Category: Eco Media
HJ Fantaskis | 26.11.12
This article by Adam Jacques for The Independent on Sunday is republished from the 25 November 2012 edition.
Anna Guyer, Director of Greenhouse is very pleased with the coverage in the Independent on Sunday. "We are absolutely delighted to see two such prominent and tireless campaigners get the recognition they deserve. We have had the pleasure of working with Patrick for the last six months - and his ability to connect with movers and shakers of the sustainable food industry all around the world is totally awesome."
How We Met: Patrick Holden & Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, 47
Known initially as the TV chef willing to tuck into everything from squirrel to flambéed human placenta, Fearnley-Whittingstall (right in picture) is most famous for his River Cottage TV series and books. The author and food campaigner lives at River Cottage Farm in Dorset with his wife and children.
We met on the west coast of Scotland about 20 years ago, on a beach by the Sound of Mull. We were at a wedding party at a nearby house and Patrick and his girlfriend had been swimming in the sea – even though it was December. All my attention was on her initially: she was like a mermaid emerging from the water.
I was in charge of the cooking, stirring the stockpot, and I later got chatting to Pat. I knew about him already, as I had some loose involvement with the Soil Association (which Holden had worked for since 1988). We were both passionate about food, where it comes from and getting the best out of the land, so we had lots to talk about.
He has an extraordinary energy; if you're an environmentalist, there's a lot to be gloomy about, yet he is never gloomy. There's a glint in his eye and a boundless enthusiasm that picks me up – though he can get very angry if he's talking about things that seem unjust.
Patrick loves talking about the minutiae of things, from carrot-farming to the cheese-making on his farm in Wales, which focuses on the rediscovery of an old culture that creates a more mellow and delicious flavour.
Where we differ, I think, is how we see ourselves. People might say I come across as self-confident, but when I'm speaking publicly I'm often racked with nerves – but I don't see that in him at all; he's always ready to talk about anything.
For me, his biggest achievement over the past decade has been raising awareness of the provenance and healthiness of food, as well as being one of the biggest influences on the organic food movement. On (a smaller scale), hopefully I've had an influence on the practical problem of what goes on our plate. Neither of us are arguing for the world to go vegetarian – we're both enthusiastic carnivores. But we both believe that a huge global commodity market of cheap, filler fast food is a dangerous direction for the planet.
Patrick Holden, 60
After serving 10 years as director of the Soil Association, where he spearheaded food campaigns around BSE, pesticide residues and GM food, the organic-farming campaigner founded the Sustainable Food Trust in 2011; he is now CEO. He lives in Bristol with his wife.
I first met Hugh on 30 December 1992, the day before our mutual friend's wedding, on the west coast of Scotland. I went for a walk down to a cottage where I found Hugh reducing chicken stock over a stove. With all his long hair he looked like a rebellious schoolboy with gravitas – he had the atmosphere of a man who was going somewhere.
There was something feral about him when he was making his early food programme. It was the way he'd catch and prepare food and do all the nasty bits (in front of the camera). And he challenged taboos such as our false sentimentality with animals: he cooked squirrels when for a lot of people they were cuddly animals that they wouldn't dream of eating.
The past half-century has been characterised by how progressively removed we've become from what lies behind the death of an animal. So I really admire how he has succeeded in telling that story and shifting people's attitude about what they eat. As a food campaigner he's even succeeded in changing policy, such as with his fish-fight campaign (to stop the discarding of caught fish that are over quota). I'm someone who, for decades, has tried to get policy changed to make farming systems more sustainable – and largely failed – so to me that's really impressive.
A good meal is one of the most civilised activities, and Hugh deeply understands that. I had one of his delicious lunches at the River Cottage recently: it was a slow-cooked beef stew produced at the farm, with cabbage and delicious parsnip mash. Meals like that induce a sense of wellbeing.
There's not a great deal (of difference) between us: we're both frank and tell it as it is and we probably see food through the same lens. But he's more confident then I am as he has a natural authority; he's slightly happier in his skin.
Has he changed? His physical appearance may have – he's cut his hair – but while his rise to celebrity may have been meteoric, inside he's the same guy, and that's what's so attractive about him. He's still a radical thinker and prepared to challenge orthodoxy. And on a good day, that's something I relate to.
Admin | 16.08.12
Earlier in the week, we introduced the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) and the circular economy.
Part of the Foundation's mission is to involve the next generation. Children are capable and imaginative. Why not involve them in designing their future?
How We Make Stuff' - Pop Up Book for Children
A sort of Noddy's Guide to the principles of the circular economy. Thanks to EMF, we now have a pop up book that explains the circular economy, and guides Primary years' thinking and imagination. If only all business management philosophies could be translated this way in an accessible pop up book.
Pop up Book released by Ellen McArthur Foundation and award winning children's author
Since its inception in 2010, the EMF has been working with schools and universities to inspire a generation to re-think, re-design and build a positive future through the vision of a circular economy. The primary focus of this work has been in resource creation and curriculum development in secondary schools, but the Foundation is delighted to announce the release of a new book and website to bring the concept of the circular economy to a younger audience.
About the Pop Up Book
How We Make Stuff is an interactive pop-up book by award-winning children's author Christiane Dorion, with input from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The book introduces circular economy ideas in an understandable way for young people aged 7-12. Using everyday items that readers will know, such as phones, clothes and food, How We Make Stuff also brings in ideas related to Biomimicry and Cradle to Cradle, and asks questions about how we could make stuff differently. The book is now available to purchase online from Templar Publishing.
The How We Make Stuff Website
To coincide with the release of the book, the Foundation has launched a website full of supporting content and teaching activities to take the ideas covered in How We Make Stuff even further.
Win a signed copy
Christiane Dorion has kindly provided two signed copies of How We Make Stuff to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which they will be giving away to two very lucky winners. Sign up to receive their How We Make Stuff newsletter, to be entered into the prize draw. Entries will close on the 17th August 2012.
Admin | 07.08.12
Those of you who have subscribed to our Morning News newsletter, or follow us on Twitter, may have already seen this video that we got so excited about.
The hidden cost of hamburgers
From the talented folks at the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) in California, in this edition of their 'Food for 9 Billion' series, they take a look at the environmental and social impact of America's beef consumption. The results are pretty frightening.
Credit where it's due - we found this on TreeHugger and you should definitely take a look at the original article by Brian Merchant.
We thought, instead of sermonising on the perils of vast global over-consumption of beef, we'd look instead at what makes this such a compelling piece of digital media. In short, what made us want to share this video with you?
We're going to pull out the key points in this short case study. We would welcome your feedback (suggestions, corrections and questions) in the comments below.
At its core, the video is simple, it's informative and it's only seven minutes long. It's extremely shareable content.
The production team have made a seven minute video handling grim realities an easy watch.
You can see from the first frame it's been produced by professionals, and the investment in such clean, and unfussy production quality pays off; it's a well-executed piece of digital media.
CIR present the facts in an engaging way; the narrator responds appropriately to events in the video (sometimes adding humour), and even the title draws attention. "A hamburger? Seriously? They're such a standard, ubiquitous food-stuff - I had one for lunch!"
The animation is cracking and gives the video a light-hearted approach (making cows fart and burp, helps too). It allows for grim realities of the beef farming trade to be shared, without having to include the well-known and uncomfortable images of cattle in dire straits.
CIR offer digestible facts, without swamping the viewer with data, and what's really key: they make sure that each example given is then put in context to convey scale or perspective.
Audio clips are well-placed and add to the tone of the video's messages.
And, finally, the video closes with steps that can lead to positive change: Eat less meat, help save the planet. Simple.
We think the Meat-Free Monday campaign (endorsed by the McCartneys) is fab and recommend great directories like Happy Cow.
We'll leave you with this simple but powerful quote from the Hidden Cost of Hamburgers:
"If all Americans ate no meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would have the same climate-changing prevention effect as taking 7.6 million cars off the road for one year."
Admin | 03.08.12
Got a green / ethical / environmentally-responsible / eco-conscious business you think is worth making some noise about? Do you know a company that you'd like to see nominated?
The International Green Awards (IGA) are now entering their 7th year, celebrating sustainability intelligence, leadership and innovation.
This year, in a collaboration with the WWF, the internationally renowned pair are on a quest to find innovations in products, services and business models that can lead to more sustainable outcomes.
They're searching for global change agents and sustainability innovations that really are 'game-changers'.
Are you a Green game-changer?
