Gleaning and gleaners

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Urban_GleanerGleaning is the practice of going into the fields after harvest and picking up what is left behind; ears of wheat, errant potatoes or onions, etc. Once a common practice, and done exclusively by women and children, it is now not so common, since machine harvesting leaves little behind.

But there are still gleaners, men and women, and in some cases children who now not only glean the fields but also the urban markets, collecting what they can to survive, or simply because they hate those fruit and vegetables, many which may not be bad at all, to go to waste.

Dumpster diving also would fall under the term gleaning in the modern sense and so could also the activity of any of us who picks up the things that others have lost (and are too lazy to come and look for again) or have deliberately thrown “away” while they still can be used.

I grew up with the advice always not to waste anything and that, to me, extended also to things that I could find, whether it was lost vegetables or other lost and tossed out things that could still be used. That mentality does have a drawback though and that is that one tends to accumulate a great many “things that may come in handy” and it is then a question of storing those things. It is a different issue, obviously, when it comes to (fresh) food that has been gleaned, whether from the fields, from markets or from dumpsters.

When I was a child there were also still so-called common trees to be found along the country lanes, apples, pears, plums, cherries, etc., once planted for the commoners to use but even then no one was interested in them anymore. The fruits often were smaller than those that were in the shops, especially the apples and the pears, but we harvested from them by collecting the fallen fruit as much as by climbing into the trees and taking them from there. And you could, without anyone complaining and calling the cops, pick up the fallen fruit and vegetables on the market at the end of the day, and even during the day. The stallholders did not mind as long as one stayed out of the way of the paying customers.

Then stallholders on the daily or weekly markets also would make people aware of things that they could not sell but were perfectly suited to the gleaner and greengrocers in villages and towns would stop the poorer children at the end of the trading day and give them those fruit and vegetables that could not be carried over to the next day to take home to Mom. Nowadays that is illegal. And thus tons and tons of food goes to waste while many of the poorer classes have to go without. Instead of traders and gleaners being prosecuted it should be the wast should be tackled and prosecuted instead. But, as long as everything is money orientated this is not going to happen and thus we must change it.

© 2016


GROW London: 24 – 26 June 2016

GROW London, the capital’s first and only contemporary gardening show, returns to Hampstead Heath this June. Chic, cool and modern, GROW London seeks to inspire both the expert gardener and the novice alike to transform their outdoor space, presenting unusual and original ideas, decorative accessories and of course a vast array of plants and flowers. Alongside this, visitors can again expect an impressive programme of free talks and workshops on everything garden-related, from create your own medicinal remedies using herbs, to advice from Richard Reynolds on becoming a guerrilla gardener.

From 24 – 26 June, GROW London will be located in a purpose-built marquee situated near Hampstead Heath station. Outside the entrance, visitors will find themselves first of all confronted by award winning garden designer Sophie Walker’s highly unusual and conceptual installation which aims to play with the idea of bringing the jungle to the Heath. Walker, who in 2014 made news as the youngest woman to design for the Chelsea Flower Show, has won numerous awards for her garden designs and is currently writing a book on Japanese garden design.


image002GROW London has become known for its beautiful feature areas which in the past have included an elegant arbour designed by Petersham Nurseries and a rustic shepherd’s hut by Francesca Murrell. This year, Clifton Nurseries, one of London’s oldest and most beautiful garden centres, will create a tranquil and calming space – the Serenity Garden in collaboration with Omorovicza, a leading Hungarian skincare brand. The garden is intended to be predominantly a scent sanctuary to relax and find peace away from the busy world.

Plants chosen will reflect the fragrances and ingredients found in the Omorovicza products. Elements in the garden will include a jasmine arch, pomegranate trees and olive trees for shade while colourful scented flowers will draw the visitor down a gravel path to the little jasmine covered spa hut where facial treatments will be offered.

With British Flower Week running the week before, GROW London will seek to celebrate the beauty of British flowers which are blooming. Demand for home-grown cottage garden favourites such as orlaya, ammi, irises and peonies is soaring thanks to our desire for sustainable, locally sourced flowers. The Flower Union, a collective of British growers and florists within 50 miles of London, is creating a fantasy floral bedroom made entirely from blossoms – while mainly fresh flowers have been used, the creators have also utilised faux creations to help lengthen the installation’s lifespan. Visitors can walk around the bedroom with its bed, rug, bedside table and floral wall art and interact with it.

A number of participating florists from the Flower Union will use the floral bed and bedside table as a workspace to make beautiful hand tied bouquets of British flowers which will be for sale alongside British flower seeds, candles and potted flowers arrangements. Short bouquet workshops will be running throughout the day hosted by a variety of participating Flower Union florists including The Flower Shop, Rebel Rebel, Hiding in the City, Miranda Hackett and Thomas Bloom.

image006Another feature area at GROW London will host The Green Wood Guild which runs London's best Green Woodwork courses from timber framing and joinery to axe forging and whittling. Britain’s leading authority on spoon carving and wood culture, Barn the Spoon, will be working with the Green Wood Guild and demonstrating a wide range of woodworking skills. Visitors will be encouraged to try their hand at splitting a roof shingle or weaving hazel onto one of their beautiful garden structures.


This year the chosen charity which will benefit from tickets sold for the Garden Party Charity Preview on Thursday 23 June is Maggie’s, the cancer charity. Built in the grounds of NHS hospitals, Maggie’s Centres offer the practical, emotional and social support that people with cancer, their families and their friends, need. Maggie’s works with some of the world’s leading architects, and also with leading garden designers, who understand the curative potential of plants and outdoor spaces. Creating a garden is something tangible and fulfilling, which can be of great help to those dealing with cancer while the value of exercise and the sensory experience all contribute to a greater sense of well-being.


image007Over thirty nurseries will be exhibiting at GROW London this year, offering plants that simply can’t be found within the capital, from English cottage garden flowers to unusual varieties of conifer. Nurseries exhibiting at GROW London will include Blueleaf Plants, who specialise in growing over 200 varieties of architectural and colourful succulent plants, Glendon Plant Nursery which specialises in unusual foliage and Wildegoose, dedicated to growing rare and old varieties of viola.

Todds Botanics specialises in drought tolerant herbaceous and architectural plans while Hooksgreen Herbs will show its selection of culinary, medicinal and scented herbs. The girls at Lime Cross will have some of their 400 varieties of conifers for sale and C&K Jones will be bringing their beautiful range of roses. Hortus Loci will present a flowering selection of grown herbaceous perennials. Those with shady gardens will make a beeline for Shadyplants, with its selection of statement ferns for those with dark, sunless corners, while new and unusual herbaceous perennials will be on display at The Plant Specialist. Meadowgate specialises in a diverse and unusual collection of ornamental grasses which are perfect for a statement planting in the city garden. GROW London staples also include Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants and Pennard Plants who will bring fruit and veg plants and seeds. Garden Centres at GROW London will include Cook’s, N1 & W6. N1/W6, local London garden centres specialising in the urban garden, which aim to make plants and gardening an essential part of city life, will present a tribal themed garden, mixing African elements within the scope of indoor plants and decoration. Other London garden centres at GROW London will include Boma and Camden Garden Centre which supplies plants and gardening products and is also a charitable organisation offering employment, training and educational opportunities.


GROW London Marquee, Lower Fairground Site East Heath Road Hampstead, London NW3 1TH


Garden Party Charity Preview - £25 Adult Advance - £10 (plus booking fee) Adult Door - £16

Concession Advance - £8 (plus booking fee) Concession Door - £14

Children under 16 – Free


Thursday 23 June:

Garden Party Charity Preview 6 – 9pm, invitation-only.

Held in support of Maggie’s

Friday 24 June – Sunday 26 June: 11am – 6pm

HOW TO GET THERE BY TRAIN OR BUS: Hampstead Heath overground station is just a 3 minute walk away. Buses C11, 24, 46 and 168 stop at South End Green.

