Downturn Britain

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In his speech to the Tory Party Conference 2011 David Cameron finally told the people in the hall, the nation and the world at large what the ordinary person on the street has known for ages.

The Prime Minister has finally noticed that the country, that is to say, Britain, is still in a very deep recession, though to the PM it is a new one; a new recession that is, though it may also be a new one to him that the country is deep in the proverbial mass.

Britain, he said, is back – still, I and the rest of the people, say – in a recession and that the outlook is rather gloomy. Yikes! It took him how long to realize that?

Surprise? Not! We have known that all along and this shows, yet again, how far removed government is from the ordinary people that it took government, and especially the leadership, this long to realize it. With a Prime Minister like that. I am afraid to say, we are all in real trouble.

Fair dues, the Treasury was plundered by the previous Labour regime that ruled – misruled might be better a term – the country for 13 years. But that does not excuse the lack of understanding how the rest of us lives.

The PM then continued to say that we must all apply a “can do” attitude and wartime spirit to overcome this adversity.

I must say that, in a way, he does have a point as to the needed attitude but we all and especially government must come to the realization that this recession is a sign of the times and of a seriously broken economic system and model (see “Broken Economy”).

Britain has been in a downturn ever since the recession began with the credit crunch in 2008/2009 and while it came out a little it has now ended up in a double -dip recession that everyone dreaded but which Mervin King, Governor of the Bank of England, predicted and for which prediction he was castigated.

The truth hurts, as they say, and the truth is that we, as a country, are very much headed down the tube, and this tube is not the London Underground Railway of which I speak.

To our government big boys and girls all of this, and to the Prime Minister especially, seems to have come very much as a surprise and shock even. One can therefore but wonder on which planet or in which parallel universe they actually reside.

Scary, isn't it? And we allow them to run – or should that be ruin – the country. There's but one letter that makes the difference.

© 2011

Government ‘bypasses democracy’ to sneak through anti-squatting laws

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

squash-logo Housing charities, MPs, squatters, property consultants, activists, lawyers and artists have accused the government of sneaking in an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill announced today by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to “make squatting in residential buildings a criminal offence”. Campaigners say the amendment will not take into account the thousands of consultation responses submitted earlier this month and will not add any further protection to residents.

Over the past 3 months the government have been undertaking a consultation process entitled “Options for Dealing with Squatters” which came to an end on October 5th. Squatters Action for Secure Homes (SQUASH) have accused the government of “ignoring the consultation” by rushing through anti-squatting laws only 3 weeks after the consultation has ended. The squatting consultation response has just been published. 1 90% of responses argued against taking any action on squatting. Of a total of 2217 responses, 2126 were from people concerned about the impact of criminalising squatting. The consultation response recognised “that the statistical weight of responses was therefore against taking any action on squatting”.

The amendment states that making squatting in residential building a criminal offence will “end the misery of home-owners whose properties have been preyed on by squatters”. However strong legislation already exists to protect residents from having their home squatted. Last month 160 leading legal figures wrote an open letter which was published in The Guardian explaining that under Section 7 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 it is already a criminal offence to squat someone’s home. 2

SQUASH spokesperson Paul Reynolds, said: “The government is ignoring the results of its own consultation which shows that the criminalisation of squatting in empty residential properties will do nothing to protect residents who are already protected by strong legislation. This amendment will criminalise the homeless in the middle of a housing crisis who use squatting as the last remaining option to keep a roof over their heads.”

John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington said:“By trying to sneak this amendment through the back door the government are attempting to bypass democracy. There was over 2,200 responses to the consultation on squatting so there is no way the government could have acknowledged all the evidence”.

As long as there are millions of empty housing stock, and other buildings, and millions of homeless we must keep the squatting option open.

SQUASH says that there are 700,000 empty properties across the UK according to the empty homes figures but those do not list all of them. Estates such as the Ocean Estate in Stepney, earmarked for demolition for the last decade or so and still standing, does not even come up in those figures and neither do others that are similarly under redevelopment process.

It is an absolute disgrace for a civilized country – supposedly civilized country, though sometimes we have to wonder – like the UK to have millions of empty properties and homeless people.

The register of empty homes is not a very good guide by which to travel as regards to knowing how many homes really are empty, and this is just properties that are/were classed as “homes”. There are others that once were homes but became business premises and now are handles as such and they too are empty. Let's not even talk about old hospitals, and other such.

People need homes not laws banning the occupation of empty properties. This only benefits the speculators, but then again it is those that the politicians have as friends regardless of the fact that they are supposedly answerable to the electorate, the people.

The people don't count, as far as the majority of our politicians, of whatever persuasion, are concerned.

© 2011

Stormy Fall Outlook for Canadian Provinces

by Sandi Duncan, Farmers’ Almanac®

2012-CAN-Farmers-Almanac-Winter-Map-Large-e1314390569307 Lewsiton, Maine – After a summer of some of the most extreme weather in recent history, the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac’s long-range forecast for the coming fall will fill some with relief, and others with dread.

With the Autumnal Equinox about to take place on Friday, September 23, 2011, at 5:04 a.m., EDT, the 195-year-old publication is calling for stormy, wet conditions for the eastern two thirds of the country, and cooler but dry conditions to the west.

According to the 2012 edition of the Canadian Farmers’ Almanac, which went on sale in late August 2011, October 2011 will bring a succession of thunderstorms to the East Coast, including two tropical disturbance threats for Newfoundland, one at the beginning of the month, and one near the end of the month.

Thanksgiving weekend is expected to bring rain to Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Gusty winds will move through the Prairies and British Columbia, while clear skies shine over Newfoundland. Halloween could scare up some wet snow over the Laurentian Plateau and in the Great Lakes region, and showers eat of the Rockies. Elsewhere, the weather should be a treat.

As early autumn gives way to the holiday season, the opening days of November will bring clear, but chilly, weather to much of Canada, with possible snow over Newfoundland. Ontario and the Maritimes should have pleasant conditions for Remembrance Day, while British Columbia and the Prairie provinces could see some snow. The rest of November is forecast to be mostly rainy and cold, with a few fair days thrown into the mix.

The Canadian Farmers’ Almanac warns that December will begin with fair skies to the East, and showers to the west. Heavy snow will fall on the Eastern Half of the country during the second week of the month, dumping as much as 40 centimeters over the prairie provinces, and up to 30 over Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Along the Pacific coast, brutal wind and rain will tighten their hold.

Source: Canadian Farmers’ Almanac®

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.

Children don't know their own names

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

According to in formation released by government agencies many children starting school in Britain do not know what they are called. They don't know their own first name, let alone family name.

Surprisingly those are not children from homes where English is second language and where another language is spoken generally, that is to say from immigrant families.

Nay, those children who have those skill deficiencies come, in fact, from homes where English is the language spoke as mother tongue. And, it has to be stressed also, it is not children exclusively from so-called deprived homes either.

We, as a society, are failing future generations and that is more than shameful, and we fail them in more than one way.

It is scary to see this happening for it means that, unless school can get the attitude to change at home, those children will become more than dysfunctional and we have already enough problems with the dysfunctional young people today. We do not need more of them and especially not some that don't even know what they are called and who lack the basic skills of human interaction , at times.

One can but wonder how those children are being dealt with at home though it is probably obvious that their parents do not seem to talk to them much and definitely not by using their names.

It's not like in the book (and film) “Just William” when William gets asked “What's your name” and upon his reply “William” the man asks him “William what?” to which young William replies “No, just William”... and hence the title of the book and film. He at least knew his first name. Those kids of today don't even know that much.

What a sad world we live in...

© 2011

Farmers’ Almanac® Names 10 Cities Weather Shuts Down

by Farmers’ Almanac® Staff Writers

Lewiston, Maine – Washington, D.C. tops a list of ten cities where weather can bring things to a screeching halt, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. The dubious honor appears in the article “Ten Cities Where Weather Can Shut Down Everyday Life,” printed in the 195-year-old publication’s 2012 edition, released end of August 2011.

“The idea that weather can shut down cities for hours if not days in the 21st century is really something,” notes Farmers’ Almanac editor, Peter Geiger.

