BPA-free drinking for on the move

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

BPA-free is a very stretchable term and it is not only BPA that is a problem.

Snapple-DopperRefillable drinking bottles for when you are on the move are the environmentally-friendly alternative to the one-way bottles of water and other drinks found on the shelves of the supermarkets and other stores. Using your own bottle and refilling it with tap water is also much better for your wallet.

Often it is claimed that all plastic bottles, also refillable ones, are bad and bad for your health, but there is plastic that contains BPA and other harmful materials that can leach out and then there are others that do not. Not all plastics are alike, for starters. Also Triton, claimed to be BPA-free, has substances that leach and could, potentially, be harmful.

While plastic is, to some degree, harmful to the environment there are, as said, plastics and then there are other plastics. And the same goes for health concerns. Bisphenol A (BPA) is regarded as a hormone disruptor or even as a substance that acts like a hormone in the human body and thus should be avoided, though it is found, amongst other places, in PET bottles, the common garden variety of water, soda and other drinks bottles, as well as in many other plastic products. Some plastic bottles are, however, safe to use, and I have been told that those made of PP, LDPE und HDPE, do not contain BPA or other harmful chemicals.

The best choice as regards for material for a reusable refillable water bottle obviously is good old-fashioned glass but glass is heavy and glass is breakable. While there are bottles made of glass available that are made of one or the other kind of toughened glass they are heavier still and also expensive.

Then there are those made of stainless steel which are much lighter than glass and are, due to the fact they are made of metal, unbreakable. They just dent. I do not recommend using aluminium bottles as they are lined with a synthetic liner which, generally, contains BPA and we want to avoid that stuff, don't we.

And then, at the end, so to speak, of the spectrum, because plastics are still oil-based, there are those made from the “safe” kinds of plastic. We could include Triton though with a caveat in that a number of sources claim that Triton as well leaches harmful chemicals.

Here I will highlight two bottles and makers specifically because both ar great designs and use safe plastic. One is Ohyo, the collapsible water bottle, once kn own as Aquatina, and the other is Dopper.

Years ago Robinsons, the maker of juice drinks in the UK, sold a premixed-squash in a reusable Army-style plastic canteen with a cartoon character called “Thirst Ranger” embossed on the bottle; it was sometime around the mid-1980s. That bottle was made of one of those “safe” plastics and I still have mine today. I did change the seal in the bottle cap, however, as the original was a cork-based one that deteriorated.

As far as plastic reusable water bottles go, however, my recommendation would the De Dopper bottle, and that because of the fact that it “breaks down” into three parts, allowing for very easy and thorough cleaning.

If you want a bottle that can squish down to a small package when not in use then the Ohyo is a brilliant choice and, as far as I am aware, is the only one of its kind that does that.

At home, however, or at the office, at your desk, if you want to have water in a bottle then I would always advise the use of glass, and here you can even save a great deal by simply repurposing, say, a Snapple lemonade bottle, or similar, for this job. On the other hand, if you can give that kind of bottle some protection then it can also be carried in a backpack.

© 2016

ECOFFEE CUP CEO STIRRED BY HUGH’S WAR ON WASTE CAMPAIGN

  • David McLagan claims that consumer behaviour MUST change

  • Reusable rather than recyclable is the ONLY way to tackle the issue of waste

  • Over 100 billion single use cups go to landfill each year globally. Hugh’s estimate of 2.5 of billion in UK must be considered in this context

Press Release with comments by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

coffeecupwasteFollowing Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s BBC News Viewpoint piece on the coffee cup waste crisis this week, and the airing of Episode 3 of his War on Waste series taking on coffee shop giants Starbucks, Costa and Caffè Nero last night, David McLagan, Founder & CEO of revolutionary new reusable and biodegradable coffee cup brand, Ecoffee Cup, pitches in to emphasise the need to focus on changing consumer behaviour rather than holding out for the big coffee corporations to effect change.

“In his War on Waste campaign, Hugh estimates that 2.5 billion single-use cups per year go to landfill in the UK. But the problem is much bigger when we look beyond Britain...

