Rebirth of British wind energy manufacturing starts in Wales

  • £38 million investment for wind tower factory
  • 240 jobs to be created in Chepstow
  • But ‘green collar’ jobs must be backed by deployment

BWEA Cymru has welcomed the announcement by engineering firm Mabey Bridge to invest £38 million in a Chepstow-based factory to build and paint wind turbine towers. The investment is expected to create 240 new skilled jobs in Monmouthshire.

However, BWEA Cymru warned that the success of renewable technology manufacturing in Wales depends on onshore wind farms gaining planning permission.

Welcoming the announcement Head of BWEA Cymru, Llywelyn Rhys said: “This is exactly what the renewable energy industry and the Welsh Assembly Government have been hoping for – our own manufacturing plant that supplies the materials needed to drive the green energy revolution. This is wholly in line with the Welsh Government’s intention of creating a low carbon economy and generating green jobs. It is very good news for the Welsh manufacturing sector which has struggled during the economic downturn.”

BWEA Cymru has, however, warned that Wales must not squander the golden opportunity to establish wind energy manufacturing by continuing to frustrate planning consents for onshore wind farms. A recent study showed that the rate of planning determination for wind farms in Wales is slow, while the approval rate is patchy. During the last four years developers have had to wait an average of 21 months for decisions on planning applications. Wales is only 17% on its way to achieving its 2010 onshore wind energy targets.

BWEA Cymru Chairman John Woodruff said: “We need to see some consents for onshore projects in Wales in order to give the new factory a full order book and help Wales keep as much of the investment as possible. Wales has a growing pool of expertise which is already generating income from overseas and now we can add the Welsh talent for heavy industry into the mix. It is crucial that Wales grasps the planning nettle and starts a pipeline of consented wind farm projects feeding through to this fledgling manufacturing capability. Renewables can lead the way out of the credit crunch and create real jobs and energy security, as well as huge green benefits if planners get things moving.”

Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive said: “This factory heralds the rebirth of British wind energy manufacturing, and we are delighted that Wales is leading the way. BWEA hopes that this factory and the significant investment it represents will firmly establish the link between jobs, economic benefits and wind energy deployment in Wales . We have seen from our European neighbours that employment follows not just on the back of ambitious renewable energy targets, but on actual turbine installation rates. Wales has a tremendous wind resource and is uniquely poised to establish its own supply of renewable energy, securing thousands of ‘green collar’ jobs in the process. But, policy and decision makers must ensure that these two tasks unfold at the same time.”


A Surrey primary school brightens up the school day

On Tuesday 26th January 2010, 150 children from Merstham Primary School, in Surrey, wore the brightest clothes they could find, to create a sea of rainbow and neon colours, as they walked or cycled to school for a ‘Brighten Up Yourself’ day.

Sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, challenged pupils to travel to school wearing as many bright clothes as possible, to highlight the importance of wearing bright colours whilst walking or cycling to school in the dark winter months. Prizes, including cycle helmets, bike lights and luminous bags, were given to the children who had made the most effort.

The school’s Sustrans Bike It Officer, Gayle Rowson comments, “We had a brilliant turn out for the ‘Brighten Up Yourself’ day; children from all ages throughout the school joined in.

“It’s vital that children understand the importance of being seen while they walk or ride to and from school. I would urge all pupils to be bright, be seen and ultimately be safe.”

Merstham Primary is one of 18 Sustrans Bike It schools in Surrey . The school has been working with Sustrans, in partnership with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, since September 2009 and is looking forward to the arrival of some new cycle storage this term.

Further information about Sustrans and Bike It, including other news releases, is available through our website:


International panel of experts conclude sound from wind turbines has no harmful effect on human health

Multidisciplinary panel conducts most extensive study of its kind to date

An international panel of experts on December 15, 2009 released a report based on a review of a large body of scientific literature on sound and health effects, and specifically with regard to sound produced by wind turbines. After extensive review, analysis and discussion, the panel has concluded that sounds or vibrations emitted from wind turbines have no adverse effect on human health.

The study is the most thorough of its kind ever produced by a group of medical or scientific professionals. The seven-member panel includes experts in the fields of medicine, audiology, acoustics, environmental and public health from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Denmark.

“The panel’s multidisciplinary approach helped to fully explore the many published scientific reports related to the potential impact of wind turbines on people’s health,” said Dr. Robert J. McCunney, one of the authors of the study and an occupational/environmental medicine physician and research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “There is no evidence that the sounds, nor the sub-audible vibrations, emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects on humans.”

The study’s panel was jointly established by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association to conduct a review of all current peer-reviewed scientific literature available on the issue of perceived health effects of wind turbines. The objective of the panel was to provide an authoritative reference document for those making legislative and regulatory decisions about wind turbine developments.

“The Canadian Wind Energy Association supports the responsible and sustainable development of wind energy in Canada,” said CanWEA president Robert Hornung. “This study will go a long way in addressing people’s concerns and answering their questions about the effects of wind turbines. Canada’s wind energy industry will continue to take a proactive role in ensuring wind energy developments are good neighbours to the communities that have embraced wind energy.”

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is the voice of Canada’s wind energy industry, actively promoting the responsible and sustainable growth of wind energy on behalf of its more than 450 members. A national non-profit association, CanWEA serves as Canada’s leading source of credible information about wind energy and its social, economic and environmental benefits. To join other global leaders in the wind energy industry, CanWEA believes Canada can and must reach its target of producing 20 per cent or more of the country’s electricity from wind by 2025. The document Wind Vision 2025 – Powering Canada’s Future is available at


Korean Companies Anchor Ontario's Green Economy

CAD$7-Billion (£4.12 Billion) Investment Means Green Energy and 16,000 New Jobs For Ontario, Canada

January 2010 - The Ontario government has signed an agreement that will bring more green energy and new jobs to Ontario, Canada.

A consortium led by Samsung C&T Corporation and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) will invest CAD$7 billion (£4.12 Billion) to generate 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar power. These projects will triple Ontario 's output from renewable wind and solar sources and provide clean electricity to more than 580,000 households.

The investment will also lead to more than 16,000 new green energy jobs to build, install and operate the renewable generation projects.

The Korean consortium will also work with major partners to attract four manufacturing plants. This will lead to the creation of 1,440 manufacturing and related jobs building wind and solar technology for use in Ontario and export across North America.

The consortium fully intends to use Ontario-made steel in its renewable energy projects, such as constructing its wind turbine towers.

This is the single-largest investment in renewable energy in provincial history. The consortium chose Ontario because the province’s Green Energy Act guarantees stable rates for renewable energy.

"Thanks to today's announcement, we will be delivering more green energy for Ontarians to use -- and more green energy products for North America to buy. With this step, Ontario is becoming the place to be for green energy manufacturing in North America ," said Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario.

"We commend Ontario for creating a welcoming climate for green energy investment. Samsung takes pride in its global efforts to support a more sustainable future and looks forward to working with Ontario residents and businesses to create clean, green power," said Sung-Ha Chi, President and CEO, Samsung C&T Corporation.

"This is an exciting opportunity to help create new manufacturing facilities and be on the cutting edge of an emerging renewable energy supply sector in Ontario ," said Chan-Ki Jung, Executive Vice-President, Korea Electric Power Corporation.

Source: NeonDrum Ltd.


Malaysia and China Sign US$11bn Power Deal That Involves the Displacement of 608,000 Borneo Natives

Sarawak Energy’s Norwegian CEO Torstein Dale Sjøtveit asked to step down over his role in the controversial plans

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, January 2010 – Malaysia and China have signed a deal to carry out a highly controversial energy masterplan in the Malaysian part of Borneo that involves the displacement of thousands of Borneo natives. According to the Financial Times, the plan involves the construction of several mega-dams and mining of large coal deposits and is likely to require the relocation of some 608,000 natives who live in the East Malaysian state’s rainforest-covered interior.

The deal was signed last Monday in Kuala Lumpur between the Malaysian Government and the China State Grid Corporation and was witnessed by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. According to the Malaysian government, the plan could result in projects worth 11 billion US dollars of Chinese investment.

Sarawak’s controversial energy masterplan is being developed under a cloud of secrecy despite its far-reaching impact on a significant part of Sarawak’s population. The plan is labelled Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) but involves the exploitation of 1.46 billion US dollars of coal reserves and 41,000 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

It would be more appropriate to label the Sarawak Chief Minister’s favourite project the “Sarawak Corridor of Corruption”. Construction companies linked to the Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family interests will be among the main beneficiaries of the new energy development plans. Earlier this week, Sarawak opposition politician Baru Bian had labelled the as yet incomplete multi-billion dollar Bakun dam a ”monument of corruption” and said he viewed the new dam plans as a “pretext for extuingishing native rights in the name of a public purpose.”