“It proves that, despite all of our technology, the weather remains one thing none of us can control.”

Rounding out the list of cities named among the worst winter locales are Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Buffalo.

This list included only cities with populations of 250,000 or more. Rather than highlighting cities based on the severity of their weather – as the publication has done in the past – the Farmers’ Almanac editors were most interested in singling out cities where residents are most likely to be overwhelmed by extreme weather when it does hit. In some cases, cities are included because extreme weather is so infrequent that they are inadequately prepared. Others made the list for the opposite reason; their weather is so intense that no amount of preparation is enough.

“Being prepared for really bad weather is a must in this day and age, but even with the advance warnings, there are still some weather events that close almost everything down. This list proves that. You may be surprised at which cities made the list,” said Geiger

The full story, detailing the Farmers’ Almanac staff’s reasons for selecting each of the ten cities is available both in the print edition of the 2012 Farmers’ Almanac and online at www.FarmersAlmanac.com.

Source: Farmers’ Almanac®

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.

Gardening by the Moon Calendar from the Farmers' Almanac

The Farmers Almanac Gardening by the Moon Calendar is determined by our age-old formula and applies generally to regions where the climate is favorable.

October 2011

29th-30th Do Clearing And Plowing, But No Planting.

31st

November 2011

1st-2nd Good Days For Planting Peas, Squash, Corn, Tomatoes And Other Aboveground Crops, In Southern Florida, Texas, And California.

3rd-4th Kill Plant Pests On These Barren Days.

5th-7th Favorable Days For Planting Aboveground Crops. Extra Good For Vine Crops, Where Climate Allows.

8th-9th Neither Plant Nor Sow On These Barren Days.

10th-11th Plant Root Crops, Where Climate Permits. Good Days For Transplanting.

12th-13th Any Seed Planted Now Will Tend To Rot.

14th-15th Best Planting Days For Fall Potatoes, Turnips, Onions, Carrots, Beets And Other Root Crops, Where Climate Is Suitable. Also Plant Seedbeds And Flower Gardens. Good Days For Transplanting.

16th-19th Poor Period For Planting. Kill Plant Pests, Clear Fencerows/land.

20th-22nd Favorable Days For Planting Root Crops. Fine For Sowing Grains, Hay, And Forage Crops. Plant Flowers.

23rd-24th Plant Carrots, Beets, Onions, Turnips, Irish Potatoes And Other Root Crops, In The South. Lettuce, Cabbage, Collards, And Other Leafy Vegetables Will Do Well. Start Seedbeds. Good Days For Transplanting.

25th-27th Poor Planting Days.

28th-29th Good Days For Planting Peas, Squash, Corn, Tomatoes And Other Aboveground Crops, In Southern Florida, Texas, And California.

30th Kill Plant Pests On This Barren Day.

December 2011

1st-2nd Good Days For Killing Weeds, Briars And Other Plant Pests, Poor For Planting.

3rd-4th Plant Peppers, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes And Other Aboveground Crops, In Southern Florida, California, And Texas. Extra Good For Cucumbers, Peas, Cantaloupes, And Other Vine Crops.

5th-6th A Poor Time To Plant.

7th-8th Fine For Planting Beans, Peppers, Cucumbers, Melons And Other Aboveground Crops, Where Climate Is Suitable.

9th-10th Seeds Planted Now Tend To Rot In The Ground.

11th-12th Most Favorable Days For Planting Beets, Onions, Turnips And Other Root Crops, Where Climate Allows. Plant Seedbeds And Flower Gardens. Good Days For Transplanting.

13th-17th A Most Barren Period. Kill Plant Pests And Do General Farm Work.

18th-19th Favorable Days For Planting Root Crops, Fine For Sowing Grains, Hay, And Forage Crops. Plant Flowers.

20th-21st Plant Carrots, Beets, Onions, Turnips, Irish Potatoes And Other Root Crops, In The South. Lettuce, Cabbage, Collards, And Other Leafy Vegetables Will Do Well. Start Seedbeds. Good Days For Transplanting.

22nd-24th Do No Planting.

25th-26th Plant Sweet Corn, Beans, Peppers And Other Aboveground Crops, Where Climate Is Suitable.

Ed.:

Many people consider those that garden and farm according to the phases of the Moon and moon struck and worse but it is something that has been done for centuries and it is something that, as far as I can see, appears to be working. It certainly does no harm.

The planting guides, please note, is valid for the Unites States (and Canada) only and not, necessarily, for Britain and mainland Europe and definitely not for the Antipodeans, Asia and Africa.

That does, however, only apply to the crops to be planted and not to what to do during which phase of the moon. That applies equally to Britain and Europe as to North America. As to the other places I cannot say. So, keep and eye on the Moon and learn what to plant and when.

Source: Farmers' Almanac with additional writing by M Smith (Veshengro)

© 2011

Fry with animal fat

Fry with animal fat and not with vegetable oil or margarine

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

For, the gods only know how many, decades we have been lied to as regards to what to spread on our bread and what to fry and cook with. The truth is, once again, that the old ones knew best.

When it comes to frying food in cast iron or other materials, though I would give cast iron skillets and such the preference any day, whether you fry and egg or your bangers or whatever else, using margarine or vegetable oil, including and especially olive oil, is the worst thing you can do and it is indeed very unhealthy.

While olive oil, and especially virgin olive oil, is one of the best things you can use in other cooking applications and especially for salads and that kind of cooking where it is being traditionally used, frying in such oils is harmful to you.

Vegetable oils, and margarine is but set (rancid) vegetable fats, with whatever else they throw into it, sets free transfats and free radicals which are both very bad indeed for your health.

The best fat to use for frying, cast iron or otherwise, is butter, including Ghee (clarified butter), closely followed by beef dripping and then lard. Butter is also best for putting on bread and not margarine or whatever name the vegetable or low fat spread may be called.

It has even been suggested by some health experts that our obesity epidemic – for lack of a better word – may, in fact, be due to us using the wrong kinds of fats for frying (and cooking).

Margarine has always been – in my mind at least – rather a questionable product, whether for frying or for putting on bread and food in general. To properly understand that, however, we will have to look at what margarine was actually created/invented for. It was not as a butter substitute, that much is definite, to go into your sandwiches, and such.

Lets put it that way, a food product it was never designed to be. It was designed to be used, during the First World War, as an axle grease for wagons and trucks and general grease for other applications, in lie of petroleum/based grease.

After the Great War, as it is also called, with petroleum products going very cheap the makers of margarine needed a new outlet for their stuff and thus enter the story of butter being bad for your heart and health. Just the opposite is the case.

An old doctor told my grandmothers NOT to eat margarine, even though both had a problem with their ticker, but to keep with butter. Butter, he said, is food for the heart. Mami reached the age of 83 and did not die of a heart problem but of complications associated with an operation to her hip.

Transfats and free radicals, released when frying (and possibly also cooking) using vegetable oils and/or margarine are, apparently, a serious health risk, including cancers, and possibly obesity, etc.

So, why are so many in the medical profession – for we cannot call is health profession now can we – and even governments, such as Denmark, trying to tell us that butter and other animal fats are bad for us?

I guess if we'd all be healthy then there would be no income for the medical services and research. They cannot make money – the doctors and hospitals that is – from folks that are not ill.

Same reason, no doubt, why they, basically, want to outlaw all herbal remedies and such.

One can but wonder... The world has gone mad and very few seem to have noticed.

© 2011

EcoChi – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

EcoChi
Designing the Human Experience
by Debra Duneier
Published 2011
by New Voices Press
Hardback, 162 pages, 5.25 x 6.25 inches
ISBN 978-0-9748103-8-6
Price: USA $23.95
           Canada $25.95

EcoChi-book_sml

“Life is lived the way it is designed...”

That statement is a very true one indeed and this book will help the reader design a space that is both healthy and happy and environmentally sustainable.

The EcoChi System, devised and developed by the author, and written about in this step-by-step guide, is a marriage of a couple of disciplines. One of those is the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui. Another is “Green and Sustainable Living” and yet another is “Environmental Psychology.”

