Increase producer responsibility

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is calling for a revision of the current waste strategy to focus on resource efficiency and waste minimization through increased producer responsibility.

Whilst an increasing amount of municipal waste has been diverted from landfill and recycled, the UK continues to generate 430 million tonnes of waste per year, and a great deal of this still goes to landfill.

However, recycling is only part of an environmentally sustainable solution. The Chartered Institution believes we need to build on existing achievements by assigning more of the costs of managing downstream waste to the producer; clarifying the role of waste recycling in terms of the waste hierarchy; and incentivizing small and medium sized enterprises to improve their waste management practices.

CIWEM’s Director of Policy, Justin Taberham, said that despite its efforts, the UK is currently lagging behind many other European States in this area and that improvements must be made to the system to further promote minimization of the production of waste, supported by a circular flow of resources and materials designed to facilitate reuse and recycling wherever possible. One can, I am sure, but agree with that.

In continental Europe much more emphasis is placed on manufacturers to reduce waste in the first place, and let's face it; most waste is packaging, unnecessary packaging often, as most products are, in fact, severely over-packaged.

CIWEM’s waste management work is taken forward by a panel of experts with a focus on international waste policy and legislation, contaminated land, waste minimisation, resource issues, energy use and new technologies. Both CIWEM’s Manifesto and Waste Management Policy Position Statement call for resource efficiency and waste minimisation through increased producer responsibility. To find out more, go to

Some of these issues will be discussed at the CIWEM seminar sessions being held at Futuresource 2010. Speakers include Dr Stephen Wise, who will talk about the practical requirements for successfully developing AD plants to treat both municipal and commercial organic waste. CIWEM is proud to support Futuresource 2010, an event which provides a platform for highlighting water issues in waste management and offers opportunities for integration between different sectors, something which CIWEM encourages fully.

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.

Futuresource is a joint event from the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA) for the environment and sustainability industry. Now into its second year, Futuresource is located at the ExCeL Centre in London's Docklands and will take place from 15th -17th June 2010.

Dr Stephen Wise is a member of CIWEM’s Waste Management Panel and Head of Organic Waste Development at Shanks Waste Management.

© 2010

Top 10 Things to see at Grand Designs Live, London 2010

For the sixth year running, Grand Designs Live, the UK’s most successful homes, interiors, build and design event, is coming to London with more features and exciting homes, building innovation and interior design than ever before, running for 9 days from the 1st-9th May 2010 at London’s ExCeL.

With today’s economic climate continuing to affect property sales, more emphasis is being put on improving and updating our existing properties at affordable prices. In addition to this, worries over our ever increasing energy consumption, have spurred on consumers to look for new ways to improve our homes while remaining mindful of our carbon footprint. By making our homes more energy efficient, not only are we saving the environment but also saving money!

Grand Designs Live London offers the perfect solution to all of your home improvement needs for any project big or small. Whether you’re looking to build a property, add some extra living space to your home, retrofit and future proof your home saving you money on your domestic energy bills, or even revamp a tired looking room, Grand Designs Live has it all.

Based on the hugely successful Channel 4 TV series – presented by design guru Kevin McCloudGrand Designs Live London is split into seven sections, creating an exciting array of grand ideas in each of them. The separate sections include Grand Interiors, Grand Build, Grand Technology, Grand Gardens, Grand Food, Grand Kitchens & Bathrooms and the spectacular Grand Village with its Live Eco builds and range of self build innovations and expert advice.

There are so many things to see at this year’s show, Grand Designs Live London is full of the UK’s biggest and best brands offering a one stop shop, to assist you with every aspect of your home.

Follow our guide to the ‘Must See’ things to do at Grand Designs Live, London 2010.

  1. Grand Designs ‘Expert Advice Centre’ sponsored by VELUX

The Grand Designs Expert Advice Centre sponsored by VELUX will be the place for visitors to get free, invaluable one-to-one advice from experts in every field from architecture to project management. Visitors can take their plans along to the show and gain FREE advice from our resident experts, who are on hand to advise on your project’s requirements. You'll find RIBA chartered architects, Grand Designs Magazine Experts, Mary Riley (Finance), Peter Caplehorn (Architecture and project management), Roger Estop (Planning and Urban Design) and Graham Davies (Project Manager) as well as the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologist (CIAT) if your project needs that technical expertise.

Book your FREE 30 minute consultation with one of our experts before you get your project underway.

  1. GRAND VILLIAGE sponsored by first direct

Back by popular demand, the spectacular Grand Village sponsored by first direct allows visitors to explore a series of new eco build dwellings, that demonstrate the ways in which architects and designers are pushing the boundaries of design and construction to create and build the most advanced, energy efficient homes of the future.

The Village will host some of the most innovative and ground-breaking eco builds, including the Pilotis, a low impact, upcyled and architecturally aware project, based on the Forest School project at Elleray Prep School in Windermere, in the Lake District. In addition the modular CUB Home, launched earlier this year will also unveil their latest model within the Village.

All boasting the utilization of healthy and sustainable materials, systems and finishes that will allow visitors to experience a full functional eco-house, in the heart of ExCeL.

  1. House of the Future presented by Philips

The House of the Future sponsored by Philips will showcase the latest and most ingenious home entertainment, great lighting ideas to compliment personal style and improve the mood and wellbeing in your home, and the best innovative gadgets and domestic technology around. This amazing hub of entertainment will see a home set-up with Lounge, Kitchen, Dining Room, Bedroom, Bathroom and Garden, featuring product launches by Philips, OVEI, AM01, Hi Interiors, Electrolux and Aqualisa. With a variety of products from remote control showers, multimedia beds, touch screen ovens, and the latest in brand new OLED technology from Philips, and also the debut of WiPower set to revolutionise the way we use electricity by freeing devices from requiring cables, therefore allowing all devices and products to be charged and powered cable-free.

Embrace your inner gadget-geek through the inventions of today and tomorrow, that will lead to domestic bliss within your home in the future.

  1. Kevin McCloud’s ‘Green Heroes’

Kevin McCloud, the familiar face of Grand Designs, will curate a new feature at Grand Designs Live in May; a showcase of ten truly innovative eco ideas, with the title “Kevin’s Green Heroes”. Kevin McCloud has personally chosen ten products or inventions that he feels deserve wider recognition. Some of these left-field ideas may not have hit the high street yet, some are on already on a high street somewhere you and I might never visit. We’re hoping that Grand Designs Live will give them some wider exposure and raise awareness of the environmental issues that prompted their invention. All of the products will reflect Grand Designs Live’s wider message of environmental friendliness and sustainability.

  1. Best of British- The Gallery Rooms

This years’ Grand Interiors feature is all about celebrating great British Design. Whether it be from new designers of our time or traditional designers, that have made Britain known for fabulous creations, our three NEW Gallery Rooms, will explore how Britain is becoming a ‘hot spot’ for leading interior design, through a selection of three stylish room sets, that represent what makes being British fun, exciting and unique!

There will be three stunning rooms to see including; A room sets designed by Squint Ltd (headed by furnishings designer Lisa Whatmough), featuring fantastic couture furnishings that have been transformed from boring old pieces to unique and vibrant interior furnishings. The second room set will be created by New British Design, a new company that helps young British designers manufacture their products. The final room set will be inspired by the great Dame of British fashion - Vivienne Westwood, with a a boudoir themed room will feature some of the best fashion inspired furnishings and products.

  1. The Cuprinol Tea Party

The Cuprinol Garden Tea Party will be situated in GRAND Gardens where you will be able to enjoy a ‘high tea’ in a quintessentially English garden setting. Our team of dedicated waiting staff will serve you a selection of delicious tea time treats. From scones, cream & jam, to dainty finger sandwiches and of course the essential afternoon cup of tea!

  1. Live Kitchen Experience sponsored by Miele

Some of London’s top chefs will be joining us at Grand Designs Live offering kitchen inspiration and cooking advice, with some of the sleekest kitchen technologies around including; Mark Poynton and John Burton-Race, Martin Blunos, Nancy Lam, Jun Tanaka (The Pearl), Tim Hughes (Caprice Holdings), Andrew Turner (Wiltons) will be doing live cooking demonstrations.

In addition, Miele will also be providing Kitchen Inspiration - where visitors will get a unique opportunity to interact and experience Miele appliances.

  1. Grand Build sponsored by VELUX

With climate change and new building technologies constantly hitting the headlines everyday, the time of change is upon us. The Grand Build Hall sponsored by VELUX is here to enlighten visitors and show them firsthand the latest eco building materials and new technologies. With demonstrations on ways to reduce energy and water usage, the Grand Build area will show visitors how easily eco lifestyles can be created, therefore changing the impact of people’s day to day lives on the environment.

  1. How To’ Theatres

For those visitors after a more intimate setting, the two ‘How To’ Theatres – ‘How To’ BUILD Theatre sponsored by Bosch, and the ‘How To’ DESIGN Theatre, offer a stage for key industry speakers to give informative presentations on a vast amount of interior related subjects. Targeted at both consumer and professional audiences alike, the theatre will host a mixture of industry experts and celebrities delivering consumer friendly advice and practical demonstrations on home building, interior design and more!

  1. The Bee Garden

Ever fancied your hand at bee keeping? With the rising popularity of urban bee keeping Grand Designs Live London has teamed up with the British Beekeeping Association to offer visitors a chance to learn from experts the process of bee keeping in your own gardens! Experts from the British Beekeeping Association will be offering their professional advice and seminars daily. With LIVE beekeeping occurring over the entire length of the show, visitors will be empowered to take action in their own gardens and save our British bees!

There will be hundreds of products to buy from the latest furnishings, innovative technology and bespoke designer accessories to suit all styles and budgets - there’s something for everyone. Plus don’t miss the Grand Designs Bursary, where you can find unique stylish contemporary furnishings from a host of up and coming young designers.

Grand Designs Live, London runs from Saturday 1st – Sunday 9th May, 20010, at London’s ExCel Centre. Book tickets now and save £5* through, or call the 24 hour box office on 0844 581 00771 + kids go free.

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

More than a third of farmers hit by climate change

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Nigh on 40% of all farm businesses in Britain are being affected by climate change, according to a survey of UK farmers.

Carried out by “Farming Futures”, a collaboration between farming organizations, DEFRA and sustainable development charity “Forum for the Future”, the survey found 60% of farmers think climate change will influence their business over the next decade.

A third of farmers are already adapting to the impacts of global warming, while almost half are acting to reduce emissions and to lessen the effects of climate change, the survey states.

While farmers think climate change will bring some threats such as floods and droughts, most also think it will bring opportunities, such as prospects for growing alternative crops in a warmer climate, it adds.

I would hate to burst their balloon but personally I am not, as yet, convinced that that is going to happen and be a course of action, nor should it have to be.

Of those farmers already making changes to their business, 26% are managing water more efficiently, 16% are changing crop practices and 11% are growing different crops.

One of the most significant impacts of climate change will be on water availability. Hotter, drier summers and the pressures of a growing population mean that growers are going to have to produce more crop per drop.

Water conservation will be a necessary part of it and maybe some of the water used on farms should come from rainwater harvesting.

On the other hand, if farms actually would, once again, become smaller and farms the size they used to be could be allowed to flourish much of that irrigation problem would be dispersed with, as much water is lost in current irrigation of the huge fields.

Almost half of those surveyed believe farming could be part of the climate change solution and are already acting to reduce emissions. The majority of these (47%) are improving energy efficiency, with 15% producing their own energy, 15% increasing fuel efficiencies and 10% improving manure management.

In order to meet the government target to reduce emissions from farming by 11% by 2020, the priorities of which include reducing fuel use with more efficient machinery, opting for alternative energy sources and reducing fertilizer use, 82% of those questioned agreed farmers should work together to help reduce emissions. Ideas included co-operatives to share machinery, erect bio-digesters or wind farms and making best use of manure and fertilizers.

A different practice in farming, especially in the arable sector, must also be considered, namely one of low- or no tillage. Plowing the ground releases soil carbons as CO2 which would be much better left in the soil and that not just so those carbons don't get into the atmosphere.

Carbon loss in soil actually decreases the soil's fertility and no amount of artificial fertilizers can ever bring that back. In fact, petrol-chemicals-based fertilizers do not benefit the soil at all.

All we are seeing, however, is bigger farms, bigger plows and more and more application of chemicals, destroying the soil and the rest of the environment all along and all in the name of profit.

Copyright © Michael Smith 2010

Changing from a robber economy to one where Mother Earth matters

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

E.F. Schumacher had subtitled his now ionic book “Small is Beautiful” with “A study of economics as if people mattered” and it is just such an economy that we have to establish for the good of the Mother Earth and all Her children, human and non-human.

The present (capitalist) global economic system is harmful to both humankind and Mother Earth, as it is highly exploitative. Humans are seen, used and exploited as resources in the same was as natural resources of the Planet.

That people are no more than resources to those running the global economy and even government departments, local and national, can be seen from the renaming of the personnel departments to human resources departments, for instance. Human resources... why not say slaves straight away.

Once upon a time, not so long ago even, employees, workers, were seen as personnel of an enterprise; today just as human resources, and they are being exploited in the same way as the resources of the Planet, the gifts of Mother Earth.

The way the global economy, fueled to a great degree by the greed of developed nations, robs the Earth of its riches and uses those up without any thought and consideration for the future and future generations, it can therefore be but linked to one of robber barons.

The huge conglomerates steal not only the gifts of the Earth, nay, they steal our children's and grand-children's very future.

The global economy of today is nothing but a ponzi scheme of monumental proportions, robbing Peter – it is not even borrowing – in order to pay Paul, while killing everything.

We have ruined farmland and made it infertile through the use of agro-chemicals that were supposed to make things better, we have over fished the oceans to such an extent that by 2050 the oceans could be devoid of life, at least of edible fish, and most of those fish that have been caught in the sea since around 1900 have not even been used to feed people. Most of the fish ever caught have been processed into things other than food for humans. They became fertilizer, many of them.

We have destroyed the health of most farmland, arable and other, because the way we, predominately, do farm today.

Today almost everything is a mono culture with no rest permitted for the land whatsoever; it has to be productive. However, it is not.

Year in, year out the same crops are grown on the same plots and more and more fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and other agro-chemicals are needed in order too produce anything.

The soil of most farms is sick to dead but could be brought back to vitality and health with the proper farming methods that have been proven to work for centuries.

But... that would mean somewhat lower yields, if organic methods, as they must, would be employed and the agri-business, the agri-industy, can not possible accept that. Instead they rather destroy eco-systems, pollute air, water, and soil,, and, in the process and end Mother Earth and all Her children.

We must, however, return to a sustainable farming as well as a sustainable economy in general.

In order to reap ever bigger profits companies relocate manufacturing and even call centers to developing countries where they can pay slave wages and where regulations as regards to workers and the environment are hundred times or more even lower than say in the European Union, the USA or Canada.

We ship our waste in the form of recyclables – but also as waste proper – half ways around the world to be, in the case of recyclables, reprocessed their, such as in China, or, in the case of waste per se, to be landfilled there, mostly in Third World countries.

Both because legislations and regulations are so much more lax – it at all existent – in those countries compared to those in the EU, USA, etc.

A few recycling reprocessors do exist in Britain, for instance, that take recyclables and make new stuff from them but only a mere handful or two.

The entire global economy of ours is, basically, based upon the exploitation of natural resources and of people, to maximize the profit of a few.

While no one should begrudge entrepreneurs a decent return of their ventures, business, the world over, must rethink how it acts and works.

