The Joy of Green Cleaning – Book Review

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

jogl The Joy of Green Cleaning
4th Revised Edition 2011
by Leslie Reichert
available as E-book and as bound copy
97 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4276-3444-3 (E-book)

Ed Begley Jr., Environmental Leader, Author & Actor says about this book: “I love this book! A simple, yet necessary resource for learning how to take the toxins out of your home.”

The fact is that we are using way too many toxins in our home to kill everything bacterial and that is not good.

Our Elders kept a clean home with materials to hand such as soap, vinegar, etc., and also a fair deal on elbow grease.

It was a clean home but not a sterile one. A sterile home is a dangerous one, foe you and me, the environment and the Planet as a whole.

Our great-grandmother and even grand-mothers would have cleaned their homes with four simple things: white vinegar, salt, baking soda and Borax, just like Leslie's great-grandmother has done. Many, like the author's great-grandmother, lived to be very old and would have cleaned their entire lives without using any antibacterial spray, bleach, or the other things we are told we need to use to keep our homes truly clean.

For too long, though only some twenty or so years, have we been throwing antibacterial cleaners at bacteria in our homes, killing all the beneficial bacteria while making the many of the nasty ones stronger and thsu we have caused great harm.

It is a proven fact now that Triclosan and other antibacterial agents are the main cause of the MRSA and other such viruses and bacteria that have become resistant to anything that we can throw at them. The overuse of antibiotics in medicine, human as well as veterinary, and the overuse of antibacterial agents in the home and elsewhere are coming to haunt us and bite us in the behind, if we are not very careful.

We don't need all those chemical agents. The truth is that most regular cleaning can be done without any toxic chemicals. Simple things in your kitchen cupboards can do a great job cleaning your home. Baking soda, vinegar, sea salt, lemon juice, and hydrogen peroxide can be used in place of most grocery store cleaners.

This book is a valuable guide to non-toxic, though I have my reservations as to Borax and hydrogen-peroxide, as they are not as harmless as may be thought but as long as they are not ingested and treated with respect they are fine. At least they break down harmless in the environment.

I have been using vinegar myself for many cleaning applications and have found that it does not have to be necessarily distilled white vinegar; ordinary Malt vinegar does the job well and cider vinegar is the best of all.

Burned on stuff in a saucepan or crock pot? Put in a cup of neat vinegar and leave standing for a couple of hours, then put into the dishpan in hot soapy water and soak for a few minutes. No need to do lots of scrubbing, it just comes off.

Vinegar is one of those, in my view, miracle things and we are really undervaluing it. It has so many uses aside from putting it on our fish & chips (chips are potato fries to our American cousins).

I will admit that I have not tried the recipes for natural cleaners in Leslie's book as yet but am aiming to do so. I have had had enough bad experiences by now with chemical stuffs. Nearly ended up with searing of the lungs the other day by putting some bleach into cleaning water that had a load of vinegar in it. Yikes! Chemical warfare agent for sure.

I have but one little negative remark but that is as to the layout of the E-book and not in any other way. It should be centered rather than left and right aligned as, is anyone would wish to print and bind this E-book, especially if they print single sided on previously used paper as I do, they might have difficulties reading the left aligned pages.

I have found that centering the pages in the payout and having page numbers in the center in the footer is the best way of laying out an E-book for, while some folks may read such a book – or any E-book – on the computer screen, there will be many who wish to print out a copy for themselves. I know that I prefer it that way.

On the other hand, this is a much needed book and I can but hope that it will bring many people into the realm of green cleaning.

© 2011

People beginning to understand that life is changing

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The more conversations on the subject of peak oil and changing climate and such I am having the more I am coming to realize that there are “ordinary” people out there that are of my generation or old that, in fact, are getting the message that life is going to change and that drastically, from what we have known in the last 50 years or so.

Like myself they realize that the time of cheap oil is over and many even welcome that fact and the fact that we will have to get back to horse and such for much of what we have to do and to a future “made by hand”.

This is not just the result of a few conversations but more and more people agree when this is mentioned and here especially those that have lived through World War Two and the lean times afterwards and they can all see it, including our need to go back to using horses in farming and transportation.

In early January 2011 industry has now told the world that the affordable electric car is still going to be a fair way away and as far as I see it it probably will never ever arrive due to the increasing costs with cheap oil running out.

What does cheap oil has do with the electric car and its affordability, you ask? The answer is that without cheap oil the manufacture of the car will become more and more expensive, as will be its transportation across the globe, and thus the price will get even more expensive.

Thus, as far as I can see it, and as far as I can see I am not alone there, that we may have to rethink how we are going to get about.

In another article I have already mentioned the issue of the affordable electric car and the truth is that, for the ordinary you and me, I believe, the electric car, especially the like of family saloon cars, will not come to pass.

What will that mean to the ordinary you and me and our families as far as transportation goes?

The answer here must be that, unless we have the funds for horses and horse and cart, it will be Shanks' Pony and the iron steed, the bicycle.

I even have a problem to see public transport to still be in existence as we know it today. Human power and thus human-powered vehicles, that is to say bicycles and their derivatives, will be the order of the day.

But transportation is but one issue as regards the end of cheap oil and other aspects will be even more difficult for many of us because so much today depends on oil, on cheap oil.

Profound changes will come about and we will have too return to ways of our forefathers in doing and making things. Finally, as well, the throwaway economy, -society and -culture will some to an end and certainly not before time.

Natural materials than can be forked by hand in old ways will come back to the fore, such as wood, linen, leather, etc. and I am waiting for the vegan to say that he or she will not wear leather, as regards to shoes or whatever, as not substitute will be available.

In a way life will get back to normal as it was ordained by the celestial powers and we will, once again, come to value Nature for the gifts that we will need to live.

However, for those that are not prepared it will be a rather rude awakening and especially to those that have become so used to the modern way of instant gratification of any want and who have to come to see things as a entitlement, of having a right to this or that and that immediately.

It is those that will be in for the rudest of awakenings and the rest of us will have to find ways to defend ourselves against those of that group that refuse too understand that the entitlement state never existed.

© 2011

UK gasoline price hits record high

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Automobile Association (AA) has joined others calling for British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to scrap the next planned increase in fuel duty on April 1, 2011.

Pump prices hit record levels on Friday 28 January 2011, piling pressure on the government to cut fuel duty.

Fuel has now passed the previous high seen in the summer of 2008, pushed up by a combination of a near $100 per barrel crude oil value and a succession of tax increases and the average price of diesel has hit £1.34 a liter and gasoline is at £1.29 a litre.

This means that it costs more than £60 to fill up even a small family car; and I doubt that people with slightly larger cars will get away with less than £80-£100 to fill up the tank.

How people will be able to continue with business-as-usual commuting to work in London from places several hundreds of miles away beats me.

If this is anything to go by – though some of the increases at the pump could also be due to the recent increase in VAT (sales tax) from 17.5% to 20% – then the members of the think tanks that suggest that we could be reaching the £15 to £20 an Imperial gallon of gasoline and diesel within the next couple of years could be right.

Some of the price increase does have to be laid at the rise in crude oil prices and with the issues in Tunisia, which have now spread to Egypt, and could spread to other Middle East countries, the price of crude go well about the $100 a barrel mark.

Motoring organizations said that the new diesel price meant that drivers were paying nigh on 20 pence per litre more than a year ago, adding £9.61 to the cost of a typical 50-litre refill.

The soaring price of gasoline and diesel can be expected to trigger anger against BP and Shell when they announce big increases in profits next week. US oil group, Chevron, has just reported a 72% increase in fourth-quarter income to $5.3bn.

The cost of heating oil has risen by about 75% this winter and the price is still rising and therefore there are other people even worse off than the “poor” motorists.

In rural areas of Britain central heatings are predominately run on heating oil and it is becoming more and more expensive for people living there to heat their homes. In addition to that thefts from domestic heating tanks are being reported all across the country, which are fuelled – pardon the pun – by the cost of diesel and, despite the fact that there is a dye in heating fuel in the same way as in agricultural use only diesel, this oil is finding its way onto the black market as diesel.

As far as I am concerned this all points to rather troubling times ahead and, personally, though I hate to be the harbinger of doom, I do not believe that it will get better either, especially if the likes of the ITPOES people are to be believed.

