Environmental considerations for consumer product design

Mossandschmidt green field with wind turbines

Environmental considerations for consumer product design

Environmental design is as important as product design when it comes to consumer products. Being kind to the environment during each step of production is a mindset that every industrial designer needs to have, over and above having perfect product plans that are ready to be designed.

When a designer follows the ethos of environmental design, they access environmental limitations during their planning phase, carefully considering how they will be able to enhance consumers’ lives through their products, while at the same time bearing in mind their physical environment and how they can develop and produce sustainable products.

At the most basic level, industrial designers can follow an environmental approach simply through a basic assessment of their projects before production starts. Have a look below at some considerations.

  1. Consider the materials you will be using – and whether your products will be recyclable

Remember our blog about the different types of plastics? Plastic is often linked to waste and being unkind to the environment; however, as we unpacked in our previous blog, it all comes down to understanding how these materials can be used in different scenarios, such as thermosets for permanent fixtures versus thermoplastics that are best for recycling.

Although recycling is not always a consideration or feasible – say, for instance, for equipment such as computer motherboards or room heaters – it is important to use sustainable materials that will fulfil the purpose they need to fulfil.

Single-use or short-term use items can be designed using recyclable materials – think, for instance, of bamboo toothbrushes that are biodegradable – whilst more sturdy materials would be best for long-term use products, such as tables or chairs.

  1. Determine how you can minimise waste during production

Following an economical approach when sourcing materials for product design can help industrial designers to fully maximise their use of materials and cause no to minimal waste. This is where careful planning and a lean approach matters the most – not having excess materials that will go to waste or that you will not be able to store or reuse at a later stage.

As per above material considerations, designers need to consider that if there is waste during production, how this will be disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way – or if there is a creative solution that will ensure these materials can still be used.

  1. Establish how you can save energy during development

Part of a lean approach during production design is cutting out unnecessary steps during production – which also includes reducing your energy use where possible. Using less energy is kinder to the environment, plus it will also help you shave off costs from your production budget.

The bottom-line? Sustainable production is as good for products as it is for the environment!

Environmental considerations during design and production are not only key solutions for sustainable products: they also help industrial designers to keep costs low while they design high-quality products.

Being eco-friendly doesn’t mean sacrificing value – it boils down to adding value to consumers’ lives through products that are kind to the environment and that are sustainable options. These options will ultimately help consumers to make more informed choices when purchasing products and benefit designers who steer the course with environmental design.