Parks and green spaces given opportunity to contribute to the London 2012 Games legacy

After Love Parks Week Community Games are granted the Inspire mark by the London 2012 Inspire programme

Love Parks Week Inspire programme_page1_image1 Love Parks Week Inspire programme_page1_image2 Love Parks Week has been granted the London 2012 Inspire mark which recognises outstanding projects and events helping deliver the Games’ lasting legacy. The London 2012 Inspire programme enables non-commercial organisations across the UK to link their events and projects to the London 2012 Games in an official scope. The London 2012 Inspire programme recognises innovative and exceptional projects that are directly inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As a part of the Inspire programme this year Love Parks Week will include the option for event organisers to run London 2012-themed Community Games. These free Community Games are a way of bringing the fun and excitement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to cities and towns across the UK. These games are to be hosted in parks and green spaces as a part of Love Parks Week 2012 and will allow organisers to use the prestigious Inspire brand.

These Community Games will also promote the lasting environmental and community benefits of our nation’s parks and green spaces. Tess Stackley, Campaign Manager said “Working with the Inspire programme gives us a great platform to highlight how our parks and green spaces can provide everyone with a place for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. We envision people who come to these Community Games will return to their parks with their friends, family or on their own to stay active, take up a new sport and get the proven health benefits from spending time outdoors.”

Seb Coe, Chair of the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games said: “The Inspire programme is ensuring the legacy of the 2012 Games starts now as projects like Love Parks Week are enabling people who work in and enjoy spending time in their parks to make positive changes in their surrounding area.”

In addition to educating the public about the benefits of green spaces for individual health and social development, these Community Games will help to deliver a sustainable Olympic Games by bringing some of the fun and excitement to towns and villages across the UK. Instead of traveling into London to feel as though they are a part of the 2012 Olympics, people will be able to celebrate the build up to the opening ceremony in their local park or green space during Love Parks Week.

Park facts for health:

  1. The difference in the weight gained for children living near green and non-green areas was 5.1kg for girls aged 16 years and 5.9kg for boys.

  2. Populations exposed to the greenest environments have the lowest levels of health inequality.

  3. Children living close to busy roads are more at risk for respiratory illness, including asthma.

  4. Access to quality green space decreases a person’s blood pressure, cholesterol and stress, while increasing their ability to face problems and become involved in social activities.

  5. Daily gardening reduces the likelihood of developing dementia by 36%.

Love Parks Week is organised by parks charity GreenSpace. GreenSpace is a registered charity which works to improve parks and green spaces by raising awareness, involving communities and creating skilled professionals. For more information:

The size of farming

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Farms in the western world and we include in this term the Antipodean countries, and such places, are becoming bigger and bigger and we are being told that we have to accept this trend as this is the only way to go forward.

Keeping in step with this growth pattern farm machinery, that is to say tractors, combines, sprayers, etc., also are getting every bigger and more and more sophisticated. The latter to such an extent that the driver of today's modern farm tractors and combines is just becoming someone who inputs the data and them monitors the operation. The machines can plow, etc., via satellite. Great for straight lines, but what if and when technology finally fails.

A great majority of farms in the USA, in Canada, in the UK, Australia and a couple of other such places, nowadays fall more and more under the term “factory farm”, for lack of a better expression, and the big old farming estates of Europe and such are not even close in size and operations. In fact many of the old large estates in Eastern Europe are still worked in almost the same wasy as before World War II.

With the ever bigger machinery and scale of operations, highly dependent of fossil fuels, especially petroleum products, and not just for running the machines, I just wonder as to how people think that this is going to continue with petroleum products becoming more and more expensive on an almost daily level. We are running out of cheap and abundant oil and thus it will get more and more expensive.

The huge farming operations are not sustainable and, in fact, do serious harm o to the environment, our health and the Planet as a whole.

Chemical fertilizers, based, predominately on petroleum products pollute the soil and the water and rob the soil of its ability to support life. Herbicides and pesticides pollute the environment, and us, directly and through the food that we eat and the water that we drink and even the very air that we breathe.

