Cooking with a crock pot saves energy

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Slow cooking in a crock pot saves energy (and time) and that all year round. It is, however, really is nice during those cold months when you come home from the cold and a warm meal is ready for you.

12921I have got two slow cookers, aka crock pots. One a rather old British made one that I was given by someone who could not really get on with it and one that I reviewed for Lakeland. Although I must say that I have not used mine for a little while now it has been a very busy little person during winter. But you can also use it at any time of the year.

If you eat meat – I do – and like it the Greek style, as in Kleftiko, which is a case of not so much of the meat falling off the bone but rather the bone falling out of the meat, then this is the way of cooking it. Instead of having the stuff for hours at a low heat in the oven – electric or gas – have it in the crock pot. It will be cheaper. The only cheaper way of doing it is if you have a wood cook stove and use the oven in that one.

The nice thing about using a crock pot, aside from the fact that you can put your dinner on the night before and when you come hone the next day from work you can sit down to dinner without having to do any further work bar laying the table and dishing up the food, is that it takes so little energy.

While I have not have had a way of testing it it is said that a crock pot uses about the equivalent in electricity as does a light bulb, and I believe word has it that it is a 60W light bulb they were talking about. While still a bit on electricity it is in no way the same as a couple of kilowatt, like an electric oven might use.

Stews and the great majority of one-pot meals all do very well in the crock pot though the taste, it has to be said, it a little different to what you get when you cook the food in a different way.

One of my favorite dishes to make in the crock pot is a sausage casserole with onions, apple, potatoes (and I often add carrots and something else to it) and, oh well, obviously, sausages.

There are many recipes in special books for the crock pot but the majority of those recipes can nowadays be found online and they all are delicious, but I like to play with things, so to speak, and experiment with putting things together at a rather regular basis. They all, so far, have turned out great.

I can recommend having a crock pot and using it to everyone, but it is a definite godsend for the Mom that goes out to work or the Mom that is very busy working at home and from home. Put everything in and let the thing get on with it and the result; a great meal for the family.

© 2011

Reuse before composting

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Do you know your bin is full of reusable refuse? Instead of composting fruits and vegetables immediately, there are ways that you can give them a final reuse before tossing them to be turned into great garden soil.

For cooking:

Use citrus or orange peels to make an infused olive oil. Add the rinds to your extra virgin olive oil to give it a new flavor, one that you, so far, cannot even buy.

Don’t throw away vegetables leaves. Cook them up and blend them to make into soup.

You can also use those leaves, plus many other bits of vegetables to make into vegetable stock.

The rind from all kind fruits and vegetables give a special flavor to dishes. For example, stuff a chicken with a mixture of scraps of fruit and veggies and during the cooking a very subtle and different flavor will infuse into the meat. The plus of this is that the baking actually helps the scraps break down faster later in the compost pile.

For skin & beauty:

If your skin is dry, use papaya skins or pulp. Papayas are full of vitamin A and papain (an exfoliant) which helps remove all dead skin cells. Carrots, spinach and melon contain a lot of vitamin A too. You can make use of those things too by rubbing them on the dry parts of the skin.

If you have smelly feet, rub the fruit peels on it.

To make your hair darker, don’t use chemical products but potato peels. Boil it 30 minutes and strain out the peels. After your shampoo rinse your hair with this water. This natural hair dye will gradually and naturally darken your hair.

For home:

To polish metal you can make use of citrus rinds; orange, lemon, lime, etc. As they are full of citric acid they make for a great cleaning and polishing agent. To speed up the process, mix it with a little baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) or a little ketchup.

Ketchup on its own also is great for cleaning silver and copper.

Therefore I always drain the ketchup out of the bottles before throwing them and keep that as a cleaning agent for metals.

If you rub a banana peel against the leaves of the plants it would give them a special shine. Banana peels can also be used as a natural fertilizer. They also can be used to shine shoes.

This is but a small list ands there are many more things that can be used in this way. But I doubt that most people even as much as suspect that those bits of household waste I have mentioned here could be so useful.

Reuse is also most beneficial in other quarters and not just as regards to compostable household waste. Every piece of potential waste should be put under scrutiny as to whether it cannot be reused, reworked or upcycled before every it should go on the trip to the recycling bin and the recycling center; and I mean every piece.

© 2011

Foraging in the urban environment

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

UrbanForaging What do dandelions, mulberries, black walnuts, haws (the berries of hawthorn), nettles, and wild onion have in common? They are all edibles that can be foraged in the wilds of suburbia or around the neighborhood.

That’s right.

Foraging for food is not just for hikers and wannabe survivalists, and even real ones. It’s possible to go foraging for wild foods even if you’re in the middle of civilization, even in Central Park in New York.

Some of these free wild foods are quite easy to spot and identify. Who could miss the bright yellow flowers of dandelions for example, but even when the flowers are not out you cannot, generally, mistake the leaves either?

Sautee the young, tender leaves in olive oil or use the young flowers as a garnish. Make dandelion sandwiches using chopped dandelion leaves and use the leaves as they are in green salads in the same way as you would rocket.

Mulberries and other berries, as well as other fruit and nut trees are also easy finds, especially if you’re looking up or down on the ground. There are wild strawberries to be had as well as well as blackberries (brambles) and they certainly cannot be missed either.

Wild onions are pesky plants that invade lawns. Ask if you can dig them up and you’ll probably receive an enthusiastic yes from the person whose lawn they’ve invaded. The same, more likely, will also be the case as regards to dandelions.

Other weedy plants that may require field identification, but that are commonly found in vacant lots and fields include purslane, chickweed, lamb’s quarters, wood sorrel, and in shady damp spots nettles and violets, though I doubt it that really many people need a guide to identify nettles. Alone the very fact that they sting might be a good indication. Some of the others, yes, especially for those not all that familiar with the wild edibles.

Brew tea with violets or use them as garnishes on pastries and deserts. Nettles are known to have medicinal purposes when brewed in a tea and nettles also cook well into a dish like spinach. The Greek kitchen has a greens dish called “Hortes”, which basically equals “green” and is nothing but nettle leaves and dandelion leaves cooked together.

Wood sorrel, aka Common sorrel, which is slightly sour in taste, thus known in German as “Sauerampfer”, is a relation to spinach and works well raw in green salads or cooked as spinach.

Other wild herbs worthy of collecting, though not, necessarily, for food, is Ribwort, aka Narrow-leaf plantain. This is a great medicinal herb that can be used as a poultice for cuts and also is useful for other ailments. But here we are headed into the realm of the medicinal uses and we might also leave that for a separate piece.

© 2011

Does a screen saver save energy?

No, far from it...

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

EcoButtonWeb But you can turn the monitor off, that saves energy (if you use a desktop). You also do not need – far from it – the Eco Button. Your computer has energy saving functions; use them.

Screen savers, on the other hand, do not save energy at all, whatever you may think, or have been led to believe. In fact they use a great deal of energy as the computer, in fact, is processing buy running the screen savers. Also, screen savers are about Noah's age and are no longer needed today.

The Eco Button, which I have mentioned above, is a gadget that people will like to sell you with the claim that it will save you energy in your computer usage and that it, thus, is going to save CO2. To say that the marketeers for this products are a little on the economic side with the truth would be a serious understatement. The Eco Button just is another version of the sleep function that your PC or Laptop actually comes with. So why would you, therefore, need a gadget that – unless someone is giving it to you on a trade show or such (and if you can refuse it) – costs you up to $20?

Use your computer's energy saving functions. That's what they are there for. But the screen saver function is NOT one of them.

Every computer operating system is different and the keyboard controls that work with Microsoft Windows computers will not work, in general, with a Linux computer, for instance.

If you use a desktop, and as far as I am concerned, despite the fact that, according to sources a laptop uses up to 90% less energy than a desktop PC, as far as sustainability goes a desktop is the better way, and a CRT monitor then turn the monitor off when you are not using the computer. A CRT monitor is a serious energy hog. If you have an FST monitor then let the computer do it for you. The time is stands idle is fine.

