Sustainable September!

So September is here, how on earth did that happen?!  Summer brought with it some baking hot weather, torrential downpours, more political upheaval and numerous natural disasters of a catastrophic scale.  As I write this, the Amazon rainforest is still burning, hurricane Dorian is ripping through the Bahamas, and flash flooding has hit Madrid.  The CEO of Friends of the Earth Craig Bennett has issued a stark warning on the urgency of the climate crisis and activists like Greta Thunberg are doing everything in their power to tackle world leaders and policy makers head on.

Now more than ever we are confronted with the undeniable truth (regardless of what Mr Trump says) that the future of our planet as we know it hangs in the balance, and we are all responsible. 

Regardless of what field you are in, there are so many ways you can make a difference and all it takes is a little effort and some practical thinking.  If you have a meeting, could you skype instead of travelling?  If your staff have a long commute could they work remotely from home?  Making packed lunches for the kids?  Forget the cling film and use beeswax wraps or reusable containers as an alternative.

Buy your produce from the local farmers market to boost the economy and save on air miles, say no to straws (even paper ones!), forget the fancy wrapping paper and use scraps of fabric tied in a Furoshiki, eat less meat (especially beef and lamb), don’t flush your contact lenses down the toilet (or anything else made from plastic…including ‘flushable’ wipes…or johnnies…), received a delivery with an alarming amount of bubble wrap or packing nuts? 

Don’t discard them, reuse them, and politely email the sender requesting they switch to a more sustainable option.  Say no to fast fashion and go vintage, fix things that are broken, clean things that are tired and always ask yourself if there’s a better choice you could make.

In the world of interiors, it’s easy to get carried away with all of the beautiful, exquisitely crafted things available, and become overwhelmed with the choice of options, especially those more ‘cost effective’ synthetic alternatives or mass produced bargains to ‘create the look’ without the price tag of bespoke – but I made the conscious decision when I created Studio JQ that we would be as sustainable as we possibly could be, without the need to compromise on design or practicality.

The majority of our suppliers are local,  98% of our materials library is 100% natural such as hemp, organic cotton, linen, flax and wool, but where natural materials are a no-no (outdoor/poolside/contract) we ensure that the synthetic materials we are sourcing are recyclable (you wouldn’t believe how many aren’t – it really is shocking).  We also do use leather from carefully selected and trusted suppliers, and as a by product from healthy, well looked after cows it is a more environmentally friendly option than ‘vegan’ (plastic) leather.

We regularly specify antique pieces for our projects, and encourage clients to reuse existing items that they already have.  We don’t keep fabric books in the studio (because they all end up in landfill) and we don’t present on foam boards, we use reusable boxes instead.  We don’t fly to Milan or Paris or Dubai design week, because our wonderful reps keep us updated via email and Instagram if they think there’s anything we might like, and to me it seems unnecessary travel when London design week is right on our doorstep.

Of course we’re not perfect, we still have to travel to site regularly and don the polyester hi vis vest and plastic hard hat, we print more paper than we probably should and we use a ton of electricity with computers running, lights on for long hours and the kettle almost permanently on the boil (we need tea and lots of it).  But if every studio/office/business/home did what they could to reduce their impact then we’d be forging a path in the right direction, together.

So summer came and went, we enjoyed wild camping on Dartmoor, a few National Trust and English Heritage days out and a music gig or two (Robbie in Hyde Park was beyond amazing, with Tom Odell at Valleyfest a close second), but now we’re ready to fire up all the engines in preparation for the busy months ahead, with four pre-Christmas installations to source for Design Week this month will be a welcome hit of inspiration, especially because the focus is going to be on Biomaterials – hurrah for Sustainable September!  Let’s keep it going!!

Jenny Quinlan
Creative Director
Studio JQ Ltd

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