Archive for the 'Manufacturing' Category
The following is the introductory chapter to a terrific new book Reverb, edited by Caleb Ludwick, reproduced here with permission.
Book Introduction: REVERB, edited and published by Tricycle, Inc. 2006
This is the beginning. The very first paragraph, where the author inevitably feels obligated to create a pain point, a hook that is so compelling, so raw in its insight and honesty that you can’t possibly stop reading. However, today there are few people who have been exposed to the sustainability dialogue that has been burning up the interiors industry who are not already aware of the pain points. Strong voices remind us from every side that there is a need and that the need is urgent.
The trouble is, frankly, that this pain is mixed in with so much that is so very nice. The modern world of interiors is nice to look at and nice to touch. Luxury is more democratized, satisfying, and affordable than ever before. In the past fifty years, designers and manufacturers have reshaped much of the American environment into an apparent land of plenty. (more…)
Read full interview text below or download PDF
You talk about the Next Industrial Revolution, where industry and environment come together in harmony. What does this look like?
It looks at the idea as Francis Crick said in 1962, that in order for something to be vital it has to have growth, it has to have a free form of energy, and it has to have an open system of chemicals. So if we think about a tree, it has to have some cells that grow, even for simple reproduction, and it has to have free energy from outside the system, in this case natural sunlight, and it needs an open system of chemicals that synthesize within its metabolism for the benefit of the organism, its reproduction, and its ecosystem.
If we saw human industry in a similar way we’d realize that there’s something relatively new in evolutionary terms that we call technical nutrition. Not just biological nutrition, which is the living thing powered by the sun and “consumed” by other organisms as they breakdown (or, as we say, “waste equals food”), but actually seeing human artifice and technology as something that is put into the same kind of cycle. These are what we call technical nutrients. Take aluminum for example. Our species has made 680 million tons of aluminum since 1880 and we still know where 440 million tons are. So the idea would be that you would design two kinds of things, one is what we call “products of consumption”, those things that are literally biologically consumed and go back to soil, or “products of service”, things from which we want the service, but not necessarily the molecular potential. With something like a computer or a car or carpet, the user is a “customer” not a “consumer”. These are services and in fact, when you finish with a synthetic carpet, for example, you should be able to either return it back to industry forever and remake carpets or other useful things. So biological and technical nutrition - that’s the protocol we initiated and have been continuously championing and developing.
What is the difference between eco-efficiency and what you call eco-effectiveness?
Eco-efficiency (doing more with less) as a strategy is well meaning but not necessarily adequate to the task. Being efficient means that you’re probably doing something right, in terms of using the least to do the most, but the problem is that if you’re doing the wrong thing, it might be pernicious because it perpetuates the wrong system with the erroneous thought that things are getting better. For someone to tell a company to be more eco-efficient and please make twice as many cardboard boxes out of the trees in Indonesia, sounds like a factor 2 efficiency. Even if they said make it factor 4 or factor 10, you still haven’t really solved the problem, because it’s still goodbye to Indonesian forests. Why would you use something as beautiful and as diverse as a tree for something as prosaic as a cardboard box that’s used once or even twice, and then put into a chlorine-laden “recycling” loop that is actually continuously down-cycling all the materials and destroying water quality? From our design perspective, the question really needs to be, “With eco-efficiency, is being less bad being good, or is it simply being bad, just less so?” With eco-effectiveness, on the other hand, we ask the question, “Am I doing the right thing?” And then we start to do it efficiently, so we can create prosperity and growth. (more…)
In this unique program, as many as twenty-eight coconuts are used in a single Mercedes A-Class, to make the headrests, seats, visors and even bumpers. Under a joint venture with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and Brazil-based Program Poverty and Environment in Amazonia (POEMA), DaimlerChrysler is working to make their cars, or at least their interiors, more biodegradable. The brown fibers from the outside of the coconut that are usually discarded are mixed with natural rubber and molded into various forms for the car.
The goals of this program are to reforest areas cleared by fires, and to create mixed forests. The jobs generated deter further Amazonian deforestation and have succeeded in increasing the average local family income close to ten fold. The social implications of the project are equally impressive providing rural income opportunities for 4,000 farmers and factory workers.