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Good Design Ideas

Good Design Ideas


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  • Bizarre global warming facts

    Environment, Environmental Design

    Michael Specter has an interesting article in The New Yorker about global warming and how "dazzlingly complex" it all is once you start to take all of the factors into account.

    the calculations required to assess the full environmental impact of how we live can be dazzlingly complex. To sum them up on a label will not be easy. Should the carbon label on a jar of peanut butter include the emissions caused by the fertilizer, calcium, and potassium applied to the original crop of peanuts? What about the energy used to boil the peanuts once they have been harvested, or to mold the jar and print the labels? Seen this way, carbon costs multiply rapidly. A few months ago, scientists at the Stockholm Environment Institute reported that the carbon footprint of Christmas—including food, travel, lighting, and gifts—was six hundred and fifty kilograms per person. That is as much, they estimated, as the weight of “one thousand Christmas puddings” for every resident of England.

    This passage caught my attention. We need to look at the whole picture and not just the impact of our individual actions. Remember all of the "save the rain forest" campaigns during the 1980's? My 7th grade science class wrote a letter to the Ecuadorian Embassy to encourage them to stop deforestation. It's great that carbon emissions are getting so much attention, but they're just a piece of the overall puzzle.

    Just two countries—Indonesia and Brazil—account for about ten per cent of t...

  • Fuel Efficiency - is there any controversy?

    Environment, Industrial Design


    Tata Motors has unveiled their $2,500 car in India. This mini monster is expected to get 54 mpg.

    But one has to wonder whether or not an inexpensive and fuel efficient car is good for the world. This car will displace bicycles and scooters, not other cars, so we're effectively increasing waste & consumption, not decreasing it.

    Speaking at the unveiling ceremony at the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi, Mr. Ratan N. Tata said, "I observed families riding on two-wheelers - the father driving the scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife seated behind him holding a little baby. It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family. Tata Motors' engineers and designers gave their all for about four years to realise this goal. Today, we indeed have a People's Car, which is affordable and yet built to meet safety requirements and emission norms, to be fuel efficient and low on emissions. We are happy to present the People's Car to India and we hope it brings the joy, pride and utility of owning a car to many families who need personal mobility."

    via Jalopnik

  • Sustainable living, miniaturized

    Environment, Communication Design


    Thames & Kosmos have come up with a miniature, working "off the grid" home for kids to learn about sustainable living.

    With the Power House kit you can build a model house complete with solar panels, windmill, greenhouse, and desalination system. You can build and operate an electric train, windmill, solar cooker, solar hot water tank, hygrometer, electric motor, power hoist, sail car, and more! Plant watercress, prepare sauerkraut, and make chewing gum. Learn how plants convert sunlight into energy for your body and your engines.

    What a fun, clever way to teach the next generation about the possibilities of sustainable living!

    Check out the Power House

    via Springwise

  • These Come From Trees

    Communication, Environmental Design


    These Come From Trees is a sticker campaign designed to help reduce paper waste. Buy a sticker and put it anywhere you think the message could be spread that paper towels, printer paper, etc. come from trees.

    Amazingly, the design was donated by a group that does "Random acts of Designess"

    That's a good design idea. I'm ordering a bunch.

  • EcoFoot

    Environment, Environmental Design


    This very cleverly designed survey tells you how much of the Earth's resources you take up, compares your footprint to the average and tells you "how many Earths we would need" if everyone lived like me. Then it gives you an action plan and give you specific steps on how you can reduce your ecological footprint (I need to eat more locally).

    It's the way they present the information that I really like. By telling me "how many Earths we would need" it really puts a number on just how gluttonous I am (or how overpopulated the Earth is, take your pick).

    Visit: Earth Day Footprint Quiz

    PS - we would need 3.6 Earths if everyone lived like me.

  • Solar Bottle

    Poverty, Environmental Design


    This innovative bottle uses the disinfecting power of ultraviolet light found in the sun's rays to purify drinking water.

    How did this design improve life and for whom?: Bottle can improve the life of an enormous quantity of people, by providing them with safe water to drink wherever there is no access to improved water supply. No access to good quality drinking water leads to a high risk of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, dysentery and other diseases. One sixth of the world’s population has no access to safe water today. Bottle utilizes a water treatment method named SODIS (Solar Disinfection System) a simple, environmentally sustainable, low-cost solution for drinking water treatment at household level for people consuming microbiologically contaminated raw water. Contaminated water is filled into transparent plastic bottles and exposed to full sunlight for six hours. During the exposure to the sun the pathogens are destroyed. The SODIS system has been used in South America, Africa and the Far East with good results, with the new Bottle design the results and the diffusion of the system can increase.

    More about Solar Water Disinfection INDEX: 2007 INDEX: AWARD

    via (UberGizmo)

  • We Are Smarter Than Me

    Communication, Communication Design


    A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

    Imagine what a big group can do.

    We Are Smarter Than Me is the first book written collaboratively using a Wiki and is, appropriately enough, about the importance of collaboration within the business community.

    Collaboration is part of what makes a site like Design 21 great - a community dedicated to better design for the greater good is a very powerful thing.

    Communities and collaborative efforts are Good Design Ideas and I hope to see this century become the era of collaborative effort in solving many of the humankind's problems.

  • Nice try, BP

    Environment, Environmental Design


    Oil conglomerate BP has put up a very nice site about how they (and you) can help the environment. The idea is that the way to stop all of the global warming charts from going up is to figure out where you are on the "curve" and "aspire" to reach the next level of the curve.

    There's a very nice quiz on the site where it asks you a series of questions - do you work from home at least once a week? do you recycle? do you use compact fluorescent bulbs? do you turn off your computer when it's not in use? have you stopped junk mail from arriving at your house? do you save paper at work by doing more things electronically?

    At the end of the questionnaire they give you a score, and then give you the opportunity to print your results.

    Nice try BP. You know they've invented this thing called email...

  • Mosquito Trap

    Poverty, Industrial Design


    Last night a mosquito made its way into my room. I know because I woke up in the middle of the night itching. I've always found that spray bottles filled with water (so I don't get Windex on anything or anyone) are better than fly swatters when it comes to mosquitoes because they're so light that just a few drops of water is enough to slow them down. But I didn't know where the bugger had gone off to. So I googled around a bit and found this:

    A quick and dirty mosquito trap designed by students in Taiwan! It uses a few simple household materials and appears to be very effective. It creates a funnel that's easy to get into and difficult to get out of. Since mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide (they use it to find animals - all animals breathe out carbon dioxide), they enter the contraption and have a hard time figuring out how to leave.

    Mosquitoes are a big problem in many parts of the world - not just as pests, but as carriers of disease as well. I've seen industrial sized mosquito traps that use propane or special cartridges as the source of carbon dioxide, but they're bulky and expensive (on the low end they're over $100). This is simple, easy to make, and effective. Definitely a Good Design Idea!

    Also check out the Water Cone which is another good design idea using similar materials.

  • Data Visualization

    Communication, Communication Design


    My inner Tufte is champing at the bit to dig into this list of Data Visualizations. on Smashing

    There's so much data out there that needs to be interpreted and displayed in interesting, compelling ways - ways that can move people to action, ways that can show progress or setbacks. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and some of these graphs as compelling as a picture.

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