L’Oreal employee volunteers – making a difference locally in Hammersmith

We welcomed staff from a local business to support us in an ambitious 2 week project which saw more than 50 employee volunteers helping us across 3 locations. L’Oreal UK are our neighbours and run an annual citizen day where they encourage employees to volunteer with local charities and give something back to the local community. We’re thrilled to be chosen as one of the charities and wanted to share the results with you.

L'OrealDay one
First we welcomed a team to our Head Office to discuss some ideas around marketing Books for Free. One of the ideas that came from that session was to run an internal campaign at L’Oreal to encourage each of the 600 staff to donate a book, plus create a case study / toolkit so that other businesses could run a similar campaign.

L'OrealDay two
We met the team tasked with helping take our new Chiswick shop from an empty unloved shop into a vibrant “Books for free” centre. This group of volunteers was headed up by Ulisses Retail Design and Visual Merchandising Manager, we were extremely lucky to have someone with such a wealth of expertise in retail shop design and also loves books to create the vision for the new centre.  The morning was spent planning and gathering the things needed for the transformation.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe afternoon more volunteers arrived to help decorate and paint, we also had furniture delivered from our partners Furnish who sell second hand furniture. The team proceeded to paint things in the black and white palette and create large sheets of wallpaper made from the pages of old books which had fallen apart and also lining the bookcases with the pages from the books. We also received a delivery of 3 pallets of books (around 3,000) so lots of heavy lifting getting the boxes into the centre, it really hit home how many we are rescuing from landfill and pulping and how much space they take up.

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L'OrealDay three
The fourth team arrived at Chiswick to take the batten to finish the space, lots of painting, we began to start on some of the finishing touches such as the bunting for the windows and painting photo frames.

Day four
Saw the bookshelves put into their correct positions and books starting to go onto shelves, sorting thousands of books requires a really organised team to focus on getting all those fiction and non fiction in their rightful places. We created signs for each section by using old broken books painted with chalkboard paint and then using a chalkpen. We even made an open/closed sign by upcycling an old frame and using book & map pages to create the letters.

L'OrealThis day also saw an enthusiastic team visit our HQ to discuss advertising the new centre, press releases were written, our communications toolkit for the volunteers rewritten,  new streamlined processes agreed and some great ideas put forward. We are also going to be able to reuse this for any new shops we open up which really helps build capacity.

Day five
saw us move across to the established centre in Shepherds Bush which we share with the lovely Petit Miracles team who upcycle and sell furniture.

We were kindly allowed by the West 12 shopping centre to have a stall downstairs to help spread the word about the centre which is up on the first floor, lots of people did not know we are up there!

Recently Updated1We did this for the next 4 days with a few volunteers in the morning and afternoon coming to lend their support, they chatted to members of the public and helped out in the shop. It was really valuable and at 50% increase in visitors was reported in the shop upstairs due to the promo efforts.

We were also lucky enough to be chosen by Sophie Gasperment the Chairman of the Body Shop who are also part of L’Oreal we had a major reorganisation of the books to make it easier for visitors to find a great book to take home and also alphabetised the fiction section and Sophie was a brilliant book sorter up in the shop.

Finally we had another team visit the HQ to support the internal and external messaging for the Books for free centre, this team are from L’Oreal Paris and coordinate Marketing across a wide brand portfolio so they had some brilliant and creative ideas of ways we could layer our comms and encourage people to get involved with the centre.

This project has been really valuable to us as a charity it has offered us a chance to connect with retail and marketing professionals which would be worth thousands of pounds in consultancy.

As a thank you we are holding a little party to launch the shop on the 9th of July. RSVP http://booksforfreechiswick.eventbrite.co.uk

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Green Pioneers Interview: Tristan Titeux on Eco Furniture

To help celebrate the work of green pioneers and share great environmental achievements with the world we have decided to produce a series of interviews with a huge range of green champions from across the world.

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This week we’ve interviewed Tristan Titeux who has developed a range of eco furniture, which uses more environmentally friendly materials and reduces waste.

What do you do?

I design and build fitted furniture. In the winter of 2011 I decided to follow my heart and passion, which is for the environment and safeguarding it for my children and the future. I decided to bring out an eco friendly option for customers who feel the same. I researched materials and methods and really tried to uncover just how eco friendly they all are; I now take great interest in discovering all the different available eco materials around the world [you can find out about them here].

