innovation for good

Sustainability and circular design are of great importance to us, here at the FSC, which is why we are delighted to invite you to our October FSC Social: Innovation for good. Joined by Professor Rebecca Earley, Director of the Centre for Circular design at UAL, to discuss designing sustainable products, and Charlotte Hillenbrand, Executive Director of Digital & Innovation at Comic Relief, who will share her insights on how to use innovation methodologies to create new products and services for good.


As the rainforest fires continue to rage and we stare bleakly down the barrel of a very real environmental crisis, it’s no longer just the voice of one little girl pleading for individuals and businesses to step up and find their purpose in the fight to save our planet.

Together we’ve made an indelible mark that demands more than just lip service - it demands a drastic “step change in approach”.

With brands increasingly being challenged to take more responsibility in using their influence to demonstrably tackle climate change (and publicly called out when they don’t), it wasn’t long after Creative Brief published a call to arms from industry leaders across advertising, global corporations and Extinction Rebellion’s William Skeaping that more than 32 agencies had signed up to “Create And Strike”: an open brief calling on creatives to use their skills in support of what is now a global movement - talent that has, for far too long, been used almost exclusively to drive commercial profit and private gain - and on Friday 20th September, #ClimateStrike Out of Offices spoke volumes.

Credit: Leah Worrall

Credit: Leah Worrall

The creative industries have a huge part to play, and as part of the drive to end toxic partnerships, use budgets to promote sustainable consumption and platforms to inspire positive, long term behavioural change, now is the time to take to the stage with full force because we’re finally starting to see corporations put their money where their mouth is.

H&M is one of a number of global brands cutting ties with Brazilian suppliers until they can be given “credible assurances” that they are not contributing to the devastation of the Amazon. 

All the major supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl have now made public commitments towards addressing unnecessary packaging across both their own branded products and those they choose to stock. 

A number of the behemoths of retail - Zara, IKEA, and LEGO, all notable for consistently leading the charge in putting robust environmental policies in place in a concerted effort to significantly reduce their carbon footprints - have made staunch commitments towards tangible changes in practice, with their manufacturing lines already switching over to the sole use of 100% recyclable materials. 

Wrap’s UK ‘Plastics Pact’ is trailblazing the creation of a circular economy for plastics by collaborating with businesses, UK governments and NGOs to tackle the truly horrifying scale of the nation’s plastic waste and a wider global movement in the transition to its sustainable design principles is evidently underway.

Prada’s Re-Nylon project recently introduced the first bag made using 100% ocean waste and Adidas’ radical FutureLoop trainers were the first product off the line in a pledge to use only recycled plastic by 2024

Sustainable product innovation is on the rise. L’Oreal’s recently announced their first sustainable beauty brand (93 to 100% natural seed-based products; all of them gluten-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, cruelty-free and sold in recyclable, compostable paper packaging made from recycled materials), and eco start ups such as rCUP (the brainchild of former Dyson designer Dan Dicker), who have developed the first reusable coffee cup made entirely of the discarded paper version) are introducing recyclable product alternatives to the non-recyclable ones currently on the market using entirely natural, compostable, even plantable materials. 

Now is the time to take to the stage with full force because we’re finally starting to see corporations put their money where their mouth is.

Consultancies such as Ten Green Bottles, the first start up to emerge from the FSC’s Social Impact Fund, are harnessing the power of local networks, good intention and the collective force of purpose-driven consumers to kickstart the sustainability revolution and begin the journey towards waste free communities.

The challenges facing our world and society right now are massive and complex, and as an industry we need to leverage our “collective creative firepower” to lead conversation that drives - and, critically, is underpinned by - action. We need to “leave [our] egos at the door” and do something. 

Whether it be using circular design thinking to begin to challenge existing linear product design methodologies or evolving traditional innovation frameworks to develop new ways of fixing old problems, combining the fuel of our creative talents with clout of our commercial innovation methodologies could just be the collective creative firepower that helps us save the world. 

Because when it’s our planet at stake, “the prize is way bigger than anything we might pick up in Cannes.”

We’re already proving that innovation and design methodologies have the potential to solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity, and on the 10th October Professor Becky Earley, Director of the Centre for Circular Design at UAL, and Charlotte Hillenbrand, Executive Director of Digital & Innovation at Comic Relief, will join us to talk circular design, sustainable development and how commercial innovation methodologies can be used to create new products and services with a positive impact on the Earth. Design thinking for a sustainable future. Innovation for good, not just growth.

The war against climate change is gathering force and we need to be part of the revolution because as creatives we have immensely powerful cards to play. “This is an industry capable of quickly shifting global public opinion and behaviour”, of transforming our current state of affairs. And with the latest science suggesting there’s less than 100 months on the clock, we have to move fast. 

10th October, Peckham Levels. We’ll see you there.

Trained as a printed textile and fashion print designer, Becky is now a design researcher and award-winning research team leader at UAL and the Co-Director at Chelsea College of Arts’ Centre for Circular Design. Set up with the support of the Prince's Trust, Arts Council and the Crafts Council, her London-based studio is home to the creation of award-winning and highly sought after low-impact, exhaust printed textiles collected by museums across the globe. With twenty years of exhibiting under her belt, she is also a highly skilled workshop facilitator and curator whose practice research encompasses making materials and prototypes, curation and writing. Specialising in the translation of cross disciplinary design-led research into commercial contexts for sustainable fashion textiles and other fields, Becky is passionate about educating and inspiring audiences from all walks of life into making more sustainable choices and taking actions towards a circular future. 

Part of the original team at renowned innovation consultancy Made by Many, Charlotte’s extensive digital career has seen her help global brands such as Burberry, Skype, TED, Decca / Universal Music Group and the V&A achieve notable impact within lean team structures. Now Executive Director of Digital & Innovation at Comic Relief, she brings a wealth of agile product development working practices and learning initiatives to the role in her remit to establish an ‘innovation as usual’ capability within the company as it shifts gear to be a creative agency for social change. Committed to supporting the drive for creative organisations to optimise for inclusion, Charlotte is a voluntary trustee of A New Direction, London’s youth agency for creative skills and education and sits on the Create Jobs Advisory Group, an employability programme for young Londoners.

FSC socials are free, relaxed and informal evenings that bring people together and create opportunities to see the world from a new perspective. Chill with us over a few drinks and hear from two fascinating speakers doing amazing things to disrupt the status quo in their industries. Get your learning in alongside fellow freelancers, startup founders and just generally interesting people with a passion for collaboration, sharing ideas and meeting like-minded folks who want to drive change and do good stuff: stuff that makes a difference. Honest, open conversation, delicious, humble food in the hippest car park in Peckham.  A chance to share, laugh, listen and be heard. No networking. And that’s a promise.

Spaces are limited, so get yourself booked up for the next one while you can! Click here to book your ticket to the next one.