Pressure mounts on UK supermarkets to create plastic-free aisles


If shoppers can choose gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, kosher, and halal food items, why not plastic-free, too?

Plastic pollution is the most serious environmental threat of our time. With 320 millions tons of plastic produced each year, and nearly half of that for single-use disposable items, most of which is non-recyclable, our waterways and oceans have become dumping grounds for a highly toxic and persistent material.

One organization called A Plastic Planet hopes to bring about much-needed change with a brilliant campaign idea that it will launch in coming weeks. Called A Plastic Free Aisle, it calls on supermarkets in the United Kingdom (and, hopefully, around the entire world) to create an aisle that is entirely plastic-free.

There are increasing numbers of people who are concerned about plastics and who consciously choose to avoid plastic as much as possible; but it can be extremely difficult to find stores that are willing to accommodate such preferences. This hardly seems fair, when you think of the considerations given to other people’s beliefs and shopping preferences.

In a short video by Sky News, shared on A Plastic Planet’s Facebook page, a zero-waste shopper named Pip describes her frustration with the current supermarket system that does not allow for package-free options:

“We have a lot of choice about what kinds of foods we buy, whether it’s gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, but we have much less choice about how we buy, what it comes in. It’s virtually impossible to buy all of your food without some kind of plastic packaging.”

Pip travels 60 miles from Bedford to north London to shop at Earth Natural Foods, an alternative grocery and health food store that allows her to purchase waste-free. I, too, can attest to the fact that zero-waste shopping requires far more errands around town and into the surrounding area to fulfill my family’s grocery needs (although this will soon become much easier with Bulk Barn’s new policy allowing reusable containers).

Read more here.

Kiwi company turns plastic waste into high-quality concrete

Enviroplaz director Stephen Swart (left) and founding director Peter Barrow at their factory in Manukau. Photo / Dean Purcell.

A New Zealand company is turning plastic waste into high-quality concrete.

Plazrok, the brainchild of south Auckland-based company Enviroplaz, is unique in that it can transform absolutely any type of plastic into a rock-like substance that forms the aggregate of concrete.

"We don't take the labels off, we don't have to disassemble it or take any of the other components off it, we can use it in its entirety," said Enviroplaz founding director Peter Barrow.

"We don't even need to clean it - the process we put it through does everything for us."

What's more, concrete companies would not have to change their processes at all in order to use the Plazrok in their product.

Yet they would end up with concrete that is 10 to 40 per cent lighter than usual.

That spells big savings.

"For example, when they were building Britomart ... there were 7000 truck movements between Wiri and Britomart in order to deliver that concrete. If you decreased the weight by 20 per cent you've dropped that down to 5000 trips. Think about what that does for your industry, for the roads, for your diesel usage, for your tyre savings," Barrow said.

Plazrok concrete had strengths comparable to conventional concrete, while offering seismic advantages.

"There's no reason that we should be chucking plastic in the oceans or rivers, or in landfills," Barrow said.

Read more here.

Double Row Vegetable Gardening 101

how to make double row vegetable garden

Most gardeners are familiar with the concept of single row or square foot gardening, but not all are familiar with double row gardening. Double rows are basically two single rows pulled together and separated by only four to five inches. So your garden layout would look something like: Row 1, 6 inch space, Row 2, 3 foot space, Row 3, 6 inch space, Row 4, 3 foot space, etc.


The advantage to double row gardening is that with most plants, it allows you to almost double the output of a given area. All while giving you the same space and ease of access that single row gardening does. There are a few types of plants that don’t do well in double row layouts, but most vegetables will do very well this way.

Another great advantage is water usage savings. Double row gardens allow you to water at the center of the double row, right at the plants’ base. Most commonly, double row gardeners will place a soaker hose between these rows and water in that way. This keeps water off of the walkways and large rows between plants. If you use irrigation, watering down the wide rows is still possible, of course.

Finally, double rows allow you to make easier work of some gardening styles such as mounding, trenching, or raised bed growing. If you build raised beds by mounding and “cutting” soil, for instance, you can make them just wide enough (2-3 feet) for each double row and grow in this manner. If you use mounds for growing root vegetables or large vines like melons, you can also double row the plantings and consolidate your mounds to make the work of building the mounds easier.

Read more here.

The Vegetable Garden Diary – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Vegetable Garden Diary
Wire bound for easy use
Self-published by the author’s imprint No Dig Garden
168 pages illustrated with photographs mostly of Homeacres garden
The cover is laminated both sides for greater longevity and to prevent curling

CharlesDowdingsVegetableGardenDiaryCharles Dowding has just brought out a diary specifically for vegetable gardeners. It summarizes his long experience in nuggets of advice for each week of the growing season, starting on Valentine's day. Why does it start on Valentine's Day? Well, you love your garden, don't you.

The 168 pages are three quarters information on seasonal sowings, weeding, picking and storing, and one quarter diary space for the gardener to write notes, day by day. The format is perpetual diary, spiral bound for ease of use, double laminate cover all for £14.95, published by No Dig Garden Available at, in bookshops and on Amazon.

It is a gardening journal with a perpetual diary, a manual of gardening to inform and inspire, packed with illustrations,all rolled into one, with an introduction by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Three quarters of the book offer advice on how to grow great crops, one quarter of the book writing space for each day. You can use it year after year to make the best decisions, with your notes alongside the author's suggestions, for future reference. If you want it year after year for a diary it might be good to use a pencil instead of a permanent pen, though.

Advice in the diary section is linked to each week of the season and takes you through the whole process, from clearing weeds without digging, feeding soil and sowing to harvests and storing vegetables.

The emphasis is on saving time by gardening more efficiently, in tune with natural processes. Charles shows how healthy his crops are, from untilled soil, and how few weeds there are. Less water is needed too.

Charles is a pioneer of organic and no dig growing, and of growing/picking/marketing salad leaves. He has created and cropped four no dig, organic market gardens since 1983, on stony, silt and clay soils. His growing methods are as applicable in small areas as in large ones. Currently he crops an intensive quarter-acre in Somerset, SW England, for local sales of salad leaves and vegetables. He has written eight books, runs a busy You Tube channel, appears on BBC gardening programs and teaches extensively at home and abroad.

This is a really useful book (and diary, obviously) for anyone intending to grow their own vegetables, whether beginner or more experienced. Charles' do dig method will make life so much easier for gardeners many who seem to believe that soil needs to be turned over at least once a year if not more often even. This diary will, no doubt, for myself and others, become the ‘go to’ book for what one should be doing each week, rather than thumbing through 2 or 3 others.

© 2017

Preserving Mint for Food & Medicine

Tasty and healing make the most of prolific garden herbs by preserving mint for food and medicine to use throughout the year. Mint is an incredibly prolific, even invasive, herb in the garden.  Left unattended it will take over but when properly managed and thinned it can be a wonderful bounty.  It’s delicious fresh, of course, but with a plant as productive as mint it’s good to have a plan in mind to have it around all year long. Thankfully, preserving mint for food & medicine is easy to do in a multitude of ways. In some cases, the lines are blurred between food and medicine but with mint that just makes it easier to use in its many preserved forms.

Harvesting Mint

Pick fresh leaves whenever you want them all spring and summer.  For optimum flavor, harvest mint just before it flowers.  To harvest a multitude at once for fresh or preserving, simply cut the stems, 1 inch above the ground.  Most growing climates will have 2 or even 3 large mint harvests in a year, again it grows well and fast.

