9 Reasons Buckwheat Belongs in Your Garden

When a farmer I know mentioned a couple of years ago that he uses buckwheat alongside his crops, I was intrigued; I peppered him with lots of questions. I’d never heard of this tactic, one he claimed would help deter pests. So of course, I had to try it. It’s been awhile since I’ve tried something completely new and had it work so well.

Buckwheat deters pests

Scattered alongside newly sprouted vegetable seeds or starts, buckwheat seed quickly takes root, reaching its 12-15″ height in just a couple of weeks. Flying pests find it difficult to maneuver through the lush growth of buckwheat to reach their intended target. What this has meant in my garden is that cabbage moths can’t lay eggs on my kale plants (image below), giving them a chance to really get established before they outgrow the buckwheat. I’m hoping that similar holds true as my summer squash starts to bloom. If I can prevent the night-flying moths that produce pickleworms from reaching the flowers, I might just have a shot at growing cucumbers and melons, too.

Read more here.

Free Seeds and Plants: 6 Ways To Get Them for Your Garden

Gardening can be a pricey hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. Savvy gardeners have ways of increasing their collections without emptying their bank accounts. Let’s look at six economical ways to get more seeds and plants for your garden.

1. Propagate Your Own Garden Plants

If you have time and patience, propagating your own plants is the best way to get exactly what you want at a fraction of the cost of a full-grown plant. For home gardeners propagating includes growing plants from seeds, cuttings, or divisions.

Annual flowers and vegetables are easy to grow from seed at a fraction of the cost of buying starter plants. In fact, many do better when started from seed sown right in the ground. Taking cuttings involves cutting a piece of stem, putting it in a pot with a light soil or soilless mix, and keeping it moist until it grows roots.

You can divide most perennials and many shrubs by separating sections of roots and stems and planting these divisions in the ground.

Read more here.

Living With The Land Part 5 - No-Dig Gardening

Living with the land 5

Growing organic vegetables commercially for over 30 years, Charles Dowding has developed a no-dig method of cultivation for temperate climate gardening.

Charles and his partner Steph Hafferty introduces us to Homeacres, his 1/4 acre market garden. Now supplying year-round salad and fresh vegetables for local restaurants, Charles took just one winter to transform it from weedy pasture using mulch and no-dig gardening.

No-dig gardening is a technique regularly used in permaculture. The use of a mulch on top of the soil mimics the leaves that drop from the trees, which then rot and are drawn into the soil by worms and microbes. In nature, soil is rarely disturbed, with all work being done by the bacteria and creatures in the soil. Charles explains the importance of soil, the beneficial bacteria and how soil disturbance reduces nutrients and affects the microbes good work.

Read more here.

UK solar growth stalls following government subsidy cuts

Large solar power farm development largely stopped following April cuts, new figures show, and smaller farms will be hit next

The amount of solar power being installed in the UK has largely flatlined since the closure by the government of a subsidy scheme in April, even before a new round of subsidy cuts has taken effect.

Official figures released on Thursday show that large-scale solar farm developers rushed to connect to the grid in March to get in before the government excluded farms larger than 5MW, enough to power 2,500 homes, from its renewable obligation (RO) scheme.

But installations largely trickled to a halt after April, when the payments were stopped for new farms.

Read more here.

This should come as no surprise to anyone and was the aim of the game of the Tory regime under David Cameron. Having said that we must also consider that large solar farms, in the same as large wind farms, will not cut the mustard as to getting off fossil fuel and nuclear energy. Renewables themselves will not permit us to continue with “business as usual” and hoping that we can grow the economy – a stupid idea anyway – at the same time. We must reduce our electricity consumption and also have every home and building to be a power generating plant. But they don’t want that either. Their agenda is more nuclear power. Ed.

Permaculture is Revolution disguised as Organic Gardening

Permaculture is Revolution disguised as Organic Gardening

Permaculture is Revolution disguised as Organic Gardening

‘Permaculture is Revolution disguised as Organic Gardening.’ Graham Burnett.

Over the past thirty-five years, he’s seen the seeds of permaculture  grow into a thriving global movement. During his recent “Transforming the Australian Dream” tour on the east coast of Australia, David shared a glimpse into the early sparks of permaculture and offered insights into some of the simple principles of growing and living that can now help us transform suburbia into a flourishing ecosystem of sustainable living on all levels.

“It is perhaps surprising to people that when I was a student in Hobart Design School in 1974, there was a huge interest in what today we would call sustainability. It was one year after the oil crisis of 1973 that changed a lot of thinking around the world. And it was two years after the Club of Rome Limit to Growth report which really showed that industrial society couldn’t keep going like it was. 1973 was also the year that E.F. Schumacher wrote the very influential book on my thinking, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.”

“So a lot of these ideas were around at that time and my interest was really in the overlap between landscape architecture as a design profession, the science of ecology and the practice of agriculture.”

It was at that time that David met Bill Mollison, who was teaching at another university in Hobart, and through their friendship and discussions started to gel the idea of what ultimately became permaculture.

Read more here.

Five myths about economic growth


We were sent this by CASSE – the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. Love it – there are so few organisations pointing out the insanity of the quest for perpetual growth (image: http://www.polyp.org.uk).

We particularly like the observation that the service economy can’t be de-materialised, and therefore can’t grow forever. Think about it – can you think of a service industry that doesn’t involve anything material? The information economy is often quoted, but where would that sector be without computers, electricity, mobile devices, phone masts, satellites, cables etc? And, of course, a growing information sector means that the amount of money paid as salaries in that sector grows as well. Then how do you ring-fence those salaries so that they’re not spent on material things? The answer is that you can’t, which means that the economy can’t grow forever, and neither can any sector of it.

Over to Brian.

Myth #1. It’s economic

To be economic, something has to be worth more than it costs. Economic activity, per se, is more beneficial than detrimental. Technically speaking, “marginal utility is greater than marginal disutility.”

If you liked a rug, but liked your grandkids more, it wouldn’t be smart to grab the rug out from under them. That’s basic microeconomics. Yet if we look around and reflect a bit, doesn’t it seem like all that economic activity is pulling the Big Rug out from the grandkids at large? Water shortages, pollution, climate change, noise, congestion, endangered species… it’s not going to be a magic carpet ride for posterity.

Growth was probably economic for much of American history. But we have to know when times have changed and earlier policy goals are outdated. In the 21st century, when we’re mining tar sands, fracking far and wide and pouring crude oil by the ton into the world’s finest fisheries, trying to grow the economy even further is looking like a fool’s errand. That’s basic macroeconomics.

Myth #2. Economic growth is often miraculous

Right now we’ve got the Chinese miracle. We’re supposed to be on the cusp of an Indian miracle. Seems like we already had a more general Asian miracle, having to do with “tigers.”

We’ve had Brazilian, Italian, Greek (yes Greek), Spanish and Nordic miracles. There’s been the Taiwan miracle, the miracle of Chile and even the Massachusetts miracle. Don’t forget the earlier Japanese miracle and more than one historic German miracle.

Read more here.

