It is shocking, but it is nothing new for anyone: the planet is in a critical state of environmental, economic and social imbalance. And technological advances and rampant consumerism in recent decades are just some of the reasons that have brought us here. In response, many people are adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and, in order to meet this growing demand, brands are also transforming their products and services. And because of that, there is a trend that has been gaining more and more strength in recent years: sustainable design.
One concept, several meanings
In a nutshell, we can define sustainable design as the creation of products and services that are in line with the preservation of the ecosystem. However, sustainability is not just about the environment – but also about people’s well-being – so this concept is much broader and more complex. It arises from the fusion of ecodesign and social design, in a way that adds an economically viable status too.
For any design solution to be classified, in fact, as sustainable, from an environmental point of view, it is not enough that products and services are ecological only in their form of use. It is necessary to consider all stages of their life cycles, such as production, consumption and disposal. Thus, designers working in this area need to have a systemic and strategic view of the entire production process.
In addition, sustainable design takes into consideration the social context in which products and services are inserted. After all, doesn’t matter if it is innovative, recyclable and organic, but is produced through child labor, for example. Thus, the performance of the designer involves the creation of products that generate shared value for all.
Is sustainable design a good deal?
As we have seen, products and services developed from sustainable design contribute to the conservation of the environment and still generate benefits for all parties involved. And the positive results bring consequences to the companies, since they are also part of this ecosystem, right?
As if that were not enough, companies also directly benefit from the application of sustainable design in their products and services. First, because some materials can be reused for the manufacture of new items and, second, because it reduces the generation of waste – in both situations it reduces production costs.
Other favorable consequences are that sustainable design improves the quality of products and services, when thinking about the production chain as a whole, and also reinforces concepts that are important for conscious consumers, adding more value to brands.
Thus, some companies are already thinking about their creations based on sustainable design, making their products and services more collaborative and, consequently, increasing the competitiveness of their brand. Meet some inspiring cases!
#1 City Tree
Air pollution already affects 90% of people, mainly in large cities, and this problem is considered the greatest environmental risk to health, being responsible for about 7 million premature deaths per year. The data are from the World Health Organization (WHO) and it was with this in mind that the startup Green City Solutions created the City Tree.
It is basically a 3.5 square meter moss panel, which filters an amount of air equivalent to the “work” of 275 trees. And that’s not all! It also uses Internet of things technology to enhance its function: providing, in real time, local air conditions and data on its own performance, triggering the maintenance service when necessary.
The City Tree, moreover, is self-sufficient in energy terms, due to a solar plate attached to the panel. And it also functions as a bank, contributing to the better use of public space, which thus becomes more interactive. Thus, it brings innovation and sustainability, working on multiple issues: health, environment and social interaction.
Pantys is a vegan brand, certified as a B Company (social and environmental development as a business model), which mainly sells pad panties. They are 100% ecological production and last approximately 2 years, saving the more than 400 pads that you would spend in this time. And, when discarded, the panties degrade in three years – much less than the 100 to 500 year interval of the conventional pads – because it does not contain synthetic materials or chemical additives.
In addition to being sustainable, the panties seek to bring maximum comfort and safety to women during their menstrual period, which is usually very uncomfortable. For this, they are composed of four layers of fabric: the first to ensure comfort during use, one to kill bacteria and reduce odors, another super absorbent to retain the flow and the last waterproof, preventing the blood seeps.
And, to complete the care of Pantys, the panties are hypoallergenic and the design of the pieces was designed considering the menstruation flow: light, moderate or intense. Thus, the models guarantee comfort and beauty, valuing even more the women’s self-esteem.
#3 ONG Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity’s action in partnership with the advertising agency BETC/Havas has already been recognized worldwide: the first time in Cannes, in 2018, and the most recent, at the New York Festivals. Because of plenty of reasons!The “Soluble Poster” is a simple, efficient and relatively low cost idea, which has innovated in educational, environmental and social terms.
Basically, it consists of pasting educational posters about dengue, zika and chikungunya in places of greatest vulnerability. Nothing big, if it weren’t a difference: these posters, by themselves, are already a step to fight the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, because they are made of rice, soluble paint, organic glue and biological larvicide.
Thus, after a rain, the poster melts and the larvicide is taken, with the water, to possible places of focus. In this way, the posters act on a public health issue – both in raising people’s awareness and in directly fighting the mosquito – in addition, it causes a positive impact on the environment (avoiding the disposal of papers, for example). All of this in an economically viable way.
Like these, there are several other actions which we can observe sustainable design acting in a multidisciplinary way, in order to create solutions to real and urgent problems. And, considering that consumers are increasingly attentive and demanding, this tend has a big chance to become more frequent, as has already been happening with design innovations with purpose