As the daughter of a very talented, passionate joiner, I would often get fragments of oiled wood shoved under my nose, “smell this Tarmaine, its good ay!” My father would say waving his European hands in the air. “Nothing beats this – nothing!’ He would exclaim enthusiastically as he’d wipe the saw dust from around his blood shot eyes.
I often think of him when I’m at work. Especially on those frequent occasions where I walk into a potential client’s glorious solid timber kitchen, only to discover that they want to pull it all out and replace the timber with more ‘modern’ mdf doors.
Trends equals waste and while I like to try to encourage upcycling and reusing, it’s not always affordable and it’s not always possible. Admittingly, change also isn’t just sought for fashion. Most things have a shelf life, and that shelf life generally isn’t for ever.
The task of replacing with the new is all about choices. For the larger projects, this can be an overwhelming and exasperating exercise. This is where my kind come useful . But it’s the small home objects I’d like to focus on today, in particular - bedding.
Think back to the day you purchased your last bedding item. What was the thought process you made before you bought that item? Did you base your decision on pattern or colour? Perhaps you based it on price or value for money? More importantly, did you check the label?
Did you know the simple (and necessary) upkeep of washing a single load of synthetic materials releases over 700,000 microscopic plastic fibres into the environment? The consequences of Microplastic contamination not only effects our endangered oceanic wildlife but have also been proven to even have an effect on our own drinking water.
Materials matter not only for the environment; they matter to the eye and they matter for durability. Natural fibres, such as linen, don’t just look amazing, they also soften with wear. Flax, Hemp, Cotton, Sisal & Wool add levels of texture, depth and warmth and best of all, they never really go out of style.
There are over 100,000 chemical compounds used in building materials and finishes, only half of which scientists have toxicological data for.
Another great example is paint. Many solvents found in conventional paint continue to ‘off gas’ for a significant amount of time. These Petrochemicals not only cause substantial ongoing harm to the environment but also to our health. Naturally pigmented colour, like Limewash or Mineral paints are a brilliant alternative, adding a level of drama to a space by providing nuances of colour. These paints reflect less light and create more shadow, which in return exhibits a glorious sense of mystery and intrigue.
Production, use & disposal
Even if your product is a natural one, I encourage you to question its making. Unethical practices and productions can still have horrific impacts and it’s not something you want to support with your hard-earnt money. Look for eco-friendly certifications, fair trade, the support of reforestation projects, carbon neutral cooperation’s and finally, look for local.
I go on about function, use and longevity a lot. Fundamental aspects of design which have profound benefits when incorporated and considered during your purchasing processes.
Disposal is surprisingly something that I find not many people consider and with 7.7 billion people in the world it’s something I think we should prioritise. If we could all afford basic dental hygiene and followed the trusty advice of our family dentist, that’s 7.7 billion plastic toothbrushes into our wastelands every 3-4 months.
Tell me a story
When my clients introduce me to a furniture piece in their home that they love, they don’t just show it to me, they tell me its story. How it was made, where it was made, how they found it or why they were attracted to it. These sessions invoke so much adoration and inject meaningfulness to what would otherwise be just another household item.
The story matters. The good pieces always have a story and the more you research your item before you purchase it, the more you will come to appreciate investing in pieces that are worthy. Its these pieces that will last and make the most impact in your home.
Changing our purchasing habits | BUYING LESS AND BUYING BETTER
“I believe that if design does not take on its environment responsibility, it is both irrelevant and irresponsible” – David Trubridge
Dad was right, timber never really does go out of style, though the profile on the doors might. The reduction of plastic in homes is on the rise as environmental awareness increases. People and trends are shifting towards nature and suppliers are becoming increasingly transparent regarding their manufacturing processes.
Designers, tradespeople, manufacturers, retailers all have a responsibility to promote sustainability and longevity through the work that we do and the products that we provide, but it really is up to you as the consumer to read the label.