Ellie Harrison has been registered as self-employed with HM Revenue & Customs (UK) since April 2004. In February 2010, she launched this Environmental Policy so that visitors to her website, people interested in her work and potential collaborators are made aware of the personal commitments she makes to reducing her carbon footprint. She takes full accountability for ensuring that the following objectives are adhered to, wherever possible.
Harrison became a vegetarian in September 1991 and has been a life member of the Vegetarian Society since February 2003. On 1 January 2009, she ‘upgraded’ to a vegan diet and no longer consumes any products or by-products from the livestock industry. This decision was taken in light of the findings of the report Livestock’s Long Shadow published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2006. The report concludes that the livestock industry (farming of cows, sheep, pigs and foul for meat and dairy products) is the single greatest contributor to climate change – producing 18% of the whole world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the 13.5% produced by all transportation in the world (including cars, trains, planes and everything else). She maintains a zero food waste policy in her kitchen, carefully planning and preparing meals to ensure that all produce is consumed before it goes bad.
Since 2004, Harrison has used 100% renewal electricity at her home (and at her studio from 2005 – 2008), supplied by Good Energy. In February 2010, she also switched to using Good Energy’s gas supply at her home, which used profits to fund the development of the ‘HotROCs’ Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), and from April 2016 is now ‘Green Gas‘ – guaranteeing 6% biomethane (gas produced from organic matter in the UK) in its supply. She only uses energy saving light bulbs at her home and attempts to operate best energy saving practice, turning appliances off at the plug sockets when not in use and using a cup to measure out the exact amount of hot water necessary to boil for hot drinks. In summer 2013, she used the Scottish Government’s Green Homes Cashback scheme to have her loft insulated with mineral wool to the full recommend depth of 270mm and install LED light bulbs in the majority of her rooms at home. In October 2013, she set-up and launched Power For The People – the sister organisation to Bring Back British Rail (see Transportation section below) – to campaign for the public ownership of the UK’s energy infrastructure and the removal of the profit-motive from all energy production and supply, and is currently developing her own renewable energy project: the Radical Renewable Art + Activism Fund.
Harrison has held a full UK Driving Licence since June 1996, but for environmental and financial reasons chooses not to own a car. For the whole of 2016 she is testing the limits of a ‘sustainable practice‘ by refusing to travel away from her home city as part of The Glasgow Effect. To reduce her carbon footprint and her expenses even further during this year, she has added the challenge of not travelling in any vehicles (other than her bike) until 31 December 2016. Beyond this, her policy during ‘normal times’ is: to make all her local journeys by bicycle, on foot or on public transport; to only use taxis on occasions when large amounts of luggage or equipment need to be transported or when it may be unsafe to travel by other means; to make all long distance journeys within the UK by train, coach and occasionally by car (but never by plane); to attempt to limit international flights to one trip per year, and to make all shorter journeys to northern Europe by train or coach. Harrison is a long-term supporter of the improvement of public transport and in 2009 launched Bring Back British Rail to campaign for a re-unified national rail network run for people not profit.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Harrison recycles all of the day-to-day waste that is practically possible given the facilities provided by Glasgow City Council. This includes paper, cardboard, plastic bottles (not other types of plastic), tins and cans, glass, clothes and shoes, plus compost, which she processes in her own back garden. She reuses envelopes and refuses plastic bags and other packaging whenever possible. She is registered with the Mail Preference Service to reduce the volume of junk mail sent to her address. She opts into all ‘paperless billing’ schemes offered by her suppliers and obsessively returns any other unsolicited mail received. She carries a refillable BPA free flask for drinking water and will never buy water unless in emergency. She uses rechargeable AA / AAA batteries and ensures that all other necessary batteries are responsibly recycled. She is also an advocate of reusable feminine hygiene products. When creating gallery based work, Harrison attempts to use objects or materials which are either temporarily loaned or second-hand from local sources or eBay. She uses eBay to sell on redundant objects or makes frequent donations to charity shops. She always prints documents double-sided as ‘booklets’ so that four pages fit on each A4 sheet.
Since 2004, Harrison has done all her personal and business banking through The Co-operative Bank and Smile (the Internet bank from The Co-operative Bank), which both operate strict ethical policies with regards to human rights, international development, ecological impact and animal welfare. She took part in The Co-operative Bank 2008 ethical policy vote, helping to shape the current version of their policy. (She is also a member of The Co-operative Group and supportive of other co-operative ventures.) In October 2013, much to the concern of Harrison and many of its other customers, The Co-operative Bank’s ownership was taken over by a group of US hedge funds. Two years later, however, the bank still seems to retain its ethical policies and remains in the Move Your Money ‘top three ethical banks’ (the only one of these to offer a current account). She is monitoring the situation closely and will indeed ‘move her money’ in the future if necessary. Also in 2013, after her appointment as Lecturer in Contemporary Art Practices at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, she joined the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which, she soon discovered, does not adhere to any ethical guidelines at all. As this was clearly a breach of this Environmental Policy, Harrison decided to become actively involved the Share Action campaign to demand that USS invests its funds more ethically, and continues to support other ‘divestment’ campaigns. In 2011 and 2014 she signed open letters calling for an end to oil sponsorship of the arts, and in 2016 she signed the Fossil Funds Free pledge not to take any oil, coal or gas corporate sponsorship for her own work.
Harrison is continually looking to improve on her environmental commitments and to influence those who she works with to modify their own behaviour. When she moves home and / or studio she will, wherever possible, ensure that the modifications outlined above are made. She continues to lobby for the mainstreaming of the vegan diet, for improved public transport and recycling facilities and for the promotion of democratically owned, renewable energy and ‘divestment’ from fossil fuels. She is keen to collaborate and work with like-minded artists and organisations and to inspire positive behaviour change in everyone else.