GARDENA Classic Secateurs - Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

classic-secateurs-max-cutting-diameter-700afc4cThe GARDENA Classic Secateurs are the classic among the secateurs – with everything that marks good secateurs. They cut powerfully and are modern and ergonomic; they are best-suited for cutting flowers and young shoots.

The blades of the angled cutting head are non-stick coated and precision-ground.

Thanks to the ergonomically formed handles, the secateurs lie optimally in the hand with two holding positions allow both power cutting and quick snipping. The secateurs have a sap groove and a wire cutter.

With the single-hand safety lock, the secateurs can be easily locked and safely stored, though I must say that with almost all such safety locks I do like to employ a two-handed approach.

The Classic Secateurs cut a maximum branch diameter of 18 mm. The warranty period of 25 years guarantees highest quality.

They are made, like all of GARDENA's cutting tools, at the factory in Germany and, according to the press spokesperson of the company, are completely “Made in Germany”.

At around £10 retail they also do not break the bank.

While it says that the blades are precision-ground the sample that I received in the press pack at the GARDEN PRESS EVENT 2016 could have been somewhat sharper though. In fact, I had to sharpen them with a mill bastard file and a diamond one before they actually were really sharp as they should be and the way I would sharpen them. Then again I am pedantic as to sharpness of tools, having been a professional knife and scissor grinder.

While that is nothing that I cannot sort out personally, as I known how to sharpen cutting tools of all kinds to razor sharpness and maintain such an edge, this will not be the case with everyone.

While the secateurs handle great, and work fine with being properly sharpened, I can only rate them as 4 out of 5, for the fact that they were, more or less, blunt from the factory. Sorry about that but I have to be honest in my reviews and true to myself and especially to, you, my readers.

© 2016

Living wage not minimum wage

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The talk in the UK – where we do have a minimum wage – and elsewhere is about a minimum wage but more often than not the minimum wage (alone) does not pay the bills.

Thus it is not a minimum wage that is required, unless bills and prices come down to a proper level, including and especially rents, but a living wage and this will vary from place to place, not just country to country.

In the UK capital London, such a living wage would have to be, under current conditions, considerably higher than the same wage in say Liverpool or some other place where the cost of living is lower. On the other hand in rural areas it may, again, have to be higher than in some places.

All too many people believe that those on low incomes should “get education and training” so they can better compete in the labor market. This is not just mean-spirited and ignorant but downright stupid and nasty. Not everyone can be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a CEO of a corporation, and not everyone wants to either.

Our countries need retail workers, dishwashers, ditch diggers, laborers, gardeners, forest workers, you name it. But that does not mean that the should be paid slave wages because their jobs are “less important”. Their jobs are as important as all those others.

I keep always wondering as to how those who think that the “menial” jobs are unimportant and worth less in their eyes believe that those jobs are going to be done if everyone “gets education and training” and gets “better” jobs. By gnomes and elves and fairies? It would appear so.

Not everyone in one of those “lower valued” (by those who judge) professions has chosen that path because they are not well educated or whatever but out of choice, as it is a profession they actually want to pursue and many of then do, in fact, require education and training, though not necessarily at a college or university.

The truth is that every job and every person's time at work (and elsewhere) has equal value and not only should there be a minimum and a living wage; I believe all work should be valued equally and pay should the the same per hour for all. That would, I am sure, shut up a lot of politicians and others who believe that they have a more important job to that of the refuse operative or the cleaner. Reality is, obviously, a different one but should it be?

Where we can see a real fairness is when local currencies that are based on hours (not Pounds, Dollars, or such like) are used and in such situations the hour work of a gardener is equal to that of a lawyer. In the same way as the hour's work of a seamstress is the same as that of a computer technician. An hour is an hour, that is to say sixty minutes of someone's day that he or she spent in doing this or that, by way of a service or producing something.

In the meantime, however, before we have a system entirely based on hours we need a decent living wage for all and this must be based on the cost of living in a area, with some additional amount upwards, to enable saving for a rainy day as well.

© 2016

The Trouble with Renewable Energy

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Renewable energy cannot fill all our energy needs and thus we must cut down on our energy consumption first and foremost.

All too often the advocates and proponents of renewable energy, of solar, wind, wave and hydro (as in mini hydro) by trying to convince people claim that those can meet all our current and future energy needs. This is disingenuous at the very least and they do not do themselves nor renewables any favors with such claims.

Fact is that renewables, even if we put the use of methane gas from sewage, landfills and methane digesters into the equation, will not be able to meet all our energy needs, not now and especially not in the future. Not at the rate that we consume and waste energy at present.

Aviation and maritime fuel, for one, cannot be replaced by renewables and thus we need to rethink a great many of our current ways. The electric car also does not cut the mustard as charging all those vehicles on renewables just is not going to work,, sorry to be a spoilsport!

But, as we will need to replace fossil fuels for environmental reasons and the fact that oil and gas – cheap oil and gas – are almost history and they would have been history already almost entirely had it not been for the global Great Recession. Nuclear, because of its legacy and environmental concerns also is not going to cut it. We have, therefore, only one true option and that is reduction of our energy consumption (and consumption in general) and using of renewables as source of energy we need, after reduction.

