Scenario A: Infinitely Disposable – The Organic SolutionPosted: June 4, 2011
Scenarios of Sustainability within Design
True closed loops, natural cycles.
Is the answer edible technology? The edible cell phone?
We don’t have to eat it, but as long as some organism or bacteria finds our products edible, we could create a biodegradable future where all our waste can be easily breakdown and return to the earth.
It is easy to think of biodegrading as a negative. Who wants their cell phone slowly breaking down in their pocket? Flakes of screens being caught in the washing machine, buttons that slowly disintegrate through use.
But John Warner, godfather of green chemistry argues that in nature biodegrading is coded with signals. When specific conditions are met; chemical, temperature, time, reactions trigger internal chemical responses that alter the properties of the material.
Drop the cell phone in water mixed with vinegar and it begins to disassemble. Return in a day and in the bin is floating a case, screen and electronics board. Need to go further? You drop the electronics board into a warm bath of a different kind and it comes apart in another layer.
Could this be the silver bullet for product design?
It would certainly satisfy the capitalistic consumer model of acting. If done right it would require no change in pesky behaviour, marketing practices could continue full speed ahead, designed obsolescence would celebrated! Would this be a guilt free return to the post war era of celebrated consumption?
Speed and scale is always the biggest concern. How fast we produce and consume must be relative to the speed of converting “waste” into nutrients. If products are made faster than they are “eaten” it will still be unsustainable. Therefore the future scenario of the Organic and Infinitely Disposable will still require a holistic view and balanced execution, two guiding principles that will challenge our existing high speed consumption model.
What about the edible home?
In architecture, enormous efforts are spent preventing it from being edible. The battle against termites and other bugs influences the design and material choices of foundations, insulation, surface sealants and the building envelope.
Perhaps there are two stages in construction and demolition. Materials are sprayed with protective barriers that seal against bugs during construction. But in demolition a second spray eats away this seal and open season is released. I like the anarchistic dream of new condos sitting beside living, breathing hives of activity. No building is demolished, only returned to nature. Could a condominium tower be a future park? What organisms would move back in? There is room for a future scenario around this… could be a really fun sketch…