Materialising sustainabilities, re-imagining futures.
The Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) celebrated a decade of existence with the launch of a new research agenda that will deepen and extend our thinking about the urgent socio-technical and political challenges of our time.
The SCI Festival, held in the Alliance Manchester Business School on 5 December 2019, was both a celebration of past achievement and a launch of new agenda for the coming decade.
The half-day programme featured guest speakers from all aspects of the sustainable consumption conversation. SCI academics joined with guest speakers to present short sessions on the four main strands of the new research agenda: social inequalities and politics of sustainability, urban sustainability, social movement innovations, and circular economy.
The audience had the opportunity to hear from practitioners and policy makers working on the front lines of social change towards sustainability. Speakers were: Mahadi Hussein Sharif Mahamed (Manchester City Councillor for Moss Side); Magid Magid (Member of European Parliament and former Lord Mayor of Sheffield); Nissa Shahid (urban planner at the London-based Future Cities Catapult); Martine Postma (Dutch environmentalist and former journalist who pioneered the concept of Repair Cafés); and Corin Bell (leader of the GM Plastic Free Campaign and Founder-Director of the social enterprise Open Kitchen MCR).
Attended by over 150 people, the event combined active discussion of ideas as well as networking during the evening reception. Open Kitchen MCR provided the catering and attendees had a chance to sample products from other sustainable local businesses including Kindling Trust/Vegbox People, Beer Nouveau, Stitched Up, and Sodada Kambucha.
Founder and Director of social enterprise Open Kitchen MCR (formerly Real Junk Food Manchester). Areas of work include food waste, social inclusion, plastic free / waste reduction, and more general work around sustainability.
“I am fascinated by ideas around gift economy and moving beyond our current money economics to place more value on people, their time and effort.”- Corin Bell
Magid, who came to the UK aged five as a refugee from Burao in northern Somalia (now in Somaliland), is an activist and politician. He was the first ethnic Somali, the youngest-ever, and the first Green Party councillor to hold the role, and spent 12 months as deputy lord mayor. He studied zoology and marine biology at the University of Hull, becoming the president of the student union. At 28, he was the youngest person ever to hold the ceremonial title of Lord Mayor of Sheffield and served on this capacity from May 2018 to May 2019. In May 2019, he was elected to the European Parliament as Green Party MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.
“Together, we can turn the tides of history.” - Magid Magid
Mahadi Hussein Sharif-Mahamed is a Manchester City Councillor for Moss Side and currently Assistant Executive Member for Children and Schools. Until recently he was Assistant Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, which involves working on issues of equalities, community cohesion, and local environmental quality across Manchester. An advocate for refugees and human rights, he is studying for an MSc in the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester.
Martine Postma is a Dutch environmentalist and former journalist, best known for creating the concept of Repair Café. She organised the first Repair Café in Amsterdam in 2009 and has been spreading the concept worldwide ever since.Today, there are over 1900 Repair Cafés, in 35 countries, spread over six continents, this truly is a global movement. In 2018, the combined efforts of Repair Cafés around the world managed to save an estimated 350,000 kilos of waste from landfills.
“If something is broken, the first reaction should be: this should be mended.”- Martine Postma
Nissa is an Urbanist at Connected Places Catapult, specialising in Planning, Technology, Data and Cities. She has a strong track record and over five years working in planning, development management, development strategy, along with experience of business development in the field of the built environment.
Her work at CPC has involved engaging with the planning process to develop concepts and help prototype new tools and innovations that work to disrupt the wider industry as part of the trailblazing Future of Planning Programme.
She has developed policy recommendations for innovation location strategies abroad and worked in multi-disciplinary teams to deliver horizon scanning research into how technology is going to change the way our cities are built.
Frank Boons is professor of Innovation and Sustainability and Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute. His research focuses on the social processes through which practices of production and consumption change as a result of technological change, in particular in relation to the circular economy and sustainable business models. With Andrew McMeekin, he edited the Handbook of Sustainable Innovation. In addition, he is associate editor of the Journal of Industrial Ecology and sits on the editorial board of Business Strategy and the Environment and Journal of Cleaner Production.
