Extraction, processing and final disposal of primary resources is responsible for a major share of global environmental burdens, many of which are already beyond safe limits today. Design is pivotal for defining the quality and quantity of resources that are required as an input to produce a product (or service) as well as the generated output by it's use and final disposal. In order to improve the environmental performance of our society, it is therefore essential to provide adequate design guidance. To this end, we present in this paper the resource pressure method allowing to reduce the pressure on primary resources, and therewith on planet Earth, through circular strategies. This resource pressure is calculated out of six design parameters: mass in product, product lifetime, manufacturing losses, primary material content, recyclability and cascadability. The method enables a straightforward quantitative assessment of design decisions and offers clear guidance during the design phase. We further derive qualitative guidelines with the objective to provide direction during design conception. A first application on a heat exchanger illustrates the advantages as well as the further development potential of the method. In comparison to the results from a life cycle assessment study of this case study, it could be seen that the resource pressure method guides towards reducing the overall environmental impacts.