With climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no denying the world is changing. Now, many people are starting to appreciate how good they’ve had it and about how they can continue to live the good life in the future.
For their part, countries like Thailand are addressing climate change by shifting to sustainable development that considers its impact on society and the environment. The country's 2018–2037 plan focuses on environmentally friendly growth that fosters a high quality of life. It also aims to educate the public on environmental issues while encouraging businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and create value.
Entrepreneurs and designers — especially those who create everyday lifestyle products — can also be a part of the solution. How? DITP has identified three major areas where businesses can improve their products while also contributing to environment and an improved quality of life.
Economists say the world is running out of resources. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a small shift in thinking, businesses can access even better materials than they have in the past.
That shift is called the circular economy. It takes the product lifecycle and turns it on its head, making the end not the end, but the beginning. So when smart entrepreneurs look at used products, they don’t see waste, but a waste of potential. Why throw out valuable resources when we can turn used items into raw materials and old products into new ones?
The circular economy reduces the resources needed to make new products, shrinks landfills and eases the burden on the planet. With modern innovations, it can also help create more advanced materials than ever before.
The inspiration comes from Mother Earth herself. After all, nature is the most efficient circular production system there is. It always finds a way to put both resources and waste to good use.
In short, the circular economy improves on the old economy in many ways: sustainable materials, sustainable processes, waste reduction, local production, crafts and community. Combined with creative design, these can result in a wide variety of new products that meet the needs of modern consumers while also creating new opportunities for businesses.
Nowadays, good design isn't limited to aesthetics. It’s also about making products that have a positive impact on society and the environment. Thus, circular design is the future of design. Because it not only makes the world better and improves people’s quality of life — it also creates new business opportunities.
Circular design focuses on design that is sustainable, flexible and long-lasting. It's about designing durable products that don’t use many resources but also don’t sacrifice quality. The end-of-life cycle is planned for and products are made of parts that can be recycled or reused, creating endless resources in the system.
Designing with the environment in mind also allows many businesses to work together to create new possibilities. For example, a design firm might work with a material manufacturer and a production specialist to make the best use of their knowledge. The result would be a product that is produced more efficiently, has less impact on the environment, has a longer lifespan and can be reused when the consumer is done with it.
In the past, people seeking progress have often overlooked the local wisdom of traditional communities. But local peoples have much more to offer than you might imagine. The problems that society is just now starting to address — like living sustainably and in harmony with nature — are ones that local people have been good at for millennia.
In each generation, local elders pass valuable knowledge to the next generation and the community’s wisdom grows. Later generations continue these traditions or blend them with new knowledge while still retaining their cultural roots.
Now, with the planet facing an environmental crisis, people are reexamining the natural world and rediscovering local wisdom. And the value of this wisdom only increases when you pair it with modern production techniques and technology, as new products and local economies are developed together.
Across Thailand, learning centers for local wisdom have emerged where local people share their traditions and knowledge. Through storytelling and practical hands-on learning, their wisdom is being passed on to the next generation, including to young designers and entrepreneurs. In the process, local wisdom has become valuable not only to local communities, but also for the sustainable development of the country.