Here is what we do to give our products long and happy lives. And what we plan to do more of.
In the fashion industry, words like ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ have been in the news for years. Let’s say that you buy a t-shirt. In a fast-fashion world, you wear that t-shirt a couple of times when it’s new and trendy. But after a while, it’s not so trendy anymore. Perhaps it even has a tiny hole in it or is starting to lose its shape. And after stuffing it away in your wardrobe for a year, you throw it away. Not good for your wallet, even worse for the planet.
So slow fashion wants to do the opposite. And we want to do for headphones what slow fashion does to garments: give them the longest possible life in the hands of the consumer. One could call it “Slow sound”.
But to be frank, the consumer electronics industry is still lagging behind when it comes to longevity. Our sustainable design manager Emelie James explains why:
“Probably our industry’s biggest failure has been to develop products and technologies adapted for longer product lifetimes. There are a lot of long-held conventions and a lack of regulation. We feel that we need to do what we can before regulation and all infrastructure is in place. We are devoted to questioning everything about our industry and we hope that other companies and consumers will do the same to ensure a sustainable future.”
Prolonging product lifetime is, roughly put, a story in four parts:
Since the beginning, Urbanears has designed timeless and iconic products that are loved for a long time. But design is so much more than what meets the eye. It is also about making products easy to use, comfortable and loveable so that they fit your lifestyle, wants, and needs.
Our products should look, sound, and feel great. They should be sustainable, without compromising on quality. To make that happen, we are constantly on the hunt for the best possible materials. And if we can’t find it out there, we create it ourselves. Just like we did with the 100% recycled plastic.
Repairability & spare parts
Spare parts are a big focus area for us. Step by step, we are working to standardize spare parts across our portfolio. So if you lose a silicone tip or the charging case for your true wireless earbuds, which can happen to the best of us, you can easily buy a new one. The same goes for the cushions for on- and over-ears. With standardized and modular spare parts, we are ultimately able to prolong the life of our products.
End of life
Last, but not least, we focus on ensuring that the materials used in our products can be reused and recycled again. For electrical products, this is a huge challenge. Today we ensure that we only use a few materials and components that can be separated and recycled. We are also investigating how to improve and speed up the recycling process, e.g. through take-back programs.
What is in the making?
Quite a lot, according to Emelie:
“We’re looking into many exciting things right now. Like more options for repairability and ways of
prolonging battery lifetime, which especially will affect our true wireless headphones.”
And the most exciting part, she concludes, is the consumer engagement.
“Many consumers are interested in repairability and responsible end of life solutions, which we think is really exciting. My experience is that when companies and consumers work together in the same direction, change is likely to happen faster.”