BALL® home preserving starter kit – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

New to preserving? Here’s everything you need to get started, all in one package!

starterkit2As the reader may know from the other article about Ball® having just entered the UK market they have got this lovely little starter kit, suitable especially for the beginner but, obviously, not just the beginner.

I recently received this kit in the mail for review and this will just be – more or less – an initial review because in order to try it out with preserving something I will need to have the garden produce something and presently it is a little early in the season.

The kit came, as said, by post, actually by UK Parcel Force (not known for their gentle handling of parcels, similar to DHL) but, despite the fact that the package was just the carton in which the kit is sold all arrived without the least of a problem. No damage at all. More than can be said for well packaged grow table that came via DHL from the Netherlands and that suffered some damage. OK, the stuff arrived in good order and that is important.

The kit has everything that anyone starting out in preserving (canning as it is also often called, or bottling) would and could need, bar the pot, obviously. I had thought that I still had the large aluminium pot that I had a wile back but, alas, somewhere along the line it parted company with me. So, there I was having to go out and get a new one. But ALDI had a stock pot – OK, it cost almost £18 but it will serve for many years to come, I am sure – and that's what I do. Had to pay for that, unfortunately.

OK, so what do you get in the kit?

  • Preserving Rack (made of a silicone kind of plastic material) which fits most kitchen stockpots

  • 4 Ball® 240ml Jelly Jars with Lids & Bands – specifically designed for preserving to ensure a quality seal for the pantry

  • Basic Preserving Utensils – simplifies the process for beginners – consisting of a plastic funnel that is the proper size for the mouth of the jars, a plastic spatula kind of tool, and tongs for lifting the hot jars.

  • Home Preserving Guide & Recipe Booklet – includes 3 Simple Steps to Preserving & 3 Delicious Recipes

For anyone wanting to make a start with preserving their garden produce, making jams and chutneys, etc., this starter kit is ideal, as long as they have a big enough pot to put the rack into with enough water above the jars. That's all.

This is a great kit to get you started and after that continue with preserving and canning the produce from your own garden, the hedgerows and seasonal offers at the farmers' markets, greengrocers, and the produce section in your supermarkets even.

© 2017

US and UK restrictions on electronic devices on flights

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Laptop_on_planeSome security experts are actually baffled by this move and can only explain that with the fact that a laptop (and other device) in the hold luggage can be searched without the permission of the owner, which is, more likely than not, the idea behind this rather than anything else. In other words, the laptop ban on flights may not be about security at all.

The United States and the United Kingdom have both banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from cabins on flights from some Middle Eastern and North African countries. This includes – those banned that is – also iPads, tablet PC and eReaders. Guess it is time for pen and notebook and real books again then on flights. Those “measures” have been enacted in response to an “unspecified security concern”, a term which covers a multitude of sins.

The US has banned large electronic devices on flights from airports in the following countries:

  • Jordan
  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • Morocco
  • Jordan
  • the United Arab Emirates

The UK's ban, on the other hand, is slightly less restrictive and only applies to flights from the following countries:

  • Turkey
  • Lebanon
  • Jordan
  • Egypt
  • Tunisia
  • Saudi Arabia

Is this measure going to make things any safer? The answer must be a categorical no as real terrorists will find other ways of that we can be sure. All it is doing is affecting the innocent travelers, and especially those that wish and need to work while flying, including, but not only, journalists.

Aside from the worry that many have that their checked in laptop, etc., is in danger of being stolen then other concern that should be there is that it will be illegally searched during standard and not so standard baggage checks.

When the laptop or other device is in the hold luggage the authorities do not, it would appear, require the permission of the owner to search the electronic devices and the data on them.

Maybe it is time for any traveler, especially those like journalists and activists, to have an operating system and data carrier that works on any computer wherever they are going to without the need to have all the stuff on a personal laptop. It is possible to do this with a variety of devices and especially with operating systems such as Linux. Have everything on a thumb drive – and they do have quite a storage capacity nowadays – and all that is required is the use of a PC at the other end. It is true that you still cannot do any work – per computer – during the flight but there is always the option of longhand in pen and paper.

© 2017

7 Fruits And Vegetables You Can Grow In Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets aren't just for flowers. Save garden space by getting these crops off the ground.

cherry tomatoes in a hanging basket

It’s time to take your container garden off the ground. Growing vegetables and fruits in hanging baskets frees up space in your garden (and on your back porch) so that you can grow even more plants in a small space. Or even if you’re not worried about space, growing food crops in a hanging planter is still a fun way to add visual interest to your garden—who says veggies can’t be as beautiful as flowers?

(No room? No problem! See how you can grow tomatoes in the driveway, dill on the deck, and peppers on the porch with Rodale's Edible Spots & Pots—get your copy now!)

Of course, not every crop can make it in a hanging basket—watermelons are too heavy and corn is far too tall. But there are still plenty of smaller plants that won't break your basket. Maggie Saska, plant production specialist at the Rodale Institute, suggests vining crops whose fruits are light enough to handle the drooping action without breaking off, as well as smaller upright varieties.

When choosing your basket, go with one that will be able to support the weight of growing vines and produce, as well as water. A basket that hangs from a chain will be a better bet than a basket with a plastic hook, for example.

Prepare the basket just as you would for planting flowers, with a good potting mix. Saska advises applying a slow-release fertilizer or fish emulsion throughout the summer as it can be difficult for produce to get all the nutrients they need in a container. You’ll also have to be vigilant about watering, especially in the height of summer, because soil in hanging baskets dries out quickly. Consider placement of the basket too, based on what type of crop you're growing. Hanging your planter beneath your porch roof likely won't provide enough sunlight for most crops, for example, but a shepherd's hook or your garden fence will work just fine.

Otherwise, growing produce in hanging baskets isn't much different from growing it in pots on the ground! Here are a few crops that will do well way up high.

Read more here.

London 03/22/2017

Out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attack in the center of London (UK) today we shall not be broadcasting – so to speak – today. Normal operation shall be resumed tomorrow, all being well.


Ecotricity customers boost England’s national woods and forests

Customers joining Britain’s leading green energy company, Ecotricity, can support new conservation projects in England’s national woods and forests.

Ecoticitry_webA new partnership with Forest Enterprise England, the Forestry Commission agency that manages England’s national woods and forests, could lead to thousands of pounds going towards a new conservation fund.

Ecotricity will donate up to £50 for anyone who signs up to the company’s green electricity and gas using the Forestry Commission sign-up offer.

New customers will also receive a £10 discount on a Discovery Pass, the membership scheme which allows free car parking and a range of other benefits at local forests managed by Forest Enterprise England.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: “Trees and forests are really important. Sustainably managed, they can provide vital wildlife habitat, carbon sinks and a great place to visit.”

“So to team up with Forestry Enterprise England is something we’re really pleased to be doing.”

Simon Hodgson, Forest Enterprise England Chief Executive said: “Alongside the income we generate from suppling sustainably-grown timber, we look for new business partnerships that offer additional sources of revenue to invest in the nation’s forests we manage.

“The extra funding helps us make them more interesting and exciting places to visit and we can continue with our conservation work. We’ve had great successes over the years including ospreys in north England and purple emperor butterflies in the south.”

The Forestry Commission is one of the largest land-owners in England and works to maintain and preserve woodlands and forests. It also conducts scientific research and promotes recreation across the estates, including walking and cycling.

