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Your guide to clean sunscreen

We all know the importance of sunscreen: it protects us from harmful UV rays, pollution and even helps to halt to ageing process. But it’s becoming harder to navigate the new terminology when it comes to labels like ‘mineral’, ‘non-nano’ or ‘reef-safe’. Let’s dive into it and give you all the information to make an informed choice that’s good for you and the planet.

We all know the importance of sunscreen: it protects us from harmful UV rays, pollution and even helps to halt to ageing process. But it’s becoming harder to navigate the new terminology when it comes to labels like ‘mineral’, ‘non-nano’ or ‘reef-safe’. Let’s dive into it and give you all the information to make an informed choice that’s good for you and the planet.

Mineral VS Synthetic

The main difference is in the way they protect us against UV rays.
‘Synthetic’ sunscreens work at a cellular level (deep down in the skin), using chemical filters to convert UV rays into heat which then evaporates from the skin.
Mineral sunscreens protect at a surface level, using small particles to sit on the skin’s surface and block UV rays from penetrating the skin. This is why they are often associated with that white film – because the formula works by essentially coating the skin in a protective layer. Ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide frequently used in mineral formulas are widely considered to be both safe and effective.


A nanoparticle is generally a particle less than 100 nanometers in diameter in size. The concern with nanoparticles is that their ‘nano’ size allows them to enter the bloodstream and harm living tissue. By making the ingredients ‘non-nano’, it means the particles aren’t small enough to penetrate the skin which is considered safer for your body.
Keep in mind, this has been disputed in many scientific studies, with some suggesting that when used with lotions and creams, nanoparticles actually bin together, creating much larger molecules that are far too large to penetrate the skin.


Up to 6,000 tons of sunscreen are estimated to wash into coral reefs around the world each year. In a 2016 study, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that baby coral exposed to common sunscreen ingredients Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, showed signs of coral bleaching and DNA damage. This type of damage then ends up having a significant impact on the marine life that depend on these habitats.
Currently, there’s no official definition of the term ‘reef-safe’, but it’s widely agreed to refer to a sunscreen that’s free from Oxybenzone and Octinoxate.
In 2018, Hawaii became the first US state to ban the sale of products containing these two ingredients, with other states showing signs of following suit.

A couple of other things to check…

Is your sunscreen broad-spectrum? Is it water-resistant?
Make sure to check how long your sunscreen is water-resistant, usually it is up to 80 minutes. As for broad-spectrum, this means that the sunscreen protects both from UVA (causes wrinkles) and UVB (cause sunburn and skin cancer). UVA rays are present throughout the year at the about the same intensity even when it’s cloudy.

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Can plane travel ever become eco-friendly?

Commercial aviation has transformed global economies, long-distance relationships and access to the breadth of the human experience. In the 1970s, the first commercial wide-bodied jet, the Boeing 747, took to the skies and boldly defined economical air travel. Wider planes resulted in more seats per aircraft, and therefore flight tickets were made cheaper. The ultra-low cost flight carrier Ryanair has made it possible to travel internationally for as little as the cost of a coffee and sandwich. It has never been easier or cheaper to fly but what is the true cost to the planet?

Flights produce greenhouse gases mainly carbon dioxide from burning fuel, which contributes to global warming. Emissions per kilometre travelled are known to be significantly worse than any other form of transport. As such, aviation is one of the most polluting industries, creating potentially one of the most wicked problems to solve in the sustainability space – how can international travel be made more sustainable, when flying is often the only way to get from one country to another? The solutions are undoubtedly multi-faceted – some include heavier taxation on certain flights, improving international rail and sail infrastructure, as well as development of more sustainable jet fuels. 

How do emissions from Economy, Business, and Private compare?

It is clear that we need to reduce our flying collectively, but there is a difference in emissions depending on how you fly. The average holiday-maker, when challenged with the moral dilemma of flying less, tends to believe that the focus ought to be on private jets commandeered by celebrities and Premier League football teams alike. The latter has recently been under some media scrutiny: In March 2023, BBC Sport found evidence of 81 individual short-haul domestic flights made by Premier League teams to and from 100 matches during a two-month sample period — some of these flights were as short as 27 minutes.

Domestic flights are so much more emitting than short haul or long haul because take-off requires much more energy input than the ‘cruise’ phase of a flight. According to The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the carbon intensity (how many grams of CO2 are released to produce a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity) is very high on very short flight distances of less than 1,000 km. The intensity falls with distance until around 1,500 to 2,000 km; which then levels out and changes very little with increasing distance. The ICCT also notes that often less fuel-efficient planes are used for the shortest flights.

Private jets are even less energy efficient, often transporting very few passengers, and generally produce significantly more emissions per passenger than commercial flights. Dr. Debbie Hopkins, an expert in decarbonising transport at the University of Oxford, explains: “A huge amount of fuel is used during takeoff and landing of a plane, no matter how many people you have on board. So an already polluting mode of transport (commercial aviation) becomes even worse (with private jets)”. If private jets, business class and first class are off the table, is there a way to make travelling in economy more sustainable?

New developments in aviation

In February 2023, The Royal Society, a UK science academy, published a report that warned of no single, clear, sustainable alternative to jet fuel able to support flying on a scale equivalent to present day use. According to the report: “Producing sustainable aviation fuel to supply the UK’s ‘net zero’ ambitions would require enormous quantities of UK agricultural land or renewable electricity to keep flying at today’s levels”. The report explores four alternative fuels which support the decarbonisation of the sector: hydrogen, ammonia, synthetic fuels (e-fuels) and biofuels.

These fuels were assessed against:

  • Equivalent resources required to replace fossil jet fuel
  • Life cycle analysis and other environmental impacts 
  • Likely costs involved for the transition
  • Mechanical and systemic updates needed to transition

Having scoped the existing research base, the report had several conclusions, including:

  • The availability and accessibility of sustainable feedstocks like biofuels is a key challenge 
  • Further research and development is needed to understand the efficient production, storage and use of green hydrogen, ammonia and e-fuels.
  • Further research about the lifecycle of all alternative fuels is needed if we are to fully understand emissions from each source
  • There will be non-CO2 climate impacts of alternative fuels — further understanding is needed to understand and mitigate against these

The report concluded that all alternative fuel options had advantages and disadvantages; there is no clear contender which can be considered most environmentally friendly.

A sustainable future for aviation?

Whilst there are lots of questions left to answer, we can be certain of a few things. A combination of alternative fuels will be needed to decarbonise flying, but flying at its current rate cannot be sustained by alternative fuels. The research is clear that long haul flights are less emitting than short haul flights and travelling in economy is far less emitting than business, first class and private jets. Undoubtedly, research into the best alternatives and investment to make them viable options is urgently needed. Until then, we recommend keeping your private jet in storage, flying economy when needed, considering local holidays and finding alternative transport methods.

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Meet Kana, a stylish & sustainable cookware brand

If you’re like me and love to cook, you probably also spend time geeking out on cookware.

We’re in luck, you will love Kana the new stylish and sustainable cookware brand disrupting the industry with innovative and functional designs as well as a strong commitment to sustainability.

One of the key features of Kana is its construction. The brand uses sustainably sourced and recycled materials to create products that are both long-lasting and versatile. The Milo range is made of 40% cast iron and are manufactured in BSCI Certified Factories adhering to ISO standards.

From matte finishes to pretty colors and details, Kana will make sure that you get a functional and beautiful kitchen gear refresh. The brand’s products are designed with both form and function in mind, ensuring that they not only perform well but also look great in your kitchen.

I’ve selected 2 of my favorite products but if I had to pick one, I’d go for the Classic Dutch Oven, perfect for family size meals. As for colours, Dijon but that depends on your kitchen, course!

In need of cooking inspiration? I’ve picked out my favorite recipe from Persiana cookbook which is perfect to use in the Classic Dutch Oven.


This post contains some affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, Forward Lab receives a small percentage of the sale price. We only recommend brands that we truly believe in. Support our editorial work by supporting them!

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The sustainable laundry company harnessing space-age technology

When we consider how to combat climate change, our laundry pile may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet as we know from recycling, reducing food waste in our kitchens and making everyday smarter purchasing decisions, it’s often the seemingly mundane lifestyle choices we make which collectively determine our individual impact on the planet.

When we reframe a chore such as laundry in this way, and take into account that the average household uses their washing machine 4.7 times a week, with each wash requiring around 50 litres of water, perhaps it doesn’t seem so trivial after all. Whether washing our clothes at home or taking special care items to be professionally cleaned, creating some impact on the environment is inevitable.

Launched in 2017, Oxwash is a sustainable, ultra-hygienic and on-demand laundry and drycleaning company founded by former NASA engineer Dr Kyle Grant while he was completing a PhD at Oxford University. 

“I fell into the laundry space completely by accident after getting frustrated doing my sports teams kit one day and finding all the machines out of order. I started a student laundry service that very quickly grew due to the demand from small businesses. When I took my first look under the hood of a commercial laundry I was horrified at the waste being produced and the inefficiencies that were often plugged by below minimum wage workers.” Kyle was inspired to re-engineer the process, making it more planet friendly. “I have always wanted to build a business that has a positive impact for every single customer from day one” he says.

The commercial laundry industry is both wasteful and pollutive throughout much of the process. Traditional laundries are renowned for high energy usage from their washing and drying machines. There’s also the issue of microfibre pollution, caused by inadequate filtration systems which are unable to prevent microplastics from entering our water systems. Then the type of detergent used, or the packaging it comes in; most laundries use whichever detergent is most cost-effective, and these tend to have high levels of toxicity, such as the chemical PERC which is a known health and environmental hazard. Finally, the effect of transportation; most laundries that offer collections and deliveries use vans as transport, contributing to GHG emissions and CO2 pollution.

From collection through washing and back to delivery, Oxwash aims to maintain net zero carbon emissions – something which has never been done before. Kyle’s career as a scientist for NASA informed the process greatly, by bringing a systems engineering mindset to the problem: 

“My time working in the aerospace industry has etched in my mind the importance of viewing a ‘system’ as a whole as well as the sum of the parts and analysing our service completely end-to-end. To that end, Oxwash owns the entire value chain from collection, washing and delivery to the tech development and washing research and development. Like launching a rocket it’s only when you build and launch the whole vehicle can you see how all the parts function together in the most efficient way.”

