METRO to charge five cents per shopping bag in its Ontario and Quebec stores starting June 1

The Company also creates Green Apple School Program in time for back-to-school season

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2009 – Beginning on the 1st of June 2009, all Metro stores across Ontario and Quebec (Metro, A&P, Loeb, Metro Plus, Super C and MarchĂ© Richelieu) will begin charging five cents for each plastic and paper shopping bag distributed to consumers.

This new environmentally friendly measure will help the company reach its goal of reducing the use of these bags in its stores by 50 per cent by the end of 2010. In addition, the company is creating the Green Apple School Program to encourage students in Ontario and Quebec to develop projects to promote a healthier environment, in time for back to school next fall.

"The Green Apple School Program is aimed at helping schools take concrete action for the environment and community wellness," says Selena Fiacco, Director, Communications, Metro Ontario Inc. "We will be making $2 million available to elementary and secondary schools in Ontario and Quebec - $1 million in each province. Projects can be submitted beginning September 2009.

"Our customers tell us in surveys that the charge of five cents per bag is one of the most effective ways to reduce the use of single-use bags in favour of reusable bags," Fiacco continues. "Our research also shows that forgetfulness is the main obstacle for consumers where single-use bags are concerned, and that an incentive, such as the five-cent charge, will have tangible, positive effects in the medium term."

ENVIRONMENTAL INVOLVEMENT

The sale of bags and the creation of the Green Apple School Program are the latest of many environmental initiatives undertaken by Metro, including the 2006 launch of the first reusable shopping bags, which now are used by 20 per cent of its customers.

Metro addressed air pollution by setting speed limits for all its delivery vehicles in 2006 and developed "Leave it Greener", an employee communications program, to promote the principles and values of environmentally responsible behaviour in 2007.

Metro will roll out a communications campaign featuring in-store signage, advertisements in flyers and a website dedicated to the Green Apple School Program.

With annual sales of nearly $11 billion and over 65,000 employees, Metro Inc. is a leader in the food and pharmaceutical sectors in Quebec and Ontario, where it operates a network of close to 600 food stores under several banners including Metro, Metro Plus, A&P, Loeb, Super C and Food Basics, as well as over 250 pharmacies under the Brunet, Clini Plus, The Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners.

This program by this Canadian store chain can and must but be commended.

Maybe some stores in Britain and other European Union countries, as well and especially stores in the USA, could take a leaf out of METRO's book and do the same, that is to say, charge a fee for plastic and even paper carrier bags. For only when people feel it financially will they, finally, remember to bring their own bags.


Many stores in places such as the UK still, routinely, put items into plastic bags whether you ask for one or not. It is a rather silly affair when, like myself, you carry your own bags with you so as to not having to use such plastic carriers.

© 2009
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Schools selected for wind energy project

Kansas

The Kansas Rural Center and Kansas Wind Applications Center at Kansas State University announce the selection of five more primary and secondary schools to receive a Skystream 3.7 wind turbine as part of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Wind for Schools initiative.

The schools selected for this round of funding include: Colby County Community College (associated with surrounding school districts); Hope Street Academy, Topeka; Solomon School District, USD 393, Solomon; Appanoose Elementary, Franklin County; and Smoky Valley School District, USD 400, Lindsborg.

Read on: http://tinyurl.com/lqhqga

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Do you suffer from BAGNESIA?


By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Bagnesia is an affliction that strikes many of us every day.

What is bagnesia? It is a a person’s forgetfulness to grab their reusable bags.

The symptoms of this disease are that you often find yourself standing at the register regretting that you left your reusable bags in the car or worse yet, at home.

If you're frequently stricken by bouts of reusable-bag amnesia before you hit the checkout line at the supermarket, you're not alone... Many thousands of people suffer from this on a daily basis. Not the same every time but still...

But, do not despair. There is a cure. It is the bagnesia reminder kit from www.bagnesia.com.

The founders of Bagnesia, Pam Eatrides and Caprice Ericson, have identified two key points on your route where these all-too-common lapses in memory are likely occur, namely from your house to your car, and from your car to the store.

Their solution is the handy bagnesia reminder kit – available from their website fo US$17.99 – that will help you kiss "bagnesia" goodbye for good.

Bagnesia’s reminder kit includes…

• Compact Reusable Bag- smaller than most cell phones, designed to easily stow in your purse or glove compartment

• Door Hanger- place it where you typically exit your home so you can remember to put your bags in the car*

• Steering Wheel Wrap- strategically placed at eye level to remind the driver on the go*

• Wrist Lanyard Key Chain- your printed reminder is attached to your keys to remind you as you exit your car before going into the store *

• Carabineer Clip- to conveniently clip your bag onto your belt loop, water bottle or even your key chain

*imprinted with bagnesia’s tag line “Grab your Bags!”™

Longtime friends, Pam Eatrides and Caprice Ericson developed Bagnesia’s Reminder Kit to keep from forgetting their own reusable bags. These products are great for anyone striving to be more environmentally friendly by eliminating plastic bags or paper bags from their life.

People want to be socially responsible. Using even one less plastic or paper bag can make a difference in the future of our world, starting today.

There are other ways too, obviously, how you can overcome bagnesia and that is in that you have a certain bag, such as, say, a small backpack or cinch, that you take with you when you go shopping and where you have your reusable bags in.

I do just that, but then again I shop using a bicycle and use a Bergen backpack to pack the groceries into, using reusable shoppers. They are kept in this pack all the time. So there is no way for me to forget them.

Also, have a couple of small shoppers, such as the cotton ones that are given away at the trade fairs and such nowadays, in you laptop bag or rucksack that you take to work. That way you are never without a bag.

© 2009
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Trashe Bolsas - Bags made from waste advertising tarps

Car use down in English towns

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

According to a research by sustainable transport charity Sustrans, people in Darlington, Peterborough and Worcester have cut their car use and taken to more active, low-carbon forms of transport, and this can be but commended.

The three Department for Transport-funded Sustainable Travel Demonstration Towns ran 'smarter choices' schemes over five years between 2004 and 2008. The aim was to encourage residents, commuters and visitors to walk, cycle and take public transport more often and to reduce single-occupancy car use.

At the end of the five-year project, car use had fallen by up to 9 per cent across the three towns, detailed travel surveys conducted by Sustrans and its partner Socialdata on behalf of the Towns have revealed.

This equates to nearly 53 million miles of car travel taken off the roads across the three towns, resulting in annual savings of more than 17,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

As car travel has fallen, use of more active and sustainable forms of transport has increased across all three demonstration towns.

Levels of walking increased by more than 10 per cent in each location, while bus use grew by more than a third in Peterborough and by a fifth in Worcester.

There was a 12 per cent increase in cycling in Peterborough and a 19 per cent increase in Worcester . Darlington , which received further Government cash to improve facilities for cyclists, saw levels of cycling more than double over the same period.

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans' Chief Executive, said: "These results confirm what we have always suspected - that a lot of people are fed up with being stuck in their cars and that with the right support they are happy to walk, cycle or take the bus more often.

"The Sustainable Travel Towns have demonstrated how simple, value-for-money schemes can make a real difference to travel patterns, helping people to be more active and reduce their carbon footprint. We hope that other towns and cities will now feel inspired to follow their lead."

Transport Minister Paul Clark said: "These results are encouraging and show the real benefit of sustainable travel initiatives in reducing congestion, improving the local environment and encouraging healthier and safer lifestyles.

"I urge local authority leaders across the country to seriously consider how the lessons learnt from these demonstration projects can benefit their local communities."

The three local authorities, Darlington Borough Council, Peterborough City Council and Worcestershire County Council shared a £10 million fund established by the Department for Transport in 2004 to tackle car use and traffic congestion.

The travel survey results are now being fed into a broader evaluation of the Sustainable Travel Towns commissioned by the Department for Transport, which is likely to conclude later this year.

Sustrans is the UK 's leading sustainable transport charity. Its vision is a world in which people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment. It is achieving this through innovative but practical solutions to the UK 's transport challenges.

Darlington, Peterborough and Worcester were established as Sustainable Travel Towns in April 2004 by the Department for Transport, sharing £10m of revenue funding over five years until April 2009, to see what impact a sustained programme of 'smarter choices' measures can achieve. Smarter choices are techniques for influencing travel behaviour towards more sustainable options, such as walking, cycling , travelling by public transport, car clubs and car sharing. They include personalised travel planning; workplace and school travel planning; improved local information; marketing of travel options; and providing new options that reduce the need to travel at all, such as tele-working and tele-conferencing. A large scale evaluation project will report later this year, giving a more detailed analysis of the benefits.