Ecotricity was founded in 1995 as the world’s first green energy company and now supplies almost 200,000 customers across Britain from a growing fleet of wind and sun parks. Ecotricity is a ‘not-for-dividend’ enterprise that, on average over the last eleven years, has invested more per customer in building new sources of green electricity than any other energy company in Britain.

England has more than 254,000 hectares of woods and forests cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission. They make sure that every year the land and forests they care for become even more special places for wildlife to live, for people to enjoy and for businesses to thrive.

Almost 69% of the land the manage is designated in some way: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Special Area for Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA), Ancient Woodland, RAMSAR wetland site, Local Nature Reserve (LNR), National Nature Reserve (NNR), Heritage Coat or Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM).

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

Keith Taylor MEP welcomes vote to ban import of new GM maize

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, is welcoming a vote by MEPs in the European Parliament's Environment Committee today (21 March) against the import of a range of genetically modified maize varieties for use in feed and food.

The majority of MEPs voted against proposals to authorise several genetically modified maize varieties from Syngenta [1].

Commenting after the vote, Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee, said: "It's a great Green success that the majority of MEPs have voted against the import and use of untested GM maize in the European Union. It is the sixth time in just over a year that the European Parliament has signalled it's opposition to the approval of new GM foods. The proposal voted down today would have approved 20 different varieties of GM maize of which only a handful have even been tested by the European Food Authority (EFSA) and most have not yet been produced. To give them the green light would have been completely irresponsible."

"MEPs have sent a strong signal that as long as complete and up-to-date scientific data is not available, permission must not be granted. I am urging the governments of the EU to take this message from the Environment Committee seriously and vote against importing genetically modified maize into the European Union next week."

"Worryingly, UK Ministers have suggested Brexit could be 'an opportunity' to water down GM crop regulations in Britain [2]. As Greens, we will be fighting to make sure this doesn't happen; it is vital we maintain and strengthen EU GM safeguards post-Brexit. For the health of British people, the environment and farmers, the UK must not be flooded with untested genetically modified crops."

[1]The Commission has submitted a proposal to authorise genetically modified maize varieties from Syngenta. This would allow the use of five different characteristics (Bt11 × 59122 × MIR604 × 1507 × GA21) and their combinations. This could bring more than 20 different genetically modified maize varieties to the European market. The Standing Committee of EU Member States "Plants, Animals, Food and Feed" was unable to reach an opinion on the Commission proposal on 27 January. The text will now be presented to an appeal committee on 27 March. If there is still no decision, it will be returned to the Commission.


Note: Keith is the Green MEP for the South East of England and is one of 50Greens/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. He sits on the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and the Committee on Environment, Public Healthand Food Safety. He isa member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council which works to forge greater links between MEPs and parliamentarians in Palestine. Keith is also Vice Chair of the parliament’s Intergroup on animal welfare and a member of the parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

Brockham: letters reveal oil firm warned at least twice it didn't have planning permission to drill new side-track well

Camp2Keith Taylor MEP at the Leith Hill 'protection camp'; Keith joins local residents and campaigners, from groups such as A Voice for Leith Hill, Mole Valley Green Party, Greenpeace, and Frack Free Surrey, Credit: Office of Keith Taylor MEP.

A row over unauthorised oil drilling in Brockham, Surrey [1] continues as newly obtained documents confirm the oil and gas company Angus Energy was warned by Surrey County Council as far back as September 2016 that it would need planning permission to drill a new well on site.

Angus Energy has openly admitted that it drilled a new side-track well earlier this year but claims the work was covered by existing planning permission [2]. However, a Freedom of Information request to Surrey County Council [3], seen by Green MEP for the South East Keith Taylor, reveals planners made clear this was not the case in two separate letters sent in September and December 2016.

Commenting on the revelations, Mr Taylor said: “The drilling, without permission, of a new well is an outrageous breach of an already deeply strained trust. It is little wonder why residents and campaigners simply don’t trust the oil and gas drilling industry or the Government ‘regulations’ utterly failing to protect our environment and our local communities. Regulations that are being openly flaunted by the industry.”

“The documents show Angus Energy was warned on at least two occasions that it did not have the required planning permission to drill a new side-track well. Angus has either deliberately misled its investors and the public or misunderstood clear advice from Surrey County Council. The situation suggests the regime for regulating and monitoring oil drilling isn’t fit for purpose. Had there not been a small, but dedicated group of campaigners resident at the protection camp on the site then this breach would not have even come to light.”

“I am calling on Surrey County Council to send a strong message to oil and gas companies who might be tempted to play fast and loose across the region; action and sanction against planning breaches must swift and effective. Letting Angus Energy off the hook would set an extremely concerning precedent."




Note: Keith is the Green MEP for the South East of England and is one of 50 Greens/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. He sits on the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. He is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council which works to forge greater links between MEPs and parliamentarians in Palestine. Keith is also Vice Chair of the parliament’s Intergroup on animal welfare and a member of the parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

Preserving and canning made easy thanks to Ball

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

starterkit2The well-known US company Ball, with its iconic preserving/canning jars, has now also, finally some would say, arrived in the UK. Not that Britain never had canning jars and such. We did, in the form of Kilner Jars but we have heard very little of it in recent years. To some extent home canning went out of the window with an all year round supply of fresh fruit and vegetables from all around the globe. The recent shortage of certain vegetables from Spain, where the weather did not play nicely, should, however, tell us something about being unable to reply on such supplies, regardless of some politicians saying that we do not need farmers in this country because we can import all the food we want and need from abroad.

Obviously, aside from Kilner in Britain there is/was also Mason in the USA with canning jars and other countries, such as Germany, do, or did, have their own brands and designs.

So, why do I say “preserving and canning made easy thanks to Ball” or maybe simple would have been even better still? This is because Ball has brought out a starter kit that really does make it easy, at least from what I have seen, and water bath canning does not, as often believed, require a special pot and other gadgets, such as a special thermometer, etc., etc. I have been able to obtain a sample of the starter kit and shall report back on how it works. Just need to get a big enough pot as I do not have one, but thanks to ALDI a nice stainless steel stockpot (Made in India) could be obtained for less that £20. Unfortunately that one I had to pay for.

Some people seem to believe that in order to successfully preserve their garden's harvest by canning they have to have all the equipment and ideally a pressure canner even. Nothing could be further from the truth. Water bath canning is older than the pressure cooker/canner method and has worked for generations. While some of the gadgets make life easier they are not a necessity.

The water bath canning method is probably the oldest version of canning and still as valid today as then. Pressure canning may speed up the process – sorry, I am not entirely sure about this – but that may just be about all. All you really need is a large pot, like a stock pot (see above), and the appropriate canning jars. To all intents and purposes that is about all. Anything else just makes life – and the canning process – easier.

© 2017


The Edinburgh Remakery is a social enterprise that teaches repair. The shop sells refurbished computers and furniture, and hosts workshops where people can come along and learn how to repair their own things. There’s a big vision behind it: “we want to generate a repair revolution. This means changing the way people use and dispose of resources, encouraging manufacturers to build things to last and to be fixable, and making sure the facilities are in place to allow people to repair and reuse.”

The Remakery was founded by Sophie Unwin, after spending a year in Nepal. There she saw a culture of repair and stewardship that was absent in our own throwaway society – but it used to be there. Previous generations knew how to fix things. This generation just needs some re-skilling, access to the tools to do it, and some encouragement to give it a go. It’s a similar idea to the Restart Project, with the added benefits of a permanent centre, and proceeds from the shop help to fund the community engagement work.

