Circular Podcast – Season 3 Episode 1
Welcome to season three of Circular with Katie Treggiden, in which we’re exploring what it takes to cultivate a creative practice that enables you, your business and the planet to thrive. We’ll be diving deep into the nuances, complexities and paradigm shifts that we need to embrace in order to bring about a just transition to a more circular economy.
We’re kicking off with Katie guiding us through her Making Design Circular Framework, all based around the goal to “rewild your creative practice, so that you, your business, and the planet can thrive”, and you can find the image Katie promised HERE.
- The 3 distinct areas of the framework, Release, Plant and Grow
- Absolving yourself from guilt about the climate crisis and the things you were doing right or wrong when it comes to sustainability, liberating yourself from guilt, duty, and perfectionism. And moving away from the idea of right or wrong, and towards the idea of alignment.
- Finding purpose, joy, and curiosity, in a sustainable creative practice.
- Building a sustainable business that enables you, your creative practice and the planet to thrive.
Below is a transcript of our conversation. Find the full episode available to listen on Spotify here.
Welcome to season three of Circular with Katie Treggiden, in which I’m exploring what it takes to cultivate a creative practice that enables you, your business and the planet to thrive. I’ll be diving deep into the nuances, complexities and paradigm shifts that we need to embrace in order to bring about a just transition to a more circular economy.
This feeling that we’ve got to save the world single handedly, right? It feels so overwhelming sometimes when you think about ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, the carbon crisis, plastic – where do you start? And if you’re like me, you can feel weighed down by that. But you can’t solve the world’s problems single handedly. So the good news is you can stop trying, you can let go of all of that.
You can actually have more impact by choosing one tiny area of focus. So Seth Godin says that specific is a type of bravery, and he’s talking about choosing a niche in business. But there’s another layer to that in environmentalism because if you choose a tiny niche focus and environmentalism, you’ve also got to trust that everybody else is doing their bit and that’s the beautiful thing about being in community and some of the work that we’re doing in the making design circular membership really kind of plays to this. That actually by being surrounded by other people all doing their bit, all focusing on their tiny thing, you can trust that you can get on with just doing your bit.
MAIN PODCAST – PART 1
I mention in the intro, we’re doing things a little bit differently in this season. So in season one, we talked about waste and in season two, we talked about repair. And that was very much about taking the parts of the circular economy and examining them each in turn.
So according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the first pillar of the circular economy is to design our waste and pollution. So that’s what we looked at in season one. And then the second pillar is to keep materials in use, which was season two. And in season three, I was planning to look at regenerating natural systems, which is the third pillar, but in the meantime, I’ve been running something called Making Design Circular, which is a membership group, a masterclass vault, a community, I’m not quite sure what to call it. It’s an amazing group of designer makers who are all working towards becoming more sustainable. And I’ve learned a lot in that time working with these designer makers. And what I’ve realised is that there is a lot of nuance and complexity and a lot of barriers that are keeping people from doing this work. And it’s not necessarily as simple as understanding this stuff, which of course, is an important part of it. So what we’re going to do in this series, is really dig into some of that nuance, and complexity. And it’s all going to be based around the making design circular framework, which is the framework that everything in the membership is built around.
So I thought what I do in this episode, the first episode of season three, is just talk you through that framework. And then everything else we do, in some way or another will be coming out of this framework. So I thought it’d be a really helpful place to start.
Now, I am practising what I preach and being slightly vulnerable here, because this is not finished. It’s not perfected yet. So I am embodying one of the values of making design circular, which is progress over perfection by sharing this in a slightly unfinished form, so I would love your feedback. If there’s anything that you think, oh, yeah, I love that bit that really resonated or if there’s anything that you’re like, I don’t get that bit or that word doesn’t quite work for me, please send me a DM on Instagram or an email. I would love to hear what you think, especially if you’re a designer maker, who is working on their sustainability journey.
So yeah, here we go.
So obviously, it’s the Venn diagram. If you know me at all, you will know by now that I love Venn diagrams, it’s actually based on Simon Bowens genius model, which is a Venn diagram plus. I’m going to put a picture of it in the show notes so that if this doesn’t quite make sense with the audio only, you will at least have a visual to go with it.