Once again, don't use a screen saver to save energy; it won't work and don't use an Eco Button either.

© 2011

Forgo and forget the grand gestures and opt for small changes

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Grand gestures can be remarkable and can act as a symbol for us all but it is much better to keep it simple and to the point. Let’s make things very easy on ourselves and see how effective small changes can be. Small changes can be more effective than grand gestures and acts because everyone can make those small changes but not everyone can do the big things. This is why so may people don't even start on the “green road” because they believe that they cannot affect any change and that the little that can do will have no effect or impact.

If we consider that all who think thus would make their small changes instead of bemoaning the fact that they cannot afford the big acts we already might have gone a fair way down the road that we have to travel in order to make the Planet healthy again.

REFUSE disposable plastics (and over packaging)

Disposable plastics are built to be thrown away and they exist forever. How pointless is that? They tend to travel around, on their eternal journey of existence, and end up in our ocean, where they form huge garbage patches.

Single-use plastic bags are but one though perfect example. While plastic bags are not particularly appealing to our appetites, turtles, on the other hand, love the shape of them. They eat them, thinking that they are jellyfish, and eventually die. To help prevent this happening to turtles use reusable bags instead.

And don't stop there – reusable bottles are great too, whether they are metal, glass or, yes, even plastic. In the latter case ensure that they are BPA-free and don't just say so. Also watch for cheap aluminium as their liners may, more than likely, are made of resins that contain BPA.

Plastic flatware: Don't! Instead BYO “real” cutlery. And while this may be a little like being in the military, the Boy Scouts or at a boarding school, it is the best way to go.

REDUCE your environmental footprint: Reducing our environmental footprint, especially if it is in regards to plastic, is easy if you make it a part of your decision-making process. When you purchase a car, you don’t pick it with no regard for price, options, or style. When you adopt a pet, you don’t call up the store and ask them to send you any dog they feel like picking out for you. Making conscious decisions about important things in our lives is what we do. Make informed decisions about your purchases instead of passively allowing plastic manufacturers to make those decisions for you, and you’ll start reducing your plastic use as a result.

But it is not just the use of plastic we must reduce. There are other materials too that, especially as regards to packaging, are not required and which are not biodegradable. And even the likes of cardboard, while biodegradable, should be reduced. Do we really have to have those expanded polystyrene “beans” with which to package things? What's wrong with shredded paper? In the old days it was so-called “wood wool” that was used for packaging which was, basically, wood shavings and shredded paper will do equally well, as does straw, for that matter.

REUSE: Make reusing a part of your life. Surround yourself with beautiful objects that you would love to see for a long time. Nothing worth making should be thrown away. Don’t let a manufacturer determine what products you MUST use because they refuse to offer alternatives. You are the customer. They should be changing to suit your needs and not the other way around. Let them know by giving your money and support to those who do offer alternatives.

REPURPOSE: Make repurposing a habit to such an extent that you consider each item of waste in the light of whether you can repurpose and upcycle it for your own use or for others.

It is the small changes in our lives that will, over time, especially as we add to those small changes over time, have a great effect.

Grand gestures often are one-off acts that won't be sustained thus the small changes and small acts are better by far.

© 2011

‘Green’ products lose allure as consumers cut spending

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

When Clorox introduced Green Works, its environment-friendly cleaning line, in 2008, it secured an endorsement from the Sierra Club, a nationwide introduction at Wal-Mart, and it vowed that the products would “move natural cleaning into the mainstream.” But those endorsements, I must say, never cut any ice with me and, like with so many other companies, it was just a case of the bandwagon.

Sales that year topped $100 million, and several other major consumer products companies came out with their own “green” cleaning supplies, in order, no doubt, to not be left behind.

However, America’s green consciousness, it turns out, seems rather fickle. As the recession has gripped the country, and it is time the government woke up to the fact that the Great Recession is still alive and well, the consumer’s love affair with green products, from recycled toilet paper to organic foods to hybrid cars, has faded like a bad infatuation. While farmers’ markets and Prius sales are humming along now, household product makers like Clorox just can’t seem to persuade mainstream customers to buy green again. And why should people buy what they, in fact, can make themselves with a few simple ingredients (more on that in another piece).

Sales of Green Works have fallen to about $60 million a year, and those of other similar products from major brands like Arm & Hammer, Windex, Palmolive, Hefty and Scrubbing Bubbles are sputtering.

While every consumer says that they want to help the environment and that they are looking for eco-friendly products, when push comes to shove the truth is that if it’s one or two pennies higher in price, they’re not going to buy it. There is a discrepancy between what people say and what they do.

The very reason why, as regards to recycled, or better upcycled, products go Terracycle decided to have their goods at or below the price of the equivalent non-green product.

For instance, a 32-oz bottle of Clorox Green Works All-Purpose cleaner is $3.29 at Stop & Shop. A 32-ounce bottle of Fantastik cleaner, by contrast, costs $2.89. In a cash strapped economy the cheaper product wins. Considering that, as I have said earlier, you can make your own effective and efficient green cleaning supplies at home for often pennies from ingredients such as lemon juice, baking soda, salt, vinegar (and not just white distilled vinegar), etc., why should the green product from a mainstream company be so much more expensive than the non-green one? I, for one, cannot understand that.

The current state of the economy is seeing a reduction in green products sales all over the place, I think, and not just with cleaning supplies. The grow-your-own food sector, on the other hand, it would appear, is rather thriving.

When the economy is bad people are not going to buy green gadgets and other consumer products; they buy things that come at a good price, unfortunately. On the other hand it would be good if people would realize anyway that they do not need this or that gadget in order to be green; it is all but marketing that makes us think that. Many a thing you could make yourself, from trash often, and thus be greener still than those that go on greensumption sprees.

When it comes to green cleaning, make your own is the best advice and Full Circle provides some nice bottles and recipes for the purpose. One spray bottle should have an instruction that states “finally add the freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 a lemon” for it has a lemon reamer built into the top.

In general, however, there is no need to buy much as far as “green” cleaning is concerned bar the ingredients, some of which you are, more than likely, going to have or want to have in your pantry anyway.

© 2011

Peasticks and Beanpoles

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Peasticks-Plantsupport Now is the time that you must think about getting peasticks and beanpoles organized as you will be requiring them soon, if they not already do. Peas and runner beans will need their support and other plants need supports too, such as French beans, for instance.

It is true that you can go to the garden center and buy some bamboo canes that will do the job – and do the job well – but they have been imported from abroad, China and other parts of Asia mostly, and thus are not really all that environmentally friendly. Especially not when you can get all the stuff you need from local coppice operations in the woods.

Hazel sticks are the best stuff for beanpoles and for peas – unless they need real long poles too like the beans – you stick branches that are off cuts into the ground surrounding the area in which they grow.

In Britain National Beanpole Week runs in about the last week in April and is interned to encourage people to think local woodland products when they are looking for their beanpoles and peasticks.

Locally produced, from coppiced hazel bushes, beanpoles and peasticks beat anything else on offer. It is a sustainable way of supporting you legumes and some local coppice workers.

© 2011

Alliance for Natural Health Europe scaremongering

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Alliance for Natural Health Europe (  is seriously engaged in scaremongering as regards to the new laws regarding herbal remedies being sold in the EU.

On their website the advert states:

Herbs to be outlawed ad This is a misrepresentation of the statute that the EU put into force recently. No one is outlawing herbs, the growing and possession and even medicinal use of same, as long as you do not sell them.

From what I have seen – and I have read the statutes that came into force in the beginning of 2011 – the EU has decided to bring herbal remedies into the realm of pharmaceuticals as far as licensing is concerned and I can well imagine that this is due to pressure by lobbying groups on behalf of the pharma industry. They are one of the largest lobbying sector in the European Parliament and are permanently running after the members there.

But, as far as I am concerned, I do not have to go to the stores to buy my herbal remedies; I can make them myself and that is not being touched in any way, shape or form. Let no one even as much as suggest that.