BY TUBE AND FREE SHUTTLE BUSES: Hampstead underground station on the Northern line is the closest tube stop. Free shuttle buses leave from just outside the station every 15 minutes; look out for the GROW London bus stops. Alternatively it is a 10 minute stroll through lovely Hampstead village to the fair.

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.

Futuristic data security through pen and paper

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

pen-paperFrom intelligence agencies to hospitals, paper records are the killer app for stopping hackers, and pen and paper, or the typewriter, are king in this department.

In late 2014 or in 2015, I would have to check, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) decided, in the light of the Snowden revelations, to return to the typewriter for sensitive memos and other material and to a manually administered distribution list for such information.

Hackers are everywhere with the government in the lead in that department and they would like to know everything that we do and also like to get their hands on other data that we may have anywhere. So, how do we secure our sensitive data? The old-fashioned way by using pen and paper, or typewriter and paper.

Computerized data and computers are inherently insecure, regardless of what we may be taught, led to believe, or think. And that goes beyond simple data theft.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles was hit by an infection of so-called “ransomware”, which locked up all its data in encrypted form until a ransom (hence the name) was paid to the software deployers to decrypt the data again. While the hospital does not say when they paid the ransom, fact is they did, and it is irrelevant whether they paid 9,000 in bitcoin/$3.6 million as initially reported or only 40 bitcoin, around $17,000 as claimed later, and this payment set a bad precedent.

Maybe Hollywood Presbyterian could have done a better job of protecting its data, but data on computers can never be perfectly safe. Thus, let me propose a more secure technology that would serve as a near-perfect barrier to hackers, ransomware and other exploits: Put important records back on paper. It also is not dependent on a power outlet or batteries and a notebook can be run over by a main battle tank and the data is recoverable.

The truth is, paper records are inherently more secure that anything electronic and digital. To steal 10 million electronic user records from a government agency, or whatever, all you might need is a cracked password and a thumb drive. To steal that many records on paper, however, you would need a fleet of trucks and an uninterrupted month.

And ransomware would not work on paper records either. What would they do, put a padlock on the filing cabinets and demand ransom for the key? Not something that would very likely succeed. You simply would take a bolt-cutter and remove the lock.

And often, putting things on computers is a rather stupid idea anyway be this with regards to medical record or other data.

Electronic medical records, touted as saving money and streamlining care, are a major cause of physician burnout. In fact it appears to have gotten so bad that some hospitals actually advertise the lack of electronic medical record systems as a selling point in recruiting doctors.

Nor have electronic systems paid off as promised. As Robert Wachter wrote in The New York Times, “Even in preventing medical mistakes – a central rationale for computerization – technology has let us down. A recent study of more than 1 million medication errors reported to a national database between 2003 and 2010 found that 6% were related to the computerized prescribing system.” Those problems, and considerable expense, could have been prevented by sticking with pen and paper.

Handwritten records also have great anti-fraud characteristics: Notes capture information in terms of handwriting, ink color, etc., that make it harder to make wholesale changes without it showing. Electronic records, on the other hand, tend to look the same.

If I were running an intelligence or security agency of any kind I would have all my important stuff done in handwriting or on mechanical typewriters (the old kind that type over the same fabric ribbon multiple times) and distributed in sealed envelopes, with a distribution list typed on the same kind of mechanical typewriters.

While it was possible, and not just is spy thrillers, to gain access to such paper records of an agency and to steal them or copy them, by writing down the details, by photocopying the pages or by photographing them, often on microfilm, it is a lot more difficult and requires the use of actual people as agents or an insider bringing the material out.

The same goes for setting up a voting system, where it is much better and safer to use paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines. And as far as running a hospital is concerned, or a doctor's practice, serious consideration should be given again to doing everything on paper.

There is a place for computer records, of course. But for things that really matter and that need to be genuinely secure, maybe we should try a much more advanced technology, namely paper and ink. It is definitely hacker proof and has lasted for a very long time with no ill effects. In fact come time our computer records will no longer be readable while those on paper will be.

© 2016


by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In the same way as there is more than one way to skin a cat there is more than one way to bring about a revolution.

2010-06-26-solidarityOne is to attack and overthrow the current system and its structures head on. Such action might succeed, the way it did in Russia in 1917 but, in the same way as then, could result in great collateral damage during and after the revolution. The other is to undermine the system by withdrawing cooperation with it and by creating our own alternative structures.

The latter also has more that one way of going about it though sabotage – again violent action – would not be a path that would ever be advisable. As sabotage generally brings down some parts of the infrastructure and thus affects the majority of the population and thus it would alienate those from the cause. This can be seen often enough during strikes and industrial disputes when for instance public transport is affected and while the people may understand the reason as to why such actions are taken it still makes them dislike them and the unions.

But it is the support of the masses that the revolution needs if it is to succeed and, after all, the revolution is meant to fight for them to improve their situation. Alienating them through strikes and other disruption to infrastructure, be it transport, or other, is rather counterproductive unless the people can be brought to understand via proper and good political education that the short term problem are but a small price to pay in the long run and thus bring them on the side of the revolution.

I very well know that there are, alas, many activists who see such actions as necessary to further the cause but this must be at the cost of any popular support from the masses.

There are other ways for us to undermine the exploitative capitalist system. Strikes and violent actions, incl. sabotage, are not always answers though, in the short, they may appear as such and are also often the ones that come quickest to the mind. And, this undermining of the system also does not depend on large scale openly organized (and hostile) acts and action. Not even on public demonstrations and marches. Much of it is just down to organized individual actions.

  • Refusal to participate

  • Refusal to be a slave to consumerism

  • Refusal to be governed

All too many revolutionaries do assume, unfortunately, that the system can only be overthrown by violent action and force of arms. While it may be necessary to be prepared to use weapons and violence to protect the revolution, during and especially after, the overthrow of the system itself does not necessarily require the use of force and bloodshed.

Revolution can, after all, be more than just a violent overthrowing of society; this can also be achieved in different ways. And revolution and evolution must go hand in hand here.

The best way to overthrow the exploitative capitalist system is not by direct confrontation but by means of undermining it and by subversion. At the same time, however, the structures need to be established, one by one, piece by piece, to, immediately, after the Day X, so to speak, when the system has finally fallen, be able to take over. It will take time but then again Rome also wasn't built in a day (and not, that does not mean that the workers worked on Rome during the night).

© 2016

The future of the EU

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

No2EUThere are two scenarios – either in the next couple of years the European Union will become a superstate, a dictatorship, in the form of a United States of Europe, suppressing all individual freedoms and turning into a new kind of feudalism or fascism or there will no longer be a European Union and we will have, for better more than worse, reverted back to individual countries and maybe smaller entities still.

The original idea of a free trade area, called the Common Market, or the European Economic Community, was probably not a bad idea. What it has turned into, however, in the meantime, is a monster of gigantic proportions that no one ever, bar some of those characters behind the scenes, ever envisaged.

Those of us that warned against turning the EEC into the EU were laughed at and called silly and stupid when we suggested that the aim was a European superstate along the lines of a United States of Europe, and were told that even that would be a brilliant idea as it would guarantee peace in Europe and would give us all more freedom and security. Oh, erm, really.

Then came the common currency, first the ECU, which was used only internally in the EU and its agencies, which then turned into the Euro. This common currency, which all states are supposed to introduce sooner or later, is not about being able to freely trade but as a method of controlling the nation states, and here particularly their economies, that make up the EU and especially the Euro Zone.

The European Union is all about control from above, through non-elected appointed elite heads which are not answerable to anyone anywhere bar their political and global masters, where the people are but serfs. There is no democratic process – let's not even for one minute believe that there is democracy in the EU – with regards to the elite that run the EU. The so-called European Parliament is nothing but a farce and a rubber stamping exercise, rubber stamping the laws that are created behind closed doors by unelected lawmakers.

