Just because you go on vacation doesn't mean your carbon footprint will take a break, too; while things like the impact of aircraft carbon emissions are large (with one exception), obvious and often calculated, the impact small things like the chintzy souvenirs -- the ones we've all bought and received to commemorate a visit to some famous landmark -- are less so.
If you recall, The Story of Stuff taught us that all the little things we consume really add up, souvenirs included. Designer Héctor Serrano has conceived of a way to use 3D printers, email and downloadable design to create personalized souvenirs, like the one pictured above, at a small fraction of the carbon footprint (we first saw it back at the London Design Festival). Meet the Reduced Carbon Footprint Souvenirs below the fold.
The awesomely simple concept bypasses the traditional cycle of production and consumption, replacing sweat shop labor and the slow boat from China with electronic messaging and rapid prototyping to create really unique, super-personalized objects. Rather than buying something that's (probably) already traveled thousands of miles and incurred a sizable carbon footprint, you just send your giftee an email with a personalized message about the weather or whatever; they print it out with a 3D printer, and have something cool that didn't come from half a world away.
The conceptual range of Reduced Carbon Footprint Souvenirs was created for the Ten Again exhibition of sustainable design at 100% Design in London last September; 3D printers are coming (but not quite here yet), but when they become more available to the mainstream, ideas like this have the potential to totally change the way we consume stuff.
About the project, designer Serrano says, "The project questions the way that objects are manufactured and how new technologies can be applied to propose alternative ways of reducing their impact on the environment. the project becomes more relevant as 3D printers become more affordable." We're looking forward to it.