Categories
Eat

Seeking sustainable restaurants in London 

Photo credit: Foodism

We’re becoming increasingly aware of the many environmental and social impacts of our everyday actions, and many of us want to make changes to lead a more conscious lifestyle. But with so many sustainability issues to tackle, it can be overwhelming. Where should you start? Well, why not start with food…

Next time you’re dining out with friends or family, try an establishment that works on a social or environmental issue close to your heart. Perhaps you want to support local farmers to reduce your food miles? Try eating somewhere with a seasonal menu made of local produce. Maybe you want to lower your meat consumption and associated methane emissions? Test out a plant-based or vegan restaurant. Want to help those who experience barriers to work? Opt for a social enterprise.

I’ve rounded up a selection of sustainability-conscious eateries for you to try next time you go out for a meal:

LOCAL + SEASONAL
Native, Seven Dials

Photo credit: Eat Native

Native offer a unique dining experience with delicious dishes made from wild and foraged ingredients native to the UK. Their seasonal menus are full of flavour and are always presented so beautifully – perfect for a special dinner with a loved one.

www.eatnative.co.uk


Salon, Brixton

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Photo credit: Amy Cook Design

Starting as a pop-up above a cheese shop in Brixton’s Market Row, Salon is now a permanent restaurant with a seasonal menu changing week by week. Committed to using UK produce, their food is guided by the seasons. They also have a bar with a range of cocktails, artisanal spirits, craft beers and low intervention, organic and biodynamic wines, which they sell to-go in the Wine Store that they opened next door.

www.salonbrixton.co.uk



FIGHTING FOOD WASTE

Cub, Hoxton

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Photo credit: Time Out

Cub is an exciting and inspiring collective project from Mr Lyan, Doug McMaster, Krug Champagne, Belvedere and LVMH, Dr Arielle Johnson and many others. They careful consider the ingredients and methods used to create a delicious dining experience made in a more sustainable manner. With a focus on waste, surplus ingredients and food waste is collected and composted at Indie Ecology’s farm in West Sussex. Cub have a plot at this farm where they grow their own fruit and veggies to be used in the restaurant for a more circular system.

www.lyancub.com


Tiny Leaf, coming soon

Tiny Leaf is London’s first organic, vegetarian and zero waste to landfill restaurant. Using surplus stock and leftovers from local shops, farms and distributers, as well as growing their own, they aim to make use of unwanted food. Their leftover ingredients are then used for juicing or are composted. Touring London having had two residencies so far, the first in Westbourne Park and the second at Mercato Metropolitano in Borough, Tiny Leaf are now moving on to their third residency which will be revealed soon.
www.tinyleaflondon.com

 



SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Luminary Bakery, Dalston
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Photo credit: London On The Inside
Luminary Bakery is a social enterprise offering opportunities for women who experience social or economic disadvantages. They aim to break generational cycles of abuse, prostitution, criminal activity and poverty, enabling women to build a future and realise their dreams. They equip their students with transferable skills, qualifications, work experience and paid employment to empower and build confidence, helping them to enter the working world. You can visit for a great coffee and delicious breakfast, lunch or baked treat.
www.luminarybakery.com


The Clink, Brixton
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Photo credit: English Luxury
The Clink Restaurant is at the Category C prison HMP Brixton, serving a delicious meal cooked using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Designed to deliver change, this charity initiative enables prisoners to work towards qualifications in food preparation, food service and customer service, leading to employment in hospitality upon release. With reoffending rates typically above 40% in the UK, helping prisoners to secure employment upon release has been found to reduce their likelihood of reoffending.
www.theclinkcharity.org



VEGAN + VEGETARIAN

Wulf & Lamb, Sloane Square
Photo credit: Wulf & Lamb
Wulf & Lamb are all about sharing food and fun with friends, whatever our prey or preferences. Their 100% plant-based menu is made up of classic comfort foods that won’t scare anyone off. With a focus on quality, their dishes are full of flavour and contain nutritious and sometimes surprising ingredients.
www.wulfandlamb.com


Tibits, Mayfair
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Photo credit: London Town
Tibits is an amazing vegetarian buffet restaurant just off Regent Street. With salads, hot dishes, soups, dessert and juices, it’s perfect for every occasion. And every Tuesday the menu is 100% vegan, with 80% of the options vegan on every other day of the week.



What are your favourite conscious eateries? Let me know by commenting below!

