Edible garden at San Francisco city hall


Beginning Tuesday, July 1, 2008, the lawn in front of San Francisco’s City Hall will undergo a transformation from grass carpet to edible garden, as dozens of Bay Area organizations join together to plant the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden. On Saturday, July 12, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Slow Food Nation founder Alice Waters and more than 100 volunteers will plant the first edible garden in the City’s Civic Center since 1943.

The Victory Garden project takes its name from 20th Century wartime efforts to address food shortages by encouraging citizens to plant gardens on public and private land. In the early 1940s, Victory Gardens were a way for San Francisco residents to participate in developing a secure source of domestic food during a time of war, which was one of the most pressing issues of the day. Victory Gardens sprouted in front yards and vacant lots, and produced 40 percent of the nation’s vegetables. San Francisco’s program became one of the best in the country; Golden Gate Park alone had 250 garden plots.

“The Slow Food Nation Victory Garden is one more way to showcase the City’s tangible commitment to sustainability and, as in the past, confront some of the most challenging issues of our times,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “For many urban residents, access to healthy and nutritious food is as important now as it was during the Second World War.”

Slow Food Nation, the largest celebration of American food in history, takes place in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend (August 29 to September 1, 2008). The Slow Food Nation Victory Garden in the Civic Center will serve as a demonstration and education centerpiece leading up to and following the Labor Day weekend event, providing visitors the opportunity to learn about urban food production. Bounty from the garden will be donated to those with limited access to healthy, organic produce through a partnership with local food banks and meal programs.


The school bus may not come next school year

In the new school year the bus may not make a stop for your kid as high fuel prices force cost-cutting nationwide

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Families are not the only ones who are examining their driving habits as fuel prices continue to climb. The same applies for municipal governments, police departments and school districts. They are all also tightening their belts, as budgets get stretched by high fuel costs.

In certain suburban areas, school officials are asking children to walk farther to their bus stops so districts can squeeze a few more miles per gallon. In other areas it may be a case that children will be asked to walk to school altogether or to cycle. I am sure that there will be more districts and counties to follow suit soon, as it would not appear that the prices will be going down in the near future. It seems that they will rise still further. The $200 a barrel oil by the end of the decade, e.g. 2010, does not seem all that far off anymore; a notion when mentioned by Dr. Stephen Leep in his book “The Coming Economic Collapse” was laughed off as impossible fantasy.

The scaling back of bus routes could be an inconvenience to parents, but provided there is a safe sidewalk to use, a little extra walk will surely not hurt most students. Some certainly can do with the exercise of walking or cycling to school.

Reacting to the new bus route by dropping kids off in the family SUV would not be the best solution, from an environmental perspective; reducing unnecessary school bus trips is. Older diesel school buses can pump out twice the asthma-inducing pollution of a tractor trailer.

The greenest way to get your kid to school would be walking him or her to school, if they need escorting, cycling with your child to school, or have them use the walking or cycling school bus.

Diesel, which runs most school buses, has been at or near all-time high prices per gallon, and currently sits at an average of about $4.76 a gallon. Gasoline prices also hit a new record recently, of nearly $4.09 a gallon, on average. That has some police departments eliminating patrols or even putting their beat cops in golf carts to save on fuel.

In the UK some police departments have begun using – though not because of the fuel costs but rather in order to reduce the environmental footprint – electric patrol scooters. Those can cruise at 40mph for quite a considerable distance and have a top speed of, so I understand, about 70mph. In that mode, however, the battery does not last all that long.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Free software for all

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Open Source software is the biggest open secret in the IT world.

Open Source software is free, secure, and supported by some of the world's largest software and hardware companies. The software they will be promoting includes OpenOffice, a complete office suite, Firefox, a secure web browser and Thunderbird, an email and calendar manager. Companies that are committed to open source include Dell, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems and Novell.

Operating systems like Linux and BSD are safe and secure to use and some easier than others. The current one that I find, probably, to be the best is Ubuntu Linux in this regards.

Read more here...

Free software for all social enterprises, businesses and organisations in Humberside


A local agency is set to advise organisations and businesses in the area on the biggest open secret in the IT world.

The Humberside Co-operative Development Agency has been funded by Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency for Yorkshire and the Humber, to raise awareness of OpenSource software.

OpenSource software is free, secure, and supported by some of the world's largest software and hardware companies. The software they will be promoting includes OpenOffice, a complete office suite, Firefox, a secure web browser and Thunderbird, an email and calendar manager. Companies that are committed to open source include Dell, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems and Novell.

50% of the internet runs using OpenSource software, and many large government departments and companies use open source, including Lloyds TSB, Ebay, NASA, B.T., Bristol and Birmingham Councils to name only a few.

Jon Clarke, Director of Humberside CDA said "this is a fantastic opportunity for local organisations to cut costs and not performance"

For more information visit http://www.hossi.co.uk/ or call Sarah on 01482 564479 to book a place.

Source: Ethical Junction/Ethical Pulse

City Climate Pledge launched by City of London

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The City of London, on Monday 23 June, 2008, in the Guildhall, launched its City Climate Pledge.

The City of London, also often referred to as the Corporation of London or the London Corporation, provides local government services for the Square Mile, the financial and commercial heart of Britain. Its responsibilities extend far beyond the City boundaries in its commitment to mitigating climate change through supporting responsible business practices.

The Pledge is a new initiative, designed to help companies in the City of London play their part in the global fight against climate change.

The City Climate Pledge will help City organisations improve their environmental performance and will encourage them to use their global influence to affect the behaviour of companies around the UK and the world.

Lord Mayor of the City of London David Lewis says, “Climate change is our most serious global challenge and has severe implications for the world’s social and economic wellbeing. The City Climate Pledge will help the City show its commitment to combating climate change and use its global influence to set an example for the rest of the world to follow. We are very keen for all City companies to sign up to the Pledge.”

By signing up to the Pledge, organisations will demonstrate their commitment to tackling the challenge of climate change head on by:

  • Publishing their carbon footprint and reporting on progress made in reducing their environmental impact
  • Measuring and monitoring the carbon footprint arising from business activities
  • Mitigating the amount of carbon produced by enhancing the efficiency of day-today operations and
  • Maximising the effectiveness of any carbon offsetting for any unavoidable emissions (in accordance with the UK Government Code of Best Practice).
As well as enabling companies to stand out amongst their competitors, the Pledge will help organisations establish a starting point to save energy and reduce waste – one of the easiest ways to increase profitability.

The City Climate Pledge is being delivered by the City of London in partnership with BRE, which is acting as core provider of carbon management advice and support for the Pledge and PURE, the UK’s leading carbon offset charity.

The BRE Group is a world-leading research, consultancy, training, testing and certification organisation, delivering sustainability and innovation across the built environment and beyond. -

Robert Rabinowicz, Director of Pure says ‘We are delighted to be involved in this great initiative by the City. We hope that every organisation within the square mile will sign up. Collective action is the only way to achieve the culture shift in industry and commerce that is necessary to make a demonstrable difference.’

Pure is the UK’s leading carbon offset charity with the specific objective of improving air quality and combating climate change.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Community-Managed and Funded, Eco-Clothing Brand Nvohk Set To Revolutionize Brand Building!


Recruiting since December 4, 2007, nvohk (pronounced ‘invoke’) now boasts over 3,000 future members from over 20 countries ready to activate their memberships and take the world by storm!!! Starting June 22, 2008, the company officially began inviting members to activate their 1-year membership for $50 (USD) and submit their own logo designs at www.nvohk.com.
As a member of nvohk, you get to...
- actively create and manage nvohk from the ground up
- vote on major business decisions (e.g., logo design, product designs, advertising, etc.)
- submit your own logo and product designs and win cash!
- provide ongoing feedback via general and department message boards
- earn reward points (based on 35% of net profits) to buy nvohk products

Plus you get...
-an exclusive nvohk co-founder t-shirt
- member sticker
-25% discount on all nvohk products

Using eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, and allowing its members to take the drivers seat in major business decisions, nvohk is prepared to challenge the way fashion brands are built and managed.

The limited edition nvohk co-founder t-shirt designed by Robb Havassy will be an exclusive offering to members as part of their first year membership package, and will kick off nvohk’s artist t-shirt series, with a new artist every year, to be included as part of nvohk’s annual member package each year.

But that’s not all! Being a member of nvohk allows you to become an integral part of shaping the nvohk brand. For just $50 a year, members will vote on major business decisions including logo design, product design, advertising, etc. as well as get the opportunity to submit their own designs to win cash!. In addition, 35% of nvohk’s net profits will come back to its members in the form of reward points that can be redeemed to purchase products, and you also get 25% off of all nvohk products.

But the best part of the deal, especially for the environmentally conscious, is that nvohk will donate 10% of the net profits to environmental organizations selected by its members!