I also decided to look into the waste we were producing as a fitted furniture company. We use big sheets of wood that are cut up to make things like wardrobes, bookcases and home offices and are often left with lots of small useless pieces. I took inspiration from the materials and concluded that the most environmentally friendly method was to use as many of the small pieces as possible so that very little would be thrown away. This is how the Milo series of furniture was born: using pieces of wood glued together face to face, leaving just the ends and edges of the wood. It creates a really beautiful effect with all the varying colours and textures. I exhibited at the Surface Design Show and had a Milo shelf on display. Everyone kept coming up to the shelf and stroking it and asking questions. The way it leads people to ask questions about the materials is what I love about the Milo series. People often don’t know what many of these materials are, let alone where they come from and how they are made. It gives me great pleasure to explain all about them.

What is your background?

My father was an ecologist; he spoke about wild plants on the radio for many years and he taught me what nature has to offer us, we had our own garden for food, chickens and goats for eggs and meat. We picked mushrooms in the countryside and found salad leaves and medicine too. This experience cemented my deep care and understanding of nature.

Later on I moved back to London and worked as a photographer for 12 years. This very much helped my creative side, which now helps me when designing fitted furniture. I work very visually and can see if things look right just like when composing a picture in the camera.

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The first Milo table

What work have you done so far to develop your eco friendly line?

Milo was the first piece of furniture in the Milo series, and I have since then designed a larger Taro table that would go in front of a sofa, as well as many other bespoke pieces such as a wine display unit for the Naturally Chinese restaurant in Kingston, floating shelves for private clients and a bedside Milo table made from a client’s old wardrobe. We are currently building a huge Milo boardroom table and we have just finished making some awards and a lectern for the Pea business awards.

My dream would be to broaden the market for the Milo series and train disadvantaged young people to make them. I am already in talks with a charity that could make the latter part a reality.

I also give talks in schools and businesses that are really interested in learning more about eco materials and waste.

Why is this work important?

It is vital to get children and teenagers involved as early as possible, that is why I want to talk in schools more and get young people making Milo tables. As well as giving them practical skills, it would empower them to have made beautiful furniture that they are proud to have their name on. Children need to understand as early as possible about what is happening to the world. The mainstream media doesn’t offer enough of the truth of what is really going on and how serious it is. We all know that the world is warming and we are running out of natural gases, but people don’t realize how seriously affected we will be in the near future from pollution, deforestation and climate change. If I can help children to want to find solutions to all of this then they can take charge of our planet’s future.

What can people do to take part?

I would love visit more schools and give talks tailored to them about my work, the Milo table and eco materials. I would also welcome requests from anyone wanting to work with me to promote the eco range. People looking for eco fitted furniture (including children’s bedrooms) should check out my website: www.customcarpentry.co.uk. Anyone who wants advice on what eco materials and products they can use to transform their house into a dream eco home should go to www.EcoDesignerHome.com. This is my other website that helps curate local craftsmen, eco materials and products.

What green issues are you most passionate about?

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A football pitch sized area of Rainforest is chopped down every second

For me, green issues are actually a case of justice. I am passionate about green issues because I am passionate about justice to others and to the environment, so really that covers everything from food production to growing crops to making eco materials. It affects everything, the environment is everything, so I can’t pick one because it is one. One that is relevant to my work is the deforestation of the rainforests. Many materials, such as plywood, are still sourced from trees in the rainforests and we are losing an area the size of a football pitch every second in order to fill demand for it. This is simply not acceptable. Not only are rainforests the lungs of the world but also they contain so many species that could benefit mankind; from food to medicines and plants, there are materials that we will be able to use to replace plastics and petrol. To squander this resource as if there was no tomorrow is selfish. This is why it is so important to me to tell people about the all the many alternatives there are to using wood for making furniture. We can’t just rely on one type of material, we will need many.

Tristan is working with us to create some special eco book displays for our Books for Free centres, we look forward to sharing the results with you when they have been built.

What is permaculture?

What is permaculture?

