Furniture designer Neal launched his crowd-funded In Pursuit of Carbon Negative initiative in 2012. He investigated the possibility of making items of furniture that would extract more carbon from the atmosphere than they would put into it, a counter proposition to the realities of large-scale manufacture whereby much furniture is mass-produced for global markets.
His research goals focused on three principle aims: first, to produce a product in the same location in which its constituent materials were grown; second, to release less carbon in the production of the furniture than the woodland in which it was to be produced; third, to promote the notion of locality and sustainable production through exhibitions. These propositions were tested on a 10-day journey in which Neal, accompanied by two assistants, cycled 160 miles from London to Moreton Wood, a sustainable acreage of woodland in Hertfordshire. Whilst adhering to a low impact, low carbon lifestyle, they constructed a table, a set of stools, and a collection of candlesticks and, on completion five days later, towed them by bicycle trailer back to London. The tools used for fabrication were rechargeable (solar powered) electric drills used in conjunction with a traditional pole lathe. Every aspect of the experience was recorded so that the carbon footprint could be thoroughly analysed on completion.
The ecologically sourced ash furniture made in Hertfordshire, was exhibited together with a short documentary film at the ECP East department store in East Shoreditch as part of the London Design Festival (2012). Neal had engaged with such propositions for some time, including the widely reported Bodging Milano project (2010), he tested his propositions with manufacturers such as Lloyd Loom, recounted his 2012 journey in Crafts, 239 (December 2012) and contributed an essay in the Harley Gallery Bodging Project exhibition catalogue (2013).