How can designers make the world a more sustainable place?

“The reality of global warming has gained currency not only among environmentalists but among industry leaders. (Braungart, McDonough, 2008, p. 31)

Today, industrial methods, infrastructure and materials are designed to support economic growth, rather than support the critical concerns of human and ecological wellbeing, cultural and natural richness, as well as joy. These methods and materials, which stem from the industrial revolution, never intended to bring such devastation. However these same negative effects of waste, pollution and crude products, are merely consequences of unintelligent and outdated design, rather than the result of corporations having morally bad practices. The solution to this dilemma comes down to the manufacturer and the designer, and whether they will take a path of leaving behind a positively impactful design legacy and leave behind the practices of supporting and maintaining this negative design system. (Braungart, McDonough, 2008, p. 42-43) 

In the 2008 version of the book Cradle-to-Cradle, Michael Braungart explains how this strategy of change is possible through the cradle-to-cradle approach. He warns us that to live in a world where the Earth will prosper, we must eliminate the concept of waste to where it no longer exists. (Braungart, McDonough, 2008, p. 103-104) 

To eliminate the concept of waste means to design thingsproducts, packaging, and systemsfrom the very beginning on the understanding that waste does not exist. (Braungart, McDonough, 2008, p. 104) 

This essay will consider the understanding of sustainability, and how designers can use the approaches of reusing, closed-loop recycling, and cradle-to-cradle to design for a better world. It will then describe and analyse two concept products and systemsadidas Futurecraft Biofabric shoes and Layer’s Worldbeing wristbandthat are examples of how industry leaders can make consumption and production more sustainable. Together the products and systems will then be compared for their similarities and differences. The final section of the essay will conclude whether the adidas Futurecraft Biofabric shoes and the Worldbeing wristband are in fact concept designs that hold as great examples of how sustainability can be achieved through design, and may offer potential for the future.

We must first understand what sustainability and the four R’s entail, with examples from the cradle-to-cradle approach.”