The large-scale energy plans will be implemented by state-owned power producer Sarawak Energy that has recently appointed Norwegian national Torstein Dale Siøtveit as its CEO. Siøtveit, who will be paid an annual salary of US$ 1.2 million, has come under fire in the Norwegian media for his controversial role in the Borneo dam projects. The Bruno Manser Fund asks Mr. Siøtveit to step down as his position is incompatible with being a responsible citizen.

Source: Bruno Manser Fund,


Navy Installations Getting Greener

Low-Impact Development Leads to Cleaner Environment, Improved Water Quality

ARLINGTON, VA, January 2010 – Step onto any of the United States Navy's 40 installations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and you'll see green. The Department of the Navy has implemented a national policy mandating the use of low-impact development techniques, which has made installations more environmentally and economically efficient to construct, operate, and maintain.

New construction activity at Navy installations presents challenges and opportunities for sustaining ecosystems, including the Chesapeake Bay. Typically, new construction decreases natural vegetation cover and drainage capacity and increases impervious surfaces (roofs, lawns, driveways, roads, parking lots and other hard surfaces). These changes can alter an area's hydrology and result in higher peak flows and greater volumes of stormwater runoff, as well as higher sediment and nutrient loadings in nearby waterways.

Development in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is increasing the quantity of impervious surfaces at a rate four times greater than the rate of population growth. These factors have made urban and suburban stormwater runoff the fastest growing source of pollution to the Bay, and the only type of pollution that continues to increase.

In a global effort to reduce impacts to water quality, the Department of the Navy developed a low-impact development policy to maintain or restore predevelopment hydrology. Low-impact development mitigates the adverse effects of construction projects on water quality by cost-effectively reducing the volume and pollutant loading of stormwater before it reaches the receiving water bodies. Low-impact development makes use of innovative methods to capture stormwater using a combination of retention devices and vegetation. Stormwater is retained and managed at the source, rather than releasing stormwater nutrients and sediment downstream.

A bioswale facility between two parking lots treats runoff at Little Creek Amphibious Base in Norfolk.

The overall goal of the low-impact development policy is no net increase in stormwater volume and sediment or nutrient loading from major renovation and construction projects. To support this goal, as well as reduce reliance on conventional stormwater collection system and treatment options, the policy directs Navy installations to consider low-impact development in the design for all projects that have a stormwater management component.

Low-impact development efforts by the Navy are an integral element of a broader Sustainable Infrastructure Program, currently being implemented throughout the Naval Facilities Engineering Command's Mid-Atlantic Region. The program integrates environmental stewardship into all asset management, capital improvements, public works management and energy programs. The integration of low-impact development practices is one main component of the Sustainable Infrastructure Program.

Twenty-seven major projects the Navy completed in 2009 financial year included low-impact development features. Recent projects include a parking lot at Naval Station Norfolk which capped a waste disposal area and now bio-filters most of its stormwater.

The Navy's policy requires implementation of low-impact development techniques on all major construction projects by 2011, with all efforts to incorporate LID practices in 2008 through 2010.

For more information on Navy environmental programs, visit


Weymouth bridges the gap!

Artist wants local people to help design new traffic-free bridge

Residents in Weymouth and Portland are being asked to get creative and come up with their design ideas for a new bridge in the Westham area. The bridge will form a key part of a new route for pedestrians and cyclists from Weymouth to Portland funded by sustainability charity, Sustrans and Dorset County Council. The route will use the local railway path and connect through the town centre to the esplanade thus providing a valuable link for everyday travel within the area.

Brighton-based artist Bruce Williams will be holding an open studio for the Newstead Road bridge design at Beechcroft St Pauls Primary School in Westham during the first week in February. The open studio will be open 1pm - 2.30pm and 3.15pm - 6pm from Monday 1 February to Friday 5 February. Since September 2009, Bruce has been working with a student group of 17 pupils from All Saints CE School and 15 pupils from Holy Trinity CE VC Primary School to develop conceptual ideas for the bridge. Pupils have been exploring basic engineering principals and looking at innovative bridge design from around the world to come up with their own creative responses. Weymouth College art students are also working on their own designs for the bridge which Bruce has been reviewing with them.

Sustrans is funding this route as part of their UK-wide 'Connect2' schemes to create networks for everyday journeys for people travelling by foot or by bike. These schemes - including the one through Weymouth - are being created using a £50 million Big Lottery Fund grant after the UK public voted the scheme the winner of The People's Millions Lottery contest in December 2007.

Kevin Humphreys, Sustrans Area Manager for Dorset, said, "We are thrilled that the bridge design plans will have so much input from the local community. Bruce is really looking for what will work for Weymouth . This scheme will make it easier for people in this area to get around without having to rely on their car which is not only better for their health but the environment too."

Artist, Bruce Williams said: "I am amazed by how positive, thoughtful and hardworking these young people have been. Almost without exception, everyone I am working with loves Weymouth . Their research has kept me busy with every new layer of history they reveal and their ideas for the bridge are bursting with optimism for the future. Now I want to meet some other people from the town. To hear stories about life in Weymouth, about the old bridge and the Rodwell trail, to see ideas, old photos and memories, to talk about the Olympics, about the wider future for Weymouth or simply to chat about how the new bridge will effect the town."

Cabinet member for Transport Col Geoffrey Brierley said: "The Newstead Road bridge will be a prominent structure in the heart of a lively community. Bruce's work with local students and residents will mean that the bridge will be more than just a stretch of metal, and that it will have significance to the people who will see it and use it everyday."

Work produced by All Saints, Holy Trinity and Beechcroft pupils and designs by Weymouth College students will be on display during the open studio. Bruce's work is being funded by Arts Council England South West, Weymouth and Portland Partnership, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and Dorset County Council.


On your bike Dumfries!

Community bike ride to show the smarter way to travel.

On Saturday 30th January, Dumfries residents will be getting on their bikes with two cycle rides through the town to show how easy it is for local people to leave their cars at home and travel in more sustainable ways for their everyday journeys.

National sustainable transport charity - Sustrans - is working alongside GoSMART -a South West of Scotland Partnership and Dumfries and Galloway Council initiative - and the CTC - the UK's National Cycling Organisation - to show local people how easy it is to get around without a car by doing a cycle ride out to the newly created pedestrian and cycle route on the Queen of the South Connect2 Viaduct which launched in 2008. The route will take in the picturesque former railway viaduct spanning 170 metres across the River Nith which has created a direct link between communities in the east and north-west of the town.

These cycle rides are part of a wider Go SMART event being held in the town centre to encourage both residents and visitors to Dumfries to reduce their car use in favour of more sustainable modes of travel. The town centre will be divided into four areas for the big day - GoBike, GoWalk, GoShare and GoBus - to help give local people the information they want to travel in smarter ways. Sustrans will also have a stall at the Go Smart event with information about local and national pedestrian and cycling routes.

John Lauder, Sustrans National Director for Scotland, said "These cycle rides are a great way for anyone with any level of cycling experience to see how easy it now is to get around Dumfries by bike or by foot. Hopefully this event will help local people learn more about their travel options within Dumfries and how they can do their bit for the environment."

The Sustrans Connect2 scheme which includes the viaduct in Dumfries was the first of 79 walking and cycling routes to be completed using £50million from the Big Lottery Fund to create networks for people to travel everyday journeys by foot and by bike. Sustrans won the public TV vote in 2007 to bring the £50million from the Big Lottery Fund to local communities across the UK . More than 25,000 people live within a mile of the Dumfries scheme and are now able to walk or cycle to school, to work or the town centre - to the benefit of both their health and the environment.

GoSMART is the Dumfries Sustainable Travel Demonstration Town project funded by the Scottish Government Smarter Choices Smarter Places Programmes, SWestrans, Dumfries and Galloway Council and the European Structural Funds of the Lowlands and Uplands 2007-2013 programme.

A Spokesperson for GoSMART said, "The support provided by all our funding partners to create excellent cycling infrastructure in and around Dumfries will make it easier for residents to begin cycling and challenge themselves to GoBike. We look forward to Sustrans and CTC participation in the GoSmart Dumfries Programme. ".


A Dangerous Spin on the Cancer Risks of a Sugar-Free Sweetener

The Cancer Prevention Coalition notes with alarm that on January 2, 2010, in a heavily advertised special health-theme issue of People Magazine, Kraft announced a new campaign on Crystal Light, a sugarless powdered drink mix which can easily be poured into tap and bottled water drinks.

Crystal Light's ingredients include the artificial sweetener aspartame, under the trademark names of NutraSweet and Equal, besides citric acid and sodium citrate.

Cancer Prevention Coalition Chairman Dr. Samuel S. Epstein warns that, based on scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed journals and presented to the U.S. Congress, aspartame is both toxic and carcinogenic. The coalition is calling upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban all dietary uses of aspartame.

