Design doesn’t start and end with a few drawings, but has to take in everything that is involved in the production of a new product whether textiles or jewellery or ceramics, etc. This includes how the finished product will be manufactured, how it’s packaged and distributed, how the product will be cleaned and maintained, what will happen at the end of it’s life. This is what I manage to achieve in my textiles.
I have a fully thought out design process that encompasses all aspects of my woven fabrics and products and I have written a Sustainability Manifesto and Ethical Policy to demonstrate my commitment. All this hard work has earned me, an award-winning textile designer, the Environmental Quality Mark from the Peak District National Park Authority in Derbyshire. I had to meet very rigorous standards before being put before the panel of judges and I was delighted to present my business practices and demonstrate my commitment to the environment both locally, nationally and internationally.
Here are my top tips:
* Think clearly about production and how fuel and water can be reduced.
* Where do your raw materials come from, can their carbon footprint be reduced?
* Are there more sustainable alternatives?
* Are any of your raw materials available locally?
* Can production waste be reduced, and can any waste be up-cycled?
* How can any packaging be reduced, could you use re-cycled packaging?
* Do you use a local postal service/courier/carrier?
* Develop classic designs that will endure, can quality be improved so that the products will last, how can your clients become emotionally attached to your product?
* If your products need to be laundered, how can fuel and water be reduced, can you use materials that don’t need so much laundering, how will you tell your customers?
* Can you offer a second life at the end of your products life?
* Are you able to offer a take back policy: can any textiles be re-dyed, can your product be repaired, can your product be re-cycled or up-cycled, can they be composted?
* Do you have more than one strand to your business, is teaching an additional option, would your notes make an interesting book?
* Do you offer occasional free workshops to organisations that have helped you?
* Do you offer work placements to students?
It’s often a good idea to re-evaluate your business and products on a regular basis. Using these tips might help you develop additional strands to you business and offer new products that have a stronger sustainable element. More and more buyers are looking for good sustainable practice and the more you can show your credentials, right across you practice, the more they will seek you out!