It would appear from their little advert that the Alliance for Natural Health Europe has a nice little agenda in scaring people and on the back of that making money. A bit like certain people and organizations in the USA who keep scaring people as to FEMA concentrations camps (load of BS obviously), or Chemtrails (which are but condensation trails of aircraft and not chemicals being sprayed), the number of the Beast (bar codes it was first and not we are talking about a microchip implant), etc. And while there are some sinister things going on, no doubt, certain people and groups are using this to earn a tidy little sum on the back of the fears of innocent people.

Grow your own drugs

Grow Your Own Drugs is a book of that title as well and in it ethno-botanist James Wong (see my book review) tell you all you need to know about growing your own herbs for medicinal purposes and how to make up the relevant concoctions. It is a book that I would certainly recommend to all those that wish to retain an ability to use herbs in a medicinal way when the remedies made from them may no longer be able to be had over the counter in a heath food store or a pharmacy, or only for horrendous sums.

Mother Nature has a store full of medicinal plants and all that is required is the knowledge of how to use them and how to extract the oils from them or whatever.

James Wong does explain all that in his book, which accompanied the BBC TV series by the same name, and his book is only one of many. Obtain those books and documents and then see that you are prepared to make your own potions, lotions, tinctures and whatever else. That way you will be prepared should the law become a little more than what it is at present.

© 2011

Portable glass water bottle by Love Bottle

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

About two to three years ago we heard of the reusable “portable” glass water bottle made fro and marketed by “Love Bottle”. Talk about reinventing the wheel.

This was them followed by yet another company whose name has escaped me with a reusable recycled glass (100% recycled glass in comparison top the 20% of Love Bottle) which was a cross between a SnappleTM bottle and a ketchup one.

Love Bottle, according to their material, was created by a nutrition consultant in San Francisco who wanted a healthier (and cuter) way to carry her water. Its her hope that these Love Bottle recycled bottles will not only spread clean water to everyone, but also spread a little love in the process. By putting the word love on the bottle, its hoped that it will change the energy of the water and thus bring love to you when you drink it. Yeah, right...

Glass bottles are good if for no other reason that they keep plastic water bottles with their chemical-leaching properties out of our hands and out of landfills. The only drawback is that they are breakable, but...

Now why would I, or anyone else in their right mind, even consider spending between $12-18 for a Love Bottle and $20-25 for the other bottle the makers of which have escaped me, when all I do need to do is to upcycle, by simple reuse, a Snapple or similar bottle. I have done just that and have made a number of “Tap” bottles so far that way. Much cheaper and equally as good (if not better as free and keeping the bottles out of the waste stream).

In fact I have a number of different sizes this way also, from 250ml to just under a liter, and all for absolutely nothing bar the effort of cleaning them thoroughly and removing the labels. And one of them has a lovely quilted jacket as well, to protect it from knocks.

Let's face it, man has done without plastic bottles for how long? Well, a very long time indeed, and they were taken to the field by farm laborers even and to war by soldiers and in the latter case especially, and not please excuse the pun, they were encased in leather.

Glass is the only bottle that is taste neutral and earthenware bottles, such as in which cider once came and ale are next in line and it is time that we got back to some sense in our lives and in the world. But not at the cost of $12 to $20.

© 2011


Leo takes us to a processing facility where we learn how we feed our Fast Food Nation.

This one is not for the faint of heart and you might consider giving up meat where you are not 100% sure of where it comes from and where it was processed.


Have fun... it's only a short piece.

Cyclist hurt by Surrey path wire 'prank'

Hello! Are we mad???

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A cyclist suffered minor neck injuries when he hit a wire which had been tied across a pathway in Surrey.

Police said the man in his 50s was knocked off his bike when his neck hit the wire as he cycled along the path in Earlswood, near Redhill.

The incident happened between Asylum Arch Road and Horley Road during the early hours of Wednesday.

The thick cord, believed to be black speaker cable, had to be removed using wire cutters.

Det Sergeant Karl Humphrey said: "To some this may seem like a practical joke and perhaps the offenders intended it to be a funny prank, but what they did had potentially life-threatening consequences.

"This appears to be an isolated incident and it is extremely fortunate the victim was not more seriously injured. We are taking this incident very seriously and I would urge anyone who can provide me with the names of those behind this irresponsible act to come forward."

Something similar has been happening in Nonsuch Park a while back when a wire had been stretched across an area frequented by youngsters on BMX bikes and where they had made [illegal] jumps.

The wire in that incident would have been capable of doing damage to a child coming down the hill at speed as it would have hit him directly at neck height. Luckily it was found by an adult riding his mountain bike and taking the wire across the chest, causing bruising.

At a later stage a ranger was made aware of the fact that in the same area a section of barbed wire had been put across the path, once again in order to injure a young person riding his BMX bike.

Those are no pranks but, to all intents and purposes, must be seen and treated as what it is, namely “attempted murder” and the charge should state that as well.

© 2011

Japan reacts with censorship to critical reporting

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

fukushima---meltdown-by-bakterje-d3bq4o4 Free journalists from abroad are being denied access to the press conferences. Representatives of Japanese media get briefed twice daily while the foreign correspondents only be given briefings once a week.

At the same time have telephone companies and ISPs been asked to ensure that no “false” informations get into the public domain. After all, says the Japanese government, public order and morale have to be maintained.

The government of Japan has now developed its own strategy in order to deal with the nuclear catastrophe. A speaker announced that the free journalists of the foreign media were only putting out false information and lies and were sneaking about illegally in the exclusions zone around the reactors. It seems obvious that not every journalists wants to remain dependent on the spin-doctored PR releases of the representatives of the power company which is responsible for the reactor.

As a reaction to this all online journalists and all members of the foreign press are now being locked out of the majority of press conferences. Handpicked reporters are permitted to every press conference twice daily, the rest is only permitted access once a week. Foreign journalists are briefed by government representatives only. They ask probing questions at the TEPCO events where the representatives of the mainstream media simply write down what the spokespeople tell them to write.

GOVERNMENT-CENSORSHIP-by-luvataciousskull The current state of information in Japan is about like it was in the war with the attitude that Japan is going to win World War II and journalists are told to keep stumm.

As if this was not enough the Japanese government will now act aggressively against the independent reporting. In order to keep up public order and morale all unpopular “rumors” are going to be attacked. The ministry of the interior, the police and other government agencies are now to decide what can be said openly and what not. The critical reporting by journalists, say government officials, has multiplied the damage that has been caused by the natural catastrophe many times. It is, obviously, the fault of journalists for asking questions and reporting the truth.

Internet service provider, telephone companies, cable companies and others have been warned in writing to put adequate and appropriate measures in place to suppress the illegal information. Companies are directly being requested, nay ordered, to delete information or to block them, in order so that the information will not get into the Internet and be circulated by the media and wire agencies.

Everything, the government has said, that will serve to uphold the morale and public order is permitted and encouraged. In clear language what this means is that every telecommunications provider in Japan has been ordered to block all independent and thus critical information and to stop journalists from transmitting this information to the outside and from reaching the eyes and ears of the rest of the world' and also the Japanese people.

The government of Japan tries everything to keep the truth from reaching the world and its own people and it wants to keep its people from rising up against the falsehoods and lies of the government and TEPCO, the company who owns the reactor, and keep its citizenry obedient like slaves. Spartacus, do you hear me?

© 2011

Muslims against Crusades continue with demo despite police orders not to

Muslims against Crusades are set to go ahead with the anti-Royal Wedding demo despite police orders not to and on their website they make statements such as the ones below:


With less than 7 days remaining until the highly publicised matrimony of genocide advocate prince William and Kate Middleton, Muslims Against Crusades would like to announce the second phase of the planned disruption of the royal wedding.