Mike is Senior Research Fellow in the Sustainable Consumption Institute and the Alliance Manchester Business School. His research agenda is at the interface of three issues: the shape of future sustainable cities, transitions in urban infrastructures and the forms of urban governance this draws on. He has published and presented widely on this agenda for academic and policy audiences. His current research addresses the implications of digital platforms for the shape of urban infrastructure systems, governance and space.
Helen is a Research Fellow at the Sustainable Consumption Institute/Sociology Department at The University of Manchester. Her work explores materiality and consumption focusing on the lived everyday relationships we have with objects. Recent projects include a three year fellowship investigating contemporary forms of thrift and a current study exploring lost property, and the potency of absent objects. She has publications in leading journals including: Sociology; The Sociological Review; Work, Employment and Society; and Geoforum.
Contrary to all literary expectations, Julia Kasmire was born on a warm and dry evening instead of a dark and stormy night, although that evening was the reasonably spooky holiday of Halloween. Since being born, she has embarked on a meandering research path through several disciplines (from linguistics to cognitive evolution and from infrastructure adaptation to industrial regeneration) as well as through several countries (from the USA to Spain, Scotland, the Netherlands and finally England). All of this means that she can speak to researchers from a range of backgrounds, but that her odd accent will distract any researchers who do speak to her. She has recently begun exploring how to use new forms of data for social science and how to use comedy for scientific impact.
Sherilyn MacGregor is a Canadian environmental social scientist with a twenty year career of teaching and writing on the political dimensions of unsustainability and the quest for more just and sustainable societies. Based in the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester UK, her research looks at how social inequalities and differences shape people’s perceptions and experiences of, as well as their responses to, the ecological and climate crises. She is best known for her work that explores socio-environmental questions from a critical eco-feminist perspective. Her most recent book project is The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment (2017); other recently published work appears in The Conversation, Hypatia, and International Journal of the Commons.
Andrew McMeekin is Professor of Innovation at the Alliance Manchester Business School and was Research Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute following 2013-2018. Between 2010 and 2013 he was Deputy Director of the ESRC, Scottish Government and Defra funded Sustainable Practices Research Group. His research interests focus on the study of innovation and social change, relating to sustainability transitions, consumption, emerging fields of science, technology and professional practice, and urbanisation. His work has published in leading academic journals and he is co-editor (with Boons) of the Handbook of Sustainable Innovation (2019, Elgar).
Matthew is Professor of International Politics at The University of Manchester and Research Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute. His research focuses on the political economy of global environmental change. His publications include Global Warming and Global Politics (1996), Automobile Politics (2007), Climate Capitalism: global warming and the transformation of the global economy (with Peter Newell, 2010), and Transnational Climate Change Governance (with Harriet Bulkeley and eight others, Cambridge University Press 2014). He is currently focused on the political economy and cultural politics of climate change, and starting to work on the networked character of global climate governance.
Professor Michael Shaver, FRSC, FIMMM, is the Professor of Polymer Science in the School of Natural Sciences at The University of Manchester where he leads initiatives in sustainable polymers, plastics and materials for the School and for the Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s national advanced materials science lab. He was the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Green Materials before his current role as Editor of the European Polymer Journal. He currently leads the “Rethinking Resources and Recycling” programme that develops socio-material interventions to plastic circularity.
Alan is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at The University of Manchester, and a Professorial Fellow of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI). Research interests are wide but recently have concerned the sociology of consumption, the sociology of culture, and the sociology of food and eating in the context of issues of sustainability. Recent publications include: Consumption: a sociological analysis and The Practice of Eating.
At the SCI Festival, Open Kitchen Manchester will provide the catering for our networking reception and have a stall with cake tasters and treats for all the registered participants.
Open Kitchen Manchester intercepts perfectly good food that would otherwise go to waste and transform it into incredible catering for conferences and events, meetings, special occasions and more!
The income generated from their catering funds their work with a number of fantastic local organisations who support people having a hard time.
At the SCI Festival, Veg Box People will raffle 20 boxes of local organic veggie boxes to registered participants.
Veg Box People is part of the family of enterprises incubated & supported by the Kindling Trust. It was started as a response to the impact of the current food industry on the environment, on our high streets, on small-scale farmers and ultimately ourselves as consumers.
The first organic box scheme was launched in the summer of 2015, in partnership with the University of Manchester.
Veg Box People connects Greater Manchester residents with some of the freshest most local organic produce around.