© 2011

Apple to Pears Folding Pocket Secateurs – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Folding Pocket Secateurs

Apple to Pears Product Code: 420160

Trade only

Folding_Pocket_S_4ce1348f027b6 These secateurs fold down to just 3cm x 9cm and slip into a special pouch. These secateurs will cut through an impressive 15mm stem and hidden inside the handles there are four other useful tools – garden knife, mini saw, weeder and handy-tool. Now available in his and hers options.

Normally folding tools can be a bit of an issue as the handles are more often than not rather uncomfortable. Then again those pocket multi-tools, and these folding secateurs fit into that category and bracket of pocket tool, are not intended for prolonged use, be they Leatherman Tool or whatever make.

However, these secateurs have fairly good scales on the handles which means they handle – pardon the pun – well and are quite comfortable indeed, as far as folding tools go.

While these folding secateurs from Apple to Pears are, indeed, tough enough to cut 15mm diameter seems it would depend on the material as to whether I wanted to do it too often as I tend to gets parts of my hand trapped between the grips. Don't ask me how, but I am good at things like that. The secateurs do look, however, well enough constructed and should stand up fine in the use for which they are intended, They are, though, not a replacement for full-size secateurs in gardening work.

I must say that I have seen and handled a number of different folding secateurs before, as they were and are in use by some local authority park and countryside ranger services and the “Apples to Pears” folding pocket secateurs feel by far superior to all those.

Obviously, like all pocket tools, these folding pocket secateurs are no replacement, as I have said already, for a full size pair when more than a few occasional snips are called for. I would not wish to prune a tree with them or a vineyard for hours and that is also not for what they are intended. They are, however, and that is what they are meant for, great for having on you when pottering around in the garden to dead head flowers as and when you see them at the spur of the moment rather than to have to run back to the shed to get your pruners and also great for doing the kitchen harvest.

These secateurs now come in a his and a hers option with the his one being black and green and the hers version being pink. The his version comes with the black nylon belt pouch while the hers one comes with some plant labels in the box. The his version of the secateurs has 4 mini tools inside the handles, the hers version only two.

While the his version does come with a nylon belt pouch I, personally, find it to be rather a fit for the tool and the nylon material also a little thin and would just rather slip the tool into a pocket. This, however, may also just about be the only slightly negative take of mine on the folding pocket secateurs from Apple to Pears.

© 2011

Investing in carbon capture and storage Nature's way

Stopping deforestation, greening agriculture better than carbon capture and storage, says UNEP Report

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It does, does it? OMG, how new, NOT. It is mind-boggling what those scientists are capable of discovering at high cost which everyone else knew long ago.

Should it not have been obvious, without the need of spending millions on (fake) research, that reafforestation of areas and looking after our forests and woodlands on a worldwide basis, and this includes their proper management, is better than any other means of “carbon capture” and “-storage”?

Boosting investments in the conservation, rehabilitation and management of the Earth's forests, peatlands, soils and other key ecosystems could deliver significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and avoid even more being released to the atmosphere, a 2009 report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) says.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said that tens of billions of dollars are being earmarked for carbon capture and storage at power stations with the CO2 to be buried underground or under the sea.

But, he said, that perhaps the international community is overlooking a tried and tested method that has been working for millennia, the biosphere and that by some estimates the Earth's living systems might be capable of sequestering more than 50 gigatones (Gt) of carbon over the coming decades with the right market signals.

In other words, what he is saying that forests and other such lands would be much better in carbon capture and -sequestration than anything else that could be conceived by man.

Now who would have thought?

This is something that foresters, including and especially professional commercial foresters, have told everyone for ages and ages but they have been looking at other methods. Why?

The answer to the rhetorical question is that natural ways are way too simple and cannot generate a huge profit for the companies involved in making and marketing the systems.

Aside from protecting and maintaining and preserving the forests, woods, peatlands and other such areas we must actively plant new forests and woodlands and manage our woodlands and forests in such a way that they are beneficial for carbon capture.

In addition to that we must make use of forest products and debris more rather than leaving thinnings out there in the woods as so-called habitat piles to rot away where they release the once captured carbon and in addition to that lots of methane.

While some habitat piles are needed indeed to encourage a greater fungi population most of what is claimed to be left “for the wildlife” constitutes nothing but bad and lazy forestry practices.

Let's get back to normality of a clean forest floor and of using the wood in a proper way, from burning it (carbon neutral) to making things from it (carbon negative), instead of using plastics all the time and just leaving the woods to fall apart.

© 2011

IOG Apprenticeship in Groundsmanship

IOG breaks new ground with the launch of groundsmanship apprenticeships

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG), the leading membership organization for everyone involved in the management of sports pitches, landscape and amenity facilities in the UK, has announced the IOG Apprenticeship in Groundsmanship – a work-based program available to aspiring groundsmen and women.

Providing a choice of options – Apprenticeship Level 2, Advanced Apprenticeship Level 3 and Higher Apprenticeship Level 4 – and routes (ie work-based diploma, foundation learning, GCSE/A Level and employment with training), the programme is targeted at anyone aged from 16 years. The IOG Apprenticeship will take between one and three years, depending on the Level chosen.

Explaining that the new Apprenticeship is the latest in a comprehensive range of affordable education services delivering high quality and accredited qualifications at every level of groundscare Ian Lacy, the IOG’s Head of Professional Services, says the new scheme follows the successful recent launch of the IOG Young Apprenticeship Scheme as a curriculum option for students aged 14 at Harefield Academy, St Albans.

“The IOG Apprenticeship, a work-based (on- and off-job) programme designed around the needs of an employer, leads to nationally recognised qualifications such as diplomas in Groundsmanship and greenkeeping accredited by City & Guilds land-based services,” he says. “The majority of the time is spent in the workplace and supported by a mentor (usually the head groundsman or a fellow member of staff) and the remaining time is delivered by the learning provider, the IOG.

“To support the new scheme, the IOG is offering a ‘one-stop shop’ apprenticeship service which includes screening literacy and numeracy, assessment of occupational skills, advice on learning styles and psychometric testing, plus help with the induction and sign-up and the assessor visit, and ongoing monitoring of progress.

“Apprenticeships are the Government’s primary route to skills and employability, and such a formal springboard for a career in groundscare has been sorely missing – until now.”

This scheme is something that we all in the industry, and especially those that wish to enter this field, have been waiting for for a long time. While it is possible to study groundsmanship at a number of agricultural colleges this is a much better way, as are apprenticeships in general and we need many more, in the parks and gardens field as well as in others.

© 2011

The New Home Front – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The New Home Front (Report)

Written by Andrew Simms (co-author of The New Economics and Fellow of nef) for Caroline Lucas MP to launch the New Home Front initiative.

Published by: Caroline Lucas MP, House of Commons SW1A OAA, email: caroline.lucas@greenparty.org.uk  web: www.carolinelucas.com  

nhf_coverThe New Home Front report was launched by Caroline Lucas, MP (Green Party) at the Imperial War Museum on Thursday 20th January 2010.

This report, which states that Britain needs to be put on a war footing to tackle climate change, energy security and several other ills, appears to be a politician's approach to wrap bad news in a palatable wrapper, such as the fact that we are near – very near actually – the end of cheap, abundant oil.

All I can say is that it was about time that something like this report was done that also the ordinary person can understand. Now the ordinary person must be able to get it and read it. We now need this publication sent to each and every household in this country so that everyone can read it. Downloading it is one way but not everyone has that capability.

We all need to get geared up and onto the “war footing” that is being referred to in the report as regards to climate change, energy security and the rest. There are so many issues that fall under that heading and with an approach as with the Home Front during World War Two we might, just about, be able to tackle a fair number of those.

Waste is one of those: Waste is such a big issue and that is waste as in waste – things thrown out, including food – to waste of energy, etc. We are throwing out tons and tons of food every day, much of it before it even gets to you and me. Then there is the food that households throw out, as well as restaurants, the kitchens of institutions, including the Houses of Parliament. While, in the days of World War Two that food waste was fed to thousands of pigs – not, not flying ones – nowadays that is no longer permitted.

During the days of World War Two things also were still repairable and there were people who could fix things, professionals as well as amateurs, and wireless sets, shoes and boots, etc. all were fixed by the people themselves or by the menders for this or that product. Today we lack the skills to do that and, and that is most important, the possibility to do so.

