Anita Roddick stepped down as chairwoman of The Body Shop Plc a few years ago to concentrate on environmental and social campaigns. She’s been spending time in Canada and seen a lot of off-grid activity going on there. “There are exciting experiments…. in pockets of British Columbia and Canada,” she told us.
“These are creative alternatives and should be supported and catalogued,” Anita said in an exclusive interview with Off-Grid.
Anita likes the off-grid life, when she can get around to it. “each year I camp and river raft in isolated rivers in Canada and Alaska. Your comfort level radically changes within a week. You sleep better with your head on the ground. I think the experience is valuable and teaches you how little consumer goods you really need, how much noise pollution you experience in every day life. You definitely mainly get used to not depending on comfort!”
Although she is still a figurehead for her ethical cosmetics company, Anita is currently fronting the Embrace The Revolution campaign (www.embracewind.com), which promotes the use of wind energy. Roddick spoke to reporter Sarah Ewing:
What do you think are the biggest environmental problems we are facing right now?
Without a doubt, climate change and the privatisation of water.
And what are the biggest obstacles to solving them?
Big business’ use of resources, complicity by the Government, and a lack of public education.
What gets you really fired up about the way the environment is dealt with by governments?
Their headline rhetoric, lack of action and total indifference. They don’t measure their greatness by how they deal with either this issue or social justice.
What can regular people do to get their governments to really listen?
Get involved in public protests, public shaming and understand that change can be brought about through local action.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Body Shop right now?
Water – in terms of reducing the amount of water used in ingredients, and transport in terms of shipping products around the world. Water is a commodity that is not going to be around forever and we all need to reduce the amount of energy being used.
Why and how did you become involved in Embrace the Revolution?
I love wind energy, it’s so powerful. The wind is providing us with all this power that is God-given and we should use it to give something back to our planet. I think we need better public education on the benefits that wind energy brings and this campaign is the start of that. Embrace the Revolution challenges the myths and gives a voice to the silent majority of people who support wind farms. We funded wind turbines in Wales and I put one up at the Body Shop headquarters. It fuels the child development centre in-situ and the training department in Littlehampton.
Why did you originally become so concerned about environmental issues?
I listened to the thought leaders and the forerunners such as groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. They were instrumental in shaping the Body Shop’s thinking, including not seeing the environment as a silent stakeholder.
What are some environment-friendly practices you do at home yourself?
I recycle EVERYTHING. I am very frugal with water and I never buy bottled water. I am very conscious of what I purchase in household goods and cleaning materials. I save energy by turning off the lights and I even took out the swimming pool! I hope to install a wind turbine at my house as well.
What is your advice for ‘regular people’ who would like to become more environmentally-friendly, but don’t know where to start?
Get online and show your support for wind energy at embracewind.com. Join a green organisation and ask them for 20 things you can do to make a difference. Get involved!
What legacy do you want to leave for the planet?
I’d like to be remembered for supporting the thought leaders and turning the Body Shop into action stations on environmental issues – corralling people to support a real cause. Oh, and I don’t want to be buried. You can take my ashes and have a great firework display!
How environmental is that, exactly? Not very – but it is off-grid.
We will be running a special report on Canadian eco-communities soon.