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The Big Debate Waste Not Want Not
What Deron Knows The man behind Freecycle
Health in our Time Are supplements good for us?
Ethical Shopper Innovation in Recycling
Editor’s Choice A crude awakening
Free Range Ervin Laszlo on worldshifting
Black Gold Wake up and smell the coffee
Trade Fair The Age of Social Enterprise
Fully Booked Team book reviews
Be! Yourself 26 BE! at Home
32 BE! You
38 BE! Grounded
The holistic home
Hair & skin treats
Broad beans & Shared Gardens
28 BE! Smart
34 BE! Free
40 BE! Closer
Fashion with Emmeline
Downshifting for all
30 BE! Delicious
36 BE! Prosperous
42 BE! Connected
A taste of things to come
Is Plastic Fantastic?
Our contributors Ervin László Jack Woodcock Emmeline Child Emily Payne Amy Clarke PR Finbow Tracey Smith Sam Henderson Jo Roberts Christine McPherson Melissa Sterry Our sponsors London Bio Packaging 14 Norland Road London W11 4TR T. 0207 4713700 E. firstname.lastname@example.org W. www.londonbiopackaging.com Major Supporters National Downshifting Week Suma Wholefoods Ecotricity Ecover Triodos Bank
a warm welcome I am delighted to welcome you, not just to this Lifecycle Special, but also to the re-launched, new-look Sustained which we at London Bio Packaging are proud to be sponsoring. It’s been wonderful to see Sustained taking such bold steps into full colour, larger format, increased pagination and doubled distribution. This is a fantastic example of a small operation bucking the trend: Sustained is making a positive move forward for the ethical and sustainable community, a move we’re excited to be part of. If we are to deal with a global recession then it’s up to organisations like ours, social enterprises if you will, not to hunker down but to step up and bring new thinking to how we produce, trade and consume. London Bio Packaging is taking responsibility for what it produces and how that impacts on the wider world. Despite being an entirely different product, I believe Sustained is doing essentially the same thing creating something positive with careful consideration for it’s impact. This planet is a wondrous thing so let’s keep it turning with bold sustainable products and initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle. This is the way forward for all of us.
Marcus Hill, Managing Director London Bio Packaging
We ask seven of the big boys what they have to say!
tatistics around food waste are staggering: A third of the food we buy ends up being thrown away, amounting to over £400 worth per year for every single person in the UK. This isn’t good, as much of this waste just sits in landfill sites rotting and producing methane. The cause appears to be a combination of historically low food prices and a more convenience focused lifestyle. So what can be done? Well, we need to consider every stage of the process: In the shop: Plan individual meals and the fresh produce you are buying – what is the use-by date? Will you really use it all up before it goes off? If there are two-for-one deals, will you really use that extra quantity? In the kitchen: Re-learn the old fashioned value of waste-not-wantnot! Portion control – how much rice or pasta do you really need? Have a few recipes for leftovers handy or if you’ve made too much, freeze it. Afterwards: In many areas your council will collect your food waste, otherwise you can compost most of it or use a wormery. You now know how to save some money, eat healthily and protect the environment – so what are you waiting for?
elcome to this issue’s Big Debate on food waste, featuring the views of some key organisations and, over the page, those of some members of the public in our first Vox Pop. 17 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year, 6.7 million being domestic. That’s the equivalent of 800,000 double decker buses! If Deron Beal’s statement on page 12 is true for food, then that means 340 million tonnes of other ‘stuff’ needed to produce the food is also wasted. Whew! That would include packaging, fertilisers, pesticides, animal feed, the vast quantities of water needed for growing and processing, whilst the fuel for planting, harvesting, transporting, processing and finally distributing is more wasted resource, not to mention all the labour. CO2 for all that fuel burning is estimated at 15 million tonnes, the detrimental impact of which is further compounded by the methane released from landfill. And there’s money of course, mostly your money, in one form or another, wasted. And, apparently, we need GM crops because there isn’t enough food. So, is food waste an issue? Share your opinions and ideas by emailing email@example.com
big problem in the UK is food waste and dealing with it is crucial if we are to reduce our greenhouse gas impacts, and meet our obligations under the EU Landfill Directive to divert biodegradable waste from landfill. Some food waste, such as peelings and bones, is inevitable. However, what is surprising is just how much is avoidable – around half of the food we throw out could have been eaten. All of this waste has a big impact, as food biodegrades in landfill to produce methane, which is 23 times as damaging a greenhouse gas as CO2. If we stopped wasting food which could have been eaten, we would have the same impact on carbon emissions as taking 1 in 5 cars off UK roads. Often the food we waste is the result of cooking too much, not storing it correctly, or not planning ahead to ensure that we use the food we buy. Through such simple measures as better portioning and storage, and using – not binning – leftovers, each household could save between £250 and £400 a year on its food bills. I would encourage everyone to check out the Waste & Resources Action Programme’s ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign website.
he last fifty years have seen major changes in the way that people in the UK buy their food – especially with the rise in popularity of supermarkets with their centralised distribution systems and the availability of imports - this in turn has led to a huge increase in the amount of food that is wasted each year. More than 80% of our food is bought from supermarkets and it is estimated that even before point of sale as much as a third of all fresh produce sold through the supermarkets is rejected for not meeting the right specifications on size, colour and consistency In addition, lengthy distribution systems result in further losses as food doesn’t make it to the shelves in time, is damaged in transport or is simply not sold or eaten in time. If we all bought more seasonal, local and organic produce we could reduce the amount of food that is wasted each year as well as saving on packaging and transport. Produce bought directly from the farmer or from local shops will be fresher, so it will keep for longer and fruit and vegetables can be selected according to taste and quality rather than cosmetic appearance.
Joan Ruddock MP
Editor - Sustained Magazine
Under-Secretary of State - Defra
The Soil Association
waste not >> want not ? E
veryone has been guilty of wasting food - our individual acts may seem insignificant but it is the sum of the parts that make up the whole. We have a disposable mentality in almost all aspects of life: it is more convenient to just throw things away. This and the seasonality of food, its use-by and sell-by dates, the time to shelf and the transport of in-demand products from the global market all have an impact upon the volume of waste we see. Most people will have noticed the reduction in the time to perish of fresh produce in comparison to, let’s say, 20 years ago. This lifecycle and use-by and sell-by dates have had an impact upon the psyche of the consumer. Our willingness to abide by this ‘advice’ encourages us to dispose of food rather than utilise it in other ways: preparing meals in advance and freezing them is an almost unheard of exercise. The problem, is over-production, over-consumption, use-by and sell-by dates and lack of planning in the use of food. Inetec are a Welsh based company bringing environmental technology innovation to the food waste industry. Visit www.inetec.co.uk to find out more about our work.
ood waste sent to landfill is a combination of produce from shops that is not needed, processing waste, and food bought and taken home but not eaten. The problem is a significant one and recent research suggests that UK households alone throw away 6.7 million tonnes of food waste each year, over half of which could have been eaten. With landfill sites rapidly filling up and concerns over the release of greenhouse gases it is really important that people start to think of other ways to deal with their waste as well as avoiding overbuying. When we buy food there is, of course, always going to be some leftovers such as fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags and coffee grounds, and the best way of dealing with this is to compost it at home. Not only does composting recycle your food waste and reduce your carbon footprint, it is easy to do, doesn’t have to take up a lot of space and makes a great soil improver for your plants. Even if you’re not a keen gardener you can use it to perk up houseplants and help to grow flowers or salad crops in window boxes! For more information visit our website at www.gardenorganic.org.uk
nderpinning our approach to running a restaurant is the ethos of reduce, reuse and recycle: from green energy and biodegradable water bottles, to recyclable paper napkins and wooden furniture sourced from sustainable forests. We cut back on food waste by offering varying portion sizes, and if a plate isn’t cleaned, scraps go into our on-site wormery, compost from which fuels a small roof garden that grows herbs and vegetables. Brits are notorious for being extremely nervous about asking where restaurant food is from which is crazy. You have to challenge restaurants, ask if produce is in-season, is it English, is it fresh? Customers need to start feeling empowered. Demand quality, demand locality, demand sustainability and demand organic if that’s what you want. If you go to an organic restaurant ask for proof that they’re members of the Soil Association. I’d like to see an end to flying in out-of-season produce and bottled water, serving over-sized portions and not recycling rubbish - both organic waste and packaging. Some chefs out there are getting away with murder and that’s only going to change if the customer starts challenging them.
ast year FareShare redistributed 3000 tonnes of quality food that would otherwise have gone to landfill. This contributed towards 4.6 million meals, benefiting 25,000 vulnerable people every day. Causes of food waste include over-production, ‘quality’ rejections and seasonal stocks. As long as consumers want ever more choice and the food industry remains the competitive market it is, then waste will occur as a by-product of this environment. Our research suggests that the true costs of this waste, which include the social and environmental, are not understood by waste producers. Human effort, energy and other resources used to manufacture and distribute the food all contribute to this cost, normally many times the financial cost of actual disposal. Greater attention must be given by government and the private sector to minimise pre-consumer waste in order to maximise the economic, social and environmental benefits that result from its redistribution. In this way a potential £635 million could be saved over 10 years. If you would like to find out more about our work and how you can help please visit our website at www.fareshare.org.uk
Arthur Potts Dawson
HR Manager - Inetec
Co-owner - Acorn House
CEO - FareShare
“We waste hardly anything simply by only buying what we need and storing our food correctly” Mrs N Curtis, Wells.
