The earth and our environment is at its most fragile ever, and the need of a sustainable and effective waste management system has never been so important. Designers are in a crucial position to lessen the negative impacts on the environment by adapting more sustainable and imaginative strategies throughout the entire design process.

Within the last 20 or so years, we have really started to feel the negative impacts of the linear economy, where raw materials are extracted from nature, turned into usable goods, purchased, and then quickly discarded. One of the many ways designers can ensure their work is sustainable is through building a circular economy.

A circular economy involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products if possible. The goal of a circular economy model is to reduce waste and pollution. Whether this is done by sourcing second-hand furniture, restoring old pieces, or simply using recycled materials, it’s crucial in ensuring a space makes a minimal impact on the environment.

A consideration should also be given to the design adaptability, and the capability of the space for it to be used for multiple purposes over the life of the build. This has become especially important in the past 2 years, with workplaces having to adapt to new Covid regulations that require a more flexible workspace. For example, designing a building with movable walls/partitions allows for different users to change the space, minimising the need for new designs and the need for more materials.

Utilizing a sustainable design philosophy encourages decisions at each phase of the design process that will reduce negative impacts on the environment and the health of the occupants, without compromising quality. As we continue to embrace the circular economy, smart and sustainable ways to manage waste will help promote efficient economic growth while minimizing environmental impact.