By Louise Palmer Masterton of Stem & Glory
David Attenborough’s new film ‘A Life on our Planet’ contains a plethora of compelling statistics that define the devastating problems we face if we do not stop destroying our planet. It’s a stark message. By losing the biodiversity of our land, we are fast accelerating towards extinction as our planet struggles with the excessive demands placed upon it.
The film does however end with a ray of hope. Attenborough lays out the steps we need to take in order to quickly redress the balance and allow the planet to recover. These steps are simpler than you might think:
1. Using less land in more intelligent ways to produce more food.
2. David Attenborough advises that we change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters, therefore introducing a more plant-based diet is beneficial for all.
3. Population control – end poverty and increase access to education for all people, which will naturally lead to population control.
4. Rewild the rainforests and more farmland.
5. Abandon fossil fuel in favourof renewable energy.
6. Stop waste.
You might think that 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. It is true that international action is needed, but we can all instigate actions that make a difference. It involves making more ethical choices with these simple steps…
Rewilding– Actively seek out products that are making a direct impact by rewilding. Perform your own mini sustainability audit and eradicate products that are known to be directly responsible for deforestation. For example, palm oil is one of the main reasons the rainforest has been destroyed, so eradicating it in your home is a great way to make an impact.
More Plant-based meals– As Stem and Glory is a vegan brand, we are hoping that the population of the world will refrain from eating meat. But even if you are not vegan, the fact that 65% of all the mammals on this planet are farm animals, their devastating carbon impact and land use cannot be overstated. Now is the time to explore the many plant-based options that are available that have a lesser carbon impact.
Using Renewable Energy– We can all make a huge impact by simply moving to renewable only energy sources in our homes. There are a number of these now, including the most established Ecotricity and Green Energy.
Land Use– I visited Amsterdam in February, where there are some super exciting projects with vertical and urban farms. The Netherlands are a big exporter of vegetables because of this. They get greater output from a much smaller footprint and are by far more ethical than their counterpart. It’s complicated of course, but you can educate yourself further by reading about it, and even challenging your own beliefs.
Waste. Probably the biggest issue of all- and has its different categories and problems:
Food Waste– More than one-third of all food produced across the globe is wasted (with fruit and vegetables, it’s almost half). In the developing world, this waste is largely down to inefficient processing, poor storage, and insufficient infrastructure. In medium and high-income countries, the behaviour of consumers plays a much greater part. We are simply buying it and not eating it. Much of this food waste could be avoided if it were managed better.
Packaging Waste– There is a huge amount of misinformation out there on this subject, especially with regards to single use. Packaging is a complicated subject that we, at Stem & Glory, have been immersed in researching for some time, and here are key things we’ve learned;
* The only truly sustainable, circular solution for packaging is to use products that are made from 100% recycled post-consumer waste, which are then endlessly recycled.
* Compostable is not the answer to the issue of single use, as compostable containers are widely made from virgin materials.
* Responsible use of recycled plastic products requires education, and we need to invest energy into just that.
Probably the best way we can win hearts and minds to tackling climate change is never underestimate the contribution that an individual or a single business can play. By changing ourselves we generate spirals of positive influence – the R number of sustainability! The more you make changes and tell others, the more people you will influence for good.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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