4 Pillars of Sustainability


At Alara we have spent over 30 years working out and implementing how we can create a sustainable food production system.

This divides into four ‘pillars’ or fundamental foundations.

Environmental

Environmental

Financial

Economic

Social

Social

governance

Governance

Social
Social

Environmental

Alex believes that as the food supply chain emits one third of all climate chaos gasses, addressing this defining issue is the key environmental measure. Working internally with our own in-house developed database and working with the Carbon Trust, Alara has incorporated CO2e measures for all food raw materials used in the business. This is calculated every month. Alex recognises that while in the long term zero carbon farming is possible as with the 2 tons of food grown every year in our Permaculture Forest Garden, at present it isn’t. The only practical solution to this conundrum is carbon offsetting. Having reviewed several charities that work in this offsetting arena, Alex decided that the most suitable charity to work with to facilitate this offsetting was a small charity called ‘Rainforest Saver’. Rainforest Saver works in sub-Saharan Africa, central and South America with indigenous farmers to introduce an agricultural system called Inga Alley Cropping. These farmers have traditionally practiced slash and burn farming which have contributed to biodiversity loss and also contributes 3% of all climate change omitted gas. Inga Alley Cropping uses a natural nitrogen-fixing plant to maintain the permanent fertility of agricultural fields. Each Inga planted over a 20 year lifespan will sequester half a ton of carbon. This combination of preventing slash and burn farming and tree planting is a very efficient way of offsetting the imbedded CO2e in the food Alara sells. The added benefit of this agricultural system is that it enables the farmer communities to become permanently settled which facilitates the building of permanent homes and allows children to be properly educated.

Related page: http://www.rainforestsaver.org/
Related page: Carbon Report

Environmental
Environmental

Economic

The next fundamental foundation for sustainability is the economic foundation. The measure we use is C.O.D. C.O.D. stands for ‘cash on delivery’. This means we pay for all of our goods and services on delivery and approval. ALARA does not have a ‘creditor ledger’ and we believe this is an appropriate economic measure for several reasons.

The first reason is that it values food properly. Before Alex Smith (founder) started Alara he lived for a year without using any money, however he found it was not possible to live without food. This taught Alex that food is a much more valuable commodity than money is. ‘It’s not valuing food correctly then if suppliers send us this vital food and we also expect them to supply us with credit’ says Alex.

The second reason that we use C.O.D as a measure is that cash flow is the reality of all business. We exist as a food business in a Bio-diverse network of both suppliers and customers. Valuing, appreciating and supporting our suppliers is a key step for us to engender long-term, sustainable, valued relationships with our suppliers.

The third reason we use C.O.D as our economic measure is that it encourages us as a business to minimise ‘economic’ waste. We can’t rely on our suppliers to provide us with cash flow to cover when we make mistakes. This means we have to consider carefully opportunities before we take them and make sure that when we fail we fail as cheaply as we can.

Economic
Economic

Social

The social measure is understanding, appreciating and valuing the community in which the business is imbedded. Alex decided that the best way to encourage community engagement was to hold parties. Originally with two parties a year, Alara now hosts one major party – The Camley Street Harvest Party, and many smaller parties and open days throughout the year. The Harvest Party is all free, as well as using food from the Alara Permaculture Garden around the factory, it also engages other neighbouring food businesses to contribute. At the last Harvest Party in 2019, there were around 800 attendees. Many amazing developments have sprung from the party, not least, our amazing plan to develop the most sustainable urban development in the world in King’s Cross.

Governance
Governanace

Governance

This is the formal relationship that Alara has with society. Everyday, a quarter of a million people put food from Alara’s factory into their mouths. This is a very privileged and intimate trust that customers have with the business. To reinforce this trust, Alex decided to have available online all of the many audits that happen in the factory to give an authoritative third party an independent review of the hygiene, quality and ethics of the business. All of these foundational elements of sustainability are publicly available on our website. Of course, it’s just our challenge that fulfilling these foundational elements of sustainability that make us the most sustainable food manufacturer on earth, however, over the last three years, when Alex has challenged audiences and individuals with these measures so far everyone has agreed that this important claim is justified.

Related page: Audits