Assignment: Global Constraints
Good Products, Bad Products – ME314
Manoel E. Salina
Ranjith Nilleri Kunniyil
The common sentiments in all the posts are categorized below:
Most of the people think that it would be a good step to improve the public transport system in every country. The shift towards public transportation is something everyone does not look forward to and will resist for their entire life. If every country adopts more efficient, widespread, and creative forms of public transportation, such as green trains, trolleys, and electrically powered shuttle systems, the roads would be less crowded and the atmosphere better sustained. Public transportation is a great effort in the world of eco-friendly products and services. First and foremost is the accessibility it offers to people who would otherwise not be able to afford to go to faraway places. People also think that our road systems have been designed on the assumption that cars, buses and trucks will displace the bicycle rather than co-exist with them. Hybrid and Electric Powered vehicles are a step in the right direction but there is still controversy on the environmental impact of the entire production process of cars.
In terms of communication and technology there seems to be a movement towards digital media which in our point of view is great. This will result in more eBooks and less paper being consumed which will absolutely have a positive impact on the environment. People see a shift towards socializing through internet sites as a negative change because it takes away the personal interaction that you have between your friends. People think on a basic level, this technology is actually helping children become smarter, faster.
A sad and negative shift that we all see is the export of high glucose foods to underprivileged countries. This is done without explanation of nutrition and diet. Also people feel that globally we have an unhealthy eating style today. But the vegetarianism is becoming popular in many countries. Everyone thinks that the move towards locally grown, organic food is going to have a huge impact on economics, the environment, and health throughout the world.
People commonly feel that the plastic bottles are contributing a lot towards the waste. The shift towards reusable water bottles is a positive thing because of all the plastic it can potentially eliminate from landfills. Also it was normal to see medical devices routinely re-used after sterilization. When the AIDS epidemic came, the original engineering approach for medical devices transformed completely, driving major device companies to manufacture single-use devices. By owning a re-usable water bottle one will help the waste of the large amount of plastic bottle that are thrown away and not recycled or used again.
There is a growing trend of renovating homes and buildings to make them more eco-friendly. More and more people are choosing to save energy by adding solar panels to their roofs, schools have started implementing dual flush toilets, and there are more recycling bins in rooms than ever before. Everyone thinks that one trend that is beneficial to long-term sustainability is the increasing popularity of energy consumption data displays on products.
The shift towards electric and hybrid vehicles is a change that all fully embraces. Solar Panel is a good example that has helped preserve the environment and promises long-term sustainability. The use of bamboo in industrial products is a good idea since it can be grown easily.
Rather than focus on design a product that will be more efficient than existing one, a more systemic view of purpose of the product and the entire downstream chain would generate greater benefits towards sustainable systems. For example, rather than creating a new type of car, the development of a vehicle or system of transport that could replace the car, might be a more effective approach. This is also applicable to various other areas outside of transportation such as water, energy, lighting, education, farming etc. Instead of creating many efficient computers, music players, electronic games, mobile phones the idea of creating one single product that comprehend several functions into one single system was a smart move. The smart phone is a good application of this idea. It is also common sense as explained by Adam that overall cost to produce more efficient products represents a save for long term view.
A necessary angle to consider on the sustainability of products is not so much environmental as it is societal and humanitarian. The social conflicts related to minerals are an example quoted about this. A responsibility in product design, creation, and purchase extends beyond just environmental considerations and into the possible human rights abuses that could be stopped simply by changing how and why we buy certain products.
Some discussions were done regarding the price and life cycle of products. Currently the price does not take in consideration the environment impact, the cleanup, the disposal and loss of resources for the end users. Considering the limitation of natural resources, the cost of throw-away products will no longer be cheaper than long lasting products. The conscious to have long life products is the right way to save the Earth for us and our children.
