Harmless-helpful

How do you interpret knowledge of ecological issues? Do your ideas and actions focus on repairing and refining the current system, where the rewards, though limited, are reaped in days and weeks rather than years or decades? (See Figure 3) Or do you prefer to work at a systems level, where the fashion brand, clothing manufacturers, design studios, the high street and consumers are totally rethought and redesigned for a new ecological future?
We like to use the harmless-helpful continuum to describe design motivations and actions ranging from knowledge building and taking an informed stance (harmless) to being able to affect change and transform people (helpful). This mirrors the Buddhist idea of 'Right Livelihood' and describes levels of participation and activism. To us this is summed up as: if you do not create your own agenda then you are, consciously or unconsciously, signing up to someone else's.

We see the Lifetimes project as helpful in refining the present-day mass market (interpreted by us as H&M or equivalent). We think that Lifetimes has most value when it is geared towards improvement in the short-term. We speculate that in the radical ecological future, Lifetimes thinking is perhaps less appropriate as this future implies major lifestyle changes where people scrutinise their needs and wants and avoid material manifestation of immaterial desires. In the ecological future, lifestyles would be less expansive, emotional and spiritual needs would be fulfilled in a less ostentatious way and physical needs met in a more practical and simple way, thus making product- and service-based projects like Lifetimes less relevant. However, we must start somewhere. And Lifetimes is our attempt to kick-start the journey to this new place.