Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Sustainable Europe

Sustainable Minds and MAGNET Partner to Advance Sustainability in Manufacturing

By Sustainable Minds on February 3, 2010

We are happy to announce a new partnership with MAGNET, The Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network, a professional organization that is focused on helping manufacturing and technology-based companies in Ohio adopt innovative methods and technologies.

Manufacturers are struggling to learn how to adopt sustainable practices in their current processes, and this partnership will help advance the adoption of greener product design practices for manufacturers. This partnership will also serve to assist Magnet’s eco-SMART Manufacturing Program to deliver education to Ohio manufacturers about sustainable manufacturing and ecoInnovation strategies.

The AfriGadget Blog: a study in doing more with less

By Lorne Craig on February 1, 2010

Are North Americans just a bit too comfortable to design products for the next century? Sure, we can readily see the need for a latte maker that gets firmer foam from organic soy milk, or a computer mouse that lets us spend 4 more hours a day at our Dickensian digital drudge-stations. But is this what the world really needs right now, when a billion people are living on less than $2 a day?

These are the questions that go through my mind as I read the AfriGadget Blog, a showcase of bootstrap product design (sometimes using pieces from actual boots) as practiced by innovators all across the African continent. A team of blog contributors and readers contribute pictures, videos and stories to this fascinating blog that are “a testament to Africans bending the little they have to their will, using creativity to overcome life’s challenges,” according to the editors.

Greenpeace releases its guide to greener electronics

By Sustainable Minds on January 25, 2010

Technology companies are starting to understand that sustainability is increasingly important to their customers. But as a consumer, how do you measure ‘green-ness’ across products that are sourced all over the world, and are combinations of processes that include hundreds of vendors? Recently, Greenpeace announced its ranking of 18 electronics companies at the Consumer Electronics Show (what better place?), along with a point-by-point breakdown of how they arrived at their scores. Categories include chemicals management , PVC-free and/or BFR-free models, voluntary take-back, use of recycled plastic content, and eleven more. This year, the leaders are Apple, Sony Ericsson and Nokia. Trailing the pack are Nintendo, Microsoft and Lenovo.
Read more

IDSA partnership aims to mainstream innovation in greener product design

By Sustainable Minds on January 11, 2010

Today we are excited to announce a new partnership with Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), the world’s oldest and largest association for product designers. IDSA and Sustainable Minds have made a commitment to work together to advance the adoption and integration of ecodesign and sustainability practices in product design.

Greener product design means designing the whole product system from a life cycle perspective. Understanding what this means and how to design this way is the first step.

We are bringing together important tools and education for members, including offering Sustainable Minds LCA software at a discount. The software enables rapid iteration and comparison of new product concepts, and provides quantified environmental performance information during the design process to help make design and manufacturing trade-off decisions.

New in Sustainable Minds Release 1.1

By Sustainable Minds on December 16, 2009

Following on the heels of Release 1.0, we've made it easier for more people to find out, learn about and subscribe to Sustainable Minds. In this release:

  • Educator and student subscriptions
  • Affiliate referral program
  • Software enhancements

Educator and student subscriptions
As part of the Designers Accord community, and as 'Summit Sponsor' of the Global Summit on Design Education & Sustainability, we are committed to helping educators create undergraduate, graduate and professional development curriculum to integrate environmental sustainability into design, engineering and business programs.

The future of digital TV could be a lot friendlier

By Lorne Craig on December 7, 2009

This fall, our family got Digital TV from our local service provider. I’ll call them ‘Telco’ - those of you south of the border, feel free to substitute your local Comcast-like corporation. The promo deal sucked us in, our friendly installer managed to figure out how to wire both ends of a 1920’s apartment without stapling cable everywhere and now we can vegetate digitally. (Of course, the first thing I did with this marvel of new technology was use the PVR to record a Space Channel marathon of 30-year-old Star Trek episodes.)

But even as the system was being assembled in our home, I wondered about its footprint. In order to decode and deliver the signals for digital TV and broadband Internet, we took delivery of: two set top boxes, a PVR, a wireless router, a network router and a switcher.

I wondered, how much power do they use? Are all the electronics compliant with RoHS? (the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive or RoHS adopted in 2003 by the EU that restricts the use of hazardous materials in electronics) What happens to these units when they needs to be replaced? And what happens to the leftover boxes, plastic and Styrofoam after installation?

The eight biggest myths about sustainability in business

By Vijay Kanal on November 30, 2009

In our research, and in engagements with dozens of Fortune 1000 companies, we are sometimes surprised at the reluctance to pursue environmental sustainability initiatives, because of misconceptions about their cost or benefits. But we have also seen how some companies have embraced sustainability whole-heartedly, and are profiting from it.

What is fair play when comparing product LCAs?

By Joep Meijer on November 20, 2009

You’ve just developed your eco-champion product and have set out to know everything about it. You’ve performed a full-fledged lifecycle analysis (LCA) – with all the bells and whistles – and have some vital results: the methodology report that describes your product, and the interpretation report, which explains the results.

You are all excited about the results. You feel the need to express yourself publicly. What better way to do that than in a comparison to other products? And the great game begins…

The Rules
Most games begin with the creation of rules. The ‘game’ of marketing sustainability is no different.

Is it fair to compare your sustainable product to someone else’s and not invite their input? Not really. In fact, ISO standards require that you involve relevant stakeholders to foster a positive conversation about the approach and the interpretation. One way to do that is for you and all stakeholders to sit together and write up a methodology report.

Sustainable Minds release 1.0 is getting great reviews!

By Terry Swack on November 15, 2009

When you launch a new product, it’s not as though you don’t know what people will think. You’ve already taken a lot of time working with your customers to get it right.

At Sustainable Minds, we’ve spent the better part of three years making it our business to understand what product design teams need in order to help them create more environmentally sustainable products.

Nonetheless, we’ve been delighted at the positive results we’re hearing from all sorts of practitioners – from product designers to engineering teams (the un-staged photo of product designers trying out Sustainable Minds software above was taken at our Boston workshop on November 11). Now that we’ve launched R1.0, it’s great to hear that others think we got it right.

Take a look at this blog post by Kenneth Wong, a contributing editor for Desktop Engineering magazine. He attended a recent Sustainable Minds workshop in San Francisco.

Glass or Ceramic?

By Travis Lee on November 6, 2009

One of our designers here at LUNAR was recently working on a project that required a material with a cold, smooth, high-quality feel, and she asked me which was a more sustainable material, ceramic or glass. This is what I told her:

Glass: There are many different types of glass, but I’ll focus on soda-lime glass here, the type most commonly used in containers, windows, etc. Glass is heavy and often gets a bad rap for that, but if recycled properly it is one of the few infinitely recyclable materials in common use today. It is also one of the few materials with a well-developed recycling infrastructure in almost every developed country. It can be fragile, but can also be made to be durable with various geometries and wall thicknesses (think about how long old Coke bottles stay in circulation). Glass can be considered, for all intents and purposes, to be non-reactive, so it won’t off-gas or leach like plastics.