Wood-based computer chips could be the answer to the electronic waste crisis


Wood-based computer chips are a reality, and they could make the recycling of electronics a much simpler task.

Developed at the University of Wisconsin by a group led by engineering professor Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, the wood-derived computer chip is made by processing wood into nanocellulose paper, which is then used as a substitute for a silicon. Unlike the rigid silicon wafer that serves as a plate for transistors in most computer chips, Ma’s chip uses a translucent, bendable plate made of highly processed wood. According to a piece in the MIT Technology Review, using nanocellulose in lieu of conventional silicon requires just a tiny fraction of the semiconducting material otherwise needed in the process, and doesn’t sacrifice performance:

In two recent demonstrations, Ma and his colleagues showed they can use nanocellulose as the support layer for radio frequency circuits that perform comparably to those commonly used in smartphones and tablets. They also showed that these chips can be broken down by a common fungus.

The military, the MIT publication notes, has had an interest in electronics that could rapidly decay to avoid leaking sensitive information; but Ma’s ambition for biodegradable chips is mainly to help combat electronic waste.

Read more here.

Here’s How Climate Change Will Make Food Less Nutritious

A new study suggests that having more CO2 in the atmosphere will cause levels of zinc and iron in important staple crops to drop.

There are two things you want to get from a harvest. First there’s yield, the amount of grains, beans, or fruit you pull from the fields—and that’s where the focus is placed much of the time, both from the farmer’s perspective and in terms of plant breeding and global development conversations. The other, which isn’t so apparent on the farm, is nutrition. A study published this week in Nature suggests that as CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase in the coming decades, yields may increase. But even as farmers have more wheat, rice, and beans to harvest and eat, the nutrition levels in those staple crops—namely, zinc and iron—are going to drop.

Just last year, the world crossed the dubious threshold of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. By using CO2 jets placed around test plots, the study created growing conditions that approximate a future in which those levels creep upward of 500 parts per million. The grains and legumes grown in this environment had anywhere between 5 and 10 percent less iron, zinc, and protein too. The increase in nutritional deficiencies these drops could cause “represents the most significant health threat ever shown to be associated with climate change,” according to a Harvard press release.

Read more here.

Why land, on which to build a home and grow food, is our ultimate security


There’s a general feeling – and a growing one I think – that we’re headed for disaster, and that no-one is in control or able to steer us away from the precipice. Here are four categories of reasons that people give for pessimism about the near future:

  1. ecology: scientists are telling us that we’re seriously damaging nature, and that we’re already in a mass extinction event
  2. war: more and more countries are acquiring nuclear weapons, weapons technology is becoming deadlier, there are flashpoints all around the world, empires and blocs are waxing and waning and there is a distinct possibility that terrorist groups could acquire a nuclear capability at some point
  3. technology: several other technologies are being developed that could escalate beyond our means to control them, especially genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology
  4. population: from the first humans to 1960, the human population grew to 3 billion; but we’re now headed towards 10 billion by the middle of this century – all requiring food, shelter, energy and aspiring to cars, TVs and flights, from a planet whose nature is already degrading with 7 billion of us


We absolutely don’t have the models or tools to make accurate risk assessments, so I suggest that we ignore commentators who claim to have a handle on the likelihood of any of these scenarios and lean towards the precautionary principle. Civilisations have fallen before, but without affecting other areas of the world; this time it’s global, and we don’t have anywhere else to go.

Read more here.

How to find a company that is truly green

green packaging

Here are some tips on how to be a savvy shopper who consistently gets past the greenwashing.

Companies have caught on to the fact that going green means business. Everyone is jumping on the green bandwagon, making claims of being “all natural,” “non toxic,” and “eco-friendly” in hopes of attracting the attention of consumers. The problem is, these claims are often not authentic. There aren’t many regulations in terms of what companies can put on their packaging, which means that consumers have to use their own skills of critical assessment to determine whether or not a company is green for real. Here are some things to look for:

Watch for specific statements.

If an item has green-sounding phrases such as “natural” and “eco-friendly” without providing any further information, it’s probably not true. A company that has real relationships with certifiers such as organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Oeko-Tex, B Corp, etc. will make that loud and clear. They will sing their product’s virtues without hesitation and explain in considerable depth why and what they do.

Look for mission statements online.

A company’s mission statement can go a long ways toward revealing their true environmental intentions. Visit a website such as Patagonia’s, for example, and see how impressively different it is from most other clothing retailers. Patagonia lists the specific textile mills and sewing factories for every piece it sells, setting a high standard for transparency. This is different from other retailers, many of which have “environmental commitment” sections on their websites but actually say very little, when you examine them closely.

Read more here.

Who you callin' ugly? Join the campaign to end food waste now!

End Food Waste campaign

A petition calls on Whole Foods and Wal-Mart to start selling ugly produce instead of throwing it away -- an act that can benefit everyone.

It’s time to stand up for the uglies! Supermarkets have long discriminated against any fruits and vegetables that do not meet the absurdly high cosmetic standards for sale, with an estimated 26 percent of all produce in the United States tossed before it’s even given a chance on the shelves.

This makes no sense because ‘ugly’ produce is just as nutritious as attractive produce, and can even have more taste. In a world where there is so much concern about food shortages, greenhouse gas emissions from teeming landfills, water conservation, and dietary health, it’s only logical to embrace the uglies and welcome them into our food system.

Jordan Figueredo of the End Food Waste campaign has launched a petition to get Wal-Mart and Whole Foods to change their outdated policies on ugly produce and save billions of pounds of perfectly good fruits and vegetables from unnecessary rejection. He wants them to launch fun publicity campaigns, similar to France’s very successful Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables, the United States’ Imperfect Produce, and Canada's Naturally Imperfect line.

Read more here.

Imagine farming that actually heals the earth

holistic planned grazing of sheep photo

One of the most inspiring recent developments in the discussion about farming has been the shift from talking about "sustainable" agriculture to advocating for "regenerative" agriculture. Instead of seeking to be less bad, say a growing number of farmers and farming experts, the farming industry should be positioning itself to be good—to heal the harm being done to our planet.

From slowing, and maybe even reversing global climate change through soil carbon sequestration to creating perennial food crops that mimic natural prairies and help protect our waterways, there are many methods that could be deployed to both reduce farming's negative impact and simultaneously start rebuilding natural ecosystem services that have previously been degraded.

In the UK, former natural history filmmaker Rebecca Hosking has been at the forefront of this conversation, returning to her parents' family farm and rethinking its operations as a resilient, sustainable and regenerative "farm for the future." That farm—which has become named The Village Farm—faces some fairly significant challenges in terms of soil conditions and topography, not least because previous management practices have degraded what was there. This from the Village Farm website explains more:

Read more here.

The global debt

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The global debt, that is the "money" owed by all countries, is currently at over US$230 trillion – please don't ask me no many zeros come after the 230, I have no idea – but the question we should ask is "who do those countries, including our own, owe this money to?"

