Tarpaulin bags and wind turbines: sustainable designs that give back to the planet

World Earth Day takes place this weekend, with a view to celebrating and educating people about environmental issues. We ask designers about their favourite examples of designs which have helped the environment.

Paul Priestman, designer and director, PriestmanGoode

“The reusable, striped tarpaulin bag is seen in every country around the world. One of the cheapest and most manufactured products on the planet, yet copied by famous luxury brands as a fashion icon.

Disposable plastic bags by the billion are land-filled or pollute the seas, endangering sea life. This single design has done more for the environment than just looking good. Re-use, don’t throw away!”


Nicolas Roope, founder and creative director, Poke

“The Tesla Model S is my choice. Behavioural change is mandatory unless we want our kids to end up living in a war-torn desert. But forcing change in a free democracy is tricky. To do it you need to fuse progressive behaviour with the images, symbols and packaging that ensure that it appeals to people. A force to inspire change. All carrot, no stick.

Tesla’s design and system thinking have created a compelling package that appeals to both sexes and is paving the way for a sustainable future in automotive.”


Craig Wightman, executive design director, Kinneir Dufort

“Despite growing up as a designer with the environment enshrined in Dieter Rams’ Principles of Good Design – 9. Good design is environmentally friendly – it’s fair to acknowledge that science and technology generally have much more of an impact on the environment than design.

However, I think the wind turbine deserves recognition. Often derided as blots on the landscape, I find these modern windmills elegant and graceful. They are a powerful symbol of renewable energy; a technology and industry in which the UK should seek to lead the world.”


Ethan Imboden, head of venture design, Frog

“I love Patagonia’s products, but it’s the design of its business that I find the most admirable. From its 100%-for-the-planet Black Friday sale to its Tin Shed Ventures investments and Worn Wear repair truck tour, the company teaches by example that individual products and services are but small components of a far broader and more impactful ecosystem. It is this larger ecosystem that is the true source of compounding benefit and financial success over time.

The seemingly intractable challenge of how to build a business that is genuinely net positive for employees, customers, communities, shareholders and our world is a solved problem, and Patagonia puts it forward transparently for all to emulate and build upon.”

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