I had the opportunity to take part in an event regarding – in my opinion – the most serious problem of the modern world. A problem that concerns us all to the same extent, and which is still too often treated with neglect. It is – the impact of the economy on the environment.
A two-day conference organized on 15-16 of March, by The Polish Patent Office, took place in the beautiful building of the Warsaw Stock Exchange and was focused on issues such as responsible design, circular economy, sharing economy and ecology in innovative business. It gathered a group of experts – entrepreneurs, designers, educators, scientists, and notables who are undertaking actions for reasonable use of natural resources on a daily basis.
Panelists from several industries presented a various approach to ecodesign which are specific to their areas of activity, but generally agreed on one thing – decisions of entrepreneurs, designers, and state authorities have a great impact on the environment and, it is possible yet necessary to produce in such a way that the environmental footprint will be as small as possible. At first sight, these may be minor actions, such as reducing the surface of the product’s label, or thinning the walls of the packaging but in fact, it is equal to saving hundreds of tons of the material.
Ecodesign can go hand in hand with innovations, as in the case of plant protection products – crops can be protected by increasing their resistance, not just by killing pathogens. This means reducing the amount of chemicals pumped into the environment and lowering doses of pesticides in our food. Another example of eco-innovations are benches and city stops with integrated solar panels solar that acquire electricity, used for lighting, charging phones, wifi and timetables display. Exclusive tops and quartz façades are becoming more and more popular – they are beautiful and durable, and in addition, are made from the material that can be repeatedly processed – grinded and burned again, because it does not contain any additives like glue, resins or binders.
We can multiply examples of recycling, upcycling ( processing waste which results a product with a higher value than the raw material from which it was made, e.g.paperwood) or eco-innovation, but if something might change the world, must sell well. Therefore, it is important to think about the user and his needs and to engage designers and people making their patents in the early stages of design.
The conference was accompanied by an exhibition organized by the Academic Center of Design. It presented a number of great, sometimes ingeniously simple solutions regarding environmental protection. One of them was decorative concrete forms used in e.g. modern interiors or gardens, where we have wastes which are very difficult to manage.
The main conclusion of the panels and lectures is the issue of producers consciousness and responsibility for a product throughout its whole life, not just until it leaves the factory gate. There is a chance that soon this strategy will be double – profitable because subsidies will go especially to those who promote the closed-circuit economy an environment – friendly enterprises. Businessmen, in particular, must look into the future, because soon they may no longer have anyone to produce for, with their one-off products in millions of outlays. I think that among entrepreneurs the conviction that “the business of business is a business” and that ecology is something that can only stand in their way or at best lead to the release of an expensive product that nobody will buy anyway is fateful.
It’s time to end this way of thinking. Conscious consumers show us every day, that what matters in business is an intelligence and responsibility. What is good for society is good for business. I hope that one day the condition of our planet will be a measurement of the success.
author: Maja Żądło