Recycled planters

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Container gardening, that is to say gardening using planters of all kinds, is becoming more and more popular and that for more than a single reason.

Recycled_planter_from_washing_machine And, it is not just flowers and decorative plants that can be grown in containers. Vegetables too can be grown in that way and thus using containers, that is to say, planters, of whatever kind, makes growing food, at least some of it, possible even in the smallest of spaces.

Whether you are looking for a unique look for your garden or whether you are trying to scrimp by on little doing your garden I suggest you try “recycled” planters.

A “recycled” planter can be just about object that holds soil and has holes for drainage and can re-purposed into a planter, whether it’s an old chair, a claw foot tub, a tin can, or yes, the cylinder from an old washing machine, a toilet bowl, an old hand basin, or whatever.

While washing machine cylinders for planters do work and look great, real great, with the right plant(s), they can be better repurposed as and upcycled into small patio fireplaces. I am presently looking at doing that with a small old one.

Bathroom & kitchen fixtures, such as old claw foot tubs (though the latter, unless chipped or otherwise damaged are best kept as they are worth money), sinks, and yes, even toilets (portable or otherwise) are among the most popular items recycled into planters, or sometimes, miniature ponds.

The fiberglass bath tubs and such like also can be converted into planters – I have done so from fly tipped ones found in a park – and work very well indeed. They already some with a large drain hole though sometimes benefit from having a couple of other drilled in. This does not work with the cast iron ones though.

Old rubber tires make excellent recycled planters. You can paint them bright colors or leave them au natural.

But it is good to remember two things with regards to using rubber tires as planters.

  1. As they do not have bottoms they cannot be moved without losing soil.

  2. Tubeless tires, steel belted radials, should not be used as planted for food growing. Those, unlike the ones that had inner tubes, contain cadmium which leaches into the soil and it taken up by the food crop. A serioius NO, NO.

Old wheelbarrows, old beer kegs, cut in half or left whole, can be used as planters, as can many other an item of waste.

For food growing in the backyard, especially if you have all hard standing or don't want to have to build raised beds then the woven polypropylene builders' bags, aka tonne bags, are ideal. Used either in full height, or with the sides folded down half, they are ideal for food crop growing as they create planters of the “deep bed” method.

The possibility for recycled planters is nigh on endless and, basically, anything that is a tub of sorts, or “grow bag”, can be made use of as container in which to plant flowers or vegetables. You can even grow fruit trees in containers, such as builders' bags or big tubs.

© 2011

Crosscut saw & axe

Looking to the past for sustainable forestry practice

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

crosscut saw & axe OK, now I sound like an outright Luddite again but the fact remains that motorized timber harvesters and even chainsaws, etc., are not sustainable in the long run. And, in fact, this long run is not all that long and is beginning to run out.

The motorize timber harvesters use tens of gallons of diesel a day in operations and do serious damage to the forest floor and the environment through their actions, such as the dragging of trees and the simple driving around with their weight.

In addition to the above the machine harvesters are responsible for the loss of many jobs in forestry and it is, thus, not a very ethical tool either.

Chainsaws, while still requiring the operator, and thus giving employment to people in forestry, are, however, also not harmless for the environment and neither for the operator who ends up breathing gasoline combustion fumes on a daily basis for many hours.

In many areas, it has to be said, the dragging out of trees from the felling areas has gone over from tractor back to the horse. This has been done for more than one reason. The first one being environmental but the second also economical. It is cheaper to use a horse than a hundred horsepower tractor who also can only drag a few tree trunks at a time but churns up the forest floor no end and costs lots money in the form of fuel to run.

It is no longer, it would appear, a question as to if the oil, the abundant and cheap oil, runs out but when and the when does not appear all that far away. Gasoline costs are rising and rising, in the UK, on almost weekly basis and there will come the day when running such machines, including chainsaws, will no longer be economical and when manpower and animal power will be cheaper again than machines.

But, will we still have the necessary skills to go back to using the crosscut saw and the axe. Especially here I am referring not just the skills of use, though they are important, but to the skills of sharpening axe and saw and the skills of properly setting the teeth on a saw.

The crosscut saw skills and those of the axe should never have allowed to been lost (almost). But everyone though, no doubt, that the mechanization and the automation would go on for ever and we would never ever have to think about hand tools and their usage again. The truth, it would appear though, is butt a different one and we best reconsider our approach.

The use of the crosscut saw and the axe cause no white finger disease and such like problems nor was there the danger of cutting off your arm or leg with the saw or hearing loss.

Yes, an axe can cut of a limb easy enough in an accident or at least case serious injury. More often or not, however, this is due to serious stupidity, such as willy-nilly usage or a loose head; a loose axe head not axe user one.

In general, however, the hand tools were safer, though, I know, it was hard work. I have been there and done it and done it for many years. But, it kept people in work and the lumber wasn't more expensive than today either, comparatively speaking.

Other old practices of forest management too need to be brought back to bring sustainability back into forestry and those are horses, as already mentioned, and the use of chalk lime to aid the soil.

A lot of the acidification of forests is not so much due to the acid rain – though that has somewhat to answer for it – but the very fact that mono cultures, especially of conifers, cause the soil to acidify. The application of chalk lime counteracts this.

But those practices were looked down upon as too labor intensive and outdated. It would appear, however, that they are not. But, then again, in those days when everyone thought that productivity was everything sustainability was not something they even thought of.

While forestry, with replanting the trees felled, is, in a way, sustainable in itself, some practices are not very sustainable or are even unsustainable, especially in the long run and with the way things are going.

It is for that reason that we must take a close, deep and long look, once again, at the way things were done in the past, and to find the best practices and reintroduce them, including the use of the good old hand felling practices, and such like.

© 2011

What's that coming over the hill? Is it another Credit Crunch?

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

recession-ahead1 It certainly would appear so, especially to the untrained eye, that another “credit crunch” or worse, is forming on the horizon. It seems to be forming itself into a twister or somewhat of a hurricane.

The financial markets have gotten the jitters for sure and everything is going down and up like a yo-yo though more down, it would seem, most of the time.

The key cause of financial meltdown, it would appear, is when there is too high a concentration of wealth in too few hands. When this happens, calamity, chaos and collapse aren’t too far away; mathematically, they are a sure thing.

In America, the top 1% of the population own 40% of the wealth. To put this in perspective, that’s the same level of inequality seen in countries ruled by dictators and oligarchs or roughly the equivalent wealth inequality seen in Iran and Russia.

Associated Press recently reported on the release of a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stating:

“A recent report by the International Monetary Fund destroys the myth that the current economic crisis—the worst in almost a century—was caused by fancy financial instruments, government intervention in the housing market or Main Street greed. It concludes, rather, that the global brush with economic depression was the result of the colossal gap in incomes between rich and working Americans.

The sadly obscure paper argues that a dramatic concentration in wealth at the top—at levels not seen anywhere else in the industrialized world—created a fundamental imbalance that brought the entire system down on itself. The document shows that the origins of America’s last financial implosion, in 1929, were almost identical to those of 2008. In both cases, income inequality was the culprit. And even in the collapse’s wake, the chasm between the top 10 per cent and the remaining 90 per cent appears to be widening further.”

The top 1% may have the best houses, educations, and lifestyles, but their fate is bound up with how the other 99% per cent live.

But, will we see Middle East style uprisings in the West over the next few years as more and more people start to awaken and realise the economic crimes against humanity that have brought about this ‘colossal inequality’? While this indeed this is the only thing that the 1% fear I am not sure.