*This article was originally written for ‘The Squeeze’ by Press London
Categories
Live

Get clean with caffeine: An interview with Optiat

 

Optiat: One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure

I discovered this amazing beauty brand who use coffee waste to create natural, effective, high-quality scrubs at Stylist Live in 2017. Attracted by the energising scent of the lemongrass scrub, I bought one to test at home. I absolutely love how soft and smooth my skin feels after using it, and the fact that it squeezes out of a tube so you waste hardly any of the product compared to typical coffee scrubs packaged in pouches. My boyfriend, Ollie, is a big fan too – I frequently hear him call from the shower “I’m just going to use a bit of your coffee scrub”!

With their product range expanding, I caught up with co-founder Anna to find out a little more about Optiat started, what goes into their products and plans for the future…

 

Hey Anna, how are you? What have you been up to lately?

I’m very well thanks, I’ve been really busy recently with all sorts. We are expanding our website as our range grows, so I’ve spent lots of time last week on a product photoshoot getting some beautiful photos for the site. We were also at Vevolution Festival this weekend where we pitched at a dragons’ den competition against five other vegan brands. We ended up being selected as the winner which was extremely exciting! It was my first experience getting to hold a giant cheque so that was a nice box to tick!

Amazing! So you and your brother William set up Optiat – how did it all begin?

The idea to make sustainable coffee scrubs from repurposed used coffee grounds came about from a culmination of different things. Firstly, William was bought a cafetiere and was making his own coffee every morning. He lived in central London with no garden and so didn’t have plants to put the grounds on (as with many) so instead he was simply throwing them away. He got to thinking that if he alone was throwing away so many coffee grounds each morning, then, given the size of the coffee industry, on a wider scale there must be an awful lot of waste – and he was right! After research we learnt that we are throwing away 500,000 tonnes of coffee to landfill each year in the UK alone. If we could create a product which could help to minimize this then that could only be a good thing!

We were also aware that people have been using coffee on their skin for many years around the world and that it was something that had taken off particularly well in Australia in recent years. However, no one seemed to be making coffee scrubs from used coffee grounds. All of this came in parallel to the huge rise in awareness of the devastating impact of microbeads on our environment. As we all look towards natural alternatives for our exfoliators, repurposed coffee seemed like a brilliant option!

We are throwing away 500,000 tonnes of coffee to landfill each year in the UK alone


What did you and William do before going into business together?

Before forming Optiat my brother was working in finance for a hedge fund and I was working as an area manager for a supermarket managing several stores. My job gave me great insight into things like analysing trends, forecasting sales, warehouse management, stock control and staffing. My brother and I have very different strengths, so we really compliment each other when it comes to heading up our own business.

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How are you finding working together? What are the best and worst parts of going into business with your sibling?

People often ask what it’s like to work with a sibling! I guess you have to be wary of mixing family life and work life, but honestly for us it works really well. There can be disagreements and the odd argument, but we are able to speak our minds freely with each other so the resolution is always speedy. The worst part is that we have to be pretty disciplined when it comes to professionalism – we’re still working on that! As we take on our first staff members in 2018, I think any bickering will have to be quickly eliminated! The best part is that it’s so much fun, we laugh a lot and take great joy in being able to share Optiat’s success with the rest of our family.

Tell us more about Optiat and why you wanted to start a skincare company with a positive environmental impact?

Optiat products are made from ingredients which would otherwise be discarded. We create natural, vegan skincare products by breathing new life into these unloved ingredients. Fundamentally we wanted our brand to be totally unique, we wanted to be doing something which no one else is doing and we wanted to prove that there can still be great value in the things that we are choosing to simply dispose of. This ethos is appealing to customers as they are increasingly looking into the provenance of the ingredients of the products which they are choosing to buy. Consumers are beginning to shop in a much more conscious and critical way. We encourage our customers to ask us about what has gone into the making of our products, what is the process? What are the ingredients? Where are the ingredients from? Increased transparency and knowledge for the customer about a product and its ingredients allows the customer to make more informed choices about the brands they choose to buy from and the products they choose to use. It is beauty with a conscience, our customers don’t have to worry about what will happen when our products eventually are washed down the drains as the ingredients are natural and chemical-free. Keeping our ethics at the forefront of what we do is incredibly important to us, we will never compromise on our mission to have a positive environmental impact.

There can still be great value in the things that we are choosing to simply dispose of.


How did you discover the beauty benefits of leftover coffee waste?