Most products today can no longer be repaired. They have been designed in that way so that no one, not even a mechanic, can open them to fix them, and as long as those conditions remain it just is nigh impossible to make things last, as they are designed not to. Only a change in approach can alter that.

What the report's author(s), however, forget to mention is that many people during World War II resented the rationing, the “utility” clothes, etc. and while most lived with it, so to speak, others used every measure possible to circumvent them. Spivs and smugglers did a roaring trade in some areas.

As far as the changes that we are facing now are concerned, and especially the serious pollution of our Planet, the exploitation of finite resources and, last but not least, the changing climate and energy security we must change our ways and we must do that yesterday.

With cheap, abundant oil nearing its end our way of life as we know it is going to change whether we like it or not. Cuban can and must be seen as an example and the war time experiences of fuel rationing also.

Heating will be a problem for many, if not most, as the majority of us in Britain have to rely on gas for our central heating system and on electricity to run the heating pumps, or even heat electric. Others who rely on heating oil for fuel their furnaces are probably worst of still. Wood is only used by a minority for heating and in some areas it is not permitted to burn any fuels that would smoke, such as wood, coal or even wood pellets. However, this will have to change.

What will also be an obstacle in implementing the New Home Front ideas is the fact that far too many people live, mentally, in an “entitlement society” believing, falsely, but nevertheless, that they are entitled to fuel for their cars, etc. and I can see the fuel thefts that are happening already and other thefts increasing.

The carrot and stick approach indicated in this report, and it seems to be more stick than carrot, where fines for waste and taxes are mentioned and suggestions that having a huge TV could be considered anti-social behavior is also quite obvious. I must say that I have seen this coming for along time. Never is a proper carrot being offered though.

Why are the British government and politicians in the country not prepared to pay people for recyclables, such as tin cans, bottles (plastic and especially glass), glass jars, and such? Other countries do it and it works very well indeed there.

This report, like so many other writings as regards to climate change, peak oil, etc. has already, within a day or so after its launch, attracted deniers and derogative comments. But what these people just don't want to see and understand is that the “business as usual” model of doing things can no longer (be allowed to) continue and they use all means to fight against the very notion of having to change and make changes. Nor can carbon credits and carbon trading get us anywhere.

The path outlined in “The New Home Front” may just about get us somewhere and the time for transition to this new path is now. There is a way to be won.

The report, “The New Home Front”, or shall we call it a booklet, should be sent, and I am serious here, to each and every household in Britain and goes hand in hand with the “Make Do & Mend” booklet that was produced and published by the John Lewis Partnership in 2009. This booklet could also do with a distribution to all households in the country.

We must get back to a semblance of the life that was the wartime years in Britain and America and people must learn the necessary skills to do all the things that will be needed. “The New Home Front” booklet will give some food for thought and the John Lewis' booklet would give them ideas as to whet to do and how. There is a war to be fought and won.

© 2011

Are aluminum (aluminium) water bottles safe?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

“Are aluminum water bottles safe?” is a rather frequent search term that is linked to the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW and therefore I thought it might be good it I would explain here a little as to aluminum and safety.

Aluminum, aka aluminium in Europe, is not food safe – it took them a long while to find that one out – and therefore all aluminum bottles (and cans) will (have to) be lined with a coating which, in most cases, contains bisphenol A (BPA), which is a raster nasty substance in that it is a hormone disruptor and thus referred to as a gender bender.

SIGG water bottles, now, are, so they claimed, lined with a BPA-free liner but then Gaiam claimed that theirs was BPA-free and it then was found to be leaching more of the chemical into the water than any of those that were known to contain BPA. So, as far as I am concerned only stainless steel or glass bottles for me, and maybe, though that is then plastic again, BPA-free polycarbonate bottles like “We Want Tap” bottle.

If, and that question was also raised in some of the search engine inquiries, we are talking about the old military canteens made from aluminum my advise would be not to use them in any way. They do not have liners and thus aluminum will leach into the drink, and more so if it is not just water but anything acidic.

Aluminum is a “heavy metal” and not very good at all for you health and thus let me state that aluminum water bottles are not safe to use, and as far as I am concerned, not even with just plain water. Therefore avoid aluminum bottles, even if they are claimed to have a BPA-free liner.

Stainless steel bottles, and those of glass, are basically the only ones that are safe safe to use, as are those made of plastics that do not contain BPA.

If you want an unbreakable light water bottle then, as far as green goes, stainless steel is the best choice, as plastic is not really a good environmentally friendly choice. Stainless steel – as well as glass – can be recycled nigh indefinitely; not something that can be done with plastic, or whatever kind.

To sum it up, once again, do not use aluminum bottles, especially not if they are not lined and are “pure” aluminum, as the military canteens were, for instance, and even be careful with lined aluminum bottles.

© 2011

Mervyn King says problems ahead for many years

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The governor of the Bank of England, in a statement on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, indicated that he believes that things will get worse before they will get better and that people will face the worst fall in the standard of living since the 1920s.

He gave warning that inflation would rise to "uncomfortably high" levels this year – peaking at "between 4 per cent and 5 per cent" before "falling back" next year. Mr King also said that unless there was pay restraint, interest rates would quickly be raised.

Households are facing the most dramatic squeeze in living standards since the 1920s, Mervyn King said, as he reacted to the shock disclosure that the economy was shrinking again.

Families will see their disposable income eaten up as they “pay the inevitable price” for the financial crisis, Mervyn King warned and with wages failing to keep pace with rising inflation, workers’ take-home pay will end the year worth the same as in 2005 – the most prolonged fall in living standards for more than 80 years, so the chief of the Bank of England reckons.

There are also serious fears that the country is poised to slip back into recession, defined as two successive quarters of negative growth. Economists said the situation was “an absolute disaster”.

Since when the country has ever gotten out of the Great Recession is something the proof of which I would first like to see. It is all more than relevant and things are going to get worse, especially with the more-or-less inevitable rise in costs of motor fuel such s gasoline and diesel, with the rates in January 2011 being that high that is costs fifty pounds and more to fill up the tank of even a small family car. That makes it more expensive than flying from London to, say, Stuttgart and back.

Disposable household income has been hit by sharp increases in the cost of food, fuel and tax, coupled with restricted wage rises for most workers. Last year, take-home pay fell by about 12 per cent, official figures showed, and the trend was expected to continue in 2011.

The governor warned that the Bank “neither can, nor should try to, prevent the squeeze in living standards”.

In other words, folk, we are on our own and the ones that caused the dilemma siting pretty, the bankers and previous British government.

While the Con-Lib coalition government is being forced to bring in the serious austerity measures the situation is not of their making. It was the previous government, the Labor administrations of Blair and Brown, that did not curb the excesses of the banks and then plundered the Treasury, literally, to bail out the banks.

The only thing the current Chancellor of the Exchequer inherited from his predecessor was a note that said “Good luck! There is no money left” and not it is that party that blames it all on the new government.

Whatever the case, we are in trouble in, in real truth, the country is bankrupt. But things are not going to get better in a hurry either – pardon me for being the harbinger of bad news.

The truth is that, if predictions of the oil prices are going to be true, things are going to get a great deal worse. How are people going to commute when gas and diesel are hitting the £15 mark or more? And, according to some think-tanks this could happen in the next couple of years.

The recently launched report “The New Home Front” has a couple of answers and some serious food for thought on that level and we'd all do well to acquaint ourselves with it and its findings.

© 2011

Supermarkets misleading consumers on the labeling of fish

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

ClientEarth, the environmental law organization, says that major retailers in the UK are misleading customers over the labeling of fish.

The organization inspected the labeling by major supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, The Co-operative, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, and Waitrose, and in their subsequent report, they say that labels, such as 'sustainably sourced'; 'protects the marine environment'; and 'responsibly farmed' were misleading or unverified on 32 products out of 100 examined.

'Dolphin friendly' labels featured on tinned tuna they say can be misleading as there is no mention of the harmful effects the tuna fishing method used may have on other threatened species such as turtles and sharks.

ClientEarth CEO, James Thornton, said: "It would be shocking to find out that the free-range chicken you bought was actually battery farmed.

