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The Eden Project biomes, seen from approach footpathThe best way to approach the Eden Project is on foot or by bike. You get glimpses of the famous biome bubbles along the road and ‘Gateway to Eden’ trail from the higher car parks, but only tantalisingly patchy views through trees. Depending on which direction you come in from, if not limited to the road then you can see across the whole site to whet your appetite.

(Ok, so I cheated – instead of travelling in on one of the historical ‘clay trails’ from the area’s industrial roots, I was staying in the YHA hostel just up the hill. But that did mean I got to see the sun rise over the biomes!)

“Eden’s quest is to make the growing of food and the nurture of food hipper than rocking horse shit” – Sir Tim Smit, Co-founder of the Eden Project

I visited the Eden Project at the end of November for a long weekend. I’d seen that they were holding their second ‘Festival of Hope’, and thought it sounded just the thing to counter seasonal and certain vote-related blues.

The event was a great combination of inspirational actors in sustainability alongside speakers with huge passion and knowledge in their field of expertise. Various organisations also exhibited their innovations, local solutions to global issues, and mechanisms to just be the change you want to see in the world.

I took something away from every speaker, and wanted to try to reflect the variety and strength of their messages and actions. I’ve pulled these together as follows:

Part 1: Issues and ideas (below)

Part 2: Festival of Hope: Calls to action

Part 3: Festival of Hope: Inspiration and change champions

Issues and ideas (Festival of Hope Part I)

THE RISING TIDE, by artist Jason deCaires Taylor. At the Eden Project.

Did you know?

  • Between 2002-2012, more plastic was produced than in the previous century.
  • 1.1 gallons of water are needed to grow one almond. California are in a 6-year catastrophic drought, and having to chop down almond trees. Look for alternative nuts and nut milks if you can.
  • 1.3 billion tonnes of the world’s food is wasted per year. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter.
  • Tar sands output has up to 5 times the carbon footprint of normal oil.
  • The fashion industry is the second-most polluting industry on the planet.
  • The average drill is only used for two minutes of its lifetime.

Renault electric vehicle - special for Christmas at the Eden Project

Ben Fletcher, Renault UK

An electric vehicle (EV) emits an average of 54 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (54 g/km CO2). Meanwhile, an average new petrol car emits 146 g/km CO2. As the National Grid continues to decarbonise, the carbon footprint of your average EV will keep dropping – along with its cost per mile.

Average cost per mile for petrol car: 12p/mile. Average cost of EV per mile: <2p/mile (and it’s possible to do even better, for example by using public networks to charge your car)

The new Renault Zoe has a ‘real-world range’ of 186 miles, and Renault have a battery lease programme and warranty service that guarantees the battery to 75% of capacity.

EcoNyl rash vest from Fourth Element

Jim Standing, Fourth Element

640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are lost to the sea each year, usually snagged on wrecks and reefs. These continue to ‘fish’, drowning animals and raking over reefs.

Over 100,000 tonnes of nets were recovered last year through this one company. The amount being lost is reducing and the amount being recovered is increasing, as is awareness amongst the fishing community.

‘Econyl’ is nylon yarn recycled from donated end-of-life nets and recovered ghost nets. Econyl production for Fourth Element saves enough energy (vs. virgin materials) to power Truro; saves CO2; reduces raw material demand; and creates attractive swimwear! The company are looking into a process for non-nylon net, and if successful want to work across Cornwall to collect up all lost fishing net for recycling.

Find out more about Fourth Element

Spiezia Organics, supporting zero plastic waste in the oceans

Amanda Barlow, Spieziea Organics

It is estimated there will be at least 250 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans by 2023.

In one 150ml shower gel container, there could be 2.8 million plastic particles. ‘Microbeads’ – tiny pieces of plastic – are predominantly in wash-off products: shower gels, shampoo and toothpaste.

Go organic to avoid plastic in your products, and look for natural alternatives like facial scrubs with oatmeal as the active exfoliant.

“357,000 people signed a petition to ban the microbead, and that’s why Waitrose have said they won’t have them in any product by 2017. We have the power; we can make changes!”

Find out more about Spiezia Organics

Sir Tim Smit paid homage to Barbara Ward (author, and founder of the International Institute for Environment and Development) at the event. She has said that “We have the duty to hope” – the phrase that inspired this blog post’s title.

Find out more about the Eden Project

Find out more about the Festival of Hope

Next section

Part II: Calls to action

About the author – Cat Darsley, CHAIN Comms Officer

I moved to Norwich in February 2016, and am enjoying celebrating the challenge of a low carbon lifestyle despite the pressures of our modern society. From vegan baking experiments to UK exploration, I continue to get excited about the huge amount of possibility within low-impact choices!