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Category: The Body Shop

  1. Being an ethical business

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    Giving back 1 

     

    It’s my company's birthday.  My little business is 16!   The perfect time to have a fresh look at my company giving and I’ve decided to make some changes and it's also a time to reflect and show gratitude.

    My job at The Body Shop HQ had come to an amicable end and thanks to Anita’s influence - we were made to feel empowered and encouraged to pursue our own business ideas.

    When I left The Body Shop HQ 16 years ago, I really didn’t have a clear plan at all for Materialise Interiors - just that the name was based on my keen interest in materials - and my love for designing spaces that were beautiful and long lasting.  Sustainable design and ethical business were just so obvious to me that I didn’t think to shout about or promote them.  They were just normal to me.

     

    I knew I loved using design to problem solve.

    I knew I wanted to work more in my hometown of Brighton which I’d been busy commuting away from to London each day - and flying away from to our trial projects and shopfit factories globally. 

     

    What I didn’t know was just how much influence the company had had on how I work - how different that was to life outside - and how I’d would go on to desperately want to have an influence on my industry to do better in line with what I'd learnt at The Body Shop.

    So it’s my company birthday.  I’m loving helping my clients achieve lower impact but still beautiful projects and I’m loving being an ethical business on a micro scale.  It feels more than just work.  I really enjoy helping my clients - many of you will be reading this!  Thank you for using my services and for supporting a small business.  

    I wanted to make some changes. I don’t just want to be another business saying broadly “I give away a portion of my profit to charities.”  I might not be large enough to be a B Corp but I still want to give back and be accountable.  I was previously donating 5% of profit a year - and at the beginning of this financial year in April I decided to increase donations to 5% of gross sales (turnover) a year.  I review my giving each year on my company birthday and at the financial year end.   You can read more about who I support on my Ethics Statement

     

    MICRO-FINANCE LENDING   For many years I’ve enjoyed helping micro-finance loans to small businesses in developing countries via Lend With Care and am now up to 37 loans.

    CARBON OFFSETTING 

    COOKSTOVES  Offsetting carbon emissions is important, but addressing reduction of them is vital. I love planting trees but have learnt there’s other excellent ways to offset carbon - including providing cookstoves to developing countries.  Cookstoves are more efficient and safer to use than burning wood.  They decrease the use of wood by around 70%.  This reduces carbon emissions by around 2 tonnes per family per year and also leads to reduced smoke & an improved living environment.  In this way, forest areas are protected and women spend less time & energy collecting wood.  I'm glad to report so far this financial tear my donations this year so far have offset 7 tonnes of Co2.

    TREES    I’ve still planted more trees as well.... taking my total to 1,992 trees .  My favourite planting project is that of Jane Goodall Institute and One Tree Planted - working to help the habitat of chimpanzees in the Albertine Rift forests in Uganda. 

     

    The extra tree news is - I’ve joined the MILLION TREE PLEDGE.  My tree total has been added to the Million Tree Pledge total. This pledge is proof that micro companies like mine can make a difference.  The small action of joining together has a significant group impact.  I’m in great company  too- here’s the other Pledgers.  Let me know if you want to join up too!

     

    My ongoing tree donation commitment… 

    -  At least 25 trees are planted for each new full project - and 25 more upon completion 

    -  25 trees are planted for every successful client referral 

    -   10 trees are planted each consultation.

      

    The last bit of birthday news is I’ve joined BUSINESS DECLARES

    Joining up with other businesses who are trying to do business ethically and consciously is really important and we can collaborate, support each other and learn together.  I’ve loved helping to set up Interior Design Declares this year.  We have over 100 signatories and even Finland interior designers have joined us with their own Declaration.  Joining Business Declares https://businessdeclares.com/ this month means more support is there for me to work to Net Zero by 2030- and there will be ripples that spread to my connections in my industry - so it can only be a good thing! 

    Read the Declaration and Action Plan  here.  