All of those, combined with the fourth aspect, that of “Healthy Choices”, make up the EcoChi System; a system that might just give our lives and our world a new chance.

The choices that we make in our lives and in our environment, at home, the office, etc., reflect in the greater picture of the environment, natural and man-made, as a whole.

The right choices now may be able to bring things back into balance, in our own lives and that of our families, and communities as much as in the greater world around us and at a whole.

There is just one thing, or maybe two, that I have to mention in regards to “mistakes” made by the author in this book. Those “mistakes” are not typos or syntax errors simply and thus are very important.

One of those is when on page 138 of the book she states that plastic takes 500 years to decompose. While plastic degrades and that primarily through the influence of sunlight, it photo-degrades, it does not decompose, in any shape or form (with the exception of plant based “plastics”), and that not by a long shot.

The second one is about the use of wood in the construction of buildings. While her statement may be true in the USA as to virtually no building being constructed with the use of wood, in other countries things pan out somewhat a little different there.

Those are, however, the only criticisms as to the contents of the book and the context and I must say that there are so many parts were one can do no other than to agree.

Now I must just find a way to implement some of the aspects of the EcoChi System from the book in my home, office, and life.

The book is available from the EcoChi Website http://ecochi.com/ as either hardback or as e-book in a variety of formats, and from Amazon as a Kindle edition e-book http://www.amazon.com/EcoChi-Designing-Human-Experience-ebook/dp/B005NWRKOO.

© 2011

Electomobile future comes to Hanover

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Electric Truck “PLANTOS”

On the 2nd of November 2011 the Landesinitiative Brennstoffzelle & Elektromobilität is holding the sixth Lower Saxony Forum for Fuelcells and Electomobility in Hanover.

Göttingen, Germany: According to estimates by the National Platform Electromobility (Nationalen Plattform Elektromobilität (NPE)) of the German Federal Government will electric vehicles initially establish themselves in the real of the fleet vehicles.

Especially urban delivery and courier services could profit and benefit greatly from the benefits of the electrical motor which, compared with the combustion engine is quiet, emission-free and highly efficient even by frequent stops and starts.

I must say that in the given field I can very well see how EVs have their place but I cannot see them working as a “normal” car, especially as in family car.

With this background in mind the German company E-Cars presents their latest generation of electrically powered commercial vehicles “PLANTOS” at this years symposium of the Landesinitiative Brennstoffzelle und Elektromobilität Niedersachsen

Vor diesem Hintergrund präsentiert German E-Cars die neueste Generation elektrischer Nutzfahrzeuge „PLANTOS“ auf dem diesjährigen Fachkongress der Landesinitiative Brennstoffzelle und Elektromobilität Niedersachsen.

Last year the company showcased the “STROMOS” vehicle within the framework of the Landesinitiative at the Hanover Trade Fair, the Hannover Messe. Meanwhile this E-Auto has become one of the best known and most employed vehicles in the framework of a environmentally friendly mobility.

The micro-truck “PLANTOS” is specifically designed for the commercial traffic of the inner city and profits from a worldwide experience of German E-Cars and having seen its design on the photos it also looks good and should do the job nicely.

Germany seems to be leading, yet again, in this field as in so many others of sustainability and the environment, such as many of the small “road trains” that are in use in German cities and larger towns now with the mail and goods delivery services, drawn by EVs.

But, having said all this, in the end, I am sure, we will have to revert back to animal and human power and that too is being used in some places again.

Bicycle couriers, even in the age of email and broadband and all that, are still about and seem to be gaining in numbers and the Royal Mail has, to some extent, retained its bicycles.

Bicycle delivery services also abound in Germany and Holland and even there are quite a few around in Britain and London has its own fleets of bicycle rickshaw services also.

It is that what I think will the the image of the transportation of the future and not the electric vehicle, whether as commercial delivery truck or as car.

Now let's get those bicycles repaired and serviced...

© 2011

Make New Zealand 2011 the last ever unfair Rugby World Cup

As the baton is passed from New Zealand to Rugby World Cup 2015 (RWC2015) hosts England, citizens in both nations have come together to call for the 2011 tournament to be “the last ever unfair Rugby World Cup”. Supporters of the Fairtrade London and Fairtrade Auckland initiatives are calling upon the organisers of RWC15 and the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) commit to ensuring that as many products as possible are sustainable and fairly traded. Such a move would benefit small-scale producers and their families in developing countries, and allow rugby fans to make positive purchasing choices.

Kirsten Morrell, singer and ambassador for the Fairtrade Auckland campaign, said: “Our city has loved hosting many of the top matches in the Rugby World Cup, and of course the right team won! However, our celebrations would have been even sweeter if we could be sure that the tournament had been a fair trade one: fair for players, fair for officials, fair for spectators … and most importantly fair for the people who produce the merchandise, the catering and the sports equipment.”

“Like the Olympics in London, the Rugby World Cup tournament organisers should insist that suppliers and venues source Fairtrade certified products, so that farmers and workers in developing countries are not exploited or cheated in producing the goods for our finals. I challenge England to rise to the occasion in the Rugby World Cup 2015 and make it a fair tournament.”

London, home of Twickenham and several other grounds confirmed as hosting Rugby World Cup matches, is already leading the way. The organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games have made a pioneering commitment that all tea, coffee, sugar and bananas served at official Olympic venues will be Fairtrade. Athletes, officials, the media and spectators will all be consuming Fairtrade-certified drinks and snacks at the Games in London in July-August 2012.

Malcolm Clark, Campaign Co-ordinator of Fairtrade London, urged the World Cup organisers and the RFU to make a similar commitment. He said: “It’s a fair cop, the best rugby team at the World Cup won, and that was the hosts. Congratulations to New Zealand, and to cities like Auckland for putting on such a show. As a keen rugby fan I’d love England to be able to emulate the All Black’s achievement and in four years time win as host nation.”

“However, there are also four years for the organisers to match the best practice example set by the Olympics and put in place sustainable sourcing commitments. If the Olympics – with its 14 million meals, served across 40 locations – can do it, so can the Rugby World Cup. And we’d like to see the RWC2015 organisers go further: widening out the sourcing standards to include Fairtrade rugby balls, Fairtrade cotton in uniforms and kits, and more Fairtrade food and drink products being served. Let’s make Rugby World Cup 2015 in England a fair tournament for all.”

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

There are now over 1,000 Fair Trade Towns (and Cities) in 21 countries across five major continents. www.fairtradetowns.org

London was officially declared a Fairtrade City in 2008. 22 London Boroughs are now Fairtrade Boroughs with two more on course to achieve that status by early 2012. Fairtrade London is the initiative which brings together the many individual supporters, schools, universities, councils, businesses, faith groups and community groups supporting Fairtrade in their local area and citywide. www.fairtradelondon.org.uk

With the New Zealand general election approaching, Make Auckland a Fair Trade City (MAFT) is working hard to make Aucklanders’ votes count, by supporting local Fair Trade business, putting people first, fostering sustainable business relationships with their neighbours in the Pacific. www.fairtradeauckland.org

For details about the London 2012 Food Vision standard, go to http://www.sustainweb.org/foodlegacy/london_2012_food_vision/

For details of the new Food Legacy programme, inspired by the healthy and sustainable food standards adopted for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, go to: www.foodlegacy.org

The Mayor has already committed City Hall to adopting the London 2012 Food Vision standards, as have the Metropolitan Police, LFEPA (London Fire) and Transport for London.

Source: Fairtrade London

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.

REI Outdoor Equipment Store gives its packaging a green makeover

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

REI_logo Outdoor gear and clothing retailer REI has taken great steps in redesigning its packaging and reducing materials, like eliminating clamshell packaging from its product range. It is the company’s goal to reduce its REI-branded packaging 25% by 2013.

The man behind a lot of the packaging innovations is their engineering manager Eric Abraham. It is he who has pushed for materials that are 100% recyclable and sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified materials. Now, product hang-tags feature 100% post-consumer recycled content and their fasteners are made from recycled polypropylene instead of virgin plastic.

