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.

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