These projects are important right now, because those repair skills are still out there in society, and they might not be for very long. Many repair businesses have gone already. Those that remain are often struggling. Since there is little demand for repair, there’s a shortage of younger people ready to step up when older repairers retire. I’ve seen this myself in Luton. When I moved here a few years ago, the High Town area had a tailor, a lawnmower repair shop and a TV repair shop. The first two have since retired and the shops have closed. The TV place was destroyed earlier this year when a car drove into it, and the owner can’t afford to fix it. The shop is boarded up, and there’s a mobile number on the door if you want your TV repaired.

Read more here.

UN asks UK to suspend work on Hinkley Point

Move likely to embarrass British government as UN agency says lack of talks with Europe means it should refrain from further work

A United Nations committee has asked the UK to suspend work on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset because of the government’s failure to consult with European countries over the project.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said last year that the UK had failed to meet its obligations to discuss the possible impact of an incident at Hinkley on neighbouring countries.

The UNECE has now gone a step further and said the UK should consider refraining from further works on the site of the new reactors.

The body said the government should wait until it has heard back from countries including Germany, Norway and the Netherlands on whether it would be helpful for them to be formally notified under a treaty on transboundary environmental impacts.

The UN request is an embarrassment for the government, which has faced several delays over the UK’s first atomic power station for a generation. But it is unlikely to derail the earthworks and building of a jetty at Hinkley, which is Europe’s biggest construction site.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Opposition to Hinkley started with knowledgeable energy specialists and environmentalists. It grew to involve a wide array of businesses and media commentators. Now it includes neighbouring countries and a UN body. This letter from a UN body shows the UK still has a mindset of doing what we like without listening to the widespread concerns.”

A spokesman for EDF, the French state-owned company building Hinkley, said: “We have carried out all the environmental impact assessments (EIA) required for Hinkley Point C, including assessing any likely significant transboundary impacts. In considering the EIA the UK Planning Inspectorate concluded there was no likelihood of significant transboundary effects.

“The UK supreme court has already rejected a challenge from An Taisce which claimed that the government should have consulted other member states before making its decision on the development.”

Read more here.

New International Gardens and Lifestyle Show

New International Gardens and Lifestyle Show – IGA –opens April 13, 2017 in Berlin

clichtschwaermer_mg_6339A new international gardens and consumer lifestyle show – IGA – which stands for ‘International Garten Ausstellung’ – will open in Berlin on April 13 and run until October 15, 2017. Ideal for a weekend visit to Berlin or longer, IGA features garden designs from all over the world, including for Great Britain, ‘The Garden of Vulcan’ by British landscape designer Tom Stuart Smith . ‘IGA’ takes place in Germany only once every 10 years and is being hosted by Berlin for the first time.

Bigger than all three RHS shows combined, IGA focuses on green urban lifestyle under the motto of ‘an OCEAN of colours’ and will appeal to anyone interested not only in gardens and horticulture, but also Berlin and the surrounding regions. IGA has its own cable car, which swoops visitors into the show ground from the local underground station, providing a unique aerial view on arrival. The 104-hectare showground is divided into five large areas featuring different attractions, such as an open-air performance stage, an energy-efficient tropical hall in the Balinese Garden, art exhibitions, children’s play areas, restaurants and a visitor centre.

Sustainability has been a high priority during the planning and development process: at the IGA ‘Campus’ area, there will be hands on environmental education through more than 2,500 events to try out and discover, suitable for all ages. IGA is easy to reach from the UK and Ireland: there direct flights to Berlin from Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester and efficient local public transport connections from Berlin city centre. Day tickets for adults and for families to IGA cost €20.00 and there are various prices for evening visits, schools and groups – children’s day tickets are free. Tickets can be booked online or through reputable tour operators and travel agents.

IGA is expected to provide yet another tourism draw for Destination Deutschland, which last year reached a record high for international incoming tourism to Germany. For the period January – December 2016, 80.8 million overnight stays were recorded, compared to 2015. For the UK, there was a 0.9% rise for the period January – November 2016 and overnight stays by visitors from Ireland showed an increase of 9.3%, compared to the same period in 2015.

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.

Are You Killing Your Trees With Mulch?

Are you killing your trees with mulch? Mulch is fabulous for trees, but incorrect mulching techniques can stress and even kill your trees.

Benefits of Mulch

Each year, in the forest, leaves and needles fall providing a protective covering for trees. As they decompose, they nourish the soil. Mulch can provide the same nourishing protection for the trees on your property whether those trees are deciduous, coniferous, or fruit-bearing.

Mulch discourages weeds, helps to maintain a uniform soil temperature, adds nutrients, and conserves moisture. It also helps to prevent compaction and reduce soil erosion. Mulch can prevent competition from grass which robs nutrients and moisture from the soil. And when trees are mulched, keeping grass away from the base, there is no risk of damage from lawn mowers and weed-whackers. All in all, a win-win situation.

What Mulch to Use

Bark mulch is the most often used material for tree mulch and is fine. Even better are wood chips which contain entire small branches, leaves and needles. These ramial wood chips are especially useful in providing nutrients as they break down. Needles also make a good mulch under conifer trees, and shredded leaves under deciduous trees. It is best not to use black plastic since it can interfere with water and oxygen supply to the tree’s roots.

Read more here.

10 Tips for New Garden Farmers

lettuces growing on hugulkultur bed

A journal entry from my pre-gardening days reads as follows:

I just returned from the farmers’ market with two pounds of apricots, half a pound of ground cherries, a bag each of arugula, radishes, pepper cress and kale. One of the farmers gave me a peach spray, which now brightens my kitchen.

I’m grateful to these family farmers who till the land, and then bring their produce and other wonderful foods to the city. Hard work, I imagine, and not particularly lucrative. Still, I hope I’m not romanticizing their life when I dream of working the land and depending less on others to grow and raise my food.

Living in the city, I do what I can to support organic, local, biodynamic farming. I shop at the farmers’ market and food coop, have a sideline as a food educator at CSAs, prepare most of my meals from scratch. Yet, in my life, the farm-to-table cycle remains incomplete. With the exception of a few potted herbs on the windowsill, I have little chance to grow or raise what I eat. Sometimes I bring fruit and vegetable scraps to the food scrap collection site in the park. Other times I toss them in the trash. In either situation, I miss out on the pleasure of returning them to nature myself and in so doing nourishing soil and soul.

Now, four years into growing much of the produce we eat, I realize that garden farming connects me even more deeply than I had imagined to the earth, the life cycle, my body and food. It is also more difficult not only physically, but mentally as well. Had I known more from the start, no doubt it would have been easier and more effective. It is in this spirit that I am sharing some of what I’ve learned.

I make no claims to expertise. Certainly, there are professional gardeners, farmers and agricultural scientists who know much more than I do. Still, my hope is that those newer than I to growing their own food may benefit from these tips.

1. Plant Edible Woody Perennials First

Edible woody perennials include fruit trees, berry bushes and grapevines. Since these perennials take several years to mature, the sooner you plant them the sooner they bear fruit. I resisted at first. Planting fourteen fruit trees by hand is labor intensive. And since we had no source of free cultivars, buying the trees also made a dent in our wallet. Fortunately, my wife prevailed. Now, four springs later, apple, cherry, peach, plum and pear blossoms dot our trees. Our Chinese apricot tree is laden with tiny hard fruit.

