Eco Fair Building Awareness of Eco Matters

Henley’s Town Hall and Market Place was the location for this year’s Henley Eco Fair, hosted by Naked Planet LTD, the Henley-based Environmental Company that supplies eco-replacement products for everyday single-use plastics. Outside, a wide selection of electric bikes was on display by E Bike Barn, an electric Jaguar supplied by Hofmans Cars, Oxon Energy showcasing sustainable heating systems and Sage and Squash providing foods which are ethically sourced.

Inside, Naked Planet had organised a day’s series of presentations on ecological subjects, with supporting displays by local traders, including Chiltern Bees, Maharaja Organic Body Care and Sarah Pye Art.

Steve Wheeler, Naked Planet’s Co-founder and MD, opened the series of presentations by highlighting the need to raise awareness of the damage being done to the environment from single use plastics and chemical pollution. Steve then introduced by video link Howard Dryden, a leading environmental scientist, who is currently at sea in the Equatorial Atlantic researching levels of pollutants and its effects on declining levels of marine life in the oceans. Howard presented some of his finding from the GOES report (Global Oceanic Environmental Survey), whose claims will be subjected to extensive peer review.  He highlighted his research proving a dramatic reduction in plankton, which is at the bottom of the food chain for Krill and which then in turn becomes the food for all other fish, heralding an environmental catastrophe.

Dryden contends that this situation in the ocean has arisen because of an overload of CO2 along with a deluge of lethal manmade chemicals in cosmetics, plastics, sunscreen, drugs and fertilisers inundating the marine environment. He says the oceans are becoming more toxic and acidic, with the resulting higher water vapour levels generating more extreme weather.   His solution results in part on better cleaning the waste water currently being discharged untreated into the sea. These pollutants in the sea are simply being evaporated into the clouds and then fall back on the earth as polluted rainwater. His main takeaway message is that C02 reductions to achieve net zero will not be enough to reverse the toxicity of the oceans, without also stopping the influx of chemicals and plastics into the seas.

Jonathan Wragg from Ocean Integrity followed with his presentation on the real value of reduce, reuse, recycle. His company is dedicated to eliminating harmful plastics from our world’s oceans, whilst encouraging new recycling tactics to prevent plastics from entering the waste stream. As an example, he reported that in Indonesia and South India parts of the ocean had no fish left at all for the local fishermen to catch and they were now being paid to help clear the seas from mounting piles of plastic.  Jonathan referred to growing awareness of the younger generations about environmental matters, quoting the significant increase in students electing for environmental studies following David Attenborough’s 2016 Blue Planet series. He encouraged us as consumers to be more vigilant on reusing and recycling. At the same time, he explained that companies were now under far greater scrutiny from investors for their Environmental and Social Governance activities. Jonathan warned that so called “Green Washing”, where a company only pretends to be environmentally responsible, can result in a lack of investment as well as negative consumer opinions on the brands.

Other speakers at the Eco Fair included: Victoria Luxem from ECO Homemaker with her new retail platform dedicated to providing eco-friendly products for the family and the home, Ross Parrett from Naked Planet outlining their new range of alternatives to “everyday single-use-plastics products” made from renewable MISO bamboo pulp, and bagasse – a by-product of sugarcane, Alec Watt of Green Ocean Seaweed farming promoting edible seaweed as an alternative to meat, Anna Cao and Joe Pollock from Henley-based Oxon renewable energy and John Farrell of Chiltern Bees.

The good news is that awareness of Eco matters is steadily growing in Henley. We can look forward to more insights on better caring for our planet from these presenters in future months.