Conservation is not some huge sacrifice

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Many people seem to believe that conservation and “going green” has to be some great sacrifice and that's why they cannot do it, also because the believe that it is expensive. If you find going green expensive you are doing it wrong, seriously wrong, and this is not the first time that I am saying this.

Conservation and being green isn’t some huge sacrifice. It doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things.

It just means that you aren’t constantly getting rid of perfectly good stuff to replace it with stuff that you don’t need. A perfect table, especially if it is well made, is perfect for hundreds of years. You don’t need a new one every couple years. Our culture is called ‘materialistic,’ but that’s not even correct, because ‘materialism’ implies that we value our possessions. And we don’t. We get rid of them, then we destroy Africa, or the Amazonian Rainforest, or some other places, to get more shit – pardon my French, as they say – that nobody needs. There’s no more pressing problem right now than the depletion of the Earth and her resources. The Earth can tolerate a lot of punishment, but if there isn’t a change in the way we consume, there is no way it can survive, or better we will be able to survive on it. We will gladly give money help people in need. But we can’t equate the act of conservation with helping billions of people for generations to come. Strange.

Yes, it is true that our stuff, nowadays, is made with so-called “built-in obsolescence”, which means that it is designed, yes, designed, to break (down) after a certain period of time, often within days or weeks after the warranty expires. It is, as said, designed in such a way by the manufacturers today so that they can keep selling us the same stuff over and over and over again without having to even think of developing better products, thus also saving on research and development. A total win-win situation for the capitalists and their shareholders and a continuous lose-lose one for us, the “consumers”.

There is no need to design and build products that break after a given time and this can be seen by the products from years gone by that still work today and which can be opened up and repaired – often quite easily – should they break down.

The whole affair of creating a built-in obsolescence started in earnest not long after World War Two when American corporation realized that suddenly they were not making the money anymore that they did during the war when the military needed to get new stuff all the time because of the way stuff was lost and destroyed on the battlefields in Europe and the Far East. However, to a degree it already began with Osram and others when they decided to use filaments in their light bulbs that would have a limited lifespan so they could sell bulbs time and again.

There are still ways today to make the choice of buying things that will last and then, the other choice is to keep holding on to the things that we have and stat are working fine for as long as possible instead of replacing them every year or so just because a new version of it may have come onto the market.

That also is conservation and it is not just environmental conservation that is conservation. We can chose by how we buy things, where we buy things and how we look after the things we buy and have and the latter is the easiest way to “go green” and it does not have to cost anything at all, especially not the looking after our things. Buying things that are made better and repairable may cost a little more in the beginning but is well worth it for your pocketbook and for the environment in the long run.

© 2015

Report: Plastic pollution in the ocean is reaching crisis levels

Plastic has infiltrated the ocean’s ecosystem, from plankton to whales.

There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic trash in the world’s oceans, and each year, 8 million tons of plastic are added to the count. That’s equivalent to one municipal garbage truck pulling up to the beach and dumping its contents every minute. Though the oceans seem vast enough to stomach a lot of plastic, the level of waste is starting to reach a crisis point: According to a new report by the Ocean Conservancy, in partnership with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, by 2025, the ocean could contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of finfish.

All these floating bits of plastic–from micron-sized plastic pieces to those six-pack can rings–not only disrupt marine ecosystems, but they also poison the global supply of seafood. “It’s reaching crisis proportions,” says Andreas Merkl, CEO of the Ocean Conservancy. “Plastic breaks down into small pieces that look like plankton and is eaten by everyone from plankton to whales.” Plastic acts as a pollution sponge in the ocean, so when wildlife ingest pieces, the plastic might as well be a poison pill.

Read more here.

The Problem With Society Isn’t Greed


Greed Is a Symptom of a Deep Need Going Unfulfilled

A lot of people reacted to my comment on Facebook the other day that greed is more a symptom than a cause of our current system, with all its inequities. I’m asked, What is the cause of greed? First I’ll say what I think greed is:

Greed is the insatiable desire for that which one doesn’t really need, or in amounts beyond one’s needs.

When we are cut off from the fulfillment of our basic needs we seek out substitutes to temporarily ease the longing. Bereft of connection to nature, connection to community, intimacy, meaningful self-expression, ensouled dwellings and built environment, spiritual connection, and the feeling of belonging, lots of us over-consume, overeat, over-shop, and over-accumulate. How much do you need to eat, to compensate for a feeling of not belonging? How much pornography to compensate for a deficit of intimacy? How much money to compensate for a deep sense of insecurity? No amount is enough.

Read more here.

Litter groups and businesses unite to call on government to take a lead on litter

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

s_logoOn September 1, 2015 major national litter groups and business organizations have made a joint plea to Government to take a firm lead on litter.

In a letter to the Secretaries of State and Ministers at Defra and the DCLG the 23 signatories ask the Government to form an Advisory Committee on Litter in order to deliver a National Litter Action Plan to eliminate all litter. The signatories listed below already have a draft paper that could inform the development of the National Litter Action Plan.

The Advisory Committee will create a single channel to focus resources and will provide advice and expertise to Government Departments and Local Authorities. It will enable all parties to work together, encourage a more consistent message on littering and will also demonstrate Government commitment to reducing all litter.

