Sustainability Statement

For us, the concept of sustainability means considering how our business negatively affects the planet's ecology and then making an effort to minimise our impact. Yet, claiming to be sustainable seems faddish and prone to greenwashing because of how difficult it is to genuinely achieve. Nevertheless, every little action can combine to make a difference, so this is why we feel it's worth making an effort.

In the 1970s, scientist James Lovelock put forward the 'Gaia hypothesis'. In essence, this proposed that the Earth, along with all its living and non-living components, behaves like a single, self-regulating organism. Regardless of whether you subscribe to the idea of interconnectedness, it’s difficult to argue that actions don’t have consequences. For example, if a water supply is poisoned and someone drinks from it, they will get sick. This is why we believe it's important to try and keep ecosystems healthy and in balance. If the planet is healthy, people will be healthy.

As a designer, I feel there’s a lot of beauty and inspiration to be gained from nature. My first abiding memory was from Malaysia, where I lived for a time as a child. Encountering vivid green snakes and giant luminous butterflies are etched into my mind.  
Later, when I worked in the screen production industry, I made a conscious effort to be a part of projects that promoted the natural world. Filming for National Geographic, I spent a year in Africa's Okavango Delta. Other notable projects included spending two years as a cameraman promoting the conservation work of Auckland Zoo and a year creating content for Sir Peter Blake's Blakexpeditions.
There were many nature-focused projects, but my time in the Okavango Delta stands out. Being permitted to camp anywhere and experience such a complex and dynamic ecosystem, largely untrammelled by humans, was a revelation. In my mind, the intense colours of the Carmine-bee eater, or tasting Bluff Oysters direct from the sea, are experiences worth preserving.
So, what are we actually doing? When we design, we favour sustainable, non-toxic materials. We then consider the environmental impact of freighting materials to our studio. During the manufacturing process, we consider waste, toxicity, and packaging. Finally, we consider the environmental impact of delivering our products to our customers. A good example of this process is our Woven Kaiapoi pendant. It is constructed from renewable FSC timber and recycled PET felt. The felt is locally sourced from a carbon-neutral business. Our manufacturing is carefully planned to minimise waste, and we use VOC-free, non-toxic wood oil. The pendant is packaged without single-use plastics, primarily using non-dyed cardboard. It is then shipped flat-packed to reduce transport emissions. Ultimately, we don’t design for obsolescence; it's our intent that your luminaire will retain value for generations - which will, in effect, keep pollutants out of the natural environment for the life of the pendant.

However, as a small creative business striving to create beautiful products, we sometimes use less sustainable materials because of how they look or function, or because of availability. But we can't help but feel compelled to favour locally sourced ethically produced materials, such as timber or bio-resins, over materials such as metal and glass, primarily because of their embodied sustainability.

Finally, we view our little studio in Wanaka as a microcosm of the issues of sustainability. 5KW of solar power provides clean energy for our tools, our wastewater flows into an on-site treatment system, and our off-cuts are sent to a local landfill. We like being directly affected by our actions because it forces us to consider the consequences of our choices. For example, putting too much toxic waste into our sinks could contaminate our water supply and creating too much material waste only adds to Wanaka’s landfill challenges. These tangible consequences serve to keep us honest and to remind us of the wider unseen impact of our choices.

There you have it, our sustainability statement. We are not perfect, but we are conscious of the need and value of living in balance with our planet, so we are making an effort where we can.

Buzz Burrows. April 2024.