and make changes to the “designed for the dump” mentality of our modern world. There are many positives that can be taken from a global world in lockdown; cleaner air; a better work/life balance and not least has been our ability to make do and mend. Many products and consumables that would have been discarded before the coronavirus pandemic have had their life extended, with end users demonstrating just how adaptable and innovative they can be. 

Before the pandemic, our materials economy was a system in crisis. Running short of natural resources, heavily reliant on toxic chemicals, high waste outputs and, worst of all, producing consumables designed with planned and perceived obsolescence in mind. This didn’t just happen overnight – this idea of making consumption our way of life has developed over the last 70 years. But let’s ask ourselves, if the materials economy is in crisis because we are running out of resources, pumping billions of toxins out in to our world and filling our land with waste at the rates we currently we are, what will the state of our world be in another 70 years?

Surely there are lessons to be learnt from our global lockdown. With so many points of intervention in the materials economy, if we all take a moment to unite and look at the part we play in it, we can see where we can be a part of the solution too. 

This cannot be driven purely by the consumers. The bigger picture dictates that it must come from all steps in the system from extraction of natural resources, through production, distribution and consumption all the way to disposal of the products at the end of their life. 

The art of great product design is to be creative and innovative. Product Designers like us can assist in protecting and strengthening a new way of thinking. Designing products that are built from sustainable materials and are designed to last. But our work is only part of the story and we require a pledge for sustainable extraction of resources, cleaner production and conscious consuming to make this at all possible.

We are all aware of the devastation the coronavirus has caused and will continue to cause for some time. However, isn’t it important that we take the opportunity it has presented us with to learn lessons about how we treat our planet and our fellow humans and change our way of thinking for the greater good? Then we could look back in another 70 years and feel satisfied that, even though coronavirus created its share of tragedy, it also gave hope and became a catalyst for positive change.

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If you are about to embark on a new product development and would like to know more about how we can help you on your journey, contact us today.