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A quick note today about a pretty successful bit of sustainable design.
My views on sustainability in design revolve mainly around the process of design and the people that are involved, but from time to time, I come across some things that are just smartly designed, and I’ll use this forum for sharing them with you.
When it comes to the products we interact with on a daily basis, there is almost always room for improvement from a sustainability perspective. The challenges for designers in trying to work towards more sustainable results won’t always come from reinventing the wheel, rather, they will often come in the form of adjusting, or re-interpreting something that is already there.
But when it comes to re-interpretations, I don’t think it’s enough to simply look towards using different materials or processes in the manufacturing. While these steps are certainly a step in the right direction—and in fact, should become more a part of our common practices—I feel that products can be made to be more sustainable when they are designed for greater purposes, for longer use, and to change behaviour. PDAs are a good example of this. They have multiple functions—often operating as phones, internet consoles, cameras, daytime organizers, mail retrievers, and gaming systems in one—eliminating the need for multiple devices. Travel mugs might be another. I have carried one with me for years and use it instead of paper cups at coffee shops, and it forced me to change my behaviour. It may not always be the most convenient thing for me to tote with me wherever I go, but I do find myself actually going without that next cup of coffee if I don’t happen to have it with me.
But as a new dad, there is one product I wanted to focus on today in particular. My wife and I decided before our son was born that we wanted to give cloth diapers a try. We did a fair bit of research into the different options available to parents and settled on a product that has really worked out well for us.
The Charlie Banana reusable diaper is a pretty amazing piece of design. It combines the soft cotton inside of a cloth diaper with the waterproof shell (that cloth diaper users have to buy anyway) in one product. Their diapers have snaps to allow them to be adjusted to different sizes and the elastic bands around the legs are adjustable as well. So the One Size Diapers are what we’ve gone with and we hope to not have to buy disposables any time soon.
We were a bit hesitant at first, about the extra work that might be involved, but there was an excellent blog that my wife came across that set our minds at ease and we realized that it probably wasn’t that big of a deal after all. This blogger ended up using a similar product made by a different manufacturer, but we found the Charlie Banana diapers worked better for us. We’ve been using the diapers for a couple months now and after seeing the number of disposable diapers we went through in the first few weeks before he was ready to graduate to the reusables, I can honestly say that this is one behaviour change that I have absolutely welcomed into my life.
For an initial investment of a couple hundred dollars, we have probably saved ourselves thousands in diapers over the course of the next couple years. Economically, ecologically, and socially, they just make sense.
I won’t turn this into a post about parenting or sales pitches, but if you ever want to discuss this topic with me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.