The green innovation generation
Stina Behrens is a graduate of the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm. A few years ago, she and her classmates were frustrated about the lack of sustainability in industry, so they set about changing it.
After graduating, Behrens joined the board of Cradle Net, a national multidisciplinary network working to implement and spread information about the circular economy. Now she is employed by the design agency Transformator as a service designer. Through service design, the agency helps companies change the way they work from traditional to innovative new methods. In the last few years, Transformator and its contemporaries have seen a growing number of major companies interested in sustainability.
‘We see a great amount of potential in helping large companies move towards a circular economy,’ Behrens says. ‘We can help by moving to completely new consumption models. Right now, some really big companies are rethinking how they do business.’
Changing consumer behaviour
This approach focuses on service as much as on the products themselves. If things have to be scrapped they can be recycled, but it is also a question of consumer behaviour; the key to a sustainable economy is changing how people meet their consumer needs. This means that every product has a mapped life cycle, and that customers become users rather than owners. In 2015, the Swedish Government even made the circular economy part of its annual address to parliament.
The key to a sustainable economy is changing how people meet their consumer needs
‘When I came to design, I was very interested in the world around me and in ideas of social sustainability, and that guided me,’ Behrens says.
Several of her classmates are now working in similar roles, and one has started an environmental design consultancy to help green the economy, Beteendelabbet, ‘the behaviour lab’, changing how people consume products.
Towards a circular economy
Behrens belongs to a generation of young people who have made sustainability their professional work. Swedish universities are now even obliged by law to integrate sustainable development into their curriculum, from literature to finance.
‘This is an area where Sweden can take a leading role in moving to a more sustainable circular economy,’ Behrens says. ‘We’re ready.’
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