Jessica Felton-Page (BSc 2007): Fighting food waste at Rubies in The Rubble

In the UK, an estimated 20 to 40% of all fruit and vegetables grown for human consumption are rejected before they reach the shops. This means that around 9.5 million tonnes of food is thrown away annually. This is mainly because they do not match the supermarkets’ strict cosmetic standards meaning they are not the right colour, shape or size to be deemed attractive for sale.*

Jessica Felton-Page works for Rubies in the Rubble, an ethical food company that fights food waste by using the “unattractive” fruit and vegetables to make beautiful condiments. The company suggests “if we stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.” In 2020 alone, the company cooked 115 tonnes of rejected produce into delicious sauces, rescuing them from going to waste. Their mission is to double that number in the following year.

In early November, Jessica will join a panel discussion on Responsible Businesses, with insights and advice from other career experts in the sustainability profession. Ahead of the event, we spoke to Jessica about her journey from an undergraduate degree in Chemistry to fighting food waste at Rubies in the Rubble and her memories of studying in Bristol. (more…)

Elodie Read (BSc 2016): Combatting climate change through tech

Elodie Read (BSc 2016), Programme Lead at Subak

After graduating from Bristol with a first class honours degree in Philosophy and Politics, Elodie Read has advocated for her passions all over the globe. She has worked on gender equality and refugee rights programmes with NGOs in the UK, Spain, Indonesia and Kenya. Now, she is channeling her energy into tackling climate change by working as the Programme Lead for Subak – the world’s first accelerator for climate nonprofits.

Co-founded by fellow Bristol alumnus, Gi Fernando MBE (BEng 1992) and Baroness Bryony Worthington, Subak was launched this summer. It connects like-minded environmental non-profits, helping them to share data and collaborate in order to address the climate emergency. Elodie is responsible for running Subak’s Accelerator Programme and is the main point of contact for the organisations it supports. Here she recalls some of her favourite Bristol memories and gives her advice on starting a career in sustainability.

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Subak Co-Founder, Gi Fernando MBE (BEng 1992): “Data is a source of truth and numbers don’t lie”

Subak Co-Founder, Gi Fernando MBE (BEng 1992)

After the extreme weather events of this summer and the stark warnings of the recent IPCC report, the climate crisis feels more pressing than ever before. But could data be the key to us living in greater harmony with our planet? Bristol alumnus and serial entrepreneur Gi Fernando (BEng 1992) certainly thinks so.

This summer, Gi and Co-Founder Baroness Bryony Worthington launched Subak, the world’s first global non-profit tech accelerator dedicated to combatting the climate emergency. Subak acts like a business school by helping to speed the growth of climate focussed tech start-ups; the organisations that Subak supports share data and collaborate in the fight against climate change.

As well as being a social impact entrepreneur, Gi is also an engineer, investor and a father-of-three. He was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to the digital economy and has also been named as one of the UK’s top 100 Asian stars in tech. We caught up with him to hear about his newest venture, and to learn more about how data could save the world.

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Dr Imke Sittel (PhD 2017): tackling climate change through plant power 

In 2019, co-founders Dr Imke Sittel (PhD 2017) and Dr David Benito-Alifonso set up Glaia – an environmentally conscious startup which is on a mission to reduce the carbon footprint of agricultural food production. The revolutionary technology behind Glaia, which Imke and David developed at the University of Bristol, uses nanomaterial-based solutions to allow plants to harvest light more efficiently. By increasing crop yields and lowering emissions, this forward-thinking startup could play a pivotal role in tackling climate change and ensuring food security in future years.

We spoke to Dr Imke Sittel to find out more about startup life and to hear her fond memories of her time at the University.

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Inside the BBC Natural History Unit with Creative Director, Mike Gunton

Image: (L) Mike Gunton, (R) The iguana vs snakes scene from Planet Earth II. Credit: BBC Studios Natural History Unit

In 2016, millions of people up and down the UK gathered in their living rooms, biting their nails and peeping through their fingers as a newly hatched iguana fled from a swarm of snakes – narrowly escaping with its life. The iconic scene from Planet Earth II went viral worldwide and continued on to win the ‘Must-See Moment’ BAFTA award a year later. It’s a sequence that Mike Gunton (BSc 1979), Creative Director of BBC Studios Natural History Unit, has watched hundreds of times, both in the editing room and during the talks he’s given on the Natural History Unit in recent years.

‘I still love it every time I see it,’ says Mike, ‘especially the reaction it gets. It’s an extraordinary combination of brilliant camerawork and brilliant editing. That’s a once-in-a-generation kind of sequence to be honest.’

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Eco-entrepreneur: we speak with Alumna Rhea Singhal (BSc 2004), Founder and CEO of Ecoware

Rhea Singhal, Founder and CEO of Ecoware – India’s first and largest sustainable food packaging company – tells us about her move from Pharmacology to environmentally friendly tableware, what she learned from her time at Bristol, and how to confidently follow your passion.

I fell in love with Bristol on my open day at the University. The city had such a nice feel to it, not too large but big enough to be interesting. It was easy to navigate as a student and I always felt at home, which was particularly important, as I was an international student. I made a great bunch of friends at Bristol that I’m still in touch with today.

I had wanted to be a medical doctor since I was very little, but when it came to actually attending university I wavered, and I wasn’t so sure. So instead I chose to study Pharmacology. But I found the degree to be very research based and I personally didn’t like that, I wanted more face-to-face interaction. It was very hard, but I also knew that nothing lasts forever. I was also lucky in that the faculty were always super supportive and honestly felt like family. And I loved all of the societies and extracurriculars that I was part of. (more…)

Alumni interview: Sally Earthrowl, Mission Leader at eXXpedition and Environmental Advocate

Image credit: Eleanor Church, Lark Rise Pictures – eXXpedition North Pacific Leg 1 Hawaii to Vancouver

Sally has always had a passion for our planet, graduating in 2004 with a BSc (Hons) in Geography and then continuing her studies to qualify as a Geography teacher. Over a 12-year teaching career Sally has been department lead and had whole-school responsibility for Teaching and Learning. Whilst teaching in Indonesia Sally led the charge on environmental action, facilitating the school becoming single-use plastic free, and working with the local community to raise awareness about the upstream solutions to this environmental challenge. Sally has since swapped her classroom for a sailing vessel and now leads all-female sailing voyages with eXXpedition, carrying out scientific research into plastic pollution and educating about the issue, the solutions and the role that everyone has to play in overcoming this environmental challenge.

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