We also must reduce, as already indicated, our general consumption of goods, especially those made in far away places, as air and maritime transportation cannot run without fossil fuels. Well, ships, in actual fact can run without fossil fuels, and they did so before coal and then oil but it will make for a different kind of shipping and for much dearer goods from abroad.

Goods manufactured in places such a China, Vietnam, etc., because labor is cheaper there is not sustainable and also are exploitation of the workers there and the same goes for “organic” green beans grown in Kenya for the European market. But then again we will have to change that all anyway even though at the time of writing in December 2014 crude oil is at an almost all-time low, but for reasons other than that there is a surplus.

It has nothing to do with suddenly more oil having been found and such but with a political issue, that is to say Russia (and Islamic State or ISIS) though more aboout the former as certain countries wish to destabilize the government of the Russian Federation, than the latter. And, as suggested by Sir Richard Branson, the chairman of he Virgin Group, it could also have to do with Saudi Arabia wishing to undermine the renewables market.

We must support local makers again and demand home produced goods and products to force industry away from the unsustainable practice of off-shoring.

Let us, for a moment, revisit (also) the electric car. While it all sounds good in theory the first thing to remember is that those cars need to be built and for that raw materials need to be extracted and processed, and the batteries to power them, and that needs energy and this energy cannot be delivered from renewables. Thus the notion of driving a car in a post-carbon world is a fallacy and it is not going to happen. For one, even if they are made, the great majority will not be able to afford them but, the fact is that, I don't believe that they can be made without the use of fossil fuels.

We need to transition to a green world without fuels that damage the environment and Planet and neither fossil fuels nor nuclear can and will that. But even solar is a problem as the panels need to be made from materials that are not pollution free and their lifetime is also rather limited. The biggest problem, however, is that renewables will not, unless we make changes, real changes, be able to supply our needs.

The first thing to do is for every roof and every house to become an electricity generating plant, first and foremost, to generate electricity for our own use and without inverters, that is to say as 12V DC as generated by the panels, the wind turbines, etc., and using inverters only for those appliance that do require the higher “mains” voltage.

In general, however, until we can transition to this, we will have to reduce our energy consumption and that not only in our homes. Businesses, industry and government, central and local, must do so too. Do shop fronts really have to be lit up all night and do we really need to have streetlights on all night, and the lights left in in our offices, etc.? I do not think so.

Without a serious reduction in the way we “consume” energy and waste it either getting away from environmentally harmful fuels – and this includes nuclear – will not happen or the lights will goo out, literally, as renewables cannot support the way we work, so to speak, and use energy at the moment.

However, renewables can work if we change our behavior and the kind of lighting and appliances we use and how we use them and energy. A great deal of electric energy that we use on a daily basis in many of our appliances, be this our computers, our radio receivers, etc., is wasted energy, not by us leaving the appliances on, necessarily, but by having to convert the 240V AC mains voltage to low voltage DC, of 12V or below, via transformers, nowadays referred to as “power supplies”. The great majority of the appliances, bar white goods such as fridges, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, etc., do not need the 240VAC “mains voltage” and could directly run – often needing still further power reduction by way of semiconductors – on 12V DC as it comes out of PVs and small wind turbines and lighting could all be 12V DC, LEDs or strip.

This does, though, require a great deal of change and I wonder whether the great majority and the powers-that-be are actually prepared for it.

The way it seem the powers-that-be, the governments and other bodies, try to sell the people the story that, while we have to move from fossil fuels to others, from carbon to non-carbon, but love to include, especially in the UK, nuclear in that equation, for environmental reason, we can continue with business as usual. Rethink! We cannot, we will not be able to. And that is a hard-sell that those in power, who, more often than not should not be in any power, are not prepared to engage in. And while it may be a hard-sell it is reality, however, and something that we will have to embrace.

This does not, except for motoring, mean a diminished lifestyle but it does mean that we all will have to change the way we do some things and the way that we consume energy, primarily electricity, and the amount of it that we consume.

If we do not want to really have the lights go out we must change the way we use and consume electricity (and other energy) and the first step is to seriously reduce our consumption of it.

© 2016

Thompson & Morgan Garden Essentials

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

T&M Garden Essentials PackFrom Thompson & Morgan, well renown for seed and plants, a new offering has entered the market, so to speak, and the way those Garden Essentials are packaged it what makes them rather unique.

They come in packages the size of those often used by Thompson & Morgan and others for beans, for instance, which means they are about double width of an ordinary pack, and thus makes it possible for the retailer to display them on the same display racks as, well, packets of seeds.

While this may be considered a way to get gardeners at a seed stores or garden centers to purchase things they might not actually have wished to buy but on the other hand it also makes it easy to remember the things that one might need, though may be not at this very time, thus saving another trip.

I do not, unfortunately, have details as to the entire range but included in it are small gardening scissors, gardening snips, copper slug tape, water wizard, garden string, raffia string, and others.

A positive thing about the way those products are packaged is also that those “seed packets” in which they come are paper and thus biodegradable.

© 2016

Ecotricity cuts gas bills by market leading 7%

Ecotricity, Britain's greenest energy company, is cutting its customers’ gas bills by 7% on April 1 – the biggest reduction in the energy industry so far.

Ecotricity has one gas tariff – called Green Gas – for all new and existing customers, so the price cut will benefit everyone, saving the average customer almost £50 a year1.

