Tag Archives: sustainability

28 Days of Inspiration – Day 23: Scotlands culinary delights?

Beyond Haggis, Whisky and deep-fried Mars bars

I am up in Scotland this weekend and finding myself inspired by the myriad of community initiatives around food.

farm scotland

The closer people come to understanding and engaging with their food source, the better they can make decisions about what to eat. Ultimately better decisions around food choice can positively impact the food system, shifting towards organic, local and seasonal produce. Where this also engages the community it can result in a more equitable and resilient system.

The Fife Diet aims to develop collective and participatory approaches to reduce our impact on the wider environment through the food choices we make. It links community members through a New Food Manifesto, which aims to get an understanding of how food can be part of restorative practice across health and well-being ecology and community. They have some fascinating initiatives and are currently looking at starting a co-op to support access to local, organics products.

Bread is a food staple and there are a few community-owned bakeries which provide an opportunity for a community to engage in producing a food staple. Breadshare, says “Our mission is to serve and involve the community by making excellent, nutritious bread using organic ingredients and distinctive local products, helping to create a more sustainable and health-enhancing food system.”

Whitmuir aims to become Scotlands first community owned farm. They have a vision that it will become a national resource on sustainable food and farming, with discovery trails, exhibits, educational opportunities and citizen science projects. People can discover what bugs and beasties do all day; why organic farming is good for you and the planet; what makes a pig happy and how to grow your own food. They provide an opportunity to explore everything from the brilliance of clover to the intricacies of the carbon cycle. You can buy a share in the farm for as little as £50.

Tying it all together is Nourish Scotland. It host events, workshops towards reconnecting producers, growers, retailers, consumers and all who care for local, sustainable food to make healthy, local, seasonal, and organic food available everywhere in Scotland.

Hungry?  Time for a visit to Scotland then…

Initiatives from your region that are inspirational?  Please send them to us at info@6-heads.com.

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28 Days of Inspiration – Day 21: What’s for lunch?

Feeding the future

James discovers zero carbon farming – underground!


Here at 6heads we love food and we love the pioneers blazing an innovative trail in making our food more sustainable. On our harvest hike last autumn, Kate from GrowUp talked about how they are making their vision of closed-loop, hydroponic, rooftop, urban farms a reality. Or our friends at Hodmedods, a recent start-up seeking to encourage people in the UK to fall back in love with the humble fava bean as a low carbon protein source that can be grown here, in contrast to most other beans which are imported.

Perhaps most counter-intuitive is Zero Carbon Food’s current initiative to grow salad greens underground in an old London bomb shelter! As Stephen Drink points out it a Guardian article about the initiative: “Open field and greenhouse farmers are affected by low light, weather, pests, all of those issues”, says Dring. “Between 2009-2012 food inflation ran at about 32%. That’s because of issues with crop production and failed crops … down here we have no pests and a consistent temperature of 16C. Once we’ve put all the LED lights in they give off a little heat that will take us up to about 20C, perfect growing temperature.” The lights are currently powered by a renewable energy supplier, but they plan to generate their own renewable power on-site using wind and solar energy.

28 Days of Inspiration – Day 20: Grow your own… building

Grow your own building

James wonders if the buildings of the future be built from bricks biologically engineered to grow themselves from plant waste and fungal cells? 


Co.exist thinks so with their recent interview of David Benjamin, the creator of Hy-Fi, a giant circular tower that creates a cool micro-climate for pedestrians in searing city heat.

Hy-fi will be built this June at MoMA PS1 in New York using bricks, produced by the startup Ecovative, are grown from mycelium, or mushroom cells that grow upwards and outwards like a branch. Combined with agricultural waste like corn stalks, the materials fuse and shape into a solid brick–or into whatever shape the architect wants. And like other biological materials, when no longer needed as bricks, they can be composted and used as fertiliser.

The building is not just about using cradle-to-cradle thinking in material selection. The design itself turns the usual way that brick buildings work upside down. Lighter, porous materials are used at the base drawing cool air in, while hot air is vented from the top.

