Monday, October 15, 2007

Simplify Man!

In honor of "blog action day"'s global blog topic around the environment, I will prosethletize my personal feelings on the matter of sustainability, conservation, green-ness or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

As a consultant, I design tons of packaging for some of the largest consumer products companies in the world. I actually really enjoy the work as I have all the product and packaging design I've done over my 15 career. The part I have always felt sort of guilty about though is the fact that (at least moreso in the USA) everything we design is predestined to be ladfill fodder anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 months after purchase. I used to find it odd when I worked on technology focused products that I'd often be designing a product to replace the one that had yet to come to market. Planned obsolescence in action.

It seems that only in the last couple of years have the words "green" and "sustainability" gone from meaning color and consistency respectively to environmentally friendly and ethically conscious. It's sad that taking care of our planet has gone from a hippie craze to a niche market to a business trend rather than a true way of life. When Wal-mart is now pushing sustainability to its suppliers, a la P&G, Sony, etc, you know it's become both pervasive and marginalized. Just think about a fashion item being pitched in place of sustainability and you'll see how lame this sounds. And not their green push isn't valid or valuable, just that it's depressing that mankind could give a shit about the planet that we all share without a marketing message to prod them.

My inspiration on the topic of sustainability actually comes from a hippie character on the Simpson's who once eloquently told Homer to "Simplify man!" I tend to follow a more European mindset which is based on simplicity in the sense that I'd rather buy products that were made to last longer, less often. I'd rather pay more for better clothes, electronics, cars or whatever and get longer use out of them rather than to be constantly replacing shit with more but newer shit. Granted, globalization (which should really be called Americanization as long as we're renaming movements) is steadily creeping into more traditional European purchasing habits and way of life, but the point is this, sustainability, green or whatever you want to call it, should begin with simplicity - and by simplicity I mean quality over quantity.

To me, that's as good a place to start as any and simply put, I'd rather have 1 Prada jacket for 10 years than 1 Old Navy jacket every year for 10 years.

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