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New Model Farming
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What’s Inside? innovation special your questions to Sustained Magazine Victoria Chambers St. Runwald Street Colchester C01 1HF
T. 01206 574147 E. firstname.lastname@example.org W. www.sustainedmagazine.com Twitter. sustained Skype. creative-coop Your EDITOR David North Our views The positive sustainable lifestyle magazine created by a community of people personally committed and passionate about fulfilling the vision of a sustainable existence.
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08 10 12 14 18 22 24 44 46
What Trevor Knows No batteries needed
Ethical Shopper Everyday innovation
Lisa Loves What is a girl to do?
The Big Debate GM is back
Tomorrow’s World A design for life
Whose Water? The water trade
Free Range With Satish Kumar
Trade Fair The Phone Coop’s choice
Dandelion Award Westmill Wind Farm
Be! Yourself 26 BE at Home
32 BE Free
38 BE Close
Make a quilt duvet
Frank does bingo
28 BE Smart
34 BE Delicious
40 BE Prosperous
Who needs money!
30 BE You
36 BE Grounded
42 BE Connected
Janey gets juicy
The incredible edible town
Down on the farm
OUR CONTRIBUTORS Amy Harker Andy Hamilton Emily Payne Jack Woodcock Janey Lee Grace Joe Heslop Joe Turner Laura Cook Lisa Jackson Melissa Sterry Paul Wagland Peter Andrews Sam Henderson Satish Kumar
A WARM WELCOME This issue of Sustained focuses on innovation, a theme close to our hearts at The Phone Co-op, so it’s an issue we are pleased to sponsor. As the ﬁrst and only co-operative provider in the UK telecoms industry, or indeed in any mass-market post-privatisation former monopoly, we’re living proof that a customer-owned, values-driven business model can thrive in such a highly competitive (some would say cut-throat) environment. Ten years ago, when we ﬁrst started out, the idea that customers could directly control their own utility provider seemed almost revolutionary. In many ways revolution is what lies at the heart of any form of innovation: the belief that things can be done differently, the refusal to take no for an answer, the commitment to change things for the better.
OUR SPONSORS The Phone Co-op Elmsﬁeld Business Centre Chipping Norton Oxon OX7 5XL
In practice most innovative solutions involve developing existing ways of doing things in new directions and The Phone Co-op is no different. We took the well-established structure of a consumer co-operative, which had been operating for over 150 years, and applied it to another area of business.
T. 0845 458 9000 E. email@example.com www.thephone.coop
We hope you enjoy this Innovation Special.
MAJOR SUPPORTERS Suma Wholefoods Low Carbon Lifestyles Ecotricity Shared Interest Resurgence
Vivian Woodell, Chief Executive The Phone Co-op
What Trevor Knows Interview David North Photographs Tom Oldham
Described as ‘a showman who just also happens to be a world-famous inventor and top motivational speaker,’ the inimitable Trevor Baylis, OBE, shares some insights. What does sustainability mean to you? One of the reasons I created the wind-up radio was the enormous cost of replacement batteries. Sustainability should be of paramount concern in the process of invention of any product or process. Over 300 of your inventions have been to help disabled people and those in need: why is that? In my early career I was a stunt man working with such luminaries as Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Dave Allen, and Dave Nixon. Christopher Reeve was my hero. I also performed as an underwater escape artiste at a circus in Berlin. Many of my stunt friends had injuries as a result of their work and this made me realise that we had a lot in common with disabled people. They were kinfolk. Disability is only a banana skin away. What do you see as the drivers of innovation in the 21st Century? I believe that future innovations will be related to the following factors: need – whether it be social, commercial, or medical; climate change and variance in ecological conditions; the state of the nation’s economy. What are the essential ingredients that make a great invention? The use of the word ‘great’ with ‘invention’ can only be determined by the user of that invention. If you are in a bad way healthwise, a chair lift might be the best invention
of all time. There is an expression, ‘Chance favours the prepared mind.’ I believe there is an invention in all of us. If you can solve a problem you are well on your way to becoming an inventor.
“In my early career I was a stunt man working with such luminaries as Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.” Do you think there’s more room for growth in personal electronics powered by wind-up, solar and movement? The answer to this question is ‘Yes.’ I have at least a dozen new products about to be launched and some of them are so stupidly simply that people will say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that!’ Several years ago I invented a shoe that enabled the wearer to recharge their mobile phone battery while walking. Actually I walked across the Namibian desert for charity and was able to phone a friend of mine, Sir Richard Branson, to prove that it worked. Unfortunately, if you wore these shoes to the airport now you’d probably be arrested. What are you working on these days if I’m allowed to ask? I’ve started a company called Baylis Brands plc because of my own personal experiences of the difficulties of getting a product to market. I am
horrified to think that others with inventions that are good and commercially viable are sitting on these ideas because of the insurmountable obstacles in their way. As well as helping inventors get their products to market, I hope Baylis Brands will address other issues like theft of intellectual property which plague the inventor. I am also working on having invention made part of the National Curriculum. Apart from technology what else do you think society needs to develop in order to respond to the great needs of our time? Art is pleasure, invention is treasure! In my opinion, art + invention = design. We must make our inventions more attractive to use and see, and pay attention to ease of use. I also believe that we need to change our attitude to women. I often ask during my after dinner speeches, ‘How many of you can name three women inventors, engineers, or scientists?’ The answer is usually ‘none’. What are your favourite inventions? My favourite invention of all time has to be Frank Whittle’s jet engine, created in 1930 when he was only twenty-one-years-old. He had no assistance from the Government and Germany used his patent, becoming the first country to construct a jet plane. Had we listened to twenty-one-year-old Frank, World War II would have been World War 1 1/2! I also like the zipper. Think what life would be without that simple invention. g
Feature by Joe Heslop
Here’s our selection of products from the world of sustainable innovation. To win visit www.sustianedmagazine.com RingPull Bag | A stylish little bag handmade in Brazil from recycled ringpulls and, what’s more, proceeds go to the Bottletop charity to fund projects for the health and well-being of young people world-wide. Priced from £49.99 at www.fenchurch.com
Simon Lee Recycled Guitar | Made from recycled plastic instead of endangered hardwoods these beauties come in a variety of ﬁnishes. Fabtastic! Priced from £797.66 at Ethical Superstore www.ethicalsuperstore.com or for bass & special commissions www.simonleeguitars.com
‘2pac’ Chair | It’s goodbye ﬂat-pack faff and hello sustainable simplicity with these Birch plywood slot chairs - the next generation of designer home assembly furniture. It’s as simple as knocking two pieces of wood together. Priced £195 from Rawstudio www.rawstudio.co.uk
Re-light Table Lamp | Made from recycled plastic bottles these funky table lamps use low energy light bulbs, adding a warm glow of eco chic to any room . . . and your conscience! Priced £39 at Tactile Interiors www.tactile-interiors.co.uk
Raw Chocolate Starter Kit | Not only do these kits make 80 delicious chocolaty treats, they’re packed with antioxidants, are a natural appetite suppressant and cheer you up. Chocolate is health food! There is a God after all . . . and She’s clearly a woman! Priced £20 from Choc Chick T. 07753 719123 www.chocchick.com
HPVelotechnik’s Grasshopper fx | Comﬁer and more aerodynamic than a sit-up bike, this recumbent bike also folds up to ﬁt in the boot of a smart car? Priced £1725 from Kinetics www.kinetics-online.co.uk
Eco Showerdrop | With an easy to read display, and an alert after 35 litres, this affordable and effective shower metre can help you save buckets of splash and hundreds in cash. Priced £9.78 at Ecotopia www.ecotopia.co.uk
Mr Robot Head | An eco-twist on an old classic - just give him a wind-up and test your hand against Mr Robot Head’s twisting twirling antenna, but be careful, don’t touch the wire... Priced £16.63 at Oxfam Shop www.oxfam.org.uk/shop
Isabella Totem Stool | Eye catching and eco friendly this stool by Ryan Frank is made of straw board (compressed straw) and covered in felt. They’re stackable too so you get easy, stylish and sculptural storage. Priced £229 from The Green Haus www.thegreenhaus.co.uk
Ovetto | This sleek recycling bin is part recycled itself, and with three colour coded compartments, and a built-in can compacter, you can now divide your various recyclables & household waste in a single unit. Priced £129 from EcoCentric T. 020 7739 3888 www.ecocentric.co.uk
Paperpod Rocket | Kids In Space! Truly 21st Century! Engineered from recycled cardboard, fully collapsible and fully customisable. Paperpod products, including a plane, playhouse and tepee, are an innovative sustainable solution to wood & plastic. Priced £29.95 from Paperpod www.paperpod.co.uk
M G a * a te ! de b Is the recent GM commotion an issue of substance or just media guff designed to fill space in tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappers? Lisa Jackson investigates...
upermarket shopping has become a right old military operation these days - battling with the pound coin trolley release, rummaging to make sure you’ve got enough bags-for-life, negotiating a purse bulging with loyalty cards, money-off vouchers, receipts and computers for schools tokens; and that’s aside from the serious business of negotiating the assault course of towering displays of BOGOFs, life-size cardboard cutouts of annoying celebrity chefs, “Try Me By Mes” and 16 types of raspberry jam: not to mention the electrical goods, pharmacies, photo developers, dry cleaners, toiletries, clothes, gifts, cards, DVDs, opticians – hell, they’ll be offering while-u-wait breast implants at this rate! And if that weren’t enough there’s the veritable assault course of ethical choices – biodegradable, recycled, flown or shipped, organic, vegetarian options, “happy” meat, sustainable fish, free as a bird eggs. And now the whole GM monster is rearing its mutant head again! What is a girl to do? Whilst bemoaning this new dilemma to the editor, he said, ‘Well Lisa, there must be lots of people out there who are as bamboozled as you so why don’t you investigate the subject for our next Big Debate?’ So I did, and I can’t say I’m much better off for it either: no wonder it’s causing such a furore. Whew! It all started in the 80s when genetic modification was first
used to produce artificial rennet for vegetarians hungry for a cheese which didn’t contain sheep’s stomach enzymes, and Monsanto first treated oil-seed rape, soya and maize with transgenes to make them resistant to the weed-killer. Since then the GM debate has grown into a veritable David and Goliath like conflict between corporate giants, governments, the media and concerned NGOs and consumers. Proponents claim that genetically engineering crops to become salt, drought or water tolerant, for example, will increase the ability to grow food in places that we can’t do at the moment. Apparently it will also provide nutritionally enhanced grains and crops, adding vitamins and controlling fatty acid composition, helping eliminate allergens and toxins. It is also claimed that they will be more resistant to the increasing pressure of climate change and pestilence. As for the health issue: apart from a blip a few years ago when GM potatoes were thought to cause mutations in rats, and a theory that a combination of certain GM substances in people with hepatitis might actually cause liver cancer, huge swathes of the world’s population (including us as our bread very likely contains GM enzymes) have been consuming GM foods for several years with no documented negative effects. But then how long did it take to discover that smoking causes cancer?
