Sustainable Product Design is effectively combining solutions that address environmental issues while elevating user experience and achieving success in the marketplace. A closer look at the effectiveness of sustainability strategies in the design process reveals that some of the best efforts in this area do not yield the benefits promised. Examples of these shortcomings include product operation with unnecessary features that push performance beyond environmentally friendly levels, products made out of recyclable materials that still end up in landfills and consumers that do not connect sustainable lifestyles to the products they use.

An effective model for consistent benefits in sustainable product design begins with making the right choices for materials, processes and manufacturing so that products have an innately low environmental footprint. Then an understanding of the product lifecycle within a circular economy context ensures that steps such as recyclability and reuse are not ignored as products go through iterative cycles of fabrication, use and repurposing. Lastly, promoting positive user behavior so that products are enjoyable and meaningful enablers of short and long-term sustainable benefits. By having these strategies working together as a multi-layered approach, all stakeholders in a given product’s lifecycle will consistently make choices that result in sustainable advantages.

Publication Date



This is a Pre-Print of a book chapter published by Routledge in Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design in 2017, available online: https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-Handbook-of-Sustainable-Product-Design/Chapman/p/book/9781138910171

Document Type

Book Chapter

Department, Program, or Center

School of Design (CIAS)


RIT – Main Campus