My journey with Ecosophy began a couple of years ago when I was thinking of making a career change into interior design. I've always loved decoration, but the environmental impact of it has troubled me. I didn't want to become a designer who created beautiful homes using products that created ugliness elsewhere.
After taking some design courses and researching the market, I quickly realised that there were very few resources available to designers wishing to use sustainable materials. This got me thinking about the possibility of setting up a homeware brand - one that would sell sustainable products and inspire people to live ecologically.
Having recently completed an MSc in anthropology, I was in the habit of over-thinking things, and so I began to question what it means to live ecologically. Eco lifestyles are often described using words such as 'slow' and 'simple' -an appealing image for many urban dwellers who long for a less complicated life, one that is rooted in place and in touch with the rhythms of nature. But for others, the implication that we need to give up complexity and abundance - the very things that make life exciting - means that ecological living can seem pretty dull. But does it really have to be this way?
The term ecology refers to the relationships between living organisms and their environment. So, to take an ecological approach to something is to consider the web of relationships that sustains it and is, in turn, affected by it. As humans, what is our web of relationships? For those of us in industrialised countries, our web is a pretty complicated one. In fact, it's so complicated that most of us have no idea what it looks like. Do we know where our food comes from? What are our clothes made of? Where does our waste go? We all live ecologically, but most of us do so without any awareness of it.
Given the complex nature of modern life, how can we become more ecologically aware? Should we try to simplify our lives by buying everything locally, or is there another way that embraces the complexity of the modern world? The answer to this will be different for each person, but an appreciation for the real meaning of ecology - connection - may be a good place to start.
Somewhere we can begin this appreciation is in our homes. The term 'eco' actually comes from the Greek word oikos, which means 'home'. It reflects the fact that our home, whether we are a plant or a human, is made up of connections. By celebrating these connections and harnessing them wisely, be they local or global, we can create abundance in our individual homes and in our wider home, the earth.
One concrete way in which we can do this is through decoration. Our individual decorating choices may seem insignificant, but they have a direct impact on the lives of others and the health of the environment. Through purchasing an organic cushion cover produced by Indian artisans, we can enjoy the beauty of craft and the healing power of natural dyes while supporting livelihoods that value artisanal skills and sustainable use of natural resources. In a world in which cheap, throwaway textiles are the norm and the textile industry is characterised by pollution and a focus on speed over skills, such a decision represents something significant - a relationship to the world that is ecologically aware rather than blind.
There is so much that we in the UK can do to create a fairer and more sustainable world. A great place to start is by becoming more ecologically aware, and my goal with Ecosophy is to contribute to this awareness. In doing so, I hope to show how ecological living can be a path not of denial, but of renewal – for ourselves and our world.