“We shouldn’t buy as much in the first place. Avoid special offers when you know food won’t be eaten.” Jess Batterill, Glastonbury
“We could eat smaller portions, change packaging in supermarkets and have longer use by dates” Daniel Shaw, Meare 10
“Buy organic food or grow your own. Only buy what you need. No buy-one-get-one-free” Mrs O’Dare, Radstock
Photography with help from Thomas Lay. Visit www.thomaslay.co.uk for more information.
“Serve the right amount of delicious, nutritious quality food and then they’ll never be anything left over - simple!” Robin Green, Colchester sustainedmagazine.com
“Don’t buy in bulk, and avoid being swayed by BOGOFs. Buy from local, smaller stores as and when you need! Keely Rendell, Rowhedge
“Well we started to buy less and use all our food up; the key is - don’t store too far in advance.” Mr Neil Laing, Wells
“The best answer is to shop more than once a week, buy fresh and eat as soon as possible!” Henry Cox, Glastonbury
What Deron Knows Interview David North Photographs Freecycle
In 2003 Deron Beal sent out an email announcing the Freecycle Network to a small group of friends. It is now an international network with over 4 million members. What does sustainability mean to you? It means never having to say you’re sorry! No, not by being perfect, because, well, heck, really we’re all quite human and imperfect as nature intended us to be, but rather I’d say it means doing one’s best with the card’s one is dealt to act consciously within our role as a part of our natural environment. Mother Nature gave us these overgrown brains after all, didn’t she! What is Freecycle and what led you to start it? Freecycle is a global gift economy. The Freecycle Network is also a grassroots movement of individuals giving away, and getting, free stuff in their own local communities and, in doing so, keeping over 400 tons a day out of landfill. I started it with one email on May 1st, 2003 to give away a bed as, having got married, my wife and I were moving in together. Charities don’t take beds and none of our friends needed it. I figured there must be a better way and whaddaya know!
Are there other issues on your mind these days? The key message which I am seeing that isn’t getting out there is that it takes, at a minimum, TWENTY TIMES the weight of a consumer product in raw materials to produce that product - the coal, cotton, diesel for transport, water for mining, etc. So if you give someone a ratty old 100lb sofa, you are not just keeping 100lbs out of the landfill, you are also keeping an entire tonne of raw materials from being used to make a new sofa. We can have a huge impact environmentally as individuals through the promotion of reuse.
“When we hit 800 members in our first local group, I thought it’s way too big to work.”
Are you involved in developing Freecycle and, if so, how? Developing? Well, there are over 10,000 volunteers in over 80 countries that make Freecycle tick. Some of them are helping design a new website currently if that’s what you mean. It’s pretty amazing. The new site will be compatible for those in non-Englishspeaking lands, and much, much more!
The other issue that gets my goat is the “we need a new technology first” argument. If only we had a better battery, we could have an electric car, or if only solar were more developed, etc. This is all just a sort of massive tease, isn’t it? As long as the technology isn’t ready, there’s no need to act. Don’t believe it! We have the knowledge and we have the tools, we just need to use them. Tell a politician today!
Did you foresee Freecycle getting this big? When we hit 800 members in our first local group, I thought it was way too big to work. Shows how much I know… Membership currently: 4.35 million.
Oh! and currently there is no existing model to measure carbon footprint impact/reduction as a result of reuse or waste diversion via reuse. We know it’s awesome, but how mega awesome has not yet been revealed…
What else is happening in the world of Deron? Just locally really, but isn’t that where we can generally have the biggest impact? I am a citizen volunteer on a committee that is figuring out how to get TVs and computers recycled. In 2009 the US is going digital and that’ll mean a wave of TVs full of lead and toxins headed for landfill too. What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen or heard of being given away on Freecycle? A “human spay and neuter trap for a cat.” Turns out it wasn’t a cat looking to have their revenge but merely a typo - ‘humane’… Or this: A woman in Austin founded a nonprofit based on Freecycle as her source, filled up a container load of kids’ stuff and got FedEx to pay to send it to an orphanage in Haiti. What do you thing is the future of recycling? The future of recycling must by definition be found in reuse. Consumer garbage is only 2% of all garbage. No kidding! It’s industrial waste that comes from making all the new stuff we consume (coal for the factory, water for the mine, etc.). We can only get at that issue through reuse, instead of only buying new stuff. The planet is only so big so we’ll have to, by necessity, begin thinking less about linear sourcing and disposing and more about consumption as part of a renewable cycle. Apart from Freecycle what would you describe as your proudest achievement? Honestly? Stopping smoking. Smoked for 15 years. Addictions are tough. g Join the recycling revolution at www.freecycle.org
HEALTH Feature by Jo Roberts
Blowing the whistle: the corporate take-over of the supplements industry.
s if there isn’t enough pressure from the allopathic camp and bossy EU directives towards the health food market, I have begun to notice an insidious growth from within the industry itself, namely, greed, ignorance and the lack of an holistic approach, let’s just say that big business has come to town. As an insider, so to speak, I have been in the health food market all my life, in one form or another, and I have watched the industry change so many times, all the while believing the greater good was behind the growing mainstream interest in all things healthy, organic and ethical. The pioneers could sit back with pleasure at the success of their ‘radical’ beliefs now becoming common practice. And, indeed, there are many beneﬁts to be had from greater availability of health products and clearer information but, as I wander through the aisles of natural health trade shows and attend the conferences of independent health stores, a gnawing worry quietly takes residence in my heart. I am bombarded with information on how I must compete with the supermarkets which are now conscious of the proﬁt margin to be gained in the wholefood sector, and I am equally bullied into buying the newest super-food, or wonder healer from Guatemala, or the dizzying heights of the Mongolian Steppes; each new discovery having greater antioxidant properties than
the one before. Where will it end? Will there be any stone left unturned in our attempt to globally manufacture every last resource of our wondrous planet? In recent years I have noticed conglomerates taking over what have been known as quality independents like Solgar vitamins for example. We were assured their approaches to health would be the same, but these business moves are synonymous with the new climate of the industry for me. New brands are appearing all packaged to look like small operations but, upon probing the reps, I discover these are huge American companies mining the seas off Hawaii or the like! The sad fact is that certain health food chains and publications are inciting the fever in ‘new’ cure-all herbs and remedies. The ‘latest big ﬁnd from the Amazon rainforest is a regular event and magazine soundbites are providing chunks of information on the latest healing herb as people rush to try yet another panacea for their lives. Recently, a mother pushed her toddler into the shop and perused the supplement section. Her little girl was happily eating fries and a take-away burger from a greasy bag in her lap. The lady asked me if we had any vitamins and minerals for children! Our wonderful planet provides us with some of the most amazing healing plants. There are thousands of species known and, I’m sure, as many yet to be discovered. Mother Earth
provides all this love and healing in spite of our madcap lifestyles and wasteful attitudes. We are blessed with the possibility of healing and optimum health in our lifetimes. It is a clear choice for most of us and yet we would rather have someone else do it for us or pop the pill that means we can carry on overindulging or self-harming. For those of us who are ably born, it is no-one’s responsibility but our own what happens to our health and yet there are so many healers and practitioners out there to turn to when it goes wrong, and so many wondrous herbal helpers to aid us. We all need a rethink about what good health means to us individually and take action accordingly with the vast bank of knowledge and heritage available. Try the antioxidant plant that grows on the hedgerows of the UK. It’s called a blackberry. Try the health food around you, locally grown. Try eating more fruit and veg, getting quality sleep, drinking more water, relaxing, meditating and lay off the addictive products for a while. If you have a particular problem that you think needs addressing go and see someone who has trained extensively with a recognised body in the complimentary health sector. I know these changes are challenging but perhaps I can inspire the collapse of the health industry if we all get better!