With estimates of up to half a trillion manufactured, globally, over 100 billion single-use cups go to landfill each year. Starbucks, in the US alone, serves 8,000 cups per minute.

This is not a new issue… We have been talking about it for almost a decade.

Unfortunately, no-one can (or will be inclined to) disclose exactly how many cups are manufactured per year. The major culprits, the big coffee shop chains, are particularly sheepish. Single-use cups make up a major component of their consumer offering and are entrenched in their business model. It’s difficult for them to change their behaviour unless they are forced to. They also claim that alternative cup options affect the “perfect coffee experience”. So, sadly, reusables don’t meet their business criteria.

Due to the volumes produced, single-use cups are cheap and make up a miniscule percentage of the cost of a cup of coffee, which means a change to something more sustainable will impact on profits, and shareholders are averse to anything that does that.

Starbucks has announced it will be “trialling” Frugal Cup – a recyclable single-use cup – in the UK. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, we don‘t believe it tackles the problem at the source. We can’t see how this will work in practical terms either.

Separation and non-contamination of recycling is the key and unless facilities exist, it will be very difficult to ensure such separation occurs, especially when dealing with cups that are taken off premises. Instead, and as is the current reality, cups will simply end up in general waste.

In order to have any impact at all, coffee chains need to invest in special facilities - dedicated bins, dedicated waste recovery, dedicated recycling facilities - and pool resources to do it. Unfortunately, we can’t see this happening any time soon.

So rather than focusing on the recycling of single-use cups, it’s behaviour that needs to change.

Sadly, within two decades we have become a single-use, plastic society. We’re all a bit lazy. We feel it’s difficult to avoid plastic, difficult to avoid single-use. No-one is apportioning blame and preaching is counterproductive, but like single-use plastic bottles, and more recently, plastic bags, it’s evident that it’s not that hard to change a few little things to help make a big difference. Reusable coffee cups are the way forward.”

David McLagan founded Ecoffee Cup in 2013. Made from biodegradable bamboo fibre and available in a wide range of stylish designs, Ecoffee Cup is light, practical and resealable for easy storage in bags. With a number of coffee shops and cafes offering discounts for those using reusable cups, it also saves money for the British coffee consuming public. Ecoffee Cup has set up the #stopthe100billion social media campaign in an attempt to raise awareness of the issue and effect real change in the way we consume coffee.

For more information or to purchase an Ecoffee Cup, visit www.ecoff.ee

From manufacture through to disposal, Ecoffee Cup is a new generation of reusable takeaway cup. Created with the world’s fastest growing, most sustainable crop – naturally organic, bamboo fibre – and non-GMO corn starch, Ecoffee Cup is BPA and phthalate free. It’s the Natural Reusable.

Ecoffee Cup feels a bit like thick, yet light cardboard. And because bamboo fibre is naturally sterile, Ecoffee Cup is lovely to drink from and won’t flavour-taint drinks. It is also super light at only 135g and has a fully resealable ‘drip-proof’ lid, making it perfect for on the go.

The cup itself is dishwasher safe and lasts for years if you treat it nicely. Ecoffee Cups are not suitable for microwave use.

The real beauty of the cup is that it is biodegradable. When it has reached the end of its life, it can be simply crushed, soaked in boiling water and buried with organic compost. The food grade silicone lid and sleeve can be recycled with curb-side recycling. Watch this space as Ecoffee Cup is working on making these biodegradable too!

Available in a wide range of fun, contemporary patterns and bright, vibrant colours, Ecoffee Cup packs just a little bit more style than its plastic, ceramic or stainless steel cousins.

The problem I have with this is that the term bamboo fiber and so-called biodegradability in this context, as well as that in regards to clothing, that it always makes me laugh and come out in sarcasm.

Bamboo fiber does, per se, not exist as it is NOT a plant that makes fibers suitable for clothing or other such products. As far as clothing is concerned bamboo is turned into a form of viscose or rayon, the same as wood was and is to make such products, and while using bamboo is a lot better than using wood, maybe, to produce viscose, the energy used in the production of this is probably the same as creating such products as a drinking cup from plastic.

