Sustainable Development was defined in a report called ‘Our Common Future’ in 1987 by the UN Commission for sustainable development: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

According to a report by the Environment Council, Design for Environment (or sustainable design) practices "are intended to develop environmentally compatible products and processes while maintaining or improving price, performance, and quality standards".

Practically, sustainable design means incorporating new ways of thinking into the product design process. At Sprout, this means building on rather than replacing traditional industrial design practice and for us, sustainable design is a more holistic approach which already makes good business sense. It is necessary to think about the product's impacts at all stages of it's life cycle, so typically we might consider:

1) Raw Materials Where do the raw materials come from? Is their extraction reducing the Earth's finite supply of resources or is it damaging the local environment?

2) Manufacturing Is the manufacturing process harmful to people's health because of pollution from factories or because of bad working conditions? Is there a better one? Can a less energy intensive process be found?

3) Packaging Can we design the packaging so that it uses minimum materials but still provides excellent performance from protective, communications and branding perspectives? Can the packaging be disposed of in an environmentally appropriate way?

4) Transport Can the volume of the packaging of the product and the product's total weight be reduced so that fewer vehicles are needed to transport it?

5) Use Can we reduce the amount of water, electricity or materials that the product consumes while it is being used? Can the product be used safely? Is the design inclusive?

6) Disposal Have we designed the product in a way that it can be easily reprocessed? (eg components are made from only one material, materials are marked for recycling and recyclable materials are chosen)

Raw materials