Crystal Light was first marketed in 1982 to "make drinking water more enjoyable," and much less caloric than fruit juices. Aspartame, 200 times sweeter than sugar, is also widely used as a sweetener in tea and coffee, especially by the weight conscious.

Aspartame was synthesized by G.D. Searle in 1965 after its strong sweet taste was first noted.

Subsequent toxicology tests by Searle revealed brain damage in mice, and cancer in the liver, testes and thyroid of rats. However, the results of these tests were never published nor reported to the FDA.

After saccharin, aspartame is the second most widely used artificial sweetener in the world. It is found in more than 6,000 products including carbonated and powdered soft drinks, hot chocolate, chewing gum, candy, desserts, yogurt, and tabletop sweeteners, as well as some pharmaceutical products like vitamins and sugar-free cough drops.

Aspartame is consumed by over 200 million people worldwide and represents about 60% of the artificial sweetener market.

Aspartame provides manufacturers of food, soft drinks, candy and chewing gum with substantial cost savings compared to sugar, which is 200 times less sweet. Aspartame also is a sweetener without calories, which helps people control their weight.

In 1975, a FDA Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on the toxicity of aspartame. This revealed gross abuse in Searle's claims which trivialized or suppressed evidence on the toxic and carcinogenic effects of aspartame.

In January 1976, then FDA Commissioner Alexander M. Schmidt testified before Congress that Hazleton Laboratories, under contract to Searle, had been charged with falsifying toxicological data on aspartame.

The FDA convened a Public Board of Inquiry to review concerns about the sweetener's carcinogenic effects in experimental animals. In 1980, the Board concluded that aspartame could "contribute to the development brain tumors." The FDA then recommended that, pending confirmation of these findings, the sweetener should no longer be used.

Evidence of these toxic effects was subsequently confirmed by leading independent U.S. scientists. Reacting to these concerns in 1976, Senator Edward Kennedy warned, "This extensive nature of the almost unbelievable range of abuses in several major Searle products is profoundly disturbing."

At invited 1979 testimony before the House Committee on the Judiciary, apart from other examples of corporate crime, Dr. Epstein detailed evidence on Searle's criminal denial of the carcinogenicity of aspartame. This evidence was subsequently posted in the Congressional Record.

In 1996, based on a comprehensive review of the scientific literature, Dr. John Olney, a leading independent U.S. scientist, confirmed that aspartame caused brain cancer when fed to rodents.

A decade later, Dr. Epstein points out, the prestigious Italian Ramazzini Foundation, based on large scale life-long feeding tests in large numbers of rats, commencing in infancy, confirmed that low levels of aspartame induced brain cancer and cancers at other sites.

The Ramazzini study was reported in the November 2005 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, the peer-reviewed journal of the United States' National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"Our study has shown that aspartame is a multi-potential carcinogenic compound whose carcinogenic effects are also evident at a daily dose less than the current acceptable daily intake for humans," the Ramazzini scientists warned.

Of further significance, these conclusions were endorsed by the Federal National Toxicology Program, says Dr. Epstein. "Nevertheless, and not surprisingly, Searle and its consultants still attempt to challenge these conclusions, and persist in their reckless claim that aspartame is safe."

"In view of the unequivocal scientific evidence of aspartame's carcinogenicity, besides the political gamesmanship that led to its original approval by the FDA," Dr. Epstein says, "it is anticipated that Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the new FDA Commissioner, will ban all dietary uses of aspartame."

Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. is professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health; Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition; and a former President of the Rachel Carson Trust. His awards include the 1989 Right Livelihood Award and the 2005 Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal for International Contributions to Cancer Prevention. Dr. Epstein has authored 270 scientific articles, and 15 books on the causes and prevention of cancer. These include the groundbreaking Politics of Cancer (1979), and most recently Toxic Beauty (2009, Benbella Books) about carcinogens and other toxic ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products.


The BAGGEE is here – Product Review

This could just save you from tearing your hair out at the checkout

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Have you ever arrived at the shops cursing because you've forgotten your old plastic bags again! Ever finished putting the shopping away and not sure where to stuff the empty bags?

The BAGGEE is here to help solve those problems and more importantly help you to help save the Planet from Plastic Bags!

The BAGGEE is a flexible hollow rubber ball 55mm in diameter attached to a key chain. It has thumb-sized hole (very big thumb required to fill hole) allowing two or three plastic carrier bags, such as the ones from supermarkets, to be compressed and stored inside.

And for dog lovers the company also has The DOGGEE. This is a “device” similar to The BAGGEE and it can carry over 20 dog waste bags so you never have to be left stranded again.

While I have tried The BAGGEE I have not tried out The DOGGEE (no dog) so, therefore, cannot comment on latter.

As far as The BAGGEE is concerned the maximum that I can see getting into the ball is two standard size supermarket carrier bags and I would be hard-pressed to get a third one in.

Nevertheless this is at least two bags that you will have with you, reusing them, rather than needing to pick up yet another couple of new ones.

BAGGEE 'What do You Put in Yours?'

© 2010

Reduce and reuse: it helps our environment

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Stuff. Possessions. Things. We all have way too much of it. Especially if you have children or if you are one to hold onto things for sentimental reasons. There may be a psychological underlying reason why you hold onto your stuff, but no matter what the reason is, there are ways to help reduce and reuse it.

However, possessions, in themselves, are not bad or evil just when they become an obsession and the possessor gets possessed by them then the things are a little different.

On the other hand there are many instances when you do want to reduce clutter and some of the stuff, I am going through that process at the moment and it is not an easy one, I tell you.

Here are some ideas to reduce and reuse:

Birthday party favors: When kids come home from birthday parties, in the main, the flood of plastic trinkets and useless odds and ends end up where? In the trash, then ultimately in the landfill or cluttering up bedroom desks. Why not let the kids take home their own plant? They will love it and so will their parents.

Clutter Control: Not an easy thing, not even with a book or two but a must nevertheless as I am happy to attest, though still working on it.

Clothing Swaps: This is such a fabulous way to get rid of the things you no longer need or wear and get some new threads.

Reuse & upcycle: “E How” offers great suggestions on how to reuse and upcycle everyday items in lieu of continually tossing them into the recycling bin and “Replaygound Blog” also does the same.

You too may wish to keep an eye on this publication and go through some older posts as to some ideas of how to reuse and upcycle items that most consider waste or at best recyclables destined for the recycling bins.

Also keep a look out for an e-book that is in production from this writer that will be dealing just with that, namely upcycling what others consider trash.

Going paper-free is another great way of eliminating clutter but, and here comes the but, for that you need a PC, a scanner and the right software.

The Story of Stuff: If you have not already watched the video, then this is a big must. The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard is a 20 minute video that is captivating and worth every minute of your time! Teaching you environmental and social issues without being too preachy, Annie Leonard forces you look and really think about the stuff you have in your life.

Despite the fact that I am of Gypsy stock and grew up on the road in the old small trailers where possessions and clutter just could not be, as soon as I have hit settled life with living in a house I have become a pack rat and keep so much of the “might come in handy some day” stuff that it is no longer funny.. Does that day ever come? Yes, when I have thrown the things away that I had for the “might come in handy event”.

When it comes to reduce the primary reduction must be a should be as regards to packaging and such like for it is packaging that is the greatest problem when it comes to waste generated and the holiday period over what is called Christmas is one of the times where most of this is generated, followed by Easter.

Much of the stuff that we buy is over-packaged in a way that is totally and utterly unnecessary, such as – another pet peeve of mine – Braun replacement toothbrush heads which are individually blister backed and then put into another hard plastic blister. You know the kind I mean, I am sure.

In many places those blister packs are not taken by the municipalities for recycling so they end up in the landfill and the same is true for all the non-recyclable metalized wrapping paper, for instance, and other laminate wraps, cards, boxes.

We must change back to the ways it was in the days of old and no, I do not mean us to go to live in caves or tepees again. But when we bought things then they were in normal cardboard boxes, such as matchbox cars, for instance; boxes that one can recycle and that would rot down if put into the compost, for instance. Other things were just sold loose and put into paper bags or you even brought your own jars along. Everything today is simply over-packaged and for no real reason.

We must change...

© 2010

Sharpie®, Paper Mate® & EXPO® Brands Partner With TerraCycle™ to Launch First-Ever Upcycling Program for Used Writing Instruments

Major corporations and local charities work together on The Write Path to a Healthier Environment™

TRENTON, N.J., Jan. 2010: Sharpie®, Paper Mate® and EXPO®, three of the world's most recognized writing and marking brands, today announced a new partnership with TerraCycle™, the pioneering upcycling company that finds new ways to repurpose otherwise throwaway items. The partnership will create the world's first program to collect and reuse pens, markers and other writing instruments while also helping raise funds for schools, charities, and non-profits nationwide.