I’ve got the visual in front of me, So I’ll make sure that’s in the show notes.
It’s three overlapping circles, essentially and what’s in the middle of that circle is what all the work that I do attempts to deliver. This is the line “rewild, your creative practice, so that you your business, and the planet can thrive”. And this is kind of really what you get out of this work, this is the benefit as a designer maker of working with me or following me on Instagram of listening to the podcast and engaging in any of the courses and programmes I offer, or joining making design circular.
So why the word rewild? It’s kind of got two meanings, both of which I’m really excited about. So obviously rewilding is a term within conservation circles. It’s about allowing spaces, outdoor spaces to return to a more natural state. Now there’s some controversy around it and there’s a bit of a sort of conservationists versus farmers thing going on, that I don’t really want to get into. Part of the principles behind it is about reintroducing top predators. So wolves have been reintroduced to certain parts of the world as part of rewilding practices, because what they found is that when you reintroduce the top predators, the whole ecosystem benefits, there’s some controversy around that, so the jury’s still out on whether this is a word that works for me, but I love it, because it talks about regeneration, it talks about regeneration of natural systems, it talks about not just doing less harm and being sustainable, but also actively doing good and benefiting natural systems, which I think is a really important part of sustainability.
It also talks about something else, which I think is really exciting. So I think a lot of us, particularly those of us socialised as women, or members of historically marginalised communities, live with a lot of should, right? There is a sense that we all ought to do things certain ways, there is an element of duty, there’s an element of guilt around environmentalism, which I’ll come on to a little bit more. But there’s also just this sense of being in a box of how one ought to behave, how one ought to run a small business run a creative practice. And the other meaning of rewild that I love is about breaking free of all of that, letting go of that social conditioning and stepping into your full power, as an environmentalist as a designer maker. So rewild, your creative practice is the kind of call to action, I guess. And then the benefit of doing that is that you, your business, and the planet all get to thrive. And we’ll come on to that in a little bit more detail.
That’s the bit that sits at the middle of this Venn diagram with three overlapping circles. And then there are three circles, which all overlap and interlink, but kind of go in a certain order.
So I’m going to start with circle number one, which is top left, if you’re visualising all this in your head. And this circle is called release. And this is about letting go of guilt, duty, and perfectionism, because they’re not helping. So release has three sections. And this is where we get into the genius model part of the Venn diagram. So each of the three circles has three parts to it. We have a sort of 1, 3, 9 thing going on. And the first of the three pillars under release is absolve. And this is about the fact the climate crisis is not your fault. It’s not, 71% Of all the carbon released into the atmosphere, since the Industrial Revolution, has been emitted by just 100 companies. Countless governments have had the chance to solve this issue, probably before you were even born. And there are billionaires mass producing crap, and sending rockets to Mars. So none of this is your fault. It’s just not. So you can let go of that guilt. And you know why that’s important, because guilt is not the soil in which creativity thrives. We need creative people to solve this problem.
Now, think back to when you felt that your most creative when you had your last brilliant idea, did that come from a place of guilt or duty? Or did it come from a place of optimism, and curiosity? So the first thing that’s important is to absolve yourself from guilt, and let go of that feeling of duty. Which brings me to the next pillar of this release circle.
So the next pillar is liberate. And by that, I mean let go of guilt, let go of duty. And while we’re at it, let’s let go of perfectionism as well. So many creative people refer to themselves as perfectionist, and often with pride. And I know, I know, I’m a recovering perfectionist, too. But you know what? It turns out that perfect is impossible. It’s not a thing. It’s actually just a construct, designed by patriarchal capitalist systems to keep you small. And if you think about it, what is perfect mean anyway, flawless, consistent, predictable. That sounds more like mass production then craft, more like globalisation than locally sourced, more suited to homogenous businessmen than the diverse compassionate makers who are engaged with the world around them that I know you are.