Even vegans and vegetarians may find themselves in a vortex of indecision when it comes to choosing their next meal. I personally gave up consuming meat nearly 20 years ago and will only buy the family organic dairy products – much to the rolling-eyed irritation of the husband who’d prefer to pop down to the garage for a pinta than be forced to trek to the supermarket for some good old Yeo Valley – but are we, in fact, in just as much danger from eating laboratory-grown Quorn and GM soya as our carnivorous counterparts are from antibioticriddled chicken and hormone-infused milk? Not only this, but GM technology is laboratoryborn and tested, presumably occasionally on animals, making me wonder if the very foods destined for the compassionately conscienced diner actually fall rather short of their credentials! Am I detecting the presence of a rather large elephant in the ‘meat-free’ freezer compartment? The GM debate really does extend beyond ruler-straight cucumbers, purple tomatoes and dent-free potatoes, and I’m not sure I know the answer myself even now. Now then, tea-time calls - anyone for an enzyme-enhanced crumpet and a nice cup of pest-resistant tea? g Confused as Lisa? Perhaps the responses to our Big Debate over the page will help. If not, then you can find out more and have your say at www.sustainedmagazine.com/debate
the BIG debate We ask eight of the big boys what they have to say!
limate change, diminishing petrochemical resources, and a need to reduce inputs whilst maximising yield and nutritional content are major challenges around the sustainability of agricultural systems. A warming planet makes traits such as drought tolerance more important and it also means a changing profile of pests and diseases. To counter this whilst reducing pesticides and herbicides requires the development of resistance in crops. Nitrogenous fertilizer represents a major input into modern agriculture, but the environmental and economic costs of its production make its use less sustainable. Enhanced nitrogen uptake and use, and the transfer of symbiotic nitrogen fixation would reduce its need. At the John Innes Centre we are researching these areas, along with flowering time, growth control and nutritional quality. We are devloping much of the molecular understanding required for improving these traits and the best ways of using this knowledge for crop improvement. GM is one tool that we can use to develop sustainable crops. Given the great need for increased sustainability we cannot afford to turn our backs on this technology. Visit: tinyurl.com/8debate-1
growing body of empirical evidence shows that commercial production of GM crops has a role in global food supply. Faced with a changing climate, issues of food security, water shortages and the need for new and alternative energy sources, it is imperative that excellent bioscience research underpins technological advances in crops. GM offers one way, alongside conventional breeding programmes, artificially induced variation, and interventions that allow crosses between distantly related species, of producing crops that can maintain yield under adverse climate change and reduce losses to pests and disease. GM crops also offer unique opportunities to improve the nutritional value of some foods and scientific opportunities now exist to develop ‘second generation’ GM crops with a wider range of benefits for consumers. The BBSRC funds and supports research that tests the feasibility of producing GM crops with specific beneficial traits. Specific commercial applications of GM crop research should be assessed on a case by case basis, considering all technical, political, economic and social factors, and including detailed analysis of benefits and costs. Visit: tinyurl.com/8debate-2
enetically Modified (GM) crops are not a sustainable source of food because: (1) They rely on the use of patented seeds owned by private companies. They are more expensive, cannot be replanted and must be purchased yearly by the farmer. (2) The safety of GM crops has not been proven because independent, scientific safety tests have never been carried out. (3) GM crops cross-pollinate with organic and conventional crops. This removes freedom of choice and causes loss of livelihood for organic farmers. (4) GM crops which contain an “insecticide” gene that kills certain insects can cause insects to become resistant to that insecticide. (5) GM crops which contain a “herbicide-tolerant” gene can cross breed with wild species to produce “superweeds”, which cannot be eliminated using standard herbicides. (6) No UK supermarket has sold GM foods under its own label since 1999 because consumers do not want to buy them. (7) Organic agriculture provides a truly sustainable way of producing food, without artificial fertilisers or pesticides and without patented, unsafe GM crops. Visit: tinyurl.com/8debate-3
he argument against GM crops has moved on from the frightening spectre of ‘Frankenfoods’ and health scares. Quite simply, the GM route reinforces an outdated model of industrial, oil-reliant agriculture, wholly unsuited to the new conditions that climate change and increasingly expensive oil bring. GM companies have so far failed to deliver GM crops capable of thriving in drought, salt or nutrient deprived conditions. Doubts about future delivery are fuelled by the over-hyped promise of their first generation Roundup-Ready and pest-resistant crops, which has not been met. Truly independent observers, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), last year published a 2,500-page report based on peer-reviewed publications which concluded that the yield gains in GM crops ‘were highly variable’ and that in some places ‘yields declined.’ The time has come to ask if undue research and commercial focus on GM foods and crops is diverting our attention from the development of truly reliable alternatives of sustainable (organic) agriculture that are capable of feeding a hungry world today and tomorrow. Visit: tinyurl.com/8debate-4
John Innes Centre
Genetically Modified Food-News
The Organic Research Centre
feed the world or destroy the planet? A C T G tool in the farming box, GM is certainly part of a sustainable solution to food production. Genetic improvement of crops isn’t new but an extension of the plant breeding that already enables farmers to produce food in the face of adverse elements including pests, diseases, weeds and destructive weather. With the world population set to exceed nine billion by 2050 we need to find more ways to increase our food production. Using GM technology means hardier crops that can withstand greater extremes and it offers the potential for reducing irrigation, ploughing and crop protection sprays. It makes sense that if these crops can make better use of nitrogen or water then less fertiliser and water is needed. As the cost of food is affected by inputs like fuel, pesticides, fertiliser and water so their reduction will mean cheaper food. However, reducing inputs alone can have a detrimental impact on yield and quality. Only by looking to science and technology, and increasing national spend on research and development in this area, will we see agriculture able to withstand future pressures, increase its role as custodian of the countryside and feed growing nations.
limate change and declining fossil fuels mean farming has to switch from using ancient sunlight (artificial nitrogen fertiliser made with fossil fuels) to current sunlight (as organic systems do). GM crops will play no part in this. They do not increase yields, but GM campaigners claim they will. In the real world, the latest, higher yielding varieties of soya sold in the USA are not GM but from normal crop breeding. Consumers reject GM food and scientific research supports them. Last year scientists found that insecticide genetically engineered into crops can leak from their roots and kill beneficial soil fungi. The GM lobby dismisses pubic opinion, insisting that governments must force GM crops onto the market because farmers love them so much. In fact, US farmers have just gone to court to ban a GM version of their fourth most widely grown crop. Based on their negative experiences with GM maize and soya, farmers won a court case to ban GM alfalfa. As GM labeling (which Barack Obama favours) starts to force its way into the US marketplace, the last stronghold of GM food is crumbling. This is an old technology with nothing to offer the future. Visit: tinyurl.com/8debate-6
he data compiled by the US Department of Agriculture since GM crops began and from dedicated studies in universities have shown that GMOs simply failed to perform: lots more pesticides used, less biodiversity, less yield and less income for farmers who live in fear of GMO contamination and prosecution for patent infringement. GMOs are also unsafe. Studies have found that feeding or exposing GMOs to animals damages their health. In recent years people have developed allergy-like symptoms in contact with GM cotton, while sheep, goats, and cows die after grazing on the crop residues. GMOs are unsustainable and unsafe basically because the synthetic genetic material forced into them interferes with the precise and intricate ways in which the natural genes have learned to ‘dance’ with one another over billions of years of evolution. There is also compelling evidence that sustainable food production is best done by small organic farms run on the ‘circular eco-economy’ of nature, which excel in using renewable energies, sequestering carbon, and recycling “wastes” into resources. That’s what we should be going for! Visit: tinyurl.com/8debate-7
Dr Helen Ferrier
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
National Farmers Union
The Soil Association
Institute of Science in Society
enetic Modification is another symptom of the arrogant approach to Nature. Just as a river has a right to run free of pollution or an animal to roam its natural habitat, every plant has a right to grow, evolve and adapt to its own unique environment. From this diversity comes Resilience: the ability to fight disease, the ability to respond to ever changing climatic and environmental factors – the innate ability to survive. Rather than encourage biodiversity, which is the abundance of foods growing in harmony with their respective environments, genetically mutilated crops are forced to grow in environments they are not suited to. The very essence of the crop is destroyed and, thanks to the need for more chemicals to help these unnatural crops cope, we are destroying Nature herself. For a truly sustainable source of food we need to stop treating nature as a commodity – exploited for profit. Money is not wealth; money is only a measure of wealth and a means of exchange. Real wealth is good land, pristine forests, clean rivers, healthy animals, vibrant communities, nourishing food and human creativity. Biodiversity! Visit: tinyurl.com/8debate-8
“I don’t think it’s safe for the environment but don’t think I have given enough consideration to the potential impact.” Matt Huxham
“I don’t agree with it, but i don’t have any scientific knowledge about it.” Kate Walsh
“A big part of understanding oneself is knowing where your food comes from and what you are putting into your body.” Mario D’Soza
THE PUBLIC DEBATE How do you feel about genetically modifed foods and do you think they are safe for you and the environment ? “Don’t know much about it.” Carl Davies
“It’s just a way for big companies to make more money. Its definitely not promoting the right attitude toward food.” Kevin Murphy 16
Photography by Thomas Lay and Dean Strohm. For more information about their work you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I don’t think GM Crops are going to destroy the earth but if given the choice I’d still rather go without.” Sarah Hemmingway sustainedmagazine.com
“Nature is genius, it has inspired so much of what we humans do, why do we have to mess with such a delicate balance?” Helen Page
“Yes i think they are harmful. We should look after our bodies and the environment.” Megan McCart
“Yes, i’ve heard its not good for you.” Francis Osborne
“I know it’s bad for the environment; it’s introducing alien species into ecosystems which could disturb habitats.” Joe Robertson
“We have to be careful as we can’t predict the consequences. Some things will work, some thing won’t.” Daniel Reese
“I agree in terms of helping third world countries grow crops but I don’t like eating GM food myself.” Ceri Robertson
“If I had a choice I would choose non GM, however I wouldn’t say its something I am particularly concerned about.” Shaun Collins
“Yes probably, don’t know much about it though. I prefer organic food as i grew up with it.” Adam Szabo
“I’m more concerned about the environment than health. I just can’t see how we can avoid cross contamination.” Joanna Farr
“I don’t know much about it, but they probably are bad. I should probably know more.” Richard Atkinson
“Where I come from, Japan, GM foods are accepted as everyday foods. If it means it tastes better I’ll go for it.” Hiroko Hepburn
Tomorrow’s World Feature by Melissa Sterry Design by Simon Bottrell
Come with us on a journey into tomorrow’s sustainable world as we explore the 10 new rules underpinning 21st century design.
