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Green Design – Beyond the hype and into action

Oct 18, 2023 | News

In an age where sustainability has become more than just a buzzword, it’s crucial to delve beyond the surface and truly understand the nuances of green design. The design concept goes far beyond being eco-friendly; it encompasses a holistic philosophy aimed at designing and manufacturing products that benefit the planet and ensure a sustainable future for all living beings. Let’s explore the reality of green design, dispelling some illusions and highlighting the quirks, challenges, and potential triumphs of sustainable design.

The Illusions of Greenness

Green design often evokes images of eco-friendly materials, recycled products, and energy-efficient solutions. While these elements are undoubtedly essential, the true essence of sustainable design runs deeper.

It’s not just about appearances but about making conscious decisions that extend throughout the design and manufacturing process. From sustainable material sourcing to reducing waste and energy consumption, green design requires a comprehensive approach that benefits both the environment and consumers.

The Quirks of Green Critique

Critics of green design often point out the movement’s challenges, from unconventional décor choices to peculiar eco-friendly practices. However, it’s essential to recognise that these choices are not mere idiosyncrasies; they often symbolise a commitment to sustainability. While some may see these practices as extreme, they reflect the dedication of individuals striving for a greener future. It’s a reminder that achieving sustainability isn’t always about blending in; it’s about standing out for the right reasons.

Redefining Green Success, make better choices

True success in green design is transitioning from a fringe movement to the mainstream and for us all to make better-informed choices. It requires businesses to embrace sustainable practices not as a niche but as a standard. This shift necessitates a willingness to invest in green technologies, adopt eco-friendly sourcing practices, and reduce carbon footprints. Businesses that lead this change can appeal to eco-conscious consumers and contribute significantly to mitigating climate change.

Victory: When Green Becomes the Norm

To truly achieve success in green design, it’s essential to make sustainability a part of daily life. Green design should seamlessly integrate into our surroundings, like clocks, forks, or running water. Sustainability should become the norm, not the exception. For this to happen, green solutions must be practical, user-friendly, and readily accessible. It’s about redefining the concept of “greenness” to make it a natural part of our existence.

Designing for Integration

Incorporating sustainability into design goes beyond using recycled materials. It involves making conscious choices, from sourcing sustainable materials (such as those certified with E1 or FSC) to adopting eco-friendly packaging. Designers must think holistically, considering the entire lifecycle of a product, from its creation to its disposal.

Green Accreditations When Building

Green design often involves using materials and practices that have received environmental accreditations. Two noteworthy certifications are E1 and FSC. The E1 certification signifies low formaldehyde emissions in wood products, promoting indoor air quality.

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification ensures that wood and wood-based products come from responsibly managed forests. These accreditations help designers make environmentally conscious choices in material selection.

South African Companies with Green Credentials

Africa is not exempt from the global movement towards sustainability. Several South African companies are making significant strides in promoting green practices:


This South African company manufactures electric mini-cabs, providing an eco-friendly and efficient taxi service in urban areas. Their vehicles contribute to emissions reduction and offer a sustainable transportation solution.

Green Scooter

In the bustling urban landscape of Johannesburg, South Africa, Green Scooter has ushered in the era of electromobility. Established in 2017 by entrepreneur Fezile Dhlamini, this electromobility company is at the forefront of sustainable transportation solutions. Green Scooter is not just changing how people commute; it’s also reducing carbon footprints one electric ride at a time.

Freedom Won

In the quest for a greener future, South African company Freedom Won has emerged as a pioneer in electric vehicle conversions. Established in 2011, the company has been trying to transform conventional internal combustion vehicles into eco-friendly electric counterparts. Freedom Won is not only driving the adoption of electric cars but is also contributing to energy storage solutions through their innovative LiFePO4 batteries that promise to revolutionise our daily lives.

South African Breweries

South African Breweries (SAB), or AB InBev (Anhauser-Busch), has pioneered promoting sustainability within the brewing industry. They have implemented various initiatives to reduce water consumption, energy usage, and carbon emissions in their brewing processes. SAB’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its operations and includes community development and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

Sonae Arauco

As a global leader in wood-based solutions, we operate in South Africa with a strong focus on sustainability. Our company ethos emphasises responsible forestry practices and eco-friendly wood processing. Our products often carry certifications such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), ensuring the use of sustainably sourced wood in our manufacturing processes.

While all these companies work within different manufacturing sectors, we exemplify the commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility, contributing to a greener future for their industries and communities.

Reflecting on the Future of Sustainability

Green design is more than just a trend; it’s a crucial step towards a sustainable future. Making green design genuinely effective requires integration, practicality, and a shift in perspective where sustainability becomes the norm. As South African companies and businesses worldwide embrace green practices, the path to a greener future becomes more attainable and promising.

Find out more about Sonae Arauco’s commitment to sustainable manufacturing.

Take a look at our various distributors and affiliates:

The Building Centre, The Kitchen Specialist Association, The Green Building Council, and The African Institute of Interior Design Professions.

For more information on our wood-based decorative panels and services, visit us at https://sonaearauco.co.za/