Sustrans' TravelSmart is the most widely applied form of personal travel planning in the UK with projects covering a total of more than 200,000 households from 2005 to 2009. Large-scale personalised travel planning projects using the TravelSmart method were delivered as part of the Sustainable Travel Demonstration Town programmes in Peterborough (where 30,000 households were targeted) and Worcester (23,500 households).

While, as I have said already, the fact that car use has gone done by 9 percent in those towns is most commendable it is but a drop in the ocean. We all must make an effort, and not just for the sake of the Planet but also for the sake of each one of us and especially that of the children, to use alternative means of, ideally, human-powered transport, whether cycling, walking, scootering, rollerskating, or such.

In order to reduce car use and encourage cycling and walking the proper facilities must be created such as dedicated cycle paths all over the country which could, like in Germany, are often shared with walkers, though both respect the other – something that just does not seem to work in Britain, I know.

The bicycle is also viewed differently in many European countries to how it is viewed in the UK. In countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, and also in Germany, it is viewed as cool to cycle and the use of the car is seen by some as uncool. We need that same attitude in Britain and also other countries.

Let's hear it for the bike...

© 2009
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Now also available to buy online at shopONLYgreen.com

EU climate deal to help overcome financial crisis

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Warsaw, Poland - Tackling climate change will help, not hinder, the efforts of the governments to overcome the global financial crisis, the environment chief of the European Union said recently.

The 27-nation European Union has set ambitious goals to curb carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, partly by making power generators and heavy industry pay for permits to pollute in its emissions trading scheme.

So far, it has to be said though, it does not appear that we will ever meet those targets by that dateline.

Critics have said that the financial crisis makes it very difficult for industry to make the necessary big investments in clean energy.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told reporters in Warsaw, that the EU thinks this climate package is consistent with solving the financial crisis. He continued to say that at the moment, people are focused on the economic crisis, but that the package is indeed part of the solution.

"Fighting climate change means investment in energy efficiency, promoting renewable sources and providing incentives to stimulate the economy and contribute to growth,” he said

The EU also argues that moving to a low-carbon economy will create jobs and reduce the bloc's exposure to volatile prices of fossil fuels such as oil and coal which lead to global warming,m and also make them dependent, and this is probably more in the forefront of their thoughts, on countries such as the Russian Federation and the fickle whims of the likes of the Russian Prime Minister.

Poland and other ex-communist countries that our now member states of the European Union have expressed concern that carbon dioxide curbs could stunt their economic growth by sharply increasing energy prices.

Asked if the Commission was willing to make amendments to its package, Dimas said that it is not for the Commission to accept amendments, but that that is the task for the European Council (of national governments) and for the European Parliament.

According to Dimas the package is just an instrument to achieve the climate change targets that have been agreed by member states. The Commission can make changes which do not compromise the environmental objectives.

Dimas said he was hopeful that France, the European Union's current chairman, could forge agreement among member states on the Commission's climate package by the end of this year.

According to Dimas this package is good for Europe because Europe's economy will become more efficient by implementing it.

Dimas was in Poland, along with representatives of dozens of other countries, for preparatory talks ahead of a planned U.N. conference in the western Polish city of Poznan in December that is meant to pave the way for a new global climate deal.

The current Kyoto Protocol, which does not set CO2 emission targets for major emerging economies such as China and India, expires in 2012. The United States has also not joined Kyoto.

"Nobody has said,” so Dimas when referring to those talks in Warsaw, “we should cut down our efforts because of financial crisis. They all said we should continue. We need to send a strong signal from Poznan on fighting climate change."

Properly implemented all the measures could indeed create jobs in a new green economy and – finally – make us all less reliant on oil and gas from areas where there always seems to be trouble of one kind or the other, including the former USSR that are still under Russia's influence.

Cutting CO2 emissions and those of other greenhouse gases is but one thing that we must do and while important, just in case those gases do contribute to our changing climate.

Other things are equally important and go hand-in-hand with those.

Reducing our use of fossil fuels is one for sure and not simply for the reduction of the so-called greenhouse gases but also and especially to reduce pollution, including acid rain, per se. This is something that we seem to forget.

But we seem to have such a love affair with the likes of coal, oil and gas, and especially with the internal combustion engine, that we are looking for still fuels of a similar nature though non-fossil. Help!

While methane from landfills, sewage works and from methane digesters is indeed the way to go as far as gas for cooking, etc., is concerned, we cannot call biofuels, whether diesel or ethanol, ever really clean.

In addition to that we must clean up our environment, on land and at sea, as well as the air, for otherwise it just does not matter what we do; we cannot win. There is much to be done and very little time left.

© 2009
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BOGO LIGHT - Bringing Light into Darkness

What the chemical industry does not want us to know

What the chemical industry does not want the consumer, that is you, to know about everyday products

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The global chemical industry annually produces about 6 billion pounds of bisphenol A (BPA), an integral component of a vast array of plastic products, generating at least $6 billion in annual sales. The value of BPA-based manufactured goods is probably incalculable. Studies by the Environmental Working Group have found BPA in more than half the canned foods and beverages sampled from supermarkets across the United States.

Soon after scientists Frederick Vom Saal and Wade Welshons found the first hard evidence that miniscule amounts of BPA caused irreversible changes in the prostates of fetal mice, a scientist from Dow Chemical Company showed up at the Missouri lab. He disputed the data and declared, as Vom Saal recalls, "We want you to know how distressed we are by your research."

"It was not a subtle threat," Vom Saal says. "It was really, really clear, and we ended up saying, threatening us is really not a good idea."

The Missouri scientists redoubled their investigations of BPA. Industry officials and scientist allies fired back, sometimes in nose-to-nose debates at scientific gatherings, sometimes more insidiously. "I heard chemical industry officials were making blatantly false statements about our research," says Welshons. "They were skilled at creating doubt when none existed."

The ever increasingly noisy denials of the industry backfired.

By the turn of the millennium, dozens of scientists were launching their own investigations of the chemical. But the chemical industry can be expected to fight aggressively against more regulation. Earlier this year, the industry spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat a California legislative proposal to ban BPA in food packaging.

The Chemistry Council and allied companies and industry groups hired an army of lobbyists. Their tactics included an industry email to food banks claiming that a BPA ban would mean the end of distributions of canned goods for the poor. This was another one of those ploys that was working against the scientists that upset the applecart of the chemical industry.

Plastic bottles that are made of polycarbonate that contained but traces of BPA have been entirely banned in places such as Canada and so, so I understand, EU member states. In the USA, however, the FDA and other agencies, wholly owned, as it would seem, by the chemical industry, deny that there is any evidence of risk to health. This regardless of the measures taken by other nations and agencies.

BPA is, as mentioned here, not just found in, as is often assumed, plastic water bottles and baby bottles and other polycarbonate and PET products but also and especially in the lining of tin cans that contain foods or beverages, primarily such that are acidic in one way or the other.

If you would look closely the foods that come in lined tins, amongst others, are all the baby foods, with the exception of those that come in glass jars, and the chances are that most of those tins contain BPA in the lining. Oh dear! Just where we would think it should be avoided completely but, alas, this does not seem to be so.

© 2009
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Green Oil - Ecological Chain Lube

Love your bike, love the environment - Use Green Oil


Burning wood for the Planet's good

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Wood is a renewable resource – if and when properly managed – and most importantly, it is carbon neutral when used as a fuel.

In fact wood, that is to say firewood is, in the form of proper logs, to my knowledge, the only carbon neutral fuel, so far, for heating and cooking, as it releases only the amount of CO2 that it absorbed during the lifetime of the tree and no more.

This is and remains equally true whether it is being burned in combined heat and power generating plants (CHPs), general power station furnaces ir in fact in home furnaces or wood/solid fuel burning stoves.

While coal, and even peat, are both also plant matter and even trees, in a way, only much older, their impact when burned is not carbon neutral. There is no such thing as clean coal and neither coal nor peat are renewable and sustainable.

It is true that, to achieve the same BTU we will perhaps require somewhat more wood in comparison to coal, oil or gas, but, what is the problem?

This would also mean more trees and, not, not foreign fast growing ones such as Eucalyptus, etc., as biomass, planted and hence more CO2 captured by those that are best at in, namely trees.

While it may be true that this wood, in the end, will release the captured CO2 again it should be a “close cycle” basically or even better than that.

But none of this will ever work as long as we can have cheap coal from abroad or even from within the territorial borders of our own countries.

We recently get inundated with the term “clean coal” which, in my opinion, is somewhat of an oxymoron and those two words do not go together really. Much in the same way as “liberal” and “government” just do not fit together, for there is no clean coal nor liberal government.

There are ways of making coal burning cleaner, yes. But using the term “clean coal” detracts from the truth. Coal is by its very nature, dirty, in more than one way.