Use, or should we better call a spade a spade and say overuse, of antibiotics in animal farming is making us all sick and is creating superbugs, including MRSA and such like. Things have to change and they must change pronto; ideally now, this very moment.

To think that we can continue to grow farms and their operations more and more and bigger and bigger, as our governments, the farming lobby, and the general powers that be so, is absolutely ludicrous. It is not sustainable and the attempt is just to purposely destroy the (small) family farms, which is the very aim, in fact, methinks.

However, you do not have to have all the huge machines and run your farm like a factory and farming as an industry.

Instead of bigger and bigger our farms in the “developed” world – I sometimes really wonder about the “developed” bit – must be brought down to size again and everyone also must do his part in food growing.

We must return to the small, family-owned and -operated, or to community-owned and -operated, farms.

Small is beautiful also and especially in the farming sector and the Amish farms can stand as an example of this is the modern world. They are the only farms in America that don't just break even; they actually make a profit and a very handsome one at that.

© 2012

The USA: Now also the Internet policeman?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Not content with its self-appointed role as world cop the United States now have decided it also must police and have total control of the Internet, with full power of decision as to what is allowed and what is not.

This is rather interesting if we consider that if and when Iran, or China or any other any other country block access to certain sites, especially American propaganda ones, the US is the first to call “foul” or “illegal censorship”. It appears there are two standards and two set of rules; one for the USA and one for everyone else.

While, according to the USA, it is foul and illegal censorship when sites, especially American sites, are being blocked by China, Russia, Iran, it is not, it would seem, when it is done by or on behest of the American government and its backers.

A variety of supposed justifications are put about as also in the latter half of January 2012 when Megaupload, a major file sharing and -hosting platform, was shut down but the US authorities and four people were arrested in conjunction with this in New Zealand on order of the FBI.

The SOPA proposals are not even law as yet and still the US takes it upon itself to close down websites or orders, and I stress orders, other countries to shut them down.

America is getting too big, way too big, for its little boots. A serious counterbalance is needed. Someone, some country, who is prepared to put the US in its place but there is no one left out there.

The USSR, which was the counterbalance, faulty as it was, is history: Others just simply do not exist with the possible exception of China.

When President Obama came to power it was hoped by many that the excesses and abuses of the Bush era were at an end. Alas, it was all but rhetoric and business continues as usual.

The SOPA proposals began under Bush, if I am not mistaken, and Obama and those that actually pull the strings behind the scenes – yes, all any US President is is a puppet – want this power and even more in order to totally control the Internet.

The Powers-That-Be do not like the freedoms of the Internet (and of digital publishing) and the fact that it gives ordinary people a voice as citizen journalists and -reporters, as Bloggers. The fear the Blogger like nothing else.

The Internet allows – in its current state – people to publish and distribute their own books without the control of publishing houses and the censors and that too goes very much against the grain of The Powers-That-Be.

To The Powers-That-Be the Internet, and the freedom that it gives people, is an anathema and while they may – as a cover – have a go at the likes of China with regards to restrictions imposed there on Internet usages, etc., the restrictions that they have in mind to impose on the Internet per se are even more draconian than those restrictive countries employ.

They know that the Internet can be a tool used against them and hence they will try to find a way, under guises and excuses, curb the Net and its freedoms, if we are not careful.

The most dangerous government is not one that is (openly) hostile against its people and its neighbors but one that seems to be benign and friendly. It is those where we let our guard down at our peril for they are capable of lulling us to sleep.

The Powers-That-Be, which control the US, and probably, by proxy, also the UK and the EU, are not benign and the Internet, and the capacity that it gives to the people, gives them the jitters. And while, as said, they may rant and rave when during demonstrations and actions such as in the “Arab Spring” the Internet was cut in places such as Egypt, Libya, etc., they intend to do the very same if protests happen on their patch.

America, however, is the one that wants to call the shots and that absolutely everywhere, as one can see by the actions against Megaupload (and the attempt to silence WikiLeaks). One can but wonder as to what was really being distributed by Megaupload. Was it a movie about something sensitive or what?

The US government has ordered YouTube before to pull videos and user accounts with regards to footage from demonstrations such as the Occupy Movement ones and the related brutal police actions against peaceful protesters, and others. So, I guess we may as well wonder...