Any kind of participatory democracy, let alone true democracy, is not possible in a nation state let alone a construct such as the EU. Some EU officials have even suggested that, because, I assume, elections and referendums do not bring the results that they want, that party politics, political parties and the elections should be done away with an the EU should have a president and parliament appointed which in turn would appoint the leaders and parliaments in the member states. The neo-liberals really like neo-feudalism.

The way things look at present is that many ordinary people seem to be waking up to the fact that this behemoth of a European superstate is a dangerous thing for our personal and national liberties though the elites of our various countries, including in the UK, are so pro-EU and are talking so much bull dust as to how it benefits everyone that it would be funny and laughable if the issue would not be that serious.

Finland is, according to rumors circulating in the middle of March 2016, considering leaving the Euro. This, theoretically, is not possible as once a country has taken up the Euro it cannot leave. If, however, Finland would insist to do so, and in all honesty if that is the desire of its people and parliament who could stop them, the break up of the Euro zone would begin and more than likely also the break up of the EU proper. And it is not just in the UK and, maybe, Finland that anti-EU sentiments are fermenting, whether among the people or even the governments. It would appear that in other countries voices against the EU are also on the rise.

A total breakup of the EU could not only lead us back to the nation states as we have had them before – and the face of Europe has changed somewhat since – but to a break up into smaller entities even, much like the Middle ages, but for the sake of real true democracy that might not be a bad thing at all.

True democracy cannot function in a nation state, especially not a capitalist one, properly let alone in a construct such as the EU, that is to say a kind of superstate, where even the nations are to be entirely absorbed and nullified. It appears to be the aim of the elite at the top of the European Union, and especially those that agitate behind the scenes, to entirely eliminate any nation and national identity, culture and whatever, and create an entity that will be a stew of cultures all rolled into one, heavily stirred, called European culture. To what end we can but guess.

It is claimed, often, that NATO and the EEC, now EU, have brought peace to Europe and that is why there has not been a war as such again among those countries. Peace was not brought to us by NATO and the EU but, in fact, by the vigilance and work of the socialist countries behind what was called the Iron Curtain.

A break up of the EU would not create insecurity in the field of peace and war nor in the field of the economies but would permit each area, each region, each entity, to create its own relationships with others without the interference of the neo-liberal neo-feudal elites within and behind the EU. Does anyone want to really tell us that without the EU there would be no trade between other nations and entities within Europe and beyond, no cultural exchanges, and that there would be war amongst us all again, and does someone really believe that?

The truth is that all entities, for some may no longer be the nation states that we know today, will be able to work together and must work together, for the mutual benefit. And, in fact, those entities will also be much better for everyone for if they are small enough then real democracy can finally work, ideally on a socialist ticket.

© 2016

UN New Urban Agenda: President Markkula calls for binding targets

"European cities' pioneering experience on sustainable development can be a leading example of how to make urban areas smarter, greener and inclusive"

During the European Habitat conference organised in Prague by the Czech Ministry of Regional Development, the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Markku Markkula, called for the New UN Urban Agenda to be "a genuine agreement in which all involved actors commit to binding targets".

A New Urban Agenda will be launched by the United Nation at the HABITAT III conference in October in Quito, Ecuador. Its aim is to address the main challenges facing the world's cities so that they can contribute to the achievement of the goals enshrined in the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030 and in the Climate Change Agreement adopted at COP21 in Paris last December.

A delegation of the CoR, led by President Markkula, took part on 16-17 March in Prague at the Habitat III Europe Regional Meeting, a preparatory session ahead of the Quito conference.

"The UN New Urban Agenda should be transparent, participatory and based on binding objectives" argued President Markkula, adding that: "The EU will launch in May its own Urban Agenda, which provides a unique opportunity to put its best achievements on sustainable urban development at the service of the global community." According to President Markkula: "EU regions and cities have developed a concrete experience of bottom-up innovation in crucial policy areas ranging from air quality to energy efficiency, from social inclusion to support for SMEs. From now on, thanks to the EU urban agenda, legislation, governance, funding and implementation strategies will be assessed and streamlined so that citizens can feel that the effective cooperation of all actors allows for real improvement in their quality of life."

The CoR rapporteur on the EU Urban Agenda implementation, Hella Dunger-Löper, (DE/PES), State Secretary of the Land of Berlin, stressed that: "It is now crucial that we intensify the cooperation with cities and regions from around the world to share sustainability goals and innovate policies."

In the framework of the European Habitat meeting, the CoR co-organised an event promoting the Covenant of Mayors on Climate and Energy, an EU initiative that brings together cities and regions that are committed to reducing their CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030. Kata Tűttö (HU/PES), Councillor of District 12 Budapest and rapporteur on the Covenant represented the Committee.

Over the past few years, the CoR has proactively contributed to shaping the EU Urban Agenda, whose implementation will start after the endorsement of the "Pact of Amsterdam" at an Informal Council meeting on 30 May. On the same day, in Amsterdam, local and regional leaders will discuss implementation priorities in a Forum organised by the CoR.

The European Committee of the Regions

The European Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives from all 28Member States. Created in 1994 following the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, its mission is to involve regional and local authorities in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. To sit on the European Committee of the Regions, all of its 350 members and 350 alternates must either hold an electoral mandate or be politically accountable to an elected assembly in their home regions and cities. Click here for more details on your national delegation.

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.

Giving to environmental causes is only 3% of total philanthropy, and only 3% of this comes from businesses.

This was just one of many facts presented during last evening’s ‘1% for the Planet’ UK launch, during which environmentalists gathered to introduce the not-for-profit organisation trying to recruit businesses to donate 1% of their turnover to environmental causes.

1% for the Planet members have given more than $145 million back to the planet since it was launched by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) and Craig Mathews (former owner of Blue Ribbon) in 2002.

1% for the Planet’s CEO Kate Williams was one of the speakers at last night’s event and had this to say: “Giving to environmental causes is only 3% of total philanthropy, and only 3% of this comes from businesses. The scale of environmental challenges and opportunities we face is vast, from climate change to micro-plastic pollution. The need for more funding and for advocates working for solutions is real and pressing.

The way companies are investing in sustainability is growing and changing, as is the way individuals are seeking to support causes as donors and consumers. At the same time, non-profits are increasingly scrutinized for their impacts and operations. It is in this space, that the 1% for the Planet network is making a difference for our planet.”

Kate Williams was joined by other speakers including Surfers Against Sewage CEO Hugo Tagholm and environmentalist, writer and Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, Jonathon Porritt.

Jonathon Porritt said: “Environmental causes present the biggest existential threat in the whole history of human kind on this planet, the fact that only 3% of total philanthropic giving goes into environmental causes is unbelievable.

The one thing about companies is, once they’ve looked at the evidence about collapsing eco-system, threats from accelerating climate change, the impact on their communities, their prospects for continuing prosperity in different parts of the world, unlike the politicians, who can turn away from that data effortlessly, on the grounds that someone else can deal with it in the next term of office, businesses can’t really do that. For them, it’s absolutely clear that the spaces on which their propositions work depends on having a functioning physical planet in a society, which is reasonably equitable and gives everybody a decent, dignified way of life.

He continued: “You don’t prosper as a business when the life support systems on which we all depend are collapsing. There is a very simple correlation between business success and planetary security. This role now is very important and I think it will grow and the contribution from organisations like 1% for the Planet will become more and more important.”

The impact the FTSE 100 could make on positive climate action was raised.

The approximate turnover of the FTSE 100 combined is somewhere in excess of £1trillion. A 1% contribution (£10bn) towards protecting the environment through the 1% For the Planet network would enable the following:

  • Land: we could acquire100,000,000 acres or 400 billion square meters (Source: World Land Trust, based on global average of $100 pounds an acre)

  • Carbon: we could offset 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon (Source: Carbon Fund)

  • Trees: we could plant 15 billion trees in developed countries or we could plant 150 billion trees in developing countries (Sources: National Forest Foundation and Trees for the Future)

  • Water: through water restorations certificates, we could restore over 28 trillion litres of water in stream and river projects that would directly restore economic and ecological vitality of fresh water ecosystems (Source: Bonneville Environmental Foundation)

Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage is one of the environmental charities which has benefitted from 1% for the Planet. Hugo commented: “You all might have been to the supermarket recently and had to take your own bags along, which was a great victory. My team worked very hard with a number of other charities to bring about that new legislation…that victory means that there is now an 80% reduction in the number of plastic bags given out in supermarkets.

