One night in November at the Barbican, it was imagination and sustainable innovation that twinkled and sparkled just as much as the flights of fantasy conscious fashion works of art on display, embellished with thousands of bijou Swarovski crystals in all the colours of the kaleidoscope. It was exciting to see the heads of sustainability at Swarovski UK, Stella McCartney, H&M and the new kid on the block, Haeckels, (a disruptive sustainable skincare company based in Margate, on the UK’s Kent coast that harnesses local seaweed and plant botanicals) come together for one night to discuss, share and debate their ideas, innovations and goals on how to create a new age of sustainable, circular economy consumption from T-shirts to couture gowns and face cream to bejewelled crystal works of art inspired by film and popular culture. It was certainly a night where imagination and the circular economy innovation ruled the roost, with the power to captivate the public imagination – and transform the way we make and consume everything.
How about lust-worthy handbags made from mushroom fibre and fluttering Stella McCartney summer dresses fashioned from spider’s silk engineered in a lab, not from the silk moth? Stella McCartney’s head of innovation, Claire Bergkamp, declared that “Recycling won’t save us and the idea that we create things that are not made to last doesn’t make sense.” She said the company would launch their remarkable circular economy fashion ranges within the next 12 months.
A New Culture of Radical Transparency
Dax Lovegrove, Swarovski’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility was equally bold declaring that a new culture of ‘ radical transparency’ was needed for a heritage brand like Swarovski to exist in a hundred years time. He talked about transforming Swarovski into the world’s most transparent, conscious luxury crystal company by 2025. Given that Swarovski already uses 70% recycled water at its plant in Wattens, Austria, 30% renewable energy and is the first crystal company to offer lead-free crystal and recently launched a lab-grown diamond jewellery collection in collaboration with film icon Penelope Cruz, this ambitious target doesn’t seem so out of reach.
H&M’s, Nina Shariati, discussed the challenges one of the world’s biggest global fashion brand faces in how to transform its supply chain. The company has set some ambitious goals that include becoming a fully sustainable fashion company by 2040. Chiariti candidly said that the company has set this goal, ” not because we know how, but because we have to.” She added, “We need innovation because we don’t have the capacity to shift all our products into sustainable materials today, on our own.” H&M was one of the first fashion brands to reveal who its suppliers are. H&M has now ranked number four out of hundred and fifty fashion brands for transparency by Fashion Revolution. In 2017, it launched Arket, a new clothing brand that allows consumers to browse the supply story of individual garments.
A 21st Century Culpepper
The last word went to Dom Bridges the beach warden turned modern-day Culpepper and citizen entrepreneur, who started collecting seaweed and local botanical plants native to his family home in Margate, back in 2012, and transformed them into therapeutic, plant-based skincare. Haeckels skincare was born. Along the way, he has created local employment, galvanized his community and shared the adventure of creating a local business with social impact. As he looks to empower other local communities, notably in Japan, to harness natural resources, without harm to the environment, he declared, “ It’s a very exciting time, it’s all about problem-solving and sharing those solutions.”
“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” Albert Einstein
In 1891, Daniel Swarovski invented an electric machine that could precision cut crystal and launched a twinkling revolution, with the mantra a ‘diamond for everyone’. His crystals went on to light up the jazz age and to epitomize the extraordinary fleeting, freewheeling spirit of the flapper and the illusory world described in F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.
In contrast, Daniel Swarovski was a born philanthropist rather than a mere aesthete. He took care of his workers welfare and powered his extraordinary crystal revolution using clean hydropower at the company factory in Wattens in Austria.
Bohemian Rhapsody and Swarovski
Fast-forward to 2018, and Swarovski is the world’s leading maker of crystals for trend-driven jewellery, haute fashion, interiors and film. It is Swarovski’s artistry in crystal that brings the band Queen and Freddie Mercury to life on screen in the film Bohemian Rhapsody. Where would Hollywood be or some of our greatest cultural icons without the magic and star power of crystal art?
Now, Swarovski has joined a select group of luxury brands including Pernod Ricard and the Kering Group that want to be seen to step up and lead by example when it comes to conscious, responsible luxury.
I would like to think that Einstein, who had a great sense of fun as well as a brilliant mind would have approved of Swarovski and its twinkling approach to sustainability. No one said looking after the planet has to be dull.