Dehydrating Mint

Having dried mint on hand is the easiest and most common way to preserve it for both food and medicine.  To dry mint tie the stems together in bunches and hang in a warm, dry place until crispy.  A closet or unused guest room is ideal.  Drying in the dehydrator or oven is an option but generally unnecessary for most herbs.  I’ve even hung mine in the greenhouse to dry quickly.  Supposedly, herbs dried in the sun will lose flavor and color.  I can attest that they do lose color when dried in the sun but I haven’t detected any noticeable loss in flavor doing it this way.  Once dry, strip the stems of the leaves and store in air-tight jars. 

Read more here.

Penny mustert die Plastiktüte aus

Kampf dem Verpackungsmüll

Tragfähige Lösung: Als erster Discounter schafft Penny die Plastiktüte ab. Doch noch immer produziert Deutschland Unmengen Verpackungsmüll.

68 Plastiktüten verbraucht der Deutsche im Jahr. Es waren schonmal deutlich mehr, und der EU-Durchschnitt liegt erheblich höher: bei 200. Es geht aber auch mit deutlich weniger. Die Iren zum Beispiel kommen pro Kopf mit 18 Plastiktüten jährlich aus.

Ein Vorbild, sagt Cem Özdemir am Donnerstag, als er umringt von Fotografen, Journalisten und Sicherheitsmännern in einem Penny-Markt in Prenzlauer Berg steht. Der Grünen-Bundesvorsitzende feiert gemeinsam mit Nabu-Präsident Olaf Tschimpke und führenden Managern des Lebensmitteldiscounters das Ende der Plastiktüte. 62 Millionen Plastiktüten habe allein Penny jedes Jahr verkauft, erklärt Vertriebschef Stefan Magel. Stattdessen gibt es jetzt Mehrwegtaschen aus Recycling-Material, Papiertüten und Stoffbeutel.

Bei jedem zweiten Händler kostet die Plastiktüte extra

Weil tonnenweise Plastik in den Gewässern der Welt verrottet – oder eben nicht verrottet, da es bis zur völligen Zersetzung 400 Jahre dauern kann –, hat die EU das Ziel ausgerufen, den Verbrauch zu senken. Vor fast einem Jahr schlossen Bundesumweltministerin Barbara Hendricks (SPD) und der Handel die freiwillige Vereinbarung, Tüten nicht mehr umsonst abzugeben. 350 Unternehmen machen mit. Die decken zusammen allerdings nicht einmal die Hälfte des Einzelhandels ab.

Deutschland ist freilich keines der Haupt-Problemländer in Punkto Plastikmüll, weil hier kaum Tüten in Flüsse oder ins Meer gelangen. Dennoch sagt Nabu-Mann Tschimpke: „Meeresschutz fängt vor der Haustür an.“ Jahr für Jahr verenden zehntausende Tiere qualvoll, weil sie Plastikteile mit Essbarem verwechseln oder sich im umherschwimmenden Abfall verfangen. Auch an der Nordsee bietet sich Urlaubern so manch trauriges Bild. Schließlich gelangt der Plastikschrott der Ozeane auch in unseren Organismus: Weil Kunststoffpartikel von vielen Meerestieren wie Plankton aufgenommen werden und sich in ihrem Gewebe einlagern, essen wir sie mit, wenn wir Fisch und Garnelen genießen. Viele dieser künstlichen Stoffe können krebserregend wirken oder wie Hormone zum Beispiel die Fruchtbarkeit einschränken.

Hier weiterlesen.

Arizona Republicans planning to make protest illegal

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

12144703_10201155517926728_1807679168258158837_nIn Arizona you could get jailed and have your assets seized if you attend a protest or demonstration after Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent. Even just preparing to attend such an event could already be illegal.

A bill attempting to criminalize protest has passed the Arizona Senate – supported entirely by Republicans – and is headed to the state House. The bill claims to be aimed at “rioting,” but rioting is already illegal. This bill says that anyone who plans or attends a protest at which something the government chooses to define as rioting happens can be prosecuted:

SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side. [...]

There’s something else: By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events.

Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad – even before anything actually happened.

One single broken window would be all that would be needed to make them all into rioters regardless whether they participated in such actions or not. Thus all it needs is some Antifa goons and bingo you have a “riot” and everyone involved will be liable to arrest and to have all their assets seized.

The real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association – and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. What is worse even, so Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.

Heavy handed approach by the police, obviously, also could create a backlash from protesters and who is to say that people refusing to move one when ordered by police and resisting would not also be seen and interpreted by law enforcement as riotous behavior?

© 2017

France offers €200 subsidy on electric bike purchases

Propella e-bike

In a bid to get more people on their bikes, and to boost alternative transport methods, France is offering its citizens a financial incentive for purchasing an e-bike.

One way to empower more people to go for cleaner transportation options is to offer financial incentives, as Oslo recently demonstrated with its $1200 electric cargo bike grant, and France looks to be giving the idea a go as well.

As published on the French government site Legifrance, citizens can claim their €200 financial assistance (one per person) through January 31, 2018, for the purchase of a pedal-assist electric bike "with a net maximum power of less than 3 kW" and not having a lead-acid battery. This "ecological bonus" could help offset the higher purchase price of an e-bike (as compared with a conventional bike) and give French residents a little more motivation to use personal 'zero emission' vehicles.

While many early e-bikes and conversions took advantage of relatively cheap lead-acid batteries as their power source, most modern electric bicycles employ lithium-ion (or similar chemistry) battery packs, so that stipulation shouldn't hold anyone back. As far as the restriction that the qualifying e-bikes have a "net maximum power" of less than 3 kW, it shouldn't be an issue either, as most e-bike regulations already govern the maximum rating of electric motors on bikes (however, e-bike wattage ratings aren't nearly as clear-cut as they seem).

Read more here.

Sachsen plant Fahrradschnellstraßen

Freie Fahrt mit dem Rad

Nonstop von Leipzig nach Halle – für Radfahrer könnte das bald Wirklichkeit werden. Sachsen plant vier Fahrradschnellstraßen ohne Ampeln und Kreuzungen. 2021 könnte Baubeginn sein.

Radfahrer bei Elster auf dem Elberadweg

Die Landesregierung hat beim Bundesverkehrsministerium vier Routen mit jeweils zwischen 30 und 50 Kilometern Länge für eine mögliche Förderung angemeldet. Das geht aus einer Kleinen Anfrage der Grünen hervor. Die Velo-Routen sollen mindestens vier Meter breit sein und möglichst entlang der üblichen Verkehrswege verlaufen. Damit sollen täglich bis zu 2.000 Pendler dazu motiviert werden, aufs Rad umzusteigen.

Grüne sehen Riesenpotential

Geplant sind Strecken zwischen Halle und Markkleeberg, Radeberg und Dippoldiswalde, Pirna und Meißen, sowie von Markkleeberg zur Weißen Elster. 2021 soll mit dem Bau der ersten Strecke begonnen werden, die Halle, Leipzig und Markkleeberg verbinden wird. Leipzig sei eine große Einpendlerstadt mit vielen Radfahrern, so Wirtschaftsstaatssekretär Hartmut Mangold. Die Landschaft sei außerdem sehr flach, was den unkomplizierten Bau einer Fahrradstrecke ermögliche. Auch die verkehrspolitische Sprecherin der Grünen, Katja Meier, sieht in diesem Ballungsraum ein "Riesenpotential".  Bestehende Nebenstraßen und Feldwege könnten für eine Fahrradschnellstraße ausgebaut werden. Die Seen im Leipziger Süden könnten besser erschlossen werden.