In the case of those coffee cups in question here, though I have not, as yet, seen them in real life, it has to be assumed that the bamboo was used to make some sort of a polymer to mold the cups, which means some sort of so-called “bio-plastic” was, more than likely, created. Can we stop the greenwash please, everyone, thanks.

© 2016

INNOVATIVE ECO FURNITURE LAUNCHES

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Right, that is the headline that came with the press release and then it continues, as below:

An innovative eco product is aiming to bring a touch of style to home recycling.

dwissThe dwiss is a domestic recycling system carefully hand-crafted in the UK using sustainable beech plywood.

The pioneering design features four compartments that conveniently store different waste types, and which can be quickly and easily emptied into external facilities for collection by local authorities.

The innovative product comes from new Sheffield design house Fellow53. The dwiss aims to satisfy the needs of eco-friendly furniture buyers and officially launches at Tent, part of London Design Fair in September.

Founder Jon Walker set up Fellow53 last year.

Walker explained: “The fundamental aim of the dwiss is to inspire people to recycle as much as possible by making it quick, easy and fun. And to get them to think about what other everyday tasks they can do in a sustainable manner.

“The dwiss not only promotes sustainable living, it’s a simple, elegant and durable piece of furniture which itself is sustainable.

“Made from sustainable beech plywood we've minimized the amount of material required through the use of an innovative central frame, eliminated mechanical parts to increase durability, and assembled the dwiss in a way that enables re-manufacturing.

“We're also manufacturing the dwiss in the UK, so avoiding significant emissions by optimizing our logistics.”

The packaging ‘presents’ the dwiss on delivery, with two sides falling away as part of a grand reveal. The packaging is easy to disassemble and store in the dwiss, providing an instant solution for disposal of packaging.

The dwiss is highly flexible and can be configured to suit the buyer’s needs.

Walker hints that Fellow53 will be expanding its product line in the future to include more pieces.

“The aim is to develop a range of sustainable products which supports sustainable actions.” adds Walker.

“Sustainable and eco-friendly products with first class craftsmanship are very much the core values which will be reflected in our products as the brand grows.”

The dwiss will retail at £895 and orders are now being taken at www.dwiss.org for the first batch of dwiss’.

dwiss is an elegantly designed, hand-made kitchen device which adds style and ease to home recycling. Made in the UK, dwiss is a sustainable product which supports sustainable actions. dwiss is the first product from Sheffield-based designer Jon Walker under the Fellow53 brand.

And now let's look at this from a few angles.

The first issue I have with this is the term “sustainable plywood” for considering the glues and the energy used in the manufacturing of plywood, regardless of whether the wood is from sustainable sources and FSC certified, which is at times a questionable certification anyway. I cannot see that as sustainable in the same way that the term sustainable does not wash with regards to concrete, though that material is not an issue here.

The second problem that I have with this simply is the price of of almost £900 with little change.

It is little wonder that products such as this give the poorer strata in our society the impression that going green and being eco-conscious just is not achievable for them.

This product is far from being the only one in this category of things that are supposed to enable people to live a greener lifestyle which are well beyond the affordability of the ordinary person, let alone those on the lower levels of income.

Designers could do much better by putting their imagination, their innovation and their skills into designing packaging and such like that could, after having fulfilled its primary function have a secondary, upcycled function, designed into it so that those could be converted, so to speak, to something useful for the home, or elsewhere.

This product here is no eco, green, or sustainable, even though it may be re-manufacture the product (into something else) after its initial life. It is greenwash pure and simple and expensive on top of that.

© 2016

GREEN AMERICA URGES DISNEY TO ADDRESS WORKER ABUSES IN CHINESE FACTORIES MAKING “FROZEN” DOLLS, OTHER TOYS

$1.32 an Hour and Forced Overtime: Major Labor Abuses Documented in Factories Making Disney Products; Consumers Urged to Speak Out and Opt to Purchase Green, Sustainable Toys.

Washington, D.C. : August 17, 2016 – With holiday shopping less than three months away, Green America is calling on consumers nationwide to send a message to Disney CEO Robert Iger asking him to address significant labor abuses in Disney factories that make Disney toys, including popular Frozen dolls. The campaign is calling on Disney to ensure living wages for workers and improved working and living conditions overall.