Drawing from recent events in occupied Libya, it has become apparent that the evils of the apostate Muammar Gaddafi bare a strong semblance to the atrocities sanctioned by the royal family, principally Queen Elizabeth II, as illustrated below:

In light of these striking similarities, we call out to Muslims in Britain to add a new dimension to the upcoming (Islamic) protest, by enacting one last similarity: as Muslims have risen in Libya against the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, we call upon Muslims to mirror this revolution in the heart of Central London and rise to overthrow the tyranny of Queen Elizabeth II.

Inshaa'allah (God willing), on 29th April 2011, the world will witness Muslims from all directions, above and underground, overwhelm this historic day and become a haunting reminder of the crimes of the Royal family and their wicked establishment.”

And they continue with statements such as this one:


On 29th April 2011, what is probably one of the most anticipated events in recent years will be due to take place at Westminster Abbey; Prince William and Kate Middleton, will soon exchange matrimonial vows, in the presence of a global audience.

Unfortunately, Britain's continued interference in Muslim lands is showing no signs of abating; the plundering of resources, the murdering of innocent (Muslim) men, women and children and the forced indoctrination of the satanic democratic creed have become hallmarks of a brutal regime led by a very brutal dictator.

In the backdrop of all this, we find that one of the biggest advocates of British imperialism, Flight Lieutenant Prince William, wishes to enjoy an extravagant wedding ceremony, ironically at the expense of the tax-payer.

His direct involvement with the murderous British military and eagerness to inherit the reigns of a kingdom built on blood and colonialism clearly demonstrate what type of legacy he wishes to leave.

In light of this, sincere Muslims have decided to organise a forceful demonstration, to once again highlight that as long Britain continues in its quest to occupy Muslim land and wage war against the religion of God (Allah) that we too shall continue in our efforts to undermine their regime and condemn all of their representatives, military or otherwise.

We strongly advise Prince William and his Nazi sympathiser, to withdraw from the crusader British military and give up all affiliation to the tyrannical British Empire.

We promise that should they refuse, then the day which the nation has been dreaming of for so long will become a nightmare and that it will inshaa'allah (God willing) eclipse the protests in Barking, Downing Street and the events of November 11.”

No one, I would like to say, is forcing any of those Muslims to live in Britain. They are welcome to go elsewhere. Most British people have no problem with Her Majesty The Queen and support the monarchy and do not see it as a wicked regime.

Those that make speeches like that commit an act, under the law, of High Treason, and are welcome to leave the country. I am sure we could all get a fund going to help them move to Saudi Arabia or such places.

The former Prime Minister of Australia said to very truly as to Muslims in Australia that no one asked them to come to the country but that they chose to live there and were accorded the benefits of the political system of the country and the same is true in Britain.

No one asked them to come here and no one, absolutely no one, is forcing them to stay here. And while no one is forcing them to stay here no one has interfered with their freedom to worship – they even could build their own centers of worship – and no one interfered, from the side of the government, at least, with their freedoms.

However, they demand that the rest of the country live by their rules and that Sharia Law be implemented in Britain and that Muslim ways to be observed by all.

Excuse me for a moment! In the words of Prime Minster John Howard, slightly paraphrased: “No one is asking you to live under a system that you do not like. You are most welcome to move to a country that has the laws of which you speak. No one is holding you here. Move if you want to live under Islamic Law; that is your right. But do not try to enforce it on the rest of the population of Britain which is, theoretically, a Christian nation, while in reality it may be, more or less, a secular state.”

Make your choice. Either you live in the UK and you live by the country's laws or you move... It is up to you.

© 2011

Gardeners urged to support woodlands by buying British beanpoles

Organisers of National Beanpole Week 2011, which takes place between 23 April and 1 May, have called on the nation’s gardeners to support Britain’s woodlands, and their beans, by switching to British coppiced beanpoles.

Britain lost around 90% of its coppiced woodland during the 20th century - over 500,000 acres. Gardeners can help reverse this decline, say campaigners, by choosing British coppiced beanpoles.

Coppicing is the craft of carefully cutting trees to ground level and managing the young new shoots to a usable size before cutting again. Most deciduous British native trees and shrubs can be coppiced, says the Small Woods Association, which supports Britain’s managed coppiced woodlands and is the organisation behind National Beanpole Week.

The group promotes traditional long-rotation coppicing methods, which greatly improve a wood’s ability to support a wide range of species, it says. Coppice workers avoid the use of synthetic sprays and fertilizers, and coppiced products are usually produced and sold locally, whereas the alternatives often need to be imported over large distances.

Coppiced beanpoles are harvested in rotation, ensuring a continual supply of eco-friendly wood and creating a rich patchwork habitat for all kinds of animals and plants, from dormice to orchids. The time between cutting varies, depending on the tree species and the intended use of the wood. For example, willow is usually cut every 1-3 years, hazel every 6-8 years, and chestnut and oak every 20-40 years. This growing and harvesting cycle is ongoing and can continue on the same trees for many hundreds of years. Coppicing usually extends the life of trees, with the oldest woodland trees often being those that have been coppiced.

“I use British coppiced beanpoles and pea sticks because they provide excellent support for beans, dahlias and other plants, and also because they look really good in the garden,” said gardening expert and broadcaster Toby Buckland, who is backing National Beanpole Week’s campaign.

“When you choose British grown coppiced beanpoles, you make the right choice for our native woodlands, local jobs, wildlife and the environment,” Toby continued. “You also make the right choice for your garden because coppiced beanpoles are so easy and pleasurable to work with, and provide plants with all the grip and support they need.”

This year’s National Beanpole Week includes events around the country, from coppice wood gardening workshops to a beanpole fayre.

“National Beanpole Week offers something for everyone, so we look forward to seeing a great turnout of people who want to find out about coppicing, and support our native woodlands and their beans,” said event director Richard Thomason. “And in this age of economic crisis, it shouldn’t be forgotten that you’ll also be supporting rural jobs when you switch to British coppiced beanpoles. Our coppiced woodlands provide employment for over 500 coppice workers.”

A bundle of 11 coppiced beanpoles typically costs between £5 and £7.50 say National Beanpole Week organisers. Information about where to buy them is available via the event website.

More information:

National Beanpole Week

Small Woods Association

The Meatrix® II

Moopheus is at it again...

Here we are with another episode of the Meatrix. This time our heroes Moopheus, Leo and Chickity expose the dark side of the dairy industry.



Research Reveals Increased Consumer Demand for Fair Trade Certified-Labeled Products

Researchers from Harvard, the London School of Economics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Release Study on the Value of Ethical Labeling

Print OAKLAND, CA, April 2011 - Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, reports new findings which confirm that the prominent appearance of the Fair Trade Certified™ label increases sales among coffee-buying consumers.

To investigate the topic of consumer demand for Fair Trade products, researchers Jens Hainmueller of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michael J. Hiscox of Harvard University, and Sandra Sequeira of the London School of Economics, conducted a six-month research study in partnership with a prominent national grocery retailer. As reported this weekend in the Wall Street Journal, the team examined purchasing behavior among actual consumers at 26 stores and key findings show that:

  • The Fair Trade Certified label alone has a large positive impact on sales.
  • Sales of the two most popular bulk coffees sold in each of the 26 test stores increased by up to 13 percent when labeled as Fair Trade Certified.
  • The study also revealed that a substantial segment of consumers are willing to pay up to eight percent more for a product bearing the Fair Trade Certified label.

The findings are consistent with a Globescan study conducted in 2010, which revealed that 75 percent of consumers said Fair Trade certification makes them feel "very positive or positive" about products; 30 percent said Fair Trade is "likely to increase their purchase interest;" and over half said "independent third-party certification is the best way to verify" a product's social and environmental claims.

"Overall the findings suggest that there is substantial consumer support for Fair Trade," said Michael J. Hiscox of Harvard University. "The Fair Trade label by itself had a large positive effect on sales, indicating that a substantial number of coffee buyers place a positive value on Fair Trade certification. In addition, a sizeable segment of coffee buyers were willing to pay a premium for coffee if the premium was directly associated with support for Fair Trade. The tests suggest that there are plenty of consumers ready to vote with their shopping dollars to support Fair Trade when it is offered as an option by retailers."