The company also now ships bicycles in boxes of four instead of individually, reducing associated waste. Also, bicycle tire tubes that used to be sold in a paperboard box are now packaged in a new tube holder designed by Abraham, which uses a plant-based film that reduces materials by 98% and is compostable.

I have been advocating the use of the non-clamshell packaging now for years for all manner of things but too often industry keeps telling us that it can't be done for this reason or that, often citing hygiene, security, and such. REI shows it can be done and is one of the few that seem to be doing it.

All too often we even see so-called green products housed in the clamshell packaging for which one, more often than not, require a can opener or saw in order to open it.

The main reason for the clamshell packaging – the larger the better – is the fact that when hung on the display boards the goods stand out because of the size and type of the packaging.

When it is said that the plant-based film is compostable it must be remembered that, in 99% of cases, this means compostable in commercial composters and not your home composting bin. While it will work in the home composters it will take several years to compost.

Cardboard packaging was all that was available and used not so many decades ago and the film windows and such were made from cellophane which was made from cellulose and both cardboard and cellophane was fully biodegradable.

We have not advanced at all since those days. In fact, we have gone backwards while going forward.

Now, finally, the issue is being tackled and many ideas for packaging are coming to the fore. I am still waiting on a proper way of designing packaging for reuse, with instructions for reuse on them. Some designers have worked on it but... Time we became serious about it.

© 2011

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

We need to become human again

We need to become human again and stop being Zombies

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

blackberry-9000 In the light of the almost week long outage of the Blackberry service in nearly every corner of the world a newspaper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, suggested that we need to become human again and stop being Zombies.

According to the writer, and I can but concur, we rely and depend way too much on using the electronic (social) media and so no longer interact with one another on a real level.

This is a point that becomes very evident when one observes groups of young people. I have seen three young lads sitting on a park bench together but instead of talking to each other they were sending each other SMS messages. Sad world we live in.

I am certainly no Luddite – I know, I keep saying that – and I do use technology at lot including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Skype, plus forums, yahoo groups, etc. and I use email for most letter communications.

And that is what we must remember as to email: It is an electronic letter and not some chat program or messenger service in real time.

Too many people have lost, it would seem, the art of letter writing and use email in a way they would never use a letter. This is bad etiquette and we must relearn our ways.

With the recent – Mid-October 2011 – Blackberry outages it has been proven again that we seem to be unable to do anything without those media and services and feel, without them, extremely lost. Work stalls and, it would seem, even social life.

This outage, in my opinion, has also, once again, proven and shown, despite all the rhetoric and promises, the unreliability of “the cloud” and of cloud services.

When it comes to emails, and I will come back to this subject at another time, we do not treat it and thus our recipients right. Email is a letter in electronic form and should, thus, be formatted like any letter that you would pop into an envelope, place a stamp upon and put into the post.

As the Dubai journalist said: we must become humans and human again and must, and I would say almost relearn to, interact with one another in a proper way again. It is time to rethink how we do things.

Sure, those methods of communication are great and have made the world a smaller place and brought us closer together across the continents but the cannot replace proper interaction and emails must become proper letter again even though they are sent electronically. That also means that one does not send another email a few hours later asking why there has been no reply as yet, etc.

Let's become humans again and let's stop being Zombies!

© 2011

Opportunity for ticketholders to neutralise their travel carbon footprint to London 2012

LONDON 2012 SPECTATORS INVITED TO SET NEW CARBON OFFSET WORLD RECORD TEAM GB OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC HOPEFULS LEAD CALL FOR BRITONS TO NEUTRALISE THEIR TRAVEL CARBON FOOTPRINT TO THE GAMES

In supporting the ambition for London 2012 to be the most sustainable Games possible, BP Target Neutral announced today that they are inviting London 2012 ticketholders, from across the world, to try and set a new world record for the most number of people offsetting their travel carbon to a single event.

In so doing, BP’s not-for-profit Target Neutral carbon management scheme is seeking to create awareness of the environmental impact of all journeys and will invite ticketholders to sign up to have their travel carbon footprint offset at no cost to themselves.

As the London 2012 official Carbon Offset Partner, BP Target Neutral will be providing the administration and funds to offset the carbon emissions from Games-related travel of ticketholders. The more people that sign up, the more Target Neutral can support low carbon development projects worldwide.

A personal invitation to participate will be emailed by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to ticketholders on Monday, October 3, inviting them to take part in this unprecedented world record attempt.

TEAM GB HOPEFUL & BP ATHLETE AMBASSADOR WILLIAM SHARMAN said: “I am a huge advocate of Target Neutral – reducing and offsetting our own carbon footprint is one small step to helping save the planet that we all live on. If everyone does their bit the impact will be significant – and what better way to start than by offsetting your journey to the 2012 Olympic Games in London – if every one of the spectators signs up for BP’s not-for-profit scheme in just a couple of clicks millions of people will be making a real difference”.

SEB COE, Chair of LOCOG said: “Sustainability underpins all of our plans – and has done since the bid. BP’s Target Neutral scheme is a fantastic opportunity for millions to offset their carbon footprint and help London 2012 to inspire positive social, economic and environmental change for the future. ”

PETER MATHER, BP’s Head of Country, UK, announcing the initiative, said: “We want to encourage people to play their part in tackling the impact of their travel on our environment. Today’s announcement supports Target Neutral’s overriding ambition that, through collective action, individuals can work together to make a real difference to the environment as they seek to reduce their carbon footprint, and then offset what is left.

“We believe this mass offset opportunity will raise awareness about the challenge we all face in living more sustainably and will engage people who might never before have thought about the carbon impact of their travel choices. We need every spectator to sign up, so London 2012 becomes the world’s largest offset as measured by number of participants”

The British Olympic Association has taken up the challenge and all of Team GB will be reducing and offsetting their carbon, as they journey to the Team GB Preparation Camp at Loughborough and to the London 2012 Olympic athlete village.

In particular, some outstanding British Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls - Jessica Ennis, Lizzie Armitstead, Richard Whitehead, Shelly Woods, Stef Reid and William Sharman - are working hard to reduce their carbon footprint and sharing their experiences.

All carbon emissions will be offset from a portfolio of six carbon offset projects that have been chosen to represent each continental region participating in the Games. These projects have been carefully selected and are compliant with ICROA Code of Best Practice.

Ticketholders should visit www.bptargetneutral.com/london2012 or Facebook page http://on.fb.me/BPtargetneutral to register their journey to the Olympics and be part of making London 2012 the most sustainable Games possible.

BP Target Neutral was set up in 2006 as part of BP’s broader commitment to practical sustainability. It is a not-for-profit carbon management program, which encourages consumers to reduce, replace and neutralise their carbon emissions from transport. BP covers Target Neutral’s operating costs. That’s important because it means that when people use Target Neutral to offset their carbon, all the money paid to offset is used to support genuine carbon offset projects that also have positive local environmental and socio-economic benefits.

BP Target Neutral is a founding member of ICROA, the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance which has recently merged with IETA, the International Emissions Trading Association. Target Neutral is audited against the ICROA Code of Best Practice annually and is currently the only not-for-profit member.

Target Neutral’s work is governed by an Independent Advisory and Assurance Panel of prominent environmental and industry experts. The Panel ensures that all policies and activities conform to best practice in carbon management, and where possible will set new standards for that best practice: members of Target Neutral can be confident they are making a real contribution to a sustainable future.

The world record attempt supports Target Neutral’s overriding ambition that, through collective action, individuals can work together to make a real difference for the environment as they reduce, replace and neutralise their carbon footprint.

Spectators heading to the Games from across the world will be asked to confirm where they are travelling from and their CO2 emissions will then be calculated to be offset by BP at no cost to the individual. This aims to raise awareness of carbon emissions relating to travel choices and the ways to reduce and offset them among a wide and varied audience.

Whether travelling by planes, cars or public transport to London 2012, spectators will be able to offset their carbon emissions free of charge by simply registering their journey on the Target Neutral website or via the Facebook page from 3 October 2011. Ticketholders will be invited to join the scheme online, where they will also find simple tips to calculate and reduce their carbon footprint.