Permaculture can be described as humans dance with nature where nature takes the lead. The word comes from ‘permanent agriculture’ and was later broadened to include ‘permanent culture’ – it is about living lightly on the planet and making sure that we can sustain human activities for many generations to come, in harmony with nature.

This combines three key aspects:

1. an ethical framework

2. understandings of how nature works, and

3. a design approach.

Permaculture diagram

Permaculture diagram

This unique combination can be applied to anything from a market garden design to a large farm or even a building. Its purpose is to support the creation of sustainable, agriculturally productive, non-polluting and healthy settlements and systems. In many places this means adapting our existing settlements; in other cases it can mean starting from scratch. Both offer interesting challenges and opportunities but some may look at permaculture and ask ‘have we not been doing this already for thousands of years?’

The history of permaculture

Given the mirror-like relationship between indigenous peoples and the natural world, it would appear so. We can see permaculture principles at play when we observe the innovative ways the Amazonians have created top soils despite the rapid ruin of rainforests or, the Aboriginal’s use of control burning techniques to germinate seeds and shape the landscape.

Amazonian top-soil

Amazonian top-soil [via purefixion.com]

However, in many ways permaculture has become a more essential practice after the intensification of agriculture post-World War Two and the ways it has allowed the world’s population to grow in excess of its natural capacity and resulted in a dangerous consumption of fossil fuels. Since then, permaculture has become an international movement; hundreds of specifically designed permaculture sites have been developed and it was endorsed by the White House in 2012.

How can it help you?

Permaculture is there to address our needs without producing a huge carbon footprint, mimicking the natural laws of nature and catching energy in multiple ways before it is dissipated. It can also be a way of observing the relationships between plants, which has in the past led us to further understanding how companion crops and undersowing in your garden can produce maximum yield, minimal waste. For example, the ‘three sisters’ are a good crop companion to try at home; a pea plant, squash and maize plant all work well to support each other as the maize offers the pea support to climb up, the pea fixes nitrogen in the soil for the maize and when the maize dies and decomposes it feeds the undersown squash.

'Three sisters' crop companions

‘Three sisters’ crop companions

Humans need to learn to live more reciprocally and reverse the alienation that mechanisation and industrial society has brought. Permaculture is a reaction to this alienation: a choice to restore and maintain the balance which keeps so many natural systems in delicate relatedness. A true working natural system produces no waste; everything gets broken down and used again. Why should it be any different in human settlements? The excess use of both fertilisers and pesticides in large scale farms has killed much of the microbial soil life and it also has a direct relationship with the existence of cancer in humans.

What can you do?

1- Think about where your food comes from. You can convert lawns to grow your own food, especially vegetables. Alternatively, you can try to source as much of your food from local and organic sources, or find out about local veg-box schemes.

2- Conduct a simple home energy audit. Permaculture is not just for the green-fingered among us; it can simply mean reducing waste energy and water use and instead harnessing natural resources. This isn’t as stressful as it sounds! It’s as simple as turning off lights when they aren’t needed, keeping the thermostat at a lower temperature and putting on a sweater, or choosing not to use machines like dishwashers or tumble dryers when air drying could be just as effective.

3- Watch A Farm for the Future to find out how else you can help. It’s an interesting documentary that looks at the problems with large-scale farming practices and addresses how permaculture can offer a real solution.

Permanence is not about everything staying the same. It’s about stability, about deepening soils and cleaner water, thriving communities in self-reliant regions, biodiverse agriculture and social justice, peace and abundance for all.

4-Free online permaculture course by Regenerative Leadership Institute –  72+hour course lectures free (mostly videos) at http://www.permaculturedesigntraining.com.

This post was written by Jennifer Condell who is the newest member of the Healthy Planet team and has studied Permaculture / Practical Sustainability in West Cork Ireland. http://www.kinsalefurthered.ie/courses/fetac-level-5/permaculture-2/

Knitting & nattering at Healthy Planet’s Books for Free centre in Upminster

We are pleased to launch a new series of blogs about each of our 38 Books for Free centres across England and Wales.  We want to highlight the amazing work done by the volunteers that run the centres and showcase their unique Our first interview is with Lead Volunteer, Daphne.