Whilst many people currently regard these two items as symbols of eco-design it is unlikely that they will retain that perception for long. The design industries are going through their biggest transformation since the Industrial Revolution. The principles that underpinned design in the 20th century are being replaced by a whole new set of rules born of the need to migrate to a sustainable way of living and consuming. Straight out of Tomorrow’s World, many of the creations of the world’s leading designers and architects engage with concepts unlike any we have seen in the past.
The Ventura V-Tech Sigma MGS automatic digital watch tinyurl.com/mgswatch
nergy saving light bulbs (compact fluorescent lamps or CFL) and eco-bags are red herrings when it comes to sustainable design. The former is arguably a second-rate product that contains toxic chemicals, emits poor quality light and has a plethora of adverse side-effects to health, including causing damage to eyesight and triggering migraines and epileptic fits. The latter is a fad; a passing trend that serves no real purpose other than to announce to the world that its owner wishes to associate with the eco-tribe.
As we run out of space and materials, everything from buildings and civic structures to electrical goods will be multi-tasking. Expect to see home-entertainment and learning devices that fuse a PC, stereo, television, digital recording system and security system into one. Michael Jantzen’s ‘The Turbine Wind Tunnel Bridge’ is a great example of this principle in action, fusing civic design and engineering to produce a bridge that generates energy. Whilst technologically innovative the bridge is architecturally beautiful and illustrates how design is now multi-tasking, optimising the most of any available space to create and store energy.
Expect to become more involved in generating energy yourself. Our homes and businesses will become micro-power plants, operating multiple renewable energy systems and, as the potential of kinetic energy is harnessed, we will see an ever increasing number of devices that are powered by our own movement. The Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) is one of the micro-energy solutions we can expect to see growing in popularity, the advantages of which are that it requires less space, can be serviced more easily, is more aesthetically pleasing than the traditional turbine, and it’s bird and wildlife friendly too.
Throw-Away consumption is out as quality, not quantity, becomes the hallmark of future consumption: expect to see durability become a major factor in design. Goods will also be designed so they are easy to repair. Re-fitting and re-furbishing will become key trends. Eco-fashion house Junky Styling illustrates how our attitude to apparel will change in the future. Rather than throwing old clothes out it’s likely we will be disassembling garments and re-using the fabric to make something else. The traditional tailor and dressmaker will once again be in demand as people look to revamp clothes that have lost their sparkle or no longer fit. (See Joe Turner’s article, ‘British Homespun’ on p28 to find out how you can join the revamp revolution).
Bio-degradeabke Packaging www.londonbiopackaging.com
Recycled chic from Junky Styling www.junkystyling.co.uk Wind Tunnel Footbridge www.michaeljantzen.com The qr5 axis wind turbine www.quietrevolution.co.uk
3. lIFETImE GUArANTEE
4. lIFECYClE dEsIGN
Earth’s natural resources are becoming so scarce that not only will items be designed to last, they will be designed to be part of a closed-loop, zero-waste lifecycle. Essentially a closed-loop design system involves planning from the outset how a particular product’s materials might be re-used once the product has served its purpose. Closed-loop systems take recycling to another level removing the very concept of ‘waste’ from our lives altogether. Such an approach to product design will be integral to national and local zero-waste strategies. This will enable society to make the most of the Earth’s dwindling recourses and reduce the impact of waste.
The Aptera www.aptera.com Ross Lovegrove’s car on a stick tinyurl.com/lovegrove Arniston Bay Eco-Tetra Pak tinyurl.com/tetpak
5. orGANIC orIGINs
Today’s designers are realising that the natural world is the first place to look when searching for both technical and aesthetic solutions. Iconic British designer, Ross Lovegrove, is a pioneer in this field. Working across several design genres Lovegrove has conceptualized ideas as diverse as ‘solar trees’ (solar-powered urban street lighting), a bamboo bike and a solar-powered transport pod that can be stored upright on a stick when not in use to save space, whilst simultaneously transforming into a street light. Such is the former Apple designer’s passion for all things natural that he’s even been dubbed ‘Captain Organic’.
6. mATErIAl mINImAlIsm
‘Less is More’ will be the motto when it comes to the use of materials in manufacturing. Designers will work alongside scientists to apply the latest discoveries in areas like nanotechnology and molecular physics to find new materials that combine performance, strength and durability. Everything from electrical goods to cars will become lighter and sleeker, yet increasingly robust as a result of new emerging hybrid materials. Many of these materials will be biodegradable and of organic origin, especially those used for the packaging of food, beverages, beauty and household products.
7. Form FollowING FUNCTIoN Invariably, if a designer applies the laws of science the end result will be markedly more impressive than if they take a more superficial approach. Designer Steve Fambro applied the wisdom of physics to produce the Aptera, a vehicle capable of achieving 300mpg with a top speed of 90mph and acceleration of 0-60 in around 10 seconds. The vehicle’s shape minimizes air resistance and its three wheels reduce friction.
The Aptera illustrates perfectly why the most successful sustainable design solutions are created when designers open their minds to new approaches.
Lighting systems are now being developed that can harness sunlight using mirrors and fiber optics to illuminate interiors. Such technology illustrates how designers are creating innovative new systems to capture and harvest natural energy and resources. The same principle on a much larger scale is being applied in the planning of China’s eco-city, Dongtang. All the buildings maximise natural light, 60% of the land is being dedicated to green spaces and farmland to grow local food, fertilised by sewage capture from the city, and even the streets are laid out to channel the warm summer winds and rebuff the cold winter ones.
Hussain Chalayan Fashion www.husseinchalayan.com
With high quality ﬁbre optics, sunlight reaches 20m into buildings. www.parans.com Rocky recycled cinema chair http://guyarzi.com/
8. NATUrE’s dEsIGN
10. THE lIGHT FANTAsTIC Organic LED Lighting (OLED) is just one emerging technology that is transforming design and not just to stylishly enhance ‘spaces’. British Designer of the Year, Hussain Chalayan, has already introduced the latest LED technology to fashion design with a dress consisting of Swarovski crystals and over 15,000 flickering LED lights. Developments in both kinetic and solar micro-energy generation will no doubt dovetail with LED and OLED technology into the fashion industry, especially for safety and party garments. So who knows, maybe the clothing and interiors of the future might actually end up looking like the vision of a 70s sci-fi movie after all!
9. TrANsITIoNAl TrENds
‘Freestyle’ is probably the best term to describe this emerging trend where the pace of fashion has so outstripped itself that it’s become too much for anyone to keep ‘up-to-date.’ We are now seeing the emergence of an ‘anything goes’ style era where multiple styles, past and present, merge. The single mega trend that has dominated design since the invention of the production line is now being replaced by hundreds of micro trends which slow down the emergence of new mega trends. When they do emerge they do so in a transitional way, fusing the best of the old with the best of the new. Expect the unexpected and collect eclectic! 21
JACK OF ALL TRADES
whose? 2 Feature by Jack Woodcock Photography by PlayPumps International
Standing in a ticket line for an imminently departing train feels like the most frustrating thing in the world… until you remember that every day millions stand in far longer queues for life’s most basic essential: water.
tories of African famines have little impact on toddlers prodding broccoli around their plates. In the same way pointing to drought in distant countries does little to change the way we use our water on this drizzly little island. The two things are so far apart that relating them to each other seems absurd. The truth is that the fresh water crisis, gradually brewed over the last few decades, will soon land on our shores. Plans are currently being finalised to build Britain’s first desalination plant (seawater purification factory) on the southeast coast. Traditionally these costly enterprises have been the preserve of oil rich desert states. Their arrival here is a clear signal that we’re no longer immune to what is rapidly becoming an all-encompassing global issue. Like so many of the issues that find their way into the pages of Sustained the root of this problem began the moment we settled down, began to chop wood and farm. The irrigation systems built by ancient civilisations were the first steps in an unrelenting quest to manipulate the natural world to better suit our needs. Today an estimated 845,000 dams block
most of the worlds rivers, inflicting drought on downstream communities and creating stagnant pools where up to half the water trapped is lost through leakage. The UN calculates that each of the six and a half billion people on the planet needs around 50 litres of water each day to live comfortable lives. The surface of the planet, like our bodies, is around 80% water and although 97% of that is salty the remaining fresh water is more than adequate to satisfy our needs, or at least it should be. Agriculture accounts for 68% of all water used by humans. One Spanish tomato requires 8.2 litres of water to take it from seed to salad and it can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton. The increased globalisation of trade over the last 100 years has enabled rich countries like ours to buy its way out of trouble. To see the evidence of this you only have to look around your local supermarket: melons from Morocco, aubergines from Israel, carnations from Kenya. Through importing we’ve become heavily reliant on the fragile resources of water-starved countries, exacerbating their problems and leaving ourselves vulnerable.
The most water-intensive crops like rice, cotton, sugarcane and nurseries tend to be grown in developing countries, where the majority of the 30,000 deaths that occur every day due to lack of clean drinking water occur, like Kenya, Europe’s largest supplier of flowers. How have we reached a situation where the people of countries with enough water to satisfy their own needs go thirsty? A decade ago the IMF (International Monetary Fund) set itself the task of halving the number of people living in water poverty by 2015 by using the ‘expertise’ of the private sector. In reality this signalled the opening of the global water market to the three multinational corporations already controlling almost all of the world’s water systems: Vivendi, Suez and Thames Water. The water sector, a 400 billion dollar global industry – the third largest behind electricity and oil – is set to grow at three times the rate of the global economy over the next 20 years. Combine this with the fact that global demand is expected to rise by 50% in the next 50 years and the conflict of interest becomes immediately evident. Dispite their moral rhetoric, the companies who hold the fate of millions in their hands are businesses driven by profit: not philanthropic organisations.
“These two companies are the prime exploiters of global water resources. Suez leads in privatization of water in most countries and Coca Cola leads in having conflicts with local people over groundwater mining.” Vandana Shiva The problem with the IMF is that it only knows how to fund big projects. This same scenario plays out the world over, from South Africa to South America. The IMF gives poor countries debt they cannot afford, on the condition that they use it to buy a centralised water system when a system of localised solutions would yield more sustainable results. This crippling debt then becomes the noose around that country’s neck with which The World Bank and the IMF become the effective government. When they first went into developing countries the water companies were welcomed. That was until the people realised that they would be asked to pay for something that had always been a communally owned resource. We take it for granted that our water bills account for only a fraction of our overall cost of living. In a recent video posted on youtube by Thames Water (to justify another annual increase in profits) a spokesman proudly states that the average amount paid by their customers is less than £1 a day – affordable for most of us in Britain, crippling for the people of countries like Tanzania where the average person earns less than £1 a day.