It is, however, possible, to clean up the emissions from the burning of coal, in power stations, by use of so-called “scrubbers” in the chimneys and some countries in fact employ that technology and have been doing so for ages. They use the same technology for the burning of waste in use of power generation.

Wood, firewood, on the other hand is, theoretically, as far as CO2 emissions go, clean and neutral. The smoke, well, that still is another problem, as all smoke is, in one way or the other, harmful. Woodsmoke seems less harmful though than other kinds.

In order, however, to make use of wood as a fuel we will need lots more homegrown, for it makes no sense to import such wood from, as far as Britain is concerned, as far afield as Poland and the Ukraine.

This would, obviously, mean creating more woodlands and forests with, to some degree, the only purpose of raising firewood. Coppices will provide the best solution here and we must also begin to, once again, manage the old existing copses all around the British Isles that have been left nigh on idle for about half a century if not longer even. Be they left in that state for much longer they will all be history for the coppice stools will simply break apart from the weight of the multiple trunks and that will be the end of those copses.

The time is now. In fact the real time for this was the day before yesterday.

There would be a good deal more firewood available if the old management practices would be employed once again and brashings from trees and limbs and tops and such would, instead of being left laying about as “habitat piles” which are (1) a fire hazard, (2) a forest health hazard and (3) bad for the environment as the decaying wood not only releases the CO2 that was stored in it during its growth but also methane. The latter reckoned to be a greenhouse gas to be far worse than CO2.

Once upon a time a “clean forest” was the standard practice and there was more wildlife, including invertebrates, fungi, etc., that we have today. Then came those young whippersnappers who thought they knew better than the only foresters and see where it has gotten us.

A lot of the wildfire problems in the various US states are due to bad forestry practice of leaving debris as “habitat” for such invertebrates and fungi, etc. However, any such debris creates what in the trade is called a “fire ladder” allowing a grown fire to hit the tops and run away.

This practice also loses us a lot of firewood that could be used much better than being permitted to rot away, releasing aside from the CO2 the other gas, that is to say, methane, which is said to be so much more harmful than carbon dioxide.

In addition to wood from woodlands specifically grown for firewood there are the millions of tons of waste building lumber – which first of should not be waste at all because most of it is reusable as is - and which gets buried in holes in the ground, aka landfills, where it decays releasing again the above mentioned two greenhouse gases. Much better burning that and only releasing the one, less harmful one.

Now, go and grow some firewood.

© 2009
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TerraCycle - Upcycling Waste into New Products

Fresh Perspective Launches Research Tool for Business Leaders Overwhelmed by Information

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Fresh Perspective, a research firm specializing in sustainability, customer and market insight and competitive intelligence has released “A Fresh Green Perspective”, a new tool to help fill the gap in knowledge of green issues.

According to Lisa Hays, president of Fresh Perspective, Inc. many of America’s businesses and organizations fall into three categories, those with a cross-functional team dedicated to sustainability initiatives, those that wish they had one, and those who don’t know they need one YET. Now, Fresh Perspective can help those in the latter two groups with their recently released A Fresh Green Perspective.

A Fresh Green Perspective is a monthly sustainability-focused subscription service that includes a broad-based overview and the ability to select custom reports on over 70 topics tailored to a business or organization’s particular needs. The service was created to help businesses, organizations and government agencies keep up-to-date on a broad scale, and to focus on the topics of most significance to their business.

“People today are overwhelmed enough with what is on their plate to run their businesses on a daily basis. In most cases, it’s just not feasible for them to dedicate the time and efforts necessary to stay up-to-date on volumes of information, or attend a host of local, regional and national events,” concludes Hays. “That’s where Fresh Perspective comes in. We can provide the knowledge and the specific details on critical topics for our clients.”

Hays, a 25-year marketing research veteran is a member of many regional and national green-related organizations, and was recently the sole representative from the entire state of Kansas to attend the national 2009 “State of Green Business” conference.

Hays walks the walk too. Most Fresh Perspective staff has telecommuted since the business began in 1998, and Hays’ home is a certified Natural Wildlife Habitat.

More information and a sample report are available at no charge by visiting http://www.a-fresh-perspective.com/green_perspective.html.

Fresh Perspective, Inc. is an Overland Park, Kansas research firm specializing in sustainability, customer and market insight and competitive intelligence. Fresh Perspective’s mission is to help clients make better business decisions by filling their knowledge gaps relative to their customers, their market environment and their competitive landscape.

While such as service for business and industry is great what we could do with is a proper and honest service for everyone. There is way too much greenwashing about and some publications, it must be said, do not help in that matter either, as they do not seem to research the subjects well enough.

The reviews that were about on the “EcoButton” are a case in point. Only a very few publications, if any, aside from the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW ever questioned the supposed greed credential of that particular gimmick.

It should be the task of the “green media” to challenge the claims of the companies as to their green and eco products but, alas, very few seem to be prepared to do that, and the reason for that, I would guess, is that they fear loss of advertising revenue.

Instead of serving the community and the consumer to make the proper choices, they serve greed.

© 2009
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A WEEK TO CELEBRATE WIND ENERGY

BWEA announces list of projects to open for annual celebration

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

BWEA, UK ’s leading renewable energy association, has released the list of wind farms opening for the UK’s Wind Week 2009. The Scottish Renewables Forum, which is running a parallel Scottish Renewables Festival, has also announced a further list of renewable energy projects which will be open to visitors in Scotland.

UK Wind Week, the annual nationwide awareness event during which wind farms open doors to members of the public, attracted 20,000 visitors in 2008. The typical event combined a family-themed day out hosted at a wind farm, with an opportunity to find out how wind energy works in practice. The list of events can be accessed here: http://www.embracewind.com/.

Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive said: “The UK Wind Week has established itself as an opportunity for all those who support wind energy, or are curious about this exciting technology, to find out first hand why there is such enthusiasm about further wind deployment both in the UK and world-wide.”

Polls consistently show strong support for further wind energy deployment in the UK. A 2008 BERR survey on attitudes to renewables showed that only 7% of people in this country oppose further developments, with the vast majority strongly in favour. The series of events in June will highlight the progress the UK is making in renewable energy and the public support that drives this change.

This year Wind Week coincides with Global Wind Day, an ambitious initiative to raise awareness of the benefits of wind energy across the globe, as the total global installed wind capacity moves beyond 120GW, or enough energy to power 70 million homes.

“The partnership between the inaugural Scottish Renewables’ Festival and the UK Wind Week demonstrates the UK wide strength in green energy and I am sure will inspire the tens of thousands that will visit renewable energy projects ranging from Shetland to Cornwall . Whether it’s supporting your local wind farm or thinking about what can be done at home I am sure the UK wide celebration will help galvanize a quiet revolution in sustainable energy”, said Jason Ormiston, the Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables.

"WWF supports BWEA's UK Wind Week 2009”, stated David Norman, Director of Campaigns at WWF-UK, “and encourages everyone to get along to their nearest wind farm event to learn more about this clean, non-polluting energy source. Wind energy has a critical role to play in helping us tackle climate change by cutting emissions from energy generation. It is important that as a nation we give our support to the UK wind industry so we can keep the lights on, reduce our reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports and dramatically cut our carbon emissions."

The British Wind Energy Association is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 476 corporate members, BWEA is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK . Wind has been the world's fastest growing renewable energy source for the last seven years, and this trend is expected to continue with falling costs of wind energy and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions to prevent climate change.

The organization's primary purpose is to promote the use of wind power in and around the UK, both onshore and offshore. The BWEA acts as a central point for information for their membership and as a lobbying group to promote wind energy and marine renewables to government. They research and find solutions to current issues and generally act as the forum for the UK wind industry, and have an annual turnover in excess of one million pounds.

For the full list of UK events during the week of 13th to the 21st of June 2009 go to http://www.embracewind.com/

For more information on the Scottish Renewable Festival go to http://www.renewablesfestival.com/

© 2009
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Greenfinder - The Green Directory

Global study hails growth for small wind sector

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

UK manufacturing industry casts aside economic gloom to become world's largest exporter

A global study released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), flagged up significant international growth in demand for small wind technology.

The British Wind Energy Association's (BWEA) own figures released recently recognised the UK as the world’s biggest exporter of turbines in the sub 50kW division, last year deploying 4.7MW in international markets.

The study’s author Ron Stimmel of AWEA said: "The UK currently exports more small wind systems than any other country in the world and has a great potential domestic market. In the US, the world’s largest small-wind market, the federal government recently enacted a long-term financial incentive for small wind turbine consumers that could bring a 30-fold growth to the US industry in as little as five years. With the right policies, the UK market could see similar growth."

UK manufacturers currently hold an 82% revenue share of the UK market and export 50% of their output to over 100 countries worldwide. Benefiting from a weak British pound, 2008 export revenues for UK companies doubled and in the same year the sector created 500 new UK based jobs.