As stated in the letter, “The formation of an Advisory Committee is an unparalleled opportunity to take a major step to reduce the societal impact of all litter. Without such Government leadership, efforts to deal with littering will continue to be fragmented and so less effective in delivering significant reductions in littering and in the costs of dealing with it”.

Signatories to the letter are:

British Beer & Pub Association
British Soft Drinks Association
British Plastics Federation
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM)
Clean Up Britain (CLUB)
Costa Coffee
Foodservice Packaging Association
INCPEN (The Industry Council for research on Packaging & the Environment)
Keep Britain Tidy
Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful
Keep Scotland Beautiful
Marine Conservation Society
McDonald’s Restaurants
Packaging Federation
PAFA (Packaging and Films Association)
Pret A Manger
Tobacco Manufacturers Association

Although we have also now a plastic bag “tax” in operation in the UK which could reduce the amount of plastic bags littering the countryside though the fact that the government has not actually been firm enough with this legislation means that the reduction will be but a small one.

Furthermore education and enforcement are required to stop people in general being litterbugs and also fly-tipping of all manner of waste must be dealt with much firmer than it is at present if we really want to keep the country tidy.

It would appear that many people just do not understand that litter is not just unsightly but also a hazard to wildlife and, especially plastic will, in the process of breaking down (no, it does not decompose or biodegrade), release ever tinier particles into water courses and also the soil, causing pollution and contamination of animals and plants, some of it which is our food.

In addition to that people wishing not to leave plastic behind, such as in the case of cutlery (flatware) now tend to come into the countryside and parks for picnics with metal cutlery which they then discard in the bins or simply leave laying about. The reason those things are called reusable is because one can take them home and wash them to use again, and again, and again. Somewhere the memo does not seem to have been received, though.

The fact that litter is supposed to be put into litter bins and not by the side of them, on top of them, or dropped near them, also seems to have escaped a great many people in town and countryside alike. One really has to wonder as to whether people are simply lazy, ignorant or simply do not care. Probably they are too busy staring at the screens of the smartphones and thus missing the openings at the bins.

© 2015

Grandma called it Medicine Leaf

When I was a little girl, my father’s mother, Catherine, and I were very close. Mom was awfully busy trying to raise six kids and run a farm by herself, so I spent a lot of time with grandma (I’m the baby of the family). She had ever-bearing strawberries that she would pick as soon as they showed a blush of red so the birds didn’t get them. There were always hollyhocks and poppies, the yellow transparent apple tree, lilacs, roses and a small vegetable garden. Grandma and I would dance and sing on the front lawn, and every Saturday night we had a “date” watching HeeHaw.

I remember grandma pointing to a broad leaf plant in the yard and calling it “medicine leaf”. She told me the Indians use to use it for medicine, but we never used it ourselves.
Fast forward about 30 years.  I’ve rediscovered “medicine leaf”, and it’s become a staple of my first aid kit.  It turns out grandma’s “weed” was actually common plantain (Plantago major).

From Alternative Nature Online Healer:

Read more here.

How Americans Gardened 260 Years Ago

Colonial Williamsburg shows us that when it comes to technique, not much has changed.

garden at Colonial Williamsburg

The wooden yoke around my neck doesn't hurt at first. I winch up two brimming wooden buckets from the well and attach them to the yoke. Now carrying 40 extra pounds of water weight, my shoulders visit my knees as I lurch away from the well and stagger across the garden to pour the water into the cistern, where it must warm to air temperature before it is scooped out again to water the vegetables.

I'm in the Colonial Garden and Nursery at Colonial Williamsburg, the 84-year-old living history museum in Virginia. It's sunny and quite warm; T-shirt weather. Because rain's been scarce, I have volunteered to water the vegetable garden, in the way a housewife of the "middling class" would.

Never has a drop in the bucket seemed so futile: If it were 1750, it would take 49 more trips just to keep this garden alive another day. With men off doing the hard labor, this Sisyphean task fell to women or children. Or, for those who could afford them, slaves. In truth, most people gardened at the mercy of the weather.

In addition to "History" with a capital H, Colonial Williamsburg depicts the daily lives of the colonists: what they ate and wore, how they quarreled and courted, worshipped and worked. Hauling water is one way to understand how people in Williamsburg gardened back in the day, a day 260 years ago. What they grew and how they grew it reveals the differences between then and now (eaten any good scorzornera lately?) and emphasizes how difficult it was to coax food from the ground. It's humbling to realize how easy a garden hose makes my life, how comparatively little sweat equity actually goes into my tomatoes.

Read more here.

Personal Transition

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

We have all heard by now, I should assume, about the Transition Project, the Transition Towns and such, but for us to transition to a new future, a new society, the transition has to start with each one of us and it has to start from the inside.

Unless we, each one of us, has a personal transition to a new way, which to some degree, actually, is an old way, of doing things and working with rather than against Nature, change cannot be brought about. We also, to this end, need to rediscover they way our grandparents and their parents did things and the way they made things from almost nothing.

Gandhi said “be the change you want to see in the world” and this means that we have to become the change and not wait for a change to be brought about from the outside.

