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20 questions with…Stuart Singleton-White



Stuart Singleton-White answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.

Stuart Singleton-White, senior manager of external communications for Europe and Australia at the Rainforest Alliance will take part to the Sustainable September’s retail debate, one of the many events organised for Blue & Green Tomorrow’s month-long sustainability event.

He will debate, along with Tim Aldred from the Fairtrade Foundation, against the motion “Free trade trumps fair trade in helping developing economies”. Tickets for the event are available here.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

The Rainforest Alliance mission is to change land use practice, business practice and consumer behavior and we seek to do this by working with markets to enhance their value and the opportunity to contribute to a better future.  Personally it is to leave the world a better place than when I arrived in it.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

From a very young age I wanted to join the Royal Navy.  Guess what my first job on leaving school was?

How would your friends describe you?

Passionate and caring but also determined and someone who knows his own mind.

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

I didn’t really have one.  When I was child I spent all my spare time (actually some of my school time too) out in the fields and woods and down by the river near to my home.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have had this freedom, and from it grew a deep love of the natural world.  My time in the Royal Navy also afforded me great opportunities to travel and a deep sense of social and environmental justice grew inside me.  Putting these together the Bruntland Report of the late 80’s just made so much sense and so there I was.

Who or what inspires you?

People who succeed against the odds.  People of passion and determination to do what is right, even when those around them and peer pressure is against them.  But most of all people who display these traits with calmness and a real sense of peace.

What really grinds your gears?

Short-termism and selfishness in business, in politics, in life.  Despite what many say; individualism and “every man for himself” is not the natural human condition.

Describe your perfect day.

A day in the British countryside with my family and friends, followed by a good read and a time of good conversation and a beer or three in a great pub.  Oh and the kids don’t fight; not even once!

What do you see when you look out your window at home?

I work from home and currently out of my window I see the roof of the houses opposite.  Fortunately, we live surrounded by lots of fine Victoria architecture, a lovely university campus and some great urban trees.  So it quite an inspiring and rich urban landscape.

What do you like spending your money on?

I have two young children; what money?  When I do then on good food, good local beers, nice wine and the company of good friends.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

I travel a lot, but to be honest it’s home here in the UK.  This year we’re returning to Pembrokeshire for the third time, so I’d have to say there.

What’s your favourite book?

Too many to name plus the one I’m yet to write.

What’s your favourite film?

So far this year it has to be The Grand Budapest Hotel, I love Wes Anderson’s work.

You’re made prime minister. What’s the first thing you do?

Move into 10 Downing Street.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

Jesus – I’d really want to find out if he is all he’s cracked up to be.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

If you believe in it keep trying.  Worst – You’ve not been good at school, you’ll never make it!

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

Doing what I am doing now but only better.

What’s your biggest regret?

That I didn’t work harder at school and didn’t have teachers that inspired me.  But thanks to the Royal Navy – where I excelled – I soon learnt the joy of learning and have developed a lifelong thirst for education.

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

Remember it’s not stuff, but people, places and the beauty of the natural world and all that share it with us that matters.  So think, act and make small changes; gradually.  From there big changes will come and you, your family and the world will benefit.

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

The creation of a circular sharing economy.

What’s your favourite quote?

The current one by my desk, which I use to inspire me, is from Robert Browning, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.  Or what’s a heaven for?”

Further reading:

20 questions with… Sam Bowman

Tickets on sale for Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable September events

Ethical consumerism delivering ‘profitable growth’, says market research

Sustainable September: Retail Debate to be held at Royal Geographical Society

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