Cutting down on energy consumption, the company uses solar panels to power their washing machines. They use biodegradable detergents and emulsifiers that are automatically dosed depending on the weight of each wash which prevents up to 25% excess chemistry being used. As for the water, where each 8kg wash cycle typically uses 50 litres of water per wash, Oxwash uses 18 litres. Using ozone technology for disinfection, washes are done at low temperatures while still destroying bacteria, viruses and allergens and more recently, dissolvable laundry bags have been introduced to eliminate coronavirus transmission through fabric and clothing. As for the transportations, Oxwash uses e-cargo bikes which save 6,700 KG of CO2 emissions per year.

Oxwash’s model is simple; customers place an order online, choose a collection and drop off time and place, and have their items collected, washed and delivered, all with zero net carbon emissions. The eco-friendly dry cleaning service isn’t just available for individuals, Oxwash has also partnered with companies including Marriott and Airbnb too; both heavyweights in the hospitality industry which is notorious for its huge impact on the environment through laundering, particularly towels and bedding. 

Kyle hopes that disrupting the laundry industry will have a knock-on effect on other adjacent industries. “Laundry is one of the oldest circular economies out there. You don’t sleep in your bed sheets once then throw them away! We believe that this mindset and model can be extrapolated.” Here’s hoping!

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5 ways to be an eco-conscious gardener

“We may think we are nurturing the garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us” Jenny Uglow.
Gardening is good for our mental health and physical wellbeing so as we continue to seek natural havens to escape the stresses of day-to-day life, it is not surprising that gardening has become a huge trend. While adding more green to our world is helpful and great for the environment, it is essential to do it well in a way. We have put together some tips for your to become a conscious gardener.


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Understanding the environmental impact of cut flowers

The COVID 19 pandemic has had a plethora of unexpected consequences, from a rise in domestic violence cases to massive reductions in global carbon emissions. When it comes to cut flowers, the pandemic has had both expected and unexpected impacts.

Initially, lockdowns crashed the EU cut flower market, which lost €1bn in the first six weeks of lockdown. This impacted not just retailers, but also growers and suppliers alike. However, unexpectedly, after the initial lockdown, the online floriculture market started to appeal to younger consumers looking to brighten up their homes, send gifts remotely and benefit from having a little slice of nature at home. This causes e-commerce flower sales to boom, and also forced retailers to look at their supply chains in order to develop resilience for the future.

Unfortunately, however, there are many considerations to take into account when it comes to buying flowers, as with any globally produced product. The UK is a major market for cut flowers in Europe, with annual consumption exceeding €2.5 billion. Between 2011 and 2015, the annual import of roses alone increased from €161bn to €182bn, making up around 25% of all imported flowers sold. Most of these come in from the Netherlands, but increasingly flowers are grown in less economically developed countries (LEDCs), such as Kenya and Ethiopia, thanks to climatic conditions allowing for year-round production, and cheaper labour costs.


There are many variables that affect the environmental and ethical impact of cut flowers, such as growing conditions, pesticide use, import distance and method and working conditions.

Since cut flowers are not edible, they do not have the same regulatory controls as crops, meaning that pesticide use is rampant, and pesticide residue is much higher than allowed on foodstuffs. It is estimated that one fifth of the chemicals used in the floricultural industry in LEDCs is banned or untested in the US. For example, methyl bromide, a toxic chemical used as a pesticide, was banned and ceased to be used in the US by 2005 due to its harmful effect on the ozone layer and potency as a greenhouse gas. However, it took until 2015 for it to be phased out elsewhere, leading to numerous potential issues, both environmentally and ethically – methyl bromide is highly toxic to humans and may affect the nervous system after long-term use. In the same way that factory workers in the fashion industry are often exposed to harmful chemicals through their work, floriculture workers have similar issues. A study of female workers in Ecuador showed that pregnant women exposed to everyday pesticides were more likely to have children with a neurological impairment and high blood pressure.

Another issue of note when it comes to growing conditions is water usage. The water footprint of one rose flower is estimated to be 7–13 litres, and the market for cut flowers could eat into the water availability for other industries, such as food production. Virtual water refers to the amount of water required to produce an amount of product, e.g. on average it takes 1,340 cubic meters of water to produce one metric tonne of wheat. Floriculture accounts for 45% of the virtual water exports from Kenya, i.e. of all exported goods, the floriculture industry requires 45% of total water usage. This can place added strain on water-poor countries, and further regulation is needed to ensure a fair distribution of water throughout vital industries.

Emissions are the most obvious difference between imported and cut flowers. According to one study, emission savings are the greatest when purchasing British-grown bouquets, followed by those with a longer vase-life (as fewer will need to be bought). Imported stems produce at least 3x as many emissions as British-grown, maxing out at a whopping 67x the emissions for the most polluting, when considering transportation, heating and electricity for growing. 

Ethically, the conditions on some flower farms have significant room for improvement. Floriculture provides vital work and income to many, many people – in Kenya alone, it provides over 2 million jobs and over $500 million a year for the country. However, floriculture often uses a workforce of poor, less educated, primarily female workers, meaning that the industry is ripe for exploitation. This can come in the form of low pay, poor and dangerous working conditions and repression of vital trade unions, especially in LEDCs. The issues aren’t constrained to poorer countries, however – pesticide use in the Netherlands still has harmful effects on workers, and the industry is being encouraged to clean up its act, after a report showed that pesticide use was six times higher than other forms of intensive agriculture in the same regions. 

Thankfully, the market share of locally produced UK flowers has been increasing steadily, thanks in part due to the more rigorous ethical and social standards, such as the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and Fairtrade.

  • Regardless of flower origin, if you’re looking to buy fresh cut flowers, search for certifications such as FairtradeFlorverde or ETI to ensure certain baseline standards have been adhered to. 
  • Look for organic flowers, as excessive fertiliser and pesticide use can harm local wildlife and waterways, as well as workers. This is a problem both in the UK and abroad.
  • Look for companies that have committed to reducing their packaging. Most flowers are transported in plastic and then packaged in non-recyclable cellophane, which never biodegrades. If you require packaging, check that the company provides recyclable wrapping, or better still, no packaging at all. 
  • For the most-part, opting for long-lasting potted plants bought from independent sellers who can verify their origins is significantly better than looking for the cheapest supermarket cut flowers or potted plant of unknown origin. Not only are you likely to get a better-quality product, you’re also helping to support small businesses and local growers, if you choose well. If you’re looking to trade cut flowers for pot plants, ensure they’re not imported from the other side of the world. China currently provides 18.6% of the world’s cut and potted plants and plans to become the largest flower exporter in Asia and second globally after the Netherlands, meaning that even more environmentally sound potted plants could come with a sizeable carbon footprint. 
  • Look for other gifts. There are many ways to tell someone they mean something to you without buying flowers. Shop small and local where possible – that way you’re supporting not only the gift recipient, but also an individual who truly appreciates your custom.

Article written by Hattie Webb, research assistant.

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8 simple ways to save energy and eco-proof your home

When there’s a holiday on the horizon, we typically spend most of our time figuring out where to stay and what we’ll do. We consider things such as how our pets (or plants!) will be cared for, and how safe our property and possessions will be while we’re gone, but something else that warrants consideration is how energy-efficient our homes will be – even if they’re empty. Whether you’re travelling long-haul or heading out of town for a mini staycation, unnecessary energy consumption can be easily avoided by taking the time to eco-proof your homes with these simple tips.

It’s not just you that needs to unplug when you’re on holiday. Make sure all of your electrical devices and appliances are unplugged, too. This includes everything from your blender, kettle, microwave, oven and coffee machine in the kitchen to your TV and computer. Appliances make up 40% of household electricity consumption and they’ll use up energy even if they’re not in use.

Turn your thermostat to eco-mode

Thermostats are particularly convenient for when you’re not at home. On most models, eco-mode will maintain a steady temperature while using very little fuel. They can sense when no one is at home and turn the temperature down completely too.

Check your fridge 

Your fridge is probably one of the only appliances that shouldn’t be switched off while you’re away. Do a sweep of your fridge to ensure anything that won’t get eaten before you leave can be saved. Freeze what you can, make a packed meal or snack for your journey, or cook with the ingredients and freeze the meal so that you’ll have something hearty and homemade to come back to. If you’ll be leaving your fridge virtually empty, consider reducing its power by adjusting the refrigerator and freezer temperature dials – this will minimise its energy consumption. 

Consider home automation

Programmable smart home technologies enable you to monitor your energy usage so that you can be more conscious of your consumption habits. Home automation has been found to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 13% so it’s definitely worth considering as an investment for yourself and the planet. Home automation includes things like smart thermostats (such as Nest) which allow you to control your heating and hot water from your phone, as well as occupancy sensors and window shading – all helpful tools to make your home more sustainable. 

Close doors and windows

This isn’t just for security purposes. It will also prevent draughts and heat loss, as well keeping your home safe and secure, of course. Keep curtains and blinds closed too – they are great insulators and trap the heat in during the winter, while keeping it out in the summer. Pulling them shut will also prevent sun damage to your furniture, wooden floors or art. If you’re worried about your home looking empty for a prolonged period of time, try leaving just a few of the curtains or blinds open, ask a neighbour to check in, or put chosen lights on timers to give the illusion that someone is at home.

Switch off your water 

Switching off your water supply at the mains will prevent any leaks or water damage while you’re away. You can do this easily without any professional plumbing experience by just turning the stopcock valve to the closed position. It’s usually found just beneath your kitchen sink, in an airing cupboard or under a staircase if you have one. 

Turn down your boiler

If you’re going away during the summer, you probably won’t need your boiler for central heating, and you can turn the water heating setting right down before you leave too. If travelling during colder winter months, ensure that you don’t turn the boiler off completely as this could lead to frozen pipes. In this case, program your central heating to turn on for an hour or two daily – this will still make a considerable difference.