1% for the Planet is vital to help us do what we do best, for us to innovate, resource some of our best campaigns and we can’t do it without these types of funds.”

The event, held at Chelsea Physic Garden in London was hosted by 1% for the Planet’s biggest company recruit in the UK to date, Pukka Herbs; the producer of organic and ethical herbal teas and wellbeing supplements.

Pukka Herbs’ CEO, Tim Westwell said: “If we are going to address the global problem of climate change there has to be a step change in how businesses behave. We feel strongly that businesses, such as Pukka Herbs, have a responsibility and, through 1% for the Planet, an opportunity to contribute to this. As we connect people with the health-giving power of herbs we can give back and protect the environment that is the source of our business, as well as our lives. We’d love it if more companies joined us for the benefit of people, plants and planet.”

About Pukka

Pukka create delicious organic herbal teas and incredible health supplements that take you on a journey of discovery to a healthier, happier life. ‘Pukka’ means authentic and it’s at the heart of everything we do. Based in Bristol and created by our master herbsmith we only use the finest grade organic herbs sustainably sourced and fairly traded. Our passion to connect people, plants and planet starts with a cup of delicious herbal tea. We’d love people all over the world to tune in to the power of plants

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.

Journey Share Website Launches For UK Business Parks

joinmyjourney reduces cars, congestion, parking issues and encourages sustainable business park travel

From left, Stephanie Housty,etc_webA new website to help business parks and organisations cut congestion and traffic queues is launched.

joinmyjourney is a free-to-use website for commuters travelling by car, bicycle or on foot to find others to share journeys to work, either regularly, or as a one off. joinmyjourney particularly enables workers within different business park organisations to find people with similar commutes. A joinmyjourney Apple, Android and Windows app to accompany the website is due to launch this Spring.

Benefits include fewer cars on the road, lower emissions¹, and helping drivers save money by cutting commuting costs. Others include less stress sitting in traffic queues, improved confidence from increased outdoor exercise and the option to share sustainable and safe journeys during the winter. There is also anecdotal evidence that journey sharing improves employee punctuality.

joinmyjourney is launched by resource efficiency specialist ecosurety thanks to funding from South Gloucestershire Council’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), with support from North Bristol SusCom.

The scheme, owned by ecosurety, was recently recognised by the TravelWest awards, and is now open to shared business sites across the UK.

James Piper, commercial director at ecosurety, says, “ecosurety wholeheartedly supports sustainability. Our decision to create a scheme for businesses underlines our commitment to the environment, as well as our core value of striving to continuously eradicate all forms of unnecessary waste.”

He continues: “joinmyjourney developed out of the need to find a features-lite solution that was free-to-use for employees, where they could efficiently and easily connect with other interested journey sharers between different businesses.”

How it works

Users can specify the start point (via postcode) with the destination business park or place of work pre-configured, then using an interactive map identify potential sharers on the route and their preferred mode of transport (walk, cycle or car). Users then choose to message other users who most closely fit their needs, to plan their journey share, and the route can be easily amended if the default route doesn’t match the user’s preferred journey.

Once registered, users can also specify other key information, such as the days and times that they usually travel and state their preferences - i.e smokers, non-smokers, or to only share with somebody of the same sex, etc.

Verity Heal, LSTF project manager at South Gloucestershire Council, says, “joinmyjourney is a great example of how we are working with the business community to help resolve shared challenges. This is one of many schemes that we are delivering across the area to help take cars off the road.”

Ann O’Driscoll, from North Bristol SusCom, a group of employers that promotes sustainable transport to 40,000 employees and 30,000 students, says, “Travelling more sustainably can have a dramatic impact on congestion levels, commuting costs, emissions and parking problems. Joining forces with somebody else who wants to walk or cycle can also be very empowering, especially in the winter when it’s dark before and after work. Using more active forms of transport can also improve fitness and reduce stress.”

Organisations or business centres can register interest at

In the future, revenues from the scheme will go into a not-for-profit fund, to ensure it is able to cover its costs. Organisations that meet certain criteria might also be able to use the scheme for free in the first instance.

¹ Outline emissions savings data by users could be provided to participating organisations. This data is based on calculations using average emissions from an averagely-sized domestic vehicle.

About ecosurety

Founded in 2003, ecosurety is the UK’s leading resource efficiency specialist with end to end services including environmental compliance, waste and resource management, training and intelligence reporting.With more than 1,000 customers including The Co-operative Group, Innocent, BSkyB and Britvic,ecosurety is leading change in approaches to waste and compliance throughout the UK, driving ever greater efficiencies of resource use.

Committed to reducing the environmental impact of UK businesses while improving performance, ecosurety is targeting to influence over one million tonnes of waste by 2020.

About the LSTF

The Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) was launched in September 2010. The fund allows local transport authorities outside London to "build on their plans for sustainable travel measures that support economic growth and reduce carbon".

The West of England councils; South Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, and North Somerset and were awarded nearly £30 million by the Department for Transport from the fund on two separate but integrated projects where employers, schools, colleges and universities encouraged people to try different ways of travelling. This funding was matched with £40 million from other partners.

Packages of measures delivered through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund are focussed on; supporting economic growth by reducing congestion, reducing carbon through greater use of sustainable alternatives, delivering improvements in public health through an increase in active travel, improved infrastructure and increasing transport safety. For more information visit

About North Bristol SusCom

North Bristol SusCom is a group of major employers, located in North Bristol, promoting sustainable commuting for our 40,000 employees and 30,000 students. We are working together to influence and improve local transport provisionto combat traffic congestion and reduce the impact upon our environment.

Employers involved in North Bristol SusCom include Airbus, Allianz, Atkins, Babcock, Boeing, Bristol& Bath Science Park, Cavendish Nuclear, ecosurety,Filton 20 Business Park, GKN Aerospace, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, John Lewis, MOD, NHS Blood & Transplant, North Bristol NHS Trust, NVIDIA, The Mall at Cribbs Causeway and UWE (University of the West of England).

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.

Photo: From left, Stephanie Housty, marketing manager at ecosurety, Verity Heal, LSTF project manager at SGC, Ben Luger, marketing communictions specialist at ecosurety and Richard Drew, LSTF business engagement manager

Don’t put up with inflated onion pricing. Grow your own and save £££s

8796164784158With news that the wholesale price of onions is set to rise by 60% in coming weeks (Daily Mail 14 March), Thompson & Morgan is advising gardeners that there has never been a better time to grow your own onions from spring-planting sets.

The Thompson & Morgan onion range not only offers an economical solution to rising prices; better flavours, better bulb size and better storage life can be had too.

The wholesale price hike has been blamed on a poor 2015 harvest, brought about by a hot summer in Europe’s main production areas, which led to bulbs ‘bolting’ (running to seed) in the field. Harvests were also delayed by wet autumn weather. Onions that do make it to supermarket shelves will be smaller in size, with larger bulbs fetching a premium price.

Thompson & Morgan’s spring planting onion sets have been specially heat treated for 20 weeks to help prevent summer bolting and extend their growth period, leading to bigger yields and bigger bulbs at the end of the season.

Crops harvested in late summer can be prepared for storage and used right through winter, or until stocks last. Thompson & Morgan has 13 product options for spring planting onion sets, including brown, white and red varieties, as well as mixed collections for a varied harvest.

Thompson & Morgan onion set prices remain unchanged, starting at £3.99 for 75 sets – already a vast saving on supermarket prices. ASDA currently sells 3 Grower's Selection Organic Brown Onions for 97p. 75 onions would cost £14.55 in store – and that’s before any knock-on retail price hikes come into effect.

