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‘ WINTER 19

THE

LOVE REVOLUTION ISSUE

ETHICAL WEDDINGS

It just got a lot easier to reduce the impact of your big day

THE MICROPLASTICS DODGE

We reveal why mainstream cosmetics are still full of plastic

WIN A HOLIDAY IN SARDINIA!

Your chance to win a week’s stay at a luxury eco resort

LIVING WITH THE MAASAI

Wildlife, wilderness and ancient wisdom in Ngorongoro, Tanzania

AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT DISTRIBUTED WITH THE GUARDIAN ON BEHALF OF MYGREENPOD WHO TAKE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ITS CONTENTS


Welcome to My Green Pod Magazine! This issue we’re asking everyone (who isn’t already) to start putting their money where their heart is. Supporting brands that operate with love will help to ensure a healthy future for them, you and the environment; their products and services can be bursting with luxury – and we all like a bit of that! Katie Hill EDITOR-IN-CHIEF katie@mygreenpod.com

About us

PHOTOGRAPHY ISTOCK

My Green Pod Ltd is an independent, family-run UK business, founded by Katie Hill and Jarvis Smith. We want to share the real stories behind the brands and people working tirelessly to offer ethical alternatives to mainstream products and services. You might not see these options on the high street and they may not be the first to appear in online searches. But they are on MyGreenPod.com. These Hero products and services support the shift to a more conscious lifestyle – and may help you save some cash (while having some fun) on the way!

Subscribe to get each digital issue of My Green Pod Magazine delivered straight to your inbox mygreenpod.com/subscribe @mygreenpod

f

facebook.com/mygreenpod

25%

of the world’s pesticides are used on cotton

21%

of Brits claim to be flexitarian

18kg

of waste plastic is generated by an average UK wedding mygreenpod.com WINTER 3


?

#SpiritedBusiness

12 – 15 October, 2019 The Park, Findhorn Foundation, near Inverness, Scotland

A gathering of purpose-led, conscious business leaders Spirited Business pioneers see beyond the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. They understand that they and their business are part of a complex and interconnected web of life – and they hardwire this awareness into their company’s DNA, operating with conscious intent and in harmony with the whole. Co-creating the future through co-operation, collaboration and collegial leadership. Convened by Jarvis Smith, co-founder of My Green Pod Ltd and Tabitha James-Kraan, founder & creative director of Tabitha James Kraan High Performance Hair Organics, with Lord Stone of Blackheath, former managing director of Marks & Spencer. The gathering, facilitated by internationally renowned facilitator Robin Alfred, will involve three days of exploration, networking and insights as to what it is to be and work within a ‘Spirited Business’.

Visit: http://fics.findhorn.org/spirited-business


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30

16

C O N T E N T S HERO PRODUCTS

TRAVEL

32 Our experience living with the Maasai in Ngorongoro, Tanzania

06 The MyGreenPod.com Heroes of the Season, plus our Top 5 Winter Switches

36 Birds and bliss at Arusha’s original mountain lodge conservancy

NEWS

38 The wild and authentic five-star eco resort in Sardinia

08 Do you know the ethics behind the brands you buy?

40 What we discovered when we visited ‘The Home of Halloween’

BUSINESS

10 Planning an ethical wedding? It just got a whole lot easier

ENERGY

14 ‘Leicester’s energy supplier’ is spearheading change in UK cities 16 How to get a green – and sometimes free – charge for your EV

CONSCIOUSNESS

18 We’re in the middle of a Green Rush, says Jarvis Smith

ARTS & FASHION

19 THTC has thrown its hat – and ethical T-shirts – into British politics 20 Basement Jaxx, Razorlight and Tom Odell confirmed for Valley Fest 2019

HEALTH & BEAUTY

21 Janey Lee Grace on why we all need to think about self-love 22 We reveal why mainstream cosmetics are still full of plastics

COMPETITIONS

19

HOME & GARDEN

24 Activism just got as simple as throwing a ball in with your laundry 25 The mission to put a ‘Clean Living’ refill site in every UK town

42 All the latest competition giveaways from MyGreenPod.com – including a week’s stay at a luxury eco resort in Sardinia and an Ethical Wedding Package! 42

FOOD & DRINK

26 Your next trip to the supermarket could help to save the world 28 The Culinary Caveman on how to use food to put love in your heart 29 Suma’s founding principles of equality and integrity resonate with today’s conscious consumers

TRANSPORT

30 We debunk the myths around EVs and their impact on the environment

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Katie Hill DESIGN: Suzanne Taylor PUBLISHER: Jarvis Smith PUBLISHING: My Green Pod/Printed by the Guardian Distributed by the Guardian on behalf of My Green Pod who takes sole responsibility for its content. MGP does not accept unsolicited contributions. Editorial opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of My Green Pod nor the Guardian and the companies do not accept responsibility for advertising content. Prices are correct at time of going to press and are subject to change. The Publishers cannot accept any responsibility for errors or omissions. The contents of this magazine are fully protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without written permission. If you have any queries relating to the magazine call 0203 002 0990. FRONT COVER: Mau Mau

mygreenpod.com WINTER 5


hero ‘

Introducing our Heroes of the Season! These superstar products and services are ethical alternatives from companies that are doing things differently (and brilliantly). View all our Heroes at mygreenpod.com/heroes

WINTER 19

FASHION

FOOD

TIDEFORD ORGANICS BEETROOT + CURLY KALE SOUP WITH QUINOA Healthy eating has never been easier – or tastier! This soup is organic, vegan and gluten free, with no added sugar. It’s low in fat and high in filling fibre. @TidefordOrganic tidefordorganics.com

ROSEWOOD FARM ALL WEEK DEXTER BEEF BOX If you eat beef, this is the ethical way to buy it. Rosewood Farm beef is a by-product of organically managed conservation grazing. Delivered straight to your door, this box contains a range of cuts from the whole animal. @RosewoodFarms rosewood.farm

BIGBARN LOCAL FOOD MAP This virtual farmers’ market has been described as ‘the Amazon of local food’. It reconnects you with your local farmers, producers and retailers, and encourages trade and communication. Shopping this way brings huge social benefits, and means better, fresher food for you. @findlocalfood bigbarn.co.uk

6 WINTER mygreenpod.com

ZOLA AMOUR ORGANIC COTTON PONCHO Made out of GOTS certified organic cotton fleece – and even stitched in GOTS certified organic cotton thread – this poncho is chic and stylish on the outside and soft and fluffy (330 GSM brushed back organic cotton fleece fluffy!) on the inside. It’s so easy to style that it’s the perfect winter companion – though you’ll want to wear it all year round. Handmade ethically and with love in the UK. @ZolaAmourUK zolaamour.com


HEROES

TOP 5

WINTER SWITCHES

1

THE ROSE TREE INTENSIVE BALM

When you need a new mattress, replace it with an organic one. Abaca mattresses are handmade in Wales and come in all sizes.

HEALTH & BEAUTY

@AbacaOrganic abacaorganic.co.uk

Suitable for all skin types, this balm has won more awards than you could shake a rose tree at – and its efficacy is all down to the wonders of the natural ingredients inside. The luxurious butter contains organic marshmallow root oil to hydrate and soften dull skin, while also helping it to maintain balance.

2

Switch your home to a renewable energy supply from Octopus Energy. As well as sleeping better at night, you’ll almost certainly be rewarded with cheaper energy bills.

@RoseTreeOrganic therosetree.co.uk

@octopus_energy https://mygreenpod.octopus.energy

3

WUKA PERIOD PANTS Say hello to plastic-free periods! These luxurious and eco-friendly pants are your complete tampon and pad replacement. @wukawear wuka.co.uk

TREE2MYDOOR TREE OF LIFE GIFT

HOME & GARDEN

Looking for a gift for someone who’s tricky to buy for? The rowan tree is the Celtic Tree of Life, and Tree2MyDoor can send a UK-grown sapling as a unique and lasting gift. Simply order online and it will be sent directly to friends or family. The Tree of Life will arrive in a unique, onepiece cardboard gift box with optional greeting card. @tree2mydoor tree2mydoor.com

If you generate solar energy, unlock its full potential (and cut down your power bills) with a Moixa Smart Battery. It will store your energy until you need it. @MoixaTechnology moixa.com

4

Detox your beauty regime and switch to certified natural or organic products. To make life easy, Weleda’s entire range of natural and organic cosmetics is NATRUE certified. @WeledaUK weleda.co.uk

5

If you eat dairy, make sure you’re getting it from the best source possible. All Yeo Valley’s products are ‘100% Yeoganic’ – organic and then some. Try the Strawberry Yogurt. @yeovalley yeovalley.co.uk

mygreenpod.com WINTER 7


NEWS

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Here’s the easy way to buy products from brands that share your ethics

Y

ou can’t be expected to put your money where your heart is if you don’t know which companies are aligned with your beliefs. You can find this information – plus lots more – from Giki, the social enterprise that’s on a mission to help you buy from brands that share your values.

SUSTAINABILITY

HEALTH

If you want to find the most sustainable products while you’re shopping, look out for these Giki badges when you scan the barcodes using the Giki app. ORGANIC

LOW CARBON FOOTPRINT

A product’s label is checked for information that would help consumers understand whether some, or all, of the packaging can be recycled.

Giki uses research from WRAP, the Barilla Institute and academic studies to group products into low, medium and high carbon footprint categories.

LOCAL

SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL

Before awarding this badge, Giki checks whether the product has been made, manufactured, produced, baked or brewed in the UK. It uses labelling information, supported by logos such as the Red Tractor UK flag.

Giki checks the palm oil that companies use in their supply chain using data from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

8 WINTER mygreenpod.com

NO CHEMICALS OF CONCERN

FREE FROM ADDITIVES

RECYCLABLE

This badge is awarded after Giki has analysed guidance and certification information from the Marine Conservation Society, the Marine Stewardship Council, the Aquatic Stewardship Council, the Fairtrade Foundation, the Rainforest Alliance, the Forest Stewardship Council and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

If health is your concern, only buy products that have been awarded the following badges from Giki.

Giki checks for commonly cited chemicals of concern using information from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Breast Cancer UK and Wikidata.

Giki checks a number of certification standards, from organisations including the Soil Association, the EU and the USDA, to ascertain whether a product is organic.

RESPONSIBLY SOURCED

Giki’s mobile app contains 250,000 rated products; with a scan of the barcode, you can view a product’s performance across sustainability, health and fairness – plus conduct your own Palm Oil Audit – to find alternatives that better match your values. Choose which Giki badges matter to you, and only pick the products that have won them.

KINDER CLEANING Standards including the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard and EU Ecolabel for consumers are used to determine whether a cleaning product contains kind ingredients.

GREENER COSMETICS Giki looks for independent certifications from Soil Association, EU Organic, USDA, COSMOS and BDIH for evidence of natural or organic ingredients.

Giki only awards this badge to products with no additives. It uses the FSA’s

additives list plus lists of other additives that are not commonly consumed as food.

HEALTHIER OPTIONS Combining Food Standards Agency front-of-pack nutrition labelling with guidance from the NHS, Giki awards this badge to products with green and amber ratings on the traffic light system.


FAIRNESS If you want to avoid companies that test on animals or don’t prioritise their welfare, choose products with these Giki badges. ANIMAL WELFARE This badge is only awarded after a product has been checked against certification standards from the Soil Association, RSPCA Assured and EU Organic.

NO ANIMAL TESTING

PHOTOGRAPHY ISTOCK

Products that have met the standards of Cruelty Free International, NATRUE, BDIH and the Vegan Society will be awarded this badge from Giki. A manufacturer’s claim of ‘no animal testing’ is also acknowledged if it is put on the product label.

THE PALM OIL AUDIT

PICK WHAT MATTERS Giki rates products not on price, but on whether a product fits with what matters to you. Choose which criteria matter most – from climate change and shopping local to animal welfare – and choose products with high ratings in those areas.

Think there’s nothing you can do about deforestation and the loss of wildlife? Think again. Unsustainable palm oil leads to deforestation, threatens orangutans with extinction and contributes to climate change. Local communities miss out, too. Palm oil is everywhere: if you clean, eat and wash, the chances are you’ve used it in the last week. It takes three steps and three minutes to make your first swap to sustainable palm oil or palm-oil free. The Giki app helps you find palm oil in your supermarket products and, if it’s unsustainable, swap it with a product that’s palm oil free or that contains only sustainable palm oil. Simply scan the barcode; if the product contains palm oil, you’re on the lookout for Giki’s Sustainable Palm Oil badge.

FIND OUT MORE n Discover how Giki works at gikibadges.com nD  ownload the free app from Google Play

or the Apple App Store nG  iki’s Palm Oil Audit is at

gikibadges.com/palm-oil

mygreenpod.com WINTER 9


consider ethical sourcing when choosing an engagement ring. ‘It’s no secret that us millennials are responsible for killing everything – the diamond industry, napkins, cereals – so it goes without saying that we’re killing the wedding industry, too’, Kayleigh says. ‘We believe Gen Z will follow suit with this growing consumer segment; they’re educated, savvy and expect efficiency, personalisation and transparency with any transaction.’ Identifying a gap in the market, Kayleigh launched Sinclair & Saffron in February 2019. Finally, this startup has made it possible for brides- and grooms-to-be to source a comprehensive range of affordable and sustainable wedding products from one place.

BUDGETS AND ETHICS

ETHICAL

WEDDINGS

It just got a lot easier to tailor your big day to your ethics, budget and personalities

W

eddings can cost the Earth – and not just in monetary terms. On top of the food waste and carbon footprint of guests’ journeys, an average UK wedding generates around 18kg of waste plastic. If we cleaned up the whole sector, from the fake confetti and throwaway décor to the single-use gift bags and tableware, we’d eliminate 4,000 tonnes – the weight of 30 houses – of plastic waste every single year. The demand for ethical weddings is on the rise: two-fifths of couples now consider sustainability when planning their big day and both last year’s royal weddings had an environmental focus. But while the

10 WINTER mygreenpod.com

‘Blue Planet effect’ has kickstarted positive change across a range of sectors, the mainstream wedding industry is still struggling to satisfy the appetite for ethical and sustainable alternatives.

THE MILLENNIAL EFFECT While conducting general market research around eco-friendly stationery, Kayleigh Sinclair was shocked to discover how wasteful the UK’s £10bn wedding industry is. ‘It just isn’t catering to the needs of the next generation’s weddings’, she tells us. Millennials care about how and where their products are sourced, and a recent study revealed they are more likely than other generations to

‘A wedding day should be tailored to the couple’s passions and personalities, it shouldn’t be a commercial event’, Kayleigh says. ‘For this reason we only work with small, handpicked ethical suppliers who share our ethos. Everything we design, create and stock is ethical, responsibly sourced and as close to minimum waste as possible. It’s all under one roof, making it easier for couples to shop and create an ethical wedding with minimal stress.’ Princess Eugenie’s plastic-free wedding was thought to cost over £2m, but an ethical wedding doesn’t require a massive budget. In fact, by sourcing local food, seasonal flowers and vintage or upcycled decorations, you can reduce the cost of your day. Small changes like using recycled paper, switching floral foam for potted plants or loose flowers and picking an ethical ring (see opposite page) can also make a big difference in environmental terms. Balloons and lanterns are something that every ethical wedding day can do without; the candles can spark wildfires and animals can get entangled in their wire frames, which land all over the countryside.