Aside from the fact that our entire economy, more or less, with a few exceptions, is based on (the use of) fossil fuel – a finite resource – as far as energy, for one, is concerned, other aspects too are unsustainable and the current banking system is but one of them.

The world needs too rethink it economy and how we do business.

Copyright © Michael Smith 2010

Everyone Can be a herO – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Everyone Can be a herO

Published and printed in U.K. by Inside Outsider Publications at Telfs, Hendon Wood Lane, London N.W.7.4HT.
The book is printed on recycled paper and the covers are made from re-used cardboard and recycled or re-used paper, some glue and a piece of string.
ISBN 978-0-9556679-09.

This a school library book from the future, on loan from Pangaea and due to be renewed or returned on 30th October 2040.

There has already been a nuclear accident and there aren't too many resources left either.

People have to grow food wherever they can.

It's the summer holidays, however, and four teenagers would like to spend it helping on the family allotments, making music with their friends and generally lolling around.

The trouble is that, although the people are trying to build a better future, does the government have a different agenda?

Where are the nuclear trains going?

Why do they only run at night and where are they stopping?

What are they unloading? Why will no-one talk about it and where have the good guys gone?
It's up to the teenagers to find out.

Armed with little else than solid-wheeled bicycles, cameras and some memory sticks, they travel through a different, greener England, organically farmed and self-sufficient.

What they find, and how they tell people, changes the future of the country.

This is a real good book and also one that give you a really good feeling and can be highly recommended.

Instead of a doom and gloom story we are, in this book, presented with one of hope and optimism of how things could get real after an incident.

Let us just hope that this book finds its way into the hands of many young people who might just get inspired to act. We need youngsters to emulate the young heroes in the book as that is, I think, the Planet's only hope.

Politicians, the professional ones, cannot be trusted with the Earth's future, so much is sure; and neither can corporations.

A completely new society is needed in the way of how the people live in “Everyone Can be a herO”, and maybe a lot better still even. But, would they let us?

The one thing that I really liked was a the mention of the use of herbs, wild and cultivated, for food and especially for medicinal uses, and also the mention of companion planting for growing food.

I have just one issue and that is the mention, unfathomable to me, of alternators being used in conjunction with solar voltaic cells. As far as I see solar cells they can directly be used to charge a bank of batteries and would not require an alternator. Feeding current into the national grid would require, though an inverter, an up-converter, while the batteries would be charged with DC.

The latter would be something with which to generate 12V DC using a small windmill, for example.

This book, in my opinion, is a great story and it is a real page turner. Who cares that it is self-published and here and there could do with a little editing. I have enjoyed every minute reading “Everyone Can be a herO” and just wonder as to whether a sequel could be considered.

The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW is happy to endorse this book.

Copyright © 2010 Michael Smith

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

Reducing your ENVIRONMENTAL footprint

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Many people refer to it as the “carbon” footprint but I like to take it a little step further an talk about the environmental footprint rather. Carbon is one thing; the environmental impact of our species goes further than any carbon per se. Therefore we should really be looking at it in that way too.

Much is being talked about our need to reduce CO2 emissions – and that may be so – but nothing seems to be said about all the other things. As I have said before, it would appear as if Climate Change, previously called Global Warming, has pushed all the other, often more important issues, to the background.

What good is a cool planet if we no longer have a healthy soil, fish in the sea and all that? None whatsoever. All things must go hand in hand and we must not forget the other issues that may not have much to do with CO2.

We all hear the disaster scenarios – and actually I do take them pretty seriously – but not many of us can personally start building wind-farms, and many also do not have the funds to even have their own little wind turbine and photo-voltaic cells for the home, so how do we make some deep cuts in our emissions?

First of all measure. There are a great number of on-line calculators now where you can feed your energy bills, gasoline usage, and such like, in – and out pops your supposed CO2 footprint. This is a must to get started on reductions (otherwise, how are you going to know what you should be reducing and how you're doing?!). Just type 'carbon calculator' into any search engine.

Next shop with an eco-eye. But how do I do that, I hear you ask. Find recommended Eco Stores online or in the real world. There is a warning here though that I may like to give and that is that there are many things out there claimed by the green stores and many green magazines too be real great and good for the Planet, such as they claim as regards to bamboo fiber clothes, or the Eco Button, and other things, that are, in fact, nothing but greenwash. Some reviewers either have no idea as to how to review or they have links to the reviewed products in one way or the other. At the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW we pride ourselves on being impartial and we will not award good marks to any product, book or service, that does not deserve it.

Make a record. Reducing CO2 will reduce your bills – because, for example, you are using less energy produced from burning fossil fuels like coal. But, I think it is also important to note down what you are doing and what the impact is. It will help you see the reward. Again, there are various websites that will give you a chance to input data and save it.

Forget about carbon offsetting despite of what some might like to advise to the contrary. Carbon offsetting is nothing but gimmickry. And in the large scale it is basically indulgences. Let's be serious and if you wish to help some solar project in India or wherever then do it out of the goodness of your own heart or because of how much you have saved following your energy audit rather than as an indulgence for the CO2 emissions for which you are still, directly or indirectly, responsible.

Many eco-stores on the high street and the Internet try to sell you this or that gadget with which to, supposedly, reduce you carbon emissions, etc., and you may also, and that is true, save some money in the long run in that you reduce your heating or electricity bill.

However, many things you do not even have to buy in order to do and here is and idea...

Instead of, for inctance, falling for the sales pitch and buying a Radiator Booster (fan) you can do something yourself though and that is much cheaper: Put a panel of reflective aluminium foil behind each and every radiator. That will reflect the heat away from the wall and prevent loss to the outside. It also will reflect heat back into the room, obviously.

There are also other ways that you can do – without having to spend any or much money – in order to reduce heat loss, for instance.

The draft snake, for instance, that you can easily make yourself, instead of buying for between $10 and $20 from the green stores and craftspeople. And I could go on but won't, at least not for the moment ...

Copyright © 2010 Michael Smith

Rory Bremner to kick off London green business event, May 27

Playwright, impressionist and satirist Rory Bremner, has agreed to kick off BASE London, a day long conference for business and the public sector to hear more about the opportunities coming from London's transformation to a low carbon economy. BASE London is being organised in conjunction with the London Development Agency on May 27th at the ExCel Centre.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will deliver a keynote speech at 10am, to outline his plans for London's ambition to become a world leading sustainable city.

Break-out sessions and seminars will fill the day, punctuated by other keynotes, and panel sessions. Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project, and one of the country's foremost green entrepreneurs, joins a late morning session designed to identify the practicalities to achieving a sustainable economy.

BASE London is at

Fundamentals of Voluntaryism

By Carl Watner


Voluntaryism is the doctrine that relations among people should be by mutual consent, or not at all. It represents a means, an end, and an insight. Voluntaryism does not argue for the specific form that voluntary arrangements will take; only that force be abandoned so that individuals in society may flourish. As it is the means which determine the end, the goal of an all voluntary society must be sought voluntarily. People cannot be coerced into freedom. Hence, the use of the free market, education, persuasion, and non-violent resistance as the primary ways to change people's ideas about the State. The voluntaryist insight, that all tyranny and government are grounded upon popular acceptance, explains why voluntary means are sufficient to attain that end.

The Epistemological Argument

Violence is never a means to knowledge. As Isabel Paterson, explained in her book, The God of the Machine, "No edict of law can impart to an individual a faculty denied him by nature. A government order cannot mend a broken leg, but it can command the mutilation of a sound body. It cannot bestow intelligence, but it can forbid the use of intelligence." Or, as Baldy Harper used to put it, "You cannot shoot a truth!" The advocate of any form of invasive violence is in a logically precarious situation.

Coercion does not convince, nor is it any kind of argument. William Godwin pointed out that force "is contrary to the nature of the intellect, which cannot but be improved by conviction and persuasion," and "if he who employs coercion against me could mold me to his purposes by argument, no doubt, he would.. He pretends to punish me because his argument is strong; but he really punishes me because he is weak." Violence contains none of the energies that enhance a civilized human society. At best, it is only capable of expanding the material existence of a few individuals, while narrowing the opportunities of most others.