If small, expensive supermarket onions won’t cut it for you this season, make sure to try a large variety such as Setton, Hercules or Golden Ball, all selected for their large uniform bulb shape, full flavour and long storage qualities.

For the full range visit

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.

Disposable coffee cups and their problems

Foodservice packaging association response to disposable coffee cups issue

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

NoPapercupHugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘War on Paper Cups’ campaign swiftly followed by Defra Minister Rory Stewart’s announcement that coffee cups ’seem to be a very good thing to look at next’ has brought paper cup recyclability sharply into focus. The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) welcomes the raising of this issue by Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall as while great strides have been made to make paper cups recyclable, a lack of consistent infrastructure means the volume being recycled falls a long way short of what should be possible and UK businesses could be missing out on 60 000 tonnes of very quality recycled paper and board annually. It is the sincere hope of the FPA that current debate will act as a catalyst to achieve swift progress and new recycling schemes that are easy to implement across the supply chain.
However the FPA challenges a number of assertions made this week:

  1. That disposable paper cups are not recycled

  2. That retailers are misleading their publics

  3. That retailers are acting arrogantly

  4. That a tax on paper cups, ‘like the bag tax’ is the answer

1. Disposable paper cups can be recycled

Cups can and are being recycled. The FPA has actively encouraged collaboration across the supply chain and the recent FPA Environment Seminar brought together waste management organizations, national and local government, recyclers, food service retailers and caterers and packaging manufacturers and distributors. The new collaboration between McDonald’s Restaurants, James Cropper Papers and Simply Cups was announced at the Seminar and applauded as an example of best practice.

Recycled volumes are however still very low, because recycling paper cups is complex. To recycle the paper the PE coating must be removed, which is not as complex as recent media has suggested. The PE can also be recycled. Separate waste stream collection of paper cups does produce high quality recycled paper and board, however, paper cups can also be recycled and recovered through mainstream waste channels producing acceptable quality and marketable recyclate, saving the use of virgin material. Overall there is the potential to produce up to 60,000 tonnes a year.

2. Retailers are not misleading their publics

Retailers are fully aware of the implications of discarded disposable coffee cups and have actively worked on improving recycling rates on their premises and are collaborating through the FPA to find ways to increase recycling rates once consumers have left the retailer. The FPA meets with foodservice retailers and caterers to agree strategies to increase the volume of foodservice packaging that is recycled and to support their investment in recycling projects.

Retailers have provided consumers with accurate information about the composition of packaging materials in accordance with the law. The FPA does not believe the public has intentionally been mislead, nor that the waste management industry has deliberately mislead with regard to the difficulties involved.

3. Retailers are not acting arrogantly

The retailers have already contributed significant funds into research particularly with the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG).

It is important to understand that paper cups represents a tiny fraction of the UK waste stream and retailers have made huge advances in reducing food and packaging waste and increasing recycling rates across the board.

The FPA has been pushing for the paper cups issue to gain more attention for a number of years and has had to work hard to convince Government and agencies that paper cups offer up great potential and paper cup recycling deserves greater focus and resource. The FPA welcomes the attention that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign is giving to this issue and is actively seeking meetings with the Minister and organisations such as WRAP to kick start initiatives on the back of this campaign.

The FPA believes that more education is needed amongst consumers to recognize that disposable paper cups are a valuable post-consumer resource and must be handled accordingly. The FPA also now urges waste management organizations to look even more closely at the potential offered by paper cups and work with the FPA to realize this potential.

A number of the FPA’s cup manufacturers have invested large sums into the PCRRG. The group also includes foodservice retailers, beverage brands and NGO’s and the PCRRG has been discussing a way forward with the UK waste management industry.

4. A tax on paper cups, ‘like the bag tax’ is not the answer

The FPA strongly believes that the Minister (Rory Stewart, DEFRA) has been severely misquoted and his statement does not say that he is looking at tax as a solution.

The issue of paper cups is not similar to the ‘bag tax’ for the following reasons:

  • Taxing disposable paper cups will not increase recycling rates
  • Taxing disposable paper cups will not affect behaviour of those who litter - the FPA believes changing consumer behaviour through education will achieve this
  • Tax will not prevent 10’s of millions of use paper cups from being discarded

The FPA together with Mark Pawsey MP (Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Packaging) is meeting with DEFRA Minister, Rory Stewart to discuss his intentions. Evidence shows paper cups can be recycled at a fraction of a charge and that establishing a system for collecting cups and recycling them is far more important than attempting to deter consumers from enjoying coffee in the way they do. It is also generally agreed that a charge on cups will not change the behavior of those who litter.

A meeting has also been requested with Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall.

The FPA also works closely with the Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group consisting of paper cup manufacturers, beverage brands, recyclers and NGO’s. This group has conducted extensive research into the recycling of paper cups. The PCRRG has made a statement which the FPA is pleased to endorse.

OK, so much for the statement from the FPA and the PCRRG. Now, though, let's look at the reality and the truth.

It would appear that the industry, including the recycling and recovery group are intend on deliberately misleading the public and everyone else.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is complete correct that something mus be done to get away from the one-way drinks cups, whether they are paper, Styrofoam or plastic.

The majority of paper cups are not simply paper but a paper that is lined with either a wax or, worse still, with a plastic coating and thus a separation is almost impossible of paper from the liner and in most cases therefore those “paper” cups are not recycled as they are, basically, not recyclable in most places. While this is often due to lack of the technology to do this it still means that the majority of those cups end up in landfill or incinerators.

However, a “paper cup tax”, as suggested by the Minister is, alas, also not going to make any difference whatsoever and that is where the FPA is correct. It will not prevent those cups from being thoughtlessly tossed and thus ending up in landfill. All that such a tax will do is simply put money in the coffers of the Treasury, which more than likely is the reason for this idea in the first place, but will do nothing to alleviate the problem.

The only way forward is an outright ban on paper or plastic cups in use in the foodservice industry, in the same way as plastic flatware should be outlawed, and instead have the outlets take up a system by which they initially sell to the customer reusable coffee cups, such as KeepCup and giving people bringing their own cups a small discount.

Starbucks, and I am no friend of theirs generally, is taking the right steps with this.

P.S. Now please no one ask me what “publics” are or what “recyclate” is. I did not write the statement by the industry and thus have not got a faintest idea as to how they have managed to butcher the English language.

© 2016

Budget response - Philip Simpson, Commercial Director, ReFood

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

PhilipSimpson-webPhilip Simpson, Commercial Director, ReFood, said on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 in response to the announcements in the UK 2016 Budget by Chancellor George Osborne: “Today’s Budget is another signal that the environment and renewable energy is far from the top of this government’s agenda. It was thoroughly disappointing to see that renewable energy generators are hit once more as the Chancellor announces rises to the Climate Change Levy, which became applicable to such businesses for the first time in 2015.

“To compound this, there have been further tax breaks offered to the oil and gas industry, demonstrating ongoing subsidy support to the fossil fuel sector. Adding salt to the wound, the renewable energy industry continues to be decimated by the ongoing policy uncertainty and swathing subsidy cuts around RHI, FiTs etc.

“While £730m of funding for new renewable energy project can be welcomed, it is really only a drop in the ocean, this isn’t enough to allow the sector to really achieve its potential.”

Very little, I think, needs to be added to that in that department. We must also not forget the big support that is given to nuclear power and everything being employed, including the use of authors of “green” books to pitch the nuclear agenda to the detriment of renewables, with comments such as “renewables being dead-end technologies” and with statements to the effect that in the not so distant future we would be able to render any nuclear waste harmless.

© 2016

Grandpa’s justice

By Tom Kovach

Issue #65 • September/October, 2000

Having the best vegetable garden in the village might put food on the table and make some money at the market, but it also can cause some problems. Or so it was with my grandfather, the mayor of a small village in Hungary, then a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

My father told me Grandfather grew some of the best potatoes, cabbage, and carrots in the area. But one summer he ran into problems. Someone was stealing his produce. Not just stealing it, but also digging some of the plants up and leaving them to spoil.

