Design technology - Sustainability is for keeps

20th April 2012 at 01:00

What the lesson is about

Sustainability and the environment have, until recently, been the preserve of those with dubious facial hair and a penchant for multicoloured knitwear. Now it is everywhere, writes Spencer Herbert.

But why not design better and more durable products instead of attempting to recycle everything?

The switch on my wife's hairdryer broke recently. You can buy a new hairdryer for less than 5, but being a design and technology teacher, I thought I would mend it. I just had to take the case apart. The manufacturer, however, had apparently never considered that anyone might want to do this. While I had every screwdriver under the sun, I did not have the Security Torx set needed to fix the hairdryer. Result: my wife has a new one.

Remember the vehicle scrappage scheme in which the government encouraged us to crush perfectly workable cars to "save" 2,000 off the price of a new one? Why do we need cars that are 100 per cent recyclable? Why not simply buy one that is well designed and well made in the first place?

I recently went to a large fast-food chain. My straw was wrapped in paper and the cup was given a plastic lid before being placed in a pulped cardboard holder. Oh, and everything had been recycled. How about I have no holder, no straw sleeve, no lid and a cup made of thinner material? In return, I am charged less, the company saves money and we save the environment.

What else?

Find out more about the Believe in Damp;T campaign at

Leave a trail of sustainability behind you with furno1977's dominoes game.

Take inspiration from June21 and get inventive with an old pairs of jeans.

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