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Sustainable Living Guide

Sustainable Living Guide

The Soil Association has created a FREE digital Sustainable Living Guide! In the guide, you’ll find lots of ways you can help restore nature, health, and a safe climate from the ground up. Covering all areas of sustainability, with a number of small changes you can make at home and advice on bigger changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint and support a sustainable future. This guide includes:

  • The latest on packaging
  • Creating a wildlife friendly garden
  • How to avoid greenwashing
  • The link between your finances and sustainability, from Triodos Bank
  • Energy saving advice, from the Centre for Sustainable Energy
  • Sustainable travel tips, from Sustrans

You can download the guide from the soil association web site www.soilassociation.org or try the link


Government backpedalling

Government policies

The Soil Association has flagged its serious concern about reports that the Westminster government might backpedal on plans to make sure farm subsidies benefit nature and climate.  Head of Farming Policy, Gareth Morgan said  that such a move would be "an outrage".

The Soil Association is also asking the new Defra ministers to make sure that farmers that do most for the environment - such as organic farmers - are properly rewarded for the benefits they provide. "We know most farmers care deeply about  the environment and it is vital that they’re rewarded to protect it – especially in the face of trade deals that threaten to undercut British farmers with imports of food ordered to lower environmental and animal welfare standards. Government must proceed with the most evidence-based solution – a rapid shift to agroecological, nature-friendly farming.

Saving our food - wemove.eu

People dressed as vegetables with one woman holding a sign saying "No patents on seeds"In March a bunch of screaming broccoli and tomatoes in Munich stood outside of the European Patent Office (EPO) to save the future of our food! Our partners and the voices of more than 180,000 people from our community protested to stop companies like Bayer-Monsanto or Carlsberg from having the exclusive right to grow our fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Our voices were heard! The Chairman of the EPO, Josef Kratochvíl, three days after our protest wrote us an official letter saying that he “respects the opinion of civil society groups” and ”welcomes a fruitful dialogue with these groups.” Last year, the EPO officially accepted that conventionally-bred plants are not patentable. But Bayer-Monsanto and others are abusing the European patent system to take control of our food. They want to decide what we eat, what farmers produce, what retailers sell, and how much we all have to pay for it. While the Chairman says that he respects and welcomes our opinion, this just isn’t enough. They must close all legal loopholes in patent law that allow companies to register new patents on tomatoes, barely, melons, and all natural foods. The EPO will meet again at the end of June and its chairman wants a “fruitful” dialogue. We’re currently planning another action prior to this meeting to ensure they’ll get our message: make a final decision to close loopholes and stop patents on seeds once and for all!

More detail and sign the petition from www.wemove.eu

Stop Poison Poultry

The Soil Association is running a campaign Stop Poison Poultry as they raise raising awareness of the toxic pesticides sprayed on soya crops across Brazil – pesticides that are dangerous to farm workers and their families and wreak havoc on Brazilian biodiversity. As the soya is exported to the UK and fed to millions of British chickens, they are  calling on supermarkets to pay urgent attention to pesticides and scrub their chicken supply chains clean.
There is an alternative created through Innovative Farmers  where research by one farmer has been growing vetch and sprouting the seeds which he feeds to his chickens, these are more nutritious and converted into a reliable source of protein. Vetch is a useful crop as it’s a nitrogen fixer. Read more at www.innovativefarmers.org
You can find out more about the campaign and add your name via the link below. https://act.soilassociation.org/stop-poison-poultry

Ban urban and garden pesticides

Professor Dave Goulson of Sussex University has launched a petition to end the use of pesticides in urban areas and to ban their sale for garden use. Urban parks and gardens can become a network of havens for insects and wildlife, but this is threatened by the use of pesticides when nature-friendly alternatives are available.
The petition is named: Ban urban and garden pesticides to protect bees, other wildlife and human health. You can find and sign the petition here: Petition to ban urban and garden pesticides

UPDATE August 2021:

The Government is committed to supporting alternatives to chemical pest control and recently consulted on a National Action Plan to minimise the risks and impacts associated with pesticides.

The UK Government’s priority with regards to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or wildlife, or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. To this end, we operate a strict system for regulating pesticides.

A pesticide may only be placed on the market in the UK if the product has been authorised by our regulator, the Health and Safety Executive, following a thorough risk assessment, which includes impacts on people, animals and the environment. If there are found to be unacceptable risks, to pollinators for example, the product is not authorised. The risk assessment also specifically addresses the situation of people living near where pesticides are used. Pesticide users are legally required to ensure that use is kept to the area to be treated and not allowed to drift onto neighbouring properties, and there are statutory conditions of use for all authorised pesticide products that must be followed.

The Government is committed to supporting alternatives to chemical pesticides. In our 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government has outlined its approach to reducing the environmental impact of pesticides. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) lies at the heart of our approach to maximise the use of non-chemical control techniques and minimise the use of chemical pesticides. IPM is defined as the combined use of all available control methods. This means that pesticide users can take a holistic approach in reducing the associated risks (including indirect effects) whilst combating pest resistance. IPM also includes measures to optimise pesticide application, with the aim of reducing non target effects and unnecessary environmental exposure. This includes increasing the use of nature-based, low toxicity solutions and precision technologies, with the potential to enhance biodiversity, as well as benefit pollinators.

Our approach is detailed in the draft revised ‘National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides’ (NAP), which sets out the ambition to improve indicators of pesticide usage, risk and impacts. This was the subject of a recent public consultation, with over 1,500 responses received and analysed. The summary of responses will be published in due course and the revised NAP later this year.

The objective must be to reduce the risks and impacts associated with pesticides. These depend not only on the amount of pesticide used, but which pesticide is used and where use takes place. The draft revised NAP supports the development of low toxicity methods and improved advice and support for pesticides users, to reduce their impacts on human health and the environment.

We are also taking action alongside many partners to implement the National Pollinator Strategy’s provisions to help wild and managed pollinators to thrive. The Strategy sets out actions to address key risks and pressures, such as: habitat loss and fragmentation; invasive species; pests and disease; and climate change. This includes supporting IPM by restoring and creating habitats in rural and urban areas, including parks and gardens, and raising awareness across society so that people can take action themselves, by carefully considering whether or not to use pesticides in gardens, parks and other urban areas.

More broadly, our Environment Bill sets a new legal foundation for Government action to improve the environment. For example, it introduces Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs) to underpin the development of the Nature Recovery Network (NRN), an expanded and better-connected network of places that are richer in wildlife, more resilient to climate change and provide a range of benefits for people. LNRSs and the NRN Delivery Partnership, led by Natural England, will help bring people and organisations together at local and national levels to identify priorities and opportunities for nature recovery. We are integrating the goals for the network into a wide range of funding streams, including: land management schemes that reward environmental benefits; biodiversity net gain; and the Nature for Climate Fund.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs