Thursday, October 10, 2013


Mother of All R’s is “Redesign”

Here’s a dozen R’s and the most important is Redesignreject furnace bricks hold pizza trays ready for pizza oven Permaculture Visions

When researching and writing about waste reduction and the ‘classic 4 R’s’ focused on in the 90’s we realised the importance of a 5th R: Redesign.
Since then our wonderful students have suggested more. Lela Copeland, now one of our graduates in Hawaii, wrote about Re-use by modification (Retrofit). Permaculture North Sydney had more and there were 10 R’s to consider. Now Flavia Reis and Shane Moon (students in our face-to-faced course) and another student Ben Clarke have suggested a few more.
  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Redistribute (share) 
  • Re-use
  • Retrofit
  • Repair
  • Recycle
  • Refurbish
  • Redeem
  • Restore
  • Regenerate
  • Rebuild. 
  • Redesign


Redesign for durability, ease of maintenance and repair, and use of materials that are easily re-used and re-cycled without high energy input or toxic by-products. The concept of designing in parts called modules is a design feature that usually increases waste. However, if the modules are small enough, they can make repair easy (replacing just a steel blade or a brush head). Modules in many modern products such as white goods and cars are self-contained, and can usually only be opened when broken. If we design for common parts, sizes and materials with ingenious combinations and application then the design has a much greater capacity for re-use and repair. Few cars or even computers have common parts from one brand to another, this has often been to enhance the uniqueness of the product, ‘It’s different, better, sophisticated and new’. When consumers demand repair-ability, items will be promoted less on uniqueness and more on their common-ness or ‘standards’ and availability of parts.
Permaculture is about re-design. Clever design finds multiple functions and use for the waste, which is simply unused output [Mollison]. We can re-design our cities into self-reliant ‘villages’ and our home systems into responsible multi-functional productive spaces.

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