To learn more about nvohk or to become a member, please visit www.nvohk.com

Source: Nvohk

Big Green Purse Urges Women to Use Their Consumer Clout to Protect the Environment – and Themselves


Diane MacEachern’s message is simple but revolutionary. If women change the way they spend their money, they can help solve the environmental crisis – and protect themselves and their families, too. Why women? Because women spend $.85 of every dollar in the marketplace. “Women have a whole planetful of power in their purses,” says Diane in her new book Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World (Avery/PenguinGroup USA, 978-1-58333-303-7, 03/2008, $16.95). “When they use it to buy green, they force manufacturers to make products that reduce pollution, slow global warming, and eliminate dangerous chemicals.”

With cosmetic companies free of federal regulations, pharmaceutical bi-products polluting our drinking water, and the polar ice caps melting, solutions have stymied citizens and lawmakers alike. Big Green Purse empowers mothers, home owners, business owners, young professionals, teenagers and more in two ways: The book provides targeted information women often don’t have time to track down or verify on their own. It also enables women to use their undeniable consumer clout to create safeguards that have eluded legislation and regulation.

Whether readers want to start with small changes or are ready to make bigger lifestyle and budget commitments, Big Green Purse offers sensible, time-saving ways to “go green” now. Big Green Purse:

targets 25 commodities where women’s dollars can have the greatest impact, including food, clothing, cars, computers, coffee, cleansers, furniture and flooring
provides easy-to-follow guidelines, checklists and reference materials so readers can prioritize their purchasing and “make the shift” to green products, companies and services
includes instructions on how to read ingredient lists and look for “third party verification” of eco-friendly claims
demystifies current green labeling systems to help consumers identify an eco-bargain from a rip-off
highlights “eco-cheap” strategies to save money but still live and shop green
gives “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” recommendations on hundreds of eco-options
suggests simple and quick lifestyle changes women can make to benefit the environment regardless of how much money they spend.

“Women have more economic clout than the country of Japan,” says Diane. “Why not use it to pressure companies to save energy, keep our air and water clean, protect forests, and use safer ingredients?” Consumer demand has already led industry to reformulate nail polish without harmful chemical phthalates. Diane argues that women can similarly use their purse to protect songbirds on cocoa plantations, increase the availability of organic cotton, eliminate toxins in lipstick and body lotion, and promote more fuel-efficient vehicles and appliances.

While it is a fun and entertaining read, at its core Big Green Purse is a call to action. Women can make the difference in the race to save the planet, but only if they make their money matter. Diane’s award-winning website, www.biggreenpurse.com, offers further information, ongoing updates, and sample letters so readers can contact legislators and companies. The website also encourages women to join the “One in a Million” campaign by pledging to shift $1,000 of their household budgets to green products and services.

"Green to Gold's" Andrew Winston Leads Public Seminar in DC


Burlingame, CA.: Andrew Winston, co-author of one of the most read business books on the emerging green economy and how companies can take advantage, will be stopping in Washington DC on July 15 for one of only four public seminars this year. The upcoming Washington DC installment of his "Eco-Advantage Salon Tour" produced by Sustainable Life Media, and sponsored by 3M, HP, Sun Microsystems and WebEx will be held July 15 from 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM at the Willard InterContinental hotel in downtown DC.

During the half-day conference, Winston will discuss what is causing the "green wave" in business (the vernacular used in his book to describe business's move toward sustainability), and how "Wave Riders" (those businesses that are embracing the green wave) have harnessed this trend to create competitive advantage for their business. Based on three years of research while serving as Director of the Corporate Environmental Strategy Project at Yale's renowned School of Forestry and the Environment, as well as his own extensive experience as a business consultant with Boston Consulting Group and his own consultancy, Winston uses up to the minute news as well as various case studies to illustrate the four "Pillars of Eco-Innovation" that can lead to enhanced bottom line value.

Salon Tour participants will work through hands on exercises aimed at helping them become familiar with the tools and frameworks suggested in Winston's book, and assisting managers, regardless of where they sit in a company, in identifying where opportunities may lie for them. To round out the program, local "wave-riders", who are already experiencing success with sustainability, will be on hand to tell their own stories in an interactive panel session. Panelists in Washington DC will be Herve Houdre, General Manager of the Willard InterContinental Washington, Lori Perman, Eco-Responsibility Manager at Sun Microsystems, John Friedman, Senior Manager, Public Relations at Sodexo, Inc., and Seth Goldman, President and TeaEO of Honest Tea.

Winston isn’t afraid of providing some tough love to would-be Wave Riders. In the book he cautions, “In many cases, eco-efficiency efforts and other environmental initiatives do pay off. But lots of initiatives fall flat. Some don’t deliver the promised environmental gains. Others don’t work from an economic perspective. Some fail on both accounts,” says Winston. Winston is prepared to show Salon participants how to avoid falling into common traps.

Sustainable Life Media, convener of the "Eco-Advantage Salon Tour" and publisher of Winston's free bi-weekly strategy guide, "Eco-Advantage Strategies", is committed to helping mainstream businesses new to sustainability get up to speed quickly on how to find their own profitable path to more sustainable business strategies, operating practices, product design and purchasing. "Retooling for sustainability offers a new frontier of competitive advantage at the moment," said company founder and president, KoAnn Vikoren Skryniarz. "However with growing global attention on the environmental and social impact of business -- from consumers, policy makers and a wide range of other stakeholders, it's only a matter of time before sustainability becomes a competitive business requirement."

For more information about Andrew Winston’s upcoming tour, please visit http://sustainablelifemedia.com/events/eco-advantagesalons/washingtondc

For more information about Sun Microsystems’ eco responsibility programs, visit: http://www.sun.com/eco

For more information about 3M’s environmental management program, start here: http://www.webex.com/companyinfo/press-webex.html

For more information about HP’s global citizenship, visit: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship

Source: Sustainable Life Media

DC Kimpton Hotel Garden Party to Benefit the Trust for Public Land


Washington, DC: Calling all eco-conscious Washingtonians! Get outdoors for a great cause at the 'Kimpton Hotels Garden Party,' on Wednesday, July 9 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The "green" cocktail benefit will be held at Poste Moderne Brasserie's newly expanded "Garden"-the popular outdoor courtyard, tucked away behind the bustling restaurant. The event will support The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the only national nonprofit dedicated to conserving land for public recreation and enjoyment. TPL has protected more than 2.4 million acres including over 100,000 acres in the Chesapeake Region alone.

Guests will be treated to tastes from Chef Robert Weland's newly launched Garden Menu, which features simple, casual fare using organic and sustainable ingredients. At the Garden Party, guests will be invited to tour Chef's outdoor garden filled with organic herbs and vegetables as well as a 'tomato forest' of in-season heirloom tomato plants.

To complement the fresh garden fare, Poste's award-winning mixologist Rico Wisner will shake up eco-chic liquid libations featuring Square OneTM Organic Vodka. The specialty cocktails will be offered at happy hour prices ($5), and all proceeds will be donated to TPL. Guests can bid on the chance auction to win a variety of green-themed prizes including weekend getaways at Kimpton's eco-friendly hotels.

There will be a $10 door admittance fee for the event, which will include tickets for two complimentary cocktails and Garden hors d'oeuvres. All proceeds from admission fees, specialty drinks and auction items will go directly to The Trust for Public Land. To RSVP or for more information, call 202-661-2707 or e-mail aileen.deluna@kimptonhotels.com. Poste Moderne Brasserie is housed in the Hotel Monaco Washington DC, and is located at 555 8th St, NW, within a block of the Gallery Place Metro Station.

The Garden Party is jointly hosted by Kimpton Hotels' seven DC properties, including Hotel Palomar Washington DC, Hotel Helix, Hotel Rouge, Topaz Hotel, Hotel Madera, Hotel George and Hotel Monaco Washington DC. The event is part of Kimpton's nationwide campaign to raise money for TPL's Parks for People initiative. Kimpton has always held a strong, eco-friendly outlook throughout all levels of the organization, which includes a sense of responsibility, appreciation and care for the planet. The Trust for Public Land partnership-and Kimpton's EarthCare initiative as a whole-demonstrates the company's unyielding commitment to making a difference for the environment on a local, national and global level.

More information CLICK HERE

Source: The Trust for Public Land

British Prime Minister unveiled new renewable energy plan

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

London, Friday June 27, 2008 – Only last week the Renewables Advisory Board (RAB) have warned that the nation is going to miss its renewable energy targets under current government policy and that even with 100bn investment that the very best that the UK could realistically hope for is to generate 14% of its energy from sustainable sources by 2020. The EU, however, has set Britain a target of 15% renewable energy generation by then.

While other countries will easily achieve such targets, such as Germany, for instance, so it is said, Britain, as per usual, is lagging behind, often due to the fact that there just is not the political will there to implement technology that was not invented and thought of in this country. The UK seems to be struck with this colonial mindset still that, unless it was invented in the UK, it cannot be any good.

Despite, however, the Renewables Advisory Board announcement that the nation is going to miss its renewable energy targets under current government policy Gordon Brown in a speech at the Low Carbon Energy Summit, announced yesterday a £100 billion plan which he says is “the most dramatic change in energy policy since the advent of nuclear power.”