The company said it was making the cut following recent falls in the wholesale gas price – and called for other energy companies to better reflect wholesale reductions in their own price cuts.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: “We’re pleased to be able to do this; I said two weeks ago on Radio 5 that we were looking at the numbers to see what’s possible – we’ve done that now, and we think 7% better reflects the reduction in wholesale costs.

“The 5% reductions that we’ve seen so far around the industry just aren’t enough.

“It’s all of our customers who’ll get this reduction, too – no matter when they joined us or how they choose to pay; that’s part of our ethical approach – one tariff and one price for everybody. We think that’s how it should be.”

Ecotricity’s Green Gas tariff is the only one in Britain with a green component and the only one with a frack-free promise – the company also recently announced that they’ll be making their own green gas from grass using its Green Gas Mills.

Dale continued: “A new kind of gas is entering the energy market, the green kind – and it’s the genuine alternative to fracking in Britain.

“Oil prices have fallen, so we’re seeing reductions in gas prices across the industry now – but one thing is for sure, they’ll go up again. It’s only by making our own green gas in Britain that we can keep energy bills affordable in the long term by creating energy independence – and we won’t need to frack the countryside to get our gas.”

Ecotricity was founded in 1995 as the world’s first green energy company and now supplies over 175,000 customers across Britain from a growing fleet of wind and sun parks. Ecotricity is a ‘not-for-dividend’ enterprise that, on average over the last eleven years, has invested more per customer in building new sources of green electricity than any other energy company in Britain.

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

The publication of this press release does not mean that the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW endorses the company or association in any way, shape or form.

1The actual figure is £46 for the average Ecotricity standard gas customer.

Without instant action the waste crises will keep coming

Plastic waste today – medical waste tomorrow – ewaste soon after: ISWA warns continued global apathy to the issue of ‘waste’ will simply lead us from one crisis to another

The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) is calling on governments and organisations to broaden their understanding of the global waste crisis following a recent focus on the issue of marine plastic debris. While the alarming amount of plastic in the oceans has justifiably received recent attention, it is just one type of waste seeping into the land, sea and air. With the growth in population far greater than the implementation of waste management systems to service them, the problem is likely to deteriorate not improve unless coordinated action is taken on a global level.

The ISWA is reminding governments and organisations that even today the waste generated by nearly three billion people is not collected into a formal waste management process. Approximately 40% of the world’s total waste is dumped in unregulated ‘open sites’, many of which on the banks of rivers or stretches of coastline. While plastic debris is a significant part of the slurry which seeps from these sites into waterways, the toxins, medical debris (including ‘sharps’ such as needles) and liquid residue, which permeates through electronic devices, are also present in substantial quantities.

Currents, of which there are five recognised major gyres, circulate this assortment of detritus around the world’s oceans.

However, there are also major implications for land resources and the atmosphere arising from the lack of waste-site management. The common practice of burning the waste releases dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere and the pollutant-filled ooze draining into the soil deplete the reserves of available fertile land and can easily find its way into the food chain.

David Newman, ISWA President, said: “An inexplicable apathy towards waste management has led to the current crisis but without immediate action we can expect more to follow. The impact of this inaction to human health, the environment and the global economy is well-documented – exposure to the open dumpsites alone has a greater detrimental impact on a population’s life expectancy than malaria.

“Through coordination, the ISWA believes these crises can be averted but the will and motivation from those capable of making change on the ground is essential. That means governments in developed economies must reach out to those who are receiving their waste and support them in establishing sustainable waste management systems, work which the ISWA will willingly provide support.”

ISWA is the world’s leading independent waste management association with members in more than 100 countries. ISWA’s declared mission is:

  • To Promote and Develop Sustainable and Professional Waste Management Worldwide

ISWA achieves its mission through:

  • Promoting resource efficiency through sustainable production and consumption

  • Support to developing and emerging economies

  • Advancement of waste management through education and training

  • Promoting appropriate and best available technologies and practices

  • Professionalism through its programme on professional qualifications

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.

The publication of this press release does not mean that the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW endorses the company or association in any way, shape or form.

Bumblebee Rescue

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

bumblebee_rescueAt this time of year many of us may encounter exhausted bumblebee queens crawling about on the garden patio, or on a path in a park or countryside, or even a garden path. And it would appear that year by year we are seeing more of this.

It is very easy to help those poor little fuzzy friends. Carefully lift them up on a piece of papers. The mix half a teaspoon of sugar in some lukewarm water and offer this to the bee on a spoon.

Within a couple of minutes the bumblebee can, by means of its proboscis, refuel itself by drinking almost drink up a third of a teaspoon full.

If you happen to meet a bumblebee queen in distress at this time of year and help her you not only help one of our fuzzy friends and helpers but you aid in the creation of an entire bumblebee colony. And all that for the sake of a few drops of sugary water.

© 2016

ASDA's shame

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

ASDA1ASDA, which started as Associated Dairies many years and has been known as ASDA almost ever since, now owned by the US giant Walmart has removed charity and food bank collection points from all of its stores in the UK.

Food banks throughout the Britain rely on these donations and this decision could leave Britain's poorest families going hungry.