Delivering to community ‘hubs’ rather than individual homes saves on transport, means customers don’t have to wait in for delivery, and keeps the scheme really affordable.
Today, each week over 350 people from across Greater Manchester receive a bag of organic veg from 18 collection points.
At the SCI Festival, Beer Nouveau will be providing beer tasters to all registered participants.
Beer Nouveau specialise in historic and heritage beers, rebrewing recipes from as far back as ancient Egypt and viking times. They keep the heritage styles in wooden barrels for as long as they would have been when they were originally made.
They brew a lot of experimental beers, often with foraged ingredients, as well as being home to the Manchester Hop Project, who grow hops for us in people’s gardens and allotments in and around the city for our annual green hop beer.
At the SCI Festival, SODADA will have a stall with information about their products and will donate a taster bottle to all registered participants.
SODADA was born out of a desire to disrupt the sugary, sweetened and largely artificial soft drinks that are currently available on the market. They think people deserve so much better!
From humble beginnings at the local farmers' market, SODADA is a family run business that takes pride in brewing high quality, handcrafted, glass fermented Kombucha to over 40 stockists across the UK. 10% of the profit go to charity.
Kombucha is a fermented tea based drink that brings a host of benefits to the user. The Kombucha is brewed in the Peak District using organic fairtrade white tea and locally sourced rhubarb and elderflower.
At the SCI Festival, Stitched Up will have a stall with information about their ethos and activities, plus they will provide a sewing kit to all registered participants.
Stitched Up started in 2011, with the aim of encouraging individuality, pride and sustainability through fashion and style.
They are a grassroots collective that has grown from their passion for the environment, human-rights, style & creativity. Today they are a not-for-profit co-operative of three women.
With HQ in Chorlton, South Manchester has been their home since the beginning of 2014. It’s a space for crafters, makers and tinkerers, providing an alternative to the chain stores and empty shops of your average British high street.
They offer sewing and upcycling workshops, clothes swaps and sustainable fabric sales, as well as running educational events like talks and film screenings, including the Repair Cafe in Manchester.
They also bring our workshops and events to locations across Greater Manchester.
The programme was organised into six sections, with audience interaction and Q&A after each 30-minute section. Short video recordings are available to watch below.
Sherilyn MacGregor chairs a discussion with Alan Warde and Andrew McMeekin of the origins and contributions of SCI research to the field of sustainable consumption and production over the past decade.
Social inequalities and the politics of sustainability
Sherilyn MacGregor explains the research being done in the SCI to challenge the exclusivity of sustainability agendas and chairs a discussion with two guest speakers, politicians: Magid Magid (Green MEP and former Lord Mayor of Sheffield) and Mahadi Sharif Mahamed (Labour Councillor for Moss Side, Manchester City Council) A key theme is how to get beyond the ‘whiteness of green’ and make sustainability a more inclusive and accessible concept.
Mike Hodson gives an overview of the challenges of urban sustainability in the coming decades and asks a range of questions about visions, scales and priorities. Guest speaker Nissa Shahid, an urbanist working with Connected Places Catapult gives a presentation titled ‘Creating a 21st-century planning system: using technology and data for new patterns of sustainability’.
Social movements innovating for sustainability
Mat Paterson introduces the key themes that animate the research being done by the SCI working group on collective action and social movements before introducing guest speaker Martine Postma, founder of the Repair Café International Foundation. Martine Postma gives a history of the repair café movement, highlighting its benefits to communities and successes in reducing the environmental impact of stuff.
Helen Holmes explains the concept of circular economy (CE) and the various dimensions being studied by SCI CE working group members, including how grassroots enterprises and community groups encourage circular practices around re-use, repair and redistribution. Her talk leads nicely into a talk by guest speaker Corin Bell, founder of Open Kitchen Manchester, a social enterprise working to ‘feed bellies not bins’ and to transform the food system to reduce hunger and minimise waste, including single-use plastic. The topic of plastic is the focus of Mike Shaver’s talk ‘Putting the materials into materialising sustainability’. Drawing on the R3 Project at the University of Manchester, Mike Shaver discusses how materials scientists, manufacturing engineers and social scientists in the SCI are working together to tackle the challenges of reducing and rethinking plastic.
SCI Director Frank Boons reflects on the Festival and brings the event to a close.