Posts filed under Green Living

The Food Guide - Product Launch

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It has been a really exciting week with the launch of my very first product - Vitamins & Minerals tea towel.

The product is an infographic tea towel that helps you choose foods high in vitamins and minerals, as well as being a handy 100% cotton tea towel! I was first inspired by David McCandless’s book ‘Information Is Beautiful’, this design is a fusion of my love for food, design and well-being.

Thanks everyone for such a great response so far.

If you would like one for your kitchen, they are available at www.lahlastudio.com

Posted on August 16, 2012 and filed under Design, Food, Green Living, London, Uncategorized.

Made in the UK - thoughts on textile manufacture

pdf version

designtap's onsite green guide for Latitude festival goers. A brief and far from conclusive reflection on UK Vs Global textile manufacture for high street fashion.

MADE IN THE UK

A current hot topic, I keep encountering a renewed desire for British design and that all-important ‘Made in the UK’ garment label. After reading countless defra reports and having worked with one of the UKs leading textile upcycling companies, I am still undecided whether a shift back to UK production IS the best option for the fashion industry.

When talking about global Vs local textiles and particularly fashion production, there is no definitive right answer. My question really is whether the benefits of small-scale British production really outweigh the benefits of manufacturing with a global workforce. As a society we are constantly pushing for a globalised planet, we enjoy working and travelling around the world, we read, watch and eat, ‘foreign’ books, films and food. It therefore seems odd that we place so much emphasis on a garment being ‘Made in the UK’. For a long time I too loved the idea of reviving the old English textile industry and I still think there is room for a partial revert.

For me it is about considering each factor of sustainability, the effects on people, on the economy and the environment. Firstly, you can look at a country like India, one of the largest exporters of textiles to The West. The industry directly employs 35 million people in India and has established the necessary infrastructure to provide for a global market. What will happen to these 35 million people if their jobs become obsolete? It would be preposterous for me to think that there will be an over night shift from foreign to UK production.

However, if their exports become less desirable, there will be a reduction of its scale and a loss of jobs. It is a question of global wealth distribution, I feel that deciding we like things made in Britain would be pulling the rug from under their feet – Your next thought is probably, poor working conditions and bad pay? This is an area we can all make a big difference to and I think this is where the fashion industry should look to expand its influence over the manufacturing process. As the customer, fashion brands have the power to demand that factories are run under certain conditions (many big brands have started to do this). It is also their responsibility to give a fair price to the factories so that they don’t need to cut corners to produce a garment on budget (low staff wages and child labour). If you were after a ‘sustainable’ fashion product, pushing for legislation that improves manufacturing conditions would be far more beneficial than boycotting foreign imports.

Many people will point out that aside from the people involved, shifting manufacture to Britain is about reducing a garments carbon footprint. That is the amount of carbon emitted when it is shipped or flown across the globe (in some cases several times) before it reaches the shop shelf. Without a doubt there are some absurd systems currently in place e.g. cotton grown in India is shipped to China to be made into fabric, the fabric is then transported back to India for dying, then over to Portugal to be made into a garment and sent back to India for finishing (zips, buttons). This is the sort of journey a lot of the clothes we wear makes before it is finally shipped to the UK and into our stores. Bizarrely enough in most cases all these processes could occur in neighbouring factories but it works out financially cheaper to zig zag a garment across the globe – but with a high environmental cost.

My view is that we need to refine the manufacturing process to ‘single country’ production. I figure that it makes little difference if this is the UK or India as the materials we use in clothes production nearly all originate out side the UK so, there will always need to be one journey made (unless there is a sudden UK cotton boom!)

If you fancy exploring where your things are made further, author Fred Pearce provides an intriguing read, as he traces the life journey of everyday products found at his London home in Concessions Of An Eco Sinner (2009).

Posted on July 24, 2011 and filed under Design, Green Living, Third World, Uncategorized.

EcoBuild 2011 | Sustainable Urbanism

Passive Housing and Sustainable Urbanism seemed to be the hype at this years EcoBuild.

