We are sustainable by design. When every decision matters, sustainability is not a checklist or an after thought.

The Ethics of Design

Re-imagining consumption patterns, behaviors and our culture at large is our ultimate goal. Our commitment to good design is a commitment to design that accounts for its environmental and social impact. We believe sustainability is a framework for understanding our progress as human beings not an appendix to an annual report. We need to be measured by our highest standards and potential. MIO designs products, services and systems that account for our needs and those of the ecosystem, while creating new experiences that cater to our human preference for beauty, pleasure and convenience. Sustaining our needs and those of future generations is not an aspiration; it is part of our process and values. As society evolves and technology improves, we grow our ability to closely mirror nature and integrate our products with the planet. For us sustainability means changing and growing every day, adapting to our needs and technological opportunities to achieve zero impact.

Good Design is Sustainable Design.

True, we’re in the business of creating sustainable products. But our true mission runs deeper: we strive to change the way consumers think about their purchasing decisions.
At MIO, we believe that’s a good place to start. We want sustainability to be something that everyone seeks. In creating responsible consumer desires, we can facilitate the development of a sustainable culture. In the meantime, we’ll continue to leverage our understanding of design, manufacturing and consumption to create responsible products that are both beautiful and affordable.

Sustainable is Beautiful.

MIO products proudly accentuate and reveal the sustainable materials of which they are made. MIO designers consider materials in terms of their function and their aesthetic value. This honest evaluation opens doors; the creative process thrives and innovation emerges when social and environmental constraints are added to the mix. Likewise, local sourcing provides MIO designers with opportunities to innovate right from the production floor. At MIO beauty is the result of efficiency, functionality and greater choice.

Material Solutions.

Every material and process used in the creation of a MIO product is evaluated in terms of sustainability and social responsibility. Materials that fit into closed loop manufacturing systems are a priority, as are renewable resources such as felt and cork. Manufacturer selection is based on their labor conditions and practices, commitment to efficiency and innovation, as well as geographic location.

Similarly, material selection is based on recyclability via existing infrastructures or ability to fit into natural cycles and processes. Products are designed for disassembly so that the recyclable and biodegradable components can be easily separated. Finally, MIO designs products that encourage conservation, or active sustainability, throughout their entire lifecycles — not just during their creation and end of life. We continually invest in new ways of closing material cycles and reducing the impact of our operation and our products.

Accessible Ideas.

At MIO, accessibility and sustainability go hand-in-hand. Tools for greener living have to be attainable to as many people as possible. Each person has a footprint; the more footprints MIO can reduce, the lesser their environmental impact. Manufacturing products locally whenever possible engages MIO with the local economy and keeps their prices reasonable, thanks to innovative design and reduced energy, transportation, warehousing, and packaging costs.

Context is Everything.

Every design solution we create addresses specific behaviors, places and market conditions, enabling us to have a real impact. We design products that are functional, culturally engaged and user-centered. Our customers inspire our design process and inform our research. Understanding and predicting the future guides our designers and our company.

Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in businesses at all times.
- John Gerzema

Sustainability Dictionary

Sometimes jargon gets in the way of clarity. Below are some key terms we use often that relate to our products and sustainability. If you don’t find what you are looking for or if you have a question about our process or products contact us!


A “biodegradable” product has the ability to break down, safely and relatively quickly, by biological means, into the raw materials of nature and disappear into the environment.  These products can be solids biodegrading into the soil (which we also refer to as compostable), or liquids biodegrading into water.


Chain of Custody (COC) Certificate

Chain of custody certification provides a guarantee about the production of FSC-certified products. Chain-of-custody is the path taken by raw materials from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution.


Closed Loop Manufacturing

In the context of sustainability, closed loop manufacturing refers to production processes wherein no waste is emitted; all resources can be put back into the production process. Although there are very few examples of completely waste-free manufacturing, the paper molding industry works on this principle by recycling the water used in the molding process and the paper products that are not to specifications. This eliminates most of the water and paper waste from the production process.



A product that is “compostable” is one that can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials, and eventually turns into a nutrient-rich material.  It is almost synonymous with “biodegradable”, except it is limited to solid materials and does not refer to liquids.



The customization and/or personalization of products or services through interaction between a company and the customer. A company is customerized when it is able to establish a dialogue with individual customers and respond by customizing its products, services, and messages on demand.


Design Aikido

The use of existing infrastructure and resources with built-in environmental and social advantages to create alternative markets to incentivize material, process and behavioral changes.


Eco-centric Design

Design that is primarily guided by environmental goals above ego or artificial aesthetic constraints set by the designer. Design that embraces the economic and practical constraints of materials, processes and technology without sacrificing eco-efficiency.



