Sustainable Design Consulting
Systems Thinking
Explore and propose more sustainable improvements to current processes, materials, and operations, while considering the client’s needs, limitations, and expectations from its customer base.
As a part of my Collaborative Product Design course, my group had the opportunity to work with outdoor footwear brand Danner to propose ways in which the company could improve its sustainability, specifically in the production of one of their most iconic boots. The client already had some sustainable initiatives in its operations and business model, but was seeking to uncover areas for continuous improvement.
While open to improvements, the client expressed the importance that the product stay true to the style, quality, and reliability for which they are known. They also described having a broad customer base from liberal environmentalists to more conservative blue-collar workers, and wanted to be careful to avoid messaging that could be perceived as political or targeting any particular group.
Our group’s initial assessment involved working with the client to understand their current manufacturing processes, supply chain, and materials used, and determine where there were environmental impacts and areas for improvement. Life cycle assessments and feasibility considerations helped to narrow down areas to prioritize.
Production by far accounted for the biggest impacts and would be a top priority for our recommendations. 
In addition to addressing impacts from production, expanding upon some sustainable processes the company was already doing were secondary priorities, as they could be relatively quick and inexpensive to execute.

After several rounds of ideation, competitive analysis, and refinement, our final recommendations centered around strategies for reducing/repurposing waste. Each idea aimed to expand existing processes with minimal disruption or financial investment, but potential for cost savings or profit.
Recommendations included expanding their existing recrafting services to include more products, reselling returned/recrafted boots that are no longer wanted, and utilizing imperfect leather for a separate line of "imperfect" boots. In addition to increasing the longevity of their products and materials and thus reducing environmental impact, some of these options could create entirely new markets to appeal to more cost-conscious customers.

Sample of a product webpage offering a recrafted option. Presenting this option up front, along with details about the recrafting process, could make customers more aware of recrafting services, as well as make them feel more confident in purchasing a used product.

Back to Top