3 EASY WINS TO LOWER YOUR CARBON IMPACT
By Louise Palmer-Masterton, Stem & Glory
Exceeding 1.5C of warming risks passing global tipping points and temperature extremes that will put significantly more of the world’s population at risk of dangerous climate change – that’s the warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A recent YouGov poll found that 56% of people back the total decarbonisation of the UK economy by 2030. It seems we are all in the mood for urgent and radical change. And businesses need to pay attention to that mood. The public aren’t just looking for improved practices from giant companies – they expect steps to be taken by all businesses, even if, initially, they’re just baby steps.
Here are a few things you and your business can do that your customers can relate to:
Avoid anything wrapped in plastic
The fastest way to bring about collective change is via our demands as a customers. If we buy products in paper, card, glass and aluminium and shun products in plastic, this will drive the market. If there are items you need for your business that no one currently supplies without plastic, then, when given the opportunity to provide feedback (or just offer it anyway), point out to sales reps (etc.) that your company wants to eliminate plastic packaging from the items it buys, and being able to source items that are plastic packaging free would be a major factor in your future sourcing decisions.
Rethink working lunches
The nature of grab-and-go means it will always involve single use. Consider the sheer volume of single use involved in lunchbreaks up and down the UK. Doesn’t matter if it’s ‘biodegradable’ – biodegradable packaging doesn’t solve the huge issue of mass disposability and the huge amount of energy that is wasted when something is used once and then thrown away. Recycling is not the answer. Eliminating single use is the answer. Consider supporting cafes and restaurants by eating in rather than at your desk.
Get yourself a lunch box and a reusable cup and take it everywhere with you instead of using single use items. Use the lunchbox to take your own lunch, but also carry an empty lunchbox – restaurants and cafes are often very happy to fill your box rather than a take-away box, and it’s very handy to take restaurant leftovers. It’s surprising how quickly you can wean yourself off single use, so it becomes a very occasional, rather than daily, habit.
Eat more plants and eat seasonally
The sheer variety of produce we can get year-round is amazing, but as we are starting to realise, very unsustainable. Market forces have driven these unsustainable import and export practices. Whilst it is true that simply by being vegan you will lower your emissions, not all vegetables are equal. It’s important to understand the cycle of the seasons and eat veg in harmony with that. Imported food isn’t always bad, but the mode of transport is important. Slow is good, fast is bad. So, if something is not in season here, and it has a short shelf life, 100% it will have been flown here – so best to avoid it. If your company has its own canteen, you can make a huge difference just by increasing the number of plant-based items on the menu.
There are of course big changes that need to happen on a global scale, and the science is very much at the start of its journey towards cleantech and carbon capture. But as individuals and as smaller businesses, we exert huge influence as consumers and customers. A green future has to be driven by individual responsibility, and commitment by all. It’s not going to win over everyone, but we can make it our personal mission.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning, plant-based restaurants Stem & Glory. With established sites in London and Cambridge, and a third site planned for London’s Broadgate in 2022, Stem & Glory offers eat-in, click-and-collect and local delivery, as well as a well-stocked vegan bar. Stem & Glory is also the first UK restaurant to pledge to be carbon negative by end of 2021 and was recently celebrated as one of the UK Governments ‘Heroes of Net Zero’ at a COP26 awards ceremony. www.stemandglory.uk