"Discovering the fish you're eating, which is labeled as responsible or environmentally friendly, actually led to the deaths of threatened species also leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

"Consumers need to be able to trust labels but in reality claims such as 'sustainably sourced' or 'responsibly farmed' are often misleading.

"We would like all supermarkets that have the misleading claims on the products we've identified to remove them as soon as possible or to prove them with evidence."

ClientEarth is calling for EU regulation for fish labeling and for uniform standards on sustainability claims.

They say that while many supermarkets are taking measures to ensure that their fish is well caught, and farmed, they apply different criteria in their decision-making, which makes choosing truly sustainable fish products difficult for consumers.

This report adds to the topicality of sustainable fishing, highlighted this week in the TV series Fish Fight on Channel 4, fronted by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

ClientEarth, the Marine Conservation Society and Greenpeace are among the organizations backing the chef's campaign. The campaign seeks to highlight the issues of sustainable fishing, in particular the issue of discards, and to influence the reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

Sainsbury's recently released a statement that all their tuna is already line-caught and any that so far is not, in the ingredients of this or that product, will be so in the very near future. Let us truly hope so.

© 2011

A typical family consumes 26 gallons of bottled water a year

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A typical American family consumes 26 gallons, that is about 100 liters, of bottled water a year. That's a lot of water and a lot of, primarily, plastic containers.

How much does that make for the USA as a who and then add to that the rest of the world, especially the developed world where there seem to be the greatest fools that think that they have to have bottled water. Some even have been so convinced that bottled water is better for them and healthier.

It is not just the plastic bottles, far too many of which never make it to the recycling centers and -plants, but the water itself that concerns me. That is water that is being taken out of the natural cycle and therefore does not go to feed our watercourses and does not fill our reservoirs.

In addition it is a well-known, well-known to those of us in the know, that a great deal of bottled water is not spring water at all but, in fact, is from public sources, as Pepsi has had to admit, which means it comes from the standard mains water supply of our municipalities.

And you pay how much a bottle for something that you can get at your faucet at home, at your kitchen tap, for free?

May I suggest that we all think about it what we are doing in this regard, and that is aside from just the environmental impact that our bottled water consumptions is having. How much does this habit cost? Way too much for something that I can get for nigh free at home or at any mains tap.

© 2011

Enecsys solar PV micro-inverter becomes the world’s first without electrolytic capacitors to gain UL certification

Cambridge, UK, January 28, 2011: Enecsys Limited, a solar PV micro-inverter company, has announced UL certification for its products. The patented design of the Enecsys Micro-inverter uses a rugged topology that eliminates electrolytic capacitors and opto-couplers, components that limit operating life and compromise reliability. Enecsys 240W micro-inverters are the first micro-inverters without electrolytic capacitors to achieve UL certification. The same product is also certified for use in Europe, making Enecsys is the first company to introduce a truly global solar PV micro-inverter. The inverter has an operating life expectancy of greater than 25 years, matching that of solar PV modules. This transforms the economic model of solar PV systems through greatly enhanced system reliability, energy harvest, ease of installation and improved system safety.

Solar PV systems based on micro-inverters harvest from 5 to 20% more energy over the life of the system, compared to traditional string inverter based systems. In a micro-inverter based system Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) is performed on each solar module and thus maximizing energy harvest even under partial shading, module mismatch or obstructions from leaves or debris. Systems are simpler to design and install and are safer because the high-voltage DC present in conventional solar PV installations is not present. No string inverter is needed because the DC output of each solar module is converted to AC using a micro-inverter mounted on the rack behind each module. This eliminates the central point-of-failure and the primary failure mechanism found in traditional inverters systems and micro inverters currently available in the market.

The reliability of Enecsys Micro-inverters has been verified using HALT, HASS and accelerated life tests to IEC61215, the same methodology used to test solar PV modules. The micro-inverters maintain full performance from -40 degrees C to +85 degrees C, ensuring efficient operation in real-world conditions. The Enecsys Wireless Monitoring System provides real time performance information for each solar module in order to maintain the high performance of the solar PV system throughout the operating lifetime.

The Enecsys Micro-inverter is designed to operate in both North American (60Hz) and European (50Hz) electricity grid systems. The micro-inverters are safety and EMC evaluated to EN 62109, UL1741, TUV and CE. Country-specific requirements, including VDE V 0126-1: 2006 compliance, are achieved through the use of specific Enecsys installation products.

Enecsys Limited, develops, manufacturers, and markets world leading, highly reliable grid-connected solar micro-inverters and monitoring systems that offer an outstanding value proposition for solar PV systems. The micro-inverter converts and controls the DC power from each solar module into clean AC power for supply to the electricity grid. The advantages of Enecsys solar micro-inverters include: maximized energy harvest, improved safety, increased lifetime and reliability, enhanced performance monitoring, and simplified PV array design and installation. The monitoring system tracks, in real-time, the performance of each PV module transmits the information through a robust built-in wireless communication system that connects to the Internet via a gateway. Headquartered in Cambridge, UK, the company also has a sales and support office in Frankfurt, Germany. For more information, please visit http://www.enecsys.com.

Source: TechnoPR

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

All Sainsbury's tuna to move to 100% pole and line caught

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Fishweb

Sainsbury's has announced on January 7, 2011, more or less in response to the criticisms of retailers as to using unsustainable sources for fish, that all tuna used as an ingredient in its food will be caught using the pole and line method by the end of this month. This move ensures that 100% of Sainsbury's tuna across all products is responsibly sourced. Sainsbury's fresh, frozen and canned tuna is already line caught.

All of Sainsbury's ready meals, sandwiches, pate, dips, salads, sandwich and potato fillers and sushi containing tuna will now be sourced using the more selective fishing method which practically eliminates bycatch of other species.

Sainsbury's moved all its own label canned tuna to pole and line caught in 2009, and as a result, was rated No.1 by Greenpeace for responsible sourcing.

Tuna is the third biggest-selling fish in Sainsbury's and the move will now see 1,500 tonnes of fish move to the more sustainable catch method every year.

Ally Dingwall, Aquaculture & Fisheries Manager, Sainsbury's says: "We're proud to be able to offer our customers pole and line caught skipjack tuna across all products from tins to sandwiches to ready meals. As the UK's largest retailer of MSC and Freedom Food fish, we continue to source food as responsibly as possible. This means our 20 million customers have peace of mind that what they're buying is as sustainable as it can be."

Sainsbury's is the second largest fish retailer in the UK, selling over £400 million worth of fish every year.

If Sainsbury's can do this what is keeping back all the others? Greed and the fact that they say they care but in reality don't.

© 2011

New Government energy rules could undermine climate strategy

A new report by a committee of MPs of Wednesday, 26 January 2011, warning that new UK planning rules could lead to a new 'dash for gas' and stall low-carbon energy investment, has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth.

The green campaigning charity is calling on the Government to amend its energy planning rules - or National Policy Statements - to ensure that they play their part in ensuring UK climate targets are met.

Friends of the Earth's Senior Economics campaigner Simon Bullock said: "MPs are right to be concerned about a new dash-for-gas - this would damage our energy security, increase carbon emissions and obstruct green energy investment.

"The National Policy Statement must set a cap on the amount of carbon-belching energy generation allowed in the UK - which must be linked to the Government's climate change goals to give markets certainty about investing in green power.

"Developing our huge renewable energy potential could help get us out of the economic doldrums, wean us off fossil fuels and create new green industries and jobs - but reforming the Government's energy policy is essential to make this a reality."

Friends of the Earth believes that a Green Investment Bank and reform of electricity markets should be at the heart of ensuring the UK reaches its renewable energy targets.

Last week Associated British Ports announced that they would build a £100 million deepwater berth in Hull which will provide capacity to handle the next generation of deepwater wind turbines. Likewise, Siemens also announced that it would invest £80m in constructing a wind turbine plant on the same site.

Friends of the Earth believes the environment is for everyone. We want a healthy planet and a good quality of life for all those who live on it. We inspire people to act together for a thriving environment. Over 90 per cent of our income comes from individuals so we rely on donations to continue our vital work.

Source: Friends of the Earth

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Economy growing... really?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

For the last how many months the government of the UK, the coalition and the previous, have been telling that the country's economy was growing and the Great Recession history. Right, and pigs do fly after all.

Figures out at the end of January 2011 shows a 0.5 percent fall in gross domestic product in Britain. So, where is the growth or are we talking “negative growth” again.

