We have just lived through a really stupid cycle, that was great for business, bad for the planet and bad for life in general. Although the economy is failing, we are still living it and it needs to change.
The name of this cycle is “planned obolescence” and it created the throw-away society.
We are all complicit in it, even me, someone who considers himself “a conservative.” Yes, I was one of the few who raised their hands!
I’m not for rampant consumerism, I don’t have a 60 inch TV, in fact there is only one TV in my house, a 6 year-old, top quality unit that I expect to last another 10 to 20 years. I refuse plastic bags at the supermarket and other stores, preferring my own cotton bags, and I recycle everything.
I have a ten year old car (Mercedes) that I hope will last a few more years and I always try to buy American, never shop at Wal-Mart and I buy local when I can.
This isn’t something I came to last month, I’ve been that way all of my life.
This conservatism has nothing to do with politics, it is a concept and a way of life. It is what keeps my company alive in these difficult times, while others fizzle out.
We need to change our ways because we are consuming resources and generating waste at an unsustainable rate. This doesn’t mean that we need to live in caves or that we shouldn’t have comforts or “things.”
Yesterday I drove 110 miles each way to San Francisco, to the Compostmodern 09 conference. What I found there was a theatre packed full of designers interested in a modern way of composting, which has almost nothing to do with gardening or piles of decomposing organic matter.
These designers are part of the solution to rampant consumerism and they are fired up! I expect to see some great things coming out of the design community, as a direct result of the energy and alliances coming out of Compostmodern 09.
Compostmodern has been running for five years now and it just keeps getting bigger and better.
The conference demonstrates how sustainable solutions converge as design, ecology, social activism, business, and economics intersect.
The organizers provided the lead and arranged for a great list of interesting speakers, in an excellent venue.
Acting as Emcee, Joel Makower, the Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com did an great job of keeping the speakers and audience to a reasonable facsimile of on-time.
Joel defined Compostmodern this way:
“Compostmodern is about taking the scraps of the old failed ideas of our society and failing products and systems and mixing them with a fusion of intelligence and innovation and wisdom and then bringing that together with fresh ideas and the heat from conversations generated here, to plant the seeds for the next generation of ideas for products and design.”
The diverse speakers, include designers, an engineer, a marketer, a climate strategist, and editor and an author. They presented a very interesting series of presentations and ideas that had the attendees riveted to their seats and asking questions at the end.
Speakers, in order:
Eames Demetrios, Filmmaker; Writer; Creative, Kymaerica
Allan Chochinov, Editor-in-chief, Core77
Michel Gelobter, Climate Strategist, Cooler
Saul Griffith, Inventor, Makani Power
John Bielenberg, Founder, and Pam Dorr of Project M
Emily Pilloton, Founder, Project H Design
Dawn Danby, Sustainable Design Program Manager, Autodesk
Nathan Shedroff, Design MBA, Chair California College of the Arts
As I said earlier, our rampant consumerism needs to change. It will take time. We will all be better off for having made the change. The change will not be easy and it will not be fast, but those who attended Compostmodern 09 and those who watch the webcasts and other videos could easily be the harbingers of change.
The time is now.
Get into modern Composting. Use less, buy quality things that last longer, that take less energy and resources to create. Buy local where possible, to minimize transport cost and waste. At the end of product life, recycle.
Designers can drive this by making things last longer, use materials that can be recycled and reused. There is a lot more to it, so get involved.
Business owners can get involved too. When your customers find you care about them and your products are quality and don’t destroy the planet, you will get more customers and more loyalty. Ignore these needs of your customers and your business will suffer the consequences unless you can get them to buy into your “It is Cool to Destroy the Planet” marketing program.
The Compostmodern 09 organizers encourage designers to act locally. Sign up to watch the webcast, or download a Seedpacket to grow your own satellite event. [ Webcast ]