The travel footprint estimate is based on LOCOG’s foot printing study of March 2010. A full methodology statement used to calculate journey emissions on a per country basis was developed for BP Target Neutral by Environmental Resource Management (ERM), is available in the press packs and at www.bptargetneutral.com/london2012.

Ernst & Young has reviewed the Target Neutral London 2012 spectator programme in order to provide an objective assessment of BP's description of the assumptions, method and reporting principles used within ERM's methodology.

The programme aims to offset the carbon footprint of millions of spectators and Games participants generated through their journeys to the Games. BP Target Neutral is aiming to set a world record for the largest number of people participating to offset carbon emissions associated with travel to an event. So, the more people that get behind the scheme the more impressive the record will be, leaving a legacy that all future Olympic Games can follow. Research suggests it is the first time the setting of a world record such as this has been attempted.

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.

British Prime Minister and Government betray the people

British Conservative-Lib-Dem Government besotted with EU

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

No To EU The actions of the British government is showing, once again, how far removed the great majority of the people in the Palace of Westminster, and especially the ministers, are from the will of the people in the streets.

Despite the rhetoric of the Conservative Party prior to coming to power in 2010 as to a referendum about Britain's membership in the EU. A vote, made possible by a Back Bench Committee though instigated via an E-petition of hundreds of thousands of signatures, was subjected to a 3-line-whip by the main parties, demanding that all their MPs reject such as motion out of hand and vote against this.

The people wanted to have at least a proper debate though, in fact, they wanted a referendum in order to have their say on whether or not Britain remains in the European Union, as it is.

So far all we have seen from this Con-Dem coalition government in Westminster is broken promises. The “greenest government ever”, which David Cameron and Nick Clegg trumpeted from the rooftops is not happening and nor are the “a resident park keeper for every park in this country”, as promised by David Cameron before he became Prime Minister, and neither will the people be permitted to decide whether they want to be ruled by Brussels – or is that, in fact, Berlin – or not.

The real reason that the government, besotted with the EU, is not prepared to allow the people to speak is because government knows fair well the way which the people would vote.

The PM went so far as to say that they people don't know what they are talking about as to Britain leaving the EU and that it is better for Britain to remain in the federal Europe.

Democracy, according to the British government, and the party color does not make any difference, appears to be applicable to those in the Palace of Westminster only and they run roughshod over the wishes of the people. Maybe they should remember who got them their.

Britain should have left the European Economic Community, later the European Community, as soon as it re-branded itself as the European Union. A federal Europe, a United States of Europe, is NOT what the people want, at least not the majority of the British.

Europe, as in the EU and its governing bodies, the European Commission, the European Council, and whatever other names they may have, are totally unelected, bar the Parliament, which in this case does not count, want to create a federal surveillance state, also, as can be seen by all the demands for Internet control, etc., of ALL citizens in ALL EU member states, with their demands for all Internet data and communications traffic of everyone to be stored “just in case” for in the region of ten years (maybe more).

In some EU countries – Germany in the lead – and even one or two non-EU countries – such as Switzerland – the authorities have developed and are deploying malware with which to infect people's computers in order to spy on them.

They have even tried to make anti-virus software makers comply to not have their software recognize this Trojan. The Finnish F-Secure and the Czech company AVG both have stated that they will not comply and that their software will be set to recognize government viruses and Trojans in the same way as all others.

This so-called Federal Trajan can do, apparently, a lot more than just spy. It is said to be capable to give law enforcement and security services total insight into and control of the target computer, and that to such an extent as to delete, alter and even add files and folders on the target computer.

It would appear that such spying and other activities are being condoned, endorsed and even actively encouraged from the side of the European Union and its unelected governing and controlling bodies, with many commissioners and even members of the European parliament demanding ever more control mechanisms still.

The KGB and the Ministerium fuer Staatssicherheit (MfS), aka Stasi, had nothing on the EU and its intelligence apparatus when it comes to spying on the people. Time to get out of the EU and to stay out.

© 2011

They planted nut trees in our street

They planted nut trees in our street; now look at the mess

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Hazelnuts In a town in Germany, which shall remain nameless, the residents complain that fallen nuts create a mess on the street and especially the sidewalk.

In those particular streets trees that had to be taken down because of disease or old age were replaced with nut trees and now the people bemoan the fact that the fruits fall off in autumn and “create a mess”. Maybe they all need a lesson in foraging.

They complain about Mother Nature's bounty rather than making use of it. How far removed from the natural world and real life has the great majority of our species actually become, especially the town dwellers?

Our grandparents and even our parents would have thanked their good fortune and would have been out there with baskets, buckets, bags and what-have-you and would have gathered in the harvest. Those nuts are edible after all for we are talking about the hazelnut and the cob nut. You pay good money for those in the stores and especially in the run up to Christmas.

Modern residents in those streets can but, it would seem, complain about “the mess” made by the fallen nuts. They have no idea that they could go and use them. What a crazy world we live in nowadays.

If their isn't an app on and for their smart phones for it they don't know what to do; or so it appears.

© 2011

Environmental psychology

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Environmental psychology is a a somewhat fascinating, and rather interdisciplinary, “science” focused on fostering a greater understanding of the interplay between human beings and their environment.

The term “environment” is being defined in this field rather broadly; it can include natural environment, designed and built environment, and learning, social and informational environment.

It is believed that protecting, building and creating a “preferred environment” increases a sense of wellbeing in a human being and facilitates behavioral effectiveness.

The questions that is being addressed by environmental psychology are these: Do our homes, offices, places of work, and public spaces (including our streets) make us feel peaceful, happy and sheltered? Do they feel like the safe havens they are meant to be? Are they calming, sustaining, mood-elevating and strengthening?

All of this is attainable, and can be made possible and feasible, in our homes and offices, our schools, and public buildings, with natural ventilation, the proper lighting, with plants, color, shapes and views.

In public spaces, when it comes to some aspects, other things come into play and for that purpose police and municipalities conduct so-called environmental visual audits (EVAs) from time to time in order to get the feel and then to see how improvements can be made and where.

Looked at it from a greater perspective, environmental psychology is about our relationship with Mother Earth.

There are many different theories as to why we, as a species, and the only one for that matter, have found ourselves seemingly intent on destroying our own Planet. We are the only species that has the capacity to do so if we continue on our merry way.

Some environmental psychologists believe that when we left our tribal way of living and life, many centuries and more ago, we were separated from our mothers far too early in life.

This act, under this theory, has led us to experience premature separation from the mother at the same time as we were being isolated from the natural world.

This abrupt disconnection, the theory holds, has led us to suffer a post-traumatic stress disorder. Underlying this hypothesis is the belief that feeling connected to the natural world is an essential component for proper maturing and responsible behavior toward the environment.

Others in the field of environmental psychology hold that we, as a species, are suffering from a “disassociation syndrome”. While this syndrome is similar to PTSD and even multiple personality disorder, this thinking is based on a belief that many, if not most, people (today) are no longer able to respond properly and appropriately to the natural world.

The complex causes, as argued by those who advocate this particular theory, involve advertising, economic systems, politics and our schools and institutes of higher learning, all of which, so it is reckoned, reportedly have “disassociation” built into their fabric.

Yet another theory is that humans may just be suffering from a form of collective amnesia. We have forgotten, so the advocates of this theory, about our inherent link to Nature and the lessons of our forefathers.

Another reason, and as far as I am concerned, and probably the main one, is that in the three Abrahamic faiths, especially Christianity, we are being taught – basically - that we are the masters over creation, over the natural world, and its resources.

This got further “enhanced”, so to speak, by the “scientific” revolution that caused us to become more and more detached from Nature.

Over the years – centuries by now – man has developed the attitude of fighting Nature, but this will never work, for the day that we win that battle we have lost.

Another big issue as far as Christianity is concerned is, and all arms of the church are equally guilty, though the Roman Church and Protestantism probably more than Orthodoxy, and that is the way they dealt with people who sought closeness with Nature.

Those that sought a close relationship with the Earth have been persecuted as heretics and as witches and people have been told that they must not “worship” Nature, at pain of death more often than not.

