UK Aware 2011, the sustainable living show

Published: 28th Mar 2011 in

Last Friday I hopped on a train headed to the big smoke for a day out to the UK Aware show. Despite this being the longest running sustainability lifestyle exhibition in the UK, this was my first time attending and I was curious to learn what the two days of workshops, seminars and exhibition stands had to offer.

Seminar at UK Aware 2011

I arrived at London Olympia, the venue for the show, just in time for an interesting seminar entitled 'How can organisations and businesses cut costs whilst reducing carbon emissions and engaging their customers at the same time?' with a panel of representatives from Second Nature, Google, Global Action Plan, BT and People Who Share. I felt two of the most pertinent points made during this debate were about addressing self-image and selling an alternative way of living. Chris Large from Global Action Plan explained that tapping into an individual's self-image and championing alternative options to break old habits in business is the key. The example he gave was the prestige associated with flying abroad to important business meetings. These meetings could alternatively take place via video conferencing but that doesn't necessarily fit with the preferred self-image of the business person and this is what needs to be addressed. Benita Matofska from People Who Share said that there needed to be a large cultural shift across society but that shift won't necessarily take place unless the reasons for the change of lifestyle is sold effectively, such as the financial benefits of lowering carbon. Both points certainly worth pursuing and considering further I think.

The swishing (clothes swapping, if you're not familiar with the term) area filled one corner of the exhibition space and was busy with ladies rummaging and trying on new-to-them clothes. As I walked past and clocked a lovely dress I made a mental note to myself to take a few items to swap next time. At the back of the hall a green machines expo showed off some shiny new low emissions vehicles and visitors had lots of fun testing the bikes out on the indoor cycle track.

Greenfinder stall at UK Aware 2011

Exhibitors included a wide range of organisations from charities such as the Wildlife Trusts and animal welfare groups to businesses selling allsorts from eco baby products to green printing services. There were familiar faces like the lovely Kate from Greenfinder (the Greenfinder stall is pictured above), Inspired Times Magazine and Onya Bags as well as some new and interesting products that I hadn't come across before. New to me was Ice, a loyalty scheme with a difference. Partnering with retailers such as Vintage Roots, Frank & Faith, OrgaiPets and Green & Black's Ice provides rewards to shoppers making sustainable choices. Other products I wasn't aware of before the show were Green Oil - eco friendly bike maintenance products, eco Wizard - tough, biodegradable plant pots and KleeNap - bathroom tissues made from sugar cane and bamboo waste, not trees, and so soft they'll easily give Andrex a run for their money!

The UK Aware show really does cram a lot into the two days and into the exhibition centre and has something to please all different interests. If you pop along next time you might see us exhibiting there!

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