The company have told media that they had reviewed its community program and decided to remove the facility which allows customers to buy extra items to donate. Though no proper reason for this has been given. One can but assume that their headquarters in the US has decided that it did not fit in with their image. But then they are an anti-Union corporation as much as an anti-people one, it would seem.

Many animal charities and food banks rely on these generous donations from the public and will struggle without them. ASDA provided an essential and welcome service for the community.

In Frome in Somerset, the food bank run by the charity “Fair Frame” was notified of the end of in-store food collections in the second week of February 2016. They put the proportion of food the charity had received from the ASDA collections at 25%.

Personally I refuse to shop at their stores ever since they became part of Walmart simply because of Walmart's unethical behavior in the US (and elsewhere), including and especially the poverty wages they pay their staff in the US and the fact that they are seriously against Unionization.

© 2016

Colorful and ornamental nest boxes dangerous for young birds

Whimsical, wacky, colorful and ornamental nest boxes are dangerous for young birds warns the British RSPB

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Nest box NoThe current trend for brightly-colored and inappropriate kind of nest boxes that has taken hold over the past five years with wacky and ornamental boxes, such as ones in the shape of windmills and caravans, that put style over substance, endangers young birds according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Such brightly-colored, and strangely shaped, boxes could make baby birds more conspicuous to predators such as cats and squirrels, it said, urging shoppers to buy traditional wooden boxes instead.

Other boxes to avoid include those made from unusual materials such as ceramics, which might make boxes too cold for nesting birds, and metal ones which might overheat the birds inside on hot days or harm them on their way in and out.

Eventually such a nest box will contain tiny helpless, vulnerable baby birds and therefore the appearance of the box should be the last think on anyone's mind.

Over the last five years or so there has been an increase of of places selling such brightly-colored and otherwise unsuitable nest boxes as there appears to be an emphasis on people's gardens becoming more ornamental and, it must be said, that the RHS with shows such as Chelsea and Hampton Court, where many of those vendors have been in evidence, and where such whimsical nest boxes have also featured in show gardens, certainly has not helped.

Instead of buying such kind of boxes, people should opt for classic wooden boxes with a v-shaped roof that are waterproofed, perch-free and with the right size holes to keep predators out. If consumers did want to opt for an ornamental box then they should block up the holes to stop birds getting in. But generally the people want both; funky nest boxes and nesting birds in their gardens. Those two do not mix.

Nest boxes play an essential role as a stand-in for holes in trees and hedgerows for garden birds such as blue tits, robins and house sparrows.

It is also very easy to build nest boxes and many instructions can be found on line. Consider the birds before buying those colored and whimsical boxes please.

© 2016

Parks Alliance statement on House of Lords National Policy for the Built Environment Committee report

Parks01UK, 02/19/2016: Mark Camley, Chair of The Parks Alliance, the national voice of UK parks, said: “The Parks Alliance welcomes the report and its’ recognition of the value of Green Infrastructure and the part that parks play in the making of a quality place and improving social cohesion.

“We also agree with the Committee’s call on the government to support initiatives such as health impact assessments being closely integrated in to developments, and would encourage greater investment in Parks and open spaces as they provide significant physical and mental health benefits; as exemplified by the Committee’s praise for the Olympic Park and Village as a good, positive example of an accessible and inclusive neighbourhood.

“Getting the green infrastructure right is key for any successful public project. Manor Fields Park in Sheffield is integral to new housing developments by providing flood relief for the surrounding housing through a sustainable drainage system.”

The Parks Alliance is the voice of UK parks, representing the people and organisations that create, maintain, invest in and use the public green spaces that we are proud to have at the heart of British life. Its objective is to promote and protect the public parks we are proud to have at the heart of UK life and culture. The UK-wide Alliance includes 40 organisations and senior park industry figures from local government parks services, private contractors, industry bodies, NGOs and volunteer and park friends groups.


Twitter: @parksallianceuk

N.B. 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.

Bin it, don't block it

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

tout-bin-it-dont-block-it-logoIf there's one kitchen waste product that nobody likes dealing with, it's the fat and oil left over from cooking. It might help you make amazingly tasty Sunday roasts but, if you don't dispose of it straight away, it starts to smell, it's horrible to look at, and then you have to find some way of getting rid of its nasty congealed greasiness. Which is probably why so many of us just end up tipping it straight down the sink.

The problem with doing that is, while it may be out of sight, it only stays out of mind for so long because once it's down there in your drain it cools and sets hard, and no amount of hot water and washing-up liquid will wash it away. Eventually enough fat deposits could build up to block your drain completely and because all the pipes in your home are connected, it's not just your sinks that will get backed up ...

With reports in the news of 40-meter 'fatbergs' clogging the sewers of the UK, and 44% of households experiencing a blocked pipe or drain in the past 5 years", it's not surprising that various water boards have launched initiatives to raise public awareness, such as Thames Water's Bin It, Don't Block It campaign. Remember: Your household pipes are only 10cm wide and even olive oil can clog a drain.

During World War Two – in Britain at least – people were encouraged, it was more or less demanded even, to collect all the kitchen grease, oil, drippings, etc., as it was used in the making of munitions. Don't ask me how it was used but it was collected and used. While we may not wish to encourage the making of munitions I am certain that there would be uses for it even today.

absorb-bin-mainAt Lakeland you can now purchase the so-called Absorb Bin designed to be capable of taking this fat and oil and making it easy to later dispose off it. Housed in a sleek white container, Absorb Bin's patent-pending, fat-trapping insert is made from a biodegradable material that soaks up used cooking oil and fat.