We need to have a counterbalance again and in the lieu of the USSR is will have to be “We The People”.

© 2012

Over 50% of Germany's renewable energy is owned by citizens & farmers, not utility companies

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Sometimes, while not liking them for other reasons, I must wonder as to whether Germany and the Germans are some of the only ones, if not indeed THE only ones, who actually get green and eco properly.

A solar complex in Bavaria, southern GermanyA solar complex in Bavaria, southern Germany

Germany's promotion of renewable energy rightly gets singled out for its effectiveness, most often by me as an example of how to do things well versus the fits and starts method of promotion common in the USA and even the UK.

There is another interesting facet of the German renewable energy saga: 51% of all renewable energy in Germany is owned by individual citizens or farms, totaling $100 billion worth of private investment in clean energy.

When one breaks that down into its components, that is to say, solar power and wind power, then the figures are that 50% of Germany's solar PV is owned by individuals and farms, while 54% of its wind power is held by the same groups.

While the UK has a serious load of wind turbines most of them, however, are not privately or farm owned but are owned by the electricity generating companies, with only a few farms holding such as private possession. Private wind and solar PV installations are rarely coming up in calculations, especially not the individual homes and farms.

In total there's roughly 17 GW of solar PV installed in Germany – versus roughly 3.6 GW in the US (based on SEIA's figures for new installations though the third quarter of 2011 plus the 2.6 GW installed going into the year) and recent figures for the UK are just a little above 6 GW (given by Renewables UK in January 2012). This is for a country which, I am sure, has more wind than Germany, though still, considering our sizes, better than the USA.

Germany now produces slightly over 20% of all its electricity from renewable sources and proves that those things can be done. The real stupid thing is that every time that countries, such as Germany, and their achievements in the real of renewable energy as well as recycling, etc., are pointed out the British government goes into turtle mode, pulling its head into its shell and proclaiming that that cannot work in Britain and Britain is different to all those other countries where it can be done.

The main thing though, other than the huge lead in solar PV installations Germany has over the US, thanks to good policy, and the fact that so much wind power isn't owned by utilities, is what slightly over half of renewable energy being owned not by corporations but by actual biological people mean. Namely an obvious democratic shift in control of resources and a break from the way electricity and energy has been produced over the past century.

This is a good thing indeed and is leads to decentralized power generation, more re-localization and re-regionalization of economic activity, the world getting smaller while more connected and therefore in a way bigger at the same time... taking a step backwards, and perhaps sideways, while moving forwards.

In “Small is beautiful” small power stations for every village were being advocated rather than large corporation owned ones and we must get down to that level.

It is also a much more resilient system in that the entire grid cannot be knocked for six by this or that incident when the entire country has small, personal or community owned power generating plants, whether wind, PV, or biomass.

© 2012



by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

UFWC01London, January 2012: A silver coin bearing the message “Break the Chains of Bondage” to combat human trafficking will launch at the World Money Fair, Europe’s largest coin convention in Berlin February 3rd.

UFWC release FEB 2012 revised_page1_image4UFWC release FEB 2012 revised_page1_image3 

The innovative prototype coin is issued by the United Future World Currency (UFWC) a global currency initiative. The prototype coin carries the message of ending human trafficking prominently depicted on the obverse the first-of-its-kind to include this socially aware message.

The coin is being struck by the Royal Mint UK in eco-silver* and includes the silhouette images of a man and woman back-to-back with a broken chain of five links. The reverse is designed by Luc Luycx, the graphic artist behind the designs of the EURO.

President Barack Obama designated the month of January as “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month” in the US, the UFWC have developed this eye-opening campaign to take build on the growing worldwide initiative.

Dr. Sandro Sassoli, founder of the UFWC commented, “We want our project to encourage Mints and central banks to issue a coin that ends up in the hands of the public and raise awareness of this very important cause”.

As part of the launch and project, UFWC are approaching more-than 60 world Mints attending the World Money Fair to encourage them to issue a coin with the message of ending human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

The UFWC are pleased to announce that several Mints and Central Banks have already expressed an interest to participate in this initiative ahead of the launch.