It is, therefore, together with other aspects, no wonder that we, as a species, have become so disconnected from Mother Earth. We have been taught, over centuries, that regarding Nature as anything but something to be used and taken from as heresy and that it can get you killed.

In fact, if wed do not reconnect with Mother Nature that will get us killed, and even some in the Abrahamic faiths begin to understand that; slowly only ion some cases but...

we must learn – once again – the way of Nature and to live in harmony with Her and to honor Her as Mother and Giver of Life and not fight against Her like naughty children.

© 2011

A Tree for Life Not Just for Christmas

With over 6* million Christmas Trees dumped outside on the streets each year, and 976,000** of those in London alone simply being thrown away, it is never too early to start thinking about how we can be more environmentally responsible this festive season.

In an era of "reduce, reuse and recycle", the Ideal Home Show at Christmas is teaming up with the Little Tree Company to offer a unique, ‘Christmas Tree Hire Scheme’; a new way of hiring and recycling your Christmas to help reduce waste from your home this year.

In partnership with The Little Tree Company, the Ideal Home Show at Christmas will create a 1001 strong Christmas Tree snowflake shaped maze, offering beautifully pruned and potted Christmas trees that you can select to annually hire over the Christmas period, for the same price as a normal cut tree.

Once at the end of the Christmas period, the tree can then be collected by the Little Tree Company in the New Year and re‐planted to be rented out again the following Christmas, making perfect wildlife habitats over the rest of the year.

Once the tree finally grows too big for the home, The Little Tree Company will plant it out where it can grow into the towering giant it aspires to be, creating beautiful woodlands and habitats for Britain’s wildlife and find a final resting place in a variety of community locations from schools to nursing homes.

Figures show that only 10% of the UK’s 6 million Christmas Trees are recycled each year for composting and wood chipping. The rest goes into landfill - a wasted opportunity to create biomass that could provide nutrients for depleted soil.

Unlike normal Christmas trees, these especially grown and pruned rental trees don't cost the earth and use the most eco-friendly and sustainable growing methods available.   Every Christmas tree recycled by this scheme will save one cubic yard of landfill space per tree, with each re-planted average tree then absorbing approximately 1 ton of carbon - that’s around 10% of your annual carbon footprint.

Unlike standard cut trees, these recycled pot grown trees won’t die whilst on display, nor will they drop all of their needles like cut Christmas trees do, meaning they last longer and look fresher for the whole Christmas season.

Lee Newton, Managing Director of the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, commented: “It is always a bit heart-breaking to see bare bristled Christmas trees dumped and discarded along the streets every January, so we are proud to be able to offer our visitors an alternative way of purchasing and recycling their Christmas trees this year.

“Not only will we help offset their home’s carbon footprint, but this initiative will help reduce the domestic  waste created by Christmas trees, whilst allowing the trees to live on beyond the holiday season as they are replanted and reused year after year,  or rehoused in communities and more permanent locations.”

Visitors to this year’s show will be able to enter the maze and reserve their very own tree from a variety of 3 different species in a range of sizes from mini 2ft trees right up to 7 footers.

Once you have selected your tree it will be reserved and delivered to your door just in time for the Christmas period. This service costs from as little as £29.95 and £16.95 for the delivery and collection, so you won’t have to worry about where to get rid of the tree after Christmas, saving on your domestic waste.

In addition to this eco Christmas tree rental service, The Little Tree Company will also be offering an eco-decor service, where they decorate the trees with a range of dried fruits, spices and flower heads all sourced from nature’s craft cupboard, as well as a range of eco gift ideas which include Botanical Beverages and Gourmet Woodland Mushroom Logs.

So like you might already do with your cards, your wrapping paper and your empty bottles ,do your bit for the environment and recycle a living Christmas tree with The Little Tree Company rental scheme.  Come with the whole family and pick your own tree for hire at The Ideal Home Show at Christmas, from the 16th to the 20th November at Earls Court.

The Little Tree Company: The Little Tree Company hires out specially pot grown and pruned Christmas Trees delivered directly to your door for the price of a cut tree. They are then collected from your doorstep in the New Year. Once back home, the potted trees are maintained again until the following Christmas, making perfect wildlife habitats over the rest of the year. Once the trees finally grow too big for houses they find their final resting places planted out in a variety of community locations from schools to nursing homes.

Graham Willett of The little Tree Company talks you through how to have a beautiful tree that doesn't cost the earth, from what to look for, how to recycle and re-use your tree if you already have an artificial or cut tree, or better still, how and why to rent a tree this Christmas. Watch charming decorating ideas take shape all using materials and decorations from sustainable sources, available to make and buy at our Christmas Trees to Rent winter wonderland feature at the show.'http://www.thelittletreecompany.com/

Ideal Home Show at Christmas:  The Ideal Home Show Christmas will run over five days, from the 16th – 20th November at London’s Earls Court, based on the same format as the London and Scotland events, including the brand’s flagship zoned areas that include; Ideal Home Improvements, Food, Interiors and Woman sections, but featuring a Christmas twist and with more Gadgets, shopping and gifts for all the family, in time for the busiest retail shopping period of the year.

Media 10 Ltd: Formed 6 years ago, Media 10 is a privately owned publishing and events company based in Loughton, Essex. It currently employs approximately 150 staff and has fast become one of the leading players in the events industry as a result of the hugely successful Ideal Home Show and Grand Designs Live exhibitions.

Other events in the portfolio include the Duke of Essex Polo Trophy – now one of the largest attended polo matches in Europe; Clerkenwell Design Week, Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, The London Design Trail; The Milan Design Trail and the Grand Designs Awards.

Media 10’s award-winning magazine portfolio also includes icon magazine, the leading international architecture and design magazine; Grand Designs, the magazine of the leading property program on Channel 4; The Selfbuilder, a monthly resource for anyone looking to refurbish their home.

Source: Stuart Higgins Communications on behalf of Ideal Home Show at Christmas

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.

Plastic bottles and the lack of recycling

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Americans use four million plastic bottles every hour but only about one bottle out of four is being recycled.

This is just another proof that plastic bottles, whether they contain water, soda, or whatever else, are simply not sustainable and never will be.

However, the weirdest thing is that even some greenies say that plastic is better than glass, as, being lighter, plastic bottles have smaller carbon footprint when it comes to shipping. But that is also the only time they may win.

As far as I am concerned let's cut that crap – pardon my French – and look once again properly at the glass bottle and not from the point of recyclability. That is not the point and issue. Let's look instead at reuse and return for reuse, and let's also, as during WWII, all bottles and jars in that.

Curbside recycling, in many places in the UK, as far as I have seen, is but a farce and a sham. When all colors of bottles and jars are dumped in the same hopper then that glass, now broken and mixed, either goes into landfill or, if we are lucky, to be ground down into road building “sand”. That is a waste on both counts.

Until broken a bottle or a jar can be reused again and again ad infinitum and unless they are broken they should not, ever, go for recycling. Instead they should, as used to be the case, go back to be cleaned and refilled. It has been done before and must be done again, and it must be done NOW.

Every time that we deliberately break a bottle or a jar to be recycled we waste raw materials and energy that were used to make that bottle or jar.

Now we have also ended up with supermarkets, such as Sainsbury's, who decide, claiming it to be a “green” move, to put all their peanut butter now into plastic jars. Better for the environment, they claim, as lighter than glass jars. Real truth... better for them as far as transportation costs go. Nothing green about it.

We seem to have gone mad...

© 2011

It’s quite easy being green (at home and elsewhere)

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

“It’s not easy being green,” Kermit the Frog always laments. But it does not have to be a struggle going and being green. On the other hand there will be times when “green” may not be the option, as far as purchasing goes, and you should not get disheartened then either.

However, the idea was, in the good ol' Hippie days, that going green actually would not cost you anything but save you money. Somewhere along the line and over the decades this precept seems to have gotten lost and nowadays green is big business and greenwash abounds.

The first thing we must get away from – and it also will save us money – is the trap of advertising and the belief that we NEED this or that, and we are presently getting the same thing as regards to being “green”.

