Professor Green - My Sustainable Life: ‘I was definitely excessive with how much I bought in previous years’

The rapper and campaigner speaks to Olivia Petter about how sustainability influences his daily life

Thursday 22 April 2021 08:51
Leer en Español

The Independent’s My Sustainable Life is a Q&A series in which famous faces reveal their personal approach to the climate crisis

This week, for My Sustainable Life, we hear from British musician and mental health campaigner Professor Green.

The acclaimed rapper - Stephen Manderson - is a multi-platinum selling artist who has also used his platform to champion environmentalism and mental health awareness.

Previous guests on My Sustainable Life include singer Birdy and TV presenter Laura Whitmore.

Here Professor Green explains how lockdown has given him more time to rethink his relationship with the planet, why he wants to sit down with Elon Musk, and his “obsession” with salt and vinegar crisps.

The most sustainable decision I made in the past year was...

I’ve been doing more by doing less. That’s the funny thing about being more environmentally conscious – it’s not about doing more, it’s about doing less of the things which have a negative impact on the environment. I think it’s been a lot easier to take stock, not be in so much of a rush and actually take time to make well-considered decisions from what you eat, to how you wash your clothes and also considering that we’re not travelling as much.

I’ve been taking steps to cut back and consume less. It’s important to take stock of what you are using. I’ve always given to others the things that I already have and don’t need, or things I’ve been gifted but can’t keep, but I also realised I wasn’t using everything in my wardrobe. There is a real difference between want and need and we often get used to rewarding ourselves by buying things. I definitely was excessive in previous years.

My least sustainable guilty habit is...

Recently I’ve been having too many takeaways which won’t be having a great contribution to my environmental footprint. Plus, I’d imagine my obsession with Walker’s salt and vinegar crisps could possibly be called unsustainable.

If I ruled the world, I would make it more sustainable by...

I’d have a long conversation with Elon Musk…and then I’d give you an answer. But also listening to young generations. It’s really easy as an adult to switch off to things and get set in your ways. What keeps me going and what excites me is how in tune young people are with these issues.

I think there is a lot we can learn from them – not just their understanding but also their want to action things. I think that’s been a problem across the board. There has been a lot of talk and little action, and we need to see action in order to see change.

When I want to feel in touch with the natural world I...

I make myself get up and out. I live in a fairly leafy part of London, and if I walk in the right direction there is a lot of greenery around me. I also don’t have to travel too far if I want to get amongst forest and it’s only an hour and a half to the coast.

During lockdown I’ve pushed myself to get up and out more. There isn’t a single road near me that I haven’t walked down now. I do choose a different route and mix it up a bit every now and then. I’ve always enjoyed walking and I have two dogs, so I find it keeps me sane. I think it’s one of the most important things I’ve done in the last year for my mental health.

If I could invent one thing that would make my life more sustainable it would be...

An infinite source of renewable energy. Not just for my house but for my car, and also for me – the sleep deprivation at the moment after becoming a new dad is real.

My sustainability hero is...

I don’t have just one. I know a lot of people would have just said Greta Thunberg. David Attenborough is amazing… I hope they’ve recorded every word they ever want that man to say because I don’t want to go to sleep without hearing his voice.

But to be honest, I think anyone who uses their platform for change and in a way that engages people is important. And we should praise anyone who is trying to do the right thing, as that’s ultimately what’s going to encourage [people] to do more.

The one thing everyone should watch or read about the climate crisis is...

It’s difficult to suggest one thing because there is so much misinformation out there. When people watch things like Cowspiracy or Seaspiracy, they don’t relate to our industries here in England and there are a lot of alternative truths.

My advice would be to watch and read as much as you can so that you consume enough information to form an opinion and make decisions based on that. I don’t think there is such a thing as too much information with sustainability so it’s important to take in as much as possible to get your head around the bigger picture.

My favourite vegan or vegetarian restaurant is...

I can’t say I have one necessarily. But with Giz’n’Greens, which I run with Gizzi Erskine, the focus is on sustainability when it comes to the food. We make sure everything we use is as sustainable as possible. But we’re not entirely sustainable and we’re not vegetarian or vegan.

My one piece of advice to people trying to be more sustainable is...

Consider ‘consumption’ not just as the food you eat but as everything you buy or use. With all of these things you should start out small – I haven’t become completely sustainable overnight, but we can all take little steps and be more conscious of the decisions that we make.

And don’t feel guilty about what you’re not doing! I don’t think guilt and regret are helpful to get anything done – we should all just try to do our best and praise others along the way for what they are doing.

Three sustainable brands everyone should know about

I’ll start with Budweiser, who I’m working with at the moment as they’re now brewing all of their beers in the UK with 100 per cent renewable electricity. Our new campaign we’re working on is all about praising the great work that’s being done to turn around the fate of the planet to encourage everyone to think about those everyday changes everyone can make to be greener.

I’d also say Adapt by ASDA, which is a collection I collaborated with them on. People don’t really understand that clothes are the second largest culprit when it comes to environmental damage. Definitely the past year has seen me wearing stuff over and over more.

And finally, Pentatonic – they will take anything from you and turn them into all sorts of things – from jewelry to furnishings.

Professor Green is working with Budweiser to celebrate the steps that people, cities, sports teams and other breweries across the UK are taking to be more sustainable and encouraging others to do the same. Check out Pro Green’s Guide for tips on how to be more sustainable, available at #ChooseRenewables

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments