How sustainable is ...?
Every designer makes decisions on the product's appearance, performance, production methods, budget, and so on during the process of development. But how to connect the product's characters with the product's global impact on the sustainability categories People, Planet and the user's experience?
How might future design methods and processes change? How to update the list of requirements?
The Sustainability-Fader is a tool to visualise the product's status quo characters and impact, and assesses concepts adjusting the product for innovation and optimisation. The graphic shows these optimisation possibilities in direct connection with their influence.
For example, a disposable cup made of plastic is supposed to adjust to the sustainability requirement "no plastic waste". The idea is to exchange the material and launch disposable cups made of clay. A sustainable concept needs to realise the idea in context to the changing factors of influence. Even if clay is a natural, renewable material, the new cup still has an impact and should focus on the idea's socio-cultural, environmental or user's response. Which means for example to introduce the clay cup with an advanced circular economy and to recycle the material creating new values. Other solutions could be to develop a closed life cycle reusing the cup or to dismiss the idea and to exchange into a cup made of a different material or to raise the profit by exporting the cup and expanding the market for the reason to implement an environmentally-friendly disposal.
The Sustainability-Fader demonstrates the design concept and assesses the level of impact. With this knowledge, the risks and opportunities of the concept can be derived and compared with other possible concepts.
Knowing the risks and opportunities, suitable strategies can be clearly identified and designed.
If the product or concept is 100% sustainable, every level of impact is 5 which means fully coloured.
The assessment of the current status of the product shows the product's opportunities and risk to be a sustainable consumer good.
An exemplified concept can modify the different levels and the graphic implies the strength and weaknesses.
Research: analysis of the 2030 Sustainability Development Goals and the influences on future design processes.
Design: development of tool and factors that refer to known reference points in the development of new products (among others, based on the delft design guide).
Sustainability-Fader in process: project How Sustainable Is Bhar?
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