The term was coined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in its 1992 publication “Changing Course”. It is based on the concept of creating more goods and services while using fewer resources and creating less waste and pollution. According to the WBCSD definition, eco-efficiency is achieved through the delivery of “competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life while progressively reducing environmental impacts of goods and resource intensity throughout the entire life-cycle to a level at least in line with the Earth’s estimated carrying capacity.” This concept describes a vision for the production of economically valuable goods and services while reducing the ecological impacts of production. In other words eco-efficiency means producing more with less.



Environmentally progressive design features provided in surprising and unexpected ways that enhance the experience of products and services, elevating function and affordances from expected goal to illusory feat. Design experiences that achieve environmental goals as if through supernatural powers, fitting perfectly into context and with unexpected elements of surprise and delight for the audience.


Ecological Footprint

An analytical approach to measuring human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems and natural resources. It compares human consumption of natural resources with planet Earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate them. It is an estimate of the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render harmless the corresponding waste, given prevailing technology and current understanding. Using this assessment, it is possible to estimate how many planet Earths it would take to support humanity if everybody lived a given lifestyle. While the ecological footprint term is widely used, methods of measurement vary quantitatively.


Embodied Energy

Refers to the quantity of energy required to manufacture, and supply to the point of use, a product, material or service. Traditionally considered, embodied energy is an accounting methodology which aims to find the sum total of the energy necessary – from the raw material extraction, to transport, manufacturing, assembly, installation as well as the capital and other costs of a specific material – to produce a service or product and finally its disassembly, deconstruction and/or decompostion.

Fair Trade

A commitment to social justice in which employees and farmers are treated and paid fairly, sustainable environmental practices are followed and long-term trade relationships are fostered. A term used to describe a social-responsibility movement demanding that producers receive fair prices for their products; also used to describe products that are made by these producers.


Forest Management (FM) Certificate

Forest management certification involves an inspection of the forest management unit by an independent FSC-accredited certification body to check that the forest complies with the internationally-agreed FSC Principles of Responsible Forest Management.

If the forest complies with FSC standards, then the FSC accredited certification body issues a certificate for the operation. Certified forest operations can claim the forest products they produce come from a responsibly managed forest. Before a certified forest operation can sell their products as FSC certified, they must also obtain chain of custody certification (FM/COC).


Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organization that brings people together to find solutions that promote responsible stewardship of the world’s forests. There are two types of FSC certificates available from certification bodies: Forest Management (FM) Certificate and Chain of Custody (COC) Certificate.


Ideal Solution Paralysis

State of indecision on how to address current environmental and social challenges in which individuals and companies decide to wait until they can afford -or believe that they will be able to implement- theoretically perfect solutions.


Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)

An examination, like an audit, of the total impact of a product or service’s manufacturing, use, and disposal in terms of material and energy. This includes an analysis and inventory of all parts, materials, and energy, and their impacts in the manufacturing of a product but usually doesn’t include social impacts.


Positive Consumption

The act of consuming goods to satisfy needs in a manner which incentivizes economic, scientific and cultural progress towards reducing or eliminating the impact of the consumed goods.


Post-consumer Waste

Is a type of waste produced by the end consumer of a material stream; that is, where the waste-producing use did not involve the production of another product.


Pre-consumer Waste

Is the reintroduction of manufacturing scrap (such as trimmings from paper production, defective aluminum cans, etc.) back into the manufacturing process. Pre-consumer waste is commonly used in manufacturing industries, and is often not considered recycling in the traditional sense.



Products that educate their users about their origins, manufacturing processes, recycling, re-use or safe disposal through their design and user experience.


Renewable Resource

A natural resource qualifies as a renewable resource if it is replenished by natural processes at a rate comparable or faster than its rate of consumption by humans or other users. Resources such as solar radiation, tides, and winds are perpetual resources that are in no danger of being used in excess of their long-term availability.


Responsible Desire

Philosophy of fostering awareness and the adoption of sustainability through design and desire. Surprise and delight that engages customers on beauty and function rather than guilt and fear.


Snack Factor

Design detail that completes a product or makes it stand out and attracts the eye of the user, exciting them about the design. Brightly colored stripes, a beautifully crafted piece of hardware or special textures are all good examples of a Snack Factor.


Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)

Are organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the atmosphere. A wide range of carbon-based molecules, such as aldehydes, ketones, and other light hydrocarbons are VOCs. VOCs are sometimes accidentally released into the environment, where they can damage soil and groundwater. Vapors of VOCs escaping into the air contribute to air pollution. Many VOCs found around the house, such as paint strippers and wood preservatives, contribute to sick building syndrome because of their high vapor pressure. VOC’s are often used in paint, carpet backing, plastics, and cosmetics. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found concentrations of VOCs in indoor air to be 2 to 5 times greater than in outdoor air. During certain activities indoor levels of VOCs may reach 1,000 times that of the outside air. Not all organic compounds are volatile; many plastics (polymers) and other large molecules may not have significant vapor pressure at normal temperatures.