Most people take design for granted, but the truth is that it permeates just about every facet of society. From food packaging to vehicles and clothing, almost everything we see has been designed for optimization.
However, optimization and longevity aren’t the same things, which is why many people are beginning to see the value of sustainability. But what exactly is sustainable product design, and what benefits does it bring?
Keep reading to learn about what sustainable design is, as well as six ways in which it can help make the world a better place.
What Is Sustainable Design?
As mentioned, most products that we use in our day to day lives are meant to make our lives easier. From the glasses you wear to the clothes on your back, someone has taken natural resources to construct something that makes your life simpler and better.
Yet easier for humans doesn’t mean good for the world, and the hidden social and environmental consequences that go along with the products we use are often disastrous.
Sustainable packaging design and products seek to eliminate these problems, while also continuing to manufacture products that improve people’s lives.
The U.S. General Services Administration explains that sustainable design has three goals. These are:
- a reduction of waste
- the creation of an environment that’s healthier for all
- an end to human reliance on non-renewable resources
Benefits of Sustainable Design
Essentially, sustainable design seeks to balance the needs of the human race with those of the environment. In doing so, it helps create a better world for all.
Here are some of the ways in which sustainability can continue to improve the world in the coming years.
1. Cuts Down on Food Waste
Experts estimate that the United States wastes between 30-40% of its food supply. Aside from taking food away from communities across the world that need it, this also harms the environment.
The UN estimates that global good waste contributes to around 8% of all carbon emissions.
Yet sustainable packaging design seeks to remedy this. Eco-friendly packaging helps preserve food for longer, while manufacturers are beginning to build refrigerators to help food stay fresh.
2. Holds Leaders Accountable
In recent years, consumers and citizens across the world have begun to realize the influence they can exert over political leaders and corporations. This means holding them accountable when they fail to live up to expectations.
Many now people understand that if you don’t like something, you don’t have to buy it. By exercising collective purchasing power, consumers work to hold companies accountable, furthering the design of better and more sustainable products.
The same goes for political leaders. Leaders are nothing without the support of the people. Voters can discourage politicians that would otherwise stunt the growth of sustainability by refusing to vote for them.
3. Encourages Innovation
When you have groups of people demanding action and change, organizations work with one another to deliver the best results. The development of COVID-19 vaccines across the world is an excellent example of this.
Governments and other institutions can’t continue to ignore the ecological threats facing the world. Resource depletion, water security, and air pollution may have been easy to lift your nose to in the past, but not anymore.
The push to sustainability therefore demands the best and the brightest to research and innovate like never before. The alternative, ecological collapse, is not an option.
4. Increases Global Cooperation
Far from being a regional issue, the ecological problems of today affect every country on Earth.
In Antarctica and other polar regions, glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. The melted waters then contribute to the flooding of islands and coastal nations.
Threats such as these force countries to turn to sustainability and cooperate with one another. While a single nation may not be able to stop these ecological disasters, there is strength and power in numbers.
Change happens when countries work with one another and hold each other accountable. International treaties such as the Paris Agreement are prime examples of this.
5. Lowers Pollution
Cities and countries across the world have begun to turn to sustainability to take serious steps to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. This, in turn, reduces the levels of pollution.
For example, the government of Sydney declared a climate emergency in 2019. It then implemented a strategy called “Sustainable Sydney 2030“. All of these changes work to promote sustainable environmental design throughout the city.
The government hopes to encourage people to use public transportation while discouraging the use of private cars. It also seeks to promote cycling and implement a car-share program.
Through efforts such as these, cities and countries lower their carbon emission levels.
6. Helps Manage Water and Energy
In most industrialized nations, the idea of not having enough water is difficult to process. However, the reality is that in a few decades, rich countries will experience the same problem that many Saharan countries experience now: a lack of water.
Through sustainable water infrastructure, consumers will naturally conserve more water while limiting the amount that they waste.
For example, tea kettle manufacturers provide an ambiguous line for how much water to add. This is often too much, and much of the water then gets boiled away. Sustainable product design eliminates issues such as these.
The Bright Future of Sustainable Design
While 2020 has been a challenging year, 2021 is one full of possibilities. Everyone is ready for a fresh start, and by promoting sustainable design in different areas, we can come together to build a brighter and better world.
Do you now have a better understanding of the many ways in which sustainable product design can help better the world? If you do, make sure to check out some of our other articles for more guides and tips.