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Thoughts from author: jess sansom

old becomes new

We like a lot of things at innocent - fruit, veg, knitting, cake, more cake, and you can never go wrong with a good t-shirt. The problem is that it's easy to accumulate t-shirts, and some are better than others. Before you know it you have created your own t-shirt mountain, and you only ever wear the ones at the top of the pile.

This is where do the green thing's latest initiative comes in handy. They are collecting old, unfashionable (in your eyes), unloved t-shirts doomed to life at the bottom of the pile or worse still landfill, and adding a bit of stitching, creative brilliance and love to turn them into something trendy and fabulous.

You can donate a t-shirt, buy a t-shirt (including ones donated by celebs), or give one to a friend.

You can also check out the t-shirts in various venues across London.

Tshirts

Now back to the cake...

knit 5, purl 2, sustainable living

So as you have probably noticed, it's that time of the year when we run the big knit - our campaign to help keep thousands of older people across the UK warm and healthy during the chilly winter months.

It's also that time of year when the days are getting shorter, it's only really warm if you're standing in direct sunlight with no wind, and you start thinking about turning on the heating again. During a visit to one of our suppliers we were asking them about the actions they take to use a little less and Chris told us about using wool from his sheep to make jumpers for the family.

Chris Glasspool - Gerber

It reminded me of the campaign run by Global Cool last year - 18 degrees of inspiration. Where they talked about really simple ways to stop wasting cash, look better (even lose weight) and reduce energy usage.


I think Rach from innocent watched their video.

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So if your knitting skills are honed from producing hats for our little bottles, perhaps consider trying a jumper (or in my case a scarf - I need to keep practising).

Jess

waste not want not

So last week we told you about our quest to gather some positive stories about actions people are taking to reduce their carbon footprints.

This week we focus on waste. Did you know that UK households produce 106 million tonnes of waste each year? And 8.3 million tonnes of this is food. A lot of the time the food has to be thrown away as we simply bought too much and didn't get through it all (easily prevented by not going to the supermarket when you are hungry...). Biodegradable matter in landfill (food, paper, garden waste etc) produces methane when it breaks down, a powerful greenhouse gas (25x worse than carbon dioxide).

So what are people in Fruit Towers doing to tackle the rubbish bin...

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Sustainability Lou sets a fabulous example by planning her weekly shop so as not to waste any food - although she did admit to the odd bit of lettuce going astray.

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Clover not only works hard on finding recycled packaging for innocent products but when she is at home she recycles all her garden and food waste.

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Annabel has bought herself a lovely shiny new composter (although a little less shiny now).

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Fliss has ensured that her bunnies need not feel guilty - their droppings (a much nicer word than poo) go into the composter.

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Dave keeps a beady eye on his housemates to make sure that they are doing the right thing at the recycling bin. Dave sits opposite Sustainability Jess and Sustainability Lou - so he really should know what he is doing.

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Apparently Alan thinks recycling is fun - I got the impression there was some sarcasm being expressed, but I ignored it as long as he keeps recycling.

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Julia has committed to improve her recycling performance, although to be fair it sounded like she was already pretty good at it. Always striving to improve seems to be a common trait in the finance team, must investigate that further sometime.

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Charlie makes sure that she buys recycled loo roll - after all we need to buy the products that are made with all the materials that people recycled (with no market for recycled products the economic argument for recycling goes out the window). That's one of the reasons we use 100% recycled plastic in our bottles (and it halved the carbon associated with the bottle).

Want to know more about what to do with waste? Look here or some ideas to reduce food waste. Got a bit of left over smoothie? You can make some nice cupcakes.

Hopefully some food for thought.. I am off to find a composter for my shiny new garden.


a little less

Climate change - no doubt about it, a fairly sizeable problem. It's pretty easy to feel overwhelmed by the science, the required reduction in emissions, and before you know it, you wonder if there is any chance of solving this gargantuan (yes, I had to spell check it) issue.

At innocent we've been working on our carbon footprint for a number of years - be it introducing our 100% recycled plastic bottle, lightweighting our packaging, or challenging our suppliers to improve their energy, water and waste performance year on year.

We feel pretty positive that we can successfully tackle climate change. Most of the actions we take not only reduce our carbon footprint, but also make commercial sense - if you use less you pay less - not exactly rocket science.

We want people to feel more positive about tackling climate change, but talking about air compressors, reductions in blend waste, and energy capture is not inspiring for everyone. So we decided to start collecting examples of what people do in their day to day lives. Whilst each example might not make that much difference with just one person, when loads of people do it, then we start to get somewhere.

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Super Eddie told us how he only turns on the lights in the office when we need them.

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Whereas Delia doesn't turn on the lights at all if she knows her way.

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Caroline makes sure if she does turn on the lights that they are powered by 100% renewable energy.

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So does Ben W (although he was concerned he was having a bad hair day).

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Simon is making sure he only buys new clothes when his existing ones are truly worn out (check out his elbow) - thankfully Rach is pretty handy with her darning skills, and she even makes her own clothes.

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Steve has ditched the car for coming to work, and now uses a train and bicycle combo.

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Kate gave up her car entirely - very impressive.

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Philippa does loads of stuff herself, but is really proud of her mum for putting in solar panels.

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Jeremy uses a lot less toilet paper... we didn't push him for details though.

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And Eva has even gone so far as to change her career to work in sustainability - including studying for her Masters.

We have loads more stories which we will be sharing - we hope that reading these have made you feel a bit more positive about things.

If you want some ideas for stuff you can do - check out http://www.wearewhatwedo.org/. Or if you want to share your actions with us, then please comment on this blog.

Here's to the future.

kenyan mango safari

Most people associate a trip to Kenya with a safari adventure, but last week Atha and I were hunting a different kind of beast - the ngowe mango. It's a african variety of mango that we think could taste nice in our drinks, and it would allow us to make our first purchase of fruit from smallholder farmers in Africa.

The ngowe mango tree looks like this.

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We want to make sure that our trade with these farmers is more than just a sales contract - we want to work out how we can help to make a material difference to their lives, even if it is just a little bit.

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We visited a number of farmers to learn all about the ngowe mango and the challenges they face to earn sufficient income. We also talked with great organisations like Technoserve, Fintrac and FARM Africa to learn how they work with these farmers to improve their productivity and help them to gain greater access to markets and finance.

A lot of the farms are in remote areas which makes it very difficult to transport the fruit to markets.

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The farmers usually grow a mix of cash crops (ones which can earn them an income) like mango, papaya and banana, and then grow food crops like maize for the family to eat. If they can afford it, the farmers will also keep a goat or a cow to provide milk.

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We hope to make our first purchase of mango at the end of this year, so we will keep you updated on our progress and how we will be working with these farmers.

Many thanks to everyone we met for spending time with us and teaching us so much, and to the Technoserve team for showing us around in Kenya - it's a beautiful country.

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Jess and Atha