There’s an interesting piece here on Gizmodo about Ikea’s decision to alter the thickness of the vertical outer members in its ubiquitous “expedite” shelving. It’s good to see a company like Ikea making small changes to products, knowing that the consequences will be huge when measured in the millions of units sold. Because, consider their impact: “Ikea uses a whopping one percent of the world’s wood supply.” That’s a staggering statistic.
As far as I’m concerned, every third adult needs to know how to do this in a pinch, otherwise we’re all fucked.
I came up with a new word today. I was overcome by anxiety as I often am when confronted by a mountain of relatively uniform waste. So much could be done with it! If I only had a brain! If only I could intervene before it’s picked up by sanitation, headed for the landfill or even a recycling facility! So much energy could be saved! So many children’s lives made whole! Oh the humanity…. All this anxiety born of the need for better design interventions. And thus was born “designxiety.” And I started typing this post, totally ready to take the stage and be crowned for my genius contribution to the land of modern etymology when I decided to check the Google. Five hits as of today. Oh well. As we say in kindergarten, “I made it up for myself!”
Did I ever tell you about the time I wrote Stairway to Heaven?
Just saw these beautiful big cuts of reclaimed bowling alleys on the Build It Green website. I would really like to sink my teeth into this stuff. Who needs a conference table?! Two weeks ago I was at the Columbus Ave Shake Shack with my son and noticed that the tables and counters are branded (literally heat branded) with the Shake Shack logo (see second image), the logo of the local fabricator Counter Evolution and another brand saying the wood came from reclaimed bowling alleys (see third image). First thought, good for Shake Shack for building green. Second thought, good for Counter Evolution for building a smart business with a good product and attracting sophisticated clients like Danny Meyer. And third thought, bummer that our nations classic bowling alleys are being ripped up!! But I repeat: Who needs a custom conference table?!
As if Blue Bottle Coffee were not already about as cool as it gets with their incredible roasts and brews and foams and wild apparatus behind the glass there on Berry in Williamsburg, they had to go that extra step and be as green as possible with their cups. New cups are 100% compostable with a bio-degradable plastic lining, and the lids are compostable too (maybe made from corn?). Good on you BBC. Love you guys!
It is a growing concern of mine that publications from the product design community continuously tend to focus on innovations in form, style and lifestyle influence, attributes of products that are central to their perceived value by us users, but that are really only a small part of the story of their measurable impact as tools. The sustainability movement has raised critical awareness and has increased the chic value of the conservative utility of new products, but what remains of concern is that we are still talking about innovations and new products, i.e. more stuff. So one thing I’d like to do more of here is celebrate quotidien, existing and (from my perspective) unsung heroes in products and product design. Probably that will mean just the products themselves as most of them will not be glamourous enough to have afforded their innovators any notoriety, but so what, it is better to do good than to be thanked. So with that said, let’s begin…. And let’s give thanks along the way.
Over the past year and a half, my two and a half year old son and I have been bathing every evening before his bedtime, and as he grows taller, we let the water level get higher. But as the water level rises, so does the amount of water lost to the overflow drain toward the top of the tub. For months of filling and refilling I stared at the overflow and listened to the sound of wasted water, remembering my own father’s lament at the same. I remembered what he brought back as a solution and decided it was time to hunt one down myself:
The bathtub overflow stopper is a remarkably simple, single part device that uses suction cups to surround and seal the tub overflow and restrict drainage through a hole that can be positioned anywhere around the drain’s perimeter.
To date I have not measured the amount of water I save each bath but I would guess that it measures in the tens of gallons, equal at least in displaced volume to me and my son combined. The packaging says it will allow 60% more water into the tub, or save you 60% of your water use without it, but my tub is quite old and unusually deep and long, so that number is going to be smaller. I have a 150 gallon hot water heater and know that without the overflow stopper, over the course of a typical 30 minute bath in our big old tub, after refilling a few times to keep from freezing our shoulders we started to lose peak hot water and I could feel the dilution of cold into the hot water tank coming through the line. So I can guess that we were approaching the 100 gallon mark per bath. Insane. Over the course of a week, that nearly reaches the basic water rate in Brooklyn set by the DEP which is “$2.61 per Hundred Cubic Feet (HCF which is equivalent to 748 gallons of water.” With the overflow stopper, I don’t lose water to the overflow and I don’t refill the tub anymore. I am guessing I use half as much water per bath. That’s only a buck and a quarter per week, but it’s enough water to fill two Hipporoller water carriers– per day! If I could divert that water to the needy I would. For now, I am grateful for a simple solution to a huge waste of water.
And bathing with family is fun.
Couldn’t resist. (So modest.)
This is a clear hard plastic cover for an iPhone 4 still in its packaging from Incase.
And this is the price tag. Not bad. Someone’s doing pretty well making aftermarket plastic parts for a fancy phone and charging a fancy penny. But what gets me is this: below are the four main components that make up just the disposable packaging for the plastic phone cover:
From right to left, a glossy paper bifold “manual” that sits in the thermo formed anti rattle shipping tray to its left (which nests the phone cover not pictured) which nests in the pressure formed paper pulp tray to its left which slides into the printed sheath to its left and we’re done. So below we have the phone case on the left and the mountain of trash it comes in to its right.
And what I wanna know is when you go back to the unit cost for this product which is packaging for a package for a phone, what costs more, the single plastic case or its packaging?