The AWEA Small Wind Turbine Global Market Study commented: “The cleantech economy sector in general has been relatively strong throughout the global recession and credit crisis, and small wind is no exception. Even amidst the downturn, economies of scale are beginning to take shape in the industry and growth projections are the strongest in the industry’s 80-year history”.

Alex Murley, BWEA Small System Manager, said: “In the context of the current economic climate, record falls in UK manufacturing output, and challenging times for the UK green agenda, this news represents a glowing success story for a vibrant world leading UK manufacturing industry. If the UK marketplace is supported now, this promising UK sector could supply fast expanding global markets for decades to come.”

Since 2005, over 10,000 small systems have been deployed in the UK , equating to over 20MW of installed electrical capacity. In total, this growing industry now provides 1,880 UK based jobs.

Leonard McGrill, Chairman of Iskra Wind Turbines: “We hope that unlike big wind, the UK ’s early technical lead will result in sustainable long term success, and the Government should further expand support to this potentially very big industry.”

David Sharman, Director of Ampair, added: “It would be helpful if the UK followed through on current successes with a strong feed-in tariff for small wind and a predictable planning system, to consolidate UK leadership in small wind manufacturing.”

This is rather good news for Britain in the economic downturn and I am sure that we could see a lot more of those and similar jobs in the green sector if the government would be prepared to give a little more backing that it does.

Britain is the current global leader in micro- and small-wind microgeneration technology and this is something that could and should be built upon. The market potential is huge if we but know how to exploit it.

As far as the take-up of such devices in Britain is concerned we must do away with the planning restriction for renewable energy devices, be they small wind turbines, photo-voltaics or solar heating system or what-have-you. Too often the planning laws restrict the use of such generating devices for silly reasons.

Furthermore the energy companies must be forced to pay a proper decent rate to micro-generators for the surplus that they may have and would like to feed into the grid. Still something where the UK is lacking and there does not appear to be any political will there to pressure industry.

Without that we will never get anywhere.

© 2009
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Rainwater Harvesting and Rainwater Tanks

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Harvesting, that is to say, collecting, rainwater runoff from roofs of houses, garages and sheds is something that we must really think about when it comes to conservation of water, which is a very necessary thing seeing how we are abusing the wet stuff in general.

While in some parts of the USA the harvesting of rainwater is against the law of the state or against local ordinances in most countries it is totally legal to gather the water that runs off your roofs in water tanks of some sort for use.

In Britain, in fact, it is, so I understand, now going to be law that every new home built will have to have rainwater tanks installed. Here the harvested rainwater will become part of a gray-water system that will be used to irrigate the garden as well as to flush toilets. Most of those tanks are large, underground, affairs. This is, as regards to retrofitting, not always and option and there are overground versions available from water barrels to a variety of other kinds of rainwater tanks. Good slimline tanks are now becoming available too in many countries and some are slimmer than others.

Slimline tanks are intended to be attached to the walls of the house and properly affixed then can be painted to fit in with the exterior of the house are are thus very unobtrusive indeed. The slimmer they are while still having a real good storage volume the better, for sure.

Whichever way, however, we must, where we are prevented to do so by law, install rainwater harvesting tanks to catch the run off as not to waste it and waste drinking water for the watering of the garden and the flushing of the toilets.

Where the law prevents us to harvest rainwater we must make all efforts to change such laws, as they are, as we have seen, there only to benefit the likes of Coca Cola and other conglomerates who “need” the water their commercial activities, such as creating a bottled water from municipal sources, and such like.

It is, in fact, amazing to see that Americans, who often claim to be so much about personal freedoms actually have allowed the governments to make such legislations and ordinances that prevent someone from making use of the water that comes of his or her house, etc. Many great words by the people but very much apathy and not watching what the legislature is doing.

Rainwater harvesting, as far as I am concerned, is a must for all of us, whether we just intend to use the water to irrigate our garden, whether lawn or crops, or whether we are also going to have a gray-water system in our homes to reduce the use of drinking water for certain purposes. Event he washing machine supply could, if the pressure could be created, to such gray-water system using rainwater.

© 2009
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Wave & tidal industry backs Government search for new underwater sites

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Leaders of the UK wave & tidal power sector meeting in Bath recently at the world’s largest ever marine energy conference have backed Government plans to scope English & Welsh waters for new sites.

The plans were announced by Climate Change Minister, Lord Hunt at the BWEA’s Wave & Tidal 09 conference, attended by 500 delegates from around the world. The UK is a leader in the development of this emerging green technology.

Conference Chairman Alan Moore welcomed the proposals: “This announcement is great news for an industry which is a growing UK success story. It will open Britain ’s coastline and estuaries to clean, green energy that will help power a low carbon economy.”

The Govt is launching a screening exercise to study the potential for wave & tidal stream and tidal range technology around the coast. This is the first step to running a full marine energy Strategic Environmental Assessment for England and Wales .”

Lord Hunt said: “The screening exercise in English and Welsh waters is a significant step forward in our plans to harness the power of our seas and secure a renewable and low carbon energy supply.”

The move follows close on the heels of the Budget, which allocated £405 million to emerging low carbon technology manufacturing such as wave & tidal.

Last year saw a series of commercial firsts for the industry:
Marine Current Turbines deployment of a commercial tidal scheme, SeaGen, in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland;
UK based Pelamis Wavepower deploying the first ever commercial wave array in Portugal;
OpenHydro had the first fullscale test at the European Marine Energy centre (EMEC) in Orkney, and
the Crown Estate made the first ever call for commercial projects in the Pentland Firth.

These developments have helped secure the UK ’s place as a world leader in marine renewables.

Alan Moore added: “ Britain is in pole-position to harness our natural wave & tidal resources, which across the world could potentially meet up to 20% of our energy needs and build a thriving manufacturing industry here in the UK in the process.”

With a country such as Britain, surrounded by seas, and some of them with strong currents, there surely must be a scope for wave, tidal and current power generation.

In addition to that, especially if some form of micro-generation is employed, other water sources and water courses too could be utilized on the mainland. Burns, becks, streams and rivers can have water wheels and turbines set in that also could produce a fair amount of energy. It has been done before.

The problem appears to be, however, that we are looking far too much and often at huge projects rather than at small ones that could power a village or a town subdivision or such.

We must get a lot more inventive to secure our energy needs and, above all, we must stop being as wasteful as we are and conserve and reduce consumption.

When it comes to micro-generation for running properties and even small businesses off-grid, do we really have to have 240VAC or 117VAC or such? We do not.

Much of it could be accomplished with the use of 12VDC, for instance, for most appliances do what and have what? They have power supplies – transformers – that take the mains voltage and reduce that down to 12VDC, 9VDC, or lower still.

This is something that should be looked at, especially, as said, for micro-generation on off-grid properties and such. But I digressed a little and this shall be it.

© 2009
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Bill on Renewable Energy Omits Huge Source

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Clearing biomass from nation's forests will keep them healthy

Despite pending federal legislation that promotes renewable, clean energy and creates new jobs, hard-working people in rural areas are being denied the promise of a green economy, according to the American Loggers Council (ALC).

Unemployed loggers all over the country could have a future in sustainably gathering and selling tons of clean-burning woody biomass to power plants were it not for the fine print in The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 that's now under consideration in the House of Representatives. The harvesting of woody biomass involves collecting stems and wood waste from the forest or stands of beetle-killed wood – but the Act excludes 60 to 70 percent of biomass sources in the U.S. simply because the biomass lies in federal and certain private forests.

"Woody biomass is not the cutting down of old-growth trees," said ALC Executive Vice President Danny Dructor. "A sustainable biomass industry will keep our forests healthy and provide clean energy and green jobs."

While it commends Congress' commitment to renewable energy, the ALC is committed to educating Congress about the true benefits of woody biomass harvesting:

  • Reviving small-town economies
  • Creating a viable, proven source of renewable energy
  • Reducing the risk of catastrophic forest fires by removing dead and dying trees and the waste that provides fires much of their fuel
  • Fighting insects that destroy forests by thinning dense stands and removing the waste in which pests breed.
Throughout the U.S., the closing of mills has devastated small-town economies that once relied on logging. In Oregon, 30 percent of loggers are currently unemployed and many rural communities reliant on forestry now suffer from almost 20 percent unemployment — more than twice the national average.

"Here in Minnesota, counting loggers and spin-off jobs from mills, unemployment in our industry's probably 60 percent," said logger Jerry Birchem, of Virginia, Minnesota.

But Birchem has found his own solution through harvesting woody biomass. Not only does he own a wood pellet plant, providing a clean energy solution for his area, but he also gathers and sells woody biomass to a power plant.