The study can be referenced online at

Fair Trade USA (previously TransFair USA), a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and uplift their communities. Fair Trade USA educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farming communities with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit for more information.

The Research team consists of Michael J. Hiscox, the Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University; Sandra Sequeira, Lecturer in Development Economics at the London School of Economics; and Jens Hainmueller, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

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

Greening Hip-Hop

Greening Hip-Hop: Legendary Innovators Star & Buc Wild Join Forces with Socially Responsible Start Up, Bennu, to Launch the First Eco-Friendly Hip-Hop Merchandise

New York, NY, April 2011 – Always known for staying ahead of the curve, Star & Buc Wild are again leading the way by merging hip-hop culture and the amplifying Green Wave. The visionary media personalities are partnering with Bennu, a socially responsible marketing company focused on recycling, to offer the first hip-hop merchandise with a green twist.

Star & Buc Wild and Bennu are releasing limited edition co-branded backpacks (“Greenpacks”) composed of fabric made 100% from recycled plastic bottles. Each bag keeps 20 16-oz bottles out of landfills and uses up to 70% less energy to make than material for conventional backpacks. Alarmingly, more than 30 billion plastic bottles are dumped into U.S. landfills every year.

“The goal of Star & Buc Wild is to create a diversified brand,” commented Star. “We respect the green movement and believe it’s important to incorporate a mission into our work. The Bennu team is fresh and understands why people are going green, and we support that effort.”

Ashok Kamal, Co-Founder & CEO of Bennu, added, “Star & Buc Wild have always exemplified innovation. The world is changing and demanding that we approach business in a way that considers the planet along with profit. It’s time for hip-hop culture and the green culture to evolve together.”

Along with the launch of Star & Buc Wild backpacks, which are available for sale exclusively online, plans are in place to produce Star & Buc Wild T-shirts made from recycled fabrics.

Bennu was officially launched in September 2010 by 3 recent business school graduates who come from diverse personal and professional backgrounds. The company began by selling customized backpacks to schools. In November 2010, Bennu announced that it was donating $5,000 worth of backpacks to low-income NYC students through its “Greenpacks for Great Kids” campaign.

Troi Torain and Timothy Joseph pka Star & Buc Wild have pioneered some of today’s most successful multimedia platforms. They can be heard daily as the top-rated morning show on Philadelphia’s 100.3 The Beat along with their current Internet broadcast which generates over 650,000 viewers daily on

Bennu is a socially responsible product development and marketing company that completes the recycling loop. Please visit to learn more.

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

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


Take the red pill and watch the critically-acclaimed, award-winning first episode of The Meatrix Trilogy.

Interesting short movie about the meat industry, though primarily applicable to the United States. Things are different in Europe, for the time being, at least, though not much better, I am sure.



The garden trowel

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Garden trowel1 The garden trowel is one of several gardening tools that the hobby or professional gardener simply cannot live without. The garden trowel is nothing more than a small shovel really, but it’s a piece of equipment that gets almost constant use, especially during the busy spring gardening season and in the autumn as well.

In addition to the basic garden trowel most people are familiar with, some trowels have serrated edges on the shovel blade and are shaped rather differently, such as the Thingamadig (one of my favorites), and when it comes to handles, there are several options.

If you are buying a trowel for the first time, it might be a good idea to visit the local garden center or garden tool stands at a garden show and give a trowel or two a “test drive”, for lack of a better word.

It should feel comfortable and be well constructed with a sturdy handle and a carbon or forged steel blade. Don’t skimp on quality. If you prefer a hardwood handle make sure it’s smooth to prevent splinters with a reinforced interface between the handle and blade.

When it comes to the blade there is one exception that I would make and that is for the Radius® Trowel, where the blade is made from extremely solid aluminium. The Radius® Trowel (and other hand tools) is another one of my favorite along with the Thingamadig, though I also have a very old “ordinary” trowel that is a favorite of mine. In addition to that I have a couple of other trowels too that get used every now and then. It is a bit of “horses for course” and all have their uses for particular tasks.

A good high-quality trowel is not going to be cheap, so do not expect one to buy, new, for a few bucks only. Anything under about $15 to $20, in my opinion, is more than likely trash, unless it is a Bulldog trowel (Clarington Forge in the USA). There you can get some quality ones for a little less than that.

Another option for finding garden trowels (and other small garden tools) is to visit car boot sales, flea markets or even antique and collectible shops that specialize in antique garden and farm tools. These tools were built to last so in most cases you can’t go wrong. Just avoid too much rust (you can always get rid of a little bit of rust with a wire brush and some other aids), worn and splintered handles, or excessive wear.

Ergonomic tools, such as the Radius® ones are a great choice if you do suffer from arthritis, for instance. They were, in fact, designed to overcome the strain that causes pain. Also learn how to keep tools clean and sharp.

© 2011

Someone strike a match

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

“Someone strike a match in here” is a statement that could be heard at times in the olden day as regards to the outhouse. Many people think that that was referring to the possibility of the methane gas being flammable but, in fact, it was referring to odor removal.

The simplest, cheapest and environmentally most friendly way of odor removal in the small room after someone has been is simply to, yes, strike a match (or two). No need for expensive and environmentally damaging – yes, they are – so-called air freshener. They do not freshen the air; they, in fact, pollute it. They mask the smells, that is all. The match works equally well though I have no idea why.

All that counts, is, as far as I am concerned, that striking a match, in the outhouse or small room in the house, neutralizes the odor from the bodily functions that are being performed there and it does that with little impact on your wallet and, what is more important even, the Planet.

Let's hear it for the humble simple match...

© 2011

Biofuels: The ins and outs

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Broadly speaking, a biofuel is any plant or animal material that can be used as a source of energy. In fact, biofuel can be created from any carbon source that is easy to replenish, i.e. plants.

Biofuels can come in solid, liquid, or gas form – while you may think of ethanol or biodiesel when you hear biofuel, it would be just as correct to think of wood, perhaps the most popular biofuel for the last millennia. In some places dried cow pats or camel dung would be the biofuel of choice for cooking fires. So there is more to biofuels then just the liquid stuff that they think of sticking into vehicle tanks instead of petroleum-based fuels.

Another biofuel, theoretically, is methane gas that can be produced from slurry and general sewage via so-called methane digesters, or can be extracted from landfill sites directly. Methane gas is, basically, natural gas and thus can be used in the same way as can natural gas for heating, cooking, and electricity generation.

Why use biofuel?

Biofuel has a number of advantages to its use and one of them is the fact that biofuel is a renewable fuel source, whether it is wood or methane gas or ethanol or biodiesel.

When it comes to the automotive biofuels the jury really is still out as to the big selling points for biofuels that we are always being presented with, namely that they are more cost efficient and that they are cleaner.

The reason as to that is that the production is also very power intensive and so is the growing of the crops for biofuels which, in the case of ethanol, in the USA, is corn; the Brazilians have known to have used grass clippings and sugarcane leaves and other waste.

The being cleaner factor also is one that is not proven as yet and it is being suggested that biodiesel has some ten times or so more soot emissions, the particles that are a causal agent of asthma, than does petroleum-based diesel.

As regards to ethanol the suggestion is also that, aside from the growing of the corn causing a lack of food growing areas, it also has relative high CO2 emissions, higher, it is being mooted even, than gasoline. Are we about to jump from the frying pan right into a roaring inferno. If sure seems like it. And this just because we want to keep the infernal combustion engine motorcar running and keeping it runnin gin the same way as we run it today.

While some people talk about biofuels having benefits and are even happy to state that some of the benefits may be cancelled out by the negative effects the way things look there are much more negative effects and impacts than any positive ones.

If we talk methane then there are benefits in that the production of it can be backyard and done rather simple and it can run electricity generating plants, cook our food and heat our homes and, yes, theoretically, it could even, in the form of natural gas engines, power our motorcars and trucks.