Swarovski has set ambitious goals to become one of the most sustainable and philanthropic global brands, espousing the emerging ideals of conscious luxury and consumption through fair-trade, women’s empowerment, responsible water use, recycling and the world’s first lead-free crystal.
At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Atelier Swarovski turned the red carpet green with a little help from actress Penélope Cruz. At the opening-night premiere of her new film, Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben), Cruz unveiled pieces from her first Atelier Swarovski fine jewellery collection, illuminating the flowering world of conscious luxury.
Penelope Cruz and Conscious Luxury
The dazzling earrings and ring worn by Cruz are made with the responsibly-sourced materials, including Swarovski created diamonds and created rubies set in 18-karat Fairtrade Gold. This alluring display of eco-chic captured the glamour and razzmatazz of Cannes and demonstrates Atelier Swarovski’s growing commitment to sustainable design. Following this sneak peek, the full collection was launched during Paris haute couture week in July.
Reader, in an age when it is easy to roam once remote areas of the globe, I want to take you with me on a culinary organic adventure to Secret Italy, to a place that is no less than a sort of organic and biodynamic garden of eden, located less than two hours from the gates of Rome. This is an area that is hard to define even on a map, and many Italians still don’t even know that it exists in the 21st Century.
Ciociaria, A Landscape of Bright, Emerald Green Hills
This secret land is called Ciociaria – a landscape of rolling bright emerald green hills and mountains, dotted with ancient fortresses, abbeys, Roman antiquities and a subsistence organic agriculture that hasn’t changed for a thousand years or more. DH Lawrence came here during the First World War, an outcast from Britain, having scandalized the establishment for his sexually explicit novels, and wrote part of his novella the Lost Girl here.
Once a place of bandits, pilgrims and saints, this remarkably unspoiled landscape is undergoing a cottage industry renaissance as the unspoiled green and pleasant getaway, the new Tuscany, for organic and biodynamic wine lovers and slow food connoisseurs.
The shepherds and vineyard owners have transformed themselves into artisanal and organic green entrepreneurs and they are opening elegant villas and small organic boutique hotels and delighting food lovers, critics and the gourmet traveller with their biodynamic wines, exquisite (sometimes stinking!) local cheeses and cured meats.
A Small Jewel of an Organic Hotel and Vineyard
Palazzo Tronconi is at the heart of the Ciociaria – a small, intimate, jewel of an organic hotel and working biodynamic vineyard, situated in the ancient hilltop town of Arce. The owner, Marco, offers gourmet, regional organic food and wine tasting holidays – this is where the delicious local produce and grape varieties get to shine with pasta making, organic wine tastings and memorable suppers, alongside trips to Casa Lawrence, DH Lawrence’s Italian idyll and complete rejuvenation at an opulent holistic spa. ( please note that there is an additional charge for one to one cookery classes in the Ethical Hedonist Getaway below. Please ask for details).
Try the Palazzo Tronconi recipe for a deliciously swell la dolce vita organic Negroni cocktail this Christmas.
Created by the hotel’s very own Valentina, and rechristened the ‘Tronconi’, the cocktail features the hotel’s own biodynamic vermouth, ‘Augusto’, together with a sprig of rosemary to enhance the pleasing bitter flavours.
As Orson Welles declared, whilst working in Rome on Calgliostro in 1947. “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad. The two balance each other.”
Nowadays, 50% of your produce has probably traveled further around the globe than you have. In the United States, a meal travels an average of 1,500 miles (up to 2,500 miles) before it ever reaches its destination plate, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Not only does that mean your food is picked unripened and has to be covered with preservatives and pesticides in order for it to still look “fresh” but the transportation costs and emissions have a direct impact on our global environment. When you’re stocking up for your favourite festive meal, we’ve compiled a checklist of all the freshest veggies in season right now in the UK! Take a look and pick out a few to try by shopping for local, organic and biodynamic food grown in season. It is better for you and the planet.
In the dead of winter, our skin needs be nurtured, protected and cocooned from the combined onslaught of arctic blasts and central heating. Skin can appear dull and pale as it is a time of hibernation and stillness. The best skincare in the world harnesses the potent plant extracts of organic and biodynamic flowers, plants, berries and herbs grown to strict biodynamic farming methods to feed the skin with beneficial nutrients in their most fecund, potent form.
Based in a fairytale, turreted monastery in Germany, Martina Gebhardt produces some of the most effective and truly exquisite to use biodynamic skincare I have ever had the good fortune to experience and become a convert to. Just as we crave the best organic and biodynamic food, why should our skincare be any less nutritious?