Investment banks and such, you say. Really? Consider that the money that was lent – and is being lent – is not “real” money at all but has been created out of thin air. Same as with any loan that a bank gives. The money that is being transferred from the back into your account does not, actually, exist as "real" money, neither in paper nor in coin, nor in gold or silver. It is being created out of nothing. This is not even anymore the so-called fractional reserve banking; there are no reserves here at all. However, as collateral they demand real value, namely property, and if you do not keep up your repayments and the interest payments the banks will come after that collateral on which you “secured” the loan.

More interesting is also that, to all intents and purposes, the global debt can never be repaid.

If, for example, a world government, which we do not have but just imagine it, would try to pay this money back at the rate of US$1 (one dollar) per second it would take, according to some sources, 63,000 years to pay back; let me put that in words: sixty-three thousand years...

I just leave you with these thoughts for a moment... (Remember once again that no money lent ever existed)...

Now that you have, or have not, whichever the case may be, from the shock of the fact that this debt that all the countries of the world – and we are here only talking about “national debt” and not about the debt that individuals “owe” to banks in the form of mortgages and other loans – simply cannot, in reality, ever be repaid.

But then, as I said before, what is this debt actually? The so-called money never actually existed in the real world and was backed only by the assets of fresh, or not so fresh, whichever the case may be, air then we must but conclude that this so-called debt just cannot exist as the money never existed.

The entire monetary system, regardless whether it is paper money backed by nothing or backed by so-called “real” assets in the form of gold and silver (and I have put the word real in inverted commas for a good reason for also gold and silver have only the monetary value that we give them; they are not valuable at all except for use in electronics), is just based on an illusion. None of it is real wealth.

What has value is food, for we must eat, and water, for we must drink, and then the other resources from which to produce things to make our lives easier, whether shelter, clothing, or other products. We cannot eat paper money nor can we eat gold, silver or diamonds. Thus they actually have no value but the imaginary one that we place upon them by way of conditioning to believe that they represent a value.

The only thing other than the ones above, and upon this resource all our actions should be based, is time. The day, the hour, the half hour, and and hour of milking a cow should be valued as much as an hour of writing an essay, and article or a book. An hour mowing the lawn is equal to an hour of mending a bicycle. Every one's work is equally valued when we consider the hour as the rate of exchange. In the production of goods, or even in service tasks it may be necessary to add to this, in way of additional time segments, any fuel for a mower, or any materials, etc., but aside from those an hour of one kind of work must be exchangeable for an hour of another kind. But that, really, is the matter for another article and I digressed somewhat.

We need a completely new system as to what is wealth and must get entirely rid off this monetary and banking system that is around today.

P.S. OK, after having checked this as to the zero behind the 230 the figure would look like this 230,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that is 18 zeros behind the 230).

© 2015

Arnold Schwarzenegger: climate change is not science fiction

Terminator star calls global warming a ‘battle in the real world’ that’s bigger than any movie, at the first summit of conscience for the climate in Paris

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been chosen by the French government to join Nobel prizewinners, philosophers, UN secretary generals, spiritual leaders and theologians to make the moral case for the world to act urgently on climate change.

Talking at the world’s first summit of conscience for the climate on Tuesday – ahead of the crucial UN climate change meeting in the city in December – the Terminator star and former California governor declared the science debate over, saying planetary catastrophe could only be avoided with ethical action:

“I’ve starred in a lot of science fiction movies and, let me tell you something, climate change is not science fiction, this is a battle in the real world, it is impacting us right now.

“I believe the science is in. The debate is over and the time for action is now,” he told an invited audience of intellectuals and spiritual leaders from all faiths. “This is bigger than any movie, this is the challenge of our time. And it is our responsibility to leave this world a better place than we found it, but right now we are failing future generations.”

Read more here.

A Rich Man Took His Son To See What It Was Like To Be Poor, And This Is What Happened

ImageProxy (14)

One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how it was to be poor.  They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

After their return from the trip, the father asked his son how he liked the trip. “It was great, Dad,” the son replied. “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah,” said the son.

“So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

Read more here.

It started with a futon in a dumpster

It started with a futon in a dumpster. Now it's a student org that's changing the way we see waste.

It started with a futon in a dumpster. Now it's a a nationwide resource that's changing the way students think about campus waste. Heck yes.

Alex Freid was moving out of his dorm after his freshman year of college when something caught his eye: a futon.

It was still in excellent condition, sticking out of a dumpster on his University of New Hampshire campus. "That's perfect!" he thought. "I can grab that futon and use it for my apartment next year."

Upon further inspection, he saw that the dumpster was chock full of usable items — and there were dozens of others just like it all over campus. What was up with all this "waste"?

Read more here.

Protect nature for world economic security, warns UN biodiversity chief

Ahmed Djoghlaf says nations risk economic collapse and loss of culture if it does not protect the natural world


Britain and other countries face a collapse of their economies and loss of culture if they do not protect the environment better, the world's leading champion of nature has warned.

"What we are seeing today is a total disaster," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, the secretary-general of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. "No country has met its targets to protect nature. We are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. If current levels [of destruction] go on we will reach a tipping point very soon. The future of the planet now depends on governments taking action in the next few years."

Industrialisation, population growth, the spread of cities and farms and climate change are all now threatening the fundamentals of life itself, said Djoghlaf, in London before a key UN meeting where governments are expected to sign up to a more ambitious agreement to protect nature.

"Many plans were developed in the 1990s to protect biodiversity but they are still sitting on the shelves of ministries. Countries were legally obliged to act, but only 140 have even submitted plans and only 16 have revised their plans since 1993. Governments must now put their houses in order," he said.

Read more here.

The Benefits of Stinging Nettles


Stinging nettles are often thought of as a weed, but they have many health and nutritious benefits as well as being easy to grow or forage.

The basics

  • They lose their sting in the first 30 seconds of cooking.
  • They have more protein than any other edible plant I know of.
  • They will satisfy my hamburger cravings.
  • Harvest for eating before they are knee high.
  • The seeds and roots have medicinal value.
  • In the fall they can be used to make cordage - especially good for water cordage, like nets (hence the name).
  • Possibly the easiest plant food to dry and save for later

Jumping on the stinging nettle train

In 2001 I learned that lots of my animals liked to eat stinging nettles. In looking it up, I found that it was one of the best things they could eat. So good, that I should try to encourage growing it rather than discourage it.

Read more here.

Permaculture 101

How to put natural landscaping practices to use in your own backyard.

Trellis Pears

Combining the best of natural landscaping and edible gardening, permaculture systems sustain both themselves and their caregivers. The ultimate purpose of permaculture—a word coined in the mid-1970s by two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren—is to develop a site until it meets all the needs of its inhabitants, from food and shelter to fuel and entertainment. While it’s the rare home gardener who can follow permaculture principles to the ultimate degree, most can borrow ideas from the permaculture ethos with landscaping techniques based on production and usefulness.

