Updated: Jun 1
The global experience with COVID-19 has, hopefully, taught the world the importance of putting health and safety as a top priority. It is imperative to change the way people interact with their surroundings and the stuff in them and it is even more critical how products are designed to keep people healthy and safe. COVID-19 has tested our ability to live with scarcity of materials and products and has made us question whether the products we buy are safe. As the rule of thumb is disinfection and sanitizing on a regular basis, people should be vigilant of the health effects of the products use to keep their surroundings clean. Emerging from the “pause” is a one-time opportunity for a healthier and replenished world, depending how the boat is steered. As consumers, we have the right to purchase safer choices that are effective in the fight to live healthier and safer. Our purchasing power can be used to demand production of best alternatives, shifting the value chain to sustainable practices that protect us and the natural ecosystems.
Product formulation is being scrutinized more than ever due to the awaking of brands, retailers and consumers about the health effects of the products consumed. We, Sustainability specialists support brands in identifying potential hazards in their formulas and product design. The availability of methods and tools like GreenScreen®, Cradle to Cradle™, Pharos, and the Material Product Declaration standard have facilitated the screening and assessment of materials health, resulting in safer alternatives for the formulation and design of products. Designing safer products is not only a good business practice but an opportunity to rebuild the economy. Green chemistry market is expected to exceed ≥100 billion market in 2020 with investors and purchasers looking at hazardous chemicals as risky business. In addition, signatories with ≥700 billion in purchasing power are asking their stakeholders to address chemicals of concern. The consumer market is demanding to move the needle beyond regulatory compliance, which to this point should be the minimum requirement met. Safer alternatives are the foundation to a Circular Economy because no one wants to put back in the natural or technological systems materials of concern. From the lens of a designer and Sustainability practitioner, the true change is enabled by design. It is in the design phase that we can make the change. Empower designers with the knowledge and tools to develop the skills to understand the effects of their choices and help the supply chain provide safer alternatives. Position your brand among the leaders that go above and beyond compliance, listen to your audience and make it happy, healthy and safe.
Ana Maria Leal