Sustainable design and manufacture

A collection of resources for GCSE Design and Technology that support developing student understanding of sustainable design and manufacture

Links and Resources

System Reset: Design and Technology for a Circular Economy

The activities in this collection, from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, are all designed to introduce the principles of the circular economy to students in secondary school. 

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Behind the Seams Toolkit

This toolkit from TRAID Education provides lesson plans, presentations and resources to support student understanding of sustainability issues surrounding the clothing industry.

Production

  • Lesson Plan 1: What are my clothes made from?
  • Lesson Plan 2: Why are my clothes so cheap?

Consumption

  • Lesson Plan 1: Why are we buying so many clothes?
  • Lesson Plan 2 How can I source clothes in a better way?

Waste

  • Lesson Plan 1: What happens to my clothes when I don’t want them?
  • Lesson Plan 2: How can I make a change?
publication year
2020 to date

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One Planet Packaging

These resources cover every aspect of sustainable packaging design. The slides and the case study are really useful for illustrating the core principles, and the resource sheets are equally useful as handouts for students, or background information for non-specialist teachers.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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How to Save the Planet and Be Cool

This video from the Science Museum video Punk Science team shows some of the changes needed to help prevent climate change, focusing on reuse, recycling and reducing waste. Many ways of reducing waste are shown in the form of a photo diary. The issues of food miles and vehicle emissions are also addressed.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Six R's *suitable for home teaching*

This is a good starter activity to introduce the idea of the 6 Rs: rethink, reuse, recycle, repair, reduce and refuse. Students look at the definitions and rank each of the Rs in terms of which contributes most and which least to making the world a more sustainable place.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Recycling and Sustainability

This booklet provides an overview of waste management, with particular focus on the different processes used in the recovery of materials from waste and on the end use of recycled materials. It also provides a practical introduction to the physics behind the processes used to separate waste materials, with activities and teachers notes

publication year
2000 - 2009

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The Paper Cup Company

This Dragons Den style resource is a great way to develop students' understanding of the ecological and social footprint of materials.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Less is more!

This resource gets students to look at how a product could be redesigned to require less packaging. Companies are being encouraged to develop ‘environmentally-smart’ retail packaging design. In this activity, students are challenged to redesign a familiar product so that it has less (and more sustainable) packaging.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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These activities help students explore sustainable development and the difference between re-use and recycle. The resources look at re-use (using a product or component for another purpose without any processing) and recycle (processing a waste material or component and using it in a new product).

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Product analysis: impacts on people and the environment

This resource from Practical Action includes a presentation and worksheets which give Key Stage Three and Four students opportunities to understand more about the impact of existing and new products on people and the environment. The presentation is packed with useful activities to reinforce students' learning.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Textiles: Eco Design

Tom is the Creative Director for outdoor eco-clothing brand, Finnister. Their customers not only want clothing which looks good and performs well, but also which reflects concern for the environment. In the film clip, Tom explains what eco-design means. He is always looking for new types of fabric which perform better than existing fabrics, but with a lower environmental impact.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Design abacus

An eco-tool used to compare the sustainability of two products or design ideas.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Choosing Sustainable Materials

This film clip looks at a sustainable system of timber production and woodland management. It is explained that sustainability is the way in which the environment is managed, not whether trees are felled or not. Clear felling uses excavating machines to clear large areas of woodland at a time as part of an ongoing cycle of felling and re-planting.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Design ethics, sustainability and the environment mock exam

This mock exam tests student understanding of the ethics involved in being a designer. Questions look at sustainability, life cycle analysis and the impact of design on society.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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The ethical implications of design

This resource looks briefly at the moral implications of design and the design of products. It touches on the impact that products (such as mobile phones) have had on society and asks students to explore issues around sustainable manufacture.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Sustainability in D&T

This is a presentation that I use to introduce the topic of sustainability for design and technology. It contains an overview of 5 R', some industry examples and a number of short activities for the students to try.

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Make the world... more sustainable

Sustainable design is fast becoming a matter of global corporate citizenship. More consumers are choosing products based on their environmental impact, forcing manufacturers to reconsider how they develop and market products. Finding solutions to the problems people have in real world situations, that are designed with sustainability in mind, are key to students' development of ideas when preparing for their GCSEs and A Levels.

These resources include five short videos and a presentation that invites students who are preparing for their GCSEs to understand and solve challenges using sustainable sources of energy. It introduces the Global Goals for sustainable development and considers current and emerging sources of energy before setting tasks students can solve using wind or solar power. There are links to Practical Action resources and a teacher guide is included with further links to help students identify careers options in sustainable engineering sectors.

These resources have been developed by The Design and Technology Association with sponsorship from the ERA Foundation.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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