The recent riots in the UK some would like to blame on the cuts in public services, and other austerity measures and such like which had to be implemented as a result of the fact that the government found the coffers to be empty from the previous administration, but to the most part those looting and battles with police were criminality pure and simple.

When it comes to inequality there is more than just the issue of the wealth and people in the West, such as in Europe and the USA, might do something like the people in the Middle East have done if they were not so lethargic and allowing themselves to be placated with bread and circuses, much like the ancient Romans.

We hand more and more over to government to do this and that and everything else for us and “to keep us safe”, at the same time giving away all freedoms and in the wake of those riots in the UK calls from the public even have been made for police to be able to shut down social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger (and other messenger services). Those services, it is claimed, we used as a means for the rioters to organize themselves.

The powers people are, however, intending to hand to the governments are those that could also be used against them if and when they would every decide to hold protests and democratic marches and such as done in Tunisia, Egypt, etc.

On the financial front: The financial crisis, let's call it that rather than credit crunch, is in no way over and the economy in most places is so fragile that a double dip, the with the new dip going deep, deep, deep, being more than possible.

We better all brace ourselves for that for this is going to be a very bumpy ride on what could be a very fast roller-coaster headed way down. Mervin King, the Governor of the Bank of England, is predicting that we will never, ever, attain again the living standards that many enjoyed before the crisis hit.

This is going to be a seriously rude awakening for the great majority of Brits and surely also for Americans. Most still believe that the economy will get back to the high level we had and that all is going to be business as usual again with ever rising standards of living.

People better wake up and smell the roses, for the truth of the matters is that we cannot spend ourselves out of the crisis and that is why most people are also holding on tight to their money. And secondly things are changing in the world as with oil becoming scarcer and scarcer and thus more and more expensive.

As a result of the increasing energy prices the cost of everything, food, clothes, driving, heating, cooking, lighting, etc., is going to get more and more expensive and the disposable income of people is going down further and further. Add to that the fact that many workers have lost or are losing their jobs and that others have had to accept pay freezes or even pay cuts to retain their jobs means that there is less and less money around, amongst the 99%, to spend on goods.

Thus it is a vicious circle and we best be ready...

© 2011

Recycling waste as a resource

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

waste as resource When it comes to recycling where waste is seen as a resource, especially as regards to collection from commercial premises, contamination must be avoided.

This is also true for kerbside collections from homes but it would appear that industry seems to – often – have a serious problem separating the materials and often cardboard and paper are contaminated.

Cardboard often has plastic wrap still attached to it and in other cases the paper or cardboard is in plastic sacks, see-through and not. Neither of it is helpful and the material will have to be then picked up by “ordinary” waste collection where it is then destined for the landfill or the incinerator.

In most cases that have come to my attention householders seem to be much better in separating the waste and in removing contamination than seems to be business, including the very council offices that run the schemes.

I believe that the problem is education, education and again education and while the councils run recycling roadshows aimed at the general public no one seem to do anything to educate businesses. I guess someone is missing a trick there.

The other question, obviously, also has to be asked is as to whether businesses do really care or whether they just want to put in an appearance of green and environmental responsibility. One can, at times, but wonder.

Recyclables that need to be separated from other materials will not be recycled. It is as simple as that. There is no time and no money there to spend time somewhere in our own countries to separate cardboard from plastic wrapping and such like.

So, households and businesses alike, please separate your recyclables properly so that they can be recycled rather than have to be carted off to the landfill after all.

© 2011


Today there is an urgent need for ‘ecological conversion’ to protect not only the natural environment but also the human quality of life

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The effort to prevent ecological catastrophe was the subject of the late Pope John Paul II's catechesis at the General Audience several years back. 

HFJP2The late Holy Father reminded his listeners that man's lordship over Creation is not "absolute, but ministerial: it is a real reflection of the unique and infinite lordship of God. Hence man must exercise it with wisdom and love, sharing in the boundless wisdom and love of God".

Below is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis, which was given in Italian.

1. In the hymn of praise proclaimed a few moments ago (Ps 148:1-5), the Psalmist summons all creatures, calling them by name. Angels, sun, moon, stars and heavens appear on high; 22 things move upon the earth, as many as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in order to give an impression of fullness and totality. The believer, in a sense, is "the shepherd of being", that is, the one who leads all beings to God, inviting them to sing an "alleluia" of praise. The Psalm brings us into a sort of cosmic church, whose apse is the heavens and whose aisles are the regions of the world, in which the choir of God's creatures sings his praise.

On the one hand, this vision might represent a lost paradise and, on the other the promised paradise. Not without reason, the horizon of a paradisal universe, which Genesis (chap. 2) put at the very origins of the world, is placed by Isaiah (chap, 11) and the Book of Revelation (chap. 21-22) at the end of history. Thus we see that man's harmony with his fellow beings, with Creation and with God is the plan followed by the Creator. This plan was and is continually upset by human sin, which is inspired by an alternative plan depicted in the same Book of Genesis (chap. 3-11), which describes man's progressive conflictual tension with God, with his fellow human beings and even with nature.

Man is called to continue the Creator's work of life

2. The contrast between the two plans emerges clearly in the vocation to which humanity is called, according to the Bible, and in the consequences resulting from its infidelity to this call. The human creature receives a mission to govern Creation in order to make all its potential shine. It is a delegation granted at the very origins of Creation, when man and woman, who are the "image of God" (Gn 1:27), receive the order to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it, and to have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and every living thing that moves upon the earth (cf. Gn 1:28). St Gregory of Nyssa, one of the three great Cappadocian Fathers, commented: "God made man capable of carrying out his role as king of the earth.... Man was created in the image of the One who governs the universe. Everything demonstrates that from the beginning his nature was marked by royalty.... He is the living image who participates by his dignity in the perfection of the divine archetype" (De Hominis Opificio, 4: PG 44, 136).

3. Man's lordship, however, is not "absolute, but ministerial: it is a real reflection of the unique and infinite lordship of God. Hence man must exercise it with wisdom and love, sharing in the boundless wisdom and love of God" (Evangelium vitae, n. 52). In biblical language "naming" the creatures (cf. Gn 2:19-20) is the sign of this mission of knowing and transforming created reality. It is not the mission of an absolute and unquestionable master, but of a steward of God's kingdom who is called to continue the Creator's work, a work of life and peace. His task, described the Book of Wisdom, is to rule "the world in holiness and righteousness" (Wis 9:3).

Unfortunately, if we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God's expectations. Man, especially in our time, has without hesitation devastated wooded plains and valleys, polluted waters, disfigured the earth's habitat, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydrogeological and atmospheric systems, turned luxuriant areas into deserts and undertaken forms of unrestrained industrialization, degrading that "flowerbed"—use an image from Dante Alighieri (Paradiso, XXII, 151)— which is the earth, our dwelling-place.

4. We must therefore encourage and support the "ecological conversion" which in recent decades has made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophe to which it has been heading. Man is no longer the Creator's "steward", but an autonomous despot, who is finally beginning to understand that he must stop at the edge of the abyss. "Another welcome sign is the growing attention being paid to the quality of life and to ecology, especially in more developed societies, where people's expectations are no longer concentrated so much on problems of survival as on the search for an overall improvement of living conditions" (Evangelium vitae, n. 27). At stake, then, is not only a "physical" ecology that is concerned to safeguard the habitat of the various living beings, but also a "human" ecology which makes the existence of creatures more dignified, by protecting the fundamental good of life in all its manifestations and by preparing for future generations an environment more in conformity with the Creator's plan.