For Anna, it's companies like Cafedirect, individuals like Dale Vince of Ecotricity, and campaigners like Fran Armstrong (producer of Age of Stupid and founder of 10:10), who are the real Green game-changers.
Past winners of the IGA include some of the heavy-weights like Unilever, Marks & Spencer and Deutsche Bank. (But don't knock them, the bigger they are, the bigger the impact even a small positive change has!)
Not a global industry giant yet? Fear not! Names you're probably more familiar with have walked away with this prestigious award, including Dale Vince for Ecotricity, The Carbon Trust, and Pavegen (a favourite, here at Greenhouse!)
WWF have begun a project to compile a 'bank' of Green game-changers, of revolutionary business cases - for inspiration and celebration. Plus, they're hosting the award for the Most Responsible Celebrity. It takes two seconds to cast your anonymous vote - and there are some interesting entrants!
Registration is all done online through IGA's new sustainability review platform - Smarter Business.
So, if you, your company, or someone you know is a Green game-changer, get on it. Entries close on 23rd August
Direct Entry Categories:
Most Sustainable Large Corporate
Most Sustainable Medium Business
Most Sustainable Small Business
Most Sustainable NGO
Most Sustainable Government
Most Sustainable Educational Institution
WWF Green Game Changer Category
Open to a Public Vote:
Most Responsible Celebrity
Nominated by the International Green Awards:
Lifetime Achievement Award
Admin | 27.07.12
Think you’re alone, and powerless to change the Big Banking system?
Think again. Watch this video from ethical bank Triodos and see what can be achieved with people power.
Small. The new Big.
The short film calls upon the nation’s savers to move as little as £10, and help shape a fairer and more sustainable banking system.
As the largest ethical bank in the world, Triodos only finances enterprises which create environmental, social or cultural added value. Transparency sets them apart from the majority of banks: customers are informed about the bank’s lending, and can target their savings to particular areas of investment. Which, by the way, include organic food and farming, renewable energy, social housing and fair trade.
Among their UK business customers, includes Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall’s River Cottage, Ecotricity, Cafedirect and Amnesty International.
Triodos is working to spread the message by leveraging the power of social media - with the aim of encouraging as many UK adults as can be reached to invest as little as £10 with Triodos.
New figures from Triodos show that even just £10 from every UK adult saver - £386million - could be enough to start a big change in the UK banking system. And, so you know, £20 moved to Triodos from every UK adult saver would be the equivalent of the fine that HSBC currently faces for money laundering.
The banking scandals barely seem to leave the headlines. It’s been 5 years since the crisis surrounding Northern Rock, but the banking scandals are endless. It’s time to make a big change, by doing something small.
Charles Middleton, UK Managing Director for Triodos bank says, "Only when they lose the support of millions of savers and their deposits will the big banks sit up and listen and start to change their ways."
Unlike the Big Banks, who will be imminently launching their promotional campaigns to stem the tide of dissatisfied and disgusted customers closing their accounts, you won’t find Triodos’ new short film on television, and they won’t be advertising on billboards. This is about people power.
Ready to do something small?
We’re asking you to share this video with as many of your friends, family and workmates as possible. You can email them the link, Share the video on Facebook, or tweet the link on Twitter to your followers.
YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQqYX6VJc40
You can use this link for Twitter: http://ow.ly/cnxHJ
Richard Lemmer | 11.07.12
With just 21 days left to the Olympics, London is preparing to be dazzled with gold, silver and bronze. But how green will London 2012 be?
Originally, Locog (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) said that London 2012 would be the most sustainable games ever. But earlier this month, activists targeted BP sponsored London 2012 advertisements on the Cromwell Road, spraying the billboards with oil-like black paint and leaving a spray painted website address, which hosts pictures of other hijacked BP branding. This brand hijacking came a week after the Reclaim The Bard activist asked “BP or not BP?,” storming the stage at the Roundhouse during – aptly enough – a Comedy of Errors, which was been shown as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
You can now vote for which polluting/unethical London 2012 sponsor should win the Greenwash Gold – will it be BP, Dow Chemical or Rio Tinto? Embarrassingly for Locog, this coalition of activists is chaired by Meredith Alexander, who quit as commissioner for the London 2012 sustainability watchdog over Dow’s deal with the International Olympic Committee.