A BESPOKE DAY There are lots of eco-friendly wedding brands out there, but Sinclair & Saffron is the first to offer a full package. ‘We want to make it as easy as possible for couples to make their day as low impact as possible, while making sure they get the wedding of their dreams’, Kayleigh tells us. Sinclair & Saffron has a wealth of suppliers that provide everything from handmade wedding dresses to sustainable, intimate wedding venues that offer the perfect setting for your day. Kayleigh has also decided to partner with Sussex Wildlife Trust, which protects the wonderfully rich natural life that is found across our towns, countryside and coast. Kayleigh identified a huge gap in the market at a time when the environmental importance of making conscious decisions is growing more urgent by the day. ‘Now is not the time to sit back and let others act’, Kayleigh tells us. ‘I think right now if you have an idea that you think you could positively benefit others or the environment, you should grab it with both hands and run with it.’ That’s exactly what Kayleigh has done: she’s seen a way to create positive change in the wedding industry – and she’s going for it, with all bouquets blazing. n


BUSINESS

BIJOUX DE CHAGALL Quality time is spent on every detail of each piece of Bijoux De Chagall jewellery; the natural lines of the gemstones often create their own art, meaning the result is unpredictable and unique. The natural precious and semi-precious stones are selected from original sources or reputable and trusted international suppliers. Bijoux De Chagall also uses lab-created gemstones, as these stones are very special and quite valuable as real gemstones. They also have a lower impact on the ecology of our planet and are definitely conflict free!

BECKETT’S GIN Beckett’s is a small batch London dry gin; it’s distilled and bottled in London, and made with English juniper berries handpicked from Box Hill in Surrey. In return for permission to pick the juniper, Beckett’s is undertaking a long-term conservation project – in partnership with the National Trust, Forest Research and Natural England – to help save juniper from extinction in England. The gin is crisp and refreshing, with an exquisite taste and a delightfully long, smooth finish.

SENI DEY London-based Seni Dey designs pure, feminine wedding dresses for modern brides. To ensure good working conditions and fair wages, all Seni Dey clothes are produced in a companyowned atelier in Portugal. The working conditions are monitored and transport routes are short, which reduces the environmental impact of the finished dress. Seni Dey’s made-to-order business model means only the necessary resources are used, so minimal waste is produced.

t

From the wedding dress and the venue to the photographer and rings, here are just some of the services and suppliers Sinclair & Saffron can offer for your big day.

mygreenpod.com WINTER 11


BUSINESS GRACE ELIZABETH PHOTOGRAPHY Grace Elizabeth has committed to being as Earth-friendly as possible; she’s vegan, ethical in her purchases and has a lifestyle that is ‘as low waste as possible’. It came naturally to Grace to extend these beliefs to her business as a photographer. Many couples choose Grace not just for her skills as a photographer, but often also for her beliefs and outlook when it comes to looking after our planet. She knows that many of her clients are like her, so her eco-friendly morals and dedication to building a sustainable business are both likely to be of equal importance to couples who choose her. ‘It’s always so wonderful to hear from and to work with people who love Mother Earth as much as I do!’, she says.

NANTWEN Nestled in the middle of a national park near Newport, with views over some of Pembrokeshire’s most breathtaking scenery, Nantwen is a beautiful, intimate wedding venue in a private location. Whether you’re planning a runaway wedding or an intimate celebration, Nantwen will provide the backdrop for a day you’ll never forget. Few small wedding venues in Wales can offer couples the option of an eco-friendly wedding, but with Nantwen it comes as standard. The buildings are environmentally friendly without compromising on comfort or mod cons. In recognition of its eco credentials, Nantwen has received a Gold Award from Green Tourism, the world’s largest and most established sustainable tourism certification programme.

FIND OUT MORE nV  iew the full range of sustainable

wedding products and services at sinclairandsaffron.co.uk nA  rtisan and sustainable businesses interested in selling with Sinclair & Saffron should contact supplier@sinclairandsaffron

12 WINTER mygreenpod.com


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Since 1921


ENERGY

OCTOPUS ENERGY

‘Leicester’s energy supplier’ is spearheading change in UK cities

O

ctopus Energy is a new breed of energy supplier – an energy tech company that, thanks to its incredibly agile offering, has brought a new and refreshing perspective to a tired industry. Its new digital customer service platforms mean that, despite its name, Octopus has an undeniably human presence. The beauty of what Octopus does stems directly from its agility; Octopus Energy Business Solutions can build tariffs to tie in with a particular UK location or business type, making it possible for all sizes of business to take the leap to 100% renewable electricity. For Octopus, it’s all about building a story that inspires the next generation, and making the planet part of that story.

THE STORY OF GROWTH

ABOVE AND RIGHT Octopus Energy attended the Christmas lights switch on in Leicester, where it’s paving the way for hyper-local sustainability

Octopus Energy Super Green Octopus Tariff is a MyGreenPod. com Hero energy tariff – find out why at mygreenpod.com/ heroes

14 WINTER mygreenpod.com

Octopus Energy supplies energy across the whole of the UK, and its expansion plans have always extended beyond London. Its first few years saw impressive growth: by May 2017 Octopus Energy’s Soho office was bursting at the seams; with around 100,000 customers being served by 30 energy specialists, it was time to open a second site. Leicester – for its big population of new graduates, influx of successful startups and easy commute from St Pancras – was selected as a great place to base a second office.

TENTACLES IN LEICESTER Through a collaboration with local business, Octopus Energy has added impetus to Leicester’s relaunch – bringing new business and innovation, creating a hyper-local sustainability initiative and boosting the local economy by establishing a 250-person office in the city centre. Today, Leicester is Octopus Energy’s second home, and the operational hub of its business. The relationship cultivated with local enterprise was so special that Octopus decided to develop a bespoke green energy tariff for SMEs in Leicestershire. Dubbed ‘Leicester Business Power’, the tariff brings 100% renewable electricity to local businesses. It’s generated from Seaton Road – a solar farm just a few miles from the city centre. Octopus Energy has helped offset emissions with local tree planting; 2,000 trees were planted in communities around the UK in 2018. In Leicester in the past year alone, Octopus Energy has helped to offset 3.418 million kg of carbon across domestic and business activities.


KING RICHARD III

RELAUNCHING LEICESTER

It seems fitting that the first client to sign over its annual electricity bill to Octopus Energy Business Solutions Leicester Business Power tariff is the award-winning King Richard III Visitor Centre. The incredible 2012 discovery of Richard III’s grave under a Leicester Council car park (of all places) and subsequent international release of the documentary Richard III: The King in the Car Park – has seen tourists flock to the city. Today, the legacy of this fascinating royal story is powered by 100% renewable electricity, from the centre’s 3D video shows to its educational workshops – simultaneously celebrating Leicester’s history and helping to set the vision for a greener future. As a business, the centre is always looking for new ways to reduce its impact on the environment; with the energy now coming from renewable sources, this new partnership helps move closer to that goal. As an added bonus, the Leicester Business Power tariff has also reduced the King Richard III Visitor Centre’s costs by £1,000 per year.

Leicester is in the middle of a complete relaunch; the council is undertaking a massive regeneration project, welcoming innovation by enabling new business to flourish and improving lives through jobs and prosperity. The city is teeming with new graduates from the University of Leicester and De Montfort University. Octopus Energy didn’t want this wealth of talent to go to waste; its office will have 100 full-time employees by the year’s end, the vast majority local East Midlands graduates. It’s helping to keep Leicester’s brightest in Leicester – and, in turn, driving the local business economy. Octopus Energy’s new M&S Energy contract will be entirely run by the Leicester team, bringing an extra 80 jobs to the second office on top of the 200-250 ultimately expected. Leicester Business Power is also making the effects of energy-conscious business decisions tangible in economic and social terms. Business leaders can see, materially, how their switch is bolstering Leicestershire’s economy – supporting a local supplier to provide locally generated energy, which will make the office grow even further. Finally, their switch unlocks £125 for local charitable works through a relationship with Leicester Charity Link. Charity Link is an innovative organisation that provides essential items to improve quality of life, including food, clothing, beds, cookers and mobility equipment, as well as grants for utilities and other essentials. For every £10 donated, it can unlock £50 from charitable trusts around the UK – and every

POWERED BY LOCAL SUNSHINE Leicester Business Power champions affordable sustainability, maximising local solar generation and delivering its customer-first commitment to offer a second-to-none utilities experience at rates comparable with the leading ‘brown’ energy tariffs on the market – all with energy that’s kind to the planet. What’s so special about Leicester Business Power is that it makes the effects of energy-conscious business decisions tangible. Businesses that go green with Octopus Energy receive tailored information about the amount of carbon that has been offset as a direct result of their switch. Octopus Energy’s sustainability efforts in Leicester go beyond powering local businesses. As a key member of Leicester BID (Business Improvement District), it has a direct hand in local sustainability projects to reinforce the local impetus to go green and act sustainably. Deeper community ties are also being forged through tree planting. In 2017, Octopus Energy pledged to plant 1,000 trees in schools around the UK, supporting the United Nations Environment Programme’s BreatheLife campaign. The initiative was kicked off at Leicester’s Spinney Hill Primary School, where the heavily concreted city-centre grounds were greened with a number of native broadleaf trees. Octopus Energy’s tree planting has picked up substantial momentum since then, and has engaged the collaborative efforts of everyone from Arsenal Football Club to MPs, garnering national press coverage along the way. For every 25 businesses that sign up to Leicester Business Power, 25 local trees will be planted, helping to combat the UK’s toxic levels of air pollution and raising national awareness of this important issue.

BELOW Octopus Energy awarding Renewable Energy diplomas in Leicester

penny helps to provide crucial aid for local people and children in need. Octopus Energy says it has been ‘blown away’ by the response to Leicester Business Power. It received an incredible reception from local press like the Leicester Mercury, and central Leicester is signing up to go green. It’ll be exciting to watch Leicester Business Power grow even further – collaborating with local press and initiating regional marketing campaigns to spread the word.

THE OCTOPUS BUSINESS POWER TAKEOVER Leicester Business Power is a trial for this sort of hyper-local sustainability initiative. The potential for a local green tariff anywhere in the UK is imminently possible, and Octopus Energy plans to replicate its approach across the UK. Right now, its focus is on business customers – a demographic regularly left behind by the energy market – but it’s also looking at developing a parallel tariff for domestic customers. The company likes to think of itself as ‘Leicester’s energy supplier’. Local businesses have a huge leadership role to play across the UK, starting in Leicester. Octopus Energy hopes that, by embracing the Leicester Business Power tariff, businesses will inspire their customers to think about how they can become more sustainable, too – while spearheading change in other UK cities. One day, we’ll see a UK that eats, breathes, works and plays on the power of local sunshine. n

FIND OUT MORE nS  tart your switch to Octopus Energy in under

two minutes at mygreenpod.octopus.energy

mygreenpod.com WINTER 15


GREEN

CHARGING This clever piece of kit can provide a green – and sometimes free – charge for your EV

P

iecing together the technology to support a sustainable lifestyle hasn’t been easy for early adopters: homegenerated power from solar panels or wind turbines is only useful if it’s available when you need it. Unfortunately many people aren’t able to draw the maximum benefit from their own installations; they’re often at work when the sun’s shining and need to use domestic appliances in the evening when the sun’s gone down and the wind may or may not be blowing.

THE CHARGING CONUNDRUM Anyone who has charged an electric car with their own microgeneration infrastructure will be familiar with the challenges: when the wind’s fierce or the sun’s blazing the

16 WINTER mygreenpod.com

The myenergi zappi is a MyGreenPod. com Hero EV charger – find out why at mygreenpod. com/heroes.

abundant supply of energy can end up being sent back to the grid, only for the homeowner to be forced to buy energy back when the domestic demand can’t be met by their own supply. Some predict electric cars will overtake diesel by 2020, so we urgently need the correct technology to support the transition. Many buyers see the switch to an electric vehicle as part of a wider shift to a more sustainable lifestyle – and that means they will want to charge their cars using a green energy supply that’s available when they need it, whether the sun’s shining or not. Lincolnshire-based myenergi has launched an electric vehicle charger that addresses this very issue. The second-generation zappi charger, the first of its kind to hit the market and the only electric car charger to pay for itself in savings, is set to revolutionise the way electric cars are charged.


ENERGY

DYNAMIC CHARGING If you have solar panels or a wind turbine, the zappi can charge your electric vehicle with surplus power that would otherwise be sent back to the grid, essentially giving you a completely green charge. In some cases you can even get a free charge, which reduces your carbon footprint even further and increases your return on investment. Zappi is government approved under the OLEV Homecharge Scheme, which means new electric vehicle owners can claim £500 back off the price of their zappi (£695-845) and its installation. If you qualify for the grant, one of myenergi’s installers will take care of the full process on your behalf. Zappi works like any regular charging point, but two special ECO charging modes will benefit homeowners with grid-tied microgeneration systems like wind turbines or solar panels. Dynamic load balancing features automatically adjust the charging current in response to on-site generation and household power consumption. If lots of energy is being used in the home, the zappi will slow down the charge so the electric car doesn’t suck all the available power from other appliances that are being used in the house. On ECO mode the car will be charged until the battery’s full – even if some surplus power is drawn from the grid. If you’re not in a rush, you can set the zappi to ECO+ mode, which will pause the charge if too much power is being imported and continue only when enough surplus power is available. A separate FAST mode allows the car to be charged at maximum power, just as it would at any other charge point. The three different charge modes put you back in the driving seat when it comes to when and how your electric car is charged.

A CARBON-FREE ENERGY TARIFF Ready for the new regulations that come out this year, the zappi is easy to install and is the only charger that doesn’t require an earth rod. There are three different options: tethered, untethered and three-phase 22kW (destination charging), all available in black and white. Myenergi has partnered with Octopus Electric Vehicles to provide electric car owners with seamless access to carbon-free driving at 1p/mile. A special Octopus Energy tariff, Octopus Energy Go, has been designed specifically for electric vehicle drivers; it automatically charges cars when the low, off-peak rate kicks in. Octopus Electric Vehicles will be offering the zappi range as part of its electric vehicle bundle when customers buy or lease an electric car. The zappi will also be offered to businesses that want to offer charging to their customers.

CLOCKWISE Sir Terry Leahy is backing the zappi; the zappi in white; specialists enjoyed a demonstration at the launch event for the second generation zappi; the zappi in black

SMART TECH FOR GREENER HOMES Myenergi has also launched a new hub device and app to connect customers’ products to the internet. This means that the zappi can be controlled remotely and data around product usage and savings can be viewed live. The new zappi went on pre-order in December; the first 1,000 units are currently being produced ahead of a wider rollout in March and April 2019. It’s part of a wider range of smart tech products from myenergi, all designed to make more efficient use of home-generated power. In addition to the zappi, the eddi diverts wind and solar power to heat water in the home, while the harvi allows the other two products to work without a current transformer (CT) being hardwired. The harvi provides wireless monitoring of the

supply grid connection; it’s powered by the current sensor, and simplifies the zappi installation. The full range has everything you need to be a true eco warrior – whatever the weather.