The greater transition cannot be brought about until we, as individuals, each and every one of us, have a personal transition first towards the goal of change. You must be the change and also the light. Stop looking for the light but become the light, the light that others can use to see their way out of the dark. But to be the light you have to set yourself alight, so to speak, and shine from the inside out and guide by your example.

Many people believe, it would seem, that they have to do nothing on the inside, so to speak, and that the change of the system can simply be brought about from outside, from changing the system itself. It has been shown that this, however, does not and cannot work.

The system cannot be changed unless and until the people themselves change their thinking, actions, attitude and their approach to things. You cannot put new wine into an old wineskin. The former will disintegrate the latter.

The change of the current system of exploitative capitalism to one where people and the Planet are held in high regard first requires a change in our own attitudes. Without such a change and transition the change of the system is not possible. It cannot be imposed from the outside, as many seem to believe, especially when it comes to political change.

More than once have we seen that an imposition from the outside on the people, without them having undergone a serious change on their insides, a change of system and values is not possible and has to be, then, imposed by coercion.

Thus changing the entire system from one day to the next, or overnight, also cannot be expected. We have to be the change and live the change to bring others along by our examples.

© 2015

Academia and allotments: the students growing their own food

Picture provided by NUS

Thanks to a growing awareness of sustainability issues, students around the country are swapping evenings on cheap beer for afternoons spent growing their own fruit and veg. Natalie Leal looks at the rise of edible campus initiatives

As students head off to university this autumn many will be able to dig up some campus-grown potatoes or pick an apple on the way to their halls of residence thanks to a recent rise in edible campus initiatives across the UK.

More than 20 such growing projects now exist around the country, see students growing fruit and vegetables on site with some keeping chickens or beehives. Enterprising undergraduates at universities from Exeter to Newcastle have set up the student equivalent of farmers’ markets and veg box schemes with some even producing their own beer, honey or jam.

This may not sound like typical student behaviour, which stereotypically involves cheap cider and beans on toast, but the organisers of the projects stress that there is, in fact, a large and growing number of engaged young people desperate to do something practical. They want to make a positive difference – both in their immediate environment and to the world – and they are doing this through food.

One of the first institutions in the UK to start looking into the idea was the University of Brighton. Inspired by the first ever edible campus at McGill University in Canada, architect and research initiatives leader Andre Viljoen and his colleague Katrin Bohn wanted to create something similar. But, he says, 10 years ago people were generally nonplussed by the idea.

Read more here.

Farm kids are healthy kids, according to study on allergies and asthma

Amish farm kids

New research confirms the 'hygiene hypothesis.' Farm kids are less likely to develop allergies and asthma than the average child.

Kids need to get grubby on a regular basis. Not only does it mean they’re playing hard while getting exercise and fresh air outside, but it also boosts their immune systems and ultimately makes them healthier.

For years, the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ has been the leading explanation for why so many kids develop allergies and asthma. This hypothesis suggests that kids are being raised in such sterile environments, without sufficient access to dirt and germs, that their immune systems are not trained to recognize which irritants are harmful and harmless.

New research, published last week in Science, supports this hypothesis and develops it further. A group of Belgian researchers from Ghent University found an actual link between farm dust and protection against asthma and allergies. Children who grow up on dairy farms are much less likely than the average child to develop asthma.

Read more here.

The myth of self-sufficiency

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Self-sufficiency is a dangerous myth. We need each other. Love your circle, cultivate it, and enlarge it. Share food you grow or make with your community, and encourage others in their food production activities. Community is never perfect and takes hard work, because people have such varied visions, ideas, and values. But do the hard work of finding common ground, and build community with the people around you.

While self-reliance, as I have said in writings many times before, is possible and desirable even (total) self-sufficiency is impossible and thus also a dangerous myth. Dangerous because some people believe that this can be achieved.

No man is an island.

The term self-sufficiency became used, I believe, as a substitute for self-reliance in the early days, such as in the early 1970s when Seymour and others wrote books on the subject of self-sufficiency. More or less it was an error in the choice of words. In due course, however, it was being adopted by other writers and advocates to mean not self-reliance but in actual fact self-sufficiency, of being able to do everything on one's own, not needing other people.

Even the Native Americans were not self-sufficient in that they, even as a band or tribe, would not do everything alone. They traded with others who had and made things that they did not make or have and the same goes for many other such indigenous peoples. For an individual or even a family total self-sufficiency, without trading with and getting help from other people is just not feasible, at least not in the long run.

Man was never entirely self-sufficient on his own. He always was in a group where some had skills that others did not have. No one can be a master of all trades, so to speak, and there are limits to what anyone, even as a nuclear family, can achieve.

Self-reliance is a different kettle of fish and that is achievable but it does not mean that you can do everything and live without the help and skills of others.

Why did I say that self-sufficiency is a dangerous myth and why call it dangerous?

It is a dangerous fallacy even to believe that anyone, on his or her own, or even in a small nuclear family, can be entirely self-sufficient. That, however, is a tale we are often being told by those who want to sell us this or that tool to make self-sufficiency easier for us. Hello! Let's try it again. Self-sufficiency cannot be achieved and all you do is throw your money at someone who is just out to make a buck to your detriment.

As said, we can be self-reliant and live with less, much less, but we cannot be ever entirely self-sufficient all on our own. You can have a self-sufficient – or almost self-sufficient – settlement or village but self-sufficiency for an individual or a family is something that is not attainable and the belief that it I can lead to fatal consequences. Hence me saying that it is a dangerous myth.

