Designers are the problem.

A couple of weeks ago, I kind of had my mind explode. I was speaking with a juror for the IDSA IDEAs and he said, “why do we as designers keep designing with plastic even though we know it is bad for the environment.” This guy is not an in your face sustainability person. But we got to talking about how designers are constantly researching the future, we know that plastic is destroying our earth. Yet, we keep designing plastic products. Everyday millions of plastic products are manufactured.

We keep blaming society for not recycling and not caring about the earth, but we should turn the blame to ourselves. I am in no way free of this blame, as a student 99% of my products I designed use a ton of plastic. We are taught how to shape, mold, and manipulate plastic. Why are we not taught to design without plastic? Why are we not exploring replacements for plastic? What happens when oil runs out? What happens we honestly cannot make plastic anymore?

A few weeks ago, I had a different conversation with a boss of mine about how laundry pods are killing children. Children are dying because designers designed a squishy, bright colored, good smelling, fun-looking pod. Children think this pod is a toy or candy and put it in their mouth.

Another example is Fabreze. They state that the smell lasts for weeks… Think about that, these chemicals are off gassing for weeks. What are we breathing in?

We were born with these innate instincts that were developed for survival. We came from cavemen and animals who can smell food in a forest to survive. Yet, throughout time we have learned to pinpoint these human instincts to trigger them for the maximum reaction. We package and bottle and supersize flavors, smells, touches to trigger these effects….

We can do all of these things…but should we?

Instead of blaming society for not respecting earth and doing the sustainable thing, we should be blaming ourselves, the designers. We need to stop designing things that have such terrible consequences.

Now, I am not a sustainable person, I live a wasteful life, I drive my car everywhere because I don’t feel comfortable riding my bike, and I definitely take longer showers than I should. But after talking to my colleagues, it made me realize how big of an impact designers have in this world. We need to start taking responsibility.