Besides his huge vegetable garden, my grandfather had the duties of mayor, taking care of local disputes and such. He also had some cows, horses, and hay fields to care for. My grandmother helped and so did some of the children who were older, but for the most part the work fell on my grandfather and he was none too pleased to see his hard work being ruined by thieves and vandals.

One of the people taking vegetables was an old man who lived in a little shack and no means of support, other than odd jobs. What little money he made, he spent on drink. My father did not begrudge him the few vegetables he took, but he felt bad that the old man was spending the money he made from the vegetable garden on liquor.

He also knew that the old man was not a vandal. He took whatever vegetables he got out of the garden to either eat or sell. Someone else was tearing up the garden.

He got an idea. One day he told my grandmother, “I think I’ll hire the old man who’s taking my vegetables as a night watchman for our garden. I’m too busy to stay up watching it.”

Read more here.

Servatur Gaiae – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Servatur Gaiae
by Jonathon Rafferty
published by  Austin Macauley Publishers
Paperback: 274 pages 18 x 3.2 x 20 cm
ISBN: 978-1784558918
Price £7.99

ServGaiaeFrontWritten by retired chemical engineer, Jonathon Rafferty,’ Servatur Gaiae’ tries to use the power of fiction to wake readers up to the destruction their over-population, over-consumption and general disregard for their planet is causing. Told through a compelling story that straddles both fantasy and reality, readers are invited to join the life of an environmental scientist who could be about to save the world... but only if he can convey his message to ignorant world leaders!

John, an environmental scientist and his wife Angela enjoy a romantic holiday away from their work and children. After seven years together, they are still very much in love and try for a third baby, but to no avail. Is the cause of their lack of success the same as problems affecting tropical rain forest workers?

Pablo, one such worker, becomes severely ill, his site is shutdown, and he is forced to seek work elsewhere. En route he finds himself on the run from drug gangsters before arriving in England.

To uncover what's happening, John has to assemble a team to investigate the problem. Professor Andrew Kowalski, chosen to lead the team, hears a message from an amazing electronic communication device that appears while they are on expedition in the jungle. This explains what will happen worldwide due to overpopulation, overconsumption of the earth's resources and habitat destruction. How will the Professor convey this message to the world leaders? And, will they work together to do anything about it?

The entire story is wrapped up in the kind of action and adventure, interspersed with humor and some satirical descriptions and the author even included the obligatory sex scene some of which take place on a yacht. We could, probably, have done without the repeated sex scenes in the first parts of the book but, as John and his wife were trying for a third child – which does not work out and the reader will later in the book learn why not – it may have been necessary, to some degree.

The book uses the vehicle of fiction to help readers explore a host of real-world problems; namely pollution, deforestation, exhaustion of resources, over-population and species extinction. It also explores what happens when we get past the point of no return, and control from outside our own solar system will be required if humanity is to be saved. Though, personally, I doubt that we will have aliens aiding us any time soon, but the truth behind the narrative is that we only have a finite amount of time in which to stop allowing our ecosystems to continue being destroyed.

“Servatur Gaiae” is a timely book dealing with the greatest issue facing mankind, namely the destruction of the global ecosystem through over consumption though whether it is largely because of over population I would like to question. Predominately our over consumption is due to the way products are made today with a built-in obsolescence so that we have to buy the same thing every couple of years or so. In a time not so long ago things were made to last and were repairable; today they no longer are.

The book, unfortunately, takes a while to get going, to to speak, but I do urge the reader not to give up; it does get better, a lot better, after about page 50.

A good knowledge of Latin would have been a good one if one wants to use Latin (and Greek) terms as part of the title. It should have been Servator for preserver as Servatur means reserved, in other words the title should have been “Servator Gaiae”, as in preserver of the Earth and not Servatur Gaiae.

Proofreading as regards to the typesetting would also have been very good before letting a book go out to the public. There is a serious issue with it on pages 60-61.

However, the blatant government propaganda for nuclear energy that was put in on page 253 calling wind and solar dead-end technologies was not a good move, and actually turns this from a rather good book into something not so good.

Nuclear energy is not carbon-neutral and can never be, then neither is wind or solar, when we consider the making of the panels or turbines, but nuclear leaves us with a biosphere legacy, namely the waste, that will be poisons for centuries and even millennia to come.

And no, so far there is no way of neutralizing the radiation from nuclear waste and to pretend that there ever will be is not just dangerous; it is a lie and fooling people. Nuclear energy could, possibly, be safe if we could make nuclear fusion work on a larger scale than those that have been tried so far, the first reactors of this kind back in the 1980s in the Soviet Union. But so far the technology just is not going to do it on a scale other than very small reactors. There is no radioactive waste from those.

Rating 4 out of 5, and that only because of the blatant promotion of nuclear energy and especially the suggestion that – in the not so distant future – we would be able to render the radioactive waste harmless.

© 2016

Recycle Week - change of date

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The organizers of Recycle Week have decided following the announcement of the date for the EU Referendum, to move the date of Recycle Week for 2016 from June to September 12 – 18, 2016.

They have consulted with a number of our partners and stakeholders and they have agreed that the intensity of activity around the EU Referendum may have an impact on the success of a Recycle Week were it to be hels, as per usual, in June.

The theme of the Unusual Suspects will remain the same, with the aim of the week being to encourage residents to think about recycling items from around the home that they may not previously have thought about.

While the concept of a Recycle Week is a useful one what we really need is more like a national Reuse Week or even a Reuse Month where people will be encouraged to use and reuse what they already have, including packaging waste and such like, rather than thinking recycling bin and go and buy something in the store. Our approach is still the completely wrong one.

Recycling is taking the eye of the ball of the real necessities and that is reduction of packaging waste and making goods last again, with full repairability, and where repair is a great deal cheaper than buying new. But the fact that so many products now have the statement “can be fully recycled” on them encourages people to buy new rather than making what they have last and using what they have rather than desiring always the latest.

The overemphasis placed on recycling and recyclability of products is turning our attention away from the real issue and need and that is the reduction of packaging and the reintroduction of longevity into products, especially by means of making them repairable, ideally user repairable.

The other problem is that most of the recycling does not happen in the home countries but the “recyclables” are shipped abroad, to places like China, India, West Africa, places where the environmental legislation and protection is lower that back home, and thus we move the pollution away from us and dump it, literally, upon the poor in other countries.

While recycling is good, reduction, reuse and repairability is better.

© 2016

Poc-kit Gardener's Utility Belt – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

poc-kit1Burgon & Ball's smart & stylish new solution to the problem of overloaded pockets when out working in the garden, and we all know how often secateurs manage to wear a hole into the pockets of one's trousers.

With storage spaces for all essentials, poc-kitTM is a cleverly designed accessory that will make the perfect gift for every gardener.

Keys, glasses and mobile phone are safely stowed away plus there's reinforced pocket space for secateurs, pens, pocket knife & labels and even a twine dispensing eyelet.

With an adjustable Nylon webbing belt that extends up to 50 inches and pockets manufactured out of nylon coated neoprene it is comfortable to wear, even when kneeling.

Poc-kitTM is machine washable and available in 6 vibrant colors and has a recommended retail price of £14.95 in the UK.

Available from good garden centers and

While the belt and all wears well for me, as a male, the pouch for the secateurs are not really in the right place – or at least it feels that way – because I am used to wearing them in a belt holster further back on the hip. But, as said, that, more than likely is just me, and I am sure I could easily get used to doing it this way.

Nice piece of kit and, apparently, well though through.

© 2016

Style your home with oilcloth

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

What goes around comes around, they say, and it would appear that sometimes we really go full circle.

oilcloth tablecloth on kitchen tableOnce upon a time not so long ago oilcloth tablecloths and whatever else from that material, also known as American Cloth, were common in homes almost everywhere, though more among the working class than higher up the chain.

