How to Design Products for Sustainability

Sustainable designers look for ways to design appropriate components that can be exchanged so that the product as a whole can endure lon­ger. Perhaps a mobile phone’s case gets marred over time, having been dropped too many times or from swimming in a purse or pocket with keys, coins, and other hard-edged objects. There are several potential solutions here that could increase the life of the phone:

• Make the case out of more durable, scratch – resistant, or colorfast materials.

• Make the case out of materials that age gracefully or create a desired patina (like wood or denim). [57]

added benefit of enabling customization and protects the components from the whims of trends.

• Standardize components so they can be used in many different models, increasing the lifespan of the subsystem even when the software, casing, or other components change over time.

• Design devices to be expandable, even just a bit, allowing other devices to be added or attached as they become available or change.

• Transmaterialize the functions, where pos­sible, so that the physical device can outlast changes in features and interface without requiring a redesign.

Strangely, solutions like snap-on cases of dif­ferent colors and patterns have been around for years now, but still many phone models are designed without them. This is a shame.

Updated: October 3, 2015 — 1:44 pm