Green Pioneers Interview: Yours Sustainably

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.

YS LogoLynn and Jessica are behind Yours Sustainably, an online store selling carefully sourced products from around the globe. They sell only sustainable, socially responsible, recycled or eco-friendly gifts and accessories, and donate 10% of their profits each month to charities that focus on sustainable development.

Tell us about what you do?
We are the mother and daughter team behind Yours Sustainably, an online store launched in 2011 selling ethically sourced products from around the world. Our business idea grew from our love of craft and the environment and our concern for future of the planet and the people in it.

about us picWe promote ‘positive consumerism’ by sourcing sustainable products that fulfil at least one of our criteria of being fair trade, socially responsible, recycled or eco-friendly. We firmly believe that sustainable products can be beautiful, desirable and functional, and that shopping for ethical, environmentally sensitive goods shouldn’t involve compromising your wants and needs. We tell the story of each product through dedicated supplier pages so that our customers can learn more about these inspiring companies and hopefully make better-informed choices about the things they buy.

We also encourage our suppliers to write guest blogs for us and involve ourselves in charitable and fundraising activities, as raising awareness of sustainable issues and charitable endeavours are an equally important aspect of our business.

worldWhat is your background?
Daughter, Jessica:
I studied Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design after which I moved to Cairo, Egypt. Whilst living in Cairo I worked for a socially responsible luxury bed linen company Malaika, which specialises in hand embroidery. The company teaches local women to hand embroider and once they have completed the training program they can work from home so that they have a chance to earn an income without disrupting their family and social norms.

Since being back in the UK I have been involved with the charity Fine Cell Work and menswear designer Trine Lindegaard on a project working with male prisoners in embroidery and design workshops. I will begin a Masters in Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion in September, where I hope to start a women’s embroidery cooperative.

Mother, Lynn: I have always loved craft and am very keen on knitting, sewing and gardening. I took full advantage of adult education classes in a variety of craft based subjects whilst my family were growing up and am now embracing being a business woman; making use of my banking background and developing my new found social media skills!

P1040024What work have you done so far to develop?
Our business is growing and we now have over 40 different suppliers from around the world. We are continuing our search for innovative, well designed sustainable products and learning new sustainable related information every day. For instance one of our latest suppliers is Wremade, a great charity that is part of Wre Scrapstore. By stocking their great craft kits and interviewing them for our blog we have learnt about the amazing network of scrapstores across the UK that collect waste material from local businesses and offer it for sale to schools, community and craft groups.

We were involved in the charity, Find Your Feet’s ‘Curry For Change’ event last year, which involved cooking a curry feast for friends and offering some great raffle prizes. This year we are organising a swishing event in aid of the charity Women for Women. We are always looking to increase our own awareness of sustainable issues which we can also pass on to our customers. We recently watched the documentary, ‘Trashed’ which is about the global waste crisis and was part of the UK Green Film festival. Our review and thoughts on the film can be found on our blog.

What plans do you have for the future?
For the future we would like to continue expanding our product range and produce our own range of products. This is something I [Jessica] will be exploring within my masters program. We would also like to continue with our fundraising efforts, looking at different ways and events to raise money for worthwhile causes. We will continue to build on ways to communicate our message of positive consumerism and raise awareness of sustainable issues with our customers.

cupsWhy do you think this work is so important?
It is generally accepted that the way we are living, using the planet’s resources, destroying natural habitats and exploiting developing countries is not sustainable. There needs to be a change in government and foreign policies and the practices of large corporations to place more emphasis on sustainable solutions to social and environmental issues. As individuals we can make changes in our living habits such as making an effort to reduce our waste production and recycle. We love our reusable sandwich and food wraps and reusable drinks bottles as it means we no longer need to use cling film or tinfoil for our lunches. With small changes and increased awareness we will be able to put pressure on governments and corporations to change their agendas.

What can people do to take part?
Duck_StripeSailor_HiResWe are hoping that there is a wave of people that are becoming more aware and more interested in sustainable issues. Obviously we would love people to support our business ethos and suppliers by shopping on our site and becoming more aware in general of the choices they make as a consumer. As stated previously we hope to encourage people to change their behaviour in their daily lives, whether it is carrying a reusable shopping bag so that we can eliminate the use of plastic bags, supporting ethical designers who work with developing communities or following Vivienne Westwood’s wise words of ‘buy less, choose well and make it last.’

What green issues are you most passionate about?
We strongly advocate the adoption of a ‘slow fashion’ approach and a move away from a disposable consumerist culture. We want to see more transparency in supply chains from large companies and more responsibility for the welfare of their workers and environmental practices. We highly recommend Lucy Siegle’s book To Die For, Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? for anyone that wants to learn more about the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry. The choices and actions we make in life are all interrelated, so each ‘green issue’ is equally important to the other.

Check them out online http://www.yourssustainably.com/

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.

Volunteer with us and help make sure a book is never binned again

We want a world where a book is never binned again. We believe that books are precious, for the knowledge held within them and the trees they were created with. We think we should all share our books and give them a chance at a second life, even books that may no longer be readable can be repurposed into lots of cool things such as alternative Xmas trees, chairs, desks and other crafty things. We don’t think there is any excuse for throwing them away.

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8246/8578320968_4e7da556de_c_d.jpg

Books for Free volunteers in action

Our Books for Free centres rescue unwanted books from landfill or pulping.  Using empty high street retail units Healthy Planet sources used books and our volunteer run centres give out the books to the public for free. We now have 30+ centres nationwide and we’ve saved 2 million books from landfill /pulping. The programme supports more reading, reuse & green behaviour and community / regeneration.

Books for Free - How it works Infographic

Books for Free – How it works Infographic

We are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help sustain our centres, this opportunity would suit someone interested in books or green issues, wishing to gain experience in retail or anyone who would like to meet new people and help in their local community.

If you would like to check where your nearest centre is please visit www.healthyplanet.org/booksforfree

Volunteers needed in the following locations:

bffvolWe are currently urgently seeking volunteers in the following locations:

– Redditch
– High Wycombe
– Richmond
– Liverpool
– Swindon
– Holborn (London)

Get full details: Download full role description (PDF)

Interested?Get in touch: 0203 405 2485 | volunteer@healthyplanet.org

http://www.healthyplanet.org/projects/books-for-free/volunteer-in-one-of-our-shops.aspx