How many companies can you think of that launched 9,500 products over the past year? That's the amount that appeared on Kickstarter over that period of time—and in the "Design & Technology" section alone. The company has essentially mastered a method for allowing entrepreneurial designers to realize their visions; now, in a nod to their sheer scale, Kickstarter is focusing on ensuring that they enable goods that are environmentally sound.
To do this they've formed a freely-accessible information hub called the Environmental Resource Center, created in conjunction with the Environmental Defense Fund.
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The Environmental Resource Center, at kickstarter.com/environment, presents case studies and best practices from industry experts on how to assess, adopt, and communicate sustainability efforts. With a digestible format and pointers to information around the web, the Center will serve as a starting point for research.
The Resource Center features tips like these:
- Consider how your product can be repaired if it breaks: "Make disassembly easy by choosing screws to bind parts instead of glue, for example."
- Design your product with recycling in mind: "Black plastics aren't usually seen by optical recycling sorting systems, causing them to end up in landfills."
- Think carefully about your packaging: "Use sustainable filling materials like organic starch cushioning, instead of styrofoam."
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Kickstarter is also implementing an important change to their core service, to get would-be Kickstartees thinking about environmental issues from the get-go. "When creators are getting ready to launch design and technology projects," the company explains, "Kickstarter will ask them to commit to reducing their environmental impact in five key areas: long-lasting design, reusability and recyclability, sustainable materials, environmentally friendly factories, and sustainable distribution. Their responses will appear in a new 'Environmental Commitments' section of their project pages."
The team behind Transparent Speaker ensures that its manufacturers work with the best available standards and initiatives for labor rights and environmental management, including Global Compact and ISO 14001. They also work with manufacturers to set up a less monotonous working environment, which provides a better working experience for assembly line employees and produces a better product overall.
Initiatives like these are what can happen when an organization is a PBC, or Public Benefit Corporation, rather than a mere traditional corporation whose sole purpose is to enrich shareholders. "As a Public Benefit Corporation, Kickstarter is obligated to consider the impact of its decisions on society, not just on shareholders," says Perry Chen, Kickstarter's Chairman and CEO. "We're committed to helping creators make environmentally conscious decisions, and these new features are our biggest step yet toward fulfilling that commitment."
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Whether you're planning a Kickstarter campaign or not, be sure to check out their Environmental Resource Center. It will make you a more informed designer--or consumer.
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The Environmental Commitments feature is available now for design and technology projects in the US, Canada, and Mexico, and will expand to other countries in the coming months.