ETHICAL Shopper For this issue we have gathered some of the best design that brings fresh meaning to the word ‘recycled’. To win the selected items visit www.sustainedmagazine.com Button Jewellery | This stunning jewellery will take pride of place in any girl’s collection, providing a loving home for all those old and unwanted buttons. Priced from £5.99 for a bracelet from Button Jewellery T. 07929 003989 www.buttonjewellery.co.uk Nautical Coat Stand | This wonderful coat stand has authentic oars and is a perfect way to accessorize and de-clutter your hallway or give extra storage in a kid’s bedroom. Priced £199 from Nautical Living T. 0845 603 1966 www.nautical-living.co.uk
Recycled Aprons | These bright aprons are made from recycled juice packs, non-biodegradable foil and plastic packaging that would otherwise go into landﬁll sites. Priced £9.99 from Ecoutlet T. 020 7272 7233 www.ecoutlet.co.uk
Annie Trolley Chair | Perhaps the most iconic of ditch ﬁllers. Trolleys are generally scrapped due to unaligned wheels or exposed wire. Once transformed they become beautiful yet functional upright chairs. Priced £650 from Reestore T. 01234 376 920 www.reestore.com
Recycled Sail Bags | Super cool bags made from the decommissioned sail of a yacht or boat. This laptop bag is the perfect thing for busy people on the move. Priced from £110 for a laptop bag from EcoCentric. T. 020 7739 3888 www.ecocentric.co.uk
Retro Draught Excluders | Made from vintage fabric and ﬁlled with buckwheat husks which are a natural and biodegradable grain. 92cm long and ﬂexible enough to ﬁt most door frames. Priced £19.99 at Ecoutlet T. 020 7272 7233 www.ecoutlet.co.uk
Recycled Denim Sandals | Whether you’re an eco warrior or a funky fashionista, these recycled denim sandals are great. Priced £45 from recycle your jeans dot com. T. 0800 093 2460 www.recycleyourjeans.com
Rocky Recycled Cinema Chair | Don’t push me! These plush rocking chairs are reclaimed cinema and theatre seats. Each one is an individual, stylish and functional piece of sustainable art that you can use everyday. Priced from £800 from designer Guy Arzi T. 07811 201801 www.guyarzi.com Silvana Coffee Table | A very funky coffee table that produces a beautiful ambient glow casting beams of light from the polished stainless steel body. Can you tell what it used to be? Priced £380 from The Green Haus. T. 0845 680 8443 www.thegreenhaus.co.uk
Multicolour Wrapper Bag | Created from factory second crisp packets by PlanetSilverChilli. These bags feature a robust zip fastener and the woven layers provide enough thickness for waterprooﬁng and padding. A perfect combination of inspired design, fair trade, and environmental kindness. £35 at Ethical Superstore T. 0845 009 9016 www.ethicalsuperstore.com
Crude Awakening Feature by David North Illustration by Chadlonius
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine...
egular readers will know that Sustained doesn’t do alarmist, breaking news, shock horror or the like. We take it that you already know there’s a problem so devote our editorial to finding everyday solutions which will help improve the quality of our daily lives and, when all of us do it, have a powerful effect on the bigger issues. Small change, big difference - that’s our motto. However, when an issue of critical importance arises, one the authorities and mainstream media aren’t communicating, then we will tell you about it. As Ecologist magazine’s director, Zac Goldsmith, said; “Peak oil informs everything. People ought to know about it, but they don’t.” Climate change will have a long lasting effect on the entire planet but Peak Oil is far more immediate and will probably hit us sooner and, probably, harder than climate change will. Lord Ron Oxburgh, the former Chair of Shell, summed it up best when he said, “Today I believe is the
end of cheap energy. It’s essential that we move away from fossil fuels as fast as possible. The boat is sinking and we have to do everything we can to plug the hole.” What is Peak Oil? Peak Oil refers to energy resource depletion, specifically the peak in global oil production. Oil has powered phenomenal economic and population growth over the last century with the rate of oil production growing year on year. However, being a finite resource, the easy-to-extract oil will eventually diminish, whilst demand continues to rise, and the cost of tapping new sources will make further production too costly. Once the peak has been reached you can expect to see prices rise meaning no more cheap oil. What does this mean for us? Since our modern world is completely dependent on oil then we are looking at the complete transformation of civilization,
“To be thrown upon one’s own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible.” Benjamin Franklin one way or another. Approximately 95% of fruit and 50% of vegetables are transported beyond the local area. Food accounts for around 30% of all goods transported by road, not to mention the food transported via air, rail and sea so increased oil prices will mean increased food prices. This will be further compounded by farming’s dependence on oil for its machinery and in the production and distribution of raw materials, fertilisers, pesticides and so on. Aside from that scientists have identified at least 500,000 different uses of oil including: toothbrushes, shampoo, detergents, tights, aspirin, paint, toilet seats, DVDs, CDs, fertilizer, hairspray, lipstick, deodorant, nail polish, sunglasses, antihistamines and perfume. Oh! and packaging, millions of tonnes of it (see Plastic Fantastic? on page 42). Our economy has become dependent on the production and consumption of such products so when the oil price goes up it could well lead to economic recession involving the closure of tens of thousands of businesses, across all sectors, and mass unemployment. In other words, how will you feed the kids? When will oil peak? Expert opinion ranges from a few years ago to a few decades away, though most cluster around now to early next decade. And these aren’t the ‘green’ experts either. Even the conservative International Energy Agency agrees that somewhere between 2009 and 2012 global oil production will peak and then decline. By 2020, about one-fifth of the predicted consumption will have to come
from “unidentified unconventional” sources i.e., they don’t know where it will come from. So, although it’s good to hope for the best it’s wise to plan for the worst. What can we do then? Well, there isn’t a Plan B. Actually there isn’t really a plan other than the grassroots one being implemented by the likes of the Transition Town movement, so I suppose that’s Plan A. The very purpose of Sustained magazine is the advocacy of such a strategy. Basically it’s all about buying local produce, switching to renewable energy, reducing, reusing and recycling, buying organic, growing your own food, consuming less, developing stronger community ties, supporting sustainable and ethical businesses, reducing your travel and so on. These actions not only address the problem of climate change but that of Peak Oil too. They will also help strengthen bonds within and between communities, increasing our ‘social capital’ which, in this context, will furnish us with much greater resilience than economic capital. Making the transition You are being called upon to become champions of Plan A and bring about society’s transition from oil dependency, environmental destruction and social alienation to one of resilience, health and harmony. To rise to that challenge keep reading Sustained and join your local Transition Town initiative or, if you don’t have a local group, set one up. To find out more visit www.transitiontowns.org Bet you never thought the end of the world could be so much fun! g
Worldshift Feature by Ervin Laszlo
Our unsustainable world will change for it must change, but will it change in time?
roduction of essential biological and physical resources has already peaked. Entire ecosystems are damaged and disappearing, soils are impoverished by over-cropping and by chemicals; diversity is reduced by genetic manipulation. More than half the world’s population faces water shortages whilst climate change threatens to make much of the planet unsuited for food production and habitation. We produce more waste than the environment can absorb, and extract more resources than the biosphere can regenerate. This is not sustainable. If we continue in this way famine and frustration will fuel terrorism and war. The delicate balance of our global interdependence will be torn apart. In the ensuing global collapse no country, no population will be spared. The civilization that dominates the contemporary world is no longer sustainable: if it is not to breakdown, it must transform. A living species can cope with changes in its environment—up to a point. When those changes accumulate, the stress reaches a critical point and the species dies out unless, of course, it mutates. In relatively simple systems critical points lead to breakdown. In more complex systems these critical points are tipping points: they can go one way or another. They do not lead inevitably to breakdown; they can also lead to breakthrough.
In 1989 a group of East German refugees crossed the iron curtain to Austria. For the communist world of Eastern Europe that was the tipping point. In a matter of weeks the Communist-bloc countries seceded from the Soviet Union, and less than a year later the Soviet Union and its Republics had ceased to exist, transforming—not without crisis and turbulence—into more open societies. Modern civilization itself arose out of the cultural mutations of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. It was shaped by a belief in the power of reason and the development of a materialistic and mechanistic view of the world. Today, however, in our age of interdependence and social and environmental stress, this mechanistic-materialistic worldview has become counterproductive. Its view of the world has been transcended in the sciences but the technologies it generates, and the behaviours it inspires, are with us still. The ‘worldshift’ from a civilization based on materialistic and mechanistic short-term thinking to one based on integral thinking, envisioning longer and wider horizons, is already emerging at the creative edge of society. In a number of alternative cultures people think and act in a more positive way. They share two fundamental beliefs, that the ancient saying “we are all one” has its roots in reality and, therefore, our responsibilities do not end with ourselves but encompass
the entire human community and the whole biosphere. This presently marginal, globalthinking, alternative culture will become the mainstream when (if ) enough people adopt its values. This idea was stated by Gandhi when he said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ which, first of all, means getting rid of the old thinking and the values and beliefs that support it. When we shed obsolete beliefs and adopt new thinking we change ourselves. In these critical times that change can be the butterfly that triggers a storm. It could change the world. It may well be that the global tipping point will come as soon as 2012, the much prophesied watershed in humanity’s tenure on the planet. It will certainly come within the lifetime of most of us. Whenever it comes, we must begin to change now, to ensure that it is not a prelude to breakdown, but a breakthrough to a truly peaceful and sustainable world. g This is an edited version of a longer essay, the whole of which can be read on our website. Ervin Laszlo is a world-renowned Systems Philosopher, the Founder of the Club of Budapest and Chancellor-Designate of Globalshift University. He has authored more than 400 essays and 80 books including The Chaos Point (2006), Science and the Akashic Field (2007) and Quantum Shift in the Global Brain (2008).
JACK OF ALL TRADES
The True Price of
Black Gold Feature by Jack Woodcock Photographs by the Fairtrade Foundation
Say ‘Fairtrade’ and one of the first products that comes to mind is coffee, but what is it about ‘normal’ trade coffee that’s so unfair?
igher in the caffeine which gives its distinctive kick, coffee is the second most actively traded commodity on the world markets with the 7 million tonnes that changes hands each year generating over £40 billion.
