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  • Writer's pictureLea Hiralal


| I’ve heard the word a thousand of times when I was at university; “Sustainable material this.”, “Sustainable project that.” BUT, I never quite grasp the meaning of it, and I think neither did my peers. The word was thrown around like it was insignificant, but it is a deep and complex term, so why is it used so lightly? |

The word sustainability derives from the Latin word, Sustinere, defined as ‘maintain’ or ‘to support’. Therefor, the essence of the term is really about maintaining the status quo between the environment, the society and the economy realms. These three factors were first published in the Brundtland Report(I. Our common future) in 1987. The report highlights and establishes the links between our environmental, our society and our economical processes. Indeed, sustainable development signifies much more than the protection’s environment, likewise it involves economical balance and societal unity.

This ideology became the pillar of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established during the UN General Assembly in 2015. The SDGs are based on seventeen goals, which deem specific targets, agenda by 2030. Those targets address, individually, a specific sustainable concern, an urgent call for action, set by the UN (II.).

Sustainable Development Goals Chart

But how do we implement these sustainable goals, as designers? Again, if we understand the three pillars individually, we can produce sustainable pieces.

Undoubtedly, for each creation, it is imperial to analyse in depth those three pillars of sustainability. As they are strongly connected, as we know, due to every action carried out by human beings impacts, in one way or another, the natural world.

The environmental pillar is vast, as it principally about sourcing and manufacturing of virgin materials. The social element is tougher, as a designer, to engage with, as it implicates a lot of international laws managing labour rights, social injustices and equalities. Ultimately, the ecological and social dimensions interfaces with the economical aspect via key areas, such as business growth and market behaviours.

Only, once we look at these pillars in depth, can we truly understand what the term sustainable entails, and therefor, can design a sustainable item.

The three dimensions of sustainability and how to implement them into the design process will be broken down into in specific blogs, as I will individually analyse them.


Read the following for a better insight of the Brundtland Report and the Sustainable Development Goals:

I. (United Nations through the Oxford University Press, 1987).

II. (United Nations, 2015).

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