Research, research and more research! We spent many many months absorbing as much information as we could. We then launched an initial range of three scrubs, gathering feedback from our initial customers before launching our current range in November 2016. This whole process was more than a year.

We began approaching coffee shops and asking them what they did with their coffee waste, they explained to us that it was simply thrown away. We gradually built up a portfolio of restaurants, bars and cafes and now we collect from around 50 coffee shops in London. The world has finite resources, and we as humans produce a significant amount of waste. For example, more than 9 million tonnes of coffee grounds are sent to landfill every year globally. This has significant consequences as the coffee grounds decompose to produce methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times worse than carbon dioxide! Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

The ingredients that we repurpose into our products retain their quality. Coffee, for example, has been shown to be higher in antioxidants once it has been brewed than beforehand, so the used coffee grounds that make up our scrubs are just as good (if not better) for your skin! The fact that it is collected from artisanal coffee shops and restaurants also means that it is the highest-quality Arabica coffee, as opposed to the lower-grade, cheaper Robusta coffee found in most coffee scrubs.

The caffeine in coffee helps stimulate blood flow, effective against skin conditions such as acne, eczema, cellulite and stretch marks, addressing those areas in need of renewal and regeneration. The caffeine can also help to brighten up your complexion, leaving you with a fresh looking glow, plus coffee is the same pH as your skin – meaning it won’t leave it feeling dry.

That’s a whole lot of skin goodness to be throwing to landfill!

More than 9 million tonnes of coffee grounds are sent to landfill every year globally.


Can you tell us more about your body scrubs and face masks and what they’re made of?

We like to keep our ingredients as simple as we can, and so all our scrubs are made using natural vegan ingredients. We believe you should be able to understand the ingredients on the labels of the food and cosmetics that you put in contact with your body.

The core ingredients in all our scrubs are the same, the only thing which we vary from scent to scent is the essential oils which we use to naturally fragrance each scrub. The essential oils included in our scrubs are: mandarin, lemongrass, peppermint, coconut, rosemary, orange, lime, eucalyptus and vanilla extract.

The base ingredient of our scrubs is the repurposed Arabica coffee grounds which give our scrubs their distinctive dark colour and unique smell. Arabica beans are only grown in mountain shade at altitudes above 600m. As a result, they are much harder to grow. They are more expensive but they taste way better too! We believe that if you wouldn’t eat or drink something, why would you be happy to put it on your skin? That’s why we only use Arabica grounds.

Added to these repurposed grounds are brown sugar and sea salt. These ingredients aid in the exfoliation and the sea salt acts as a natural antiseptic, preventing redness and breakouts and protecting any abrasions you may have on your skin. Next, we add almond oil and whipped shea butter, these ingredients help to form our scrubs into the gel-like consistency in which it comes. Not only this, but it is because of these ingredients that our scrubs are richly moisturizing, unlike a lot of exfoliators which can leave your skin feeling tight and dry.

Our face masks are made from repurposed hemp husks which we collect from an organic farm in Oxfordshire. Relatively known as a superfood, hemp is a holistic ingredient used for a variety of purposes including for fuel, protein, fibre and medicine. The hulls are an excellent source of minerals and a rare source of insoluble fibre. When used topically, the hemp husks act as a gentle exfoliator to lightly buff away dead skin cells and cleanse your skin for a glowing complexion. We also use activated charcoal in our masks, an ingredient which is great for drawing out toxins from your skin. Activated charcoal has the ability to bind to toxins, which is why it is often used in the medical field as a treatment for poisoning, as the activated charcoal can bind to toxins to prevent the body from absorbing them. The same logic applies to drawing our toxins from your skin. Using activated charcoal as an ingredient in a face mask can help to detoxify your skin and unclog your pores helping to even your skin tone, reduce acne and redness and give you a brighter looking complexion.

Where are your products made and who by?

Our products are all made in the UK by hand. Originally we were making all of our products ourselves, but we simply cannot manage doing all of the manufacture on top of everything else anymore. We now have a manufacturer based in Dorset, a small team produce our products there amid a setting of rolling hills and fields of cows! It’s beautiful!

What plans do you have for Optiat for the future?

There are so many wonderful natural ingredients which are unfortunately going unused. We are keen to rescue these unloved, unwanted ingredients and continue to develop more skincare products from them. Without wanting to give too much away, we will soon be releasing a lovely new range of products made from brewed chai spices which were previously used to make chai tea. By the time the chai production process is over, the spices are no longer needed yet they still smell amazing! We have taken the chai spices and used them as the core ingredient for an exciting new range. As always, our new products are vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable and 100% natural.