Biodiesel and bioethanol (bio-gasoline, basically) are not an answer in any way, shape or form, and especially not with the big oil companies muscling in on the act, trying to push any small operator out of the market anyway.

Biodiesel predominately, it would appear, will be made from palm oil which is the causal agent of the wholesale destruction of the Asian rainforests and Indigenous lands and bi-gasoline (ethanol) also is a problem substance as the production of it will require land that will also be required for the growing of food crops. The choice, therefore, would appear to be either to drive cars and trucks or to eat. All this in the pursuit to maintain the business-as-usual concept of the infernal combustion engione transportation. No one is prepared to look at a different future and scenario and especially no one in government.

These drawbacks, while immense, need to be measured against our need to combat climate change and energy independence and without a doubt, biofuel is on the rise. The UK has certainly seen tremendous movement toward biofuels, where it has now become a requirement that 5% of energy sources to come from biofuel. It seems more a matter of when, not if, with biofuel. As oil reserves begin to dwindle, more and more governments will see the need to switch to biofuels. With that, a new industry will be born and the world, once again, we be defined by a new energy source. But this could be just another source that is causing harm to millions.

While we may have to develop some biofuels for the use in trucks, at least in the short term, and in buses, etc., we must wean us all of the personal ICE powered motorcar. We also must look at how we use energy and what type of energy and see as to whether changes can be made there.

Personal transportation – for short journeys – should be walking and cycling once again and we must, therefore, create, again, walkable and cyclable neighborhoods and also the countryside must be returned to such a way. It once was; it must be so again. We can no longer afford the personal ICE car and truck and biofuels are not the answer, regardless of what the powers-that-be try to tell us.

Let's listen to the scientists that warn against its use rather than the marketeers and governments who wish to placate the voters who cannot, possibly, contemplate life without the car. But it will have to be soon...

© 2011

InterNational Downshifting Week

InterNational Downshifting Week – Saturday 23rd to Friday 29th April 2011

long-bottom-banner-idw-jpeg1 By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

InterNational Downshifting Week is held this year from Saturday 23rd to Friday 29th April 2011 so you still have a few days to get involved.

It exists to help you find a better work life balance and to show you how to give a positive embrace to living with less and it encourages you to wear your downshifting hat with pride by pulling back from mass consumerism, so you hold onto more of your hard-earned cash.

InterNational Downshifting Week can also have a powerful impact on your mental health and well-being, your relationships with family and friends.

OK, So How ‘Do’ You Downshift?

Downshifting to a better work life balance should be a slow and well-considered affair and for the best results and long-lasting effects, the process should consist of a gentle migration and despite all the good things you read on the Internet and elsewhere proclaiming its endless benefits, if you do it all overnight, it might just be the kiss of death to a very good plan.

By taking things at a digestible pace, you’ll easily be able to find your ‘comfort level’ of downshift, which is very important. What suits one person, might be another’s living nightmare!

Above all, the process should be done with pride. Pulling back from a consumerist lifestyle will present you with physical and mental obstacles, all of which can be overcome if you have a positive embrace of living with less.

Remember, the more money you spend, the more time you have to be out there earning it and the less time you get to spend with the ones you love - that’s it in a nutshell.

Downshifting can be done with regards to work and life balance but also in order to tread more lightly on the Planet. Therefore it is very much a green thing and one that should be carefully considered.

What can this mean in practice?

It can mean staying in and cooking your own food rather than going out to a restaurant. Aside from saving money you will also know how the food was prepared and by who and how clean everything has been.

It can mean shifting from two cars to just one and using Shank's pony more or the iron steed, the trusted – and often rusted – bicycle to get about and public transport for the longer journeys.

It can mean making do with the things that we have and which work fine rather than having to “upgrade” to the latest and shiniest new toy and gadget, and a lot more. In a way you can make it what you want it to be.

And don't do it just for a week... Do it from now on for good.

© 2011

Italy joins Germany and Switzerland in nuclear power ban

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

nukenothanks The Italian government has proposed to shelve indefinitely its nuclear plans following radiation leaks at Japan's nuclear plant and has presented an amendment to legislation under consideration in the Senate that would call off plans to find, build and activate nuclear plants in the country. The amendment says the government plans to define a new energy strategy instead.

Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani said the leaks at Japan's Fukushima plant had changed everything and that Italy was merely taking the same steps as Germany and others in altering energy strategies following the disaster.

While Germany, Switzerland and, now, Italy, have indefinitely shelved all plans to create any further nuclear power stations and Germany, so it would appear, is also going to phase out its old reactors without replacing them, the British government keeps pushing ahead with plans for masses of more nuclear reactors.

The Con-Dem coalition of Cameron and Clegg is rejecting calls for a moratorium in the UK with the claims that our designs are safer and nothing is going to happen here. They thought that as well in Chernobyl and at Fukushima.

Nuclear power is a dangerous way of creating energy and that not just because of the fact that an accident and therefore a radioactive discharge could occur. The biggest danger comes from the spent fuel and other radioactive waste from whose power stations and, in fact, from decommissioned plants as well.

Nuclear is NOT save and never will be therefore we must rethink our energy usage and production rather than looking to nuclear.

The lies that surrounded nuclear in the 1950s and 1960s are similar to those of today and rather than being the cheapest form of electrical energy – it was going to be too cheap to meter, we were told in the 50s and 60s – it is the most expensive form of electricity generation.

Nuclear Power? No, Thank You...

© 2011

Reusable water bottles are also better than recyclable paper bottles

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It is funny to see how the bottled water industry comes up with new ideas all the time to counter the likes of us who keep making a point against bottled water.

While those of us who try to get the world to kick the bottled water habit may be open to all suggestions on alternative containers for water but that does not mean that we like anything that may not be a disposable plastic bottle. The fact is that it is not simply about the bottle; it is also about the water.

A new product idea that was getting attention some time back is called the 360 bottle, which uses paper instead. But it doesn’t appear to be any sort of ideal solution. While the containers are made of recyclable paper, it is still a disposable product and therefore far more wasteful than any solution that we would prefer.

As I have said, the bottled water industry really will go to all lengths to keep selling the world bottled water, and they now offer compostable plastic bottles alongside of other newfangled ideas such as the paper bottle.

Recently at the UK Aware 2011 show we saw spring water in Tetrapak containers and while it is true that those packs are, so I am assured, recyclable they again miss the point. It is not (only) about the bottle; it is about the water.

Let's get back to something serious and sensible; real reusable water bottles, whether this may be HDPE, PP, metal or glass.

Compostable plastic bottles are still plastic bottles and the water is still the problem and when it comes to compostability of those supposedly compostable bottles is that they cannot be composted in a domestic setting.

The recyclable paper water bottle is an interesting idea to consider and has even won awards and has a lot of clever elements, like collapsibility for easy transportation. It might be an option to consider for other disposable drink items such as juices that aren't likely to disappear any time soon as using paper, preferably from sustainable sources and processed greenly, is better than using plastic, after all. However, it is not an option for water as we should be getting away from the notion of needing “bottled” water to be healthy. Bottled H2O is no better or healthier than tap water. In fact, tap water has much more stringent hygiene requirements and such than does bottled water.

Having compostable bottles still is not nearly as green as buying one long-lasting quality item and taking care of it for years of use. So, get yourself a decent reusable water bottle or even several.

© 2011

It is not difficult to “GO GREEN”

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Many people think that if they go ‘green’, as individuals, it will not have any impact in environmental terms. They have the belief of “what change can one person really make?” The answer here would have to be “the power of one” and the power of one, multiplied by all the “ones” that are doing something is a great power. And, the power of one person’s example can bring positive change to those there around.

So what can each and every one of us do, and how can we influence others?

Lighting, and electricity use in general, is something where you can make a huge impact and is one of the easiest ways to help green your environment.

Change your light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use less energy, even though there is the issue with a tiny amount of mercury in them. They are, after all, basically, mercury vapor lamps. In countries such as Britain you no longer have the choice as to whether or not to buy CFLs; you cannot buy any incandescent light bulbs, the Edison bulbs, anymore.