The looming global fresh water crisis can only be solved with a global solution. As participants in the global economy we can all play our part. There’s an array of things we can do, ranging from tiny tweaks to massive lifestyle changes. By being clever with the way we use water at home (taking quick showers rather than long baths, collecting rainwater for gardening, only washing full loads) we can put our own house in order. This all seems slightly insignificant though, when you consider a cow drinks 100 litres of water every day. A vegetarian diet requires half of the water of a typical western diet. If you’re not quite ready to forsake bacon sandwiches then eating less meat and buying locally grown
vegetables (in season!) reduces the likelihood they’ve needed intensive irrigation. As already mentioned cotton requires vast amounts of water. Organic cotton farms use 3 million litres less water per acre than conventional cotton farms and they don’t pollute groundwater either. It would be brilliant if there were one ‘big fix’ that would solve this worrying problem but unfortunately, in the same way that the IMF cannot solve the problem by seeking a single solution, neither can we. It’s all about rethinking ownership of resources and making small changes... now where have I heard that before? g
FOR MORE INFORMATION: flowthefilm.com, wateraid.org, water.org, playpumps.org, frankwater.com, navdanya.org, tinyurl.com/WHOwater, tinyurl.com/vandanashiva
To be an
EARTH PILGRIM Feature by Satish Kumar Illustration by Jorge Cacho
The starting point is humility in the face of Nature’s immense generosity and unconditional love.
or many environmentalists, global warming has become the new Hell that is brandished to terrify people into action. But if we are to make the changes that are needed to bring our relationship with the planet back into balance, then a new relationship with Nature is required, one founded on the power of love rather than the force of fear. For me, this relationship of love has its roots in my birthplace, Rajasthan, where I grew up following the Jain religion. It was during my childhood that my mother taught me to treat Nature with reverence. “Nature is the greatest teacher,” she said, “even greater than the Buddha, for even he learned his philosophy from sitting under a tree.” All of Nature is sacred for me. It is a place of divinity, where I can gather a sense of the sacred. I go to nature to pray and to meditate, recognising that God is present in every blade of grass, in every bee, and in every drop of water. Perhaps the reason that we do not get enough enlightenment these days is because we do not take the time to sit under a tree. To be an Earth Pilgrim is to revere Nature as our sacred home, and see all our life as a sacred journey to become at one with ourselves, with others and with Nature.
The starting point for being an Earth Pilgrim is humility in the face of Nature’s immense generosity and unconditional love. Take the apple tree. We eat the fruit that has been freely given – and ﬁnding a bitter pip, we spit it out. Here the pip immediately starts to cooperate with Nature. The soil provides hospitality for the seed, which is nourished by the rain and the sunshine. Soon the pip has literally grounded itself and realised itself as another tree bearing innumerable apples and countless pips. When people ask me about reincarnation, I point to the apple tree. And when offering its fruit, the apple tree does not discriminate between human and animal, educated and uneducated, between black and white, man and woman or young and old. All are equal, and all receive.
with Nature, sitting under a tree, working in an allotment, walking in Nature – as a pilgrim and not a tourist on Planet Earth.
It has been said by many wise people that economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. Without the land, the rivers, the oceans, the forests, the sunshine, the minerals and thousands of natural resources we would have no economy whatsoever. Nature is our true home and our true capital. When we are at home, we have a special relationship with a place, and we need to rekindle our relationship with Nature. Perhaps more than just friendship is required – we need to fall back into love with Nature, to romance with Nature. And the best way of forging this relationship is to be
Satish Kumar is editor of Resurgence – a highly regarded international environmental magazine covering a diversity of subjects from ecology to ethics and art (see www.resurgence.org for a FREE sample download). Resurgence is also an educational charity which earlier this year launched the Slow Sunday campaign where people take part in a series of simple actions to start the process of change. Satish also featured in the acclaimed BBC2 programme ‘Earth Pilgrim: A Spiritual Journey into the Landscape of Dartmoor.’ To receive a free copy of the DVD see the Resurgence advert on page 39.
The happiest people I have seen in Britain, or anywhere for that matter, are those who live close to the land and those who use their hands to work with natural materials: craftspeople and farmers. All around the world such people effect transformation; people like the artist Andy Goldsworthy can take something as simple as a leaf and transform it. They restore the dignity of work by hand. Take heart – being an Earth Pilgrim requires no training, no university courses and no books, simply the realisation, once again, of your connectedness with all creation.
BE AT HOME
who said is for old ladies Feature by Andy Hamilton - Illiustrations by Pippa Cornell
Our friends at Selfsufficientish have just published a new book called the Selfsuffient-ish Bible. In the following extract Andy Hamilton shows you how to make your very own patchwork duvet cover.
he charm of American quilts lay in their seemingly adhoc nature (although the designs were often meticulously planned) and the fact that each patch had a ‘history’ of its own. You can make your own patchwork quilt from worn-out clothes and fabric scraps quite easily, although it does take time. Ask friends and family for old clothers and ask charity shops if they have a ‘rag bag’: they often receive donations that they cannot sell as they’re not in good enough condition and may be happy to pass these on for a small donation.
Once you’ve got your material here’s how to set about making your quilt:
What you need: Piece of Cardboard for the template; Ruler; Scissors; Wax Crayon; Fabric Scraps; Paper and pencil; Pins; Needle and thread; 10 poppers, buttons or a zip.
Draw a square on a piece of cardboard using a ruler and cut around it to make a template. The size of the template will depend on the narrowest width of fabric you have: 15-20cm (6-8in) each way would be a good size, but as long as all the squares are the same size it really doesnt matter.
Work out how many patches you’ll need to complete your duvet cover. Bear in mind you’ll need to allow for seams, about 5mm (1/4in) around each square, so the final size of the squares will be about 1cm (1/2in) smaller than the cut-out shapes. Also you’ll need to make the cover quite a bit larger than the duvet. Using a wax crayon and your template as a guide, mark out the patches on the fabric scraps. The Selfsuffient-ish Bible offers down to earth advice for everyone, from the small holder to the very, very small holder. It covers every aspect of how to live a simpler, greener life. To find out more visit www.selfsufficientish.com
Cut out the squares using a sharp pair of scissors. Arrange the squares across the floor in the pattern you require â€“ for example, aleternate-coloured squares or stripes. To make the pattern more interesting, you could cut some diagonally, turning the squares into traingles.
Give each different piece of fabric a number and mark it on the back of each shape with the wax crayon. Draw a plan of your quilt on a piece of paper so that itâ€™s easy to follow when you come to assembling the patches.
Stitch all the other pieces together in a similar way until you have completed the top of your quilt then do the same for the other side.
Take one square and attach it to a second square. Put together the sides of the pieces to be joined, align the edges, pin and then stitch along one side, 5mm (1/4in) in from the edge of the fabric, using running stitch. Weave the needle in and out of the fabric several times before pulling the needle and thread through. To secure the end of the seam, form a few small backstitches on top of each other.
Sew the two sides of the duvet cover together (right sides facing each other) leaving one of the short sides open for the duvet. Add poppers (the easiest option), a zip or buttons and buttonholes.
British homespun Feature by Joe Turner
The future of fashion is in your hands.
et’s not beat about the bush - fashion kills. The industry has a massively detrimental impact on people, animals and the environment: from field, to factory, to shop, to landfill, to atmosphere. On top of that rising oil prices and a credit crunch will inevitably make clothing more expensive, so we’ve been thinking about how to create a more sustainable fashion for the future. How would we manage with far fewer imports of cheap clothing from poorer countries, maintain the sense of flexibility and style we’ve become accustomed to, and kick our habit of burning or burying ‘old’ clothing? These are great questions to wrestle with, and we believe some of the answers are already out there. There are many people already participating in the latest underground, guerrilla movement to come out of the USA – crafting or DIY style. The concept is that more people begin to make their own clothing again, often from ‘waste’ materials, and the internet means that there is a massive community of people ready to teach and cheer on the latest recruits. The fantastic Internet TV show at www.threadbanger.com - with its blend of anarchic humour, fast moves and amazing tutorials is encouraging people around the world to take up their
sewing machines and start revamping the clothes hanging around in their wardrobes. Another great site is craftster.org for ‘people with crafty urges but who are not excited by cross stitched bunnies and crocheted toilet paper cozies.’ Here you’ll find some great ideas and support for making clothes, whether from scratch or revamped, in the clothing forum.
“Join the revamping revolution where every man, woman and child can become a fashion designer.” We’ve also been following the growth of amazing websites like www.etsy.com where talented people are starting to produce mind-blowing, handmade products and sell them directly to consumers. The changeover that’s needed to take us from our high street, off-the-peg and somewhat lazy fashion habits to a new, more imaginative, creative and sustainable way of clothing ourselves would be radical but not impossible. One of Mahatma Gandhi’s most powerful economic campaigns was to start a movement
for people to spin their own cotton and make their own clothing rather than being forced to buy the cloth from the British. Surprisingly, the concept of a political leader spending hours each day making their own clothing never really caught on, but at the time, when millions of Indians followed Gandhi’s idea, it was very much the beginning of the end of the Empire on which the sun never set. So, what might happen if thousands more of us caught the crafting bug and began to walk around in our own Gandhianesque homespun, using the massive ‘waste’ clothing mountain as a resource for a sustainable fabric future? Imagine a network of crafting markets so when we need to buy some clothes we know where we can go to meet the producers selling sustainable, high quality products. Interested? Want to join the revamping fashion revolution where every man, woman and child can become their own fashion designer? Well read on for our starter tips. g Joe Turner is the founder of the Freedom Clothing Project – a non-profit, cooperative clothing brand and think-tank whose bottom line is people orientated not economic. To find out more visit www.freedomclothingproject.org
9. swap, swap, swap
*1. Alladins Cave
Making stuff not for you? Then why not swap? Invite all of your friends over for a clothes swap party or visit www.bigwardrobe.com where you’ll find a world wide wardrobe of fashion waiting to be discovered.
Get to know the charity shops in your area by going on a charity shop crawl one day. They’re veritable Aladdin’s caves where finding absolute gems isn’t as rare as you might think. They’re also low cost resources for experimenting with crafting projects.
