"Down with the throw away economy!"
- the founders of Gerrard Street
Believe it or not, this is is a set of headphones!
Hope you've had a nice week.
A warm welcome to our new subscribers: Susan E, Selina, Susan O, Gregg, Mirka, Jooyuhn, Simon, Mandy, Amam, Chanele, Donna, Tanja, Astrid, Pavan, Jelena and Jessica.
This Sunday newsletter touches on sustainability-related topics in a (hopefully) entertaining and edifying way. We have a newsletter archive with all the back issues in case you want to learn about the history of fast fashion or understand what the term "Cradle to Cradle" *actually* means (possibly a good one to re-read ahead of today's newsletter).
Gerrard St headphones in action.
Some of you may recall that we looked at the impact of e-waste (phones, TVs, computers, and peripherals such as printers, keyboards) a few Sundays ago. Well today, given that e-waste is the world's fastest growing domestic waste stream, we'll continue on that theme.
A concrete example of circular design: Gerrard Street
Industrial designers Tom Leenders and Dorus Galama, along with third co-founder Yvette Koppert are behind the Dutch brand Gerrard Street.
Initially they hoped to develop a modular TV but eventually settled on headphones. The trio learned through focus groups that many consumers experienced similar frustrations when it came to their electronics: people do want to purchase premium products (headphones in this case) but are always nervous of doling out wads of their hard-earned £ / € / $ / ¥ / ₹ when a small part can so easily become damaged... and *poof* their product becomes useless. Ouch.
The 7Rs - a great way to approach modern product design. Image source: Bios Urn
Modular design & rethinking ownership
The trio have reimagined our relationship with tech products: why not assemble devices ourselves? Why not simply swap out parts for easy repair if something goes wrong?
In an age of increasingly inaccessible product design, this approach is known as "modular design" and I think it's a fantastic way of designing and manufacturing products.
"Modular design" is a key aspect of circular product design as outlined in the "7R" approach, above, touching on reduce, repair, reuse and refurbish.
Furthermore, not only have the trio have reimagined the construction of our gadgets, but they're also turning the idea of ownership on its head through their subscription model: customers lease their headphones for as little as 10€ / month.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation - the organisation spearheading all things circular economy - has profiled Gerrard Street and their approach. According to the foundation, Gerrard Street products tick the circular boxes for the following reasons:
1) The modular design allows 85% of all components to be reused
2) The headphones use durable, standardised designs, which results in the use of fewer virgin materials (vs. designing custom parts)
3) The subscription model allows the company to recover and recycle the headphones at the end of their life, taking the hassle out of the customer's hands (and also the risk that they won't be properly recycled).
Today is a brief newsletter (some you breathe a sigh of relief, I'm sure!) as I am currently at the Spirit of Summer fair in central London.
But if you'd like to read more, here are some links:
Gerrard Street: website here.
InsideHook: France's new repairability law could change your tech for good.
BBC: The country rejecting throw away culture.
I hope you've enjoyed learning about a different way to make and sell products, and that it has you a-pondering!
Bye for now,
LUXTRA Founder | Circular Design Fan | Proud B Corp-er