A change in products that could help preserve the environment, help long-term sustainability and improve my life is the packaging. If we could develop packaging that basically disintegrates after the product is removed, think of what this could mean. It could mean eliminating landfills filled with trash and packaging that won’t break down in thousands of years. It would make consumers lives easier by not having to dispose of bulky packaging. The packaging is so difficult these days, it takes tools to open the plastic outer shell and cutters to remove the tie downs and get your product finally out of the packaging to use. Once you get the product out of the packaging, it is basically destroyed now anyway so this new discovery will just make it really compact and easily disposable. It won’t impact any issues with making returns because today you can’t really get the product back in the packaging to take it back to the store, so not having a package shouldn’t make a difference. The bar code might have to be put on the actual product instead of the package but that could also help in several ways. It could serve as a “serial number” type code to help consumers register their products for warranty purposes. The amount of waste that doesn’t get recycled is a huge environmental issue that I would like to see solved in my lifetime. This disintegrating packaging could almost solve it single-handedly.
A futuristic idea is provided about the self destructing packaging, which is not available right now in the market, but is definitely something that leaves innovators to think about. The impact if this idea materializes would be high globally.
Unfortunately our road systems have been designed on the assumption that cars, buses and trucks will displace the bicycle rather than co-exist with them. Bicycles are very ‘green’ .If looked after carefully they score very highly when evaluated by ‘Life Cycle Assessment’ (LCA). This means the value we get from them is high compared to many other products based on the energy, water and resources needed to produce them and the amount of pollution and waste they produce during their life time. Cycling also keeps people fit and healthy and more people on bikes would probably take the financial strain of national health plans. Bikes are very sustainable. If roads properly catered for bicycles, more people would ride them and our overall quality of life and environmental stewardship would improve considerably.
A major gripe I have with products is the type of thing you find in $2.00 shops. I don’t know is the U.S having these but they are prevalent in Australia and generally sell very cheap and nasty stuff. This same stuff is what you find households throwing out for council rubbish removal about six weeks later. Energy and resources are still required to produce this cheap, low quality product only designed to have short term use. It still has to be shipped around and disposed of. It has a dreadful LCA rating. I would like a paradigm shift in the western world’s attitudes that make them desire quality over quantity. This would manifest itself by people holding onto to article a lot longer. Not changing them because they are just old and no longer thought to be fashionable. Fashion often cycles but the demise of our environment is only heading in one direction unless we start acting. Some of the most beautiful buildings in the world are old. The most valued art works are old. Blue denim jeans are old. Old can be wonderful. So often you hear that if you buy a poor quality product you pay for it twice. Once when you buy it and a second time when you go back and replace it for something decent that does the job properly. But unfortunately the environment suffers either way.
The analysis is made considering the LCA, a parametric analysis is done and not guesses and mere opinions. He has correctly pointed out the energy required to make the cheap products and the energy required to recycle these products when they are thrown away in a short span of time. Our favorite statement from the essay is “Fashion often cycles but the demise of our environment is only heading in one direction unless we start acting”.
The Specialized Bike Company Squeeze bottles that I have on my road bike are products that I feel are environmentally sustainable. These help eliminate the plastic waste that would happen if I bought water every time I went on a ride. Also because they are not disposable, I tend to drink all the water in them and this reduces the amount of water that is usually wasted by people not finishing their water in purchased water bottles. (It is a common sight after events to have arrowhead/ploand springs bottles that are only half empty)
A product that could change to become more sustainable while improving my life is my laptop. I have a white macbook, and usually I would say that it is a very good product, but over the years it has began to cool very ineffectively. It gets very hot and does not cool down quickly even after usage is reduced. I think that this is a problem with a lot of modern electronic devices these days, since they have the ability to multi task a lot of programs, they tend not only to heat up, but to use a lot of energy. This is very inefficient. A good change to my laptop and other devices like it would be to produce a way to reharness the waste heat and recycle it into usable energy.
The idea of re-utilizing the wasted heat energy in a laptop is innovative. The observation and human behavior on the bike water bottle and bottled water is new.