The campaign petition can be found at http://action.greenamerica.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19291. Consumers looking for toys made by workers who were treated well, and made without deadly toxins, can go to Green America’s www.SafeGreenToys.org to find options.

“Americans purchasing Frozen toys for their kids this Holiday season need to know the truth behind the toys: Disney is using factories in China that engage in exploitative practices,” said Todd Larsen, executive co-director of consumer and corporate engagement at Green America. “We’re asking all consumers to put pressure on Disney to address labor abuses in its factories, and we encourage consumers to purchase sustainable green toys this Holiday season.”

"The beautiful world of Disney is merely a fairytale,” said Li Qiang, founder and executive director of China Labor Watch. “The real world is one where evil has triumphed over good, and where profits triumph over conscience. We need those who seek justice to come together and fight the villains in the world of Disney, to create a world where Disney is wholeheartedly kind and just."

"Disney has a lot of suppliers in China. It claims to regulate these suppliers with a Manufacturer Code of Conduct, which we doubt is effective,” said Au Lap Hang, China officer at Worker Empowerment. “We observed serious violations of local labor law in Disney supplier factories, which include long working hours without proper overtime salary and not providing the mandatory state pension for workers. In recent years, the Disney Company even required suppliers to relocate their factories to Southeast Asia in order to reduce production cost. As a result, the Mizutani Factory in Shenzhen was shut down and 196 workers lost their job, without getting the compensation required by law."

The campaign asks Disney to take the following actions to address labor abuses:

1. Living wages for workers, so that workers need not rely on excessive overtime just to make ends meet.

2. Strictly voluntary overtime work and payment for all overtime hours worked.

3. Payment for all mandatory job-related activities including group meetings, training and on-boarding, including back pay for workers who were denied payments in the past.

4. Hygienic and safe housing for workers.

5. Pre-job safety training that adequately prepares workers and informs them of risks to their short-term and long-term health, and how to reduce these risks.

6. A safe work environment, including free and easy access to safety equipment, and health screenings/exams, and clear and unlocked fire escapes.

7. Allow workers to elect enterprise level union representatives and allow workers to elect their occupational health and safety representatives.

8. Pay workers the full amount of social insurance they are owed and ensure severance payments for workers who lose their jobs when Disney supplier factories close.

A recent report from China Labor Watch entitled “The Dark World of Disney” (http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/report/117) found significant labor violations at two Disney supplier factories in China (Lam Sun Plastic Products Co. Ltd and Dongguan Zhenyang Toy Limited Company, both in Dongguan, Guangdong province), including workers laboring 12 hours per day with brief rest breaks, cramped dormitories with unhygienic facilities, low pay ($1.32 per hour), and forced overtime. The report is just the latest investigation by China Labor Watch which has documented similar labor abuses in dozens of Disney factories. In addition, Worker Empowerment, a non-profit labor rights group based in Hong Kong has documented similar abuses at Disney factories and the failure to provide severance pay for workers at a closed Disney supplier factory (Mizutani Toy Factory Co. Ltd in Shenzhen), and is helping workers to obtain the severance owed to them.

ABOUT GREEN AMERICA

Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today's social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org.

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 fairytale of green economic growth

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Politicians, industry and media are telling us for decades the fairytale of green economic growth and sustainable consumption and many believe in this myth all to eagerly. However, it is a myth, a fairytale, a lie. Less is more!

“Autonomous, self-sufficient, and independent is not he who has much but he who needs little”, is a paraphrased quote by Niko Paech, a German economist, and he has hit the nail squarely on the head there.

He who needs a lot is dependent on others to produce for all those needs and let's face it, as I have said more than once already in other articles, most of our needs are but wants and not needs. He who needs little has very little dependence on others and also on the state (which ideally should be non-existent anyway) but that is exactly what the powers-that-be try to prevent, namely us not being dependent on it and on others. The economy, they say, would collapse, and with it our “way of life” if people stop buying all the crap that they do not need and they will stop buying all that crap once they realize that they actually do not need all that crap.