The Economic Argument

People engage in voluntary exchanges because they anticipate improving their lot; the only individuals capable of judging the merits of an exchange are the parties to it.

Voluntaryism follows naturally if no one does anything to stop it. The interplay of natural property and exchanges results in a free market price system, which conveys the necessary information needed to make intelligent economic decisions.

Interventionism and collectivism make economic calculation impossible because they disrupt the free market price system. Even the smallest government intervention leads to problems which justify the call for more and more intervention. Also, "controlled" economies leave no room for new inventions, new ways of doing things, or for the "unforeseeable and unpredictable." Free market competition is a learning process which brings about results which no one can know in advance. There is no way to tell how much harm has been done and will continue to be done by political restrictions.

The Moral Argument

The voluntary principle assures us that while we may have the possibility of choosing the worst, we also have the possibility of choosing the best. It provides us the opportunity to make things better, though it doesn't guarantee results. While it dictates that we do not force our idea of "better" on someone else, it protects us from having someone else's idea of "better" imposed on us by force. The use of coercion to compel virtue eliminates its possibility, for to be moral, an act must be uncoerced. If a person is compelled to act in a certain way (or threatened with government sanctions), there is nothing virtuous about his or her behavior. Freedom of choice is a necessary ingredient for the achievement of virtue. Whenever there is a chance for the good life, the risk of a bad one must also be accepted.

The Natural Law Argument

Common sense and reason tell us that nothing can be right by legislative enactment if it is not already right by nature. Epictetus, the Stoic, urged men to defy tyrants in such a way as to cast doubt on the necessity of government itself. "If the government directed them to do something that their reason opposed, they were to defy the government. If it told them to do what their reason would have told them to do anyway, they did not need a government." Just as we do not require a State to dictate what is right or wrong in growing food, manufacturing textiles, or in steel-making, we do not need a government to dictate standards and procedures in any field of endeavor. "In spite of the legislature, the snow will fall when the sun is in Capricorn, and the flowers will bloom when it is in Cancer."

The Means-End Argument

Although certain services and goods are necessary to our survival, it is not essential that they be provided by the government. Voluntaryists oppose the State because it uses coercive means. The means are the seeds which bud into flower and come into fruition. It is impossible to plant the seed of coercion and then reap the flower of voluntaryism. The coercionist always proposes to compel people to do some-thing, usually by passing laws or electing politicians to office. These laws and officials depend upon physical violence to enforce their wills. Voluntary means, such as non-violent resistance, for example, violate no one's rights. They only serve to nullify laws and politicians by ignoring them. Voluntaryism does not require of people that they violently overthrow their government, or use the electoral process to change it; merely that they shall cease to support their government, whereupon it will fall of its own dead weight. If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.

The Consistency Argument

It is a commonplace observation that the means one uses must be consistent with the goal one seeks. It is impossible to "wage a war for peace" or "fight politics by becoming political." Freedom and private property are total, indivisible concepts that are compromised wherever and whenever the State exists. Since all things are related to one another in our complicated social world, if one man's freedom or private property may be violated (regardless of the justification), then every man's freedom and property are insecure. The superior man can only be sure of his freedom if the inferior man is secure in his rights. We often forget that we can secure our liberty only by preserving it for the most despicable and obnoxious among us, lest we set precedents that can reach us.

The Integrity, Self-Control, and Corruption Argument

It is a fact of human nature that the only person who can think with your brain is you. Neither can a person be compelled to do anything against his or her will, for each person is ultimately responsible for his or her own actions. Governments try to terrorize individuals into submitting to tyranny by grabbing their bodies as hostages and trying to destroy their spirits. This strategy is not successful against the person who harbors the Stoic attitude toward life, and who refuses to allow pain to disturb the equanimity of his or her mind, and the exercise of reason. A government might destroy one's body or property, but it cannot injure one's philosophy of life.

Furthermore, the voluntaryist rejects the use of political power because it can only be exercised by implicitly endorsing or using violence to accomplish one's ends. The power to do good to others is also the power to do them harm. Power to compel people, to control other people's lives, is what political power is all about. It violates all the basic principles of voluntaryism: might does not make right; the end never justifies the means; nor may one person coercively interfere in the life of another. Even the smallest amount of political power is dangerous. First, it reduces the capacity of at least some people to lead their own lives in their own way. Second, and more important from the voluntaryist point of view, is what it does to the person wielding the power: it corrupts that person's character.

Copyright © Carl Watner 2010

Death of Dugout Dick ends an era, and not just in Idaho

Richard Zimmerman, known to all as Dugout Dick, dies in his cave age 94 – R.I.P.

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Known to some as the "Salmon River Caveman," but to most as “Dugout Dick”, Richard Zimmerman lived a lifestyle that was essentially a 19th century one. He was a digital-age anachronism who never owned a telephone or a television and lived almost entirely off the land.

Few knew people him by his given name of Richard Zimmerman. To friends and visitors to his jumble of cave-like homes scrabbled from a rocky shoulder of the Salmon River, he was simply Dugout Dick.

Dugout Dick was the last of Idaho's river-canyon loners that date back to Territorial days. They are a unique group that until the 1980s included canyon contemporaries with names like Beaver Dick, Cougar Dave and Wheelbarrow Annie, "Buckskin Bill" (real name Sylvan Hart) and "Free Press Frances" Wisner. Fiercely independent loners, they lived eccentric lives on their own terms and made the state more interesting just by being here.

Most of them, just like Zimmerman, came from some place else. They were drawn by Idaho's remoteness and wild places removed from social pressures. They came and spent their lives here, leaving only in death.

Some became reluctant celebrities, interviewed about their unusual lifestyles and courted by media heavyweights. Zimmerman himself was featured in National Geographic magazine but refused repeated invitations to appear on the "Tonight Show."

Zimmerman's metamorphosis to Dugout Dick began when he crossed a wooden bridge over the Salmon River in 1947 and built a makeshift home on the side of a hill. He spent the rest of his life there, fashioning one cavelike dwelling after another, furnishing them with castoff doors, car windows, old tires and other leavings.

"I have everything here," he said. "I got lots of rocks and rubber tires. I have plenty of straw and fruit and vegetables, my dog and my cats and my guitars. I make wine to cook with. There's nothing I really need."

Some of his caves were 60 feet deep and though he never intended to build an apartment house, he earned spending money by renting them for $2 a night. Some renters spent one night; others chose the $25 monthly rate and stayed for months or years.

He lived in a cave by choice and he walked out and hitchhiked home after having been moved by a friend to a care center in Salmon at age 93 because he was in failing health.

People say that he was the only person they have ever known who was absolutely self-sufficient. He didn't work for anybody. He worked for himself. And, as far as he was concerned, he needed little or nothing.

An era has passed and we are the poorer for it.

© 2010


BBC Television is looking for couples who want to make a life-changing decision and take up a career in farming and there’s just days left to apply to take part in the programme.

If you know of friends or relatives who are attracted to all that farming has to offer, the deadline to apply to take part in this BBC TV search for such a couple is Wednesday 28 April.

This summer ten lucky couples selected for the programme will learn about the skills needed to farm in the British countryside. They will experience all areas of farm life, from animal husbandry to coping with the unpredictable weather, when they compete for the opportunity to live and work on their own small farm.

Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the environmental and land based sector, highlighted the fact that there is a critical shortage of people choosing farming as a career and that 60,000 new entrants are needed in the next few years just for the industry to stand still. Many experienced farmers are soon to retire and new blood is needed to follow in their footsteps.

This high profile BBC series will highlight what farming has to offer when their ten chosen couples compete to win the chance of a lifetime to get into farming.

