I love working on sustainable residential and hospitality projects and spreading the word (and images!) of what sustainable design really is and how stunning sustainability can be. A great example of this is a LEED Platinum designated home in Los Angeles for Ed Begley, Jr. and his wife Rachelle Carson-Begley for which I’m consulting on sustainable materials and products.
In my debut on The Green Divas Radio, I got to share the show with Ed (scroll down to the end to listen to the full show). Listen to my segment below, then read on to learn about a lesser known yet powerful component of sustainable design.
You might be thinking solely of the environment when I mention Ed in relation to his home as well as sustainable design. But did you know there is so much more to sustainability than being eco-friendly? It actually covers many areas like health and safety, economic sustainability and social responsibility. The latter involves ethical choices and is the concept behind fair trade. It means that the artisans, farmers and producers (often in Third World countries) behind a range of products, are paid fairly. That leads to more sustainable livelihoods for them which thus contribute to a more sustainable world.
This might be the point when some of you are thinking that you shouldn’t be responsible for items made abroad and will use all USA made products. Perhaps you’re not sure you have to do anything about global sustainability and the fundamental right of human beings to live in dignity and free of poverty. Maybe you’re convinced you can live on items all made in the USA. Well, I invite you to consider that it’s unlikely that you rely solely on American made elements, whether it’s the clothing you wear or the décor in your home. Also, keep in mind that USA made or even handmade does not mean something is fully sustainable and thus good for the planet.
So be sure to look beyond the place of origin. Back to my point about the inevitable truth that somewhere in our lives we are bound to rely on items made in other countries, often Third World. An easy way for you to get this is to read the labels on your clothing. You’re likely already supporting foreign manufacturing. So, essentially you have a choice, to purchase fair trade or not, to change lives or not.
An easy way you can make a difference and impact a community is with your rug purchase. There are a variety of labels for which to look. Fair Trade Certified labels from Fair Trade USA can be found on some rugs at West Elm. There are also the GoodWeave and Care & Fair labels, which certify rugs not made by children. In the rug industry, there are approximately 250,000 children making rugs, down from about 1 million in 1995, according to GoodWeave. Simply by choosing to spend your money on a rug that was not made by children, you could save a child’s life and contribute to a community’s sustainability which ultimately contributes to your sustainability.
To learn more about fair trade and sustainable design if you’re in the LA area, please join me at Fair Trade LA’s monthly meetings!
Listen to the full Green Divas Radio Show. You can hear Ed Begley Jr. around minute 20:00.
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About the author:
Rachel Winokur, based in LA, received an International Design Award for her eco-luxe spa at Casa del Mar. Other projects range from a LEED home for Ed Begley, Jr. to a Villa in Saudi Arabia to a home in Boston. Rachel’s 13 years of design include Dwell Media showcases; being featured in Dwell, House Beautiful, Coastal Living and Angeleno Interiors; and appearing on HGTV’s Design Warsand House Crashers. Icon magazine voted her as one of the “rising stars in the design world”. Rachel is an Allied Member of ASID (Sustainability Committee), and a member of Fair Trade LA.