design waste

The People’s Design Lab

tpl-6I’ve shared a few different sustainable design projects recently, the most recent being three different ways to make a toaster. There’s a real movement underway for ways to re-design things to design out waste, reuse materials and put whole product cycles on a sustainable footing. Usually this is the province of design studios and university departments, but this week I came across a way for anyone to get involved – the People’s Design Lab.

The People’s Design Lab is an online project that has been taking nominations over the last few months for wasteful products that need a re-design. 130 different things were nominated, and that list has been slimmed down to three key things that can’t be reused, recycled or repaired. Next week, a team of product design experts will sit down for the day with a bunch of ordinary people and see if they can think of some solutions. If you’re free on the 9th of July, you can join in. I’d be there myself if I could.

The three waste villains are

  • inkjet printers – the piece of IT equipment that is most often thrown away in the UK
  • Black plastic containers. I didn’t realise this, but most recycling companies can’t do anything with black plastic, and many recycling machines can’t even sort it properly. And yet it remains popular because research shows that consumers think it makes things look classy and more desirable.
  • Hard plastic packaging – the seemingly indestructible seal that comes on small electronics and household objects.

Even if you can’t make the workshop, you can still join in on the forums. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and the chances are that if you’re regularly frustrated by packaging waste, you may have thought about how it could be improved. All the information you need to take part is on the site.

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