The second spring we planted a variety of bushes including raspberry, gooseberry, choke cherry, goji berry, service berry, sea buckthorn berry, nero aronia, and currant. We planted elderberry, hazelnut and persimmon trees. We also planted grapes.

These botanical treasures contribute to making us feel rooted in our homestead. They also contribute to self-reliance by feeding us well. As for finances, already they’ve more than paid us back.

2. Plant Edible Herbaceous Perennials Next

I wish I’d learned this tip sooner. Come early spring, it’s such a pleasure to see sorrel leaves poking through the snow. Soon after the rhubarb, lovage, dandelion, walking onions, and asparagus appear. Our perennial roots and herbs include garlic chives, culinary lavender, oregano, thyme, horseradish, hyssop, and sage. (Rosemary, which we hoped would be perennial, turned out not to be in our zone four climate, and so we plant it anew each year.)

Once planted, perennial edibles provide good food early in the season with little work. And some (including sorrel, horseradish, hyssop, oregano, and thyme) have another benefit as well: they do a wonderful job of keeping grass and other weeds at bay.

3. Grow What You Love (and What You Can)

Midwinter when it’s minus twenty and snow drifts cover the porch, we enjoy sitting by the fire planning our garden. It’s easy that time of year to get carried away. Yes, we’d enjoy a walnut tree. But we lack the climate, soil constitution, and acreage (not to mention the energy) to grow everything we’d like. Easy to rule out in our zone four climate are heat-loving trees such as avocado and lime. And as much as we’d like to have blueberries, the pH of our soil would make growing these a daunting task.

So how do we decide? First, we eliminate what we cannot grow. Then we decide what we like. We also experiment. Over the years, we’ve learned, for instance, that although we adore broccoli, it tends not to flourish in our garden. So much planting, watering and weeding all for a few buggy florets.

Potatoes, on the other hand, thrive. So do sunchokes, lettuces, arugula, radishes, chard, cress, parsnips, nasturtiums and many other species of edible plants. Our raspberry bushes produce so well and with so little effort that each summer we invite neighbors to pick from our patch.

Read more here.

Yarn scraps, twine or other such materials for nesting birds

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

yarn scraps are not for birdsWe are seeing, once again, a lot of posts online, in Blogs and (other) social media suggesting putting yarn scraps, twine or other material outside as nesting material for songbirds. While the intentions may be good, please do not do this. It is not good for the birds, much like feeding waterfowl with bread; it can kill.

Yarn and any type of string, twine and even human hair can easily become tangled around birds legs, neck etc. and cut off circulation causing serious injury or even death. Many animal rescue places get in many baby songbirds every year missing limbs due to string like materials in a nest.

If you want to have nesting materials in your yard, we suggest purchasing pre-made nesting material or use these natural alternatives.

Small Yard Debris: Pine straw, wheat straw, and tiny twigs make good bird nest building materials.

Grass Clippings: One of the most common nesting materials, grass clippings can be gathered into balls or simply left mulched into your lawn.

Animal Hair: If you brush or clip your animals, save the fur. It makes a wonderfully soft lining for bird nests. Just don’t use any hair or fur that’s been treated with flea dips or insect repellents.

Coco Fiber: Recycle worn-out linings of hanging baskets for bird nesting material.

Plants and Seeds: Fluffy seeds and plants, such as cattails, make good bird nesting materials.

Cloth Batting: Wool or cotton batting cut into 3”- 6” strips makes good nesting material.

Feathers: Providing feathers for nesting material is a great way to recycle old down pillows or the feathers from out of your chicken coop (if you have chickens).

Moss: Sphagnum or Spanish moss make great bird nesting material (make sure it's not been chemically treated).

But, let me reiterate once again, no yarn scraps, twine, human hair or any other such like stuff. It can be a death trap for small birds.

© 2017

How to Construct Houses with Plastic Bottles

Houses-with-Plastic-BottlesIt may seem unbelievable but you can build houses out of plastic bottles filled with sand. These projects are made especially by NGOs from African countries. For example, the house from the video below was made by the Samaprman Foundation. The plastic bottles were gathered from trash cans and then filled with sand. This way, volunteers managed to make 6,000 `bricks` from sand-filled plastic bottles. With the help of these bricks they succeeded to build a small house which is used as a classroom.

Read more here.

Wind energy to be created using lamp-posts

Artist's impression of the turbines on lampposts

An IT company has joined forces with a green technology firm to develop wind turbines which attach to lamp-posts.

The NVT Group's partnership with Own Energy Solutions is set to create 25 jobs over the next 12 months which it hopes will rise to about 300 within three years.

The scheme harvests wind using a small wind turbine and inverter system.

As a result, metered, clean energy could be fed directly into the National Grid.

The company said that as a result, each suitable lamp-post conversion would save half a ton of carbon being released into the atmosphere.

As part of the deal, which is worth about £3.5m over the next 15 years, Own Energy is relocating from Glasgow to NVT's headquarters in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire.

Stephen Park Brown, managing director of NVT Group, said: "We have a great record of working with winning teams and this new venture has every prospect of eclipsing our recent commissions. We believe that Own Energy can become a significant player in the renewables market both in the UK and beyond."

'Huge export potential'

David Gordon, chief executive of Own Energy, said: "We chose to partner with NVT Group based on its extraordinary performance in recent years, particularly in the delivery of the technology for world-class sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - which of course was widely regarded as the most successful in history - and The Ryder Cup.

Read more here.

Nearly half Europe’s electricity could be produced by households by 2050, study shows

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

GP0STQ0U0More than a quarter of a million Europeans could be producing their own energy by the middle of the century if certain policies are pursued, a new report has found.

According to calculations by Dutch consultancy CE Delft, households and businesses could meet 45% of the continent’s power demand using their own solar panels and wind turbines.

The study, commissioned by Greenpeace, the European Renewable Energy Federation, Friends of the Earth and, sees so-called ‘energy citizens’ producing 611 TWh of electricity by 2030 – a fifth of Europe’s forecast demand.

That number could growth to 1,557TWh over the subsequent two decades, boosting energy independence and supporting countries’ renewable energy and climate change targets.

A more granular look at the data shows community projects representing 37% of this 2050 scenario, small businesses make up 39%, households produce 23% and public entities are behind that final 1%.

This same study also outlines the possible role demand-side response can play in this energy devolution, with seven in 10 Europeans able to use the smart energy technology by the middle of the decade.

graph1As for storage, individuals and small businesses could be able to utilize up to 1,494 GWh of electric storage by 2030 and nearly 10 times that by 2050.

The potential of all this independently sourced energy, however, can only be reached if European policies such as the Renewable Energy Directive are revised to support energy citizens, the environmental groups argue.

But this is all a case of could because the powers-that-be (and which really should not be) are far too deep in the pockets of the energy generating giants and the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industry to ever enable this to happen and that regardless of the way things are going.

We could, and could have already for decades and decades, be using methane (sewage gas and from landfills)for cooking, heating and powering electricity generating plants but that has not happened and is not happening. While methane still gives off pollution (no, I am not going to call it carbon emissions) because it is still burned the fact that it is a renewable resource in that we can generate it from, well waste, including human waste, has a few good things going for it. The first electricity generating plants were once intended to be used with methane gas from the sewers. Enter the coal, oil and gas lobby and the rest is history, as they say.

What is missing is the political will and that because the majority of all politicians, of all persuasions, are deep in the pockets of the particular industries who would lose out when renewables enter the game in this way.

