Susan Van Meter
Saying No To Plastic: Stylish & Sustainable Interior Brands
Every minute the equivalent of one rubbish lorry of plastic is dumped into the ocean.
Most plastic waste ends up being dumped in giant landfill sites, burnt or left to pollute the environment. Yet, despite efforts by environmentalists, only 9 percent of plastic waste is successfully recycled.
June 5 is the UN World Environment Day, marked each year to highlight the importance of the environment.
The 2022 World Environment Day campaign #OnlyOneEarth called for collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet. 143 countries take part in World Environment Day and focus on environmental concerns ranging from plastic pollution to global warming and sustainable food production to the protection of wildlife.
This year one of the main focuses was ‘Beat Plastic Pollution'. We can make changes to our routines but we know change has to be made on a larger scale.
What kind of measures are we seeing to help curb plastic pollution?
ON TRACK FOR A 'CURE'
In March of this year Heads of State, environment ministers and other representatives from 175 nations, endorsed a historic resolution to end plastic pollution by the end of 2024. The landmark resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.
“Today marks a triumph by planet Earth over single-use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord. It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it.”
- Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
How can we apply this ethos to our interiors?
Only a couple of years ago, it was very difficult to find sustainable furniture and decor options. Let alone stylish ones.
Now, slowly but surely, some suppliers in the industry are starting to prove, what I've been saying all along, that sustainability doesn't mean compromising on style.
At the same time, with so many companies guilty of greenwashing, it can be tough to tell if they're really as kind to the environment as they claim to be.
So, how can you tell who's the real deal? We look at the following parameters:
Materials Used: Natural, Sustainably Sourced, Recycled, or Renewable
Circular Economy, Life-cycle Consideration: Durability and Recyclability
Locally Manufactured and Produced (Mostly UK based, some European)
People Planet Profit: What do they do for their community and workers?
Carbon Footprint Offsetting
Made to Order
Other Planet Friendly Measures: Planting Trees or Donating To Eco-Friendly Charities
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Taking all of these points into consideration, we put together a list of brands
that we think marry true sustainability with refined style.
Another Country was founded in 2010 with the principal aim of being a wholly sustainable company that designed and made natural contemporary wood furniture and home accessories. As the name suggests, the collection reimagines farmhouse furniture for contemporary living and puts a refined spin on classic rustic pieces.
Ten years on, they not only adhere to their founding principles but have also become a certified carbon neutral company that embraces wellbeing principles. They call this designing for ‘The Natural Home’. Love it!
Their loose and upholstered items are made with 100% natural materials by UK-based specialist partners. I love finding manufacturers that transparently lay out their sustainable practices, like below.
Another Country's Sustainable Practices
Responsible design is at the core of Graypants ethos. Stating that sustainability is much more than just using recycled material.
They've been able to maintain their core values as a design studio and manufacturer by producing their products locally, with local talent and local materials.
Their furniture is made of recycled materials and FSC-certified wood using a low-waste strategy.
One year ago they opened a second studio in Amsterdam so they could produce locally for the European market. In Europe, they've been able to take it a step further and support social works programs to help employ people with disabilities who have a hard time finding hands-on creative jobs.
A responsible and sustainable approach is at the heart of everything Tom Raffield does. They started this long before the word “sustainability” was fashionable. For them, it is a calling and not just a business.
A calling that they put their heart and soul into - and have for over a decade. Throughout the company’s history, they have been guided by their founding values, which compel them to put people and the planet first. As a design-led brand, crafting functional pieces with long-lasting quality, sustainability has always been their goal.
UK-based and made, a signature look of theirs is steam-bending - an energy-efficient process that relies only on heat and water and produces very little wastage; the brand even reuses any excess water that has condensed in the steamer the next time wood is heated.
“I truly believe that sustainability should be synonymous with good design, much like quality and function are, and that this is the answer to over-consumption and the environmental challenges we face."
- Tom Raffield, Founder.
Jennifer Manners /re/PURPOSE PERFORMANCE Collection takes a sustainable approach to timeless rugs. Comprised of uniquely plush recycled water bottles, these hand-knotted rugs are a luxurious yet functional solution to the need for rugs built for the hard wear of life. A single rug uses upwards of 6000 water bottles in its making.
They developed a proprietary two-step process that makes these fibres mimic the look and feel of natural wools without losing the invincibility that has become synonymous with plastic.
Bleach-cleanable and moisture-resistant, built to last several generations. Because of their durability, they can be used indoors and out. Recycled plastic bags are used to ship these pieces.
Beauty in simplicity and exceptional sustainable ethos. All of the Danish design brands' pieces have been awarded the EU Ecolabel, which vouches not only for the sustainability of the materials used, but also for the consideration of the environmental impact a product has in its lifetime.
Takt know, like us, there is too much hot air when it comes to sustainability. They make a point to be different. Aiming to clearly explain the efforts we make to help you live sustainably, they believe in transparency and certifications, such as B-Corp.
They believe this is the only way for you to ensure that there is substance behind it all. They provide full cost and carbon footprint transparency and a breakdown for each.