Daphne tells us all

Daphne tells us all

Tell us about this Books for Free centre…

Books for Free Upminster (in the London Borough of Havering) opened in premises previously occupied by a Woolwich building society branch, in September 2010. We have a large collection of books, vinyl, audio & video tapes, CDs, we can find something for everyone that visits young and old.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for Healthy Planet and what do you get out of it?

I’ve been at the centre from the beginning – my husband and I had both retired a couple of years beforehand (Daphne worked in the health service) but I was never as keen as he was to retire – They [husbands] just want you to wait on them all the time hand and foot! My husband was passing by one day and noticed in the window the advert for a volunteer to start up the centre here. We initially opened the doors with just a single table near the door. We even asked a local Indian restaurant who were having a refurbishment if we could have their old tables. Otherwise they would just have been thrown away.

I live close the centre and I’ve lived in the town for 30 years – I knew very few people in the town other than my close neighbours before Books for Free. Now I know so many faces to say hello to, it’s great.

Browsers in the Upminster centre

Browsers in the Upminster centre

Male Visitor: “It’s friendly at Upminster Books for Free and adds to my bedside table book collection. They have a great selection and we often donate books and always return books we pick up from the centre. No one likes to see books go to waste so this is a great way to save and reuse them.”

Female Visitor: “When it first opened I was wary about coming in but when I did it was so friendly and I love that I never know what I am going to find, I always bring the books back when I am finished with them.”

Dave & Daphne Volunteers

Dave & Daphne Volunteers

Your centre is now fully sustainable – book donations from visitors keep stock levels up. Visitors often donate a carrier bag of books – and the bag then gets reused as well.

Where else do the book donations you receive come from?

We have a good relationship now with charity shops in the area. They donate books to us that they can’t sell. Local fetes do the same.  All the unsold or unwanted books that had no where to go except landfill can now come here to continue their life. There’s also someone who does house clearances and often brings us books from those. And there was a lady who came to us who had just had a bring & buy sale at her WI (Women’s Institute). She told us she knew instantly where to bring the books they couldn’t sell. We have a ‘Look for me, keep for me’ book, where we write down their requests so that when the type of book is donated to us we know immediately if someone is interested in it, and then we give them a call to let them know.

Knitting circle Upminster

Knitting circle Upminster

Does your BFF centre have any group’s meetings or special events? Could the general public get any more involved?

We have a weekly knitting circle (this afternoon, every Wednesday). Visitors sometimes come in to ask the regular ladies for a bit of help with their knitting. The rest of the time they spend knitting – with wool donated to the centre – making blankets for the premature baby units of the local hospitals, and hats and scarves for the local clothing guild, which distribute garments to people in need and The Mission to Seafarers charity. Only two of the four ladies here today knew each other before they started coming here. They enjoy the natter just as much as the knitting. They also hold the occasional coffee morning. Daphne would like to be able to start up a storytelling event for the children.

Books and browsers at Books for Free Upminster

Books and browsers at Books for Free Upminster

Volunteers at Upminster Books for Free

Volunteers at Upminster Books for Free

Tell us about your team of volunteers…

Some are what I call our converted customers, basically people who I recognise as book nuts, like myself, because I will have noticed them browsing for periods of an hour or more at a time. They might as well help us by doing a three hour shift – they’re here that long anyway! And we have one volunteer who simply comes to the centre to take away our rubbish for us.

How do they work well together? Do you have any stories?

Two of our team are recently widowed ladies who now volunteer together on Sundays – They live on the same street but before they volunteered at Books for Free they didn’t know each other!

Books donated to the centre

Books donated to the centre

It’s very laidback here, and I don’t like ever having to throw visitors out because it’s time to close [The door does indeed finally close on the day we visit around twenty minutes or so after three o’clock, only once the final visitor of the day has chosen what they want to take] Last week we [Daphne, and recently retired engineer Dave} helped pass the time by reading up about world history and geography – discovering the names of new countries in the world and how they came into existence.

We have a retired solicitor among our team. He looks after any law books we get in and offers free legal advice to any visitors who ask.

Dave tells us he likes Books for Free because he felt bored at home since retiring in February, and volunteering is social – he enjoys meeting different people, listening to their stories, and making new friends.

Stories shared with all generations

Stories shared with all generations

Does your centre work alongside any particular organisation, and what does the relationship do for your centre?