The statistics of human trafficking are staggering, it affects the smallest village, town and big city and no continent is exempt. The figures are growing in terms of the number of women and men becoming victims.

The international campaign organized by the UFWC will continue into 2013 and beyond. Coins have been conveying important messages for more than two thousand years and this coin is meant to speak for those who can’t.

According to the latest UN figures, there are an estimated number of between 10 and 30 million people world-wide who are either enslaved or in bonded servitude; many of them are children, and not just in third-world countries.

No country, continent or community is exempt from this scourge, it crosses race, religion, ethnic background. Both women and men become unwitting victims of unscrupulous crime syndicates who buy and sell human beings as easy as going out for a coffee or burger.

The nominal amount of money involved to buy a human being from a remote Asian village is just US$50. Just two of the UFWC prototype coins can procure one human being!

The UFWC prototype (model) “1” unit coin is struck in Britannia silver (.958 fineness) with a weight of 20 grams and a diameter of 32 mm. The prototype coin is struck in proof quality with a total mintage limited to just 200 examples. The insignia of the Royal Mint appears on the reverse along with the “eco-silver” logo.

The coin is being struck in eco-silver, (a product developed by Cookson Precious Metals) a responsibly sourced precious metal from a dedicated line of recycled silver, thus eliminating the need for further mining activities which are harmful to the environment.

The prototype coin will be made available to several organizations who promote ending human trafficking and anti-slavery as presentation pieces. The coin will also be presented to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by the UFWC in conjunction with the United Nation’s campaign to end human trafficking.

The United Future World Currency gained international attention during the G8 Summit held in L’Aquila, Italy in 2009. Their first UFWC prototype gold coins were presented to attending heads of state and government.

The UFWC prototype coins were made part of a recent presentation to more than 40 heads of State & government at the South-South awards (a United Nations Development Program sponsored project) in New York City in conjunction with the opening ceremonies of the General assembly on the 19th September.

The United Future World Currency (UFWC) was developed in 1996 as the initiative of Dr. Sandro Sassoli after a meeting and consultation with Prof. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., former counselor to US president John F. Kennedy. The idea behind the initiative is to develop a worldwide recognized currency independent of the US dollar, Euro, sterling or other national currency free from any one political or national allegiance.

While I am well aware that there are a fair number of people who will come around claiming that this is the planned currency of the New World Order and will jump about telling us how bad this is going to be.

As far as I am concerned on this level it is a nigh pure silver coin that may actually become a recognized trade round and that should please many of us who consider that silver coins should form part of a survival preparedness plan.

Having said that, however, that does not mean that precious metal coins should be our primary TEOTWAKI insurance; skills and other things for barter should be and are more important. A number of silver coins would not go amiss, for sure.

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

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

© 2012

MYdrap – Product Review

Table chic on a roll. Now there is a novel idea.

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

MyDrap The MYdrap cotton or linen napkins – yes, they also come in real linen – on a roll are available in a wide range of colors, sizes and designs.

The napkins are washable (up to six times) and fully recyclable, as they are cloth, which, in fact, means that they can go into the compost where they will return back to soil.

napkins_home_web They are better than paper, especially for the trees, and less trouble than using “proper best linen” napkins, whether cotton or actual linen and are ideal for picnics and parties, but also suitable for formal dining. You can really liven up a formal occasion with those at table rather than just plain ones.

I came across “MYdrap” on the 2012 Home London Show at Earls Court and was rather taken by the idea and concept.

While paper, obviously, is also biodegradable and/or recyclable these MYdrap napkins on a roll beat, in my opinion, paper napkins hands down and then some, and that on more than just one front.

Great idea, in my view, and one that deserves consideration when planning dining events, from picnics to formal dinners.

© 2012

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

Best Practice for Green City Planning

As urban spaces grow and become ever more populated, attention is being focused on sustainability, infrastructure, and environmentally-friendly building

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The German city of Hamburg, which was awarded the title “European Green Capital” by the European Commission in 2011, successfully implements green solutions to today’s metropolitan challenges through its strong commitment to a green vision, reducing the per person CO2 emissions by 15% compared to 1990 and by saving 46,000 megawatts of energy each year.