In recent years revelations about the exploitation of coffee farmers has attracted lots of public interest. Although this has led more people to buy fairtrade than ever before there’s still limited understanding amongst many of what it is about ‘normal trade’ coffee that’s so unfair. Black Gold, the recent documentary by brothers Nick and Marc Francis, goes a long way towards clarifying the issues. The final edit of this award winning film was released in the summer of last year to great critical acclaim. Following Tadesse Meskela, a man tirelessly working on behalf of the 74,000 farmers of his Oromia Coffee Cooperative, we are taken on a journey through every stage of coffee production and distribution. As visually stunning as it is poignant, Black Gold is a gentle but passionate look at an issue that, as members of the global community, affects us all. The film opens to an absurd
cacophony of slurps as tasters from different companies circle a room sampling coffees from around the world. Amongst the dozens of samples laid out on the tables there is one that attracts special attention: “There’s one coffee here that is probably the best coffee I have ever tried. It’s beautiful, just unbelievable when you find something like this. It’s Ethiopian Harrar. It’s absolutely fantastic.” Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, supplying the western markets with some of the finest quality produce in the world yet, over the last 20 years, in spite of a 300% rise in global sales, the prices paid to Ethiopian farmers have steadily declined. Because coffee is traded on the stock market prices are dictated centrally from the floors of the London and New York exchanges. Since the collapse of the International Coffee Agreement in 1989, the prices paid to farmers have slumped to a 30-year low. One of the main problems facing coffee farmers is the complexity of the supply chain between them and the consumer. Unable to transport it independently, they sell their coffee to agents who take it to auction. Exporters bid for, then process and export the coffee to roasters
overseas. The roasted beans are then sold to retailers and cafes where the chain finally ends at the checkout or shop counter. The intricacies of free-market economics and international trade are hardly the most alluring of subjects, which is why Black Gold’s greatest success is, arguably, the way it brings this complex issue to life, forcing us to consider our place in the bigger picture. The auction room in Addis Ababa and the stock exchange in New York could be from different worlds, making the relationship between them all the more difficult to understand. Meskela simplifies, “If the New York market is down 5 cents today, the price paid by these coffee exporters will be 5 cents down today.” A difference of a few cents seems almost trivial but the knock-on effect this has on the farmer is crippling. In some areas of South America coffee prices have fallen so low they no longer meet the cost of production, forcing many to abandon their farms and head for the city. On his travels Meskela visits Kilenso Mokinisa, one of the coffee growing communities of the Oromia Coffee Cooperative. 4
The true cost of coffee based on a bag of supermarket coffee is - Farmer 2%, Exporter 3%, Shipper 6%, Roaster 64%, Retail 25%
In the final section of the film Meskela heads to London to meet potential new buyers. Whilst there he visits a supermarket, interested to see if he can find any coffee from his region. After a long and difficult search through a vast assortment of shiny packets, he turns to the camera and says:
Here he meets local people who are stunned to silence when he reveals the prices charged in Western coffee shops. Whereas a coffee in Britain will often cost around £2, for one kilo of beans (enough to make 80 cups) an Ethiopian farmer is lucky to receive 6 pence. The silence quickly turns to anger at what they see as the lies told to them by their government; “On the radio we are always told that coffee is black gold. We listen but we gain nothing”.
“Our hope is one day the consumer will understand what he is drinking, and will ask these people who are not having fairtrade coffees to pay us a fair price. The consumers can bring a change if they ask for more fairtrade products. It’s not only on coffee. All products which are coming from the third world are getting a very low price and the producers are highly affected. British people have to think of the people producing bananas as well as coffee and other products which are suffering from the low price.”
The main problem with the current system is that the farmer is kept completely isolated from the rest of the chain. Once harvested, an agent arrives at the farm and dictates the price he is prepared to pay. The only choice the farmer has is whether to accept the offer or let his crop rot. Through Fairtrade schemes farmers are protected by the power of the cooperative and its ability to seek better markets for their produce.
Farming industries across the developing world are crippled by the 300 billion dollars of subsidies paid to farmers in the West every year. In 2003 at the World Trade Organisation summit African delegates took a stand, calling for these barriers blocking Africa’s economic development to be broken down. After just three days the talks dramatically collapsed. Around 15 billion pounds of aid is sent to Africa every year but if its share of world trade
was increased by just 1%, more than 5 times that would be generated. Africa is the only continent to have become poorer over the last 20 years and when you see the struggle of people like Tadesse Meskela it’s difficult not to be struck by the injustice of it all. The most important thing to take away from Black Gold is that although we are far detached from its origins, each time we drink one of the 70 million cups of coffee that Britons consume each day, we are part of this prevailing, corrupt and exploitative economic system. And it’s not just coffee! The same can be said for cotton, tea, bananas and rice to name but a few. So, next time you’re in a coffee shop why not ask if they sell fairtrade? If they don’t then you can easily go somewhere else. If you’re feeling particularly enthused you could boycott them altogether and write to the management explaining why. Ultimately they are all small gestures but they can, when enough people get involved, make a real difference to real people’s lives. g To find out if there is a screening of Black Gold in your area, or to arrange one if there isn’t, visit www.blackgoldmovie.com where you can also purchase a copy of the DVD. You could even ask your local library to acquire a copy.
BE! AT HOME
THE HOLISTIC HOME Feature by Christine McPherson
A foundation of sustainable living
n developing our ideas of what a sustainable home is we ﬁnd ourselves very much in agreement with holistic design consultant, Maxine Fox, author of Holistic Home: The Homemaker’s Guide to Health and Happiness, who believes the answer is to ‘refocus our attention on the interaction that occurs between our physical, emotional and spiritual selves and the living environment we call home.’ ‘The sad fact is that, despite our society enjoying a higher standard of living than at any time in our history, rather than being well off, as a nation we are chronically unwell. Improvements to housing and sanitation, in conjunction with the discovery of antibiotics, may have afforded a temporary victory over some of the killers of yesteryear, but in the meantime we have managed to generate a whole catalogue of diseases that were simply not prevalent a few generations ago.’ Maxine believes that the truly holistic home allows healing to manifest on all levels: the physical, the emotional and the spiritual.
Such a balance would create homes that support our physical health, encourage awareness and harmony within our relationships and allow us to re-connect to ourselves, each other, and nature.
THE PHYSICAL HOME Maxine is seriously concerned that many of the health problems manifesting today are a result of the ‘sudden and enormous burdens of new and highly-toxic chemicals that are being unleashed into our homes and straight into our bodies’. She explains: ‘Just at the very time when our lives are becoming increasingly stressful, these chemicals are impairing the normal, healthy functioning of our immune systems.’ Her solution? To reintroduce some of the old and valid ways of keeping house, re-connecting ourselves to the wisdom of our grandmothers. For example, essential oils can be used to deodorize and disinfect your home providing natural antibacterial action where needed. Other methods for more naturally reducing toxicity and increasing resilience will be looked at in future issues.
THE EMOTIONAL HOME Society is beginning to re-acknowledge the notion that emotional happiness can inﬂuence physical wellbeing. There are simple and practical changes that can be made to our living environment which can bring a wealth of difference to our emotional lives. These involve the use of colour, light and texture, amongst many other things that we will also be exploring in more detail.
THE SPIRITUAL HOME Not only should the home provide the individual with a place in which to rest and re-fuel, it should also form a loving embrace that encompasses the entire family group. Of this, Maxine says, ‘The aim is to create a home which actively encourages inclusion, one which respects each member of the household and engages them in family life.’ She recommends good and ﬂexible use of living space, taking into account the changing needs of the growing family, and even placement of furniture to encourage better interaction and involvement. ‘When children are fully engaged within a harmonious and loving home, they learn they have rights and value as individuals.’ Instead of our obsession with anti-social or annoying neighbours, Maxine believes we should look at how to be better neighbours ourselves. That includes taking the trouble to get to know people around us, treating them with courtesy in terms of noise and space, taking a pride in our own property, and becoming involved in the community. But our responsibility towards our fellow human beings far exceeds the immediate family and community. As inhabitants of the global village, she calls on us to:
Buy and support Fair Trade products Cut our energy consumption Revise our attitude towards water use Be responsible for our waste disposal She concludes: ‘It is imperative that we recognise our collective responsibility for our home planet and the people, fauna and ﬂora we share it with. Our survival depends upon it.’
Finbow, the first of our many sustainability gurus, is here for everyone - from the keenest gardener to those of us starting out. Together, with his guidance, we can solve all our gardening problems. Login and register today. Alternatively simply email us your garden related questions to:
For the grown-ups: Fossil Champagne Dial Kinetic watch, £140 from Shade Station; Recycled ﬁre hose belt, £39.95 at the Lazy Environmentalist; Wild Life Tee, £15.99 from Family Tree Shop; Drover Trousers £70 from howies; Canvas TOMS Shoes, £25 from Shoe Studio; Hiking Crew Socks, £13 at Patagonia; Recycled rice sack bag £39.99 from New Internationalist; For the little tyke: Buzzard Boots from £48, at Green Shoes; Organic Skal Jeans £24.95 from Tatty Bumpkin; Stripy Hooded Top £12.99 from Green Baby.