Now the planet doesn’t need a few of us doing this perfectly. It needs hundreds of 1000s of us trying and failing, and trying again. We strive for the beauty of imperfection, and craft and making so why not in our sustainability practices. So one of the big values in everything I do, and I am a work in progress in this as much as everybody else is this idea of trying and failing and trying, again, of being vulnerable of sharing work in progress, like I’m doing right now, and aiming for progress over perfection. So that’s liberate.
The next pillar in the release circle is align. Because it turns out that there’s no one right way to do sustainability, regeneration or being eco whichever term resonates and that’s a case in point, right? There’s not even a right word for this work, or at least not one that I’ve settled on. So it’s not about getting it quote unquote, right? Instead, it’s about making informed decisions that align with your values that work for you, and your creative practice and your small business. No one can make that decision apart from you. So no one else can tell you whether you’ve got it right or wrong. Despite what the deepest darkest parts of the common comments threads on the internet might have us believe. But when you make informed decisions that are aligned with your values, the feeling when you stand on a tradeshow stand, or a craft fair stand next to products that align with those values is undeniable. The confidence and faith and pride that that gives you in your work on what you’re putting into the world is gold dust.
So the first circle of the making design circular framework is all about release. Absolving yourself from guilt, about the climate crisis and the things you were doing right or wrong when it comes to sustainability, liberating yourself from guilt, duty, and perfectionism. And moving away from the idea of right or wrong, and towards the idea of alignment. So that’s circle number one, pillar number one.
Now the next one is plant. And this is about finding purpose, joy, and curiosity, in a sustainable creative practice. And the first of the three pillars of this circle, is believe.
Now, of course, we need global leaders, both business and political to move the needle, we absolutely need those big kind of game changing businesses to get on board with this stuff. But that doesn’t mean that designer makers are powerless, while 55% of today’s emissions could be eliminated by moving to green energy, the other 45% come from producing everyday products and a tiny proportion of those are what you make and produce as a designer maker. So there’s an opportunity there, right? And when you look at successful social movements, only 25% of people need to make a stand before everybody else gets on board before large scale social change occurs.
There’s a book which I talk about all the time. If you in my world at all. I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about it before, called the Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac and it’s an amazing book because they lay out the 2050 that we’ll get if we carry on the way we are, and the 2050 that we could choose to move towards. And when you read a day in the life of these two alternate futures, you know which one you want to choose. Then they lay out the three mindsets and the 10 actions that we need to take to move towards that future. One of the three mindsets is stubborn optimism. And we have to believe that change is possible in order to act accordingly, right. But stubborn optimism takes work, it’s not passive hope, it’s not wishful thinking, it’s a choice that we make every day in the face of some often quite overwhelming doom and gloom, insane headlines particularly recently. And so a lot of the work I do and I’m actually working on something at the moment specifically for this is about cultivating and holding on to hope in the face of climate doom and gloom. And so believe is the first pillar of the plant circle on my Venn diagram of the making design circular framework.
The next one is define. And I think a lot of us suffer from this feeling that we’ve got to save the world single handedly, right? It feels so overwhelming. Sometimes when you think about ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, the carbon crisis, plastic – where do you start? And if you’re like me, you can feel weighed down by that. But you can’t solve the world’s problems single handedly. So the good news is you can stop trying, you can let go of all of that. And you can actually have more impact by choosing one tiny area of focus. So Seth Godin says that specific is a type of bravery, and he’s talking about choosing a niche in business. And of course it is right because the instinctual feeling is if you do more, you’ll sell more, you’ll make more money, you’ll have a more successful business, but actually counter intuitively, the less you offer, the more you focus, the more successful you’re likely to be. But there’s another layer to that in environmentalism because if you choose a tiny niche focus and environmentalism, you’ve also got to trust that everybody else is doing their bit, right. If I just focus on this one tiny thing, who’s taking care of plastics, ocean acidification, biodiversity, and that’s the beautiful thing about being in community and some of the work that we’re doing in the making design circular membership really kind of plays to this. That actually by being surrounded by other people all doing their bit, all focusing on their tiny thing that plays to their strengths, brings them joy and forms the basis of a sustainable business, you can trust that you can get on with just doing your bit.