And then there is the continuing food fight surrounding McDonald's and Coke's sponsorship. Jenny Jones, the Green Party's London mayoral candidate, proposed a motion at the London assembly to block high calorie food producers from sponsoring London 2012. “London won the right to host the 2012 Games with the promise to deliver a legacy of more active, healthier children across the world," she told the assembly.
So far London 2012 seems less than green or golden. But while the activists provide a valuable job reminding us how the sponsors could clean up their act, there has been some progress in making London 2012 a sustainable event. Whilst the site for the games was far from an ecological paradise (it was an underused brownfield zone), the London 2012 constructors ensured that 98% of the materials reclaimed during the site cleanup and demolition were reused in the creation of the Olympic Park. During the construction, over half of all the materials delivered and the waste removed were transferred by trains and barges, reducing the carbon emissions of transporting the goods and waste.
And the resulting buildings have proven to be some outstanding example of sustainable architecture. The Velodrome, home to the cycling events, is the most sustainable venue for London 2012: it is nearly 100% naturally ventilated and makes optimal use of natural light, and rainwater from the roof will be collected and used for flushing toilets and irrigating nearby greenery. Originally, the Velodrome’s designs needed 2,000 tonnes of steel; but a little engineering ingenuity and commitment to sustainability cut the figure down to 100 tonnes of steel. The Basketball Courts are recyclable: two thirds of all the material used to create the courts can be recycled or easily reused elsewhere. You could find an Olympic standard basketball court in your neighborhood after the London show is over.
How will you get there? Of course there is the Tube or one of London’s many bikes-for-hire, but there has been much environmentalist ire over the VIP’s fleet of BMWs. Whilst most of the cars will run on ‘clean diesel,’ 200 of them will be new varieties of BMW’s electric car.
So does London 2012 win the green medal in your eyes? Or has sustainability become an also-ran in this Olympic Games?
Richard Lemmer | 04.07.12
In a fight between a polar bear and a fish, it‘s no real contest. And this applies whether the fight is for survival or just public attention. Polar bears are the mascots of climate change activists the world over. Cute, cuddly and close to becoming homeless thanks to CO2 emissions, they have become a ready emblem for our climate crisis.
Greenpeace’s latest video features a homeless polar bear wandering the streets of London, sniffing at plastic fish and car exhausts, whilst Thom Yorke of Radiohead sings and Jude Law narrates. The video has been live for two days and has over 15,000 views. Greenpeace’s video on sustainable fishing has been live for over a month and has 8,000 views. Polar bears shine on, while the fish swim out of sight.
But Greenpeace’s ‘Be A Fisherman’s Friend’ campaign has taken a dry subject (a little ironic given its place in the natural world) and given it a human face. The EU’s Maximum Sustainable Yield model of the Common Fisheries Policy may not sound like a day at the beach, but it has big implications for the fish & chip shops that line our sea sides. At the moment, large corporations can afford to discard fish, completely de-populate fish stocks and cut out sustainable fishermen. Small boats make up over 70% of the UK fishing fleet, but they are given just 4% of the allocated fishing quota.
Greenpeace knows this can’t go on, and its campaign rises to the challenge. We get to understand how important sustainable business is not just to the environment, but to the individuals who depend on the environment for a living. “It is the green way of fishing,“ one fisherman explains, but skewed economic policy means the next generation of fishermen are not able to sustain the tradition. To change this, members of the public can join the campaign by signing the petition, sharing the video and using social media to show their engagement. Greenpeace has even provided a campaign theme tune in the form of a sea shanty.
Whilst the polar bear may be the emblem of climate change, the small boat fisherman is a worthy emblem for sustainable business. They have to work within nature’s means to ensure the next generation have a livelihood. And as the Guardian has reported, this method can be much more profitable. So make sure you join the campaign.
Richard Lemmer | 01.07.12
Proving that Twitter is more than just #JustinBieber, last week the Guardian created a list of the top sustainable business tweeters. And since everyone loves lists, we thought we‘d create our own - Greenhouse's Top Twitter Accounts for Sustainable Businesses. The accounts listed below are those who we follow on Twitter that regularly show more insight with 140 characters than others show with 140 words. Follow them, check out their websites and be prepared for them to become a stable part of your social media updates.
Forum for the Future - @Forum4theFuture
Forum for the Future are an independent non-profit working globally with business and government to create a sustainable future. Take part in one of their online events by visiting their website.
