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Thoughts from author: Anna Clare

jasper's sustainability round-up

Jasper is our office superman. That means he does all of the tricky practical jobs that crop up around Fruit Towers and generally keeps everything ship shape. Since the start of the year, he’s been working on a project to make the office as sustainable as it can possibly be. We thought some of his successes were worth shouting about, so here are a few of the highlights:

 

The gas we use to power the boilers will soon be super green and we will be using 100% biogas from 1 August. This is a major win as most gas contracts only offer a 10% biogas rate. The biomethane we will be using is generated from smelly stuff like organic matter and manure. However, it is essentially scrubbed and cleaned before being put back into the national grid so don’t worry - we won’t have any farm smells coming from our boilers just yet.

From 1 August we will also start a new electricity contract and will be able to choose exactly which renewable suppliers give us our energy, be it a wind turbine in the Quantocks or a hydroplant in Wales. The 100% renewable energy we use can therefore be tracked and we can even create an energy trail, working out exactly how far our electricity has travelled to get to us.

From the beginning of May we will have LED lighting in the front and back staircases and the loos. This is one of the most ecological systems we can use and reduces our energy use and costs.

We’ve replaced our courier service with Green Couriers, a sustainable and ultra-green company. All of the bright green vehicles that Green Courier use are at the very least low-emission, but will often be ultra-low emission hybrids and 100% electric vehicles.

The Bugrassi Veyron, our new little grassy van, is running on the latest Euro 6 engine with significantly reduced emissions. We are working on the rest.

 

We have been working with the Goldfinger Factory, a community furniture workshop based underneath the Trellick Tower (just down the road from Fruit Towers) that have been recently involved with designing a range with Tom Dixon. Jasper has been using them to reuse and up-cycle old furniture, our old benches went to a vocational school in Fulham and they built our second Big Knit crate out of re-used plywood.

Our waste collections are now managed by First Mile, a company with the capacity to recycle 99% of our office waste. They have been turning our food waste and compost into renewable energy and fertiliser and taking our mixed recycling to a state of the art facility in Bow where it is then sorted and sent on to be turned into brand new shiny things. Even our general waste is sorted and then incinerated to produce energy and heat. Nothing goes to landfill so we are leaving no trace behind us.

 

Additionally they have the ability to send us reports letting us know our exact recycling rate, how many tonnes of CO2 we have saved and even how many trees we have saved through our recycling efforts. They are currently also doing magical things like turning our coffee grounds into biomass pellets and briquettes.

 

Some of our new chairs are made by a company called Solidwool. Each chair is made from the sustainably produced wool of one Herdwick Sheep and is combined with a bio-resin made of 30% renewable content. Solidwool have pioneered a material that champions the beauty of British wool, unfortunately a product with barely any demand. By combining the wool with wood from Somerset and fabricating the chairs in their Devon workshop they have created a truly British product which also just happens to look rather nice in our meeting rooms.

Jasper has definitely been keeping our office green, and he assures us he has even more sustainable plans up his banana covered sleeve for the future. Cheers, Jasper. For this, and for agreeing to climb into a bin for a photo opportunity.

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Becky's visit to Cambodia

In December, our Becky went on holiday to Cambodia. Here she is on holiday, wearing a nice hat.

As well as going over to Cambodia to catch some winter sun and try on local hats, she also paid a visit to one of the projects the innocent foundation is working on with ADD International.

ADD International are a UK based disability rights organisation  who work as a major ally to the global disability movement. They partner with disability activists in Africa and Asia to help them access the tools, resources and support they need to build powerful movements for change.

ADD International is currently working to help women with disabilities in Cambodia, through providing loans and grants for farming training as well as advising on income management and talking to families and communities about disabilities to increase understanding. People with disabilities in Cambodia are often the poorest of the poor and are highly discriminated against. Disability has its own stigma present in every society but in parts of Cambodia discrimination towards disabled people can be particularly oppressive. Disabled people are often considered weak, worthless and in some cases, subhuman. Women with disabilities are marginalised and excluded to an even higher extent, discriminated against for both their gender and their impairment.