We are also revisiting our coffee scrubs and exploring some exciting new scents, we’ve been using our social media to ask our #ScrubSquad what scents they would like to see next!

For those who don’t know, our brand name Optiat is an acronym for “One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure”. It is our focus on sustainability and making something out of nothing that we feel really sets us apart from the rest – and so this is what we will continue to do! We aim to show people that these unloved ingredients still have a huge amount to offer us. If we can produce high quality, effective skincare products by promoting sustainability as our core message, our hope is to demonstrate that we can all be more resourceful, that we can promote a circular economy and to inspire the beauty industry as a whole to be less wasteful.

For anyone wishing to use up their leftover coffee grounds at home, what can you suggest?

Go for it! Keep it simple and natural. All you really need is a nice oil to mix in with the grounds – something like coconut oil, almond oil or even olive oil should work nicely! You can also add a bit of sea salt if you’re prone to breakouts. Use a few drops of an essential oil of your choice, but try to choose one which compliments the scent of the coffee. Our four coffee scrub variants are vanilla, mandarin, lemongrass and peppermint. Lavender also works wonderfully! You can keep your scrub in a small kilner or old jam jar. Enjoy!

Finally, what are your top tips for shopping with people and planet in mind?

As a brand, we are committed to changing our current ‘take, make, dispose’ world by promoting a circular economy: keeping things in use for as long as possible before restoring them at the end of their lives. So, if products have the word ‘disposable’ in them, like disposable razors, or disposable cutlery, they are best avoided. Living an eco-conscious lifestyle is all about trying to minimise the impact we humans have on our wider environment. We currently live in a world where we are bombarded with negative headlines about climate change, pollution and our overuse of scarce resources, but we can all make changes that can make a difference. Here are just a few simple things you can do to create a greener beauty regime:

  • Swap your plastic toothbrush for a compostable bamboo one. Toothbrushes are increasingly being found washed up on beaches in the most remote areas of the planet.
  • Make sure you are not using a toothpaste or exfoliator which has microbeads in it – our scrubs are the perfect solution to that (*wink wink*)!
  • Avoid products which contain palm oil in both your beauty products and your food items, as the production of palm oil causes deforestation, destroying the habitat of endangered species like elephants and rhinos.
  • Try to introduce soap bars into your regime rather than just always using liquid soap. Soap bars last much longer and tend to have a lot less packaging. We are excited to be bringing out a new range of soap bars soon, so keep an eye out!
  • Try to avoid beauty products which spray out of a can, opt for a perfume / deodorant stick instead. They last a lot longer and are much less likely to be laden with harmful chemicals.
  • Choose products with recyclable packaging and responsibly sourced and organic ingredients wherever possible.

Thank you Anna!


Chai Soap Block Crowdfunder

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Optiat have just released a Crowdfunder for their exciting new product range, chai soap blocks! For this new range, they have partnered with Henny and Joe’s to collect the brewed chai spices that have been used to make their chai tea syrup. By the time the chai production process is over, the spices are no longer needed yet they still smell amazing! Chai tea spices have a number of skin benefits as they’re packed with antioxidants; from fighting free radicals, firming skin and reduce signs of skin aging, to gently drawing out toxins, removing impurities and purifying the skin. As always, their soaps will be vegan, cruelty-free and 100% natural.

Find out more and support their Crowdfunder here.

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Categories
Eat Live

Small Change, Big Difference – Fighting food waste with Hackney Council

Last night I attended a food waste fighting feast hosted by Hackney Council at Wringer & Mangle in London Fields. The meal aimed to resemble the scale of food wasted by the average household in UK, providing a delicious three course meal to 100 of the borough’s residents.

This was part of a new London-wide campaign, Small Change, Big Difference, helping people to eat in way that is better for both their bodies and the environment. Current research has found the average London household throws away a whopping 890,000 tonnes of food each year. Of this, 60% is considered ‘avoidable’ food waste. If we all make simple lifestyle changes, we can make a massive difference and can stop wasting our resources, money and land unnecessarily!

Here are a few of the top tips from the night:

We also went home with some great food waste preventing gadgets, including a food bag sealing clip and a Food Minder. I’d never heard of a Food Minder before and I’m really excited to try it out! It’s a battery-powered visual reminder of the expiry of food and drink, flashing different colours depending on how close the item is to it’s expiry date, helping to keep you aware of when your food is expected to go off. You should, however, aim to use these with ‘expiry’ or ‘use by’ dates only as these resemble when the food is safe to eat, instead of ‘best before’ or ‘display until’ dates which refer to quality not safety.