Therefore I, for one, am not about to hold my breath, regardless of the fact that such a positive outcome of this study.

© 2017

Shell CEO urges switch to clean energy as plans hefty renewable spending

Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, speaks during a news conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 15, 2016.   REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

The oil and gas industry risks losing public support if progress is not made in the transition to cleaner energy, Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said on Thursday.

The world's second largest publicly-traded oil company plans to increase its investment in renewable energy to $1 billion a year by the end of the decade, van Beurden said, although it is still a small part of its total annual spending of $25 billion.

The CEO said that the transition to a low carbon energy system will take decades and government policies including putting a price on carbon emissions will be essential to phase out the most polluting sources of energy such as coal and oil.

"If we're not very careful, with all the good intentions and advocacy that we have, we may, as a sector and society, not make the progress that is needed," van Beurden said at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

He said the "biggest challenge" the company faces is maintaining public acceptance of the energy industry.

"I do think trust has been eroded to the point that it is becoming a serious issue for our long term future," he continued. "If we are not careful, broader public support for the sector will wane."

Read more here.

What Gardening Can Do for Us

Gayla Smells Rosemary

Many years ago, not long after gardening came to me* and stuck, I read a statistic that said something to the effect that just looking at a plant lowers our heart rate. This was so long ago now that I no longer recall the exact phrasing, nor where I read it, or why. Regardless, it was the first time I made a concrete, conscious connection between the act of gardening and the ways in which it could and did benefit me, the gardener.

Years later, and countless hours spent in various gardens of my making, I have never bothered to look further into current research for examples of how gardening may be enhancing my health, brain, body, and overall wellbeing. I just know intuitively that it is, and that’s really all of the proof that I need. However, as my relationship to gardening has evolved and grown, so have the benefits that I have felt and acknowledged. I suspect that with time, I will become aware of and experience new benefits. For now, the following is a brief musing on the gains I have gleaned so far:

On Growing Food

Growing food transforms us into producers — something we desperately need in a passive consumer culture where we have become an audience watching life rather than producers making it. Growing food provides a connection to and an understanding of where our food comes from. It schools us in what food looks like when it comes out of the ground or off of the vine, with all of its shapes, flaws, beauty, and flavor. The work involved in growing our own food provides first-hand knowledge of the labour that goes into growing it and teaches us not to take it or the work that farmers do for granted. It transforms our expectations and turns us into educated consumers who know the value of good, well-grown produce. It challenges us not to accept lesser quality food and lesser quality growing practices. Growing food makes us stronger and more resilient. It gives us pride of self-relience. It satiates the worry that should the Zombie Apocalypse come, we may just be able to make it out alive.

In growing countless plants and learning about their biology I have come to the knowledge that as food, plants are not benign. Every plant can have some action on the body, and in turn, eating is medicine.

On Creativity

We all come to gardening for different reasons, and while the topic is most often plunked in with and categorized as style and design, it doesn’t have to be about either. Much of my own gardening practice is about food production, using plant materials for dyes and other purposes, and feeding pollinators, all of which favour conditions that can sometimes work against aesthetic appeal, at least in the most culturally acceptable forms. However, I think that creativity comes down to self-expression and and a heightened awareness or way of experiencing that can be found and nurtured in unlikely ways. The more mundane aspects of gardening can be creative acts, even when our attentions are not drawn to cultivating a particular aesthetic. I also find that the plants themselves can inspire creativity and that as we live with them, we can’t help but begin to look at them more closely. Looking gives way to seeing, and seeing alters the way we perceive the world as a whole, which is in itself a form of creativity.

Read more here.

Fighting climate change and poverty in the Third World at the same time?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

old adobe buildingThe myth that we can mitigate and even overcome climate change by using more and more renewable sources of energy and at the same time can, under the banner of the New World Order to “improve security”, eliminate poverty and inequality in countries of the Third World is just that, a myth. We can't.

If every person in African, Latin America, Asia, had only roughly the average European standard of living we would hardly be able to breathe any longer on this Planet of ours.

There can only be one solution and that is that the so-called West, that is to say Europe, North America and the Antipodeans, has to get down to the level of consumption of those lower consuming countries of the Third World and not the other way round. In plain language this means that the West has to tighten its belt.

If we, in the West, think that we can carry on consuming the way that we do and bring others up to our standard of consumption – but apparently that is what industry in the developed nations is looking for in order to sell more to people in those countries – and still believe that we can do something meaningful about climate change, emissions and pollution, especially by using wind, solar, and other such renewable energy sources, then we are going to be in for a very rude awakening. It cannot be done.

It is not us bringing the others up to our level of consumption, because that is what really is meant by politicians if they talk about improving the living standards of people in the Third World, that needs to happen but it is us, in the so-called West, who have to lower our standards and change our way of life. But I know that this is not a message that people and especially not governments and corporations want to hear. In this case we can't have our cake and eat it and the others too.

Yes, we can do something about climate change by means of renewable energy sources and reducing other pollution, and also help people, at home and abroad out of poverty, but only if we in the developed nations, change our ways of consumption, of travel, of working, of manufacturing, and also of farming.

For the upper and middle class those changes will not be easy as they have gotten so used to having everything they want and more and more of it when they want. Those of the lower classes, on the other hand, who, even in our rich societies, have always lived from hand to mouth, should, theoretically, but many are also being brainwashed into the consumer society, have it easier to deal with this, seeing that they have had little, and personally I count myself in that group, being staunchly proud working class.

We must stop buying into the myth, perpetuated by the powers-that-be but really should not be, that we can mitigate and maybe even reverse climate change by means of renewable energy while still carrying on with the status quo or even further growing our economies, while at the same time lifting the people in Third World countries out of poverty to almost the same standard of living as ours. Already the former, on its own, if not going to work. Combined with the latter it will not at all.

Already now the “West” needs the equivalent of two to four Earths to support the consumption and living standards of the people, as far as (non-renewable) resources are concerned. Has no one noticed that we do, however, have but one Earth?

Now scientists claim to have discovered that one should be able to grow potatoes on Mars. Really? When were they there to test that? They should rather concentrate their efforts of research and developments to improve things here on this Planet. We can't emigrate to those other Planets, so let's stop playing around there and concentrate on this Planet that we have as the only one that can support and sustain human life.

We, in the “West”, must reduce our consumption by at least three-quarters (please note that I said by at least three-quarters) in order to work with renewable energy sources only for renewables, wind, sun, etc., cannot support our current energy consumption and ever larger wind-farms and solar-arrays are not the answer. We must reduce our consumption of energy dramatically if renewables are to keep the lights on. But, it can be done. It just needs lots of changes. And especially changes in the way we, even as individuals, do things.

We, in the “West”, cannot have our large cake and eat it and expect countries in the Third World to bake a cake of equal proportions and have them eat theirs and still expect that everything is going to be fine. That is not going to work and happen. We will have to reduce the size of our own cake significantly if other are to have an equal share of what we will have then.

The changes that we will have to make will be, and that is by word of warning, drastic and they do not just mean a reduction in what we consume and how we consume. It will require changes to how and where we live and work, how products are made and especially they need to be sustainably made, made to last and be repairable. Also it will require a change in agricultural practices and in the way we farm and the size of the farms. Downscaling and downsizing are the operational words.

Downscaling and downsizing also as to the size of our homes and the kind of homes and/or returning to the multi-generational home, as was the way not all that long ago when grandparents, parents, and children lived under the same roof (and, in those days, also worked in and from the home often) is also something that will be required.