So economists are starting to rumor that a double dip could be at hand, meaning that we could be headed headlong deep into the Great Recession, that never stopped, again.

Not that any of us who have their heads screwed on and unlike politicians do not live in cloud cuckoo land and in a parallel universe have ever believed that the Great Recession had passed.

Signs have been for a long time that things had but bottomed out and just gone up a very small fraction, though most of that was due to figures that were rather massaged.

With the redundancies in the public sector and other changes in that area and the knock-on effect in other industries, such as, alone, council subcontractors, this Recession is going to deepen rather than getting better. Or how, precisely, does the government think the economy can get “stimulated” when the majority have no spare cash?

Cold weather is now being blamed for this. It could not possible be anything else, could it now? The government is trying to wiggle out of taking the blame with this or that excuse and the severe winter weather seems to come in handy.

When are those politicians are going to wake up to the fact that the economy is still down in the dumps.

The other question is as to why do they all think, and with it most of us too, because of the way we are being influenced by their views, that we have to have an economy that is growing the gods only know how much on an almost monthly basis.

We seem to have this mindset that only growth, lots of growth, is good, and in order to create such growth we even have obsolescence factored into, even, expensive products, and an unrepairability (I know I have just coined a new word but I think you get my idea).

How come the world did not stop – the economic world especially – in those days of old when products were made to last, could and would be repaired and would be used for ages, often passed on to the next generation even?

Things were still being made, innovation and inventions, and the world did not stop. Today, though, everyone seems to think that unless the economy keeps and keeps going and GDP going up and up, everything will come to an end.

The ones who make such claims are the big multinationals, predominately, who are afraid that they won't have the huge profits anymore and will have to make do with less income.

It also has to be said that in those old days the great majority of the companies were family-owned, co-operatives, owned by a group of private individuals who shared the profits, and but very few were what would owned by the kind of shareholders of today.

People don't matter to them, whatever they may claim; it is only profits for them that does, and that is why they demand growth, growth and every more growth, creating and pushing the more, more, more culture.

The Great Recession still exists and may still get worse; we must prepare.

© 2011

Policing the non-existent threat of eco-terrorism

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Millions upon millions of Pounds the British government spends on policing a terror threat that does not really exist, and I am sure the governments of other European Union countries so the same.

While there are some extremists amongst some groups of environmental activists who work by direct action most are peaceful demonstrators. Nevertheless, they too are being watched and even young children are forcibly strip-searched when going near demos with their parents.

Obviously, those small boys and girls are carrying nasty weapons with which to disrupt power station and what-have-you. Mind you, scaring peaceful demonstrators and ec-warriors is a lot easier than actually fighting real crime and hunting real terrorists.

Spying on environmental activists and eco-warriors serves no one's interests but that of the big corporations, whether power utility companies or others. So, let's end this insult to democracy. Then again, our democracy is a fake one anyway.

According to even the experts in the field the do not see and claim never to have said that any environmentalist is going to or has committed any violent acts.

So why then all these highly secretive operations and the harassment of people attending such demonstrations against coal-fired power stations, etc.? Well the answer can be found above, I should think. It is easier.

There does not seem a single proven instance of a planned attempt in the UK to harm people in the cause of defending the environment, something which is in sharp contrast to animal rights campaigning, where there has been plenty of violence. But every year a shadowy body spends most of its £5m budget on countering a non-existent threat that officers call eco-terrorism.

The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) employed the undercover officer Mark Kennedy, who was embedded and bedded for seven years among peaceful green activists. Kennedy claims that it has supervised 15 other undercover agents on the same mission.

But what is that mission? Well, they can't tell and won't you. NPOIU is run by the Association of Chief Police Officers, that is to say by ACPO. But ACPO, as Simon Jenkins pointed out, is not a police force or police service but it is a private limited company, beyond democratic scrutiny, and government scrutiny, and not subject to freedom of information laws. Not that the FOI laws have any teeth in the first place and we are still nearly as bad off as far as the secrecy in government and elsewhere is concerned as we were in the 1970s and 1980s.

While ACPO receives much of its funding from the British government, it is not accountable to the public in any way, shape or form. It thus appear like a state-sanctioned private militia, fighting public protest on behalf of corporations, by means of special undercover units and operations.

ACPO is, while a limited company, basically, a club of British chief police officers, or should we call it a “Lodge”, who work very much in secrecy.

Kennedy, the undercover officer who was seconded from the Metropolitan Police to this ACPO unit says his superior officer told him that the information he gathered "was going directly to Tony Blair's desk". While we may not have any proof for this it does sound feasible and plausible, as it fits in with the paranoid style that Blair imported into British politics.

The police are fighting (on whose orders) – often without obvious justification – to shield destructive companies from both unlawful and lawful challenges and their actions during some recent demonstrations, such as at the G20 summit in 2009, and others, should be proof enough.

The police, and here especially ACPO, which is not a police force but a club of senior police officers, is completely out of control as far as environmental activists and protesters are concerned, while they allow corporations to get away with murder, literally.

The new Con-Lib coalition government under Cameron and Clegg claims to be concerned about both civil liberties and law enforcement and keeps talking about freedoms and all such jazz.

If it is truly committed to these principles then it will strip the Association of Chief Police Officers of its powers and its funding, shut down the units it runs, and launch an inquiry into the alleged collusion between senior police officers and large corporations. But I am not holding my breath. Blue may suit me as a color as far as clothing is concerned but not in the face.

© 2011

Garden Hose Organizers

Garden hose organizers – do you really need them?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While I know that some people's garden hose is always all over the place and while those organizers that can be bought look very fetching the question is and remains; do you really need them.

Most people don't even get on with the contraptions on their walls, those hose reels, which are directly connected to to the mains tap, as well.

The most practical way that I have ever seen and used is the old car wheel rim screwed to the wall onto which the hose is then coiled. It works, is cheap and can be made to look quite acceptable as well.

While hose organizers, aka hose bowls, come in a variety of colors, designs, and materials and maybe more attractive it is again the question, as to the need.

Some are glazed ceramic, some are copper, both smooth and hammered or aluminum, and some are made from polyethylene plastic.

There are simple designs and classic urn type designs and some hose bowls even have lids.

The concept is simple. There’s a hole for the hose to extend out of and connect to the water spigot. The rest of the garden hose (typically from 50 to 150 feet) stays coiled in the hose bowl ready for use. When you’re finished watering simply coil it back into the hose bowl.

Many hose bowls have drainage holes as well that allow the hose bowl to double as a planter. The hose organizer is a nifty idea that might be worth a try.

But, as said, the same can be achieved with the wheel rim at the wall or with any kind of large bowl kind of thing DIY. There is no need to go out and buy things for the garden each and every time.

© 2011

Government must act on household waste mountain

Limiting the amount of waste that households can throw out for nothing could be good news for council tax-payers and the environment, provided recycling schemes are improved, Friends of the Earth said today.

A number of councils are reported to be exploring ways of preventing people throwing out unlimited quantities of rubbish - and charging those who throw away more. The move is aimed at saving councils money, boosting recycling of precious resources and encouraging people to cut down on waste.

Friends of the Earth's waste campaigner Julian Kirby said: "Rubbish that is chucked out in black bin bags is bad news for the environment and taxpayers, who have to pick up the bill for dealing with it.

"Families across the country are keen to cut down on rubbish and they're frustrated by unnecessary packaging and waste that councils don't recycle.

"As well as discouraging black bin bags, we need the Government to help councils improve their recycling and reuse services and ensure that companies sell us things that are easy to recycle."

"More recycling doesn't mean more hassle and more sorting - the best collection services are the simplest for householders and the most cost-effective for cash-strapped councils."

Friends of the Earth supports moves to boost recycling and cut waste, but any scheme to limit the amount of waste that people can throw away for nothing must take the following into account:
• there must be exemptions - for example for those who create more waste by through large families or medical conditions.
• adequate and convenient recycling facilities must be available so that recycling is as convenient as putting out the waste. This must include food waste.

Friends of the Earth is urging the Government to:
• halve the amount of black bin bag waste that households have to throw out by 2020.
• work with businesses, manufacturers and retailers to cut down the quantity of waste generated in the first place. This should include more durable products that are easier to recycle, re-use or repair.