Use a slow-release plant-watering device

Easy to manage plants might tolerate a few days without watering or misting, and if you’re going away for a quick staycation or long weekend, a thorough watering right before you leave should be fine. Any longer though, and you could come home to a few casualties. Clever self-watering devices are a great option. They tend to have built-in reservoir systems and are perfect for plants that need moisture year-round. Moving any indoor potted plants into a cool, shady spot will help them to maintain hydration and prevent them from drying out too much too.

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Eating less meat? Here’s how to consume it consciously

For a while, the campaign to eat less meat and find ways to make meat go further has been ticking on in the background. But now, it’s come to the forefront again with a real emphasis on showing people how natural ingredients can work to help you cut down your meat intake, and how this balanced approach can help the environment to heal. So, how do we go about realistically changing people’s perceptions on what is a sustainable level of meat consumption? After all, although the world does not need to go vegan overnight (quite the opposite, in fact), we do need to consume in a more sustainable manner and cut down. 

It’s about choice architecture – providing more sustainable options for people to cut down on meat, more opportunity for producers to turn to regenerative techniques and more choice as a whole for an ethical and localised food system. The concept of eating less and better encourages the consumer to really think about where their food is coming from (it’s like the diet equivalent to slow fashion) which, in turn, helps both our health, the food chain and the planet. The Eating Better Alliance is working to stimulate a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption in the UK by 2030, and for a transition to ‘better’ meat and dairy as standard.

Reducing meat consumption while buying only from ethically sourced origins and slow farming establishments can also yield incredible results in making the world a more sustainable place for people who don’t want to give up meat. The eating less campaign is about embracing a less and better approach to meat consumption and therefore removing the economic incentive for factory farming through reducing the demand for cheap meat. With a surge in the popularity and growth of regenerative farming, organic meat producers across the globe are starting to get onboard with the campaign. 

It’s almost an odd concept, coming from farmers and butchers within the slow food and regenerative agriculture movement, to champion eating less meat, but this is paramount to many of those within the organic food industry. Pipers Farm, a destination for meat that is farmed sustainably and in harmony with nature, ‘believe we should all eat much less meat, and when we do eat meat ensure it has been produced in a way that has respect for the animal, respect for the farmer and respect for the landscape.’ 

Essentially, the way food is produced is a crucial, if not the most crucial, element in sustainable food systems. The rise in popularity of vegan and plant-based foods means that this is an entity that has been hijacked by mass corporations, too – ultimately, there’s a balance to strike. In a feature for Pipers Farm, the founder of ethical lifestyle community Live Frankly and highly respected investigative writer Lizzie Rivera stated: 

‘The tribal lines should not be drawn between vegans, vegetarians or flexitarian. That division predominantly serves to distract us from the most important objective: producing healthier, more nutritious (and better-tasting) food, farmed in tune with nature – and ending the era of industrial farming. Including getting animals out of factory farms […] Intensive animal agriculture and intensively farmed vegan products are not so much polar opposite food systems, but two sides of very similar extractive thinking. If we want to protect the environment and animals, we need to protect our habitats. Whether we’re vegan, veggie or flexi we still need to consider where our food is coming from – who is farming, how and at what cost.’ 

So, what ingredients should you be packing into your pantry in order to eat less and better? Focus on finding foods that help your meat to go further in order to reduce your need to consume more – generally, you don’t need as much meat as you might think. We dive into the details… 


Part of the eating less and better approach is about utilising the whole of the animal – including bones for broth, and the fat for lard and ghee. Fats can go a long way and are an incredibly overlooked and flavoursome base for dishes such as soup and stew. 


Pipers Farm stated in their feature on natural ingredients to make your meat go further that ‘good stocks and broths are superb kitchen allies. When made using bones and collagen from slow grown livestock, they are especially loaded with nutrition and flavour, and come with feel-good thrift and satisfaction as they make the most of every scrap of the animal. Whether you embrace the kitchen ritual of making it yourself using our beautiful bones, or go for our equally flavourful and health-benefit-packed pouches, having a batch on standby in the freezer sets you in good stead for the week. Use to cook pasta or grains for a meat-free weekday feed, add to meat juices for punchy sauces and gravies or go classic with simple veg-packed soups and stews.’ 


Similar to the way in which pulses soak up the flavours of dishes perfectly, whole grains are a brilliant meat substitute to soak up and absorb savoury cooking notes. You can pair them with meat in order to reduce your meat portion, or use them instead. 


Mushrooms are a brilliant bulking ingredient and, combined with meat, they can make your meal go much further. They are also a great way of adding flavour to a dish, especially if you are transitioning from a meat-rich diet to a flexi or plant-based one. 


As well as being an incredible protein source, pulses are a brilliant way to bulk up dishes and replace meat, or stretch meat further if you’re unwilling to give it up completely.A key aspect of eating less and better is improving the production of plant foods for human consumption. Farmers Collective Hodmedods works directly with British farmers to produce and source a range of pulses and grains, with a commitment to providing wholesome quality food that is more sustainably produced.

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A runner’s guide to conscious and eco-friendly nutrition

At its core, running is the ultimate sustainable sport. It requires not much more than your legs and a pair of trainers, it’s hard to wonder what could be so unsustainable about running. However, between wearing out shoes, constant new kit, travel to races and plastic food packaging, the climate impact can quickly build up. 

As we lead up to marathon season, one of the most common issues eco-conscious competitors will face is the number of plastic wrappers on all things to do with running nutrition. From energy gels to drinks and protein bars, the single-use packaging adds up, but it doesn’t have to be this way, as evidenced by the number of  brands who are switching to more eco-friendly formulas and sustainable packaging. As a runner myself, I’m constantly on the hunt for products that work well and are kinder on the planet. Here are some of my favourites.

Energy gels

Finding eco-friendly fuel for long runs has been the number one question I get regarding nutrition. It’s a tough one – any extra weight when you’re running is detrimental, so single-use, disposable sachets have long been the packaging of choice when it comes to running gels. The problem is, not only is this packaging reliant on harmful fossil fuels, it’s also damaging (and unsightly) when it accidentally falls onto the trails.

A natural alternative to modern sports nutrition, Lucho Dillitos is my go-to trail ‘gel’, although in reality it is a solid block more than a gel. Based on the traditional Colombian dessert Bocadillo, this fuel is made from guava fruit (85%) and sugar (15%). Because of its ingredients, it’s super high in vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium – useful for when out on a run. Most importantly, it’s wrapped in a dried leaf which is completely compostable. Once the block is eaten, the leaf can be discarded on the trail like any other leaf, where it will biodegrade. The blocks also avoid the problem of sticky wrappers and half-eaten gels in your running pack – a huge bugbear of mine! 

If you prefer liquid gels, one alternative could be to create your own, either with a gel mix or using home ingredients. Active Root is a small brand providing eco-friendly electrolyte and gel mixes. Its powdered gel can be mixed with water to create a natural energy gel, completely erasing the need for single-use gel sachets. They sell soft-flasks for mixing, holding the equivalent of 3 – 4 gels, and some flavours even have caffeine in, too.


Most protein brands package their products in plastic or mixed-material packaging, making it harder to recycle and (again) heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Additionally, whey protein relies on carbon-intensive animal agriculture. Opting for vegan proteins can reduce the overall impact of the product itself, and choosing plastic-free compostable or recyclable packaging lessens the environmental cost further. 

Introducing Vivo Life, a specialist in supplements that don’t cost the earth. Not only are its proteins all 100% plant-based (using a mix of protein sources including hemp protein, pea protein and soy protein) to minimise the impact of animal agriculture, it is also a certified carbon neutral company, including delivery. As much as possible, Vivo uses organic ingredients, and its delivery boxes are cut from recycled card. On top of all this, Vivo has ditched plastic scoops and is switching to home-compostable packaging within the year – a positive change which will pave the way for others in the supplements industry. 


For longer and warmer runs, hydration in the form of electrolytes is vital, both out on the run and when you return home afterwards. Electrolytes are not only important to allow your muscles to contract and relax (hence why athletes get cramps if they don’t have enough), they’re also key to recovery after each run. If you don’t take rehydration seriously, your next run will suffer. 

Active Root is a small UK-based brand providing eco-friendly electrolyte mixes. Each pack contains 1.4kg of powder (cane sugar, ginger powder and sea salt), enough to make 40 500ml electrolyte drinks. The refill sachets are 100% compostable too, making this an entirely plastic and waste free option. And, because of the ginger, it’s a great option for people who get upset stomachs on the move! 

Vivo Life also provides hydration mixes (Sustain), using coconut water mixed with EAAs (essential amino acids, providing further recovery benefits). The orange & baobab flavour is my absolute fave post-workout for muscle repair and rehydration.

On the go snacks

Created to help you hit your long term health and wellness goals, nutrition brand Human Food offers up natural snacks packaged in home-compostable packaging made from plant-based cellulose. The wrapper can be disposed of in your food-waste bin or compost, and if it flies out of your running pack on the move it won’t wreak havoc with the local ecosystem (although it’s better to find a compost bin rather than throwing in a hedge as conditions are better for decomposition in the former). 

I really like making my own snacks at home, too. Homemade ginger cake or flapjacks are my favourite, and make a nice change from pre-packaged foods during an ultra-marathon. Storage can be difficult but beeswax wraps or reusable zip-locked sandwich bags tend to do the trick. Snacks that can be bought in bulk, like trail mix also make for decent food, but remember that high-fat foods such as nuts are processed slower than sugar, so best for long and/or slow expeditions. 

It can be hard to find what works for you on a long run, and harder still to find eco-friendly options. Thankfully, so many brands are coming out of the woodwork and stepping up to the mark when it comes to sustainability, and hopefully soon running can be the simple, eco-friendly sport it was meant to be.

Follow @foodfitnessflora for more tips.

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An interior designer’s tips for a stylish and sustainable home

Our homes have a huge effect on our carbon footprint. The way they are built, decorated and used can all have an environmental impact – either good or bad – and while some of these things are out of our control, many of them are not. 
There are many ways in which we can tweak how we decorate and manage our households in order to lessen the carbon impact our homes have on the environment, it just takes a little (fun!) research and thought. The number of UK households using renewable energy has risen from 1% to 30% since 2015, which means more of us are making the effort. By fusing our sustainability values with our interior design goals, we can create homes we are proud of and that are better for the planet, the economy and our wellbeing.

