All the examination boards include sustainability issues (environmental, social, economic and moral) in their syllabuses. It is sometimes difficult to disentangle these when trying to analyse the sustainability of an existing product, and equally when a student is trying to assess the sustainability of her/his different design ideas.

The activity ‘Wider Implications of Design Choices’ and checklists in this section are designed to help students to differentiate, where possible, between the various aspects of sustainability. They suggest pointers on how economic, social, environmental and moral issues can be incorporated into AS and A2 units of work. Specific checklists show how environmental, social and economic issues can be integrated into students’ thinking at different times during the development of a project.

It will soon become evident that the issues often overlap and that it is not easy to identify something as only environmental, social or economic. It is also evident that all the issues involve moral judgements. For example, disposal of litter thrown onto the roadside and in the countryside has an environmental impact in terms of the bio-degradability of the materials and potential damage to wildlife. It is also a social issue as an eyesore, and potentially an economic issue if it deters tourism. There is an inherent moral question about leaving litter anywhere.


In this section.
Activity: Wider implications of design choices
Sustainability issues throughout a product’s life cycle
Sustainability issues checklists for project work

Environmental Issues
Social Issues
Economic Issues