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Check out Small Change, Big Difference to find out more about how to eat with your health and health of the planet in mind and their upcoming events: http://smallchangebigdifference.london/

 

Categories
Eat Exercise

What I did last week: Sustainable sportswear, organic beauty & a food waste feast

As I’ve had a particularly good week of sustainability and wellbeing events, I thought I’d share a little summary with you. I can’t guarantee this will be the first of a new series of posts as my average weeks aren’t quite so eventful, and quite frankly because I’m not sure anyone wants to know what I’ve done all 52 weeks of the year, but I hope this one will be of interest and may inform you of companies or events you wouldn’t have otherwise have heard of. Here goes…
1. Sweating in Sundried

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So I started Saturday off with a HIIT class taken by well-known fitness and food personality Clean Eating Alice at Third Space London. Here I tested out one of my latest sustainable sportswear discoveries, Sundried. Kitted out in my black and red kit, I was ready to get my sweat on. The class certainly didn’t disappoint – a thorough warm up was followed by sets of four exercises we repeated three times to work the whole body. Alice was great too – bubbly, technical and clear, with a great playlist to help you power through the burn! As for my Sundried attire, I love it! It sucks you in all of the right places helping you feel firm, yet it’s still breathable so you don’t feel suffocated during cardio bursts. I’ll tell you more about the company in my upcoming post on sustainability-conscious activewear brands, but as a short summary – Sundried are focused on providing low carbon sportswear that’s ethically produced in one of their two European factories. If you can’t wait to find out more then visit their website here and use the discount code “ZARA” for 50% any purchases!

2. Soil Association’s Organic Beauty Pop Up

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Last week was Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week, celebrating certified organic companies. As part of the Soil Association‘s Campaign in this area, they held a pop up in Shoreditch with a shop and a number of events. I managed to get myself a ticket for a lesson in essential oils with Neal’s Yard Remedies, so after showering off my sweat from the HIIT session I went straight there. I absolutely love essential oils and the impact they can have on your mental state, so it was great to learn a bit more from the experts and to make my own body oil. They also gave us a sample of their new Frankincense Intense Lift Serum and showed up ways to massage the face to aid relaxation. I’ve tried it since and found it to be the perfect addition to an evening ritual, helping you to de-stress after a long day and get ready for bed.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of certified organic beauty and to read what I found out when digging into what the “organic” label actually meant for the beauty products I own, then please check out my last post here.

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3. TABLE – community dining to combat food waste

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Following my regular Sunday morning barre class, I made my way to Somerset House to meet my friend Eliza for a catch up over a feast of seasonal scraps. For TABLE at the Spring Restaurant, chef Skye Gyngell masterfully put together a sharing menu of delicious dishes with food waste and donations from local farms and restaurants. It was a community dining experience designed to elicit conversation between strangers as well as to contribute to the fight against food waste. Compiling ingredients that would often be overlooked, dishes included Yesterday’s porridge sourdough bread, beetroots with coffee milk labneh and broken rice with nettles and lemon leaves. My personal favourite (as always with such a sweet tooth) has to be desert – Nespole Basbousa and spent coffee grounds. To read more about TABLE click here, and to learn more about issues surrounding food waste and for recipes using up common leftovers visit Eliza’s blog: https://lifebylizasite.wordpress.com

4. Training for TotalBody London x Breast Cancer Now

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As part of the wonderful Chiara Pellegrino‘s (4fitnessake) TotalBody London team I’m lucky enough to attend a number of her fitness events, so this week I’ve been learning her latest choreography for demonstrating at the next event on Saturday morning. For this event she’s raising money for Breast Cancer Now with Callumn Nicholls from Third Space London and Duncan Morris from M&S who are taking on the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro later in the year and aim to raise £20,000 towards vital breast cancer research. The class is a 45 minute workout that hits every muscle in the body. With a great playlist and three cardio routines, you have fun whilst keeping fit and healthy. Chiara is focused on providing a class you’ll enjoy that takes your mind away from the everyday stresses of life whilst transforming your physical form. It’s not too late to get a ticket – buy yours now on Eventbrite by clicking here.

Did you go to any of these events? What did you think? What would you like me to write more about? Let me know by commenting below!