© 2015

Bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides even worse than previously thought

Save the bees

We've been writing for a while about the damage that neonicotinoid pesticides are doing to bee populations around the world, but according to the latest science, things might be even worse than we thought. A new assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) of three chemicals that are already banned in Europe, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, has found that they pose a ‘high risk’ to bees when sprayed on leaves.

Hopefully this data will help maintain the ban, which is being challenged by the UK's National Farmers Union. In fact, Greenpeace is hoping that the new data will help extend the ban to fruit orchards after blooming, and crops gown in greenhouses.

Read more here.

10 tips for living with less plastic

Life Without Plastic promo image

It's impossible to avoid plastic entirely, but there are effective ways to limit your exposure.

Plastic is so commonplace in our world today that it’s nearly impossible to imagine I a life without it. Striving for a plastic-free life, however, remains a noble and worthwhile goal – and it’s becoming easier with every year that passes, as more people demand plastic alternatives and refuse to participate in the grotesque plastic waste that’s filling our planet’s landfills. Here are some tips on how to get rid of plastic at home. Don’t worry; it’s easier than you think! 

1. Avoid the worst plastic offenders

If you check the bottom of any plastic container, you’ll see a number (1 through 7) inside a triangle made of arrows. The worst plastics are:

#3 – Polyvinyl Chloride, an extremely toxic plastic that contains dangerous additives such as lead and phthalates and is used in plastic wrap, some squeeze bottles, peanut butter jars, and children’s toys

#6 – Polystyrene, which contains styrene, a toxin for the brain and nervous system, and is used in Styrofoam, disposable dishes, take-out containers, plastic cutlery

#7 – Polycarbonate/Other category, which contains bisphenol A and is found in most metal food can liners, clear plastic sippy cups, sport drink bottles, juice and ketchup containers

Read more here.

Can you really go green and save money at the same time?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The short and long answer to this is yes, and if you can't then you are doing something seriously wrong.

In an uncertain economic climate we are all conscious of how much we spend, or at least we should be, thus many people believe that they cannot “go green” because they have to save money. However, “going green” should save you money and not cost you money.

There is an almost inherent belief amongst many people that “going green” means that one have to buy this or that green product, lots of different ones, in fact, otherwise the “going green” just does not work. But that is a fallacy and brought to us via the medium of greenwashing and advertising.

In the current economic climate – yes, and let no one con us into believing that it is all over; there is more to come yet and that might then be never ending – it is important to look how we can save money, and at the same time we can also do our bit, so to speak, for the Planet.

Let's get the priorities right and think about where you can save money and at the same time be kinder to our Earth.

  • Do you really need to run a gas-guzzling car when a smaller one would do? A smaller engine means lower fuel costs and could cut your road tax too. The other question may also have to be: Do you really need a car at all or would a bicycle do?

  • Do you really need to buy a new sofa? Before making any major purchase give yourself a 30 day cooling off period. It will allow you to decide if you really need it and give you time to find a better deal if it is essential. And the same goes for almost anything.

  • You could also consider buying second hand. Charity shops, local newspapers and the internet are all good places to start and there are many places on the web where you might find what you need for free.

  • Use tap instead of expensive bottled water. It is sort of free and helps you reduce your carbon footprint. It is also far more rigorously tested than is any so-called spring water that is put into bottles. If that is, indeed, spring water and not just bottled tap water that may just have been filtered.

  • Plan food shopping carefully. Each family in Britain throws away £400 of good food every year. If you buy what you will use you could drastically reduce that. Lean what the various dates on the packaging means and understand that “Best Before” means that the product is considered at its best before that date. It does not mean that it has to be thrown out if it is a day or even a week or even a little longer “out of date”.

  • Turn down thermostats. Simple, but it could slash more than £200 off your energy costs each year.

  • Don't buy recycled glass storage jars, for instance, even though your peers may do so. This is not the green way to go. Reuse glass jars from produce, whether pickles or whatever instead. Our grandparents did this all their lives. They did not buy storage jars and other storage containers if they could help it. Instead they used what came to hand, from glass jars, over biscuit tins and – in those days wooden – fruit crates to shoe boxes, and anything and everything that could be used for such a purpose.

  • Learn to cook from scratch, if you don't already, instead of buying ready meals or take outs. That way you can also safely make use of any leftovers that there may be. It saves money, food waste, and reduces your environmental footprint.

I know that this list is far from complete and that there are many other green and money saving ways that could be included, but then this would very well turn into a book, and books of this nature are about aplenty already.

© 2015


London beekeeper develops first ‘bee forage’ index

image002Bees are riding a wave of popularity. And nowhere more so than in London. But London beekeeper Dale Gibson of Bermondsey Street Bees is one of many in the craft signalling a significant problem. London bees don’t have enough to eat and the ever-increasing number of hives being installed by both private individuals and corporate bodies is now pushing urban colonies to the brink of starvation. London has come bottom of the British Beekeepers’ Association table of UK regional honey yields in 2 of the last 3 years

Hive density in London has soared as beekeeping has become a fashionable hobby. According to the National Bee Unit, there are some 3,225 beehives within a 10 kilometre radius of Gibson’s Central London apiary alone. Feeding that many hives requires 8,000 metric tonnes of nectar and 1,600 tonnes of pollen, each year, just for the colonies to survive.

