"...If people really love the world outside, they will start making different choices in order to create that impact we want to see."
- Ho Renyung, Co-Founder of MATTERPrints & SVP, Brand HQ of Banyan Tree Group
Why did you start the brand MATTERPrints?
For me, I had always been painful that our craft and our artisanship in asia was not valued and relevant to the daily lives of our generation as much as I would have hoped for it to be. On the other hand, other parts of the world for example in Europe, the artisanship were held in that regard. However in Asia, they don't have that much exposure, even your antique and furniture stores. I wanted craft to be cool; for the next generation like ourselves, to take it as part of our daily lives, not only the provenance but a part of our heritage that shouldn't be lost.
Secondly, a lot of the sustainability issues we are facing today is because we don't look at the whole ecosystem of how something is made, where and why it's made matters, along with who makes it. It's woven along with everything that we do.
What does sustainability mean to you and why it MATTERS?
It's a systems-thinking approach. Even with one textile you can think of the fiber, for example if it's cotton then how is it grown, harvested, are pesticides used, then with the yarn what kind of dyes and how it's woven and in what kind of factory condition - it's hard to talk about what are sustainable practices in an industry or a product because there are so many parts of it. To me, sustainability is a mindset of understanding the ecosystem of how something is created and the impact of one to another. when we know that, we know the consequences of our actions and what we buy, only then we inevitably will think differently about how we consume.
Why it matters? It's imperative for our generation. I can't think of a time where you've got more red flags and warnings about where we are going. Having a two year old, I thought I wanted him to see the world as a beautiful place, that he will be able to still see coral reefs, trees, forests, etc - all these things that reminds us of what it means to be human, but also all part of our earth and our home.
3. What can you and I do as somewhat "ordinary" people living "ordinary" lives & how can we shift conversations?
We're all ordinary people. Even in our own ordinary lives we make decisions about so many ordinary things. I am a huge believer of an accumulation of small actions leading to a bigger impact. If you think in your life, something as simple as a phone upgrade. Think about electronic waste, it's a big thing. When you take away food, are you taking a plastic bag? Or the things you buy for your home; toilet paper and all of that. Perhaps there are 120 actions in your day you could change to be more sustainable.
In terms of shifting conversations, I am a huge believer of celebrating the good. For those of us who believe in or are part of sustainability conversations, I don't think "whacking the head" on those not part of the conversation for example in carbon emissions will make a huge difference. All change is emotional. In terms of shifting conversations, we can ask these questions: what are we wanting to protect, and why do we want to change? What can we celebrate about that is good? If you're talking to someone who doesn't quite believe in caring for the oceans, then perhaps talk about how micro plastics are broken down into the oceans, where marine life consume and eventually into our gut. I guess it's finding an angle and talking to people about what they care about and what difference does it make to them.
What's next for you in your sustainability journey?
120 actions that I spoke about earlier; that's what I really want to do and increase in our own household and our own lives - to create this entire minimum impact household pattern (which is harder than it sounds). The second thing is of course with Banyan Tree. There is so much around how travel is building back better post-covid, something that we can all do differently.
For us, I think it's not treating sustainability as something outside of us, but weaving it into our philosophy of wellbeing. Our particular approach is about wellbeing - interaction between ourselves other than nature. In order for that to come to life, we need to create experiences that help people build that bond and celebrate that awe that you feel with nature. If people really love the world outside, they will start making different choices in order to create that impact we want to see.
Shop gifts with MATTER Prints' fabric upcycled into beautiful products.
About the Brand
MATTER is a socially-motivated brand focusing on affordable luxury, thoughtful design and provenance, connecting rural textile artisans and urban designers to create travel wear with stories to tell. We seek out heritage fabric techniques and strive to connect them to modern day relevance in beautiful ways. Our mission is threefold: to foster designer-artisan collaborations, inspire consumers to value provenance and process, and pioneer industry change with sustainability for rural textile communities.