Hier weiterlesen.

Good-lifers are Nazis

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

185180_512170862129885_525338221_nThat, at least, is the way the neoliberal media, government and organizations that use the guise of being left of the political spectrum, socialist even, to vilify those wishing to live an autarkic, a self-reliant to almost self-sufficient life; one that is autonomous, that is to say not or as little possible dependent on government.

First of let me explain, in this context the term “good-lifer”, which I have just coined for the lack of a better one, and used in the headline. It is meant to be a self-reliant person or group of people, often referred to as self-sufficient. I just prefer to use self-reliant and as there is no noun for it I just made one up.

The neoliberals do not like people not being dependent for everything on the government or the workplace and consumption. Those who which to live differently, either alone, or as a family or a commune, are perceived as a threat and short of hunting them down, rounding them up, and sticking them into government reeducation camps – and I am trying not to give those people ideas, as they have already enough of their own – they go and vilify them by putting them into boxes labeled “Nazi”, “Right-Wing”, and such like. But they don't just stop there but they will also broadcast such stuff about with naming people and groups so as to have others shun them (and also so that others don't get the idea of following their lead).

The neoliberal elite and their media and helpers are very quick to use boxes in which to categorize people according to how they want their subjects to behave and if they don't behave as they “should” then they are labeled as something that is seen by most as abhorrent. This labeling and character assassinations have already cost people their jobs and livelihoods. It is the modern McCarthy inquisition and it even gets some of the communists again too, namely those that can see behind the facade of the fake socialist and left groups and want to have nothing to do with them; they too are Nazis now, obviously.

People deciding to join together to live in eco-villages and -communes, governing themselves – at least in their locality – and grow their own food and do their own things as far as business and work are concerned, they are also put into the same box of, yes, you guessed it, Nazi.

This box is also reserved by the neoliberals for those that refuse to take part in the consumer culture and go different ways, including making (do) and mending, demanding the right to repair, sharing, and much more.

Also into the same box, it would appear, according to those very same people and institutions, belong the new peace movement across Germany (and elsewhere) who are seen as Putinists, and also as Anti-Semites, in the latter case especially for putting the blame for the wars in which the US and allies are involved on the large banks, predominately in the US and the so-called Federal Reserve, a private banking cartel that acts as the state bank for the United States. Or at least some of the speakers at the peace march rallies do.

So anyone and everyone who even mildly disagrees with the aims of those neoliberal elites, organizations and institutions is files away under the term Nazi, and then has his character assassinated and whatever else.

The, as I have called them, good-lifers are becoming a special and particular target for those filers at the present as they are seen as dropouts who seek a life outside the “mainstream” and rebel against all that which is holy to the neoliberals, such as government control, consumerism, the hamster wheel of work to spend so you have to work more to spend more, and so forth.

Many either as individuals, families or groups of individuals or families seek to get away from the rat race and live a simpler life, mostly in rural areas, growing their own food and creating their own work and opportunities of making a living. Often those good-lifers, with the exception of those who seek solitude, like to group together in communes, communities or “settlements” and then they become a real thorn in the side of those neoliberals.

I mean where would the world come to if we all would do our own things and not follow the prescribed buy, buy, buy, work, work, work, hamster wheel line of operation? That just cannot be allowed and short of making it illegal they just brand those people as right-wing and whatever else and thus try to prevent others having anything to do with them for fear of being tarred with the same brush. Ostracization as a weapon to make others conform. And they dare to call the others fascists.

© 2017

The First Sustainable Urban Agrihood in the U.S. Could Serve As A Model for Urban Development

First sustainable urban agrihood in Detroit

Could fresh, healthy, affordable food be the future of urban neighborhood development?

In Detroit, Michigan, “the first sustainable urban agrihood” in the U.S. centers around an edible garden, with easily accessible, affordable produce offered to neighborhood residents and the community.

Each year, this urban farm provides fresh, free produce to 2,000 households within two square miles of the farm. They also supply food to local markets, restaurants, and food pantries.

The concept of agrihoods isn’t new —the Urban Land Institute estimated that about 200 agrihoods had been or were under construction across the U.S. — but this agrihood is unique because it’s the first truly urban agrihood. It plans to operate in a sustainable way, and is more accessible than most other agrihoods.

Agrihoods, also called agritopias or community-supported development, are an exciting concept because they create a remarkable improvement to the dominant food system.

They help tackle food insecurity and other community problems. They make it easy for people in low-income communities to get fresh, healthy food. And they give people a connection with the food they eat, the earth, and each other.

Read more here.

To save bees, city plans 1,000 acres of prairie

As vital pollinators decline across the U.S. Midwest, one city in Iowa is launching an ambitious plan to rebuild their prairie habitat.bee-flower-iowa-city.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

It's generally a bad time to be a bee in the United States. Populations of the pollinating insects have been declining for more than a decade, including managed honeybee colonies as well as various species of native wild bees.

Of course, this isn't just bad news for bees. Not only do honeybees give us honey and wax, but bees of all stripes play a pivotal role in our food supply. Bees pollinate plants that provide a quarter of the food eaten by Americans, accounting for more than $15 billion in increased crop value per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And along with bees, many butterflies and other insects are also vital crop pollinators. As MNN's Tom Oder wrote in 2013, "one in three mouthfuls of food and drink Americans consume is the result of insect pollination."

Some big changes are needed to solve a problem this big, like curbing the use of bee-killing insecticides, studying the threat of invasive varroa mites and restoring native prairies, whose wildflowers offer key bee habitat. But as one city in Iowa plans to demonstrate, big changes like these can start with smaller, simpler actions.

Read more here.

Microfibers are polluting our food chain. This laundry bag can stop that

Two German inventors created a laundry bag to prevent shedding microfibers ending up in oceans. Now, Patagonia will start selling it to customers

For the past three years, Alexander Nolte and Oliver Spies, surfing buddies and co-owners of Langbrett, a German retailer with four stores that sells surf gear and outdoor apparel, have been haunted by news reports connecting many of the products they sell to an emerging but serious environmental threat: microfiber pollution. Synthetic textiles, such as fleece jackets, send tiny plastic fibers into wastewater after washing. These bits eventually make their way into rivers, lakes and our oceans, where they pose health threats to plants and animals. The two men knew they had to act.

“We said, ‘either we have to stop selling fleece [apparel] or we have to think of a solution’,” explains Nolte. “So we went out to our beer garden and said ‘what can we do?’”

The beer-filled brainstorming session eventually led to Guppy Friend, a mesh laundry bag, that goes into the washing machine. The bag captures shedding fibers as clothes are tossed and spun, preventing the fibers from escaping. It’s roomy enough for a couple of fleece jackets or other apparel made of synthetic fabric. In two weeks, Langbrett, in partnership with outdoor clothing company Patagonia, will start shipping the Guppy Friend to the backers of their Kickstarter campaign. Patagonia will then begin selling the bag to customers.

The Guppy Friend is the first device designed and marketed specifically to prevent microfiber pollution. Microfibers are tiny, so they can easily move through sewage treatment plants. Natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, biodegrade over time. But synthetic fibers are problematic because they do not biodegrade, and tend to bind with molecules of harmful chemical pollutants found in wastewater, such as pesticides or flame retardants. Plus, fibers from apparel are often coated with chemicals to achieve performance attributes such as water resistance. Studies have shown health problems among plankton and other small organisms that eat microfibers, which then make their way up the food chain. Researchers have found high numbers of fibers inside fish and shellfish sold at markets.