The Creator is perceived in the beauty of created things

5. In this rediscovered harmony with nature and with one another, men and women are once again walking in the garden of Creation, seeking to make the goods of the earth available to all and not just to a privileged few, as the biblical jubilee suggests (cf. Lv 25:8-13, 23). Among those marvels we find the Creator's voice, transmitted by heaven and earth, by night and day: a language "with no speech nor words; whose voice is not heard" and which can cross all boundaries (cf. Ps 19 [18]:2-5).

The Book of Wisdom, echoed by Paul, celebrates God's presence in the world, recalling that "from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator" (Wis 13:5; cf. Rom 1:20). This is also praised in the Jewish tradition of the Hasidim: "Where I wander—You! Where I ponder—You! ... In every trend, at every end, only You, You again, always You!" (M. Buber, Tales of the Hasidim [Italian ed., Milan 1979, p. 256]).

To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the late Holy Father said:

I extend a special welcome to the Lutheran ecumenical delegation and the Schola Cantorum from Helsinki. I warmly greet the various parish, college and school groups from Denmark, Australia and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We all, of whatever faith or none, would do well to heed the late Holy Father Pope John Paul II's words repeated above and we would do well to remember that man is not lord over God's Creation in that he can do what he likes with but that we are but stewards of Creation, to minister to it and look after it.

Too long the Christian world has laughed at the, by them referred to as, pagan world for its reverence of Nature and Creation, and has believed that God has given it, the Christian world, the right to exploit each and every gift of God and Nature to extinction even.

I pray that the words of the late Holy Father will be read and understood by many and some changing of ways may happen in the Christian churches.

Unfortunately I also know that there are way too many so-called protestant and free churches who will disregard everything any Pope says as papist. Time we read such words and books from such sages without the prejudice that seems to be about too often and which makes many blind.

© 2011

A little guide to choosing the right reusable water bottle

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Hydration, we all know, or at least should know, is very, very important and hydration means drinking water, you know the H2O kind of clear liquid that comes from a tap in most places.

Depending where you are when you need the water the question is as to the carrier and if you want to save money then walking into the nearest convenience store for a bottle of filtered (maybe) municipal (tap to you and me) water and paying anywhere between 90pence to a 1.50GBP for a 500ml bottle is out of the question. I try to avoid doing this as far as possible as I do not think that I should pay that amount of money for something that comes out of the faucet, the tap, for nearly free.

Quenching your thirst without reaching for the plastic bottle of said filtered tap water from a store is not really rocket science since all you really have to do is saddle up to the sink and stick your favorite cup underneath the faucet.

Lifebottle-with-lid-off-web The problem is only that this is a little difficult when on the go, be that while engaging in general sporting activities, cycling to work or for leisure, on the train, the bus, etc. An open mug – or even one of those with a lid – is not the greatest way to carry your water.

The only answer really is then, if you do not want to indulge in the one-time-use water bottle with water, to invest in a reusable bottle of one kind or the other and a fair number of different kinds and types and makes are about and below we shall be looking at some of them and at their pros and cons. Let's take it as given that in each and every instance we are talking about reusable water bottles.


Pros: Glass is a non-reactive material, meaning that it will not absorb beverage flavors or chemicals and it is also not lined with potentially harmful sealants, as are aluminium water bottles, and even those by SIGG and Gaiam have been until recently. In other words, you won’t be exposed to Bisphenol A, phthalates or other plastic-derived toxins.

Glass is easy to clean with a bottle brush or you can just pop it in the dishwasher and many companies fit their glass water bottles with protective sleeves to reduce the possibility of breakage, or use hardened or shatterproof glass.

Cons: Somewhat – a great deal in some cases – heavier than plastic versions and if you happen to be cursed with butter finger syndrome, there’s a good chance that your bottle could shatter, which could cause injury. Glass bottles are often also much more expensive than 100% plastic versions.

However, when it comes to the use of glass bottle as carrier for your tap water you do not have to go and spend money. Just apply the reuse and upcycling principle.

An empty glass SnappleTM lemonade bottle makes for a great 500ml reusable water bottle for free and it keeps a bottle out of the waste stream. It also means, aside from it not costing you anything it also does not put additional strain on the Planet and its resources.

While on the glass bottle front there are a couple of good ones to choose from, personally, aside from the “hardened” glass bottles, I cannot see why I would want to part with money here.

While your upcycled SnappleTM bottle may not be shatterproof you can protect it by, once again upcycling, something as a sleeve for it. In the days of old military canteens even were of water and had a very thick leather mantle on in order to prevent breakages.

Stainless Steel

Pros: Made out of one solid piece of stainless steel, it’s ideal for those who are tough on their water bottles. Stainless steel bottles also seem to keep water cool for an extended period of time. The metal is non-reactive, food-grade material and not lined with sealants.

Cons: Dents and scratches easily if you constantly drop it and is probably among the more expensive reusable water bottle options in the marketplace, bar some of the glass bottles.

While, theoretically, stainless steel is more or less taste neutral I find, however, that water from such bottles has a slightly metallic taste. Though not really unpleasant glass, as far as taste goes, is superior.


Pros: You can repeatedly drop a plastic bottle without worrying about breaking or shattering it. Lightweight and easy to tote around. Affordable! As readily available and ubiquitous as the often quoted sliced bread though, I would say, not the next best thing to it. Then again sliced bread isn't much good either.

Cons: Seriously bad for the environment! Petroleum-derived products – plastics included – are incredibly resource-intensive and responsible for generating copious amounts of environmental toxins throughout the manufacturing process and during their entire lifespan and disposal.

Plastic chemicals such as Bisphenol A compromise the human endocrine system, resulting in immune, neurological, reproductive and developmental issues. When you're exposed to these compounds, your likelihood of succumbing to diabetes, obesity and various types of cancers is significantly increased.


The short answer here is a emphatic NO!

There are also the aluminium water bottles about, such as the SIGG and others but as far as aluminium bottles are concerned, as they have to have a liner, as the metal itself cannot be used without one, and the components of some of those liners are rather questionable, as far as chemicals go, I would very much advise against the use and therefore the purchase of aluminium water bottles and we shall, therefore, close the discussion on aluminium water bottles here straight away.

© 2011

Refill water bottles for free at local businesses

DC’s new TapIt network provides free water-bottle-refilling stations throughout the city

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

TapIt Washington, DC, August 2011: Earlier this month, a company called TapIt launched a water-bottle-refilling network in DC. The idea is simple: Pop in to a TapIt partner location, and you can refill your reusable water bottle for free.

TapIt launched in 2009 in New York City and quickly gained steam – the program was popular among busy (and thirsty) urbanites on the go. Other cities took notice: “What was really surprising was the interest across the country and around the world,” says Will Schwartz, TapIt’s campaign director. The concept has since expanded to cities in 22 states, plus DC. TapIt will add Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Copenhagen to its network later this year.

The DC system launched on June 1 with more than 60 businesses on board. You can download a static map with all the locations here [PDF], or search by street name to find one near you. There’s also a free iPhone app. The online finder includes details about the water stop, such as what kind of water it disperses (filtered, unfiltered), how cold it is (chilled, room temperature), and where it’s dispensed (self-serve soda fountain, at the counter).

The goal is to promote DC tap water as “high-quality, affordable, and reliable,” according to a statement issued by DC Water, which has partnered with TapIt on the project. The initiative also has an environmental component: to wean people off the millions of plastic water bottles that end up in landfills every year.

