Systems thinking

Step One: Determine project goals

Designing using systems thinking is most successful when there is a clear project goal and you understand the relationships of the elements and impacts within the systems.

The deliverable for Step One will be a project brief (that excludes possible solutions) that clearly articulates the goal(s) of the project, the considerations that must be followed, who the stakeholders are, and how the project will create positive outcomes for all the stakeholders (including the Earth). To best complete this brief, you should also interview and research the intended audience(s) and stakeholders prior to moving forward (and create user personas).

General goals of a systems thinking project:

  • Eliminate waste
  • Renourish our planet (reparations for nature)
  • Renourish our souls with a beautiful object or service
  • Create reciprocity (a gift that creates an ongoing relationship)
  • Create with, not for – inclusivity
  • Have a purpose, not just profit (improve quality of life)
  • Advocacy for marginalized voices (reparations for others)

To learn more about how to complete Step One, you’ll need the full Toolkit below.

Design to Renourish


We go into much greater detail on how to use systems thinking in our new book “Design to Renourish: Sustainable Graphic Design in Practice.” The book offers solutions to the real life challenges of working with the client to create sustainable work. Through ten case studies that feature interviews with international design teams who embrace a sustainable systems methodology, the reader will gain valuable insights on how to design to renourish.

Learn more

Print & Packaging Design

More and more, print designers are taking small steps along a new, more sustainable path. We’re discovering that small changes become large when multiplied by thousands of other designers making similar decisions.

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UI/UX Design

Creating for the web or mobile device can provide many opportunities to connect, educate, and mobilize. However, it is important to remember that even though paper is not involved, UI/UX work does still have significant environmental and social impacts.

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