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Sustainable design is not just about changing your paper stock to a recycled alternative (though this is a very important change to make and can cut your carbon emissions of your print considerably). In order to start really making a difference you must fully understand the obstacles and no go areas in order to find the alternative, and generally more interesting routes.

Climate change sets us an entirely new challenge. Its nature and scale reveals that existing commercial structures & social mechanisms just aren’t up to it. Everything we do must be scrutinised and potentially re-designed.

These new sustainable design solutions are being sought out more and more and if you can start to build your understanding of what is possible you will be able to influence your clients, suppliers, peers and directors.

This means seriously looking at your thinking process and focusing on a more lateral approach to creative problems. It means changing your decision pathways to other solutions and thinking about alternative ‘crazy, but might just work’ ideas. It could mean finding fellow collaborators and sympathetic colluders to help you create change. All of this is not rocket science but just good design practice.

Don’t underestimate your ‘sphere of influence’ As designers and practitioners we can be the social agents that can clarify the issues, cook up the energy and begin the movement towards a more sustainable.

We believe it is now time to begin to build in sustainable thinking as part of every design process. Don’t think of it as an add on at the end but more like learning a new language - hard to get to grips with at the beginning, but very rewarding once you can begin to use it fluently and without thinking about it. 


Waste is really a design flaw.

“Waste is really a design flaw” Kate Krebbs (NRC)

This is the final line in an interesting article about recycling on the economist.com.

thomas.matthews' "Ten Ways Design Can Fight Climate Change"

“At thomas.matthews we have been working with sustainability as an underlying principle for ten years since our formation in 1997. In these years we have been researching and using innovative materials, products and processes, building awareness and pushing out to our suppliers and clients, our sphere of influence, trying to effect change in our damaging industry”
Sophie Thomas, thomas.matthews/Three Trees

There's some really useful information on the thomas.matthews site, including a great booklet entitled ten ways design can fight climate change. Here is a summary of the list, and you can download the entire booklet in PDF form from the link below.

1. re-thinking
2. re-using
3. using friendly materials
4. saving energy
5. sharing new ideas
6. designing to last
7. staying local, buying ethical
8. supporting what we believe
9. inspiring, having fun
10. saving money


Get Involved

Please let us know any updates to the information on this page. We are building up our knowledgebank and will transfer this information to a wiki style database once our funding is in place.

Please email info@three-trees.org

    This is one of a series of five factsheets.

1. The Studio
2. Innovation
3. Paper
4. Print
5. Digital

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