Divine Chocolate - @divinechocolate
Tweets from Rosanna and Charlotte at Divine Chocolate: the only Fairtrade chocolate company 45% owned by cocoa farmers. Find out more about their unique setup at on their website.
Carbon Leapfrog - @leapfrognews
Carbon Leapfrog provides free professional services to climate change projects. Since the business was set up in April 2010, it has helped over 30 projects overcome hurdles to growth - click here to find out how.
Triodos - @triodosuk
Banking for people and the planet, Triodos is the world’s leading sustainable bank, making money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change. Visit their website to learn how your money could be more ethical.
Cafedirect - @Cafedirect_HQ
Flying the flag for finely-crafted tea, coffee and cocoa sourced directly from smallholder growers. Visit their website to learn more about how Cafedirect is helping coffee farmers all over the world.
Lush Cosmetics Ltd. - @LushLtd
Lush Fresh Handmade cosmetics, we make products from fresh organic fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics. Browse their sensuous and sustainable range here.
Good Energy - @Good_Energy
Good Energy is the UK's only 100% renewable electricity supplier. Visiting www.goodenergy.co.uk will tell you how they have achieved this impressive goal.
Abundance Generation - @AbundanceGen
Making it possible for ordinary people to invest in and feel ownership of renewable energy production - they call it 'democratic finance.’ Find out how you can invest by visiting their website.
Damian Carrington - @dpcarrington
Damian Carrington is head of environment at the Guardian. His profile can be found here.
Howard Johns - @howardjohns
Founder and MD of @Southern_Solar, Director of the Solar Trade Association and of @OVESCo - a locally owned energy company. Visit Southern Solar here.
Business Green - @businessgreen
The UK's leading web site for green business news and analysis. Stay up to date by visiting here.
Richard Lemmer | 29.06.12
Richard Lemmer | 25.06.12
It’s easy to feel deflated after last week’s Rio+20 summit. For an event all about sustainable development, Rio+20 showed that the current process is neither sustainable nor developing. The next generation of the Green movement, the people who will hopefully sustain the idea of sustainable development, literally ripped up the most recent agreement on the issue. And that agreement, we have been told, showed few signs of development. Of course, this is only part of the story.
Having had time to reflect on the list of media stories as long and disheartening as The Future We Want document, hopefully the media will begin change its tune.
Already the Guardian has posted a list of reasons to be cheerful when thinking about the summit. Most of these reasons involved businesses taking the lead in dealing with our environmental challenges, showing that businesses are willing to go beyond the bottom line. According to activists, the Future We Want may have become a corporate case of the Future We Bought, but does that destroy the good work of M&S's Plan A? Or PUMA's natural capital reporting? Certainly not.
Meanwhile, Business Green has questioned whether the summit was wholly bad. As James Murray has pointed out, a “savvy business leader will take the Rio +20 as further evidence that clean technologies and the green economy have considerable political support and will continue to prosper.”
The summit’s agreement to create a list of Sustainable Development Goals may seem like delaying an already weak promise, but the potential is encouraging. When they are set in 2015, the SDGs are likely to focus on water, food and energy usage - each one an element of everyday life we can affect. Businesses, the general public and NGOs, will have a set of targets they can aspire to achieve, and the government has declared it will support them.
Another worthwhile initiative will be the UK’s GDP+ metric. The UK will be the first country to record the value of its natural environment and ensures businesses account for ecological damage they cause. “We need to develop indicators to complement GDP," Nick Clegg said before the summit, “not as an international standard, or benchmark - but to allow individual countries to measure what is important to them.” GDP+ idea will need refinement, but it shows that politicians are beginning to listen to calls that a country is more than its economic GDP. Tied to this idea will be mandatory carbon emissions reporting by companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. This will see 1,800 companies open to further scrutiny from their investors, shareholders and customers.
But as for the largest tangible result of the Rio+20 summit, it has to be the upcoming investment in sustainable transport. Eight of the largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) announced that they will invest $175 billion in sustainable transportation systems over the coming decade. This will decrease the world’s transportation carbon emissions and give developing countries much needed infrastructure improvements.
We don't have the time to complain about what has not been achieved. Despite the lack of a uniform response from world leaders, it is encouraging to see NGOs, businesses and citizens, leading the way and calling for change. In twenty years' time, if there is another Rio summit, let's have something ready to celebrate.
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