8. help small Guys Keep an eye out for the growing band of small and exciting clothing brands that are producing great fashion from old and used materials: www.junkystyling.co.uk, www.wornagain.co.uk www.revampfashion.co.uk, www.traid.org.uk, www.traid.org.uk and www.emmeline4re.co.uk
2. Get Connected Check out the crafty websites on the internet for people selling exciting products they have hand-made such as www.etsy.com and www.folksy.com
7. read all about it! Look out for books in the library on these themes or order them in your friendly local bookshop. We particularly like books of ideas such as 50 Inspired T-shirt Transformations and 99 Ways to Cut, Sew, and Deck Out Your Denim.
3. Learn on the Job Learn to make your own clothing. It sounds ominous, but there is a lot of support you can get and a lot of resources to help: www.threadbanger.com offers a great network of online resources and projects. Dig in and get involved in websites like www.craftster.org www.craftzine.com, www.instructables.com and www.craftgossip.com
6. sell, sell, sell Then if things go well, why not sell your creations to your friends and family... and eventually maybe other people too? Even simple projects when made with care can be effective.
*4. Get tooled up
If that inspires you, get yourself a sewing machine and start learning how to do it yourself. Many towns have sewing machine shops and offer courses on how to develop a range of skills.
5. easy Does it Start out with easy projects and work your way up to more complex ones if you are not confident. Focusing on one item at a time helps you to complete what you start and doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed.
Feature by Janey-Lee Grace www.imperfectlynatural.com
‘Lose 7 1bs in 7 days, and feel fantastic!’ Janey Lee Grace broadcaster, author of the imperfectly natural series and stressed out mum of four believes the blurb, lives on Juice for a week, loses some weight, and gains some perspective . . . have been well and truly juiced and it feels great. Now before you get concerned that I’ve joined a weird orange cult let me explain. I’ve recently undergone a seven day ‘juice detox’ and the effects are nothing short of incredible. 7 1bs in 7 days is the book by top author and all round Juice guru Jason Vale, the ‘Juicemaster’ who has built his empire around inspiring people, well… to drink juice – not the cloudy concentrated kind in a carton you understand, but more the ‘life force giving’ freshly extracted fruit and vegetable variety. We constantly see news reports on expensive research being done to devise a pill or something that mimics the effects of pomegranates, broccoli or grapes in the ﬁght against cancer. Err, why not cut out the middle man and just eat the broccoli, pomegranates and grapes! Well I decided to put my life in the hands of the Juicemaster and cut out that middle man in a big way. ‘How much will they pay you?’ was my husbands response when I told him I was going to drink juice, and only juice, for seven days. His ribbing did nothing to calm my fears about feeling hungry, emaciated and concerned
about what other emotional baggage might rear its ugly head once I started cleansing my mind and body. I needn’t have been concerned though - this was an intricately designed programme so that all important nutrients were included. The seven days isn’t about ‘not eating’ but about excellent nutrition. You’re advised to add a smidgeon of probiotic powder, Spirulina and wheatgrass added to some of your daily diet of juices and smoothies. Jason Vale offers Juicy Retreats in Turkey where participants have their juices made for them and a full programme of exercise, yoga and addiction therapy is all part of the package, but the beauty of this diet is that you can do it all at home for the cost of a juice machine and a ton of fruit and veg, though undoubtedly you get some looks when you leave the farmers market with eight cucumbers under your arm! When using juice to replace a meal Jason recommends a mix of freshly extracted juice with freshly made smoothies. I’m a big fan of The Turbo Charger –designed to nourish every cell in the body. It’s a truly amazing meal in a glass and contains – apples, celery, pineapple and spinach, blended with the ﬂesh of a ripe avocado on ice. Amazingly you can
leave the skin / rind on everything except the avocados and oranges so don’t whinge about the hours spent peeling! If you do the 7 1bs in 7 days plan it’s a good idea to plan ahead and get yourself a ﬂask, yes you’ll be invited out to lunch or someone will offer to grab you something from the sandwich bar, but stick to your ﬂask and enjoy. The incredible thing is I didn’t feel in the least bit hungry. Gone was that bloated, tired feeling and I felt lighter (for real!) and absolutely full of energy. After the ﬁrst week of detox I had the skinniest body I remembered having since my early twenties. My skin also looked clearer than it had for years and I had the energy of a child! The added bonus was that detoxing my body had the double whammy effect of clearing my mind too, enabling me to do a serious bit of life re-evaluation. Weight-wise since then I haven’t put on a pound. It’s an old cliché but I have to admit that it’s been ‘life changing.’ To help you get started with juicing, Energise Your Life, suppliers of high quality Juicers, Blenders, and other health-related products, are offering Sustained readers the chance to win a Samson 6-in-1 Juicer worth £169 in a special prize-drawer. Visit www.sustainedmagazine.com/samson
UK A US AT WA 20 RE
This isn’t commerce, this is a Crusade.
Recycling is an alternative to the exploitatation of the world’s ﬁnite resources.
Business has to lead the way in the war against climate change.
www.therecyclewarehouse.com t. 07990 922295 | e. email@example.com
Canal Break Feature by Amy Clarke Photographs by Rapideye
Boating holidays are enjoying a renaissance as record numbers take to the British waterways for short breaks, especially out of season.
etting off for this adventure with a couple of friends found us a little hesitant at the thought of a chilly autumnal break on the British waterways but, with hindsight, we needn’t have worried; just wrap up warm and enjoy the bracing freshness of it all. Actually, holidaying on a narrowboat is cosier than you might think. You get all the creature comforts of home, even central heating! There’s also a well equipped little kitchen, a small but ample bathroom, a comfy living area and, unlike my own home, there’s the outdoor space afforded by the little deck and, of course, miles and miles of countryside, complete with glorious wildlife. On arrival at the boatyard the hire company gave us a full demo of the necessary procedures, including that all important business of steering, but don’t worry it really isn’t that hard and in any case, canals are pretty straight! That said we started off tentatively, bumping and grinding a bit, but soon enough we were gently chugging along, mistresses of the waterways . . . until the first of the locks that is! Not really understanding the science of them I was slightly alarmed at having to work one with my equally inept friends. What’s more we seemed to have gathered an audience as there appears to be no end to the pleasure
that can be derived from watching virgin boaters attempt their first lock. However, a short and actually quite easy time later, the lock was behind us and we were pootling along to a canal side pub for a well deserved drink. That is one of the joys of boating - the water’s edge is awash with cosy country pubs and restaurants, perfect for a winter warmer. As it was Sunday, and we had cause for celebration, we treated ourselves to a hearty roast dinner before trekking - the whole 15 metres - back to our cosy home from home. Later that evening, after mooring for the night,
“Soon enough we were gently chugging along, mistresses of the waterways . . . until the first of the locks that is!” we wrapped up warm and relaxed contentedly on deck gazing at the clear, starry sky, with mugs of hot cocoa, before clambering into our warm comfy beds to be gently rocked to sleep. And the loveliness didn’t end there. On any given day I would wake up to a wonderfully
calming peace and quiet, interupted only by the soothing sounds of Mother Nature. Throughout the week I shared my morning toast with the ducks and swans, and was often delighted to see coots, moorhens, grey herons, and the occassional kestrel or buzzard soaring high above. On one occassion I even saw a kingfisher, whilst at night we could hear the unmistakeable ‘twit twoo’ of the local owls. Moving at such a gentle pace gave us time to enjoy a greeting or even a chat with walkers, cyclists and other boaters including fulltime narrowboat dwellers. You can spot them immediately as their boats have been made all the more homely with plants, brightly painted woodwork, sweet little doily curtains and the obligatory dog or two wagging away on board. Their owners, all rosy faced and delightfully happy, cuppa inevitably in hand, were thrilled to talk about life on the waterways which quite simply sounds idyllic. It’s worth remembering though that such peace and quiet as ours isn’t necessarily the only way to experience the canal network. Bear in mind that it was designed to connect centres of trade, so with many a modern city’s canal side now regenerated into cosmopolitan centres featuring restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries and night clubs, what’s to stop you having the best of both worlds! g
get fresh air Winter tends to make us want to stay in, curled up on the sofa with a good book or DVD, and generally do the hedgehog thing; that or jet off to sunnier climes! However, as there’s so much to do in good old Blighty there really isn’t any need to hide away (not all the time anyway) and certainly not run away! CO2 emissions aside – it’s just not British! Besides, getting out and about in the UK can be truly exhilarating, not to mention inspiring, as there really is so much to see and do. If our article about canal holidays has got you thinking about a truly alternative winter break, and it’s not just canals but rivers and lakes too, then you can ﬁnd out more at www.waterscape.com which is jam packed with information. Prefer to keep your feet on solid ground? Well, have you tried bushcraft, à la Ray Mears? Admittedly it’s a bit chilly for sleeping out right now but there are lots of day courses to get you started. There’s a great one for women run by Hannah Nicholls and her team at the Natural Pathways school in Kent. ‘Fire and Shelter’ Saturdays are on 14th February – for nature lovers perhaps! - and 28 March. Visit www.natural-pathways.co.uk to ﬁnd out more. If all that’s a bit too elemental then have a look at our diary listings – there’s bound to be something there to get you going.
FOR THE DIARY
The Scottish Snowdrop Festival 1st February to 16th March - Experience the tranquil beauty of woodlands swathed with snowdrops in Scotland’s magniﬁcent castles and stately homes. Visit: tinyurl.com/diary8-1
Ready, set, Go Fairtrade! - Sunday 22nd February - This year’s launch event for Fairtrade Fortnight 2009 features games and activities, stalls, sports stars and celebrities! Family fairtrade fun. Visit: tinyurl.com/diary8-2
Ecobuild 2009 - 3rd to 5th March Visit the world’s biggest event dedicated to showcasing the very best in sustainable design, construction and the built environment. Visit: tinyurl.com/diary8-3
Eco Chic Wedding and Home Show 2009 - 8th March - Set in Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens it’s the perfect opportunity to see, touch, taste and try all the eco-essentials for your Big Day. Visit: tinyurl.com/diary8-4
Brighton Vegan Fayre - 21st March 2009 – Touted as ‘a ﬂamboyant, exciting, entertaining, educational, inspirational gathering from the four corners of the vegan empire’ this is one to check out even if you’re not vegan. Visit: tinyurl.com/diary8-5
Harbouring a passion Feature Emily Payne
What started as a dilapidated nightclub on Bristol’s Harbourside is now being branded one of the UK’s finest eco-restaurants, thanks to a dramatic, low-carbon transformation.
arny Haughton, owner of Bristol’s Bordeaux Quay restaurant and founder of sister restaurant Quartier Vert, is a busy man. He’s currently on his way to the Terra Madre Slow Food Conference in Turin - on a bicycle! The entrepreneur, lauded by Rick Stein as a ‘Very Good Thing,’ has gone to find out more about slow food and raise money for the not-for-profit cookery school above Bordeaux Quay. Barny has always been concerned about ‘reconnecting with food,’ explains Bordeaux Quay’s sustainable development manager, Amy Robinson, as we walk through the two-year-old establishment. It’s an airy, casual brasserie-cumdeli downstairs and sleek restaurant upstairs. ‘Before we opened this was an abandoned nightclub. We didn’t want to just plonk down a brand-spanking shiny new building so we made the most of what was left here; from bar fridges to toilet doors, we tried to use everything. Anything that we couldn’t use we auctioned off and all building materials were recycled. Of course there were contradictions; the old fridges weren’t necessarily as energy efficient as newer ones but we had to make the best decisions we could, learning what worked and what didn’t, as we progressed.’
