Why a circular economy? Take a look at this (Dutch) video:
I am writing blog articles since January 2012. Cradle-to-cradle was the main subject, focussed on which materials and techniques make textile products suitable for biodegradation or recycling. Ones in a while it is good to take a broader view and see the shifts that are needed to make a circular economy possible, that is what I will do in this article.
Why a circular economy? Take a look at this (Dutch) video:
What does “paying extra” mean? And how can you explain to your customer that he is not paying “extra”?
Products have a combined price with different currencies: money, nature, labour and trade. When you buy a product normally you pay with money, for example € 100,-. It is a shame to notice that too often someone who made your product had to pay with unfair labour circumstances and nature paid with being destroyed. There are also other ways to pay, without money, you trade a product or service for example a painter who paints the house of a gardener who does the garden of the painter.
Do you communicate your sustainability* goals to your customer? Which information do you tell them? And how?
In this article I am going to give you my view on how to communicate about sustainability to your customer.
Last month you read my article about recycled fibres and how you can design with them. This article is about the way users perceive items made from recycled materials and which factors qualify the acceptance of a product. The information in this blog article is derived from a research done by Saxion and fits very well with my view on users’ needs.
Multiple factors define the perception of the user of which the following four are dominant:
CEO’s of consumer goods companies (fashion and apparel in particular) are waiting for customer demand before they start to produce better, more sustainable products. The report of Texsture shows there IS an increasingly consumer demand for responsible products in EU countries.
Texsture launched a new report about purchasing decisions of consumers. This is a report that combines multiple reports on consumer purchasing decisions to show the need for sustainable products. One of the quoted reports is the one of Marthe Hårvik Austgulen, which I discussed with you earlier.
The majority of consumers make purchasing decisions on an individual basis. Important however, given choice, sufficient information and a comparable price/quality ratio among products, Texsture found that a majority of consumers are willing to choose the most ethical product among those available to them, despite begin valued at a slightly higher price.
It is without doubt that brands and retailers are required to play their part in order to give consumers easier access to the products they truly wish to purchase.
Interesting highlights from the report:
I recently read the report ‘Consumer perspectives on eco-labeling of textiles’ written by Marthe Hårvik Austgulen. Aim of the study is to answer the question if European consumers are of the view that they have a responsibility for solving the environmental challenges in the textile industry, and if they have the necessary knowledge to take that responsibility.[p15] This report also shows if eco-labeling on textiles helps consumers in making their choice. I will tell you my findings.
We need to accept the fact that ageing is a process that belongs to the world. Products that evolve together with people get older too. They change, get some scars and a user can be emotionally attached to it, because they went through a lot of things together.
To accept the process of ageing you also need to address the issue of perfection. We live in a world where everything needs to be perfect. If it isn’t perfect you throw it away…but why not repair it? Use it again? Don’t design for perfection, because perfection is vulnerable. One scratch makes it imperfect.
When planning a products lifespan, consider the lifespan of the materials from which the product is made. Make recyclable products in such a way the quality of the material does not degrade when being recycled. And make disposable things that will last only as long as we need them. Food packaging for example now lasts much longer than the item that is packed.
Labelling a product as good or bad is only done by people. In nature there is no good or bad, there is an action and from that action comes a reaction. To start an action you have to make a choice. But how do we make our choices? Therefore we need to go back to how our emotions work.
Emotions are ‘designed’ to chemically save something in our long-term memory. They are self-encoded chemical substances. In our brains we have the Hypothalamus, this part makes chemical connections which correspond to certain emotions. These substances are called peptides, small sequences of amino acids. Our brain uses twenty different amino acids of which the body is constructed. These different series of peptides form emotions. As soon as something happens our brain gets an impulse and immediately starts making peptides. These peptides then rush through our veins in a split second and find their way in your body.
The Netherlands is a prosperous country and we have a lot of choice in products. The disadvantage of this prosperity is our moral commitment to make something of our life, to live life the fullest. This moral commitment lays a pressure on people. Everybody around us is striving for perfection. To gain this perfection we want to make the right choices. In my blog article of 1 march you could have read that we disappoint ourselves when making choices.
The amount of awareness a user has of his needs and the way he wants to fulfill these needs are important to make the choice easier. Therefore he creates a certain freedom. But how does a user knows what he wants? This is a lifelong quest.
I used the needs scheme of professor Manfred Maxneef to find out my needs. But not only your own needs are a motivation to make a choice, an external reward can influence your choices as well.
Humans always want a change in products. It stands for a different life, a fresh start to do things better than before. Most people think they want new products. The perception of new is that it is clean and someone else did not touch it before. “Today we are taught that aging (of products and individuals) is wrong. We wear, use, enjoy things as long as they look as if they had just been bought.” This has to do with us trying to be perfect.
Cleanliness was originally motivated to stop diseases. But soon after it came clear that cleaning did little to stop spreading diseases, its opposite arises; dirtiness was linked to immorality, laziness and ignorance. With the invention of the washing machine, the perception of cleanliness rose further. This caused the link between cleanliness and social/cultural values such as success, acceptance, happiness and being perfect. This being clean and new resulted in a society where everything needs to be packed. After a new product is unpacked, the packages can be thrown away immediately, because then the user owns it. But as you have read in my article about Cradle to Cradle (C2C article April 2012), everything is packaging, so what is the point of packing the package?