7 Myths About Manufacturing and the Environment

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We’ve all, at one time or another, been faced with Greenwash or Eco-nonsense as certain manufacturers ‘play’ at being eco-conscious. Some of that nonsense sticks, however. Here, Andre Loosemore, A&D Director of Humanscale, dissects some of those myths.

  1. Eco-friendly products don’t look good…

Just not true – good design achieves more with less. Look at progressive companies such as Bureo, who make skateboards, amongst other things, from recycled fishing nets, preventing harmful materials from entering the ocean. And established desirable brands like Stella McCartney, TOMS or Tesla prove that eco-friendly and good looking aren’t mutually exclusive.


2. Consumerism is ok, as long as its green…

In the immortal words of Niels Diffrient, ‘No amount of recycling will equal using less in the first place’. Consumerism is consumerism. The best thing you can do is buy well, buy once.


3. It is impossible for manufacturers to be eco- friendly…

Nonsense. They just have to try. And there are plenty of places to look for guidance – the International Living Future Institute, for example, whose Living Product Challenge aims to make manufacturers the part of the solution for environmental problems.


4. Being eco-conscious is too expensive to be viable in business…

A lot of initiatives designed to reduce impact on our environment will actually save money in the future – installing water collection systems, solar power, recycling materials, reducing materials used in designs etc. Essentially, materials in products can affect the health of people who use them, and they can have serious environmental impact during production. The wellbeing of customers, employees and the planet is worth more than short-term income.


5. Once a product is made, it may as well be landfill already…

The materials available to manufacturers now open up so many opportunities to create quality products that, after a long life, can be disassembled and the parts recycled or re-used.


6. Manufacturing uses a lot of water…

Although it’s a challenge, it’s not impossible. Conscious efforts to improve production processes, material choices and facility practices can reap real rewards. The Net Positive Project is a partnership of non-profits and businesses who believe companies have the potential to positively affect the world, rather than simply reduce negative impact.


7. Manufacturers could never be net positive…

They don’t have to be. A good water collection system, combined with a policy of re-using water in manufacturing processes, could leave you with an excess.