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Design & Technology

Societal and moral factors, health and safety

Moral and legal issues

Most designers will feel that they have a responsibility to make products that do not have too damaging an impact on the environment. This might mean that they seek to use:

  • 'Green' technology uses materials, components and systems which limit the damage to the world's environment caused by pollution from industry, transport, etc.
  • Renewable energy is energy that is replaceable or cannot be used up. Replaceable energy sources such as biomassbiomass: The dry mass of an organism. can be used alongside the Earth's natural renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and tidal energy.
  • Renewable materials are ones which we actively replace at least as fast as we use them up - eg paper from managed forests.
  • Recycling and reusing. Recyclable materials such as aluminium cans and paper can be processed and used to produce new products. Products which are made using recycled materials are usually clearly marked. Reusable products are those which can be reused without the need for processing - for example, refillable milk bottles, scrap vehicle parts, or chips taken from an old circuit and reused in a new one.

Seeking to minimise negative effects on the environment in this way is called a sustainable approach, because it does not damage the livelihood of future generations.

A designer may also want to think about the impact his or her products might have on people's religious or cultural susceptibilities. Certain images and slogans have the power to deeply shock or offend people, which will probably not encourage them to buy the product!

Legal constraints

There may also be legal constraints on the designer, as well as purely moral ones. For example the The Data Protection Act protects the consumer by limiting the access that other individuals or organisations have to private information about them, as well as the ways in which this information can be used. Companies are required to work to guidelines on how information is processed, recorded and stored. Limitations are also placed on the length of time data should be kept and how it is shared.

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