With space for 100 covers on each floor and serving 1000 plus customers per week, how does such a large operation stay sustainable? Their philosophy is less about preaching and more about practicing. But the onus isn’t on the usual hallmarks of a ‘green’ restaurant. ‘When people were digging for victory during the war, they weren’t consciously growing organically – there was no stigma attached to just growing and eating your own food,’ says Amy. ‘We don’t want to brag about being green we just want to figure out how to do it realistically and then share our ideas with those around us.’ The menu, which which sources as much as possbile from a 50-mile radius, is based on solid British grub with a Mediterranean influence. ‘We change the menu every day to accommodate what is seasonal and available, make stocks and soups from vegetable trimmings and bones, and make sure all of our staff eat well from what we don’t sell.’ My particular favourite: the Barleywood Garden Salad contains ingredients which all come from the same farm. So summer gives you an asparagus and broad bean dish topped with nasturtium flowers and mustard leaves, and winter offers up a plate of celeriac, swede, beetroot, carrot, fennel and tarragon.
While even the greenest eateries use up endless bottles of spring water, BQ serves filtered, still or sparkling, tap water in reusalbe glass bottles, free of charge. The light airy building also maximizes use of natural light and minimizes the need for central heating and air conditioning. For those who like their food recognisable, rather than served on a bed of porridge ice cream these dishes pass the test with flying colours. I sampled a pumpkin and Gorgonzola risotto which was so delicious I gobbled the lot, despite it being 11am. And the next day I returned for a three-course lunch, where a fillet of bream with artichokes got 10/10 from all three tasters. More than just a restaurant Bordeaux Quay is a hub that links eating, cooking and learning; putting food back at the centre of our lives, to create more sustainable communities. g
The lovely folk at Bordeaux Quay are offering 25% off your food bill in the vibrant brasserie on presentation of a copy of Sustained. This offer is valid for the whole of February, Monday to Friday (excluding Friday 13th) and is not valid in conjunction with any other offer.
Bream with Jerusalem artichokes and beurre rouge. If you ever wondered what that tasty fish was you had on holiday in the Med, think bream. Its lean white flesh is very fine and flavorful and it is extremely versatile. You can prepare it in any number of ways including grilling, broiling, baking, frying or steaming. Try this delicious Bordeaux Quay recipe for fried bream with artichokes and spinach.
Put the red wine, port, cinnamon, star anise and garlic in a saucepan and reduce until the liquid becomes a thick syrup, approximately 30ml, and then strain.
Look for wild black sea bream, not red sea bream, alternatively try this dish with another firm, white fish such as line caught sea bass.
For 4 people 4 portion size fillets of bream, trimmed and boned 8 medium sized scrubbed Jerusalem artichokes 500g spinach leaves, picked and washed 350ml red wine 100ml port Small piece of cinnamon stick Half a star anise 2 cloves of garlic, sliced 1 tsp fresh picked thyme leaves 150g unsalted butter
“We don’t want to brag about being green we just want to figure out how to do it realistically and then share our ideas with those around us.”
Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and quarter lengthways. Blanch immediately (or they will blacken) in lightly salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Place the artichokes into a roasting pan with 50g of butter, the thyme leaves, salt & pepper, then into a preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes at 180C. Place the spinach leaves in a pan, drizzle with a little olive oil and seasoning and steam for 2-3 minutes until tender. While the spinach is cooking and the artichokes are roasting, fry the seasoned bream fillets in a drop of olive oil, skin side down until they become crisp and then carefully turn over. Cook until the flesh is white and just starting to flake, but no longer. Leave to rest in a warm place for a couple of minutes while making the beurre rouge.
It’s also best to go for line-caught black bream and to avoid immature fish under 23cm. They are at their best in summer and autumn. If your fishmonger doesn’t have them, then try www.2wetfishshops.com, which should have line-caught, black bream which they can send by mail. Try www.samwaysfish.com too. If you fancy catching your own black bream, or any other ‘sustainable’ sea fish, then have a look at www.ukcharterboats.co.uk which is a directory for charter fishing boats based in and around the ports and harbours of the UK. Finally, to keep up-to-date with which fish are sustainable, and which aren’t, why not bookmark the Marine Conservation Society’s website – www.fishonline.org
Put the reduction in a small pan over a low heat and whisk in very cold finely-diced cubes of butter until it forms a glossy emulsion. Put a spoon of the spinach on a warm plate, place the artichokes around and the bream on top, and then spoon over the beurre rouge and serve.
the incredible edible town Feature by Laura Cook
Beans in graveyards, herbs at the station, raised beds on tennis courts, rhubarb on the roadside! What on earth is going on in Todmorden?
alk around the West Yorkshire town of Todmorden and you’ll see vegetables and fruit springing up everywhere on publicly-owned land. The local school recently turned their disused sports ground into a raised-bed system, while the diocese granted permission for beans to be sown in the graveyard. The next project under development is a land-bank scheme, where individuals and businesses can offer and request space for their grow-to-eat projects. To keep costs down, residents can borrow equipment from the tool-lending library. First-timers can also proﬁt from the tips and tricks of experienced gardeners through the project’s Internet forum. So what lies behind this community’s apparently bizarre obsession with growing food all around town? Pam Warhurst, Chair of the Todmorden scheme, explains: ‘The philosophy is simple: with so much uncertainty about the future we need to take local food action. We don’t know how to tackle worldwide climate change, ensure sustainability across the planet or even make the concept of a ‘transition town’ meaningful to everyone, BUT we can grow and cook more of our own food, we can plant up much more land, we can share our garden space, we can teach land management skills in schools, we
can work more closely with our farmers, we can feed ourselves locally and by doing more of this better understand just what all these other concepts mean.’ The success of projects like the Todmorden scheme ultimately rely on all of us taking up the challenge. Indeed, there is some evidence that this is already beginning to happen: vegetable seed sales have skyrocketed and across the country the waiting lists for allotments run into years. With that in mind, however, it is schemes like Todmorden’s that are creating the opportunities for this new, national burst of impassioned veggie growing to take root and ﬂourish.
be a key facet of farming in the future. This is certainly one of the main objectives of the Transition Town initiative and the Low Carbon Communities Network: to encourage people to make a collaborative effort to develop local, sustainable economies with an emphasis on increased local food production. In a similar vein Channel 4 recently launched ‘Landshare’ which aims to make British land more productive and fresh local produce more accessible. At Sustained we’ve introduced ‘Shared Gardening’ where neighbours, friends and family members agree to grow just one or two different crops each, then share the harvest thus making the gardening easier and the yields more plentiful.
In this new culture where everyone, from the government to celebrity chefs, champions local, sustainable and healthy food, schemes like Todmorden’s are the actual innovators looking to the future. For example, a bid for lottery funding has been made to fund an Aquaponic ﬁsh farm in the town. The planned system will use nutrient-rich ﬁsh waste to fertilize beds of vegetables such as courgette, watercress, strawberries and lettuce. The recycled, oxygenated water can then be fed back into the tanks to support the ﬁsh, which are bred for the table.
The common message that comes from all these projects is undoubtedly ‘think global, act local’. Concerted, collaborative and localised efforts are the key to a bright future. As Pam Warhurst says, ‘Food is our key to a better future. We are hardwired to connect with food so lets just get on with it. We don’t need lots of lottery money to get started. Every town has the talent to make this a reality. Growers, cooks, creative designers, retailers, farmers, all talents welcomed. Food underpins sustainable tourism, puts markets back into market towns, and ensures wellbeing. What more can I say?’
This type of localised food production is not dependent upon fossil fuels, and may well
Got a question for our Garden Gurus? Visit sustainedmagazine.com and Ask an Expert.
All out of ideas for your plot? Our gardening gurus, will get you started with home-grown peas: “I think that the pea was the ﬁrst vegetable that I can remember planting and was probably doing it before I walked. My father put the peas on the soil surface and I pushed them to the depth of about an inch with a ﬁnger or thumb, and that is still the way that I do it now.” To read the full article, visit www.sustainedmagazine.com/peas
t s e v r a h
This is the toughest time of the year for the vegetable gardener – winter crops have been harvested, but Spring isn’t quite under way. There is, however, one crop in season that provides ample compensation; sprouting broccoli. This is a tough customer which will grow well in almost any conditions, yet unlike many ‘robust’ crops it turns into a tender and very tasty treat in the kitchen. There are white and purple forms, with the purple (often called PSB) being the hardier of the two, and the ﬂowering stems can be picked as they appear, lightly steamed and served with nothing more than a little butter. If you’re not harvesting it now, be sure to sow some this season!
( J)OIn Dreaming of spring? Kick start your gardening year by sowing unusual vegetables and sharing your successes with others. The heritage seed library is an excellent resource for exchanging both seeds and advice. Run by Garden Organic, the scheme seeks to preserve rare and heirloom varieties for future generations. A year’s membership costs from £20, and includes advice, support and links to likeminded folk. Call for details on 02476 308 210.
Cut-and-come-again lettuce is a quick, convenient crop. Sow now in a container on a warm windowsill, or outside under cloche protection. Sprouted pulses are another easy indoor option. All you need is a saucer lined with kitchen towel, cotton wool, or even an old ﬂannel. Moisten your chosen medium, and simply sprinkle with aduki beans, chickpeas or whole lentils. Within a few days, green shoots will appear and the pulses can be eaten. Live foods are packed full of nutrients, providing a welcome injection of vitamins to see you through the long winter months.
Grafﬁti might not sound like an ecologically sound pastime, but it all depends on your artistic medium. If you use living, breathing plant matter instead of paints and inks – well, it’s probably even legal! Green grafﬁti artists make use of moss and grass in their curious creations – see greenupgrader.com/3471 for more.
Feature by Marc De’ath
I am not a number – I am a free man! am always being told by those around me that I think about things too much; a whole lot of deliberating and not enough spontaneous action is what will be etched on my gravestone.
