Sustainability is also about not wasting the hours we work. It is the antipathy of multi-tasking. Consecutive focused tasks are performed more quickly and effectively and so more sustainably than many tasks done simultaneously. Multi-tasking is a useful human ability. It allows us to control complicated situations when we need to. Unfortunately many people believe that this is the norm. Shockingly there are also people who believe that it is a gender-specific ability. Apart from being preposterous, they are also dangerous claims in these fluid times in which we live.
Scientific experiments have demonstrated that if you do multiple things at the same time you will do them all less well than if you did them individually. There are situations in which this is necessary, but is it actually advantageous to do this all the time? Concentration is very potent, but the more you dilute it, the less effective it becomes.
Sustainable designers and makers absorb many influences and distil and refine them into a particular design. Sensitive to the needs of today and those of the future. The more practical and attractive a design is, the longer it will have a place in the lives of people.
Fear of death
Even though we can recycle products, and designers are making great advances in cradle-to-cradle design, is it wise to go overboard with it? It is also possible to design things that are made so well and with so much thought that they will last and be useful for several life times. This is actually the most sustainable way to live. It is what generations before us did as they only had so many hours in a day and they did not have time to remake or rework materials from one year to the next. Does this overlook a latent fear of death? Perhaps buying things that we know we will outlast is more comforting than the idea that things might outlast us?
Although, thanks to technology and machines, we can gather raw materials and rework existing ones, perhaps it would be better to do this more prudently. Shouldn’t we be using the excess of time now at our disposal for progress? We have the potential and space to think a lot more about what we design and to experiment, and yet sometimes we seem to have lost our way. It would appear that the most difficult thing to sustain is thought.