Many interior brands are using technology to change people’s perceptions around waste through innovation, creating products that look amazing and work efficiently too. Waste materials such as plastic are being reused to make kitchen worktops, tables and even acoustic panelling for walls. You can even find lighting designers making beautiful pendant lights from plant-based fibres such as hemp, tobacco leaves and pomace. Searching for these exciting, eco-friendly brands can be half of the fun when it comes to decorating your home. 

There are also many interior designers who take sustainability into account. Brian Woulfe is Managing & Creative Director of Designed by Woulfe, a london based interior design company that works internationally on residential and commercial projects of all scales. Through his work, Brian champions young designers and craftspeople and enjoys using his choices to promote sustainable design while also educating clients in the process. The design studio sticks to their values by addressing sustainability at three levels – while working on interior design projects, by ensuring their operations are as environmentally friendly as possible, and by influencing the wider community.

Brian is a founding signatory of ‘Interior Design Declares’, an influential group of designers who are demanding collective action from the interior design industry to confront climate and biodiversity emergencies. Here, Brian shares his tips for upgrading your home in an eco-friendly way without compromising on beautiful aesthetics…

Blend the old with the new

Invest in long-lasting design that tells a story and adds character to your interiors. Vintage and antique furniture and homewares are often high quality and built to last, so they’ll make great heirloom pieces that can stay with you for a long time. You can have fun blending the old with the new by reclaiming, reusing, repurposing, upcycling and re-upholstering old or second hand items to give them a contemporary touch that will make an impact alongside the rest of your interior design scheme. There are some incredible vintage fairs and antique markets in the UK where you can hunt for one-off pre-loved items from big pieces such as bedroom furniture to decorative items like tableware and vases.

Support small manufacturers and artisans

Prioritise manufacturers that are committed to sustainable interior design through the use of eco-friendly materials and ethical production practices. If possible, support smaller, independent furniture makers and commission bespoke, hand carved or made-to-order pieces. They can be more expensive but are a worthy investment and not only will you have a well made, long-lasting and unique piece of furniture, you’ll know that it’s more environmentally and socially sound. 

Use eco-friendly wallpaper and paints

Adding colour and pattern to your home is one of the funnest parts of decorating that can really set the tone for a room and provide the basis for the rest of the design. Having said that, the materials we use to cover our walls are often overlooked. Prolonged or high exposure to paint fumes can cause headaches and trigger allergies, but the VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) that are emitted during the drying process also contribute to the earth’s ozone layer. We’re now seeing more and more organic paint products on the market which are free from VOC’s, carcinogens or toxic substances. They offer an ecological range that even purifies the air we breathe inside our homes. Some paint companies offer stick-on sample patches which are easy to use and far less wasteful than ordering paint samples which often create lots of waste. If you’re planning to incorporate wallpaper, choose one that’s made using eco-friendly inks and be sure not to over-order so that there’s as little wastage as possible.

Bring your space to life with plants

Studies have found that having indoor plants boost your mood, productivity, creativity, concentration and reduce your stress. Aside from these psychological benefits, plants also purify the air in our homes, absorbing toxins and producing oxygen. They add the finishing touches to your home, make great decorative features, add colour, and can really help to bring a space to life. Experiment with different sizes and shapes, and be sure to double-check that you’re selecting the right plant for the right space. For example, some prefer indirect sunlight or more humid environments, making them ideal for bathrooms.

Incorporate elements of biophilic design

Personal wellness is becoming an increasingly important topic when considering home design and improvements too. Our lives have centred around the home far more in the past year and many are eager to carve out dedicated spaces for all aspects of wellbeing. A great way to do this is by incorporating elements of biophilic design, which is essentially the act of increasing your connection to the natural world through design. Embracing natural, fluid shapes, colours and materials are great methods, as well as maximising natural light and including plenty of living plants as mentioned within my other tips.

Consider insulation

The average household in the UK emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2 every year from heating their home. If your home isn’t properly insulated, you’re probably losing a lot of the energy used in heating and cooling through your walls, roof, windows and doors. There are plenty of options for insulating, such as simply installing double glazed windows which can reduce draughts and heat losses, draught proofing of floors, windows and doors, and natural fibre insulation which uses eco-friendly materials like cork, cotton, hemp, wood fibre or cellulose. Different areas in your house will need different kinds of insulation, so be sure to keep this in mind.

Upgrade your appliances

Making sure the appliances in your home, from your kettle to your cooking hob are energy efficient too will also have a huge positive impact on the carbon footprint of your home. Energy Star-certified appliances are easy to find and look both modern and stylish, so they certainly won’t ruin the look or feel of your kitchen if they’re visible. Bigger appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators and well worth updating too, as newer models are far more energy-saving than older ones. They’re more likely to have better functionality too.

Switch to LED lights

Switching to energy efficient lighting is one of the easiest ways to make your home more eco friendly. Traditional incandescent light bulbs may be cheaper, but LEDs are far more cost-effective in the long run because they use about 40% – 80% less energy and also reduce heat in the home.

Make the most of natural light

Exposure to daylight is closely linked to our wellbeing and mood, increasing our body’s serotonin levels and keeping our circadian rhythms (internal body clocks) in check. The right lighting can make a world of difference when it comes to interiors too. It influences our mood, sets the tone, and can even alter the way we perceive colour. When it comes to colours, paler hues will reflect more light and expand its impact, while darker ones tend to absorb it, so keep in mind that if a room is darker, it may require more artificial light – this goes for flooring as well as walls. Maximising natural light in your home will cut down on the need for artificial lighting, and you can boost light by using mirrors and other reflective features such as glass. If possible, installing skylights are a very effective way of drawing a steady stream of light into a space which may not have windows. 

Choose natural materials 

Everyday, mass-produced furniture contains a surprisingly high number of chemicals such as formaldehyde which can be harmful to your health. Choosing furniture and soft furnishings made from natural materials over synthetic ones will have a huge impact. When it comes to soft furnishings such as bedding and blankets, go for premium quality textiles that are woven from natural fibres. As for pillows, feather rather than synthetic pillows can help prevent dust mites and are also better for the environment. If installing or replacing a fireplace, look out for eco-friendly bio-ethanol, which is a renewable energy source that gives off clean emissions that are non-toxic, smokeless and odourless. 

Keep it all clean…naturally

The homecare industry generates around 29 billion plastic containers each year, with a considerable chunk of this made up of cleaning products. Keeping your home clean with natural, eco-friendly, non-corrosive homecare products is better for you and the environment. They are just as effective but without the unpleasant and harmful chemical residue.

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The best natural soap brands

Going natural with your soap choices is not only far more positive for your own skin and wellbeing, but generally tends to be a more sustainable route forward. It often reduces plastic waste if you opt for bar format, the companies involved tend to have brilliant sustainability credentials (think recycling schemes, reusable packaging, ethical sourcing), and the ingredients within come from sustainable sources. Chemical compounds and harsh synthetics dominate in non-natural soap, which leads to pollution from microbeads, unscrupulous sourcing and contributes to climate change through mass production. 

Instead, small-batch natural soap negates this and provides a safe and sustainable solution to a world of synthetics. And people seem to be catching on. In fact, according to a recent study by Global Market Monitor, ‘the natural soaps market will generate record revenue by 2027’.  

Old school bar soaps, in particular, have made a massive comeback – trust us, it’s the year of the humble traditional soap! What with Covid-19 and constant hand washing, as well as a real global shift in sustainability attitudes, it’s perhaps not surprising that people are researching ways to reduce waste, care for their skin and hands while staying protected from bacteria, and know that they are doing so in the most natural way as possible. 

Plus, there are a lot of perks, outside of sustainability, that makes natural soap a brilliant way forward. One thing is that it is packed full of antioxidants, that will help to rejuvenate your skin, and they contain natural humectants, which draws water to the outer layer of your skin. When it comes to going au natural with your soap, there are certain ingredients you could look out for. If you’ve got dry and chapped skin, for example, and you always struggle to maintain moisture, keep your eyes peeled for super moisturising ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties such as shea butter, honey, aloe vera, and avocado. Make sure you steer clear of fragranced products and opt for non-fragrant plant oils such as argan oil or borage seed oil. 

Want to know where you can find some? We’ve explored some of the brands doing natural soap the best way. 

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The best clean & green sunscreens for summer

With the increase in awareness surrounding skin damage, cancer and the effects of UV rays on our skin and bodies, people are beginning to prioritise protecting their skin and health in the sun. Of course, this means that the sunscreen market is growing at a huge rate, too, with more and more people opting to spend more and purchase the right products for them. In fact, according to research by Transparency Market Research, the annual global sun care market is predicted to reach nearly $25 billion by 2024 – an increase of 68% from 2015.

While this is brilliant news for our health, it’s alarming news for our environment. As Sustainable Travel pointed out in a recent feature: ‘It is estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in the oceans each year. And this is not only from those of us who like to swim in the sea.  The sunscreen that you rinse down the drain when you shower can eventually find its way into the ocean. In addition, the convenient aerosol sprays can spread sunscreen particles across the sand. When the tide comes in, these chemicals can get washed out to sea.’  

But how exactly does it harm the environment and our oceans in particular? After decades of research, the Ocean Foundation has found that ‘just a small amount of certain chemicals is enough to cause corals to bleach, losing their symbiotic algal energy source and become more susceptible to viral infections.’ These certain chemicals are namely the synthetic molecule, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and phenoxyethanol, which was originally used as a mass fish anaesthetic. All three ingredients are also potentially harmful and linked to potential health conditions in humans. 

According to a report underway (expected to be complete this year) by the National Ocean Service, there are specific ways in which these chemicals can harm different aspects of marine life: 

Green Algae: Can impair growth and photosynthesis.
Coral: Accumulates in tissues. Can induce bleaching, damage DNA, deform young, and even kill.
Mussels: Can induce defects in young.
Sea Urchins: Can damage immune and reproductive systems, and deform young.
Fish: Can decrease fertility and reproduction, and cause female characteristics in male fish.
Dolphins: Can accumulate in tissue and be transferred to young.

