Our Ecodesign project is part of ENME 3820, Design thinking in the Community. A course overview and information on other similar innovative projects may be found at:
Plan to Change the World
As a group searching for real problems in need of innovative solutions, each of our team members resonated specifically with issues of recycling and landfill waste. Our heads were spinning with ideas on how we might fix the ongoing dilemma regarding improper recycling and the fast-fashion industry which contributes 5% to landfills. Then we landed on a solution.
How might we find a better way to educate people on proper trash disposal and eventually find a better future for our trash?
We plan to create a recycling machine that sorts, cleans, and grinds plastic bottles into chips. The chips made by these machine can later be melted down into pellets and spun into thread. This thread may be used in any sort of recycled textile including clothing and bags. By making a universal pelletizer, recycled textiles would be more accessible in the fashion industry.
Once this process is perfected, it could be implemented in developing countries whose governments do not have trash disposal systems in place. Revenue from selling the chipped up bottles would create an incentive to recycle.
So maybe we can't change the whole world all at once, but we can change our own little piece of it, starting with the the University of Denver community by bringing awareness, accountability, and accessability to the recycling process.
What is Eco Design?
We had to ask ourselves the exact same question. Every single object in your life has a lifecycle, from the water bottle you deck out in stickers, to the mismatched socks on your feet. This cycle can be broken down into four components:
1. Material Manufacturing
2. Product Manufacturing
3. Product Use
4. Product Disposal
Each of these four phases requires an energy input in some form. A water bottle under the product manufacturing would use energy in the form of heat to shape the bottle or in fuel to transport the bottle to stores.
Ecodesign targets each of these four phases to identify which phase is consuming the greatest amount of energy. Then the product or process is redesigned in a way that is more energy wise. This could involve anything, from a new business plan for distrubution to using a different material.
How is this relevant?
It's a pattern! If everything in your life is following the same developmental pattern, it becomes easy to track the phases in which products are using the most energy and target these phases in order to make a design more sustainable, efficient, and productive.