This is 3rd in a 5 part series looking at everyday activities, organisations and campaigns that support contributing to sustainable change. Although focused on Reading UK, it can hopefully inspire you to explore your local area or maybe instigate some of these yourself!
Hands up if you like food and drink. Yep, thought so. Well food is a biggy in sustainability, with almost a 1/3rd of all food produced wasted or lost globally every year and large impacts also occurring from the production of it around the world, water footprints, air miles, pesticides, packaging ……
The World Wide Fund for Nature infact published the Livewell 2020 Diet, which showed how a more sustainable Diet was also a healthy diet
The wealth of “issues” surrounding this area , also means there are loads of ways you can look at improving, while also enjoying!
At number 3 is:
3. Try eating, drinking, buying and growing more Local, Seasonal, Veggie and Homemade – Good for the environment and your tummy.
EXPLORING LOCAL & GETTING SEASONAL
Have you looked recently at where your veggies or fruit were grown, came from? Have a go and you may be surprised (or slightly shocked). In Winter it may be more obvious, as generally you can assume that less variety will be able to be grown in our lovely British climate. In summer however, you’ll still find tomatoes from Spain or Kenya, sitting next to that of British. In the UK you could say we’ve developed a very international and diverse taste, which is great in some ways, but it also feeds a demand for year round produce and never ending choice, coming at a cost to our environment as well as meaning that many of us have lost touch with our natural world and seasonality.
I recently listened to a lovely podcast on Seasonal Rhythm with Sas Petherick & The Quiet Heart , that also connected this with our disconnected lifestyles and wellbeing. Particularly listening to our needs and shifts over winter. This really resonated, the need to explore and follow more closely the flow and patterns of nature (don’t get me started on Biomimicry). How does this reflect in out food?
Now a pretty much bi-weekly Saturday morning tradition for us, is the Reading Farmers Market that has a range of sellers – fruit and vegetable, butcher, baker ….candle stick, no make that Gin maker! It’s part of the Thames Valley Farmers Market Cooperative , where you can find an overview of all the places and traders involved.
The Caversham Artisan and Farmers Market has also recently started, complimenting this on a Sunday, sneaking itself in behind Iceland.
Following on from last years first Reading Vegan Festival (that’s set to be happening again this year), there’ll be a new monthly Vegan focused market from the ethic collective popping up down by the Biscuit Tin outside the station, starting on the 24th of March.
Naturally if you’re buying from many of the locally based markets and farms, then you’ll generally be rooting for more seasonal produce. For inspiration and to help guide, I got myself an Eat Seasonably poster (warning February is a tough month, particularly if you’re not a fan of parsnips).
Local Tolhurst organic farm can also help you shift to more seasonal, organic and local produce as well as offering a box scheme and a buffet of great workshops coming up. Having also held the organic symbol for over 30 years, this makes them one of the longest running organic vegetable farms in England.
I also love that they’ve worked out their carbon footprint ( bit of a Life Cycle Analysis geek)
“The total carbon footprint for our business comes to around 8 tonnes, which is the same as an average house in the UK. We have a very low carbon footprint. Compared with supermarket conventional produce, we are 90% more efficient.”
DITCH THE PLASTIC AND GO PACKAGING FREE AT HOME AND ‘ON THE GO’
Often in tandem with buying more local, is shifting to produce with less packaging. Around the world there is a growing Zero Waste movement. Just check out many of the feeds on this on instagram for ideas and inspiration.
Having worked for a while in London for Waste Watch and Keep Britain Tidy, I’ve been involved in this area for a while now and watched and supported it to grow; from programme design, supporting startups and social enterprises, designing behaviour change campaigns and responding to UK and European regulation and legalisation. Check out The People’s Design Lab with Zero Waste Europe and The Rubbish Diet for some inspiration and examples of actions and products.
I have to admit, I’ve fallen a bit in love with The True Food Cooperative found up in Emmer Green, Caversham. Here, alongside their local veggie supply, you can find a whole range of eco foods and products, and fresh bread (try the olive).
One of the great things they have and encourage, is the ability to take your own bag, jar, storage container or invest in one of theirs to put the amount you want in and weigh, thus negating the need for more of that plastic. They also have refills for washing and cleaning liquid alongside a recycling spot for food pouches from the local (now global) baby food company, Ella’s Kitchen (although I’m not sure what they then do with them).
Pre-empting the governments ‘latte levy‘ plans, or, as I heard at an event last week in Westminster on waste with MP Mary Creagh, they missed out on calling it the “Coffee fee”……. Well Reading has already started it’s very own #RefillReading campaign, an initiative from the Transition Town group, getting local coffee shops onboard to offer discounts alongside encouraging the public to invest in their own reusuable coffee cup, including the option of a discounted Refill Reading branded ecoffee cup made from bamboo. I’ve been using one for a while now so it’s great to see more promotion of this and support the move away from unrecyclable single use cup.
There’s also a great Young Enterprise from Reading called Cherry on Top, encouraging us to “ Fill The Bottle Not The Earth” . Their aim is so reduce the amount of toxic plastics which are polluting the planet and enable people to increase their daily water intake with a funky refillable BPA free bottle that can be personalised your name on it. What a super idea. Reading Council and Thames water Well recently shared news that are looking at installing water fountains around Reading as well as Network Rail , so get those bottles at the ready!
GROW, SHARE & CELEBRATE
Whether you have a garden or not, there’s also a chance to get involved in local growing with initiatives such as Food4Families and their community allotments and Reading Food Growing Network. Alongside this, they’re also organisers of the Reading Town Meal, putting on a wonderful community meal for 1000 with trainee chefs from Reading College and using donated produce. It’s supported by a whole host of Green groups from in and around Reading and local volunteers, so a great chance to meet, find out about and chat to different groups.
This year, while volunteering, I learnt so much from the Reading Bee Keepers Group, including how to spot the Queen bee and that apparently the more local, the more likely taking honey may be able to build up your hayfever immunity.
GET PICKING AND BAKING
I know I’ve not even touched on local eateries that support eating out more sustainably, but check out edible reading for a whole host of reviews on different restaurants and pop-ups around the town. Also drinks….. I’m a big fan of the CAMRA Festival (was reminded of this as I sipped water from a glass from them last night, reuse everywhere). Anyway, hopefully this has given you a taster. So get out explore, experiment and enjoy!
Stay tuned for tips 3 to 5
- Broken doesn’t have to mean Goodbye – Repair, Mend, Maintain, Sew, Knit and Reinvent it!
- Get creative with what you have, learn and be inspired by others – Try making your own gifts, or perhaps give or take part in a workshop or events that support this
- Try eating and buying more Local, Seasonal, Veggie and homemade – Good for the environment and your tummy
- Always Question and Choose for Ethical and good design – Fairtrade, good materials, ethical policies, 2nd hand and support local and independent
- Get out, share and connect! There are loads of Community initiatives sharing Knowledge, Spaces, Connecting, creating Tech, Energy and supporting getting out into Nature