For the grown-up: Top £39.99 from Amira; Linen Trousers £29.99 at the Natural Store; High heels £75 at Beyond Skin; Heat Sensitive Knickers, £15 at Ethical Superstore; Comptoir & Frou Handbag £24.99 coming soon at labelleetik.com; Cabel Hat £12.99 from PeopleTree; 70’s Sunglasses £24.00 at Rokit; For the little princess: Cupcake Shirt £21. from Piccalilly; Skirt £18 at Fugli; Tulip Shoes from £43 at Green Shoes.
A TASTE OF THINGS TO COME Feature Emily Payne
Moments after our last mouthful we find ourselves on the roof of the restaurant peering into a wormery!
his is Acorn House, London’s ﬁrst truly eco-friendly training restaurant which is as sleek, warm and inviting a space as any top city restaurant. In fact, the Times food critic, Giles Coren, went so far as to say, ‘It’s the most important restaurant to open in London in the past 200 years.’ There’s more to such praise than just the wormery though! Executive chef and part-owner, Arthur Potts Dawson, tells us, ‘The main reason people come here is to get good food and great service. If they want to know about the impact they are having on the environment, we can tell them that too.’ Everything from preparation through to waste disposal is designed to reduce carbon emissions. The seasonal vegetables come straight from the ground, meat and ﬁsh are sourced from local farmers and water is served straight from the tap to minimise plastic and glass usage. A bio-diesel van fetches produce and all biological waste is recycled or composted. ‘There are six or seven thousand restaurants in this city alone – all wasting so much energy,’ says Arthur, who has come from the River Café and had previously worked with both Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver. For starters, I chose a goat’s cheese salad with pistachios, dates, pear and crunchy seeds, whilst my carnivorous date dives straight into a
Prosciutto di San Daniele, with roast squash and balsamic vinegar, all presented with the panache you’d expect at the Ivy. My partner, who would normally scoff at fancy presentation, admits that it is “perfectly proportioned and perfectly delicious.” The French cheese is just full enough to give my leafy salad a lift and, later, when wondering about the impact of imported foods, Arthur points out that, ‘A haggis from Glasgow can have the same effect on your carbon footprint as a cheese from France. I am trying to buy the best products from the Mediterranean. Not everything we serve comes from Shoreditch, but you can still have a clear conscience.’ Later he shows me a single bin, the sum of all this evening’s waste. ‘Most chefs will produce six or seven bin-liners per service,’ he says, proudly showing me the overﬂowing compost bin that has taken the rest. For my main course, I have a baked tartine of pumpkin and ricotta with onion marmalade, while my increasingly less sceptical friend has roast partridge wrapped in pancetta with chestnut cavalo nero. The ricotta is English, the pumpkins are grown at a farm less than 50 miles away, the puff pastry is made on location using organic butter and ﬂour, and the Parmesan is Italian. The dish is garnished with homegrown rocket and chocolate chilli ﬂakes. some
It’s to hell with the waistline as we order the chef’s special for dessert; French prune and Armagnac ice cream. Both are sensational. The ice cream is whipped up from free-range organic eggs, fairtrade vanilla, organic double cream and organic fairtrade sugar. Despite my scales baring the brunt of this decadent dinner, at least my footprint won’t be any deeper!
ACORN HOUSE CARROT, BEETROOT & ROCKET SALAD 500g large carrots, trimmed and peeled 50g butter 1 ltr ﬁltered water 1 tbs caster sugar 4 sage leaves 1kg beetroots, boiled until cooked 10g cumin seeds, toasted and seasoned with crushed sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 250g natural Greek yoghurt 1 bunch rocket leaves White wine vinegar, mustard & olive oil dressing 2 tbs chopped mint Put the carrots, butter, water, sugar and sage into a pan, cover and bring to boil. Remove the lid and continue boiling until the water has evaporated. When cool, cut into irregular shapes, along with the beetroot and arrange on a platter. Mix the cumin seeds, salt and pepper into the yoghurt, and drizzle over the vegetables. Top with rocket, a drizzle of dressing and a sprinkle of chopped mint.
Feature by Amy Clarke
Look good on the outside and feel good on the inside with these all-natural and ethical body care products Simply Soaps aftershave balm is a refreshing and soothing treat for your face and neck. Simply Soaps use only 100% natural and botanical goodies and all packaging is recyclable and much of it is bio-degradable. They also create their range through a cold process, which uses less energy. All in all a pleasure for you and good for the environment! £7.95 at www.ethicalsuperstore.com
Shea butter is so rich that it has earned the name “Women’s Gold” and has long been a favourite of generations of African women. The L’Occitane shea butter range can be used on your hands, hair, body and nails to nourish and soothe all over and when you purchase it you are assisting the financial independence of African women. Starting from £5 at www.loccitane.com/uk
Energise exhausted complexions with Red Clover and Frankincense facial clay from the Laidback range. This 100% natural, green grooming goody is bursting with wholesome ingredients! What’s more, a percentage of proceeds helps provide a much needed place of refuge to destitute women and children in Bangladesh. £14 at www.touchmyface.co.uk
Acclaimed celebrity hair dresser, Daniel Galvin Jnr’s organic protein shampoo contains no nasties and only ingredients that are naturally derived and over 80% certified organic. It’s ideal for frequent use and self adjusts to individual hair and scalp requirements. Available at John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
Burt’s Bees are the pioneers of natural beauty, believing that to take from nature they must protect and provide for nature. Their products come from natural sources with minimal processing, if any, and are always packaged using recycled materials. Prices start from as little as £4.50 from www.myburtsbees.com
No natural goddess should be without Bod bath salts, rich in natural sea salt minerals to draw out toxins, and active clays to make your skin look gorgeously alive! There are three deliciously fragrant blends: White Lotus, The Goddess Blend and The Princess Blend. Prices start from £6.50 at www.greenface.co.uk
Thar She Blows Feature by Amy Clarke Photographs by Sandy Buckley
I could have been anywhere in the world’s oceans but I was witnessing this majestic sight from just off the Scottish coast.
would never have imagined it possible to see such magnificent creatures off our own fair isle but there she was, right in front of me, one of the world’s most awe inspiring species, and one of over 20 different species of whales and dolphins that have been recorded in Scotland. I had come to Scotland to experience a wildlife break and not for one second was I disappointed. Adventure and pleasure abound in the country’s stunning landscape and along its dramatic and enticing coastline. There are undulating hills, majestic mountains, deep glens, pristine pine forests and sparkling lochans, all ripe for exploration! The misty forests and wide open spaces all bear witness to Scotland’s extraordinary wildlife and my visit left me feeling rejuvenated by the simple wonder of Mother Nature’s work. On the West Coast, I visited the turbulent waters of the Gulf of Corryvreckan, near Oban, home to the world’s third largest whirlpool. Wildlife spotting at the Corryvreckan included porpoises, bottlenose dolphins and seals. I also spent time inland exploring the Rothiemurchus Estate in the Cairngorm National Park, where I was guided by a ranger to search for bats, badgers, foxes, red and roe deer, brown hares, rabbits, herons, oystercatchers and even tawny and long-eared owls. One of the things I was most pleasantly surprised to discover was that Scotland is home to 75% of the UK’s fast dwindling red
squirrel population so, if you’ve never seen one, this is the place to come. Although not an avid twitcher, I revelled in the spectacular birdlife. I was lucky enough to witness the spectacle of a gliding white-tailed sea eagle, the UK’s largest bird of prey, whose wings span the best part of two and a half metres. Alas, I missed out on the chance to spot one of the country’s 400 pairs of majestic golden eagles but there was plenty else for me to spy including Europe’s largest gannet colony in the Firth of Forth.
“I was lucky enough to witness the spectacle of a gliding white-tailed sea eagle.” And don’t forget about Scotland in winter. Hordes of geese, waders and divers come to these shores from the Arctic to seek a warmer climate for the winter months. If you’re at the coast, keep an eye out for grey seals and you might even catch a glimpse of the harbour porpoises dotted around the rugged coastline. This barely touches on the experience I had on my holiday, which also saw me enjoying the culture and heritage of this fascinating land, as well as the ‘wild’ social scene and excellent shopping in Edinburgh and Glasgow. g
Travel Though rail and coach travel to the main cities and towns of Scotland is good, in order to reach some of my destinations, I used a car hired from www.hertz.co.uk who have a specific green car collection made up of environmentally friendly and fuel efficient vehicles. Accommodation and tours I found my accommodation through the Green Tourism Business Scheme (green-business.co.uk) and planned my wildlife-watching with Wild Scotland who are dedicated to making Scotland Europe’s number one wildlife-watching destination by ensuring wildlife tourism is delivered sustainably - environmentally, socially and economically. Visit wild-scotland.co.uk to find a holiday to suit you. It doesn’t promise that you will see the elusive Loch Ness Monster but it does promise you a wildlife experience that you wouldn’t have believed possible in the UK. Guidebook Offer Pocket Mountains is offering Sustained readers the chance to buy a pair of Wildlife Traveller guides (Scottish Mainland and Scottish Islands) for the special price of £10, including P&P (normally £6.99 each). Simply make your cheque payable to Pocket Mountains Ltd and send to Sustained Reader Offer, Pocket Mountains Ltd, 6 Church Wynd, Bo’ness, Scotland, EH51 0AN. And don’t forget to include your name and address.