Read more here.

Why You Should Always Plant Flowers In Your Vegetable Patch

Growing veggies and flowers in the same beds can boost your yield and keep your crops healthy—here are 5 tips to get you started.

flowers in vegetable garden

If you’re still growing flowers and vegetables on opposite sides of your yard, it’s time rethink your garden plan. Companion planting flowers and vegetables in the same beds is a strategy professional growers use to boost yields and keep crops healthy, and it’s easy and beneficial for beginners to do, too. (Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)

Maggie Saska, plant production specialist at the Rodale Institute organic farm, says the most important reason to grow flowers in your vegetable bed is to attract native bees and other beneficial insects. Without bees stopping by your garden to snack on nectar and swap pollen around, you’re going to have a pretty disappointing crop. Plus, planting bee-friendly flowers near your vegetables also supports struggling pollinator populations and biodiversity. You can also plant flowers specifically to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other desirable species.

(You may have also heard that some flowers help vegetables out by repelling pests—a popular example is that growing marigolds next to melons controls nematodes in the soil that destroy the melons’ roots. If you’re intersted, you can learn more about this practice in Great Garden Companions.) 

Read more here.


Bean broth, bean juice, bean liquid. Whatever appetising name you like to call it (there aren’t any), that murky liquid from a tin of butter beans or the cooking water from a tender chickpea, is liquid gold. Liquid gold! Especially, when saved for a rainy, bare-fridge kinda day.

That day was yesterday. A jar of chickpea cooking liquid sat on the fridge shelf alongside a lone onion and an egg. The hummus (pictured) had been eaten.

Depressing. Even by February’s standards. So I chopped the onion and fried it in oil, cos that’s what you do when you want to cook something isn’t it? In went the chickpea juice, a smidge of bouillon and a good splash of hot water.

At this point, I found two wilted kale leaves, which was exciting. I chopped them and added them to the mix, and brought it all to the boil. Taste and season.

I beat the egg and stirred it in, off the heat – the egg span into white ribbons, the soup thickened into a nice creamy-looking broth. It looked better already. Bloody good in fact.

Read more here.

When Military Police gets ordinary policing powers

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Feldjäger1-1_webWhen the military police is getting ordinary policing powers freedom and democracy are in real peril. It is not just “mission creep”, it is the road to a totalitarian state.

This applies definitely to countries where the military police, up to now, and in recent times, are not, and have not been, part – in some way or the other – of 'normal' policing.

The Italian Carabinieri, the Spanish Guarda Civil and the Dutch Koninklijke Marechaussee, are military police and do perform some – in some cases more than just some – standard policing duties.

In the main, however, whether it be in the UK, the USA, or Germany, to mention but those three out of many, there military police is restricted to matters appertaining to the bases and military personnel only. They have no jurisdiction in other matter and and no powers. Theoretically, that is. I said theoretically because in many instances this division is becoming blurred and military police is being used in a variety of more general policing roles, all in the name of protecting us against the evil terrorist.

In various places where it was not a normal thing for military police to patrol the streets, for instance, things are changing and MPs are beginning to perform roles and duties generally associated only with municipal, county, state, and national police.

Military police is beginning to be used in such roles and duties now, for instance in the three countries above where, by their various constitutions the use of military police in the civil real is expressly prohibited. That that is happening, regardless, therefore, should really give us some serious food for thought as to what direction our respective countries are taking on this road. It should make us sit up and take note, and not just take not but actually protest against this.

Unless a country such as these mentioned is under martial law or, as in France, a national state of emergency (which is, more or less, martial law), the military and military police should, theoretically (ye, I know I keep using this word), not be on the streets, especially not with weapons and live ammunition.

While it is always claimed that the military police (and the military in a direct policing role as in France and proposed in Germany) is to protect us all against terrorist attacks and such it is not only a blurring of the lines that should not be allowed to be blurred, but happening it is and that even and especially in countries where this expressly is not meant to happen.

This is the very slippery slope towards a totalitarian state and to fascism and fascism does not mean the fascism that we, today, associate with Hitler and the so-called National-Socialist German Workers' Party. Mussolini and General Franco. Fascism goes further back in history already and all feudal totalitarian regimes, as well as today's totalitarian regimes are fascist in nature. And, as soon as the very idea is proposed to have the military police (and the military) to police our streets alarm bells should be ringing at the highest possible volume.

© 2017

Can we have too many trees?

Hunting and mountaineering organisations say that plans to increase forest cover in Scotland will ruin the countryside. I disagree.

A couple of summers ago, I strolled through Glen Feshie, wondering why this beautiful corner of the Cairngorms didn’t feel British. Ah, that’s it: little Scots pines poked through the heather alongside baby willows, dog rose, black grouse and other burgeoning signs of life.

I grew up enjoying the bare majesty of the Lake District. Our treeless uplands are, to me and most other people, completely normal. In times of bewildering change, in everything from politics to the climate, we cling to normality. This must be why Mountaineering Scotland has allied with its normal foe, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, to criticise the Scottish government’s plan to increase the country’s forest cover from 17% to 25% by 2050.

The gamekeepers fear losing their normal business of deer stalking and grouse shooting. The mountaineers fret that tourists enjoy Scotland’s normal landscape and not “miles-long wanders through woods”, as Neil Reid from Mountaineering Scotland put it.

Following an outcry from members about this apparent opposition to trees, Mountaineering Scotland has acknowledged that allowing native forests to return is a positive move.

Trees aren’t intrinsically good. Covering another 8% of Scotland with lifeless industrial blocks of non-native plantations won’t meet government goals of enhanced landscapes, richer wildlife or more jobs. Modern mechanised forestry is not a big employer. Arguments about relative tree cover – Norway, the most comparable northern European country, has 33% tree cover; Finland 73% – aren’t totally convincing, as there’s something to be said for abnormality. Perhaps the treeless, denuded Scottish landscape is a unique selling point.

But people fearing the extinction of normality should go for a walk through Glen Feshie (rewilded by the Danish clothing billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, who owns more than 200,000 acres of Scotland – more than the Queen) or visit Trees for Life, recreating native Caledonian forest in the Highlands. These are landscapes bursting with life.

The mountaineers will still have their views (magnificent peaks tower above any natural tree line), and hunters will have more wildlife to kill, if they really must (Finland’s forests support 300,000 hunters; Norway shoots more grouse than Scotland). This new normal will be better for everyone.

Read more here.

6 Ways to Upcycle Milk Containers

Upcycling doesn't solve our waste problem but it does prolong the life of manufactured items and delays their trip to landfill. It also reduces the volume of materials needed for making new items because it allows us to avoid buying new products.

Another important part of upcycling is spending time with these items and reflecting on how our lifestyle impacts the environment. It's important to value the products we use, and in this way we are more likely to purchase only those that we need.

Read more here.


Fiskars_Garden_Action_PowerGearX_Bypass_Pruner (1)smlFiskars, one the UK’s leading gardening tool suppliers, is proud to unveil its exciting new PowerGear™ X range. The innovative cutting tools are a true evolution of engineering and ergonomics, making pruning and lopping easier than ever before.

This brand new generation of gardening tools is surprisingly powerful, with the pioneering PowerGear™ mechanism creating 3x the power in each and every cut, significantly reducing the physical effort needed to prune.