Collection centers called "Writing Instrument Brigades" will be set up at participating locales, primarily in large corporations and schools where writing instruments are used most. For every writing instrument collected at a Writing Instrument Brigade collection center, two cents will be paid to a school, community group, charity or non-profit organization of the participant's choice. Overall, the collection efforts will reduce landfill proliferation, educate and inspire consumers to get involved, and provide much needed funding to schools and non-profit groups nationwide.

"Keeping one pen or marker out of a landfill may seem like a small contribution, but multiply that by the estimated $5 billion* of writing instruments sold in the U.S. each year and it is a big opportunity to reduce waste to landfills," said Ben Gadbois, President of Markers, Highlighters, Art and Office Essentials for Newell Rubbermaid Office Products, maker of Sharpie, EXPO and Paper Mate products. "As the world's leading producer of writing instruments, it's not only our responsibility but our moral obligation to do our part to help the environment. TerraCycle offers us an innovative way to repurpose writing instruments after their useful life has expired."

The collected writing instruments will be dissembled and/or reprocessed to make new products.

How a Writing Brigade Works?

The free program is available to any individual or group and is easy to operate. Interested parties simply sign up with TerraCycle ( to establish a Brigade location and then select the school, charity or non-profit group to which they want their collection funds directed. Each Brigade prints a pre-paid shipping label from TerraCycle's website to ship the collected writing instruments to TerraCycle for upcycling into new products. TerraCycle will donate two cents per writing instrument to the collecting Brigade's chosen organization.

Why Should an Organization Get Involved?

In partnership with TerraCycle, Sharpie, Paper Mate and EXPO brands are proud to offer a simple, easy way for organizations and individuals to help the environment and local communities at the same time. The one-of-a-kind program provides an outlet for millions of used writing instruments to be upcycled instead of discarded.

For more information on the Writing Instruments Brigade, visit any of these websites:,,

* As reported by WIMA, Writing Instruments Manufacturers Association, 2007.

SOURCE TerraCycle Inc.

Something Green: A New Wedding Experience At The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco has unveiled a new Green weddings package designed to add environmental mindfulness to the wedding experience and to provide an exclusive “Shopping with the Chef” farm-to-market experience for brides or their wedding planners.

Taking advantage of northern California’s rich bounty of regional farm and seafood products, and responding to marrying couples’ new interest in providing a fresh, environmentally sustainable menu experience for their reception guests, the Something Green package allows brides and their planners to join the hotel’s executive sous chef, Kaleo Adams, on a shopping visit to area farmers’ markets just prior to the wedding. The result will be a uniquely fresh, seasonal reception menu that shows off the best of San Francisco’s regional and organic ingredients as harvested directly before the wedding and hand-selected by the bride and chef together.

Couples can be assured that their reception cuisine will come directly from local farms and producers, meaning that a minimum of fuel will be expended on shipping. Locally-sourced reception menu highlights, depending upon season, might include Fresh California Gazpacho, Eugueni’s Pea Soup with Citron and Mint, Mishima Ranch Kobe Beef Tartare , Brentwood Farm Corn Soup, Star Route Farms Baby Head Lettuces, K and J Farms Stone Fruit, Dirty Girl Farms Tomatoes with Burrata and Basil, Strawberry Mountain Ribeye, Squash Blossom-Roasted Chicken, California Line-Caught King Salmon and Whole- Roasted Field-to-Family Organic Capon.

Shopping with the Chef is one of two Green add-ons for 100-plus-guest weddings at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco. The hotel’s Green Wedding Design service also offers use of sustainable, recycled, organic and eco-friendly tabletop elements, with a goal of making a reception less energy and resource-intensive. Natural fiber linens made of linen, flax, cotton and silk are offered as part of this green option, as are table centerpieces that avoid flowers which have been imported and sprayed with pesticides, some of which are banned in the US due to their toxicity.

Created in conjunction with San Francisco’s Floramor Studios, the hotel’s Green Wedding designs incorporate organic and/or local flowers, live potted plants, and beeswax candles that can be used again and taken home by guests or donated to local charities. Environmentally-mindful tabletop options also include seeded place cards to be taken home and planted, recycled glass centerpieces filled with organic locally-grown flowers and cranberries, succulent plants in small silver goblets used as centerpieces and then offered as guest favors, and arrangements of fresh herbs and candles nestled in beds of regionally-grown lentils, split peas and beans – all of which add color and can be composted following the wedding.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco’s Green Wedding team may be reached at (415) 296-7465.

Think of the Poor

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Think of the poor whose lives, from the cradle to the grave, are blown this way and that by chance as dead leaves are blown by the wind. They cannot plan their lives. They cannot say 'John, of course, will inherit the estate, George will go into the Army and Henry into the Church.' No; they must take what life offers. They must grasp at spectral chances. They must pick up the crumbs that fall from life's rich table (and the crumbs from the rich man's table). And yet, all these lives, each so casual, drifting as tramps drift from one cold charity to another, all these lives, none of which can safely formulate its own plan – all these lives, I say, coalesce into that solid basis which is the very foundation on which the state rests, the inexhaustible arsenal from which alone we can draw for the defense of the national being. Think of the poor and about the poor, oh members of the government and those in money.

And while the poor today, in the twenty-first century, may no longer be, in the developed world, living the kind of wretched lives they lived in the eighteenth, nineteenth and even the early twentieth century, and many believe that they are in control of their own destiny, they are, in the main, still as much oppressed and kept down as in those days when the aristocracy ruled in Britain (more than now).

We even have nowadays politicians that have come from the poor and working classes and gone a long way, and many, however, great their motives and ideas to start with, have become part of the oppressive establishment, and this also refers and especially too the Labor Party in Britain of today, the so-called New Labor.

The founders of the Labor Party, such as Kier Hardy, would turn in their graves if they could at the betrayal of the ideal that they fought for and for which many of their comrades died even. The massacre of Peterloo in Manchester being but one example.

It has always been reckoned that, for instance, in America even someone born poor can achieve the “American Dream” but I think that the jury very much is out of that, especially nowadays.

Kids used to be told that they could, if they'd study hard, etc., climb the ladder and even become president of the country. He truth is that – at least today – very few will ever able to achieve that if they were born into poverty in the States. Way too much money is needed to even get onto the first rungs of that ladder to make it possible for a poor boy (or girl).

And yes, there are still poor in the richest countries of the world, whether the United States, Britain, Germany or Australia. As Jesus is supposed to have said “the poor you will have with you always” it still is, and their chances often are still as bleak, even in those rich countries mentioned, as they were in those olden days.

In fact, as far as I can see it, the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider every day again, rather than narrowing, be this in Britain or the United States.

Now with the recession, which some keep claiming to have passed, things are getting worse still but even before it came to pass they were already headed south again.

Today the poor may no longer be villains, as of the days of old in Britain, for instance, and basically property of the local land owners, they still are not much better off than in those day. They today have to prostitute themselves for wages, wages which, in many cases, are going down rather than up, while the costs of living are rising all the time. So, in fact, the poor are getting poorer by the day.

The system, as it stands, of capitalism and consumerism, is totally slanted against those on the lower scale of income levels but, no, communism and socialism – as we have known them – will not make a difference there either, A new system is needed.

Another aspect too is that the poor often think that aspiring to this or that, in the matter of possessions, will make things better, all of it advertising led. This is not making them happier or better off; rather the opposite.

And this is a lesson that also must be learned by us all. Namely that we are not what we own and that things, however glamorous and whatever, do not make us happy. In the same way as one cannot buy love one cannot buy happiness. It is but an illusion.

© 2010

Germany has run out of solar panels due to generous feed-in tariff

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A burst of new business at the end of 2009 put Germany close to adding a record of solar power to the grid, according to the head of Germany’s BSW solar industry association, Carsten Koernig. He estimates that in this year, 2009 alone, it will be very close to 3 Gigawatt.

While he is not sure what the final end-of-year number will be, he is sure of one fact. It cannot be over 3 Gigawatt, simply because there is no more capacity than that available in the whole of Germany.

German supplies of solar panels have completely sold out. Demand for parts, especially, and equipment such as inverters has outstripped supply. Germany’s very consumer-oriented feed-in tariff legislation makes it profitable for any homeowner to install panels on their roofs to supply the grid – and so homeowners do just that.

More than 40,000 people work in the photovoltaic industry. The 2008 record solar installed was 1.6 GW, bringing Germany’s total to 5.3 GW; one third of the world’s 15 GW of solar power. This year’s 3 Gigawatt could propel it to half the world’s solar power.

Part of the increase in end-of year sales was was due to pent-up demand as the financial crisis starts to ease in Germany; but part of it was last-minute homeowners and solar investors getting into the action before 2010, when the Feed-in Tariff rates will step down 10%.

Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act has required power companies to buy all the energy produced by anyone making renewable power, at a fixed above-market price for 20 years.