What do you need and how much is enough?

A good question, this, or two, in fact, I guess and the answer or answers to them depend on some factors, that be true.

The general answer to the first of what do you need a difficult on it is not really. You need food first of all and drink. This be followed by shelter and by clothing. It is a little like the list that is usually found as needs for survival.

To this list you might, much like for the list for survival, wish to add tools that you will need for performing the various tasks in the garden, around the home, in the kitchen, and for making a living.

So and now to “how much is enough?” question. How much then is enough? Enough is when you have what you need to live a comfortable life without having your life cluttered up with things. Do you really need two or three cars even as a family – or in some cases five? The true answer to this should be no. And in most cases the people who have two, three, four, or even five cars on the driveway have not actually bought those outright because they have the money to do so. They have bought them, much like their large houses, on credit and this credit often is still being paid off when the car is almost on its last legs.

I was brought up with the notion that if you haven't got the money (in cash or on a bank account) to buy something outright you don't buy it and I still live by this rule because when you buy on credit, whether it is your home or your car, or whatever, it is not actually yours until you actually have managed to pay off the credit.

The biggest problem in our society today is that people believe that they have to have what others can afford – or appear to be able to afford – and thus get into debts, often well over their heads. Don't get me wrong, please, I would love to have the cash to be able to buy a house for myself and own it, but then outright, and not having to rely on renting and on the whims of a landlord as to the amount of rent and as to whether any repairs are carried out or not, and such. But, maybe, I am digressing a little here.

Point is, though, that today we have been almost programmed to consume, to buy, buy, and then buy some more, and more often than not products that have also been programmed, literally, to break down after a short while so that we have to keep buying them again, and again. All in the name of “economic growth” and now we are being presented with the fairytale of “green economic growth” as the greatest thing since sliced bread (not that sliced bread is actually such a great thing).

The notion or perpetual economic growth, even so-called green economic growth, on a finite Planet just simply does not compute and instead of buying, literally, into this myth and fairytale we must stand against it and return to a simpler life where we live with less; where we make things rather than consuming things; were we grow at least some of our own food; etc. Consumption, whether of so-called green products or others can never be green and sustainable.

But we can become more green and sustainable by making rather than buying, by growing rather than consuming, and so forth, and many things that we need, with a little knowledge and some tools, can be made from scratch or from materials that others consider to be waste. There is no need to buy into the government and industry controlled message of “it's the economy” and that if you do not buy all those things you are harming the economy. If you have to buy things then make sure that it is of high quality, made to be repairable, handmade in the case of certain goods, and from local sources wherever possible.

Less is more and it is good for the Planet and for your wallet.

© 2016

Consumption can never be sustainable

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Organic meat, “ecological” detergent, Fairtrade sandals, and so many more in this category; all aimed to give the appearance that each and every one of us can do his or her bit to saving the world by buying those. It is still consumption whether it is green products or conventional products. We cannot save the world by buying more stuff, even if the stuff is supposed to be “green” and many of the so-called green or eco products are not all that environmentally friendly at all, regardless of their marketing.

Consumption can never be sustainable and the solution lies in a personal abnegation and something other than capitalism.

We are living in a society that is geared towards perpetual economic growth which is continuously engaged in producing waste. In fact it can do no other than producing waste for it is impossible for the economy to be growing perpetually if we do not have a quick turnover of products and that means built-in obsolescence. The only way to guarantee this perpetual growth is to produce ever more products and ensure that the previous versions of those products break quickly and cannot be repaired or make them in such a way that it is financially not viable for them to be repaired. And this kind of system and sustainability simply cannot go together. In all honesty it is a paradox to demand perpetual growth and sustainability. The one is diametrically opposed to the other.

The so-called progress of our society is based on errors

We are now in a situation that is not far removed from a catastrophe. Everyone knows, or at least should know, that the crisis has already begun. We only need to consider climate change, even though some would like to deny its existence, the pollution of the world's oceans with garbage and toxins, the decimation of our fish stocks in those oceans, the destruction of the rainforests and others too many to list.

