Design Strategies

DESIGN STRATEGIES - A collection of principles and methods when designing for circularity and the changing consumer mindset.

1. What Is The Purpose?

Before any resource is spent, it is important to test assumptions and learn, to establish metrics for success that are clear that there is an actual need.

Question the premise of the design
Consider other approaches to the problem at hand.

Make it less complex
Simple, elegant designs are often the least impactful.

Make it more useful
Multi-use products can reduce consumption and increase convenience.

Further Reading 
Read Lunar's Designers Field Guide to Sustainability

2. How Is It Made?

Being smart about material selection and composition helps the product return to the loop once it is used, while minimizing the impact it has during manufacturing and supply chain.
Reduce material variety
This can increase recyclability and can decrease manufacturing energy.

Avoid toxic or harmful materials and chemicals
PVC, polystyrene, lead and BPA for example.

Reduce size and weight
This reduces emissions during shipping.

Optimize manufacturing processes
Powder coat vs. paint. Pressure form vs. RIM
Talk to your manufacturers about low energy,low waste alternatives.

Design packaging in parallel with products
A green product in a wasteful package should be avoided whenever possible.

Further Reading
A bill of materials template from C2C to categorize product materials

3. How Is It Used?​

Understand how people use the product in reality. Making sure it is necessary, understandable and makes it convenient for people to do the right thing.

Create durable and high-quality designs
Make products people want to keep…and make them last

Design for upgradeability​
Make standard internal components accessible and self explanatory

Design for life after death
A secondary use for a product adds value and helps reduce waste

4. Where Does It End Up?

At the very minimum, prepare products to be accepted into the existing collection infrastructure. At best, take complete ownership of the products after use through an internal collection system or third-party partnership.

Make it modular
Modular designs are more easily repaired, and recycled

Maximize recycled, recyclable, renewable, and biodegradable materials
PET, Polypropylene, HDPE, Wood, Steel, Aluminum and PLA for example

Minimize fasteners
Fasteners add weight, material variety and assembly/disassembly complexity

Avoid using paint
Painted plastics are less likely to be recycled


The Power Of Changing Behaviors Through Circular Design

In 2018 a study in the UK found that nine in ten people had changed their consuming habits after watching Blue Planet, resulting in a 60% increase of reusable water bottles. 

The proliferation of steel water bottles in the last 3 years is a reminder of how brands and good design can capitalize on changing consumer sentiment, giving people a desirable alternative to wasteful practices.

Further Reading
Read about Flowater transitioning out of plastic to refillable aluminum bottles
Read how Sarah Kauss Turned S'well Into A $100 Million-Dollar Company

Products as a Service

Do you need office furniture, or just a place to get work done? Do you need new hiking boots, or have access to a seasonal wardrobe? For companies that are shifting from selling only a product to turning that product into service, the framework becomes circular by default.  

While the success of the sharing economy is still in its early stages, we are excited to see how brands consider products as services more seriously in the near-term.

Further Reading
Visit Turntoo's website, a company exploring ways of providing circular products
Read The Circular Design Guides Service Flip worksheet

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