This payment started out in 2003 as 3 times what the electricity consumer would normally pay for electricity, then went down to 2 times the retail rate. Even after it goes down 10% next year this still amounts to well over what the electricity customer pays.

A surcharge of $1.67 on the monthly bill does not begin to cover that extra cost to the utility; but the nation shares in the Common Good of lowering carbon emissions.

If other countries, such as Britain, would follow similar acts as to solar and small wind much of the energy needs and demands of Europe could be made available by renewable sources. Britain, however, is going for nuclear stations – again large ones – an d also new coal fired power generating plants and is quite clear who pulled the lobbying strings here.

Nuclear, coal and oil simply have such a powerful lobby that renewables just, in Britain at least, cannot compete.

The fact that Britain refuses to even consider a feed-in tariff of at least the cost of what the consumer pays for electricity from the power companies, let alone with real incentives as in Germany or Denmark, makes the installation by homeowners of solar and small wind not an economic viability, unlike many of our European Union neighbors.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown talks a lot about going green and reduction of carbon emissions, etc., but when it comes to doing something about it that would benefit everyone government fails to deliver. Not that government has the slightest interest in doing what other countries have done; it would benefit the average person way too much.

© 2010



Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Schumacher Briefing No.16
by James Bruges
published by Green Books November 2009
ISBN 978 1 900322 67 6
210mm x 148mm 96pp in b&w paperback
available in the USA via Chelsea Green Books

“There is one way we could save ourselves [from global heating] and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste - which contains carbon that plants have spent the summer sequestering - into non-biodegradable charcoal and burying it in the soil ... this scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit.” – James Lovelock

Charcoal-making is one of the oldest industrial technologies, and in the last decade there has been a growing wave of excitement about its potential for combating climate change.

This is because burying biochar, that is to say, fine-grained charcoal, is thought to be a highly effective way in which to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

In addition, so usage seems to show, it can increase the yield of food crops and the ability of soil to retain moisture.

Some people are concerned, though, that awarding carbon credits for biochar could have seriously damaging outcomes, and I can but agree with them.

The Biochar Debate agrees with this but describes an alternative approach to carbon credits called the Carbon Maintenance Fund (CMF) that avoids the dangers and pitfalls of the credits.

This would give every government the incentive to enable its businesses, farmers and individuals to increase their country’s carbon pool.

It is based on remote sensing by satellite, a tried and tested technology, which would be applied globally each year to measure the increase or decrease of carbon in plants, soil and roots.

The Biochar Debate sets out experimental and scientific aspects of biochar in the context of global warming, the global economy and negotiations for the future of the Kyoto protocol.

It concludes with suggestions for how any individual – you and me – can make our contribution to saving the Planet.

While it all sounds very nice indeed the question that stands out first and foremost in my mind is “where is all the material for the biochar come from?” And the other question is, obviously, “how well does this work.”

We must also not forget, and the author did not either, in fact, the living carbon sinks, the woods and forests, in my opinion, but then I am a forester.

We would not be in this dilemma today had politicians listened when already in the 1890s scientists warned that basing the economy on fossil fuels, a finite resource, was dangerous, with regards to pollution as well as to the fact that one day the supply would come to an end.

Had we then, and in subsequent decades, listened and begun developing renewables we would, more than likely, not be in the state that we are in today.

Had we also listened to those that were standing against the chemicalization of farming soils would be in a much better health and shape and would absorb carbon properly.

In addition to that we have created a consumer economy and -society where everything is made just no longer to last, where everything has obsolescence after a few years factored in, that we must buy new every few year. This is yet another totally unsustainable way of living. And that aside from the way that advertising leads people to want new things every few years if not even months, and the way people go through cell phones is one example here.

When a book that I am reviewing has about as many Post-It Notes stuck as annotations to the pages then there are pages in the book this is either a sign that it is a good book or one that requires a lot of comments because of errors or what-have-you.

The Biochar Debate falls into the former rather than the latter category and the notes are, in fact, primarily for my own future references.

The author makes a great and convincing point for the use of biochar as a soil enhancer and as a means of extracting carbon (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere.

Remains but the question as to why nothing is being done so far. We do not have another 1,000 years.

The author's point against, basically, carbon trading and carbon credits and especially here about not incorporating biochar into that are well made and very valid indeed.

Carbon credits and the trade in them is nothing but a trade in modern day indulgences permitting rich countries to carry on business as usual with emissions buying credits from the poor nations. What a farce.

The author, James Bruges, was brought up in Kashmir until the age of twelve. He worked as an architect in London, Sudan and India before setting up the practice of Bruges Tozer Partnership with Howard Tozer in Bristol. His books include Sustainability and the Bristol Urban Village Initiative, The Little Earth Book, The Big Earth Book and part of What About China?. He participates in FEASTA and the Quaker Economics Issues Group. With his wife Marion he

keeps in touch with and visits Gandhian NGOs in southern India.

The Biochar Debate is another one of those books that should be made compulsory reading for politicians the world over but especially those in the developed world and here especially the USA and Britain. They may just learn something here in how the fouled up, their predecessors for sure, here and how they must not permit the fossil fuel lobby to block things yet again. And that aside from the fact that oil is way to valuable to be burned.

© 2010


by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

What are the links between policy, research and practice when considering biodiversity in the context of climate change in coastal, lowland and upland wetlands? This is the question that the World Wetlands Day Conference 2010, by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), will be asking the UK wetland community in early February.

World Wetlands Day marks the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. CIWEM’s World Wetlands Day Conference is supporting key ideas outlined in the RAMSAR convention and is a major event for the wetland community to meet and share their views. By looking at the similarities and differences in taking action for wetland biodiversity in different habitats, the conference will explore the way that policies, research and practical action need to be joined together to help deliver the most effective outcomes.

This event is relevant for site practitioners who have to meet the specific challenges of site management on a day to day basis and may be planning for climate change adaptation; policy officers who are responsible for drafting policies on wetlands and biodiversity which inform effective practical adaptation and mitigation project, and give clarity to the impacts of climate change; researchers who can update on the latest objective thinking on wetland biodiversity and functioning in the face of climate change; regulators who make the critical links between policy and schemes on the ground; and the wetland community who need to be fully aware of the direction climate change is pushing biodiversity change in the different wetland habitats.

Speakers will include representatives from government agencies, wildlife trusts, universities and consultancies.

The winner of CIWEM Living Wetlands Award for a project that demonstrates a sustainable use of wetland habitats will also be announced.

CIWEM’s World Wetlands Day Conference 2010 is on 2nd – 3rd February in Peterborough.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management ( CIWEM ) is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world.

The CIWEM World Wetlands Day Conference 2010 is on 2nd – 3rd February in Peterborough. The theme for this year is wetlands, biodiversity and climate. For more information, go to

Sponsors of the CIWEM World Wetlands Day Conference are Atkins, Defra, the Environment Agency, English Heritage, Royal Haskoning, WWT, and Natural England.

© 2010

Green equals expensive, in many a mind

Does it have to be? No, saving the Earth does not have to cost it.

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It never ceases to amaze me how close-minded some people still are about environmental change. Being environmentally friendly is good to some, as long as there is no perceived expense.

However, it does not have to come with a high costs attached for there is not need to buy the latest “green” gadget which, on close examination, is not very green at all, like the “Eco Button”, for instance.

In all honesty going “green” and “sustainable”, although those terms are getting somewhat flogged to death nowadays, does not have to be expensive but should and could actually save money, lots of it.

I am very passionate about what I do, as regards to writing my articles, working on some books on the subject, etc., and it gives me great satisfaction to, hopefully, give people ideas and lots of food for thought.

I see part of my responsibility as a writer as to educating people as to the environmental effects that their lives have on the Mother Earth, but also to think for themselves on environmental issues and not to accept everything as gospel and to accept all the greenwash as the truth.

That is why I put great store in honest product reviews and also why some Op Ed pieces are very controversial.

However, as far as going “green” has to cost lots of money, especially not as to your ordinary household, that is a myth. It is somewhat different in businesses and also in investing in the bigger things such as solar panels, small wind, etc. where the initial costs can be high, but where the investment has to be seen in the term of a number of years as to making a difference.

Energy saving devices, such as CFLs are something that is much cheaper and can bring quite a reduction of costs over the life of the lamp.

Everyone can do their bit for Mother Earth and it does not have to be expensive. It can even save lots of money.

Think of reusing items of waste and get away from consumption, over-consumption, and you bank account and pocketbook should feel a lot better. Going “green” does not have to cost a fortune, not even a small one, but can save you one. Alas, many folks do not understand this. And that is aside from the way it is good for Mother Earth.

There are many ways to go “green” that do not (have to) cost virtually any money at all but can save a some.

Do you really have to buy that notebook for $3 or so; could you not make one from scrap paper?

Do you have to go and buy glass storage jars for your kitchen at whatever price when you might just as well use glass jars from produce you buy for that purpose.

I have seen some people go out and buy pencil bins for the desk and such for good money where the same could and can be achieved with a cleaned up tin can or two.

How many old CDs and DVDs you have laying around?I know I have tons of them because of press packs from shows and fairs, And still people, who have old CDs and such, that they then take to the recycling bins, go and buy drinks coaster sets for however much in the stores.

There are so many ways to go “green”, aside from green with envy or green round the gills, that are simple, cheap and, in my opinion, also great fun. I rather recycle and upcycle and repurpose than go out and buy.

© 2009


Envirosax® kick off 2010 with their newly launched UK website

- Can Brits prove we’re ‘greener’ than Americans?

Envirosax®, the eco-friendly designer reusable bags, has launched its UK website to rival their US site. The American website helps stop over 30 million new plastic carrier bags reaching landfill sites. And now the keenly awaited UK website has launched to see if we Brits can beat the Americans in the race to be the ‘greener’ shopping nation. The UK website can be found at Now, with just a click of a button Envirosax bags can be delivered straight to your door.

Envirosax is at the forefront of eco-fashion trends, encouraging us to ditch the single use carriers in favour of re-useable bags. The average British consumer uses over 160 new plastic carrier bags a year compared with the American figure of 330 plastic carriers so it would seem we are already on the way to being a plastic bag free nation.

Alex Willumsen, the UK Business Development Manager says: “The original Envirosax website is extremely popular with a high volume of monthly hits coming from all over the world. The UK has one of the highest visitor counts each month, as we Brits become increasingly aware of ‘green’ issues. That’s why we are so excited to announce that the UK website has launched and it now offers an online community that residents in the UK and Ireland can join. It’s fast becoming a great place for people to chat and be part of the phenomenal global community that is the Envirosax eco-friendly way of life”.

This season marks the launch two of the ‘greenest’ products yet and three joyful new designs for the Envirosax graphics collection. The new bags are made from 45% recycled materials and available in two exciting shapes:

Slingsax are messenger shaped bags, carried across the body with adjustable tie straps and a front pocket feature making them the perfect everyday city bag.

Minisax bags set the trend in reusable lunch bags, with an internal cup holder/pocket tidy which also allows the bag to be folded into this pouch to be stored after you’ve eaten.

Both these eco-friendly bags come in three appealing double-sided designs, making them a perfect set with the patterns reflected in both ranges and they don’t cost the Earth either with Slingsax retailing at £9.50 and Minisax at just £3 each.

Stepping into spring couldn’t be easier with the three fabulous new designs of the original Envirosax eco-totes: the new Oasis series is a right on trend with a variety of lively, nautical prints mixed with traditional deckchair stripes and dots, in vibrant turquoise and navy tones; the Origami range is a collection of vibrant spring colours and prints, these delectable totes are not just great for the everyday but also superb as holiday beach bags; and the Midnight Safari collection is a fresh reinvention of the timeless black and white designs of the monochromatic range. All these new products are coming so keep an eye on the UK website.

Sassy, sustainable and inexpensive, these compact yet durable Envirosax eco-totes can be folded into a small package, yet can carry up to 20kg of weight. Whilst being waterproof and washable, Envirosax bags are perfect for eco-conscious shoppers who don’t want to compromise on style. They are available in singles (RRP £5.99)* or pouches of five bags (RRP £25)* to keep in the car or as a gift for your friends and family.

To buy online* visit

Alex Willumsen says: “If you are out and about you can still buy in–store as Envirosax eco-totes are stocked in nearly 400 outlets nationwide, including Fenwick and Oliver Bonas stores. Whether you shop on-line or in-store, by working together we can make the UK a ‘greener’ place to be”.

To find your nearest stockist call 01792 797 968 or email

*On-line prices exclude P&P which will be charged at the Royal Mail rates (Standard delivery) or £5.00 (Premium delivery).


Supermarket ditches canned tomatoes in order to reduce waste

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Canned tomatoes are to disappear from the shelves of Sainsbury's supermarkets in an effort to cut waste.

Sainsbury's “Basics” canned tomatoes are now only going to be sold in cartons rather than cans, according to the supermarket chain's bosses.

They believe the move, for their highest selling non-fresh item, will reduce packaging by half a million kilos every year.

Switch to carton will also, store chiefs believe, help the supermarket achieve its target of reducing packaging by a third by 2015, while reducing carbon emissions by 156 tonnes a year.

Hopefully this will also do away then with any possibilities of BPA leachage into the tomatoes, as presently is possible with the lining that is in the tin cans.

Sainsbury's head of packaging, Stuart Lendrum, said that this type of carton is a strong challenger to the traditional tin can in many ways, and may well pose a threat to its dominance over the coming years.

"Packaging basics chopped tomatoes this way”, he said, “will make life easier for customers as they will take up less space in cupboards, while at the same time, the environmental impact of those tomatoes will be a lot lower.

"Also, as they can be packed more tightly, more will fit onto a lorry meaning fewer journeys are required to move them around the country."

The only problem that I can see with those cartons is the fact that, unlike tin cans, they cannot, possibly, be stored as high in shelves and are no way as safe in storage. But then that is my only concern here. I can well do without the need of a can opener and then after having to crush the can.

Though another question that comes to mind is with regards to how recyclable those cartons are. They will, after all, be a laminate of, more than likely cardboard and tin foil, and whatever else. This, as far as I know, would more than likely make them not recyclable in the same way as drinks cartons cannot be recycled. Did anyone think of that, I wonder?

They may be reducing the amount of waste but not the waste. In fact they may be creating much more stuff to go to landfill as those cartons, as said, more than likely cannot be recycled. Someone may just have shot themselves in the foot and it could be messy.

© 2010

New Products from Planto - Available February 2010

Arm Protectors

A pair of heavy-duty 100% cotton canvas arm protectors to protect arms/clothing from damage when working in the garden.

The one-size protectors fit around the thumb and snugly around the arms with independently adjustable Velcro straps. They will not ride up and can be worn with any kind of glove. Perfect for protection from brambles, thorns, nettles etc.

Colour: Terracotta with Brown trim

Size: One-size

RRP - £25.99

Canvas Apron

A 100% Cotton canvas apron with three deep pockets and leather trim. The straps are adjustable for a good fit and the apron is distinctive, comfortable and hard-wearing.

Colours: Terracotta with Brown leather trim

Size: approx 58 x 52cm

RRP- £25.99

Jute Sling

A multi-purpose sling made from the finest natural jute laminated and finished by craftsmen. The sturdy handles and unique design mean that it can be used to move awkward shaped, heavy or long items such as logs, canes, and grow bags.

The one-size protectors fit around the thumb and snugly around the arms with independently adjustable Velcro straps. They will not ride up and can be worn with any kind of glove. Perfect for protection from brambles, thorns, nettles etc.

Colour: Jute with brown trim and leather fastening

Size: approx 52.5 x 97cm

RRP- £25.99

Professional's Fruit Picking Bag

This professional picking bag helps to keep fruit in optimum condition by avoiding over-handling. With both hands free to pick, the process can be gentle and when the bag is full it can be emptied from the bottom thus avoiding having to handle the fruit again.

Made from excellent quality cotton canvas with double stitched webbing and padded shoulder straps for extra comfort, the picking bag will hold up to 14lbs of fruit.

Colour: Terracotta with Brown trim

Size: Closed: approx 37 x 43cm

RRP- £32.99


Bahco 396-JS folding (pruning) saw – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Bahco 396 folding pruning saws are made in a range of toothings nowadays.

I have had this sample now in professional use for nigh on a year and it took that long because I wanted to have a comparison with the competition, e.g. Felco's version of such saws.

While the Felco brand's saw works very well too the Bahco saw is faster and that in both green and dry wood.

The blade of the saw is replaceable, as is the Felco version, and has Hard Point teeth and extra space in gullet for faster cutting in thicker green branches and the sideground blade gives a totally smooth section surface.

The handle is a strong two-component plastic one with comfortable grip. Safety lock acts both in opened and closed position.

The Bahco 396 range of folding pruning saws, of which one was here under review, definitely could and should be the #1 choice for the professional gardener, tree surgeon and groundsman. In many instances this saw even beats a bow saw hands down.

© 2010

Sustainable transport conference will share best practice in street design

Sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, is holding a conference on Thursday 11 March to celebrate its work on eleven pilot schemes designed to improve walking and cycling conditions in urban areas.

Launched in 2007, the Sustrans' DIY Streets projects have encouraged communities across the UK to re-design their own streets affordably to make them safer, cleaner and more people-friendly. The scheme follows the successes of home zones and aims to create more attractive spaces at a lower cost and with communities driving the process.