Gardening + Permaculture

Permaculture emphasizes the use of native plants or those that are well adapted to your locale. The goal here is to plant things you like, while making sure they have a purpose and benefit the landscape in some way. Plants such as fruit trees provide food as well as shade; a patch of bamboo could provide stakes for supporting pole beans and other vining plants. Permaculture gardeners grow many types of perennial food plants—such as arrowhead, sorrel, chicory, and asparagus—in addition to standard garden vegetables.

Like all gardeners, permaculture enthusiasts love plants for their beauty and fragrance, but they seek out plants that offer practical benefits along with aesthetic satisfaction. Instead of a border of flowering shrubs, for instance, a permaculture site would make use of a raspberry or blackberry border.

Disease-prone plants, such as hybrid tea roses, and plants requiring a lot of water or pampering are not good permaculture candidates. Choose a native persimmon tree that doesn’t need spraying and pruning, for example, instead of a high-upkeep peach tree. Consider the natural inclinations of your site, along with the needs of its inhabitants, and put as much of your site as possible to use. Work with the materials already available rather than trucking in topsoil or stone. And remember that a permaculture design is never finished because the plants within a site are always changing.

Read more here.

Sanitation Worker Challenges Whole Foods and Walmart to Stop Trashing Produce

Bay Area resident Jordan Figueiredo is asking the companies to put imperfect fruits and veggies on store shelves

A bunch of gnarled carrots or an apple that’s not perfectly round and rosy are just as nutritious as produce that isn’t misshapen, but that doesn’t stop the nation’s grocery stores from consigning so-called ugly fruits and veggies to the trash. And perhaps no one sees the magnitude of wasted food more than someone who deals with garbage for a living.

That’s why Jordan Figueiredo, a 36-year-old solid waste specialist for the Castro Valley Sanitary District in California, is challenging Walmart and Whole Foods to start carrying imperfect produce in their stores. He’s teamed up with Stefanie Sacks, a New York–based culinary nutritionist and author of the book What the Fork Are You Eating?, on a Change.org petition that calls for both retailers to start selling ugly fruits and vegetables.

“I work with the community to reduce waste, and upon learning more about the massive impacts of food waste I was compelled to do much more than just encourage people to compost—what most local programs focus on,” says Figueiredo.

Because the American public has been trained to turn up its collective nose at produce with lumps, bumps, and other imperfections, the petition is asking Walmart and Whole Foods to launch a campaign promoting “uglies,” similar to what French supermarket chain Intermarché did in 2014.

Read more here.

Scientists Prove Goats Are Better Than Chemical Weedkillers

Science proves what farmers already know: Goats make excellent weedkillers.


Herbivores—not herbicides—is the way to go, according to research published in the journal PeerJ.

The researchers compared the effectiveness of goats versus chemical herbicides against the common reed—a grass that is overrunning coastal wetlands from New England to the Southeast. "For more than two decades, we've declared major chemical and physical warfare on this grass, using all the latest man-made weapons," says Brian R. Silliman, PhD, associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "We've used helicopters to spray it with herbicides and bulldozers to remove its roots. More often than not, however, it returns."

Read more here.

How to grow an edible Garden of Eden in your kitchen from the food you didn’t eat

1_garden of food

Maybe you’ve always wanted to grow a garden, but you’ve got little time, procrastinate and your thumb is a mild shade of turquoise at best. Luckily a recent infographic produced by Whole Foods and Cooking Stoned means you only need one qualification for building a garden: Do you eat food?

If the answer was “yes” then you’re already half-way to victory. From onion scraps to pineapples and potatoes, you can re-grow most of your household food items with a little water, a pot, and a handful of soil.

Read more here.

Bronx teacher uses gardening to inspire students to study science

Stephan Ritz, who teaches at P.S. 55, says students from his community traditionally don't go to the Bronx High School of Science. He wants to change that.

He’s not a farmer, but Stephen Ritz said he and his students have grown more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables over the last eight years.

The longtime teacher and founder of the non-profit Green Bronx  Machine is determined to change the lives of disadvantaged students, one garden at a time.

“I’m building healthy living habits and a healthy environment,” said Ritz, who grew up in the Bronx and teaches at P.S. 55 in Morrisania.

He started teaching almost 30 years ago, focusing on special education and crisis intervention. Colleagues say Ritz’s infectious enthusiasm and hard work produced higher test scores and improved attendance.

When he received some free plant bulbs in 2005, he sent his students from Walton High School out — sometimes into enemy gang territory — to beautify the neighborhoods.

Read more here.

Super Creative Organic Urban Gardens Around the World: Who Needs Biotech?

Some of the most creative urban gardening projects around the globe can inspire us to create our own green space in the city, or add luster to a space that’s already underway which just needs a little oomph.

Article image

Not only are people around the world capable of growing nutrient-dense, nourishing food that will feed their communities, even if they live in an urban setting, but they can also do it with élan. Some of the most creative urban gardening projects around the globe can inspire us to create our own green space in the city, or add luster to a space that’s already underway which just needs a little oomph. Here are some off-the-(biotech)-chain gardens that will get our creative juices flowing so that we can carry the dream of living pesticide and GMO-free, further:

Everyone who has kept abreast of national news has heard of the urban blight that has devastated Detroit. This once burgeoning center of the auto-trade in America is now a sprawling concrete wasteland – or is it? Food Field is an urban farm in the middle of central Detroit. It grows heaping amounts of organic produce using permaculture. They even raise chickens and ducks, grow food utilizing aquaculture, raise honey bees, and have their own organic fruit orchard. This all happens on a piece of land that is smaller than that of many McMansions. Even in one of this country’s most economically depressed cities, where unemployment rates are currently swollen to 14-17 percent, people are flourishing growing their own organic food.

Detroit isn’t the only city under economic duress, but this doesn’t sway the Distributed Urban Farming Initiative or DUfi in downtown Bryan, Texas from mixing sound agricultural practices with community building.  They want to spread their plan for city gardens everywhere:

Rad more here.

Joe Burton sees opportunity where others just see weeds

The Burton family, pictured here, have been running the Gypsy King fruit and vegetable stand in Chatham, Ont. for more than three decades. Joe and Nancy Burton run the business, started by Joe's dad Pat. They are helped by their children Sarah, 18, and Aron, 21. Photo taken Tuesday July 14, 2015. (Ellwood Shreve/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network)

Where most people see small, weed-filled sections of land, Joe Burton sees an opportunity to grow fresh produce.

The Chatham man, who runs the Gypsy King fruit and vegetable stand with his family that his dad, Pat Burton, started more than three decades ago, is an urban farmer.

He farms about 120 acres of land, including soybeans, but about 25 acres comes from land that would otherwise be vacant, behind area factories or along railway or hydro right-of-ways.

Some land Burton rents, while other land he uses for free in exchange for keeping the property looking neat and tidy.

“I just keep it clean by growing crops on it,” he said. “Everybody's happy.”

Despite rain pouring down at times on Tuesday the popular stand, located in the parking lot of Lenover's Quality Meats & Seafoods on Park Avenue East, was quite busy as several people stopped by to get fresh produce, especially sweet corn.