In his speech at the Tate Modern museum Brown said that the North Sea has passed peak for oil and natural gas and will be now turned into “the equivalent for wind power of what the Gulf of Arabia is for oil.” Mr Brown added, “And this is the biggest prize of all: the chance to seize the economic future—securing our prosperity as a nation by reaping the benefits of the global transition to a low carbon economy.”

£100 billion investment to generate 30-35% from renewables, and this in spite of the experts' findings that it cannot be done.

Under the new proposals, which will include a new public advertising campaign to educate people about ways they can reduce their energy and fuel bills, the UK will generate 30-35% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. An estimated 160,000 new renewable energy jobs will be created directly as a result of the program.

This is a dream and it would appear as if our Prime Minister, as per usual, is not living on this planet but in cloud cuckoo land. Experts that the government itself employed, basically, tell him it ain't gonna work and he ploughs ahead still claiming that it will. Much more is required to do that. We are in 2008, and in the very middle of it and we are going to miss the target for 2020 by miles for it is doubtful if even the 14% can be achieved but he still thinks that we can have one third of all our energy needs – energy needs for electricity, that is – met by wind, wave and solar, with a few small CHP generating plants thrown in? Someone get this PM a rather large alarm clock or strike a big gong.

The Think Tank says 100bn ain't gonna cut it Gordon and he carries on regardless. But then, that is what we have become to expect of this PM with the “I know best” attitude. Not that his predecessor was any better in that.

Mind you, in order to achieve this he is going to send along the “carbon police” and will force householders to reduce their bills through energy-saving incentives due to be announced later this summer, said Brown. Within a decade he said he wanted every householder able to do so to fit loft or cavity wall insulation, install low-energy light bulbs, and use low-energy consumer goods.

Dear Mr Brown, how do you think this is going to work. Especially not with those on the poorer income level, as I wrote in a previous article. They cannot afford to purchase the low-energy consumer goods, such as fridges, freezers and washing machine with the “Energy Star” markings, who all seem to be one third at least more in cost than the “ordinary” ones.

Our biggest and fundamental problem in this country is that Brown doesn't do 'green'. Instead he would rather urge oil producers to extract more oil than invest in technologies that will actually save CO2 emissions now. At the same time he is also playing with the nuclear lobby.

While, and I have written about this before too, fission is not a real option, simply because of the nuclear contaminated waste, we should invest, and indeed should have long ago, into research and development of fusion reactors. The Soviet Union announced well before its collapse that they had succeeded with nuclear fusion reactors. Well, time to take a look at that as, apparently, there is said to be not contaminated waste material.

The truth is that we have never looked at fusion is simply that lack of contaminated waste. No reprocessable spent fuel rods to play with for the military and therefore no interest.

Greenpeace described the new strategy as "visionary", but the environment group warned that ministers had promised much before and had so far failed to deliver.

John Sauven, the group's executive director, said: "If the government actually means it this time, then Britain will become a better, safer and more prosperous country. We could create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and use less gas, and in the long run our power bills will come down. But it won't happen without real government action."

Philip Wolfe, the executive director of the Renewable Energy Association, said: "Government have produced an energy strategy, not just an electricity strategy. This shows a new maturity in approach, getting away from the soundbite policy-making of the past and looking carefully at the role of renewables in buildings, heat, and transport.

"The key missing factor is a greater sense of urgency. We have only 12 years left and government still wants to use two of those talking about it."

Martin Temple, the chairman of the Engineering Employers' Federation, said: "Moving to a low-carbon economy will create significant business opportunities for the UK, but we will need to move quickly and decisively. Businesses around the world are alive to the massive opportunities and a number of governments are making their exploitation a national priority."

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Another Inconvenient Truth: Biofuels drive hunger and are not the answer to climate or fuel crises says Oxfam

June 25, 2008 12:01 AM

Today's biofuel policies are not solving the climate or fuel crises but are instead contributing to food insecurity and inflation, hitting poor people hardest, according to a new report by international agency Oxfam.

In today's report "Another Inconvenient Truth", Oxfam calculates that rich country biofuel policies have dragged more than 30 million people into poverty, based on evidence that biofuels have already contributed up to 30% to the global rise in food prices.

Oxfam believes the UK government, which introduced 2.5% of biofuel in all transport fuel last April, should reverse its policy instead of doubling the amount by 2010. The UK government should also press the EU to follow suit, by cancelling plans for a 10% biofuel target by 2020. Oxfam hopes that the conclusions from the 'Gallagher Review'*, due out tomorrow, will add extra pressure on the Government to act.

"It would be shameful if the government decided to plough on ahead regardless of mounting evidence exposing the dangerous short-comings of biofuels," said report author Robert Bailey. "Their biofuels policy is out of sync with its overall ambition to tackle climate change and promote development around the world.

"Rich counties' biofuel policies- including the UK's - is actually helping to accelerate climate change and deepen poverty and hunger. Rich countries' demands for more biofuels in their transport fuels are causing spiralling food inflation."

He continued: "If the fuel value for a crop is more than its food value, then it will be sold for fuel instead. Thanks to generous subsidies and tax breaks, that is exactly what is happening. Grain reserves are now at an all-time low."

Rich countries, including the UK, are supporting their own biofuel production through rapidly increasing targets, subsidies, tax breaks and tariffs. From being hailed as a green initiative, biofuels have been used to protect farming interests, with support ultimately creating a new 'tax on food'.

"Rich countries spent up to $15 billion last year supporting their own biofuels while blocking cheaper Brazilian ethanol, which is far less damaging for global food security and the environment. That's the same amount of money that Oxfam says is needed to help poor people cope with the food crisis," said Bailey.

"This is a regressive tax that hits poor people the hardest because their food bills represent a greater share of their income," he said.

The biofuels being grown today are not an effective answer to climate change. Instead, biofuels are taking over agricultural land and forcing farming to expand into lands that are important carbon sinks, like forests and wetlands. This triggers the release of carbon from soil and vegetation that will take decades to repay.

Oxfam estimates that by 2020, as a result of the EU's 10% biofuel target, carbon emissions from changing land use for palm oil could be almost 70 times greater than the annual savings the EU hopes to achieve from biofuels by then.

The report shows that biofuels will not address rich countries' need for fuel security, as has been argued by supporters of biofuels. "Even if the entire world's supply of grains and sugars were converted into ethanol tomorrow - in the process giving us all even less to eat - we would only be able to replace 40% of our petrol and diesel consumption," Bailey said. "Rich country governments should not use biofuels as an excuse to avoid urgent decisions about how to reduce their unfettered demand for petrol and diesel."

In developing countries, Oxfam says that biofuels could provide a sustainable energy alternative for poor people in marginalized areas - but that the potential economic, social and environmental costs can be severe, and countries should proceed with caution. In Mali for example, bioenergy projects provide clean renewable energy sources to poor women and men in rural areas. But, as the main plank of a policy to substitute transport fuel by rich nations, biofuels are failing.

Bailey said: "Biofuels were meant to be an alternative to oil - a secure source of new transport energy. But rich countries have designed their policies too much for the benefit of domestic interest groups. They are making climate change worse, not better, they are stealing crops and land away from food production, and they are destroying millions of livelihoods in the process."

Download the complete report here...

Green win for Exeter Designers

Exeter-based design company Alder and Alder has won the Environmental Awareness award at the FSB Devon Business Awards, for their environmental initiative, Today and Tomorrow. The initiative was launched to provide advice and guidance to businesses interested in sustainable marketing solutions. The winners were announced at the awards dinner at the Palace Hotel, Torquay, on Friday 6 June.

The winning initiative is supported by a website - www.todayandtomorrowonline.co.uk - which was launched in February this year. It provides practical guidance for companies interested in reducing the negative environmental impact of their marketing and communication material. There is a glossary of common terms, news items and links to related websites. It is also possible to download ‘Small footprint, Big impact', a guide to greener marketing with information on selecting the most appropriate paper, the best document format and the right printer. There is advice on the benefits of utilising the internet and how to create a green supply chain too.

The award for Environmental Responsibility was sponsored by the FSB and Malcolm Colegate, FSB Devon regional chairman commented:

‘The environmental issue is high on everyone's discussion in today's world. Businesses are not exempt. It is encouraging to see so many companies rising to the challenge and Alder and Alder have gone that extra mile by encouraging and helping other businesses to deal with their own environmental policies. Many congratulations to Alder and Alder!'

This is the first year the FSB Devon Business Awards have been held, and the organisers were delighted with the number of entries they received and the quality of the submissions.

Jonathan Alder, Director of Alder and Alder said:

"We were really proud to be on the shortlist, then to win it was fantastic. It's a great opportunity to raise the profile of Today and Tomorrow, and we hope it encourages more businesses to think about a sustainable approach and recognise what benefits there are, not just to the environment, but to their business as well."