The Landscape Institute sponsored a program of seminars focused on 'Sustainability and The City'. With only two hours to spare before dashing back to the other side of London, I stayed to watch a discussion by Wulf Daseking, Head of Planning in The city of Freiburg, Germany. Having written The Freiburg Charter For Sustainable Urbanism in 2010, Wulf had some educated thoughts on urban planning, with a particular focus on  infrastructure and development of the suburbs.

The City of Freiburg (European City of the Year 2010) has been an inspiration to urban planners across Europe for the past decade, as a successful working model of what strategic, people centred planning can deliver. The Charter published last year outlines 12 basic paths towards sustainable urban planning. A major consideration the charter flags up is, building around public transport links to create thriving suburban districts and reduce traffic passing through cities. Wulf emphasised the need for 'short distance' development where residents can walk or travel quickly by public transport to the city centre. This enables consumers to shop locally, therefore retaining wealth in the district; rather than losing trade to large out-of-town supermarkets. Have a read through the charter for more information on, mixed wealth neighbourhoods and land purchase for living rather than development.

A point that stayed with me and that is applicable to most challenges in politics and design, is the idea of " orientation towards long term objectives". In essence, solutions can be found and maintained by looking at the bigger picture. By anticipating change and growth planners can optimise their resources and create a long term strategys that can be sustained over time.

View from the impressive Excel conference centre in East London's docklands.

Posted on March 6, 2011 and filed under Climate Change, Design, Global, Green Living, London, Sustainable Design.

EcoBuild 2011 | Vertical growing

Amongst the chaos at The Excel Centre, I found great examples of raw, natural materials being used and a real shift towards low-tech sustainable building. In previous years, I had always been impressed my the 'techi' solutions for solar and hydro energy generation and sci-fi style insulation. This year there were a number of advocates for back-to-basics and a running theme of traditional craftsmanship and  'localism' (for want of a better word). I have always had an interested in vertical growing and living buildings so, I was pleased to see a huge increase in resources available.

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An example of a growing wall can be seen on East Road just off Old Street roundabout, on the new developments next to Urbanest student accommodation.

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Thoughtful walls, built with nooks and recesses to encourage insect biodiversity.

Posted on March 6, 2011 and filed under Climate Change, Design, Green Living, Sustainable Design, Uncategorized.

Eastern Curve Garden

This week by complete chance, I visited the award winning Eastern Curve Garden.

Having been surrounded by billboards for months and located amidst the chaos and building developments at Dalston Junction, I had failed to spot this great project. The Curve Garden is a shared vegetable garden and workspace for Dalston's local community, built on a former railway plot.

The space is free for anyone to use between 11am-4pm. There is a sheltered classroom area hosting a variety of talks and a weekly gardening club held on Saturdays.

The project was funded by the London Development Agency/Design for London as part of the 'Making Space In Dalston' project and  is supported by Hackney Council.

Due to limited space this is not a traditional allotment, everyone involved works to grow vegetables for the group, they are then shared out. Rather than being completely responsible for your own patch. This is great for someone like myself, who is far from a gardening expert and can only visit once a week!

Check out events going on at Curve Garden

 

EVENT: 2nd May 2011 The Pizza Oven launch party

Posted on February 8, 2011 and filed under Design, Green Living, London, Sustainable Design.

The Bigger Picture 24/10/09

The Bigger Picture  

The HUGE queue this weekend at The Bigger Picture Festival @ The Bargehouse. London.

A series of talks, performances, workshops and exhibits discussing, what life could or must be like  if we are to live sustainably - outside of our current economic system.

'We know that we’re living in a period of converging crises: there’s little doubt that we face a daunting array of social, economic, politcal and environmental challenges. But we don’t always see how inter-related these challenges are, nor the solutions which them into opportunities for positive change.' (www.thebiggerpicture2009.org)

NEF (New Economics Foundation) director, Stewart Wallis aptly described how society is caught in a 'hamster wheel effect' - we are fearful to make big changes to our economic and social models and so the cycle continues...re-creating the same problems we are striving to repair again and again.

