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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Kickstarter, EDF Partner to Push for Better Product Development

Kickstarter PBC and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today unveiled new features on Kickstarter aimed at helping innovators evaluate and reduce the environmental impact of their products from the concept stage.

Kickstarter and EDF worked together to develop an information hub called the Environmental Resource Center, as well as a space where project creators are asked to publicly commit to environmental practices. These features will help thousands of people create sustainable products by embedding environmental considerations into the early planning stages.

“As a Public Benefit Corporation, Kickstarter is obligated to consider the impact of its decisions on society, not just on shareholders,” said 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.”

EDF Climate Corps is a fellowship program that empowers and connects environmental professionals with leading companies to help accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.

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Kickstarter staff worked with an Climate Corps fellow Alexandra Criscuolo over the last nine months to conceptualize and develop the new features.

The Environmental Resource Center 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 other new feature is an important change to Kickstarter’s core service. When creators are getting ready to launch design and technology projects, Kickstarter will now ask them to commit to reducing their environmental impact in five key areas, and log their responses in a new “Environmental Commitments” section of their project pages. The Environmental Resource Center outlines the five critical elements creators must consider when planning their creation, and offers examples of previous Kickstarter-funded projects that successfully incorporated most of them:

  • Long-lasting design — ex: EcoTruck, a toy made with a 300 percent heavier-gauge material than comparable toys for maximum durability and longevity.
  • Reusability and recyclability — ex: The Vamp, which transforms old, end-of-life speakers into great-sounding, portable Bluetooth speakers.
  • Sustainable materials — ex: Bureo, which makes skateboard decks and sunglasses out of recycled fishnets; HuskeeCup, which makes reusable mugs from husk waste material from the production of coffee; and Genusee, which has turned Flint, Michigan’s overabundance of recycled water bottles into eyewear.
  • Environmentally friendly factories — ex: Transparent Speaker, which 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.
  • Sustainable fulfillment and distribution — the guide urges product creators to consider for example, all of the CO2 emitted by the trucks, ships, and planes that will bring their creations to someone’s doorstep.

These features will reach thousands of people who are on the path to making a product, as well as the people who choose to support them. Over the past year, 9,500 design and technology projects were launched on Kickstarter, attracting more than a million supporters.

“We’ve seen an increased interest from the public in knowing how products are made and how they'll impact our planet. Creators who are thinking innovatively about ways to produce sustainable products will gain an advantage,” said EDF president Fred Krupp. “The Environmental Resource Center is an important new tool for scaling sustainability throughout the entire Kickstarter network — and beyond.”

The Resource Center features tips such as:

  • 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.”

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.


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