Can great design also be sustainable? As an Interior Designer with a focus on sustainability, I say emphatically, yes! In fact, I stand by the claim that sustainability can be stunning and I even put my motto, “eco-elegance”, right into my logo.
When you see or hear the word “sustainable”, perhaps you think of something relating to being environmentally friendly. However it means so much more. There are considerations like health and safety, economic sustainability, and even social responsibility. It’s the latter which is my focus here and lately, in most of my life these days. Social responsibility refers to making ethical choices and is the concept behind fair trade. This is the idea that artisans and farmers (often in Third World countries) behind a range of products are paid fairly, so that they have sustainable livelihoods and contribute to a more sustainable world.
Maybe you’re thinking that you shouldn’t be responsible for items made abroad and that you’ll use all USA made products. Thus, you might not be concerned with global sustainability, the fundamental right of human beings to live in dignity and free of poverty. Then consider that it’s unlikely for any of us to live relying solely on American made elements, especially when designing a room or entire home. Also, keep in mind that US made doesn’t mean something is fully sustainable. Perhaps it’s handmade but not good for the planet, so be sure to look beyond the place of origin. Ok, back to my point about the inevitable truth that somewhere in our lives we’re bound to rely on items made in other countries, often Third World. Read the labels on your clothing; you’re likely already supporting foreign manufacturing. Basically, you have a choice, to purchase fair trade or not, to change lives or not.
A great way you can make a difference and impact a community in design is with your rug purchase. Look for GoodWeave or RugMark labels, which certify a rug wasn’t made by children. In fact, in the rug industry, there are approximately 250,000 children making rugs, down from about 1 million in 1995 according to GoodWeave. Simply by you choosing to spend your money on a rug that was not made by children, you could save a child’s life and you would contribute to a communities’ sustainability which ultimately contributes to your sustainability.