"I saw some of the economic trends for logging a few years ago," Birchem said. "And if it weren't for biomass, I'd only have half the work I have now. The popular position used to be that there should be no harvesting of anything, and it seemed like they'd rather have forest fires, but I don’t think that’s the mainstream view anymore."

Like Birchem, third-generation logger Scott Melcher of Sweet Home, Oregon, saw an opportunity to diversify his business when he decided to collaborate with another local businessman to collect and haul the biomass to a utilization center instead of piling it up trailside and burning it.

"I looked at it as a challenge and a way to position Melcher Logging at the forefront of biomass utilization," he said.

So logging does have a future and there's a big economic stimulus waiting to be had for rural economies and everyone else — in creating renewable energy through woody biomass.

The ALC urges Congress to change the fine print in The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 to include all biomass sources. By harvesting biomass in compliance with federal, state and local laws, the nation's federal and private forestlands will experience huge benefits in the prevention of catastrophic forest fires, the preservation of wildlife habitats and the protection of critical water resources.

"Logging communities have been economically devastated," said Jim Petersen, co-founder of the non-profit Evergreen Foundation, and publisher of Evergreen, the Foundation's periodic journal.

Whether things can turn around for the logging communities depends on the government. "They have to get serious about biomass," said Petersen.

"One thing that's important for people to understand is that forests grow; that's what they do," he said. "There will always be biomass, and collection of biomass could keep loggers going forever."

As a professional forester and once woodland management consultant I can but back the statements as to the need to return to clean forests and even the British Forestry Commission has woken up to that fact and is telling the misinformed that demand “habitat piles” to go and take a hike.

Leaving debris in the form of branch wood, lengths of timber, and tops, as “wildlife habitat” is extremely counterproductive and also dangerous.

Counterproductive in that is does not do much for the wildlife, even fungi and invertebrates, at all and dangerous as it (1) is a forest sire hazard by creating so-called “fire ladder” and (2) in that is it a breading ground for tree and forest diseases.

It is high time that we abandoned this false idea of environment management and got back to the old ways of proper silviculture.

I grew up in forestry work and there was a “clean forests” policy and still there was more wildlife of all kinds, including fungi and invertebrates, in our woods and forests than there is now with all the “habitat piles”. In addition to that out woods and forests were healthy and tress had far fewer problems than today.

Back to the future is the route that we must take, in woodland and forest management as much as in many other aspects.

© 2009
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Is Bamboo environmentally friendly?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The answer to this, in a way, depends on the products made from this grass

Although it is often thought in the environmental movement that bamboo is ever so green, nigh on greener than green, and is claimed to be a great replacement for hardwood as regards to flooring and even a replacement for cotton as it can be made into fiber from which garments can be made, this is not really the case.

Using bamboo in the traditional way and manner, especially when used to make items for use in the way they always have been done, such as is done in certain parts of the world, then bamboo has a green potential.

While it is true that bamboo is a grass and not a wood and it rapidly regrowth to full hight and maturity after harvesting it is not such a sustainable wonder plants as it is often made out to be.

Bamboo is, as said, great for many things, but bamboo for clothing (fiber) as well as for flooring, as a sort of replacement for hardwood floors, is something that we should most certainly avoid. Neither is green or environmentally friendly. In fact rather the opposite.

Bamboo fabric is created by use of a number of chemical and mechanical process and the chemicals used are not of the kind that are harmless to the environment and to life. So bamboo clothing is not a very good and clean and green option at all.

Everything about bamboo clothing is a lot of hype and especially greenwash with many of the environmental lobby being guilty and complicit in this. Knowledge is important when dealing with such issues and just believing industry as to sustainability and such is a bad course of action.

Clothing from bamboo is not environmentally friendly, so much is for sure, and those that claim that such garments are should take a close look at the manufacturing process and at the chemicals used.

I have not problems with bamboo being used as it has always been used for the making of a variety of safe traditional products but the likes of clothing and flooring, as in laminate kind boards, is not what we should be going for. When it comes to flooring the best option is and remains boards from native trees, hardwood ideally, such as oak and beech and such, and from sustainably managed forests and woodlands.

Bamboo cannot be cut into planks. The trunks are hollow. In order to make bamboo into boards sections of bamboo cut require a lot of treatment to be flattened and then, often, several of those are bonded together to create a thicker board. The bonding is done, obviously, with glues of the same nature that are used in the production of so-called laminate flooring.

The traditional use of bamboo and the traditional products fashioned from this grass as it has been and still is being used and fashioned in those countries where this plant grows naturally, such as in China, Japan, and other areas of South-East Asia, as we as on the Indian sub-continent and the Amazon and such areas is one thing and sustainable indeed, even if those goods made are produced for export to the developed world.

Making fiber from bamboo, in the current process, for the production of garments and such like, and the making of flooring, on the other hand, are neither green nor sustainable, despite what some might try to have the world believe.

Too many people conduct bad or no research at all...

© 2009
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Common Soil Bacteria Can Have Antidepressant Effects

Grandmother was right after all; a little dirt does not hurt – in fact it is good for you.

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A recent study by UK scientists discovered that a common soil bacteria activates cells in the brain to produce serotonin and can alter behavior similar to antidepressants.

“These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all be spending more time playing in the dirt,” said Dr Chris Lowry of Bristol University

The research, published in the journal Neuroscience by collaborators at Bristol University and University College London, used lab mice treated with Mycobacterium vaccae and found that it activated a specific group of neurons in the brain that produce serotonin.

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) is an important neurotransmitter which plays a role regulating mood, metabolism, anger, aggression, sleep, and appetite, and is found in the brain, gut, and blood. A number of ailments are linked to low levels of serotonin, including anxiety and depression, bipolar disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Many antidepressants work with serotonin pathways to affect moods and anxiety, so finding a natural, commonly available substance that activates serotonin production could lead to new treatments for those suffering from depression.

While we may not be entering the phase where doctors are going to start prescribing spoonfuls of dirt for clinical depression, this study affirms what many grandparents always knew but many parents have to understand afresh: Getting dirty is good for you.

On the other hand, not prescribing the dirt as an antidote for depression but maybe prescribing some contact with the soil. Gardening is a good idea here as one does get into contact with those bacteria – though beware tetanus is lurking there too – and it is said that gardening and such contact with the soil in itself acts as an antidepressant.

The problem that I can see though is that they will be trying to synthesise the active ingredient, yet again, like with all other natural remedies – aspirin (salicilic asid) is a case in point here where the true aspirin (willow bark) cannot, so I understand, cause overdoses but the synthetic compound can and does – so that it can be marketed. If it cannot be put into a bottle and sold for lots of money it is no good to the medical industry.

© 2009
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Peace Park to be created between Sierra Leone and Liberia

Trans-boundary Rainforest Park will be a symbol of peace and stability

The Presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia recently met in Gola Forest, Sierra Leone, to announce the establishment of a new Trans-boundary Peace Park, to protect one of the largest remaining blocks of intact forest in the Upper Guinea Area of West Africa.

At that meeting H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone said: "The long-term benefits of the conservation of the Gola Forests far outweigh the short-term benefits of extraction and destruction. As I have said since I was elected in 2007, the Gola Forests will become a National Park in Sierra Leone and mining will not be permitted.”

H.E. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia said: “This launch of the Sierra Leone - Liberia Transboundary Peace Park Project will serve as a symbol of our renewed commitment to peace, stability and biodiversity conservation in this region."

The Peace Park unites the Gola Forest Reserve in Sierra Leone (75,000 ha) and the Lofa and Foya forest reserves in Liberia (80,000 ha and 100,000 ha respectively), with additional forest to provide corridors for the movement of wildlife between them.

The local communities in Sierra Leone, through their traditional chiefs and Members of Parliament, have both expressed their support for the conservation of the Gola Forest and its designation as a National Park.

Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson, BirdLife’s Regional Director for Africa, who has worked for more than 20 years on the protection of Gola Forest said: “The establishment of the Trans-boundary Peace Park is a tribute to the success of the governments of both countries in putting their recent history of civil war behind them.

“I wish to congratulate both Presidents for this far-sighted initiative. In the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year, they have shown their wholehearted commitment to taking the measures needed to reduce the threats of climate change and increase collaboration in the conservation of their Nation’s natural resources.”

The work to establish the Peace Park has involved several conservation organizations in the BirdLife International Partnership, the two national BirdLife Partners (Conservation Society of Sierra Leone and Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia), the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), Vogelbescherming (BirdLife in The Netherlands), working together with the Forest Development Authority (FDA) of Liberia, and the Forestry Division in Sierra Leone.