Once the oil has cooled a little, just pour it into the middle of the insert and the specially designed pattern will evenly disperse the liquid. As the insert is so super absorbent, it can be topped up with fat from several meals before being thrown safely into the bin at the end of the week.

While the Absorb Bin is not expensive and neither are the inserts there are other ways to collect and thus prevent such oil and fat getting into the drain.

What did the people in the war do to collect the oil and fat in order to hand it over to be used for munitions? It used to go into reused glass jar to be then collected for reprocessing.

It is also possible to, I am sure, use some sort of container, with a lid, and then use those pulp trays for drinking cups that are left around from fast food stores as liner to trap the oils and grease. An alternative to a DIY version would be to use some sort of small metal bucket – they can even be quite decorative – filled with some kitty litter. Should work.

With the above I am not trying to say don't buy an Absorb Bin. What I am saying is that we should have a look whether there are other ways to achieve the same result and maybe even ways of making use of the waste oil and grease rather than tossing it out. The important thing is not to pour it down the drain.

© 2016

Bramwells Real Mayonnaise (Aldi) – Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

43937_mayo-Bramwells-MayonnaiseNormally I do not indulge in such reviews but this one does have to be done, period.

In an advert Adli sort of claimed that its Bramwells Real Mayonnaise was about as good as Hellman's Mayonnaise but that is not the case; it is better, much better. That, at least, is my opinion, and I have use Hellman's mayonnaise for almost as long as I can remember.

While Hellman's has a slight salt and also a slight vinegar tang neither of this is found in Bramwells Real Mayonnaise and it is also much creamier. In addition to that Bramwells Real Mayonnaise is made with free range eggs and states this. Whether Hellman's Mayonnaise uses free range eggs or not we do not know as nothing is mentioned either way. This fact, already, makes Bramwells Mayonnaise, in my opinion, better than the competition, and we don't even want to mention the point that Bramwells Mayonnaise is only about a third of the price of the other one.

All points thus considered there is absolutely no contest. Bramwells Mayonnaise wins hands down for quality and price. It is not always the case of “you get what you pay for” though in many cases it is.

© 2016

Der Feind

von Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Arbeiter! Euer Feind ist nicht der Arbeiter aus Polen, Litauen oder Romänien. Euer Feind ist der globale wie auch der nationale Kapitalismus.

2010-06-26-solidarityNicht nur ist der Kapitalist, ist der Kapitalismus, euer Feind. Der Kapitalist und der Kapitalismus sind auch der Feind aller anderen Werktaetigen und was noch schlimmer ist, sie sind auch der Erzfeind des Weltfriedens.

Der Kapitalismus trägt in sich den Krieg wie die Wolken den Regen. Das kapitalistische System is unfähig ohne den dauernd fortwährenden Krieg, in der einen Form oder der anderen, zu funktioniern. Krieg gegen die Arbeiterklasse daheim und in Ausland, Krieg gegen andere Länder und Menschen im Streben nach Quellen für Rohmaterialien und Märkte und was die Nazis “Lebensraum” nannten und das Haupttriebwerk der kapitalistischen Wirtschaft ist der militärisch-industrielle Komplex.

Jedoch die grosse Masse der Arbeiterklasse selbst haben solch eine Gehirnwäsche untergangen das sie als den Feind die Arbeitern in und auch aus anderen Ländern sehen. Dies ist aber kein neues Phänomen denn bereits Robert Tressell beschrieb dieses in seinem Buch “Die Philantropisten ind den Zerissenen Hosen” (ein Buch das jedoch leider nie in der deutschen Sprache erschien), in dem er auslegte das Fremde, Arbeiter in und aus anderen Ländern, oder auch Händler von dort, nicht der Feind der Arbeiterklasse daheim sind, wie es geglaubt und auch leidenschaftlich behauptet wurde von Anderen.

Der Feind der Arbeiter und der Arbeiterklasse ist und bleibt das Kapital, der Kapitalismus und die Kapitalisten und nicht Arbeiter in und aus anderen Ländern. Nur weil diese ausländischen Arbeiter bereit sind, unglücklicherweise, oft für neiderige Löhne zu arbeiten als die Norm ist, weil sie den offerierten Lohn als höher ansehen als was sie in ihrem Land gewohnt sind verdienen koennen, sind sie noch lange nicht der Feind.

So jedoch werden Arbeiter aus anderen Ländern bei der Arbeiterklasse in unserem Land (und “unser Land” kann hier genaso fuer die USA oder Deutschland stehen wie für Grossbritannien) auf Grund von der Gehirnwäsche der sie unterzogen wurden durch bestimmte Medien, Medien die nicht auf der Seite der Arbeiter sondern auf der Seite der Ausbeuter stehen. Und das trifft leider für den grössten Teil der Medien zu in unseren respektiven Ländern denn, trotz den vielen Titel sind sie alle im Besitz von nur einer Handvoll von Personen weltweit, und alle von denen sind von Herzen Faschisten.