That’s a big ask in an intensely urban environment. Fortunately, London is rich in green spaces which have been able to support the doubling of London’s hive population over the last 10 years. But the city’s capacity to feed an exponentially growing bee population is not infinite and green spaces are being continuously eroded.

And the problem is by no means confined to London, or to urban bees. Agricultural monoculture can be a death knell for country colonies too. To raise awareness of this crucial countrywide issue, Dale Gibson has developed The Apis Forage Index (AFI) and is offering it free to all existing and would-be beekeepers.

Up to now, there has been no common language to describe the single most important factor in beekeeping: what the bees will have to eat. The AFI fills that gap. It’s a user-friendly ready-reckoner, available on-line for a free assessment of the forage value of any potential apiary site. Following easy instructions, users input answers to 10 questions and achieve a percentage score : an AFI reading over 50% means that the site is viable from a forage perspective, under 50% means that the user should think again about placing a hive in that location, or introduce a quantity of local forage before doing so.

Dale Gibson comments “I’ve used the disciplines of my stockbroking background (where indices are everyday tools) to highlight and address the looming forage disaster.Many problems affecting colonies today are hard for individual beekeepers to change, but the forage question is one of simple social responsibility.The Apis Forage Index is designed to make people consider the forage aspect of beekeeping before they site a beehive and take action locally if needed.If we succeed in raising awareness of the forage issue, we will have taken a crucial step together on the road to responsible and sustainable beekeeping.”

Dale Gibson has apiaries in London and Suffolk. He provides apicultural consultancy to leading chefs and has recently set up an apiary for the new Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire.

He works with the local authorities, local charities and volunteers in London to actively create urban greening through bee friendly planting in local parks and other available spaces.

For more information or to download The Apis Forage Index


This press release is presented without editing for your information only. The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered, as we have no direct knowledge if them. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.

World leaders given 'trash' to eat at United Nations to highlight food wastage

A menu for a United Nations lunch lists items made from 'trash'

World leaders accustomed to fine dining had a surprise on their plates on Sunday at the United Nations — trash.

Chefs cooked up a lunch made entirely of food that would have ended up in garbage bins, hoping to highlight the extraordinary waste in modern diets and its role in worsening climate change.

On the menu for the lunch at the UN headquarters was a vegetable burger made of pulp left over from juicing, which typically wastes most of the produce.

The burger came with fries created from starchy corn that would typically go to animal feed — which along with biofuels is the end product of the overwhelming majority of the 36 million hectares of corn grown in the United States.

"It's the prototypical American meal but turned on its head. Instead of the beef, we're going to eat the corn that feeds the beef," said Dan Barber, a prominent New York chef who co-owns the Blue Hill restaurant.

"The challenge is to create something truly delicious out of what we would otherwise throw away."

Mr Barber crafted the menu with Sam Kass, the former White House chef who drove the anti-obesity "Let's Move" campaign of first lady Michelle Obama.

Read more here.

‘Restart’ parties: prolong the life of your electrical goods and pick up some useful skills in the process


On Saturday I dropped into a ‘Restart’ party near to where I live in Tooting. If you don’t know what a Restart party is – they’re a group of techies who raise funds to be able to hold events in various locations where the public can turn up with broken electrical goods and be trained how to fix them. A completely fantastic idea, in other words – people can learn skills, save money, extend the life of electrical goods and reduce waste going to landfill.

So I went along on Saturday afternoon, just to be nosy, without anything to fix. The event was at Mushkil Aasaan (a community centre for Asian families in crisis) on Upper Tooting Road. It was organised in conjunction with our local Transition group, so there were a couple of people there I recognised. I could see people in deep discussion, bent over laptops, radios, mobile phones and a vacuum cleaner.

Read more here.

Open your eyes

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

You do not have to, this very day, rescue the entire world. In fact, you won't be able to do it (alone) and that also is not your calling.

However, do every day a little bit, in your own way, and invite others to do the same, in their own way. Small acts - together - can and do have a great impact and together - all of us in our little space - we can change the world for the better and make it a better place for all of Earth's children.

All too often people think that they are called upon to change the entire world in a solo trip, like a single-handed yachtsman or yachtswoman crossing the high seas. This is not what any of us are called upon to do, for it is an impossibility. The changing of the world that is, not the crossing of the oceans though that is not something that everyone of us would want to do or could do.

Gandhi said “be the change that you want to see in the world” and that is what we are to be and what we can be. We can be and must be the change. It is not going to work in any other way. No one is going to do it for us and without us again there will be no (real) change. But it takes some effort on our part. It does not happen by itself.

Only we, ourselves, together with others of like mind and spirit, can make thins change happen, on which ever level and in which ever area.

On your own you do your own little bit. Not trying to change the world single-handed but by small steps in your own life you can do a great deal and if everyone would do the same in his life things would look quite different in a very short space of time.

