In two consecutive sessions, Dutch industrial designer and author Babette Porcelijn helped the participants to realize their own hidden impact on the environment and think of ways to design without such hidden impact.
By Camila Fraga

After an introduction on the impact of our behaviour as consumers, Babette Porcelijn, author of The Hidden Impact, invited the participants to discover their biggest impact on the environment. With the help of a form, participants could list their possessions and use of food (meat, dairy, vegetables) and means of transport (car, plane, public transport). Next, they had to establish their goal, mentioning how far they would want to go into establishing a sustainable lifestyle.

The participants then discussed what they could do to reach their goals. Solutions include, for example, recycling, make more use of the things you already have, buy second-hand stuff, repair what is broken, use alternative means of transportation, do not waste, find alternative energy sources for your home, or lessen the impact of your food by decreasing meat consumption.

Small changes

Porcelijn then elaborated on the meaning of the term ‘eco-neutral’, which refers to a lifestyle that balances the positive and negative impacts of your behaviour, without necessarily having to completely change your way of life. These are small changes that will make a difference.

To finalize the first session, the participants did an exercise to find the best way to end three of their biggest impacts, or at least diminishing them in some way.

Eco-positive design

In the second session Porcelijn discussed the ‘eco-positive business model’, which brings about more positive than negative impact, by actually regenerating the environment. Such business models are circular, clean, efficient, global and fair.

In small groups the participants had to choose a product – for example, a cell phone –, draw the whole production chain of that product, establish the hidden impacts in that chain and propose solutions that curb these impacts into more positive consequences. This exercise was very important to help the attendees realize how just one common product can have so much negative impact on the world. To end all, each group gave a presentation about the chosen product and the alternatives raised.

Top image: Babette Porcelain explains the goal of the workshop / all photos José de Holanda


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