Many research works have been developed worldwide in order to integrate environmental issues into the design process. Resulting from these developments, various tools and methods have been emerging, including design for disassembly, design for recycling, selection of materials for green design, quantitative life cycle related methods such as life cycle assessment, qualitative life cycle related methods.


In recent times, we have seen an increase in raw material costs, opposition to incinerators and discharges, stricter environmental legislation, increased urgency to reduce climate change, increased sensitivity to environmental issues from consumers, etc., all of which place a strong demand on environmentally-friendly product design. Many research works have been developed worldwide in order to integrate environmental issues into the design process. Resulting from these developments, various tools and methods have been emerging, including design for disassembly, design for recycling, selection of materials for green design, quantitative life cycle related methods such as life cycle assessment, qualitative life cycle related methods. The evolution of product design is very positive and the tools and methods have become more complete and robust. However, the existing tools and methods have their weaknesses: they are product-centered rather than service-centered, multiple life cycles are rarely considered, they are generally oriented towards improvement rather than innovation, sustainability criteria are hardly taken into account, and so on. To overcome these weaknesses, it is necessary to develop a new category of design methods. Many researchers have already started the work concerning more "service-centered", "sustainable" or "eco-innovative" design processes. The research has revealed new knowledge in models, heuristics, methods, tools, learning processes, software, etc. The world's present development path is not sustainable. Efforts to meet the needs of a growing population in an interconnected but unequal and human-dominated world are undermining the Earth's essential life-support systems. Meeting fundamental human needs while preserving the life support systems of planet Earth will require a world-wide acceleration of today's halting progress in a transition toward sustainability. Sustainability is the ability of a system to be sustained indefinitely. This system could take any form and could be beneficial or detrimental to the human race and as rightly said "The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth", by Chief Seattle.


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The author is Assistant Professor in Department of Textile Design at National Institute of Fashion Technology New Delhi


Originally published in Textile Review, May 2011