SIMPLIFYING THE SWITCH Myenergi was founded in the summer of 2016 by technical director Lee Sutton and sales director Jordan Brompton. Lee Sutton develops the products with his team, and Jordan Brompton brings them to market. It’s the ultimate dream team: the company has grown from a small team of six and attracted investment from businessmen Sir Terry Leahy and Bill Currie of the William Currie Group. Myenergi now has more than 300 installers around the UK, and is selling internationally to countries including Australia, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden, with growing interest from the rest of the EU and the USA. Over the next two years, myenergi will be helping the UK energy industry and supporting the EV charging infrastructure as the uptake of electric vehicles increases. If you’re thinking about making the switch, the decision just got a whole lot easier. n

FIND OUT MORE n Information about the zappi and how it’s installed is at

myenergi.uk/product/zappi-product nF  ind an installer at myenergi.uk/find-an-installer nS  ee how the myenergi products work together at myenergi.uk

mygreenpod.com WINTER 17


CONSCIOUSNESS

,

Jarv s

RULES

PHOTOGRAPHY ISTOCK

A stampede to a newly discovered gold mine

The Gold Green Rush!

O

ver the last few months I’ve been bombarded with business ideas from entrepreneurs launching new green initiatives, which is fantastic. The ideas are mainly in the retail sector – the sale of ethical products online or through physical store concepts, plus many transitional brands that recognise they need to become more sustainable. I’ve been delighted to see this movement happening because every product on the high street or Amazon could be replaced with a lighter or kinder version, so I’ve been happy to share my experiences with the newbies on the scene.

CASHING IN? The sense that I get from nearly all of these people is that they are jumping on a trend to cash in. There’s nothing wrong with making money – it’s the world we live in – but from where I see it, having this as a solitary motive is somewhat naive. I have no doubts – in heart or mind – that we need to completely rewire the dysfunctional structure of our current global economic system to a more conscious ECO-nomics, which considers a harmonious future for the long term. A system that supports the manufacture of products that last many lifetimes, that enhance and care for our health and true living potential and, more importantly, that are not damaging our soils, polluting the water, rivers, oceans and air or killing the trees we rely on for survival. Every single service, product and experience must be aligned with the natural cycle of our planet. We must stop living manmade laws and instead live in balance and harmony with the laws of nature.

18 WINTER mygreenpod.com

BE THE CHANGE If you are not living the whole nine yards in your own existence, how can you run a business that inspires others to live differently? The very concept of inspirational business leadership – another fast-growing trend (it seems everyone is an expert these days!) – can only really be realised if truly expressed in the being. The last thing we need is more leaders who do not walk the talk. How many of you buy things you don’t need because the celebrity you love, a so-called influencer, is recommending you try something? Why don’t you become that influencer within your immediate network: take back the power and drive change from the way you live. There are things you can do now that will help humanity from becoming extinct. Buy organic food, switch to 100% renewable energy, only buy eco household goods, use natural skin and hair care products, reuse, repair and buy whatever you can secondhand – visit charity shops or look on eBay. If you can’t commit to these very simple lifestyle changes, then make sure you enjoy every day as if it were your last – because it could be! n

FIND OUT MORE n Jarvis Smith is co-founder of MyGreenPod.com, founder of the P.E.A.

(People. Environment. Achievement.) Awards and a conscious business consultant. Find out more at jarvissmith.com


ARTS & FASHION THTC has thrown its hat – and T-shirts – into Britain’s political ring

T

HTC is famous for the political messages and edgy artwork on its organic T-shirts – and now the award-winning company has stepped into the lion’s pit of British politics. A few years ago, the ethical T-shirt company joined forces with Momentum for a new line of GOTS-certified organic cotton T-shirts. Together with the socialist campaigning NGO that supports Jeremy Corbyn, THTC is calling for a ‘new kind of politics’, and using fashion to call for political change.

WHY CORBYN? The decision to back Corbyn came in early 2016, when THTC’s community put forward ‘a lot of requests’ for a T-shirt with a ‘Corbyn’ design. ‘Later that year, The Mail on Sunday ran a frontpage article accusing Jeremy Corbyn of using sweatshop labour’, says Gav Lawson, founder of THTC. ‘Essentially the story was that Momentum had produced campaign T-shirts printed on Gildan blanks. Gildan is known to produce its clothing in some of the world’s poorest countries, exploiting both the wage gap and poor human rights protections.’ Like the majority of bands and artists around the world, Momentum made the economical choice, apparently unaware of Gildan’s track record. ‘What made the story incredibly angering was that the very same issue of The Mail was filled with advertising from brands such as Primark, H&M, Hollister and Claire’s Accessories – all of which produce ‘fast fashion’ and have exploited sweatshop labour’, Gav tells us. ‘We decided to take action and show our support for a political figure who has dedicated his life to fighting for human rights, the environment and the poor.’

FASHION MEETS

POLITICS MAIN IMAGE Award-winning vocalist Cleveland Watkiss and DJ Sarah Love in the THTC ethical ‘Corbyn’ T-shirt

THE JC TEE THTC did a small print run of an alternative, ethical ‘Corbyn’ T-shirt (see main image). ‘We came up with the Run DMCmemeification design after a few beers on the Southbank with our pals from the hip hop outfit Too Many T’s and a chap who now works in Corbyn’s leadership office’, explains Ashwin Bolar, who runs THTC’s digital marketing. ‘It’s the perfect blend of hip hop and politics – a call back to the dubstep T-shirt of the early 2000s. We’d been sitting on the design and hadn’t done anything with it.’ The ‘Corbyn’ T-shirts sold out pretty much instantly, and Gav decided to donate 20% of net sales to Momentum. Soon after, Momentum contacted THTC directly, and so began a partnership that continues to this day. With all that support, you’d expect Jeremy Corbyn to wear THTC clothes in public. ‘He actually does!’, Gav tells us. ‘He’s got one of our organic cotton formal shirts, in which he has been regularly pictured. We’ve also given THTC T-shirts to quite a few MPs on the Labour front bench – Richard Burgeon MP, Emily Thornberry MP and our local MP, Rupa Huq, who has even mentioned THTC in parliament’.

POLITICS IN THE DNA Politics has always been part of THTC’s DNA – the very fabric of its T-shirts is a source of political disagreement. The clothes are made from hemp, the cannabis plant. Hemp is exceptionally versatile: as well as being a great source of textile fibre, it’s a medicine, a protein and can even be used to make bioplastic. Hemp uses a fraction (10-15%) of the water required by conventional cotton, and requires none of the pesticides. Cotton, which accounts for under 5% of global agriculture, consumes over 25% of the world’s pesticides – and most of the world’s cotton

crops require irrigation, drawing water away from the poorer communities that need it. Ranked the UK’s most ethical menswear brand by Ethical Consumer Magazine, THTC provides all its garment workers with a paid living wage, and all THTC products are certified organic. The majority of high street T-shirts and apparel don’t carry organic certification; according to Gav, the brand owners ‘don’t seem to care’. During a day of market research in 2018, Gav says he received ‘blank looks’ from managers of high street shops when they were asked whether their clothing carried any form of organic or ethical certification.

CONSUMER BOYCOTTS

THTC’s ‘Love Has No Borders’ T-shirt is a MyGreenPod. com Hero – find out why at mygreenpod.com/ heroes.

Over the 20 years THTC has been trading, Gav has watched many small independent ethical fashion brands go out of business while big high street labels spend more money and energy on trying to appear more ethical. ‘Most of this is greenwash’, he says. ‘I would urge anyone who wishes to improve the lives of those less privileged than ourselves, those who are essentially living their lives in modern day slavery, to do one thing: find out where the products that they are buying actually come from and how they are produced. Buy less, but spend a bit more money on truly ethical products and boycott products and brands that don’t care about people and planet. The only way the scumbag brands will change their ways is when their profits start to disappear. They want us to remain ignorant, so ask questions, demand answers and hold brands to account.’ THTC has survived this long because it has created a family of hundreds of positive, talented and inspirational people who support the brand and believe in its ethics. THTC is a movement, and it is nothing without the people. n

FIND OUT MORE nS  hop the THTC range at shop.thtc.co.uk n The THTC x Corbyn collection is at shop.thtc.co.uk/collections/thtc-x-corbyn n View the THTC artists at shop.thtc.co.uk/pages/thtc-artists

mygreenpod.com WINTER 19


ARTS & FASHION There will be workshops galore plus more street food than you can shake a stick at. New developments this year include the Tuck Inn, which will be housed in the iconic tipis. It will include a packed programme of talks, tastings and regionally sourced tapas, cooked by Annie Coplestone of The Monmouth Table, Moro, River Cottage and River Café fame. Artisan markets will showcase butchers, bakers and plenty of cheesemakers. Somerset, the sparkling jewel in the UK’s food crown, is the perfect place to enjoy fantastic local produce – and there couldn’t be a more beautiful spot to do it.

THE COMMUNITY FARM

Valley Fest 2019

Basement Jaxx, Razorlight and Tom Odell announced to headline Valley Fest

V

alley Fest (02-04 August 2019), the besttasting music festival in the South West, has announced Basement Jaxx (DJ set), Razorlight and Tom Odell as headliners. The music festival, which overlooks the stunning Chew Valley Lake, also showcases the region’s finest produce. From charcuterie to cheddars and ciders to sausages, it’s hedge-to-hedge Somerset sizzle. A Basement Jaxx DJ set will get the party started on Friday night; with more than three million album sales under their belt, two BRIT awards (Best Dance Act) and a GRAMMY, they certainly know how to fill a dance floor. Chart-toppers Razorlight will play on Saturday night, so expect thumping, high-energy rock ‘n’ roll. Piano virtuoso Tom Odell, Critics’ Choice Award winner at the BRITs, will take to the Lake Stage on the final night.

TIPIS, TALKS AND THAT VIEW

TICKETS

Valley Fest is a MyGreenPod.com Hero festival – find out why at mygreenpod.com/ heroes.

Adult Weekend: £118.80 Teen (13-17) Weekend: £48.60 Kids (6-12) Weekend: £27.00 Nippers (3-5) Weekend: £16.20 Camper van Pass £64.80 Car Pass £10.80

Sunday: Sunday: Sunday: Sunday:

£43.20 £16.20 £10.80 £5.40

Ticket prices shown include booking fee. Tickets can be bought in instalments to spread the payment.

FIND OUT MORE nF  or the latest lineup announcements, visit valleyfest.co.uk/line-up n Book your tickets at valleyfest.co.uk/tickets n Get a taste of what’s in store from the gallery at valleyfest.co.uk/gallery

PHOTOGRAPHY LOUIS SMITH

Now in its fifth year, Valley Fest’s lineup has always featured big names alongside talented rising stars – but consistently, the biggest crowd-pleaser of all is

the view. Chew Valley Lake provides the sparkling backdrop, framed by the rolling Mendip Hills – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Held on an organic working farm and spread across one gently sloping lakeside meadow, the event is perfect for food lovers, first-time festivalgoers and young and maturing families. There are no long treks across the site and plenty of activities for everyone.

Valley Fest is held in the fields that neighbour The Community Farm, which provides organic vegetable boxes to around 700 customers in the area.  At Valley Fest you can have a tour of the farm, get involved in food and farming workshops and join hugely popular bee and wildlife walks. Luke Hasell set up the festival in 2014 in honour of his parents, who both died within a short time of each other. They had a huge lust for life and, having farmed for generations, cared enormously for the land and community around it. Their spirit and joie de vivre runs deeply through the festival. ‘I’m so excited about our lineup’, Luke said. ‘Basement Jaxx are going to get the weekend off to a flying start. Razorlight are going to bring the rock ‘n’ roll and Tom Odell’s showmanship is something to behold. My parents would have loved it.’ Valley Fest is West Country wildness at its best. Everyone is advised to arrive hungry. n

20 WINTER mygreenpod.com


HEALTH & BEAUTY

JANEY

LOVES

Natural beauty expert Janey Lee Grace reveals how to make self-love a priority – every day of the year Earlier this month thoughts turned to lurve – but what about self-love and self-care? We all need to take some time out to look after ourselves – and there are some gorgeous organic and natural products out there that make it easy to revitalise your skincare and beauty regime. Start with cleansing from the inside out. A short detox brings great benefits, such as glowing skin, more energy and generally making you feel great, not to mention the possibility of losing a bit of excess weight. The Lemon Detox is the original fasting cleanse; it requires Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup (£27.99, 500ml) – the essential ingredient of the Lemon Detox natural fasting support drink. If you managed Dry January, challenge yourself a bit longer – your skin will thank you for it! I’m working with the charity MyYard.org.uk on a #StayDryTillJuly campaign, encouraging people to ditch the booze but also – importantly – to start some self-care. We’re giving away some lovely self-care prizes on Instagram, one is the classic from Weleda.

YOUR WINTER SKIN SAVIOUR The multi-award winning Weleda Skin Food (£12.50, 75ml) is an intensive moisturiser made with nourishing plant oils and protective

waxes, soothing wild pansy, calming chamomile, healing calendula and rosemary to stimulate skin circulation. Suitable for vegetarians, this balm is NATRUE-certified authentically natural, dermatologically tested and free from mineral oils and silicones, synthetic fragrance or artificial additives of any kind.

REVIVE YOUR HAIR We’re also giving away some fab organic hair products from Tabitha James Kraan. Her gorgeous Scented Organic Hair Oil (£38, 30ml) will rejuvenate and add a healthy shine and bounce to hair dried out by winter. It’s 100% natural, and the bottle also contains Tabitha’s signature Amethyst Stone. Tabitha says: ‘Apply one pump and massage into the scalp 30 minutes before washing. Cleanse the hair as usual. The oil will give weight and volume to fine hair and a smooth, silky, glossy finish to thick hair. It will make everyone’s hair glossy, richer in colour, stronger, protected and easier to blowdry or style.’

