Serving up sustainability

There is a large market for sustainability, including coffee plantation communities.
There is a large market for sustainability, including coffee plantation communities. Photo: Lavazza Calendar 2019 by Ami Vitale

This is sponsored content for Lavazza Australia.

Eating and drinking locally-grown organic fare which is produced ethically is the best way to lower our impact on the planet.

Sounds simple, but is it?

Should you eat vegan, vegetarian or just indulge in meat-free Mondays? How can you minimise your food waste? What's better: compost or worm farm?

When you go out to eat, how do you check a restaurant's food procurement practices or waste policy? And are the organic vegetables you blew big bucks on from the farmers market last week turning to slime in your fridge because you haven't had time to cook?

With the overwhelming number of sustainability choices and behaviours, it's not a surprise our brains are too full to remember to bring our reusable cup to the cafe, even if we are committed to being better environmental citizens.

Climate change concern is real

Foreseechange forecaster Charlie Nelson says concern about climate change is now running as high as it was before the 2007 election, when emissions trading was a hot button issue and An Inconvenient Truth was released.

Nelson's 2018 research shows 51.7 per cent of his survey respondents rate the risk of climate change as being of equal or higher future importance than the cost of living, while 29.8 per cent "reported that climate change is of higher future importance than the cost of living," he says.

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Green Pages founder and environmental engineer Katie Patrick says there is a 'save the world' conundrum. People know we need to take action, but there's a disconnect between belief and behaviour.

Entrepreneur Ben Young - who founded frank green - understands the paradox between people's desires for a better planet and the action they take, after spending four years researching the reusable container market.

He knew people, especially the younger generation, wanted to do more for the planet. The question was how to get them to commit to reusables when real life gets in the way?

His genius twist was embedding Visa Paywave payment chips in reusable coffee cups, which forced people to take their frank green cup to the café. A vital addition of simplicity and convenience.

There is a market for sustainability

"There is a large market for sustainability as long as it makes consumers lives easier," says Young, adding that 54 countries across the world are using frank green reusable bottles and cups to reduce waste and protect our planet.

Patrick, who has just written a book How To Save The World, says; "We've educated people enough about sustainability, the next frontier is all psychological." And, making sure policy makers and everyday people adopt changes which mitigate climate change.

As founder of Hello World Labs, she says a mix of technology and gamification will inspire action, especially around everyday things like eating and drinking waste.

Her Zero Wastify app had garbage trucks measuring how much waste each household created, and then sent each house a personalised waste report by email or SMS so they could compare their waste to that generated by people in near proximity.

"Around 30 per cent of landfill contains green waste - half is food and half is garden waste. It turns into methane which is really bad for the climate," she says. "When people start competing with each other, they start changing the way they behave."

Patrick says the simplest methane-saving plan any of us can easily adopt is to compost food waste and garden matter at home rather than putting it in the bin where it becomes landfill which turns into methane.

She also eats a plant-based diet, doesn't buy food with lots of packaging and tries to grow small vegetables and lettuce at home, where you can pick what you need rather than buy vegies that turn into food waste.

Real change on a global scale

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Photo: ¡Tierra! Project by Steve McCurry

The global Italian coffee brand Lavazza are partnering with charitable foundations to generate change, rather than rely on economics and profits to drive change. Lavazza is aware that climate change has implications for future coffee production, so its own non-profit organisation, Lavazza Foundation, which was established in 2004 now works with 90,000 coffee producers around the world to improve their plantation communities living conditions.

"The Foundation works with local and NGO partners in different coffee-producing countries across the world to establish projects aimed at increasing the quality of coffee grown and stimulate economic development and women and youth empowerment in target communities," says Lavazza Chief Institutional Relations and Sustainability Officer Mario Cerutti.

"Food is a hugely complex sustainability issue," furthers Nelson of Foreseechange. "The IPCC would have us believe that we need to become vegans to save the planet from all the emissions created by cows and sheep and eating meat," he says. "But Australia's own CSIRO have invented FutureFeed, a seaweed-based feed that can reduce methane in livestock by amazing amounts."

Nelson's view is that a combination of new thinking and better policies will drive change and a more sustainable approach. While Young, who has a background in mergers and acquisitions and finance, saw a business opportunity to create a brand that prevents waste in the first place after witnessing how the economics of waste management had created market failures in recycling.

"It's up to us to create innovative, sustainable products that eliminate waste and set the tone for other companies and entrepreneurs to do the same - to create real trends and movements that are not a flash in the pan," he says.

Lavazza's iTierra! sustainable coffee range is named after the ¡Tierra! project, that since 2002 has supported small communities of coffee growers. Discover more about Lavazza iTierra! Organic and Single Origin sustainable coffee range on lavazza.com.au