Alder and Alder have themselves made changes to the way that they work, following a training programme with Envision in 2007. They have implemented an Environmental Management System in their office, which includes an Environmental Policy outlining three main objectives: reduction of energy consumption, reduction in waste and a green procurement policy.

The Today and Tomorrow initiative was launched to share knowledge and experience with a wider audience in the business community. Alder and Alder had an opportunity to do just that following an invitation from Barclays to take part in their ‘Let's talk...' seminar series. On Thursday 5 June Alder and Alder presented Today and Tomorrow as part of a case study at Barclays ‘Let's talk Green Business' seminar in Wellington, Somerset.

Jonathan said, ‘The seminar was a great opportunity to meet other businesses and talk about the challenges of implementing a sustainable communication strategy. To win an award for our Today and Tomorrow initiative the next day was fantastic.'

For more information or general enquiries, call 01392 248107, email jonathan[at]alderandalder[dot]co[dot]uk or visit the website at

Source: Ethical Junction

Water and Money down the pan - £3bn a year!!

Water costs money and will soon be costing a lot more when the cost of flood defences are loaded onto water bills. We each use 150 litres a day, 60 being used for toilet flushing alone. The flushing toilet is by far the biggest user so this is where the greatest savings can be made.

DO NOT buy a dual-flush, 'push-button' operated toilet, these are the biggest 'Trojan-Horse' of water saving ever because they ALL have 'DROP-VALVES' in the cistern, which have been KNOWN to leak for 160 years. The leakage rate in the USA is 15-30 litres per person per day and has been in textbooks for decades. At any one time in the USA, one in five valve toilets leak at over 20,000 US gallons per year. Do NOT fall for the 'lure' of simple 'Push-Button' operation, it will cost you plenty in leakage.

Stay with siphon toilets, characterised with their handle operation, these NEVER leak, the siphons proper name is the 'Water Waste Preventor' on account of it being invented in 1863 to replace leaky valves back then.

For 150 years we have 'pressed and let go', releasing the full cistern every time, a complete waste of water and money, literally down the pan.

For cisterns with FRONT handles, fit the INTERFLUSH, a DIY retrofit kit from www.interflush.co.uk, which converts the siphon to INTERRUPTIBLE flushing, just stop it when you like. Operation now becomes: 'Press, HOLD DOWN to flush, let go to stop the flush, as soon as pan is clear. Uses only what is needed, wasting none at all, saving on average HALF the flushing water, 30 litres per person per day. Costs under £20, saves thousands over the years, payback time of weeks not years. Norwich Union and Barclays bank are installing it. It cut Norwich Union's water bill by over 20%.

The above two measures can save UK consumers almost £3Bn a year and half a million tonnes of carbon emissions from reduced pumping and treatment.

Source: Ethical Junction

Green (Living) Review comment: In addition to the installation of such a device if the guys could leave their hands off the lever if it is just a wee then we also would save a lot more water. As the Mayor of London's Office suggested last year “don't rush to flush, if it is only a pee”. Also a suggestion, methinks.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

BOGO LIGHT - Advertisement

"I'm not a paper cup" set to shake up throwaway cup habit

PREDICTED TO be as big as 'I'm not a plastic bag', 'I'm Not a Paper Cup' is set to revolutionize the way Brits drink their mid morning takeaway coffees or teas, says Nigel's Eco Store.

An astounding 18.25 million takeaway paper cups are handed out by Starbucks alone every year - but due to their wax coating, they cannot be recycled and so end up on UK landfills.

"We get through an astonishing 31 billion cups of coffee a year (not to mention the cups of tea drank in the UK) and a high proportion of this figure includes takeaway coffee in paper or polystyrene cups that just make it to the dump - a problem, not dissimilar to the dilemma of plastic bags," says Nigel of Nigel's Eco Store.

"Just as British shoppers got to grips with bringing their own bags, the same should apply for takeaway coffees and I'm Not a Paper Cup, already an icon in the US, is perfect to tackle the problem of non-recyclable paper cups.

I'm Not a Paper Cup is a reusable, double walled, thermal ceramic mug that comes with a re-sealable silicon lid keeps the coffee safe - not only does the coffee stay warmer for longer, it will also cost less with many high street chains now offering coffee at knockdown prices if customers bring their own.

"I'm not a paper cup is great! How could anyone bear to drink their morning coffee in ghastly unsustainable polystyrene after the delights of this glorious, green mug. Everyone should have one," says Catherine Jones, eco columnist from Psychologies who recently road tested 'I'm Not a Paper Cup' and hasn't been seen without it since.

Source: Ethical Junction

Green (Living) Review comment: Many people, unfortunately, do tend to believe that those cardboard cups from Starbucks, Wild Bean, and others are, because they are of cardboard, recyclable, which, as mentioned, they are not, due to their coating. This coating, however, is no longer wax in most cases but a thin lining of plastic, the latter of which, more than likely, also harbors BPA. In fact the ordinary wax coated cardboard would be much easier to recycle than the new laminate ones.

Having said that, the “I'm not a paper cup” while being all fine and good is something that will only work of people actually carry one and if outlets are prepared to fill those. I know of people who have gone to such coffee places like Starbucks with their own travel mug (from a different source than the stores) and the company was not prepared to fill up their travel mugs. They put it into a cardboard cup first and then they were prepared to let the customer put it into his own cup.

Nothing like this will ever work until such a time that the outlets are prepared to use, say, an earthenware mug or such – if they have to have their own measures in which to purvey the merchandise – and then decant it into the customer's own vessel or simply are prepared to fill the vessel brought in by the customer. It can hardly be rocket science to get machines, for instance, to dispense a certain amount of coffee or such, regardless of size of vessel proffered.

I have yet to lay my sticky little hands on a review sample of the “I'm not a paper cup” drinking vessel and, then, maybe, I may be convinced about the credentials of this particular cup over others that I can bring along to the store, as long as they are willing to fill it for me without first pouring the coffee into a paper cup and then allowing me to fill my cup that I brought along.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

PETA upset after pigeons shot dead at Wimbledon

Here we go again with PETA – Wimbledon under fire for pigeon cull

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Tournament has come under fire from animal activists on the second day of Wimbledon for using marksmen to shoot down dive-bombing pigeons.

The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club does “employ” two hawks during the tournament to scare away pigeons who that have become a pest swooping down onto Centre Court and distracting players in the middle of tense matches.

However, the hawks have failed to keep the pigeons away from the players’ lawn and the open-air media restaurant, due to the high number of pigeons in the area, so marksmen were called in to shoot them.

“The hawks are our first line of deterrent”, said Wimbledon spokesman Johnny Perkins, “and by and large they do the job well enough.”

“But unfortunately there were one or two areas where the hawks didn’t deter the pigeons, so it was deemed necessary to take a harder approach,” he explained.

The marksmen were summoned by Wimbledon as pigeon droppings on the restaurant tables were thought to be a health hazard.

The decision to call in the marksmen was condemned as “cruel and illegal behaviour” by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which complained to the tournament organisers and the police.

“Since the use of marksmen to kill pigeons appears to have been carried out as a first, rather than a last resort, and not out of a concern for public health, but rather because the animals were deemed inconvenient by players, you appear to be in clear violation of the law,” PETA vice-president Bruce Friedrich said.

I do not know where this idiot from PETA comes from – what planet, I mean – but there is no law against shooting pigeons, as they are classed as vermin. It needs nothing to do with public health or whatever. PETA, kindly wake up and also, if possible, return to the planet whence you have come.

Apparently there are always again and again people who have nothing else to do but to involve themselves in needless campaign such as these. It looks like they cannot find anything else that can get them into the news well enough bar things such as the Wimbledon Tournament and pigeons.

I must say and will also do so that, while I am all for the environment and everything ecological, when it comes to pigeons, whether feral, as in rock doves in the cities, or to wood pigeons, as well as to the gray squirrel, that's where it ends and those end up in my freezer.

Does someone out there have the phone number for the marksmen? I'd like to contact them for the pigeons. My freezer could do with filling up and as food is getting a little expensive those would do nicely, thank you.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Abandoned farmlands are key to sustainable bioenergy

Biofuels can be a sustainable part of the world's energy future, especially if bioenergy agriculture is developed on currently abandoned or degraded agricultural lands, report scientists from the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University. Using these lands for energy crops, instead of converting existing croplands or clearing new land, avoids competition with food production and preserves carbon-storing forests needed to mitigate climate change. Sustainable bioenergy is likely to satisfy no more than 10% of the demand in the energy-intensive economies of North America, Europe, and Asia. But for some developing countries, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa, the potential exists to supply many times their current energy needs without compromising food supply or destroying forests.

Elliot Campbell, Robert Genova, and Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, with David Lobell of Stanford University, estimated the global extent of abandoned crop and pastureland and calculated their potential for sustainable bioenergy production from historical land-use data, satellite imaging, and ecosystem models. Agricultural areas that have been converted to urban areas or have reverted to forests were not included in the assessment. The results of the study are published in the June 25 online edition of Environmental Science and Technology.

The researchers estimate that globally up to 4.7 million square kilometers (approximately 1.8 million square miles) of abandoned lands could be available for growing energy crops. The potential yield of this land area, equivalent to nearly half the land area of the United States (including Alaska), depends on local soils and climate, as well as on the specific energy crops and cultivation methods in each region. But the researchers estimate that the worldwide harvestable dry biomass could amount to as much as 2.1 billion tons, with a total energy content of about 41 exajoules. While this is a significant amount of energy (one exajoule is a billion billion joules, equivalent to about 170 million barrels of oil), at best it would satisfy only about 8% of worldwide energy demand.

"At the national scale, the bioenergy potential is largest in the United States, Brazil, and Australia," says lead author Campbell. "These countries have the most extensive areas of abandoned crop and pasture lands. Eastern North America has the largest area of abandoned croplands, and the Midwest has the biggest expanse of abandoned pastureland. Even so, if 100% of these lands were used for bioenergy, they would still only yield enough for about 6% of our national energy needs."

The study revealed larger opportunities in other parts of the world. In some African countries, where grassland ecosystems are very productive and current fossil fuel demand is low, biomass could provide up to 37 times the energy currently used.

"Our study shows that there is clearly a potential for developing sustainable bioenergy, and we've been able to identify areas where biomass can be grown for energy, without endangering food security or making climate change worse," says Field, director of the Department of Global Ecology. "But we can't count on bioenergy to be a dominant contributor to the global energy system over the next few decades. Expanding beyond its sustainable limits would threaten food security and have serious environmental impacts."

Source: Carnegie Institution

Ethical Junction Member set to virtually storm Glastonbury

Ethical Junction Member and keyboard player with the Autons, Tony Rollinson is set to take his eco message to tens of thousands when a video of one of their songs is played at Glastonbury Festival later this month.

The Autons eco-ballad Maybe has attracted attention since it appeared over the credits on a DVD given away with copies of Permaculture, a green-issue magazine published in the Meon Valley by Permanent Publications.

Several film-makers asked if they could create a video for the song - they put the results on video sharing website YouTube, and from there interest has snowballed. Environmental champion Al Gore has also expressed an interest in using the song, and articles have appeared in The Ecologist and The Times about it.

Tony Rollinson said: 'We had a few people after the DVD came out saying they would like to do something with the song, and to be honest we didn't expect much. 'But then it came back with this amazing, inspiring piece of film. We put it on YouTube so people could pass it around and share it, but we never expected this much of a response.'

Now the film will be shown on the big screens beside the main stage of the Glastonbury Festival, from June 27 to 29.

'The people at Glastonbury just asked us if they could use it, and you don't say no to something like that,' he added. 'We think they're going to play it quite a few times, which will be great for us.'

Channel 4 is looking at using the song as the theme music for a documentary series and the band have been invited to play at the Green Show at Olympia in London in October. 'It's a beautiful song in its own right, but when you get other artists involved it's brilliantly exciting to see what they can come up with,' said Tony.

For the record, The Autons are named after Doctor Who villains - plastic mannequins that came to life.

Source: Ethical Junction

The Third Annual Environmental Ethics Institute Offers Summer Course and Seminar in Environmental Ethics

NEWS RELEASE from The Center for Ethics, University of Montana

Missoula, MT The Center for Ethics at The University of Montana will hold its third annual Environmental Ethics Institute in early August of 2008. The institute provides a unique opportunity for scholars, students, professionals, and interested citizens to gather in Missoula, MT to discuss and reflect on environmental issues. The institute consists of a 2 day seminar, a 5 day course, and several public lectures/panel discussions. A wide variety of interested individuals-- students, professors, community members and professionals-- will have the opportunity to take part.

What role can philosophy play in meeting the overwhelming challenge of environmental degradation and the human response to that degradation? Has the emerging field of environmental ethics been of use in meeting this challenge, or is philosophy too theoretically oriented to contribute to the resolution of such practical problems? The course, “Environmental Ethics and Policy,” will serve as a foundation for discussion of these issues with a focus on contemporary environmental moral and political theories. The course requires 4 to 5 weeks of asynchronous online study prior to 5 days of face-to-face contact in Missoula. Students last year loved this format, one commenting that it was "the perfect balance of a variety of teaching strategies!" The online section of the course is July 1st — 25th, 2008. The face-to-face portion meets in Missoula Aug 4th — 8th. The deadline for registration is July 3, 2008.

The course instructor, Dr. Andrew Light, is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Affairs and Adjunct Professor of Geography and Public Health Genetics at the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Light’s primary areas of interest are environmental ethics and policy, philosophy of technology, moral and political philosophy, and aesthetics.

The seminar, “Gender, Health, and the Environment,” explores the interconnections between gender, human health, the natural environment, and social justice in an innovative two-day workshop format that includes group work, individual projects, and outdoor activities. The seminar can be taken for one credit at the graduate or undergraduate level, or as a no-credit workshop for a reduced fee. A new offering in 2008, the seminar will be held over two days Aug 1 & 2. The deadline for registration is July 25, 2008.

The seminar instructor is Dr. Karen J. Warren, author, scholar and Professor of Philosophy at Macalester College. Dr. Warren has written extensively in the fields of critical thinking, environmental ethics and ecofeminism. Warren’s scholarly projects explore the connections between the subordination of women and others, and the subordination of the environment.

Now in its third year, the Environmental Ethics Institute positions the University of Montana on the cutting edge of environmental ethics. Past institutes have included courses and lectures offered by, among others, Holmes Rolston III, Yuriko Saito, Andrew Light, Ben Minteer, and Paul B. Thompson. This year’s institute promises to match this success by inviting prominent scholars to lead engaging, and thought provoking discussions in the course, seminar and evening lectures. Students and concerned citizens of all walks of life are encouraged to join us beautiful western Montana for this exciting event.

Contact Info: Blake Francis
Program Coordinator
The Center for Ethics
(406) 243-5744
Email: blake[dot]francis[at]umontana[dot]edu
Website: www.umt.edu/ethics

Website : The Center for Ethics

Dump that screen saver

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Dump those flying toasters and endlessly looping slide shows. They may be doing more harm than good.

In today's world the screen saver is no longer needed, and it has not been needed for many years now. Our monitors are no longer the ones that can end up with so-called screen burn or burn in, as the old green and gray ones once did. So, why do you still use a screen saver.

You do not still use a screen saver, do you?

Read more here...

Adnams launches Carbon Neutral Beer on draught


Following its hugely successful launch as a bottled beer, the UK’s first carbon neutral beer, Adnams East Green is now available on draught in pubs.

East Green is brewed in Adnams’ groundbreaking new brewery, which has an Energy Recovery System that recycles 100% of the steam created during the brewing process and uses it to heat 90% of the following brew. The beer is made with high-yielding barley, grown in Suffolk, which subsequently greatly minimises CO2 emissions from transportation. Boadicea Hops are also used - they are naturally aphid-resistant and reduce the use of pesticides significantly. To ensure carbon emissions were as low as possible, Adnams worked with The University of East Anglia’s carbon reduction CRed team, throughout the project.

Rob Flanagan, Sales Director, commented, “Following the successful launch of East Green in the bottle last month we were keen to make the beer available in pubs. The reaction to this beer has been fantastic, with consumer demand exceeding all our expectations. This is undoubtedly our most successful beer launch to date. The draught version is even more environmentally efficient because it is packed in casks rather than bottles. We know that there is a growing demand for ethical products and we believe that our commitment to reducing our environmental impact and in particular, East Green is exactly what our customers are looking for.”

Rob continues, “We’ve reduced the carbon, but we certainly haven’t compromised on the flavour. Light golden in colour with subtle citrus and grassy hop aromas, East Green is a beer with all the quality and taste that Adnams is famous for.”

Dr Simon Gerrard, manager of UEA’s CRed programme, said: "CRed's independent expertise has enabled Adnams to understand the complex nature and range of carbon emissions arising from the production and distribution of East Green beer. The carbon lifecycle assessment from farm to delivery helps Adnams target key elements in the process and reduce the emissions of the overall product. As consumers become more carbon literate, so the requirement for authoritative and independent information becomes more important."

Adnams’ dedication to the environment is exemplified by the many environmental awards they have received. In November 2007 they won the National Business Award for Corporate Social Responsibility and other recent awards include The Carbon Trust Innovator of the Year 2007 and The GoodCorporation Ethical Business Award in June 2007. Adnams is a finalist in Business in the Community’s Awards for Excellence to be announced in July.

Source: Adnams Breweries

Latest plan for Battersea power station would turn it into a biofuel conversion

A property company has said it has concrete plans to convert Battersea Power Station into the greenest development in Britain as part £4bn project.

The plans talk about part of the existing power station being converted into a combined heat and power (CHP) plant, generating energy from waste, biofuels and 'other renewable sources'.

Hopefully, this can then become a blueprint for other such, local, power stations, producing both heat and power from waste, ideally using waste wood. There is so much, as I mentioned before, waste wood about that it is amazing that it has taken this government – and others – so long to recognize that there is something useful that can do with this resource, other than depositing it in a landfill site.

They also include plans for a huge building which will be the 'greenest in Britain' thanks to a natural ventilation system and other sustainable features.

The claims of previous developers aiming to regenerate the landmark site have been trashed by those living near the former power station, where local belief appears to be that the figures will never stack up.

But Real Estate Opportunities, the masterminds behind this latest plan, insists it will make good on its promises.

Rob Tincknell, managing director of REO's development manager, Treasury Holdings UK, said: "We don't embark on projects that we can't deliver. We are determined that Londoners will not be disappointed and this area will be brought back to life in the most spectacular way.

"It will be a place to live, work and play."

The developers say their aim is to create of a zero carbon environment the delivery of a sustainable mixed-use development.

REO is planning to spend £150 million on saving and repairing Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's 1930s power station, with the key historic spaces retained and open to the public. It would be developed to incorporate hotel, residential and retail accommodation.

It would be nice to see that great old power station in use again for something decent, such as a power station, even though the power station part of it will be much smaller than it used to be.

Personally, I must say that I cannot understand why that power station was ever abandoned and why it is not being taken into operation as a full power station again, as a CHP plant, crating both heat and power for the local area. With the proper political will, I am sure this can be done. But, alas, as per usual, the political will does not seem to be there, yet again.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Web tool offers instant insight into firm's eco-performance

Free software plug-in for Internet Explorer shows users 0-100 score for a firm's green performance every time they scroll over its name


Customers of 650 of the world's largest companies can now get a daily reminder of those firms' green credentials with the launch of new software that allows web users to easily view a score out of 100 for multinationals' environmental record.

The plug-in from the Swedish IT start-up BadBuster means that users of Internet Explorer can see a pop-up window with a number rating of a firm's green performance every time they scroll over the company's name. The window is also displayed in green, yellow or red to instantly display the company's level of environmental performance and offers a link back to BadBuster's site, which shows the various reports the ranking was based on.

BadBuster says that the free downloadable software is currently in beta and shall and will be improved over time, with a plug-in for the Firefox web browser to follow and expected before the end of the year and other browser versions scheduled to be released next year. I cannot wait for the Firefox version as I do not use, for various reasons, Internet Explorer.

The ratings are based on an average score taken from various "reliable and independent" publicly available reports into firms' environmental performance, such as the Carbon Disclosure Project and Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics.

The aim of the new functionality, BadBuster says, is to provide "a simple way for consumers to see how serious companies are about cutting their negative impact on the environment". In other words a tool that cuts through the greenwash, hopefully.

However, despite providing an easy way for consumers to check environmental reports on a given company, the approach is likely to face criticism for its simplistic approach to gauging firms' environmental performance.

East Green – the first carbon neutral beer from the coast


Great tasting and Green East Green is a UK first

At Adnams we believe in doing the right thing – not just because it makes us feel good, but because it makes business sense. From investment in our eco-distribution centre and energy efficient brewhouse, through to our lightweight bottle and Environmental Action Group we believe that Adnams is at the forefront of the environmental agenda.

Rather than sitting back basking in the glory of our award-winning efforts, we will continue to push ourselves and explore opportunities to further reduce our carbon footprint. Our eventual aim is to become carbon neutral, only when we have made all the practical changes possible will we offset the remaining carbon. And only then will we use Gold Standard accredited schemes.

Adnams latest project is East Green – the UK's first carbon neutral beer. A beer with all the fantastic quality and taste Adnams is famous for.

It is light golden beer with subtle citrus and grassy hop aromas, dry and refreshing with well-balanced bitterness with 4.3% abv. and has a retail price of £ 1.79 for a 500ml bottle.

East Green is carbon neutral because it uses high yielding barley, grown and malted in East Anglia. In addition to that English Boadicea Hops are naturally aphid-resistant, reducing need for pesticides. Furthermore the is Adnams' energy efficient brewhouse,
Adnams' lightweight beer bottle and the tiny amounts of remaining CO2 will be offset.

While not all Adnams beer is carbon neutral Adnams Bitter, Broadside and Explorer have a lower than average carbon footprint due to the savings the company has made in production of the bottle, the reliance on local raw materials and our energy-efficient brewhouse. East Green is the first that will be offset with Climate Care.

Source: Adnams Breweries

Exclusion of the poorer folks

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The greatest problem, in my opinion, with eco-friendly products, goods and services, as well as taking things for recycling, etc., is that the costs of most of those things puts them well beyond the reach of the poorer strata of society.

Let us not even talk about the poor in countries not as “rich” as the USA, the UK and Western Europe in general, or Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

It is nigh on impossible for those that do not have a car, for instance, to bring glass, cans and such to the recycling centers and there is also no real incentive for anyone to do so in the UK. If there be payment on the other end for bringing in the glass bottles and jars, the cans, and what-have-you, as there is in the USA, as an example, then just maybe but. Nor do many of those poorer people in the Western societies have a way to, say, compost food waste, without incurring the cost of, for example, buying an indoor composting unit. Then again, if they do not have a means to compost food waste they more than likely also do not have a way to make use of such compost produced.

Other eco goods and services are also, basically, unfordable to those in the lower and poorer strata of society in our developed world, e.g. the working class and even the lower middle class. Now, with the “credit crunch” biting this is going to be even more so the case.

While there are things that we all, I know, can do without it costing us really anything, the so-called green habits and the green mindset (we shall talk about that in due course – the mindset, that is), others are just well out of reach of those groups; financially that is, for those that are on a low and fixed income.

All of us can turn off the lights in the house when they are not in use and not needed. Does the landing light really need to be on when no one is using the landing and everyone is in the lounge? Or the lights on the stairs when no one is going up or down them? Same with any other light in any other location. If you do not need it then turn it off. It saves money aside from emissions and whatever else and is therefore good for wallet and Mother Earth.

The same is true as regards to turning down the thermostat of the heating by a couple of degrees to say 18 Celsius. This alone makes a great saving for oneself as well as for the Earth. Who needs to have the heating on in the house at 25 Celsius or even higher. That's fine for a sauna but for the living room and even bedrooms it is not funny.

Turning off appliances instead of leaving them on standby is another thing we all, rich and poor alike can do and it will make us just a little richer if we do, due to the savings that we can make. The same is true for turning off or unplugging that charger for this or that device. When nothing is being charged by them what are they doing turned on. They still are running even then and are wasting, needlessly, electricity, and, in the end, you money.

On the goods side, however, and the side of green services, it is a definitely appears to be a class thing as most products and services are well out of reach of those on the lower rungs of the income ladder.

If we do not wish environmental and eco concerns and the execution of same to be a class thing, and possible only to those with the financial means to do so then we must, by needs, make things more affordable and also, and this very important, be enablers of those on the lower level so that they can be, as I am sure they would with to, part in this endeavour to help this our Planet, and in the end humankind, to survive.

So far it definitely is still a class thing, however, when, as I said, it comes to green goods and services and those in the poorer strata of our society are not able to fully participate in this and thereby are also unable to reap any financial benefits from this, such as cost reductions in electricity and heating usage, though using energy efficient light bulbs (still rather expensive compared to the incandescent Edison bulb) and other such things.

I do know that CFLs have come done in cost considerably over the last number of years but to someone who has to turn a penny over a couple of times before they can think of spending same such CFLs are still rather pricey compared to the Edison bulb that can be had for 10% of the cost. And, I must say, I have, although I use a fair number of CFLs, have not found the incandescent ones to have a short lifespan. I have bulbs running here that have been here for years and years. That is how those that have to live within rather limited means look at things. While they wish to do their part, if they but could, they have to look how to feed their families rather than as to whether they can save a little money by buying CFLs that are lot more expensive than are the old style bulbs. The problem is that, in due course, they will no longer be able to by the Edison bulb (at least not in the UK, and also not in the USA, so I understand) while the CFLs will not come done to the level of the Edison bulbs in cost, of that I am sure. So, we are forcing people to go green even though they cannot, maybe, actually afford it.

Reliable wind-up flashlights too have come down in price and some are cheaper now that are good ordinary battery powered torches, but “Energy Star” white goods, for example, are those that are the most expensive, it would seem, and someone who has to watch the money, so to speak, will hardly pay double for “Energy Star” when they can get the same type of appliance without that rating at a much lower price. Personally, I must say that I cannot and do not blame them.

The same is also true for many recycled goods. Those are the most expensive on the market often. In some instances you can now even get money for old rope, as long as you can dress it up as “recycled” in a crafts item.

Trying to be “green” is not being made easy, that is for sure, to those of the poorer sections of society in the developed world. As I indicated before, I do not even want to talk about and make mention of those (poor) living in the developing world; that part of our planet that was once referred to as “Third World”. Most people there do not stand a chance even in that respect.

It is a disgrace also that recycled goods produced by such poor people in the Third Wold countries, such as Africa, India, the Philippines, South America, etc. often in small crafts co-ops, and such, are being sold in the countries of the developed world at horrendous prices when the producers and makers only get a very tiny proportion of that in return for what they do.

Those buying “green”, and this includes those buying such goods, always want to also be seen as ethical shoppers. If that is so then we must vote with our pocketbooks in such instances and look for the products elsewhere and maybe buy them, if we so much want them, from those producers and makers that sell direct or via agents who do not charge the world for the products but just a percentage.

In conclusion, my question is, to a degree, how do we enable the poorer strata of our society to be able to be a part in this? If we do not, then we will leave them in the cold, literally even, maybe, and if it comes to the forced introduction, as we can see in the UK already, of this or that, such as the fact that no more incandescent light bulbs will be allowed to be sold and used, and also that people will be forced, as in legally forced, to insulate their roofs, install energy efficient glazing, and other such measures, then those that can least afford it will first of all see it as a definite class thing and secondly they will rather resent it all, instead of getting enthused about all things “green”.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Ascension – Funky, Affordable & Ethical


Adili.com, the one-stop-eco shop, has acquired the eco casualwear label Ascension and is relaunching the brand this month. Certified by the Soil Association and approved by SKAL, Ascension shows that ethical fashion can look cool and be easy on the wallet.

Good for the planet and good for your pocket, Ascension heralds a new era of guilt-free shopping.

Aimed at a younger market than Adili’s online retail site, Ascension is a casual urban label that’s hard to beat on price or ethics. Organic cotton printed Ts start at £19, organic cotton hoodies at £38 and organic cotton jeans at £45.

Ascension values sustainability and ethics, as much as styling and cut. Producing positive fashion; garments made with care for both people and planet, that consumers love the look of and feel good about buying.

The T’s are made from Soil Association approved organic cotton. The eco friendly dyes are Oeko–Tex 100 approved, they are manufactured solely using sustainable solar and wind energy in fair wear foundation audited factories in India and the inks are approved by the Soil Association. And if that’s not enough, the carbon footprint of the T’s is 90% reduced. The denim is made from SKAL certified organic cotton in a fairly traded low pollutant factory in Bulgaria. Adili aims to further improve the ethics of Ascension garments and is working towards a Fairtrade certified denim range for 2009.

The recycling of a brand and a philosophy

Adili has recycled the Ascension brand. Not just with updated graphics and new designs, but also by redefining the brand values and revamping the website - Adili is set for Ascension to take on the high street. “Ascension was originally created to help fund Indian orphanages, but the label faltered, finding it hard as many ethical labels do, to secure an environmentally friendly, reliable, fair trade supply chain and to keep the clothes at the price they needed to be for their market. We have essentially recycled and relaunched the brand. Keeping true to its principles and using our contacts and knowledge of the market, we have been able to produce great clothes with high ethical standards that are the same price as the high street.” Adam Smith, CEO Adili.com

Keeping with the original philosophy of Ascension, Adili will continue to donate 10% of gross profit to the Life Association charity which provides a long-term supply of safe clean water, concrete buildings and education for some 150 children and 80 orphans in India.

Ascension aims to develop the Life Association charity scheme across India, with the next focus being a fishing village that was devastated in the tsunami.

Adili will be wholesaling the Ascension brand throughout the UK
www.ascensionclothing.co.uk available from www.adili.com

Ascension is the first of many exciting projects to be launched by Adili.com. Over the past year Adili has been sourcing ethical supply chains and will be launching their first own-label ranges starting with key menswear pieces on 30th June, a capsule collection of women's knitwear for AW08 and a womenswear range for SS09.

New on Adili.com for A/W08 - A collection of exciting fashion labels and exclusive ranges including: Noir, Wildlife Works, Eco Boudoir, Sika and Numanu, will help you embrace eco chic as it gets colder.
Adili also stock a rapidly expanding selection of ethical beauty and homeware products including eco makeup by Suki launching in July 2008.

Source: The Spring Consultancy

Honeywell Takes the Guesswork Out of Green With its Renewable Energy Scorecard


Selection Tool Helps Organizations Find the Right Technology to Maximize Environmental Impact and Economic Return

PHOENIX, AZ: As more organizations look to reduce their environmental impact, the interest in renewable energy technology has reached an all-time high. According to a recent report from the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, renewable energy use is growing much faster than 10 percent per year throughout the world. The generation capacity from solar photovoltaic systems alone was up 56 percent last year compared to 2006.

The challenge, however, comes with choosing the renewable technology that is good for the environment as well as the bottom line. A number of location-specific variables come into play - fuel availability, heating and cooling loads, utility rates, and rebates and tax incentives - making it difficult to identify the green solution that will deliver the greatest return on investment.

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) has announced on June 18, 2008, that it has developed a first-of-its-kind selection tool that quickly provides customers with the data to make an informed buying decision. Unveiled at the annual Honeywell Users Group for Buildings conference, the Renewable Energy Scorecard™ analyzes the variables for any given location to pinpoint the technology with the most significant environmental and economic drivers.

“Popular technology such as wind or solar power are often the default options for renewable energy, yet in some case they offer little if any economical return,” said Devin Castleton, Energy Group consulting analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “The Honeywell Scorecard is a unique tool that can help lead organizations directly to the technologies that offer the strongest economic drivers right away, providing an optimum advantage for organizations who are not only motivated by environmental stewardship but also by economic value.”

The tool looks at six proven renewable technologies, including solar, wind, biomass and geothermal. And it provides a simple payback for each. So it not only highlights the renewable resource with the greatest potential, but also provides an accurate financial forecast derived from calculating tax implications, rebates, subsidies and other incentives.

The Renewable Energy Scorecard is the output of a sophisticated energy profiling model built on a database that contains extensive information on each of the factors that influence the viability of the various technologies. This database provides Honeywell and its customers with an accurate vision and analysis of renewable energy at any location in North America.

“The Renewable Energy Scorecard is a data-driven solution to a complex issue,” said Kent Anson, vice president of global energy for Honeywell Building Solutions. “It’s important that environmental stewardship makes good business sense too. The Scorecard takes the guesswork out of the equation.”

The Renewable Energy Scorecard is part of an ongoing effort at Honeywell to help its customers maximize the use of renewable technologies and cut energy costs. Over the past three years, for example, Honeywell has helped a variety of customers - from colleges and hospitals to cities and the federal government - install biomass thermal and solar photovoltaic technology.

These projects are expected to reduce annual carbon emissions by 21 million pounds and nitrous oxide emissions by 187,000 pounds. According to figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this is equivalent to removing more than 6,500 cars from the road or planting 8,100 acres of trees. The switch to a renewable energy source also is expected to help these customers trim millions from their utility bills.

Honeywell is a global leader in energy services, working with organizations to conserve energy, optimize building operations and leverage renewable energy sources. It was one of four energy services companies selected at the outset of the Clinton Climate Initiative to help the world’s largest cities reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. This work has extended to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and other groups.

Since the 1980s, Honeywell has completed more than 5,000 energy-efficiency projects in facilities across the globe. It also has helped 5 million homeowners decrease their energy use through our work with utilities. Combined, this work is expected to deliver more than $5 billion in energy and operational savings.

Through demand-and supply-side improvements, Honeywell helps customers save 15 to 25 percent of their energy bill on average. These projects are often done through performance contracts, which allow organizations to pay for facility improvements and upgrades through the energy savings they generate. The savings are guaranteed by Honeywell so the work does not impact operating budgets. This and other funding mechanisms like power purchase agreements (PPAs) help remove the financial barriers many organizations face when looking to implement green initiatives.

“From project development to financing, we can help customers every step of the way, making the process as quick and easy as possible,” Anson said.

Nearly 50 percent of Honeywell’s product portfolio company-wide is linked to energy efficiency. The company estimates the global economy could operate on 10 to 25 percent less energy by using today’s existing Honeywell technologies.

For additional information on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywell.com.

For more information about Building Solutions, access www.honeywell.com/buildingsolutions.

Fourteen ways to save water in your garden

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It is important, especially nowadays, that we all protect our precious water sources and water resources by using water wisely. This does bot mean, however, that you have to let your yard and garden dry up completely. The trick is to know when to water and how much water to use on the plants and also and especially as well as what to plant and when. The following tips will help you water less often and more effectively.

Please also remember that everything that you put in or on your plants and lawn to make them grow is also going to find its way either onto your skin or into your vegetables, and the excess will go into the groundwater.

Chemicals do not all decompose into meaningless neutral entities. On the contrary rather. If you have not done so already, it might be advisable to make a change t to organic or natural fertilizers and insecticides. They are safer to handle, safer for your pets and safer for your kids, plus they don't contaminate the groundwater.

Read the rest here...

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NEWS RELEASE - Sunday, 15 June 2008

2008 brings about a new innovation to be introduced into Terberg’s current family of recycling collection body solutions, the Kerbsider® Combi TD, a unique solution that facilitates the collection of food waste and recyclables from the kerbside in one pass. The concept has been created by close working with their customers to aid the design and manufacture of a concept that suits and fits with their operational requirements but affords the familiarity of working with an evolution of the Terberg Kerbsider® range.

The Kerbsider® Combi TD offers exceptional quality, robust build and safety features that come as standard with all Terberg products together with some new introductions, the control system is canBUS based to offer easy diagnostics and configuration changes and both the Kerbsider® body and Combi TD unit are offered with underbody weighing.

Efficient kerbside recycling is offered via the Kerbsider® body but the vehicle also has a leak-proof Combi TD unit that sits between the cab and Kerbsider® body.

The Combi TD unit has been developed specifically for the collection of food/kitchen waste and is therefore constructed from aluminum which assists with payloads and guards against corrosive organic fluids. The Combi TD is fully sealed and is designed to collect loose or bagged food waste in accordance with the requirements of the ABP EC regulation no. 1774/2002. The Combi TD container is mounted into a robust steel frame and is specially designed such that it rotates to discharge its load through its roof opening, this allows tipping into a number of containers including ‘roll-on, roll-off’ skips.

Loading the vehicle could not be easier, various options are available to suit the required operation which include the Kerbsider®-style lifter fitted as shown which can handle wheeled bins up to 240L as well as loose waste, other lifter options include a TLL360 and TLL1280 bin lift version, both available with removable, lightweight aluminium pannier options to give trough loading functionality when required.

Available in three different volume configurations, 2.5, 3 and 3.6 cubic metres, the product has been designed with flexibility in mind to assist with the rigors of today’s recycling collection demands. A typical expected food waste payload for the 2.5 cubic metre version of the Combi TD unit shown is 1750Kgs.

Terberg Matec UK Ltd. now offer one of the widest ranges of BioWaste collection solutions in the UK, providing solutions for private and public organizations wishing to collect food/kitchen and ABP materials. For more information check out the website at http://www.terberg.co.uk

Small farms best for environment

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Small-scale, not industrial farming, is the answer to food shortages and climate change, so organic farmers are arguing.

In meeting at the Organic World Congress, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements IFOAM - www.ifoam.org - has criticized a recent UN food summit for advocating chemical fertilizers and genetically modified (GM) crops rather than organic solutions to tackle world hunger.

This shows that where the UN stands on this issue, we can clearly see here, and as to who is backing certain groups within the UN; in this case, quite obvious, the likes of Monsanto and others of that industry.

The World Bank says an extra 100 million people worldwide could go hungry as a result of the sharp rise in the price of food staples in the last year.

And at the same time the rich countries of the world, including busybodies such as the UN, advocate the creation and production of bio-fuels from food crops. If that makes sense then I don't know what the world is coming to.

At the UN food summit in Rome this month, the World Bank pledged $1.2 billion in grants to help with the food crisis.

"The $1.2 billion the World Bank says will solve the food crisis in Africa is a $1.2 billion subsidy to the chemical industry," Vandana Shiva, an Indian physics professor and environmental activist, said, speaking at the Organic World Congress in Modena.

"Countries are made dependent on chemical fertilizers when their prices have tripled in the last year due to rising oil prices," she said. "I say to governments: spend a quarter of that on organic farming and you've solved your problems."

Industrial farming is based on planting a single crop on vast surfaces and heavy use of chemical fertilizers, a process that used 10 times more energy than it produced. The rest turns into waste as greenhouse gases, chemical runoffs and pesticide residues in our food.

In contrast, organic farms could increase output by 10 times by growing many different species of plants at the same time, which helps to retain soil and water. On a one-acre farm in India they can grow 250 species of plants.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization Director General Jacques Diouf said in December 2007 there was no reason to believe that organic agriculture could substitute conventional farming systems in ensuring the world's food security.

"You cannot feed six billion people today and nine billion in 2050 without judicious use of chemical fertilizers”, he said.

You cannot? If people begin to live more sensibly and if we do not waste growing space for the creation of bio-fuels and especially not food crops then maybe we can actually do that.

Vandana Shiva has begun a civil disobedience campaign in India against the patenting of natural seeds, particularly of crops that resist flooding and drought and can better withstand climate change.

"We need this worldwide”, she said. “Seeds are for everyone.”

The patenting of seeds is also a rather evil idea, in this writer's opinion, as by doing so, that is to say by patenting this or that seed, seeds will then only be available, legally, via the likes of Monsanto and their ilk.

A quarter of all greenhouse gases are emitted by industrially farmed crops and livestock, according to IFOAM. This proportion rises to 40 percent when the emissions caused by transporting commodities around the world are included.

Members of the IFOAM also criticized the production of fuel from grains, citing a US university study that it took 1.3 gallons of fossil fuel to make 1 gallon of ethanol from corn. Which can only be said to be bonkers. How can anyone claim that bio-fuels then will remove our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels?

We can but wonder as to what the agenda here really is... food for thought for sure.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008


Eco, Chiswick’s green hub, has launched a campaign for shops, businesses and locals to make Chiswick the first “eco village” in London.

Located in the heart of Chiswick’s commercial district and founded by Colin and Livia Firth, Nicola Guiggioli and Ivo Coulson, Eco is a retail shop and consultancy that helps homeowners, businesses and schools make green living a reality.

With this initiative, Eco aims to galvanize the local community around a few key green issues, asking local residents and customers to support participating businesses that:

  • ban the use of plastic bags and replace them with sustainable alternatives
  • campaign local council for better commercial recycling provision
  • switch to a green energy supplier
Following these first steps the campaign hope to initiate further actions to promote a sustainable community.

Source: Eco Age Ltd

Poorest children hit by climate change

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The world's poorest and most vulnerable children are, according to a new report from UNICEF UK, being hit hardest by the impact of climate change.

Published exactly 10 years after the UK signed the Kyoto Protocol, “Our Climate, Our Children, Our Responsibility” calles for immediate action from Government to make children a priority in the climate change agenda.

It describes how children, especially in Africa and Asia, face increased violence and disease, and scarcer food and clean water, causing up to an extra 160,000 deaths a year.

The report says that climate change is threatening achievement of the UN's Millennium Development Goals relating to children.

David Bull, UNICEF UK's executive director, said that those who have contributed least to climate change, that is to say the world's poorest children, are the ones that are suffering the most.

According to the report, climate change could cause an additional 40,000 to 160,000 child deaths per year in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa through increased poverty.

Temperature increases of two degrees Celsius could put an extra 30m-200m people at risk of hunger, and childhood diseases such as malaria will spread to new areas.

UNICEF called on Government to ensure CO2 emissions are slashed by at least 80% by 2050 and urged the Department for International Development to make the effect of climate change on children a mainstream issue.

The organisation also urged businesses in the UK to substantially reduce emissions and contribute to the costs of mitigating and adapting to climate change.

"Many more children could die," David Bull, UNICEF UK's executive director, said, “and it is clear that a failure to address climate change is a failure to protect children."

The talk about temperature rising is here again and no one even, so it seems, wants to acknowledge, though the chairman of the IPCC did so publicly, the findings from a major study in Australia that states that the temperatures have not been rising, not even by a fraction, ever since 2002 and have, in fact, plateaued out.

Why we are still being painted the “if temperatures rise by x degrees Celsius” and such does beat me.

Regardless of whether the temperatures are going to be rising, which they are not, so it would appear, the impact will be there. The ice will continue to melt because it is warmer than it was decades ago and that also will change the climate elsewhere.

The UK public is being urged to join UNICEF's campaign to increase the 2050 emissions reduction target and include aviation and shipping in the Climate Change Bill.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has also warned that up to a billion people could lose their homes as a result of climate change within the next 50 years when he said that rising sea levels or food and water shortages could force millions from the their homes.

Those rising sea leaves and food shortages will come about even if the temperatures are not rising any further and, if they indeed have plateaued out as the Australian study suggests and the head of the IPCC has admitted also, as the climate is warmer than it was decades ago and therefore the melt will continue and what else such melt and this cycling climate change of the Earth will bring with it further the Gods only know.

Personally, like many experts as well, I have my doubts that we can alter the course of this by reducing CO2 output and all such, though I am sure it will not hurt to do so and to reduce our impact on the planet a little more. Ideally more than just a little. The problem is though that we must prepared to deal with the changes and growing foods for bio-fuel rather than to feed the hungry is rather vile in the extreme.

Maybe we need to get off our dependence on oil based fuels and find a better source, including the burning of waste wood, and wood generated from tree cutting operations by councils and such, which so often is left to go to waste, as well as by a program, that could be envisaged for the UK, of the total eradication of the Dutch Elm Disease problem. It can be done with will and foresight. The wood generated in such a way, which needs to be disposed off in a sanitary way by burning, could fire micro generating power stations for many decades to come. In the end there would be no more Dutch Elm Disease and by that time we may have found another source with which to fire the generators.

Reduction of our oil use is another important must. And how do we do that?

The answer to that, I believe, may be the subject of another article.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008