Thoughtful design leads to thoughtful consumption. The DFL vision compels designers and manufacturers to set high standards for both the lifecycle of the product and the way the company operates to support long lasting products and policies that combat obsolescence. This means being transparent and accountable from the outset, while continuing to take pro-active steps that lead to true, meaningful, and measurable results in protecting our planet.

Thoughtful design leads to thoughtful consumption. The DFL vision compels designers and manufacturers to set high standards for both the lifecycle of the product and the way the company operates to support long lasting products and policies that combat obsolescence. This means being transparent and accountable from the outset, while continuing to take pro-active steps that lead to true, meaningful, and measurable results in protecting our planet.

The vision of DFL is to bring about thoughtful consumer consumption en masse, but that starts with thoughtful industrial consumption as well. The Sustainable Tenet is about holding companies accountable for their consumption as they are encouraging consumers to be more mindful of theirs. Industrial consumption is about the materials, inputs, and energy going into the production of the product. This is not just the actual materials the product is physically made of, but all elements that go into its manufacturing, delivery, and maintenance. These include water use, the type of energy used to power the manufacturing facility, warehouses, office and retail facilities, delivery methods, and warranty/return pathways. It includes the entire supply chain which today can stretch across the globe and back.

Photo by Andy Li on Unsplash

To produce one jar of eye cream, one of the top beauty companies in the world can have their bottle manufactured in Asia, the raw materials sourced from India, the serum produced and packaged in England and then shipped all over the world directly to consumers, or perhaps distributed through myriad retail partners. This means that to understand the environmental impact we need to look at the energy source, water usage, and workforce conditions for the bottle manufacturer in China, and consider the packaging materials and mode of transportation the empty bottles take to England. We also need to consider the land usage, growing, and harvesting practices for the active ingredients from India and again the shipping methods, packaging etc. In England we need to consider the final consumer packaging and the environmental impact of the facility there, labor/diversity/workforce conditions there, not to mention the selected shipping methods, the number of stops they have to take on their journey to distribution centers, 3rd party retailers and finally to the consumer’s home. And the whole time we should be thinking about the energy use for the corperate office in New York. Oh, and let’s make sure the R&D labs are using ethical testing practices…It is truly mind boggling and exhausting to go to such great lengths. It cannot be done overnight, and we cannot be overwhelmed by the challenge. We must simply “eat the elephant” one bite at a time.

In this modern, globalized economy companies have been compelled to stay competitive by resorting to global supply chain solutions. We need to understand that we are not looking for right or wrong solutions…we are looking for efficient and sustainable ones—based not only on the bottom line, but on the natural capital we are taking from the earth and its people as we operate as well. We need to be aware of our actions and how they impact the world we live in. At Lovesac , we split our manufacturing processes between the U.S, Vietnam, China, Malasia, Indonesia, India, Taiwan, and others as well. We are aware of the complexity of our operations, our carbon footprint and the pros & cons that our decision have. However, our DFL ethos and our commitment to stand by it, has us us actively exploring ways of improving every step of the process, from the raw materials we use, to how we deliver our products to customers. We choose to believe that there is always a more sustainable way of doing things and we are committed to making vast improvements. We envision a day when our products will largely be manufactured regionally—closer to their intended consumer, staffed by that consumers peers, utilizing mostly sustainable forms of energy and recycled or recyclable raw materials. That is our goal.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

At the same time, we grew up as a boot-strap entrepreneurial endeavor, manufacturing product ourselves from the outset and mindful of every penny, so we know that there is the constraint of reality. We know that given the infrastructure and norms already in place, it is impossible to be perfect and profitable. It is hard enough just to be able to collect all of the data to measure one’s impact, let alone improve it. That’s why this tenant is also about transparency, accountability, and progress over time. A company who wants to create a DFL product will be looking to use sustainable inputs, but they will also be looking at sustainable supply chains and business practices, and committed to making headway in each of these areas with each passing year. They will be looking to measure their environmental impact and they will be looking to lessen their impact in meaningful ways. Not only being less impactful than their industry peers, which is important, but continuously trying to innovate, evolve, and be better in every step of the way just on principle—even when to do so may not be the absolute best decision from a short-term profitability standpoint. There must be faith placed in the notion that over the long term, the ever more conscious consumer will reward committed companies with the business.

For DFL the sustainable tenet represents the commitment from leaders of companies, leaders within companies, and designers to actively think and define their sustainability strategies and goals. It is not just about choosing natural or recyclable materials but rather about planning and leading the way for higher sustainability related standards for the company, always being proactive about pursuing innovative new ways to approach each key business process and policy. In this way, you not only positively impact the world we live in, but you support the growth of the company and increase its competitiveness in a world that will ever increasingly appreciate sustainable practices. It is known that sustainable strategies can support both the short-term and the long-term growth of companies.

Finally, from a product standpoint sustainability contributes to an extended lifecycle of a product, which is why this tenet belongs to the Build to Last design principle. Focusing on sustainable solutions from the concept of a new product to the final step of delivery to customers, to its end-of-life plan, allows designers and business leaders to be thoughtful about their product and address potential future obstacles in a proactive and planful way. This reduces the possibility of future risk to the company—some of which may be unknown or irrelevant today. By choosing third party stakeholders more carefully, by heading off legal complications by seeking out more responsible methods of manufacturing, or even by simply choosing materials that won’t require as much manufacturing retooling, or designing products in thoughtful ways that can avoid specification changes for many years to come, we can actively build a sustainable future for our company and the products we manufacture and use. Sustainability is best demonstrated when we base our decisions on thoughtful and considerate points that support the longevity of the product and our planet. Thoughtful decisions of companies lead to more thoughtful consumption from customers—even if the consumer remains aloof. While companies focus on the future of their organizations, conscious customers will focus on supporting these companies by selecting products that speak to them and benefit the environment. As consciously-made products become more competitive in their realm, all firms and designers are then compelled to follow suit, and even aloof consumers will ultimately have no choice to but to utilize products that are designed and made better, and more sustainably. DFL believes in this holistic, reinforcing loop of companies and consumers supporting each other for the good of each stakeholder and for the greater good of the planet.


About Shawn

Founder & CEO of Lovesac, a Designed for Life furniture company. I have a goal of building products that are truly sustainable. Would you believe, I won a $1 million investment on Fox’s “Rebel Billionaire” show in 2005 and became President of Virgin Worldwide with Richard Branson’s companies for a time. Since then, I'm growing Lovesac to a 65+ store chain, recognized in Furniture Today as America’s fastest growing furniture retailer. I'm becoming known for my invention of Sactionals® Lovesac’s industry-disruptive sofa invention. Check out my vlog on YouTube! Get Off The Couch, with Shawn Nelson of Lovesac

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