We have reduced our life essentials, all of them, to mere commodities, to be traded on the world markets, and to be exploited. Everything that the world has to offer us is being viewed only from the vantage point whether or not it is a resource for our needs. Then needs are – artificially – created in order for those resources to be exploited and for us to fulfill our “needs”. And this cycle goes on and on and on. Most of those needs are not needs and they are not even wants. They are created “needs” and people are made to believe that they have to have this product and that product in order to live a good life. Alas, and the same is also happening for some time already with the so-called “green” and “eco” products, which are sold to us under the guise that we need them in order to save the Planet.

The false needs are created in that something is offered to the people that is simply to good to pass up, so to speak, and thus creates demand via such offers. Then it is always claimed that the people are demanding those products and that is the reason that they are being made, but the truth is that the demand is being artificially created. In addition to that people become dependent as they not longer can produce things for themselves, be that in way of food or in way of things.

For more or less two-hundred years a veritable war has been waged against subsistence and also against the ability of people to sustain one another by their own power and means. The entire idea of progress in the course of industrialization and of capitalism is based on the notion to replace the actions of doing things ourselves, which appeared inconvenient, by products.

If we want to ever realize something of the idea of sustainability then we have to turn this notion of replacing doing things ourselves and making things ourselves with products made for us which we have to buy on its very head. This means also first and foremost that we have to try to make products that are made other than by ourselves as much as possible superfluous and have to replace such products again with making and doing things for ourselves. While there are some things that we may want and need that we will be unable to make ourselves we should look as self-reliance as much as possible and other goods and services we should exchange with others on a local level, the way it used to be before the advent of full-blown industrialization and capitalism. This is the only way that we can live a more sustainable life on a finite Planet.

The consequences of our perpetual consumption are not new. We all know of the exploitation of natural resources, of the pollutions of the oceans, and all the other issues. Why, though, can we not use all this knowledge and into positive action to find and create a more humane measure?

The reasons for this are many. On one hand the products with which we are being enticed with address many existential aspects of our lives. There is, for example, the promise that the more we produce and the more we can replace the making of our own with bought goods, machines, services, etc., the more spare time and time we will have. The next big promise that those goods and services promise us security, and finally the one that promises us that our possessions will give us a standing in society. Today it is less a case and question what someone does as what someone can buy.

The other problem is that though our desire to have our every need catered for we have become more or less helpless. We have become dependent on goods and services and having everything done for us instead of doing things for ourselves, growing things for ourselves and working with others in our community to make a life for all. We have been enticed by the industrial society that with it a paradise on Earth was being created and that we would no longer need to worry about anything ourselves anymore and thus we have become dependent and have been turned into consumers who are almost incapable of doing things for themselves. This, at the same time, aided and abetted by governments who want the people to be dependent on industry and government itself and incapable of doing things for themselves. Thus a dependency has been created of which we often are not even aware.

Sustainability in our time is also rather anchored in consumption. One only needs to buy the right things or less and then good quality, eat no meat or less, and so on, and sustainability is guaranteed. Is that actually the case? The answer is no.

Consumption can never be sustainable, net even the consumption of so-called green products. It is impossible and the green marketing many of us have no come to call greensumption, as it is still consumption, which has been given but a green color-wash. While many may not wish to hear the rest of the answer the truth is that we need to return to some kind of subsistence rather than wanting more and more of everything. Unless we do that we cannot crown ourselves with the diadem of sustainability. We also need to bring some kind of self-reliance back into play, of making things, of growing things, etc., rather than consuming only all the time. All that today is marketed and traded under the sustainability label is, to 90 percent a sham, as much of it is nothing more than greenwash, as it is also not sustainable to buy products that have been given an eco makeover, so to speak.

I know that this is rather a hard sell to get people to abandon and renounce all those things that are being dangled in front of them on a daily basis by advertising and also doing the voluntary poverty bit is not something that will be understood by many of our peers. Poverty is associated with failure and not with something that someone does out of their own free will for the sake of the Planet, for instance. But that is exactly the step that each and every one of us need to take, at least to some extent, if sustainability is to mean something in out lives.

Aside from that step, however, we need to, all of those at least who wish to see a different approach to the way things are being done, to go about to change the system. Capitalism will never be good for the ordinary man or woman in the street nor for the Planet. The only beneficiary of capitalism are the one percent at the top and there is no such thing as a trickle-down effect. It is a myth that is being conjured up to keep the masses quiet.

Time for a change, and that time is now.

© 2016

Nestlé 'UK's most hydrated community' push

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Nestlé UKs most hydrated community pushNestlé Waters – yes, the very company whose CEO states that water is not a human right but must be a commodity – is running a exclusive retailer competition to find Britain's 'most hydrated community' this August.

The competition is aimed to get retailers to stock up on Nestlé Pure Life, which Nestlé says is the number one water brand worldwide, and help drive consumption of bottled water during August.

Silika Shellie, Head of Category and Shopper Development at Nestlé Waters, comments: “The average person in the UK consumes 44 litres of bottled water per year which is low in comparison to other European countries, so this competition is designed to encourage retailers to educate shoppers on how to stay hydrated during August. We are excited to see the results and to have retailers on board to help spread the importance of staying hydrated to their shoppers particularly during August.”

It is all, as we can see, for them a matter of not enough bottled water being drunk in Britain compared to other European countries and they want to create a want rather than a need to increase their profits.

Bottled water is bad for the biosphere and that not just as regards to the plastic bottles and also to your wallets. Often the water in the bottles is nothing more than (filtered) tap water. Thus I would suggest we throw a spanner into their works and hit them where it hurts, namely their profits and, while staying hydrated is important, tap water is better and cheaper. Join me in a total – as far as possible – boycott of the bottled water industry, and Nestlé especially. Let us drink tap water (in reusable bottles).

© 2016

Club owned by Shell blocks small Thames hydropower scheme

Club succeeds with an appeal to stop planning permission for the west London project that would power 600 homes

A proposed small hydropower project in west London has received a further setback, as court judges allowed an appeal by a club owned by Shell against the granting of planning permission to the site.

The project, at Teddington lock and weirs, would deliver enough electricity to power about 600 homes. It is proposed by a local cooperative group, run by volunteers, who have raised a potential £700,000 to build the plant, which the proponents say would not have any damaging effect on fish in the Thames or other local wildlife.

However, a local leisure club owned by oil and gas giant Shell objected to the project. The Lensbury club was formerly a staff club for Shell employees, and is now run by the company as a leisure facility.

The club appealed against the granting of planning permission in May after its proposed judicial review of the project was rejected by the high court.

Judges ruled on Wednesday that the club’s appeal can be allowed, despite the council having previously granted permission for the plant to go ahead, because of flaws in the reasoning behind the planning green light.

The dispute raises questions over the future of small cooperative renewable energy projects in the UK, which have already suffered from changes to rules in taxation and planning permission.

Read more here.

Are we missing the point with the “war on waste”?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

waste-clipart-vector-86308580Methinks that we certainly are for the point is not waste reduction and recycling but reduction of consumption and reuse. But when reuse is being made into recycling (see my article “The politics of recycling vs reusing”) then in the mind of the people we are creating a false message and image.

Waste is something that is – more or less – unavoidable, if we count all waste, including human waste. But there is a great amount of waste that can be avoided to almost nil if we go down the reduction route for starters, plus add to that reuse.

The largest amount of waste in the waste stream is packaging due to over-packaging, mostly, of products and produce, followed, I should guess, by food waste. Obviously the single use beverage cups, such as for coffee, which are currently in the news, due to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, also make up a large quantity of waste that ends up in landfill.

As far as packaging waste is concerned it is very much down to industry to change their ways and reduce the amount of packing used. In addition to that packaging could, as it is being done on occasions, have a second use designed into it, and that would be the task for designers. Maybe we could also take a leaf or two out of the Japanese book of packaging, especially when done by stores.

It is rather irrelevant as to whether the packaging can be recycled or not. Over-packaging should be done away with and then we should be looking at, when and where packaging is required, into some kind that can have a second or even third use. It can be done and sure is not rocket science.

