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Category: Being an ethical business

  1. My business of 15 years - Part One: TREE PLANTING

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    Working with my ethical business

    I want to write about being an ethical business and what that means to me. I've been very fortunate to experience the inner workings of a successful ethical business in action during my 10 years for The Body Shop International’s head office - so it's natural for me to carry these values on into my own business.   

    This month I celebrate my 15th year in business and I'd like to use that milestone to review what I am doing and to make improvements.  Wow 15 years though.  It’s been a great experience but it’s not been the simplest path - from a housefire in my first week in business (I’ll tell you about this another time!) - to a financial crisis, Brexit uncertainty and now a pandemic!  Who’d have thought it would be so dramatic.  

     

    TREE PLANTING is really important to me and my clients love having trees planted in their name as a thank you when I've worked with them.   It is a positive although inaccurate contribution to offset the carbon used on the materials used in their projects. I’m aware it’s not in any way exact.  

    The exciting news is that there are pioneering furniture suppliers are able to give a CO2 calculation with their products.  It’s a hugely useful piece of information and I can’t wait for it to become the norm in my industry.  Clients can consider that as part of their decision process.  

     

    I want to review and increase my commitment to planting trees...

    🌳Up to now I've been planting 10 trees at the beginning and end of a full project.  This will now be 25 at the beginning and end.  

    🌳 I've also decided to plant 10 trees for each one-off consultation as I've been doing lots more of these recently - especially online.

    🌳 As a THANK YOU for anyone recommending my services I have 10 trees planted in the name of the referee for each positive CLIENT REFERRAL lead  I receive. 

    🌳 I’m planning to stay on the ground for travel for a while - but if I do fly I will I’ll follow Natalie Fee’s advice in her book ‘How To Save The World For Free’ She tells us “...if the aviation sector was a country - it would be the 7th biggest polluter in the world.” Obviously this is a pre-pandemic fact.  But it’s an alarming one.  Natalie recommends 

    • Atmos Fair - the flight is calculated and you pay to offset.  Offsetting takes the form of numerous climate protection projects such as energy efficiency, wind energy, hydro and solar power.  

    • Mossy Earth - your flight is calculated by the hour or road trip by distance and you pay for native trees to be planted and/or support their rewilding projects.

     

    Today I'm up to 433 trees planted and I'm just about to plant more for a client. 

    The project I'm supporting at the moment is PETA founder Jane Goodall's Institute initiative with OneTreePlanted - who need our help to plant 3 million trees as part of the Wildlife Habitat & Corridor Restoration Project. The Albertine Rift landscape is a diverse ecosystem which is crucial to many species and is a prominent habitat for endangered chimpanzees. It also houses over 50% of birds, 39% of mammals, 19% of amphibians, and 14% of reptiles and plants of mainland Africa. By pooling resources and combining efforts, One Tree Planted and the Jane Goodall Institute are aiming to restore and manage these incredible forests.⠀And it's not just about biodiversity, working with local communities will also include promoting agroforestry for sustainability, improving forest monitoring, and establishing community-managed enterprises and microlending programs in order to create a holistic long-term benefit.⠀⠀

     

  2. Design for Diversity and my own pledge

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    DESIGN FOR DIVERSITY

    What Design For Diversity?

    It is an initiative and community devised by interior designer Rukmini Patel and journalist Kate Watson-Smyth.  Listen to Kate’s podcast with Sophie Robinson for shocking and saddening insights into racism in the interior design industry - including one from my friend Jecks Stone, founder of Persona Abode

     

    Kate says: “We do not claim it as a solution. But we offer it as the start of a conversation.  A sign that the door is open…… It’s our sincere hope that the presence of this sticker on a design website or social channel will give those who see it the confidence to take a step forward, while offering reassurance that their interest will be received with positivity and fairness.”

     

    What is the Pledge?

    It is a three-point Pledge covering  Visibility,  Opportunity and Accessibility to help the design industry to become diverse. It is a first step to working towards a diverse design industry and giving brands, businesses and bloggers a guideline on areas they can work on to encourage.

     

    To pledge support designers and suppliers should post the badge so all can see it and make a relevant pledge. 

     

    I have signed up to the Design for Diversity pledge.  

    You don’t have to be an employer to be involved.  

    Things even a micro-business like mine can do….

    • I’m always seeking out products to use (especially sustainable!) and I would especially like to support BAME businesses who produce them.  

    • I would be really happy to mentor a student or designer from a BAME background too.  If you are interested in what I do and think mentoring from me would help you, please contact me by the end of November if you are interested. 

     

    Many designers and suppliers are now part of this initiative.  View here.