Turn off light in rooms that are not in use. Unplug those chargers when they are not charging your devices. It all helps and those little chargers really add up to lots of energy being consumed.

Transportation is another one that can make a great impact, whether it is the daily commute or vacation help yourself and others create ways to reduce toxic emissions.

Rideshare or carpool to the workplace, or consider mass transit if that is an option. When running daily errands try to limit them to one trip and have a mapped out plan to cut down driving. Use a bicycle instead, and if need be with a bicycle trailer, or walk.

Electric power: One thing that consumes a lot of energy at home and office is your computer and therefore make a habit to unplug it from the power strip when you leave the office at night, or when you go to bed at home. A computer that is turned off and still plugged in is burning energy. The best idea is to get a power strip that you can, actually, turn off. That makes things easiest.

So make either make it a habit to unplug the computer – and the peripherals – or get a power strip that you can turn off, either by simply using a switch that is part of the strip or get a strip that does it by remote control or, with a PC (not a laptop) you can use an intelligent power strip that turns off all peripherals and the PC when the PC shuts down. The latter kind of strip does, however, use some amount of electricity which it uses to power the sensors.

Paper: Did you know the average worker wastes 10,000 pages of paper per year? To reduce that impact on the environment print carefully and, where possible, go paperless by storing documents on the PC in PDF. Print double sided or, if pages are not printed thus, make use of the backs (including junk mail) for note paper. Shred and recycle all used paper, and the easiest way to recycle such old shredded paper is as animal bedding, such as for chickens and then composting it afterwards.

Eating: Good eating habits can help the planet. Use ‘real’ silverware, coffee mugs, china for your daily meals. Paper and plastic are not OK and even biodegradable plastic flatware is a waste of resources. The majority of “paper” cups, for instance, are non-recyclable as they are lined on the inside and cannot be recycled as paper. They go into landfill.

Switch to “organic” foods grown, ideally, by local farmers that will help both you and your local area. The basics are to eat local, eat seasonal, eat organic, and eat less meat. Do not fall for the “organic” French beans from Kenya for (i) who certifies the “organic” bit and (ii) consider the environmental footprint and the food miles of those beans which get flown to the UK daily.

The power of one – multiplied by many ones – which it is – is a great force and a good force for change. You can do it with small steps and get others involved too by showing then that small steps can go a long way. So let's change the world one small step at a time.

© 2011


By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Bring You Own (BYO) movement started with the shopping bag and is now being extended to other things as well. However, there are still people that have not grasped the BYOB bit at all. Each and every time that I go to the supermarket and stores there will be a fair number of people going through the checkouts that require – still free – one time use plastic shopping bags. The “still free” applies to most stores and market stalls still and the only chain or stores that I know, in Britain, who charge for bags is Lidl.

Remember to take bags with you to the store

The single-use, for that is what they are, plastic grocery bags are a waste of resources and are not goof for the environment and wildlife. Sea life especially, such as turtles, are adversely affected by plastic grocery bags for they tend to mistake those things for food, for jellyfish in fast.

Many people do have reusable bags by now but more often than not they end up forgotten at home when they go shopping and this not only because they go shopping at the spur of the moment. The bags are folded away after the previous use in some drawer and they, more often than not, simply get forgotten. The old adage of “out of sight, out of mind” plays a great role here. Therefore, maybe, keeping the bags in on e particular bag right by the door might help when going shopping to remember taking them.

I must admit that I take a bag offered at times, such as at greengrocers, in order to put some larger items of produce in which don't fit into the other bags provided. However, I do not accept plastic shoppers anymore, as a rule, and always make sure to have some reusable shoppers in my bag.

In some places you have to be very careful though that you haven't had your purchases packed into a plastic bag or two before you can refuse.

People consume billions of plastic bags each year and this excess layer of packaging costs energy and money to produce, and bags are bound to end up in a landfill, if not as litter, sooner or later. Often you see trees festooned with strips of carrier bags and this really does not very good. Tinsel and such may be fine on a Christmas tree but not on hedgerows and trees in the countryside.

Have an ample supply of reusable bags. You may already own at least a handful of reusable canvas or heavier plastic bags. If not, try sewing some and a very good source of inspiration here, in my view, is I am lucky as I get a lot of reusable bags at the various trade fairs and other events that I attend as a writer. In fact I probably now have enough to last me a lifetime and then some. I guess I could even sell some. Regardless of where you get your bags, choose a size that is comfortable and a design that is sturdy and pleasing. Have at least enough for a full load of groceries.

Write at the top of your shopping list "take bags". If you use the same notepad every time, write it on the new page as soon as you empty the last batch of bags.

There are many reusable shopping bags that you can buy that fold away into a small space, such as Onya Bags, Envirosax, ChicoBags, and others, and some even have a carabiner hook attached with which they can be clipped to a belt loop or such like.

Make it automatic. Make taking in bags a regular part of your shopping routine. Habits take a few weeks to ingrain but persevere and soon it will become second nature to take a bag whenever you leave to shop.

I have some of my cotton bags folded and rolled up and held with Velcro straps, and also some others, in such a way that they are ready to grab and shove into a pocket even.

Tell the kids that it's important to take their own bags. If you have kids and you take them shopping, explain why you want to take back bags, and put them in charge of helping you remember to take them in and of helping you to remember them.

Some stores refund a few cents per bag. Offer to pay this amount to your kids if they remind you to take in the bags before you remember. They won't need to be asked twice and you won't be forgetting your bags.

© 2011

Sustainability is made up of little changes to our lifestyle

Sustainability is made up of the little changes to our lifestyle that don't cost us anything but which can, maybe, save the Planet

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Many people think that they can have no impact and that there is no chance that their little steps can make a difference. However, all those little steps and small acts, especially when we all understand it and do it, make one heck of a difference.

It is the little changes to our lifestyle that will have the greatest impact.

Cycle and walk instead of taking the car for every small journey or even, if you can, get rid of the car altogether. Or at least of one car, seeing that, it would appear, the great majority of families in Britain and the United States seem to have two cars (or even more). Aside from the environmental footprint of in manufacture and use they also cost unnecessary money in insurance, tax, etc.

Grow (some of) your own food. Start a vegetable garden by converting your lawn into a food garden. Better for the environment and better for you and your wallet. Even on a balcony in the city you can grow some food.

Turn off those lights. Turn off the lights that are not needed, when there is no one in the room. There are so many people who, out of laziness or convenience – you don't have to turn them on when they are already on – leave lights burning in rooms, in the basement, etc., where there is actually no one there needing the lights. This is wasting both money and energy.

Turn off the computer. Also turn off the computer and peripherals at night. This too saves you money and saves energy and thus emissions too. If you do use a desktop then get a so-called “intelligent” power strip which has a master socket and a number of “slave” sockets and which will turn all peripherals plugged into the slaves, such as monitor, printer, etc., off once the computer has been powered down and turned off. The panel does use a small amount of residual energy, that is true, but it is a lot easier than unplugging it all. You could, on the other hand, use an ordinary power strip with a switch and turn that switch off physically when you are finished for the day with the computer.

Use cold water for washing clothes and for showering. Both saves money and energy. In most cases your clothes do not need to be washed in hot water – for some that would actually be fatal – and cold or 30C does nicely, thank you.

Use tap water instead of bottled. Refuse the plastic and use tap water in reusabale bottle instead. Yes, the bottle does, probably, cost you some money but that is only one outlay and even if that is $10 or so you recoup that within a couple of days not buying bottled water.

Take your own bags to the stores. Instead of taking the “free” (there is no such thing as a free lunch and you plastic bag ending up as lunch for some turtle could be fatal) plastic one way grocery bags on offer. Make your own reusable totes from waste fabrics or other materials and take them with you to the stores whenever you go shopping. If you design them right you could make them in such as way that you can roll them up small enough and always have one or two on you in case of some “at the spur of the moment shopping.”

