Innov_ex 09 Eco-innovation in the context of recession
6 May 2009
Organisers Mike Parsons and Mary Rose (Lancaster University)
The OIA, headline sponsors see Innov_ex as being about the future health of the UK outdoor trade -a health that can be achieved by better understanding the balancing of commercial and environmental choices and by the development of the next generation of innovators. Innov_ex 2009 fulfilled both those aims. The agenda, with its focus on transparency, carbon foot-printing and sustainable business models highlighted the importance of making informed choices across the whole supply chain. The student innovation prize attracted some exceptional entries and highlighted outstanding creativity among new designers.
Robert Lomax Baxenden Chemicals, a Chemura Company. Cotton versus Polyester: behind the myths!
Click the image above to hear and see this presentation.
Mike Redwood (University of Northampton) Cradle to Cradle and the complexities of using leather
Click on Image above to access Mike Redwood’s presentation.
all showed that transparency requires manufacturers and retailers to consider how the materials they use are processed and with what implications. They exploded many myths around what might be seen as ‘natural’ and therefore environmentally friendly. They all highlighted how crucial it was to look at the entire supply chain when making choices. In outlining and illustrating Bluesign’s strategy, Fischer showed how Bluesign brought together chemical suppliers, fibre manufacturers, textile manufacturers and brands and retailers ‘to reduce the environmental footprint of the textile industry’ while also assessing consumer protection. Both Robert Lomax and Mike Redwood highlighted the myths behind ‘the natural.’
Robert Lomax’s presentation provides a complete guide for product designers, retailers and consumers of the myths and realities of polyester and cotton. He shows that there are greater opportunities for re-processing of polyester than cotton and that the production of raw cotton, while highly toxic has seen improvements with shifts to organic production and controversial genetic modification. Redwood’s discussion of leather and focus on cradle to cradle innovation showed how in leather for change to have an impact it needed to embrace more than the legal requirements but reach down deep into the design process and quoting from Michael Braungart showed the need for a paradigm shift in design thinking: “Don’t just change small things, reinvent everything!”.
In the video conferencing session where Alan Knight OBE and Chris Sherwin from Forum for the Future joined us from their London offices, they resolved a key question in everyone’s mind; can ‘eco’ projects be sustained during the recession? Comparison was made with the 1990 recession when environmental issues became squeezed from the agenda. This is not happening in the current recession where eco-programmes have been embedded into company financial structures. The best example is M&S who publicly cancelled the advertising budget of Plan A, their objective of being carbon neutral by 2012. However, the core work itself has continued and is already paying for itself. The key advice being given was not to try layering a new eco model on top of existing but to take time to build your eco-strategy directly into your product strategy from the very beginning. “invest in green technologies and you will emerge stronger from the recession” was the advice from Chris.
Click on image below to access Alan Knight’s section of this presentation
Click on image below Chris Sherwin Head of Innovation Forum for the Future
Alan (as a pragmatic industrialist) shared his view of where the sustainability debate is going. Jonathon Porrit’s view was that the recession was actually caused by the unsustainability, financially, environmentally and socially of the business models of the world in which we currently live and work. Consumerism has been a key driver of modern capitalism for over 100 years and is the basis for our life style today. But it is not workable for the 6 billion world wide population today, let alone the projected 8 billion by 2040. There is little evidence that vast arrays of possessions make people happier. Short of the unthinkable happening and several natural catastrophes wiping out say 50% of the population, he highlighted the need for a fundamental change in attitudes to consumerism and to our business models. Our current business models show that a rain forest (hard woods) is worth more as garden seats than as rain forest. Long term sustainability means changing the business model or not offering products which threaten future sustainability. Changing everything all at once is not feasible but its possible to ask ‘what is the contribution in your core range to the new direction’ ?
Profound thinking and much food for thought. Maybe a society where experiences and knowledge are more important than possessions would be more sustainable and one which would fit well with the ethos of the outdoor industry.
Carbon footprinting is, as Mike Berners-Lee (Small World Consulting) showed, about making choices that make a difference. Having Innov_ex 09 carbon footprinted, alongside a combination of video conferencing with Forum for the Future and live web-streaming, is itself innovative and raises implications for business. For paid for conferences such as Innov_ex there are implications for our business model, but the internal company conference coudl be much easier to resolve? How could ‘greener’ conferencing reduce your carbon footprint and your costs by reducing the amount of travel?
The Live webstreaming combined with mobile is already changing behaviours:
Comments on Live web-streaming of Innov_ex
Sarah Howcroft the co-founder of the clothing brand Rohan
Well done on the conference to yourself and Mike.
I remained glued to my PC screen much of the day.
Could I have a link to the podcast for Forum for the Future at some point please.
Charles Ross, conference delegate – Sarah was texting me from her office about the issues arising from lecturers’ talks which I was watching live and she was watching on web stream.
Diana den Held (Gevleugeldewoorden.nl) Netherlands’ strategist for Cradle to Cradle implementation- in e-mail to speaker Mike Redwood
Thank you very much for taking some time to send me these 2 articles Mike, it was very nice to watch your talk (streaming video) as well.
I’m honoured to meet you at Twitter, and will probably come back to you about this in the near future.
We are exploring how to increase the level of ‘virtual’ interactivity during the conference for 2010.
Rapid prototyping was familiar to most in the audience but the inspirational session by Phil Reeves of Econolyst
Click on image below for Phil Reeves Presentation
and Jason Jones of De Montfort University on rapid manufacturing to quote Mike Parsons : ‘ these presentations fundamentally shifted perceptions of the way we think about design and manufacturing’ . It shifts what we understand by manufacturing to a vision of user driven innovation with implications for the entire global supply chain. New technology brings the potential to return the manufacture process from the offshore factory to the lead user – a reversion to craft without the cost implications. on rapid manufacturing to quote Mike Parsons : ‘ these presentations fundamentally shifted perceptions of the way we think about design and manufacturing’ . It shifts what we understand by manufacturing to a vision of user driven innovation with implications for the entire global supply chain. New technology brings the potential to return the manufacture process from the offshore factory to the lead user – a reversion to craft without the cost implications.
Click on the image below to view Jason Jones presentation