We have arrived at a tipping point. More of us are aware than ever before that something needs to change with regards to how we produce and consume physical goods. The difficulty is, there is not yet a consensus as to what the most effective way to proceed might be. When it comes to sustainability and ethical practices regarding the manufacture of goods, almost every argument seems to have a counter-argument.
But I am optimistic. For the first time, we are all discussing these issues on a mass scale. And while we may not have a definitive solution yet, complex problems rarely have a solution. Instead, a mindful resolve to try to educate ourselves and make changes in light of the best evidence we can find, plus a commitment to trying to alter our behaviour accordingly, are admirable endeavours increasing numbers of people are pursuing. Pushing companies and governments to make changes through changing our endorsements, changing our buying patterns and trying to be active participants within our political systems is another.
But there is one further important aspect when it comes to trying to live more ethically, namely being mindful of our own biases and access to accurate information in the attempt to ward of dogmatic thinking. We need to make changes but we also need to cultivate flexibility in our thought processes, keeping front of mind that the things we fight for today might become outdated or even counterproductive as we discover new evidence or ways of moving forward.
Issues surrounding sustainability and ethical practices have been increasingly on my mind since running our store. What we choose to offer in our store impacts the choice that other people have with regards to what they can buy and this feels like a significant responsibility.
But how best to implement a desire to act more ethically is a work in progress. I don’t claim to be an expert, in fact, I would class myself as a novice when it comes to the facts that underlie the complexity of issues surrounding materials, production and the ethics of working conditions. We are, however, educating ourselves on these matters through reading, asking questions and obtaining information, in order to make not only more ethical but better decisions that we can feel more confident in.
Today we wanted to share a little on where we are currently at with our thinking with regards to ethical practices and sustainability.
- We favour natural materials over plastic. How natural materials are grown and obtained can be problematic but considering that so much of our waste ends up in landfill, plastic has become a huge problem for our planet. We only source products made from natural materials as these are reusable, recyclable and more biodegradable. We also prefer to work with suppliers who show consideration for using sustainably grown and obtained materials. We love materials such as linen that are more environmentally friendly to cultivate and favour these to similar less environmentally friendly and less durable alternatives.
- We focus on design that will last over following trends. This point is a key consideration for us because one of the only undeniable assertions about environmental impact is that if we buy less and use what we have for longer we can be confident that we are being more environmental. Predicting what will or will not look good in years to come is difficult but neutral colours and simple plain designs have stuck with us from the past and so are a good guide for what might stay relevant in future.
- We focus on quality and craftsmanship. Another way to ensure that products stay in use for longer is to ensure a high standard of quality and craftsmanship. We look at standards of manufacture and also use the products we offer ourselves on a daily basis so that we can familiarise ourselves with how they age and react to daily use. We want the products we offer to be used for a long time so that they don’t have to be replaced often and can serve us well for years if not decades.
- We use sustainable packaging solutions. We do not use any plastic packaging. If you ever receive any plastic packaging in your order, it will be packing we are passing on from our suppliers. We try to reuse what we can from the packaging we receive and recycle what we can’t. Our print materials are printed on 100% recycled paper and the corrugated cardboard boxes we use to ship our items in are made on average, from 75% recycled fibres.
- We predominantly sell products made in the EU and USA. On occasion, we will work with carefully vetted suppliers who manufacture outside the EU and USA . The reason for this decision is that when working with EU and US-based manufacturers, we feel confident in the assurance of the standards of working conditions for employees due to more regulations and more transparency.
- We work with artisans. We love working with artisans and small makers who are in charge of their own businesses. Questions of ethics disappear when we deal directly with the maker who is in charge of their own time, working conditions, pay etc.
- Where we do work with bigger companies we research and ask questions about how they are trying to ensure ethical practices. We prefer to work with transparent companies who openly provide a lot of information on their production processes but where this is not provided we ask. If the answers we get are flippant, evasive or not given at all we choose to work with other companies.
We approach the curation for our store with care and consideration asking lots of questions and informing ourselves as much as possible while staying flexible, willing to change and trying not to become dogmatic but instead treating each new supplier on a case by case basis. We are always learning and hope to do better in future through staying open to changing our practices in light of new information, knowledge and evidence. In the meantime, if you have any questions about our products just ask. We’ll do our best to answer your questions and where we can’t, we’ll always try to go back to our suppliers and get more information from them.
As always, thank you for your continued support as we do our best to improve our knowledge and understanding of how to navigate the complex issues surrounding ethical practices and sustainability.
The images below show our Belgian Linen Tablecloth and Napkins made with great care for the environment, our Maple Cutting Boards made by artisans in small batches from sustainably harvested wood and our beautiful ceramics made by individual makers who run their own small businesses including our beautiful Snowflake Crackle Glaze Bowls, Tall Simple Pitcher and Fluted Plates. You can find links to all of the products in this shoot below and read more about what makes each product so thoughtfully made in our product descriptions.
Belgian Linen Tablecloth in Ecru, Belgian Linen Napkins in Ecru and Raw Umber, Handmade Fluted Side Plate, Handmade Fluted Bowl, Classic French Table Glasses, Maple Cutting Board, Pallares Solsona Kitchen Knife in Medium, Eggshell Spice Jar, Stone Washed Dessert Flatware, Stone Washed Teaspoon, Hand Dyed Vintage Linen Cushion Covers in Linden, Snowflake Crackle Glaze Bowl, Snowflake Crackle Glaze Dish Set, Tall Simple Pitcher, Eggshell Tumbler, and Simple Pouring Bowl