There is nothing like an oilcloth tablecloth for both appeal and practicality – a pretty design can be an instant low cost ‘pick me up’ for any kitchen, and it is ultra-easy to keep clean. No home was ever complete without having such table cloths on the kitchen table in days gone by and the kitchen was, after all, where it was all happening. The kitchen was the heart of the home in those days and they were fairly large unlike those in homes that were built after the 1960s that are the size of rabbit hutches and often too small to swing a cat (not the fury thing before the animal lobby says something) and definitely too small to have a kitchen table around which to sit and eat and do other things.

The modern oilcloth may no longer be coated with boiled linseed oil (though the process in producing that for creating oilcloth was not a very green one either) but coated with PVC and thus, maybe, not all that green.

Oilcloth tablecloths are made from a fabric weave with a PVC coating so are the perfect choice for family homes as well as businesses such as cafes and nurseries. They can instantly give a fresh new look to a room without the need to redecorate. But, as said, PVC is not all that green but sometimes the positives can outweigh the negatives.

One of the major benefits is that oilcloth tablecloths are so easy to keep clean and they can also be used outdoors, on the patio table. All you have to do is wipe away any spills or mess with a clean damp cloth and your tablecloth is ready to use again. Unlike with a fabric tablecloth there is no need to wash or iron an oilcloth one, which saves water, detergent, and the cloth itself. It is all a case of horses for courses but I remember that we had oilcloth tablecloths at home – also already PVC coated cotton – that lasted for years and years. Some were 20 or more years old.

© 2016

Kent & Stowe Garden Life Bypass Secateurs 6.5” - Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Kent & Stowe Garden Life Bypass Secateurs 6.5”: Hand crafted, precision cutting traditional bypass secateurs, drop forged with high quality carbon steel non-stick blades and a 5 year guarantee.

Kent & Stowe Garden Life Bypass Secateurs 6.5”Ideal for deadheading, taking cuttings and pruning. For roses, shrubs & general pruning of green live wood up to a diameter of 10mm, that is just about a little under half an inch in old money. Also useful, obviously, for harvesting various produce in the vegetable garden. Please do not attempt to cut anything bigger as it will (1) hurt your hand and (2) could, nay will, damage the tool. The blade does have, as seem to have most bypass secateurs nowadays, a wire cutter incorporated at the usual place but it would just ignore those cutters.

Product Code / SKU: 70100780

RRP: £5.99

A lovely pair of little bypass secateurs (pruning shears) that have a nice olde-worldly feeling to it. Made entirely of steel with dark red rubber handles they are practical as well as elegant. Well balanced and great to handle.

While those secateurs were sharp right out of the box the rolled over wire edge could have done with deburring (something that quality control should have checked). Burrs left can cause minor chipping to the edge, as happened in this case. Maybe I am too pedantic having been sharpening tools such as this for a living and using them professionally. The pivot nut also needed tightening.

As those secateurs are entirely made from carbon steel – bar the spring, catch and pivot nut – they should not be left lying where they can get damp (rust really does not improve carbon steel tools) and for this reason, and for disease prevention, it is advisable to wipe the blades after use to remove sap. There is no need, however, to use expensive SAPEX or other such compounds. Cheap baby wipes (they are impregnated with lanolin generally) or a squirt of WD40 and a wipe with a rag will do too.

Rating: 4 out of 5 and the reason for not giving 5 out 5, as I would have loved to be able to do, is because of the fact that blade had not been cleaned up after sharpening and the pivot was too loose.

Review/Test sample supplied by Crest Garden.

© 2016

Karl Marx 133 Jahre nach seinem Tod

von Michael Smith (Veshengro)

4063769723_0f28afd9d8Am 14. März 2016 jährt sich zum 133ten Mal der Todestag von Karl Marx welcher, zusammen mit Friedrich Engels, das Kommunistische Manifest schrieb, und, allein und mit Engels, auch noch andere Schriften verfasste welche die Grundlage bilden für den Sozialismus und Kommunismus.

Heute geben selbst Experten der Hochfinanz, Ökonome und Wirtschaftswissenschaftler zu “Marx hatte Recht” aber doch immer noch glauben viele das seine Ideen keinen Platz in unserer Welt haben. Nein, die Kapitalisten und die Bourgeoisie mögen seine Ideen und Ideale nicht und möchten das alles so weitergeht wie bisher und möchten eigentlich am Liebsten die Uhr zurückdrehen zu einer Zeit wo die Arbeiter weniger Rechte oder besser noch gar keine Rechte hatten.

Das Traurige ist das die Worte von Karl Marx in späteren Ausgaben des Kommunistischen Manifest, oder geben wir das Werk mal seinen vollen Titel, “Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei”, willkürlich geändert wurden von “die Produktionsmittel in den Hände der Arbeiter” in “die Produktionsmittel in den Hände des Staates”. Marx würde sich im Grabe umdrehen wenn er das nur wüsste, und das nicht nur einmal.

Heute, 133 Jahre nach seinem Tod, sind seine Ideen noch so wichtig als wie sie waren in der Zeit in der sie geschrieben wurden und besonders die Befreiung der Arbeiter durch den Besitz der Produktionsmittel. Die Parteien jedoch, und auch die Gewerkschaften, sind nicht sehr begeistert von dieser Idee und trotzdem zitieren sie gerne Marx und zitieren gerne die falsche Version in welcher der Staat der Eigentümer der Produktionsmittel ist.

Dann, und zwar nur dann, wenn die Arbeiter tatsächlich die Produktionsmittel besitzen und die Betriebe selbst verwalten als Kooperativen, als Produktionsgenossenschaften, sind sie tatsächlich die Herren ihres eigenen Schicksals. Solange die Produktionsmittel einem Eigentuemer gehören anders als ihnen selbst, ob nun einem Einzelnen, einer Familie, einer kapitalistischen Konstrukt, oder dem Staat, solange ist und bleibt der Arbeiter ein Sklave.

So lasst uns den Mann, sein Erbe und seine Ideale ehren in dem wir sein Kommistisches Manifest ehrlich implementieren und nicht die verfälschte Version.

© 2016

Karl Marx 133 years after his death

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

4063769723_0f28afd9d8March 14, 2016 marks the 133rd anniversary of the death of Karl Marx who, together with Friedrich Engels, wrote the Communist Manifesto, and, on his own and together with Engels, many other works that lay the foundation to socialism and communism.

Today even top financial experts and economists admit “Marx was right” but still all too many seem to believe that his ideas have no place in our world. No, the capitalists and the bourgeoisie do not like his ideas and ideals and would like to continue with things as they are or would like to turn the clock back to another age even, an age where workers had even fewer rights, if any.

The tragic thing is though that Marx's words have been, in later editions of the Communist Manifesto, or to give it it's proper title, “The Manifest of the Communist Party”, deliberately rewritten to instead of “the means of production in the hands of the workers” to read “the means of production in the hands of the state”. If he but knew he would turn in his grave, and that not only once.

Today, 133 years after his death, those ideas are as important as they were when they were written and especially the liberation of the workers through ownership of the means of production. However, the parties and the trade unions do not seem to be very much in favor of this idea at all even though they love to quote and misquote Marx and especially, if would seem, the misquoted part where the state is to own the means of production.

Only, and only, when the workers truly own the means of production and manage the various businesses as cooperatives are they truly the masters of their own destiny. As long as the means of production are owned by an owner, whether that is an individual, a capitalist entity or the state, the worker is and remains a slave.

In order to honor the man, his legacy and his ideals let us implement his Manifest properly and not the falsified version.

© 2016

Government bought authors?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I have now had the second “green” book for review written by a (British) scientist of one kind or another and in both instances they were making a stand, within the pages, in the latter case in a novel, about how we need to use nuclear energy as a carbon neutral energy and how it would be possible to negate the issue of the waste.

In fact one of the authors even goes as far as to claim that, in the future, we would find a way to neutralize the dangerous radiation in nuclear waste. Somewhere along the line there must be lots of money in the game of writing such garbage to get the people to buy into nuclear energy as a green energy. At the same time, in both cases, the authors stated that wind and solar are dead-end technologies requiring permanent government subsidies without being able to provide for the needs.

