Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

D&T/MUSIC - Playing for Keeps: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

D&T/MUSIC - Playing for Keeps: Resources

Article excerpt

Well-made products could help us scrap our disposable culture.

I was lucky enough to attend the 2012 Design and Technology Association Awards in London earlier this month.

At the end of the evening, Dame Ellen MacArthur (her father was a D&T teacher) gave a speech about sustainability, during which she pointed out that we have around 118 years of coal supply left.

It got me thinking. Sustainability and the environment have, until recently, been the preserve of those with dubious facial hair and a penchant for multicoloured knitwear. But now it is everywhere. And surely the crisis point that has been so long anticipated has already arrived: we have 40 to 50 years of oil left. That's scary, isn't it?

But here is a controversial thought - and one you could work into a classroom debate. Why not design better and more durable products, instead of attempting to recycle everything in what has become a disposable society?

The switch on my wife's hairdryer broke recently. You can buy a new hairdryer for less than Pounds 5. But being a D&T teacher, I thought I would mend it. I just had to take the case apart. But the manufacturer had apparently never considered that anyone might want to do this, for while I have every screwdriver under the sun (and a Torx set), I do not have the Security Torx set needed to fix the hairdryer. Result: my wife now has a new one.

Remember the vehicle scrappage scheme where the government encouraged us to crush perfectly workable cars in order to "save" Pounds 2,000 off the price of a new car? Nothing to do with money they said, all about getting old cars off the road and replacing then with environmentally friendly ones. …

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