Today’s journal is less about hints and tips and more a reflection on our industry. I’d love to hear from anyone who can point me in the direction of answers to a few of the questions that arise regarding eco solutions for curtains and blinds.
I recently turned the wrong side of 50, so I’m not going to claim here that I have the same innate focus on ‘eco’ as those much younger than me. I think its something they now think of naturally whereas for me its certainly a more conscious effort, and I hope in time this will really make an impact as younger people move upwards in their careers and exert a positive influence on all of us.
As an industry we still have a long, long way to go before I can write a detailed blog about the environmental options available to us as makers and designers. As I write this the Suez Canal delays are highlighting the freight miles so many of our fabrics and interior products endure to get to us.
There is, however, some good news and I detect more and more interest from our suppliers in the environmental impact of their products, shipping, and waste.
Whether it is to do with Brexit delays/increasing costs, a focus on UK manufacturing or even an awareness of Greta T’s campaigning, many of our suppliers seem to be looking for UK based mills to produce more and more of their stock. I’m super happy if it is creating jobs and reducing the distances products are shipped, but we do need to be aware of the sourcing of many of the raw materials, which may well lesson the environmental plusses seen at 1st sight.
Abraham Moon & Sons maintain, I believe, the only vertical mill in England – its all made on the same site - which hugely reduces shipping between manufacturers in the production process.
Wool is a real strength and the likes of Johnstons of Elgin, the Harris Tweed weavers and Bute fabrics add to this rich tapestry of native manufacturing.
I remember once buying some gorgeous purple tinged tweed from the Isle of Harris and thinking that it was pretty cool when Callum's wife was cycling to the post office to send it to us.
The following video is more about their clothing fabrics but oh boy! if you are anything like me, you'll be wanting to use Johnston's fabrics...
Linwood fabrics now highlight UK produced fabrics with clear labelling, and they recently launched a recycled woven cotton collection called Verde, which further benefits from being chemical free. I believe this is an area the team there are keen to expand, and as ever they remain a big favourite of ours.
Romo have long produced Leaf recycled wools with their Kirkby by Design brand, and it’s been a popular choice for our customers over the years. Salvaged yarns from the fashion industry make this appear to me to be a great product, and the colours are fab too.
There is a definitely a balance to be considered for some fabrics that make greater use of chemicals in their production processes. Many of the stain resist fabrics don’t tick the eco boxes per se, but will wear far better and so their ‘shelf life’ needs to be taken into consideration as they can be replaced less often. Martindale and rub tests are also worth thinking about here, as they also add longevity to a product.
In the blinds world, 2020 saw the launch of Decorquip’s Sweetwater Range of roller blinds, manufactured from 100% recycled ocean plastics. I really like this initiative and for commercial projects I think this has great potential as companies look more and more at their own impact on our world. Decorquip have estimated that a typical roller blind recovers the equivalent of 13 water bottles, 55 carrier bags or 730 drinking straws from our seas.
Writing this brief blog has made me realise even more what a lot I have to learn and how many more questions I should be asking of our suppliers. Where is the wood sourced for our poles? What initiatives are they taking to offset their carbon footprint? Don’t get me started on packaging…
We get quite a kick out of reusing older, treasured heirlooms to remake or rejuvinate. I remember 2 pairs of antique silk curtains we managed to rescue into a new single pair, retaining their fading and history, delighting the customer who remembered them from her childhood home. Recently we made a headboard incorporating our client's mum's GP & J Baker fabrics - it looked as good as new.
We are soon to sign a lease on a larger workroom and it is already on our mind to look into green power, whether bought in or self-produced from our rooves. I think, on balance, I might spend some more time looking into this. We already have plans to replace some car journeys to London with trains trips, both to improve our environment and help us keep on top of our admin (if we can get a table) - it's gotta feel better too? We live in a rural community and while it isn't a specifically eco solution, we are hoping to create new jobs in this area, including some apprenticeships next year.
Our impact on our communities, our planet, and working lives - they all matter. Small steps they say... lets all try take a few in 2021.
If you’ve found this interesting please share.
Next time… hand-made vs machined