Everywhere, on the Internet and elsewhere, we are being told that this or that “green” product or gadget will make us more “green” but we must ask as to whether it really does.

The truth is that, more often that not, sticking with what we have got and, in other cases, making do, mending and making ourselves, is the answer to going and being “green” (at home and elsewhere).

Many people, especially those in the lower income brackets see “going green” out of the league as they see it as something that they cannot afford and as only something that the richer ones can do.

However, going green should not cost; the opposite rather. It should save you money. If it is expensive then there is something wrong somewhere.

Kermit, though he did not mean to, expressed the perception that the great majority of working class people have as to going green. They see it as difficult and as expensive; as something that they cannot afford to do. But, as I have said before, that is not the way it is supposed to be.

When I make my own tooth powder from a few ingredients such as salt (and no, it does not have to be expensive sea salt), baking soda (bicarbonate of soda, as it is called in Britain), and an essential oil or two such as tea tree and oil of cloves, then I do save in comparison to non-fluoride toothpaste.

When I make my own cleaners using vinegar (and once again it does not have to be the expensive distilled kind) and this or that natural ingredient, such as lemon juice, etc. I am again saving money.

In both cases I am also friendly to the Planet and to my health.

Other cases where being green should also help the wallet is by turning off unnecessary lights and appliances though, in some cases the savings may not be as great as claimed by some people. Nevertheless, a light bulb that does not needlessly burns, or an appliance that is not needed to be on turned off, is good on all counts, and for some people, like myself too, every penny counts.

When I reuse paper that has been printed on only one side either for printing something else on it, or as a notelets or to make notebooks from then I am saving myself money and also don't have to buy paper for the purpose which I need it for.

People have said to me: “but you can buy a notebook for a Pound or less.” That's fine but every pound I do not have to spend on a notebook – as I use lots of them – is a Pound Sterling saved, and also some trees saved, in a way.

There are so many things that you can do to go green that cost nothing and that bring you savings too. One day, I promise, I'll write a book about that all...

In fact, I have done one already but it needs revising a little maybe and it is available here...

© 2011

How green is your laptop?

The world's most sophisticated ethical ranking site publishes new laptops buyers' guide

Ethical Consumer magazine has published the world's most comprehensive green and ethical buyers' guide to laptops and netbooks.

The buyers' guide ranks 26 leading IT brands across 23 ethical and environmental categories and presents them in a simple ranking format. The unique twist is that web users can customise the rankings to accurately reflect the issues that they personally feel passionate about.

The result is that for the first time consumers can easily identify and support those companies whose green credentials they agree with and avoid the companies that are falling behind on the green agenda.

The buyers' guide key findings are:

  • Only two companies score top marks for environmental reporting (Sony and Toshiba)

  • Only one company scores best in the habitats and resources category (Dell)

  • All companies score negatively in the pollution and toxics category

  • Thanks to the work of NGO's and civil society groups, the overall transparency and reporting on social responsibility issues is improving, albeit inconsistently, across the sector

All companies score negatively in the pollution and toxics category.

Thanks to the work of NGO's and civil society groups, the overall transparency and reporting on social responsibility issues is improving, albeit inconsistently, across the sector.

Tim Hunt from Ethical Consumer said: “This buyers' guide shows that the market for laptops and netbooks is littered with serious problems both environmental and social. Consumers need to let IT companies know that they must do better. Ultimately we need to see far more action from the companies themselves to improve their ethical performance.”

To celebrate the launch of their new website Ethical Consumer is giving away this new buyers' guide free of charge including detailed access to the research that underpins the data.

The buyers' guide includes information on all the major current issues in the IT market: conflict minerals; toxic chemicals and supply chain and environmental policies.

The newly re-launched Ethical Consumer website is now the UK's biggest online resource for people wanting to reduce the environmental and human impact of their shopping.

It has over 180 free online buyers' guides on a wide range of everyday products and services from bread to banks.

The new site also has the UK's most comprehensive consumer boycotts resource including the only available online list of current consumer boycotts.

Ethical Consumer Rob Harrison editor said: “At Ethical Consumer we understand that different people bring different values to the market. Some people are heavily involved in animal rights issues whilst other are not. That's why we've developed a number of cutting-edge website tools which we believe make for the world's most sophisticated on-line ethical rating system.”

The laptop buyers' guide features new research from Ethical Consumer as well as research from a number of key NGO's including Greenpeace and the Enough Project.

The buyers' guide to laptops and netbooks is available here: www.ethicalconsumer.org/Laptops

Launched in 1989 Ethical Consumer is the UK's leading ethical and environmental magazine. In each issue Ethical Consumer examines the ethical and environmental record of the companies behind everyday products and services from bread to banks. For more information visit the Ethical Consumer website: www.ethicalconsumer.org 

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.

Livinggreen Centre launches

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

377356_38_preview Saturday, November 5, 2011 will see the launch of the National Trust's Livinggreen Centre at Morden Hall Park.

Come along to the opening of the exciting new visitor centre in the stable yard at Morden Hall Park and see how the National Trust has renovated this 19th century stable block to become one of the most energy efficient historic buildings in Britain.

There will be an interactive exhibition, free craft activities, a chance to do some Christmas shopping at the new craft stalls and the opportunity to be inspired to live more sustainably.

When

Saturday 5 November, 12-4pm

Where

The stable yard, Morden Hall Park, SM4 5JD

Pubic transport

Nearest Underground Station: Morden (London Underground)

Many bus routes serve Morden Station and also the Morden Hall Park more or less directly.

Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mordenhallpark

See you there...

Photo copyright © National Trust

© 2011

Coca-Cola Plant Bottle = Greenwash

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

plant bottle coca-cola Coca-Cola has made a great hullabaloo over its so-called “plant bottle” but that bottle is nothing but lies and a way to mislead the consumer.

On the official promotional material and the stands in the shops for the “plant bottle” Coca-Cola proudly declares as follows:

Up to 22.5 percent plant material, up to 25 percent of recycled plastic, as ingredients for the bottle. This equals 100% greenwash for well over 50% of the bottle are still made with (virgin) PET-plastic.

Coca-Cola also claims that the bottle is 100% recyclable but this is something that also does not compute and ring true as there are so far no plants on-stream that can handle that kind of mixed PET.

Somewhere along the line here this is false advertising, if not worse even, and the various standard agencies should give Coca-Cola a serious rap on the knuckles if not more. A good solid spanking might be called for and in order.

To call it “plant bottle” is not just greenwash and misleading but outright dishonest. The consumer is being conned yet again.

Let's boycott Coca-Cola, at least until such a time that they apologize and rectify things.

© 2011

CIWEM CALLS FOR BROWNFIELD FIRST

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Greenbelf or brownfieldGreenbelt land or brownfield site?

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management’s Contaminated Land Network has expressed relief that Greg Clark MP has confirmed that the Government will not do away with the current, forward thinking and sustainable policy of building on brownfield sites before open greenfield land.

In the draft National Planning Policy Framework, currently being consulted on, the intention is to remove detailed planning guidance and withdraw and replace PPS23 (and its Annex 2) on Planning and Pollution Control by a short and focussed note.

This direction aroused suspicion that the NPPF is a sop to the development lobby who can profit more from greenfield sites and to lawyers who will pounce on the lack of clarity for more appeals, challenges and inquiries.

Brownfield-first policies are eminently sensible and far better than allowing a developer-led free for all on greenfield sites. We have a legacy of brownfield land in this country and we need to ensure that there is sufficient legislation and guidance in place to protect against a massive potential increase in inappropriate and unregulated redevelopments.

Recently the planning minister Greg Clark conceded that the NPPF used a different phrase, "land of least environmental value" rather than brownfield. He added: “It was never my intention, and it certainly was not the Government’s intention, to depart from the obviously desirable situation in which derelict land should be brought back into use”. CIWEM welcomes this statement and urges the brownfield first policy to be carried into the final version.

Gary Winder, Chair of CIWEM’s Contaminated Land Network, says: “There is a current presumption to use brownfield sites first and this must be clearly spelled out in the final National Planning Policy Framework. Using previously developed sites has many significant recognised benefits - addressing neglected and disused land, recycling land back into sustainable use, improving the environment by addressing contamination issues and helping to enhance and regenerate local communities. It is essential that the opportunities and importance of regenerating brownfield land are recognised in the final policy document”.