Nearby the stand is an area of crops growing beside the railroad tracks that cross Park Avenue East and Park Street. Not far away, in the opposite direction, a friend offered up about a quarter acre of land, near the entrance of Lynwood subdivision, that Burton uses to grow green and yellow beans.

Joe Burton says he has a lot going through his head trying to keep track of the various parcels of land where crops are planted.

The variety of vegetables he grows includes sweet corn, broccoli, tomatoes, green and yellow beans, cucumbers, squash, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes and red beets. He also grows his own strawberries.

Rad more here.

Urban Transport without the hot air – Book review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Urban Transport without the hot air
Volume 1: Sustainable solutions for UK cities
By Steve Melia
Published in hardback and paperback, 264 pages
by UIT Cambridge June 4, 2015
Hardback ISBN: 9781906860271
Paperback ISBN: 9781906860264

Urban Transport without the hot air - bookcoverThe UK population will reach 70 million by 2027. How will all these people get around? Is building more, wider roads really the solution? In this book, Steve Melia:
• dispels long-standing transport myths;
• looks at the successes of London and other UK and continental cities in providing 21st century transport;
• and suggests solutions for a sustainable future.

By drawing on the experience of London, Bristol, Cambridge and other European towns, we can have cleaner and more pleasant places to live, and a more sustainable economy.

The book is accessibly written, and is a must-read for the interested lay person as well as those involved in transport and urban-planning.

In Volume 2, (published 2016) Alan Cunningham considers the situation and solutions for the USA. Each volume can be read alone, or they can be read together to look at the wider global-context.

Foreword by Prof Phil Goodwin
1. The myths of urban transport

Part 1: Myths and problems

2. The problem
3. "There has been a war on the motorist"4. "Roads and airports benefit the economy"
5. "All we need is better public transport"
6. "Car ownership isn't a problem - only car use"
7. "You'll never get people over here cycling like the dutch"
8. "The car can be a guest in our streets"
9. We are building too many flats"
10. Summary: myths, values and challenges

Part 2: Sustainable Solutions

11. Four options for traffic in towns
12. European cities: inspiration and similarities
13. Carfree developments
14. London: the politics of bucking the trend
15. Progress in other British cities
16. What sort of cities do we want?
17. What can I do?

Dr Steve Melia lectures in transport and planning at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He has advised two government departments on how to achieve more sustainable transport and helped with the transport planning of the London Olympic Park. The ideas in this book began while cycling 5,000 miles across three summers and seven European countries, studying cities making progress on transport problems and improving the urban environment.

If there is one thing that I think I have to take issue with with this book and the author then it is with regards to cycling and car use in places such as Germany and the Netherlands.

When it comes to cycling and cycling provisions in Germany – and we have to admit that judging from the book the author may not have been in some of the areas where this writer, namely myself, has been – many are exemplary including along roads outside towns and cities. The federal roads, in the main, all have cycle paths on either side of the road, and those continue right through the towns and cities, more often than not. It is, however, more than possible that they vary from state to state as the federal states all have their own legislation and all make their own provisions as to roads and thus also cycling provisions.

Cycling has always been – despite high car ownership and no more so, as regards to car ownership, than in the towns and cities where the motor industry, whether Volkswagen or others, are at home – a mode to transport even for commuting to and from work, and that even in the car towns. More workers at the VW plant in Wolfsburg traveled to and from work by bicycle than were using their cars, at least this was true in the mid-1980s, and that despite the fact that they all could purchase cars from VW at cost almost, and changed their cars – most of them – annually, selling the previous year's one at a profit.

The wife, if not at work, would go shopping by bicycle and the children walked or cycled to school. The school run as we experience it daily in Britain was something that did not exist. It has to be said, however, that the provisions for shops and schools were also very good and they were in easy enough reach to where people lived. But on the other hand children thought nothing of it to cycle 3-5km (and in some cases more than that) to school each way, especially in the case of secondary schools and the high schools. Neither of those schools are to be confused with those in UK or the USA, but that shall not be the mater of discussion here.

I have crossed and crisscrossed much of at least northern and central Germany by bicycle, as well as by armored carrier, and have seen cycle provisions in the form of separated paths in 99 out of 100 cases, and that even along the federal roads in the countryside. Smaller country roads at times did not have such provisions, at least not on both sides of the road, but there also seems to be a completely different attitude towards the cyclist from the side of the motorist as compared with Britain. I assume that this is more than likely due to the fact that many a motorist is also at times a cyclist and appreciates the issue much better therefore. The attitude of motorists that cyclist should not have provisions made for them and that they should not be on the road (if there is no cycle path available), as is the case in Britain with a great number of them, in Germany (not to speak of the Netherlands, Denmark and other countries) just does not seem to exist. I do not think that I have once heard the comment so frequent in Britain that cyclists should not be on the road, that they have to be no right to the road and to provisions, etc.

But that is the only thing where the author and myself differ, I should say. An very important thing to also, I think, that the reader should take from this book, and I urge all, those with a professional interest in the matter such as planners, etc., but also those in the green movement, and others, is the point that Steve makes as to the electric car, especially when it comes to the common, in British towns and cities at least, on street parking and how they just cannot be charged overnight in such a setup. But that is but one of many things that the reader will come to understand by reading this book with an open mind.

While not really wishing to hijack this review for my own end I just would like to say as to electric vehicles, as I have said many a time before in articles, that I do not believe that they are the answer and we will not, after oil, be able to keep the status quo as to personal transport today and that aside from the simple logistics as to where to charge those cars overnight.

A very detailed and informative book that should be read by as many as possible, professionals and laypeople alike.

© 2015

Parliamentarians agree to protect future of forests

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

  • New All Party Parliamentary Group formed
  • Call for more planting of trees in UK
  • MPs urge better public understanding of role of managed forests

MPs and Lords have established a new group to safeguard and boost the future of the country’s forests and the wood processing sector. The new All Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry (APPGF) has been created to highlight the urgent need for more investment in the forestry and wood-processing sector.

The group will focus on the need for increased levels of sustainable forestry, helping to drive UK support for the wider forestry and wood-processing sector.

At the House of Commons launch event, Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of group organizers, Confor, set out how forestry and wood processing supports 2.5% of the UK economy and three-quarters of a million jobs.

Confor – a non-government organization that promotes sustainable forestry and wood production – has urged MPs to call on the government to commit to investing in the sector to enable the planting of more trees to sustain long-term growth and avoid an expected drop off in the availability after 2030.

MPs at the APPGF launch event also discussed how the benefits of planting more trees go above and beyond economic factors. More British planting, MPs claimed, would bring environmental and biodiversity benefits to the UK.

As a result, MPs called for better public education on the role managed forests play and the need to encourage more people to visit the nation’s forests.

Chris Davies, Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, newly elected Chair of the APPGF, said: “Forestry needs to be placed right at the forefront of the agricultural sector and appreciated much more by the wider community.

“A successful forestry and wood processing sector is a positive not only for the economy, but also for the environment, recreation and health too. There is a long way to go to get this issue higher up the political agenda, but with cross party, cross industry engagement I believe we can give our forestry and wood sectors the attention they deserve.”

