By Louise Palmer-Masterton, Stem & Glory
David Attenborough’s documentary ‘A Life on our Planet’ contains an abundance of powerful facts that defines the devastating problems we face if we do not stop destroying our planet. The film shows the numbers for the rapid increase in global population, the increase in carbon in the atmosphere, and the accompanying sharp decrease in unfarmed natural land. This moving documentary does end with a ray of hope, however, as Attenborough lays out the steps we need to take to quickly redress the balance and allow the planet to recover:
- Rewild the rainforests and farmland to restore biodiversity.
- Stop eating meat.
- Abandon fossil fuel in favour of renewable energy.
- Using less land in more intelligent ways to produce more food, such as vertical and urban farming.
- Stop Waste.
- End poverty and increase access to education for all people, which will naturally lead to population control.
How can businesses help?
You probably assume most of this list is beyond the sphere of influence of an individual or an individual business, with international action and financial incentives needed for this to happen on a global scale. Although it’s true that international action is needed, we can all instigate actions that make a difference and many of the actions we can take are changes within our own supply chains which are not disruptive or costly, they simply involve making more ethical choices in our purchasing decisions. Recently, a Futerra survey showed that 88% of consumers want brands to help them be more sustainable, and many people utilise their purchasing power as a way to make their mark, so it’s also a shrewd business decision to make positive changes within our own businesses.
- Rewilding – Work with the many new ethical suppliers who are themselves making a difference. For example, we work with a tea supplier called Reforest Tea. For one 500g bag of breakfast tea, costing £12, they are able to plant 6-8 trees. Perform your own sustainability audit (there are also individuals and organisations that can conduct this for you, or you could simply do it yourself).
- More Plant-based meals – It’s simply not sustainable for the 11 billion animals on the planet to eat other animals. But what does this mean for a business? If you have a staff canteen, look to increase the plant-based offerings. Educate your staff about eating less meat. If you host events that involve food, ask your caterers to provide a good choice of plant-based options, or better still (like many companies and charitable organisations) choose to make your events 100% plant-based.
- Using Renewable Energy– In pursuit of renewable energy, businesses can make a huge impact by simply moving to renewable only energy sources. There are a number of these now, including the most established Ecotricity and Green Energy.
- Vertical Farming – I visited Amsterdam in February. There are some super-exciting projects there with vertical and urban farms. They are a big exporter of vegetables because of this. They get a greater output from a much smaller footprint in this way. It’s now also breaking into the hospitality sector. I visited a restaurant called Juniper & Kin which is on the top floor of a tall hotel building. They have a green house on their roof and grow a high percentage of their produce there.
Food Waste – More than one third of all food produced is wasted (with fruit and vegetables, it’s almost half). In medium and high-income countries, we are simply buying food and not eating it. Much of this food waste could be avoided if it were managed better.
Packaging Waste – There’s a huge amount of misinformation out there on this subject, especially with regards to single use. Packaging is a complicated subject that we’ve been immersed in researching for some time, and here is what we have learned:
- The only truly sustainable, circular solution for packaging is to use products that are made from 100% recycled post-consumer waste, which are then endlessly recycled.
- Compostable is not the answer to the issue of single use, as compostable containers are widely made from virgin materials.
- Of course, responsible use of recycled plastic products requires education, and we need to invest energy into just that.
Never underestimate the contribution that an individual or individual business can play. By changing ourselves we also generate spirals of positive influence! The more you make changes and tell others, the more people you will influence for good.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem & Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge. www.stemandglory.uk
Linked in: /louisepalmer-masterton
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet – is available on Netflix