Appropriate technology (AT) is technology that is designed with special consideration to the context of its use - including environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. With these goals in mind, AT proponents claim their methods require fewer resources, are easier to maintain, and have less of an impact on the environment compared to techniques from mainstream technology, which they contend is wasteful and environmentally polluting. In addition, or in envisioning a future phase of AT that lies on a more subjectively-observed axis of knowing, proponents could also claim their methods make more Life-sense, are more at balance, or in harmony with the natural environment, and enable healthier, happier, more fulfilling, meaningful or purposeful ways of life.
The term is usually used to describe simple technologies proponents consider suitable for use in developing nations or less developed rural areas of industrialized nations. This form of "appropriate technology" usually prefers labor-intensive solutions over capital-intensive ones, although labor-saving devices are also used where this does not mean high capital or maintenance cost. In practice, appropriate technology is often something described as using the simplest level of technology that can effectively achieve the intended purpose in a particular location. In industrialized nations, the term appropriate technology takes a different meaning, often referring to engineering that takes special consideration of its social and environmental ramifications.