By Lorrin Windahl.
Sustainability is a complicated beast. Even for the most well-informed designer it can be confusing. So how can we, as consumers, make better decisions about our purchases and their impact on our planet?
Well, one way is to evaluate a product against a checklist like the one below. I’ve adapted this from one used by designers to evaluate products and materials during development. The higher up the list, the better for the environment. And obviously if you don’t purchase at all, then this is the absolute.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it may be a good starting point, especially if you are trying to evaluate several products against each other.
Product Sustainability Hierarchy
- Do I really need this new product?
- Does the product use renewable materials?
- Has the product been designed to be long lasting? Does it appear to be robust and durable? Or has it been designed for obsolescence?
- Is the product made of reused or re-purposed materials?
- Does the product use recycled materials?
- Has the product been designed to be recycled? Can the parts be easily disassembled and put in the recycling?
It may often seem that sustainability is all too hard and that even when you try to do the right thing it turns out you are not. But, I do believe that the more we think about our impact on our environment the easier these decisions will get. It’s definitely worth the effort.