Given the high carbon-intensity many building materials (such as cement), this use of biological processes in construction results in a cheap building material that emits no carbon and creates no waste…

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28 Days of Inspiration – Day 19: Forty years of happy

Forward to the Past


Dwayne Baraka shares his inspiration:

I don’t know how I came across it, but it’s one of the things that I can’t imagine doing without. No, it’s not an Apple product. Giving them up was tough, but now I can’t imagine going back. Nor is it Google glass. (Actually, if you know how to get hold of one of those…)

It’s the Lewisham Toy Library, and I am in love with this model of shared product ownership.

I have a 17 month old boy, and for a very modest fee each year (24 pounds), I get to borrow a steady stream of toys. Many of the toys are focused on my little one’s development and many of them are wooden or deliberately focused on longevity and sustainability. Not a Barbie in sight, but there is a set of ‘different ability’ dolls to help teach children about things like diversity and difference. I have borrowed a staggering array of toys – musical instruments, balls, bath toys, battery powered things, cooking sets, blocks, books and tents – most of which I would never have bought. And all of which are a joy to my little boy, and have been since he was six months old.

I can’t wait to borrow a bicycle, or a trampoline, or the very technical-looking Meccano set as he grows older. I’m guessing that my wife and I have saved hundreds of pounds already, and over the lifetime of our membership will save thousands. Honestly, we could pay twice as much and that would still be true.

It also saves us an incredible amount of space. One of our friends sacrificed a full-size fridge to house all of their child’s toys, and we barely have more a freezer drawer’s worth. It’s recycling at its best. And it has allowed us to politely explain to relatives that our child has thousands of toys (literally, in a fashion).

Shared ownership is a good thing, but it’s not a new thing. The Lewisham Toy Library celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. If you’re wondering about the title, if Back to the Future can work, I figure Forward to the Past must work too?

Happy 40th Lewisham Toy Library!

Disclosure: The author recently became a committee member for the Lewisham Toy Library, and periodically receives a cup of tea and a biscuit at committee meetings and a sense of pride in supporting something that helps many.

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28 Days of Inspiration – Days 15, 16, 17: A triple whammy of ocean-based inspiration

Save our seas

We took a little break over the weekend – which means today you get a triple whammy of inspiration!

ocean bird

The theme is “save our seas” and it looks at three forward-thinking companies that are using the power of their supply chains to remove waste from the ocean, two inspirational people and one funky video.

Three forward-thinking companies make use of different mechanisms for change:

  1. Use of partnerships: Interface noticed that discarded fishing nets are a useful raw material for their manufacturing. By partnering with ZSL and other experts, they are converting these waste nets into carpet yarn. This has a three part effect: it shifts their supply chain from virgin raw material, removes ocean waste and pays poor communities for their discarded nets. http://www.interfaceglobal.com/Products/NetWorks.aspx
  2. Use of the celebrity factor: Singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams has launched a trendy denim line called G-Star raw made from recycled ocean plastic ‘bionic yarn’. https://www.g-star.com/en_us/rawfortheoceans/
  3. Use of demonstrator models: Method, an Ecover company, are showing how by clever design, alternatives exist to using virgin materials.  Working with employees and volunteers Method comb beaches for plastic which is turned into bottles. http://methodhome.com/ocean-plastic

Two inspirational people:

  1. Sylvia Earle is a passionate advocate in this area – you can view her Tedtalk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/sylvia_earle_s_ted_prize_wish_to_protect_our_oceans.html
  2. Boyan Slat, a 19 year old engineering student, has developed a device that collects ocean plastic  across vast areas and doesn’t affect marine life. His innovation could make a big difference to the cleanliness of oceans in the shorter-term and potentially could make up to $500 million a year from recycling the waste collected. http://www.boyanslat.com/plastic/

 One funky video:

This Disney video rocks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tK825QV-nZ0

Every piece of plastic ever made still exists. 

We, as individuals or part of organisations, must end our reliance on disposable plastic items and manage waste responsibly. 

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28 Days of Inspiration – Day 12: Made by you

Made by you

A new industrial revolution

Carolyn Wensley reflects on the blurring boundaries between designer, manufacturer and consumers …

This blurring removes barriers of access to manufacturing. It may revolutionise many industries, including the way homes are built. This offers an opportunity to transform community well-being and provide affordable housing.


WikiHouse (http://www.wikihouse.cc/) is an open source construction set. It allows anyone to design, download and make houses. These can be assembled without any bolts or screws and minimal training.