Some countries are already making waves in the fight against damaging chemicals in sunscreen, though, and Hawaii has become the first to pass a bill banning sunscreens containing octinoxate from its shores (coming into effect this year). This is a direct attempt to put a halt to the widespread coral bleaching events happening across our oceans, and other countries are now starting to follow suit. 

Of course, it’s not just about being reef-friendly and environmentally aware, though. It’s crucially important that your sunscreen protects your skin and nourishes it at the same time. Gone are the days where we plaster our bodies in oil and clog up our pores with chemicals that undo the good work of the sun barrier itself. Instead, it’s about finding a sunscreen that works for your skin, replenishes it and protects it, while also protecting and nurturing our beautiful world. Mineral sunscreens are both environmental and protect our skin, reflecting the sun’s rays away from the surface of the skin like a mirror. 

So, which brands are making waves and leading the way in organic, clean and eco-friendly sun protection? 
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4 takeaways from the documentary Seaspiracy

Leonardio DiCaprio-backed documentary Seaspiracy was released on Netflix this month, to a wave of commentary from viewers and industry experts alike. Directed by Ali Tabrizi, the film documents the issues facing our oceans, diving deep into topics such as plastic pollution, commercial whaling and the human rights issues of the fishing industry.

The documentary raises some very real and important points about the perils of over fishing, combined with a somewhat sensationalist narrative. So what are the facts, and what can we learn from the film itself?


The documentary points out that while governments are working hard to be seen banning single use plastics such as straws and cotton buds, the largest single contributor to ocean plastics (and thus microplastics) is from commercial fishing. Across the whole ocean fishing gear contributes to around 10% of ocean plastics, but in concentrated areas such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (700,000km squared of plastic sitting in the Pacific Ocean), this figure rises to an astounding 46%.

Plastic in the oceans is an issue for many reasons. For sea animals, consumed plastic can lead to starvation, due to the stomach filling up with plastic, rather than the necessary food. This can be through plastic being mistaken for other food, such as jellyfish, or consumed via bioaccumulation, where microplastics plastics become more and more concentrated in larger animals due to the number of smaller animals they have to consume to survive. Over time, the food is digested but the plastic remains, building up until it kills the animal. Ghost fishing is another issue, whereby discarded fishing nets and lines continue to kill wildlife long after being discarded. Between 500,000 to 1 million tons of fishing gear is discarded or lost in the ocean every year, and without any incentives to stop this, it’ll continue to be easier and cheaper to dump broken fishing gear in the sea than take it back to land for recycling.

If we want to actively tackle the amount of plastic and microplastics in the ocean, we need stricter regulations on the types of fishing gear allowed, and enforcement of how it can be safely disposed of, without doing any more harm than that intended.


Over the last decade or so, there have been increasing numbers of reports of deaths and disappearances of those working to enforce rules designed to protect fisheries. Due to scarce resources and ever tightening regulations, ocean watchdogs are under increasing pressure to accept bribes or look the other way when it comes to enforcing legislations. Those that don’t have increasingly met grim fates.

On top of this, Seaspiracy shone a spotlight on the world’s complicity with modern day slavery used in commercial fishing. Details are understandably murky, but the Global Slavery Index has stated that modern slavery exists in fishing in most parts of the world, thanks in part to the desire to reduce costs in this low-tech, highly labour-intensive, low-profit industry.

The nature of the industry – offshore, often under cover of night, hidden from sight – means that escape or relief is impossible for most. The issue is not unique to Thailand – there have been media reports of modern slavery and labour abuses aboard American, British, Chinese, and Taiwanese vessels in recent years too. The ever-growing demand for fish and over exploitation of fish stocks has lead, and will lead, to greater pressures on fishing, directly increasing the amount of slavery used, and greater competition with small-scale fishing villages who rely on fish for food and income. With this competition for an increasingly scarce food source, there can only be one winner, and it’s unlikely to be the Indigenous populations who have been fishing sustainably for millennia.


Farmed fish are marketed as a more environmentally friendly way to eat fish, because they do not plunder wild stocks – the fish are bred specifically for eating, in a similar way to farm animals. However, due to the high density of fish (leading to disease and thus open water antibiotic use), high levels of waste escaping into the surrounding water and lack of regulation, fish farming using our current methods has a high number of issues too.

Atlantic, sockeye and pink wild salmon populations crashed in the late 2000s (and for multiple subsequent years), thanks primarily to local fish f arms. These farms had over 80% prevalence of parasitic sea-lice, a common infection in farmed fish, which infect local wild populations, leading to a 99% reduction in susceptible fish. In addition, due to the release, or escape, of some farmed fish, native populations are interbreeding or being outcompeted, reducing genetic diversity (and thus resilience to threats such as climate change and disease) of native wild salmon populations. The exact same things has happened this year on our own coastline, in Scotland, in part due to sea lice from fish farms. Seaspiracy also pointed out the number of wild-caught fish that go into feeding farmed fish – it is not an efficient way of feeding a population.


Despite a recent press release by the Marine Stewardship Council stating otherwise, it is evident that there is not currently enough enforcement of rules and regulations to ensure the sustainability of wild-caught seafood. With much of the fishing industry working far out at sea, Seapiracy made claims suggesting that it is impossible to guarantee that no bycatch was killed, or animals such as dolphins caught up in nets during the fishing process.

By choosing Dolphin-safe or MSC-certified seafood, you are showing a desire to have minimal impact on the environment, but in reality there is very little that can be guaranteed once a fishing boat is out at sea. Nets are not discriminatory, and even those with the best intentions will end up having some bycatch in the form of dolphins, sharks, turtles and whales.

Seaspiracy set out to raise awareness of the very real, deeply worrying issue of overfishing, and the human-rights issues that come with it. In this sense, they were successful – the film climbed to Netflix’s top 10 in the UK and US, and received praise from celebrities worldwide. Despite its obviously one-sided approach, lack of intersectionality and simplification of an extremely complex issue, the film succeeded in both raising awareness and starting a conversation about ocean conservation. Perhaps the whole film should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the overall message stands true.

Fishing is not intrinsically bad for the environment, especially where fish consumption can replace/reduce red meat consumption, which ultimately has the most negative impact on the environment. Ethics notwithstanding, fishing is an industry that supplies over 3 billion people with a major source of protein, and over 90% of fisheries are small scale, with around 50% of workers being women. The film, perhaps understanding that the majority of viewers would be from the Global North, almost entirely ignored the issue of intersectionality, calling for viewers to give up fish entirely – a task impossible for many globally.

However, Seaspiracy showed that the methods in which we fish on an industrial scale are undoubtedly failing in their job to preserve the world’s largest ecosystem. For most of us in the UK, it is not only impossible to guarantee the sustainability of most of our fish, but also unnecessary to eat it in the first place. Globally, this may not be the case, but for those who have the luxury of choice, cutting down on overall fish consumption as much as possible is a good first step to take – for many people this may mean avoiding fish altogether, but others may not have the means to do so. Avoid smoked fish, processed fish and unspecified ‘white fish’, anything ‘mass caught’ (purse-seine, bottom trawled etc)….. If you have to, buy whole fish where possible and know where it has come from, and how it was caught.

Sustainable fishing, in theory, is absolutely possible – Indigenous populations have been practising it for millennia – and there are many people working around the clock to make this a reality. However, with the lack of infrastructure to regulate and enforce well-meaning legislation, we are a long way from having healthy, recovered ecosystems in our seas, and even further from being able to exploit those reserves to the extent we currently do. Because of this, many are opting to cut out fish until better solutions exist that better represent the interest of all involved parties – not only developed countries’ obsession with plundering resources required by many.

Further watching – reading – listening

Sharkwater extinction – a documentary exposé on the trade of illegal shark fin.

Ghost Fleet – delves into Thailand’s fishing industry and its links to human trafficking.

Ocean Recovery – an evidence-based look at what the future of sustainable fishing could look like based on scientific data.

How To Save a Planet – a podcast interview with Yurok Tribe Vice-Chairman Frankie Myers on the demise of local salmon stocks and how the tribe is working to bring them back.

How To Save a Planet – another episode looking into the sustainable alternatives to fish, and the birth of the kelp-farming industry.

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Introducing Kiss The Hippo, a carbon neutral coffee roastery

In a recent report by The Conversation, scientists from UCL found that ‘the average cup of coffee contains about 18g of green coffee, so 1 kg of it can make 56 espressos. Just one espresso has an average carbon footprint of about 0.28 kg, but it could be as little as 0.06 kg if grown sustainably.’ Essentially, while the caffeine hit might wear off, the environmental and ethical impact can linger on. 

The coffee industry is full of complex challenges, with climate change one of the huge ones, but also community dynamics, as well as the socioeconomic/political conditions to be aware of in many coffee-growing countries.

According to a report by Sustain Coffee, ‘The coffee industry will need to produce between 4 million and 14 million additional tons of coffee per year to meet demand by 2050. Unless growers can significantly increase coffee productivity per hectare, the industry will need to double the area under coffee production by 2050. During this same period, climate change is predicted to create conditions where half of the land currently suitable for growing coffee becomes unsuitable.’

The challenge, then, for organisations such as Sustain Coffee and for coffee brands all over the world will be to achieve, over the next 35 years, zero net deforestation while satisfying increasing demand from coffee consumers. It’s imperative, therefore, that consumers are aware of the elements that go into creating a sustainable coffee consumption scenario. 

The Fairtrade stamp or other environmental certification doesn’t necessarily mean the coffee you are drinking is sustainable, and it can be a bit of a minefield to know whether the everyday choices you are making are ethical. This is where companies such as Kiss the Hippo want to change the narrative – they want your daily coffee experience to be the best it can be without having a harmful impact on the environment or the people and communities producing the coffee. 

They are taking the hard work out of it for the consumer, but in terms of understanding, what actually goes into creating a sustainable coffee brand, and what does it mean to be ethical in the current caffeine market? 

We sat down with Maya Zara, the creative director of the brand that is disrupting the way we consider coffee (both ethically and stylistically) to discover how they became a carbon negative company and champion sustainable practices. 