Furthermore the land needs to be worked in a different way and scale again with many more but smaller farms, with a greater biodiversity, diversity of crops being crown and our woods need proper management of the old style. Our countries need, first and foremost, to grow food for the market at home before considering even the idea of export.

The most important changes, however, must be made in our consumption for we cannot continue the way we are going, in the “West”, and expecting that others can follow suit without exploiting the Planet to such an extent that the Earth can no longer support human and animal life.

Having our cake, as said, and eating and expecting Third World countries to bake a cake of equal size and eating it and expecting no problems is dangerous in the extreme. Without change the Planet will no longer be able to support us. It already is having serious problem in that department and it has less to do with the size of the global population than it has with the way those in the so-called developed world, aka “the West”, are living and consuming.

© 2017

Jackie’s garden primer

The birds are singing. The sunshine makes the day feel soft and warm. The soil is mellow and damp. It makes us feel like being outdoors and doing something. How about growing a garden this year?

My son, David, helps build raised garden beds out of railroad ties.Even if you have never so much as planted a potted flower, I guarantee that with a little enjoyable work, you can raise scrumptious food, right at home.

Or maybe you’ve gardened in the past, and life has kind of swept you along and you’re afraid you’ve forgotten how to garden successfully. Not to worry; I’ll give you a hand and we’ll get that garden planted.

Is it hard? Not a bit. Is it a lot of work? You do have to work at it, but it’s the kind of work that’s satisfying and really fun. There aren’t many things as enjoyable as the excitement of seeing your very first red, ripe tomato on the vine or your first bean plants popping up out of the soil.

Is it complicated? You know: mulch, compost, pH, organic, chemicals, biologic insect controls? No. It isn’t a bit complicated. As you progress, you may want to expand your gardening skills for an even more productive garden. But gardening definitely is not complicated.

Well, isn’t it expensive then? Again, no. Like anything else, you can spend a lot of money gardening. But you don’t have to. In the old days, folks grew tons of food by saving their own seed from year to year, trading seeds with neighbors, and occasionally buying a few packets of seed to grow other crops they didn’t have seed for. In fact, by growing even a modest home garden, you can save up to one third of your grocery bill each week all summer and fall, and even more if you home can your extra vegetables.

Some people think that they need a huge garden to help feed their family. Not so. By gardening wisely, planting crops they usually buy—and are expensive, a modest garden will provide a huge amount of food.

With the economy now in a tailspin, I strongly encourage everyone to give gardening a try. By tilling or spading up a plot of lawn in an urban back (or front) yard, you can soon have an attractive, productive food factory.

Read more here.



In a few short months, the sweet scent of thawing soil will have me searching under trees, along streams and in gardens for new life peeking into the frosty air. During the dark days of winter, it’s hard to imagine anyone more excited about spring’s brave first blooms.

But just below ground, creatures on a more important mission than mine will be getting ready to greet the plants, too. Mother bumblebees will emerge from leaves to start new colonies, timing their arrival for the flowering of Dutchman’s breeches and Virginia bluebells. Ground-nesting bees will dig through blankets of dirt to indulge refined tastes: Andrena erigeniae will turn to her exclusive culinary supplier, spring beauty flowers, to make pollen cakes for her babies; Habropoda labiorosa will get her groceries from blueberries, redbud trees, oaks and Carolina jessamine. Cavity-nesting bees—who’ve waited out the cold in logs and twigs—will also join the party.

As we awaken from our own kind of hibernation, many of us will walk by these animals without even noticing them. Though everywhere in the landscape, they occupy little space in the cultural mindset, much to the chagrin of scientists working to save them. If he had to pick one fact more people should know about North America’s 4,000 wild bee species, says conservation biologist Rich Hatfield of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, it would be this: “That they exist.”

Their solitary nature, hidden nests and often diminutive sizes have made most bees historically difficult to observe, even for scientists. “Go back 20 years,” says biologist Olivia Messinger Carril, coauthor of The Bees in Your Backyard, “and the number of people that studied bees could be counted on your hands and your feet, total.” The obscurity of native pollinators also stems from a disproportionate focus on a single species imported from Europe 400 years ago. “Most people, when they think about bees, they have an image that pops into their head, and that’s the honeybee,” says Hatfield.

Read more here.

Elho turn the table on the trend for Grow Your Own

Product Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The elho Green Basics Grow Table XXL

049164_green-basics-grow-table-super-xxl-i1Elho turn the table on traditional grow your own, with the introduction of the contemporary Grow Table XXL. Adding design and function to any balcony, terrace or urban garden, the grow table is perfect for anyone that wants to grow their own salad, vegetables or herbs.

Designed for use with the elho extra large propagator lid, this stylish mid height planter creates the perfect environment for nurturing new growth and protecting established plants.

Part of the Green Basics Range the elho Grow Table XXL is manufactured using recycled plastics, creating a lightweight, robust affordable planter for all design conscious home-owner. The XXL Propagator lid is specially developed to filter direct sunlight adding protection to plants, whilst ventilation sliders allow for variable climate control.

Available in Anthracite and a vibrant Lime green, the Grow table XXL is ideal for both stylish adults and enthusiastic young growers, bringing life to little spaces and introducing growing to little people.

More and more people in urban and suburban areas who may not have much of a garden – or mostly lawn – or even no garden at all want to grow at least some of their own food nowadays, which is good, and this is one of the tools, if I may call it a tool, that will enable them to do that, on the patio or even a balcony in the city.

The table, even together with the propagator lid, is very light indeed and can easily be moved from place to place on a patio of balcony. Keep in mind though that once it is full of soil it will be a great deal heavier that empty, though that should be obvious.

Both table and lid are made of a slightly more flexible plastic than are many others and thus, hopefully, should withstand weathering better and the rays of the sun. I have found that many of the other kind of materials, often of the PVC family, do not handle weathering too well, even though they are designed for the garden, and become brittle within a year or two.

As the season is not really right for it I have to say that I have, so far, not put any soil and plants into the review sample but that is, as far as I can see, no hindrance to me being able to evaluate the product.

My review sample came with the propagator lid – though I believe that generally they are separate items – and together they make for what is officially called a “grow-house”, in other words your own little almost greenhouse for the patio or balcony.

What is especially useful as regards the grow table is that, well, it is, while not having a flat table top sort of table height and ideal for those that cannot bend down for gardening. Hence it is called a grow table. For patio and balcony it is often better to have something off the ground for various reasons and a couple of those will even enable a city apartment dweller to grow at least some fresh vegetables, if only salad leaves. A product that I can really recommend.

  • Green Basics Grow Table XXL
  • W 37 x L 76 x H 65.1 cm
  • RRP £29.99
  • Colors: Lime Green and Living Black

Elho is the European expert with 50 years experience in the development, production, marketing and sales of indoor and outdoor synthetic pottery and related products. Every year Elho launches dozens of innovations that continuously inspire the consumer with well-designed, functional and colourful products. Elho has been in the UK for over 15 years and works in partnership with garden centres and all outlets to create enticing instore displays that excite the consumer.

© 2017

Der Dorfladen von Hundeshagen - er läuft

Es ist eine nicht ganz alltägliche Erfolgsgeschichte: Vor einem Jahr eröffnete der damals 84-jährige Walter Zöpfgen einen Dorfladen in Hundeshagen. An ein Gelingen mochte damals niemand wirklich glauben - außer dem Besitzer.

