How to design a more environmentally friendly product and make it better?

How to design a more environmentally friendly product and make it better?

Oceana - Plant Pot made from recycled ocean plastics

This was a question which originally appeared and I answered on Quora : What innovative methods can I use to redesign my product? I thought it was an important question and I was fairly impressed with my answer!;-) I thought I’d keep it here for prosperity on my blog. You may be interested in finding out more.

The original answer can be found here: What innovative methods can I use to redesign my product? Tyrone Probert, Director at Www.ecotribo.com (2017-present) Answered May 24, 2019

There are many ways to improve a product’s performance. Kaizen is the philosophy of continuous improvement and businesses need to constantly be innovating. The two most popular ways to make product improvements are to add new product features or improve existing ones. You could create a new product incorporating technology such as IoT or Ai. But I thought I would discuss another interesting and in my opinion, a more relevant idea. If you are looking for an innovative approach to redesign your product/business I would suggest looking at ways that you can make it more sustainable.

The way we design and make things is changing. We need to design products and systems that can efficiently meet our needs within planetary boundaries. The current system is no longer working for businesses, people or the environment. Customers are actively looking for eco-friendly alternatives so I would explore how your business could be more sustainable from product design to packaging and marketing.

Most products are currently designed as if there are limitless resources – take-make-waste. We call this a linear economy. We take resources from the ground to make products, which we use, and, when we no longer want them we throw them away. A new system of design and manufacture is required that is circular and sustainable. Designers and business owners need to consider how we manage resources, how we make and use products, and what we do with the materials afterwards. Only then can we create a thriving economy that can benefit everyone within the limits of our planet and ensure a sustainable business.

So where to start …

Design out waste: 
Waste and pollution infiltrate every aspect of most businesses currently. These are often design decisions that happen at the product development stage and where 80% of environmental impacts happen. Consider how your product is assembled and disassembled and ensure it can be recycled easily. Can parts be returned and refreshed rather than the whole item being discarded? Can you use new materials and technology to reduce or eliminate waste and pollution?

Keep products and materials in use: 
Have you considered how your product could be repaired and reused in future? Could this thinking be a part of the redesign? Can you redesign your product so it can be repaired easily, reused and easily recycled? What materials are you using? Can they be from recycled or biomaterials? Can you create a system where you collect the product from customers at the end of its life for it to be repurposed and made into another? About 80 million tonnes of ‘waste’ in total are generated in the U.K. alone each year.[5. Are there ways you can reuse your waste streams and create new product ranges or leverage the material in other ways? Have you considered new business models such as leasing so you can ensure the quality and recyclability of your product and supply chain?

Regenerate natural systems:
Can your product design ensure it does good and enhances natural systems? Consider the materials, chemicals, factories and transport it uses to get made and get to market. Use wind and solar to power your workshops and factories as this can be a huge benefit for the planet (and your marketing).

So optimise every element of your product to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and be a leader in the new circular economy. Create a business that you and your children can be proud of. A business that will be around for the next generation and the generation after that. Create products that solve a need without harming our planet and you will be successful my friend.

Above is a picture of my latest product prototype called ‘Oceana’ which is made from recycled Ocean plastics. A simple plant pot but made locally from ocean waste. I believe even the simplest products can be improved by simply replacing the materials and ensuring they are eco-friendly. I intend that the product will be made locally too to ensure that I reduce the products carbon footprint further.

Making the worlds first Ai generated Biomaterial.

IMG 20190219 133959469 Lr 3

I have been designing and developing materials and prototyping products in the eco-space for some time now. I have created products and in the process of creating products using Ocean plastic waste. It’s obvious to all the need to find solutions to plastic waste to help our environment. In a 2 pronged attack on the problem, I have been working with Biomaterials successfully. In order to expand upon these material prototypes, I am now in the process of using artificial intelligence to aid our research and make what could be the worlds first Ai generated biomaterial.