It could save you money, too. According to data from the Earth Policy Institute, Americans consumed an average of 30.2 gallons of bottled water per person in 2007, compared to less than two gallons in 1976. “If you drink a bottle of water with lunch every day, you could save about $700 a year by switching to tap,” says Schwartz. DC Water says its tap water costs less than a penny per gallon.

DC tap water came under fire in the past decade due to reportedly high levels of lead and other toxins. In 2004, the Washington Post reported that tap water in thousands of DC homes was found to be above the federal limit of 15 parts per billion, a threshold established by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1991; it was later discovered that a chemical added to the water beginning in 2001 was causing the lead concentration to rise. A 2009 study found that 42,000 DC children may have been exposed to unsafe levels of lead between 2001 and 2004.

DC Water insists that city tap water is safe to drink. Workers collect hundreds of samples every week for testing, and the results are reported to the EPA. The utility puts out an annual water-quality report, too. The next one's due out at the end of June.

In a public letter on the DC Water Web site, general manager George S. Hawkins writes, “Testing has shown our water to comply with federal lead standards since 2005, and the results have even improved over time.” Schwartz says TapIt only works in cities that enforce stringent water-safety rules and testing.

Most of the TapIt locations are clustered downtown, but there are a handful in Upper Northwest—a Potbelly on Connecticut Avenue near the Van Ness Metro stop and the Davenport Coffee Lounge at American University—and two east of the Anacostia River: Big Chair Coffee and Yes! Organic Market. Schwartz says TapIt will begin adding new locations within the month.

In Britain a similar project has begun in London (and surrounding areas) called Find-A-Fountain and while it involves public fountains also includes Pubs, and other places that are prepared to allow people to fill their reusable water bottles for free.

The establishment of a much more serious bottle refilling network, ideally not just in London, though would, in my opinion, be something to aim for, involving the hospitality sector as well as the corner shop.

There is still a road ahead of us convincing places to provide free water and many a restaurant still tries to charge for a simple jug of tap water in the same way as for “mineral” water.

I do have to laugh about the term “mineral” water time and again as it is a total and utter misnomer and just been designed as a way to fleece the consumer.

Let's hear it for plain H2O as in Tap Water... What's Tappening where you are?

© 2011

Farmers, ranchers also have stuff to recycle

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Farm and ranch life life presents its own set of recycling and disposal questions that deserve being addressed. Out of necessity, it's likely that most folks living the rancher's life have systems worked out to dispose of trash and unneeded items.

Burning is, obviously, one of the many ways of doing just that but when entire counties are under a burn ban, no doubt barns and sheds across the county are filling up with items that usually go up in smoke. Then again the burning of some items is also not the best idea for the environment for starters.

Brown paper feed sacks and cardboard, typical fodder for the burn pile, may be items that will be accepted at a recycling center. A good rule of thumb is if you have a pickup truck load or less, the recycling center may be prepared to take it from you.

If you, on the other hand, have more than that, it might be better to go straight to larger recycling businesses that may be better equipped for bulk amounts of recyclable material.

Though not suitable for burning, metal gates, pipes, wire, tools, and other scrap metal would be another class of items commonly thrown out on the ranch and they may be accepted in the mixed metals section of a recycling center.

Recycling centers, unfortunately, are not commonly found in Britain and other EU nations, unlike in the USA, and thus in the UK and the EU per se other ways may have to be found.

55 gallon plastic drums on the other hand are somewhat of a hot ticket item, as there are numerous ways to use and reuse these barrels if they are still in good enough shape and they can sometimes be hard to get your hands on.

If the barrel has been triple rinsed it can be taken to the Recycling Center. Odds are good that someone will come along and want to take it. Even barrels that have been cut in half are likely to be picked up from the Trash to Treasure area and reused by someone else.

If getting to town with the barrels is a hassle, an ad on the local Craigslist Web page or similar might connect you to someone willing to come and pick up the barrels from you.

And please, to all the professional ranchers and cowboys out there, share your tips on the best ways you've found to recycle and reuse your ranch waste, because you know best what works for your needs in our area.

The Australian Bushmen and squatters – ranchers and farmers – knew a thing or hundred about recycling and upcycling. They would make use of their waste and had very little to ever throw out.

Things are a little different today with all the plastic and such about but, I am sure, there are ways of reusing, repurposing and upcycling quite a great deal of the waste that is generated on farms and ranches before you even have to think about sending it for recycling.

When it come to the paper feed sacks, for instance, don't burn them but find some allotment holder and home food grower who would gladly take them off your hands for storing potatoes and other crops.

The same is true for the 55 gallon plastic drums. Any allotment holder and home food grower and gardener will gladly have them from you as rain barrels. They are just simply ideal. I sure would like some.

Share with readers your ways of making use of this and that. I am sure they will be grateful.

© 2011

Bigfish premieres new folding bikes at Eurobike


Simple usage and maximum mobility have always been at the core of Bigfish folding bikes. Now the popular existing model will get a significant technologicalupgrade and will be joined by a new addition, the Bigfish Line.

The “original” Bigfish bike, known as the Bigfish Wave after its swooping frame shape,

has been improved for 2012. The latest generation of Bigfish’s proprietary Smart Folding Technology (SFT) has been added to the front end to make the folding process

even simpler. The new button releases make the fold quicker, cleaner and completely intuitive.

The New Bigfish. The much-anticipated Bigfish Line (its name also coming from the frame shape) will be revealed at Eurobike. Though quite different in appearance, the

Line includes all the same SFT features and also folds with complete simplicity.

With a weight of around 12kg both Bigfish models are light, and when folded can be also wheeled with you as you walk. Both bikes have improved gear ratios (available

with 1 or 3 speeds), to add power to the already-comfortable ride that comes from having the proportions of a full-size bike.

PLUS - Bigfish goes electric! Bigfish will also get an “e-upgrade” using Sunstar’s S03 electric motor with torque sensor. A power unit can be fitted to any of the two frames, which adds 4kg to the total weight but greatly improves mobility.

In 2010 Bigfish was also recognized by the (Bill) Clinton Global Initiative, that chose this bike as one of four products that can change the way we live. The former

US president himself has even tried out the bike on the streets of New York City.

Both Bigfish models and the e-bike will be on display at Eurobike on stand A3/703

Source: Bigfish Bike

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.

Washington Post: Martin Luther King had a profound impact on Christian conservatives

MLK_webWith the unveiling of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington this week, it’s important to take a moment to understand the profound impact Dr. King has on the Christian conservative movement, writes Jordan Sekulow in the Washington Post‘s On Faith section.

“No one can question Dr. King’s commitment to fighting for the rights of the individual,” notes Sekulow. “His efforts are well documented in his quest to secure racial equality, to speak for those who did not have a voice. That’s the cornerstone of his legacy.

It is the way he went about his work that is so inspiring. Controversial? Yes. Unorthodox? Yes. Effective? Definitely.

When the Sekulow family moved to Atlanta some years ago, we saw first-hand the impact of his life and spent many hours at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Continue reading here

First Navy Trainer Completes Biofuel Flight at Patuxent River

PATUXENT RIVER, MD, August 2011 : The Navy’s alternative energy program expanded Aug. 24 when a T-45 training aircraft completed a successful biofuel flight at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md.

The “Salty Dogs” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 flew the high-performance jet trainer on a biofuel mixture of petroleum-based JP-5 jet fuel and plant-based camelina. The high oil content of the camelina seed makes it a valuable source of renewable and sustainable energy.

“This successful test flight brings us a step closer to meeting the Navy’s energy security goals,” said Vice Adm. David Architzel, commander, Naval Air Systems Command. “My congratulations to the Navy fuels team here at NAVAIR for playing an instrumental role in proving the viability of biofuels to power naval aircraft.”

