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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Jamaican women championing environmental sustainability as business leaders

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Here are some women using their platforms as business leaders to champion environmental sustainability in Jamaica.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said: “Our biggest challenge in this new century is to take an idea that seems abstract — sustainable development — and turn it into a reality for all the world’s people.” Sustainable development has been long overdue, and our planet’s deteriorating health is a testament to it.

Many countries implement sustainable initiatives to help reduce the carbon footprint on Earth. But is that truly enough? Do we just blindly rely on our governments to do the right thing for our planet’s wellbeing? We don’t have to, and there are many individuals and groups who are taking a stand to practice green-living through their businesses.

One such group is the successful Jamaican businesswomen leading the nation’s sustainable movement. Jamaica, like many other countries, has banned specific types of single-use plastics and is working to run on around 50% renewable energy by 2030.

Sustainable businesses are a big part of the country’s economy and efforts to fight climate change, and here are some women leading the charge for environmental sustainability in Jamaica.

Lisa Binns, founder, Stush in the Bush

Lisa Binns founded her eatery Stush in the Bush to showcase sustainability with a style serving as an amalgamation of chic and Rastafari. The combination of these two vibes emerged from Binns and her partner’s love story.

The essence of the restaurant lies in its organic and sustainable farming. If you ever get a chance to visit this restaurant, you’ll find an array of delicious and mouthwatering vegan and vegetarian dishes.

Everything from seasonal produce, exotic vegetables, and Ital produce is used to create the restaurant’s menus. Some items include the crispy fried green plantain, sweet and spicy roasted pumpkin, and the Seville Orangeade Livity Juice.

Binns calls it a “farm-to-table experience”. It offers a vegetarian and vegan four-hour experience to customers. “Stush in the Bush is not there to stop Jamaicans from eating meat, [but] rather open themselves to a world of vegetarian and vegan deliciousness,” she told The Vegan Review.

There were several contributing factors to the meatfree menu at the eatery. Binns says her mother’s passing due to diabetes, her husband’s vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, and environmental factors were her inspirations to provide a plant-forward experience.

Binns herself is leaning heavily towards a plant-based diet. “Becoming vegan is just in keeping with our soul,” she says. Stush in the Bush sources all its produce either by growing it or via other organic and sustainable farmers. It currently offers an at-home package, where you can order food and other farm products. You can only visit the restaurant on Fridays and Sundays at 1pm, that too only after making a reservation.

Lauren Le Franc, founder, The Little Coffee Company

When she started, she was “disappointed [that] there was no real authenticity behind the [coffee] brand that [was] sold.” Through her company, she is providing the genuine Jamaican coffee the country and the world wants.

Sustainability is of the utmost importance to Franc. She is especially driven due to the impacts of climate change on women. The Little Coffee Company uses sustainable packaging and the most environmentally friendly ways of shipment.

The brand also provides educational training in partnerships with charities to farmers “about the harmful use of pesticide and ways to compost and [how to minimise] waste”. Franc said: “The company is taking more of a role in activism and climate change, [while] being a catalyst for change for real issues faced by farmers.”

Today, The Little Coffee Company provides reusable coffee tins and sustainable, high-quality female-grown coffee beans from Ethiopia, Jamaica and Tanzania to its customers worldwide.

Additionally, Franc works with an eco consultancy agency, Planet Shine, which only promotes vegan brands via “storytelling and B Corp process”.

Allison Rangolan, chief technical director, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica

The Environmental Foundation of Jamaica is a fundraising organisation that uses its proceeds to implement practices that promote environmental sustainability and aid the social justice sector. Allison Rangolar is a member of the Clinton Foundation’s Women in Renewable Energy and also the chief technical director at EFJ.

Rangolar has a background in marine biology and works at EFJ to increase renewable energy projects. Speaking to Forbes, Rangolar said: “Renewable energy is an important complementary and/or alternative to traditional energy generation.” She believes renewable energy to be a great solution for climate change impacts.

Dr Susan Otuokon, executive director, Jamaica Conservation And Development Trust

The Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust is an NGO dedicated to protecting Jamaica’s natural resources. Dr Susan Otuokon is the executive director of the company, currently focusing on a project to conserve the World Heritage Site and Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.

Otuokon has a PhD in environmental management and continues to partake in environmental conservation projects all across the Caribbean. Speaking to Jamaica Observer, she said she is “proudest of the work involved in having the Blue and John Crow Mountains inscribed as a World Heritage Site”. She has contributed significantly towards fundraising, conservation management plans and environmental education regarding these heritage sites. 

The overall goal of the NGO is to protect the wildlife and plant species found in protected natural areas.

Patrice Harris-Henry, chef and director, The Reggae Chefs

 

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If you think of Jamaican cuisine, you must think of curry goat or jerk chicken. There is no doubt that these dishes are Jamaica’s pride and shine, but this does not mean that vegan cuisine does not stand a chance. Chef Patrice Harris-Henry has been offering plenty of Caribbean-style vegan dishes to Jamaicans.

Harris-Henry is the director of The Reggae Chefs, which is a personal catering and restaurant service provider. Moreover, she offers Jamaican gastronomic edutainment and sources all her produce from locally and organically grown and raised farmers.

Harris-Henry has a background in foodservice production and management and uses it to revolutionise the food industry in Jamaica. Along with her director position, she is also the chef for the company’s hunger charity, Mission: FoodPossible. As part of the charity, she educates recipients on how to use local and seasonal produce to create delicious meals.

Barbara Walker, co-owner, Hotel Mockingbird Hill

Environmental sustainability and green efforts are also present in Jamaica’s hotel industry. Hotel Mockingbird Hill is a great representation of that. It is Jamaica’s first hotel to have a carbon offsetting programme. The hotel also has Meatless Mondays as an initiative to go greener.

Barbara Walker, an exhibited artist, is the co-owner of this hotel, which was designed to incorporate itself within nature. Not just that, the facility uses renewable energies, solar-water heating and locally produced food. Moreover, the hotel’s products and stationery are recycled.

Walker uses her artistic qualifications to promote Jamaican arts to her hotel visitors. Her art is exhibited at the Gallery Carriacou, a fine art gallery right next to the hotel.

Linda Lawrence, director of sales and marketing, Round Hill Hotel and Villas

Round Hill Hotel and Villas is an eco-friendly stay in Montego Bay. The hotel has adopted an eco-conscious business motto and has various green initiatives such as an organic farm-to-table dining system and programs on waste reduction.

Linda Lawrence has been working at the hotel since 2012, and overseeing its marketing and sales division. She holds a master’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management and has been working in this industry for over a decade now. She has helped the hotel win several prestigious accolades, including the World Travel Awards.

Some other eco-friendly initiatives by the hotel are timers on pool pumps, personal wastewater treatment plant, and usage of photocells.