     

    None of this would happen if I didn’t have clients or ethical business heroes to influence me!  Thank you again to my brilliant clients for supporting my little business over all these years and enabling me to do some giving back on a tiny scale - as taught to me by Anita Roddick and The Body Shop HQ.  Thanks too to my network of likeminded businesses,  groups like Circular Brighton & Hove, Clean Growth Platform and the Sustainable Business Partnership ....and also my former colleagues who have been really encouraging and supportive.

  2. SUSTAINABLE SPECIFICATION GUIDE for interior designers

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    SUSTAINABLE SPECIFICATION GUIDE cover

    The Sustainable Specification Guide which I co-wrote with my fellow committee members from the British Institute of Interior Design was launched at the brilliant Planted design show at Kings Cross, London.

    I was so fortunate to have an excellent grounding in sustainable design during my time at The Body Shop HQ for 10 years from the mid nineties. I have loved helping my clients with more conscious specifications for the interiors I have designed for them. In recent years though - I have realised it's my fellow designers who I really want to influence in order to have a real impact for making much needed change in our industry.

    A year and a half ago, past BIID President @HarrietForde invited me to join the Professional Practice Committee for the professional body.

    In that short time - the committee (designers Liz Bell, Anna Whitehead, Simone Suss, Angela Bardino, Brian Woulfe) and the excellent BIID team lead by Katherine Elworthy, have delivered....

    -  updated Code Of Conduct for members - incorporating sustainability and modern slavery

    -  the Sustainability Strategy for the BIID up to 2024

    - Guidance on assessing our practice’s carbon footprint

    -  Guidance on reducing and offsetting our practice’s carbon emissions

    Sustainable Specification Guide - a live document which will be updated yearly

    -  a growing Continuing Professional Development programme to support the new guide

     


    Sustainability is an inherent part of this excellent professional body - as it should be.

    I’m extremely grateful to BIID past president Lori Pinkerton Rolet for her support during my almost 16 years in business - but mostly for encouraging me to be an active member of this organisation. 


    I think #AnitaRoddick would be delighted to see her influence spreading to other businesses like this. 

    More of this please!


     

    Download the guide here Sustainable Specification Guide

  3. MY (RE)TURNING POINT

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    My confession

     

    I've been fortunate to help local company Kings Colleges with the design of their college buildings for many years. It's such a lovely team of passionate and creative people there. I've worked on most of their UK buildings and helped to create a template to apply to their buildings globally.  A few years ago we completed Kings Brighton.  It's a building that's near to where I live and next to the Level - so lots of green space nearby for students and staff to enjoy.

    This building achieved the BREEAM sustainable building rating of EXCELLENT. So this included specifications that were lower impact, there's a living roof, living wall, cycle parking.
     
    I know about sustainability and GUESS WHAT.....I would have loved to have done SO MUCH MORE.
     
    This project very much spurred me on to work harder to provide sustainable specifications for my clients - drawing on all that I learnt during my excellent education in working in sustainability for The Body Shop's HQ early in my career. Although I thought I was working with vegan and sustainable specifications - found I had drifted into the mainstream of unconsciously sourced and specified materials and WASTE! This project completely woke me up to that and what more I could do in my role of designer.
     
     
    May confession 2
     
    SO WHAT DID I DO?
    I took time out to study more to bump up my knowledge.
    I completed courses on vegan design, human centred design and sustainability. I'm currently nearly at the end of another course on using healthier materials.
     
    Clients want to make BETTER choices and want to be guided on lower impact specifications. They just don't know what to look out for or even what all the issues are. I feel it's my duty as a designer to guide them.
     
    So my learning is not going to stop and I'm working hard to influence fellow designers via INTERIOR DESIGN DECLARES and the BRITISH INSTITUTE OF INTERIOR DESIGN as well.
     
     
    Here's a short video about Kings Brighton - complete with a look around the building.
    If you'd like to read more - and tour the building in more detail - have a look here... https://www.materialiseinteriors.com/kings-brighton.html