We agree wholeheartedly that it is time to ‘get the environmental bandwagon rolling’ and to show that there is a problem worth solving (Businesses must be won over to sustainable cause – Letters, DW, 2 June).
We also strongly believe that designers hold the key and are in a prime position to help make this of benefit to everyone – consumers, retailers, other design consultancies, and, of course, the environment.
The overall market share of ethical consumerism has increased by almost 40 per cent in five years. Sales of Fair Trade goods have almost doubled since 2003 and sales of energy efficient appliances have increased by £273m in the same period. (Source: Co-operative Bank Ethical Purchasing Index.)
The Sunday Times Style magazine (12 June) even puts ethical consumerism in its going up style guide.
The time is ripe and it’s an opportunity for retailers, a sector that can’t afford not to do something about it.
Obviously, the commercial world has financial interests, along with a tendency to lean towards short-term gain. But as designers we need to make people aware of the consequences of their actions, introduce the concept of payback and then link it to the sustainable cause to allow it to become a big enough motivator to create change. The environmentally friendly message needs to be marketed effectively to educate and engage audiences and show the value for commerce.
It is a steep hill to climb, but as part of our New Leaf project, we want to work with retailers to help them maximise their gain, and to help consumers maximise theirs.
By highlighting the benefits for all involved, we hope ethical consumerism can steer itself towards becoming second nature, rather than a fluctuating question of individual conscience.
Rachael Smith, Creative planner, Fraserdesign, Hertfordshire, HP1 2RH