U.S. Navy plane

The “Salty Dogs” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) take to the skies testing the Navy's first jet trainer using a biofuel blend of JP-5 jet fuel and plant based camelina. The high oil content of the camelina seed makes it a valuable source of renewable and sustainable energy. (U.S. Navy Photo by Kelly Schindler)

The T-45 “Goshawk” is a tandem-seat aircraft used by the Navy and Marine Corps to train pilots on carrier and tactical mission operations.

This is the fifth aircraft successfully tested using biofuel at NAS Patuxent River and showcases the Navy’s commitment to achieve energy independence by reducing the need for foreign oil. Previous aircraft tested include the F/18 E/F, MH-60S, F/A-18 D, and most recently, the MV-22. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ goal is to cut the Navy’s oil usage in half by 2025.

“This test of the T-45 with a 50/50 blend of biofuel represents another significant milestone in the long list of detailed flight test and demonstrations of the F-18 Super Hornet, the MH-60S, and the V-22,” said Rear Adm. Phil Cullom, Director of the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division. “Our commitment to the aggressive test schedule for drop-in replacement fuels for JP-5 and F-76 keep us on pace for the 2012 demonstration and 2016 deployment of the Great Green Fleet.”

Three additional Navy aircraft are scheduled for biofuel test flights before the end of the year.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps which will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve Secretary Ray Mabus’ energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

For more news from Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, visit

For more information on the Navy’s energy, environmental and climate change initiatives, please 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.

Viejas Outlets and Computers 2 SD Kids Host eWaste Drop Off Event

Help East County Families in Need and Receive a Free Voucher to Harvest Buffet at Viejas Casino

SAN DIEGO, CA, August 2011: Viejas Outlets and Computers 2 SD Kids are hosting an eWaste recycling drop off event today, Saturday, August 27.

When you make a donation, you’ll receive a free voucher to the award-winning Harvest Buffet at Viejas Casino.

Computers 2 SD Kids is a growing local not-for-profit that has refurbished more than 12,000 computers and provided them to needy families all across San Diego County.

Area residents can drop of eWaste at the Viejas Outlets on Saturday, August 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Look for drop off and distribution signs in the parking lot of the Viejas Outlets. Volunteers will be on hand to accept all working and non-working electronic items including computers, TVs, radios, phones, cords, printers, hardware, used ink/toner cartridges and software.

C2SDK recycles and refurbishes used computers and delivers them to families in need across San Diego County. C2SDK also arranges for the families to receive training and technical support necessary to achieve success.  “We work closely with local community and social service agencies to identify families in need, and a growing number are located in East County,” said Cheri Pierre, Executive Director of C2SDK. “So this is a great opportunity for East County residents to help others in their own community and we appreciate the support from Viejas and the California Welcome Center.” C2SDK has partnered with local businesses such as Viejas and Barona Casinos, Sharp Hospital, Cox Communications and others, who agree to donate computers and peripherals that they no longer use.

Computers 2 SD Kids wants all children and their families in San Diego, regardless of their economic status, to be computer literate and have equal access to technology and the crucial educational, occupational, and financial resources that technology can provide. Economic barriers to technology hinder the growth and development of low-income families and perpetuate poverty. C2SDK responds to this digital disparity and the real-world demand for computer literacy through its Technology Assistance Program that recycles and refurbishes used computers and delivers them to families in need. C2SDK also provides each recipient with education, training and technical support necessary to achieve success.

For more information, visit

Source: & Viejas Public Relations

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.

Less Is More with Innovative Roux Maison Laundry Detergents

NASHVILLE, TN, August 2011: Households across America are constantly looking for new and more convenient ways to go green and make a difference. Efficient light bulbs, community recycling, and hybrid cars are now familiar reminders of the numerous ways people can protect their environment. Many other product categories are more elusive and make it harder to determine whether consumers are actually making the best and smartest choices.

In this era of greenwashing, Roux Maison takes the guesswork out of these decisions.

The company, founded in Nashville, Tennessee, by lawyer turned entrepreneur Deena Drummond, is introducing a line of cleaning products that protects your fine fabrics as well as the environment. “I was so frustrated with available laundry products. The scents were strong and overwhelming, and my clothes either didn’t seem clean enough or else they began to fray and fall apart. The numerous chemicals caused fabric deterioration as well as skin and eye irritation,” stated Deena. As she researched the various chemical ingredients in available detergents, she became more and more concerned and convinced there had to be a better way to keep clothing clean and intact while keeping homes and health safe.

Roux Maison comprises a line of American-made, super-concentrated laundry products that contain only the highest-quality ingredients available. They save money on dry cleaning while also keeping you and your surroundings safe from allergens and irritants. The detergents come in compact 16-ounce bottles that clean 40 full loads of laundry. The line includes two delicious scents created exclusively with all-natural essential oils. Roux Maison’s products are also available in fragrance-free versions. Laundry smells fresh and clean without residual aromas or chemical odors, while fabric integrity is maintained, keeping everything in its best condition possible.

Roux Maison crafted a line of fabric-specific products to suit all home laundering needs, thus eliminating the need for most dry cleaning – another source of highly toxic chemicals and premature clothing deterioration. The line currently includes Essential, Sport, Delicate and Swimwear detergents as well as a Stain Remover.

Source: Roux Maison

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.

Global Action Plan launches world-first game to dry up water waste

Global Action Plan, a leader in environmental behaviour change, today announces the launch of a world-first ‘EcoInteractive’ game – The Water Explorer

August 23rd 2011 - Global Action Plan, a leader in environmental behaviour change, today announces the launch of a world-first ‘EcoInteractive’ game – The Water Explorer.

• The Water Explorer will make its first appearance during World Water Week (21-27 August) at Highcross shopping centre in Leicester on Wednesday 24th August.

• Only 1 in 5 people think they should personally be taking the lead in saving water

Designed to engage users in conserving water, the Water Explorer is the first educational game to a give a personal water plan that users can take home. The quiz based game shows the value of cutting domestic water use by giving practical tips to help people make the link between water, climate change and everyday habits and products.

According to a recent poll(1) by Global Action Plan, only 1 in 5 people think they should personally be taking the lead in saving water. Yet with 45% of the water used in the lifecycle of a pair of jeans(2) occurring during the wash-and-dry home care by the customer for example, it is clear that consumer engagement plays a key part in tackling the issue of water sustainability – but there is limited communication on the topic from manufacturers and retailers.

“The rapid rise in living standards and population growth threatens the sustainability of water resources and the environment. The compound effect of making simple lifestyle changes, such as using water more efficiently in the home, or understanding which products are more water intensive than others, is significant, so we have commissioned the Water Explorer to get a positive and practical message across to make this behaviour change happen.” Says Trewin Restorick, CEO, Global Action Plan.

The Water Explorer has three games with varying difficulty levels. A series of questions probe people who have to tap, pump or flush the amount of water that ordinary household tasks require. Users receive a personal water plan, find out how much water is hidden in the things you buy and how much water people in different countries use.

The Water Explorer will make its first appearance during World Water Week (21-27 August) at Highcross shopping centre in Leicester on Wednesday 24th August. Shoppers can find us outside Levis who will be giving out a pair of their Water-Less jeans on the day. It will also be at the Start festival, Kew Gardens, on Friday 26 August.

We are excited to launch the Water Explorer at Highcross shopping centre. There’s so much we can do to get shoppers to use water more sustainably and innovative communications like this are a brilliant way to reach people”. Nicola Duffy, Environmental Co-ordinator, Highcross shopping centre, Leicester.