Source: Friends of the Earth

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Foresight report on food and farming futures

Commenting on the Foresight Global Food and Farming project report, Friends of the Earth's Food Campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran said: "This report shines a spotlight on our mounting food and farming crisis that can only be tackled with far-reaching reforms of the world's food system.

"But with millions already starving in a world of plenty, we need to look at what we're doing with the food we produce, not just how we produce it.

"The food system is forcing poor farmers to grow crops for export - to feed factory farms and make biofuels in rich countries - instead of feeding hungry local people.

"The report also pins its hope on GM technology when crop science has moved on. Other technologies have delivered drought-resistant plants while GM crops have proved to be a disaster for the environment and farmers.

"Feeding the world without trashing it means supporting small farmers to feed local communities, wasting less and rethinking our diets."

The Foresight project Global Food and Farming Futures explores the increasing pressures on the global food system between now and 2050.
http://www.bis.gov.uk/foresight/our-work/projects/current-projects/global-food-and-farming-futures

Source: Friends of the Earth

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Sainsbury's pledges support for 'Big Society'

logo_jsainsbury

Sainsbury's managers to be seconded to work full- time within their communities and Supermarket to work in partnership with the Government, the voluntary sector, BITC and other stakeholders to develop the concept of 'Business Connectors'  

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Sainsbury's has, in the beginning of December 2010, announced its commitment to pay for a number of Sainsbury's colleagues to work full-time within their communities, helping businesses and the voluntary sector work closer together, and bringing the knowledge, skills and expertise of the business community to good use locally.

The pledge was given at Business in the Community's (BITC) Leadership summit and AGM, attended by the organisation's President, HRH The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister, David Cameron.

In line with Sainsbury's firm belief that their stores should be a hub of the community, the company will work in partnership with the Government, the voluntary sector, BITC and other stakeholders to develop the concept of 'Business Connectors' - local brokers working collaboratively with business and local organizations for the benefit of their communities.

Gwyn Burr, Customer Service and Colleague Director at Sainsbury's, and Chair of BITC's Community Investment Leadership Team, said, "Charities and community organizations are facing significant challenges, so support from businesses will be increasingly important for them. Businesses across the country are already engaging with voluntary organizations to the benefit of both parties, and it's important to build on that heritage. We believe that Business Connectors have the potential to be a powerful and positive force for good within their local communities, and we're convinced we can achieve a real step change by having individuals in place to act as a local broker, bringing together what business can offer with what the voluntary sector needs."

Business Connectors will promote and facilitate long-term, strategic partnerships between the business and voluntary communities. The role will develop and evolve as the key stakeholders identify what works well and best practice is shared across the country.

Sainsbury's is making a positive difference to our community

Sainsbury's stores are at the very heart of the communities they serve. It is not only important to provide great service and quality products, it's also vital to make a positive difference to communities and to be a good neighbor.

This begins with the positive economic impact Sainsbury's stores have in generating local wealth, by providing employment, using local suppliers and contractors, and regenerating local surroundings.

© 2011

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

UK parliamentarians says deepwater drilling moratorium 'not necessary'

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

British Members of Parliament have said deep sea drilling in the UK should not be suspended but have raised serious doubts about the Britain's ability to deal with oil spill disasters.

So, those great wonders of brainpower have decided that a moratorium is not needed but have serious doubt that the country could deal with any oil spill disasters. Oh great! And what when it happens? Our seas will be finished but oil must come first and especially the revenue from oil. Are they actually mad?

The Energy and Climate Change Committee have released a report on January 6, 2011 into the implications for the UK following the US Deepwater Horizon disaster.

It concluded that a moratorium would endanger British energy security and would cause drilling rigs and expertise to migrate to other parts of the globe. What, you mean like BP going to Russia? They'll do that soon anyway as they wells will run dry shortly and let's not forget that the Norwegian fields had a blow out as well last year and it was only through luck that the second blow out preventer managed to shut the well after the first was destroyed.

While the Committee found that the UK has high offshore regulatory standards, it said it had serious doubts about the systems in place for dealing with oil spills, particularly in very deep wells.

The Committee rejected calls for increased regulatory oversight by the EU but recommended that the Government works with the EU on clarification of clear up costs.

It recommended that a new directive be drawn up to ensure that oil companies are responsible for the costs and remediation of any environmental damage so that the cost does not fall to the taxpayer.

It also recommended that the Government ensures that any capping, containment and clean-up systems are designed to take full account of the harsh and challenging environment West of Shetland.

While Energy minister Charles Hendry said he welcomed the report and would consider its recommendations in detail, Greenpeace, condemned it.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "This report lists all the reasons why a ban on deep sea drilling makes sense and then ignores its own findings.

"The oil companies have no idea how they would deal with a major spill off the coast of the UK but apparently we're supposed to trust them until they come up with an adequate plan."

While most of us, I am sure, are aware of the fact by now that our energy security, a little like our food security, is under threat because of cheap, abundant oil is coming to an end, this is no reason to threaten our entire coast by the practice of deepwater drilling.

But, before anyone thinks it has to do with our energy security – it has not. It has, however, everything to do with money and profits for the oil industry. It would be much better if government would deal in the same way – or better – with the renewable energy sector; but it does not.

Anyone wonder why not? Well, there is not taxes to be collected from solar power on your roof.

© 2011

Danger of Bone Cancer From Fluoride in Toothpaste, Drinking Water

Cancer Prevention Coalition CHICAGO, IL, Jan 2011: As reported in the January 13, 2011 New York Times, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) warned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the move to phase out a fluoride-based pesticide "could create unintended consequences for public health, food safety, and the economy."

Cancer Prevention Coalition Chairman Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. said today that Senator Inhofe may be right about such possible "unintended consequences."

"However," said Dr. Epstein, "he is unaware that these consequences would be clearly beneficial, as they protect against the risks of bone cancer from the use of fluoride in most brands of toothpaste to prevent cavities, and from the fluoridation of drinking water."

In 1977, the National Academy of Sciences expressed concerns on the strong relation between the fluoridation of drinking water and risks of bone cancer to young boys, Dr. Epstein points out.

A decade later, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reported that fluorides in drinking water induced bone cancer in rats. This finding was confirmed by the National Toxicology Program in its 1989, 1990, and 1991 reports.

"Not surprisingly, Procter & Gamble, the leading manufacturer of fluoridated toothpastes, denied that these results were statistically significant," Dr. Epstein said today. "Surprisingly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supported this claim."

Well-documented evidence links bone cancer to fluoride exposure, Dr. Epstein advises.

In 1990, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reported that, based on an analysis of 1973 to 1987 data, the incidence of a bone cancer, known as osteosarcoma, was increased in males under the age of 20 living in areas where the drinking water was fluoridated. Not surprisingly, this was promptly denied by Procter & Gamble, the major manufacturer of fluoridated toothpaste.

In 1992, the New Jersey Department of Health published a study confirming higher rates of bone cancer in young boys living in fluoridated versus non-fluoridated areas of the state.

A 1993 independent analysis of the 1990 NCI data confirmed excess risks and deaths from bone cancer in young boys exposed to fluoride. These findings were confirmed in a 2001 report by the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. In 2006, a Harvard University team of scientists published a study reporting a five-fold increased risk of bone cancer in teenage boys who had drunk fluoridated water between the ages of 6 and 8. Apart from exposure to fluoride in drinking water, these finding also incriminated fluoride commonly added to toothpaste.

In July 1997, the Washington Post published an article "Toothpaste: How Safe." This noted that the label of Crest toothpaste carried a small print warning: "If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately."

Warning labels to this effect had also been required by the FDA in April that year. The Post article further warned that children age 4 to 6 usually swallow some toothpaste when brushing, rather than spitting it out and rinsing.

"Concerns on fluoride as a major avoidable cause of bone cancer are further and urgently validated by its unrecognized 20 percent increased incidence in children under the age of 15 over the last three decades," Dr. Epstein warns, "as documented in the 1975-2007 National Cancer Institute Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) report."

As currently emphasized by Chris Neurath, research director of the American Environmental Health Studies Project, these concerns are all the more critical as 200 million citizens of all ages are still drinking fluoridated water.

Apart from bone cancer, and as warned by the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) last week, "24 studies have shown an association between exposure to moderate to high levels of fluoride in drinking water and lower IQ (and brain damage) in children."

