We hear a lot about trying to be more environmentally friendly by using recycled or recyclable materials, but how about not creating the waste in the first place?
Circular Design is the idea that instead of buying, using and then disposing of a product, we design it to never stop being useful. The old-fashioned milk bottle may have something to teach.
Why do I need this?
This is a key question. What are we making and why are we making it? Usually the answer is clear. A box protects our product during shipping, but is that all it should be doing? Once we know that what we’re making is worth making, then let’s make it worth keeping.
Is less always more?
We all agree that if you’re just going to end up throwing your product away, then you should probably aim to make it as small as possible and minimise your waste. But what about going the other way? By making products robust, we not only expand their lifetime but we can keep passing them on to other people. A glass milk bottle doesn’t lose anything by getting washed and refilled.
What else can it do?
Sometimes we can’t justify collecting all the products and packaging which we send out into the world. Maybe it’s not worth driving all those miles to return a box. But why not plan for a product’s second life?
How do I get it back?
Consider launching your product as a service. Wash it. Reuse it. We all love the sentiment, but how do we get people to participate? It could all be as simple as 10p. Any festival goer will have seen the monumental stacks of cups collected by those keen to get a free pint. A notable success story, the German introduction of a mandatory deposit on drinks bottles has led to the estimated 2 billion beer bottles in circulation in Germany having an average 36 uses in their lifetime.
Nothing is Perfect
There is always some element of waste. But by striving for constant improvement we can get close to a truly sustainable economy.
Have you got an idea for a new product? Get in touch!