THE SCENT OF LOVE Rose is the perfect scent for love, but it must be from the highest quality essential oils. The Organic Rose Otto Ageless Face Cream Bio Damascena from Alteya Organics (£55, 30ml)is perfect for reviving dry skin. The luxuriously rich and intensive repairing face cream is made with pure organic rose oil, and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and spots. n

FIND OUT MORE nS  ee more of Janey’s natural beauty tips by visiting

imperfectlynatural.com n Information about the #StayDryTillJuly campaign is at

angelhands.org.uk/stay-dry-till-july n Janey’s Alcohol Free Life podcast is available on iTunes

LEFT TO RIGHT Organic Rose Otto Ageless Face Cream Bio Damascena from Alteya Organics; Weleda Skin Food; Tabitha James Kraan Scented Organic Hair Oil; Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup

mygreenpod.com WINTER 21


The

microplastics

dodge

Loopholes and double standards: why mainstream cosmetics are still full of plastic, despite the ban on microbeads

F

rom June 2018, retailers across England, Scotland and Wales were banned from selling rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products that contain microbeads – the tiny pieces of plastic used in products such as face scrubs and toothpaste. This ‘tough’, ‘robust’, ‘comprehensive’ and ‘worldleading’ ban was welcomed by campaigners, who saw it as evidence of the government’s commitment to cleaning up the environment. But what if microbeads aren’t the end of the issue? While some forward-thinking beauty brands are constantly improving their products and packaging to reduce their environmental impact (see box, below), the mainstream sector is reluctant to change – particularly when it comes to plastics in cosmetics.

WHO DEFINED MICROPLASTICS? We’re all by now familiar with microplastics: they’re the tiny pieces of plastic that are either deliberately manufactured for a specific purpose, as is the case with microbeads in cosmetics, or unintentionally created through wear and tear – of anything from plastic bags to synthetic clothes. Microplastics get confused for food and end up in the stomachs of fish, birds and turtles, among many other creatures. They persist in the food chain and end up on our plates: they have even been detected in 90% of our table salt. Beyond watertight recycling there’s no obvious, single solution to the ‘secondary’ microplastics that are caused by wear and tear, but the intentional manufacture of ‘primary’ microplastics would be curbed if we lost the products that use them. By banning microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics, we’re on our way to preventing primary microplastics from entering the environment. But we can’t stop there: we have only scratched the surface of this problem. To tackle it head on we need a better understanding of the term ‘microplastic’. The first people to sound the alarm about microplastics were scientists exploring the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of marine debris that sprawls across 1.6 million sq km between Hawaii and California. The scientists observed tiny pieces

22 WINTER mygreenpod.com

of plastic in the ocean and called for action on these ‘microplastics’; informed by the scientific community, the UN defined microplastics as pieces of solid plastic measuring no more than 5mm in diameter.

REMOVING MICROBEADS The revelation that cosmetics contain these solid plastics in the form of microbeads – which are added to products for exfoliating purposes – came as a shock, and it clearly required action. In Germany, the government asked the biggest players in the cosmetics industry two questions: whether they had a definition of microplastics and whether they had any existing plans to drop them from their formulations. The big brands marked out the lines of their own battlefield to ensure they committed to a crusade they could win. Adopting the existing UN definition of microplastics, they agreed to ban microbeads from rinse-off formulations that are washed off the skin and down the plug hole. In the UK, the ban on microbeads in rinse-off products was lauded as the toughest in the world; it came after a Greenpeace petition calling for a UK-wide ban on microplastics became the largest environmental petition ever presented to government.

HOW WELEDA’S TACKLING THE PACKAGING PROBLEM n 85% of the glass in its 100% recyclable glass bottles comes from recycled glass – the highest share of recycled glass possible. n The

product cartons are printed using mineral oil-free colour inks. n In

2017, four tonnes of materials were saved when the screw cap weight was optimised for the aluminium tubes.

n The babycare PET bottles and the new rollon deodorant containers are being redesigned; the new packaging will contain 50% and 70% recycled plastic, respectively. n Weleda sets new targets every year. By 2022 its goal is for at least 65% of the weight of all primary packaging produced to come from bioplastics or recycled plastic.

Many Weleda products have been crowned MyGreenPod. com Heroes. Find out more at mygreenpod. com/heroes.

SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? It all sounds great so far, but as awareness around microplastics grows, so too does the body of research. Now it seems our action around microbeads represented a small battle in a much larger war. We think of plastics as solids, but some plastics are mixed into liquids to create a solid, liquid, waxy or gel-like substance, which can legally be used in everything from the rinse-off products covered by the UK’s microbeads ban to leave-on products that remain on our skin. Moisturisers, hair sprays, makeup, body creams – you name it. If the product is conventionally produced, it’s more than likely that it contains plastic of some sort. The plastic can be powdery and so fine it’s at the lower end of the micro-scale, going into the nano-scale. Manufacturers don’t regard these suspended or emulsified plastics as solids because they’re mixed into liquids – meaning they escape the UN (and now common) definition of microplastics.

SYNTHETIC POLYMERS Manufacturers have a history of dropping specific ingredients that cause isolated public outcries. When consumers called for silicones to be dropped from cosmetics, for example, big brands scrabbled for a silicone-free logo that would show customers that they were listening. But when silicone was simply replaced with polyquaternium, a synthetic polymer with an unknown environmental impact, one


HEALTH & BEAUTY

encouraging it to find its own balance and make itself healthier without relying on quick external fixes.

Look for the Natrue of Cosmos logos to be sure your beauty products are natural

problem was simply swapped for another. Synthetic polymers are still used in the majority of mainstream cosmetics because most people are simply unaware they’re there and haven’t called for change. In body creams and conditioners, synthetic polymers give the appearance of smoother hair and skin. But the plastic glossiness is only temporary – it’s like wrapping your body in cling film. Manufacturers know that synthetic polymers can be avoided, and this is where double standards come in. Some brands have two formulations of the same product, one organic and one conventional. In the organic product, the synthetic polymers are entirely absent, but the product is no less effective.

UNKNOWN IMPACTS Very little is known about how synthetic polymers react in nature, in terms of persistence, toxicity or bioaccumulation; their widespread use underlines the urgent need for more research. When challenged, cosmetics giants say they’ll remove synthetic polymers from formulations if anyone proves they’re dangerous – but this is a complete violation of the precautionary principle. The burden of proof shouldn’t be on campaigners, it should be on the manufacturers. Reformulating pretty much every mainstream cosmetic product would be a mammoth task, but if we all avoided synthetic ingredients and chose only natural cosmetics, our shopping habits would spur manufacturers to change their formulations.

PHOTOGRAPHY ISTOCK

PLASTIC PACKAGING

The simplest and most effective thing you can do is opt for completely natural products, that meet the strict NATRUE or COSMOS standards and definitions of natural and organic cosmetics. SWITCHING TO CLEAN BEAUTY At My Green Pod we’ve always supported Weleda. We love small suppliers and local products, but Weleda provides a simple, affordable and accessible high street solution that supports the mainstream change we so desperately need. Weleda is a pioneer of clean beauty; its products don’t contain synthetic polymers or synthetic anythings. They’re authentically natural and carry the certification to prove it. A pioneer of conscious business, Weleda is also in a constant cycle of reinvention; year after year it measures existing targets and sets new goals to ensure it doesn’t miss a chance to reduce its impact. With Weleda your entire beauty routine is covered – from shower gel to deodorant and from head to toe – which makes the switch to clean beauty products extremely easy. You don’t need to do everything at once, but when one of your mainstream products runs out, simply replace it with a clean alternative. Before you know it you’ll have a bathroom vibrating with natural, healing energy. All Weleda products are packed with nurturing ingredients that promote the real health of your skin and hair, without simply covering you with an illusory film. They work in synergy with your body,

Due to Weleda’s natural formulations, you don’t need to worry about any primary microplastics being washed down the drain when you have a bath or shower. Weleda is also setting a fantastic example when it comes secondary microplastics – the small fragments that packaging breaks into when it’s not properly recycled. There are more than 50 different types of plastic available, making it more difficult to sort and reprocess than other materials. Nearly all can be recycled, depending on whether the recycling facilities to sort and process are available in your area. Mixed plastic polymers, that consist of more than one polymer type, are more difficult – and therefore more costly – to recycle. Weleda has teamed up with recycling experts TerraCycle to ensure that all Weleda packaging can be recycled within the UK, even if some county council kerbside collection schemes don’t collect certain mixed plastics. The soft plastic Weleda tubes that are problematic for some regional kerbside collection schemes are made from 50% recycled HDPE. Using post-consumer recycled waste is just one example of how Weleda is constantly adopting new strategies to be part of the solution – not the problem – in the cosmetics sector. Customers who can’t recycle some Weleda tubes locally can return their empties to their local Weleda Wellbeing Advisor or collection point, and the packaging will be returned to TerraCycle using a prepaid address. Downstream, the recycled plastics are made into new products such as garden furniture.

PROTECTING PENGUINS The upside to working with TerraCycle is that Weleda will be able to raise funds for a charity that is protecting penguins, whose plight has been shared through Sir David Attenborough’s incredible new series Dynasties. Every 10kg of Weleda packaging recycled with TerraCycle in 2019 will raise nearly £10 for the Global Penguin Society, a conservation charity founded and run by marine biologist Pablo Borboroglu. It’s the world’s first coalition for the protection of penguins. Pablo Borboroglu combines science, management and education to protect penguins across the Southern Hemisphere and use them as a flagship for wider conservation of the marine environment. If you want to do your bit, make sure your money only goes to brands with ethics – that are transparent about the issues, honest about how they’re addressing them and genuine in their efforts to change the world for the better. n

FIND OUT MORE

n View the full Weleda range at weleda.co.uk n Details of the TerraCycle campaign are at

weleda.co.uk/penguin-conservation-project

mygreenpod.com WINTER 23


HOME & GARDEN

Introducing the

Cora Ball

Activism just got as easy as throwing a ball in with your wash load

E

ach time an item of clothing is washed, up to 700,000 microscopic fibres make their way into our oceans. They add to the toxic soup in our waters; they’re swallowed by sea life and become incorporated into the food chain, potentially ending up on our plates. Following research conducted in September 2018, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers called for ‘urgent action’ to prevent the 6 million microfibres released from a typical 5kg wash load of polyester fabrics from polluting our oceans. Now that action is possible – and it’s as simple as adding a small, reusable ball to your wash load.

otherwise be washed down the drain, based on a fleece blanket. The paper also pointed out something important: that lots of people making just one small effort can have a big positive impact – in this case, on our lakes, rivers, bays and ocean.’ The potential impact of small collective actions is a significant point for Selchouk, who has always been interested in finding powerful brands, analysing their appeal and calculating the impact they have on consumers and society as a whole. ‘My appreciation of the importance of sustainability in business was reinforced when I attended the P.E.A. Awards in 2014’, he tells us. ‘The event really got me thinking.’

INSPIRED BY CORAL FILTERING

THE POWER OF COLLECTIVE CHANGE

Previously, anyone who wanted to catch microfibres from their washing had two options: a special laundry bag or a filter that goes on the wall. Now there’s a microfibre-catching laundry ball – and for ease of use and price (£29.99) it’s one of a kind. Inspired by the way coral filters the ocean, the ball’s stalks collect microfibres from the water as it swooshes round the drum of the washing machine. Eventually these fibres ball up into visible pieces of fuzz that can be pulled from the Cora Ball by hand and put in the bin. This means they won’t re-attach to clothing or fly off into the air, only to become runoff and end up in our waterways. The Cora Ball is made from 100% recycled and 100% recyclable soft and stretchy plastic that will maintain its physical and chemical properties in the temperature extremes of both residential and commercial washers and dryers. Designed to be a long-lasting and durable product, it should withstand five years of normal washing.

Selchouk set up Rainbow Brands towards the end of 2017, determined to build a business that connects with people, provokes thought and helps effect collective positive change. ‘I am a solicitor and my wife an accountant’, he tells us. ‘We both lead busy lifestyles and, while this can be rewarding, it can also lead to unhealthy levels of stress.’ The mission with Rainbow Brands is to celebrate the great outdoors and sell premium products that promote healthy lifestyles, while helping to alleviate stress on individuals and the environment. The company is bringing together authentic and exciting brands that can inspire change for the better.

TACKLING PLASTICS POLLUTION The Cora Ball hit the UK in May 2018, after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017. It’s now available in over 60 countries, with sales going strong in the UK, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia and the USA, where the balls are made. ‘These balls are at the forefront of the battle against plastics pollution’, says Selchouk Sami, founder and CEO of Rainbow Brands – the UK distributor of Cora Ball. ‘They can help anyone who wears and washes clothes to make a difference by immediately helping to stop microfibre pollution. An independent, peer-reviewed paper by the University of Toronto, published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, found that a Cora Ball catches 26% of the fibres that would 24 WINTER mygreenpod.com

The Cora Ball is a MyGreenPod.com Hero – find out why at mygreenpod.com/heroes.

‘We are on the lookout for new and exciting brands that would fit well with our mission’, Selchouk says, ‘so do get in touch – it’s an exciting time to be collaborating! We will be attending a number of events this year, so come and say hello if you are free. We will be in St Albans in February and May, The Festival of Sustainable Fashion in April and in Lee Valley with British Canoeing for the Slalom World Cup from 14 to 16 June 2019, to mention a few.’

RECONNECTING TO NATURE Selchouk discovered Cora Ball when he met its founder, Rachael Miller, at a conference in Germany in 2018. ‘It’s a great product, an authentic brand and really everything we are looking for at Rainbow Brands’, Selchouk says. ‘It was a perfect fit for the brands we distributed at the time, so it was really a rather easy decision.’ As well as catching microfibres, the Cora Ball serves as a reminder that our drains are connected to the natural world. As a result this small, unassuming ball has the power to inspire other behaviours that would help us live in a way that helps protect, rather than destroy, our natural world. n

FIND OUT MORE nB  uy the Cora Ball from rainbowbrands.co.uk


HOME & GARDEN

I

n our spring ‘18 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, we interviewed Joni Graham King, founder of Green Goddess ‘Clean Living’ Products, to find out whether the world was ready to ditch chemicals and make the switch to green cleaning. It turns out the demand for non-toxic, plant-based and cruelty-free cleaning products is surging – and fortunately, as shoppers grow wiser to the harmful effects of synthetic ingredients, pioneers like Joni have an eco-friendly range ready and waiting.

PERFECTING THE FORMULA Joni launched Sussex-based Green Goddess as part of her switch to a toxin-free lifestyle. At the time, the ‘green’ cleaning sector was rife with greenwash; many products marketed as natural contained ingredients that were anything but – including sulphates and synthetic solvents and fragrances. Joni felt customers deserved clean products with no harmful ingredients, that would also be effective and luxurious to use. In a bid to bring a touch of luxury and a sense of enjoyment to toxin-free cleaning, Joni created a range of natural household products that harness the mood-enhancing, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of essential oils. They’re a pleasure to use and the natural fragrances last for hours, bringing harmony and a sense of wellbeing to your home. Joni tried various natural DIY cleaning recipes – with different degrees of success – before working with a chemist to launch her own brand of products that are free from harmful chemicals, sulphates, parabens, synthetic solvents and fragrances. With the formulations nailed, she’s now supporting the zero waste movement with a view to reducing the impact of Green Goddess products even further.