Dr. Epstein says, "A ban by the FDA on fluoridated toothpaste is well overdue, as is a ban by the EPA on the fluoridation of drinking water."

Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. is professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, and Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition; and former President of the Rachel Carson Trust. His awards include the 1998 Right Livelihood Award and the 2005 Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal for International Contributions to Cancer Prevention. Dr. Epstein has authored 270 scientific articles and 20 books on the causes, prevention and politics of cancer. These include "The Legislation of Product Safety" (1974, MIT Press); the groundbreaking "The Politics of Cancer" (1979, Anchor Press/Doubleday); "Hazardous Waste in America" (1982, Sierra Club Books); "The Breast Cancer Prevention Program" (1997, Macmillan); "The Politics of Cancer Revisited" (1998,East Ridge Press); "What's In Your Milk?" (2006, Trafford Publishing); and "Healthy Beauty" (2010, Benbella Books).

Source: Cancer Prevention Coalition

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

WORLD ON THE EDGE

New book and lecture by Lester Brown

When Will the Food Bubble Burst?

Earthscan, London - Over-lending led to the U.S. housing bubble that sent shockwaves through the world economy when it burst, culminating in the worst recession since the Great Depression. The world today is in the midst of a less visible but far more basic bubble economy—a food bubble economy—created by overpumping aquifers and overplowing and overgrazing land. Further strained by climate change, the global food bubble is showing signs that it could be near bursting.

"Our early 21st century civilization is in trouble. We need not go beyond the world food economy to see this. Over the last few decades we have created a global bubble economy—one based on environmental trends that cannot be sustained, including overpumping aquifers, overplowing land, and overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide," notes Lester R. Brown, author of World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse (Earthscan:2011).

"If we cannot reverse these trends, economic decline is inevitable," notes Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental research organization. "No civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural support systems. Nor will ours.

"The archeological records of earlier civilizations indicate that more often than not it was food shortages that led to their downfall. Food appears to be the weak link for our global civilization as well. And unlike the recent U.S. housing bubble, the food bubble is global."

"The question is not whether the food bubble will burst but when," says Brown. While the U.S. housing bubble was created by the overextension of credit, the food bubble is based on the overuse of land and water resources. It is further threatened by the climate stresses deriving from the excessive burning of fossil fuels. When the U.S. housing bubble burst, it sent shockwaves through the world economy, culminating in the worst recession since the Great Depression. When the food bubble bursts, food prices will soar worldwide, threatening economic and political stability everywhere. For those living on the lower rungs of the global economic ladder, survival itself could be at stake.

The danger signs are everywhere. In the summer of 2010, record high temperatures scorched Moscow from late June through mid-August. Western Russia was so hot and dry in early August that 300 to 400 new fires were starting every day.

"The average temperature in Moscow for July was a scarcely believable 14 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm. Watching the heat wave play out over the seven-week period on the TV evening news, with the thousands of fires and smoke everywhere, was like watching a horror film. Over 56,000 people died in the extreme heat. Russia's 140 million people were in shock, traumatized by what was happening to them and their country," says Brown in World on the Edge.

The record heat shrank Russia's grain harvest from roughly 100 million tons to 60 million tons. This 40-percent drop and the associated grain export ban helped drive world wheat prices up 60 percent in two months, raising bread prices worldwide.

Crop ecologists estimate that for each 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature above the norm during the growing season, grain yields decline by roughly 10 percent. In parts of Western Russia, the spring wheat crop was totally destroyed by the crop-withering heat and drought. As the earth's temperature rises, the likelihood of more numerous, more intense heat waves increases.

"How much time do we have before the food bubble bursts?" asks Brown. "No one knows. If we stay with business as usual, the time is more likely measured in years than in decades. We are now so close to the edge that politically destabilizing food price rises could come at any time."

For example, Brown notes that if the 2010 heat wave centered in Moscow had instead been centered in Chicago, it could easily have reduced the U.S. grain harvest of 400 million tons by 40 percent, or 160 million tons. World carryover stocks of grain for 2011—the amount remaining in the bin when the new harvest begins—would have dropped to an all-time low of 52 days of consumption, well below the 62-day carryover that set the stage for the tripling of world grain prices in 2007–08.

"In short," Brown says, "if the July temperature in Chicago were to average 14 degrees above the norm, as it did in Moscow, there would be chaos in world grain markets." Grain prices would quickly climb off the chart. Food prices would soar worldwide. Many grain-exporting countries, trying to hold down domestic food prices, would restrict or even ban exports, as they did in 2007–08.

Oil-exporting countries would try to barter oil for grain. Low-income grain importers would lose out. Instead of being dominated by scenes of smoke and fire in Moscow, the TV evening news would run live footage of food riots in low-income grain-importing countries and carry reports of spreading hunger, falling governments, and failing states. With governments collapsing and with confidence in the world grain market shattered, the global economy could start to unravel.

Rising temperatures are not the only threat to world food security. So too is the depletion of aquifers from overpumping for irrigation. In Saudi Arabia, grain production is collapsing as aquifer depletion has reduced its wheat harvest by two thirds in three years. It is not alone. The Middle East is the first geographic region where the grain harvest has started to shrink as aquifers are depleted and as irrigation wells go dry.

On a far larger scale, a World Bank study indicates that 175 million people in India are being fed with grain produced by overpumping. For China, the equivalent figure is 130 million people. Countries can overpump in the short run, but not over the long run.

And there are signs that a combination of trends, including aquifer depletion and the paving of millions of acres of cropland for new cars, is about to force China to import massive quantities of grain, much as it already does for soybeans. When this happens, China will necessarily turn to the United States, which is far and away the world's largest grain exporter. For American consumers, for whom food security has never been a major issue, the prospect of competing for the U.S. grain harvest with 1.4 billion Chinese consumers with fast-rising incomes is a nightmare scenario.

"The new reality," says Brown, "is that the world is only one poor harvest away from chaos. It is time to redefine security. The principal threats to our future are no longer armed aggression but instead climate change, population growth, water shortages, spreading hunger, and failing states. What we now need is a mobilization to reverse these trends on the scale and urgency of the U.S. mobilization for World War II. The challenge is to quickly reduce carbon emissions, stabilize population, and restore the economy's soils, aquifers, forests, and other natural support systems. This requires not only a redefining of security but a corresponding reallocation of fiscal resources from military budgets to budgets for climate stabilization, population stabilization, water conservation, and other new threats to security."

For decades, we environmentalists have talked about saving the planet. Now it is civilization itself that is at stake.

Source: EARTHSCAN / EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Reuse creates more jobs than does recycling – fact

Another reason why I love reuse: it creates lots of jobs, from small to big

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Once upon a time, and yes, it is nearly like a fairy tale, there were people – it sounds outlandish, I know – that could repair your shoes and boots, including doing all the sewing new; there were people that could fit almost any electrical appliance (some people even did it themselves); they could fix your car without much on tools; etc. but today we are almost out of them.

If you read the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW often enough and my articles (and books) then you will know that I rate reuse much higher than recycling and the fact is that reuse will and does also create many more jobs than recycling can and will ever do.

Reuse is the recovery of materials and products for the same or a similar end use, and it offers triple bottom line benefits. Reuse decreases energy consumption, saves the embodied energy of manufactured goods, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, conserves natural and man-made resources, provides quality products to those with limited means, offers businesses and individuals with tax benefits, and supplies sales taxes which contribute to the economy.

Reuse is also a job creation leader, that is, when you manage 10,000 tons of materials, incinerating creates 1 job; landfilling creates 6 jobs; recycling it creates 36 jobs; and reuse of these same materials can create 28-296 jobs (source: US EPA, Institute for Local Self Reliance).

So as we have noted before, practice the 7Rs: reuse, rot (compost), repurpose, repair, return, refill, refuse (to purchase over-packaged, disposable, single-use junk) and last but not least, recycle, and reuse must be the first or, if not the first then at least the second after refuse.

But, in order for reuse and continued use to work products must be redesigned and re-engineered in such a way that they can actually be repaired and too many good and products nowadays are, in fact, designed to be thrown away after a lifespan of about two to three years. Built-in obsolescence this is, and it is not right.

