Friday 30 April | Kirsten McLaren

For her #100DaysOfGreenNevis project, cellist Kirsten McLaren is committing to buying only seasonal and local produce.

We first heard from Kirsten on day thirty-seven of the campaign. You can read her post here.

The concept of food miles is not as simple as I thought when I first identified this challenge.  Researching the issue I have learned more about the environmental impact of growing produce outside of its normal season and/or storing produce beyond its natural storage life.

For instance:

  • by July each year the carbon footprint of a British apple that has been stored since the previous autumn is greater than that of an apple imported from New Zealand; and
  • imported organically grown produce can have a lower environmental impact than British grown produce that has been helped along by chemical fertilisers, insecticides and/or been grown in heated greenhouses with artificial lighting.

Combining this with other environmental and ethical considerations (e.g. whether or not an item has been packaged in plastic; and the benefits of buying “wonky” fruit and veg as a means of minimising food waste) has led me to conclude that a single approach to improving the environmental credentials of my diet is not necessarily going to achieve the best results. 

Harnessing the warmth of my home to grow my own “out of season” produce has, however proved semi-successful.  The seeds germinated very quickly, but unfortunately their emergence from the compost was accompanied by large numbers of compost flies which were clearly also enjoying the warmth.  Growth slowed after planter and flies were relegated to the greenhouse, but despite this I should have enough to add some tasty green leaves to my packed lunches for the remainder of the 100 days.

So what next?  I’ll certainly continue to think carefully about the environmental impact of my diet, including the origin and seasonality of the produce I buy; I’ll be rejecting anything that has been unnecessarily imported; and I’ll be looking at how to extend the harvest season from my garden veg beds and preserving as much as I can while it is in season. But I’ll be taking a more holistic view of my diet and rather than restricting myself to only British produce I will be striving to achieve the lowest possible detriment to our planet by trying to strike the right balance between food miles, waste reduction, use of chemical fertilisers and insecticides, storage, seasonality, and packaging.  

From 1 February 2021, Nevis is running #100DaysOfGreenNevis, where our musicians, staff and trustees will each take on a task for 100 days linked to Sustainability. We’d love you to join us, either by following the campaign online to get ideas of what you can do, or to show us you own actions for us to share. If you would like to know more, do get in touch at 

Nevis Ensemble’s #GreenNevis campaign in 2019 won the Environmental Sustainability award at the 2020 Scottish Awards for New Music, and was shortlisted for Best Campaign by Julie’s Bicycle.