Sharing a really helpful guest post on how your carbon impact can be lowered in 7 steps By Louise Palmer-Masterton, from Stem & Glory
It may not feel like it, but as a consumer you have power to bring about change. A recent YouGov poll found that 56% of people back the total decarbonisation of the UK economy by 2030, and not 2050. It seems we are all in the mood for urgent and radical change.
But where do we start? Here are seven easy wins that make a big difference:
1. Move to a 100% renewable energy tariff
The most significant step anyone can take, both in their home or business is to move your energy supply to a 100% renewable tariff. If you combine this move with energy saving actions, such as LED lights, and energy saving devices, the increased cost of these tariffs can be offset by behaviour change.
Don’t underestimate the power of many small actions combining to make a significant difference. For example, if the oven is on, utilise it to cook more food than just one meal on one shelf. You can retrain your mind to question if every single energy use is necessary. I was gifted an air fryer last Christmas, and it’s amazing how little we use our main oven now. The air fryer cuts cooking times too, and you can cook many different things in it.
2. Reduce consumption, and reduce waste
When you are shopping, ask yourself these three questions every time you pick up something:
– Do I really need this?
– Where was this made?
– What happens to this when I no longer need/want it (in the case of food, what happens to the packaging)?
Base your purchasing decisions on your answers to these questions. It’s not about being 100% perfect, but in this way, you can train yourself into better buying habits, and it’s amazing how fast this process can change your mindset.
3. Reduce your own use of single use
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.
4. Avoid anything wrapped in plastic
The fastest way to bring about collective change is via our demands as a consumer. If we buy products in paper, card, glass and aluminium and shun products in plastic, this will drive the market.
5. Avoid grab and go for your working lunch
The nature of grab-and-go means it will always involve single use. Consider the sheer volume of single use in just one lunch time up and down the UK. Doesn’t matter if it’s ‘biodegradeable’ – 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. Food eaten off a plate tastes better too!
6. Support British grown produce
Remarkably, we import 70% of the apples we eat, when the UK is the most perfect climate for growing apples. We have fallen out of synch with our own climate and lost a great deal of produce in the process. In medieval times we grew a wide variety of pulses, grains and peas. Luckily for us, these are now coming back. Champions of this produce – Hodmedods – has an ever-growing array of beautiful British grown produce for sale. With greater demand for UK grown produce, more farmers will grow it, and less food will be grown to feed to animals (a highly inefficient way to feed people) – a win-win for everyone! Hodmedods also believes in working in harmony with farmers so they are paid fairly and not constantly squeezed on price.
7. 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.
Here is a delicious, plant-based, low carbon, recipe using UK grown produce, to get you started:
Yellow Pea Hummus
Hummus is one of the nation’s best loved dips, but chickpeas do not grow very well in our climate, so they are nearly all imported. The good news is British yellow peas grow amazingly well here, they make a fantastic hummus, and they are even more nutritious than chickpeas. They also blend a lot better, which is one of the main reasons I never made chickpea hummus at home – I just couldn’t get that whipped consistency with chick peas. The yellow peas do it perfectly though. Making a pot of this every week instead of buying plastic and cardboard wrapped deli pots from the supermarket, will instantly improve your sustainable credentials.
250 grams cooked whole British yellow peas (buy from Hodmedods, soak for 5 hours, drain and cover with fresh water and boil for 45 mins, drain and retain the drained water)
60 ml lemon juice
60 ml tahini
1 small garlic clove
30 ml British oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt to taste (start with ½ tsp)
50 to 90 ml pea cooking water
Add the first 7 ingredients to a blender and blend for 2 minutes. Then with the blender still turning, add 50ml of the pea water slowly. Blend until very smooth.
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, we exert huge influence as consumers and by questioning all our own personal habits. 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.
If your neighbour isn’t doing it, don’t let that be a reason why you don’t. Change your own life and stand as an example to others who DO want to help bring about change.
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