Lantra welcomes the BBC’s decision to commission the reality-style show as it will highlight the often high-tech skills needed in farming today and will bring agriculture right into the living rooms of millions of TV viewers, demonstrating how rewarding working in agriculture can be.

The BBC is looking for couples of all ages and types of relationships who are serious about wanting to change their lives and who think they will relish life on a farm. Whether it's a love of animals or a passion for the great outdoors, the series producers want to hear from you.

To apply to take part in the six week series, couples – married, friends or siblings – need to contact the TV company at and an application form will be emailed to you. The deadline is 28 April.

To view case studies of people already working in the industry visit Lantra’s website at

Source: LANTRA

Earth Day in Bolivia

From Copenhagen to Cancun, Indigenous Peoples Vow to Defend the "Rights of Mother Earth" & Condemn Predatory 'REDD' Forest Programs

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Cochabamba, Bolivia: As Earth Day celebrations commenced around the world, Indigenous Peoples from across the Americas gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia to close the historic conference on climate change and the "Rights of Mother Earth" hosted by President Evo Morales.

Morales, the only Indigenous Head of State in the world, called this conference in the wake of failed climate talks in Copenhagen. As the world prepares for the next round of talks in Cancún, Mexico, Indigenous Peoples vowed on Earth Day 2010 to push for proposals that keep fossil fuels in the ground, protect Indigenous rights, and reject predatory policies like REDD (Reducing Emissions Through Deforestation & Degradation).

"REDD is branded as a friendly forest conservation program, yet it is backed by big polluters and climate profiteers. We cannot solve this crisis with out addressing the root cause: a fossil fuel economy that disregards the rights of Mother Earth," said Alberto Saldamando, legal counsel for the International Indian Treaty Council.

"President Morales has heard our recommendations on the structural causes of climate change and predatory carbon schemes like REDDs, and will bring our voices to the world stage in Cancún later this year."

President Morales was joined by representatives of 90 governments and several Heads of State to receive the findings of the conference on topics such as a Climate Tribunal, Climate Debt, just finance for mitigation and adaptation, agriculture, and forests.

The working group on forests held one of the more hotly contested negotiations of the summit, but with the leadership of Indigenous Peoples, a consensus was reached to reject REDD and call for wide-scale grassroots reforestation programs. The final declaration on forests states, "We condemn the mechanisms of the neoliberal market, such as the REDD mechanism and its versions REDD+ and REDD++, which are violating the sovereignty of our Peoples and their rights to free, prior and informed consent and self determination." The working group on forests also challenged the definition of forests used by the United Nations, which permits plantations and transgenic trees, saying, "Monocultures are not forests."

"REDD is not a solution to climate change," said Marlon Santi, President of CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, the largest Indigenous organization in that country. "REDD has been created by multilateral institutions like the World Bank that routinely violate Indigenous Peoples' rights and pollute Mother Earth. It is perverse that these institutions are pretending to have the 'solution' when they have actually caused the climate crisis. REDD should not be implemented in any country or community."

"REDD is a predatory program that pretends to save forests and the climate, while backhandedly selling out forests out from under our Indigenous Peoples," said Tom Goldtooth, Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), based in Bemidji, MN. "REDD will encourage continuing pollution and global warming, while displacing those of us least responsible for the crisis, who have been stewards of the forests since time immemorial."

The declarations forged by the working groups in Cochabamba will be taken to the Cancún summit by President Morales as a counter-proposal to the widely criticized "Copenhagen Accord." Movements of Indigenous Peoples, trade unions, farmers and environmentalists are also building momentum out of Cochabamba with plans for mass demonstrations in Cancún.

While it may be true that monocultures of trees are not natural forests, per se, they still are much better than no forests at all, I would like to add to this.

It is true that I am a professional forester and hence commercial forestry is part of my metier people may say that I have a vested interest but the wholesale condemnation of professional forestry and commercial forestry is getting us nowhere either.

Commercial forestry can be sustainable and the operations in Britain and continental Europe show this. Any group of trees is a forests or at least a woodland, unless those trees are fruit trees and they they are an orchard.

So, let's get real. None of those constructed programs are any solution and the changing climate is but one problem that we are facing. Climate change is, however, hijacking the entire environmental agenda.

When it comes to carbon capture, forests are more important than anything and a young growth forests absorbs more carbon than any old growth, thus plantations of trees, for commercial forestry, and especially in management systems such as coppicing are an ideal solution.

© 2010

Stuff won’t make you happy, experiences will

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A new study conducted at Cornell University and reported in the January 2010 issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that experiences bring greater happiness and satisfaction than buying and owning possessions.

The study revealed that people often feel buyer’s remorse, stress, and a sense that they may not have purchased the best or right product after shopping. In contrast, after a vacation, hike, bike ride, or game of softball in the park, there are rarely negative feelings or associations with these experiences.

At one point the conclusion of the study that:

… satisfaction with material purchases tends to decrease over time, whereas satisfaction with experiential purchases tends to increase.

Over one’s lifetime, it is his or her experiences that are more valuable than any product ever owned or purchased.

If you are worried that getting rid of clutter will have a negative impact on your life, this study shows that that is not likely to happen. Clearing the clutter will make room for you to have more experiences, which will ultimately make you happier.

From many angles, the pursuit of experiences over possessions seems to be the firmer path to happiness.

Such and similar studies from other sources have shown the same; that possessions do not make people happy and neither does the permanent pursuit of the “more, more, more” to which we are even encouraged by our governments.

One can but wonder how much this academic research has cost, yet again, to prove only something so blatantly obvious that a blind man with the cane would see it.

I must say that the more I see those research results the more I am wondering as to whether those academics need something to research in order to get grants, however silly and obvious the research might be.

I mean the recent discovery that elephants are “four-wheel drive”, proving something that the eye was telling them, is an example in hand, aside from the ones done in the UK to discover – yet, statement by the government – that waste wood can be burned and that inland waterways and canals can be used for the transportation of freight.

Is it me who is mad or the scientific world?

© 2010

UK should and could be leading Europe on wind power

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Britain is the windiest country in Europe yet lags behind some of its more progressive neighbors when it comes to tapping into the energy potential of this resource.

That needs to change, according to the chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association Maria McCaffrey.

Speaking at Energy & Environment 2009 in London she said: “The bulk of our energy generation is still coming from fossil fuels but the good news is that the entire energy sector has bought into the belief that a greater contribution must come from renewables.

“Within that the greatest contributor is going to be wind energy - both on and offshore.”

“That can help us reduce our dependency on imports and create greater independence by harnessing our own natural resources.”

“The biggest cost is of deployment is the capital cost up front – the fuel itself is free.”

She said there were four key things needed to make wind power a reality – plenty of wind, the technology, capital investment and political will.

The first two are, she argued, a given.

The UK has the best wind resource in Europe, both on and offshore, but has yet to tap into its full potential, said Ms McCaffrey.

Germany, by comparison, has one of the worst wind resources on the continent but currently manages to produce ten times more energy from wind than Britain.

Turbine technology is now well-proven, with bigger and more efficient machines being built all the time.

Investment is also still looking promising on the whole, said Ms McCaffrey, even in these gloomy economic times, and the Renewables Obligation framework makes the UK highly attractive.

"It's a very capital intensive process but then so also are most other forms of electricity generation," she said.

"There's still a healthy investment market in the UK despite the economic situation over the past 12 months."

But there are obstacles, she said.

“Working against us is the fact that we still have problems with the planning system and access to the grid.”

“Our national grid is over 50 years old and is in radical need of upgrading and replacement in many parts.”

“If it has to be replaced anyway, let's make it fit for the purpose of modern energy.”

Ms McCaffrey said political will is needed to cement all the other factors together and the right regulatory framework is needed to keep investment in the UK to secure jobs and wealth creation.

She claimed that Government has taken big steps in the right direction over the past six months, with the creation of DECC a sign that it is serious about climate change, but it must now translate good intentions into action to ensure the UK reaches its full potential.