In addition to electing Mr Davies as Chair of the APPGF, MPs elected three vice chairs: Labour peer, Lord Clark of Windermere, Conservative Lord Boswell of Aynho and Anne-Marie Trevelyan Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed.

With proper investment and commitment from the government the forestry sector could deliver an additional 7000 jobs in deprived rural areas and increased planting could mean that by 2050, forestry alone could decrease 10% of the UK’s annual greenhouse gases emissions.

Confor have also called for increased domestic production of timber to help address problems of illegal timber highlighted in a recent Early Day Motion signed by almost 40 MPs.

Stuart Goodall from Confor welcomed the formation of the Group: “The need for increased levels of sustainable forestry and support for the wider forestry and wood processing sector has never been more important. The sector needs a secure long-term supply of timber, and woodlands need to be managed responsibly to protect them from climate change and pests/diseases.

“We welcome MPs calling for better public education and will work with other organizations to make this happen. We also need to ensure that the planned devolution of responsibility for forests doesn’t damage our sector.”

Confor’s 2014 ‘Delivering Green Growth Report’ sets out three key asks for the government to consider backing which are: to plant more productive forests, stimulate markets for timber and deploy ‘wood first’ policies in all public building projects, and encourage active forest management to deliver the widest possible range of benefits.

The only – and this is a large only – problem that I am seeing here with all of this is that this is all, primarily, aimed at the forest industry, that is to say large operations, whether by the Forestry Commission, Tilhill Forestry, or other private forestry companies and forest owners and that it will be aimed, once again, predominately, at the single species stands of conifers that will produce a quick ROI rather than hardwoods and especially coppicing. Or am I just too pessimistic and critical?

While we most certainly need more trees in Britain, and also a thriving forestry sector, in order to become more self-sufficient in wood in this country, the operational practices of the forest industry, as they are at present, with more often than not the use of heavy machinery, such as timber harvesters, are doing more harm than good.

We must return to a more gentler forestry practice that has less destructive impact on the forest and the forest floor especially. It is my belief that the use of those machines and other heavy extraction gear is the reason that the forest floor flora and fauna is in such a bad state that it is today. When ten or twenty tonne machines compact the soil for hours and days on end what can we expect but destruction and anyone who has seen the aftermath of those machines in action must, I am sure, come to the same conclusion.

In days not all that long ago the extraction of timber from the felling locations was either done by horse or much lighter tractors, or even from the forestry roads by tractor-mounted winch and thus the impact on the forest floor in the stands was much less severe than it is today. The use of horses, actually, benefited the forest in that the hooves of the horses in action would push acorns intoo the ground to just about the right depth for germination. Maybe we should rethink how we do thing. In addition to that it would also create additional employment in the forestry and woodland management sector as some more loggers and other people would be required.

From a sustainability aspect one must also question the use of those heavy machines and that alone as regards to the fuel consumption of them when in full operation. The problem with this, in the capitalist system, is that it would cut somewhat into the profits of the companies and their shareholders and that is more important to them, regardless of what is being said publicly, that the true sustainability of their operations and the health of the forests.

© 2015

Resilient Woodlands Campaign

A much-needed campaign to raise awareness about the importance of resilience in our woodlands is shortly to get underway.

wordle1Work behind the scenes for more than one year has seen organisations and experts from across the forestry and tree sector coming together to work on a range of activities. The degree and method of collaboration has been unprecedented. Sylva’s team have been centrally involved in helping the process advance and in fostering collaboration. Our CEO has acted as editor-in-chief for the drafting of an Accord (see below) and thanks to funding from Forestry Commission England and the Woodland Trust, we are repeating the British Woodlands Survey, this time on the theme of Resilience.

The first outcomes will be launched publicly at the CLA Game Fair on July 31st. The main outcomes of theResilient Woodlands Campaign will be:

  1. An Accord detailing common agreement among a very wide partnership of organisations that environmental change is impacting our woodlands, and that fundamental changes in actions are necessary.

  2. A series of Adaptation in Action statements from a large number of organisations outlining their specific stance, activities and intended outcomes.

  3. A national survey on Resilience, under the British Woodland Survey series to launch 31st July. We encourage all woodland owners, agents, tree nursery businesses and tree professionals to take part. Read more about the British Woodlands Survey 2015

  4. Conference on Resilience organised jointly by the Woodland Trust and Royal Forestry Society on October 1st.
    Read more

The British Woodlands Survey will be national in perspective. Although the brand name of the survey series run by the Sylva Foundation uses the term ‘British’, we hope to attract responses from across the United Kingdom.

Some elements of the campaign have an English focus due to funding bodies involved and policy fit. Outcomes of the campaign will feed directly into the National Adaptation Programme, overseen by Defra and supported by Climate Ready (Environment Agency).

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.

Pope Francis calls for new economic order, criticises capitalism

Pope Francis blesses a woman as Bolivian President Evo Morales (R) looks on, during a World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on July 9.

In Bolivia during his tour of South America, Pope Francis on Thursday urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a "new colonialism" by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the "sacred rights" of labour, lodging and land.

In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope also asked forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic Church in its treatment of native Americans during what he called the "so-called conquest of America".

Quoting a 4th century bishop, he called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil", and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labour for developed countries.

Read more here.

Roundup’s Lesser-Known Cousin Is Coming to a Farm Near You

It’s the next wave in a revolution of GMO crops—and it’s happening right under our noses.

One of the world’s leading groups of cancer experts has just classified the industrial herbicide 2,4-D as a possible human carcinogen, and that’s got one of the world’s biggest ag-tech companies in an uproar. But why should we care about some corporate kerfuffle?

Because the U.S. is about to be deluged with 2,4-D—an herbicide similar to Roundup but lacking the comfort of a consumer-facing, trademarked name.

This week, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, released the results of its evaluation of three agricultural chemicals, including 2,4-D. The agency’s designation of the herbicide as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” is based on a review of the existing scientific evidence, which it deems “inadequate” in humans and “limited” in animal experiments—hence the emphasis on “possibly” carcinogenic. Nevertheless, the agency says, “There is strong evidence that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress, a mechanism that can operate in humans, and moderate evidence that 2,4-D causes immunosuppression, based on in vivo and in vitro studies.”

Read more here.

Putting Warning Labels on Bottled Water Might Not Be as Crazy as It Sounds

A new petition is asking for graphic text and photos to be slapped on the single-use containers.

Labels warning people about the dangers of lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema are common on cigarette packaging around the developed world. But if thirsty consumerslooking to sip from a plastic bottle of water were confronted with stickers and photos that educated them about the containers’ disastrous effects on the environment, would they change their purchasing habits?

That’s the hope of Santa Cruz, California, resident Trey Highton. Last week he launched aChange.org petition asking the Golden State to “continue its role at the vanguard of the conservation movement by placing graphic warning labels, similar to those now on cigarette packaging, on single-use plastic water bottles.”