CLEANING UP Joni Graham King is on a mission to put a ‘Clean Living’ refill site in every UK town

SWAP AND COLLECT

CLEAN LIVING

FROM LOCAL TO NATIONAL

Working with sustainability groups and local authorities, Joni is helping to support communities that want to cut down on their household waste – and Green Goddess provides a complete zero waste option for the stores it supplies. Through a ‘swap and collect’ service, Joni’s customers purchase their containers along with their initial order. When the order is delivered, the customer’s empty containers are collected and reused, creating a circular service. ‘This has been a huge hit with our zero waste retail customers’, Joni says. ‘We’re getting enquiries from retailers across the UK who understand and support the message of refillable, non-toxic cleaning products and their up-and-coming place in society.’ Green Goddess is transitioning to opaque bottles, which will make refills much easier. The lids, spray triggers and dispensers are also being switched from black to white plastic. ‘Through our work with recycling specialists, we have discovered that black plastic can’t be recycled because the recycling machine can’t register it or differentiate the lid from the conveyor belt’, Joni tells us. ‘When we found this out, the switch to white plastic – a more sustainable dispensing option – immediately became a top priority.’

Green Goddess only turned one in November 2018, but the company has already outgrown its original premises. With a number of new products hitting the market, it may not be long before the family-run business needs to expand again. Joni launched a personal care range in January 2019, meaning Green Goddess now offers a full ‘Clean Living’ range for your home and body. These new products – including Rosemary and Mint Shampoo and Conditioner, Lime Body Wash and Lemongrass Hand Wash and Hand Lotion – sit alongside three other new household products. The Minty Fresh Toilet Cleaner is a great all-round cleaner that removes limescale without bleach or harsh, harmful chemicals. The Dishwasher Liquid doesn’t contain chlorine bleach or sulfuric acid, and the all-round Glass Cleaner is great for mirrors, glass tables and windows. It contains essential oils that naturally repel insects, which is a great bonus for the spring and summer months when there are lots bugs and insects around.

When Joni launched Green Goddess, her first priorities were to support healthier homes and waterways and provide refill options in her local community, before moving on to other UK regions. The goals are in sight, with a Green Goddess stand booked at the Natural & Organic Products Europe trade show on 07 April at London’s ExCel. Joni is also writing a Green Goddess guide to making your own natural products, which she hopes will be available on Amazon Kindle in March 2019. ‘Our big hope’, Joni reveals, ‘is to have a refill site in every town in the UK, providing non-toxic, ‘Clean Living’ home and body products for everyone to access through a refill service.’ Judging by her success so far, we suspect that day isn’t too far away. n

FIND OUT MORE nV  iew the full Green Goddess range at greengoddessclp.

co.uk/product-category/household-cleaning nF  or stockists and refill options, visit

greengoddessclp.co.uk/stockists-refill

Green Goddess Multipurpose Spray is a MyGreenPod.com Hero – find out why at mygreenpod.com/heroes.

mygreenpod.com WINTER 25


FOOD & DRINK

The organic

Revolution PHOTOGRAPHY ISTOCK

Your next trip to the supermarket could help to save the world

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or over 70 years, growing, shopping and eating organic has been something of a revolutionary act. The irony is that farming has been done this way for thousands of years. It was only in the mid-20th century, when farming was intensifying and becoming more industrial in the wake of the second world war, that people started to see organic as a new approach to growing food. Organic as we know it today was the brainchild of a group of agricultural revolutionaries; they were some of the first people to see the interconnectedness of a healthy environment and a healthy population. Their primary objective was ‘to bring together all those working for a fuller understanding of the vital relationship between soil, plant, animal and man’. Now in its eighth decade, this revolutionary spirit has remained central to the organic movement – not just in the actions it takes, but in the people that make up the movement. They may not look like revolutionaries as they walk down the aisles of their supermarket or local food shop, but by putting organic products in their basket, the people who support this way of farming are helping to change the world.

WHY TO BUY ORGANIC The organic principles of health, ecology, fairness and care express the contribution that organic agriculture can make to the world. By buying organic, you are saving natural resources, protecting wildlife and supporting a food and farming system that can support a growing global population and our

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precious natural environment at the same time. Organic farming and food production is not easy – it takes real commitment and attention to detail. In the face of climate change, rising diet-related illness and widespread declines in our wildlife, the need to produce healthy food, cut greenhouse gas emissions and protect wildlife grows more acute by the year. There is no magic bullet to tackle the challenges that face us, but our daily buying decisions are a simple yet powerful form of direct action.  Now, perhaps more than ever, when our understanding of the relationship between human health and the natural environment has never been better understood or more at threat, it’s vital for more people to become a part of the movement and see themselves as citizens with an active role to play.

FOOD AND FARMING For over 70 years, the Soil Association has been playing its part in the food revolution that is now in full swing. In the 1980s, following years of Soil Association campaigning, a full ban on the use of DDT in farming came into effect. Thanks to pressure from a long-running Soil Association campaign, six antibiotic feed additives were banned in the EU in 1999. 12 years later, Soil

Association co-founded the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics to continue to push for the reduction of antibiotics use in farming. It hasn’t just been in farming that Soil Association has spearheaded change. In 2003, along with school cook Jeanette Orrey, it began Food For Life to champion healthy food and cooking skills for school children. Nationwide, the scheme now supports 1.8 million healthy meals a day across schools, care homes, hospitals and other public settings. Soil Association’s latest campaign, From the Ground Up, returns to organic’s founding principles and the crucial role of citizens in the move towards a more sustainable food system.

PEOPLE-POWERED CHANGE The founders of the organic movement could see that everyone and everything is affected by the health of the soil and the quality of the food we eat. Eight decades on, organic and the people that support it are once again at the heart of the food revolution. You might not feel like you’re saving the world when you put organic milk or carrots in your shopping basket, but choosing organic whenever you can has a big impact on our natural environment, wildlife, animal welfare and health. n

FIND OUT MORE n If you want to help save the earth from the ground up, visit soilassociation.org/join


FOOD & DRINK

Heart of a

LION

The Culinary Caveman reveals how we can use food to put love in our hearts

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FEEDING THE HEART The most renowned herbs for the heart – or at least the cardiovascular system, which is the heart and its incredible 60,000 miles of blood vessels – include turmeric, garlic, ginger, rosemary and cinnamon. They are all well known and can easily be eaten in larger than current ingestion quantities. Foraging certain foods benefits all three factors of heart disease prevention – diet, exercise and stress. Forageable plants include nettles, wild garlic (ramsons), hawthorn, hibiscus and motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). It’s no coincidence that motherwort’s Latin name means ‘heart of a lion’; adding two dried teaspoons of motherwort (‘the plant of the mother’) to a pint of really hot water once or twice a week could be the prevention required to benefit 50% of the population. It might be too much of an ask to expect everyone to go and forage motherwort regularly, but any reputable health store should have some and, for just for a few quid a year, it’ll be worth it in conversational kudos alone! As for the others, it’s

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also quite easy to find some dried wild garlic, which is wonderful added at the end of whatever you are cooking. The same goes for dried nettles, which make surprisingly tasty garnishes as well as bringing health benefits to our heart and blood.

HAWTHORN AND THE HEART

The Culinary Caveman’s Green Gaia Goodness is a MyGreenPod. com Hero supplement – find out why at mygreenpod.com/ heroes.

FIND OUT MORE nL  earn about the

Culinary Caveman at theculinarycaveman.co.uk nT  he Seven Deadly Whites is available from Foyles and online bookstores

The heart also appears to thrive when fed high-potassium foods such as deep greens, avocados, bananas, squashes, beans, tomatoes and potatoes – though not crisps or chips! – and those high in fibre, which means all the vegetables. It definitely does not thrive on processed foods, stuffed full of the deadly whites of sugar, dairy, flour, fats and oils, salt, rice and lies. Ditch the white and go for wholegrain every time. Science has confirmed that these plants are good for the heart; looking more microscopically, the best vitamins and minerals for the heart would be the triumvirate of magnesium, potassium and calcium (found in dark leafy greens – nettles would be ideal), folic acid (parsley and nettles) and CoQ10 (fish, broccoli and other brassicas, red fruit, legumes and organ meats). Exponents of Traditional Chinese Medicine have known for millennia that hawthorn hugely benefits the heart – and recent results from numerous scientific studies show that future pharmaceutical drugs in the field of the heart could well rely heavily on hawthorn berries (haws). Hawthorn is also abundant, being a common hedge and boundary tree, so there’s no excuse not to eat the fresh leaves that bud from the tree in May, and the haws that appear from September.

NATURAL APHRODISIACS Most heart attacks happen on a Monday and Christmas Day is the most common day of the year to suffer one – so take extra care at Christmas in 2023! It’d be scandalous not to mention the best natural aphrodisiacs when discussing the heart. Almonds, apples, asparagus, avocados, bananas, cherries, chillies, chocolate, coffee, figs, ginseng, honey, oysters, pomegranates, red wine, saffron, salmon, strawberries, vanilla, walnuts and watermelon are all wonderful ingredients to incorporate into a meal with your loved one, so have fun experimenting! n

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he most obvious symbol associated with love is of course a red heart. So let’s have a little look at the heart: if it were a machine, it would far surpass the precision engineering achievable by humans. In an average lifetime the heart beats somewhere in the region of 3 billion times, moving all of our 5.5 litres (1.5 gallons) of blood around our body every 23 seconds. Considering its major role in our health and wellbeing, our heart receives very little respect; it’s often only given any thought when it starts to falter, by which time it’s often too late. In 1900 heart disease was only the fourth-biggest cause of death, yet by the 1960s it had stormed to number one, where it remains – with cancer not far behind and soon to take the lead. These two killers are head and shoulders above the rest, so it’s a good idea to give your heart a little thought. The best way to look after the heart is through prevention, and the best prevention involves three areas: diet, exercise and stress – including lifestyle stresses such as work, relationships and mental health, pollutants and diet, as a poor diet is both a biological and a mental stress.


FOOD & DRINK

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uma has always been two things: fair and vegetarian. Those decisions were made over 40 years ago by a group of liberally minded people who wanted to change the world. The cooperative was built serving wholefood stores and food co-ops when the market was small and new to the UK. It delivered everything from fruit and flour to toilet roll and tinned tomatoes, and has a number of industry firsts – such as recycled loo roll and vegan convenience foods – under its belt. Suma is also the largest equal pay cooperative in Europe, with a staff body of 190 members. Since its birth as a co-op in 1977, the ‘ordinary people’ that work there have all taken home the same salary.

‘THE WORLD IS CHANGING’ The founding principles of equality and integrity may have been ahead of their time, but today, as other businesses begin to address their gender pay gap and scrabble to supply the demand for meat-free products, Suma’s bang on the money. From its HQ in Elland, near Halifax in West Yorkshire, Suma helped to found a progressive movement that’s now considered mainstream. A 2018 report discovered that one in eight Britons are now vegetarian or vegan, and a further 21% claim to be flexitarian, meaning they are vegetarian most of the time but eat meat every once in a while. This means a whopping third of UK consumers have deliberately reduced the amount of meat they eat. By delivering vegetarian, sustainable and responsibly sourced products to businesses and communities across the UK and around the world, Suma turned over £55m in 2018. It has over 7,000 vegetarian products which it supplies to the likes of the Co-op plus a host of restaurants and distributors. It also exports to 40 different countries including Cyprus, Singapore and Spain – something for which it won the 2017 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade. ‘The world is changing’, says Sheree Hatton, one of

GOING BOLD

Suma has shown how democracy, equality, integrity and compassion can succeed in business

Suma’s worker members. ‘There is a growing interest in meat-free diets and fairer business practices, things that have been at our heart for over 40 years. Suma’s never been more of the moment.’

EQUALITY AT WORK As a worker co-op, the business is owned and run by the people who work there. There are no bosses or shareholders: the employees set the direction of the business. Everyone takes responsibility and has an equal say in what happens, and does a range of jobs each week – from driving the trucks and cooking to doing the accounts. Suma staff are also given paid time to plant trees; in partnership with Treesponsibility, which works with local schools and other groups, Suma plants around 5,300 trees each year to offset the carbon produced by CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN IMAGE Suma’s new look; Suma’s Ecoleaf dishwasher tablets are a MyGreenPod. com Hero; Suma’s new tote bag

Suma’s Ecoleaf dishwasher tablets are a MyGreenPod. com Hero – find out why at mygreenpod.com/ heroes.

its fleet of delivery trucks. Native species are planted to lock carbon into the soil; they also provide a sustainable resource, as the plantation is coppiced as it matures. The nascent woodlands planted already constitute a carbon sink capable of absorbing several thousand tonnes of CO2 over the next 50 years.

CLEAN, ORGANIC AND DEMOCRATIC Suma is part of a bigger movement for workplace democracy. There are around 7,000 co-ops in the UK – such as wholefood co-op Green City in Glasgow – and three million worldwide, including the Spanish workerowned giant Mondragon. They all work in different ways and do different things, but have one thing in common: they are owned and run by the people most affected by what the organisation does. Big ideas need to stand out, and in January Suma revealed a new look for the business – including its fleet of 22 trucks and 1,000 own-brand products. The rebrand, which is expected to take two years, is as bold as Suma’s thinking and as colourful as the people who make up the co-op. It’s clean but organic – elegant but not fussy. ‘The way we look is changing’, says Suma member Nathalie Spencer, ‘but what we stand for is staying the same. We want our new look to be as bold as our people and as inspiring as our customers.’ n

FIND OUT MORE nL  earn about Suma’s history, range and

founding principles at suma.coop

mygreenpod.com WINTER 29


TRANSPORT

EVS

ARE THEY WORTH IT?

We debunk the myths around electric vehicles and their impact on the environment battery recycling becomes more prevalent and as (and when) the energy mix gets cleaner.

LIFETIME CARBON EMISSIONS Because electric cars are fuelled by electricity from the National Grid, actual lifetime CO2 savings vary according to the energy mix you’re consuming, meaning the electricity ‘fuel mix’ of the country you’re driving in. Looking at our European cousins, a range of technologies is used to power homes and businesses. In Sweden,

for example, you save roughly 85% of CO2 over the lifetime of the car – including production and driving – compared with driving a diesel car, because most power is generated by hydro-electric. In Poland, where most electricity comes from coal, you only save around 25%. So even when electricity is derived predominantly from dirty old coal, an electric car still reduces your impact by around a quarter. The UK’s grid averaged 292 gCO2/kWh in 2017, which puts us next to Spain. This is already down from over 500 gCO2/kWh a few years ago, and will continue to fall as we clean up the grid.

LOCAL EMISSIONS The gorgeous EVs released by manufacturers including Jaguar and BMW make the switch a lot more appealing

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ometimes we get asked how sustainable an electric car really is in comparison with a petrol or diesel vehicle. From an environmental point of view, we only see the positives in electric vehicles: they emit far fewer harmful carbon emissions than a petrol or diesel car – exactly how much depends on how you drive and how you charge up. They run only on electricity, and we’d always advise using a green energy supplier. But it’s an interesting subject, so here are some of the arguments and what we have to say about them.

THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS There’s a debate in some circles that the manufacture of an electric vehicle (EV) uses more resources than a typical petrol or diesel car. The argument goes that, while the ‘wheel to wheel’ comparison comes out in favour of EVs, you need to look at the entire lifecycle. But plenty of studies have debunked that myth.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSUSA) ran a two-year study into this ‘lifecycle’ issue; it concluded that ‘battery electric cars generate half the emissions of the average comparable [gasoline] car, even when pollution from battery manufacturing is accounted for’. According to Transport & Environment, about a third of the emissions of an EV originate in the vehicle’s production, compared with less than 10% for the diesel. The UCSUSA study showed that an EV created between 15% (for small cars) and 68% (for larger cars with long ranges) more emissions than a petrol equivalent during the manufacturing process. Looking at the manufacturing process in isolation, it’s correct that an EV generates more CO2 than a petrol or diesel car. But then they get on the road. On average, an electric vehicle will be responsible for lower total emissions within 18 months; that difference will increase as time goes on, as Li-Ion

People can get hung up splitting hairs over EVs’ CO2 emissions, but the massive carbon footprint reduction is only one of the benefits. The other big one is that electric cars emit no nitrogen oxide (NOx) or sulphur oxide (SOx). These toxic particles are emitted in huge quantities by traditional cars and contribute to the air pollution responsible for roughly 40,000 premature deaths in the UK annually. Multiple studies have found that electric cars are more efficient, and therefore responsible for less greenhouse gas and other emissions than cars powered solely by internal combustion engines. An EU study based on expected performance in 2020 found that an electric car using electricity generated only by an oil-fired power station would use only two-thirds of the energy of a petrol car travelling the same distance.

LITHIUM BATTERIES Electric vehicles have Lithium-Ion batteries, which aren’t the same as the traditional lead-acid batteries in petrol or diesel cars. The stuff in the traditional battery is pretty toxic; at the end of its life it is designated as ‘hazardous waste’. On the plus side, the


OCTOPUS EV n Octopus Electric Vehicles was set up to help individuals and businesses transition to electric transport. It was the first company to launch a bundle that brings together everything you need to go electric – combining an EV lease, a maintenance package, a charger for your home or office and an energy tariff specially designed for electric cars in one easy package.

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Leasing through Octopus Electric Vehicles has been a seamless and rewarding experience that made the switch to an EV a no-brainer.’ Jarvis Smith, co-founder of My Green Pod Ltd recycling of these batteries is pretty common. Let’s also not forget that the battery in a petrol or diesel car does a very specific job: it feeds the starter. The battery on an EV does that plus the job of the engine. When it comes to performance, Lithium-Ion batteries are actually doing much better than expected. Take for example ‘Wizzy’, a taxi in St Austell, which has done more than 100,000 miles without losing a single bar of battery life. When they do eventually degrade beyond usefulness in a car, these batteries are being re-purposed for grid and home battery storage. Recycling lead-acid batteries safely and in an environmentally friendly way was a challenge years ago, but we cracked it. With the prevalence of Li-Ion batteries in pretty much all modern smartphones, the same levels of recycling will most likely be achievable — and it will be big business after all!

PHOTOGRAPHY ISTOCK

CAN THE GRID HANDLE EVS? Some argue that the National Grid wouldn’t be able to cope with the increased electricity demand that mass EV uptake would bring. To answer this one, let’s first look over to Germany – a very well developed country with a population 20 million larger than our own. Germany produces so much renewable energy that it can’t even use it all. Germany saw a 29 TWh increase from renewables in 2017. That growth is equivalent to around 5% of German power demand. If expansion continued at that rate, Germany would theoretically be 100% renewable in 20 years – starting from zero. There is no reason why we cannot do the same. Nuclear is one of the more efficient ways of

generating electricity, but it’s also contentious. Even without it, it’s a fairly safe bet that the sun, wind and waves aren’t going anywhere any time soon. In any case, technology like Vehicle to Grid will hopefully leverage the availability of easily accessible EV batteries, meaning charged-up electric vehicles could be used, in theory, to balance the grid on the fly, actually powering their owners’ homes when the grid’s working overtime.

THE ELECTRIC REVOLUTION A quick online search of electric vehicles shows how swiftly the world is moving towards the electric revolution – it feels like every day another manufacturer announces its latest EV news. Electric vehicles are a step. A big step. A big step in the right (and only) direction. They’re cleaner and they’re greener; based on scientific evidence, they’re a more environmentally beneficial option than diesel or petrol cars. Excitingly, EVs continue to improve all the time; today all of the EVs being launched and in the pipeline have a range of more than 200 miles and are pretty sexy – just look at the nippy BMW i3 and the gorgeous Jaguar I-PACE. With 100% of the torque available at all time, their instant response makes for incredible acceleration and amazing handling. The barriers to an electric future are falling away all the time – there have never been more reasons to make the switch. n

n ‘Salary Sacrifice’ is Octopus Electric Vehicles’ version of the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme; the monthly cost of the vehicle is paid out of an employee’s gross salary (before income tax and national insurance). Take-home pay is reduced, but by a much smaller amount than if the individual had paid for the car directly. In fact, employees on the scheme can save up to 40% on their monthly car costs. n As for company cars, the employee does pay Benefit In Kind (BIK) tax. However, the BIK rates for pure electric vehicles are much lower than their petrol and diesel counterparts, as the rates are linked to carbon emissions. n EVs (that emit no CO2) will enjoy BIK rates of 16% from Apr 2019, and then they will drop to just 2% from April 2020. This compares, for example, with 25% and 26% (respectively) for the petrol Ford Fiesta,

which emits 106g/km of CO2, or 37% for the Audi Q7 Black Edition, which emits 178 g/km of CO2. n A number of more progressive businesses are fully on board with the benefits of electric vehicles, and have set up salary sacrifice schemes to help their employees join the electric revolution. This is a badge of honour that demonstrates the company’s environmental credentials, and it also provides a pretty great benefit for staff. n Jake Collis is a salary sacrifice expert at Octopus Electric Vehicles. With 10 years’ experience helping companies travel smarter, he’s got a wealth of expertise in making car buying (or leasing) as painless as possible. ‘We’ve found that, in terms of simplicity, getting an electric car through salary sacrifice is a winner’, Jake tells us. ‘Your monthly repayment comes out of your salary before tax and national insurance; it includes all servicing and maintenance costs, replacement tyres, breakdown cover and you can even bundle in your charge point and an electricity allowance. You won’t have to pay road tax and you’ll never have to detour for diesel again, so you already know your motoring costs. All you need to do is plug in and you can start each day with a full charge.’

FIND OUT MORE nF  ull details of the Octopus Electric Vehicles EV

bundle are at octopusev.com

mygreenpod.com WINTER 31


TRAVEL

Living with the

Maasai Our family trip to visit the Maasai of Tanzania’s Ngorongoro

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THE MAASAI WAY OF LIFE While some of Tanzania’s tribes have adapted their lifestyles to accommodate new challenges, the Maasai have stayed fiercely true to their culture. They live from their cattle, consuming only milk, blood and meat – occasionally with rice. Maasai boys spend the daylight hours herding their precious stock from one grazing patch to the next, ensuring their animals get maximum nutrition from the land available. As the cattle graze, the soil’s trampled and broken up beneath their hooves and seeds are dispersed, helping to improve the fertility of the land. The Maasai move their cattle expertly across the ground available to them; as the best pastures and water sources become increasingly privatised, fiercer grow criticisms that the Maasai scar a trail of barren dust across the limited and often already arid land. The women continue to collect water, despite being forced, in some cases, to travel over eight hours – in blazing heat – because their villages can’t be situated closer to a natural water source without spilling onto new belts of private property. The children who are old enough work with the cattle or help their mothers to collect water and fire wood. Those who aren’t stay at home and wait for their mothers to return. This means that in some cases the children can be left for most of the day without food or anyone to change their clothes if they don’t get to their wild loo in time. The Maasai keep cows and goats for milk, meat and blood, and use donkeys – ‘Maasai Land Rovers’ – for heavy loads. They don’t eat any fruit or vegetables; their way of life makes farming almost impossible, and while their right to live on the land is recognised, their right to own it isn’t. The possibility of being moved on by authorities means it’s not logical to invest time or already sparse money or resources on a harvest that might very well fail anyway. The Maasai who do grow their own fruit or vegetables sell their produce at the market to raise funds for more cattle.

LIVING WITH THE MAASAI We experienced the Maasai way of life in January, when we went on a New Year trip with Visit Natives. This travel company was established as a way to ensure the Maasai benefit from the global desire to see and experience their way of life. Maasai communities receive a percentage of the money paid for the trip – Visit Natives makes very little profit – which supports immediate needs such as extra cattle and longer term projects, such as water butts for villages. In exchange, we were able to live with the Maasai for six days; we slept in a tent inside the boma – a small collection of Maasai homes and animal pens – and deep in the bush to learn how their warriors are trained. We walked in their footsteps and tried to forge some sense of a connection with their ancient wisdom, which is deeply connected to nature. In translated conversations we learnt about their views, challenges, lifestyle, beliefs and needs.

MAIN IMAGE Maasai warrior training at an Olpul in the Ngorongoro bush

GOING NATIVE We arrived at Kilimanjaro airport on 30 December, and halfheartedly scanned the names on the boards of safari-clad tour operators. Our Visit Natives contact, a Finnish lady called Anniina, had told us we wouldn’t be able to miss our hosts, who would be in full Maasai warrior getup. Before long a 4x4 pulled in to the car park and out jumped three men – unmistakably Maasai in their blazing red shukas and traditional jewellery. They were accompanied by Anniina, who had fallen in love with the Maasai way of life 14 years earlier. Anniina’s story is important because it says a lot about Visit Natives and why she founded it. Fascinated by people and cultures, Anniina chose to study Anthropology, then switched her course to African Studies to satisfy a calling she had felt since childhood. As part of her course Anniina travelled to Tanzania to support women’s aid projects in the country, but quickly grew frustrated by the lack of work available and a sense she was unable to effect real change. Anniina became known to the Maasai, and a local Maasai NGO invited her to live with them. Anniina leapt at the opportunity and, over the next two years, fully embraced Maasai culture. She became fluent in their language – Maa – as well as Swahili, and took part in ceremonies and rituals that had previously remained closed to outsiders. Anniina contracted malaria, typhoid fever and came close to death at least once, but she stayed until her visa expired and she was forced to return to Finland. Anniina acquired an unrivalled understanding of the challenges the Maasai faced and wanted to find a way to support the community that had become her second family. She set up Visit Natives to provide a true, authentic experience of the Maasai way of life, for tourists who want to reconnect with nature and ancient wisdom. The money from trips is distributed evenly among Maasai villages in the area so all families and communities benefit from a cash injection, irrespective of whether they are hosting the visitors directly.

ABOVE In traditional Maasai dress on the morning of our wedding in Ololelai

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t the check-in area at Kilimanjaro airport, the airline desks are book-ended by two bold images: giraffes stoop on wobbly legs to drink from a lake, and a group of Maasai women smile from beneath a tree. Someone, somewhere, calculated that the Maasai are one of Tanzania’s best adverts – and one of the most valuable memories for tourists to take home. Just like the wild animals that roam the various national parks, this semi-nomadic tribe is a huge draw for tourists who spend money on food, drink, accommodation and activities in Tanzania. Maasai-style jewellery and art is also sold at the airport and at roadside markets, for sums far higher than the Maasai would ever ask. The giraffes won’t have received much by way of thanks or money for their modelling stint – and it’s unlikely the Maasai did, either. Their cultural property keeps businesses alive, but under normal circumstances their communities don’t see a penny of the profit. Worse, pressures on the Maasai’s pastoral lifestyle increase every year. While once the greatest threat came from neighbouring tribes ready to go to war over fertile territory, today the growth of business and tourism pose equal threats. The richest land is being fenced off for conservation projects and national parks that can command a gate fee, while suburban areas are being turned over for development. Tanzania’s average annual industrial growth rate over the last five years has been 8%, contributing to 25% of the country’s GDP. In order to become a semi-industrialised country, manufacturing must contribute a minimum of 40% of GDP by 2025, and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) are expected to provide the capital.

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TRAVEL Anniina and three Maasai warriors – Olopiro, (meaning ‘Wet Season’), Saitoti (‘Big Family’), Sumulek and Isaac, a Maasai chef – travelled everywhere with us, and soon became great friends. Maasai music, which blared from the Land Rover’s sound system the moment the engine started up, became the theme tune to our road trips, which took us through Arusha to Ngorongoro Conservation Area and back again.

INSIDE THE MAASAI BOMA We stayed in a boma in Ololelai, Olopiro’s village, inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. We had our own tent but everyone else slept in houses – round structures made from cow dung, with one central room for cooking plus two or more separate bedrooms on raised mud floors. There is no toilet – though ‘authorities from the city’ have recently insisted on digging holes in the ground, which we never saw the Maasai use. They were full of flies and posed a far less appealing option than finding a bush a good distance away. There were no windows inside the houses and, like most other Maasai villages, there was no electricity (not to mention wifi or phone signal). The only light came from a small door and the fire when it was lit for cooking. Unpolluted by artificial light, the Maasai’s eyesight seemed superhuman; each time we entered a

OUR VISIT NATIVES ITINERY DAY 1: DAY 2: DAY 3: DAY 4: DAY 5: DAY 6:

Pick-up from Kilimanjaro, travel to B&B in Mto Wa Mbu Travel to Ololelai, Maasai village in Ngorongoro Conservation Area Maasai warrior bush camp Ngorongoro Crater safari Get married in Ololelai, travel to Monduuli, second Maasai boma Travel back to Arusha RIGHT With Anniina, Saitoti (left) and Olopiro from Visit Natives BELOW Our dining table – with the best view in the house – in the bush in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

house our eyes took several minutes to adjust in the darkness, and even then we needed to suspend a torch from the roof to make out faces and objects deeper inside the home. Night vision is vital for protecting family and valuable livestock from wild animal attacks; armed with no more than a traditional spear, Maasai warriors keep watch over their village at night. The cows, goats and donkeys are herded into circular pens when the sun goes down, so they spend the night in relative safety. The animals provided the soundscape for our nights – bleating and changing position, melodic bells ringing from collars with every movement. It was a hypnotic and soothing way to fall asleep, in a spot beautifully distant from lights, cars and emails.

BUSH CAMP We weren’t aware of any visiting wildlife until we camped out in the bush to witness an Olpul, a ritual that sees Maasai warriors head out to the wilderness to build their strength. A short drive from the village across open scrubland, the spot used for the Olpul could well be the most romantic place on Earth. From our spot high in the Ngorongoro bush we could just make out the Serengeti, the endless plains. They cover 14,800km2 of incredibly beautiful landscape that can be rich and fertile or a dry wilderness, depending on the season. For this reason animals have to migrate to follow the rains and find green pastures to graze. No photograph or words could do justice to the sublime landscape at the door of our tent – and we and the Maasai had the view all to ourselves. During the Olpul, fire is made from friction before being carried to the village to light a fire in each house, and a goat is slaughtered, skinned, cooked and shared out for dinner. Wild herbs are collected and cooked in a large pot on the ground; the intoxicating (but delicious) bubbling concoction is consumed by the warriors to build their strength. Plants required for healing purposes are also collected from this rich medicinal herb garden. Like every night with the Maasai, our body clocks in the bush were set by the sun. Each evening we settled down round a camp table for a tea or coffee, while Isaac prepared delicious vegan

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food from an impossibly small makeshift kitchen on the ground. We ate, chatted, watched the sun dip and waited for the stars to come out. With very little light our ears were quickly attuned to the sounds of the wind and wildlife; crickets fizzed and somewhere, an imperceptible distance away, a donkey laughed. A dog from a neighbouring village would bark now and then, and occasionally a hyena growled in the darkness. During our first night in the bush we were visited by a pack of six hyenas, and on our second we got a visit from a leopard and her three cubs. We actually expected more; the scent of the goat’s blood and meat hung in the air – even in the wilderness. Each time the warriors chased the animals away and we never felt the slightest concern – even with our two-year-old in tow.

