DIY electronic eco-design?

Taking eco-design online will enable the creative collaboration on ideas necessary to shape the solutions to climate change.

ACT ( is a platform for designers, adventurous plebs, nerds and the neighbours to intermingle fledgling sustainability ideas and see what can be done about the conundrum of climate change. And for those still living in the ice age, ACT gives you the low-down on global warming and the latest technological innovations that may save the globe.

It’s a place for sharing (and caring), where we encourage people to actively take design into their own hands and come up with practical working solutions to some really tricky planetary problems. Submit and peruse videos, photos, drawings and articles regarding climate change – and sign up to keep connected.

ACT on DIY design

The mission in a locally grown preferably organic and recyclable low-carbon nutshell: Design. Add some online spice to the cocktail and it sparkles with the benefits of creative commons, the swift idea-swapping and peer-review perks of social media, and supply-on-demand distribution.

The aim for DIY eco-design (one of many ACT initiatives) is to keep products, actions and intentions low-carbon, ideally adhering to cradle-to-cradle principles in the design lifecycle and no greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling is part of the arsenal but don’t kid yourself, we are going to need fresh ideas – cut and paste can be part of the solution but a sizeable dose of ingenuity here is also needed.

The carbon try-to-be-neutral goal means that cutting down on consumption is desirable. Reducing what you use costs less, looks better than stuffing your face and tossing the bag out of the window, and is more energy savvy. Now, keeping it local is definitely more lekker than getting it jet-planed over, excessively packaged and needlessly refrigerated on the way. The reusing of items is in (again) – that’s why it’s called reusing. And recycled materials are preferable to generating yet more unwanted chemicals and trash.

ACT big up

Now Project Xanita ( is what ACT considers to be ingenious design with local legs and global ideas. The material is made locally from recycled paper – sheer resource efficiency. And if the material’s story isn’t beautiful enough, industrial design students working on Project Xanita recently set about the challenge of designing loft furniture that also speaks to the collapsible, modular and DIY pragmatist. Yup, you can actually roll up your handyman sleeves and make a difference that you can sit on afterwards.

The only downside with Xanita is that the hard cardboard material is going set you back a fair bit more than, say, a regular Omo box. So we’ve included some low-budget DIY plans from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology students who brought you the fancy cardboard furniture (just to show that eco-design can be financially democratic too, not to mention how DIY takes eco to the next level).

Visit the ACT website to see a video of these industrious students and post your own plots, scribbles and schemes.

ACT – always read the small print

The African Carbon Trust (ACT) is a social entrepreneurship project that realises that it’s going to take some elbow grease to raise the hullabaloo necessary to get everybody to turn to the page that brings the ramifications of our shifting climate home. That’s the hard part. Being in Africa, vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is deepened by poverty.

Once we’re on that page though, the fun part is encouraging folks to start acting by, maybe, adapting and changing behaviour patterns. Not wanting to sound alarmist, it’s going to take a complete overhaul of current lifestyles, including a conscientious approach to design, to manage the impending challenges.

See, with a design that thinks, comes the promise of a future that not only performs better but is more capable of meeting the needs of people. The central question has to be: How is this design going to fundamentally improve life for people?

ACT creates awareness, drives innovation, mitigates poverty and demands action in its mission to counter climate change globally and locally.


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