With super sharp PFTE coated precision blades, designed to slice effortlessly through the toughest wood, the PowerGear™ X range is weather resistant, virtually unbreakable and feature a brand new structural 3D soft grip for increased grip and optimal comfort. For the more intensive tasks, a robust aluminium shaft to reduce weight and increase control, complements the lightweight loppers.

Every aspect of design, performance and usability has been considered. Vibrant orange handles increase visibility, making tools easy to locate in even the most overgrown setting. With rivets replaced by bolts, maintenance is easy, increasing tool performance and longevity.

The new Fiskars PowerGear™ X range gives power to all gardeners - whether novice or seasoned.

PowerGear™ X Pruners

With 3x the cutting power of traditionally designed pruners, the new Fiskars PowerGear™ X pruners are easy to use. The patented gear mechanism and impressive power means that bigger, more efficient cuts can be made with a fraction of the effort.

The ergonomic rotating handle follows your hand’s natural clenching motion, reducing stress and fatigue. With a textured soft grip providing optimal comfort, the PowerGear™ X is the perfect pruner for those with large scale pruning tasks, as well as those who suffer from arthritis, rheumatism or carpal tunnel syndrome.

With increased visibility and a new locking mechanism, the pruners are easier to locate and safer to use. The advanced FiberComp™ construction results in a lighter, weather resistant tool, perfect for serious gardeners.

The new PowerGear™ X pruner range is available in Bypass pruner M, Bypass pruner L and Anvil pruner L.

Fiskars PowerGear™ X Hedge Shears

The innovative design for the new Fiskars PowerGear™ X Hedge Shears incorporates ergonomic principles with advanced technology, resulting in a lightweight hedge shear with more balance and control than ever before.

It is hard to believe that the patented gear mechanism can improve productivity so dramatically, but with 3x the power to every cut, this hedge shear cuts effortlessly through growth.

The new soft 3D contoured orange handle provides optimal grip and comfort, reducing fatigue and improving visibility in the garden. Fiskars hedge shears cut along the full length of the blade and the new construction makes it easy for tool maintenance.

The Fiskars PowerGear™ X Hedge Shears are the tool of choice for gardeners that need to take control.

Fiskars PowerGear™ X Lopper

Cutting through tough woody branches should be hard work, but with the new Fiskars PowerGear™ X Lopper, it’s surprisingly easy. The ingenious PowerGear™ mechanism creates 3x the cutting power in every cut, without increasing effort for the gardener. When you take the precision ground stainless steel blades with friction reducing coating into account, and the robust lightweight aluminium handles, it is easy to see why the Fiskars PowerGear™ X Lopper has the best in class cutting power.

The new handle design utilises the soft grip material and with its 3D contour surface increases control and reduces the need for excessive grip, reducing the strain often associated with lopping. The lightweight aluminium shaft results in a tool that can be comfortably used for extended periods. Like every tool in the new Fiskars PowerGear™ X range, the new loppers can be dismantled and maintained with ease, providing gardeners with powerful tools, designed to last.

For more information on Fiskars gardening tools and the brand new PowerGear™ X range visit

Fiskars is a leading global supplier of branded consumer products for the home, garden and outdoors. Products are renowned worldwide for their functionality and cutting-edge design, and the group boasts a strong portfolio of trusted international brands such as Fiskars, Iittala, and Gerber. Our most iconic product, the orange-handled scissors, was born in 1967 and is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year. The orange scissors revolutionized the everyday cutting experience, being the first plastic-handled scissors in the world. Fiskars is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. The group recorded net sales of 768 million euros in 2014, and employs some 4,800 people in over 20 countries. Founded in 1649, Fiskars is Finland's oldest company.

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

Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening

At a time when a huge pulse of uncertainty has been injected into the global project to stop the planet’s warming, scientists have just raised the stakes even further.

In a massive new study published Wednesday in the influential journal Nature, no less than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system “feedback” that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades.

That feedback involves the planet’s soils, which are a massive repository of carbon due to the plants and roots that have grown and died in them, in many cases over vast time periods (plants pull in carbon from the air through photosynthesis and use it to fuel their growth). It has long been feared that as warming increases, the microorganisms living in these soils would respond by very naturally upping their rate of respiration, a process that in turn releases carbon dioxide or methane, leading greenhouse gases.

It’s this concern that the new study validates. “Our analysis provides empirical support for the long-held concern that rising temperatures stimulate the loss of soil C to the atmosphere, driving a positive land C–climate feedback that could accelerate planetary warming over the twenty-first century,” the paper reports.

This, in turn, may mean that even humans’ best efforts to cut their emissions could fall short, simply because there’s another source of emissions all around us. The very Earth itself.

“By taking this global perspective, we’re able to see that there is a feedback, and it’s actually going to be massive,” said Thomas Crowther, a researcher with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology who led the research published Wednesday.

The new study is actually a compilation of 49 empirical studies, examining soil carbon emissions from research plots around the globe. The different studies produced variable results, including some cases in which soils actually pulled carbon from the air rather than releasing it. However, the researchers insist there was a pattern globally that was “predictable”: Soil carbon losses generally tended to track how much warming a region had seen, and how thick the upper soil layer was.

Read more here.

How to Grow Tomato Plants in Containers

tomato growing in containers and pots

Growing In Containers

Container gardening is a great way to garden when you don’t have much space, and tomatoes are the king of containers. The structure and limited space actually encourages upward growth for this vining plant, and when you combine a good tomato pot with a trellis or cage, you have a recipe for successful, tasty tomatoes this summer.

Choosing A Variety

While you can grow your prized heirloom tomatoes in containers with proper care and attention, the varieties that succeed the best in containers are dwarf varieties like grape and cherry tomatoes. Try Tiny Tim, Pixie II, or Florida Basket, which was bred to grow in containers. These smaller tomatoes lend themselves well to vining downward in hanging baskets, but you also can train them upright with the use of stakes, poles and cages.

Determinate Varieties

If you want full-size tomatoes but need the plants to be compact in size to fit within your container, choose a determinate variety of tomato. These stay at a more manageable height and produce their juicy red fruits more closely together, making them desirable for container gardening. However, pay attention to fruit size when choosing a determinate tomato for a container; stay away from giant or jumbo varieties, as these plants will not be able to grow and fruit well within the confines of a pot.

Sun, Soil and Water

Tomatoes grown in containers need the same amount of sun as they would in the garden; be sure to place the container in a spot that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sun during the day. Containers should be well-drained, with plenty of drainage holes. You can use regular potting mix for small containers and hanging pots, but soil needs to be mixed especially for larger containers. It needs to be light, and retain moisture well.

Read more here.

Oslo, Norway, is giving residents $1200 toward purchasing an electric cargo bike


One way to move toward a cleaner, greener city is through offering citizens financial incentives to get out of their cars and onto two wheels.

Getting around on a bicycle can be an excellent way to clean up our daily commutes and errand runs, but sometimes you need a little bit of a boost, which is where electric bikes come in. And sometimes you need a little more space to haul groceries and gear with you, which is where cargo bikes come in. Combine the two, and you've got an efficient and fun way to not only get from point A to point B, but to also get the shopping home in a single trip without having to stack boxes and bags on your rear rack until you're wobbling your way precariously down the road (been there, done that).