NGORONGORO CRATER Animals are a huge draw for anyone visiting Tanzania; we were staying inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and had already paid the gate fee, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to take our 4x4 into Ngorongoro Crater. The crater rim is a 610 metre wall for the amphitheatre inside, which has a 265km2 circumference. There’s a resident population of around 30,000 big animals, in an area that stretches 16 to 19km in diameter. The Ngorongoro Crater – ‘Africa’s Garden of Eden’ – is the natural home of all the wildlife you’d expect from Tanzania, including zebras, wildebeest, buffalo, gazelles, lions, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, hippos and rhinos, plus lots of flamingos that wade in the soda lake in the crater’s centre. It goes without saying that the Maasai are expert animal trackers – their lives depend on it. With our warrior friends as guides, we quickly spotted countless zebras, flamingos, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles, wildebeest, hippos and buffalo, and were lucky enough to catch several lions and elephants, too. By lunchtime we were enjoying a picnic and taking in our last views of the crater, while other guides pulled up for directions to the wildlife still missing from their clients’ check lists. Despite the joy of being close to wild animals and the ecstasy of sleeping under a sea of stars in the utter wilderness, the highlight of this trip was the people. There were obvious language barriers, but we quickly appreciated the Maasai’s quick wit and fantastic sense of humour, as well as their loving warmth towards our daughter. When our Land Rover first pulled into Ololelai, the men and women had all gathered to greet us with genuine warmth and acceptance – largely due to the strength of Anniina’s connection to the group. In an impressive show, the men jumped and the women danced, bouncing jangling circular marriage necklaces off their chests as they rhythmically rolled their shoulders backwards and forwards. Everyone sang hypnotically, and the men occasionally stepped forward to show off their jumping skills. We were pulled in almost immediately; a shuka was thrown round Jarvis’s shoulders and one of the ladies put a necklace over my head. What we lacked in skill we made up for in enthusiasm, and behind the Maasai’s frequent giggles was a genuine sense of encouragement. We soon learned that this was a very flirtatious event that often led to Maasai men and women pairing off as lovers.

MAASAI RELATIONSHIPS The Maasai have polygamous relationships; lovers can be freely selected before marriage, but when a woman marries a Maasai man – in a relationship chosen by the parents (usually the fathers, who negotiate how many cows the bride is worth) – the

ABOVE Our tent in the Ngorongoro bush, with the Serengeti just visible in the distance, was possibly the most romantic place on Earth

FIND OUT MORE nF  ind out about the Visit

Natives wedding and honeymoon experience at visitnatives.com/traditionalmaasai-wedding-honeymoon nD  ifferent Maasai homestay options and prices are at visitnatives.com/book-maasai n Information about Visit Natives is at visitnatives.com/ visit-natives-business-concept

woman also marries into her husband’s age group. This means that she can from this point only take lovers in the same age group as her husband. Pregnancy outside marriage is thought to be rare – the Maasai say they have ‘ways’ to prevent unwanted pregnancies – but it’s not unheard of. In the second village we visited a man had three wives, one of whom left and fell pregnant to her lover. She was cast out and forced to return to her husband, who – ‘for a price’ – took her back and raised her child as his own. Olopiro, Saitoti, Sumulek and Isaac spoke good English, and they were quick to answer our seemingly endless questions about the Maasai way of life. The men insisted they loved their wives equally and that there was no favouritism; I wanted to get the women’s side as well, so Anniina and I went to speak to them when the men were absent. Unsurprisingly, the women we spoke to found it difficult when their husbands took other wives. There were the expected issues around jealousy – one wife might have a better house or might be considered the favourite – alongside a fear that they couldn’t leave, no matter how unhappy they were, without losing their children to the father. Not to be put off by the tales of unhappy relationships, Jarvis and I had a Maasai wedding ceremony in Ololelai, with our trusty Land Rover as our chariot. In an amazing demonstration of the team’s ability to offer a truly bespoke trip, Olopiro managed to arrange the whole thing in less than an hour.

THE SPIRITUAL HEALER The relationships and challenges may be complex, but the Maasai deal with any issues within their own community. If the wet season is late, the Maasai make a pilgrimage to their holy mountain, Ol Doinyo Lengai – ‘Mountain of God’ – to ask for rain. It always comes. Next to God, a key figure is the village Laibon, which loosely translates to a traditional spiritual leader. A valuable source of wisdom, healing and advice, he can answer any questions the Maasai have around health or the future. His meetings and the rituals involved are private events that can only take place with Laiboni’s consent, which can come in various guises. As we sat round our camp table in Ololelai on New Year’s Eve, Jarvis and Anniina both expressed a desire to speak with Laiboni. As we spoke in the darkness, a very large beetle flew onto Anniina; she flicked it away but it returned so many times it soon became a joke that had Saitoti, Olopiro, Jarvis, Anniina and me close to tears. A few minutes later Laiboni appeared: he stood in the darkness wrapped in a blanket, his face lit by the camping lamp. He said little but shared a New Year’s glass of prosecco with us, and in a short translated conversation agreed to a meeting with Anniina and Jarvis at a time to be arranged. We’re not allowed to share exactly what took place, but Jarvis and Anniina both came out feeling their questions had been answered and that they had been connected to an ancient source of wisdom. It is this wisdom that has allowed the Maasai in Ngorongoro to stay true to their culture – brought from Kenya to East Africa’s Great Rift Valley long before Tanganyika gained independence and, along with Zanzibar, was given the name Tanzania. This is the vibrant nation that’s found a spot on the bucket list of adventure-seekers all over the world. It’s a stunning, rich country that has the most beautiful wildlife and culture; many of the animals are being protected, and now you can visit in a way that supports the Maasai, an equally valuable national asset. n

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TRAVEL

Ngare Sero

Arusha’s original mountain lodge conservancy is so full of life that you may not want to go anywhere else in Tanzania

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here is something extremely special about Ngare Sero: its magic has attracted compassionate individuals and enchanted them so entirely that they have changed their lives, become its guardian and dedicated their time, energy and love to its protection. Tucked away in the rainforest at an altitude of 1,200m, with 50 acres of forest and clear lakes, Ngare Sero –meaning ‘Dappled Water’ in Maa – is rich with wildlife thanks to the owner’s unfaltering commitment to the restoration and protection of this extremely precious jewel of an ecosystem in the foothills of Mount Meru in Tanzania. Black and white colobus monkeys from the slopes of Mount Meru have made the high, old trees round the natural spring at Ngare Sero their home; they leap through the canopy, which they share with the

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playful Sykes’ monkeys, gorging on the abundant fruit, nuts and leaves. At dusk they provide a spectacular pre-dinner show – with the blushing Mount Kilimanjaro as their panoramic backdrop – as they wind their way back to the safety of the thick forest. 200 species of bird are thought to have made their home here: herons, ibis, hornbills, sunbirds and yellow weaver birds have been drawn to the lake, which is fed by a dammed mountain spring, and eagles and cormorants circle overhead.

A SECRET EDEN The fertile, sub-tropical grounds of Ngare Sero contain an explosion of red and white hibiscus, bougainvillea, heliconia, red torch ginger, shell ginger, butterfly ginger, arum and calla lilies on long

single stems, which grow around the lake. Large moon flowers with white, bell-like blossoms face the ground at the water’s edge. This secret Eden is hidden away behind eucalyptus, olive, palm, jacaranda, flamboyant and rubber trees. The warm air, loaded with fragrance long after sunset, carries the symphony of crickets and frogs to guests sitting on the veranda beneath a clear, star-lit sky. The bull frogs proved extremely accurate weather forecasters; a few croaks in the evening would be a sure sign of rain the next day, helping you plan your schedule for the morning.

TRANSFORMING A WILDERNESS A captain of the German askaris discovered this paradise on Earth during a horseback trek through the country. By 1900 he had decided that, if he were


ever to leave the army, this would be the place to build a new home and life with his family. By 1905 the house had been built, though it took three more years to complete. When his family arrived in 1907 they slept in a mud hut behind the house, which at the time was surrounded by leopards, lions and hyenas. Still today just half an hour away, on the other side of Mount Meru, live elephants, giraffes, hippos, baboons and leopards, plus 400 species of bird. The family transformed the wilderness into beautiful agricultural land before the English arrived and, between 1918 and 1920, forced the Germans to leave East Africa. For 10 years the house stood empty; its only occupants were nesting birds and Sykes’ monkeys, which roamed freely on the balcony. Mike Leach, a British engineer working in Arusha, fell in love with the house; when he brought his wife, Gisella, and her children to have a look, they too saw the magic and endless potential of the grounds and the building known locally as the ‘German ghost house’. They decided to make it their home, and spent decades on thoughtful and loving restoration work – removing false, termite-ridden ceilings to expose stunning timber beams made from loliondo. Building supplies were hard to come by in 1970s Arusha, so the renovations were painstakingly undertaken using local materials. It was a family affair – Gisella’s four children helped with the project, and in the evening they went to the 16°C lake to wash mud and cement from their hair and bodies. There was no electricity; Gisella cooked on a moonlit veranda using storm cookers, hung from hooks that can still be found on the outer wall of the lodge today. The family has since converted a turbine, which was used for milling, to provide the lodge with hydroelectric energy. CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN IMAGE Ngare Sero is set in 50 acres of forest and clear lakes; horse riding is available; the eco lodge has spectacular views of Kilimanjaro; breakfast overlooking the croquet lawn; beautiful furniture includes antiques rich with history and Zanzibar-style beds; black colobus monkeys swing through the canopy

TANZANIA’S FIRST SAFARIS There were few hotels in the area at the time, though Ngare Sero’s proximity to Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro, Serengeti and Tarangire made it a perfect destination for climbers, hikers and wildlifeloving travellers. Gisella and Mike decided to offer tours similar to the luxury camping safaris available in Kenya, with Ngare Sero as the family-run base camp lodge. In 1974 safaris were very different affairs – and there was nothing comparable in Tanzania. Big dining tents hosted five-course dinners complete with cut glass and waiter service. Every three days a crew of 10 moved the entire camp to a different spot inside a national park, while guests went off to track game before being driven to their new location.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE STOPOVER Tim, Mike’s youngest son, now runs Ngare Sero with his wife, Katya, their five-year-old daughter and Mike. They are so warm and full of knowledge that an evening chat about the lodge’s incredible history and the family’s adventures is an absolute must for guests. Tim was born in a mission hospital 1,500m up Kilimanjaro, and had a wild childhood in Africa before attending boarding school in Bristol and moving to the USA to pursue his passion for marine biology. Tim has his father’s environmental sensitivity; thanks to a project with his brother Johnny, a Land Rover expert, the 4x4 used for Ngare Sero’s day trips now runs on ethanol – a by-product of sugar cane. The obvious advantage is that guests can cruise round Arusha National Park powered by renewable fuel – the bonus is that the animals don’t hear them coming. Arusha wasn’t much more than a dusty road when Mike and his family moved to Ngare Sero; today it’s Tanzania’s gateway to the northern safari circuit. Various lodges, hotels and B&Bs have come and gone since 1974, but many have catered to tour-operated agents who just want to give their clients a bed for the night before hitting the road early to tick off the big five before sunset.

Ngare Sero is an entirely different experience; the grounds are so tranquil and lush you may not want to descend back into the dust and heat of Arusha – and you can enjoy the lodge’s native wildlife without even leaving your room.

A RETREAT TO NATURE The food – mostly organic and all locally sourced, often from the lodge’s grounds – is a feast for all the senses. Each lunch and dinner begins with a delicious seasonal soup with homemade bread, followed by a selection of mouthwatering dishes, presented in beautiful clay pots. Our vegan requirements were no challenge for the chefs; every day each course was a delight – from the banana breakfast muffins to the avocado sorbet. The wine and coffee were also exceptional, and when we congratulated guests who returned from their Kilimanjaro climb, we couldn’t think of a more perfect place to relax and recuperate. Guests can enjoy croquet, horse riding, massages and various other activities – in addition to the endless bird- and wildlife-spotting possibilities in the lodge’s grounds. You can walk round the lake or even paddle a punt to the centre, and enjoy a glass of wine as you watch the birds flock in at dusk. Trips can also be arranged from the lodge; you can head out to Arusha National Park and take short walks towards the ash cone in Mount Meru’s crater, where you can watch wildlife in the mystical lake and forest habitats. A three-day trek to the summit of Mount Meru can also be organised, as well as special interest safaris such as tracking and paragliding. You could spend weeks at Ngare Sero without as much as scraping the surface of this extraordinary ecosystem. There’s so much to see that it’s hard not to sit back and watch the spectacle – yet there’s so much to explore that every second spent still feels like a moment wasted. If you’re heading to Tanzania – to climb Kilimanjaro, visit the national parks or just take a break – make sure this retreat is on your itinerary, but be warned: you too might be so captivated you won’t want to leave. n

FIND OUT MORE

PHOTOGRAPHY ALICE BENSI, JOSE CARBALLAL

n For bookings and rates, visit ngare-sero-lodge.co.tz/rates n The lodge’s history is detailed at ngare-sero-lodge.co.tz/about-us n View activities at ngare-sero-lodge.co.tz/activities

mygreenpod.com WINTER 37


Eco chic

in Sardinia

An authentic five-star getaway in a wild and natural paradise

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IN HARMONY WITH NATURE

ive-star resorts were once anathema to those seeking an eco getaway with a minimal footprint, but the travel industry has evolved rapidly to cater for ethical travellers who don’t want to compromise on luxury. Globally, the ecotourism market has seen double-digit growth since the early 1990s, and in the next couple of years the sector is expected to expand further, to account for almost a quarter of the global travel market. Some resorts have retrofitted their properties to attract today’s more conscious clientele, while others are trying to save face by rethinking reckless developments in popular tourist spots. It’s not easy to rewire the DNA of an entire company – let alone a luxury holiday destination with attendant spas and leisure facilities – but some resorts haven’t had to. Last year, Delphina Hotels & Resorts won a P.E.A. (People. Environment. Achievement.) Travel Award for its environmentally sensitive approach to hospitality, which was built into the group’s foundations right from the start.

Delphina Hotels & Resorts is a MyGreenPod. com Hero travel destination – find out why at mygreenpod. com/heroes.