Highton notes that thanks to California’s catastrophic four-year-long drought, petitions asking for corporations such as Walmart and Nestlé to be prevented from bottling the state’s precious H2O supply have garnered plenty of public support. Earlier this year it was discovered that despite operating on an expired permit, Nestlé sucked 750 million gallons of water out of California’s San Bernardino National Forest in 2014. Meanwhile, Walmart’s Great Value brand taps Sacramento’s municipal water supply.

Read more here.

Woodland Trust raises potential impact of fracking on ancient woodland

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Woodland Trust Chief Executive cites the concerns the Trust has about fracking especially to ensure that ancient woodlands are protected

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust said: “The potential significant impact on ancient woodland caused by drilling and exploratory test wells for fracking, along with the associated infrastructure that may be needed to access and transport shale gas and oil, are of great concern.

“The Infrastructure Act states that fracking will not take place within 'protected areas'. However, these areas will not automatically include ancient woodland. As the Government prepares secondary legislation to define these areas, we are calling for ancient woodland to be explicitly included. With more than 600 ancient woods currently threatened by planning applications, more than the Woodland Trust has ever seen in its 40 year history, it's clear that existing planning legislation is just not sufficient to protect this irreplaceable habitat. It's therefore vital Government ensures energy companies will not be allowed to base their fracking operations in or adjacent to ancient woodland by explicitly naming it within the 'protected areas' definition.”

Fact is that the definition of the so-called 'protected areas' appears – or is it just me – rather vague and, as the Woodland Trust CEO stated, there are no provisions for “ancient woodlands” per se, unless they, somehow, fall into the 'protected areas'.

It would also appear as if government, more of than not, does not even understand what ancient woodland means and that such woodlands form intricate ecosystems where any disturbance, aside from proper management of the woods themselves, can cause irreparable damage.

Furthermore government also does not seem to understand that the 400 or more years for a wood to classify as “ancient woodland” does not mean that the trees in those woods have to be 400 year or older. More than once statements have come out from ministers and other politicians stating that those woods simply cannot qualify as ancient woodlands as there are no trees in Britain older than 200 years, or similar.

As far as fracking and ancient woodlands are concerned, they are also not the only important areas under threat. The same goes for all “public” parks and “public” open spaces and many of the large ones bordering the countryside also include quite often sites of ancient woodlands.

In the pursuit of “national energy security” the British government just puts, apparently, no concern and value on such areas that are important for people, wildlife and also local economies, such as people and businesses that depend on such woodlands for their livelihoods.

It would be better, far better, if the government of the British Isles looked towards renewables for energy security rather than destroying the countryside and polluting the environment by giving the go ahead to fracking companies. But, obviously, there are no backhanders to be had from renewable energy operations and operators.

Once it was said about the US government, for instance, that it was in bed with the oil industry and then it became the oil industry through the two Bush Presidents. The UK government definitely is in bed with the oil and gas sector and has now added the fracking sector to its bedfellows.

The problem in all of this is capitalism for capitalism cares only about profit that it can extract from Nature, and from people, and about nothing else. The capitalists seem to think that they can exploit the Planet ad infinitum and that there will be resources, of one kind or the other, for ever and as long as the cash registers are ringing they are happy though never content.

And as far as “national energy security” is concerned we just cannot, but then I am preaching to the choir here, I am sure, continue to carry on with it. Even so-called mainstream media have come out in favor of the campaign “Leave it in the ground” and that includes coal, oil and gas, in whichever form. The British government does not seem to get the message though, it would appear. And no, voting in another lot will not make on iota of a difference either. We, the people, have to force the change that we want to see, but first we will have to begin to be the change.

© 2015

His Eco-Efficient Prowess Makes Farming in Palestine Possible


Farming in the Occupied Territories is not easy. Land confiscation aside, Palestinians face restricted access to water; sporadic land ownership; and overworked and polluted soil. This all contributes to many leaving their land in search of easier ways to support themselves and their families.

When I recently traveled to Palestine, I was surprised to learn how dependent Palestinians have become on Israel to survive. With a lack of work and an aid-reliant economy close to collapse, occupation has normalized. Making enough money to survive is the current battle. Of those that qualify for the hard to get work permits, many thousands of Palestinians make the journey into Israel to jobs, some even working on the construction of the separation walls and settlements that rob them of their land.

Murad Al Khuffash challenges this set of circumstances by engaging in permaculture, working with nature to create sustainable, self-sufficient ecosystems for growing food.

Read more here.

Pope Francis: Caring for the Earth No Longer a Recommendation, But an Urgent Requirement


Pope Francis spoke at a university in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, and said that protecting the environment isn’t “a recommendation, but an urgent requirement.” The pontiff has recently made a major push in getting the citizens of the world on board with his environmental message.

We have harmed the planet with “our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed it,” said the pope. “We have come to see ourselves as her lords and master, entitled to plunder it at will.” Those words were quoted from the pope’s most recent encyclical, Laudato Si, which mainly addressed climate change and the environment.

Pope Francis also told Ecuadorians to balance the pursuit of wealth with the environment’s protection, a message that is applicable to everyone on the planet. “The tapping of natural resources, which are so abundant in Ecuador, must not be concerned with short-term benefits,” he said.

Read more here.

A small town in Spain fights food waste with a humble refrigerator

refrigerator and monster

The ingenious "Solidarity Fridge" is located on a public street, where anyone can donate or take leftover food.

The residents of Galdakao, Spain, have tackled food waste in a highly unconventional and creative way. On April 30, the Association of Volunteers of Galdakao, led by Álvaro Saiz, installed a refrigerator on the side of a public street. This “Solidarity Fridge,” or frigorífico solidario, is a place where anyone can leave leftover food or take it home to eat.

Saiz makes it very clear that this fridge is not meant exclusively for the hungry or needy of the community; rather, its purpose is to combat food waste and to find a use for food that would otherwise get thrown out.

“This isn’t charity. It’s about making use of food that would otherwise end up in the bin,” he told The Guardian. “It doesn’t matter who takes it. Julio Iglesias could stop by and take the food. At the end of the day it’s about recovering the value of food products and fighting against waste.”

The Solidarity Fridge has salvaged an estimated 200 to 300 kilograms (440 to 660 lbs) in its first two months of operation. Individuals and local restaurants have contributed foods such as lentils, tortillas, ice cream, smoothies, and meat skewers, all labeled with the date they were left in the fridge.

Read more here.

Michigan lawmaker wants to call burning tires “renewable energy”

Old tires

A Michigan house representative is trying to re-define renewable energy, with a bill that would make burning tires and other industrial solid waste count towards the state’s mandate of generating 10 percent of its energy from renewables.

Aric Nesbitt introduced the bill to Michigan’s house of representatives on March 15 of this year. The bill states that, if passed, it will “remove unnecessary burdens on the appropriate use of solid was as a clean energy source.”

The bill would also repeal Michigan’s energy efficiency law, which currently requires utilities to create programs that reduce energy use by one percent annually.

