Sustainability Session with Melissa Hemsley 

Last year I attended a live book event in London with three of my favourite authors, Giovanna Fletcher, Lindsey Kelk and Paige Toon. This year, my friend and I wanted to do something similar and Melissa Hemsley’s Sustainability Sessions live event sounded so topical and therefore perfect.


The work of Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley is something I very much admire. Their philosophy for health and happiness of living well and enjoying delicious, nutrient-dense food is something I strive to achieve myself.


Some of the sessions and conversations have or will include food and fashion plus upcycling at home and making wellness work for us all. This is as well as ones surrounding getting to know greener beauty swaps and guidance around career crises, including confidence around ambition and money. Food is an area that I’m constantly trying to educate myself further and therefore, we booked tickets to The State of Your Plate event with Skye Gyngell, Grace Dent and Jules Pearson. 


I thought it was very clever that all events in this series were held on a Monday, a day that is usually dreaded for a lot of people. The idea is that guests take back this Monday for them and have something different to look forward to. 


The event was hosted at the beautiful Grade II listed Ennismore Sessions House which is in an area of London that I haven’t previously been to. We arrived slightly early and were welcomed with drinks and nibbles. The venue was one of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings I have ever been into; it was so grand, yet imperfect at the same time. The walls had a rundown appearance but were dressed with chandeliers, modern art and statement furniture. I could not help myself but look around in awe and appreciation of the interior art surrounding me. 


While we sat and waited to head into the room where the talk was held, we sat in the bar area and networked with a lady from London who works in marketing within the charity sector. It was great to hear her experiences of living in London, places she would recommend, her career journey to date, as well as general discussions around influencer marketing for example. Having much greater experience than me, it was very helpful to receive advice and contact details from someone in a similar industry in which I can see myself working in the future. This showed me that it is such a valuable thing to put yourself out of your comfort zone to speak to new people.


The honest conversation during the session gave the audience tools and suggestions to make food and eating more meaningful and as a result make everyday a bit better. All of the women on the panel shared their experience and in the process openly imparted real life advice with a conscience. What I did like was that none of the conversation or advice excluded any member of the audience; it would all be easy to implement gradually and so would be accessible to most individuals. 

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I am always trying to understand how I can make better and smarter choices, not only for my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, but of course for Earth and the environment too. This talk did not overwhelm with information and as a result gave me a vehicle into raising my awareness about how we can all be more sustainable in our approach to food.


I knew that the event would be rather popular; however I wasn’t expecting the number of people who turned up to learn together and join this community. The atmosphere was so friendly and welcoming with everyone there for the same reason. I took away some practical tips and recommendations that would work for me personally and that will help ensure good habits stick and are enjoyable. The elements that I aim to implement are to continue to refill, shop locally with small holding individuals and British where I can to support the local economy, for example the weekend market and also learn to say no thank you. This could be anything from no thank you to plastic or paper bags, no thank you to water bottles, no thank you to supermarket plastic or products you don’t need or think I will use etc. 


What I valued most about the event was the element of getting together and learning from each other. All of their advice was to not guilt or shame, they simply discussed their actions and what works best for them. Although we went to the Food session; I really aim to not just to be sustainable in one area of my life. The biggest take away for me was that we cannot look at one element in isolation. 


The query that kept going through my mind was how do we do these amazing things and remain consistent? There will be stages in our lives where things become complicated and things happen. Therefore I learnt that we cannot do everything and choices need to be adaptable to all situations. We need to get rid of the guilt as we can only do what we can - I believe there is a growing anxiety around all of the possible changes that could be made. 


I really thought that this discussion was a friendly way for people to start their conversations around sustainability, learn how individually we can make a difference and also have a choice. The expert led discussion was engaging, full of motivational stories and left me feeling inspired. At the end, they also all recommended individuals and brands to follow and research to gain more inspiration and raise awareness around the initiatives beginning to take place, especially in London. Unlike other environmental articles and information I have read, this event was optimistic and encouraging for all of us to leave a more positive footprint. 


LifestyleRachel Fox