Sustainable product design is the creation of products that do not deplete the planet’s natural resources. While creating anything requires the use of some materials, companies can use sustainable product design to reduce their energy usage and their use of limited resources. Sustainable product design involves planning for sustainable manufacturing and distribution as well as using materials that come from sustainable sources.
One of the most important things for a company to consider when designing sustainable products is the material needed to make the product. Materials that cannot be recycled or broken down, such as certain plastics, or those that require a great deal of energy, such as glass, should be avoided when designing sustainable products. Natural materials should come from sources that are not threatened and that are harvested in sustainable ways. Recycled materials are also good choices in sustainable product design because they both prevent the destruction of current resources and reduce waste by making new use of something that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Considering what happens to a product when it has outlived its usefulness is another important factor in sustainable product design. The entire life of the product, including what happens to it after it can no longer be used as originally intended, is important in sustainable product design. Many of sustainable products are made to be recycled or reused instead of being thrown away. Some biodegrade products can be easily added to a compost pile. Likewise, creating products that last longer improves sustainability because these products will not be thrown out as often.
Packaging is also key to sustainable product design. Products are often transported in boxes or plastic packages that create additional waste. Choosing packaging that is made from recycled and recyclable materials can increase the sustainability of a product.
How a product will be made is also a consideration in sustainable product design. Manufacturing is often expensive in terms of energy usage, and most of the time, that energy comes from non-sustainable sources. Designing products that can be made with very little energy output can help manufacturers to rely more on sustainable energy sources.
Products can also be designed to foster relationships with local, sustainable companies. Materials can be purchased from suppliers who follow sustainable practices. Planning to use sustainable transportation companies also increases the sustainability of a product.