To make claims that wind and solar are dead-end technologies requiring permanent government subsidies without being able to provide for the needs are not only very spurious and misleading but are, in fact, extremely dangerous for us and the Planet.

However, the way we employ wind and solar today is the wrong approach, i.e. the large solar farms and huge wind turbines on and off shore. Instead we must make it the norm to have solar and small wind on each and every roof in the country and to have storage batteries for when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow. For that, however, we also need to change the power that we use in our homes, that is to say we need to change the lighting circuit and the general use circuitry to 12 volt direct current and only use inverters for 240 volt AC in case of the UK for the white goods and such. Most of our appliances, bar white goods, that is to say cookers, fridges, freezers and washing machines, do not require 240 volt AC. They generally work on 12 volt DC or below, be that our computers, our radios, or whatever. That is why they do have power supplies – once upon a time called transformer units – inside which convert the 240 volt AC down to lower voltages, in most cases, as said, to 12 volt DC or below. But I digressed.

It would appear that authors of certain kinds are now being gotten at, or financed, or in some other way coerced, by government to promote nuclear energy to the detriment of renewable energy, e.g. wind and solar, in books about environmental issues. Is that how low our governments, and especially the UK one, have stooped in order to promote their agenda? It would appear to be thus.

© 2016

Trade Unions vs Workers' Cooperatives

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

RevolutionTrade Unions, across the board, do mot seem to very much like worker-owned cooperatives at all, to say the very least. There does not appear to be one that supports those and encourages workers to form them.

This lack of enthusiasm for worker-owned enterprises and cooperatives of that nature is, nevertheless, understandable as workers who own the means of production are no longer in need tof a trade union.

While the unions once stood for something it would appear that today they only stand for themselves and are more neo-liberal than socialist in their outlook and operations and are becoming more and more part of the problem rather than being a solution. They have themselves become an industry.

When workers own the means of production, such as in the case of workers' cooperatives, trade unions are obsolete and no doubt that is the reason of the rather negative and/or condescending attitude of the trade unions towards such groups.

What this proves is that the trade unions in capitalist countries are not interested in abolishing capitalism as it would do away with a need for them, for, as said, when the workers own the means of production themselves the unions' reason to exist has ceased. That, however, they try to prevent at all costs and thus it is rather difficult to see how they can claim to represent the interest of the workers and the working class and to stand for socialism. What they understand under socialism is what some refer to as “democratic socialism”, which is nothing else but social-democracy; in other words a farce.

Much like the British Labour Party, even under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, is going into bed with big business, with Corbyn saying that the Labour Party is a natural ally of (big) business, the unions too have deserted the workers and the working class.

Once the trade unions were the standard bearers of socialism and socialist action but today they are the problem in the same way as are so many parties and NGOs. The working class is being let down left, right and center, and with that I do not mean the parties from such areas but just general. It is with friends such as those that the working class really needs no enemies and, it has to be said, we can also see this in the way deals are being made with industry and business when it comes to wage deals often. The miners' strike in the north of Britain of the 1920s should stand as only one example here where the striking miners were seriously let down by the miners' union(s) and the TUC.

The Labour Party still, at times at least, dares to sing the Red Flag, talking about the martyrs' blood, but the majority of those in the leadership of that party never ever have done an honest day's work or labor anywhere. If they did not go from university directly into party politics then they were trade union officials in the head offices, they were lawyers or bankers. Factory workers or dustmen or manual workers in any other industry or trade they certainly were not. They have never been at the coal face, stood at the furnaces of the steel works – not that Britain really has any mines or steelworks left – or at a production line of this or that manufacturing plant. Then again, not much of that happening anymore either, manufacturing in the UK, I mean, thanks to unions and government, including Labour governments, giving it all away.

As said, with friends like that the working class, and not just in Britain, does not need any enemies; the enemy is already here, disguised as a friend.

© 2016

Drinking Helps!

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Charitea-LemonAid-SortimentSocial enterprise ‘LEMONAID & CHARITEA’ have launched in the UK, championing global social projects – raising almost £1 Million for charity

Lemonaid ( and ChariTea ( who come together to form a social enterprise that pioneers a new take on social drinking; the range of seven soft drinks and ice teas not only taste good, they also do good.

Lemonaid and ChariTea produce sustainable soft drinks and iced tea - the ingredients are organic, vegan and are sourced from small-scale farming cooperatives in Sri Lanka, Paraguay, Mexico and South Africa. Lemonaid & ChariTea are committed to Fairtrade: they pay higher prices for their raw ingredients and, vitally, they support a fair and humane agriculture. With help from the Fairtrade Bonuses, local farmers can improve their living conditions and initiate community projects.

Every bottle of Lemonaid & ChariTea that is sold also contributes to a higher cause. The brand is dedicated to supporting local projects that improve social, ecological and economical structures in those parts of the world that global economic developments have placed at a significant disadvantage, donating five pence for every bottle sold to the not-for-profit charitable organization Lemonaid and ChariTea e.V. Almost £1,000,000 has been raised to date for development aid projects, including education, childcare, mental health and infrastructural initiatives; as an example, in return for sourcing rooibos tea from the post-apartheid Heiveld alliance in South Africa, the brand finances a solar power system that now supplies the villages with electricity.

Totally free from preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavourings, Lemonaid’s lightly sparkling organic soft drinks are made from the very best fresh juices and are sweetened with cane sugar, using up to 50% less sugar than regular soft drinks; choose from the thirst-quenching and zestfully refreshing Lemonaid Lime, Lemonaid Passion Fruit and Lemonaid Blood Orange.

ChariTea’s clean-tasting, uplifting organic iced teas are made from freshly brewed loose leaf tea, which is refined with pure fruit juices and lightly sweetened with natural sweeteners, agave syrup or honey. Choose from ChariTea red (Rooibos tea with passion fruit), ChariTea green (Green tea with ginger and honey) and ChariTea black (Black tea with lemon).

Perhaps the most innovative in the range is ChariTea’s, Great Taste Award winning, mate: lightly carbonated, real brewed ice tea from full yerba mate leaves. A natural caffeine boost, mate is a great alternative to sickly sweet energy drinks; ChariTea mate contains twice as much caffeine as a Coke and with no added sugar (natural agave syrup is used to sweeten) and just 17 kcal per 100ml, it’s a delicious and wholesome alternative to a Red Bull.

Called “the drink of the gods” by many indigenous South Americans, Yerba mate is a traditional brew that’s been said to offer the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate”. The elixir has also become an essential component of hacktivism, club culture and the tech scene across Berlin and Hamburg. It provides a more mellow and enduring caffeine fix than coffee and is rocket-fuel when supped at the bar, topped up with a dash of dark rum.

Whether paired with food or guzzled on their own, Lemonaid & ChariTea are excellent thirst-slaking options for on-the-go drinking, as an appealing alcohol-free option or as a versatile mixer for your favourite spirit. Try the Sipsmith Lemojito – fresh mint leaves muddled with sugar, topped with lime wedges, Sipsmith London dry gin and Lemonaid Lime or the Stormy ChariTea – rum, lemon juice, freshly grated ginger and agave syrup, shaken with ice and topped with fresh ginger and ChariTea black.

Launched into Whole Foods, Selfridges, Harrods, Planet Organic, As Nature Intended and a raft of deli and health foods stores across London; Lemonaid & ChariTea are currently lining up further national stockists and wholesalers, along with on-trade stockists including restaurants, bars and cafés.

As far as I am concerned, having had the entire range for testing and review, so to speak, they have a definite WOW! factor. My absolute favorite, I have to say, the the mate tea and I could do with a couple of cases of them a week, I guess.

Having said that, as regards the mate, is not to say that the others are not great as well; they are and each in their own right. They are all equally good but everyone everywhere has and will have his or her favorite or favorites.

Definitely 5 out of 5.

© 2016