The capital of Norway, Oslo, is looking to get more of its citizens out of their cars and onto bikes, and more specifically, onto a set of wheels that is made to haul more than just a single person, in the form of grants covering part of the cost of an electric cargo bike. Last year, the city council offered residents a financial incentive toward buying an electric bike, up to 20% of the purchase price of an e-bike, capped at 5000 kroner (about $600). Now that effort has been extended a bit into an electric cargo bike grant program, which will cover part of the cost of purchase of one of these electric workhorses.

Read more here.

Caffé Nero reports coffee-waste-to-biofuel success, plans expansion

Italian-style coffee shop chain Caffé Nero is looking to extend an innovative coffee-to-biofuel recycling scheme beyond greater London after a successful partnership with recycling company First Mile and technology firm Bio-Bean.

First Mile's chief commercial officer Joe Allen (left) and Caffè Nero's commercial director Matt Spencer (right) are pleased by the success of the ongoing partnership

Nero expects to have converted 218 tonnes of used coffee grounds into 98 tonnes of biomass pellets – enough fuel to power the equivalent of 453 homes – when the retailer reaches the first annual milestone of its partnership with First mile and Bio-Bean in July.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our recycling so we are very excited to be working with First Mile and Bio Bean on this initiative and will seek to extend it beyond Greater London,” said Caffè Nero’s commercial director Matt Spencer.

The ongoing agreement sees First Mile provide Caffè Nero with special recycling sacks for used coffee grounds. These sacks are collected by First Mile every evening and passed onto Bio-Bean for processing into advanced biofuels.

First Mile’s chief commercial officer Joe Allen said: “This service marks another step in our ambition to create a world where you can recycle everything. Waste coffee grounds would previously go to incineration or landfill, and it is fantastic to see Caffè Nero embrace this new initiative and start recycling a significant amount of waste coffee. We look forward to supporting a wider roll-out and working with Caffè Nero on other recycling challenges.”

Caffé Nero reports that London-based Bio-Bean is also now exploring the opportunity to refine the oils within the coffee grounds into bio-diesel for use in vehicles. One tonne of waste coffee grounds creates 245 litres of bio-diesel and Caffè Nero claims that its current annual recycled coffee waste levels would be enough to fuel a complete circle of the M25 3,689 times.

Fellow coffee shop chain Costa Coffee announced the launch of a new partnership with Bio-Bean at the end of 2016, which will see 3,000 tonnes of Costa's waste coffee grounds converted into biofuel.

Closed-loop coffee

Caffé Nero’s coffee-to-biofuel recycling scheme forms part of a company-wide push towards a circular economy after the retailer was singled out by celebrity chef-turned environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his Hugh’s War on Waste TV programme last year.

Nero was recently involved with the #1MoreShot social experiment campaign, which saw 11 giant coffee cup bins placed in Manchester to solely collect paper coffee cups. The retailer has also trained its back-of-house teams to sort through waste before it is handed over for collection, to maximise efficiencies. This behaviour change scheme alone has resulted in over 154,000kg of cardboard and more than a million kilograms of mixed recycling being recovered in London since July 2016.

The group has also been expanding on its broader CSR strategy. Last year, edie reported that Nero was building on its work with the Rainforest Alliance to “move beyond certification” and train-up coffee farmers across South America, having launched a farming community support initiative in Nicaragua in 2015.


Ikea Releases Open Source Designs For A Garden Sphere That Feeds A Whole Neighborhood

It doesn’t even require nails.

If you’ve already constructed Ikea desks and chairs, then it’s time to take your skills to the next level.

This week Space10, Ikea’s lab for futuristic, solutions-oriented designs, released open source plans for The Growroom, a large, multi-tiered spherical garden designed to sustainably grow enough food for an entire neighborhood. Hoping to help spur local growing and sourcing, Space10 made the plans available for free on Thursday.

All it takes to complete the 17-step, architect-designed DIY garden of your dreams is plywood, a visit to your local community workshop, rubber hammers, metal screws and some patience:

Though it’s intended mainly for use as a neighborhood garden in cities, you could also build a Growroom for your own backyard, a spokesman told HuffPost.

Read more here.

Are we in the final stages of capitalism?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

karl-marxThe final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania of short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host.

If all those indicators are something to go by then we are in the last, the final, stages of capitalism as an economic (and political) system. The only worry is that the monster, this dragon, in its death-throes will take many people with it into the abyss. And it will not be the elite, the rich and powerful, unless we do something, but the working class and the poor that will be its victims.

The indicators certainly are all there, and there can absolutely be no denying that, and this includes the destruction of the ecosystem as much as that of everything what makes a society.

When we look at the UK every aspect of what once was, we have to say now, a public service, or at least almost every aspect and everything, is now being privatized our outsourced to private operators.

The postal and telecommunications, water and other utilities, transportation (still called public transport) – all buses, trains and trams – and now they are aiming to sell off the National Health Service in Britain. Capitalism, in its final hour, so to speak, is destroying the state and everything that goes with it, and with it society as we know it.

In its death throes capitalism will also turn into fascism and destroy even the very pretense of liberty. We can very well see that presently in Europe with the European Union (EU) where politicians and others openly talk about democracy being in the way of what they want to achieve and also and especially no longer want to see democracy as a government by the people. They want an elite that rules, without the people getting a looking in. In other words a return to, though a modern version of it, feudalism. Feudalism, on the other hand, is nothing different than fascism.

Fascism is not something that was invented invented by the National-Socialist Party of Germany, that is to say Hitler and his ilk, nor by Mussolini or Franco. It is much older though it may not have been called thus. The authoritarian form of government by emperors, kings, queens and what-have-you, that is to say feudalism, all was and is a form of fascism, as is any other authoritarian and oppressive form of government that predominately benefits one person or a group, whether political or ethnic, or which oppresses other or another ethnicity simply because of ethnicity. Thus, for example, the Zionist state is a fascist state. But I digressed by way of explanation.

In Germany it is always claimed – and that is not the only country that claims such a system – that they have a social free market economy and democracy. But the truth is a totally different one. What Germany has, and in fact all of the so-called free market economies have, is an antisocial dictatorship of capital, of corporations. The free market capitalist economy, we can also call it simply capitalism, is a dictatorship of the corporation and the investors over the masses and nothing else but fascism.

Everything, almost everywhere, is being privatized; health and social care, infrastructure and utilities, public transportation, etc. The services that should be run for the benefit of the population are being turned into profit-making enterprises to fill the pockets of CEOs and shareholders.

Marx' prophesies are on the road to fulfilling itself. The host, as he called it, is being destroyed. The worrying thing, however, is that, instead of heading towards true socialism as the stepping stone to communism we seems to be headed in another direction of a system akin to that of the so-called Third Reich, a pseudo-socialism of the kind that a particular little corporal from Austria and his ilk were preaching.

The growing army of unemployed and homeless are also a sign of what is going on. Some of it, probably, even deliberate to remove – physically – a certain strata of the population in the capitalist countries.

Valueless and useless (useless in the capitalist sense) life has to be eliminated. He who does not work also shall not eat! That were the words of a German government politician only in 2016. workers are no longer needs in such great numbers and thus they have become superfluous and one wants to reduce the population anyway. However, the creation of concentration camps and labor camps they do not dare to consider openly as yet. But death can be made invisible by simple leaving people to starve or freeze to death and thus weather conditions and such can be blamed for their death, not, however, so seems to be the reckoning, the governments. Thus they cannot be held responsible for this and be prosecuted.

Without a lot of money have people have no (political) power and this entire system needs to be turned inside out and replaced. We don't need new governments of a lesser of the two – or how ever many – evils but we need an entire new system and that will not come out of the capitalist one, and also not by giving capitalism a social face, as the social-democrats like to say.