The absolute biggest problem, aside from the apparent lack of political will and the fact that government is still in bed with the fossil fuel industry, or better, and more precise, the government nigh on is the fossil fuel industry, are also the NIMBYs who are – again and again – permitted to steamroller proposed wind farms.

Has anyone ever questioned who bankrolls those supposedly grassroots NIMBY movements that – mysteriously – tend to spring up from nowhere when a wind generating facility is proposed somewhere and who also – more often than not – oppose small wind?

The fingers of the vested interest groups are showing through there for certain, for no supposedly small grassroots groups can get funds as most of them seem to have from just “members”. There just is no way.

It is so strange, is it not, that things are so much different in Germany and Denmark. The latter country really profited from the Danish government's farsightedness in those early days in that the investment of the government now brings in an annual revenue several times bigger than the initial investment.

While Britain could be leading we are not and this is due to the fact that the political will simply, regardless of all the positive noises from government and the back benches, is not there to push the cause for renewables, overruling objections.

It can be done and must be done ...

Copyright © 2010

Less is More - Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Less is More
Embracing simplicity for a healthy planet,
a caring economy and lasting happiness

Cecile Andrews & Wanda Urbanska
Paperback - 288 pages – 5inches x 8inches
Published by New Society Publishers, September 2009
ISBN: 9780865716506
CAD 16.95
USD 16.95

Less can be more. What a strange thought, though true.

As millions of us, and not just in America and Canada, are finding ourselves waking up with less disposable income, fewer job prospects, and such, some are rediscovering the joys of growing our own food, sharing picnics with others in our community, going for hikes in the woods, or spending more time with our family. Instead of working at a job they hate, they’re starting their own enterprise that makes the world a better place. Good on them.

Our obsessive pursuit of wealth just is not working, and is making us all sick. People are afraid and anxious and we are destroying the Planet, undermining happiness, and clinging to an unsustainable economy.

Most of the global economy is nothing but a ponzy scheme that sooner or later is going to come tumbling down like a house of cards.

But there is another way. Less can be indeed be more.

Throughout history wise people have argued that we need to live more simply and that only by limiting outer wealth can we have inner wealth. “Less is More” is a compelling collection of essays by people who have been writing about Simplicity for decades – including Jim Merkel, Bill McKibben, Duane Elgin, Juliet Schor, Ernest Callenbach, John de Graaf, and others. They bring us a new vision of Less: less stuff, less work, less stress, less debt. A life with Less becomes a life of More: more time, more satisfaction, more balance, more security.

When we have too much, we savor nothing. When we choose less, we regain our life and can think and feel deeply. Ultimately, a life of less connects us with one true source of happiness: being part of a caring community. “Less is More” shows us how to turn individual change into a movement that leads to policy changes in government and corporate behavior, work hours, the wealth gap and sustainability. It will appeal to those who want to take back their lives, their planet and their well-being.

A new version of happiness, it would appear, is emerging, based on relationships and connections to each other and nature, not on all the goods found at the Mall. There are now many people who are choosing to live and work in a world where the economists – who presently dominate the national and global economy – do not matter.

The new book from Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska, “Less is More: Embracing simplicity for a healthy planet, a caring economy and lasting happiness”, is just the right tonic for these upside-down and troubled times. The book gives, though the essays by a variety of writers food for though of how to side-step stress and to learn to live and thrive, instead, in a world of abundance, where freedom and cooperation still reign.

It can be done and must be done and “Less is More” can be used as one of the guide books to set ourselves and our world on just that course.

Less is More is divided into three parts – simplicity defined, solutions, and policies – each containing short essays, analysis and inspiration from some of the leading sustainability, simplicity and community thinkers and doers.

About the Editor(s)

Cecile Andrews is a community educator, author of Circle of Simplicity and contributor to several books on living more simply and taking back our time. She and her husband are founders of Seattle's Phinney Ecovillage, a neighborhood-based sustainable community.

Wanda Urbanska is producer/host of Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska. She is author or co-author of numerous books, including Simple Living and Nothing's Too Small to Make a Difference.

© 2010

Celebrate Earth Day with HP

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Hewlett-Packard (HP) in time for Earth Day 2010 on Thursday, April 22, has brought out a number of downloadable and printable items that could be of interested to many a reader.

Fair enough, printing may not be all that green, at least not in some people's eyes but we are talking here calendars. Stickers, guides, and such, that make you and your family's path to going green a little easier with handy tips and reminders.

You will find those on the pages of the HP Creative Print Studio under the “Earth Day” tab.

The direct route is to go to and here you will find even some more projects, including the Martha Stewart “No-Sew Market Tote Bag”.

Also of interest might be the paper saving tips on:|757286|DEDF0852877F9B5E|66A9988B768A2F456ED35DA6986C132A.

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

© 2010

Indigenous Peoples of North America at Clime Conference in Cochabamba

Indigenous Peoples of North America Join President Evo Morales in Bolivia for Historic Earth Day Climate Change Conference

"Respect Indigenous Rights & the Rights of 'Pachamama' in UN Climate negotiations"

Cochabamba, Bolivia – Indigenous Peoples from across North America and their allies from around the world gathered at the invitation of Bolivian President Evo Morales in Cochabamba this morning for the kick-off of an historic conference on climate change and the "rights of Mother Earth." Morales called this conference in the wake of failed climate talks in Copenhagen last year. Over 15,000 delegates from 126 countries heard President Morales speak at the soccer stadium in the village of Tiquipaya today, and are meeting in working group sessions this week to develop strategies and make policy proposals on issues such as forests, water, climate debt, and finance, which President Morales pledges to bring to the international negotiations of the COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico later this year.

The convocation this morning included a multi-cultural blessing ceremony by Indigenous Peoples from across the Americas, and speeches by representatives of social movements from five continents on the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for bold action that protects both human rights and the environment.

"Indigenous rights and knowledge are crucial to addressing climate change, but the United States and Canada have not signed on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP), and are pushing corporate climate policy agendas that threaten our homelands and livelihoods," said Jihan Gearon of the Navajo Nation (AZ), Native Energy Organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network. "We have traveled to Bolivia because President Morales has committed to bring our voices to the global stage at the next round of talks in Cancun."

"President Morales has asked our recommendations on issues such as REDDs (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation)," said Alberto Saldamando, legal counsel for the International Indian Treaty Council. "REDD is branded as a friendly forest conservation program, yet it is backed by big polluters. REDD is a dangerous distraction from the root issue of fossil fuel pollution, and could mean disaster for forest-dependent Indigenous Peoples the world over."

"We are here from the far north to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the South" said Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), who spoke from the stage at the invitation of President Morales. "We have a choice as human kind - a path of life, or a path of destruction. The people who can change the world are here!"

Source: Indigenous Environmental Network:

New TerraCycle Products in Walmart Giveaway – Competition Closed

As of April 15, 2010 23.59hrs BST this competition on the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW is closed. The winner was determined on Sunday, April 18, 2010 and the details were passed to TerraCycle, from where the prize will be dispatched.

Thanks you everyone for taking part and – hopefully – we will have some more competitions like this, from TerraCycle and others, in the not so distant future.

Congratulations to the winner, Angie O. from San Antonio, TX, and – again – thank you to all who participated.

Michael Smith


The reusable tea bag

... Now I have seen it all, or have I?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Just when you think you have seen and heard it all along comes something like this.

Have these people ever heard of the tea infuser? They are reinventing the wheel and then call it green. This is taking people to the cleaners despite the fact that they are clean.

The Peaceful Peacock’s reusable tea bags – three for the price of $8 – must be intended as an April Fools joke for sure. Then again, I guess they are not.

They are being advertised in one online realm with “these reusable bags are sure to charm your teacup and Mama Earth.”

Why not use the real green alternative, either a Chinese tea infuser made from bamboo, or the Western alternatives, made from tin or wire mesh. They are a lot greener than any cotton material, whether organic or not.