Local authorities have asked us to place a couple of people with learning difficulties – they’re a part of our team of volunteers.  We have a community noticeboard by the door, and as an example of some of the help that visitors provide to the centre, there’s one who regularly brings us dog food which we then pass on to a local charity which cares for retired greyhounds. If there are any magazines for older people that the visitors don’t take, we send them to homes for the elderly rather than recycle them because they have difficulty holding weighty books but still enjoy having something to read. Any books we think won’t be of any interest to our visitors we tear out the pages and donate to schools for the children to make papier mache.

Do you have a favourite type of book yourself?

I like science fiction (Julian May, Iain Banks), thrillers and murder mysteries. We get to know what types of books our regular visitors enjoy.

Interested in Books for Free? Want to get involved?

You can volunteer, visit or donate books at any of our 38 centres across the U.K

If you would like to find a centre near you please visit our website: www.healthyplanet.org/booksforfree

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Be the start – campaign for May 2013

May 2013 be the start of more vibrant communities

May 2013 be the start of more vibrant communities

We’re proud to be part of a nationwide campaign by Start UK called #bethestart which is featuring us on the 13th of May around our #Booksforfree project encouraging sustainability in the community.

If you would like to find out more please visit http://www.bethestart.org/

Be the Start of rescuing books from going to waste.  As part of their goal to rescue books from going to waste, Healthy Planet is asking for pledges from the public to rescue books. This may be by donating books, organising a book swap at your school or office, or share books amongst friends. Conversation is taking place on twitter, #bethestart and @healthy_planet

We're part of start

We’re part of start

A Meating of Minds

A single burger with a whopping £345,000 price tag might spark images of heavily pampered cows roaming through fields of plush organic grasslands with a solid gold, cashmere quilted temple of a cow shed in the background, but in reality these high production costs can not be attributed to extreme cattle pampering. Instead these burgers are produced in a petri-dish by men and women in white coats, without a gleaming blade of grass in sight.

Image provided by Rosamundwo on www.friendseat.com

Image provided by Rosamundwo on http://www.friendseat.com

With sustainability being such a prevalent issue, we are all being told different ways we should help to reduce our carbon footprint. Fortunately supermarkets are more frequently offering organic meats and farmers markets are popping up left, right and centre. However, to what extent would switching to artificial meats tempt you into action, particularly with the latest horse meat controversy which has forced  consumers to question what ingredients are really entering their meals.

Logistics Executive Richard Wigley  Living next to a main road for most of my life taught me to respect the great outdoors, so I always appreciated and enjoyed wild excursions, camping and learning about flora and fauna. After leaving college I went through 8 years of working in an eclectic array of jobs in the theatre, hospitality and bar industries. I then decided on a career change and spoke to a Careers Guidance Counsellor who reminded me of my love for the great outdoors. I then decided to pursue a job in conservation. I have worked at Healthy Planet since November 2011 as a logistics executive. I deal with booking the deliveries for daily requests of books for our stores, requests from other independent organisations, ordering stock, setting up fire risk assessments, ordering the necessary fire equipment for each store, organising access, liaising and catching up with our dedicated volunteers, collecting quotes, stock taking and most importantly, making tea. I love the attention to detail involved in this role, the budgeting of resources, when a delivery comes together and working with such a helpful and happy team. I am grateful for each day I come into the office and always with a smile on my face, unless someone has “borrowed” my pens. Or my chair.

Cows in a field

Most of us only want real meat in our stomach which has been grown on a farm, not in a lab. In addition due to our increased prosperity over the last 100 years and the increased availability of meat, our diet has evolved to include meat daily.

What we need to take into consideration is how many other people also want an abundance of naturally grown meat in their diets?

The realistic answer would be mostly everyone, which is a very large amount.

Some meaty facts: 

– Each individual meat-eater consumes around 60 – 100 animals every year.

– According to viva.org the total number of animals killed in British slaughterhouses in 2011 was over 958 million. This included 8.5 million pigs, nearly 15 million sheep, 931 million chickens and 2.8 million cattle. This is  equivalent to 15,000 per minute. That’s a lot of animals.