Among the many issues that I have been overpondering is old age. I watch my grandmother and parents creep ever closer to a time where maybe, one day, they’ll need a little help and wonder to myself, ‘when the time comes, where should that help come from?’ My own particular fear is of living out my last years alone. I do enjoy my own company, but the idea of being stuck with no-one around me, not even to people-watch, horrifies me. These musings began one Sunday morning whilst sipping tea, reading the papers and becoming increasingly frustrated with the human race - as you do. What had partcularly disturbed me was an article, quoting all sorts of facts and figures, about how tough it is to be an elderly person living in the UK: ‘12,000 older people die alone and undiscovered in their homes every year. . .32 lonely deaths every day. . . only say hello to one person a month. . .’ the facts went on, and on. So, with Karma in mind and a do unto others ethos in hand, I decided to investigate the ways I could help the elderly who are alone. Until now, I had talked a good game, considering myself an ambassador for ‘community spirit,’ but when it came down to it, I wasn’t actually doing anything on a practical level. I was determined to put that right so when Monday morning
came, with a new found enthusiasm, I picked up the phone and rang all the relevant charities I could find listed. ‘I am looking to help an elderly person in my local community.’ my script went. The responses were almost as scripted. ‘There are all sorts of reasons why a member of the public should be careful when trying to help vunerable people,’ one lady told me. ‘You could be open to all sorts of prosecution’ said another. ‘We don’t really have any schemes in place for people like you’. . . and so went my first foray into being a caring and conscientious member of the community. Tuesday: a little disheartened but still determined, I popped into see my local VSO office where I met Helen. By the time I’d left, I had signed up for a ‘Timebank’, looked at opportunities to work with Orangutans in Borneo, discovered I can make an ascent of Everest on a unicycle and ate more digestive biscuits than I’ve ever seen in my entire 29 years. But still, no elderly for me. With similar warnings from Helen regarding the potential for prosection I entered the middle of the week feeling somewhat deflated in my attempts to be able to offer one lonely person a bit of companionship. Wednesday: the phone rings and, to my surprise, it’s Helen. She’s found something for me or, rather, she’s found someone. But was I ready? Could be a challenge. A local care home
had a gentleman aged 87, 98% deaf, totally blind and wheelchair-bound. And so it was that I embarked on a friendship with Frank Senior, son of a miner, veteran of the Second World War, and a ladies man with aspirations of being a Bingo Caller. Once a week Frank and I would take the bright orange day-bus to the local village hall where, arrival duly announced, we’d do a lap of honour collecting tea and biscuits enroute, finally taking our place at front of house. Then, when everyone was settled, Frank would pass me the bingo balls so I could whisper the numbers into his ear, and he could deliver his Bingo holler. ‘88’ I would whisper. ‘WHAT LAD?’ ‘88 FRANK, 88’ I would shout back. ‘Ah, that’s easy’ he’d say then bellow, ‘TWO FAT LADIES, 88.’ And so it would go: Dirty Gertie number 30; all the fours, droopy drawers; in a state, 28; snakes alive, 55 - you name it, Frank the cockerel crowed it and a hall full of hens cooed, clucked and fluttered. Over the next three months, until he passed away, Frank looked forward to his weekly turn as a bingo caller, and for those few hours he basked in the limelight of his new found celebrity. And me? Well, I enjoyed his company and the feeling that came from knowing that Frank wouldn’t be a statistic in somone else’s Sunday papers. Frank Senior R.I.P. g For assistance in helping an elderly person in your local community visit http://www.vso.org.uk
Money! who needs it? Feature by Peter Andrews
The real problem with cash, and plastic, is that it is such wonderful stuff, easy-to-use, portable and accepted almost everywhere in the world.
asically you give someone a handful of paper, or a small plastic card, and they generally give you what you want. Of course the whole system falls down when you don’t have any cash or credit with the bank because you’ve been crunched or, better still, because you’ve decided that enough is enough and you’re no rat in a race but a human with a life to live to the full. Wonderful! But then how do you get the things you need and want? In my mildly exciting life I’ve gone from earning what seemed like vast amounts of money to earning very little. And now I am in the ‘very little’ phase I am constantly trying to come up with ways to get the things I need. The first thing I did was to join Freecycle, an astonishingly simple but effective concept for which the inventor, Deron Beal, should be given a very large medal. Basically, you advertise locally through an online forum for things you want, or things that you have that you don’t want and would like to get rid of. No money changes hands. It’s a marvellous system where you can find all manner of items, often in excellent condition too. I know people who have furnished whole flats from Freecycle. I also tried bartering and swapping but that can only take you so far; if you are a grower of vegetables, or a carpenter, or have a useful
skill you would be fine. Historically people have got by on bartering for millennia but if, like most of us, you don’t actually produce anything tangible there are limits to the amount of bartering you can do. Pity the poor trader in credit derivatives and collateralized debt obligations - they really don’t have anything anybody wants – especially now!
your motives as to why you should want to fix the leaking sink but the sink still leaks. Based on a similar idea to LETS are the Time Banks, another wonderfully simple, yet effective concept: you do something for someone else and get a ‘credit’ in the Time Bank that you can later ‘spend’ by getting someone to do things for you.
“Go out and make friends with your neighbours and create some community about you.”
LETS and Time Banks do work and, if you can accept their limitations, can enrich your life significantly even when you don’t have much disposable income. However at the end of the day you can’t barter, you can’t swap and you can’t LETS unless you get known and trusted in your community. That’s the the thing that makes all these things work – social glue.
Fortunately, bartering has evolved to a much higher level of sophistication with schemes such as LETS (Local Exchange Trade Systems). The theory behind LETS is great. You get together a bunch of like-minded people, invent a notional currency, make a directory of skills the members are willing to trade, put a value on those skills, find a way of recording who did what with whom and off you go.
So I reckon that the first thing you should do, if you find yourself short of the readies, whether through circumstance or choice, is to go out and make friends with your neighbours and create some community about you. It’s really very easy. And, if my research is anything to go by, though you will still be as poor as a church mouse, you will be a far happier and much more fulfilled church mouse. g
The beauty is you can start trading immediately and each trade enriches the system. The problem for us in Bath was that there were too many psychotherapists and not enough plumbers – in fact no plumbers at all. It is all very well analysing
Peter Andrews, for his sins, worked in the world of finance for two decades. After a Damascene, green style conversionette, he set up eco-logicbooks.com – publishers and mail order sellers of practical environmental books.
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SMALL CHANGE - BIG DIFFERENCE
NEW MODEL Feature by Sam Henderson
If 2007 was the year that everyone suddenly started taking climate change seriously then 2008 looks like it was the year of food.
teep increases in the price of oil and gas early in the year meant fertiliser and transport became signiﬁcantly more expensive. As a result we saw food riots across the world. In March, India and Vietnam restricted rice exports in an effort to keep the cost of food down. In May the UN called a three day emergency meeting on the food crisis and the price of wheat hit record highs throughout the year. In the UK, a government report entitled ‘Food Matters’ recognised for the ﬁrst time in a generation that we can never take food for granted. Soon after the report was published, an annual audit of the average UK family’s weekly food shop found that it had risen by £27 over the previous year alone. It is this developing crisis that is the real drive behind the groundswell of interest that we are seeing for local produce, farmers’ markets, box schemes, allotmenteering, and community farms; and this is just the beginning. Another sustainable food project looking to go that bit further is Church Farm in Ardeley, East Hertfordshire. ‘I think the crunch came,’ said Church Farm’s owner, Tim Waygood, ‘when I saw about twelve sorry-looking green beans sitting on a supermarket shelf, wrapped up in about three layers of different plastics, ﬂown all the way from Kenya, and retailing for £1.60. I’d been looking into climate change and peak oil, as well as all the other nightmarish side-effects
of what gets called ‘conventional agriculture’, and I think that was the moment that I thought to myself, “We’ve got to be able to do better than this.”’ Just under a year, some serious investment, and a gargantuan effort later, Church Farm has been transformed. Turkeys gobble and plumpbreasted chickens peck under a woodland of newly planted nut and berry trees.
“Our philosophy is to start with great food. To achieve that you need great farming, and that kind of farming can be a part of a great life.” Next door is a herd of Red Poll cattle – a ‘dual purpose’ breed which can produce both meat and dairy – and in the corner of the ﬁeld an exercise in pig husbandry is crossing traditional Berkshires with British Lops. The aim, says Tim, is to produce “the best bacon in Britain.”’ On the opposite slope, polytunnels are being erected and beds are being dug for an eight acre vegetable growing operation which will eventually be able to supply over 120 households with at least 90% of their veg,
salad and herbs; while around the corner, laying hens strut their stuff under a ﬁve acre orchard that includes over 170 varieties of native fruit trees. ‘What we’re starting here is a modern, ecological revival of traditional mixed farming,’ says Tim. ‘That means rejecting desert monocultures in favour of a mixed farm that values and improves the land and the wildlife that lives on it, and it means renewing our ancient contract with farm animals. It also means radically altering our food system, from ﬁeld to fork, and ﬁnally, it means reconnecting people and communities with their food and where it comes from, making farms the bustling centres of local activity they once were.’ Apart from processing all the food on the farm and selling it directly to customers, capturing the margins that usually line the pockets of wholesalers, buyers and retailers, Tim is offering local households the chance to actually join the farm. Members will get access to food off the farm as well as all those essentials that can’t be grown – think toilet paper, tea bags and detergent – through a kind of ethical buying club. They’ll also be able to play an active role in the running of the farm, or simply pay a visit, wandering the footpaths and feeding the animals, or taking part in the weekly programme of on-farm events. ‘It’s about re-imagining all that a farm can be,’ says Tim. ‘Rather than churning out commodities for mass markets, we want to
“We’re not aiming any lower than reforming the UK’s food system and posing a direct challenge to the domination of the supermarkets.” provide a full, sustainable food and lifestyle service to members of our farm, who would be far more than just customers.’ Sounds a bit like a hotch-potch of existing ideas: community supported farms, crossed with group buying clubs, and dressed up as a kind of farm theme park. ‘We have drawn on a lot of existing initiatives’ responds Tim, ‘But the difference is that a lot of these projects either rely on a group of individuals self-organising, or else they’ve diversiﬁed so far that the farm becomes more of an attraction than a place which grows food. ‘Our philosophy is to start with great food. To achieve that you need great farming, and that kind of farming can be a part of a great life. We want to make all that, not just the food, readily available to our members. Great food, great farming, great life. They just need to choose to sign up, then decide how they want to be involved.’ It’s all very enticing, but isn’t this the worst possible time to be promoting a service that might be seen by many as a luxury? ‘I actually totally disagree with that’ says Tim, with a certainty that probably should, by now, have been predictable. ‘People are realising that they’re surrounded by this kind of debt-fuelled illusion of satisfaction; that they’ve been overspending in a meaningless way, and that
it’s time to re-prioritise. We’re giving people the chance to join a genuine community totally divorced from the false value of consumerism. ‘In fact, we’re already planning to repeat the model on other farms. There’s no reason there can’t be thousands of these farms up and down the country. We’re not aiming any lower than reforming the UK’s food system and posing a direct challenge to the domination of the supermarkets.’ On my way back to London, wandering through the soul destroying retail parks that surround Stevenage train station, it strikes me that in this world of economic chaos, planetary emergency and social disintegration, Church Farm is a beacon of hope; that I have just had a glimpse of the future, of a sustainable marriage between people, their food and the land that produces it. Visit www.churchfarmardeley.co.uk or to ﬁnd out more about the ethos behind the project visit tinyurl.com/8beconnected1 If you’re interested in good food, eating or growing it, then have a look at some of the sites listed in the sidebar.