The conference, taking place in Bristol at the Council House, will review the evaluation results of the Sustrans' pilot projects carried out in London , South Wales, Coventry , Manchester , Sheffield, Torquay and Oxford . The residents' success in slowing down traffic and making their street safer for pedestrians and cyclists could see the scheme rolled out in cities throughout the UK.

Finlay McNab, Senior Project Officer at Sustrans, said: "The conference will provide an ideal opportunity to display and celebrate the work carried out across each pilot scheme, allowing residents and planning teams involved to get together, discuss individual projects and share best practice.

"The evaluation results will help Sustrans shape the next steps ahead for achieving its vision of creating safer and more attractive walking and cycling conditions for communities across the UK ."

The scheme has been part-funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, local authorities and housing associations along with additional funding from Transport For London for projects carried out in the Capital.

The conference panel will include Sustrans' Chief Executive, Malcolm Shepherd, Peter Lipman, Policy Director at Sustrans, and project officers involved in urban design, community involvement and sustainable transport.

Members of the public are invited to attend the conference. Tickets are priced at £55 each (£20 concessions) including lunch and are available through Sustrans. To make a booking, please contact Mira Ruskin on 0207 0172 364 or email by 26 February.


Nine thousand voices call for safer cycling

British women meet Transport Minister to ask for urgent action

Nine thousand people told Transport Minister Sadiq Khan on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 that they want Britain’s roads to be safer to cycle on.

Female cyclists Terry Cassels from Essex and Rachael Wood from London represented women across the UK who feel prevented from cycling because they don’t feel safe enough.

They visited the Transport Minister at the House of Commons to deliver the ‘Motion for Women’ petition - nine thousand signatures of support for the urgent need for safer cycling conditions, gathered by sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

Rachael Wood, a female cyclist in London , said: ‘Whenever I talk to other people about cycling, particularly women, I get the same story - they just don’t feel safe enough on the roads. That really has to change if we are to encourage more people to travel by bike.’

The petition - backed by organisations including Mind, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, the Townswomen’s Guilds and Women in Rural Enterprise - was launched in September in response to research from Sustrans that showed a staggering 79 per cent of women in Britain never cycle at all.

Not feeling safe enough was revealed as the most common reason why women won’t cycle, and most believe that more cycle lanes separated entirely from all other traffic is what’s needed to encourage more women onto their bikes.

Melissa Henry of Sustrans said: ‘Women have told us that they don’t cycle because they don’t feel safe enough. It’s great to have all these signatures backing our call for safer cycling, but this is just the start. Governments now have to take all these voices seriously and make changes across the country that will mean more people can choose to make everyday journeys by bike, without feeling unsafe.’

The petition was also presented in Wales to the National Assembly for Wales and in Edinburgh to Stewart Stevenson, Scotland ’s Transport Minister.



With the extreme weather conditions of winter 2010, household boilers will have been in near constant use but too many of them are old and inefficient – converting as little as 60% of the fuel they burn into useful heat compared to around 90% for a modern condensing boiler. Timely, money saving advice on upgrading comes from the Heating Helpline.

20 January 2010 – With the UK experiencing one of the most severe winters of the last 50 years many household boilers have been in constant use for extended periods of time – yet, even in a mild winter, heating our homes and hot water is the biggest monthly energy cost for homeowners. But the majority of homes in the UK still have ‘F-rated’ boilers – on average these convert around 72% of the fuel they use into useful heat. Older ‘G-rated’ boilers – those that now qualify under the Government’s scrappage scheme – are worse performers, with typically 60% efficiency. By contrast a modern ‘A-rated’ condensing boiler converts around 90% of fuel into useful heat.

With average household energy bills now well over £1,000 a year, most homeowners will save at least one-fifth on their gas or oil bills simply by upgrading to a new condensing boiler.

It’s not just money in your pocket at stake – old gas boilers are one of the biggest causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in homes and around 50 people in the UK still needlessly die every year from preventable carbon monoxide poisoning caused by defective fuel burning appliances.

Another benefit of ditching your old boiler and replacing it with a new one is that you will be playing your part in helping the environment by keeping your home’s carbon footprint down as modern boilers produce far less carbon dioxide.

If you do have a ‘G-rated’ boiler now is the time to take advantage of the government’s recently launched boiler scrappage scheme, which means you can apply for a voucher that will entitle you to £400 off the price of a new, modern ‘A-rated’ boiler or a renewable heating system like a biomass boiler or a heat pump.

If you do want to get your boiler replaced, it’s not difficult to find a reputable, reliable engineer. A good place to start is the Heating Helpline (, backed by the trade association for heating engineers, the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association (HVCA).

The Heating Helpline provides essential information on where homeowners can find local, reputable installers, how to employ them, how to get the best from them and what to do in the unlikely event that things do go wrong. On the website homeowners can put in their postcode and it will produce a list of reputable, Gas Safe Registered installers in their chosen area.

Further information on how to reduce energy bills and save energy is also available via the free Heating Helpline on 0800 840 4069 or at the website


Envirosax® takes a stand - making trade shows more eco-friendly

Envirosax®, leaders in spreading the re-usability message through its products - is making a stand – by carrying this eco-friendly message through to their trade show stands.

With retailers and manufacturers gearing up for the spring trade shows, Envirosax will not only be unveiling some stunning new merchandise at Top Drawer and Spring Fair, but is also furthering the company’s ethos by ensuring that they display their eco-products with a new, more eco-friendly stand design.

Trade show booths demand an incredible amount of printed materials, furniture, travel costs and packaging, all of which are used for a very short time-span. Those who have witnessed the incredible amount of wastage binned on the last day of trade shows can easily imagine how much must be wasted each year from the overwhelming number of trade shows taking place up and down the country, for just about every product and service sector.

Envirosax, Australia's original designer reusable bag brand has decided to extend its ‘green’ ethos right through to its exhibitor presence at trade shows for 2010. The ultimate eco-friendly stand for Envirosax has been developed by the German design company, Gewerk, these new stands have many benefits, making them the ideal ‘booths out of a box’ to use at the coming trade shows.

Here’s why:

Eco-friendly material – the stands are strong and stable, produced from a combination of aluminium and ash wood from sustainable sources.

Convenient to use and transport – they are easy to carry, easy to build and dismantle (can be constructed without tools) and easy to move. The stand unfolds from its own storage box which then converts into a table which is ready to use.

Low carbon footprint - The "booths in a box" are easily portable by the promotions team, as they have been specifically designed to weigh less than 20kg, so allowing a significant reduction in transportation costs and thus reduction in carbon footprint.

Re-useable - the branded stand can be re-used for every season, making hiring furniture, fixtures and any excess wastage a thing of the past.

Founder Belinda David-Tooze says: “We are looking to lead the way by encouraging other exhibitors to consider their carbon footprint when attending trade shows too. We have done our homework and feel that the purchase of these ‘green’ display units means that Envirosax has taken one of the first, and biggest steps towards making our booths as eco-friendly as can be. I hope that other exhibitors will want to follow suit.”

Visit the new UK website at

Groups accredited at the COP15 complain to UNFCC about the Danish police

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

On the 16th of December 2009 hundreds of people, who were accredited delegates and civil society observers at the UN-summit COP15, tried to leave the ground of the conference center to meet with protesters outside.

They were met with police batons and were beaten by the Danish police in their attempt to join a “peoples assembly” happening nearby.

On behalf of a long list of NGO´s, grassroots networks and Indigenous Peoples groups, these delegates have been sending an official compliant to the UN about how they and the Danish police handled protests on the 16th, and the violence they perpetrated on peaceful demonstrators.

Joshua Kahn Russell, Rainforest action network said: “The actions of the Danish police were an unacceptable move to silence critical voices in the talks. Article 6 of the UNFCCC requires Parties to promote and facilitate public participation in the conference. The actions of the Danish police in using such disproportionate force in Copenhagen to silenced the voices of civil society, is compromising the democratic process.”

Furthermore an independent investigation is called for, other organization say.

Joseph Zacune, Friends of the Earth International Climate and Energy Program coordinator says: “We urge an independent investigation into the police tactics. The UNFCCC should disclose what cooperation took place between the UNFCCC and the Danish police and should also publicly condemn the actions of the Danish police.”

© 2010

You are not what you have and own

Cult of Consumerism at root of the Planet's environmental degradation & destruction

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Planet's current environmental woes, be they the changing climate, the loss of biodiversity and habitat, the loss of natural resources, or whatever has only one underlying cause, basically.

That cause is consumerism, whether green or not. Green consumerism is as bad as any other.

But our governments have been encouraging, nay, nigh forcing, people to go out and spend, spend, spend, for, so they claimed, that is what will get us out of the economic crisis.

People who were becoming thrifty and frugal were even likened to terrorist because, so it was said, they were putting the economy at risk. No, those people were not bankers.

