In 2017, we launched ‘Sustinere’, an Ozone Coffee series of events which showcase and celebrate sustainability and ethical practices in the hospitality industry. In March 2018, our collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Earth Hour saw a candlelit evening of discussion, conversation and of course, delicious food. We are constantly striving to improve our sustainable practices in all areas of the company and look to organisations such as WWF and events like Earth Hour to inspire us.
WWF work with hospitality business owners and operators to lead by example and take advantage of the influence we have on our communities. It’s this support that has helped WWF provide solutions for the environmental challenges we face. The annual event, Earth Hour has influenced climate policy in Argentina, Ecuador and Wales, and is responsible for a ban on plastic in the Galapagos Islands; but they know their work is far from finished.
As our future generations look to face the worst environmental affects of our broken planet, we can’t leave this for them to solve at a later date – it will be too late. Events such as Earth Hour are crucial to help the world to sit up, take notice, and take action.
This year marks Earth Hour’s 11th year since inception – what changes in public attitude towards environmental issues have you seen in that time, and what would you like to see in the coming years?
On climate change, I believe we’re finally getting away from the idea that it’s controversial – that maybe there’s evidence it’s not happening. Of course, there are still climate change denying voices, but the public – wherever you ask them about it – believe that climate change is happening, that it’s caused by humans, and that we need to tackle it. According to a poll last year, over two thirds of the UK think this way. For 80% of them, climate change’s impact on wildlife and nature is their main worry.
When the World Economic Forum surveys Millennials around the world each year, they find climate change and environmental issues are at the top of the list of what worry them the most. Politicians now recognise that, which is why we’re seeing some encouraging changes in the UK.
Take plastics – it felt like a big step to put a tiny charge on plastic bags, just two and a half years ago. Now, the Government is talking about charges on other plastics, about deposit schemes to encourage recycling, and a ban on plastic straws. The television series Blue Planet II told an amazing story about our oceans and the impact of plastics. We now have to tell the same stories about the other environmental impacts – climate, our food system, waste, and other forms of pollution. That’s what we try and do with Earth Hour each year, and we hope to step it up in a really big way over the next year or so.
For hospitality, a lot of our trade is around disposable consumables. What major impact have you seen on the environment as a direct result of this?
The impact of disposable – but horrifyingly durable – consumables have become so big that it’s now impossible to ignore. Plastic waste litters every corner of our planet – from the slopes of Everest, to the depths of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. We’re now eating and drinking through plastic waste because it’s so firmly embedded in the food chain – from years of just ‘chucking it away’ and not caring what happened to it. The horror around the scale of it is only matched by the realisation that we don’t know
what impact it’s going to have on human health in the long term. We already know the devastating impact it’s having on wildlife (anyone who didn’t weep when Sir David Attenborough described seeing albatrosses feeding plastic to their chicks has no soul) and it’s our revulsion at this that’s turning the tide.
Businesses of all kinds have a huge impact on the environment – materials, consumables, supply chain logistics, energy use. When businesses make an effort to reduce their impact, it not only contributes to wider action but it also shows others how it can be done.