I have a programme called The Seed, which is all about exactly this working out what your unique contribution to environmentalism is and having that confidence of being in community that the people around you are working on their focused area, their tiny niche, as well. So that’s define.
And then the third pillar to the plant circle on the diagram is play. Because as I mentioned, the soil in which creativity thrives, it’s not guilt or duty, but excitement, wide eyed curiosity, and experimentation. So it’s about reconnecting what got you into this job in the first place. Why were you drawn to clay or fabric or word or whatever it is that you work with and that beautiful experience of creating something, from nothing of making things, it’s an incredible job, right? You get to make things you get to create things and that’s supposed to be fun. So it’s about reconnecting you with that and making space to play to experiment to have fun, reintroducing that sense of playfulness and joy into your work.
The scientists, tech nerds and suits are yet to solve these problems by working in isolation. What we need now is a diverse bunch of creative minds, to connect the dots and to work out how we move forward.
So that is plants, which is the second circle in the Venn diagram of three circles and plant has these three pillars believe, define, and play. And as I said, The Seed which is a one off programme I offer, very much fulfils the define pillar, and I’m working on something at the moment which will fulfil the believe pillar.
AD BREAK WITH INHABIT
We’re going to take a short break now to do three things. One, I want you to hear from Inhabit the brand partner for this season of the podcast. They’re actually the hotel I stay in when I’m in London, because they are super sustainable and absolutely gorgeous. I reached out to them and asked them if they would be interested in helping me make this season of the podcast happen and I’m delighted that they said yes, so there’s a short word from them. There’s a short word from me about making design circular, the membership group that I run, and I also want to talk to you about Surfers Against Sewage.
So I am a member of 1% for the planet, which means that every year I donate 1% of my turnover, not profit, to an environmental charity and the charity I’ve chosen to partner with is surfers against sewage, which is a grassroots environmental charity that campaigns to protect the ocean and everything that the ocean makes possible. It was created in 1990 by a group of Cornish surfers fighting to clean up the sea that was making them sick. Now surfers against sewage campaigns on everything that threatens the ocean. Plastic pollution, the climate, emergency environmental exploitation and water quality by taking action on the ground, that triggers change from the top.
If like me, you’d like to support surfers against sewage, head over to https://www.sas.org.uk/ and I will leave you now to hear a short message from Inhabit, a message from me about the membership, and then we’ll dive right back into this episode.
Inhabit hotels, located in the Bayswater area of London, offers restorative environmentally and socially conscious places to stay in the city. Wellness and wellbeing also play a major part in the brand’s ethos Mindfully designed for the modern traveller everything at this new hotel has been considered with a genuine commitment to environmental initiatives and meaningful community partnerships. To find out more please check out our Instagram at inhabit_hotels.
If you’re a designer maker, here’s what I want you to know. None of this is your fault. Climate change, ocean acidification, falling biodiversity levels, none of it. But you do get to be part of the solution. And the best part that gets to be creative, collaborative, and filled with wide eyed curiosity. Remember that? Visit www.katietreggiden.com/membership and leave your eco guilt at the door. Find a community of fellow travellers, clear actionable steps you can take today and all support you need to join the circular economy. Visit www.katietreggiden.com/membership. I’ll see you there.
MAIN PODCAST – PART 2
And then the final circle, the bottom circle in our Venn diagram, is grow. And this is about building a sustainable business that enables you, your creative practice and the planet to thrive.
So you’ve liberated yourself from perfectionism, you’ve absolved yourself from guilt, and are working in alignment. You’ve cultivated that sense of belief, and hope and stubborn optimism, defined exactly what it is you do, understood what your contribution is, and made space to play. And now it’s time to build that business that can benefit you, your kind of business, your financial side of things, and the planet. And those three things are really important.
So within grow, again, we’ve got the three pillars. And the first one is learn. And this is about, actually, a lot of the stuff we were talking about in season one or two, but it’s having access to the tools, the resources and the support, that you need to make informed decisions that align with your values.
