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What is an Ecodesign?

Kathryn Vercillo
Kathryn Vercillo

Ecodesign is a sustainable approach to product design that considers the entire life cycle of a product. Each step in the product's lifetime is assessed with regard to the impact that it will have on the environment. The goal is to design the product in a way that will minimize any negative impact it might have. Ecodesign can be used in the design of very small products as well as very large products, or systems of products such as buildings which are made up of many products. This approach to design is utilized in many fields, particularly as green consciousness has become a more mainstream way of doing business.

A core feature of ecodesign is that it looks at the entire life cycle of the product to get a realistic idea of what the product's environmental impact will be. This is done through a life cycle assessment, which is a systematic and holistic investigation into each stage of the product's life cycle. Those stages include the product's development, production, marketing, sale, project management and disposal.

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The ultimate goal of ecodesign is to make sure the products designed today are eco-friendly and help create a healthy, sustainable community. For example, the life cycle assessment looks at the materials that are used to create and package products to if minerals or fossil fuels that are in danger of depletion were used. The assessment also analyzes the effect a product may have on the Earth — is it likely to cause pollution, how might it affect global warming and is it toxic. It also may evaluate how much energy is used over a product's life to see if it's energy efficient.

Product manufacturers may use ecodesign when creating even the smallest everyday products. Such eco-innovation can lead to great products that benefit the earth in small ways, but the earth tends to benefit most when this approach to design is used on a bigger platform by designers of large-scale products such as buildings or entire cities. Ecodesign often is used in urban planning, landscaping, interior design and the tech industry. Ecodesign, as a philosophy, can be used for any type of product design. Taking into account the environmental impact of a product and looking its entire life cycle can help companies contribute to sustainable development.

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