Sie sind der Feind der Arbeiterklasse und nicht die Arbeiter aus und in anderen Ländern der Welt, und unsere Regierungen sind auch der Feind. Die, welche öffentliche Dienste mehr und mehr beschneiden, wie besonders in Grossbritannien in der zweiten Dekade des 21ten Jahrhunderts, und alles in Richtung Privatisierung drängen, inklusive Parks, Krankenhäuser und medizinische Versorgung, usw. Die das Familiensilber verkaufen und all das zerstören das einst durch harte Kämpfe erwonnen wurde.

© 2016

Substituting edible weeds for other vegetables

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Some people, and gardeners especially, often just see them as weeds but in many cultures and traditions wild edibles are very common.

I have found that the Asians in Britain who cannot import the seeds of their traditional spinach varieties for use in the different kinds of curries substitute Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) for one kind and the leaves of the Amaranth for another, and also they use Fat Hen (which is an Amaranth relation after all) for the same purpose.

Every gardener is “plagued” often with invasions of chickweed – and no, my chickens turn their beaks up at the stuff so the more for me – and that makes a great substitute for pot herbs and also for the likes of salad cress in egg & cress sandwiches, for instance, and in my opinion it tastes better than salad cress.

So, don't always be tempted to immediately pull up something because it is a weed, that is to say, something growing in a place where it should not be growing, as far as the gardener mind is concerned. It may just be a treasure waiting to be discovered. If it is not thee is still time to pull it out before later, before it sets seed.

There are time when we are far too quick to see all that we have to sown as undesirable but many wild edibles, from which many of our domesticated vegetables spring after all, have much higher nutritional values that do the domesticated versions.

Sorrel (Rumes acetosa) could be called a cut and come again spinach and is, more or less, a wild spinach and the best thing as regards to this and other wild edibles is that they happily grow where domesticated varieties – even of the same kind – will not. In fact many edible weeds thrive much better in poor soil than in soil that is regularly fed with compost, manure, and such.

Dandelion, the bane of the lawn care person, is another one of those wild edibles or edible weeds that we often overlook as a possible food source and it is, in fact, one of he few milky sap plants that are edible and this one in its entirety. Even the stems, those tubular things that hold the milky sap, can be used much like chives, chopped or cut up, though they do not have the same taste.

Many people do go foraging for such wild foods, and in Greece Horta is a common dish, made from a variety of gathered wild edibles. But why do we want to go foraging when such plants can be grown at home, together with our other vegetables that we grown, in our plots? And, best of all, wild edibles will, more often than not, grow where other vegetables will not, such as in too much shade or on very poor soil on the margins.

In France also, for example, dandelion and sorrel (and there is a commercial version of this vegetable also about referred to as French Sorrel, which is slightly milder then common sorrel) are grown not only in the vegetable gardens of the cottagers and other individuals but even in market gardens for sale in the markets.

© 2016

Old Jack trembled

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

“Old Jack trembled. He tried to answer, but was unable to speak. If he had been a slave and had failed to satisfy his master, the latter might have tied him up somewhere and thrashed him. Hunter could not do that; he could only take his food away.”

This is taken from “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” by Robert Trussel.

komunismus-640x400Old Jack is in fear of losing his job, as all the workers are, not just in the book but also in real life, and that almost all of the time. And the author is pointing out, as he frequently does, that even slaves have some level of security. That a slave master buys his slaves and therefore has some concern as to whether they live or die. If you just pay by the hour, and there are plenty out of work, you don't care if they live or die. You can always replace one with another.

This is, I am afraid to say, the way the cookie crumbles in capitalism and only a change of system will ever change this. Though this must a change of system where workers truly own the means of production and not where the means of production end up in the hands of the state.

In the latter event, as it was done under Stalin and later, only means that the workers exchange one slave master for another and still remain slaves. Only when the means of production are in the hands of the workers is the reward for their labor truly theirs and it is such a system that we must create if we ever want to get away from inequality.

This new kind of system, as it has been envisaged by many so-called Utopians, such as Robert Owen, for example, is possible and everyone can have enough work, enough to eat, a place to live, but enough and not that having not enough and others too much.

However big your house, your car, your TV, etc., our graves, in general, are all the same size (well, almost) and they are all about six foot down. The last shirt – translated from German – does not have any pockets and we can take nothing of our wealth over into the afterlife, if there is such a thing as afterlife.

If everyone has enough of everything for life then there is also no need to try and accumulate wealth or other possessions, to pass on to descendents so that they can have a better life, and thus the race to have more, more and still more will be futile.

A system like that can and will only work, however, if all who can work do work and if work is seen as an honor while it is at the same time a requirement, a duty. And where all work is equally valued and regarded in the same standing regardless whether it is manual work or brain work.

He who works with his hands is equally valuable as he who works with his mind though in today's society, unfortunately, the manual worker is regarded as inferior by not just those that work with their intellect but by almost everyone, and manual work is even seen as inferior by those who perform it and this is a shame, a shame on our society as it is at the moment.

We should also take to heart, even though I am not a believer, the statement in the Bible that says “the laborer is worthy of his hire” and also the section where the owner pays everyone the same regardless of how long, in time, they worked for him that day. It can also work in this new society that everyone gets the same pay, the same benefits and can live a good life without needing to fear for his job, health and his life and that of his family.

