I ran into this article from lifeedited.com yesterday that I want to share here, because it addresses an issue I find very important, but in my opinion is too often neglected in the discussion about sustainable design.
The article is about ‘heirloom design’, or the principle of designing things that are timeless, that last and that can be repaired. The direct opposite of most of the things we can buy in stores today, really.
But exactly what would count as an heirloom design? Not per se all the ‘green’ or sustainable products the market is flooded with today. While they may seem like the most environmentally friendly choice, sometimes it is better to choose something that is made of new materials, but that will last for a very long time. Think Montblanc pen, instead of ballpoint pens made of recycled plastics. Or, a bag made of strong, thick leather instead of one that is constructed from old plastic shopping bags. The Montblanc pen and the leather bag might need a lot more energy to be produced, in the long run they are more energy efficient than the ‘greener’ choices made of materials that are of lesser quality to begin with.
I think that asking myself whether or not something I plan on buying is a heirloom design or not can help me make better choices and hopefully result in consuming less things. Key is to not take ‘heirloom’ too literally. You really don’t need to pass on your bath towels or all your pots and pans to new generations, but it would be nice if the can opener I have now would still be working in 30 years time. Just like the one my parents have in their cupboard.
You can read the article written by David Friedlander here.