This technology has been adopted and developed by designers and users around the world – adapting to different locations reflecting the diverse environmental, cultural and historical contexts. It has been used for post-earthquake development in Christchurch, New Zealand and, Facit Homes (www.facit-homes.com), has been one of the first companies to digitally fabricate and manufacture an entire house on-site in the UK.

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28 Days of Inspiration – Day 11: Support for wavering resolutions

Support for wavering resolutions


Hannah notices that it is the time of year when self-improvement is in the air. Whether it’s going on a juice diet, sorting our finances, or kicking a bad habit. The start of the year is often when we try to address the parts of our lives we feel need improvement.

She recommends the School Of Life’s (http://www.theschooloflife.com) latest set of ‘everyday survival guide’ books to support you in achieving these new goals. These wonderful books offer ‘good advice for everyday life’, looking at ways to find fulfilment and happiness from the inside out. Whether that’s learning to deal with adversity, connecting with nature, changing the world for the better, or addressing our attitude to sex, the brilliant folks at the School of Life have an intriguing book for everyone. Go online to see their full catalogue:http://www.theschooloflife.com/shop/products/boxsets/

Or, if you want to go one step further, you can take one of their fabulous courses. Join Roman Krznaric to explore how empathy could revolutionise human relationships, learn how to find a job you love, or find out how to better read the news with Alain de Botton. Fill your boots with these mind-stretching ‘Sunday sermons’ and :special eventshttp://www.theschooloflife.com/shop/classroom/

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28 Days of Inspiration – Day 10: Hungry for change?

Hungry for Change?

Challenging accepted cultural habits


Isabella challenges your current eating habits by introducing the idea of eating more sustainable food, or more precisely eating protein in the form of insects. It might not immediately appeal to people in the western world, but insects are already eaten regularly by 80% of the world. Entomophagy (the consumption of insects) is seen by many as a solution to the challenge of feeding a growing population.

Insects are also entering the UK food market – last year, Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca put grasshoppers on their menu and asked costumers for feedback on the experience. Food start-up Ento are working towards getting people to eat insects by designing exciting food experiences that also raise awareness of insects’ manifold benefits for our health and the environment. I have personally tasted Ento’s products and can highly recommend them!

Hungry? Almost lunch time – what will you choose?
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28 Days of Inspiration – Day 9: What did you do last night?

What did you do last night?

Did you dance? Any power moves?

Today’s theme, submitted by Isabella, is people powered energy. Harvesting energy from human footsteps can contribute power required to light offices, shopping centres and railway stations through floor tiles that generate electricity when they are walked over.

You can “throw some shapes” on an energy self-sufficient dance floor. The “Sustainable Dance Floor” is available for hire and your audience will help you with the electricity bill of your event. This is creates an interactive environment that is educational.

Other applications include Pavegen Systems, a UK-based company tested their installation at West Ham underground station which was a main transport hub during the 2012 Olympic Games, generating the power required to keep the station’s lights on.

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28 Days of Inspiration – Day 8: Applied Biomimicry


Designing with Nature

Applied Biomimcry

Today’s theme is provided by Isabella and it is Biomimicry – applying nature’s genius to human design challenges. Janine Benyus is the most prominent advocate of this concept that lets us apply insights from nature’s 3.8 billion years R&D to new products and processes.

There are many examples of innovation inspired by nature that have been established in different markets, but one emergent example that I find particularly fascinating is theSahara Forest Project. Michael Pawlyn and his organisation Exploration are demonstrating a pilot project that combines two proven technologies in a new way to create multiple benefits: producing large amounts of renewable energy, food and water as well as reversing desertification. A major element of the proposal is a seawater-cooled greenhouse that creates a cool growing environment in hot parts of the world and is a net producer of distilled water from seawater. The second technology, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) involves concentrating the sun’s heat to create steam that drives conventional turbines, producing zero carbon electricity twice as efficiently as photovoltaics. 

Michael Pawlyn will be giving a talk on Feb 17 as part of Exploration’s “Designing with Nature” exhibition where you can find out more about the Sahara Forest Project and other biomimicry initiatives.
Exploration Architecture: Designing with Nature  7 February – 15 March 2014

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