The BirdLife Partnership, which is already working on a 4.2 million Euro project to protect Sierra Leone’s Gola Forest, funded by the European Union (EU) and FFEM (French Government), has secured and additional 3.2 million Euros to fund the four-year project to establish the 200,000 ha protected area from the EU, with the balance made up from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), and the Sustainable & Thriving Environments for West African Regional Development (STEWARD) Program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Forest Service, International Programs. CEPF is a joint initiative of Conservation International, the French Development Agency, the government of Japan, the Global Environment Facility, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.

Bobbie Jo Kelso, Acting Executive Director for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund said: “This is a momentous collaboration between the Presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia that will provide benefits far into the future. Their joint action recognizes not only the importance of keeping forests standing but also their critical role in combating global climate change.”
The Upper Guinea Forest Ecosystem, which extends from Guinea to Togo, is one of the world’s most biodiversity-rich ecosystems. However, centuries of human activities has led to the loss of more than 70% of the overall forest cover, which was initially estimated at 420,000 square kilometres. The remaining forest is highly fragmented, restricting habitats to isolated patches and threatening the unique flora and fauna.

Of the 240-250 forest dependent birds in the region, more than 25 are threatened or restricted-range species. Four species, including White-breasted Guineafowl (Agelastes meleagrides) and White-necked Picathartes (Picathartes gymnocephalus), both listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN-BirdLife Red List for birds, are restricted to the remnants of the western subsection of the Upper Guinea Forest, which the Trans-boundary Peace Park will help to protect.

The forest is also home to more than 50 mammal species, such as Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), Pygmy Hippo (Choeropsis liberiensis) and 10 species of primate, including the threatened Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes).

The forests provide very important ecological services locally, nationally and regionally, including wood and non-timber forest products, medicinal plants, continuous provision of water, protection against soil erosion, climatic conditions conducive for to agricultural production, and climate change mitigation.

They are also internationally important for carbon sequestration. Both Governments have expressed interest in carbon trading and in the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) process. The Peace Park will provide the potential to raise tens of millions of dollars over forthcoming decades, ensuring sustained funding for protected area management and community development.

The establishment of the Peace Park will ensure that the long-term conservation of the forests, their biodiversity and global carbon storage benefits is secured through national and international partnerships for improved forest governance across the Sierra Leone–Liberia border.

The Governments of the world need to halt the destruction of the world’s forests, which is responsible for about 20% of current global carbon emissions. This is a major component of the discussions in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Copenhagen from 7th to 18th December 2009.

Source: Conservation International
www.conservation.org
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BWEA Welcomes Europe's largest onshore Windfarm coming online and securing extension

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

London, UK, May 20, 2009: The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) announced today that it welcomes the news that Europe's currently largest onshore windfarm is now fully operational.

Whitelee windfarm in Scotland has a capacity of 322MW, enough to power 180,000 homes, or a city the size of Glasgow. The opening celebration was enhanced by the news of the Scottish Government's approval for an extension, which will raise the windfarm's power capacity to 452MW and create 300 much-needed green jobs in construction. This announcement demonstrates the continued and underlying strength of the wind industry in the UK.

Whitelee takes the current level of wind operating up to 3.5GW. A further 9.2GW is either under construction or about to start construction, but 8.6GW, of which 7.1GW is onshore, is still awaiting planning permission. In England and Wales the majority of this is onshore at Local Government level, where planning decisions can take up to two years to be made, and the approval rate is only 40%, much due to the NIMBYs, the “not-in-my-backyard” brigade, who often include a variety of environmentalists as well.

BWEA's Director of Programme Strategy Chris Tomlinson called on the UK Government at Whitehall and Holyrood to ensure that the planning system is fit for purpose at both local and national level saying: "The superb achievement of having the largest onshore windfarm in Europe, providing power for hundreds of thousands of homes, shows what can be achieved when strong political leadership is shown. We now need that same leadership to be shown by local councils, who have the power to deliver a renewable energy future for the UK."

Whether it is at large commercial windfarm level or with regards to individual wind turbines for homes and farms and such like the local governments more often than not keep throwing a spanner into the works of deploying renewable energy in Britain.

The British Wind Energy Association is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 468 corporate members, BWEA is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK. Wind has been the world's fastest growing renewable energy source for the last seven years, and this trend is expected to continue with falling costs of wind energy and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions.

© 2009
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IT’S IN THE BAG

PACKAGING FROM MAJOR SNACK BRANDS GETS A NEW PURPOSE

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay and TerraCycle Partner to Start Chip Bag Brigades to Upcycle Used Packaging

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Frito-Lay North America, a division of PepsiCo, announced on April 29, 2009 a new partnership with TerraCycle, an upcycling company that will take used packaging from Frito-Lay snack products and turn them into affordable, quality goods. Through this joint program, consumers and local community groups can earn money by collecting the used packaging, and at the same time redirect packaging from landfills.

Over the past few years, the company’s packaging initiatives have made some significant strides. This includes reducing the amount of plastic in packaging by 10% and over the last five years eliminating 12 million pounds of materials used to make the snack bags. This month, the company announced that in 2010 its SunChips brand will be introducing a fully compostable bag made from plant-based renewable material. Marking the company’s latest effort, Frito-Lay will be the first snack food company to fund the collection and upcycling of its used packaging.

“Consumers interact everyday with our company and our brands through packaging,” said Gannon Jones, vice president, portfolio marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “The TerraCycle program builds on our existing efforts to minimize the impact of packaging, while also engaging and rewarding our consumers for being part of the solution.”

The company is asking consumers to form Chip Bag Brigades; for every bag a brigade collects and sends to TerraCycle, Frito-Lay will donate two cents to their charity of choice. Initially, there will be 1,000 collection sites and more are expected to be added during the year. The goal of the program is to engage at least 150,000 people and divert more than 5 million bags from landfills. Consumers can learn more about forming Chip Bag Brigades at www.fritolay.com/terracycle.

The packaging from all the company’s popular brands, such as Lay’s potato chips, Doritos and Tostitos tortilla chips and Cheetos cheese flavored snacks, will be used to make quality, affordable products such as purses, pencil cases and tote bags, which will be available at major retailers like Wal-Mart by late 2009.

This packaging innovation is in line with the commitment by PepsiCo, Frito-Lay’s parent, to reduce the company's impact on the environment through water, energy and packaging initiatives.

Frito-Lay North America is the $11 billion convenient foods business unit of PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), which is headquartered in Purchase, N.Y. In addition to Frito-Lay, PepsiCo business units include Pepsi-Cola, Quaker Foods, Gatorade and Tropicana. Learn more about Frito-Lay at the corporate Web site, www.fritolay.com, and the Snack Chat blog, www.snacks.com.

Such partnerships between TerraCycle and large companies are already in existence and products such as the CapriSun pouches are being collected in the same manner by brigades sponsored by CapriSun's makers. We can but hope that other manufacturers of products the packaging of which is creating a problem as fas as “ordinary” recycling is concerned would team up with TerraCycle to have even more such upcycled goods on the market and thereby reducing the waste in our landfills.

When it comes to the CapriSun pouches, they are a bane in places where, for instance, there is no way of dealing with them, such as in Britain, where they fill up the litter bins of towns and cities, of city parks and country parks and litter the countryside, especially in the summer months.

TerraCycle was founded in 2001, by Tom Szaky, a Princeton University Freshman, in hopes of building an eco-capitalist company built on waste. After winning countless business plan contests, Tom dropped out of Princeton to pursue his dream of founding the world’s most environmentally friendly company. Seven years later, TerraCycle’s eco-friendly products have received a myriad of social and environmental accolades and are sold at major retailers like The Home Depot, Target, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods Markets. TerraCycle’s business plan and products made from waste received a Zerofootprint Seal of Approval, won The Home Depot’s Environmental Stewardship Award twice and recently won the 2007 Social Venture Network Innovation Award. Please visit www.terracycle.net to learn more.

TerraCycle is most probably one of the, if not indeed the, most innovative company globally as to reusing waste. In fact, if I am not mistaken, it may indeed be the only one that does this on a commercial scale bringing such products at a affordable price to the consumer, especially hear using the big box outlets in the United States such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and others.

For those that are not in the USA or near one of the outlets stocking TerraCycle products most of them are now available online via: www.shoponlygreen.com

Upcycling is indeed, in my opinion, as readers will know, the only way to go with many of the waste products that are about, as so much just cannot be recycled.

© 2009
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Green Energy Technologies' WindCube® Launched at Windpower 2009

Customers With Small Footprints, Moderate Wind Can Expect Short Payback

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Green Energy Technologies LLC, a privately held company founded in 2006, has announced the launch of WindCube®, a 60kW rooftop wind turbine designed for on-site power generation by commercial and industrial power users in urban and suburban locations. The turbine, which captures and amplifies the wind, fills a previously unmet need for wind turbines that can be placed into service in a very small footprint.

