From Plant Based to Planet Based in 2022

Posted · 4th January 2022
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Rachel de Thame, gardener and television presenter is working together with Cauldron Foods to raise awareness of the benefits of being plant based and planet based, as the company launches its first-ever carbon neutral range.

Here, Rachel gives her thoughts on helping to reduce our impact on the environment and some top tips on recycling Christmas trees and reusing household waste for planting seeds!

It’s the start of a new year and as we enter 2022, many of us will look back to the year that has passed, and ahead to what we want to change in our lives or do better. With this in mind, Cauldron Foods conducted a study looking at people’s attitudes to the environment. As someone who cares deeply about our environment, I’m delighted to report that 3 out of 5 people have considered New Year resolutions to minimise their carbon footprint.

As a mum of four, including two teenage daughters, thinking carefully about my impact on the planet is something I need to do not only for myself but as an example for my children, though quite honestly, they’re probably already way ahead of me when it comes to making responsible decisions to help lessen our carbon footprint as a family. My daughters both choose to eat a plant based diet and are big Cauldron fans, not only because of their commitment to bettering the environment but because their range of products taste great too – it’s a win-win! Now that all of Cauldron products are 100% Carbon Neutral it’s another tick in the box and I know they’re on a mission to keep improving what they do and improving their impact on the planet too.

The research also looked at people’s attitudes to reusing and recycling to help reduce our environmental impact. As part of that, it seemed timely to look at Christmas trees, as many people just throw theirs out at this time of year and don’t give re-use much thought. What is encouraging is that 40% of people said they would buy a potted tree and replant it to give their tree a second life and 31% said they would recycle it if they were given ‘easy’ ideas how.

So, my five top tips for giving your tired old Christmas tree a second life would be:

  • Chop up the tree to create a “messy stack” with the branches. Tucked into an out of the way area of the garden, this pile of stems creates an invaluable habit for all sorts of beneficial insects and small mammals such as hedgehogs, to find shelter throughout the rest of the winter.
  • Those with a bit of DIY know-how could remove the side branches and turn the main stem into an upright support for a rustic bird feeder. Re-attach a few of the sturdier branches near the top of the stem, where they can be used as hooks from which to hang several different squirrel-proof feeders, to attract a wide range of birds into your garden.
  • Tie smaller stems into bundles to make a bug hotel with lots of small gaps and crevices. If you have children in your life, they will absolutely love knowing they’re creating a habitat for creepy crawlies… even if they can’t always spot them.
  • Put the tree through a wood chipper or shredder, and use the resulting material as a surface mulch, or to create informal paths through shady parts of the garden, which in time will break down and be incorporated into the soil, improving its structure and fertility.
  • Finally, we don’t all have room to replant a potted tree in our gardens, but a great alternative is to look into renting a tree for next Christmas. Companies offering this service care for the returned trees all year, and you can opt to rent exactly the same tree in subsequent Christmas’s, so it really feels like “your” tree.

If you’re unable to try any of these ideas, make sure you leave your tree out for the council to collect. Most arrange for them to be recycled into mulch for local parks or woodland areas.

I hope that gives you some inspiration, it’s nice to know our once glorious trees can have a useful purpose for the rest of the year. I’d say what struck me the most from the Cauldron Foods study is that people really do care about the impact they have on the environment. I also try to do my bit and aside from getting stuck into tasty, plant based products like Cauldron Foods’ new Korean Bites, as a gardener, I am passionate about growing fruit and vegetables. I know not everyone has access to a garden but even if you can only grow a few tasty salads and herbs in a window box, it all helps and will be fresh, healthy and delicious.

If you’re keen to get involved in growing your own fresh produce and perhaps some cut flowers this year, now is a great time to plan ahead for spring. Order the seeds while there’s still plenty of choice available – popular varieties can sell out very quickly – and start saving yogurt pots other plastic trays and containers and the cardboard tube from kitchen paper rolls for re-purposing at seed sowing time, which begins in earnest when temperatures begin to warm up in early Spring.

Whatever you get up to, whether it’s a garden or your window boxes, just try to enjoy the peace of mind that gardening gives and know that you are doing something good towards being planet based.

If you’re interested to find out more about Cauldron’s Carbon Neutral Program head to its dedicated Carbon Neutral Hub, and for the latest on what Cauldron Foods is up to and some fantastic recipe inspiration, follow @CauldronFoods on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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