Sustainability and the environment have been huge buzzwords in recent years. We encounter them in the statements of businesses and politicians, as well as on the green labels of products and services. However, can we be certain that buying shampoo in a recycled bottle guarantees a step towards a greener future? Are biomaterials always a greener alternative? And what exactly is the infamous carbon footprint?
These are the types of questions we will explore in this course, which focuses on the environmental impacts of products and structures around us. The main goal is to learn how to look at objects in the context of their whole life cycles, to understand what they are made of and why, and to explore what happens to them when they complete their intended use. We will step into the shoes of engineers and designers, trying to understand the factors and limitations that influence their decision-making, including the choice of materials and processes, as well as broader economic and societal influences. Inspired by philosophies of circular and purposeful design, we will try to come up with sustainable alternatives to everyday objects. We will also look at the consumer aspects of sustainability, learning to identify „greenwashing“ practices and gain a better understanding of terms such as „bio-sourced,“ „biodegradable,“ or „recyclable.“
Whether you want to make more responsible shopping choices, have an interest in design, engineering, and materials, are passionate about addressing climate change, or simply wish to enhance your understanding of the world around us, this course offers something for everyone. No prior experience is required; the main prerequisite is the passion to delve deeper into complex questions and seek answers and solutions. The course will illustrate (un)sustainable design principles through case studies and examples, providing you with the tools to recognise and apply them in your everyday life.