An evening with Innocent

photo (19)Innocent. Most of us know the brand from their quirky television ads and the delicious smoothies that disappear in a matter of glugs because they’re so good. Last night I was invited to an ‘Innocent Inspires‘ evening to hear five guest speakers talk about their own achievements in changing the world. An evening of sustainability, ethical buying, social enterprise – all taking place in a gorgeous yurt in a secretive London park seemed rather wonderful. The premise was simple; learn about how to change the world for the better, and walk away with some inspiration to do something, no matter how small. Richard Reed, founder of Innocent, kicked things off with a quick introduction, revealing that Innocent gives 10% of their profit to charity. I had no idea about that.  I also didn’t know that the entire concept to make healthy smoothies came from an intense hangover. Sounds like my kind of world. Then he passed us over to five speakers, all of whom had varying degrees of inspiration as you’ll see below.


Arthur Dawson Potts

Arthur has a HUGE history in food and is a well renowned chef. In my eyes, his best achievement was creating Acorn House; the world’s first urban and fully sustainable restaurant, right here in London. But there’s so much to the story of food, and Arthur’s message was that cities are inherently unsustainable. Yes, when London had a population of a million, food was still grown on the doorstep. But with the emergence of fuel, energy, rail, air and car, food’s now brought into the capital with astonishing speed. So fast, in fact, that sometimes he can’t use the ingredients until they’ve matured a little.

The problem is, cities can’t go on this way. Oil and gas costs are already high, and are likely to become staggeringly expensive over the next few decades. Food prices will then soar to cope with the expenses involved of transportation. Eventually, you get to a situation where cites are no longer viable. Basically, the take home message was to eat ethically, support your local growers and grow your own where possible.

Henrietta Ludgate

Having grown up in Scotland, Henrietta embarked on a new journey down in London as she developed her passion in fashion. We’ve all heard the stories; large production houses have downsized as Britain’s become more reliant on cheaper labour abroad. As such, skilled cutters, weavers etc. have had no other option but to become cabbies or shop workers. Henrietta talked of the need to recycle and reuses scraps of fabric, whilst looking closer to home for fashion that’s been made in the UK by British workers.

photo (18)Richard Reynolds

Richard Reynolds (right) is Britain’s famed guerilla gardener. If you haven’t read his story, then seriously, read his book. Richard, much like Arthur, is a huge proponent of gardening and growing in cities, though Richard’s antics are a little illicit. And, whether you’re pimping pavements or transforming a roundabout, getting gardening involved. If you read his book, there’s lots of tricks to avoid arrest!

Laura Bailey

Unfortunately, out of the group, Laura really wasn’t the least bit inspiring. If she had a message, it got lost in her own stage interview which, with everyone else talking to the audience, came off as arrogant. The flip side of her ramblings about cycling and ‘babies’ was that the inspiration flowing from the other guest speakers seemed all the more heightened.

Dan Burgess

Dan runs Good For Nothing, a social collaboration that helps companies grow by providing groups of volunteers to brain storm and provide a think tank. His idea is to get away from money controlled society, and make collaborating seem a far beneficial process for all involved.

Overall, I really enjoyed the evening, nibbles and all. I came away with a Richard Reynolds seed bomb, some Innocent smoothies and four lettuces ready to plonk into the ground. I’m inspired to get my own guerilla gardening patch going again, and have even more drive to shop ethically and produce more home-grown food, so the evening did it’s job!

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I'm Geoff, and I'm a plant hoarder.

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