Sustainability is important, but convincing people to behave in a manner that is more sustainable is a challenge. This is where design comes in. Designers are already skilled at creating products that influence how people think, feel and interact.

An example was illustrated recently in an article in the Guardian. The humble kitchen kettle accounts for 4% of the UK’s household carbon emissions. 95% of its energy consumption comes from boiling water, something that is done an average of 2.4 times for every cup of tea or coffee made. Why so high? People over-fill the kettle, get distracted, don’t hear it finish, and then assume the water’s not hot enough so they turn it on again.

The solutions to a better kettle are simple. Bring back the whistle and people will know it’s finished. Redesign the water indicators so people know how much water they need. Build in a temperature gauge so you know whether it really needs to be turned on again. Three simple design changes. Three simple solutions to solving unsustainable behaviour.

There are almost no limits to where sustainable design can be applied. Take any item within arm’s reach and there’ll be a way to make it not only greener, but simply more beautiful and more efficient.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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