Designed to use renewable resources

Back to ‘Sustainable design database’

Starch-based plastics, plantation timbers, sugar-cane fibre, and vegetable inks and dyes, can all be manufactured from sustainably grown plants.

When designing a product choose renewable resources rather than non-renewable ones.


Bamboo surfboard

Bamboo surfboard
Surfboard, ‘Bambu’, rounded and standard short model, 3 fins, polystyrene foam / bamboo veneer / epoxy resin, designed and made by Mei Yap Gordon and Shale Gordon, Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia, 2001-2002.

Bamboo surfboard

The design of this surfboard uses natural bamboo on the exterior, which reduces the need for extensive use of resin and fibre glass.

The ‘Bambu’ board represents an approach to redesigning a surfboard to appeal to the ‘environmentally conscious’ consumer market.

Bamboo is very quick to grow and does not need fertilisers, pesticides, or much water. These characteristics make it a good choice of material for any sustainable design.

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Lounge chair

Lounge chair
Lounge chair, ‘Miss Molly’, plywood / stainless steel / plastic, designed and made by Schamburg + Alvisse, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2004.

The ‘Miss Molly’ is made from plywood sourced from certified eco forests.

Shamburg + Alvisse recently became Australia’s first furniture maker to achieve Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. FSC is an internationally recognised “green” timber certification body based in Germany.

FSC was chosen by the company for its ethical integrity, especially in protecting local communities and old growth forests from illegal and unsustainable logging.

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Rabbit fur hat

Rabbit fur hat
Hat, rabbit fur / leather / metal, made by Akubra, Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia, worn by Bridie Carter in the television series ‘McLeod’s Daughters’, Gawler, South Australia, 2001-2004.

This Akubra hat is made from the fur of sustainably-farmed rabbits.

The rabbit’s ability to breed rapidly makes it a highly renewable resource for felt, fur and leather.

In a nine month breeding season one rabbit can produce up to 800 offspring.

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Apple and Bee bags

Apple and Bee bags
Three purses and two storage bags, hemp / wood / metal / fabric, designed and made by Apple and Bee, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2009.

These purses are made from renewable hemp and timber fibres, use non toxic materials in their manufacture and have had the energy needed to produce them carbon offset.

Apple and Bee is a carbon neutral company. Any carbon emissions resulting from the running of the business, and manufacture of products, is neutralised by paying for energy from renewable sources such as wind, or solar, to be fed back into the electricity grid. Management has launched a company-wide initiative to reuse and recycle wherever possible, at every level of the business, from design, to materials sourcing, manufacturing and warehousing. All Apple and Bee’s packaging is 100% post consumer recycled paper or is re-used packaging that has been sent to the company.

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David Trubridge pendant lights

David Trubridge pendant lights
Pendant light shades (3), ‘Taniko Light’, bamboo / plastic, designed and made by David Trubridge, New Zealand, 2009.

The two ‘opposite’ light forms have been designed to nest and are cut from a single sheet of bamboo plywood, with the only waste being sawdust from the cutter.

Bamboo is a sustainable resource that has the ability to grow up to two feet a day. Once harvested, new shoots grow in place of the old plant in a continuously renewing cycle.

Designer David Trubridge only uses timber from sustainably managed plantations and all his pieces are designed to use the minimum amount of material for the maximum amount of effect.

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The Powerhouse Museum has collected examples of design for more than 130 years. This database shows how some items in its collection meet one or more criteria for design for the environment.

Sustainable design database topics:

Designed for easy reuse
Designed for energy efficiency
Designed for service substitution
Designed to be degradable
Designed to last
Designed to minimise packaging
Designed to use recycled materials
Designed to use renewable resources
Designed to use waste by-products


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