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Kickstarter Wants Creators to Build Sustainability Into Products, And It’s Showing Them How

Kickstarter might be the place that’s helped crowdfund bizarre oddities like the world’s largest jockstrap and IllumiBowl—the night light for your toilet—but it’s taking seriously its role as a hub for technology and design creators by issuing new guidelines aimed at elevating sustainability in the ideation stages.

Given that the nine-year-old website has launched more than 9,500 tech and design campaigns in the past year that have attracted more than 1 million crowdfunders, moving toward a sustainable, eco-first mindset makes good business sense and helps solve the problems of reuse and recycling upstream rather than downstream.

Partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Kickstarter is encouraging the creators on its platform to consider all aspects of the product lifecycle from cradle to grave—or even better, from cradle to cradle. Environmental Resource Center, available at and developed jointly by the two organizations, offers creators tips and insights on making products that end users can easily repair themselves instead of trashing, for example, or that can be recycled responsibly. In addition to case studies and best practices, the resource center points users to helpful links around the web.

What’s more, Kickstarter is asking creators in the technology and design categories to pledge their commitment to five principles in what amounts to an “important change” in its “core service,” the company said. Creators will be queried about the longevity and durability of their designs; how their products can be reused and recycled; what, if any, sustainable materials are incorporated into their designs; whether environmentally friendly factories were used for production; and sustainable methods of distribution and packaging. Their responses will be published on their project pages in a new section called “Environmental Commitments,” Kickstarter said.

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“We’re committed to helping creators make environmentally conscious decisions, and these new features are our biggest step yet toward fulfilling that commitment,” Kickstarter CEO Perry Chen, said.

This move by Kickstarter dovetails with the growing consumer interest in mindful production, ethical business and sustainable operations. “We’ve seen an increased interest from the public in knowing how products are made and how they’ll impact our planet,” EDF president Fred Krupp said.

“Creators who are thinking innovatively about ways to produce sustainable products will gain an advantage,” he continued. “The Environmental Resource Center is an important new tool for scaling sustainability throughout the entire Kickstarter network —and beyond.”

According to Natalie McKeon, a marketing and communications coordinator for EDF, projects with an eco-friendly angle have historically performed well on Kickstarter. “People come to Kickstarter to support new and innovative ideas, and sustainability is an area where we’ve all seen a lot of innovation recently,” she said. “By offering a framework for thinking about responsible manufacturing, we’re also hoping to introduce some ideas to people who might not have considered making an effort in areas like planning ahead for a product’s end of life.”