Can you design a phone that’ll be used longer? A refrigerator that discourages food waste? Play the sustainability card game

Linne:

Worth thinking about . . . ~ Linne

Originally posted on TED Blog:

At TED2013, Leyla Acaroglu pondered the question: Paper or plastic? Below, play her sustainability card game. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

At TED2013, Leyla Acaroglu pondered the question: Paper or plastic? Below, play her sustainability card game. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Leyla Acaroglu aims to make people think about how the choices they make on a daily basis affect the environment. And she aims to make thinking about this fun. In today’s TED Talk, Acaroglu turns her attention to four bits of “environmental folklore,” like the idea that it’s more environmentally sound to opt for the paper bag over the plastic one. [ted_talkteaser id=1926]By engaging people’s sense of play, Acaroglu and her team at the design consultancy Eco Innovators aim to get individuals and companies looking at the full life cycle of the products in order to make the kind of savvy decisions that can actually effect change.

This week, Eco Innovators held an “E-Waste Autopsy” at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia, where passerbys dissected keyboards and computer mice…

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12 thoughts on “Can you design a phone that’ll be used longer? A refrigerator that discourages food waste? Play the sustainability card game

  1. Inventing a green version of this gadget or that gadget misses the point entirely IMO. I’ve not followed the links (not up to the concentration – migraine again :( ) but buying a new fridge is still buying a new fridge. A phone is still a phone, no matter how green and eco it is. Maybe you wind it 100 times to provide 12 hours of battery, I don’t know. Still, there is then a brand new old phone to dispose of, the raw resources used to create the new phone and all the wasted resources in advertising the new and improved (how can something be new but also be improved? ;) ) phone.
    The message we need to be promoting is to fit things that are broken, only upgrade if you have no other choice or all of the hidden but true costs of buying new outweighs the damage of using the old one. Mend and Make do, the old adage from the war years and Dig for Victory must once again become our battle cry here on the home front!
    And just food for thought, a fridge that discourages waste vs growing your own vegetables and harvesting fresh for each meal where refrigeration is not needed or only a barfridge instead. ;)

    • Sorry about that migraine, Jess. No fun, I know. You are right; we need to ask the right questions: ‘do I need a new fridge?’ ‘can this be done another way that is better for the earth?’ and so on. But as long as they are making mobiles (and I have one, of course) and other things, at least they can make them more eco-friendly, so the parts are re-used instead of dumped in a heap somewhere. I so agree with everything you say! Especially on garden vs fridge. We lived without a fridge for nearly 17 or 18 years when I was a kid. I think we had an icebox when I was too young to remember, but that was all. When we lived in Salmon Arm at the last place I lived at home, our neighbour was a butcher with a family shop set back on their property. We rented a locker in the freezer and kept our meat there. Then Dad could get a deer or two or we could buy half a pig or a quarter of beef; have it cut up and packaged and then frozen. I would be sent up to bring home a package or two as needed. That would make more sense today than everyone having their own separate device. When Mum was young, a neighbour of theirs built an icehouse. In it went blocks of ice cut from the sloughs in winter and packed in sawdust. They and their neighbours would buy whitefish in bulk and store it there, along with extra meat from the autumn butchering. In summer there would be a little ice left and it was chipped and put in the outer bucket when those neighbours had a social or potluck; they would make real ice cream. Mum still remembers that vividly! It was an occasional treat, which is the best kind anyway.

    • Good to know. I guess it works for them, then, whatever they have to say. I didn’t have time to follow it all up; it just sounded interesting. Thanks, Narf!

      • Sorry I was twitchy, it makes me angry that people are jumping on the “Green, clean” bandwagon without thinking. Its all so pretty and positive and wrapped up in bamboo but to be honest it all cost SO much, is elitist, smacks of elevating those who “follow” above the masses (I don’t trust ANYTHING that tells someone that they are better than someone else because they act a specific way…) and is a large whitewash much in the same vein as The emperors New clothes. It does make people think but it stays on the side of commercialism and entrepreneurialism where profits are generated rather than truly teaching and sharing which is where we, the masses learn how to effect change. You cant teach poor people anything if you charge them for the privilege :(

      • No worries; you’re preaching to the choir here . . . ‘acting green’ is a long way from ‘being green’, isn’t it? Greenwashing, that’s what I’d call it. Selling the appearance of stuff . . . a great comparison – the Emperor’s new clothes. Oh, look, everyone, he’s green! The best thing about the ‘net is that it lets people like you and the others share what you know with the rest of us no matter where we live. It speeds up the transmission of knowledge and skills. I hope it truly goes viral, this movement.

        And yes, charging the poor isn’t the way to go. But who else is there to charge? Oh, wait . . .

  2. Ok…so I get that we all need to hear this stuff and learn to live more simply with less but I am forced to play Devil’s advocate here and point out that a middle man is a middle man is a middle man and there is a trend towards wonderfully trendy middle men telling us all how to live…er…cheers…grandma taught me that about 40 years ago! I am not shooting the message, it’s just the messangers smack of commercialism and forcing “green” into a whole new level of wank. ;)

    • You are right in all you say here. I think it’s a small step, in that not wasting so much will help a bit; making things to last would be more effective. I don’t think I need a fridge that discourages food waste; I need to plan, store well and cook accordingly. I find I rarely waste food and when I do it’s because I’ve gone out with friends more than once in the week or someone has given us food. Then the plans go all to hell . . .

      The grandmothers of your time and mine did know all that; the problem is now we have a young generation of ‘consumers’ who have never heard such a thing in their lives; they’ve been encouraged to spend and waste, to make others rich. Theya re the ones who will suffer the most in the days to come. Those of us who grew up poor, and often stayed poor, won’t find it such a big jump to live sustainably. Most of us are doing it to some degree already. Like you.

      I agree with you on the new ‘green’ bit, too. CBC tv here has a show called Marketplace. One segment dealt with the misleading ‘green-washed’ labelling and how to read those labels and so on. It was very eye-opening for those of us who are trusting by nature.

      • I think that middle men are making an enormous amount of money “greening” things up but effectively making us pay more for things that we really could do much more simply. Just because something is “green” doesn’t mean it didn’t cost the earth one way or other and anything manufactured is another cost to the earth. How about we retrofit older stuff? Why not learn to live with less…to mend our old things? The reason why, is because there is NO MONEY IN THAT! Sigh…

      • Yes. When I read this, I thought it was a small step in a better direction, but we do need to just re-think the whole thing. Making a huge mess, then cleaning up a wee bit of it isn’t enough. It never was, really. And the cost of re-cycling is often glossed over or ignored. I think making things to last and not going for useless ‘updates’ every few months would be a good thing, too. I don’t need a new car just because it has a different shape; I need a reliable vehicle that will do what I need, not cost an arm and a leg to maintain and which is easy to repair. Oh, wait, we had those . . . before the electronics . . . And I really don’t need a car that talks to me and parks for me and warns me of what’s coming . . . If I’m too dumb to drive, I should stay off the roads. Not that I have a vehicle . . . ;-)

        And yes, it’s all about money, in the worst possible way. Now there is hoarding!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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