I really am not sure as to whether to laugh or cry when it comes to things such as this, especially when there is a perfectly good, and also cheap, alternative available; namely the tea infuser, called in some places a “tea egg”. Made of metal, often stainless steel, or a wire mesh cage, they work great, are easy to clean and last a lifetime.

© 2010

Bottled Water: Some people just don't get it

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Some people, including “greenies”, just do not seem to get it about bottled water and even advocate and advertise ethical bottled water on their business pages and such like.

It is not about the bottle so much, as the, theoretically, can be recycled, and even though they are made of oil and leach chemicals, with a few exceptions which are made of a bioplastic of sorts.

It is the water itself that those of us who advocated reusable bottles and tap water are on about and the fact that our demand for bottled water and more so even the promotion of it, often under totally false pretenses, such as claims of bottled water being better than tap water, that is causing a problem to the Planet. A problem worse than all the bottles combined and that is the needless extraction of ground water.

When even supposed leaders in the environmental web world do not understand this message and instead have a go someone who writes regularly at their site as to an article about bottled water being a scourge to the Planet and pull that person's article for reasons of editorial policy then one can but despair as to how the rest is supposed to understand it and get the message.

As long as some supposed green and environmentally conscious folks and websites allow financial concerns such as advertisers come before the truth of the issue of sustainability there is little chance that the real message, whether of bottled water, bamboo or the eco-button, will ever get known and understood by the general public.

Is there any integrity still out there in the media of whatever kind or is just everything advertiser orientated and anything that might upset an advertisers or sponsor, or even a future advertiser or sponsor, must not be written about. So one cannot mention the wrong policies of the Starbucks shareholders, for instance, and such like.

That is censorship and an editorial policy against which I, for one, have always stood and this was one of the reasons why Tatchipen Media was founded in the first place. Namely to bring the truth to the readers, however unpopular that might be with whoever.

Too many a product review or book review is done to please the producer or vendor rather than truthfully informing the reader, be this in a newspaper, a print magazine or an online publication. Honesty and integrity seems to have fallen by the wayside in many such instances and readers are being told half-truth or outright porky pies.

At Tatchipen Media our loyalty and integrity is towards the reader and only the reader and we also will only endorse products and services that we are happy with and only after we have been able to thoroughly test them, where testing is possible, and this will remain our policy.

© 2010

Is it time for a comprehensive review of the financial regulation of water?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) believes that the water industry needs to undergo a fundamental change in regulation and broaden its scope to move towards sustainability.

The UK water industry has benefitted in recent years from high levels of investment leading to significant improvements in water quality. However, there has been little groundbreaking technology in water treatment and supply, or in demand management.

At a CIWEM conference in February 2010, 87 percent of delegates supported a comprehensive review of the financial regulation of water to encourage innovation, to incentivise water conservation, to integrate water management with environmental policy and legislation, and to address future challenges. Nearly all agreed that innovation is not supported effectively. The take-up of innovation by the industry is a matter of particular concern.

In some industries, competition can encourage innovation. However, the nature of water regulation, inertia within those in the industry and the industry’s structure makes this unlikely as it is difficult for new processes to be approved and implemented. Furthermore, CIWEM believes that increased competition will only add to the current problems of companies not charging customers for the true value of water.

CIWEM urges government to encourage greater innovation by increasing the incentives for outperformance and addressing the potential bias to capital expenditure. Companies who over-perform against their environmental targets should not be penalised for failing to meet their economic targets. CIWEM would also like to see Ofwat given responsibilities for promoting the delivery of integrated water, wastewater and environmental services, not just water and wastewater services.

Other necessary changes include the development of a research and development body to ensure an innovative, integrated approach to water management; improved co-ordination across regulators; and investigation into more flexible approaches to regulation by looking to examples of good practice in other places (e.g. Australia ) and in other sectors.

CIWEM’s Director of Policy, Justin Taberham, says: “It is clear that current financial regulation models for the water industry are ill equipped to deal with issues that have come to the fore, including sustainability, climate change, carbon accounting and resource efficiency. Current regulatory models are not seen as fit for purpose and have significant flaws including inflexibility and a ‘boom and bust’ business and asset management cycle. They do not encourage engagement with the public, stall innovation and are price rather than sustainability driven.”

The use and especially overuse and abuse of water in industry, businesses, institutions and homes is of great concern and also, more than likely, is a factor, not just for dwindling water resources, but of sea level rises.

Every time that the loo is being flushed some two gallons, at least, perfectly good water is being sent down the drain, literally, and where does that water, which is fresh water, go? Primarily via rivers to the sea even though it may – or may not – go through a sewage treatment plant before that.

What used to be a working cycle, the so-called water cycle, no longer functions today and not enough water returns to the land to replenish aquifers, reservoirs and springs, because we use more than we get back, and too much water remains in the seas.

Despite the fact that everyone is being told again and again that we must preserve and conserve water still too many – individuals, businesses and institutions – continue as is without any thought for the future. This could turn and bite us in the behind rather seriously.

Oil is and was a substance that wars were and are being fought over; water is the next reason for serious wars. Therefore water conservation is a must, for all.

Copyright © 2010

Cut down on unnecessary electricity use

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In this post we are going to talk about saving energy and money by cutting down your usages of electricity by switching off things that are not being used. It ain't difficult and rocket science. All it requires is a little thought and making it a habit.

Here are some of the things that you can do to drastically cut your electricity usage today.

Switch TV, DVD and Set-Top boxes off at the wall when not being used. Never leave on ‘standby’ as this drains electricity. If everyone in the UK stopped leaving electrical goods on ‘standby’, two of those filthy coal power stations could close for good!

Unplug mobile phone chargers from the wall when not in use. Mobile phone chargers that are left switched on without a phone attached are still draining electricity and costing you money.

Switch to energy saving light bulbs. Probably the easiest way to do your bit. Some people moan that they take a while to get bright, but considering we are facing global uncertainty with climate change and global warming these guys really need to get some perspective. Don’t get left behind.

Switch off your Computer, and peripherals, such as printers, etc. when not using it. It might also be a good idea to turn off straight forward modems, though they may actually be powered from the USB of the PC and not have external supply; some do, however.

Turning off your Wi-Fi when you are not using it, on the other hand, depends on how well it comes back on afterwards and/or whether you end up to having reset things when it has been off for a while. I have found that happening and that is the reason the Wi-Fi is on most of the time.

Cook with lids on saucepans. Food will cook quicker, which means you will use your cooker less. Then switch the cooker off at the wall as well for a bigger saving. Think of getting a slow-cooker. Aside from the fact that, supposedly, they save money, you can start the dinner in the morning and when you come home from a day's work your dinner is ready. Also much tastier than stove top cooked.

When you buy new electrical items, buy ones with good energy ratings. Some may be a little more expensive when you buy them, but you will make a saving in electricity over the life of the product, that it will work out cheaper in the long run.

Turn off lights that are not in use. You do not need the light on in the bathroom all evening and night when you are not in there. Neither do you need the light on in the bedroom when you are in the lounge or the kitchen, and so on. Only turn the lights on that you need and then turn them back off.

But how much will I save on this? That is a question that many will ask. That depends very much on what you would generally leave on, plugged in, etc.

Any calculation and idea I could give you are just ideas for it all depends on how big the house, how many people live there, and other factors like that.

© 2010

Countries on front line of climate change join experts and activists in Bolivia for World Peoples' Conference

Beginning Monday, April 19th, some 15,000 people from around the world along with representatives of 70 governments, mainly from Least Developed Countries, will meet in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. The conference will be an unprecedented event bringing countries affected by climate change together with experts and activists working to find solutions.

"The main point of the conference is to convince developed countries to make and meet commitments to reduce emissions, and we have observed that this will not happen without pressure from civil society," said Bolivia's UN Ambassador Pablo Solón.

In Cochabamba "those who are already suffering from global warming will have the chance to speak out," Solón said.

