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Shopping For The Environment

Sep 11, 2008
In today's arena of product design it's all about technology. Everyone wants the latest gadgets and gizmos, the smaller the better. We are also looking to product design to make all our favourite things that much smaller to allow for our smaller living spaces and the fact that many people are now sharing because of the rent and mortgage rates. Therefore, what we have needs to be smaller but just as efficient.

There is also a huge impetus on manufacturers to consider the environment when creating any new products. Recyclable and biodegradable aspects are very important as are energy saving features. However, it is also the responsibility of the consumer to demand products with these attributes and if they sell, then more will be made. The opposite is also true.

So, what new gadgets of product design are currently on the market that have taken the very air that we breathe into consideration?

Well, first for gadget lovers we have the new iPod Nano 4G. This will pamper to all those who have to have the latest in flash little musical gadgets. Coming in an assortment of colours, this is the thinnest iPod ever made and is actually smaller than a credit card. Its functions are in no way compromised by the sleek looks and it is equipped with a new 'shake to shuffle' mode, where the user simply shakes it to move it on to the next track. It also holds a 'genius' mode where it takes into account the type of music you normally listen to and can suggest other similar tracks that you may like.

As far as the materials for this new toy are concerned - think eco-friendly and you'll begin to build a picture. Arsenic free glass and a mercury and PVC free body mean that once the iPod is at the end of its life, virtually all of it can be recycled, thus reducing impact on the environment.

The energy consumption of everything we use has an environmental impact. Pandering to the need for people to speed up and cram as much as possible into their lives, product design has a two-fold reason to make things as energy efficient as possible. To this end, they have created the three second kettle that delivers boiling water in, well, three seconds. This reduces the amount of energy used by sixty five per cent for every hot drink made.

Washing machines were once gadgets for the well off but have now become an essential part of everyday life. However, they use up vast amounts of electricity and manufacturers have put a lot of effort into reducing their impact by making them more energy efficient.
Intelligent washing machines are now capable, with very few instructions, of working out so much about your washing that it can then go ahead and programme itself to run the most efficient programme, using as little water and power as possible to produce a clean wash load. Now all we need is a way of ironing it and putting it away without any input!

So, whether we are doing the household chores or relaxing with our personal choice of music and anywhere in between, we need to think responsibly about the products we buy and the impact we have on our surroundings. If everybody did this maybe we could just start doing that little bit to reverse the global warming problem.
About the Author
Interior design expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way product design plays a part in saving the planet.
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