How Sustainability Fuels Design Innovation – The Magazine – MIT Sloan Management Review.

I like this article.  It lines up nicely with my view of product stewardship and life cycle management – we can make products better by thinking of the systems they are part of and how we can better use and handle the materials we make products from and the energy and other resources involved in our processes. See my website for my articles on the topic and other posts on this blog.

It did make me wince to read how he refers to “toxins” – the guy is not a scientist, obviously.  The issue is still basically his theme of materials (chemicals) management.  If we manage materials right we can reduce risk by either reducing hazard or exposure.  If we design products so that everyone in the supply chain can maintain control over chemicals and keep them in the loop for efficient recycle and reuse, we reduce exposure and advance sustainability. (I also don't think just the product manufacturer can do it all. It takes the whole supply chain down to users and ultimate disposal as well as the governing systems and infrastructure support to work together and share responsibility.)

I also agree that we don't need to do formal life cycle assessments before we do things and we don't need to make the perfect product (so there, California).  Instead, if we focus on how continually to knock down significant problem areas we will design better and better systems.

As I've said elsewhere on this blog site - sustainability is not an endpoint.  I don't think there is such a thing as a "sustainable product," but I do think we can design sustainably.

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