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Wyevale patio decision took ten minutes, Professor Alan Knight tells conference

Published: 7 April 2008
Speaking at Kent 2020 Vision event, Alan Knight says he asked the question whether such products would make the world a better or a worse place?
The decision by Wyevale Garden Centres to drop patio heaters took only ten minutes, according to independent sustainable devleopment expert and advisor to the government, Professor Alan Knight.

In a keynote speech at the Kent 2020 Vision Business Link conference, he said that all designers, manufacturers and importers should be asking themselves, "Does your product make the world a better place or a worse place?"

He said he presents his argument by turning the tables on product manufacturers and suppliers and let them face questions such as: "What are your contributions towards poverty? What's your contribution towards climate change? What's your contribution towards physical and emotional health and well being? And then also, what's your contribution towards perhaps the most complex issue which is finite limits, which is just how much stuff we're using to live our life?"

He continued: "If you remember a couple of months ago Wyevale Garden Centres stopped selling patio garden heaters. They realised that patio heaters are so utterly stupid in a climate change world. They just stopped selling them because the story was just too embarrassing."

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He also noted that 'a lot of the solutions to the global problems actually start at a local level', and highlighted the role of gardens as interesting example, particularly with garden centres and the 'boom' in sales of grow your own food.

Professor Knight said: "We are talking thirty, forty per cent and in the very same year we're seeing things like patio heaters which have become iconic as really stupid products, bad for the environment and utterly pointless; sales declined by forty per cent. So if you run a garden centre you are seeing this change happening with the direct sales of your products."

Alan Knight was invited to the Kent 2020 Vision Business Link conference to talk about sustainable development and the impact on businesses around the world.

Kent 2020 Vision Business Link took place on April 3 2008 at the Kent Showground, Detling.

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