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Honest chats: stylist Roddy Clarke on making a home which nurtures both people and the planet

Roddy Clarke is a designer, stylist and interiors journalist. An advocate for creating sustainable homes, he is passionate about encouraging others to make small but effective changes in the way we decorate our homes. Sustainability is a term which frequently gets bandied around – to the extent that we can become a bit numb to its meaning. It can sometimes feel like a rather inaccessible ideal, coloured by thoughts of installing complex eco-friendly systems throughout the house. It goes without saying that the greener our homes are, the better. However there are some undeniably simple ways to avoid excess waste and cultivate a healthier living space.

‘Circular economy’ is a term coined to describe how we can move forward from fast consumption – buying and getting rid of things again – to an approach where we minimise waste and make the most of our resources. Circular living is slowly become A Thing! What does this look like in practice? Keen to know Roddy’s thoughts on combatting a throwaway culture, we asked him all about his own life and the small ways in which he is managing to steer his home towards greener pastures.

Left: Roddy seen talking about sustainable interiors at Clerkenwell Design Week
Find Roddy on Instagram here

Hi Roddy! What are your concerns about the increasing throwaway culture?

Over the past 2-3 decades, the rise of a ’throwaway’ mindset has spiralled with serious consequences which we are only now realising. The rise in landfill levels, the destruction of ecosystems due to deforestation and the plastic which is floating in the world’s oceans are all down to poor human consumption. We, especially in the Western world, have become accustomed to having everything at our fingertips with the arrogance of thinking we can replace things when we get bored. Unfortunately, the rise of the high street has funded this concept and the insurmountable task of changing this consumer behaviour worries me. We all have to pull together to make change happen; governments, designers, retailers, consumers and so on – we all play a part in this. And change is possible – but we have to act now!

Have you noticed this occurring in your own home and life?

Absolutely, I have become very aware of my own actions and habits over the past years and I still have a long way to go. It is all about sharing tips with each other and working together to help each other find ways of changing our habits. When it comes to interiors, I have always been one to shop in flea markets and antiques stores as I was lucky enough to grow up with a family background of restoration which instilled in me the mindset of preserving items. I avoid trends and create a timeless interior which is personal to me as the items are less likely to leave me then. Also, with my lifestyle being more fluid, I rent items instead of buying. This contributes to a circular economy and is again a more sustainable option.

What do you do personally to increase a sense of circular living?

Firstly, renting items if you are in a short term let is a good circular solution. Secondly, always opt for restoration or repair before replacement. And thirdly, if making a purchase always have a long term view. How long will you need it for? Do you have a personal connection to it? If you do decide you won’t need it at some point, can it be recycled, repurposed or reused? If you question yourself this much when making a purchase it will cut out a lot of unnecessary consumerism. 

What are your tips for making small moves in the right direction?

Start one room at a time. Which items contain single use plastic and could be swapped for an alternative? By compartmentalising things, it then becomes more achievable. 

Regarding interiors, when buying for the home, start local. Nowadays, there is an abundance of local craftspeople producing small batch goods and you can visit their workshops to discover the stories behind their making, again, giving you a personal connection to the piece. When it comes to a purchase, as I have already mentioned, question yourself thoroughly to eliminate any unnecessary consumerism. These are small steps towards a more circular lifestyle and again, taking one step at a time is better than taking none at all!

Why do you think it’s important to be intentional about our homes?

It is so important to have a connection with our homes, rather than buying pieces which potentially you have seen in a store and you think look nice. Homes are our safe havens and it is important they offer a true representation of who you – this way you are less likely to want to change things and chuck things out if you get bored. 

How do you think practicing responsible consumerism will look over the next 10 years?

For change to happen, responsible consumerism needs to become the norm. This doesn’t just happen from us as consumers. A lot of it stems back to manufacturers and retailers taking a strong stance against these bad habits. Hopefully, with government support too, change will take place and we have to remain positive in our quest for a brighter future. Even looking over the last two years, I think awareness has increased and more conversations are taking place which is definitely a good place to start. 

Is there a link between sustainability and self care, i.e. both humans and the planet need to be nurtured, do these relate to each other

Absolutely. The goal is to create an environment where humans, wildlife and the planet can all cohabit successfully together with a sense of mutual support. With this positive mindset towards the environment, it automatically breeds an attitude of self-care towards ourselves. For instance, using sustainably-sourced natural materials, such as hemp and wood, brings organic elements into our spaces. This not only improves the air we breathe inside our homes but also provides a recyclable and reusable material option.

Breathe new life into remarkable vintage design and browse our collection of characterful finds here.

Roddy’s top five Vinterior vintage finds!

  1. Pieces like this which date back centuries always make me inquisitive. I love to know the history of a piece and think about what it’s seen throughout its lifetime and to contemplate how I am adding to that story.

2. Home offices can be tricky to decorate but items like this vintage filling cabinet brings a sense of 1940s class into the space and makes you feel like you are in your own period drama!

3. I love the scalloped back of this mid-century sofa. The silhouette brings a softness into the room whilst making a beautiful feature. 

4. I am obsessed with Danish mid-century pieces and this sideboard would be a perfect addition to the living room. I love the subtle details such as the handles and the quality and dexterity which has gone into the piece.

5. I have a collection of Murano glass pieces so this would fit perfectly. I love the pop of colour when adding pieces like this into a pared-back and minimal interior.

Title image: roddyclarke.com/about

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