– Environmental charity Friends of the Earth, has claimed that UK Factory farmers are contributing to the destruction of an area of Brazilian rain forest and grassland twice the size of Greater London every single year.  In addition in a report named From Forest to Fork, Friends of the Earth estimates that British imports of beef and soy for animal feed resulted in an additional 1200 square miles of deforestation in Brazil in 2009.

– The 2006 the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report names Livestock’s Long Shadow´ concluded that the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global CO2 emissions. Now take into consideration that the greenhouse gases released by all forms of transportation combined, amounts to 13% of the total emissions in comparison.

–  Environmental author John Robbins calculates it takes 60, 108, 168 and 229 pounds of water to produce one pound of potatoes, wheat, maize and rice respectively. But a pound of beef requires around more than 20,000 pounds of water (or 9000 litres) of fresh water.

Source: Livestock and Climate Change

Source: Livestock and Climate Change

What is the solution?

These  facts outline just a few of the repercussions of pastoral farming. But before we decide that this blog is the ranting of a raging vegetarian, let’s get this straight. I’m a meat eater myself and have been born and bred as such. I mean, with a Spanish mum and an English dad, I stood little chance of being a veggie between my dinners of sausages and mash and chicken paella’s! But looking at these stats does make me think and also makes me want to change my diet.

So what’s it going to be then? Eat meat and negatively contribute towards an increasingly unsustainable planet that’s already starting to crack? Eat meat born of a mad scientists mind and made in a lab but much more sustainable? Or change to a healthy but potentially boring diet of just fruit and veg for the rest of your life? Here are some alternatives which offer a happy medium:

1) Meatless Mondays – this challenge provides you with the opportunity to make a small change to your diet without signing away your appetite. On Mondays we move from the freedom of the weekend and set our intentions for the next six days. This makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health and the health of our planet. Find about more about the health benefits (including a reduced risk of contracting cancer, heart disease and diabetes), environmental benefits (including reducing your carbon footprint) and browse a range of inspiring recipes  on the Meatless Monday website.

2) Fresh food Friday’s – similar to Meatless Monday’s but encourages you to get into the kitchen and cook you food from scratch. For just one day a week you can swear off shop brought sandwiches and ready meals and get creative and healthier.

3) Buy local, buy fresh, buy organic – source your meats from local butchers to support your local communities and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your meals. By buying fresh and organic foods you are reducing the levels of preservatives and chemicals entering your body and the environment.  There are a range of website available which can help you source local farmers markets including the Guardian local shopping map, Local Foods and London’s Farmers Markets.

 

This is a guest post by Healthy Planet’s Logistics Executive Richard Wigley

Living next to a main road for most of my life taught me to respect the great outdoors, so I always appreciated and enjoyed wild excursions, camping and learning about flora and fauna.

After leaving college I went through 8 years of working in an eclectic array of jobs in the theatre, hospitality and bar industries.

I then decided on a career change and spoke to a Careers Guidance Counselor who reminded me of my love for the great outdoors. I then decided to pursue a job in conservation.

I have worked at Healthy Planet since November 2011 as a logistics executive. I deal with booking the deliveries for daily requests of books for our stores, requests from other independent organisations, ordering stock, setting up fire risk assessments, ordering the necessary fire equipment for each store, organizing access, to liaise and catch up with our dedicated volunteers, collecting quotes, stock taking and most importantly, making tea.

I love the attention to detail involved in this role, the budgeting of resources, when a delivery comes together and working with such a helpful and happy team. I am grateful for each day I come into the office and always with a smile on my face, unless someone has “borrowed” my pens. Or my chair.

Green Pioneers Interview: Catherine O’Brien on Sustainable Happiness

To help celebrate the work of green pioneers and share great environmental achievements with the world we have decided to produce a series of interviews with a huge range of green champions from across the world. 

To kick-start our series we have interviewed Catherine O’Brien who developed the concept of sustainable happiness – a theory which examines the integral link between happiness and sustainability.

Catherine O'BrienSustainable happiness reinforces the fact that we are interdependent with one another and with the natural environment and therefore our mutual well-being is in-explicitly interconnected. 

Catherine defines her concept as:
”Happiness that contributes to individual, community and global well-being and does not exploit other people, the environment, or future generations”.

