Traces of Touch

serendipity into the oblivion

Sustainability in tangible products

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Today the word sustainability is used very often in many different settings. We have sustainable food, cleaning, heating, travelling and I wouldn’t be surprised if we soon see sustainable gasoline being sold at the local gas station. This over use, in my eyes, of the word sustainable dilutes the value and makes it hard for the end user to really know what it means and what it entitles. Is locally grown food more sustainable than ecological food grown 1000 of miles away? Is using recycled aluminium better than freshly harvested wood? There is so many levels of complexity with naming an object sustainable that I feel I need to explain and define what I mean when I’m talking about it. The below list shouldnt be seen as the all knowing truth but more as what guidelines Im working with in my project currently. Different kind of products has different kind of need and the points below need to be adapted and evolved correspondingly.


  • Use of material that leaves the lowest energy footprint, this means taking into account that some material have a longer working life than others and might be better fitting than lower energy footprint material. Think over an 20 years perspective instead of 6 months.
  • Low energy consumption taking the full life cycle of the product into account not just the production or the use but also the transports and the recycling of the materials.
  • Encourage and support strong and evolving emotional connections between the users and the object. This is to maintain the stories being developed over time and to maintain a longer interest from the user avoiding an to early trip to the landfill.
  • Create objects than can and wants to be expanded, modified, combined and hacked so that the users can evolve and personalize the object if they so desire.

Written by sjunnesson

July 18, 2010 at 19:49

Posted in Thoughts

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