Observer Ethical Award Winners Reveal Inspiring Stories


Lucy Siegle, Sir David Attenborough, and Colin Firth at the award ceremony. Image via The Observer.

The winners of the Observer's Ethical Awards competition are a group of people whose commitment to the environment is an inspiration for all of us striving to be greener in our daily lives. The stories behind the awards reveal lifetimes spent in dedication to the cause. For example, this year's Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Sir David Attenborough. At 83 years old, he is someone whose curiosity and passion for the natural world has alerted so many people to the perils threatening it.

The Big Idea Award went to Naturepaint: paint free of solvents and formaldehydes, and water(!). Instead it comes in a package and you mix it. So it is light, easily transported and has no chemicals. A very big idea.
Image from The Observer

The Ethical Garden Award was given to Lower Shaw Farm, a centre for alternative energy, organic growing and skill sharing. It is a community and social centre, offering classes in yoga, massage, wildflowers, organic cooking and growing fruits and vegetables. Volunteers are welcomed, courses are run and fresh, healthy organic food is served.

The original farm dates from 1779, and was bought by the local council for development in 1974. It is no longer in the countryside, instead it is a green oasis, surrounded by houses. Now it is under threat because the local council wants to build on it. They have another short-term lease of 18 months and hopefully in that time the community will win their battle to keep it going for another 30 years.

Grassroots Campaigner of the Year is Rob Hopkins from the Transition Town Movement. A favourite at TreeHugger, he has developed the Transition Movement into a national and international concept. It is dependent on community initiatives rather than self-sufficiency and now there are 175 communities across the UK, committed to developing local food programmes and local energy plans.


Image from Buglife
Buglife, the only charity in Europe dedicated to conserving invertebrates won the Conservation Award. They are fighting to save a marsh that is under threat. Formerly a brownfield site, it is now a home to over 1,200 species of bug, bird and reptile, many of them extremely rare. The owners want to turn it into a parking lot and warehouse but the small non-profit responded by taking them to court. They lost, then lost again on an appeal and the House of Lords, the final chance, also refused to hear their case. However this is "the first time that biodiversity protection has been tested in UK courts and it has clarified the relevant legislation and policy guidance."

The Ethical Fashion Award goes to People Tree and Safia Minney. A worthy choice, People Tree is stylish and uses fashion to teach an important story to the public. Says Minney: "Our remit marries environmental justice absolutely with social justice... These are not abstract problems for 15 years time."

Other winners include: the best Politician: Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, the best Campaigner: Peter Tatchell, Green party spokesman on human rights. The Ethical Business Award went to Riverford Organic Vegetables and the Online Retailer award to Good Energy Shop. Best Local Retailer was Warren Evans, bedmaker. The Observer
More on the Observer Ethical Award Winners

Transition Towns
Sir David Attenborough
Observer Awards Winners 2008
People Tree

Tags: Activism | Awards | Charities | Conservation | Endangered Species

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