What is sustainability?

Digital Design Project – Sustainability is a unit within the Masters if Digital Design course run by the University of Canberra. This week the group had our first project meeting to discuss the concept of sustainability and what our role as designers might be in relation to environmental, social and economic problems. How can we address these issues? How can we change behaviour towards consumerism?

John Thackara’s “Make Sense, Not Stuff” talks about these ideas and advocates for design schools and companies to think smarter about a solution rather than putting a “bandaid” on the problem. Sustainability is no longer about emitting messages, it’s about activity and getting people to rethink the impact they have on the environment. For the project brief I am to focus on the relationship between digital design and the concept of sustainability while applying  the project development methodology as referred to in “Make Sense, Not Stuff” – map assets, connect locally and use new language.

Key aspects of this relationship to be considered are;

  1. Sustainable digital design: What are the attributes of a “sustainable” digital design practice? Consider the environmental impacts of digital design, as well as the questions of social, economic and cultural sustainability.
  2. Digital design for sustainability: How can digital design make a positive contribution to improved sustainability? What are the prime opportunities or locations where digital design can intervene? Consider the specific context of your own field of practice.

During class the group did some brain storming and some ideas I thought to explore were;

  • Educating children / adults through experience
  • Changing a behaviour to elevate a problem
  • Users involvement in the process = sense of accomplishment
  • Food/ produce, waste/ compost/ worm farms
  • Environmental impact of food and waste
  • Local community gardens
  • Pop up/ portable/ temporary garden / activating a space
  • No waste – able to re-use and recycle – cradle to cradle

I will need to investigate further to narrow down a proposal, but already I see the ability to develop the project methodology. Better get to it!


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