This isn’t just any holiday section, this is the Sustained BE Free section! As there’s so much more to your freetime than annual leave, these pages, and our soon to be developed BE Free online, will be bringing you a selection of some of the very best in eco-tourism, weekend breaks, organic B&Bs, farm holidays, daytrips, places to visit, courses, activities, adventures, shows, hobbies and just about anything that could ‘edutain’ you whilst still being sustainable. And there’s lots! If my trip to Scotland has whetted your appetite for some wildlife spotting but Scotland is too far for you to travel then despair not! There are trips organised throughout the UK including South Wales, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Possible species that you might see include bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, basking sharks, minke whales, Risso’s dolphins. Winter is ideal for seeing some of the larger whale species. The best way to organise a trip is through the Sea Watch Foundation, a national charity dedicated to the conservation and protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises in British and Irish waters. Visit www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk
FOR THE DIARY
Seed Gathering Season - 23 September to 23 October - This autumn The Tree Council aims to inspire everyone to gather seeds, fruits and nuts and grow the trees of the future. www.treecouncil.org.uk
Low Carbon Communities - Saturday 4th October - The Conference will be held in Llangollen, North Wales. Free for low carbon / transition groups. Registration essential. www.low.communitycarbon.net
The Anarchist Bookfair - Saturday 18th October - Want to discover just how cuddly anarchists really are then why not pop down to the 27th Anarchist Bookfair. www.anarchistbookfair.co.uk
Energy Saving Week at CAT - 20th to 26th October - It’s economical, it’s ecological, it’s... Energy Saving Week at the Centre for Alternative Technology! Free with entry ticket. www.cat.org.uk
Conway Valley Barn - Book a break on a working organic farm in Snowdonia. Conway have three dorms (4, 6 & 10), a fully equipped kitchen, and a spacious comfortable lounge area with lovely traditional log fire. www.organicholidays.co.uk
BANKING ON CHANGE Feature by Will Ferguson, Triodos Bank
Money: Some say it makes the world go round, others that it’s the root of all evil. Either way, it certainly has a powerful influence on our lives, society and the environment.
ne thing for sure is that we’re more likely to hear about the power of money when things go wrong. The media is frequently dominated by negative stories about finance. From the £3.7 billion lost by rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel (which puts that time you mislaid your wallet into perspective), to the chain reaction that lead to the credit crunch, a series of unfortunate events prompted by greedy US brokers lending money to people who couldn’t afford to pay it back. Together, it makes for some pretty grim reading. But while they’re less likely to hit the headlines, there’s plenty of examples of money being a positive force for good. The rapid and sustained growth in sales of Fairtrade and organic goods demonstrate that UK consumers will pay more for a product if they can see a social or environmental benefit from it – like a fairer deal for people in the developing world, or a way of farming that’s better for the planet. And mainstream business’ growing interest in ethical products demonstrates that they’re willing to change – at least if they can profit from doing so. While more and more of us are choosing to spend our money in a way that’s better for people and the planet, few realise the power of our money when we’re not using it.
It’s a peculiar thought, but anyone who’s got savings in a bank is effectively lending it their money. Banks profit from lending it out to someone else, but it’s normally almost impossible to find out who. Your savings may be doing no harm, but equally they could be helping to finance companies that actively damage communities and the environment. But there is an alternative. A handful of ethical banks - including Triodos Bank, the Charity Bank and the Co-operative Bank - are breaking the financial mould, with a more progressive approach that values people and planet as well as profit. Triodos Bank, for example, only lends money to organisations whose work benefits people and the environment, from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage to green energy company Ecotricity. And it publishes details of all the people it lends money to so you can see the positive impact of your savings for yourself. “Most people look for two things from their bank – a secure home for, and good return from their savings,” explains Triodos Bank Managing Director, Charles Middleton. “They’re less likely to think about the impact their money has. Our approach is different. It’s a practical and conscious way of using your money that makes a connection between savers and the inspiring organisations they help to finance.”
Ethical savers benefit from a ‘dual return’. As well as the interest they earn from their savings, they know that they’ve made an investment for good, and their money’s working in a way that they’re proud of. While ethical banks rarely top the best buy tables in terms of their interest rates, they tend to offer fair and sustainable returns. Mainstream banks, on the other hand, grab attention with accounts offering attractive rates, but often with complex conditions attached. You might, for example, have to move your current account to them, or find that you can only save a tiny amount each month at the ‘headline’ rate. If you’re considering choosing to bank ethically, it’s also worth looking at the other financial services you pay for, and whether there’s a greener alternative. Ethical options are available for everything from home insurance, to pensions and other investments. But be warned, not all live up to the same demanding standards. So, look beyond the greenwash to find out whether a product is genuinely ethical, or just masquerading as such. You can check with the Good Shopping Guide or Ethical Junction CIC. This article was kindly provided by Triodos, one of Europe’s leading ethical banks. Triodos Bank enables money to work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.
Broad Beans Feature by PR Finbow Photographs by Els Jooren
The good old broad bean (Vicia faba) first appeared about 2,800 years ago and this is why the name ‘Celtic bean’ is still used in archaeological circles.
mericans refer to them as the faba or fava bean. The field bean, which is still grown for animal fodder, is very similar to the wild MiddleEastern species, a giant vetch. Gardeners, over the centuries, mostly in Italy, have selected varieties that grow taller, with bigger, tastier seeds, shorter growing times and longer cropping seasons.
They are among the easiest of garden crops to grow and can be planted either in the autumn for a spring crop or in the late winter up until the end of May for summer crops. All they require is a soil with enough organic matter in it to retain the water and perhaps a little lime if your soil is acid. The best way to plant them is in zigzagged rows 60cm apart. Put your line down on the plot and plant two rows at 10cm each side of the line and push each bean seed in to a depth of a couple of centimetres, 15cm apart staggering one side to give the zigzag effect. A little watering if it doesn’t rain and weeding is all that is required until they flower. A nice little hint is to plant a half-dozen seeds randomly at the end of each row so if a few do not germinate in the rows, they can be readily replaced. If it gets really cold, -6o or below, they can freeze, go black and feint death but I have had perfectly respectable crops, albeit later, from plots where I almost gave up hope; they are good recoverers.
Broad beans, like all the other beans, peas and pulses are legumes that produce root nodules, which are visible to the naked eye when you pull up the crop after harvest. They are important because they consist of an association of plant root material and bacteria that are capable of converting nitrogen from the atmosphere into the nitrates the plant uses in protein production and they even enrich the surrounding soil. When my late mother decided to put her vegetable garden down to lawn, for easier maintenance, there were dark green stripes where the legumes had been. You must not, therefore, use nitrogen-rich compost; sawdust will probably get you a better yield. I used to make bean compost specifically for legumes from shredding stalks (cabbage, sunflower and all the perennial garden cut-backs) that are slow to decompose in the compost and nitrogen-poor. They are a picture when they flower and one of my most memorable smell sensations was going into a polytunnel full of them. However, it is at this time that rust and chocolate spot can occur, both fungal and blackfly, barely visible black aphids that infest the tips of the growing flower stems. You have to pick the top 10cm off the end of each head including the unaffected because they will all get it. If you are lucky enough to avoid blackfly, do the same thing when you start harvesting to put all the energy into the lower pods.
Begin harvesting when you can feel the beans in the pods. There are several varieties available but my favourite for autumn and winter seeding is Aquadulce Claudia. There are heavier croppers and earlier varieties but Aquadulce does it for me by its superior taste. Unlike the American beans, many of which are potentially toxic raw, the broad bean, especially young, tender ones, can go into salads. Steamed for a few minutes they make an exquisite starter cold with French dressing and chives. Beans are still dried in the Middle East and are a principal ingredient for falafel. Bean flour is an ingredient, at 2% concentration, for bread that remains perfectly edible for up to a fortnight. Beans are also prime candidates for seed saving. When you harvest, always keep the biggest and best pods for next year’s seeds. All that needs to be done is to hang the quantity you need in a bag under shelter for a few weeks. When the pods are black and crisp, and the beans hard and dry, put them in a tin and keep in a cool, dry place. I just looked up broad beans on Wikipedia and discovered that they are used by some as a natural Viagra replacement… gobble, gobble, and the smell of those polytunnel crops could definitely be termed “orgasmic.” g Got a question for our Garden Guru? Visit sustainedmagazine.com and Ask Finbow.
JOBS TO DO
Blog extract by Marc De’ath
Invite garden friends . Don’t tidy every area of the garden – try to leave a pile of branches, leaves or even stones so that hedgehogs and frogs can shelter during winter – you will want ‘friends’ such as these when slugs and other pests reappear in spring!