There was a huge turnout for Saturdays event, leading to an hour long queue to even get inside!  However, the queue formed a captive audience for a number of weird and wonderful performances by poets & activists.

 

For more info: www.thebiggerpicture2009.org

Posted on October 26, 2009 and filed under Design, Green Living, London, Sustainable Design, Third World.

DMY Berlin - International Design Festival

At the beginning of this year, I had the brilliant idea of moving to Berlin permanently! Dan and I went on a research trip out there to find the best spot in town to live. The trip also happened to coincide with the International Design Festival DMY - Perfect timing!  

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I DO really need to mention the 'Fatboy hammock' outside - Amazing! (www.fatboy.com)

I was keen to see how important Sustainability was on the design scene in Berlin. It being my area of interest and expertise. I wanted to find contacts and projects to get involved with. The only problem is, I can not speak a word of German - even after extensive youtube watching!

Germany has been ahead of the game for years and I hoped I'd find this at DMY.

 

I was impressed by the day to day mentality of the German people to greener living - all the systems seem to be in place  so, it is easy to be green, whether is is via transport, recycling or good product sourcing.

Some great ideas from DMY include:

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COLO by Peter Schwartz & Helene Steiner

COLO

"the colo-concept breaks with the handling-habits of an old-fashioned dishwasher. it's a reduction of the machine to its essentials, orientated on user-needs. colo merges the dishwasher with the sink. at this, handling-complexity is also reduced to a minimum. there is no need to sort in the dishes piece for piece, simply place the tray with all of it in the sink, and simply put the tray back on the wall when it's done."

For more info: www.wachshaus.com

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This is one of my favourites: 

BETAHAUS DESIGN

 

betahaus

 

"Since march the future of work has become present at betahaus: a 1000 qm work space and network platform for 120 creatives with a café located at Berlin’s Moritzplatz. Guidances several times daily. As contemporary platform for art and design betahaus presents products for the mobile knowledge worker. Interactiv installations abolish pretended boarders between analog and digital. With designers from Germany, Netherlands and Norway."

For more info: www.betahaus.de

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COMPRESSEDAIRBIKE by Nicola Zocca

Compressed air bike

 

"The whole bike's frame is a tank for air. A little air motor is placed beneath the seat. A transmission connects it to the rear wheel. Using a valve, it is possible to control the air that helps the cyclist to pedal."

Could this encourage commuters?

For more info: www.nicolazocca.com

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PIEGATO by Matthias Ries

piegato

"Piegato is a sheet steel rack with a surprisingly carrying capacity.  The laser cut and powder coated sheet steel is been delivered almost completely plain, which results in a simple and cost effetive transportation. The customer then folds the required amount of shelfs from the plain and mounts the hole rack with just two screws in a few minutes.

Based on the enviromental friendly production, the freight size and the recyclability Piegato also holds a brilliant ecological balance."

For more info: www.matthiasries.com

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COEN by Moritz Bottcher & Soren Henssler

Coen Lights

Berlin based consultancy, Coen Lights

For more info: www.boettcher-henssler.de

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LEAVES by Maria Tsartsali

Leaves

 

"One side is coated with natural latex, which helps them retain their elasticity and texture.  They can be a wallpaper or a curtain stuck with blu-tack, a rug or anything you wish. The idea is to highlight the beauty of nature and recreate the natural environment in an interior setting."

For more info: www.thickandtastyxxx.com

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Having said all this, I have decided to stay in London for the time being. I love the buzz! Although, Berlin is a very cool place (including a beach by the river), London has EVERYTHING! 

Online Design Mag: http://www.form.de/w3.php?nodeId=108&lang=2&pVId=124679306

Useful Dutch Mag: http://damnmagazine.net/newsitems

Posted on October 22, 2009 and filed under Green Living, Sustainable Design.