What is Ecological Thinking?
When faced with the term “ecological thinking”, it is natural to assume that a focus is being put on the environment and how we impact it as designers. While this relation is relevant, the term has recently been used to address a more general issue with design, in which things are created only to become obsolete. In contrast, the goal of thinking ecologically is to enable continuous development.
Ecological thinking notes an important fact – humans have needs, and those needs are constantly changing. Branching off further, different humans have different needs. Therefore, this mindset’s main focus is on adaptability and diversity.
In order to better understand this notion, a connection to our impact on the environment can be made; for example, oil has been used for over a century as the automobile’s predominant fuel source. While this design choice has worked, flaws have later become known – fuel emissions are unhealthy for humans, as well as the Earth’s atmosphere, and a dangerous reliance on oil – a non-renewable and expensive commodity – has been established. In this example, it is evident that automobiles are generally not ecologically designed – they don’t adapt to our needs over time. An example of an attempt to change this is found in both alternative fuels and hybrid cars, which take a formula familiar to us and make it less dangerous for the environment.
Among the many ideas of ecological thinking, the term has been used to refer to environmental management, the development of education and infrastructure, and noting design in general. Much like the issues it addresses, thinking ecologically is a platform for respecting change in the design world – a progressive mindset that can only improve the conditions of nature and humanity as we know it.
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