Recycling is Not Enough. Let's Design for Reuse

by Kasturika | | 10 min read

“We live in the age of technology and luxury, but we also live in the age of waste,” Don Norman explains. In this video, the grandfather of User Experience Design, Don Norman unpacks the world of waste we have collectively generated. He examines aspects of our daily lives that we take for granted and sheds light on the consequences of modern life. You’ll learn that we can and should make a difference when we design products. It’s not good enough that we design for recycling. We have to design in a way, so our products can be reused.”

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The Take Away

Modern technology has made our lives more convenient than ever before. We can enjoy grapes grown several thousand miles away and delivered to our doorstep without much effort. Smart devices can set alarms, regulate the temperature of our homes and help us navigate the world around us. However, the systems behind these conveniences—manufacturing, packaging, energy production and transportation—generate massive waste which harms the planet. That’s not good enough. We have to design products that can be reused. It’s not good enough to design for recycling as we most often do today.

References and Where to Learn More

Don Norman elaborates on his statement about the age of waste in his book, Design for a Better World: Meaningful, Sustainable, Humanity Centered.

Additional resources from the book “Design for a Better World” are available at the Resources for DBW website.

Read more articles and essays by Don Norman on

The Zero Waste International Alliance defines a Zero Waste Hierarchy to offer guidance for planning and a way to evaluate proposed solutions to eliminate waste.


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