THE MODERN MINT BLOG
As a garden design company we at Modern Mint are always thinking about our relationship to the natural environment.
We try to use our vehicles and power tools as little as possible.
And we try very hard to educate clients in how to reduce their use of chemicals in the garden.
But just how far can you go to ‘help the environment’ while living in UK society in 2014? Because to fit in, to live in anyway at all, requires you to consume – whether it is fuel, food with sugar or palm oil in, or products that are transported a long long way for our use.
(This dichotomy was written about by George Monbiot in an essay he wrote about advertising – “We think we know who the enemies are: banks, big business, lobbyists, the politicians who exist to appease them. But somehow the sector which stitches this system of hypercapitalism together gets overlooked… I am talking about the industry whose output frames this column and pays for it: advertising…
I detest this poison, but I also recognise that I am becoming more dependent on it. As sales of print editions decline, newspapers lean even more heavily on advertising.”)
Where do we begin answering this question, when every little thing we do, thinking we are making just a tiny bit of difference to the world, can be exposed as a fraud when someone points out we ‘still get on an aeroplane’ or ‘you advertise your products!’ or ‘how can you use Fairy liquid and not Ecover if you’re that eco-conscious?’
It is difficult, but we simply begin by making a list of things we have and use for our work at Modern Mint…
An internet connection.
A plastic flask.
Pens and pencils.
Website and server.
Products we sell on our shop.
And so the list goes on… without even getting started on the materials we use in constructing a garden!
Next we take this list and we ask questions of it.
Can we reduce our use of this? Can we recycle here? Can we reuse anything at all?
For example, we would like to reduce our use of hedgetrimmers. So we have decided to invest in decent shears. We have gone for two pairs – one made by Okatsune, as good all-rounders for any job…
And these expensive ones from Niwaki. Because they should last a lifetime.
We hope to reach a stage, within the next five years, where we can live and work without the need for a mobile phone. It means educating your clients to know they can’t contact you at any time of the day, in any place. It means you must (re)educate yourself to be somewhere when you said you would be, instead of taking the easy option of texting to say you’re running late. At the moment we can’t see how you can have a business without using a mobile phone, but who knows? The thought is there, the wheels will start turning, and an opportunity may arise to dispose of it and create a way of life that doesn’t need one…
None of this answers the question we started with – how can you live in UK society in 2014 and help the environment? Or more specifically, not leave yourself open to people pointing out all the ways you aren’t helping the environment. But it does open up a new avenue of exploration for us as garden designers – we don’t just have a moral duty to the client and their outside space, we also have a duty to the legacy we leave for others.
We plan to write more about this subject in the near future, so do subscribe to get updates. If you want more right now, you may want to read the interview we made with Essex Bees – Richard is a fascinating voice to get to know. You can also try these Shades of Green…
While a few writers worth reading are these:
Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …
Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing? Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …
Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …