Observer Ethical Awards 2011 honours a range of true champions
by Deborah Miarkowska
The Observer Ethical Awards honour the vital work of those who champion environmental and social justice. The judges felt that this year’s winners represented the best in ethical living and showed an imaginative and innovative approach to working towards a more sustainable future.
World-renowned scientist, James Lovelock, has won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 Observer Ethical Awards, in association with Ecover. Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, was recognised for pioneering a model that now forms the basis of climate science.
Speaking about his win, James Lovelock said: “This is the most marvellous award I have received yet and I am deeply moved by it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Other winners include Pavegen the engineering company set up by young British innovator Laurence Kemball-Cook and is the recipient of the Big Idea award. Pavegen engineers have created flooring that captures wasted kinetic energy from our footsteps to generate electricity. Our stellar panel of judges admired the way this could revolutionise our perception of renewable energy.
Honours also went to a social enterprise as The Bristol Bike Project was named Grassroots Project of the year. Its ability to appeal to all sectors of the community and to create a comprehensive menu of workshops hugely impressed the judges. Similarly the Savvy B. O. B. Box project impressed. The conservation business run by young people from the Savio Salesian School in Bootle who have put a clever bat or bird box that supports indigenous wildlife into production, won the Ecover Ethical Kids award and a £6000 bursary.
Lucy Siegle of The Observer and awards chair said: “After six years The Observer Ethical Awards has created an impressive alumni. Previous winners have inspired action and change across the UK and beyond. They have variously changed laws through campaigning, become household names and created international movements. This year’s winners are no exception. From collating real data on fair trade producer groups to changing the way we view renewable energy, their collective potential is enormous.”
The readers of the Observer Magazine voted for four of the award winners including The People’s Supermarket, Riverford Organic Vegetables, Compassion in World Farming and our friend and fellow Campaigner, Greg Valerio.
The Observer Ethical Awards winners are:
James Lovelock began his career at the Medical Research Council but has variously worked for NASA, Harvard, with Lord Rothschild (the former boss of Shell) and for MI5. It was while working at NASA on the programme to establish whether there was life on Mars that Lovelock developed the Gaia Hypothesis, which postulates that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep healthy by controlling the chemical and physical environment. Many consider this his most important work that underpins today’s view of climate science. Lovelock was also one of the first people to discover a link between CFCs and the depletion in the ozone layer through the invention of the electron capture detector, a device that detects atoms and molecules in gas. By his own admission, Lovelock has spent most of his career outside of the scientific establishment. He is both an inspiration to and detractor of the ‘green movement’ not least because of his support of nuclear energy. At 92 he continues to work every day and is writing his next book.
Ecover Ethical Kids
Savvy B.O.B Box - a group of year 8 pupils from Merseyside, working alongside Duke of Edinburgh Award students, make, sell and distribute unique bat or bird boxes within the local community.
Fashion and Accessories (sponsored by Vogue.com)
Pachacuti - The Derbyshire based hat brand that has masterminded a return of authentic panamas to everywhere from the Chelsea Flower Show to Net A Porter. The first company in the world to be accredited by the World Fair Trade Organisation Pachacuti connects the fashionista to the Panama weavers of Ecuador.
Big Idea (sponsored by National Grid)
Pavegen - a British engineering company using wasted kinetic energy from footsteps turning it into electricity, and giving renewable energy a new spring in its step.
Grassroots (sponsored by Timberland)
The Bristol Bike Project - a social enterprise with a big reach and big mission. It removes all barriers to getting on a bike and accessing skills and training no matter who you are.
Thameside Nature Park - a landfill site on the Thames that will be transformed via an ambitious and far reaching project into a living landscape for wildlife and people.
Shirahime - the first Observer Ethical Blog Award goes to a well curated blog that both informs and stirs up debate around the fashion industry.
Reader voted winners:
The People’s Supermarket set up by Arthur Potts Dawson - a sustainable food cooperative in the heart of London and provides healthy, local food at reasonable prices.
Riverford Organic Vegetables - a service that deliver around 47,000 boxes of vegetables and other produce in the UK every week.
Campaigner (sponsored by B&Q)
Compassion in World Farming - an organisation that campaigns peacefully to end all cruel factory farming practices.
Greg Valerio - after a decade of campaigning the jewellery industry maverick with the Fairtrade Foundation bought the world’s first Fairtrade, Fairmined Ecologically certified gold to market and to the Oscars.
To view videos from the ceremony and to find out more about the awards visit HERE