Can crowdfunding become more sustainable? A company thinks so.
Crowdfunding sustainable projects is not something new on the horizon. But can crowdfunding itself become more sustainable? Kickstarter, one of the largest crowdfunding platforms, has set out to explore this challenge.
The company is famous for its sustainability efforts, being a certified Benefit Corporation and providing its employees with food cultivated in gardens on top of its office building. It’s also been home to some famous sustainable products such as home ecosystem EcoGarden, reusable and collapsable FinalStraw, as well as water-saving Nebia Shower, among over 340 other “go-green” innovations.
Yet this time Kickstarter is aiming for something bigger. Recently, the platform rolled out a number of new features that encourage designers and developers to consider sustainability from the very start. The strategy works in three ways: developer guidelines, application forms, and product landing page.
First come the developer guidelines, which provide tips and best practices for designers on incorporating green considerations into their projects. Developed together with the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, the guidelines cover features like product durability and repairability, material choices and their sourcing, as well as maximizing products’ positive impacts and minimizing their negative ones throughout their lifecycle.
The outcome of using these guidelines comes in handy at the next stage: filling in the application form, which now features special fields regarding product sustainability. “We are touching them (developers) at a really interesting point, where we have an opportunity to influence the path they go down,” explains Heather Corcoran, Kickstarter’s outreach lead for design and technology.
All this transforms into the landing page for the product on the Kickstarter website, part of which is now specifically dedicated to sustainability, allowing potential supporters to make more conscious and responsible choices.
These choices are based on considerations such as these: How do you package a product? Are there any toxic or scarce materials used at any stage? Do your employees get a fair wage? And how do you handle the product at the end of its lifespan? All of these issues matter and even if you don’t tell, people could still find out.
While the described features are not obligatory, Kickstarter managers hope that such incentives will help move sustainability from a niche treat to something more of a standard or norm, to which all new products featured on the platform will adhere.