Reuse and Upcycle. Instead of rushing out to the stationery store for a pencil bin or two (made from recycled steel) look for a steel can in your recycle bin. It is free just for the cleaning up of it – something you often have to do anyway so the recyclers will actually take it – and your wallet will thank you, as will the Planet.

Reuse those bigs glass jars into storage jars (or even reuse them for canning) rather than tossing them into the glass recycling bin and then spending your hard earned money of recycled glass storage jars. Always think reuse and upcycle before you toss anything.

Those are just a few simple suggesting that, if we all did those, and the many other simple and small things, we would be a long way towards reducing our environmental impact and -footprint greatly.

A little but steady drip of water is capable of doing more damage to a stone as does a flood and small things can have a great impact, positively as well as negatively.

© 2011

BP plotted to influence what scientists say about oil spill’s impact

According to internal emails BP plotted to influence what scientists say about oil spill’s impact

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Now, why am I not surprised one bit... It is exactly what I expected from BP and others in the industry. The same as the palm oil industry keeps telling us how sustainable palm oil supposedly is; which it is not.

On the eve of first anniversary of the onset of the BP oil spill, spill-weary Gulf natives have a fresh reminder of how the oil giant has devoted itself to studiously downplaying the damage of the disaster: A recently leaked body of internal company correspondence shows senior BP brass trying to spin scientific research produced by company-paid researchers in order to minimize the scale of the spill's destruction in the public mind.

The news doesn't exactly come as a shock to many in the Gulf region and neither to me, one of the corporate world's cynics. After all, when the Mobile Press-Register first reported last summer that BP was contracting to hire a battery of coastal scientists, many theorized that some such initiative was afoot. And now the internal BP emails obtained by Greenpeace through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appear to bear such worries out.

According to information BP officials sought to tailor the findings of company-funded research. Last May, BP announced that it was ponying up $500 million to fund “an open research program studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon incident.” That mega-project is now known as the Gulf of Mexico Research Institute (GRI), and to judge by the emails released via Greenpeace, company leaders were deeply concerned with how to spin to the group's findings given they footed its research bills.

“Can we 'direct' GRI funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor's offices trying to do),” BP environmental official Russell Putt asked in a June 2010 email. “What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?”

Another email written by a BP environmental officer, Karen Ragoonanan-Jalim, indicates that company officials met in Houma, Louisiana, to discuss how they might “steer the research” to best serve the oil company's interests, writing that officials discussed how “BP can influence this long-term research programme” to “undertake the studies we believe will be useful.”

None of this, and the many more emails that seems to have circulated of a similar nature, surprises those of us that have always been sceptical of any green claims of BP and so many other multinational corporate giants.

They are a little like politicians. You know when they lie. Their lips move and when they try to hide behind sustainability, green, CSR, etc., then the spin is really on and the speed of the spin is faster than that of any turbine.

“By their fruits you shall know them,” it says in the Bible and that also can be translated into this realm, and the fruits that they produce are bitter and inedible.

© 2011

Green Website Partners

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It is amazing to see the kind of partners and sponsors that some supposedly green websites and social media sites list. Having an “ethical bottled water” company as an advertiser and sponsor, in my opinion, is bad enough but to list the likes of Pepsi as an ethical company – and I do not give a monkey's as to whether or not Pepsi is listed amongst the 100 most ethical companies. I want to see proof of that first.

Having partners such as Stonyfield Organics and even Waste Management is fine, I am sure, but when I look at PepsiCo as an ethical company I wonder when they will add McDonald's and Wal-Mart in that same category. It won't be long, I am sure.

When I see green websites and -organizations, and the recent Climate Week in the UK was also a great example of this, have sponsors and partners of dubious green credentials one can but wonder as to whether those folks have thrown away all ethics, if ever they had any, for big bucks.

Being sponsored by an “ethical bottled water” company is another one of those cases where one really have to ask questions. There is no such thing as “ethical” bottled water. And the fact that I, and so many others, are against bottled water has little, if anything, to do with the plastic bottles but everything to do with the fact that needlessly water is being extracted and removed from general circulation to be put into bottles. And there is absolutely nothing ethical in that.

It would appear, though, that money is the overruling factor for many, also in the real of green websites, organization, magazines, etc.

There are times when I am beginning to wonder as to whether the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW – and Tatchipen Media – are the only ones, or one of very few, that have real ethics and that question everyone's credentials.

Integrity and ethics, in most cases, seem to be going out of the window when wads of money are being waved in the faces of the executive officers, and this also, it would appear, in most areas of the green spectrum. What happened to everyone?

© 2011

Kick Those Butts – But Not to the Curb

On Eve of Earth Day, New Studies Confirm Cigarettes’ Toxic Impact on the Environment

Legacy for Health
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2011: Each year more than 360 billion cigarettes are smoked in the United States. Where do all those butts go? Public roads, waterways, parks and beaches. New research released today further demonstrates the negative impact that cigarette filters and discarded cigarette butts have on the environment. Cigarette butts contain heavy metals that can leach into waterways, posing a threat to aquatic life. The new data is part of a special supplement – funded by the national public health foundation Legacy® – in the journal Tobacco Control. In observance of Earth Day, Legacy urges smokers to quit smoking, and if they can’t, to properly dispose of cigarette butts and filters.

Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, and cigarette filters/butts are the No. 1 littered item found on beaches and in urban environments. According to environmental cleanup reports, nearly 2 million cigarettes or cigarette filters/butts were picked up internationally from beaches and inland waterways as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup in 2010. This number includes more than one million from the United States alone, underscoring the fact that cigarette butts play a major role in polluting the already taxed environment.

According to the new research, cigarette butts have potentially toxic effects on ecosystems, for example, in one laboratory tesut, one cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water was lethal to half of the fish exposed. Some other new research findings inclde:

    Poison centers report hundreds of cases of cigarette butt consumption among children under 6 years old, with some cases of moderate toxicity due to nicotine poisoning.
    Tobacco products are the single largest type of litter collected along US roadways and on beaches.
    Tobacco industry research reveals that there might be misconceptions that cigarette filters are readily biodegradable or inconsequential as litter. However, in reality, even under ideal conditions, cigarette butts can take years to degrade, merely breaking up into small particles of plastic, toxic waste.
    Cigarette litter clean-up costs can be substantial to local authorities. 

“This special supplement brings together the currently known science about cigarette butt waste and sets the stage for a new research agenda – one focused both on preserving our environment and protecting our public health,” said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. “Cigarette butts comprise approximately 38 percent of all collected litter items from roads and streets—the carcinogenic chemicals that they contain make their use the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, yet they are commonly, unconsciously, and inexcusably dumped by the trillions (5.6 and counting) into the global environment each year.”

Tobacco litter is not only an eyesore, but clean-up costs to cities can be substantial. An economic study based on a litter audit in San Francisco, California, found the clean-up cost to be more than $5.6 million annually. In an effort to reduce that cost, the San Francisco City Council imposed a 20 cent per pack “litter fee” on cigarettes sold in the city in 2009.

Additionally, there is growing momentum in cities, counties and municipalities to pass laws keeping cigarettes out of parks and beaches. As of April 1, 2011, 507 municipalities across the country have prohibited smoking in their parks and 105 have passed laws prohibiting smoking on public beaches in an effort to reduce the impact that cigarette butt waste has on their communities.

“It’s a common assumption that since tobacco is organic, its waste is harmless. However, both the plastic filters and the remnants of tobacco are poisonous to children and other living organisms, as this research confirms. These waste products contain nicotine, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals that leach into the environment,” said Tom Novotny, Professor of Global Health in the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University. “We applaud those communities who have already taken action to stop this problem and hope that through this new research we can strengthen awareness with consumers, environmental advocates, researchers and even the tobacco industry itself.”

Cigarette filters/butts have become the last socially acceptable form of littering in the increasingly health and environmentally conscious world. For more information on the environmental impact of cigarettes visit:

Legacy is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the national public health organization helps American live longer, healthier lives. Legacy develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation’s programs include truth®, a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as having contributed to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

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