Sustainability – A condition of well-being?

So the other day, I was making some stickers out of beer stubby labels for my guitar. I always thought it was a pretty cool thing to do & was pretty kicked about the whole deal. The very next day, in class, while on the topic of sustainability, my faculty said “you’ve got to be engaged in defining your own lifestyle and well-being”. That, opened my eyes to a whole new dimension in this global game!

How many of us eat the food that we cook ourselves? How many of us use the stairs and NOT just when the elevator’s konked? How many of us KNOW the difference between listening to music off a CD/DVD we just bought/downloaded and the music we’ve created ourselves?

Take sex for example. This goes without saying, but isn’t there a difference between having sex & just watching some third rate porn? The analogies may be numerous & even inane to quite an extent, but to me, they all point in one direction – for a sustainable future, you HAVE to define yourself first!

To be honest, I’m not an authority on design or sustainability or ethics or any thinking -related process. I’m just one of those wannabe designers who wants to at least understand this concept of sustainability first.

I was watching a lecture by Peter Harper (Centre for Alternative Technologies, Wales), where he talks about a low carbon living. The opening sequence itself is so brutal as to shake your foundation, and start showing concern to save the planet blah blah blah. If we had, say, 200 years to bring about a change, we’d be fine. That much time is enough for a natural lifestyle change. If we have, say, 50 years, we can pretty much rely on technology & wait for some ultra-revolutionary carbon-efficient technology to come up & save the planet.

But what if we have just 20 years?

Research points out that “if some solution is not arrived at by 2014, the world is doomed”. That’s what – 6 years? Peter points out in the beginning of the sequence, that to save the planet (there I go again), there HAS to be a forced lifestyle change, to account for the time that it takes for technology to come up with some solution.

Forced lifestyle change – what could that mean? Are you willing to convert to vegetarianism? Even if it’s a government policy? Are you willing to throw your car in the dustbin? Do you really need your cellphone?

I don’t think so. So what’s a forced lifestyle change?

I guess one of the solutions lies in distributed systems. The way we’ve been programmed in the past few years, we’ve become so impeccably dependent on this downward spiral that it’s almost impossible to come back up. Yesterday’s luxuries have become today’s necessities. Systems have taken a centralized approach and a failure can rupture the entire system!

On a side note, when someone says “Design a luxury car for 5 years in the future”, what does that mean? One funny connotation came out when I was having some random gibberish with a batchmate of mine. By definition, luxury is the opposite of necessity, meaning, it’s something that’s not needed. So, luxury for today means something that we don’t need today, which in turn, means luxury for 5 years down the line is something we won’t be needing 5 years later…so how do we design a car that we won’t need in 2013????????

Back to the topic. In terms of sustainability, responsible designers have always thrashed the car to extents. Cars, ethically, are a threat to our future owing to the gazillions of fuel they consume. I’m a transportation designer, and I should technically (or ethically) take offence to that…but honestly, I don’t.

To bring about any change, I’ve always firmly believed that the change should come from within. Question yourself – why do you need to take your car out just to go to the nighbouring locality (or block)? If you were living in the 60s (ok let’s not make it that far-fetched…let’s make it the 90s when cars were still not considered incessantly necessary), would you need your car to go to the next block? Then reflect upon this – if you didn’t need it back then, why do you need it now?

I guess that’s the forced lifestyle change Peter talks about. It’s not just about cars, but it extends to every other aspect of life.

That’s the reason why i don’t take offence to design thinkers bashing car design. It’s all centred around the user and it’s the user who has to initiate this whole process. No infrastructure, no policy, no system can be effective unless the user accepts it, and for this, it becomes increasingly important that the user’s well-being is met with!!!

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Comments
5 Responses to “Sustainability – A condition of well-being?”
  1. Kartik says:

    good one.. dude

    very well written, intriguing, thought-provoking post..

    u know what.. i always take the stairs (my office is on the 4th floor).. plus i have a car pool.. šŸ˜›

    BTW, way to go!!!

    PS: will watch that video, when i get some time šŸ™‚

  2. Kavita says:

    Good grief…you’re beginning to make sense. There you go off rabble rousing again about vegetarianism. You should be the new poster boy for veganism in the name of sustainability.

  3. beast says:

    good grief drinkin’ some sense huh !!! dude way to go šŸ™‚

  4. Aran says:

    nice~ sounds really professional

  5. lindz1 says:

    well thought out – – def made me think bout a few things!

    nice going šŸ˜€

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