Known for their innovative and sustainable approach to coffee, independent coffee roasters Kiss the Hippo have recently, after expanding their existing partnership with Swiss non-profit organisation On A Mission, become a totally carbon negative company. What’s more, all of Kiss the Hippo’s coffees, coffee pods and coffee products are now carbon negative, too.

Born in 2018, the brand wanted to create the ultimate coffee experience and find a way to marry together sustainable practises with quality. They started by focusing on their shops, making them a place where people would want to enjoy coffee and aiming to deliver the best of the best while doing so in a sustainable way. ‘Our founder wanted to find beautiful coffee experiences, but usually in the UK, it’s a bit separated,’ explains Maya. 

‘You might get amazing coffee, but sometimes the consistency isn’t always there. We wanted to create a space where everything came together. Care is at the core – we care about sourcing, working directly with the farmers and charity partners, and we care about our organic roasting, the taste, and also the experience. Then, it’s about caring for and not harming the planet.’

But when it comes to sustainability, essentially, as a consumer, the system means that we largely rely on the brand and shop who, in turn rely on their suppliers and importers, to know exactly what it is that we are buying. Transparency and trust is a key element to moving forward sustainably, and this is something that has always been important to Kiss the Hippo. 

‘Sustainability has always been at the core, and then the taste and the design had to come together too to create that overall experience,’ says Maya. ‘In the very early days, even in setting up the roasteries, sustainability was always a big part of the ethos – we didn’t just want to be another coffee shop. We didn’t see any other option with the world going in the direction it’s going. Overall, it was always about taste and how do we create that in a sustainable way.’

Of course, when it comes to their eco credentials, all of the brands cups and products are compostable. The brand also turns their waste espresso into biofuel. But it’s about going that extra mile, too. Due to the unpredictable nature of coffee production, growing communities are often left without the guarantee of prices needed to cover their production costs. It leads to extreme poverty and socio-economic collapse. 

‘Our coffee teams go around the sourcing countries to ensure we are sourcing ethically,’ says Maya. ‘We visit the farms and make sure their ways and methods are sustainable and ethical. We also have a commitment to paying 50% above the Fairtrade price, so that the farmers don’t just shoulder the heaviest weight.’

Even the roaster itself plays a big part in the journey toward sustainability. For Kiss the Hippo, this was an important element to get right. To ensure they had the most eco-friendly solution that didn’t compromise on roasting taste and quality, they turned to the Loring Smart Roast System. 

The closed system design means that changes in the weather and humidity make no difference to what is happening in the roasting chamber, offering the skilled roaster the opportunity to really concentrate on the important thing; the roast profile. The Loring is also extremely efficient, using up to 80% less fuel than a traditional drum roaster, offering the very best performance in terms of environmental impact and controllability. 

But, how did they go about becoming carbon negative? Maya tells me that the process of conquering the carbon was one of the first key objectives for Kiss the Hippo. Becoming carbon negative was an important step in pioneering real change, which they hope will, in turn, encourage bigger organisations to make similar positive changes in their wake.

In terms of how they did it, Kiss the Hippo achieved this important step by, firstly, reducing their emissions and, secondly, by calculating their carbon footprint by looking at their core products, packaging and transport. Finally, they started working with On A Mission to offset their CO2 value by contributing to reforestation efforts all over the planet.

‘It’s always been our long-term goal but it’s quite a lengthy process,’ says Maya. ‘We started doing all of our calculations and then we managed to hit our long-term aim last month – which is an amazing feeling. Our consumers don’t have to worry about the process that goes behind what they are consuming, but they can feel good about it, knowing it’s coming from us.’ 

Like to try different brands of coffee? Here are some of the other companies doing caffeine the right way. 

All of their coffee is high grade and sustainably sourced, their workshop is powered with solar panels and the farm uses biomass boilers to heat its water. They also use the waste product from roasting coffee (chaff) as fuel for the biomass boiler, which means there are no transportation emissions. Plus, they use a carbon neutral courier service, too! 


This UK-based brand strive to deliver greatness to every cup, bringing you ethical coffee that tastes amazing and transforms lives. They give 10% of our retail profits back to farmers, and support industry-led schemes to improve the lives of coffee producers and their families.


Their mission is clear: create a sustainable future for indigenous communities, the rainforest and the coffee industry. Working closely with remote Indigenous Communities, Easy Jose help them grow incredible specialty coffee, in harmony with the forests they live in. 

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Sustainable homewares brands to watch out for this year

There’s something very tactile and rewarding about a beautifully handcrafted and ethically produced artefact, one that can continue its story and rich life within the four walls of your home. But, convincing consumers to invest in sustainably made homewares is no mean feat – cheap and fast turnaround outlets make it easy and convenient to shop throwaway products.  

Fortunately, it seems that people are starting to think about the true impact of their shopping habits more and more at the moment though. While the homewares e-commerce sphere has been dramatically boosted throughout the last year, green consumerism has also taken centre stage. In fact, increasing demand for eco-friendly buildings across the globe is generating demand for eco-friendly furniture too and, according to a recent report globally we are seeing a ‘rising prominence towards sustainability as a prevalent trend in home design.’ 

This is a brilliant development, particularly considering the fact that the fast-moving interiors market has been falling behind in sustainability progression. Poorly made homewares products cause a huge amount of landfill waste year on year, so pivoting to focus on ethically produced and well made (with longevity in mind) pieces is a great step forward. 

So, where are the best places to source such pieces? Here are some of the most inspiring and beautiful homeware brands out there right now.


Based in Bristol, a city known for its eco ways and proud ethically minded movements, Konk Furniture is a solid start for anyone looking at refurnishing their home in an environmentally friendly manner. Architecture graduate Alex Ratcliffe, who had a passion for making things that last, founded the multidisciplinary design studio and workshop. 

So I might be marginally biased, as a Bristol-dweller myself, but it’s clear that Alex set out with a grounded and inspiring want to better the options out there for sustainable furniture and what he’s created is pretty incredible. Now, you’ll find the pieces gracing the pages of some of the best design and interiors magazines and recommended by institutions such as Dezeen
Only using timber from approved sustainable forests, as a company they have evolved with Alex’s ethos and vision and don’t believe in a throwaway culture. Their furniture is made for life – it’s solid, hardwearing and ages with character. What’s more, every single piece is made-to-order to ensure that absolutely nothing goes to waste too. They also work in partnership with One Tree Planted, and donate to plant a tree for every single order they receive.


The Dharma Door is an incredible brand on a mission to make a difference through design. By working with fair trade artisans around the world, they create stunning natural homewares and accessories and support communities in need. From stunning wall hangings to smart storage baskets, each item is made by hand – from start to finish – amongst the bustle of rural village life.

Rooted in real people’s stories, the brand was founded by Shannon Sheedy after spending a year travelling in India and Nepal and witnessing the plight of Tibetan refugees. Today, the brand seeks out the highest grade of natural fibres available and pairs them with artisan skills found in various regions to create original, quality pieces that are a joy to live with.


This stunning brand had to make the list. Aerende is an online store showcasing ethically produced items for your home, whereby people facing social challenges and whom struggle to access conventional employment make each limited edition item. 

Emily Mathieson, a former travel editor for The GuardianCondé Nast Traveller and Red, founded the non-profit organisation in 2016. It’s perhaps not surprising it’s as beautiful a brand as it is, with Emily’s influences from the amazing places she’s travelled clear to see. Having questioned the lack of high-quality homewares options in the ethical interiors sector, Emily made it her mission to create a model for considerate, socially valuable shopping that doesn’t compromise on quality or style. 

Passionate about the ways in which consumers have the power to change the future of e-commerce and create an impact in social change, the brand epitomises the true meaning of sustainability. Quite beautifully, Aerende means ‘care’ in Olde English and was consciously chosen to reflect their commitments to heritage skills, as well as their considerate business practices too. 


This is one of those brands that just ooze a sense of sustainability through each of its stunning and tactile fibres. Luks Linen homewares products are ethically made and hand loomed by master weavers in Turkey and their collection of textiles are made to be long lasting and incredibly versatile. 

Crucial to the ethical ethos of the brand and the fact they advocate for ethical production, each beautiful piece is sustainably made and sourced. Luks Linen is proud to partner with local family run ateliers who use locally grown cotton which is spun, dyed and woven in the area in which it was cultivated, cutting down on transportation and the carbon footprint.

As well as minimising their carbon footprint by bulk ordering from our ateliers, they also chose to be an e-commerce platform in order to reduce the use of paper by generating invoices and managing returns online. Their packaging is made from recycled and recyclable materials too and all of the fabrics and materials used in the Luks ranges are locally grown, spun, dyed and woven.


Perhaps one of the most well known environmentally friendly and ethical home brands in the UK, Nkuku deserves a place on the list. Based in Devon, the brand works with natural and recycled materials through sustainable methods of production and creates products that enhance our lifestyles while championing a sustainable forward movement. 

Nkuku works with artisans throughout the world, supporting and celebrating their skills by bringing their products to a wider audience across the globe. Adhering to the standard globally recognised 10 Principles Of Fair Trade, they ensure they gather the waste leftover from other industries including cotton from discarded t-shirts, leather, metals and glass as well as recycled saris too.


Somehow cider maker and flooring specialists, Tasha and Barney Green, stumbled upon an idea to leave their jobs and set up Weaver Green, a company making recycled plastic rugs and textiles from discarded plastic bottles. 

So, how did it all come about, and why was sustainability so important to them? Having stumbled across a very rudimentary fishing rope while travelling in Asia, that was made from unravelled plastic bottles, lids and all, and used to tether fishing boats, the couple had a light bulb moment. Could they take some of the mountains of plastic waste that is polluting our seas and landfill and turn it into a useful and practical yarn? 

Utilising the skills Barney had picked up in the flooring industry alongside Tasha’s knowledge from her organic drinks business, the couple started exploring how they could give plastic, as a robust material, a second, more long-term use within our homes and gardens. Today, Weaver Green is responsible for recycling over 80 million plastic bottles and creating beautiful home textiles that look and feel just like cotton and wool.


Joy, our founder & editor picked some of her favourite homewares brands doing great things within the sustainability sphere. 