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More than 25 years ago, founders Francesco Muntoni and Salvatore Peru decided Delphina’s properties would be no more than two storeys high; they were built into the landscape, almost invisible from the coastline, and integrated with the region’s indigenous plants and trees. The use of locally sourced materials such as wood, wrought iron, cork, ceramics and textiles helped to regenerate centuries-old local, artisanal trades and skills. The result is a collection of eight four- and fivestar luxury spots in northern Sardinia – comprising 12 hotels, two exclusive residences, six spas and 23 villas – that are all in complete harmony with their environment. The family-run chain was the first Italian hotel group to use entirely green and renewable energy across its full portfolio. By harnessing wind power it saves 3,536 tonnes of CO2 each year, doing the work of roughly 25,000 trees. Another key draw is the group’s commitment to providing healthy, good and fair food. ‘Zero-kilometre’ seasonal foods are sourced wherever possible, providing a healthy menu of Gallurese meats, fish and seafood, and fruit and vegetables from local producers. Delphina’s respect for nature is evident in even the smallest touches: the spa products are eco- and bio-friendly, Ecolabel cleaning products are used, electric vehicles provide in-resort transportation and all Delphina’s publications and catalogues are printed with mineral oil-free inks on ecological cellulose paper certified by the FSC and PEFC. The effects of pursuing this approach to development are beautifully apparent in the resorts today. While each is underwritten by a philosophy that’s consistent across the Delphina chain, it also has its own identity; Capo D’Orso is wild, romantic and exclusive; Marinedda is ideal for wellbeing and walking enthusiasts; Cala di Lepre is perfect for horse riding


TRAVEL

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN IMAGE Li Zini at Valle dell’Erica; Valle dell’Erica’s Thalasso & Spa Centre; low buildings are integrated into the landscape; the outdoor environment is great for kids and families; the rugged coast has countless hidden bays

and sports and the vast range of hotels and activities at Le Dune make it a great choice for families.

VALLE DELL’ERICA We visited Valle dell’Erica in June 2018 and were blown away by the resort’s unbeatable position and fantastic facilities. 55km from Olbia airport and 12km from the ancient village of Santa Teresa Gallura in North Sardinia, this beachfront resort sprawls across 28 hectares of scented shrubland, with 1,400m of unspoilt coastline. Rooms in this private park have panoramic verandas with views across the crystal water to two archipelagos – Corsica and the National Park of the Archipelago of La Maddalena. A long, white, sandy beach sweeps round the rugged coast, and the countless hidden bays and wind-carved coves almost guarantee you’ll find your own private beach. The abundance of wild plants in Valle dell’Erica’s grounds have created a haven for wildlife, while also creating corridors of beautifully fragrant flowers and herbs that fill the air as guests wind their way down seemingly private paths to the coast, restaurants or pools. It’s hard to believe the resort comprises two separate hotels, 271 bedrooms and suites, four swimming pools, a Thalasso & Spa Centre, seven restaurants and five bars: the grounds have been so sensitively landscaped that every moment feels private and each of the separate areas is a haven of calm and relaxation.

THE BENEFITS OF THE SEA Valle dell’Erica is ideally located for hiking, trekking, mountain biking, diving, wind surfing and kite surfing, and there’s even a picturesque three-hole PAR 3 golf course. Those seeking a more relaxing break can enjoy boat excursions or kick back in Le Thermae, a Thalasso & Spa Centre set in a 1,600 square metre natural environment of granite rocks, and scented with Mediterranean herbs. Sardinia is famed for practising the art of thalassotherapy – the medicinal use of seawater – to relax, cleanse skin, tone

muscles, soothe aches and pains, boost circulation and ease respiratory conditions. Valle dell’Erica has a circuit of four seawater pools of varying temperatures, plus hammam, sauna and booths for massage and beauty treatments. We took a boat trip out to the Archipelago of La Maddalena; one of the islands is protected by a guardian who lives alone and completely self-sufficiently. We hopped between islands to enjoy dips in the sparkling waters from beaches with naturally pink sand, before breaking to enjoy lunch and wine on the boat with other guests.

THE SECRET TO LONGEVITY? Valle dell’Erica’s seven restaurants guarantee something for everyone and every kind of holiday. Perhaps the most impressive was Li Zini, a boutique beachside restaurant for intimate and impossibly romantic candlelit alfresco dining. Li Ciusoni has an outdoor kitchen and provides complimentary cooking lessons for those keen to learn the art of traditional Gallurese dishes such as Zuppa Gallurese, Ciusoni and Seadas. Our favourite restaurant was Il Grecale, for its wonderful staff the exquisite food created from local vegan produce. La Piazzetta piano bar was also great for after-dinner shows and live entertainment. With the world’s highest concentration of centenarians, Sardinia is also believed to hold the secret to longevity. If you want to get an authentic taste of the diet, culture and lifestyle – all while enjoying five-star luxury in an oasis of wild beauty – then Delphina has the place to do it. n

FIND OUT MORE n For bookings, rates and availability, visit delphinahotels.co.uk nW  edding and honeymoon offers can be found at

delphinahotels.co.uk/sardinia/sposi-anniversari.html nV  iew the Delphina Hotels & Resorts catalogues at

delphinahotels.co.uk/sardinia/delphina-catalogues-sardinia.html

mygreenpod.com WINTER 39


‘The Home of Halloween’ Our family trip to the Boyne Valley took a spooky turn as we explored the history of Ireland’s Ancient East

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hen we visited the Boyne Valley in County Meath on 02 November 2018, we were completely unaware that we couldn’t have timed the trip more perfectly. It was a family holiday for seven – three generations – to Decoy Country Cottages, a group of eight boutique self-catering cottages in Navan. The fantastic rural location is just 30 minutes from the centre of Dublin and just over 30 miles from the port. We travelled by ferry as we wanted to be able to explore the area by car; we’d been encouraged to immerse ourselves in the local culture, though what exactly that meant remained a mystery until we arrived in Meath and found we had entered ‘The Home of Halloween’. Evidence of celebrations hung in the air as we turned quietly into the entrance and through to the courtyard of Decoy Country Cottages. A pirate ghost fluttered eerily on the gate and each of the cottage doors had been dressed with a ghoul. The moon was up and an owl hooted – perhaps at the sight of equally wide-eyed guests. Signs on the road had alerted us to Spirit of Meath Halloween Festival events taking place all over County Meath from 06 October to 04 November, but we had no idea why the period was so extended or significant. Research began before we’d even looked at our rooms or taken in the house that would be our home for the week – and the more we read, the more fascinated we became.

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KINGS, GHOSTS AND ANCIENT SITES

Decoy Country Cottages is a MyGreenPod Hero – find out more at mygreenpod. com/heroes.

In the 17th century, historian Geoffrey Keating described a hilltop fire that took place in Meath on Samhain, the Celtic New Year and the pre-Christian forerunner of Halloween. Archaeologists have since discovered evidence of intense burning on the Hill of Ward – or Tlachtga, as it was formerly known – dating back to 500 AD. This ancient ritual site was the centre of Celtic religious worship over 2,000 years ago, and the fire festival that took place there signalled the arrival of winter. Samhain marked the division between the lighter (summer) and darker (winter) halves of the year; by lighting winter fires, early man was trying to aid the noticeably weaker sun on its journey across the skies. This was also the time at which the barriers between worlds would fall away, allowing spirits to pass through. With the sun in the underworld, the Lord of the Dead – along with various ghosts and fairies – were free to walk the Earth. People used costumes and masks to disguise themselves, hoping they’d be left alone by any harmful spirits that slipped through the veil. The Hill of Ward is just 15 minutes’ drive from Decoy Country Cottages – but just 15 minutes in the other direction is another equally impressive site that has managed to overshadow its fascinating neighbour. Just 12 miles away from the Hill of Ward is the Hill of Tara: seat of The High Kings of Ireland and, as the gateway to the otherworld, the sacred dwelling place of the gods. According


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to some, the Hill of Tara is also the ancient capital of the lost kingdom of Atlantis. 155 metres above sea level, the views from the Hill of Tara are breathtaking, covering by some estimations a quarter of Ireland’s landscape. The elevation may also explain why this was such an important ritual and political site. In total around 30 monuments remain visible on the summit, though a similar number of constructions have also been detected beneath the surface. A standing stone, the Lia Fáil (‘Stone of Destiny’), was the coronation stone of the Kings of Tara. According to tradition, when a true Irish or Scottish King placed a foot on Lia Fáil it roared to announce his rightful reign. The oldest visible monument, a passage tomb named ‘The Mound of the Hostages’, dates from around 3,000 BC, making it older than the pyramids.

NEWGRANGE AND MEGALITHIC ART We hadn’t expected to encounter structures that pre-date the pyramids during our visit to the Boyne Valley, but it turned out the Hill of Tara had company. We headed next to Newgrange, a 5,200-year-old passage tomb built by Stone Age farmers, that covers roughly an acre of land near Navan. Older than both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza, this World Heritage Site was just a 20-minute drive from our cottage. The circular mound is 85 meters in diameter and 13.5 meters high, and contains a 19 meter stone passageway with chambers. It’s surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are decorated with megalithic art. Despite its classification, Newgrange is more a temple than a tomb: it was a place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance – apparently built by a well-organised society with specialised groups that were responsible for the different elements of its construction. The most magical aspect of Newgrange is the internal passageway and chamber, which are illuminated by the winter solstice sun to mark the beginning of the new year. An opening above the entrance to the passage allows sunlight to penetrate the chamber on the shortest days of the year, which fall around the winter solstice. At dawn, from 19-23 December, a narrow beam of light reaches the floor, gradually extending to the rear of the chamber. As the sun climbs in the sky, the beam in the chamber widens until the whole room is illuminated. In a mindblowing feat of accuracy from Stone Age man, the event takes 17 minutes, beginning at around 09.00.

A HOME FROM HOME

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN IMAGE Enjoying the view from the Hill of Tara; Decoy Country Cottages; megalithic art at Newgrange pre-dates the pyramids; inside the cottages

HOLYHEAD TO DUBLIN

We only scraped the surface of the area’s history, but each day brought new questions and observations to discuss when we returned to the comfort of our cottage. The facilities were great and there was plenty of room for us all; a large table in the kitchen provided ample space for big family feasts, and the comfortable living room had a wood-burning stove for warm evenings in. The owner’s cats and dog became a familiar sight from the first morning, which made us feel even more at home. They strolled in and out of the cottage to our daughter’s delight, and as the evening closed in, someone usually found they had a sleeping cat curled up in their lap. There was something for every generation: it was at times difficult to drag our daughter away from the small park and play room across the courtyard, and my dad and brother were very pleased to find a games room complete with pool table and air hockey. A small adjoining gym had enough equipment for a decent workout if, by some mystery, you returned unstretched from a day’s exploring. Our proximity to Dublin meant we’d expected to head over to the city a few times – at the very least to enjoy a proper pint of Guinness. But we only made it once, to see a fantastic Irish House Party performance of superb music and dance at the Lansdowne Hotel. We could easily have spent a full week bouncing between the incredible sites that make up the Boyne Valley. The Halloween Festival had drawn to a close by the time we left, but the area felt even more magical than it had when we arrived – even without the pirate ghost to wave us goodbye. n

FERRY: Stena Line TIMINGS: Four crossings per day CROSSING: 3h 15m COST: From £79 (single car and driver) BOOKING AND TIMETABLE: stenaline.co.uk

FIND OUT MORE nR  ates and availability for Decoy Country Cottages

are at decoycountrycottages.ie nV  iew events to help you time your stay at

decoycountrycottages.ie/events n Learn about the area at discoverboynevalley.ie

mygreenpod.com WINTER 41


We’ve got our hands on a bunch of prizes from fantastic companies that are choosing to do things differently. We love them all and we want to give you a chance to get to know them, too – so we’re running these competitions so you can have a go and see for yourself! We’ve hand-picked this selection of green pearls – from an Ethical Wedding Package to a week’s stay for you and a friend in a luxury eco resort in Sardinia – to help you stay loved up way past February.

No catch. No pressure. Just enjoy! You can enter all our competitions and view more prize details – plus any terms and conditions – by visiting mygreenpod.com/competitions. Share them with friends, spread the word and update us with your experiences if you’re one of our winners.

Good luck! To enter, visit MyGreenPod.com

WIN

A WEEK IN SARDINIA!

Delphina Hotels & Resorts – a collection of eight 4* and 5* luxury resorts across northern Sardinia – won the 2018 P.E.A. (People. Environment. Achievement.) Travel Award for using 100% green energy across all properties. Each resort is fully immersed in the stunning natural landscape and pays homage to Sardinia’s culture, cuisine and environment. One lucky winner and a friend will win a week’s half-board stay in one of Delphina’s resorts.

Deadline for entries: 02.04.19 42 WINTER mygreenpod.com


COMPETITIONS

WIN

GREEN GODDESS ‘CLEAN LIVING’ PRODUCTS!

WIN

A PAIR OF WUKA PERIOD PANTS!

WIN

WIN

£150 OF PURE & LIGHT ORGANIC SKINCARE!

A THTC T-SHIRT!

Bag a set of Green Goddess nontoxic, natural, plant-based cleaning products – with 100% pure essential oils. They were created for the good health of your family, your home and the environment.

The switch to plastic-free periods has never been more comfortable. We’ve got our hands on 10 pairs of ‘the world’s most comfortable, hygienic, luxurious and eco-friendly period underwear’.

Three lucky readers will get to spend £150 on Pure & Light Organic Skincare, which intelligently adapts to unique skin conditions. Whatever your skin’s needs, they’ll always be covered.

We’ve got our hands on 25 fantastic ethical T-shirts from THTC. The environmentally friendly and politically conscious streetwear company works with artists such as Mau Mau, our cover artist. Designs will vary.

Deadline for entries: 01.06.19

Deadline for entries: 01.06.19

Deadline for entries: 01.06.19

Deadline for entries: 01.06.19

WIN WIN

AN ETHICAL WEDDING PACKAGE!

We’re giving away eight Ultimate sets from The Rose Tree. Each winner will get a beautiful capsule collection of award-winning organic skincare, including face oil, Cleansing Butter, Intensive Balm and oil-based serum.

One lucky couple will receive everything they need for their big day, courtesy of Sinclair & Saffron. From the dress to the handcrafted wooden guest book, this Ethical Wedding Package has it all – there’s even a two-night stay at a secluded, luxury cottage at Nantwen in Wales.

Deadline for entries: 01.06.19

Deadline for entries: 01.06.19

ULTIMATE SET OF THE ROSE TREE ORGANIC SKINCARE!

mygreenpod.com WINTER 43


Profile for MyGreenPod Magazine

MyGreenPod Magazine Winter 2019  

Welcome to My Green Pod Magazine! This issue we’re asking everyone (who isn’t already) to start putting their money where their heart is. Su...

MyGreenPod Magazine Winter 2019  

Welcome to My Green Pod Magazine! This issue we’re asking everyone (who isn’t already) to start putting their money where their heart is. Su...