How to Build More and Better with Less

Micène Fontaine, June 1, 2021

Over the past few weeks, I have spent countless hours feeling guilty over (and astonished by) the amount of waste generated by a single move and minor work on a new home. The fact that there is no city recycling program where we moved only made things worse (no patting myself on the back for breaking down cardboard boxes before sending them off into their next life). As we transitioned, we also relied more heavily on delivery services for just about everything, including food. 

I started to feel as though I had single-handedly failed the next generations. The evidence was everywhere - curbside and in the fridge. The Native American saying: "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." has been playing on a loop in my head. Probably in search of a path to return Earth to the next generations in the same (or better) shape than it was given to us by the generations who borrowed it from us. 

When I was done with my pity party, I realized that, admittedly, I would need to do my part and do better, but the problem is much larger than me. The problem is systemic, and systems can be redesigned to achieve different outcomes. While still daunting, the task at hand now seemed manageable. Everyone everywhere shares the responsibility to "do more and better with less" on both the production and consumption sides and throughout the lifecycle of any product or service. To build more and better with less resources and materials.


Build with Care Podcast
Image: Build with Care Podcast

Entire organizations, such as One Planet, are dedicated to incremental gains towards sustainable production and consumption (SCP). Every individual and every industry - including the architecture industry - has a role to play. Should you feel inspired to learn more about how you and other design professionals can help, consider checking out our "Materials and Resource Strategies" Change by Design session on the topic or listen to the Build with Care podcast.

It can still quickly feel overwhelming, so I'd love to leave you with a quote that offers a valuable first step: Be mindful and be intentional about big and small choices :-) That's where I'll start to get back on track. I hope you'll join me. 

The situation the earth is in today has been created by unmindful production and unmindful consumption. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Here is to sustainable - and mindful - consumption and production - by design. 

:Change by Design