The Water Explorer is fun and easy way to get people thinking about water, it can be hired from Global Action Plan anywhere in the UK for corporate and public events.

Demonstrations and test runs are available at Highcross shopping centre or at the Global Action Plan offices in Covent Garden, London


1. 124 people took part an anonymous water poll undertaken by Global Action Plan in July 2011

2. Source: Levi Strauss & Co.

Source: Global Action Plan

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.

National Grid adds biomethane to grid expertise and insight to four EBEC conference sessions

London, UK, August 18, 2011: EBEC (European Bioenergy Expo and Conference), the UK’s largest dedicated bioenergy event, announces that National Grid will participate in four of its conference sessions to share knowledge and insight for delegates with respect to the biomethane business opportunities now appearing in the UK. Over the two day event, the company will outline the energy challenges in getting to a low carbon economy, explain National Grid’s vision for biomethane, highlight the key role for biomethane in decarbonising heat, provide an update on gas to grid developments and explain how to connect biomethane plants to the gas network. Full details of the conference sessions will be published on the EBEC

"Biomethane has the potential to cost effectively contribute to global carbon reduction targets. It has the added benefits of increasing security of energy supplies and helping to deal with organic waste products. I am proud that National Grid is taking a lead role to bring this sustainable energy source to market," says John Pettigrew, Chief Operating Officer, Gas Distribution and Metering for National Grid.    

Lucy Pitt, Group Marketing Manager of Closer2 Media, the company organising EBEC, adds: “We’re very pleased to see National Grid participating so fully in EBEC this year. Their expertise in biomethane to grid is unrivalled and delegates have a great opportunity to learn from the company’s in-depth knowledge of the exciting opportunities presented by this emerging technology.”

Two other free-to-enter energy related exhibitions, Microgen and Nextgen, are running alongside EBEC this year. Microgen brings together manufacturers, distributors, installers and consumers of micro renewable technologies including wind and solar. Nextgen focuses on emerging technologies such as fuel cells, advanced gasification and pyrolysis.

For more information, please visit

National Grid is an international electricity and gas company and one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. We play a vital role in delivering gas and electricity to millions of people across Great Britain and northeastern US in an efficient, reliable and safe manner. We believe the power of action can play a major role in safeguarding our global environment for future generations and tackling the effects of climate change, providing all our customers with the highest standards of service through network investment and through our talented, diverse workforce.

National Grid owns the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales and operates the system across Great Britain. It also owns and operates the high-pressure gas transmission system in Britain and its distribution business delivers gas to 11 million homes and businesses. For more information, please visit

EBEC (European Bioenergy Expo and Conference) 2011 is organised by CloserStill Media. The event will be held on 5-6 October 2011 at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. Now in its sixth year, EBEC is the largest dedicated bioenergy expo in the UK. It provides a unique opportunity for those involved in the production of bioenergy to make direct contact with each other and visitors who are interested in harnessing energy derived from biological sources within their organisation. The 2011 event will highlight many bioenergy solutions such as biogas, biodiesel, biofuel and biowaste. The two-day event includes a free conference programme which offers delegates the chance to debate, learn and network with industry peers. For more information, please visit

Source: EBEC & TechnoPR

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.

Nextgen set to unveil Land Rover equipped with Atmos technology to heat homes

TESSA_Freelander_web London, UK, August 2011: ‘TESSA’, the first car using stored heat from the engine to produce heat energy that can be used in homes for hot water and central heating, will be on show for the first time at Nextgen – a major international environmental trade show being hosted later this year.

TESSA, which stands for Thermal Energy Storage and Saving Automobile, is a Land Rover Freelander fitted with a prototype thermal energy storage and transfer system developed by UK based heating supplier Atmos Heating Systems.

"We are delighted to be able to demonstrate the energy and carbon saving benefits TESSA offers at Nextgen. We have developed and patented a means of storing waste heat on board the vehicle, and a practical means of transferring the stored heat into a building for use as hot water and/or space heating," said John Thomason, General Manager of Atmos Heating Systems.

Focusing on emerging environmental technologies, Nextgen will be held at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, on 5-6 October. More than 150 international exhibitors and over 3,000 visitors are expected to take advantage of free admission during both days.

The show is co-located with two other events which cover different aspects of renewable energy: the flagship show EBEC looking at innovations within bio-energy and Microgen which will bring together manufacturers, distributors, installers and consumers of micro renewable technologies such as solar, wind and hydro power generation.

“It is great that Atmos with the technical support of Jaguar Land Rover are presenting this important prototype technology aboard the Freelander at Nextgen. As the name suggests, our environmental event aims to promote the next generation of technological innovations and this project is certainly one to watch in the future," added Lucy Pitt, Group Marketing Manager of Closer2 Media, the company organising Nextgen.

According to Atmos, the internal combustion engine remains the power unit of choice for our road vehicles. Despite numerous advances in engine efficiency, however, this still only manages a mechanical power efficiency averaging around 30%. The remaining 70% is dissipated as heat, through the radiator coolant system and the exhaust. Although some of the coolant system energy is used to heat the interior of the vehicle, the rest is simply lost into the atmosphere.

“In other industries such horrendous waste would not be tolerated, and with the transport sector responsible for 40% of carbon emissions, this must not be left to continue. Whilst our technology does not reduce CO2 emissions from the vehicle, it utilises heat that is otherwise wasted, resulting in lower fossil fuel consumption in the home and thereby an overall net benefit to the environment,” explained Mr Thomason.

The technology developed by Atmos can be integrated with other renewable technologies in the home such as solar thermal and heat pumps. It can also be deployed into vehicles using biofuels instead of petrol and diesel fuels to ensure additional environmental benefits.

For more information, please visit

Source: Nextgen & TechnoPR

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.

Household & office items made with repurposed materials

Some great DIY transformations you will just love – I hope…

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Here are couple – well more than just two – of great projects made with repurposed items. Hopefully these clever ideas will inspire you to try similar projects. Be creative! What can you make today?

Pencil bin from tin can. This is an easy to make pencil bin and a great deal cheaper – as it is FREE – than the recycled steel ones that you can buy for way too much money. Aside from the fact that it is free it also does not look out of place on any desk and thus why bother spending money on something that you can so easily make and which is free. Then again, theoretically, you have paid for it when you bought the product that was in the tin and therefore why would you want to throw that, against no return, into the recycling?

Making such a pencil bin is as simple as putting the clean can that you have had intended to toss into the recycling bin onto your desk and adding pens and pencils.

CD coasters: This must be, along with the above, one of the simplest DIY recycling project for home and office as it is just as simple as use. Nowadays we don't actually have as many useless CDs anymore as we used to when the Internet was in its infancy and when everyone was giving away the free connection CDs for dial up Internet connections but, I am sure, you will still find old CDs that can be used in this way. I find those much better than any bought ones and no loss when they, finally, give up their ghost.

Making those coasters is as simple as using them as they are ready to roll as they are.

Colander Lamp: This easy to make lamp, or more precise, lamp shade, once a kitchen colander, is the perfect accent for a breakfast nook. It is also quite suitable in other locations, I am sure, and properly made can look very good indeed. You could even go very funky and paint it red or green or even polka dot.

In order to make such as lamp (shade) you will need, and that should be obvious, one old colander. You then need a tool to cut a hole into the bottom of the colander where the bulb holder goes. Once that is done all you need to do is to put it onto such a bulb holder hanging from the ceiling and – viola – one funky lamp.

