The Common Good: Sustainable Product Design Tenets And Why They Are Important

Looking beyond the product itself and creating a sustainable, waste free design when in the product development phase.
2.7.2020
Written by
Andrea Wee

The three Ps—profit, people, and planet—make up the triple bottom line (TBL) and measure financial, social, and environmental performance over time. A company that takes care of the three Ps are designing not only for profit but the greater good. Sustainable product design in a sense is being socially responsible, creating value and fairness in the production process as well as being environmentally friendly.

Don't get me wrong here, sustainable design can actually be profitable too. We have seen and will continue to see a steady shift towards ethical brands. Businesses that invest in sustainable design are reaping greater revenue, higher profits, and recruiting more employees. Simply put, we all want to buy something that is associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality.

Sustainability is measured on how a company approaches design and specific actions in the development process. Here are some ground rules to implement for sustainable product development.

Source Materials Responsibly

Lower your environmental footprint by sourcing ethically and locally. Responsible sourcing lowers impact, ensures fair trade and will be good for business in return. More and more consumers want to know the actual origin of their product. People are alert and will be aware of any ill-practices.

Copenhagen based brand, Mater is conscious and ethical brand with sustainability embedded in the company’s DNA. For example, the ocean chair and table (shown above) are made largely of recycled ocean plastic.

 

Put People First

Advocate the end user and design with them in mind. By using a human-centric approach and design process - it begins with people you are designing for with the problems that your product is able to solve and therefore ends with a proper solution that suits their needs. Systems and products that are made with consumers in mind first versus profit will be more enduring, better, safer and enriching.

 

The Product Life-cycle

 Select materials and design styles that will promote durability. Efficiency and efficacy is important in the initial stage of product design. Choose materials that can be easily recycled, or designing the product so it has a timeless style, will decrease its environmental impact.Don’t forget sustainable packaging design as once your product is unboxed, the packaging is typically thrown away. This is to reduce or altogether prevent from including items that might end up in a landfill.

Our very own Enbooth is made in Malaysia and is crafted from locally sourced wood.

 

Complete Transparency

People seek for transparency when inspecting a company,brand and its values. They care about how and where its made, as well as the impact on the environment. Leverage social media to educate and share your processes. This level of authenticity and openness will make your product relatable to the end user. Don't be afraid to ask customers about new ideas and improvements, after all they make or break the brands longevity.

 

CSR Policies

To truly sustain a business requires profitable growth. A Corporate Social Responsibly Policy (CSR) breaks down how your company manages the interconnections of employees, customers, suppliers, community, and environment to make a positive impact on society, while also being profitable.

 

 Take Good Care Of Your Employees Too

Ensure that your vision of sustainability when it comes to design and user experience also translates in the office. Employees and your talent pool help your brand flourish and the company will not be where it is without them. Practice what you preach as they say, and make sure that your employees are well taken care of. This can be done by having an open-door policy and providing an environment that they can feel energised and get their best work done.

 

Eco-friendly and sustainable design is not just a buzzword or a trend that you can take lightly when it comes to your product. It may seem like a challenge to combat global warming and you may think that it won't matter in the end. But companies and product designers who make responsible and informed choices about the design of their products can make the world a better place for all of us.

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