Ever wanted to create products that make Mother Nature do a happy dance? Think Gangnam Style, belly dancing, and the macarena—together. A product that positively impacts humans and the environment while being accessible, efficient, long-lasting, made of quality materials, serviceable, reusable, and recyclable.

It sounds like hocus pocus, eh?

Now, you might know that we call ourselves sustainable lighting designers at Brightgreen. To some of you, this means we wear organic cotton boxer briefs and a bamboo bed sheet cape and fight climate change in our fully recyclable cardboard Tesla. 

Unfortunately, we do not. (But that would be wild.)

Instead, we use sustainable product design to make our lights and home automation products as eco-friendly, carbon-neutral, and planet positive as possible.

And here are 9 ways that you, too, can save the world—one light at a time—using sustainable product design. Caution: Get out your hemp underwear. You might wee a little from all the excitement. 

Design For Real Need

Your product must serve a purpose.

In other words, your products must address people’s genuine, authentic, and essential needs while minimising the overall impact on the environment and preserving natural resources. It’s a delicate balance, like belly dancing on a tightrope. 

And to truly design for a real need, your products should also be accessible to all ages, languages, and mobility levels. Bonus points if you can make them super intuitive to use, or better yet if they don’t even require thought to use.

Make It Minimal

Minimalism is the new black, pals. And tiny packaging is terrific.

Minimal products transcend trends. It’s not just about aesthetics. They’re simple, functional, timeless, and long-lasting because they aren’t tryhards. So, when the world is all done and dusted with parachute pants and see-through raincoats, minimalism will be around to pick up the pieces—oh-so elegantly

When you’re designing for minimalism, think small and adaptable. Products that are adaptable and can be used in different contexts increases their overall utility and extends their lifecycle. Plus, small form factors mean less embodied energy from production and shipping (up to 80% less), which reduces the need to offset the remainder. And let’s not forget about the packaging—the smaller, the better, the easier to transport.

Make It Long-lasting

Make your products apocalypse-proof (and future-proof).

Fact: LEDs can last a long time with quality and long-lasting thermal management, but the bigwigs won’t tell you that. Planned obsolescence is still all the rage: designing things, so they break.

How can you fight planned obsolescence?

  1. Overdesign: You should overdesign to maximise product life. At Brightgreen, we design our luminaires with a 30-year lifespan in mind, which is about six times the average (or six times less embodied energy). Even today, 15 years later, our original lights are still functioning in our clients’ first homes. 
  2. Drivers: You need LED drivers that are designed for Australia. Brightgreen’s LED drivers can withstand Australian voltages, ranging from 230V to 285V—unlike any other LED driver on the market. This means our lights will last longer, even as the electrical grid struggles to keep up with local solar generation and voltage fluctuations. #future-proof
  3. Fit For The Environment: You want your products to fit the environment and spaces they’ll occupy. So, that’s the highest IP and IK ratings, with plenty of strain relief for cables and components.
  4. Guarantee Longevity: Hold yourself accountable and guarantee longevity with an extended warranty. And by increasing the warranty over time, you’ll be prompted to push the limits of longevity.

Make It With Quality Materials

You need to use quality materials that can stand the test of time. After all, if you want something that falls apart in a week, you should probably buy a gingerbread house.

That means choosing pure, toxic-free materials, like a hippie on a juice cleanse. (Okay, maybe not that.) But, for example, using high-quality, silicone-free, near-pure aluminium can double the thermal performance of LEDs. And purer, toxic-free materials don’t just perform better; they’re far more likely to be recycled. 

Health is also a factor worth considering under the umbrella of quality materials. Reducing toxic materials in production will enhance your planet-positive impact when it comes time to dispose of or recycle the products. And you should also design products that promote health and well-being, like circadian lighting to improve sleep. 

Make It Serviceable

Help your clients channel their inner DIY guru.

You should create products that can be easily repaired, upgraded, or maintained over time. This approach helps to extend the product’s life, reduce waste, and save resources. They’ll be less throwy-throwy when things go wrong and more fixy-fixy. 

All Brightgreen lights are designed modularly to be serviceable and easy to repair. So, if something goes wrong, we can replace a component or refurbish the light reducing further embodied energy.

And, of course, nothing says “I’m a responsible adult”, like taking care of your stuff. 

Make It Reusable And Recyclable

Think of turning a plastic bottle into a pencil holder. Or, perhaps, turning your washing machine into a cubby house.

Your products must be able to be used again and again and again and again and again. And then repurposed or broken down to make new stuff—rather than ending up in landfills or the ocean. 

Making a product reusable and recyclable incorporates other factors already covered: quality, recyclable materials, minimalist design, and longevity. But, to enhance the recyclability of your products, design them so that they can be easily dismantled using non-destructive techniques. In short, make certain that it can be done by hand with no special tools required. 

You could even get super-duper sustainable by following Brightgreen’s footsteps. We offer end-of-life buy-back options to ensure we incentivise the recovery of the product for reuse or recycling. 

Doing Good, While Working Well

Become a B Corporation, and tell the world you’re doing all the good things for the environment. 

Brightgreen, as a B Corp with an overall B Impact Score of 100, adheres to the highest environmental and ethical standards. It means we consider social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability in everything we do. For example, we’re carbon neutral and focus on reducing embodied energy first. And we constantly practise what we preach—our Melbourne HQ is powered by solar, and everyone rides a bike or takes public transport to work. 

Carbon Cutters (Offset More Than You Use)

Reduce first, offset second. 

But what’s carbon offsetting, we hear you say? It’s giving back more than you take. 

Carbon offsetting means reducing or balancing out the greenhouse gas emissions created during the production and use of a product by investing in projects that reduce emissions elsewhere. If you’re carbon offsetting more than you use, you’re ensuring that the net carbon footprint of the product is negative.

But the optimal way to save the world is to reduce embodied energy first, then offset what’s left.

Go Forth. And Save The World.

So, there you have it—your guide to saving the world and fighting climate change, one light at a time. Put simply, sustainable product design is about creating products that positively impact the planet and its people.