Today government agencies employ scientific tests and risk to assess the dangers associated with exposure to chemicals identified by scientific or public concern. Once exposure to a substance is demonstrated to result in unacceptable levels of harmfulness, agencies draft regulations to restrict the use of those substances. This represents a problem-focused approach to chemicals management. It is suggested here that a parallel approach is needed that focuses less on the characterization of problems and more on the development of solutions. Such a solution-focused approach would eagerly accept the large accumulation of scientific understanding as a basis for designing chemicals that are safer, cleaner and more environmentally compatible. Solution-seeking approaches to chemical and material development would involve designing chemicals that are not only of high performance and cost effective, but also safer and more sustainable.