New Features on Kickstarter Encourage Creators to Think Green

People People’s Transparent Speaker is designed to be repairable and recyclable.

Here at Kickstarter we’re in a unique position when it comes to environmental awareness. Our creators may have a vision for a new piece of technology or design, but they may not know a lot about manufacturing, much less environmentally responsible manufacturing. We can help get them thinking about sustainability at exactly the right time.

To do that, we teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund. A fellow from the EDF’s Climate Corps program, Alexandra Crisculo, worked with us over the past nine months to develop two features that we are launching today.

We’re introducing a new way that Kickstarter creators can detail their commitments to considering the environment as they make and ship their projects. When creators are building their project, they will be asked if they can commit to reducing its environmental impact in five key areas: long-lasting design, reusability and recyclability, sustainable materials, environmentally friendly factories, and sustainable distribution.

Making these commitments is voluntary, but we expect that creators will welcome the opportunity to tell potential backers about the work they’ve done and plan to do in these areas. Backers may also choose to support creators whose commitments align with their values.

The Environmental Commitments feature is available now to creators in the US, Canada, and Mexico who are launching projects in the Design and Technology categories. We’ll bring it to more countries in the coming months, and we hope to expand it to more categories as well.

We’re also launching an Environmental Resource Center that is the first such guide aimed at people and teams in the early stages of creating a new product. We compiled it by talking to industry experts and summarizing what’s out there already. It’s meant to be a starting point for research by our creators — or anyone else who might find it useful.

The Resource Center features tips like:

  • Consider how your product can be repaired if it breaks: “Make disassembly easy by choosing screws to bind parts instead of glue, for example.”
  • Design your product with recycling in mind: “Black plastics aren’t usually seen by optical recycling sorting systems, causing them to end up in landfills.”
  • Think carefully about your packaging: “Use sustainable filling materials like organic starch cushioning, instead of styrofoam.”

With resources like this, independent creators who are starting their manufacturing journey from scratch have the chance to forge a new path entirely. Those creators have more influence than you might think in helping shift our culture away from practices that damage the environment. They can demonstrate that making and shipping products in a more conscientious way is not only possible, but can also bring them greater public support. And if a creator’s project turns into a company, we hope that these environmental practices stick with them over time.

EcoTruck is made with heavier-gauge material than comparable toys for maximum longevity.

In the charter we adopted when we became a Public Benefit Corporation, Kickstarter commits to helping creators “make environmentally conscious decisions on tasks that are common to the use of its services.” We’re happy to be taking our most significant step toward fulfilling this commitment.

In developing these features we were inspired by a number of projects and people, particularly Kickstarter creators like Martin Willers of the studio People People’s Transparent Speaker and Annie Nyborg, Director of Sustainability at Peak Design. Fairphone’s mission and goals served as an inspiration for our own framework. We’re also very grateful to EDF for their help.

—Heather Corcoran and Danny White