A real shift in thinking is needed, beyond our Prii and eco-conscious materials.
Leyla Acaroglu makes the point that it's not just what goes into the materials a product is made from. Thinking about how the product will be used and how that usage will make an impact en masse is just as important a design element.
For instance, an electric tea kettle:
"But this is the thing, right? This is what I call a product-person failure. But we've got a product-system failure going on with these little guys, and they're so ubiquitous, you don't even notice they're there.
And this guy over here, though, he does. He's named Simon. Simon works for the national electricity company in the U.K. He has a very important job of monitoring all of the electricity coming into the system to make sure there is enough so it powers everybody's homes. He's also watching television. The reason he is because there's a unique phenomenon that happens in the U.K. the moment that very popular TV shows end. The minute the ad break comes on, this man has to rush to buy nuclear power from France because everybody turns their kettles on at the same time.
1.5 million kettles, seriously problematic. So imagine if you designed kettles, you actually found a way to solve these system failures because this is a huge amount of pressure on the system just because the product hasn't thought about the problem that it's going to have when it exists in the world. Now, I looked at a number of kettles available on the market and found the minimum fill lines. So the little piece of information that tells you how much you need to put in there was between two and a five-and-a-half cups of water just to make one cup of tea. So this kettle here is an example of one where it actually has two ... reservoirs. One's a boiling chamber, and one's the water holder. The user actually has to push that button to get their hot water boiled, which means — because we're all lazy — you only fill exactly what you need.
And this is what I call behavior-changing products: products, systems, or services that intervene and solve these problems up front."