Launching our Impact Report

Design can be part of the problem or can it be part of the solution.

December 2022

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In the light of undeniable science regarding the climate emergency, and as we increasingly question our relationship with consumerism, can designers continue to ignore the part they play in the journey from concept to landfill? As the professional communicators, must we now realise our responsibility: to challenge the message; to find alternative solutions; to break from the traditions of business-as-usual? The conversations are difficult, but not ones we need to have on our own. Certainly, the lines of responsibility are blurred as there are many involved at some stage of a product’s lifecycle. Is it the designer’s creative concept? Is it the client’s demands to keep the bottom line as low as possible? Or does it fall with the manufacturing processes? Or the waste stream it ends up in? And of course, all can be true – which often leads to playing hot potato with responsibility. At Thomas.Matthews, and our wider family at the Useful Simple Trust, we think that that we can only truly effect change by really understanding processes and people, and working together to find solutions.  


So rather than throwing the responsibility potato to someone else, what can we do? Individually, we cannot carry all of the burden, but we can certainly take ownership of our part as designers and thinkers. The recently launched D! (Design Declares) takes a pro-active approach to declaring climate emergency and sets out simple steps to make real change. Starting at the beginning and scrutinising the how: How can we find a more circular solution? How can we convince our clients that this manufacturer is better suited? How can we communicate a more planet-focused message?  


The Useful Simple Trust is the only multidisciplinary SME B Corp and, with TM as part of it, our focus is on learning and growing together. Our commitment to B Corp has helped us through its stringent accreditation structure as well as its strong community with shared goals. It has allowed us to develop as a business and as individuals, building our skills and knowledge to better understand our processes and each other’s. Being a B Corp has forced us to have challenging conversations with ourselves and open doors to those conversations with clients. This impact report is a requirement of our B Corp certification, and it has gifted us a fantastic opportunity to better record and reflect upon our own actions and not only celebrate our successes, but also learn from our failures. 


The report is a celebration of our achievements across the whole trust, through a particularly challenging period for us and the planet, but it is by no means the finish line, it is the first step on a long journey of challenge and change. 


Grab a copy of the report for yourself right now: Impact Report 2022