This award-winning design studio based in New York marries thoughtful design with materials that are recycled and long lasting, breathing new life cycles into textiles otherwise relegated to waste.

Find some of their pieces here. 


Okay, so we cheated with this one a little bit as they do also do beautiful, ethically made clothing pieces too. But, Aiayu’s sustainable homewares are stunning and all part of the brand’s principle that true beauty is a reflection of an object’s integrity. They redefine luxury by merging nature’s best materials with exceptional craftsmanship and simple Scandinavian design.

Find some of their pieces here.


MOLA SASA creates unique handcrafted pieces that aim to bridge gaps between different communities, artisan techniques and the modern world.  They collaborate directly with various indigenous communities of Colombia to translate their own traditional art forms and crafts into collections. 

Find some of their pieces here

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Inside the fragrance industry’s shift in sustainability

The last year has been a year of reset, a year of change and uncertainty, but a year of reflection and realisation for so many people. With so much time spent indoors, a new movement of prioritising wellbeing has risen and, with that, a renewed focus on scents, senses and our holistic reaction to them. It’s clear from looking at market reports that 2020, seemingly, boosted people’s love for fragrance. It also brought with it a shift in sustainability within the fragrance industry, with more and more people opting for natural scents and non-toxic (for both planet and people) ingredients.

In fact, according to a report by Allied Market Research, ‘the global fragrance ingredients market was valued at $13.6 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $16.1 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8% from 2020 to 2027. Rise in demand for eco-friendly, natural, and custom-made perfumes along with higher standards of living are some of the key factors that are expected to drive the market growth during the forecast period.’ 

What’s more, as the report continued: ‘Based on type, the natural ingredients segment is expected to grow at the highest CAGR of 4.3% from 2020 to 2027, owing to preference of consumers toward therapeutic benefits of essential oils in aromatherapy and increase in spending on beauty and personal care products.’

But who is driving the change? Integrally, fragrance producers, as well as consumers, have been rethinking what it means to be sustainable, and the results can be seen in initiatives across the globe. From refill stations in stores and a move away from plastic (as in many other industries) to focus on recycling and re-using, to small-batch producing and a push toward using regulated natural ingredients within, there’s been big moves across the last year. 

We know that perfumery derived from plants traces back as far as ancient Egyptians and Persian history, so it’s perhaps no surprise that we are doing away with the synthetics and making a move back toward natural botanicals. 

Natural doesn’t always equate to sustainable, though. In fact, this is another huge problem in moving towards a cleaner and better planet. So, when it comes to fragrances, it’s worth exploring and researching at-risk botanicals to help you ensure that the natural ingredients all over a certain brands’ packaging isn’t simply green washing and contributing more to the wider sustainability problem. Endangered plants pose a great risk to the world, just as endangered animals do. Focus your attention on brands that steer clear of compromised flora and fauna. 

What’s great to see is that the younger generation are actually much more aware of green washing and the concept that natural doesn’t always mean good. Instead, younger people are more likely to research scientific alternatives that, although may be synthetic, are actually more sustainable in the long run. A recent report by London-based market research firm Mintel showed that they believe it doesn’t have to be about one or the other.  In fact, they believe that the way forward is to fuse science and nature. 

The shift in sustainability, then, is coming from brands developing new technologies to extract essential oils and create safer and cleaner synthetic alternatives. Chemical & Engineering News reported that: ‘Large fragrance and ingredient firms like Givaudan are developing nonendangered, sustainable sources of natural ingredients. At the same time, the company has launched a program to make the synthetic side of its business sustainable as well.’ Using a combination of both clean synthetics and natural extracts is likely the most sustainable route forward. Plus, it allows consumers a way of knowing how truly sustainable and ethical their chosen product is. 

Of course, it’s not just what goes into the product, packaging is a big part of the problem too. And it’s not just about the obvious culprits such as plastic, either. ‘The sound of the magnet in the cap of a perfume bottle, much like closing the door of the high-end car, is a mark of a truly luxurious brand. Funny how opulence always ends up being a bit problematic,’ says sustainable fragrance brand Bel Rebel, in response to how sustainable they can make their product. 

‘Did you know that if a perfume bottle cap contains a magnet you have to take it out before it can be recycled? We decided to make our caps without magnets to avoid this. It’s a small detail that makes being a bit less harmful to environment easier.’ 

So, to simplify it, what are the main factors you can consider and look out for to approach fragrance more ethically and support the industry’s shift in sustainability? Start with sourcing; research who makes the scent and where they source the ingredients. Look at the label and ensure you understand the origin and meaning behind each ingredient listed. According to a report by the EWG

‘A rose may be a rose. But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer. Makers of popular perfumes, colognes and body sprays market their scents with terms like “floral,” “exotic,” or “musky,” but they don’t disclose that many scents are actually a complex cocktail of natural essences and synthetic chemicals – often petrochemicals.’

Consider your stance on social ethics too and research whether the brand does any work for social enterprises, as well as feeding into sustainable ingredients. Do some real digging and see if you can find a natural brand going the extra mile with regenerative efforts too. Lastly, check how the product is tested and ensure it’s not tested on animals. 

Want to have a try introducing sustainable scents into your home, but don’t know where to start? Here are some of our favourite brands for environmentally friendly and go-the-extra-mile fragrances. 

With a mission to harness the power of commerce for social good, this is a brand we’ve had our eye on for years. The brand produces clean and sustainable perfume and uses it as a vehicle for social impact and the economic empowerment of women. Sana Jardin is built on the principles of a circular economy – their alternative business model enables the women in their supply chain to become micro-entrepreneurs by up-cycling the waste products from perfume production.


Made in London and packaged using mushroom packaging created in the Netherlands, Bel Rebel experimented with unexpected ingredients to produce ethically-sourced, small batch fragrances.


Founded in Amsterdam by former winemaker and New Zealander Frances Shoemack in 2012, Abel is on a mission to blend the pleasurable world of perfume, with the conscious simplicity of nature. The unisex perfumes use only natural ingredients and, as a brand, they are on a mission to transform transparency on parfum labelling. You can find their petition here


Using 100% natural plant oils and tinctures, Sigil’s perfumes are hand-blended in Los Angeles and are gender-neutral. They don’t compromise on natural and choose only organic, wildcrafted, and sustainable materials.


This small-batch perfumery in Somerset is stripping perfume back to its artisan roots and extracting 100% pure fragrance oils from plants. They release four seasonal fragrances a year and, each season, they will blend just one bottle for each of the names on their production ledger. No more.

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What’s in your cup? A guide to buying ethical coffee

Eva Ramirez speaks to London Grade Coffee and shares what to look out for when purchasing coffee to ensure you’re buying an ethical product.

Exploitation within the coffee industry is nothing new considering its colonialist roots and a global expansion which was bolstered by the slave trade. However, these colonial structures are still present in the industry today. Issues such as unfair wages and poor, hazardous working conditions are rife. On a daily basis, coffee growers work for long hours handling highly toxic chemicals, pesticides and heavy machinery for very little reward. 

Much like fast fashion, the problems are environmental too, as farms are forced to satiate the growing appetite for caffeine across the world. Deforestation in lieu of the expansion of coffee farms which is detrimental to the local environment, wildlife and climate change on a wider scale is commonplace. Native trees in forests such as the Amazon are cleared to make way for coffee plantations where the agricultural methods used harm the planet further.

Yet while coffee consumption increases on a global scale, the price of it has dropped due to several factors. A huge surplus of coffee beans, political instability in coffee producing nations such as Brazil and market fluctuations which affect exchange rates have all played a role in the decline. The plummet in prices means coffee farmers, particularly small-scale growers, face increasing pressure as the cost of production surpasses the profit that their harvests yield. 

“Coffee is the second largest traded commodity after oil and there is variation of supply” says Alice Owen-Lloyd of London Grade Coffee, a retail and wholesale supplier that is organic, sustainably grown and ethically sourced. 

Unfortunately the coffee industry is overwhelmingly dominated by multinational corporations whose MO is to supply a high volume of cheap, generic products into mainstream supermarkets. Specialty coffee roasters like London Grade Coffee, who are involved in the entire cycle of coffee production from harvest to roasting, only account for a minute percentage of the industry. 

One of London Grade Coffee’s top priorities is to source their beans ethically “in order to deracinate coffee farming’s oppressive roots”. This means a direct relationship with their growers. “We deal with our estate directly and pay the price they need to keep producing exceptional coffee beans. It is important that we do not deal through an importer, by dealing directly with the estate they get paid the price they deserve. They trust us and we trust them.” 

There have been some considerable, positive changes spurred by the specialty coffee industry, Alice says. “The emergence of compostable pods is perhaps the most significant. However there is definitely now more of an emphasis upon paying the producer a fair price and acknowledging their role. We’ve also seen big improvements with regards to packaging – less single use plastic. Recycled and recyclable materials are much more readily available and affordable too.”

When it comes to labels and certificates, Alice advises against getting hung up on the buzzwords and instead looking at the actual facts, asking questions such as “where has your coffee come from? Have the farmers been paid a fair price? Has the planet and its biodiversity been taken into consideration?” 

Much like navigating the world of natural wine, understanding the true meaning behind ethically-sourced coffee can be overwhelming. Here’s a quick explanation of the most common labels and terms:

Rainforest Alliance Certified

 Environmentally sustainable coffee grown with biodiversity conservation as a priority. There’s a strong focus on reducing deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s socially ethical or guarantees a minimum price to suppliers.


As with other organic products, this means the coffee is grown in a way that promotes agricultural methods that work in harmony with the earth and reduce the use of synthetic chemicals. This supports biodiversity, builds soil health and is also beneficial for the farmers and producers of the beans as they are around less chemicals. While this is all undeniably positive, the cost to gain an organic certification can price out small-scale farmers unless they are part of a cooperative.


This certification works directly with farmers to guarantee them a minimum price for their coffee and promotes direct trade and community development. Unfortunately land ownership is a requirement for participation in the Fairtrade cooperatives, so many farmers who don’t own their own land are unable to profit from the higher prices that come with selling Fairtrade coffee.

