Sustainable Design Awards Toolkit

Section 4 - Inspirational Current Work

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Much of the responsibility for change lies at the designers' doorstep. Many companies have started incorporating more sustainable ideas into their current design work and plans for the future. But what are the drivers for designers in other companies to follow in the footsteps of the likes of 'Remarkable' and 'Phillips' to include sustainability issues into their designs?

'Global temperatures across the world are rising faster than ever before'
1) To improve the environment for future generations

'More than 100 million people live in cities where the air is unsafe to breathe'
2) Rising customer and consumer demands

'In the last ten years, environmental disasters have resulted in over 600 billion worth of damage, more than in the previous four decades combined'
3) The demands from manufacturers

'The economy uses about 50% of the earth's natural production per year'
4) Competition from other companies and emerging technology

'Continuing to burn fossil fuels at current rates will result in greenhouse gases increasing by 50% within 15 years, risking catastrophic climate shifts'
5) Present and forthcoming legislation

'The number of pupils studying Design and Technology at GCSE level has increased by 7.6% over the last three years'
6) Because of inspirational current work?

Section 4.1 - Inspiration

Spacepen designed by Fisher

This 'Spacepen' from Fisher illustrates a current product that considers durability, it's able to write for over 30 miles, that equates to over 80 years worth of ink for the average user.

Battery company Energizer (, have recognized that batteries can be a problem when it comes to sustainability. The batteries' disposal would seem to be the main problem area with most batteries having a bad environmental impact, furthermore most portable handheld products need the use of batteries at present. Sustainable design and redesign, as it stands, is not about making evEnergizer battery rabbiterything totally sustainable, that would be impossible, but more about improving the current climate of design and hoping that the benefits of using more sustainable methods in the future outweigh the use of non-environmental products.

Energizer are in the category of a company seeking a more sustainable product. One method is phasing out the use of mercury in batteries. Energizer have achieved this by a disposable mercury free battery design that althoughnot rechargeable, meets current EPA disposal requirements. Sanyo are another company that have developed these mercury free batteries with a more environmentally friendly alkaline equivalent, with the aim of achieving a longer lasting, more durable battery.
Energizer battery advert

Both companies are now producing rechargeable batteries that aid this. Obviously the lifespan is improved, with any one battery lasting for over 1,000 charges. Thus the emphasis is on reuse and lifespan rather than redesigning a whole product without a battery.

More information on the Energizer battery can be gathered from their website -

Cyclic Products

Many current design projects are starting to consider the issue of cyclic Racing bicycledesign, considering recyclable materials when looking at material selection. Bicycle designers 'Hermes' have taken on this idea of cyclic products and are now producing bicycles made from rattan and bamboo. They're also making use of other natural resources such as wood, leather and wool, making their design more compostable.

This watch from 'Mondaine' is made totally Mondaine wrist watchfrom post-consumer brass. Any glass, metals or polymers used on the watch are recyclable making the product cyclic.

Improving a product's sustainability is often thought to be solved by just making the product recyclable. Sure, that is one aspect, but much of the sustainability is about seeking more environmental methods to achieve the same or improved functional outcome. Sustainable design is centred around changing people's perspectives, opening their eyes to alternative methods. It doesn't always have to be like that.

Seiko ( are a company that are taking their watch designs that one-step further by introducing kinetic watches at the upper end Pair of Seiko watchesof their market. As well as being water & splash resistant, made from light titanium, Seiko have pushed the concept of a watch that is powered simply by the movement of the wearer, requiring no battery, so instead of progressing the product's recyclability they are improving its energy efficiency by seeking alternative methods.

  Seiko watch logo

Inspirational Current Work
4.1 Inspiration
4.2 Alternative energy sources
4.3 Alternative materials in products
4.4 Efficient products
4.5 Design for disassembly
4.6 Innovative redesign
4.7 Transportation visions
4.8 Changing design perspectives
Toolkit Index
Section 1.
Sustainability Issues
Section 2.
Companies and Products
Section 3.
Ecodesign Tools
Section 4.
Inspirational current work

Biodegradable products containing Mater-Bi polymers

Photograph of a hand with the sun behind