Bolivia is facing a rapid loss of its glaciers due to global temperature change, while small island states such as Comoros will be in attendance to discuss rising sea levels.

The Conference was convened by Bolivian President Evo Morales after the latest UN climate talks in Copenhagen, which ended with the non-binding and much criticized Copenhagen Accord.

The Bolivian effort to recharge negotiations has earned the support of top environmental, development and human rights organizations from around the world such as, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Action Aid and Via Campesina. Delegations will attend from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Germany, France, Russia, China, and Mexico have confirmed.

In an op-ed, Bill McKibben of wrote: "Thank heaven... for the nations like Bolivia willing to work alongside civil society (instead of lock normal people out of the hall, as the UN did in Copenhagen)."

President Morales will speak at an opening plenary of the Conference on Tuesday, April 20, and events will continue through to Thursday April 22. Conference proceedings will center around 17 working groups covering issues such as structural causes of climate change, climate refugees and Kyoto Protocol.


Tips on starting seed indoors

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Rather than starting with seed in the garden, start your seed indoors and you will get a 3-4 week head start on the growing season. You will have more success in planting seedlings (young plants) than with seed directly in the garden. Also, you will have mature vegetables, ready to eat, weeks earlier.

Growing seed indoors is not difficult. However, there are a few tips you should know.

Pick the right plants

The first step is to pick the proper plants to grow. Practically any seed can be grown indoors, but you must select plants that are suited for your area. As an example, don't try to grow watermelon in a short summer area. If you can not grow it naturally outdoors, you probably will not be successful even if you start with seed grown indoors. So select plants that are suited for your area to be grown outdoors.

Sowing seeds

You should start your seeds 4-6 weeks before you intend to place them in the garden. This should be 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost date in your area. You could use peat pots designed for starting seed indoors, but I would recommend to make your own seed pots from toilet roll tubes or from newspaper by using the Paper Potter.

Both the toilet tube rolls and paper pots, in the same way as peat pots, may be planted directly in the garden without removing the plant from its container. Thus you will not shock the plant by disturbing the roots.

The reason I do not actually recommend the use of the peat pots is because we should try not to use any peat products, be those such pots or peat potting soil.

Plant 3 seeds in each pot at the recommended planting depth. Water and cover with a sheet of clear plastic (kitchen food wrap). Place in a warm area (normal indoor temperature 18-23C/65-75F). You can also use glass jars turned upside down over pot or plastic bottles with bottoms cut off as cloches to produce the climate for germination.

As soon as the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic covering and place in an area that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight. If this is not possible, you must use grow lights. An inexpensive grow light may be made using neon shop lights, replacing the neon tubes (bulbs) with special tubes designed for indoor plants. These are available at most hardware stores and garden shops. Such lights will set you back around $20 including the special grow bulbs.

However, I try to always get away without using grow lights and this seems to work with the majority of things, as long as the windowsill they live on for their growing time actually gets enough light.

When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, cut out all seedlings except the strongest looking one from each peat pot. When the seedlings are 4 inches tall, fertilize with a weak mixture of liquid fertilizer.


Be very careful watering your seedlings. Over-watering is probably the most common cause of seedlings dying off. Check the pot for moisture, by lifting it, and not just rely on the color or feel of the soil on top.

More plants are being killed off by over-watering than by under-watering.

Planting your seedlings

About a week before you intend to plant your seedlings in the garden, take the seedlings outdoors and leave in the garden area. Avoid direct sunlight for the first two days.

While some people advise to acclimatize the plants slowly I do not necessarily do that. However, if you want to go that route and have the time then leave the seedlings outdoors for 2-3 hours the first day. The second day, leave out 4-6 hours. The third through seventh day leave out during all daylight hours, allowing direct sunlight. On the eighth day plant the seedlings in the garden.

Plant in a suitable sized hole so the top surface of the pot is just slightly above the level of the ground. Water well.

Now, sit back and watch them grow in the certain knowledge that you have a several weeks head start on the growing season.

In the way described you can also keep starting on plants for your garden, even later on, and can have a garden with vegetables right through the year, even winter, using cloches.

For cloches many things can be used and we shall look at that also at some stage.

© 2010

Valpak sponsor Royal College of Art's environmental design awards

Valpak are working in partnership with The Royal College of Art sponsoring two design awards for Post Graduate Art and Design students. The awards are for projects that encourage the innovative design of eco-efficient products and services, and their communication to industry and the public.

The students are working on projects entitled "Spread the Word" – Changing Consumer Behaviour in the Field of Sustainability and "Shrinking Footprints" – Addressing the impact of insatiable demand through eco-design. The projects work toward either reducing waste by using intelligent design to reduce excess materials used or inspire consumer behavioural change by creative communication. Many exciting and innovative projects were submitted for consideration and these have been narrowed down to six final projects, under each category, for further development.

The students are being supported by two influential industry bodies, INCPEN and Green Alliance.

Jane Bickerstaffe, INCPEN, commented: "INCPEN are excited to support the Valpak RCA project. I am impressed by the range of projects that the students are developing. These projects highlight the students' awareness of how changes to one part of a system can affect other parts. The students have obviously considered holistic approaches when designing improvements."

Hannah Hislop, Green Alliance, commented: "Green Alliance are delighted to be involved with the Valpak RCA design awards. Design can determine up to 80 per cent of a product's environmental impacts across its lifecycle. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for designers. We look to the Valpak RCA entries to demonstrate that 'green' design does not have to be niche."

The students are presenting their final designs to the panel at the end of April, with one winner and one runner up to be chosen for each of the categories. Valpak are looking forward to seeing the finished projects as the culmination of the students' hard work.

Source: Valpak

UK AWARE 2010 – Visit Report

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Friday, April 16, 2010, I had the pleasure, for the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW to visit the UK AWARE Show, the only true green consumer show in the UK, at Kensington Olympia 2 Exhibition Hall, in London.

This was UK AWARE's third year but it was my first visit although I was meant to attend last year but was prevented from doing so at the last moment by circumstances beyond my control. Such is life, as they say.

The Show is aimed at the green consumer, the general public, and presented an interesting spread of companies, small independents, stores, small publishers of books and magazines, organizations, etc., with a green and ethical theme. Represented were also a number of green energy suppliers, as well a business consultants.

Of the busy stands at the event the by far busiest ones – to me at least – and I also guess many others – were those of Keep Cup, the real alternative to the paper- or plastic cup, and that of Onya Bags, who not only have bags, nowadays, as many a reader will know, I am sure.

While the event bas busy-ish and it was a Friday, a working day for most people, I am sure a way could be found to really turn UK AWARE into the green & ethical equivalent of the Ideal Home Show, without the primary emphasis on “home”.

On the other hand, UK AWARE doe not have, as did the Ideal Home Show, for instance the finances and backing of a major newspaper, the Daily Mail, and its PR apparatus behind it.

Far from it! The founder of UK AWARE, Danny Carnegie, is a serving firefighter with London Fire & Rescue and much of the operations are financed from his income. Great job, Danny!

I am hopeful that UK AWARE can and will grow in the years to come and be able to become a major vehicle of educating the public as to green and ethical issues on all levels and not just climate change and CO2.

The exhibitors on UK AWARE were, in fact, varied enough to not just be concentrating on said levels and encompassed a rather broad spectrum.

The biggest problem at present is that way too much emphasis is given at other events and in general to climate change and CO2, to the detriment of other issues of the environment, such as air, soil, and water; issues of proper waste management and others.

What good, as I have said before, is a goo planet if it can no longer support human life because the water is no longer drinkable, the soil unsuitable for agriculture and the air too dangerous to breathe?

All issues must be tackled and the spread at UK AWARE of exhibitors did just that but we need still more.

In closing allow me to thank the team of UK AWARE for a good event and for always having the time for a chat. They are an absolute great bunch and together we, hopefully, can advance this event.

© 2010