The recently released State of the World 2010 report of the Worldwatch Institute puts consumerism and what is does to the Planet into perspective and the figures are mind-boggling.

I am sure many of us are well aware of the fact that those of us in the developed world over-consume the resources of he world, from water to everything else, and that often without the slightest regard for the future.

And our governments certainly are not helping in this especially when they demand, as mentioned already, that people go and spend the country out of a recession. Not that that has ever worked.

All this while at the same time demanding that people reduce the waste they produce.

The way the developed nations, and that is us here in those nations, live and consume – the majority, I mean, for I know that not everyone does – would require the resources of at least six Earths but there is only one. We cannot go on that way.

So, therefore, we must reduce consumption and, maybe, just maybe, government has to notice that as well and maybe even legislate for it.

We can no longer – not that we really ever could – justify nor support having our goods made in China and similar cheap locations where the environment is not taken into consideration and neither the health of the people.

This is aside from the fact that stuff made cheaply in China still bears other hidden costs, namely that of the environment and the shipping. The same, in a way, also applies to good made in other cheap locations which often are far away from our shores.

While the costs to the consumers may not be high; the very reason the goods are made in those foreign countries, the cost to the environment and the people making them are. Can we really justify the exploitation of Mother Nature and of other people in order for us to get consumer goods at prices that may be a little cheaper than if they would be made at home?

The first thing with all of it is that we must stop the cult of consumerism that the great majority of us has fallen prey to, the attitude of want that is confused by too many with need. They claim that they “need” this or that when the truth is that they have no real need for it but it is a case of want.

Much of the consumerism is, however, being fueled even by the governments of our countries telling us that we should spend our way out of the financial and economic crisis. How that is supposed to work beats most normal thinking people, I am sure.

So, let us stop worshiping at the altar of consumerism and find new ways. Remember that you are not what you have; you are what you are and what you make of yourself. Possessions do not make you.

© 2010

Fighting global warming reduces diseases, studies find

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Cutting global warming pollution, so newly released studies say, would not only make the planet healthier, it would make people healthier too.

Now who would have thought that reducing pollution would have a beneficial impact on heath. <sarcasm off>

Was that not the very reason why in the 1960s already voices were raised against the industrial pollution, the smog and all that? It indeed was. At the same time when we also all became aware of “acid rain”, resultant from coal and oil fire power station.

Slashing carbon dioxide emissions could save millions of lives, mostly by reducing preventable deaths from heart and lung diseases, the studies show. They were published in a special issue of The Lancet British medical journal, released in December 2009.

The calculations of lives saved were based on computer models that looked at pollution-caused illnesses in certain cities. The figures are also based on the world making dramatic changes in daily life that may at first seem too hard and costly to do, researchers conceded.

Cutting carbon dioxide emissions would also reduce other types of air pollution, especially tiny particles that lodge in the lungs and cause direct health damage, doctors said. Other benefits could come from encouraging more exercise and less meat consumption, to improve heart health, researchers said.

Now, instead of just calling it “reducing pollution”, for it is that that causes the lung and heart diseases, they are all jumping on the CO2 bandwagon. Pollution is not just equal to CO2 emissions; far from it. When are scientists going to – finally – be truthful?

Reducing greenhouse gases, said Christopher Portier, associate director of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, would not only help save the planet in the long term, but it is also going to improve our health virtually immediately.

They do like to band about the words “greenhouse gases” and such at present without regard of whether or not they are making sense; all in order to bamboozle the public.

The emissions that cause health problem are not carbon dioxide or methane but they are the emissions from burning fossil fuels per se, and the particles that are in such emissions and the heavy metals and such like.

Sometime in the middle of 2009 they found, at great cost again, I should think, that the particles in the exhaust fumes from diesel engines, including those from trains and ships, are the causal agent for asthma and other respiratory diseases in children and adults alike and are, more than likely, the very reason for why cases of asthma in children and adults are on the increase all over the developed world.

What was failed too be highlighted in that report was that bio-diesel, for instance, will have worse emissions of such dangerous particles than fossil oil based diesel.

Instead of looking at the health ills causes by future global warming, as past studies have done, this research looks at the immediate benefits of doing something about the problem.

Some of the benefits would only come from dramatic – and what could be considered unlikely – changes in everyday life, such as more bicycling and walking and reduced meat consumption. Other proposals studied are more concrete and achievable, such as eliminating cook stoves that burn dung, charcoal, wood and other polluting fuels in India and the rest of the developing world. All are part of a number of proposals examined by researchers that are aimed at cutting global greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels, by 50% by 2050.

Now it is even getting people healthier by prescribing them more exercise such as walking and cycling instead of going everywhere by car wrapped in the mantle of “reducing carbon emissions”. It is becoming rather tedious to see all this

Also, it must be considered that cycling in air polluted by vehicle exhaust fumes is doping very little for people's health; the opposite rather. While they may be getting exercise and getting the heart rate up nicely they also breathe in all the lovely particles from the burned fossil fuels that, while, then their heart is getting better, the lungs will fail.

Our cities must be changed before we can really see any benefit of any of such actions. This means we must reduce the use of motorcars with ICEs, whether gasoline or diesel, or bio-fuels or hybrids, off the streets and replace them by electric cars and vans, and also by cycle deliveries and a return tot he horse and cart. No, I am not saying we should go back into caves, before anyone screams such a thing.

One study found that, for example, switching to low-polluting cars in London and Delhi, India, would save 160 lost years of life in London and nearly 1,700 in Delhi for every million residents. However, if people also drove less and walked or biked more, those extra saved years would soar to more than 7,300 years in London and 12,500 years in Delhi because of less heart disease.

As said before, however, only a removal of oil burning vehicles, whether fossil or bio, from the roads of our cities will give us the clean air needed to enable people to cycle and walk without further risk to their health by breathing in fumes.

Alone walking in London at time when I have to go into the city and breathing in the crap leaves a bad taste, literally, in my mouth for about a day, and that with using toothpaste and mouthwash even.

While nowadays there is no lead anymore in the fuel of the cars I remember the taste of lead that would be on one's tongue after a visit of a couple of hours to the British capital, for instance.

We must clean up the air and that will go a long way towards a healthier population in the cities and, if, in addition to that, as they will have to when the polluting vehicles are removed, they have to walk and cycle, then their health will improve even more.

To wrap this all in the “reducing greenhouse gas emissions”, however, is nothing but an attempt to bamboozle the public and does climate science no favor whatsoever. No wonder scientists are not trusted by the man in the street.

© 2010

Eco-Vision Sustainable Learning Center Awarded $39,549 Tourism Grant

Delavan, WI, January 2010 – The EcoVision Sustainable Learning Center has received a $39,549 Joint Effort Marketing grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to promote EcoFair360, a three-day exposition for green energy, sustainable building and the green lifestyle which will be presented at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, Wisconsin on July 16-18. “This event will have a major economic impact on the Walworth County area,” says event coordinator Catherine McQueen. “We are planning for 15,000 attendees, and anticipate that 24% of them, or 3,600 people, will stay overnight. There will be space for 300 exhibitors and vendors, and we anticipate that with two people per table, 30% of the 600 people, or 180, will do multiple overnight stays. This will generate over a million dollars in lodging, retail, food and beverage business.”

“The Joint Effort Marketing grants awarded to this deserving tourism promotion demonstrates the power of travel and its ability to generate significant economic benefits,” Tourism Secretary Kelli A. Trumble said. “Every dollar awarded through the Joint Effort Marketing grant program last year produced a 10-fold return-on-investment while allowing individual communities to make an impact on their local economies and remain viable in a very competitive market.”

The EcoVision Sustainable Learning Center in Delavan received $39,549 to promote EcoFair360, a new event showcasing all things green that will be held on July 16-18, 2010 at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. From the experienced green builder looking to catch up on the latest technology to the new parent looking to raise a more environmentally aware child, everyone who attends should come prepared to learn, to enjoy, and to be inspired. Workshops and seminars will cover everything from renewable energy, sustainable living practices, green building and green transportation to gardening and landscaping, health and fitness and food and nutrition. Sponsors, speakers, exhibitors and attendees can learn more at The JEM funds will be used for print and online marketing campaigns and public relations outreach.

“EcoFair360 welcomes all who have a concern for the planet and a desire to learn more about living a green lifestyle”, said Fritz Kreiss, one of the event creators and managers. “The additional funding from JEM will allow us access into markets such as the Chicagoland area, Northern Indiana, Milwaukee and Madison with a focused marketing plan. We want our county of Walworth to be known as one of the greenest places in Wisconsin.”

Joint Effort Marketing grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project's first year advertising and marketing costs and provides support for second and third year projects, but with decreasing amounts for funding each year until projects become self-sustaining.

Information and applications are available on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism website