When I sat down to interview Shaylesh Patel (the founder of Healthy Planet) on the 9th January, I felt a bit nervous and awestruck. Sat opposite me was a man who, in the space of just over five years, has not only set-up and started a social enterprise, but who has also initiated and actioned a number of hugely successful projects, here and in the rest of the world. This man has inspired the help of people, like Steven Fry, Sir David Attenborough and Ed Parsons (Google Maps Geospacial Technologist.) And, if that wasn’t enough, in the last financial year, through his unique financial business model, he has generated £2m of income for the charities various projects.
An unusual thing happened, when I started talking to Shaylesh; something that has never happened to me before, at the start of an interview. Shaylesh looked at me, “Tell me more about you, Kim. Tell me more about what you and your husband do,” he asked. Well, to be honest, I was a bit flawed. However, towards the end of the interview, I began to realise, that this question symbolises everything that Shaylesh is about. I believe that it is this generosity of spirit, and interest in mutual benefit, that is at the heart of Healthy Planet; and this is a big part of why the charity has been so successful over the past five years.
My guess is that Shaylesh Patel has always been a helpful person, someone who has always wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives. And, I’m sure he did this to the best of his abilities, during his many years in the finance world. However, there came a point in his life, five years ago, when his life reached a crossroads. He told me, “This started, when I was reading the paper on the tube. And, I read this report, saying that our kids are on track to lead a shorter life than their parents. That got me to thinking how we could change things. What I could do as a parent.” Perhaps, this thought would never have been realised, if it wasn’t for another life changing event, at around the same time. “The real thing,” he said, “that made me realise that something had to change, was when this Tornado landed in Kilburn, in West London, and it took out half a school and four houses, just like that. That’s only four miles from my house.”
While Shaylesh realised that he couldn’t take on the world’s problems on his own, he also realised that if everyone did something small to help the planet, then this would make a fundamental difference, for us and for the planet. He admits, “That was the start of everything that Healthy Planet is about.”
Healthy Planet’s vision is: a world where every person and organisation can make a difference locally and globally to the health and welfare of the planet and its people. Even small actions, together, can make a difference.
One of my questions to Shaylesh was: How does us being more healthy help the planet? His answer addressed some of the small actions, that we can make together, that can make a difference. “My knowledge,” he said, “is very common-sense driven, so without reading scientific reports, this is where I am coming from. We probably eat too much for our bodies, so we just need to eat less, broadly speaking. If you eat less, there’s less demand for all of the planet time and resources that go into making the food, that we either throw away, or that we do consume.” This is such a simple thing, that most of us can do right now, which would not only help us health wise and financially, but would also reduce the amount of waste that each household produces.
As Shaylesh talked, I felt a mix of emotions rise within me. At first there was admiration, and then inspiration. However, as he went on, I felt a rising sense of excitement. “Everything is in our control.” He told me, “That is one of the messages that we are trying to give out. If you are not happy with it, you have to start with the change.” What Shaylesh Patel has shown each of us, through his personal journey over the past five years; is that we can make a difference. We can change our lives. We can change the lives of our children. And, we can change the future of our planet. That message is worth sharing!
Something happened to me, during the interview. Since then, I find myself thinking in the ‘Healthy Planet’ way; about reducing waste, about recycling my ‘stuff’, about how I can eat less and do my own bit to help the planet. My awareness has been expanded, and I find myself living in a slightly different way. That’s certainly not what I expected from my interview with Shaylesh Patel.
There are many things, which are not what you would expect from Shaylesh Patel. For one, he’s a very normal kind of a guy. He’s also, a very normal parent. I think, I really expected him to be something unreal; a kind of saintly deity. He wasn’t like that at all. I had such a great chat with him, and such fun banter. He was so generous with his time, and his advice. I’m sure, that is why he has connected with so many influential people, and so many businesses. I’m sure, that’s why people want to be part of the ‘Healthy Planet’ movement. It’s all about mutual benefit with Shaylesh, and he doesn’t just talk about it; he acts on that every day.
So, as you can see, I’m fired up about the interview and about Healthy Planet. I think, that if you read up a bit more, get in touch and get involved in your own way, that you too will fall for Healthy Planet. You too, will feel an elevated sense of optimism, and a renewed sense of personal power. It’s time to get really excited about Healthy Planet!
Check them out at: http://healthyplanet.org/