    Designers and suppliers can sign up here.

     

    Please help to support and encourage this important initiative to encourage a diverse design industry. 

     

     

     

  3. Being sustainable designer - more on the PEOPLE part

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    Sustainability is the place where People, Planet and Profit meet.  As I said last week, this is known as the Triple Bottom Line.  Sustainability lies in the intersection where PEOPLE, PLANET and PROFIT meet.  

     




    I wanted to talk more about the PEOPLE part of sustainabilty.   

    What is the interior design industry doing to address inequity?  

     

    DESIGN FOR DIVERSITY

    Rukmini Patel and Kate Watson-Smyth have devised an initiative and community called Design for Diversity.  Listen to Kate’s The Great Outdoors podcast with Sophie Robinson for shocking and saddening insights into racism in the interior design industry, including one from my friend Jecks Stone of Persona Abode.

    Kate says: “We do not claim it as a solution. But we offer it as the start of a conversation.  A sign that the door is open…… It’s our sincere hope that the presence of this sticker on a design website or social channel will give those who see it the confidence to take a step forward, while offering reassurance that their interest will be received with positivity and fairness.”

    To pledge support, designers and suppliers should post the badge so all can see it and make a relevant pledge.  

    I have signed up to Design for Diversity pledge.  You don’t have to be an employer to be involved.

    Things even a micro-business like mine can do:

    • I’m always seeking out products (sustainable especially!) to use and I would especially like to support BAME businesses who produce them.  

    • I would be really happy to mentor a student or designer from a BAME background too.  



    UNITED IN DESIGN

    The interior design professional body BIID (The British Institute of Interior Design) is also encouraging us to support new charity United in Design who assist with the next step of funding or subsidising scholarships, bursaries, apprenticeship placements, pay travel costs etc.   This guidance from the BIID on being an inclusive leader has been made available to members and non-members https://biid.org.uk/sites/default/files/Leadership%20is%20action%20not%20position.pdf



    I've been listening to LuAnn Nigara's A Well-Designed Business podcast for interior designers for years and I’ve learnt very much from them.  This recent one is for everyone to listen to.  She and her friend, Arianne Bellizaire talk about racism in and out of the interior design industry.  They discuss Ibrahn X Kendi’s book 'How To Be Anti Rascist’.   

     

    I’m also concerned what lies deeper into the supply chains the interior design industry uses.  

    We all now know about what lurks in fashion industry supply chains thanks to brilliant campaigns like #whomademyclothes? ran by Fashion Revolution.  I know when my queries to suppliers are unanswered that there is little transparency in my industry as well.  Just doing the Made In A Free World’s survey tells me of your own purchases to know more than 200,000 children are forced to work in India's carpet belt of Uttar Pradesh.  

    Here in the UK I occassionally see suppliers displaying the Living Wage logo - but they are few and far between.   There are certifications that cover social and economic wellbeing of people involved, such as Cradle To Cradle,  Forestry Stewardship Council and Good Weave.

    Many people have no idea that child labour, human trafficking and slavery is part of our industry.  The Modern Slavery Act is law here.  Some suppliers have Modern Slavery statements clearly published - many don't.  But what do we know about goods we buy from outside of the UK?  Very little.  How many of us ask questions about the supply chain?   The BIID have written this useful guide on Modern Slavery.

     

    Want to learn more?  Start by looking at your own impact.  

    1. Take the Made In A Free World’s survey about your own purchases - it's completely eye opening.  
    2. You may as well see what your ecological footprint is as well using this footprint calculator too!  Find out how many planets are needed for your current way of living.  Plot spoiler:  it's much more than one.

      

    It's a learning process for us all as we become more and more aware.  When starting to build sustainability into the way you create an interior, you just have to start somewhere.  Asking questions of suppliers is a great way to start and puts pressure on them - especially as the same questions are asked by more and more of us. 

     

    Sharing knowledge is so important to this learning process.  Below are some resources.  Please share any learnings and resources you have with me and others as well.  



     

    USEFUL RESOURCES:

    More on Design For Diversity:
     https://www.rukminipatel.com/design-for-diversity-initiative-2   

    https://www.madaboutthehouse.com/design-for-diversity-the-pledge/

     

    Books:

    X Kendi’s book 'How To Be Anti Rascist’.   

    Blindspot by Manzarin R Banah and Anthony G Greenwald is extremely eye opening.

     

    The United Nations Global Compact  encourages businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.  

    One Planet Living - is a great framework to apply to projects and businesses for a 360  degree view on impact.  I'm in the process of applying the framework to my own business.




    Design for Diversity