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2 Products, Contexts and Capacities

based on a monological idea of comfort, i. e. services that have, progressively, confined the formerly widespread practical knowledge, integrating it in mechanical tools and organisational systems, and that have, in doing so, drastically reduced the capacities of people and community to autonomously face and solve their everyday problems. This thrust towards passivity and ignorance in the functioning of everyday life systems has cultural and philosophical implications, which shall be discussed. But they also have grave and immediate ecological implications: production–consumption systems based on user passivity and ignorance cause a growing expenditure of natural resources and energy. Furthermore, they push people towards giving up caring about things and the environment: from the maintenance of things, to the attention to the context’s ecological qualities. In conclusion, direction towards passivity and abandoning responsibility is an ultimately unsustainable way of living and doing. Now the possibilities of changing this direction have to be discussed, or rather if and how new opportunities can be offered to these people and these communities; if and how it could be possible to envisage a new technological system that is capable of also inciting their sense of sensibility, competence and initiative.

2.6.2 Disabling and Enabling Solutions To effectively focus on most interesting aspect, let us try to outflank the current disabling goods and services with production-service systems that could actually provide enabling solutions. If today the products and services are generally designed for customers considered as troublemakers, to passive customers, then the new strategy should focus on what the user knows and can and wants to do. And it has to supply him with enabling solutions: such product-service systems that offer the means to acquire what the user wanted to reach in the first place, using the best of his abilities. And, if this should be the case, also encourage him to get involved and join in the game. To put it in another way: for the versatile human nature and all the economies to which they can adapt, it is necessary to wage the design and technological opportunities in a direction that empowers users and communities with the sense of initiative, collaboration and belief in one’s ability to find a better way of living. As far as we can tell, the future perspective of well-being based on common goods and the development of capacities is indispensable, but it can also be assessed that it is a very likeable prospect. Well-intended of course: it is not predestined, not a future that will arrive no matter how, but a possible pathway to effectively actualise what we are capable of.

Design for Environmental Sustainability  

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