It was the social-democrats, whether the SPD ine Germany or the Labour Party in Britain, and similar parties in other countries, that have betrayed the working class everywhere and sold them down the proverbial Swanee.

But, as Marx predicted, the capitalist system is now in its death throes but is destroying everything with it while it is fighting tooth and nail not to die. Every piece of infrastructure, every public service, including health care, social services, public transportation and utilities, is being sold off to stave off this inevitable death. The capitalist and neoliberal elite are even prepared to start another world war in an attempt to stop that which is already in a coma from dying.

And what does the working class do? Its members are being misled to fight the wrong battles or sit at home being entertained with bread and circuses, by means of the god in the living room, and other rooms in the house and even on their cellphones. No one is going to do it for us and the politicians that want us to vote for them in the elections won't do it either. To bring about the change that must be brought about the working class has to get off its backside and get active. The ways and means may vary but by itself it is not going to happen. The rich, the elite, and those politicians, will never permit their money and power to be voted away in election. It is not going to happen.

Capitalism (as we know it) may be dying and already be in a coma, but definitely in its last throes, but unless we take control of our destiny the outcome may be worse than what we have now. A real system change, as we must work for and achieve, a true revolution, will never be brought about by the ballot box, never. They will never allow it.

© 2017

The Compost King of New York

What happens to food scraps after the city takes them? Soon a large fraction will wind up on Long Island, where Charles Vigliotti hopes to turn them into profit.

On an overcast winter morning, Charles Vigliotti, chief executive of American Organic Energy, drove me to his 62-acre lot in rural Yaphank, N.Y., 60 miles east of Manhattan, to show me his vision of the future of alternative energy. He snaked his company Jeep around tall piles of wood chips, sandy loam and dead leaves. Then, with a sudden turn, we shot up the side of a 30-foot bluff of soil. At the top, we gazed down upon those many piles and breathed in the mildly sulfurous exhalations of a nearby dump. Vigliotti radiated enthusiasm. Within the next several months, he expected to break ground — “right there,” he said, thrusting his index finger toward a two-acre clearing — on a massive $50 million anaerobic digester, a high-tech plant that would transform into clean energy a rich reserve that until recently has gone largely untapped: food waste.

This resource, Vigliotti knew, had a lot going for it. Like oil and coal, kitchen scraps can be converted into energy. But unlike oil and coal, which are expensive to dig out of the ground, food waste is something that cities will actually pay someone to haul away. Many innovative municipalities, in an effort to keep organic material out of dumps — where it generates methane, a greenhouse gas — already separate food from garbage and send it to old-fashioned compost facilities. There, workers pile the waste in linear heaps called windrows, mix it with leaves and grass clippings and let oxygen-dependent microbes transform the gunk into lovely dark fertilizer. But the more material you compost, the more space (and gas-guzzling bulldozers and windrow turners) you need to process it. It can get a little smelly, too, which is yet another reason New York City, which generates about one million tons of organic waste a year, will probably never host giant compost farms.

Read more here.

Ein Hektar Sibirien für alle

Es ist Russlands neue Bodenreform: Seit dem 1. Februar kann sich jeder Russe einen Hektar Land zur eigenen Nutzung im äußersten Osten des Landes sichern. Die Grundstücke lassen sich online markieren, sie werden vom Staat kostenlos überlassen und können später auch privatisiert werden. Was verspricht sich die russische Regierung davon?

Darf es ein Grundstück auf Kam­tschatka sein, mit Blick auf einen Vulkan? Oder ist doch das Ufer des Pazifischen Ozeans vorzuziehen? Jaku­tien, wo sich die kältesten Orte der Welt befinden, soll auch sehr schöne Flecken haben. Man wird ja wohl noch träumen dürfen.

Beim Träumen muss es seit dem 1. Februar dann auch nicht bleiben. Denn jetzt kann sich jeder Russe –Ausländer sind leider ausgeschlossen – per Internet und völlig kostenlos einen Hektar Land in Sibirien reservieren, genauer gesagt in den neun östlichsten Provinzen Russlands, die den fernöstlichen Föderalbezirk bilden. Dabei handelt es sich um ein Regierungsprogramm, das dem Bevölkerungsschwund in diesen entlegenen Gegenden entgegenwirken und eine Art „Gegenverkehr“ für die Abwanderung erzeugen will. Spätestens bis 2020 sollen sich die beiden Ströme mindestens neutralisieren. Jurij Trutnew, Russlands Beauftragter für den Fernen Osten, hofft darauf, dass es schon 2018 so weit ist, wie er zuletzt der „Rossijskaja Gaseta“ sagte.

Der Ferne Osten macht mehr als ein Drittel der russischen Landmasse aus, stellt aber nur fünf Prozent der Bevölkerung (6,3 Millionen). Alle Regionen haben seit dem Ende der Sowjetunion massiv an Einwohnern verloren, Tschukotka an der Beringstraße sogar zwei Drittel.

Hier weiterlesen.

Man Single-handedly Repopulated Butterfly Species in a City Using His Backyard

Pipevine Swallotail Butterflies-Tim Wong

Tim Wong may work as an aquatic biologist during the day, but when he is back on terra firma he tends to other wildlife: raising endangered butterflies in his backyard.

Studying butterflies had been a childhood hobby of Wong’s, so creating a backyard conservation area wasn’t a life-changing metamorphosis for him—but it certainly was for this species, which had vanished from the San Francisco skyline.

When he first learned of the predicament of the pipevine swallowtail, the 28-year-old swooped in to help by creating a screened backyard enclosure with ideal environmental conditions for the insect.

He filled it with specific plants that the insects like to feed on. Then, he gathered a group of 20 different pipevine swallowtail caterpillars from nearby areas. As he carefully nursed the small tribe of precious insects, their numbers began to quickly multiply.

Read more here.

Garden Press Event 2017

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Thursday, February 16, 2017 saw the 11th Garden Press Event at the Barbarian Two Exhibition Halls in the City of London.

Elho_Tote1_webAccording to what I have heard the show attracted the registration of about 50% more journalists in the field compared to last year. This, to me at least, shows that the interest in all things gardening is still growing, and which also should me the interest in gardening in general, and that, hopefully keeps including grow your own, as in growing food. A good thing, surely.

Quite a few new interesting products were on show and here also and especially from old well-known companies, but there too were new ones present with new innovations.

Gardena: This German company was represented again, like last year, though with some new products as well. One of those that caught my eye and interest is their City Gardening range, especially here the Balcony Box, designed for the small urban garden, on the terrace or on the balcony. Many people in a urban setting do want to grow things – also by way of food, even if it is but a small amount – on their patios, terraces, balconies and in window boxes and the larger trowels, weeders, and what have you, are generally way too big to be used in such an environment. Thus the Balcony Box will definitely fill a gab in the market.

Wilkinson Sword has decided that green is the new black in that its carbon steel gardening tool have gone green, as in color green. This is as much an answer to the fact that people want a little color on their tools as well as an additional protection of the steel of the tools.

Kent & Stowe is including a children's gardening range to its gardening tools with proper forged tools suitable for little people, younger than the usual late elementary school age to which other children's gardening tools seem to be aimed, and those tools are, it would appear, to be of the same quality as their adult tools, with the same kind of proper wooden handles and stainless steel working bits. Those children's tools, especially here the trowel and the hand fork, will also lend themselves well for use by the urban gardener who uses containers and works in small spaces.