The Martina Gebhardt Demeter certified shea butter range, is the ideal SOS organic beauty in winter, and great for sensitive skin and those prone to rosacea and allergies. The entire collection exudes the pleasing, delicate scent of wild flowers, and includes extracts of: shea butter, damask rose, elderberry, and magnolia root and camellia leaf.
It is also interesting to note what is left out. There are no essential oils, to avoid sensitivity and absolutely no obscure chemicals. Gebhardt literally grows her own ingredients. Think of the shea butter collection as an organic blanket for your skin. Gebhardt is something of a star in Germany, but a best kept secret in the UK until now. Gebhardt has been making her soulful biodynamic skincare for the past thirty years. It’s also great to see that the entire range comes in elegant white glass recyclable bottles, making it truly sustainable, precious and circular skincare.
In the office: A bottle of Shea Butter Tonic at your desk. Instantly rehydrates your skin and lifts your soul after long stints at the laptop. A truly beautiful and effective combination of biodynamically grown Elderflower and Rose.
Save your cleanser for nighttime use only and simply rinse your face with cool water in the morning. Unless you have used a very oily cream at night, a cool facial rinse in the morning effectively dissolves and sloughs away any residue following your skin’s nighttime detoxification. Cool water achieves this far easier than warm water can!
I am so impressed with this biodynamic skincare that I have decided to stock the collection in our magazine shop, which helps to raise operating revenue for our magazine.
Please leave your name in the comment box or send me a message via Twitter if you would like a personal consultation and to purchase Martina Gebhardt skincare. We will have the range in our shop shortly too! Please note this is an artisanal organic skincare range and supplies are more limited.
We have a travel size gift box of the Martina Gebhardt Shea Butter facial skincare range for one lucky reader to win. The gift box is worth £30.00.
An Eagle Eyrie for Bookworms
Built in the 18th century, this eagle eyrie of a house has exposed vaulted oak ceilings, monastic arches, and cool tiled floors and exudes a restful elegance, charm and airy space. The bedrooms are particularly vast and not too cluttered, adding to the sense of serenity. While bookworms will delight that there are handsome coffee table books everywhere to curl up with and lose all track of time until your pizza making class beckons or a delicious, al fresco local organic lunch.
A Rare Organic Travel Jewel
The Palazzo Tronconi is that rare travel jewel. A place brimming with hospitality and the opportunity to pause the modern world for a while. There is a real buzz about the cookery courses and the vineyard which seeks to combine both ancient and modern sustainable techniques in winemaking. Once here, you will never want to leave. Travel journalists are starting to talk about Lazio as the ‘new Tuscany’, for the landscape, its culinary heritage and focus on traditional farming. Go soon, before more people start to discover it.
Palazzo Tronconi is also a very good place to reignite your passion for cooking good, simple food from scratch. Come here to feed your heart, soul, and foodie taste buds and celebrate ‘ a love for terroir and all the culinary jewels mother nature has to offer when we nurture and look after her well. Even better, you get to do it all in a setting of considered unhomogenised luxury and individuality. The Palazzo is filled with elegant thirties furniture, original artworks, views to linger over, looking out of pristine emerald terraces, and ancient vines. But what lingers in the mind is the genuine love and passion for traditional Italian country food, natural wine, and hospitality.
Pizza and Pasta Making Classes
You can choose between learning how to cook real Italian food dishes including pizza and seriously good, authentic pasta, with organic and biodynamic ingredients. Or you could opt for the biodynamic wine tasting break, discover the important local grape varieties – Lecinaro, black Maturano, Papanaro, Capalongo and finally white Maturano – and spend your time wandering through the vines, observing at an ecosystem in harmony, and sample the extraordinary biodynamic wine produced from these ancient Arcadian vines. For spa lovers, there is a very good organic spa just 15 minutes away from the hotel and the concierge can organise transport. Travel tip. The hotel is located between Naples and Rome. Try and travel via Rome, there are fewer pickpockets!
