One thing is for certain, there's no shortage of stories in the press telling us that mankind needs to live more sustainably. Whether that’s to combat a myriad of issues, such as pollution, mass extinction, rising sea levels or even climate change – the stories aren’t going away. Environmentalist wonder kid Greta Thunberg has been promoting civil disobedience in the name of combating climate change, while in Britain the rally cries for the Extinction Rebellion have shut down vast swathes of London and other cities and towns across the UK. The nation’s favorite David Attenborough has also been getting in on the action with his latest TV show on plastic and climate change. Sustainability's now top of the news agenda worldwide, and about time.
Few would disagree with these sentiments – they have to be shared by the majority - who doesn’t want to do the right thing for the world we live in? No one has a bad word to say about Thunberg, there were no counter protests against extinction rebellion protests and of course Attenborough’s word could never be questioned – that would be sacrilege, or worse, treason. So why has the uptake been slow to a mass change in the way we live our lives? A recent report by global management consultancy firm, Bain & Company, suggests that in the corporate world many CEOs do want to make a difference, they want to play a positive environmental role and declare sustainability a top priority by launching transformation programs, and committing millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of management time to the effort. Unfortunately, momentum fades. Sustainability for corporates is a big challenge, with making money and making money sustainably. Too many businesses view getting the same thing done sustainably as more hard work, and more time consuming than the way they have always done it. For the consumer of course, there are similar difficulties. With the best will in the world, cost, convenience, quality and habit are competing factors into people’s purchasing – and the sustainable option is not always easiest option. But that is not to say there is a groundswell of support for sustainable purchasing - a recent Forbes article reported that a new survey of over 1,000 consumers in the USA and UK concluded that 96% of people feel their own actions, such as donating, recycling or buying ethically, can make a difference. Over half believe that they personally can make a big difference. This is great news and goes to show that the social construct of being seen to have ‘sustainable lifestyles’ is gathering popularity. 88% of people answered yes to ‘Would you like brands to help you be more environmentally friendly and ethical in your daily life?’ whereas only 23% of people thought that brands make it easier for them to be environmentally friendly and ethical in their daily lives. Communities want to be sustainable, but find it difficult to do so without the innovations, and the disrupters that were present through the changes brought about by the tech revolution. Some industries have been quick off the mark, with plant based food technology companies such as Beyond Meat (the next generation of vegetarian meat) taking the world by storm complete with the stock market making big bets on its future earning potential. And who now can go down a street in, for example London, and not see an electric car charging bay, or traditional Oil & Gas companies promoting their green energy credentials. But of course there are many industries that are not as easy to disrupt and require investment, ideas and support in order to make real change. The ground swell is there however with a blend of consumer need and corporate support. What is needed is the entrepreneurial activity to create a more sustainable world.
At Square Mile Farms we are trying to do our bit, by bringing food production closer to the end consumer. We grow fresh, delicious and nutritious micro-greens, leafy-greens and herbs in central London, cutting down food miles. We use efficient controlled environment and vertical growing techniques to be as productive as we can be in the space we have available, thereby having a greater yield per unit area than traditional farming.
If you'd like to know more about us, or if you'd like to visit the farm, you can register here.