what is sustainable design?

This is the last edition of Guide to Greener Electronics. Nintendo became the first “not-green” company and the first one who got 0/10.

The news entry

The list

Greenspace rank companies according to their policies and practices on toxic chemicals used in products and take back. When I read this news, the first thing came into my mind is: what is sustainable design? Can we say that the products of Nintendo are not durable? If a user who loves the design of NDSL and have it for more than two year(Tyler, that might be you), the lifetime of the design might be longer than a Sony Ericsson(which is the most “green” company) mobile phone. I am not trying to justify what Nintendo is doing now. We talk a lot about how aesthetic or experience design would “ensoul” design, which could lead to durable use. I just wonder if these can fight against human nature which is the desire for something new on some specific products. Or we just turn to another solution: using materials that do not pollute environment to design, instead of encouraging durable use?


  1. Tyler Pace

    Shocking and unfortunate that Nintendo has such poor chemical standards, but Nintendo is probably the leader among the console producers in terms of producing ensouled devices. They’re also a leader in terms of product quality, even if it’s made out of nasty stuff.

    I think you need both solutions (ensoulment + green materials) and hopefully we don’t blind ourselves to one approach because of too much emphasis on the other.

  2. davidroyer

    @ Tyler – I agree with the ensouled part. I know some people who still have their nintendos, super nintendos, and nintendo 64s.

  3. jimmypierce

    INtersting article yenning..thanks!

    Apparently, Nintendo says that they hope the Wii will outlast the 5 year lifespan their consoles typically have.


    I think you put in nicely when you say: “I think you need both solutions (ensoulment + green materials) and hopefully we don’t blind ourselves to one approach because of too much emphasis on the other.”

    also, i think we might want consider designing for sustainable USE as somewhat distinct approach, for example the Celerometer you designed

    @ Dave – in terms of sustainability those old nes’ arent polluting china , but i suspect that your friends all bought brand new xboxs and wiis when they came out.

    my point is simply that preventing DISPOSAL doesnt always prevent unsustainable CREATION and USE of products. but dont get me wrong, i think trying to design for ensoulment is a very important approach. we need more approaches to design that offer better product experiences, and also happen to be environmentally sustainable.


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