Cork Noticeboard: Collect some bottle corks, even plastic corks can be used for this, and arrange them in an old picture frame with the glass removed. Ensure the frame has a solid back, such as hardboard, and not cardboard. Glue the corks to the backboard of the frame in alternating pairs, ensuring a good grip, let dry and when finished you have a cork pin board to which to affix notes.

Water Bottle: Create a reusable water bottle from a Snapple lemonade bottle or other such kind of container as container for your tap water. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and buy a recycled glass bottle for this purpose. While the bottle may not be toughened glass it is cheap though.

Storage Jars: Many folks will go out, in the same way as those buying a pencil bin instead of repurposing a tin can for this purpose, and buy a set of recycled glass storage jars for somewhere in the region of $18, when they could simply use the glass jars that they toss regularly into the recycling bin. Our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents used glass jars for many purposes, from keeping leftovers for a day in a cool place, to storing dry goods, such as legumes, rice, sugar, tea, etc., as well as buttons, nails and screws, and so on. There is no need to buy storage jars while you have some that you keep tossing out.

This is just a very small selection of ideas and I am sure that every reader can, theoretically, add some of their own ideas.

© 2011

Shower in cold water for your health and that of the Planet

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

coldshower1 Health benefits of a cold shower have been known for many years, or at least they have been assumed to be this and that for many years. Kneipp based cures around cold water and they seem to have worked.

Everyone has their morning routine and showers are, hopefully, a part of it and while you may think it is going to be tough it is not that bad at all. Here are a few very good reasons why you should switch to cold showering.

There are a number of benefits arising from taking cold showers, for yourself and the Planet.

Cold water does a fabulous job at waking up the body so, if you are having a tough time getting going in the morning, taking shower of cold water can perk you right up. This helps jump start both your mood and motivation for the day. It also helps you quickly finish bathing, which helps save water and that is also always a good thing, especially if you pay by the amount of water that you use.

I do not just, I have to say, shower cold in the beginning of the day. I shower cold 99% of the time. Using Fairy Liquid – a liquid dish soap as a shampoo and soap, which works out cheaper and also seems to be better for skin and hair – I wash hair also in cold.

Yes, it does take getting a little used to but I found that my hair seems to be in better condition and my skin does not dry as much as when using warm/hot water.

Showing in cold water also does not dry your skin from the use of soap as does using hot water and using cold water is thus better for you and your body.

According to Alexa Fleckenstein, M.D., author of Health20, a cold shower helps train and improve your circulation. Cold water brings blood to the capillaries, boosting the circulatory system and releasing tight muscles. The improved circulation will actually help boost your mood and relieve physical and mental stress.

Dr. Fleckenstein goes on to mention that cold showers also enhance immunity, decreasing the likelihood of infections and even cancer. It does this by improving one’s lymphatic circulation. Additionally, in a study done by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England, taking cold showers correlated with an increase in the number of viruses fighting white blood cells.

It also reckoned to have the effect of strengthening your mucous membranes, helping your body combat allergies, colds, and hay fever.

Even though I, basically, only take cold showers and have ever since childhood (and cold baths) I still suffer from hay fever and that badly at times.

Using cold water not only gets you out of the shower quicker, saving water, but it also saves energy needed to warm the water. Changing to taking cold showers thus boost the health of the environment. It also should boot you financial health in that you will also be saving money on water and energy.

A total win-win situation are cold showers.

© 2011

Someone asked the Dalai Lama what surprises him most… here is his answer

DalaiLamaAnswer Personally, I think that says it about all about the human race.

Wild Law – A Manifesto for Earth Justice – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

wild_law_cover_webA manifesto for Earth Justice
Second Edition
Cormac Cullinan with a Foreword by Thomas Berry
Published by Green Books (26th May 2011)
ISBN 978 1 900322 90 4
Paperback, 208 pages
Price: £12.95

PART 1 - Rethinking Governance
• Anthills & Aardvarks
PART 2 - The World as we know it
•The illusion of independence
• The myth of the master species
• Why law and jurisprudence matter
• The conceit of law
PART 3 - Earth Governance
•Respecting the great law
• Remembering who we are • The
question of rights • Elements of Earth
PART 4 - The journey into
•Seeking Earth jurisprudence • The
rhythms of life • The law of the land  •
A communion of communities
• Transforming law and governance
PART 5 - The terrain ahead
•The mountain path

“This book of Cormac Cullinan explains with great clarity how we can change our entire approach to governance so that we can continue life on a liveable planet. In its basic outlines this book is one of the finest contributions to the entire field of jurisprudence in recent times.” – Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of the Earth, The Universe Story and The Great Work.

Wild Law fuses politics, legal theory, quantum physics and ancient wisdom into a fascinating story. It has been seminal in informing and inspiring the global movement to recognise rights for Nature – a movement destined to shape the twenty-first century as significantly as the human rights movements shaped the twentieth century. This revised edition includes a new preface, postscript and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth proclaimed on 22nd April 2010.

Wild Law presents a vision of how we could transform the systems that structure and order industrialised societies to enable us to rediscover a viable role for our species within the Earth community. It reveals how the governance systems of today legitimise and promote the disastrous exploitation and destruction of Earth. The author explains how to begin transforming these systems to ensure that the pursuit of human well-being enhances the beauty, health and diversity of Earth instead of diminishing it.

Wild Law describes an Earth-centred approach to ordering human societies (Earth jurisprudence), how to apply it, and its emerging role as a common manifesto for promoting social and environmental justice, the conservation of biological and cultural diversity, animal rights and welfare, and green spirituality.

Cormac Cullinan is a practising environmental attorney, governance expert and author based in Cape Town who has worked in many countries in Africa, Europe, North and South America, and Asia. In 2008 he was included in Planet Savers: 301 Extraordinary Environmentalists, a book that profiles leading environmentalists throughout history. He led the drafting of the 2010 Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Wild Law is a most interesting and timely book, though the first edition has been out a for a long time already, and the issues and solutions speak to the reader – they did to me – and make sense.

However, the serious lack of proofreading of the book detracts and at times makes it very difficult to read some sections as, due to typos, spelling and syntax errors, they do not make sense until one goes over them again and realized that it does not read right due to an error or three.

Many errors are typos where the sense is wrong or where the noun was turned into a verb, others are syntax errors or the wrong though a proper word being use. Spellcheck programs have a great deal to answer for; I am talking from personal experience.

Rating four out of five and the drop by the one point is simply due to proofreading issue or better the lack of it.

© 2011

Is Democracy Overrated?

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It more than likely is and we must remember that Hitler was elected in a democratic election and by popular vote.

Democracy does not equal immediately and always Freedom, despite the fact that those two words seems to be always mentioned in almost the same breath.

Despite all the claims democracy, aside from, theoretically, being “mob rule”, doe not exist.

The USA, basically, elects a king by all but name, in a process similar to that of electing a Pope in the Roma Catholic Church, via a conclave in all but name, who could, should he choose to, rule by decree via executive order(s).

Does your vote in the presidential election in the USA make any difference? The answer is no, for you do not elect the POTUS. The electoral college does and they do not have to take any notice, in principle, theory and practice, of the results of the votes cast in any of the States of the Union.

In a local council election for a parish council or such your vote may count and, in fact, does, more or less, but in a much larger ballot it hardly matters and in addition to that the people do not elect the government either, not in the USA, not in Britain and neither in places such as Germany or France.

The USA claims to have a government of the people, by the people, for the people but I would suggest that that is not so in any way, shape or form, and neither does Britain nor the majority of other counties. Ordinary people find it hard to get into politics if they do not have the money to run the expensive campaigns, even on a local level. That's it in a nutshell.