As part of this project, disability activists supported by ADD International run self-help groups where women meet weekly to share tips and get help if they need it. Becky went along to one these meetings so she could listen to any problems that might be having and they could ask her a few questions. The local chief even turned up, and asked how people with disabilities are treated in the UK. They found it inspirational that disabled people are integrated into society, and hoped that that could become a reality for Cambodia one day.

After the meeting, Becky went to meet a lady called Kem De. During the Khmer Rouge regime, Kem De was injured and, as a result, she can’t walk or dress herself. Her husband left her after she sustained her injuries, so she now lives with her elderly mother. Before the project, Kem De would lie on her wooden bed, alone for most of the day, saying she felt like a burden to her family.

Now that she’s involved in the farming project, her mother does the physical farming much closer to home, with Kem De directing her and looking after their finances. She is now on the third cycle of pig rearing and has more money than she did. She’s also been made a role model for the project within her community, meaning that other people come to her for advice. She’s much more included in the community and is much happier and more empowered as a result.

This three-year project with ADD International is funded by the innocent foundation, whose main mission is to help hungry people around the world. Most of the women Becky met in Cambodia were living on one meal a day before the project but now, with the money they’re earning, they can afford to eat much better. The innocent foundation hopes to reach many more hungry people so that they can take control of their lives and access enough food for themselves and their families.

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the smoothie's new clothes

Recently, we realised we hadn't updated our kids smoothie packaging in a long time. so, we decided to give it a bit of a makeover. Basically, we made it all colourful and put some really big fruit on it. Fancy.

 

While the new look has been a hit with most little ones, a lady called Jo got in touch to say that her autistic son, Zac, was struggling to adjust to the change. This was a big problem as our drinks had been the main source of fruit & veg in his diet. 

We wanted to help Jo and Zac, so we put our heads together and created a little pop-up book to explain things to him in an interactive way (which you can see in the photo above) . Jo got back to us to say that Zac loved the book, and was happily drinking our smoothies again. Absolute music to our ears.

We've since heard from a few parents of autistic children that their little ones are also finding it hard to adjust to the drinks' new look. If you think the book is something that could help them understand things a bit better, you can print out a copy from this pdf which also includes a few instruction on how to put it together.

We hope that helps but if you do have any more problems please drop us a message at hello@innocentdrinks.co.uk or call our bananaphone on 020 7993 3311

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everybody needs good neighbours

It’s a bit of a thing in London that people don’t know their neighbours very well. In fact, only 32%* of people know their nearest neighbour’s names, and only 19%* would call them friends. 

We think that’s a big shame because research shows that strong neighbourhood networks can have a significant impact on quality of life. Knowing people in your local community reduces isolation and increases a sense of belonging, as well as more practical things like providing reliable informal childcare and security for your house when you’re on holiday. There is also evidence that knowing your neighbours is linked to lower levels of crime, and improved educational achievement and health.

We’ve been knocking about in West London since we started up in 1999 (we launched from a tiny office about 400 yards down the road from where we are now) so W10 has always been our home. It’s changed a lot over the last 18 years, so we thought it would be good to make sure we’re still connected with with our neighbours. We also wanted to change people’s perceptions around connecting with their own neighbours, and make it easier for them to strike up a chat.

So last week we sent out a little pack to all of our closest neighbours. It looked like this:

It encouraged people to drop a note to their own neighbours and pop into Fruit Towers for a smoothie (or two). We’ve already had a lovely man called Lee drop in (he dressed up for the occasion), and we hope more of our neighbours take us up on the offer.

If you’ve got any neighbourly insights to share, or want to find out more about the project, drop us an email at howdyneighbour@innocentdrinks.com and we'll be sure to help you spread the neighbourly good cheer.

*YouGov, 2013

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