Walter Zöpfgen eröffnet Dorfladen in Hundeshagen

Keine Spur von Ruhestand bei Walter Zöpfgen aus Hundeshagen im Eichsfeld. Gemeinsam mit seiner 79-jährigen Ehefrau Marie-Luise hat der 84-Jährige vor einem Jahr den Schritt gewagt - und einen Dorfladen aufgemacht. Einfach, weil es sonst keinen gab. Sogar das Geschäftsgebäude hat er mit über 80 Jahren noch selbst gebaut. Und siehe da: Der Laden läuft. Zwölf Monate später stehen beide immer noch gerne an der Kasse ihres Ladens.

Laden als Dienst an der Allgemeinheit

Zöpfgen, der mittlerweile 85 Jahre alt geworden ist, sagt, er kommt gut zurecht. Allerdings sind die Einkaufspreise bei den Großhändlern für kleine Läden wie seinen zu hoch. Mit großen Supermärkten kann er nicht mithalten. Er sieht seinen Laden als Dienst an der Allgemeinheit, denn einen großen Gewinn macht er damit nicht, zahlt aber auch nicht drauf.

Hier weiterlesen.

These Neighbors Got Together to Buy Vacant Buildings. Now They’re Renting to Bakers and Brewers

Though the model is new and small, it holds outsize potential for the many neighborhoods whose downtowns are controlled by faraway landlords or retail chains.


This article was produced by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, as part of its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which produces research and partners with a range of allies to implement public policies that curb economic consolidation and strengthen locally owned enterprise.

The intersection of Central and Lowry Avenues in northeast Minneapolis is bustling. On the northwest corner is a trifecta of local businesses: A bike shop, a cooperative brewery, and a bakery, in buildings with eye-catching exteriors of rough-hewn wood and silvery porcelain bricks. The neighborhood grocery co-op is one block up the street.

This commercial stretch didn’t always look like this. In 2011, where these three businesses sit, there were two vacant buildings. The empty space was not uncommon along Central Avenue, a long corridor that was created to be the Main Street of the neighborhood, but that had suffered from decades of disinvestment. While a few businesses dotted the avenue, many other storefronts were neglected.

“A lot of people looked at it as too big to tackle,” explains Leslie Watson, who lives nearby.

In 2011, a group of dedicated neighbors came together to change that. In November of that year, five of them, including Watson, became the founding board of the Northeast Investment Cooperative, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S. cooperative engaged in buying and developing real estate. NEIC created a structure where any Minnesota resident could join the co-op for $1,000, and invest more through the purchase of different classes of nonvoting stock. The group began spreading the word to prospective members, and started looking for a building to buy.

One year later, NEIC had enough members to buy the two buildings on Central Avenue for cash. The co-op quickly sold one of the buildings to project partner Recovery Bike Shop, and after a gut renovation, which it funded with a 2 percent loan from the city and a loan from local Northeast Bank, it leased the other building to two young businesses that had struggled to find workable space elsewhere, Fair State Brewing Cooperative and Aki’s BreadHaus. Today, NEIC’s impact spreads beyond the intersection of Central and Lowry. It’s catalyzed the creation of new jobs, engaged its more than 200 members in reimagining their neighborhood, and given residents a way to put their capital to work in their local economy.

“Collectively, that wealth will stay in our community,” says Watson. “If you want to take the long view, that’s the goal.”

Read more here.

Eco-Friendly FreshX - the fresh alternative to 'flushable' wipes

FreshX ‘Toilet tissue Spritz’ is a new generation of environmental friendly personal care products being launched as the alternative to ‘flushable wipes’.

FreshX available in two fragranc_webAvailable in two formulas; ‘Aloe Fresh’ & ‘Fragrance Free’. With the benefits of botanicals and vitamins.

Dermatologically tested for sensitive skins.

Free from oil, alcohol and parabens.

Available nationwide in Sainsbury stores and online this month (March 2017).

Over one billion so called ‘flushable’ wipes containing plastics were sold in the UK last year but unlike toilet tissue they don’t break down easily when flushed and create untold damage to our drains and block the sewers (costing the water companies over £88million a year) and when they eventually reach the ocean are causing havoc with marine life and littering our beaches. (

New environmentally friendly freshX ‘Toilet Tissue Spritz’, simply transforms toilet tissue with a quick spritz into a moist, soothing, cleansing wipe with the additional benefits of skin loving ingredients such as Aloe Vera, White tea, Cucumber and vitamins E, B5.

FreshX eco credentials also comes with big savings. One bottle makes the equivalent of 300 wipes.

Including the cost of toilet tissue, freshX comes at a fraction of the cost of most ‘flushable’ wipes. We can now genuinely go and ‘spend a penny’!

It’s not only great news for ‘flushable wipe’ users who face the constant guilt factor of flushing but it gives first time users the opportunity to enjoy moisture and freshness to their toilet tissue which is so important to our daily routine. Unlike wipes, freshX won’t dry out and the stylish bottle is a great addition to any bathroom.

FreshX ‘Toilet Tissue Spritz’ is moving personal care and our bathroom habits into the 21st century by providing a beneficial, cleansing experience while saving money and helping save the environment.

Emma Cunningham of the Marine Conservation Society says: “From our Great British Beach Clean results in 2016, we have seen a near 7-fold increase in the number of wipes over the last decade. This is a real issue. Containing plastic, the wipes don’t go away, they just slowly break down and become micro plastics which are then ingested by the marine life. We welcome any innovative, free from plastic products that can be flushed down the drain that will help reduce the environmental impact both to the beaches and marine life.”

Oliver Turner from Water UK says: “We are pleased to see innovative products coming through as an alternative to flushable labelled wipes. We understand that customers expect the convenience that is offered by flushable labelled moist wipes, however even these wipes do not currently meet Water UK’s flushability testing guidelines (Water UK SNAP Protocol) and contribute to sewer blockages that can result in sewer flooding in homes and pollution in the environment. A spritz spray provides customers the same convenience and feeling of cleanliness, but without the problems and environmental concerns caused by wipes that are flushed."

Lara Zimmern, freshX Marketing Director says: “We think most consumers are simply not aware of the harm that is caused by flushing anything other than toilet tissue down the toilet. While the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘wet wipes turn nasty’ campaign is helping to raise awareness, labelling on wipes can be confusing and does not always help consumers determine what can’t be flushed safely down our drains. FreshX removes all doubt for consumers who want to use a moist toilet tissue wipe, but care for the environment.”

FreshX ‘Aloe Fresh’ and ‘Fragrance Free’ is great for all the family and is available both online and nationwide in Sainsbury stores

150ml bottle (equivalent of 300 wipes). Recommended retail price £3.50.

Follow The FreshX Factor on Facebook and @TheFreshXFactor - #BritswhoSpritz

‘freshX’ and ‘Tissue Spritz’ are registered trademarks of Edgeo Ltd, a company dedicated to addressing a range of environmental issues and developing products that help solve these problems. FreshX is the first of many innovations designed to offer the consumer an altogether better experience with a clear conscience that they are not harming the planet.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK charity dedicated to protecting our seas, shores and wildlife.

MCS campaigns for clean seas and beaches, sustainable fisheries, and protection of marine life. Through education, community involvement and collaboration, MCS raises awareness of the many threats that face our seas and promotes individual, industry and government action to protect the marine environment. MCS provides information and guidance on many aspects of marine conservation and produces the annual Good Beach Guide, the Good Fish Guide, as well as involving thousands of volunteers in projects and surveys such as MCS Beachwatch.