© 2016

Jeremy Paxman Warns UK at Litter ‘Tipping Point’

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

IMG_4251Jeremy Paxman, speaking in Solihull at the FPA annual Environment Seminar, set tone for the litter agenda in 2016 by calling on the whole supply chain to take action to tackle the UK’s litter crisis or face legislative action.

The ex-BBC Newsnight anchor, speaking in his capacity as Patron of the litter campaigning organization Clean Up Britain (CLUB) said that the UK is at a tipping point in attitudes to litter and that businesses need to collaborate to take action and tackle the problem. Litter is rising up the English political agenda and, as politicians like to get on the bandwagon, businesses need to start acting differently to seize the initiative before government forces action through taxes and legislative changes.

Paxman said he, like many citizens, is sick to the back teeth of the state of this country – it makes him depressed and ashamed and it’s time we did something about it. He pointed out that even in an area like Solihull the council spends £10k a year on removing chewing gum.

Addressing the audience of foodservice packaging manufacturers and distributors, foodservice operators such McDonalds, Sodexo and Costa, waste processors and consultants, Paxman said the £1bn spent by the UK each year on cleaning up litter was a waste of everyone’s money. He acknowledged that the foodservice sector is not responsible for litter per se - people drop litter - but he said that if the streets are lined with rubbish with corporate logos on those corporates have a problem that undoubtedly impacts the bottom line by up to 2% according Bradford University School of Management*. Those businesses therefore have a responsibility to get involved with their consumers and take action on litter.

Paxman identified the biggest challenge is changing consumer behavior by making dumping litter just as socially unacceptable as drink driving. We now live in an ‘on the move’ society that needs portable food and drink. He said that the reason people throw litter out of car windows is that they don’t want it in their personal space - what they fail to realise is that their actions make our shared spaces filthy.

He urged stakeholders to work together to win the war on litter, organisations working alone will never achieve the step-change required to rid the UK of the scourge of litter. With government resources under pressure, he said that this effort needs to be privately funded and needs to engage with young people fundamentally to change attitudes and behaviors.

Paxman concluded: “It’s our country – but it’s filthy. We need to act quickly and decisively and we at CLUB - and you - need to be prepared to make this is happen.”

Jeremy Paxman is very right when he says the above about the way the majority in this country – and yes, it is not just a minority, it is the majority – just simply litter our streets and countryside. Aside from being unsightly it is also more than that.

Acquaintances of mine from Germany have commented after a visit to London that the city is absolutely filthy and that they would not ever considering revisiting simply because of the litter everywhere. And, I must say, I do not blame them.

Aside from, as I said before, litter being unsightly it can also be an environmental hazard, causing issues for wildlife and for the biosphere in general.

*Source: CLUB

© 2016

SHOWA Biodegradable Multi-Purpose Gardening Gloves

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Bio-deg Garden GlovesSHOWA Biodegradable Multi-Purpose Gardening Glove from Globus

This is the first what is claimed to be biodegradable synthetic gardening glove with a sponge nitrile coating that provides optimal long lasting grip.

Soft, seamless and lightweight (15 gauge) polyester liner for a comfortable wearing experience. Form-fitting and anatomically designed, breathable and washable, elasticated cuffs. Available in sizes S, M, L, XL.

The unique 'biodegradable' characteristic of the glove – please note, it says biodegradable and not compostable – is made possible with innovative Eco Best Technologv'" (EBT) within the liner and sponge nitrile coating.

The EBT organic additive is designed to make the SHOWA 4552 attractive to microbial activity in landfill. Upon consumption of the EBT formulation, micro-organisms excrete enzymes that depolymerise the nitrile. The result is biogases and inert humus.

Normal nitrile takes decades, if not hundreds of years to degrade and break down in landfill whereas the biodegradation rate of the SHOWA 4552 is far more rapid - typically within 24 months (depending on landfill conditions).

Those gloves are not at all dissimilar of the ordinary nitrile covered work gloves that can be found everywhere nowadays and often for little money. The difference is simply that with the ordinary ones the nitrile stays in the biosphere for much longer.

They wear well, allow you too grip things, even in camp and wet conditions, and thus are just what ones needs at times in the garden. They are not suitable, however, for working with thorns and such as they will offer no protection against those.

© 2016

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

Sustainable forests can cut global emissions by half

Exkursion Toftaholm Lena EkPoliticians should place greater emphasis on the forest as a means of tackling the climate challenges. According to a study conducted by Södra, the sustainable management of the world's production forests could yield a reduction in global emissions of up to 50 percent.

We need to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to avoid potentially irreversible effects on our planet that could put the very existence of our society at risk.

"Many people are unaware of the role the forest plays in the context of climate change. In the forest industry, we have fallen short when it comes to explaining the correlation between the two. Growing, well-managed forest binds carbon dioxide, thus preventing it from entering the atmosphere," says Lena Ek, Chairman of Södra Skogsägarna.

The world's forests contain more than 1,000 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide - more than all of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, since deforestation is greater than afforestation, the more recent statistics show that approximately 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is lost annually. A study conducted by Södra Skogsägarna shows that if effective forest management practices were adopted in the world's production forests, it would be possible to bind a further 9-17 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This corresponds to 30-50 percent of global emissions.