Elho was showing their latest additions to their range and a lot of nice things they are. As far as I am concerned the tote bag that was given out to journalists as gift should also become part of their range of products, in a number of different sizes. A slightly smaller version (in szie) would make for a great tool carrier for the home gardener. The tote itself, in the size that it is, however, lends itself equally well for use in gardening – a different kind of trug, so to speak – as for going shopping, now that the plastic carrier bags have become more or less a no-no.

It was also interesting to meet Charles Dowding of the No Dig method of gardening and author of many books at the show where he was, among other things, promoting his latest book, the Vegetable Garden Diary (of which more in a review later) and the upcoming one, written together with his partner, Stephanie Hafferty, “No Dig Organic Home & Garden”, to be published in May 2017.

Burgon & Ball also has brought out a couple of new products to their range including the hib-trug which comes in two different sizes; one more for dead heading of flowers and the bigger version for harvesting clipping onto belt or into the waistband of the trousers allowing both hands to be kept free for working (review to follow).

In closing I would like to thank the organizers of the Garden Press Event for another great one and the members of the sales and PR teams of the various companies for their time and attention.

© 2017

Plastic 'nurdles' found littering UK beaches

Nurdles on a beach

A search of 279 beaches around the UK has found that almost three-quarters of them were littered with tiny plastic "nurdles".

Volunteers signed up to search their local shoreline, ranging between Shetland and the Scilly Isles, for the lentil-sized pellets, used as a raw material to make plastic products.

They can cause damage to such wildlife as birds and fish, which eat them.

The findings will be reflected in a government study into microplastics.

What's the problem?

Campaigners estimate that up to 53 billion of the tiny pellets escape into the UK's environment each year.

This happens during the manufacture, transport or use of plastic products.

The nurdles are often spilt accidentally into rivers and oceans or fall into drains where they are washed out to sea.

Experts warn nurdles can soak up chemical pollutants from their surroundings and then release toxins into the animals that eat them.

Read more here.

Obst- und Gemüsebeutel selber nähen

Obst- und Gemüsebeutel selber nähen: Beutel mit Obst

Im Supermarkt liegen kleine Plastiktüten für Obst- und Gemüse bereit, das ist praktisch aber nicht umweltfreundlich. Besser ist es, einen wiederverwendbaren Beutel zu nutzen und darin Tomaten, Champignons oder Nüsse abzufüllen. Diese Beutel musst du nicht kaufen, sondern kannst sie ganz einfach selber machen.

Sicherlich bist du schon über die nützlichen kleinen Beutel gestolpert, welche Plastiktüten für Obst und Gemüse im Supermarkt überflüssig machen: Aus dünnem Material, klein, faltbar und waschbar sind sie eine tolle und vor allem nachhaltige Alternative zu den Plastiktütchen aus dem Supermarkt.

Solche wiederverwendbaren Beutel brauchst du nicht zu kaufen, hier erfährst du, wie du sie ganz einfach selbst nähen kannst: Aus Materialien, die du bestimmt schon zuhause hast! Ob mit oder ohne Nähmaschine – dein Beutel ist im Handumdrehen fertig. Näh doch gleich mehrere Obst- und Gemüsebeutel, entweder für den eigenen Großeinkauf oder zum Verschenken: Gemeinsam Verpackungsmüll vermeiden macht noch mehr Spaß.

Hier weiterlesen.

Feeding the nation

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

russian-dacha1The first and foremost job and task of a farmer is not to produce for the export market but it is that of feeding the nation. Export should never be (seen as) the first priority but, alas, with many, especially the large corporate farms, it would appear to be just that. One only needs to hear them when they talk about how this or that regulation might interfere with their ability to export their produce. Any surplus, after the needs of the nation have been satisfied, that is for export but growing specifically, as seem seem to be doing, for the export market is not in the brief. First feed the nation.

In order to produce more produce – no, it's not a typo – to feed the nation we have have to get more people back on the land to actually grow the vegetables, etc. that are needed in the country rather than to be producing for export. That would also mean reducing the grasslands and reduce beef production, grasslands that today are wasted – for some grassland pastures are not on marginal land. And as far as so-called “marginal lands” are concerned, if crops cannot be grown then let's plat trees there.

Prehistoric man did not settle to raise cattle. He settled in order to crow crops. It was arable mixed farming. He did domesticate animals as well; cattle, sheep, goats, horses – though even the nomadic ones did that. But predominately prehistoric man settled to grow a garden and a farm, crops for food, so he did not have to hunt and gather.

Once again, also in this regard, it would appear that we don't just need a system change but a full revolution. A revolution of land use and of agriculture. A proper land reform and agrarian reform.

Comments from our politicians such as one some time in 2016 or thereabout who said: “we don't really need farmers in Britain. We can get all the food we need from abroad” show what morons the people permit to rule over them.

In order to get to this new peasantry system, however, requires, a full about turn. Only a complete land reform and agrarian reform will make such proper agriculture for the people by the people, so to speak, possible.

The current system, ever since the Second World War, or thereabouts, is not benefiting the people of the country at all and despite the fact that the farmers grow a lot for export, and seem to be looking for export opportunities before they ever look to sell to the home market, they cannot – or so they try to tell the world – make ends meet without large subsidies, including payments from the European Union.

Vast areas of our countryside, of areas that could grow food (and trees) are not utilized properly and are, predominately, “sporting” estates in the hand of the so-called landed gentry and the aristocracy. It is time that the land and woods were (back) in the hands of people willing to live on the land and make a living from it and produce food, wood and wooden products for the nation.

On the farming side we need many small farms, as the dacha system in Russia has shown, rather than large agricultural factory farms. This is also the way forward as regards to biodiversity and protection of soil and water. We need a low impact and low input agriculture – low input as in little in the way of chemicals and such like for it will have a lot of input by way of labor – rather than high intensity agriculture that we have at present, which is destroying the very soil that all life depends on.

Let me recap once again: The job of the farmer is... feeding the nation and the job of the forester is... producing timber for the nation. Everything else is secondary. Export is for any surplus that may be but should never ever be the primary thought. Alas, though, it appears to be that at the moment and that needs to change.

© 2017

'Extraordinary' levels of pollutants found in 10km deep Mariana trench

Presence of manmade chemicals in most remote place on planet shows nowhere is safe from human impact, say scientists

Scientists have discovered “extraordinary” levels of toxic pollution in the most remote and inaccessible place on the planet – the 10km deep Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean.

Small crustaceans that live in the pitch-black waters of the trench, captured by a robotic submarine, were contaminated with 50 times more toxic chemicals than crabs that survive in heavily polluted rivers in China.

“We still think of the deep ocean as being this remote and pristine realm, safe from human impact, but our research shows that, sadly, this could not be further from the truth,” said Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University in the UK, who led the research.

“The fact that we found such extraordinary levels of these pollutants really brings home the long-term, devastating impact that mankind is having on the planet,” he said.

Jamieson’s team identified two key types of severely toxic industrial chemicals that were banned in the late 1970s, but do not break down in the environment, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These chemicals have previously been found at high levels in Inuit people in the Canadian Arctic and in killer whales and dolphins in western Europe.

The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, suggests that the POPs infiltrate the deepest parts of the oceans as dead animals and particles of plastic fall downwards. POPs accumulate in fat and are therefore concentrated in creatures up the food chain. They are also water-repellent and so stick to plastic waste.

Read more here.