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Design for environmental and social good

Implementing sustainable practices into my personal design process is something I continue to work on and struggle with. One thing I have done to personally lower my impact is host my portfolio website through a through a service that uses various renewable energy sources to power their server farm. The same server is also used to host a multitude of websites to lower the total amount of server space and power required to run them (though for an upgraded charge your site can be hosted on a private server). Load times and site performance can be negatively impacted because of the shared server, I can see how this could be significant to a company trying to showcase their product or service but for my personal use it works perfectly. Small personal decisions seem inconsequential when compared the environmental impact of the top global corporations but they can help support the companies making responsible ecological decisions and to inspire change on a local level. Designing for social good goes hand in hand with designing for environmental good to create sustainable practices. One example of designing for social good I find inspiring is the Utretch Manifesto published in 2015; it argues that designers have gained a new role and greater responsibility in contribution to the creation of ‘the good society’. “A society that ensures that everyone has access to the goods and services needed for a decent existence.” The manifesto points out that designers are well placed for expressing this utopian concept of ‘the good society’ in an appealing way and to help translate it into practice. From this perspective the Utretch manifesto articulates ten theses, which can serve as a frame of action for a design process rooted in collaboration with society. The ten principals of the Utretch Manifesto are: engage with society, design socially, act sustainably, connect ethics and aesthetics, aim for commitment, be critical, be transparent, be supportive and modest, be persistently radical, and take responsibility together. I find that personally all of these are represented best by design socially and act sustainably. Each design contributes to the social interactions between users, analyzing and understanding these interactions and the often invisible social structures that exist around them is a crucial task of designers for the shaping and creation of the social environment. Each individual faces choices that contribute to or take away from our ability to manage our natural resources in a sustainable way; designing socially contributes to a sustainable use of available resources and strengthening of society. 

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