Sow green manures. There is still time to sow green manures (crops that fix nitrogen into the soil, enhance fertility and prevent loss of nutrients). Once an area has been cleared, weed, rake it level, soak the soil and sow – try winter tares or grazing rye.
Plan for a beautiful spring garden now by planting bulbs. Try Narcissus (daffodils) in lawns or under trees for a natural look, or native spring flowers such as snakeshead fritillary and cowslips, which will give a natural look to your planting. These jobs are given to you by our good friends at Garden Organic. For more tips and hints or to become a member today visit their website at www.gardenorganic.org.uk
There is no doubt, starting an allotment is one of the best things I have done for Sustained. It’s proved a great way to relax whilst learning a life skill and growing tasty organic vegetables.
“starting an allotment is one of the best things I have done.”
However, keeping a plot is a challenge; juggling a work, social and love life can often make keeping an allotment feel more of a chore than a pleasure. This has led me to really think about the most effective way of growing food, providing maximum yield, relaxation and enjoyment, whilst having it sit comfortably with a busy life. So allow me to introduce ‘shared gardening’. Next year we’ll be recruiting several friends and their home gardens to share the growing (and eating) of the more demanding vegetables. Using window boxes, flowerbeds, old pots and pans we’ll each grow different veg then share the harvest. The aim is to create a ‘collective garden’ that can be maintained more easily than an allotment. Don’t worry though, we wont be giving up the infamous Sustained plot! Instead, it’ll just be used to grow our more space greedy, hardy, staple crops likes potatoes, squashes, fruits etc - again, as always, sharing as we go. Interested in the concept? Follow and join in on the Sustained allotment project: www.sustainedmagazine.com/allotment-project
A guide to
Feature by Tracey Smith Illustration by Tena Rebernjak
I’ve been called a few things in my time, but I must say, I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable with ‘Eco-visionary’ as the days go by.
n editor coined the phrase for me recently and at first I cringed with its pomposity, but now I think, if the green hat fits, I’ll wear it. I’m not deluded but perhaps I am guilty of swathing myself in an upbeat haze of ecooptimism; the truth is, I can’t help it. Even on the days where climate chaos and the prospect of it worsening, under the imminent threat of emerging Dragon economies, seems to defy any fluid logic, my glass remains unquestionably half-full.
In my day job, I’m a writer and broadcaster on sustainable living and I also run an awareness campaign called National Downshifting Week (NDW), which went international this year! In a nutshell, it encourages participants to live a simpler, happier life, urging them to lean towards the green and also help them find a more fulfilling work and life balance. The knock-on effect of this benefits the family and wider community which, in turn (and in time), ‘repays’ the benefits and so it grows, a virtuous circle of increasing benefit. NDW was launched in 2005, following my own ‘extreme’ life-change a few years before, when I quickly realised downshifting had so many different layers and levels. Year one of the campaign took me out on the road, touring 40
the country, which sounds positively grand as I read it back but believe me, it wasn’t. A different bed every night and a trail of ensuing chaos as you misplace crucial items of underwear, takes its toll.
moment in a comment delivered to me by one little girl who said, “Daddy picked me up from school today and took me to the park. He didn’t know we had a park.” She said he’d promised to do it again soon.
But the upside was the nation’s radio, TV and glossy media all excited by what NDW had to say. They believed it had merit and saw the possibilities for making individuals feel better about their own lives, for pulling families closer together and for retying bonds in disconnected communities.
So, as you can see, downshifting isn’t necessarily about giving up everything you have come to cherish. On the contrary, it’s about re-discovering the things you cherish but have misplaced whilst builsy being busy with a career, buying property, going on holiday, surfing the net, watching TV or the such like. The NDW motto is ‘slow down and green up.’ It isn’t ‘hit the brake, pull the emergency cord and bail out.’ In other words you can downshift at your own pace, do what suits and, ideally, what enriches the quality of your life, rather than makes you feel that you’re sacrificing something. Fundamental to a downshift is your relationships; with yourself, your family, friends and community. That way happiness lies.
To take part people had organised clothes swap parties and toy and book exchanges. One group put a ‘do’ on in aid of the local playgroup and invited the village to come along. Each visitor paid a pound to be able to donate 6 items and take 6 new (old) items in their place. They raised £35 on ticket sales alone and made a killing on tea and buns! Other people did simple things at home. I received an email from a lovely lady who sat her family down together for the first time in ages, to enjoy dinner. It went right against their grain at first and there was much opposition, but she stuck with it and, as a result, it’s something they now doevery week. I reserve the most poignant sustainedmagazine.com
Want to give it a go? Then read on for my top tips on how you, your family and the communities you are part of can find a slower, greener groove. So, ‘Eco-visionary’? Perhaps that should read ‘Thankful and Optimistic Realist’. Tracey’s new book - The Book of Rubbish Ideas is out soon. See our unbiased review on Page 46.
1. school fun run Make your journey with the children more enjoyable, save on fuel (maybe even sell the car!), reduce congestion, improve road safety, reduce your carbon footprint, spare you and your children rush hour stress, and get exercise! What a deal! Put your school in touch with experts at www.walktoschool.com or www. sustrans.org.uk for their Bike-It and Safe Routes to Schools programmes.
2. grow your own Plant something you can eat, even if it’s just herbs in a window box. Get the kids involved and make eating the produce something special. Later you can work with friends to share produce from your collective gardens of upgrade to an allotment for the family or share one with friends. To find out more about growing your own visit www.foodupfront.org or get great advice from our gardening guru, Finbow. See page 38 or visit his blog, Ask Finbow, at www.sustainedmagazine.com
3. cook to freedom
5. create space
Start a local ‘Cook Club’ to share recipes and meals with a group of friends. You can even visit farmers markets or local farms together to select the ingredients. To find out about farm visits and farmers markets in your area have a look at the following websites: www.soilassociation.org, www.freerangereview.com or www.bigbarn.co.uk. Who knows, you might even end up producing your own range of wholesome foods to sell.
Yes, you can take stuff to the dump, flog it on ebay or freecycle it but how about organising a car boot sale at your local school, community centre or church; or a garage sale in your street! Get the whole family involved too. The terminally unwilling can be encouraged with the glimmer of cash for their old tat – minus a wee percentage to charity, of course. Remember, all that glitters isn’t gold so one man’s tat is another man’s treasure!
4. save a chicken
6. shopping group
If you offer a home to a couple of ex-batteries, you are not only giving them a wonderful chance of a real life, but you get to enjoy the pleasure of their eccentric company, not to mention those delicious, fresh, free-range eggs every day too. Contact the Battery Hen Welfare Trust via their wesite - www.bhwt.org.uk. They’ve already found homes for 64 thousand birds so far. That only leaves 20 million still to liberate. Where are Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson when you need them!
Are you feeling the pinch, but still want to buy lovely organic, fairtrade, environmentally friendly, animal and human friendly and, not forgetting, delicious food? With food prices rising faster than an organic loaf, why not start a food group with friends, family or work colleagues. Buying as a group enables you to purchase quality food in bulk direct from wholesalers like Essential Trading (essential-trading.co.uk), Rainbow Wholefoods (rainbowwholefoods.co.uk) and Suma Wholefoods (suma.coop).
Feature by LondonBioPackaging Illustration by Russel Tate
Back in the 40s everyone was talking about the new wonder material that would make all our lives easier. Now we’re talking about it again! The world’s annual consumption of plastic materials is 100 million tonnes. A double decker bus weighs 8 tonnes. How many buses would equal all that plastic?
Since we’re running a piece about Peak Oil on page 18, how much of the world’s oil is used in the manufacture of plastic? 2.5%
1 million 7.5% 5 million 16% Enough to give everyone in London and the wider metropolitan area a bus each. Typical, you wait for ages, then 12 and half million turn up at once! The annual consumption of plastic in 1950 was just 5 million tonnes. We’ve seen a 20 fold increase since then. In the UK approximately 5 million tonnes is used each year. That’s a little more than one twentieth of the world’s plastic consumption by a nation with less than a thousandth of its population. Welcome to plastic palace, Alice.
It is estimated that 4% of the world’s annual oil production is used as a material source for plastics and an additional 3-4% as an energy source during manufacture. Although 7.5% might seem like a small figure, with 80 odd million barrels of oil being produced every day, that’s about 6 million barrels for plastics and 2 million barrels, every day, just for packaging! The amount of petroleum used to make one carrier bag is enough to drive a car 115 metres, which is around a million miles for all UK carrier bags.
Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, affects how many species of animal? 27 83 267 267 species including birds, turtles, seals, sealions, whales and fish suffer from entanglement or ingestion of plastic debris. The same goes for all manner or creatures in our rivers, lakes and streams and on land too, where plastic litters the environment, not to mention the millions of tonnes in landfill with no intention of decomposing anytime soon.
Plastic food containers have been identified as a cause of: Cancer? Immune system problems?
Given that our parents’ generation managed with five times less plastic than we do and our grandparents’ managed without it altogether, as did the billions of humans who lived before them, maybe cutting right back on the amount of plastic we’re using, particularly in food packaging, wouldn’t be so tough.