It is, however, at times rather funny what, according to some councils and planning authorities was greenbelt land and which was not, such when a former scrapyard in Essex, with an (illegal) traveller site is declared a greenbelt site, while some greenbelt sites, when they want to put something there, is declared a former brownfield site. Time we seriously had a level playing field for all.

When it comes to development of housing, offices, etc., certainly brownfield sites should always be the first chosen and they then should also not be declared as greenbelt sites when one wants to object to a development, even for a private traveller site.

In Sheffield the go ahead was just given in the middle of October 2011 to build a housing project on the site of a former college campus which also, for some strange reason, was declared by everyone bar the council, as greenbelt land. You cannot greenwash brownfield into greenbelt, but this is what some try to do.

We must keep the distinction clear as to what is brownfield, namely land that once had been built on, and what is greenbelt.

Yes, you can green former industrial sites quite nicely as our old railroad tracks and converted factory sites show but they are not, when they became vacant, suddenly greenbelt land.

The truth is important, also in these matters, and homes are needed too.

© 2011

Air quality: the UK's invisible health crisis

The government appears to be disinterested in the UK's pollution problem, which cuts short thousands of lives each year

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It's an invisible health crisis which causes thousands of premature deaths in the UK every year. It can lead to asthma, reduce lung capacity and trigger heart attacks. And our country's failure to adequately address the issue has forced the European commission to take legal action against us.

While everyone keeps talking about GHG emissions and all that jazz the worst ones are being ignored, namely the general air pollution. It is worse for humans and the rest of the environment than the rest of all the things.

Not much good to have a cool Planet when we have all but died out because of air pollution and polluted soil and water, the latter two which are often relkated to the first one.

Yet if the disinterested performance of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) minister Lord Henley at an environmental audit committee hearing last week is anything to go by, the government still just isn't that bothered about the UK's pollution problem.

The committee hearing, which coincided with the 55th anniversary of the 1956 Clean Air Act – introduced in response to the "great smog" over London which killed 4,075 people – saw the minister grilled by MPs on his department's inability to get to grips with air quality.

The government's lack of urgency is surely compounded by the fact that the current threat in the air we breathe is far less obvious than the looming smog clouds of the 1950s. At a previous committee session, Prof Frank Kelly of the environmental research group at King's College London warned us that "we have this new problem that we cannot see: it is tiny particles of nitrogen dioxide." But the health impact of poor air quality in the UK, which is among the worst in Europe, is clear for all to see.

Kelly estimates that about 30,000 people died from air pollution in Britain in 2008, with individuals "losing on average three years of their life."

Road traffic emissions are still the primary culprit, due to the quantity of particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – and also due to the way in which traffic permeates our towns and cities. Pollution from vehicles is released directly into our streets at a low height level, where it has little opportunity to disperse before being inhaled by those who live and work in heavily populated urban areas.

It is being estimated that the traffic emissions of those nigh nano-particles will be getting worse should we decide to have full bio-diesel usage. Some estimate that the nano-particles from bio-diesel would be many times worse – op to 40 times – than those from actual petroleum-based diesel.

However, some of the biggest polluters, and hence the problem in the South of England and around the coastal areas, is in fact shipping, and the ever bigger container vessels, that are putting out the equivalent of thousand times that of all the vehicles on our roads at any given time.

Also, that pollution, even if emitted over the seas, does not remain over the oceans but, will, at some stage, make landfall.

This points once again to the fact that we either need to put in filtration systems into the exhausts and chimneys or we must find another way of doing things.

Unfortunately, the way things are going, I cannot see the government(s) having the political will to enact legislation to clean this up and neither can I see anyone else doing anything about it.

Luck might be on our side in due course when, finally, petroleum products simply become too expensive for the masses to use. Then our air may, eventually, get sorted out again. But, until then, I should guess the cases of asthma in children and adults and other respiratory ailments, as well as allergies, will be increasing.

London's great smog had little to do with automobile fumes in those days back then but everything with the use of (dirty) coal. It was visible because of the high sulfur content.

The pollution from motor vehicles, especially today, is not that visible, if at all. And while the lead has been taken out of gasoline, and thus doing away with the metal taste that was left in your mouth when you had spent a long day in London or such the pollution is still as acute, if not even more so.

Time we cleaned up out act, and the only way to do that is to get out of our cars and walk and cycle more, aside from political will and forcing scrubbers to be put into exhausts and chimneys.

© 2011

Has the Rapture been canceled?

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Harold Camping best goes as his name suggests...

harold-camping-false-prophet-sets-new-date-october-21-2011Once again, the world failed to end, despite a high-profile prediction from a radio preacher in California.

On Friday, October 21, 2011 was, according to the founder of Family Radio, Harold Camping, the End of the World, postponed from six months ago, was, definitely, going to occur. It would appear, however, as if, once again, nothing happened.

The deadline came and went … once again, just like the one six months ago, and nothing happened. On Camping’s Family Radio website, the event … or non-event, as is the case, is not even acknowledged. No statement has been forthcoming from the group – despite the fact that a small earthquake, 4.3 on the Richter Scale, occurred in nearby San Francisco. There was no reported damage – a far cry from the total destruction of the universe Camping had been forecasting, twice by now, and Mr. Camping is not issuing any statements.

I presume he will be coming up with a new date shortly, claiming again that G-d has decided to walk the Earth a little longer to gather his sheep, as he claimed, Camping, not G-d, the last time round.

So far there have been no reports of millions of the faithful being caught up in the Rapture, to meet the returning King of Kings in the air, and no one has, so it seems, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse galloping through the streets either.

Harold Camping is just simply wrong, again. And that’s not a big surprise, for sure. Anyone who still even gives such a “prophet” any credence has only got him- or herself to blame.

The Rapture is not even mentioned in the Scriptures but is something made us from some snippets of text here and there of the Bible.

Jesus wept! And yes, that is in the Bible and He probably is right now over all the gullible people who think that Camping and others can interpret the signs.

The message was to be vigilant as no one knows the time and the hour, and that includes Camping and neither is there to be any Rapture though there might be some ruptures happening as regards to Mr. Camping and it is, I would suggest, high time that some of his followers went to court and sued him.

© 2011

If you are not careful

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Malcolm X

While one may agree or disagree on occasion with Malcolm X and his philosophy one can but say that he was very prophetic in this statement for sure.

In the years since he made that statement his vision has, in this regards, I am afraid to say, very much come true and this on almost all, if not indeed all, levels.

The fact is that we, all of us, have not been careful enough and allowed the media, aided and abetted by our governments, to do just that to us all. Namely to make us believe that the bad guys are the good guys and the oppressed are the bad guys.

In ancient Rome they kept the people quiet with “Bread & Circuses” and in the modern world with consumer goods and TV and other media that dull our senses and permit them to get on with what they are doing to further enslave us all.

In the modern world the exploiter, such as the banks, are being made out to be the good guys while the protesters, even if peaceful, are seen as terrorists almost by the police, which act for the establishment, but are but slaves to it in the same way as each and every one of us.

He know wishes to live independently and he who wants to have peace and justice is made out to be the enemy while the warmongers and exploiters are painted in rosy colors; well, most of the time.

Modern Hippies, New Age Travellers and Gypsies are persecuted because they would like to live somewhat outside the mainstream of society and, in order to evict a settlement of Irish Travellers a former scrap yard became, for years, in the messages from the council and the media “former greenbelt land”. Only when council had finally gotten the go-ahead for an eviction the media was allowed to mention the fact that the entire settlement is on a former scrap yard and since when a scrap yard, a business, is greenbelt land, beats me and should beat everyone else as well.

Anyone who is not willing to be part of the sheeple is seen as a suspicious character and the authorities engage the security services to spy one them. The media has managed to do just of which Malcolm X had warned us; they have turned the people against the oppressed and made them love those that do the oppressing.

The world has gone mad...

© 2011