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Category: Being an ethical business

  1. Interior Design Declares - one year in!

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    Interior Design Declares


    Interior Design Declares - one year in!

    The end of March '22 marked the end of our first year as a community working together to improve our industry's shocking impact on the climate breakdown and biodiversity loss.

    "The UK construction industry contributes 25 million tonnes of waste to landfill every year. Worldwide, the construction industry contributes to 50% of all climate change, 40% of drinking water pollution, 23% of air pollution and 50% of landfill waste." *  

    Interior Design Declares is a community of interior design practices - small and large - as well as suppliers of goods and services to our industry.  We recognise we need to share learnings and learn together encourage our supply chains to improve.

    The great news is we have just had our 150th signatory.  

    It's been a wonderful experience to be a Founder member and see the whole thing set up - and working with fellow interior designers who are also passionate to improve our industry.   We're a voluntary group and meet monthly.  Our group has evolved into a Steering Group now as people have shifted around.  Our objective is to get the maximam impact - by attending panel discussions,  talks,  podcasts - whatever we can to extend our reach and influence others.  

    We’ve taken part in successful, well attended events – which generated new members and lots of debate – at WasteBuild, Planted, Surface Design Show,  FutureBuild, BIID Annual Conference ‘22 – Sustainability Showcase,  Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP)

    We’ve given interviews with The Interior Design BusinessQuietmark and The Edge podcasts

    We’ve continued to contribute to the Built Environment Declares steering group – and have done another funding round to raise money to expand the information on our website - which is live now and where you can read more on the UK Declaration.

    We are also running the Global declaration and encouraging other countries to join us.  So far we have been joined by Finland.  Declarations from Egypt, USA and Australia are in the pipeline. 

    If you are reading this and want to join or help to set up a declation for the design industry in your country - we'd really welcome you!  Please apply here.



    * Source: Hawken, P., Lovins, E and Lovins, H, Natural, Capitalism – Creating the next Industrial Revolution, Little Brown and Co., 1999 369pp. 

  2. Vegan design - is it for me - I'm not vegan?!

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    It's been VEGANUARY  Have you given it a try? 

    It's what finally nudged me to be fully vegan 4 years ago - but it's not an 'all or nothing' thing!   Maybe it's encouraged you to swap out the occasional meal or ingredient for a vegan alternative?  My tip:  One Meal A Day is great inspiration for making those swaps. 

    There is so much on offer to help in terms of Facebook group support and the range of options when shopping.   It's a great opportunity to try out some different food - or even ones without animal content that taste just the same!  We don't have to always do things the same way - and all the time, the food on offer is changing and evolving and becoming more easily available.  

    So.... what has this got to do with interior design?! 

    How about making some swaps in the specifications you use in your interiors in the same way?  It's not only vegans who want to have less impact on the planet.   We are more aware of the impact we are having and know there are better choices to make .....and ....OH and BONUS!....many of the swaps come with a health benefit for the users of the spaces too.   Products are evolving all the time.  There's directories like Cradle to Cradle to help you.  Follow me on Instagram for more tips over the coming months.

    Many of my clients are looking inwards at their buying habits and in doing this, they have lots of talking points about those swaps too - which some use in their own marketing when it's a business interior!   Doing things in a new ways creates lots of stories to tell.

    Would you like some help?

  3. 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.


    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 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.