ETech 2009: Ending Obsolescence with a Post-Consumerist Economy (Video)


photos by Jaymi Heimbuch

Our consumerist culture has us in a bind, that much we can tell. So how do we design our way out? Lane Becker and Thor Muller propose some great ideas. Click through to watch video on their take on consumerism, some design strategies to fix us, and what to do with our collective free time.

So, now that we understand the dangers of consumerism, what can we do to turn it towards sustainability? Becker and Muller pose that we look at "weak signals" or trends that are getting started, and accelerate them. Some of the ideas Muller and Becker present include:

Imagine if everything were free - Open source is free, blogs, etc, and they hold power and value while being free. What if more things were free, or turned into product service systems?

Institute the repair culture - something we're already seeing happening. Why don't we have more things that people want to repair, maintain, and share? We're somewhat being forced into it with the economy, but moving away from disposable and into heirloom is important.

Create virtual production - make stuff that is made and sold virtually. For example, we're already seeing a rise in e-books, movies via Tivo instead of DVDs, and so on. There are also iPhone apps that replace physical goods like a mouse and a level. Imagine making more things virtual so one physical object can accomplish many tasks.

To move our culture forward and towards sustainability, Becker and Muller say to look for the patterns, and keep up the conversation on how to make these things work better. And when can we do this? Well....

Imagine if the collective free time were used on dreaming and implementing innovations that eliminate our carbon footprint, improve the environment, and change the way we live our lives so that the planet as we know it will be around in another thousand years? We have the time, so let's get cracking!

More on ETech 2009:
ETech 2009: Population Boom, Wealth, and 6 Ways to Stave Off Environmental Collapse (Video)
ETech 2009: Tim O'Reilly and Our Reality Bubble Burst (Video)
ETech 2009: Lilypad Electronic Fashion

Tags: Activism | Consumerism | Designers

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