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'Greener Gadgets' Isn't an Oxymoron

Allan Chochinov of design network Core 77 explains why designers need to step up to embrace sustainability

The very idea of "green" technology is somewhat problematic. How can a product that's chock-full of electronics, wiring, complex components ever truly be environmentally friendly? What precisely constitutes "green," anyway? And what can or should designers do to act as standard-bearers, facilitators, or innovators in this confusing world?

These were some of the questions addressed at the recent Greener Gadgets conference, organized by green blog Inhabitat.com and consultancy Marc Alt + Partners. The day-long affair brought together companies and individuals to discuss the challenges of looking at the tech industry through a greener lens. Representatives from companies including Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Intel (INTC), Sony (SNE), and Nokia (NOK) were on hand to talk up their respective environmental programs. And it quickly became clear that there's a real lack of consensus or methodological approach to corporate sustainability, not to mention a gulf between corporate and consumer-focused green activities.