How Good Design Can Save the Planet

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Design and Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is a necessity when looking for solutions to existing problems. While a project typically begins with a creative idea, it is Design that leads in converting the idea into an efficient, innovative experience.

Design is essentially a plan for the construction of an object or the implementation of a process, the end result would be in the form of a product, prototype or process. Design has a diversification of types concerning the environment and community such as service design, human focused design and innovative design among others.

What Makes Design Good?

In the late 1970s, notable designer Dieter Rams, laid the ten principles of Good Design:

  1. Good design is innovative
  2. Good design makes a product useful
  3. Good design is aesthetic
  4. Good design makes a product understandable
  5. Good design is unobtrusive
  6. Good design is honest
  7. Good design is long-lasting
  8. Good design is thorough to the last detail
  9. Good design is environmentally-friendly
  10. Good design is as little design as possible

In line with the topic of this article, we build up on the 9th principle;  answering the question how good design can save the planet, with the following major points:

Provide Better Access to Information

Good design means communicating information efficiently to the audience.
Behind every piece of information, there is a designer who made a visual layout of this information in order to build a holistic visual learning and communication experience for the audience.

Learning institutions had to rethink their teaching strategies for the majority of 2020 in order to aid students at home. With this comes the efficient use of Adaptive Learning which is designed to provide study material based on each student’s proficiency level. Adaptive learning also helps teachers figure out challenges faced by each student and work on the areas they find difficult in their courses.

Appeal to emotion

Beyond the confines of education, it is the designer’s job to carefully identify the emotions that are the appropriate ones to “target” in order to send the right message and inspire action. Plenty of climate change campaigns utilize “shockvertising” as a method. Charities such as WWF play on the fear of losing the natural world as an example.


Designing for sustainability can be quite the paradox, considering how most products are actually extracting resources from the earth we are aiming to sustain.The 2020 Conscious Fashion Report by Lyst states that there has been a global “37% increase in searches for sustainability-related keywords, with the average monthly searches increasing from 27,000 in 2019 to over 32,000 in 2020”.

It is a challenge for Designers today to work on achieving sustainable solutions through sourcing renewable, local or biodegradable resources. It is Design that adds value and meaning to products built from limited resources. And when the problem is the reduction of pollutants or increased urbanization, design is at the core of that solution.

Promoting Ethical Consumption

Design is fundamental in the process of changing the processes of production and consumption for the better. It is through design that we plan and create the materials, systems and the ways they are consumed.

Amcor is an example of a company that has placed the reduction of plastic pollutants in their operations. Their new design rules include improving the economic viability of PET bottle recycling through removing the ingredients that impact recycling rates; and the second design rule is their removal of problematic materials for recycling from all kinds of plastic packaging.

Carbon-neutral jewelry brand Ana Luisa partners with Cool Effect to offset their carbon footprint. Cool Effect is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in San Francisco. This collaboration leads to Ana Luisa contributing to Cool Effect’s causes such as preserving a combined forest area of 6,500 acres in Massachusetts. Their contribution to protecting trees from timber mills created local jobs and generates carbon-canceling oxygen daily.

Sustainability Starts With Us

Emphasising on the Role of Good Design to solve global issues is crucial towards the path of sustainable development, global innovation and in turn, saving our planet.
Although this post focused on the key ways how good design can save the planet, it isn’t just the responsibility of a few. A problem of this magnitude needs everyone to play their part. Design bridges all fields and is deeply embedded in the ways we live our lives.


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