Water UK is a membership organisation which represents and works with the major water and wastewater service providers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Our vision is of a trusted water sector, providing customers and communities with world-class services and enhancing the UK's quality of life. Our purpose is to promote the conditions needed to achieve our vision through leadership in bringing people together, informing debate and generating ideas.

This press release is presented for your information only.

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


vbitesVegan food specialists VBites will be unveiling four new additions to its range of 100% natural plant based foods at IFE 2017, the UK’s biggest food and drink trade show. New products making their debut are VBites’ BBQ pulled ‘pork’, piri piri burgers, lemon and black pepper scampi style bites and vegetable bake fingers.

VBites’ new BBQ pulled ‘pork’ has all the authentic taste and texture of the popular American BBQ classic while its new Piri Piri Burgers are subtly seasoned with herbs and spices for that classic Portuguese piri piri taste - spicy, smoky and slightly sweet.

Also being showcased at the event will be VBites’ new Lemon and Black Pepper Scampi Style Bites in a crispy breadcrumb coating and Vegetable Bake Fingers. The latter are made from tender vegetables including carrot, green beans, onions and sweetcorn in a crunchy breadcrumb coating.

Like all products in the VBites’ range, the new lines are free from meat, egg, dairy, lactose, casein, cholesterol, hydrogenated fats, artificial colours and GMOs, so perfect for vegetarians, vegans, people who are lactose intolerant and those looking for healthier and more ethical lifestyles.

With a shelf life of 50 days from date of manufacture on chilled foods and 12 months for frozen, the new products are ideal for any multiple or independent retailer, convenience store, wholesaler, distributor, hotel, cafe, restaurant, caterer or producer of ready meals that wants to extend its vegan food offering.

You’ll find VBites Foods on stand N2430 in the Health and Wellbeing section of IFE, which takes place from March 19th to 22nd 2017 at ExCel 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.

Report: Brexit offers escape hatch from £2bn EU waste policy costs

British businesses would lose as much as £2bn over the next 20 years through the EU's Circular Economy Package, according to a new report from think-tank Policy Exchange, which is calling on the UK to adopt a better waste and resource management framework post-Brexit.

The European approach towards waste is hampered by unclear objectives, poor data and definitions and a failure to reflect the UK context, Policy Exchange contends

Policy Exchange has on March 1, 2017 released the report, titled Going Round in Circles, which claims the EU Package is “ill-defined”, “poorly thought through” and ultimately represents a poor waste management system for the UK.

The authors suggest that the UK Government can maximise the resource productivity of the British economy through more UK-specific policies focused on energy-from-waste technologies, re-use innovation and a standardised recycling system.

Speaking to edie ahead of the report’s release, Policy Exchange’s head of environment and energy - and report co-author - Richard Howard said: “This report sets out how we think this new set of waste policies should be framed.

“Essentially, the report concludes that a new approach should be framed far more around the language of resource productivity and efficiency, rather than the 'circular economy' language, which is a bit more nebulous. It should be about making it something that businesses can understand and buy into.”

'Take back control'

Howard said the UK Government must seize on an opportunity posed by Brexit to “take back control” and develop a more coherent set of waste policies which better serve UK businesses and households. “The Circular Economy Package is quite vague in what it is trying to achieve,” he said.

“The objectives are not very well articulated. One of the central things I’m calling for is coherence in the approach and clarity of purpose. If we can start in that place, things will be much better. It’s about further reducing any environmental impacts.”

This potential for a more resource-efficient UK economy was recognised in the Government’s recent Industrial Strategy green paper, but the concept needs to be considered further, according to Howard. Research by business alliance the Aldersgate Group highlighted an opportunity for the UK economy to swell by nearly £80bn if the country adopts resource-efficient business models by 2030.

Companies should work the public sector to further improve their productivity and competitiveness, Howard said. This would include product manufacturers and retailers working together with WRAP to define common standards for labelling of packaging to improve recycling behaviour.

Howard added: “There’s an economic argument that manufacturers could be more productive in their use of resources. There’s an endless list of literature to justify that point which we cite in the report which states that if only businesses were more efficient with resources then they would save millions of pounds a year. You have to sit down and wonder why they don’t do that anyway, because it makes good business sense.”

Significant issues

Supporters of the Circular Economy Package would highlight the potential for reduced landfill rates, increased recycling numbers and the growth of the circular economy as key benefits. But Howard insisted that there are a number of serious side-effects, such as the use of European weight-based recycling targets, which often focus recycling on heavier materials whether or not they are the highest environmental priority.

This reflects the views of the UK's Resource Minister Therese Coffey, who recently said weight-based targets can lead to material being recycled when it could rather be re-used. Indeed, this has often been cited as a key factor for England’s recycling rates slowing significantly over the past three years.

The European Parliament recently suggested increasing the recycling target further to 70%. But with the recent fall in commodity prices impacting on the profitability of recycling activity, Policy Exchange believes the UK will find it difficult to achieve the more ambitious recycling targets proposed by the EU without increasing the cost to businesses and households.

The think tank's report follows on from separate research from the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) which claimed that the UK should consult on new recycling targets for 2025 to boost investor confidence in the waste sector.

Howard insisted that the UK is far more productive in the use of resources than the European average. Good progress has been made since the turn of the century, especially in the manufacturing and sectors, where waste arisings have reduced by 76% and 60% respectively.

“Since 2000, the UK has made significant progress in the way we think about waste - boosting the level of recycling and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from waste. But there are still significant issues,” Howard said.

Following the release of this report, Policy Exchange is now calling for Defra and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to set a timetable for all local authorities in England to move to one of three standardised systems for the collection of waste and recycling, simplifying the 400 or so collection systems for waste and recycling across England.


The report can be found here. (PDF)

The reason Sweden keeps running out of rubbish

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

incineration1Time and again we read headlines and hear in the news that Sweden is so tremendously good at recycling that they keep running out of rubbish. This message the media is being told to hammer home to make us believe that other countries, especially Sweden, etc., are better at recycling than Britain.

It may be true that Britain is not, necessarily, the leading light as far as recycling goes and we still dump far too much of the waste that could be recycled – ideally at home and not sent thousands of miles away to countries that have lower environmental standards that we have here for “reprocessing” – into the proverbial holes in the grounds the costs for which are goping to haunt us in the future.

While it is true that Sweden keeps running out of rubbish – why, though, should that make headlines? – and the articles then, generally, state that they are importing rubbish from elsewhere – is not because Sweden and the Swedes recycle so very well – although recycling does happen quite well too – is that the waste goes to incineration plants where electricity and heating is being produced for Swedish households.

We have to, therefore, look very much behind the scenes of such headlines and ask the question why, if they recycle that well, would they want to import waste. Because they need it for their incineration plants and that is why they buy, for instance, rubbish from the UK to burn in their furnaces. Good recycling rates have very little, if anything, to do with it.

Incineration as a last resort – and then being used to create power and heat for homes – is fine for all that which would be left over after we have done all the reducing, the reusing, the repurposing, etc., and the recycling and composting and methane production and use. But it should not be the first or second stop, which it appears to be in Sweden where they will then have to import waste from other countries to feed their furnaces.

In an ideal world there should be a circular economy for – almost – everything and everything should be reprocessed into new products. But that is in an ideal world. In an ideal world products should and would also me made in such a way that they would last for a very long time to come by being also and especially repairable aside from being well made.

© 2017