We must demand that an end is put to this built-in obsolescence and that products are made – once again – in such a way that they can be fixed and ideally by the user even and we mo longer had “no user serviceable parts inside” notices and screws than cannot be removed to gain access to the inside of whatever it might be.

On top of that, obviously, we need the trained repairmen and also the manuals that might make it possible for most users to repair their things. If you can't fix it you don't own it is the understand amongst some of us as to products and it is more like that every day.

While I can, theoretically, fix a desktop/tower PC I cannot do it with a laptop or a netbook; they are just too small and complicated. I can also fix my bicycles, more than many others seem to be capable of doing, and I can also sew textiles and leather. Skill like that and others is what we must invest in ourselves so that we can take true possession of our goods.

© 2011

Plug out when you have finished being plugged in

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Those chargers and those speakers that you have left on while not being used, that light on in the other room and in the hall, those printers and other machines on standby all draw power. While they look harmless enough, they are sucking on your household power supply and are costing you money and are creating untold tonnes of C02. Plug Out!

In some places you really have to take out the plugs; such as in most of the rest of the EU and in the USA, but in Britain we are lucky, we just need to turn the sockets off. I did say sockets not socks.

Your chargers do not have to be left on when your cell phone, or whatever else has been charged. But as long as they are plugged in, the chargers I mean, into the mains, they draw power, and some the same amount as when they are actually doing their job of charging. There are some chargers that you do not have to worry about – the so-called smart chargers – but as you may not know which is a smart one and which not take the safe route... Plug Out!

Machines, of whatever kind, suck power. Whether we are using them, have left them on in the background, or are just making them kick their heels on standby, they devour power and lot's of it and creating all this energy generates tonnes and tonnes of harmful CO2 and costs you a packet too.

Do you really have to watch DVD box sets until the wee hours or playing your Wii for hours and hours or sleeping with a Blackberry under your pillow? Do you really have to be that “plugged in”?

Give yourself and the Planet a break once every so often and unplug to go analog and live in the real world – says he who spend most of his time working away on the computer, I know.

Put that Kindle or whatever E-book Reader away and pick up a real book. In fact, while E-books are great, don't bother with an E-book Reader and get the books in PDF and use your computer or – dare I say it – print out on your printer if you want to curl up with it in a chair. Print on old pages that have been sued one side only and you do a good dead as well.

However, virtual interaction on Facebook or sending SMS messages does not replace and cannot replace real world interactions with people though it has come so far by now, it would seem, from what I have observed, that groups of kids sitting on a park bench are sending each other SMS messages rather than talking to each other.

Come one, let's get back to reality and plug out every now and then and especially when we are not using the things. Pull their plugs and kill those phantom power suckers. Plug Out!

© 2011

Buy more to consume less! Duh?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This just does not compute now, does it? Buying more to consume less is an oxymoron and a contradiction in terms, for sure. Or is it just me?

However, this does seem to be the message that is being sent out by green retailers all over the globe.

You have to have this item or that, so they suggest, in order to really be green and environmentally friendly, and such.

The entire issue about "Green Consumer Day", or as it even a week, I wrote my thoughts about it at the time last year, is in the same league. It was all about reducing our impact and we are then encouraged to go and shop.

It is going from the ridiculous to the sublime and claims that are made about the greenness of some products are just so outlandish that it is no longer funny. The problem is, though, that too many people who wish to buy “green” and environmentally friendly products are being misled.

Bamboo is one of those but I do not want to keep flogging a dead horse and therefore I shall not repeat what I have said now many a times.

We also have the claims that trees will be saved if you don't use paper. Will they? The truth is that many trees in forests across the country and indeed the globe only exist because they are grown for the paper industry.

Even worse and falser is the claim that by not using paper you protect the tropical hardwood forests. Most paper is not made from hardwoods and especially not tropical ones. Such wood would also be far too expensive for the paper industry.

Paper is – primarily – made from softwoods, e.g. conifers, such as pine, spruce, and “softwood” from one or the other deciduous tree species, and those trees are grown specifically for the paper industry with the exception, it would appear, of where Kimberly Clark operates in Canada. There they seem to be cutting down old forests without even as much as a thought of replanting.

The consumer be advised to do his or her research as to the environmental benefits and other claims of the “green” vendors.

Let the buyer beware, as they used to say.

© 2011

Products Downsized!

More and more products lose weight all over the place

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Weight loss may be good for you and me but not for products if we end up paying the same for them.

From toothpaste to tuna fish, hot dogs to hand soap, chocolate and other products, companies have been shaving ounces and inches from packaged goods for years, usually blaming it on rising costs for ingredients and energy or even claiming that there has been not change in size. The latter was the case with “wagon wheels”, a confectionery product from Rowantree, now part of Nestle, which has become rather smaller, much smaller, ever since Nestle took over the company and that is aside from the fact that the taste has also changed to the sickly.

While the companies may have a point when it comes to higher commodity and fuel costs and those are expected to cause a spike in food prices by as much as 3 percent in 2011, it is not and cannot be the whole answer.

Also, while manufacturers are skimping when costs go up, why are the not more generous when costs hold steady or fall? The answer is that they simply are only interested in fleecing the consumer.

No one likes a price hike, but what riles consumers the most are the ways manufacturers hide their handiwork. This goes from indenting the bottom of containers, which is a favorite trick among peanut butter processors, or cosmetics, over whipping ice cream so that you pay for air instead of ingredients, to adding water into the products, a favorite of meat processors, so you pay for water, and get less product. And those are but a few examples.

Those moves may fool some people, but most have caught on. Three-quarters of Americans have said in a survey that they noticed that packages were shrinking, and 71% of those people theorized that the main reason was to hide a price hike. Yet half said they would prefer that companies rather keep the old package and raise the price. So why don't they?

The reason for this is rather a simple one. People are much more conscious of price than they are of package size or net weight of contents. Slight downsizing is often imperceptible, whereas price increases are about as subtle as a pie in the face. And when prices rise, consumers more often than not seek out cheaper alternatives and/or store own brand products.

Store brand products are a good alternative anyway as, in general, they often are up to a quarter or so less in price than the brand product and often you get exactly the same or, as in the case of Sainsbury's Basics Chili Con Carne, you get better even than the brand kind which is nigh on double the price and which, instead of minced beef – as with the store brand – lists “reshaped beef”.

The same goes for other store brand products and that includes the “white label” basics product ranges.

Lidl in the UK sells a brand of dark chocolate digestive biscuits that are half the price of the McVittie brand ones and, according to information, are made in the same factory where the McVittie ones are made.

A bit like the claim “Kellog's does not make corn flaked for anyone else” because they are made from them in other factories.

Take a good and long look at the brand products you buy and then check them out against the cheaper alternatives and always, always, check the weight and compare against what you know it to be or have been. Don't allow yourself to be ripped off by manufacturers.

© 2011

Environmental Report Card: Obama Gets "C-" for First Half of Term

TUCSON, Ariz.— In a report card released today, the Center for Biological Diversity gave President Obama a grade of C- for his two-year environmental record. The report card chronicles positive and negative policies on endangered species, climate, energy, public lands and oceans.

“Barak Obama is no George Bush, but he’s no Theodore Roosevelt either,” said KierĂ¡n Suckling, executive director of the Center. “His environment record is pretty dismal, considering all the promised hope and change.”

Among Obama’s bright spots were a declaration under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, the designation of 120 million acres of protected “critical habitat” for polar bears and the reinstatement of protection for millions of acres of roadless lands. Negatives include a continuation of damaging Bush-era policies on polar bears and offshore oil drilling, stripping of federal protection for and killing of endangered wolves, and his failure to lead either Congress or other nations toward strong global warming policies.

“Obama’s record on endangered species is particularly bad, and entirely predictable, given his appointment of Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior,” said Suckling. Obama has protected just eight species under the Endangered Species Act in the conterminous United States, while relegating 254 — including the wolverine — to the unprotected “candidate” list. His protection rate is slightly better than that of George W. Bush and much worse than those of Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr.

The administration also failed to follow the lead of Canada and several northeastern states in banning lead ammunition and fishing tackle. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of lead needlessly enter the environment every year from these sources, poisoning and killing millions of birds and mammals.

To see the Center’s entire report card for Obama’s first two years in office, go here.

Source: Center for Biological Diversity

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.