FOOD FACTS For every single calorie of food, ten calories of energy (mostly fossil fuels) are used to grow, process, and transport it. Getting food onto our plates accounts for between one fifth and a third of all the carbon emissions which the UK is responsible for. Food production consumes vast amounts of water, erodes topsoil, destroys habitats, generates waste, and condemns animals to appalling lives. Many farm workers are underpaid and exposed to harmful levels of toxic substances; substances that remain in the food until consumed. FIND LOCAL FOOD SUPPLIERS
freerangereview.com localfoodweb.co.uk bigbarn.co.uk thelfd.com
GET INVOLVED IN GROWING
sustainedmagazine.com landshare.net cuco.org.uk FOOD FOR THOUGHT
slowfood.org.uk thinkfoodandfarming.org.uk foodforlife.org.uk tinyurl.com/soilassoc
Sowing the Seeds of change Feature by Declan McCormick
Social enterprise is taking big business by the hand.
Jonathon Bland, CEO of the Social Enterprise Coalition, describes it as ‘a business model essential not only for positive social change, but for the UK’s economy. By using business to find practical and sustainable solutions to some of the toughest challenges facing the world today they [social enterprises] should be leading the way in today’s economic climate.’
The Phone Co-op
‘If we find approaches that meet the needs of the poor that generate profit for business and votes for politicians we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world.’
All of this sounds wonderfully positive but what exactly does this fluffy entrepreneurialism look like? Well, regular readers will be aware of the Sustained Dandelion Award, which is given to organisations that have demonstrated extraordinary efforts in improving their own performance on social and environmental issues, thereby inspiring others to follow suit. Previous winners have been Howies, Ben & Jerry, Frank Water, Patagonia, the Eden Project, Sustrans, Suma Wholefood and Waste Watch.
Inevitably, what emerges is a business that is run in the sole interest of its customers, and so cannot help but reflect their values. For The Phone Co-op this has meant an ever-growing focus on environmental sustainability through such initiatives as using public transport for business travel, equipping staff with bicycles, using suppliers who are also co-operatives, and the creation of a ‘Sustainability Fund’ to finance further improvements.
That ‘more creative capitalism’ already exists as social enterprise and extends way beyond issues of poverty to incorporate the triple bottom line of people and planet as well as profit. In a 2006 Grist article, ‘This Ring a Nobel?’ writers Mark Lee and John Elkington noted ‘a remarkable and accelerating convergence between what mainstream companies will want to do and what social and environmental entrepreneurs are already working on, with a growing potential for fruitful cross-fertilization.’ What’s more, this hybrid model ‘is on the verge of taking off like a rocket, involving new breeds of social and environmental entrepreneurs.’
Just as likely to win a Dandelion Award would be our previous issue’s sponsor, London Biopackaging, pioneers or biodegradable and closed-loop food packaging. This issue’s sponsor – the Phone Co-op – is also a perfect example of a leading social enterprise but we can’t give them a Dandelion as people might think it’s rigged! Still, there’s no harm using them as an example of what we mean and, given their position and experience in the social enterprise sector, we’ve invited them to select six organisations, including this issue’s Dandelion Award winner, that they think are innovators of the new business model.
peaking to Harvard graduates in 2007, computer impresario Bill Gates explained why he was investing $39bn in projects addressing some of the world’s starker inequalities:
‘We can make market forces work better for the poor if we develop a more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We can also press governments around the world to spend taxpayers’ money in ways that better reflect the values of people who pay taxes.
As a consumer co-operative The Phone Co-op is owned by its customers who nominate and elect the board of directors from their own ranks and, with membership being available for just £1, there is no financial barrier to any customer becoming a stakeholder, or even a director!
The Phone Co-op admits that its success would have been impossible without its customers’ involvement. By appealing to more than just their wallets, the society has shown that, even in something as seemingly ‘uncooperative’ as telecoms, alternative business practices that speak to consumers concerns will win out. No small wonder then that recognition for their pioneering approach to telecoms came in October 2008, when they were named Social Enterprise of the Year by the Social Enterprise Coalition. Even in the cut-throat world of telecommunications there is still room for a business that really does put people first. g
The Phone Co-op’s
top five ones to watch...
A community co-operative running a wireless broadband service in the very rural Alston Moor area of Cumbria. The area now has one of the highest adoption rates of broadband in any rural area – thanks to special packages for residents on low incomes. Cybermoor also supplies computer consumables, recycled PCs and equipment on hire, and generates further income by supplying consultancy advice to local authorities. They promote social inclusion through their community website where people can interact and organise things like lift shares. Visit: www.cybermoor.org
This is an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) for the Benefit of the Community and is the first community funded hydroelectric scheme in the UK. It could well pave the way for many more community-led, micro-generation projects too. Situated on the River Goyt in the High Peak of Derbyshire clean, green and effortless energy is generated by a modern version of an ancient Greek invention, the Archimedean screw. All revenue raised by the scheme is channelled back into the community. Visit: www.torrshydro.co.uk
Unicorn Grocery One of the most successful wholefood outlets in the UK. Unicorn is owned and run by its workforce, currently 45 members on a flatrate pay basis, and makes all decisions by consensus. From a first turnover of £3,500 a decade ago to £3.5 million, Unicorn donates a steady 5% of wage costs to local and international projects. The co-op has just bought 21 acres of land to grow organic veg and recently won BBC Radio 4’s Food & Farming Best Independent Retailer Award. Visit: www.unicorn-grocery.co.uk
Community shops An area in which the co-operative model is flourishing is where members of a community take control of their village shops. Uig Community Shop, which includes a petrol station and post office, is a good example. It provides a lifeline for 400 residents in one of the most remote communities in the Western Isles. The financial struggle of the previous owner to keep the shop going sparked a community drive to ensure that it could be retained for future years. For advice and support on community shops . . . Visit: www.virsa.org
Hackney Community Transport An outstanding example of social enterprise in public services. Inspired by the goal of providing public transport for all, Hackney Community Transport was founded in 1982 by a number of local community groups. The aim of providing affordable community transport services for local voluntary organisations, charities and community groups continues to this day. The group now delivers public and community transport across London and in West Yorkshire, and its training services contribute to raising local employability. Visit: www.hctgroup.org HAVE YOUR SAY! Nominate your own top five for the Sustained Dandelion Award. Email us your selection and a brief explanation to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Phone Coop www.thephone.coop T. 0845 458 9000 e. email@example.com
WIND FALL Feature by Joe Heslop Illustration by Lee Thomas
Most energy producers and providers in the UK are huge companies pursuing as much profit as possible, with little concern for the surrounding communities.
ut it doesn’t have to be that way. Community-owned Westmill Wind Farm in Oxfordshire is an excellent example of how it can be done better. ‘If ever you need firm confirmation that wind turbines enhance certain landscapes, rather than destroy them, Westmill provides that in all its glory!’ said the Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, Jonathon Porritt. ‘But what makes Westmill even more special is the fact that it is a co-operative venture, with a large number of individuals (including myself ) who bought into the project, and 50% of whom live within a 50 mile radius.’ Founded in 2004 with the aid of Energy4All (a parent co-operative established to help promote community renewables projects) Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative is the UK’s largest wind farm entirely owned by the community. Not only that, it’s also the first onshore wind farm to be built in South East England. With five wind turbines built on an unused airstrip at Adam Twine’s organic farm, Westmill Co-op produce enough electricity to power 2,500 average homes. In order to raise the money for the £7.6m project Westmill sold shares in the co-op to individuals from neighbouring communities, but unlike most limited companies each individual is limited to an investment between £250 and £20,000 and receives only one vote in the
co-op’s decision making process, regardless of the size of their investment, thus preventing any one individual being able to dominate the company. The Co-op is run on democratic, co-operative principles to ensure that its social, environmental and economic benefits are maximised. Both Westmill and Energy4All are dedicated to providing education as well as energy, placing it high on their agendas. They offer opportunities for all those concerned about climate change to become involved in the ownership and operation of the wind farm. Despite having only opened for business in February 2008 Westmill has already hosted a number of community events including children’s workshops and members’ forums. Westmill Co-op also aims to help its adjacent communities become even greener by advising people about energy efficiency and by allocating funds for the establishment of an Energy Conservation Trust. This, it is hoped, will be able to provide information and grants to aid efficiency measures, and provide environmental books for local schools. In the future Westmill and Energy4All hope to see, and support, similar community wind projects up and down the UK; something that is much needed, for as Jonathon Porritt has
observed, ‘Unfortunately, there are only a handful of co-operative wind projects of this kind in the UK – in contrast, for instance, to Denmark. As far as I can discover, there are no more than five actually up and running, with a few more in the pipeline.’ Having the land and the vision to set up a wind project is one thing but taking the steps to achieving it is quite another. Certainly the need, the desire and the will are there. As Harvey Tordoff, Director of Energy4All at the time of Westmill’s inception said, ‘An independent survey conducted by Oxford Brookes University, a thousand strong petition by Friends of the Earth and feedback from public exhibitions all demonstrated a strong desire amongst the community to be directly involved in this project.’ This is ultimately confirmed by the fact that Westmill is owned by more than 2,000 members of the public, including Mr Porritt himself. So now, thanks to Energy4All and their success with Westmill, all the tools needed to advance similar projects are readily available to the nation. If we only take one thing from Westmill’s success it should be this: at a time when the winds of change are blowing ever harder, ordinary people working in co-operation, without the need for government or corporate backing, can build windmills. g
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Published on Jan 29, 2009
This issue of Sustained focuses on innovation, a theme close to our hearts at The Phone Co-op, so it’s an issue we are pleased to sponsor....