WindCube®, so we understand, is the first commercial-scale urban wind power system for rooftop use and hopefully will find much acceptance. Small wind is the way forward to greening our villages, towns and cities. Often the problem is, though, local ordinances – planning laws, as they are called in Britain – that tend to stand in the way of such applications.

Even though in the UK the laws are supposed to be relaxed now as to the installation of wind turbines and councils are no longer supposed to be able to object to green energy projects they still do and interfere, often on the grounds of aesthetics.

Maybe things could change in the very near future, as they must, and we can then, finally, see renewable energy on every home, and ideally all the different varieties of it.

“Now building owners anywhere can consider being a part of the renewable energy picture,” said Mark L. Cironi, president and founder of Green Energy Technologies, and with John W. Fedor, the technology’s inventor. “With WindCube, it’s not necessary to have the wind of Kansas or Nebraska to become a generator of wind power. In states with excellent renewable energy incentives, moderate wind and high electric rates, the payback can be as little as three years.”

The turbine is available as a single (60kW) or dual (120kW) system and in rooftop or tower-mounted design. The product is modular to satisfy a customer’s electrical requirements, and produces the same amount of energy in a 22x22x12-foot framework as a traditional turbine with blades 50 feet in diameter. It is ideal for a wide range of users, from industrial companies and commercial office buildings to big-box retailers, college campuses and electric users in remote locations.

The WindCube features a groundbreaking patent-pending design that relies on the wind tunnel effect known in physics as the Bernoulli Principle. While the rest of the wind industry generates energy through the use of free-stream wind, the WindCube captures and amplifies the wind, which produces more kilowatt-hours (kWh). As the wind comes into the WindCube shroud, it becomes concentrated, creating increased velocity and in turn, more power. Because of the amplification effect, the WindCube is able to capture wind energy as low as 5 mph.

The WindCube generates electricity by running its motor backwards using an impeller (the opposite of a propeller), eliminating the need for a gearbox. This lowers the cost of ownership because the gear box is the source of most of the maintenance problems and failures on conventional wind turbines.

A highly favorable element in the timing of the WindCube launch is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 federal stimulus bill, which contains a provision that allows buyers of “small wind” systems (up to 100 kW) an uncapped investment tax credit of 30 percent of the total installed cost for systems placed in service between now and 2016.

The American Wind Energy Association predicts the federal subsidy could help the small-turbine market grow by 40 to 50 percent annually, a boost that would parallel the growth of the U.S. solar photovoltaic industry after a similar 2005 initiative. Moreover, in addition to the federal tax credit, most states provide some form of applicable renewable energy incentive. Ohio, for example, offers a tax rebate of 40% (capped at $200,000) of the overall project cost on facilities served by the state’s investor-owned utilities.

Green Energy Technologies (www.getsmartenergy.com) is the manufacturer of the WindCube®, a unique wind turbine designed specifically for commercial and industrial power users located in urban and suburban settings. As the premier provider of urban wind systems, we are committed to delivering innovative, reliable technology and providing best-in-class customer support. The WindCube’s groundbreaking design allows large power-users to integrate wind energy into a variety of standard urban roofs. If roof space is limited or incompatible, the WindCube may be tower-mounted. With the WindCube’s superior flexibility, a wide-range of users can now benefit from the power of the wind. It is ideal for everyone from industrial companies to developers with LEED-certified commercial office buildings to electric users in remote locations. WindCube is a registered trademark of Green Energy Technologies.

© 2009
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Who Owns the Rain?

You, rainwater harvesting and the law

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While in most places collecting rainwater runoff from your roofs is legal and, like in Britain where it is becoming even a requirement to have rainwater capture when building a new properly, which are then part, often, of the grey water system for the house, in some states in the Union it is illegal. So beware.

A rain barrel or two may seem like the perfect solution for watering the garden without waste and without adding to your water bill. But before you build your rainwater harvesting system, though, you might want to make sure that it is legal to do so where you live. There are three states that say the water that falls from the sky belongs to them, not to just anyone.

One of those is Utah, the Mormon State – who would have thought.

Homeowners who want to use rainwater in Utah have to purchase a water right through the state, but Utah Senator Scott Jenkins wants to change all that. He is planning to sponsor a bill that would allow residents to collect up to 2500 gallons of water in their home systems.

As in the other two states where rain barrels are against the law, the Utah law is rarely enforced.

The next one if Colorado where rain barrels are illegal.

Below an extract from the EPA handbook on rainwater harvesting:

Colorado law, for instance has assumed that all rainfall eventually reaches groundwater or surface waters and is therefore appropriated. In the dry regions of the state, however, a study has found that the majority of rainfall on undeveloped lands is lost to evaporation and transpiration and only a small fraction actually reaches surface waters.

The law is a pretty vague as far as penalties, and the state rarely enforces it. The Colorado water laws strikes me as especially fishy, because they seem to love giving water away for free to private interests. According to the Wall Street Journal, this includes:

Oil companies, ski resorts, fire districts and breweries. The international food conglomerate Nestlé has applied for a permit to draw water from a Colorado aquifer and sell it in plastic bottles under its Arrowhead brand.

But it is technically illegal for state residents to collect a barrel or two to water their gardens and residents are breaking the law by setting up a simple rain barrel. There is, obviously, one rule for the ordinary folks and then there is one for those companies. Money sure is changing hands there somewhere.

The third state in this collection, so far, is Washington, where is is illegal to have a large rainwater harvesting setup. It is, however, legal in Seattle.

The City of Seattle obtained a citywide water-right permit to ensure the legality of water harvesting efforts.

For residents in the rest of the state, however, it remains illegal to have a rainwater harvesting setup.

Washington state's Department of Ecology claims the reasoning behind this is that catching the water before it hits the ground robs water rights holders. They call it “impairment.” What water rights?

The Department of Ecology does clarify that “a traditional residential rain barrel” is legal in the state of Washington, but larger cisterns require a special permit.

It seems that rainwater harvesting laws can vary by municipality in other places, too. So, before you go and get those rain barrels and connect them up to get all that nice free water for your garden and to wash the car and the bikes check whether it is allowed where you live? You could be breaking the law if you install any kind of rainwater harvesting system. In some places even a simple barrel is against the law.

While rainwater harvesting is legal and even a nigh on requirement, and it in fact will be a full requirement soon, so I understand, in Britain, and it also seems to be legal in most if not all of the European Union, in the United States, however, you better check with the authorities before you think of harvesting rainwater for you may be committing a serious felony.

Stupid, I know, but...

© 2009
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Plastic Bag Manufacturers Set Aggressive Recycled Content Goal

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council announced recently a landmark effort to dramatically increase recycling of plastic bags. The move was applauded by Walgreen Co., the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, and numerous retailers and retail associations.

The Full Circle Recycling Initiative sets an aggressive goal of 40 percent recycled content in all plastic bags by 2015, including at least 25 percent post-consumer recycled plastic.

Participants will each separately decide how to support the goal, but overall, industry is expected to invest nearly $50 million to overhaul manufacturing processes and on an annual basis will collect 470 million pounds of recycled plastic for the manufacture of new bags. In addition, this effort will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 463 million pounds, conserve enough energy (natural gas) to heat 200,000 homes, and reduce waste by 300 million pounds every year.

"Today we mark a milestone as we welcome a new plastic bag for the 21st century," said Cal Dooley, President & CEO of the American Chemistry Council. "This bold move will conserve natural resources, reduce waste and stimulate plastics recycling throughout the nation. Plastic bag makers have listened to policy makers and customers and are launching an initiative that will make a lasting positive impact on American communities."

"Walgreens applauds this important effort to encourage more consumer recycling and to work with bag manufacturers to help strengthen goals to make plastic bags more sustainable," said Michael Polzin, director of external communications for Walgreen Co. "These types of proactive, innovative green programs are important steps in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the environment."

The recycling of plastic bags and wraps has escalated in recent years to an estimated 830 million pounds in 2007. This represents a 27 percent increase from 2005. Still, additional material will need to be collected for manufacturers to reach their goal. As in recent years, the Progressive Bag Affiliates will continue working with major grocery and retail chains to increase at-store programs that allow shoppers to bring back their used plastic bags and wraps.

California's 2007 at-store plastic bag recycling mandate and similar laws in New York and Rhode Island will help fuel continued growth in recycling. Similar measures are being considered by other localities across the nation. Consumers can do their part by recycling their plastic bags at participating stores and asking for bags with recycled content.

"This is a significant commitment by the plastic bag industry to reduce waste through increased recycling and use of recycled materials," said Matthew McKenna, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. "A greater commitment to recycling by consumers and businesses will ultimately prevent litter and beautify our communities, while at the same time conserving energy and natural resources. We look forward to working with the industry to make this program a success."

