Naresh Ramchandani is the co-founder of environmental non-profit Do The Green Thing, a partner at design firm Pentagram and a practitioner of what he calls “communications with a conscience.” Together with WWF, Do The Green Thing commissioned designers and artists to create a collection of everyday objects that inspire people to live more sustainably for Earth Hour. These became known as the ‘Everyday Things Collection’.
We asked Naresh about the collection and how design can change the world.
What’s the idea behind Do The Green Thing?
Do The Green Thing is a public service for the planet. Our manifesto is ‘Creativity vs Climate Change,’ and we curate and publish wonderful pieces of creativity by artists and designers from around the world to encourage people to do simple things to be greener in their everyday lives. To ensure those pieces of creativity are focussed, they are all based on actions recommended by our environmental advisors. And to ensure they are seen as widely as possible, we publish throughout the year and look to amplify through partnerships with like-minded organisations, such as Unilever, with whom we are currently working, and with WWF, who we’re working with to support Earth Hour, the biggest climate-change action moment of the year.
What can design do to change the planet?
Well if you define design as all the products and communication that have been created to encourage and affirm our consumerist lifestyles, then you could say that design has changed the planet already. It’s design that helps to convince us that we need exotic holidays or this year’s shoes or this month’s phone or else we’re not glamorous enough or hip enough or with it enough. Equally, deployed well, design can help to convince us that holidays at home are as special as holidays overseas, that last year’s shoes are worth mending and keeping and that last month’s phone is not any worse than this month’s. That’s the idea of Do The Green Thing: to use creativity to make sustainable behaviour as desirable as it makes unsustainable behaviour…to give sustainable behaviour a fighting chance.
Tell me a bit more about the ‘Everyday Things’ collection
When we worked with WWF to support Earth Hour in 2013 and 2014, we worked with artists and designers to create posters that promoted sustainable behaviour. The posters, by wonderful people like Sir Paul Smith, Sir Quentin Blake, Rankin and David Shrigley, were both fantastic and heartfelt, and were shared to tens of millions around the world. But this year we wanted to do something a little different; we wanted to put a series of Everyday Things into the fabric of everyday life, real objects as tangible messages and real world examples of sustainable practice to combat climate change, the most real problem our world faces. When we asked artists and designers around the world to be part of Everyday Things, we had no idea how they would would react, but the response has been just amazing.
What’s your favourite design in the ‘Everyday Things’ collection?
To be honest I would love to have them all around me: I would love to be sitting in Nous Vous’ Crate Chair surveying Kristiina Tuura’s Flowerbed by my window, admiring Sophie’s Hawaiian beach lights and polishing Dorothy’s No Globe with my David Shrigley’s As Vulture Does tea towel. While my daughter makes a cardboard box-bot using Hudson Powell’s M.A.T.S, I would pour myself a glass of tap water from a bottle topped by Yair Neuman’s TopTap and gaze longingly at Daniel Weil’s Flower Glass while listening to music played on Simon Elvins’ Paper Record Player.
Then, getting up and turning off my light (thanks to Torsten Sherwood’s Lightsaver), I would stride into the world wearing PPQ’s Undone T-shirt, Adam Claridge’s Explore shoes, Marion Deuchars’ Born to Walk socks and Ron Arad’s Bottlecap badge and flash my James Joyce Overconsumption Fiver before leaping onto my Bucket Board skateboard by Mac Premo and then hopping onto a bike with Eve Lloyd Knight’s See The World bike tape. Once back, I’d write about my day in one of Marina Willer’s Sketchbox using a Do The Green Thing Pencil To The End.
Has the collection inspired you to live more sustainably?
Yes, very much so – though I am still nervous of riding a bike in Central London, even armed with Eve Lloyd Knight’s bike tape. But as well as inspiring the way I live, the collection gives me hope. Everyday Things has been an astonishing contribution of thought, love, ingenuity and energy, and when this much creative effort has been donated by so many talented people to make sustainable behaviour this desirable, it gives me more faith that greener living will be a normal way of life.
Ahead of the global Earth Hour celebration at 8.30pm – 9.30pm on 28 March, Do The Green Thing and WWF are releasing the collection online and through social media – you can view the #EverydayThings objects so far on the Earth Hour website.
You can also share your own panda light-switch, using the template created by student competition winner Torsten Sherwood, by downloading it for free as a special reminder to switch off!
This blog was co-written by Adam Barr, Earth Hour team, WWF-UK.