So-called democracy is but a pretence to keep the plebes quiet, that is all.

© 2011

World Tap Water Week 2011

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

tap-logo Well, it is that time of year again. It still feels like only yesterday that we celebrated the first World Tap Water Week last year and here it is once again.

World Tap Water Week is that time of year where we celebrate the freely available – against a small charge in our homes – water from the municipal water supplies.

It is very similar, so chemists tell me, to bottled water in that it consists of, apparently, the same materials, namely 2 hydrogen atoms, mixed with1 of oxygen. And if bottled water is the same, as it would appear, as tap water, why then is the world gone crazy in the consumption of bottled water at 100x the tap water price. Especially considering that many bottled water brands are but (filtered) municipal water.

And, just in time, has gotten the lifebottle in stock and they are no ready to ship. also will guide you to free refilling stations and water fountains in London (and hopefully soon nationwide).

The lifebottle, as I said already in my review, so far the best designed reusable water bottle that I have seen, held and used. If you want a folding reusable water bottle that can be had as well in the form of the Aquatina, another favorite of mine – aside from my repurposed glass reusable water bottles.

The Aquatina is a 500ml bottle that collapses into a small package and is the brainchild of Guy Jeremiah. Despite the fact that the Dragons at the BBC Dragons' Den rejected it that bottle is now really on the march.

Go, and let's support World Tap Water Week and kick the bottled water habit. Whichever reusable bottle you chose to use, as long as it is not a PET one for that is not healthy, fill it with tap water and be part of the in crowd.

© 2011

Lifebottle – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Lifebottle-with-lid-off-web The lifebottle is, by far, to date, the nicest design of a stainless steel reusable water bottle that I have seen, held and used.

The double-wall design acts somewhat like a vacuum Thermos® flask, to a degree, and is said to keep liquids hot or cold, as the requirement might be, for up to 20 hours. Despite the double-wall construction the lifebottle is still extremely light.

The sleek design and sheer beauty of is should make the lifebottle a popular choice for many even though the price may be a little higher than that of some of the competition.

The bottle looks a little – probably more than just a little – when you discount the cap – like some old-fashioned and old-time glass milk bottle that used to be used in doorstep milk delivery and it is this shape that makes it very attractive indeed.

The lifebottle comes in six colors: silver (brushed stainless steel), red, white, black, pink and red, and come in four sizes: 350ml, 500ml, 750ml and 1 liter.

  • Made of high quality stainless steel (food grade 304)An innovative and patented cap design with a storage compartment for our flavored effervescent taptabs

  • Vacuum insulation keeps your drink cool (or hot) for up to 20 hours

  • Ergonomic ‘kissable’ lip

  • Better for the environment. Say no to wasteful, single-use plastic bottles

  • BPA free

  • Resistant to odors and staining

  • 100% recyclable

  • Extremely durable

  • Secure and watertight lid

  • Great for a variety of users - school children, tourists, runners and walkers, picnickers, at work, on holiday etc. is a not for profit organisation whose aim is to reduce plastic bottle waste in landfills by changing attitudes to tap water. We have launched a scheme to make tap water more accessible on the high street. A tap water map highlights participating caf├ęs, pubs and shops enabling you to locate free tap water refills using your mobile phone or the Internet. Visit to find your nearest.

All profits from the sales of the lifebottles will be used to; raise awareness of the damaging effects of bottled waters on our environment; expand the network of refilling stations; and provide mains fed water machines for educational establishments.

If you do not have a refilling station in your neighborhood or where you work see whether you can persuade a pub, a cafe, restaurant or other place to become one.

Great bottle with great features.

© 2011

Sunscreen and Vitamin D deficiency

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A report by medical teams indicates that there is a great deal of Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant mothers in the UK and that this deficiency will affect the child. Vitamin D deficiency can, amongst other things, lead to rickets and this condition is said to be on the increase again in Britain.

In order for the body to manufacture Vitamin D exposure of the bare skin to sunlight is required and as the hours of sunlight in Britain can be rather few it is important that our bodies in our regions, and more so further North, absorb as much sunlight as possible.

It is being suggested that one reason for the increase in Vitamin D deficiency in recent decades is due to our use of sunscreen which simply will not allow the body to absorb the necessary rays that lead to the production of this Vitamin.

Other cremes, such as foundations and moisturizers also contain some sunscreen and thus women, mothers, are exposed less to the necessary rays of the sun than they were ever before and which are needed for the production of Vitamin D and thus, bingo, a problem.

Young children also do not get enough of sunlight as they spend way too much time indoor and, on the occasion that they are let out into the sun, they get smothered by their mothers and carers with high factor sunscreen and thus they cannot absorb the needed rays. And this further exasperates the problem and hence rickets is on the rise again in Britain.

There are also, ands this must not be forgotten, some particular minorities in Britain (and elsewhere) where women are entirely covered, including hands and face when outside that they have little to no chance of absorbing the needed beneficial rays of the golden orb in the sky.

The children of those groups too more often than not get covered head to toe in cloth and thus, even when out of the womb and growing up, they lack the exposure to sunlight and it is for that reason that the highest incidents of rickets is found amongst that population.

Get out into the sun bare (or as much bare as possible) and get your Vitamin...

© 2011

The Culture of 'I Want and I Want it Now!'

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This culture that governments have nurtured over the last decades that was really what lies behind the UK riots. The wanting and thinking that during a “riot” is the ideal time for a bit of looting.

It is this culture that is destroying our community and it takes away any and all feelings in a charitable way towards others amongst us. The very fabric and structure of our society is being destroyed by this attitude, this culture of “I want and I want it now”.

The UK riots of August 2011 are a good example for this as they had nothing to very little to do with deprivations, poverty, etc., but everything with this culture of want and greed and with criminality pure and simple.

The biggest problem is that we have been conditioned into this “I wand and I want it now” culture from a very early age and by our very own governments even and by easily available credit. Well, the latter before the credit crunch.

Now, with less credit available and with less money too many seem to believe that they are entitled to have and to get what they want when they want it and, if the cannot get the money to buy those things then, well, they just simply go and steal them.

Unless we – the majority I am referring to here – begin to understand that there is no entitlement to have everything that we want when we want it our society is headed down the tubes and that rather rapidly.

In addition to that this wanting now culture is also bad for our wallets and the Planet for all those new goods that the majority, it would seem, demand have to be made, often in places such as China; have to be shipped here, etc., and that all at a great cost to the environment and the Planet.

The majority of people, in the UK at least, want to “upgrade” their cell phones at least every six months, their PCs and Laptops every year, and their TV, it would seem, about every two years to new and racier models. My question is: “why?”

Their answer to that is that the newer models have all those bells and whistles that they “need” but which, in fact, most will never, ever use.

This creates a race of keeping up with the “Joneses”, the peers, and thus we MUST HAVE new every time they get new or, better still, before the neighbor gets the newest version. Oneupmanship is the game here and if they can't afford the latest... well then one either buys on the never, never or, if that does not work, one goes and steals it.

I have many, many years decided that keeping up with the Joneses was not what I was going to do. In fact I was taught this already as a child, and thus never ever, even with money in my pocket or the bank, wanted to have always new.

When I was a child we could not afford always new and most of the time we repaired something that others had thrown out, and I still like to do that today.

There is no need to always have to have the latest and there no one is entitled to have everything that he or she wants at the very moment that they want it. We must kill this culture and that the sooner the better.

© 2011