While this can be applauded we really must get away from the plastic grocery carrier bag that is a use once and throw product and get over to the reusable shopper of whatever kind. You do not even have to go out and buy one; you could simply get the Morsbag.com template and make your own.

If you need one to have on you for the “at the spur of the moment” shopping trip for groceries then you should carry one of those reusable shopping bags that roll up small or that fold back onto a small little stuff sack of their very own. Here the likes of Envirosax and Chico Bags come to mind as the best.

© 2009
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The Great British Refurb Campaign

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

On Saturday April 25, 2009, Kevin McCloud launched the Grand Designs Great British Refub Campaign, and such a campaign certainly does not come before its time.

While building new green energy efficient homes is fine and good we must look at refurbishing the existing housing stock in Britain, whether private, private rented or public, and retrofitting them to be green and energy efficient. It can be done and we MUST do it and do it NOW.

Far too much energy has been expended – though we have heard little of them recently – as to the development of the so-called “eco-towns” and no one even considered the retrofitting of existing housing stock and other building to make them green rather than building new places in the middle of nowhere often.

We should not even as much as consider the building of such “eco-towns” until we have not refurbished and retrofitted all existing buildings in this country to a proper green standard.

In many cases this should have been done a long, long time ago. To this day many council homes do not, for instance, have double glazing and such like and they thus waste energy.

I have seen even the older blocks of flats that still have the iron window frames of around World War II and just thereafter and which cannot, with the best will, be seen as energy efficient. Those windows, as all single glazed, transmit much of the heat generated by whatever heating in the house to the outside and the biggest mistake was made in the 1960s and on from that time when windows were made bigger and bigger and thus the area through which heat could escape to the outside also became ever larger.

If the UK is really serious about fulfilling the targets that it set itself as to reduction of CO2 emissions and such then we need not play with the “” idea but we must green our existing villages, towns and cities, by refurbishing and retrofitting the existing buildings to make them “green” and we must do that in a hurry.

If we don't not only will Britain not meet the set targets; we are wasting energy needlessly and this can no longer be allowed.

The time to act is now. Let's go and refurbish the country and retrofit ever home and business to make them as energy efficient as at all possible.

The Grand Designs Great British Refub Campaign must be allowed to succeed or our future may look rather bleak.

© 2009
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Reconstruct DVD – DVD Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Reconstruct – eco-friendly crafts made easy DVD1: Home Decor

Instructional DVD with 11 projects friendly to the Earth and to your budget.

Host Garth Johnson and project designer Jeanee Ledoux transform humble materials like cardboard, old appliances, and eggshells.

Re-Construct is the first DVD movie at the convergence of environmental consciousness and a generation's rediscovery of handmade goods. This rediscovery of handmade goods is certainly not before time.

Project designer Jeanee Ledoux, author of “Adobe a la Mode: 44 Projects for Hip Home Decor”, transforms everyday items – and even waste materials – into clever artwork, furniture, and accessories.

Host Garth Johnson of “extremecraft.com” and “1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse” brings snarky humor and a passion for fringe crafts to the step-by-step demonstrations.

This is indeed a very interesting DVD with nice projects but not all of them will appeal to everyone.

If, like me, however, you are always on the lookout for inspiration as to what to turn this or that item of waste into then this first DVD may not give you all that much but it is worth having, nevertheless, as you may still get some ideas.

The remodeling of the baking sheet, aka baking tray (depending which country you are in), into a drinks tray can also give inspiration of what, maybe, to do with some waste materials that are similar, such as, for instance the lids of certain confectionery tins.

From a technical point of view the volume of the sound on the DVD could have been better as it is rather on the low side and anyone playing the movie on a laptop with their inbuilt speakers may not get a good sound out of it, as there is a limit too what level the system can be set to. Just a little food for thought for the next one.

The DVD is available for USD 19.99 from reconstructdvd.com and indie boutiques.

© 2009
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BOGO LIGHT - Advertisement

Former landfill site has been designated contaminated land

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A former landfill site that was used between the 1960s and 1990s has been designated contaminated land after gas was found to be leaking close to nearby homes creating a 'unacceptable risk' to residents.

Rochdale Borough Council realised the site, which was closed and landscaped over in the mid-1990s, was producing gas in 2002.

The authority has been monitoring the site ever since and this month it found the gas had migrated as the rubbish, a mix of commercial and domestic, moved underground from the original site.

Gas is produced from the natural breakdown of the dumped rubbish in this case wood, paper and other wastes, which are creating methane and carbon dioxide.

At the moment tests are not showing the gas inside residential properties but the council, by designating the land as contaminated, is taking the first step towards clearing it up.

Andy Gumbley, environmental control manager at the council, said: "We have contacted the company responsible for the land-filling at Boo Hole and they now have three months to respond with voluntary proposals to address the problems if they wish to do so.

"After that time if an agreement cannot be reached the council would serve a remediation notice and seek funds from government to carry out the necessary work.

"Unfortunately the work needed is fairly extensive and there is a legal process to be followed so this may take some time."

The council has so far carried out a record search about the type of wastes that went into the site, installing boreholes for monitoring, taken soil samples, carried out risk assessments and stated there is was 'no risk to site users'

As this gas is more than likely methane gas the best suggestion here would be to tap the dump and extract the gas and use the same for running a small power plant in that locality to generate electricity for the local area. It can be done. It is not rocket science.

© 2009
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Have a greener festival this summer

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

For the upcoming festival season the Real Green Retail group has compiled a list of products and advice to provide festival goers with the materials and information they need to have their greenest festival ever in 2009. As festival revelers enjoy the great outdoors, they can also respect the environment around them at the same time.

Let's hope they will actually consider the environment, for too often, while they come from the what was once called the “alternative scene” where the environment was high on the agenda when they are high on something or other often the surroundings are no longer considered and the area is left full of litter. This year, hopefully, this could change.

The Real Green Retail Group, who prepared the guide, is a group of ethical retailers who jointly have over 160 years of experience in pioneering ethical choices.

Here is are some suggestions from the Real Green Retail Group as to the things that are needed for the green festival goer:

· Fresh organic cotton t-shirts - 3 or 4 required to see any festival goer through a weekend in style. Slogans are particularly good to let the world know what you are thinking about the world around you – Greenfibres has a good selection.

· Organic deodorant - In case you run out of clean t-shirts

· Organic food, wine & a bottle crusher - Organic meat for the BBQ (not forgetting the vegetables), organic fruit to maximize you energy and fresh bread and cakes to share with your new friends – a weekend hamper can be ordered in advance from Graig Farm’s online store. Vintage Roots and Vinceramos have an excellent range of organic wines, beers and spirits. A handy bottle crusher from The Green Shop is vital to maximize space in the recycle bins

· Green stationery - A notepad and pen to note the details of your new festival friends or write required signage e.g. “Do not disturb’ or ‘Wake by 4pm’. Green Stationery has a good selection.

· Ethical lighting - A solar or LED torch to find your way home from the Green Shop, or better still even a wind-up LED torch. There are many available and look out for Lidl in the next week or so where they have small wind-up LED torches for less than GBP 4 and also wind-up camping lanterns for under a tenner.

· A good eco book - Real Green Retail Group recommends James Lovelock’s latest tome, “The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning”

· And, an organic bag to hold all you supplies – available from all good eco shops. On the other hand you could go for a bag made from recycled trash, available from Trashe Bolsas or from TerraCycle or other sources. Alternatively you could go to the Morsbags.com website, download the instructions and make your own tote bag to lug your supplies around from some old fabric that would otherwise go to waste.

Finally, where to go?

The Real Green Retail Group recommends The Green Man festival of course! Taking place 21-23rd August 2009 in the Brecon Beacons.*

The Real Green Retails Group is made up of ten retailers who have operated within the environmental sector for an average of 15 years providing a combined 160 years of experience in Green Retailing. Members place ethical and environmental objectives at the core of their business mission and all are SME’s with less than 50 full time equivalent employees.

The growth of ‘greening’ has meant there has been some confusion caused among the general public over what is and what is not ethical or green. The Real Green Retail Group aims to pioneer and promote real initiatives.

The further information and latest news from these companies can be found at http://www.ethical-marketing.co.uk/.

Suggested websites:
http://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk
http://www.ecology.co.uk/
http://www.greenfibres.com/
http://www.greenshop.co.uk/
http://www.vintageroots.co.uk
http://www.vinceremos.co.uk
http://www.graigfarm.co.uk/
http://www.greenstat.co.uk

*Maybe readers could recommend some more green events and festivals worth going to and maybe some of those events might be interested to contact us for a little advertising.

© 2009
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