It also requires the teaching of others and this teaching is best done through our own (personal) example and not through preaching. Actions, as we know, speak louder than any words and rhetoric is not what is called for here and is only counterproductive if not backed up by positive actions that can be emulated by others. In fact, rhetoric of then is counterproductive in any case and only a positive example often will change people's perception and encourage them to step out on that path themselves.

Open your eyes to see what can be done and when you learn to look then you will see how much you, even as a single individual, can do and how much impact you can have.

Too many of us when looking at the problem only see the entirety and the complexity and immediately react with a “nothing I can do there” without looking even further and closer and by doing so see not the changes that they can effect.

So, let's open our eyes and see what we can do where and join our open hands and hearts with others to effect even greater changes.

© 2015

James Cameron: Eating meat-free to save the planet

Canadian filmmaker James Cameron discusses the importance of a climate change deal between China and the U.S.

“We can just change what we eat,” explains Cameron. “Just eat less meat and dairy and your carbon footprint drops way down.”

When U.S. President Barack Obama visited Beijing last November, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a landmark joint agreement to fight the effects of climate change. It committed the two nations to reducing planet-warming carbon emissions and cemented a first-ever pledge by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.

The accord was widely hailed as a crucial first step toward prompting other nations to make their own greenhouse gas cuts. This as a new global agreement on curbing climate change is expected to be signed this fall, by every nation around the globe, at a United Nations summit in Paris.

Read more here.

4 Fall Gardening Tips That Will Save You Money All Year Long

illustration of man on top of trowel in garden

Attending to your yard now will save time, money, and maintenance all year long.

Though spring gets all the garden-center glory, fall is a far better time to invest in your landscape. Doing the work now can save you a bundle in upfront costs—and it will continue to pay dividends all year. Not only do autumn plantings require less water and fertilizer, they also will have that much more time to get established before the withering heat of summer, which in warm climates can easily kill new plants. “But even where summers are milder, fall planting is lower cost and lower risk,” says Barbara Pierson, nursery manager at garden catalogue company White Flower Farm. Here’s what to do:

Pick Up Plants For Less

Many nurseries put their stock on sale in the fall to avoid storing it over the winter. You can save 40% to 50% off the price of plants, grass seed, even tools. “Don’t worry if plants have a few brown leaves,” Pierson says. “Remove them from their pots and make sure the roots are vibrant and not mushy.”

Better yet, skip the nursery and get your plants for free. Fall is the best time to “divide” spring-flowering perennials, such as day-lilies and peonies. You can literally cut a piece, roots and all, off your favorite specimens from the yards of friends and neighbors (with permission, of course) and pick a spot for them in your yard. This process is beneficial to the original plant, and something colorful that would otherwise set you back $10 to $20 or more costs absolutely nothing. (See for instructions.)

Just make sure to get everything in the ground at least six weeks before your average first ground-freeze date; ask at a local nursery.

Read more here.

This tractor runs on BS — but it’s the real, eco-friendly deal


Disclosure: Lori Rotenberk was a guest of New Holland along with nine other American journalists who visited the T6, the tractor featured in this story. New Holland paid for her flight and lodging.

Little do college students know, but their late-night scientific observation of a burstof methane flatulence kissed by the flame of a match may be the innovation that saves us all from climate change catastrophe. That conversion of food to gas could truly curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Around the world, farmers are installing anaerobic digesters. These digesters ferment manure and plants into biomethane. Many farmers use the fuel for heating homes and buildings, selling their excess to local grids. Soon, however, many European farmers hope to fuel their machinery via anaerobic digestion, making themselves greener and fuel-independent.

A short distance outside of Turin, Italy, in the small town of Venaria Reale, rolls a beauty of a tractor fueled from a hefty mix of chicken shit, bovine slurry from local farmers, and corn and triticale silage from the 1,100-acre farm known as La Bellotta. Luca Remmert, who owns the farm, keeps 9,000 hens for organic eggs and grows corn, wheat, and cereal grains. In an effort to save his farm, which was not making income enough from crops, he installed a digester, selling excess methane to the local grid. He also uses the liquid byproduct in his fields, saving more than $300,000 per year on fertilizer.

Read more here.

Eco-friendly storage in the home by reuse and repurposing

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Eco-friendly storage in the home - shoesMost of us, I am sure, are always trying to find ways to live in a bit more environmentally friendly fashion. But looking after the environment does not mean forgetting to look after the pennies as well, though all too many in the lower income bracket, especially, think that in order to go and be “green” they need to have the money to buy all those “green” products. Well, you don't have to and going “green” should save you money and not cost you money.

From buying recycled kitchen paper to re-using products in other areas of the home once they are finished with there are lots of ways to help the environment wherever you can, and increasingly this can also mean more money in your back pocket as well. But do you really have to buy kitchen paper, or kitchen roll, or whatever this stuff may be called? It it is spillage that needs mopping up then some toilet paper will do almost as well if not as well and for many other wiping tasks I suggest we use cloths rather than paper in the first place.

When it comes to creating some environmentally friendly storage in the home, options are everywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you need extra space in the bathroom, or you need a way to organize pan lids in the kitchen, there are lots of clever and unique ways to reuse everyday household items you already have, and items of “waste”, to create fantastic new storage solutions. And this is nothing new; our ancestors did this with all manner of things that otherwise would have become “waste”. Anything that could be used for storing things in one way or shape was reused; shoe-boxes, glass jars, tins of various kinds, wooden crates and boxes, cardboard boxes, etc.