Sustainable Happiness

So Catherine, what is your background? How did you come up with this concept?

My background is in sustainability education. Whilst I was at the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India I began to think about the relationship between happiness and sustainability during my doctoral research. The college itself had an award-winning and extraordinary education process for sustainable community development. I lived there with my husband and two young children and truly felt that we were living in a culture of joy. This therefore inspired my first notion back in 1995, that people might be happier if we lived sustainably.

Later, as I became more familiar with positive psychology I realised that happiness research was very consistent with sustainability. However, most of the happiness literature didn’t make a connection with sustainability and the sustainability literature didn’t make a connection with happiness.

Also, the media had picked up on the happiness buzz and were often equating their products with happiness. It struck me that it could be valuable to have a concept that reinforces the connection between sustainability and happiness. I felt that sustainable happiness could assist individuals, organisations and nations to find new ways to foster happiness, well-being and sustainability.

The Happiest Cities in the World [Infographic]

What work have you done so far to help develop this concept?

I have created a university course on sustainable happiness that I teach at the Cape Breton University in Canada. I have also co-developed a course for UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health that integrates sustainability, happiness and health. Whilst developing these courses I was frequently asked about creating a course for the general public so I worked with colleagues, Rick Foster and Greg Hicks, and my husband Ian Murray who is a filmmaker to create an online course for everyone.

Since my field is education, I have also developed a free education resource for teachers which includes sustainable happiness lesson plans. In addition I have been involved in research that investigated the emotional experience of children and their parents on the trip to school. I see the positive emotions that children experience while walking to school as an example of sustainable happiness. Our research has found that children who walk to school reported more positive emotions than children to who were transported passively. The results were even more dramatic for parents. Parents who walked to school with their children reported more positive emotions than parents who drove their children.

You can see a full list of my publications and presentations on my website.

What plans do you have for the future?

I will be publishing a book very soon called ‘Lessons in Sustainable Happiness’. The first part of the book is specifically for teachers to enhance their happiness and well-being. The remainder of the book includes sustainable happiness for grades K-9.

I am very interested in encouraging municipalities to recognize how they are currently fostering sustainable happiness and also what measures they could take to enhance this. I’ve teamed up with 8-80 cities to create a brief brochure that outlines sustainable happiness for municipalities. We often see reports about the world’s happiest cities. I’d like to see the conversation expand to incorporate sustainability with happiness.

Why do you think this is so important?

It is important for all of us to understand that every day our life touches and is touched by other people, other species and the natural environment. We are deeply interconnected, but those interconnections aren’t always visible or obvious. Consequently, in a consumer society we can lose sight of the fact that we are all making daily choices that contribute or detract from, well-being.  I believe that sustainable happiness can make those connections more clear, and encourage people to make choices that contribute to their well-being and the well-being of other people and the environment.

196649_361785440564836_1765972281_nOur formal education systems haven’t taught us explicitly about happiness and I think it is important for all of us to develop a happiness literacy. I also believe that learning about sustainable happiness can assist with positive mental health.

Another factor is that indulging in over consumption is neither the path to happiness nor sustainability. Sustainable happiness can assist us to shift towards more sustainable lifestyles whilst maintaining a high quality of life.

Sustainable happiness week

Sustainable happiness week

What can people do to take part?

There are lots ways that individuals can have a sustainable happiness lifestyle. One of the activities that I give my students is the Sustainable Happiness Footprint Chart. They can use that to chart their activities for a day, a week, or longer to notice how daily choices are impacting their well being.

There are a range of other activities on my website and suggestions in a recent article entitled ‘Sustainable Happiness? 6 ways to Get There‘ in YES! magazine.

You can also take part in Sustainable Happiness week from April 13th – 20th
http://www.happycounts.org/about-sustainable-happiness-week/

Are you passionate about green issues if so which?

Absolutely! That’s part of sustainable happiness!

A key area where my work has focused is on child friendly planning and creating municipalities that support active travel for children. I also co-developed Child Friendly Planning Guidelines for Canada. Sustainable happiness links happiness and sustainability together. It reinforces the fact that we are interdependent with one another and the natural environment – that our mutual well-being is interconnected. It can also be used as a road map to explore what truly makes your heart sing.