Direct Trade

This is when a roaster buys coffee directly from a producer, indicating an honest relationship between both parties whereby quality, pricing and other terms are agreed upon and mutually beneficial. As there is no clear-cut definition, uncertainty surrounds the direct trade model and many question whether it truly tackles institutional poverty and inequality.

Single Origin

This simply means that all of the beans in the packet have come from one estate, grown by the same people.

Shade Grown

Shade trees are planted near the coffee plants to protect them from rain and sun, help maintain healthy soil and attract local birds which serve as pest control.

Specialty Coffee like London Grade Coffee is about the quality of the beans and the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. It is more expensive than buying Lavazza coffee for example because of the quality of the bean – it is the highest quality possible. The importer hasn’t then mixed it with an inferior bean. “Specialty coffee tackles the issues the coffee industry presents: it has been ethically sourced and in theory the farmers are paid the price they need to keep on producing very high quality coffee. Speciality coffee commits to making coffee better for everyone in the value chain.” 

“When buying your coffee it is important to buy from a company who is devoted to selling high quality coffee, rather than selling commodity coffee” Alice continues. “You want to look for a company who knows their supplier, who has a relationship with the growers. This is important as unethical farming is very prevalent in the coffee industry, and more often than not the farmers do not get paid a fair price for their beans. It is also important to buy organic coffee, as this means the farmers haven’t used pesticides and chemicals which are harmful to the environment.” 

So, how can you make sure the way you make your coffee at home is as sustainable as possible?
“The key is to use non- bleached filters, and to avoid Nespresso pods at all costs” says Alice. “While we can’t deny the ease and simplicity of a pod machine, we also cannot continue to deny their highly damaging impact on the planet. Every year up to 52 billion capsules end up in landfills or in oceans. It is also important to not waste the coffee grounds after it has been brewed.”

6 million tonnes of used coffee grounds are sent to landfill every year, but there are multiple ways to recycle and reuse them. Here are a few:
  1. Use them as fertiliser or compost. 
  2. Combine the grounds with baking soda for a natural cleaning solution which is great for scouring pots. 
  3. Mix them with honey or coconut oil for an exfoliating scrub that you can use on your body and lips. 
  4. Coffee grounds contain nitrogen and can help neutralise odours, so keep a small bowl or container in the fridge for a week or so to dissipate unwanted smells. 
  5. Many insects are repelled by the smell of coffee, so sprinkle them in your garden or keep a bowl or two next to your outdoor seating areas to keep bugs away.
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Could this new green debit card help you live more sustainably?

Aside from opting for a reusable cup, your impact on the planet and your carbon footprint is probably pretty far from your mind when you pop out for a simple flat white from your local coffee shop – am I right? Or what about when you do your weekly supermarket shop, or order next-day delivery from an online retailer? 

Chances are, with the small decisions you make day by day, you don’t consider your carbon footprint. As it happens though, it’s often the tiny decisions that we make and the small actions we take everyday that have the biggest impact on the environment. 

Step in Tred, a new debit card made from recycled ocean plastic that not only tracks your spending, but tracks your carbon footprint as well. With Monzo-style notifications, each time you spend on the card, the corresponding app will translate your action into the environmental impact. Dialling in for our chat from a tiny town in the Yorkshire Dales, it’s immediately obvious that friends and co-founders Will Smith and Peter Kirby have huge plans for their green start-up.

Continuing the theme, evidently, the biggest ideas come from the smallest, everyday moments. Sitting in a bar in Glasgow, Will found himself debating the plastic straw in his drink, against his friends’ earlier journey via plane from London to Glasgow. Which one was worse for the environment? Which one has the biggest impact on your carbon footprint? 

‘It got us talking about the worst things for the planet – is it the straw, the flights, or is it buying clothes and going to restaurants? It’s really difficult to know where to pay your attention to when living sustainably. It’s like trying to lose weight without having a set of scales, so it’s hard to fight climate change if you don’t know your impact day to day.’ 

Will Smith

Will tells me that these early debates led him to try and find out what his carbon footprint actually was, but he found it difficult to do. Generic questions on the Internet about how many flights you take a year can only tell you so much, after all. Will decided to hone in on spending, as everything we buy has an impact on the world around us, so he knew it was a way people could track their footprint each day. 

The first in the UK, the card could be a game-changer for helping people to make small lifestyle changes and understand the impacts of climate change more easily. They do say that slow and steady wins the race, and there’s certainly an argument that making small, achievable alterations will be more successful in the long run than making big, quick changes that become unrealistic or tiresome over time. 

It’s this notion that small steps can lead to big change that is so central to Tred. Both Will and Peter are passionate about the sustainability plight, but don’t want to come across as preachy – it’s all about making green living accessible to all. Once you start seeing how easy it is to track, it becomes something that can seamlessly fit into your everyday life. In fact, you could do it as soon as tomorrow. They talk to me about how people really got behind the plastic straw, plastic bag and the keep cup movements, so both Will and Peter feel there is a real audience for the card out there. 

‘We’re trying to make the climate fight positive, as it’s a super doom and gloom space. We want to help everyone understand his or her carbon footprint, and then prioritise small changes,’ Will tells me. ‘We want to bring sustainability into the mainstream so we’re not going to tell people to never go on holiday, we want to focus on tangible things that everyone can do. 

‘When we started testing people’s reactions to our idea, it became clear that 90% of people don’t know what their carbon footprint is. No one knew it, everyone wanted to know it, and everyone wanted suggestions about how to be more eco-friendly. So, quickly we realised that people do want to live sustainably; it’s just that it can be difficult to know what to do. People want actionable steps.’ 

Will and Peter are hopeful that Tred fills the gap. And the model is fairly simple – the algorithm does all the hard work for you. So, how exactly does it work? With pioneering technology that has been developed over the last 12 months, the pounds that you spend will be converted into kilograms of carbon emitted.  Each type of purchase generates a different amount of greenhouse gas and has its own unique impact on the environment. The algorithm analyses every purchase you make and categorises every transaction. This information is then combined with a wide variety of data sets, which allows them to translate it into its carbon emissions. 

‘We wanted to reduce people’s carbon footprint in the first place and then increase how much C02 is being captured through tree planting. There is some money that is generated through card spend for the actual card company, and we put a percentage of that back into reforestation,’ explains Peter. ‘Hopefully, there’ll be a positive feeling that every time you tap, you are planting trees and reinvesting in the planet.’

At the end of each month, customers will be encouraged to offset their footprint via a certified tree-planting scheme in Scotland. Tred provides a personalised offsetting plan, so as your monthly emissions change so does the amount you offset. It’s really quite dynamic, something that makes the card unique and stand out. It gives you a detailed breakdown showing you where your impact is greatest and helping you change your lifestyle choices towards a more sustainable way of life. 

‘If you’ve had an eco month, we’ll calculate your footprint and plant a few trees,’ says Will. ‘If you’ve gone on holiday and done a round-the-world cruise, we’ll plant a lot more.’ Carbon offsetting, at the moment, is really static, a set amount that doesn’t equate to anything personal, so with Tred, Will and Peter wanted to make it bespoke and central to the consumer journey. 

‘We’re trying to bring personalisation to climate change. If you’re making changes to your lifestyle, you want something to tell you that it’s improving,’ continues Peter. ‘We’ll be able to track your carbon footprint coming down if you make the correct changes, so you’ll be able to see it too.’ Their plans don’t stop at the debit card either, and the boys hope to open Tred up to incorporate green investment schemes too in the near future. ‘The expanse of where we can get to with it is huge,’ beams Will.

Watch this space. 

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4 sustainable fashion books to add to your 2021 reading list

by Elizabeth L. Cline

An expert on consumer culture and sustainability, Elizabeth L. Cline is an author, journalist and public speaker based in New York.
She was responsible for the critically acclaimed 2012 expose Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and later released this highly anticipated follow-up book The Conscious Closet: A Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good.
Far more than your average style guide, this paperback (which is printed using Sustainable Forestry certified paper and also available as an Audiobook) is “a call to action to transform one of the most polluting industries on earth — fashion — into a force for good.”
What I particularly love about it, is how Elizabeth recognises that we all take a different approach to fashion, plus different attitudes and needs when it comes to clothes. It’s split into six digestible parts, including “The Art of Less” and “The Art of More” and is packed with practical advice about everything from basic mending stitches to thrift techniques. Along the way, it’s peppered with short yet insightful Q&A interviews with the likes of Kathleen Talbot, VP of Sustainability at Reformation and Kate Sekules, Founder of The illustrated cover by Kaitlin Kall is chic and colourful, too.

by Lauren Bravo

Lauren Bravo’s writing is always a real treat to read thanks to the way her personality shines through in every article — even her Instagram bio makes me smile “London, clothes, custard.”
Lauren’s second book How To Break Up With Fast Fashion presents fast fashion as the ultimate toxic relationship and encourages you to fall back in love with the clothes that are already hanging up in your closet. A reminder that no outfit should cost the earth, this honest and relatable guide is packed with handy tips (personally, detoxing my inbox has been a real game-changer) and highlights some achievable ways to embrace slower dressing. If you’d like a little taster, here’s a link to an extract from Lauren’s book on Refinery 29. Her list of five fabrics that “don’t ruin the planet” includes Piñatex used to create the Liwan Forward collaboration, too.

by Dana Thomas

Dana Thomas is an acclaimed journalist and New York Times bestselling author who began her career writing for the style section of The Washington Post. Released a few years after her groundbreaking book Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes sees Dana deliver a comprehensive look at what designers and companies (both big and small) are doing to propel the broken fashion industry toward a better future. In order to do so, she travelled the world to speak to entrepreneurs and innovators, learning more about what these leaders of change are doing and the technology in development.It’s an engaging, eye-opening read that’s persuasively written.

by Clare Press

On my hour-long commute to work (which I never thought I’d find myself missing!) there’s nothing I love more than popping on my headphones and listening to the Wardrobe Crisis podcast. In the witty and persuasive book that sparked it, VOGUE’s first ever Sustainability Editor Clare Press — who also once ran a vintage store — explores the history and ethics behind what we wear and traces the origins of icons like Chanel and Dior. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this book is required reading for anyone who’s looking to feel good about their wardrobe again.