It is somewhat important to create a good impression when someone enters your home, but with muddy shoes, numerous jackets, school bags and more, the entrance hallway is often the hardest area of the house to keep tidy, and I am sure most would agree.

Use this brilliant idea to create some extra storage in your entrance hallway, simply by painting some crates and hanging them up to use as shoe or bag storage.

Or why not use a cardboard wine box as a shoe rack? Keeps mud from carpets and saves the environment at the same time. Wooden fruit crates or the plastic ones that greengrocers tend to have to dispose off and which they gladly let you have also would be great candidates here.


Re-use your old wet wipe containers as somewhere to store plastic supermarket bags. These tubes can hold a surprisingly large amount of bags, and this keeps them dry and in one place, saving space. But as they now tend to cost you at five pence each there may not be so many that you need to store in the first place.

The question of how to store pan lids is a constant source of frustration. But by fixing an old magazine rack to the inside of a cupboard, lids can be securely stored by using space not previously used.

Storage jars: There is no need to go and buy “recycled glass” storage jars. Just use those that you get from produce such as pickles or what-have-you and use those instead, you could decorate them, use a label maker to make labels for them to tell you what they are for or, simply, leave them as they are.


Need a way to organize your arsenal of gardening tools? Nail off-cuts of piping to the inside of your shed or garage to hold rakes, brooms and other gardening tools to keep them in one place and easy to access. Often cut off sections of various kinds of plastic pipes can be found and had for free in the dumpsters at building sites or such. They can be useful for so many things.

Another alternative is to employ pallets for garden tool storage and pictures as to the how-to of this can be found in a variety of places on the Internet

Drawers (no, not the underwear)

Well the drawer for those you can also organize by way of reuse and repurpose but that is as general as for other drawer. Many of have all manner of things rattle – often literally – around our drawers, whether in the kitchen, our desks, or elsewhere, and often trying to find something means going through the entire contents of those drawers.

Dependent on the items that are in the individual drawers there are many solutions using and reusing things that are in the household already or that are destined, if no reuse is found, for the trash can or the recycling bin.

Magazine storage: Cardboard wine boxes (the ones that hold six ordinary wine bottles) can be turned into the same kind of storage files that you pay around $5 each for in the stores with just a craft knife or strong pair of scissors, a ruler and a pencil and a little measuring on a manufactured filing box. Not only can we save money doing that, we can also keep waste out of the landfill.

And the list could go on, and on, and on, but as so much inspiration can be found on the worldwide web elsewhere I will not try and write a book here on this subject though one very well could.

© 2015



Ever since I started embroidering I’ve had a growing love for textiles. Surface design, pattern, texture and embellishment have crept their way into my everyday work. Fabric is also everywhere! From the clothes we wear, to the blanket at the foot of the bed, we use and need fabrics for daily living. I wanted to share some ideas to help keep, care for and mend our clothing and other textiles in heavy use, inspired by century-old Japanese textiles.

On a cloudy afternoon I visited Stephen, the owner of Sri Threads — a showroom specializing in antique Japanese folk textiles, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn — and pretty much touched every piece of fabric I could. There are kimonos and other clothing, futon covers and weavings, painted and indigo-dyed textiles beautifully worn with use, layered over time with careful repairs of patches and stitches. The repaired textiles with many patches and stitches are called boro, or ragged, and are often built up of many layers of stitched-together cloth and scattered patches as needed. At the time of repair they were not meant to be an aesthetic enhancement, but purely functional and even hidden.

Read more here.

Study Proves Farm Dirt Is Beneficial for Children’s Health

Go ahead and let your kids roll around in the dirt. Let them pet the animals and muck the stalls.

A recent study published in Science has proven that kids who have been raised with an exposure to common bacteria and other microbes on farms are less likely to develop allergies.


The study showed that only 25% of farm kids in their test group reacted to common allergens — dust mites, mold, pollen, animals. Compare that to the standard 45% of children of the general population who react to the same allergens. What other conclusion can you draw except farm dirt is good for you?

The science behind this conclusion points to a protein some people develop in their lungs, while others others do not. In the study, the protein, A20, was developed by mice who had been exposed to farm dust. Unexposed mice did not develop the protein. A20 develops in the mucous membranes in the lungs.

Read more here.

EU’s ‘engine’ stalls in Volkswagen scandal

UEA expert alert – Dr Konstantinos Chalvatzis: EU’s ‘engine’ stalls in Volkswagen scandal

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

vw-golf-tdi-diesel-2009-001.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartPlummeting consumer confidence in diesel cars will benefit hybrid and electric vehicle sales, according to an expert in energy technology at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Dr Konstantinos Chalvatzis, a senior lecturer in business and climate change at UEA’s Norwich Business School, said the fallout from the Volkswagen emissions testing scandal will cause a lack of faith in diesel engines, “which has been earned over the past decade in Europe.”

Dr Chalvatzis said: “It is important to consider the environmental angle since this is really a scandal about vehicle emissions that will impact the debates about diesel/petrol and electric mobility.

“While in the past diesel engines were valued for their dependability and modest consumption, during the last decade they have grown to be very powerful and at the same time very efficient. This claim is now in doubt and this will be a huge advantage for manufacturers that have invested in hybrid and electric vehicles.