Developmental problems in children? That’s a trick question. The answer is all of them. The largest amount of plastic is used where? Packaging Furniture & Homeware Building & Construction Good old packaging uses more than both of the other two put together. There’s 8 times more plastic used for packaging than for furniture and homeware and an incredible 50% more than the whole of the construction industry. What percentage of plastic is recyclable? 20%
Here’s some suggestions for things you can do to reduce your plastic consumption from Marcus Hill of London Bio Packaging, who are this issue’s kind sponsor. Scour the home for all the unused plastic bags you have. Anything that doesn’t ‘need’ to be in a plastic bag can be taken out and that bag added to the collection. Now, either reuse them, again and again and again, when you go shopping, or use them to store other things that would benefit from the properties of plastic, like leaky oil cans or dirty wellies. Get a bag for life, or better still, you could set up a ‘Green Bag Project’ in your community. Visit www.thegreenbagproject.org for more information. For buying fruit and vegetables get a set of truly funky and stylish Weigh bags from www.onyabags.co.uk who are offering 15% at their checkout when you enter the code - eco1
45%. 100% The amount of plastic waste generated in the UK each year is nearly 3 million tonnes, an estimated 56% of which is packaging, three-quarters of which is from households – a million tonnes! It is further estimated that only 7% of total plastic waste is currently being recycled even though all plastics are recyclable. All? I know, surprised me too.
You can also buy more local produce from smaller shops and farmers markets where plastic isn’t used as much as in supermarkets.
www.londonbiopackaging.com T. 0207 471 3700
The|age T of|social enterprise
he business model that has served us since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution is now defunct. That model only worked for as long as man had unlimited access to resources. To cope with our growing population and the impact of climate change we need to re-invent how we do business. Becoming a Social Enterprise (SE) is no longer just a matter of choice; companies that do not embrace social and environmental issues will ultimately struggle to survive, especially as we are in the early stages of a recession that could potentially become one of the deepest in modern history.
Feature by Ervin Laszlo
Feature by Melissa Sterry
Together We Stand, Divided We Fall
Social enterprise start-ups abound, coming in all shapes and sizes. Though technically an SE may be defined as a CIC (Community Interested Company), Fair Trade, NGO or Non-Profit organization, the boundaries between traditional SEs and the commercial sector are becoming blurred. Indeed, arguably a number of commercial companies are equally, if not more effective, at equipping society to make a difference in relation to issues such as climate change, pollution, poverty and species extinction. Such companies tend to be fast-growth start-ups launched in the past decade by young entrepreneurs whose vision of success is based on how much impact they can have on the market place rather than how many zeros they can add to their profit margin. The big boys of the corporate world have woken up to the fact some major changes are afoot in the market place. The City’s fat cats are not generally known for being ‘touchy feely’ and considerations such as how their company’s operation will impact on poverty stricken communities and endangered species was not traditionally a topic discussed at the boardroom table. However, when socially-minded companies like Good Energy, Naked Bodycare and Innocent Drinks started to capture healthy market shares even the most over-lunched pin-stripe clad CEOs started to wonder if it was time to get in touch with their inner tree-hugger.
Retro-fitting of classic corporates is a very tricky business and when such brands try and adopt SE motifs the socially-minded consumer can become very wary. The days when marketing and public relations agencies could pull the consumer’s strings are now over and the campaigns that the public trust ring of authenticity, honesty and integrity. Whilst the corporate sector often falls short in regard of its social responsibilities, the trend is heading in the right direction and many multi-national PLCs aspire to improving their track record and catching up with the nimble newbies on the block, who having started with a clean sheet are rapidly asserting their power in the market place; an army of Davids taking on the Goliaths. The role of the NGO and other non-profits is also changing. As a recession slowly takes hold charities and organizations funded by donations need to start getting more creative about how they keep the pennies rolling in to keep afloat. Jo Public’s pockets are empty, his credit card maxed and inflation is squeezing tighter. However, all is not lost for the NGO, indeed many are entering a new era and unleashing some radical new operational strategies. They are well placed to source fairtrade goods and they also have the knowledge the corporate sector needs – how to tackle the biggest issues of our time. When the likes of Plane Stupid and Greenpeace can grab the public’s attention more readily than some of the UK’s biggest communications agencies it is just a matter of time before even more corporates start listening to what they have to say. John Lennon may well be looking down from a cloud smiling because the future is looking like one big love-in between the NGO and corporate world. The new ethos of social enterprise embodies collaboration and working towards universal goals of far greater significance than any individual, any company or indeed any one nation. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one and I’m sure, some day soon, you will join us.
Dandelion Award Winner For over 20 years Waste Watch (WW) has been at the forefront of the campaign to get more people recycling, leading the push to reduce waste, increase recycling and deal with what is left over in a less damaging way. In the eighties and nineties WW lobbied the government to push for better legislation for more recycling, ran the country’s first recycling communications campaign and pioneered teaching the 3 Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle in schools. Nowadays, WW works with private and public sector organisations to encourage more people to reduce waste, recycle and live their lives more sustainably. Their education team runs programmes in schools nationwide and provides resources, workshops and conferences for teachers. WW also works in the community to promote waste reduction, running stands, stalls and staff events and they have also helped over 50 local authorities to communicate clear, attention-grabbing recycling messages. Specialising in face-to-face communication, and working closely with specific groups, they have run various campaigns and have visited over a million households to help them make the best of their local recycling schemes. Working in partnership with many organisations including Future Friendly (an initiative involving Proctor and Gamble, Waterwise, the Energy Saving Trust and Globalcool) and the Cooperative Group they are also helping the private sector to engage with waste reduction. So, what does the future hold? Well, the next step for WW is climate change. Waste is part of the climate change equation so WW teams of experts are working with people helping them shrink their personal carbon footprint. If you would like to find out more about Waste Watch and how they could help your organisation, school or business spread the word, visit www.wastewatch.org.uk or call 0207 549 0300. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– If you have a suggestion for an organisation deserving of our Dandelion Award email us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we’d love to hear about them. 45
Fully Booked Reviews by The Sustained Team
Home Improvers, Gardeners & Kids! Here’s our selection of super sustainability books for you - informative, enjoyable and well worth having on the shelf. The Green Self-Build Book
Your Organic Allotment
By Jon Broome ISBN 978-1-903998-73-1 Priced £25.00 from Green Books Ltd
By Ian Spence ISBN 978-1-85675-278-7 Priced £12.99 from Octopus Publishing Group
The Green Self-Build Book from low-energy design expert, Jon Broome, is quite what it says on the tin, but don’t let the title hold you back if you’re not planning a new-build. If you simply want to construct a small extension, open the loft space, or just make improvements to the energy efficiency of your abode then this is an ideal guide. The final two chapters help you find materials and resources, the imagery is lovely and there’s plenty of facts and technical information for those who seek clear guidance. You can also just flick through it, gleaning tons of eco-tips and simply enjoying the inspirational experience of meandering through its 288 pages. It’s undoubtedly paving the way for our buildings of the future.
The book of rubbish ideas
You Can Save the Planet
By Tracey Smith ISBN 978 1 906136 13 0 Priced £6.99 from Alastair Sawday Publishing
By Jacquie Wines ISBN 978-1-905158-78-2 Priced £7.99 from Buster Books
There’s simply far too little space here to do Tracey’s book justice. Suffice to say, it’s beautifully written and fabulously illustrated by the wonderful Felix Bennett (think Quentin Blake). Tracey calls on her vast experience of living the green life, and on her many friends, some famous greens and some not so famous, to offer just about every kind of tip you could ever need for de-cluttering your life and reducing the devasting amount of rubbish that we Britons produce. Alastair Sawday is offering Sustained readers a 45% discount (plus P&P) between 25th September and 31st October. To buy your copy visit www.sawdays.co.uk or phone 01275 395431, quoting the code ‘Sustained’ when prompted.
I’m no Charlie Dimmock, know no Latin, grew up without a garden and, until recently, had never grown anything more than mould on cheese, so my gardening abilities were somewhat challenged. For beginners like me this book ‘holds your hand’ through cultivating 80 popular fruits, vegetables and herbs and there’s not a chemical in sight. The imagery is delightful, the sewing and growing tips are concise and easy to follow and you’ll also learn how to attract beneficial wildlife to your plot and deal with pests without using poison. Interestingly, an experienced ‘growing’ neighbour of mine flicked through it and commented with raised eyebrows, “Ohh, I didn’t know that… hmm where’d you get this?”
This is one of the best eco-books for children I’ve seen in a while! The hardback makes it a little expensive but I suspect the book will be hoofed around the house and garden as the kids complete the questionnaires and pledges in it, so the cover protection will work out well in the end. From the very beginning this book explains the chaos and complication of climate change in very simple language and doesn’t go down the scaremonger route. Rather, it seems to deliver facts in an empowering fashion that will positively encourage the reader to ‘do’ something about their newfound knowledge. My 10-year-old devoured it cover to cover and thoroughly enjoyed the process. Praise indeed!
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