Emotional sustainability

Authored by: Deana McDonagh

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Product Design

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138910171
eBook ISBN: 9781315693309
Adobe ISBN:


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Individuals are dynamic with existing, changing and emerging needs. The challenge for the designer is to satisfy both the functional and emotional needs of consumers. Emotional sustainability refers to the human centred component of design, while physical sustainability refers to both the material usage as well as longevity of the product. It is somewhat distracting with so many products being declared as recycled and therefore good for the environment. Manufacturing a product out of a recycled material does not necessarily extend its shelf life. How sustainable does it make the product if it is disposed of after one use (e.g. bamboo plates)? Designing a product that is both functional and supra-functional (e.g. emotional, social, cultural needs) offers a more balanced design approach and outcome. This chapter discusses the importance of our material landscape and the stages of life that can impact the meaning we attach to products. Ensuring that emotional needs are met makes sound business sense, especially with the majority of the population (with the United States of America) being over 55 years of age; products need to offer meaningfulness during their de-acquisition (disposal) stage. Emotional sustainability offers the user an experience that is productive (completing a task efficiently) as well as an enriching moment in time.

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