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Category: Being an ethical business

  1. SUSTAINABLE SPECIFICATION GUIDE for interior designers

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    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


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    how many planets pink
    Each year a date is calculated per country and combined to give us a combined Earth Overshoot Day.  This year is was 29th July.  It means it's the point where our use resources and services exceeds what the Earth can provide - so the tipping point where we start to use the resources in defict.   The impact of the pandemic had a smaller impact than hoped.  

    The concerning news is that the UK's Overshoot Day is even earlier in the year at 19th May. 
    Past Earth overshoot days 2021
    This graphic from shows the calulations over my lifetime for Earth Overshoot Day.
    In 1970 we very nearly got to the end of the year, falling short by one day. What are we doing?!  We really need to #movethedate

    What can you do?
    Much is not under our control - but more than you think is.
    Find out your personal footprint using this calculator.  It's very quick to do - all you have to answer are 15 questions.

    We are not looking for perfect.
    Small changes make a difference.
    Once we have this information, we can see where the most impact is - and then make changes.
    The only way to improve our date is to be informed, measure our footprint and do something - however small it might feel.
  3. Why do we need to tell people we are vegan?

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    I've really been in two minds about sharing this meme.  It's a dig at vegans.  But it illustrates a discussion point.  Why do we need to tell people?


    In a nutshell - it's because there's milk in some potato crisps!  

    Animal products are in so much of what we buy and consume - even if we think we are managing to avoid them.  

    Food and drinks mostly have labels, as do products.  But would you check the label for a bag of crisps?!  You need to be on the ball as there are so many unsuspecting places for animal products to be used in things -  especially in my industry.   

    I completely understand why a client may want to make it known to those on a team specifying for a build project.  I also think that may feel like an uncomfortable thing to do for them - as that team may have no awareness that animal products  are used - let alone that sheep's wool commonly used in insulation is something a vegan may want to avoid or that animal glues are used widely, still.   People still have a block that vegan is all about diet and not a consciousness about how we live as well. 

    Even though I've been working in this area for many years and I'm familiar with what goes on - I'm learning of more all the time. 
     I recommend fellow vegan interior designer Aline Dürr's book Vegan Interior Design.   I guess the clue was in the name but I was surprised to read that bone china still contains a large percentage of bone ash from pigs and cows.  You just think these things would have been superseded over all these years.  To me it just sound out-moded.

    Even if someone is not vegan - these are still things they might want to avoid.  I've recently completed a fantastic and informative set of courses on Healthy Materials and Sustainable Building devised by the Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School of Design.  Chemicals, wellbeing and sustainability are all interconnected.  Chemical use in interiors products mean the need for toxicity testing of the products - and that means animal testing.  Sometimes this happens once and the findings are shared between companies.  But new chemicals / combinations mean new testing. 

    So chemical use should be something we should be cautious of for many reasons if health, environment and animals are important to you.