“The timing is also quite crucial at a time when numerous European cities, including many in the UK, have started looking into ways to discourage diesel vehicles. The VW scandal will only give them new arguments.

“VW has secured sales in a very aggressive market by providing false emissions and consumption data and putting its vehicles at an unfair advantage over those of competitor manufacturers. It is safe to say that other manufacturers will be looking into their legal options on this issue, including requesting compensation for lost profits.”

With other German auto makers – including VW Group’s Audi, Porsche, Seat and Skoda – feeling the knock-on effect, Dr Chalvatzis said the scandal could dent the country’s reputation for reliability and dependability.

“The German automotive industry provides directly and indirectly no less than 20 per cent of the German industrial income. Germany is arguably the ‘engine’ of the EU economy and any impact on Germany exports can damage the EU economy as well. For the UK, there will possibly be winners in competitive manufacturers.”

Dr Chalvatzis said VW will need to pay approximately $18 billion in fines – and that’s “without estimating compensation costs for consumers and other litigation costs from other manufacturers.

“The automotive industry should for sure be braced for heavier regulations, especially with regards to the way issues of air pollution and fuel consumption are being monitored and controlled. Some manufacturers, particularly Japanese, may stand to win customers, especially if they have not relied as heavily in diesel sales.”

Dr Chalvatzis, who is UEA’s representative to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, is also a visiting scholar at the University of Maryland, USA. He is interested in energy technology and industrial innovation, including transport, and the impact on business and the environment.

I must say that I do not share the take on electric and hybrid cars being the future, in any way, shape or form, and also the fact that this “cheating” by VW has come to light only just at this time – while it, apparently, has been going on for some time – when VW, against the US' insistence, nay demand, for EU sanctions against Russia, has just opened a new engine factory in Russia points to a far different reason for this. And this reason being a kind of punishment for the German economy by the regime in Washington, especially that, apparently, BMW is also being implicated now, which looks as if some more candidates are actually being used.

Back to the electric (and hybrid) cars, however, and my reason for believing that they will not represent the answer in regards to personal transportation – and yes, I have mentioned this many times before but it would appear that it needs repeating – is the fact that the batteries require rare earth for the production which, well, as the name suggests, are rare and their extraction causes serious environmental damage. And that is aside from the price of those batteries. The story might be a different one if one would use, but the weight is a problem here, lead acid deep cycle batteries.

The car, in whichever engine form, is about to become history, do not be deceived, and we will have to look at other, older ways, again, for personal transportation, and this will be good for our health and that of the Planet, and in more ways than just eliminating any pollution caused by them, whether in driving or manufacture of the cars or their components. Admittedly the manufacture of bicycles also comes with an environmental footprint but it is far smaller than that of making cars, especially those whose batteries require rare earths and metals. In addition to that human-powered transportation in use, such as the bicycle, does not generate emissions and pollutants.

The dream of personal motoring which we have lived for almost a century now is coming to an end and not just because of the unsustainability of the the car, whether powered by an internal combustion engine or other means. Electric cars, due to their components, the raw materials for which are becoming rarer and rarer, will not become cheaper but dearer and, let's face it, also in many countries where on-street parking is the norm the charging of them overnight is not going to be a feasibility and thus those cars simply cannot replace the way we do things now.

The simple though for many unpalatable truth is that personal transportation of the future will be very much that of the past and we better get used to that idea and that rather quickly and adapt to it accordingly.

© 2015

Waste Less, Save More – UK town search

Waste Less Save More

At Sainsbury’s we want to know our customers better than anyone else and our values remain at the heart of our business.

Over the last year we have carried out research with over 5,000 of our customers to find out about the values that matter most to them when they do their shopping. Perhaps unsurprisingly we found that it’s the issues that are closest to home that take priority, and top of the list for our customers is to waste less food. This is primarily driven by the impact that throwing away food has on household budgets, with the average family in the UK spending around £700 a year on food that could be eaten but is thrown away.

We’re proud of the work we’ve already done to reduce waste, both ourselves and for our customers, but we know we need to be more ambitious, that’s why we’re launching our Waste Less, Save More initiative today.

Read more here.

Your organic fruits and veggies might have been irrigated with fracking wastewater


This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organics standards, written 15 years ago, strictly ban petroleum-derived fertilizers commonly used in conventional agriculture. But the same rules do not prohibit farmers from irrigating their crops with petroleum-laced wastewater obtained from oil and gas wells — a practice that is increasingly common in drought-stricken Southern California.

As I reported last month, oil companies last year supplied half the water that went to the 45,000 acres of farmland in Kern County’s Cawelo Water District, farmland that is owned, in part, by Sunview, a company that sells certified organic raisins and grapes. Food watchdog groups are concerned that the state hasn’t required oil companies to disclose all of the chemicals that they use in oil drilling and fracking operations, much less set safety limits for all of those chemicals in irrigation water.

A spokesperson for the USDA’s National Organics Program confirmed that it has little to say on the matter. “The USDA organic regulations do not directly address the use of irrigation water on organic farms,” said the spokesperson, who asked to be quoted on background, “but organic operations must generally maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.”

Read more here.