"We must work together to highlight the potential of the forest to lead society towards a fossil-free future with renewable products that are also reused and recycled," says Lena Ek.

The forest and forest products play a key role in achieving our goal of a fossil-free society. The main advantage is the potential to replace products made from fossil materials with products made from wood. This reduces the emissions from finite materials, at the same time as we manufacture renewable wood products that continue to store carbon dioxide throughout their lifetime. An increasing demand for forests to make renewable products will also result in more growing forest that also absorbs and binds carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Source: Södra Pressroom

N.B. 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.

Wood at Architect@Work London 2016

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This year's London ARCHITECT@WORK had chosen wood as its theme. To honor this beautiful material, London's SCIN GALLERY, Materials Library and Resource, presented a collection of wood curiosities called Growth Rings.

The exhibition examined the species of trees that give us the wood we use in architecture, it looked at the DNA of wood and its physiology.

Curator Annabelle Filer said, “We are delighted to have been asked to examine wood in this way. As a natural material it has so much depth to its uses and is so versatile. Our exhibition aims to explore this in an architectural context.”

Another exhibition was ROTUNDA SEROTINA

RotSerotNewThe American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) partnered with designers Kolman Boye and furniture-makers Benchmark to create a towering structure of food plates in a commission for Wallpaper* Handmade 2015 called the Rotunda Serotina.

ARCHITECT@WORK was the UK debut of the three-storey 'general store' and it played very much to the wood theme for this edition. The Danish/Swedish architects Kolman Boye were invited by Wallpaper* to design a candy-store concept piece for serving food during Wallpaper* Handmade in Milan.

Wallpaper* teamed up the designers with Benchmark, a company which has almost unparalleled knowledge of wood, to build the structure in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council. The Rotunda is constructed of American cherry and maple.

The vast columns of shelves are arranged in a cylindrical shape so that a single ladder can slide around inside the structure to scale every shelf. Each shelf in the Rotunda holds rows of cherry- wood snack trays that visitors can take home as limited-edition samples from the exhibit.

For visitors not used to seeing the striking pale-pinkish red timber, the emergence of the Rotunda Serotina will be a revelation. Gone are the traditional reddish, highly lacquered connotations of cherry. The contemporary porous appearance of the wood fits in beautifully with the current vogue for raw, rugged timber.

As a forester, and as a journalists, I have somewhat a problem with the statement on their literature which said that the wood used in the structure and for the plates did take just 40 seconds to grow. While this is to indicate that the American forests grow in those 40 seconds that among of the wood the particular wood used would have taken a great deal longer, many decades in fact, to grow. Statements that could be misleading should vest be avoided when trying to teach the public about wood (or anything for that matter).

On the other hand the structure, and the food plates, were rather interesting and the structure very much due to its construction, with wooden pegs, apparently, used.

Another of the exhibitors that caught my attention was Mehling & Wiesmann GmbH from Germany who are making beautiful veneer from spalted, sometimes also called spalded, Beech. This they call Trüffelbuche or Truffle Beech. Spalting, which is the more common spelling, is caused by fungi and thus is a use of almost dead wood, wood that more often than not would, if not left in the forest, where dead wood, or deadwood, has its uses for wildlife, no doubt, be burned on other occasions. A way to realy use most if not all of the wood that comes our way.

Considering, however, that wood, and I would have guessed natural wood, was the theme of this show having only around, as far as I could see, six or, maybe seven, exhibitors out of ninety that actually dealt with this to say that it was slightly misleading would be, in my view, an understatement.

© 2016

The Enemy

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Towards_the_Dawn1Workers, your enemy is not the worker from Poland, from Lithuania or Romania; your enemy is global and national capitalism.

Not only is the capitalist, is capitalism, your enemy; he and it is also the enemy of the other workers and, worst of all, he and it is the very enemy of peace.

Capitalism carries war within itself like the clouds carry the rain. The capitalist system is incapable of functioning without perpetual war, in one form or the other; war against the working class at home and abroad, and war against other nations and people in the pursuit of sources of raw material or markets or what the Nazis called “Lebensraum” and the main engine of the capitalist economy is the military-industrial complex.

The great majority of the working class, however, allows itself to be brainwashed to believing, and this is not a new phenomenon for already Robert Tressell in “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” explained this, that the foreigners, workers from other countries, or traders, are not the enemy of the working class at home, as was believed and vehemently asserted by others.

The enemy of the worker and the working class is and remains capital, capitalism and the capitalists and not the workers from other lands. Just because they are prepared to, unfortunately, often work for lower wages than is the norm, as to them that money appears to be a great deal more than what they could earn at home, does not make them our enemy. Alas, that is the way they are perceived by the working class of our country (and here the word country can as well refer too the USA or Germany as to the UK) bue to the brainwashing by the wrong kind of media, the media which is not on the side of the workers but on that of the exploiters. This is, alas, the great majority of the media in our respective countries, despite the amount of different titles only owned by a little more than a handful of people worldwide, who are but fascists at heart.

They are the enemy of the working class and not workers from other parts of the world, and also our own governments are our enemy. They, who cut the public services to the bone and further, especially in Britain in the second decade of the 21st century, pushing everything towards privatization, hospitals, street care, parks, etc. and selling off the family silver to destroy everything that once was gained through hard battles fought.

© 2016