The Importance Of An Environmental Approach

by Alex Fagan

What does it actually mean to have an ‘environmentally responsible’ or ‘sustainable’ product? 

Every Rollo London product must bear the unmistakable trademark of quality, functionality and exquisite craftsmanship. When designing the Rollo London pieces, we understood the importance of attention to detail and unique design features, including our eye-catching charm, which is why our collections are exclusively produced in our specialist factories where every product is designed with these capabilities in mind. Not only does this ensure seamless production but simultaneously allows us to maintain our design edge, monitor manufacturing methods, ecological impact and develop and diversify as required.

Sustainability is a journey, a journey encompassing the full life of a product and a story which we can all be a part of. It is not just about a product which bio-degrades in 180 days but something which you can use until the end of its life and treasure with pride long after the final page has been written in. 

We believe the journey starts at home. For Rollo London, that’s at our beautiful work rooms located in rural Buckinghamshire, taking advantage of farming diversification and using repurposed outbuildings. We have created a dreamy work environment, using naturally sourced stone, wood, reclaimed marble and plenty of greenery and mirrors to bring the outdoors in. Each and every element of this space acts a constant reminder as to where the story really begins.

How, though, does this translate to a sustainable product? All too frequently we see businesses claiming to have ‘sustainable products’ and employing ‘biodegradable’ materials. On the surface these seem highly attractive, but do we truly understand the mass production process, the materials, the ingredients or even the ethics behind the manufacture of final products or materials?

When sourcing our own materials for Rollo London, we rejected numerous possibilities due to the lack of transparency within the production process. We discounted others due to the chemicals and environmentally damaging processes used to create ‘biodegradable’ materials. Whilst some may decompose, the damage to the planet in producing such an end product was unquantifiable and likelihood of contamination when biodegrading was too high. 

We solved this solution by using largely paper-based materials which fitted our lengthy criteria. We have since take this a step further and launched ‘Repurposed’, a collection of notebooks produced from materials once headed for landfill but rescued just in time.

Country of manufacture was another consideration. Understanding that not all materials can be locally sourced is completely acceptable, however, ensuring that the elements you use support the highest of ethical policies and processes is absolutely critical. How do we quantify this? Certifications, visiting suppliers, interviewing the necessary people and observation of the process.

Our carbon footprint is also vital. To purchase component parts from further afield is one thing but to make the product locally is better still. Rollo London manufacture in the UK for the British and EU market. For markets outside of the EU, we have supply chains nearer the end destination. 

Working conditions, fair living wages, a happy and well supported team is imperative too. Poor conditions and bad pay have a catastrophic social impact. 

A truly ecological product is one where not only the product is sustainable and has full transparency, but one where you can guarantee the supply chain, the people, the materials and all the processes behind it have all been considered. In other words, a 360-degree guarantee behind each and every piece. 


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