By Louise Palmer Masterton, Stem & Glory
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
I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of David Attenborough’s new film ‘A Life on our Planet’ recently.
The film contained compelling statistics that defined 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 and carbon in the atmosphere, and the accompanying sharp decrease in unfarmed, natural land.
The message is stark: By losing the biodiversity of our land, we’re accelerating towards extinction as our planet struggles with the excess demands placed upon it. The earth has finite commodities, but we’re acting like they are limitless.
The film does, however, end with hope. Attenborough lays out the steps we need to take to quickly redress the balance and allow the planet to recover.
These steps are simpler than you might think.
End poverty and increase access to education for all people, which will naturally lead to population control. This, of course, requires global commitment.
Rewild the rainforests to restore biodiversity. Rewild more farmland.
Stop eating meat. For every one carnivore in nature there are at least 100 prey animals, so for 11 billion humans to be carnivores is completely unsustainable.
Abandon fossil fuel in favour of renewable energy. Everyone knows this, but with pension funds and big business still investing in fossil fuels there is a substantial way to go.
Land use. Using less land in more intelligent ways to produce more food, such as vertical and urban farming.
You might think that most of this list is beyond the sphere of influence of an individual, with international action and financial incentives needed for this to happen on a global scale.
Whilst it’s true that international action is needed, we can all instigate actions that make a difference. Some of these involve supporting non-profits in a financial sense, but many of the actions we can take are changes within our own lives and habits which are not disruptive or costly. They simply involve making more ethical choices in our purchasing decisions.
● Education Consider donating a small amount. Attenborough states that to achieve the eradication of poverty, education, particularly of women, plays a huge part. Camfed, a charity directly impacting the education of women is one example of an organisation working towards this aim. ● Rewilding Actively seek out products that are making a direct impact by rewilding. For example, we work with a tea supplier called Reforest Tea. For one 500g bag of breakfast tea, which costs us £12, they are able to plant 6-8 trees. They also sell tea bags direct to the consumer. Perform your own mini sustainability audit and eradicate products that are known to be directly responsible for deforestation.
● More Plant-based meals The fact that 65% of all the mammals on this planet are farm animals, their devastating carbon impact and land use cannot be overstated.
It’s simply not sustainable for the 11 billion animals on the planet to eat other animals. But what does this mean for you? Well, now is the time to explore the many, many plant-based options that are available and have a lesser carbon impact, and fall in love with plant-based eating.
● Using Renewable Energy We can all make a huge impact by simply moving to renewable only energy sources in our homes. The government's recent announcement that it aims to ensure every home in the UK is powered by renewable energy within 10 years is a huge step in the right direction. You can make that switch now.
● Land Use - where does your produce come from? I was struck a few years ago when I saw Berhard Lang’s aerial photograph of the 350 square km plastic greenhouse in Almeria, Spain. It has a huge environmental impact due to the extraction of water, degradation of the land, waste and the terrible working conditions for its mainly migrant workers.
I used to think if something was labelled grown in Spain, it was tended by a rustic farmer, in a gentle nurturing way, I literally had no idea of the reality. By contrast, I visited Amsterdam in February, where there are some exciting projects with vertical and urban farms. The Netherlands are a big exporter of vegetables because of this. They get a greater output from a much smaller footprint and are by far more ethical than the Spanish counterpart.
● Waste. Probably the biggest issue of all.
More than one third of all food produced across the globe is wasted. And with regard to fruit and vegetables, it is almost half. Much of this food waste could be avoided if it were managed better.
There is a huge amount of misinformation out there on this subject, especially with regards to single use. I watched a short film recently, called Our Planet, Our Business and one of the experts said, ‘there is no such thing as waste, it’s just a commodity in the wrong place at the wrong time’. That really struck me. Packaging is a complicated subject that we, at Stem & Glory, have been immersed in researching for some time.
At Stem & Glory, we are currently fitting out a new site in Cambridge. The driver behind our decor is reuse and recycle as far as possible. It’s been great to see that there are so many new products on the market that are composed of recycled post-consumer waste.
As part of this process we have also been able to get our entire team on board - from designers to contractors, all are now also committed to the reuse and recycle way of living. As a consumer you can do the same; when decorating, or buying household items think about the purchasing choices you are making; and buy planet-friendly.
This is probably the best way we can win hearts and minds to tackling climate change. By changing ourselves we generate spirals of positive influence.
Louise Palmer Masterton, Stem & Glory
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Photograph: Unsplash, Nick Scheerbart