The idea of diverting waste like used tires and industrial by-products from landfills may seem like an ecological good, and the United States Environmental protection Agency does recognize “Tire-Derived Fuel” as an “alternate energy source.” Yet waste-to-energy programs raise some serious concerns. First, the process of burning these materials can release a number of toxins into the air, and can still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Secondly, it’s something of a mistake to think of plastics, tires and other petroleum-based products, even as we dispose of staggering amounts of them each year, as a renewable resource. Most plastics are by-products of the fossil-fuel industry, a decidedly limited resource. Finally, burning these materials may hinder the kinds of innovation that could either find true recycling solutions or move away from the disposable product designs.

Read more here.

Change your shopping habits to reduce food waste

old man carrying grocery bags

Shoppers need to think about food waste before they go to the store, rather than figuring out what to do with it at home.

Much discussion revolves around how we’re going to feed the planet’s burgeoning population, and yet Americans continue to throw away 30 to 40 percent of food they’ve purchased on a daily basis. Addressing this serious issue would free up tremendous amounts of food and go a long ways toward resolving the greater question of how to feed the world’s billions.

Consumers often think of reducing their personal food waste in terms of what to do with food once it comes home from the store, i.e. trying new recipes, focusing on eating at home, eating food in order of perishability. But researcher Victoria Ligon, from the University of Arizona, says consumers need to think about food waste before they’ve even gone to the store.

In a qualitative investigation that Ligon conducted, she tracked shopping and food preparation patterns, interviewed participants, and followed food diaries in order to “understand how people acquire, prepare, consume, and discard food."

She concluded: “The problem is that people are not shopping frequently enough, which sounds counterintuitive. It seems that people in this country are very price sensitive at the grocery store, but tend to overlook the cost of discarded and unused food at home.”

Read more here.

Get involved in edible woodland

Strawberry plant in Buckingham's Community Woodland=

In a corner of a Buckingham park is a little-known community space where people can go to plant and pick produce.

The Buckingham Edible Woodland is a small plot in the Heartlands that has been given over to the public, with the idea that anything grown there will be available for anyone to pick and take home.

The initiative is now in its second year, and development has been gradual, with 13 trees now budding, and the first plants peeking out of the ground. Strawberry and Nepalese raspberry are sending out runners to create new plants that may fruit next year.

John Mortimer, of the Buckingham In Transition group, said: “It is so enjoyable spending some sunny times at the weekend, to clear the ground and tend the plants.

Read more here.

New C40 and Arup Research Shows How City Governments are Changing the World

A collaborative approach to governance accelerate transformative climate action in cities, report show

On July 1, 2015, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and Arup released Powering Climate Action: Cities as Global Changemakers, a report that demonstrates cities are taking substantial steps on climate action by collaborating and leveraging partnerships not only with each other, but also with the private sector and civil society.

The research quantifies and catalogues the breadth and depth of power that 66 city governments hold over assets and functions across key sectors influencing climate change. In the report, cities are classified into six different urban governance typologies to demonstrate the varying powers they hold and their ability to influence or take climate action.

The ‘Powering Climate Action’ report offers empirical confirmation of what we at C40 have witnessed over the past decade,” said C40 Director of Research, Measurement and Planning Seth Schultz. Mayors face similar challenges and seek to implement similar solutions, and this provides a basis for the collaboration we see working through the global network of C40 every day.”

According to the report, cities have complex governance structures and utilize various pathways to deliver climate action. The report establishes that cities share remarkably similar power profiles across regions and sectors, which makes them well-positioned to benefit from other cities through mutual learning and cooperation. The evidence shows that cities are taking action even where they have limited power, by collaborating with other cities and non-state actors and catalysing wider climate action in the private sector and civil society. Indeed, the research shows that 40 per cent of all transformative climate action in cities is taken through a collaborative approach to governance.

When it comes to delivering action, the way cities use their power is more important than the dimensions of power they have. Limited power need not mean limited action for cities; there is enormous potential for partnerships with other cities, private businesses, investors and civil society to further climate action,” said Paula Kirk, Arup Energy and Climate Change Leader. We hope that the insight in the report helps to improve the measurement, management and strategic planning of climate action in cities, and helping to accelerate meaningful action on climate change.”

Powering Climate Action is the first report delivered under a strengthened C40-Arup partnership announced last week. The two organizations have worked together since 2009 to conduct ground-breaking research on the actions cities are taking to address climate change, and what impact these actions are achieving.

Upcoming research will include analysis of the barriers faced by city leaders in taking climate action, as well as innovative data visualisation tools to enable further engagement with C40’s data.

The full Powering Climate Action: Cities as Global Changemakers report is available to download at: http://c40-production-images.s3.amazonaws.com/other_uploads/images/295_Powering_Climate_Action_Full_Report.original.pdf?1435760139.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, now in its 10th year, connects more than 75 of the world’s greatest cities, representing 500+ million people and one quarter of the global economy. Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens. The current chair of the C40 is Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes; three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. To learn more about the work of C40 and our cities, please visit www.c40.org, follow us on Twitter @c40cities and like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/C40Cities.

Arup is the creative force at the heart of many of the most prominent projects in cities across the world. With 11,000 designers, planners, engineers and consultants working from 90 offices and 38 countries, Arup’s global reach and unique insight is helping cities to understand what really works. www.arup.com

This press release is being presented for your information only.

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

N.B. The publication of this press release does not in any way indicate that this publication or its editors endorse the message necessarily.

Pizza Hut Hong Kong turns boxes into smartphone projectors

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Pizza Hut's Hong Kong operation has launched a new promotion featuring a pizza box film projector for smartphones.

pizza-box-turns-your-smartphone-into-a-movie-projector-7Designed by Ogilvy Hong Kong, the Blockbuster Box includes a special version of the pizza 'table' – the little piece of plastic that keeps the box lid from being pushed down onto the pizza topping – featuring a lens.

Customers punch out a perforated circle on one side of the box in the side, insert the lens and then slot their smartphone behind it, allowing whatever is on the screen to be projected onto a wall.

The boxes also have QR codes on which can scan to get a free movie download.

There are four different themed boxes -- Fully Loaded box for action movies, Slice Night for scary movies, Hot & Ready for romance, and Anchovy Armageddon for sci-fi.

The Blockbuster Box has so far only been released in Hong Kong.

This shows that there is a way, and there have been other examples, to design packaging in many different ways to have a second use, and if done right one that extends for some time to come. It is all a matter of designers getting their thinking caps on and thinking outside the box, pardon the pun.

But it is not just cardboard boxes of many different kinds that could be given a design makeover that would give people an immediate idea as to a reuse or second use of the packaging. A multitude of other packaging could also be designed in such as way as to have an obvious second use. It has been done before and in some cases is being done still, such as certain mustard brands and types, and certain chocolate spreads whose glass containers are, in fact, created with a second use automatically in mind in that they become drinking glasses. Still there are many people who just toss them out after use rather than washing them out and adding them to their cupboard stock.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that some people may be too lazy to clean such glasses to retain them for use, or to remake some other packing into useful things that they have been designed to become after, they should still be created. There will be enough people who will happily use such products and thus much of what otherwise would be waste could and would be kept out of the landfill sites.

© 2015