Designing for a Circular Future: How Product Designers Can Contribute to a Sustainable Digital Economy

Arash Ranjbaran Qadikolaei
2 min readJan 16, 2023

As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s more important than ever to consider the environmental impact of our products. One way to do this is by designing for a circular economy, which aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them before recovering and regenerating them.

As a product designer, there are several ways you can contribute to the circular economy in your work. Here are a few examples:

  • Design for repair and upgrade: Instead of designing products that are difficult or impossible to repair, try to make it as easy as possible for users to fix and upgrade their devices. This can include using modular design, making it easy to access internal components, and using standard, widely available parts.
  • Use sustainable materials: Instead of using materials that are harmful to the environment, such as plastic or PVC, try to use more sustainable options like bamboo, cork, or recycled materials.
  • Consider end-of-life disposal: When a product reaches the end of its life, it’s important to consider how it will be disposed of. Designing products that are easy to recycle or compost can help reduce the environmental impact of disposal.
  • Encourage sharing and renting: Instead of encouraging users to buy new products, consider designing products that can be shared or rented. This can help reduce the environmental impact of production, as well as help users save money.
  • Think about the entire lifecycle: When designing a product, it’s important to consider the entire lifecycle of the product, from raw materials to disposal.

As a product designer, you have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment by designing for a circular economy. By considering the entire lifecycle of your products, using sustainable materials, and encouraging repair, sharing and renting, you can help create a more sustainable digital future for all.

Remember that, as a product designer you are in a very privileged position, because you can influence the way that the products are designed and manufactured, which can have a huge impact on the environment and the society.