There’s so much information out there and actually so much misinformation out there, that it’s really difficult to know where to start or who to trust. So it’s about having curated, relevant and reliable sources of information in easily digestible formats. And that’s what I aim to do across everything I produce. But particularly in the membership, where we’ve got a co-created library, we’ve got a little green book, and we’ve got courses and master classes that are only available at the moment in the membership, like the Waste masterclass, or Net Zero, for example.
And then the next pillar within grow is walk (don’t run!). It’s a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, it’s more like a slow meandering hike along a coastal path. You can tell I’ve been walking the coastal path in Cornwall recently. There are ups and there are downs, but the views on the way are spectacular. So what this pillar is about is saying, don’t try and do everything all at once, don’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task make a long term plan and commit to that, sure. But then take it step by step, start where you are and allow yourself some quick wins. You know, the environment doesn’t care which bits you do first so do some easy things, get them under your belt, build some momentum, before you tackle the harder things, that’s valid. So pillar two is walk, don’t run.
Pillar three is nourish. Now if you’re listening to this, you’re probably on board with the idea that your creative practice should regenerate the planet. But we have to move away from a take, make, waste model where we keep just taking resources from the planet, right. But how about you?
Are you taking resources from yourself without replenishing them? We need to build creative practices that regenerate and nourish us as humans, that fill our cup that feed our soul give us energy. If they’re just draining us and exhausting us and taking from us that’s not sustainable, in the kind of old fashioned use of the word sustainable. It’s also not good for the planet because if you’re trying to create a planet positive, creative practice, and you burn out, the benefit that you’re having is no longer being delivered. This is about building businesses that nourish you, that nourish the people who work with and for you, that nourish the communities around you, and the ecosystems around those.
We’re not separate from nature, we are nature, nature is us, we need to reconnect all these things. So when I talk about regenerative, I’m always talking about something that regenerates you, as well as the planet. So that is the third circle in the Venn diagram, and that’s grow. And the three pillars within grow, are learn, walk, and nurture.
So as I said, I will pop a picture of that into the show notes so that you can have a look. But I just wanted to kind of walk you through that because everything else I talked about is going to be coming out of this in some way. We will have specific episodes on perfectionism, will have specific episodes on nurturing yourself and why that’s important. In fact, we’ve got one coming up, I had an amazing conversation with Sarah Fox, who is a coach about why it’s important to look after yourself, and do good to yourself before you can do good for others. I was actually again practising what I preached because I was having little realisations in that conversation so it was very much an imperfect progress, modelled live. It’s going to be quite fun to hear what you think of that.
But I’d love to know what you think of this, and what you think of some of the wording, the concepts, does it make sense? does it resonate? So hit me up in my DMs and I would love to hear what you think because this is really the articulation of everything I do. So it’s really important that it makes sense to you and it resonates with you.
So I think that’s everything I have to say on that for today. We’ve got some amazing episodes coming up, make sure you’re tuned in for those and I will see you back here next time. Thank you so much for listening.
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed what you’ve heard, follow me on Instagram @KatieTreggiden.1 And if you’re a designer maker who’s interested in sustainability, DM me a little recycling symbol and I’ll add you to my close friends group, which is especially for sustainable designer makers.
You might want to sign up to my E-newsletter via the link in the show notes. And it would be amazing if you could follow or review the podcast in whichever platform you’re listening on, that really helps other people to find it, so that’s super helpful.
I want to say one last thank you to Inhabit my gorgeous brand partner for this season who have helped bring it to life and I also want to give a shout out to the Ko-Fi supporters from the initiative that we did in series two. So Kathryn Kernow, Bob Shankley, Eleanor Burke, Vicky Pulter, Leslie Curtis, Val Muddyman, David Clarke and Nolan Giles all bought me a virtual coffee to help with the production of season three.
And last but not least, I want to say a huge thank you to Kirsty Spain whose production skills you are listening to as I speak.
Thank you so much for listening.
All copy is reproduced here as it was supplied by Katie Treggiden to the client or publication.