• MIPS - Measuring Sustainability

    Environment, Industrial Design


    As we were talking recently about sustainability: the Wupptertal Institute developed a system how to calculate whether a product, material or service is sustainable or not. The MIPS (material input per unit of service) puts all energy, raw materials, waste and so on in a calculation in relation to the period of usage.

    Very interesting - there's a rather short explanation at Wikipedia. But the Wuppertal Institute also offers a PDF with a list of some materials for download. Because of the transportation factor the values are all geographically related.

    At the Köln International School of Design, where I studied, Prof. Horntrich used to give the example of the yogurt cup: the plastic cup is made in Poland, the lid is from Italy, the yogurt from France and the strawberries (if it's not some substitue made of tree rinds) are from Portugal. Everythings is then assembled in Germany. So it's thousands of kilometers the yogurt travels across Europe till it's finally in the shelf of the supermarket. Maybe the countries are not correct - but I think it's a good example for what has all to be considered to rate a product as being sustainable or not.

    The factors of humanity not even included! Because then it really gets complicated as there are different parties and interests that have to be considered. Difficult subject!

    (Picture taken by Flickr user Christian Watzke)

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