To provide some background to this biomaterials work let me start at the beginning. My journey began by working with a variety of open source recipes and I have then continued my own exploration by creating my own recipes. I am working with a wide range of local bio-ingredients using the existing local waste streams and exploring their benefits.

There has been quite a few successes making bioplastics, bio leathers and a variety of other biomaterials. After exhausting the open source biomaterial recipes I have started developing my own recipes using waste materials and formulating new composites from materials such as coffee granules, mussel shells, eggs shells, post-industrial wood dust, etc experimenting with a range of bio-resins and binders. Its an amazing field of opportunity and provides positive design solutions to our environmental challenges. I believe that biomaterials will be our eco saviour and this field needs as much attention and assistance as possible.

BioMaterials
Bio Materials experiments and developments

To that end, I recently started a project with Derek Ahmedzai www.sharpshooter.org who was the developer behind a number of AI world firsts including the worlds first Ai generated cupcake with Tiny Giant and Ai generated poetry. We now plan to generate what we believe to be the first Ai generated Biomaterial recipes. We thought it fitting to celebrate Earth Day by harnessing Biomaterials, Ai and people.

We have the aim of creating exciting new Ai generated open source biomaterial recipes. We then plan to make the most feasible and successful Ai outputs, test their properties, strength and capabilities in an ongoing biomaterial project. It’s a concept that excites me as it has huge potential to save lives, relieve suffering and help maintain quality-of-life for all.

Our neural network is primed. Now we need to get access to as many databases of biomaterial recipes and material resources as possible to feed into the neural network. In order to get artificial intelligence to effectively create new interpretations, we need as much materials data as possible. If you have any open source resources or recipes that you are willing to share please get in touch.

I am in talks with the University of Bath, Materiom and exploring contacts at UWE and Bristol University. This is a collaboration that requires input from a wide range of disciplines, we need database input but humans too. Please share and get involved if you are interested.
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If materials define an age let’s ensure our generation leaves a legacy that is not defined by plastic pollution but a new bio future that will #donoharm .


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Finding solutions to plastic waste. Working with Bio Materials

IMG 20190219 133959469 LR 2

There have been some exciting developments at the tribes home base in Bristol, United Kingdom. We have been exploring the many material properties of nature and have found some amazing alternative materials that are good for the planet and can help use waste materials that would usually end up in landfill. We are currently exploring and cooking up many different materials to get a deeper understanding of their properties, the pros and cons and suitability for particular uses. Yesterday I was accepted for an exhibition in Bath where I will be able to showcase some of these experiments as well as some more realised eco-design projects.

Please visit the ‘What we are made of’ exhibition opening night at 44AD artspace: Fri 08 March (6pm8pm). It will be running for a week at 4 Abbey Street Bath BA1 1NN.

It’s still very exploratory but there have been some amazing finds. I have developed a bioplastic and have tried it in a sheet form as well as in a mould. Its made from a mix of Agar, glycerin and water. The material is very similar in property to the plastic we know when dried. This is an exciting development!

We have had some success with a material made from local coffee granules gratefully received from my favourite local cafe and coffee shop called Friska. The coffee granules make a beautiful material when mixed with a concoction of glycerin, agar and alginate. I’m still experimenting with quantities etc to make the perfect mix. It’s super robust when air dried after a few days. although there is quite a lot of shrinkage as it dries.

Bio material made form recycled coffee
Bio material made form recycled coffee

We are still developing the surf product made from recycled plastic waste. It has taken a long time as the CAD modelling has needed more adjustments and the tooling costs are looking very steep! So its been a bit of an uphill struggle finding the best way forward to fund this project. HAving said that I have some ideas up my sleave so am moving forward again with the hope to have a final 3D print ready by the end of March to show potential investors.

If you would like to keep up to date with the latest developments please follow us on Instagram @ecotribolife or sign up for the newsletter! Thanks for ready and for your support!

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