Sure, it's our responsibility to research and buy sustainable products and it's our responsibility to recycle or donate goods once we're through with them. Although it's comforting to think that a few can make a difference (I know, I know: democracy, supply and demand, the American Revolution), cries from the little people tend to get lost among shouting from lobbyists and corporations. Ultimately, we have to ask -- will consumer demand ever be able to fix a broken system that's environmentally flawed right down to the first axe picked into the mine?
The Secret Life of Things is combating that broken system from another angle: green design. The project is a series of videos by green designer Leyla Acaroglu, whose Melbourne, Australia-based firm Eco Innovators serves as sustainability consultants to a range of clients.
Sharing similarities to the widely popular The Story of Stuff, The Secret Life of Things transcends just the problems with the manufacturing systems. It provides actual solutions to them by different means than consumer pressure.
The Secret Life of Things provides resources that help designers and engineers think about making durable products that can be upgraded and easily recycled. It has free resources, like hand-outs, games and a video, for students and teachers on topics like e-waste, upgradability and longevity. If students can embrace the need for sustainable electronics, they will create a generation of designers who can change the industry for good.
For those of us who don't constitute the next generation of engineers, The Secret Life of Things has created a short animated video that depicts an abandoned cell phone's emotional trip to the psychiatrist's office to work through its past -- all while displaying the destructive, wasteful nature of the phone's manufacture. It's entertaining, easy to understand and sheds light on the problem of manufacturing electronics without giving thought to their eventual disposal. Definitely worth a watch!
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.