01/09/2013 05:28 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2013

How Environmental Regulation Could Use Industrial Design to Save the Planet

There are lots of people who don't like rules. In general, we don't like to be forced into doing things, and we'd much rather do them on our own terms. And for some (individuals and corporations alike), government regulations feel oppressive and as though we are being "reprimanded" by the new rules. When people are forced to follow the rules, a lot of them refuse to budge or push back. However, if the issue can be reframed, shall we say, the regulations could be a lot more effective.

Hybrid Cars

Now, this is just an example. But, when the Toyota Prius was offered worldwide in 2000, it was the world's first widely available hybrid vehicle. But the cars weren't very "pretty," for lack of a better word, and upgrades were subsequently made. Some of the changes were functional (more trunk space, etc.) but others were aesthetic. And other manufacturers began offering hybrids as well. However, instead of offering an entirely new hybrid model, they simply make hybrid versions of already successful cars. They, in essence, reframed the issue. The manufacturers, no doubt, enlisted industrial design services to find out what would be the best way to market hybrid cars. Hybrid cars needed to gain popularity in response to emissions laws, as well as rising gas prices. Today, it seems like every car, even pick-up trucks, are touting their mile-per-gallon ratings. Regulations dealing with greenhouse gases brought this issue to the forefront, and made consumers consider and make decisions on these factors.

The Green Movement

It's hard, these days, to find companies that haven't "gone green" in some way. This is because being "green" is currently trending in our society, and so companies are jumping on the consumer bandwagon. Now, I'm not implying that all companies who are more aware of environmental issues are only in it for the money, but its undeniable that a certain segment of them are just trying to get a piece of the green pie. By using different marketing strategies to drum of the importance of being green and environmentally friendly, companies can benefit (as can the planet). A lot of these green products have high aesthetic value. They tend to be ergonomic in design and pleasing to the eye -- and thus, to the consumer. By using industrial design principles, companies who are adhering to (or going above and beyond) environmental regulations can make sure that their products are still appealing to the consumers. The government agencies making these environmental regulations would be smart to incorporate those same principles as well -- by making the regulations seem like something consumers want to do, a movement they want to be a part of, instead of petty rules that we have to abide by, the environment might stand a real chance.