But, if we only put our minds to it then in many cases we would not need a guide as to how to reuse this or that item of packaging “waste”; our grandparents and their parents knew how to do it and did it. Today, however, if you engage in serious reuse of packaging, whether glass jars, or whatever, you are being looked upon as weird, and as an eccentric. But we must get back to that mindset if we want to win this war on waste. It is not – always – down to the manufacturers and to industry, but to us.

When it comes to those 5,000 single use coffee cups that we throw into the trash, en-route to the landfill, every minute of every day in the UK alone it is up to us who frequent those coffee shops and the like to make a change by bringing our own, barista friendly, reusable coffee cup, and there are a number of different kinds to chose from. It is not – always – up to industry and government, as indicated above.

When it comes to packaging for shipping, such as for sales via the Internet, and many of us today buy online (often cheaper, but not always, as the postage and packing may need to be added to the price), the biggest culprit is Amazon but it is not Amazon alone. Others can be equally silly (not to use a stronger term) to put a rather small item into a huge box. I had that with a sample I was sent for review that was in a rather several times oversized cardboard box. This is not necessary, especially as some items can be transported safely enough in a padded envelope. Having said that I generally almost always find a reuse for any cardboard box, as long as it is strong enough.

However, with all the “war on waste” talk and putting the blame entirely on to industry we are definitely missing the point, and that seriously. Reducing waste, that is to say the “war on waste”, begins to a great extent with each and everyone of us, namely by refusing to buy all the stuff that we do not need but that industry tries to sell us by means of clever advertising campaigns that create a need where there was none and is none.

Before buying anything (new) ask yourself several questions, and here is but a small list:

  1. Do I really need it (even though you may want it)?

  2. Can I make it myself (through DIY or reuse)?

  3. Can I buy it second-hand?

  4. If you already have say a cellphone or PC or whatever the question must be: does my old one still work? Does it still do what I want and need it to do?

If your answers negate a need to buy then don't.

In addition to that we must somehow force industry, and in this case it is industry (and maybe also the politicians for they can legislate) to make products that are repairable and thus sustainable and then get a repair economy going again as well.

That is the way we will reduce waste not by having a go at industry to make use smaller packaging and less of it (though a good idea that would be too), and in the case of coffee shops and such to demand that they use compostable single use cups. In the latter case it is up to us to force a change by demanding that the shops permit the use of reusable cups for us to bring our own.

In addition to that it would be good if we would also think as to whether we really have to go out to those chains and buy coffee and waste our money on such things. Just think that for the price of one cup of coffee at Starbucks, Costa or whatever the name of the chain, you can buy almost half a pound of ground coffee in the shops. The same goes for bottled water. Take your own bottle and fill it up with tap water. Wasting money is also waste. And now I will rest my case; it is beginning to get rather heavy.

© 2016

Farm Apprenticeships: Keeping Farmers From Going Extinct

The world needs more skilled, small-scale farmers — and farm apprenticeships are one pathway into this essential and rewarding career.

Farm Apprentices Tend Caretaker Farms

Small-scale farmers and homesteaders are in a powerful position to bring about the changes our food system desperately needs. By growing food locally and sustainably, farmers improve the physical, economic and ecological health of their communities.

Today’s average farmer is in his or her late 50s. These farmers will need replacements, and their numbers need to be dramatically increased. Transferring their knowledge to future farmers is vital to the expansion of the emerging sustainable food system.

Industrial agriculture is disastrous for the soil and environment, animal welfare, and local economies — not to mention human health. Most North Americans rely on this system for their food, however, and its sudden disintegration would be a catastrophe. Some experts argue that the collapse of the current food system is imminent because of its dependence on three fragile conditions: cheap petroleum, plentiful water and a stable climate.

Monsanto and Big Ag want us to believe that only industrial agriculture can feed the world. The truth is actually the opposite. The Institute for Food and Development Policy reviewed available farm productivity data from 27 countries and concluded that the productivity of smaller farms — which integrate growing multiple crops with raising livestock — is anywhere from two to 10 times higher per unit area than on industrial-scale, monocrop farms. This is due to several factors, including the following:

Read more here.