One of the best things about being an environmental campaigner, consultant and writer is that I get involved in a huge range of issues, across many different sectors. I’ve been the key note speaker at The Green Funerals Exhibition, spoken at conferences on chocolate and disposable hygiene products, challenged the Japanese on whaling and disposable chopsticks and started campaigns on climate friendly refrigeration, waste electrical products, and our disposable society. I’ve also spent a lot of time researching the best solutions for eco-renovating a London flat and farmhouse in Dorset – and I drive a fully electric car.
Topics here are listed in alphabetical order. Click on the icon and see relevant posts.
Tackling family planning in developing countries has a multitude of benefits for individuals, communities and the environment. I’ve decided to become a Trustee of CHASE Africa, which is enabling women to choose the number and spacing of their children.
One of my bugbears is huge tractors. To me they symbolise so many things that are wrong with modern, intensive agriculture. I sat on the Food Ethics Council for several years and have written about food and farming in many of my books.
Fast disposable fashion is incredibly wasteful – huge quantities of clothes end up being incinerated or sent to landfill, every year. And, choosing which material is best is not so easy either – cotton, wool, synthetics all have significant impacts.
‘Eat the fridge’ suppers are quite common in our house – it’s one of my ways of minimising food waste. Another challenge is knowing too much about the sustainability impacts of food – it makes food shopping a minefield.
My campaigning life has primarily been focused on business, using market forces to push for change. It’s much more difficult to get governments to be bold and proactive. This view was reinforced by a couple of terms as a District Councillor in Somerset.
Our household is now fully fitted with LED lamps, but it hasn’t been an easy process. One of the worst lighting trends is the introduction of integrated lamps designed to be discarded when the bulb blows.
I’m sure that the growing appetite for eating less meat is positive for the planet, but I’m not a vegetarian. I make sure that the meat I eat is good quality and local. And, I try to support sustainable fishing practices, even if it means avoiding fish that I really enjoy eating.
“Green Princess risks arrest in M&S” – centre page spread of the Today newspaper in 1989. It was reporting on the saga of me refusing a plastic bag at an M&S store. Many years later I advised M&S on their packaging policy – and have been writing, campaigning and consulting on packaging issues ever since.
Everyone has gone bonkers about plastic suggesting the most crazy solutions to the problem. We are an incredibly wasteful society and huge quantities of plastic are getting into the ocean – so we need to come up with intelligent and creative solutions that don’t simply solve one problem and create another.
My first proper job was in advertising – it’s where I learnt the value of research and information. The experience also made me recognise the importance of communication, which has been key to my writing and campaigning.
I hate air conditioning – it’s noisy, energy guzzling and often set at far too low a temperature. I helped the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) set up their Chilling Facts campaign, focusing on encouraging supermarkets to move to more climate-friendly cooling.
The supermarkets were quick to respond to our challenges on their environmental performance, in 1988. Following publication of our Green Consumer Guide we found they’d all recruited environmental advisors. It’s been a key issue for them ever since.
When people see me driving a Tesla, they often ask when I have ‘range anxiety’. The answer is that this is very rarely an issue, as it’s almost aways charged at home. But, I’m very frustrated by having lots of different charging systems – and I’m not a fan of hybrids.
On a recent trip to the desert in Oman, I asked our travel agent to stipulate ‘no disposable crockery and cutlery and refillable water bottles’. I realised on arrival that this had caused a big upheaval, but it was done. Holidays are a time for campaigning – I often challenge hotels or support good practice.
Technology and innovation have made humans the most wasteful species on the planet. In the 21st century, we must use our ingenuity to turn this around and make progress without waste. This is going to be the primary issue I’ll be working on over next few years.