Via Corte Vecchia
Arce Lazio 03032
Tel: +39 0776 539678
Discover the extraordinary taste, quality, and freshness of biodynamic meat produced at Tablehurst community farm in Sussex. This is the farm beloved of Michelin starred chefs and the entire local community. The farm now offers nationwide meat deliveries- ring for details. Biodynamic farming takes a holistic view of the farm, the soil, animals, and people as one ecosystem. The results can be tasted with each forkful of vibrant, jewel-coloured vegetables and meat bursting with deliciously robust, intense flavours. The farm and farm shop is situated in Forest Row in Sussex and it is absolutely worth a foodie pilgrimage if you are going to be visiting the area.
This restored Georgian house sits upon 400 undisturbed acres in Hampshire and is dedicated to creating “a living place committed to building a self-sustaining relationship between the house and the land.” Checking into this country haven, you are invited to luxuriate in its simple, authentic, luxurious amenities. Heckfield Place boasts the Moon Bar, two restaurants, Marle and Hearth, and its very own spa, The Little Bothy. The home’s farm and gardens invite the freshest seasonal biodynamic ingredients to dance across each plate to create a celebration of artfully, responsibly-sourced cuisine. We suggest taking this sumptuous experience one step further at the spa offering all-natural treatments and equipped with a movement studio, yoga and pilates classes, and personal training packages. Your stay at Heckfield will have you feeling more relaxed and perfectly at home than in any other place you’ve been before.
Simple Soulful Skincare
Imagine biodynamic skincare that not only keeps your face clear and healthy but sources its ingredients through biodynamic sustainable farming and only fair-trade partnerships. Seems too idealistic, too perfect right? Introducing Martina Gebhardt UK, a family business that started making all-natural and holistic skincare back in the 1990’s before most skincare companies were thinking sustainably. They even have a smart system designed to help you find the perfect natural skincare ritual for your skin – give it a go! Another positive? For its exceptional quality and long-lasting life (it takes about 2 months to use up), its price point is economical for the savvy eco-conscious spender at £20 for a 50 ml pot. From eye creams to masks to body massage oils and more, Martina Gebhardt UK’s divine biodynamic skincare work with nature to help you achieve your dream skin goals. They are also renowned for their anti-aging properties and for outperforming the more expensive, over-hyped luxury skincare competition.
Do you ever stop and think about where the seeds of life to grow your food come from? Discover and support the UK’s only community-owned Seed Company – The Seed Co-operative. To grow your own vegetables full of vitality, depth of flavour, colour, and taste start with quality biodynamic and organic seeds. All seeds at the seed co-operative are open-pollinated – naturally. This is best for bees, biodiversity, and the health and biodiversity of our planet. What are you waiting for? Get savvy about seeds!
Did you know?
9 of every 10 mouthfuls of food derives from seed, yet hardly any organic vegetable seed is now produced in the UK. This needs to change.
Globally 75% of seed is sold by just 3 corporations.
Seed companies have a vested interest in promoting F1 hybrid varieties; the open pollinated seed is owned by everyone and no-one. This is very important for food security. We should all have access to the seeds of life, as nature intended.
Growing open-pollinated seeds safeguards precious genetic diversity. Buy seeds and nurture biodiversity – The Seed Co-operative
Written and compiled by Alison Jane Reid and Gwyneth Duesbery. Page Design by Gwyneth Duesbery. Love our journalism? Get involved today. Are you a sustainable, organic or circular business? Ask about our amazing business rewards. Support our crowdfunding on @Patreon
Once you’re familiar with pomegranates (and hopefully as in love with them as we are), want a chance to win a goody bag from our friends at KORRES Skincare and Naturaline containing the best the fruit has to offer? All of this could be your’s:
For extra brownie points, read our main pomegranate superfruit feature and share madly! Everything You Need to Know about Pomegranates
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As summer comes to a close, it’s time to celebrate the jewel of fruits- the wondrous pomegranate. Mentioned in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this super fruit belongs to the berry family and comes into season from October to February in the Northern hemisphere. The pomegranate is prized in cooking, for adding colour, sweetness, and super nutrition to savoury dishes from fish and chicken to exquisite desserts of chocolate mousse with rich pomegranate sauce. While this heavy, exotic, abundantly seeded fruit is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols and used to rejuvenate the skin, it also is more than just skin deep. It has been used in numerous medical remedies around the globe for hundreds of years, while traditionally grown in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. King Henry the VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, thought so highly of the fruit that she even used it to represent herself on their royal emblem. But what we love most about the story behind the pomegranate and its – its unmatchable benefits to your skin’s longevity and clarity.
What to know more about the ruby-red pomegranate? (more…)