One of my favourite styles, the Soft Lounge Chair, is designed through TAKT’s Eco System Design principles and is shipped component based as flat packs. They can pack 5 to 7 times more products in the same volume and therefore minimise CO2 emissions during transportation.
"We designers have a role to challenge the materials, production, processes, and people
so that we can help develop and maintain modern craftsmanship"
- Thomas Bentzen
Absolute sustainable style. Kim Markel’s first collection, Glow, recycled the plastic waste of old eyeglasses and lunch trays into translucent, candy-hued furniture. Markel pushes for a circular economy industry. She proves new ways to minimise and reuse waste with each new collection.
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Sebastian Cox furniture is designed and made with a nature-first perspective. They look to our ancestors who used a relatively limited palette of biodegradable and renewable materials creatively, to make objects that were functional, simple, understandable and as a result, beautiful.
Sebastian Cox design and make for a better future in a forward-thinking, zero-waste, carbon-counting workshop and studio in London, England. They even manage woodlands for biodiversity and resources in Kent, England.
SEAQUAL X CAMIRA FABRICS
Before their time, Yorkshire-based textile brand Camira began producing recycled fabrics 20 years ago. Now, they have teamed up with Seaqual - a global initiative that connects fishermen, scientists, NGOs and authorities to remove and upcycle marine litter. Camira’s new collection of fabrics are woven using ‘Seaqual’ yarn and each metre is made from the equivalent of 26 plastic bottles.
Waste made wonderful, transforming this most resilient of materials into a fabric as fluid as the waves by which it was inspired, and which it seeks to save. Capturing the depth and breadth of the seasonal shorescape, each of the 27 colorways. The color palette encompasses bold brights, muted modern tones and perfect pastels, there is a shade and style for every interior
Konk does not believe in a throwaway culture. Their furniture is made for life - it’s solid, hardwearing and ages with character. Working in partnership with One Tree Planted, they donate to plant a tree for every single order they receive.
Everything is handmade to order in their Bristol workshop by an expert team who all share a passion for making. Because it is all bespoke, means they can customise your piece to almost any size and spec, and nothing goes to waste.
Designbythem Confetti furniture collection includes everything from recycled plastic tables and chairs to sofas and planters.
When designing their products they consider all of the environmental impacts throughout the product life cycle. This includes not only the materials, finishing, packaging, transport and waste of the products but also the serviceability of the products and how they can be repaired, reused and recycled at the end of their life.
All of their products, at the end of its useful life, can be collected by DesignByThem at a negotiated transport fee for product repair, reuse or recycling as part of our product stewardship program. Many of their products are designed to be repaired to prolong their life and avoid recycling and landfill.
Cork is Tom Dixon's new 'dream material' and we love it too!
By repurposing this wonder material for their range of extremely fat edged and chubby silhouette furniture, they have taken full advantage of the elasticity, the sound absorption and waterproof nature of cork.
Combined with its natural beauty and the fact it can be continuously recycled, it makes a unique set of sculptural furniture with superior functionality.
The Cork collection features a shelf, stool and three tables, with chubby, rounded silhouettes that are designed to let the material shine.
Because cork can be harvested without harming the tree that it grows on, it is recyclable and carbon negative. This has caused a resurgence of its use in design and architecture circles.
Sadly, 80 percent of plastic toys end up in landfills, waste incinerators, or even the ocean. Ecobirdy created a system that starts with the collection those old, unused plastic toys, passes through the recycling phase and ends with the design and production of pieces of furniture.
The collection of kids' furniture is entirely made of recycled plastic from European waste. Each step is based on social and environmental responsibility. An accompanying storybook and school-programme have been designed to introduce youngsters to the circular economy and inspire them to contribute to a more sustainable future. Amazing!
Jott design products for a circular life. Instead of a one-way ticket to landfill, everything they make will eventually be reborn as usable raw materials. All of their Furniture is handcrafted in their workshop in Gloucestershire using only British Timber. This Timber only travels 200 miles from woodland to workshop.
They engage with the whole product cycle, from sourcing, to making, to using, to eventual end of life recycling.
Made from 100% recycled CDs, Revive's innovative signature material RE-CD transforms post-consumer waste into a beautiful & robust material. We had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with the founder at Clerkenwell Design Week!
Revive Innovations is working to improve CD recycling infrastructure, whilst creating beautiful circular products made entirely of discarded CDs (RE-CD). Instead of spending over a million years degrading in landfill, old CDs are being transformed into beautiful and unique design pieces.
Angus Ross source oak from their collectively owned, local bluebell wood. Angus Ross take a very holistic approach to sustainability - working directly with nature, encouraging natural regeneration and bio-diversity, improving the overall health and resilience of the woodland.
They also work with local estates and Scottish saw-millers to ensure that Scottish native hardwoods such as oak, ash and cherry are not wasted but transformed and treasured!
Most of their furniture is made to commission. It is all hand-made in their workshop in Perthshire. They make tables, chairs, cabinets, sculptural benches, desks, storage and functional public art.
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Photos are sourced from the respective brands listed here. All rights are reserved to the copyright owners.