The Power of Individual Action by Roddy Clarke
Interior Stylist and Presenter Roddy Clarke is a key supporter of our One Planet initiative and he shares his thoughts on individual action in the feature below...
As we strive for a circular future, there has never been a more pressing time to understand the impact we have on the wider community.
When discussing sustainability, even the term itself has become an enigma. What does it really mean and, how do we address it after a year like 2020? With lockdowns and restrictions forcing our lifestyle habits to change, many shifts are beginning to emerge. While many organizations may see the topic merely as a commercial opportunity, we, as consumers, must understand the investments we make and the impact each purchase has. Can the product be traced back to its source? How is it packaged? How is it transported? These questions should be something we raise for each item we buy which, in turn, will influence brands to rethink their own approach in providing transparent and ethical solutions.
As 2020 has shown, when communities work together for good, real change can occur. And, as we seek to rebuild societies and economies across the world, in the wake of a global pandemic, our individual actions have never been more significant. While the challenges may often seem unsurmountable, it is important to appreciate the value of those small, committed steps which can take each of us on a path to a brighter future ahead. This passion for change will also radiate outwardly, encouraging those in our circles of influence to feel inspired and motivated as well.
There are many ways we can personally contribute to the sustainable movement, but it all starts with a change in mindset. These three simple tips can be used as a motivator in the next step of our own journey, especially as we move into a new year.
Buy local where possible. While this may not be feasible every time you make a purchase, buying local immediately reduces the logistical impact, and carbon footprint, of ordering something from afar.
Invest in independent makers and artisans. By purchasing from craftspeople directly, you can trace back each item to its source. And, in doing so, you also engage in the narrative behind each piece which will add more meaning and depth to the home.
Ask questions. Consumers have more influence than we realize. By simply asking questions, for example, to find out where an item is made or how it is packaged, we can then begin to understand the impact the purchase will have. If the brand isn’t open to such questions, maybe rethink the purchase entirely.
While these are just a few starting points, there are many ways we can remove ourselves from the vast cycle of consumerism which is plaguing the planet. Buying less but buying items that will last longer, investing in second-hand items and buying unpackaged goods are also further simple ways in which we can make a difference. When considering vintage items, founder of Anemone Interiors, Lia Briamonte, agrees. “Not only is vintage furniture a sustainable option, it is also so personal and unique to the buyer.” She comments. “I recently upholstered a 1970s Harrods sofa in the most fabulous Kirkby fabric. I could have sold it ten times over, yet some lucky owner is the only holder of such a piece. How fabulous is that?”
While many may say that such small shifts won’t really make a mark on what needs to happen globally, we must realize that if everyone took these steps, change would happen a lot quicker collectively! And, in the words of Robert Swan (polar explorer turned environmentalist), “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” So, it starts with each one of us. By taking one step at a time, instead of pointing fingers, and using our right to vote in electing officials who have the right morals, values and ethics, we can ensure the economy will be rebuilt using green strategies and equal consideration for all community members. Demanding this change will be seen in the actions we make, as citizens who are passionate for a sustainable, successful, fair and positive future for all.
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