A traditional port city that handles Europe’s second largest number of containers, Hamburg ranks among Europe's wealthiest cities with an excellent economic outlook. Hamburg’s green strategies and new initiatives have made it a best practice model for other cities to follow.

Across the Atlantic, New York is currently developing its own strategies and initiatives to meet the sustainability challenges of an ever-growing metropolis and on December 1, 2011 representatives of Hamburg and New York City have come together to discuss their strategies and visions of green city planning.

Adam Freed, Deputy Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability of the City of New York, was b eing joined by his German counterpart, Dr. Benno Hain, the Coordinator for Climate Protection and Head of the Coordinating Center for Climate Issues, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Michael Kruklinski, Vice President in Corporate Development & Strategy at the Siemens Corporation, and Alex Marshall, Senior Fellow at Regional Plan Association, did also share their expertise with the audience.

The event took place at the German Center for Research and Innovation in New York and was jointly hosted with American Friends of Bucerius as well as in cooperation with the City of Hamburg.

The German Center for Research and Innovation,, provides information and support for the realization of cooperative and collaborative projects between North America and Germany. With the goal of enhancing communication on the critical challenges of the 21st century, the GCRI hosts a wide range of events from lectures and exhibitions to workshops and science dinners. Opened in February 2010, the GCRI was created as a cornerstone of the German government’s initiative to internationalize science and research and is one of five centers worldwide.

While, it would appear, American cities are happy to learn from the experiences of their counterparts in Germany, and to adopt and adapt ideas and procedures use there, in the UK there is always a total antipathy against doing something like that.

When one suggests to politicians, on local and/or central level, to look to, say Germany or the Netherlands, Denmark or Sweden, for solutions to overcoming certain environmental challenges and those of sustainability, the answer is 90% of the time one of “that may work over there but could/would never work here”.

Maybe, just maybe, British cities, local governments and central government get a hint from the cooperation between German and American cities and they too may look for real and proper proven solutions there.

© 2012

Sand Dollar Press Inc. Announces the Publication of Groundbreaking Young Adult Novel

Sand Dollar Press Inc. Announces the Publication of Groundbreaking Young Adult Novel Written by Renowned Author and Screenwriter Victoria Foyt

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

gI_76128_Final cover Santa Monica, CA, January 2012 : Sand Dollar Press, an independent publisher of fiction for young adults and women, has published Save the Pearls Part One REVEALING EDEN, a groundbreaking Young Adult, sci-fi, fantasy romance novel penned by Victoria Foyt. The book was released January 10, 2012 after receiving the award for the "Best Young Adult Fantasy Novel of 2011” by the prestigious Bestselling author and international lecturer Marianne Williamson calls it “A fascinating story... for lovers of all ages.”

Save the Pearls Part One REVEALING EDEN is now available online at, Amazon and other major book retailers as both a hardcover and e-book. Advanced Readers Copies garnered rave reviews and the book was “very much recommended” by The Midwest Book Review.

In Save the Pearls Part One REVEALING EDEN, Foyt examines the themes of beauty, racism and the deteriorating environment in an entertaining fantasy/sci-fi plot with a romantic love story at its core. Geared to the Young Adult market, the novel is the first in a series and marks Foyt’s second novel for this burgeoning demographic. Foyt said of her new book: “I set out to write a futuristic beauty and the beast story and ended up tapping into deep-seated fears and fantasies of my own. I believe the themes of racism and beauty, while seemingly harsh, are universal and hopefully, enlightening.”

The positive feedback regarding Save the Pearls Part One REVEALING EDEN implies the potential of it being produced as a film. The book transcends and fuses several genres, including adventure romance with a fantasy/sci-fi plot, to form an intriguing and riveting story that entertains readers across the board.

Sand Dollar Press Inc. Head of Marketing Chaton Anderson commented, "Sand Dollar Press is honored to launch such a compelling and creative project that will have a lasting impact on the way readers view the prevalence of racism, preconceptions of beauty and its distortion by the media, and ultimately, how they live their lives. We’re also thrilled that Victoria has decided to make this book available in e-book format as it will avail her work to a new demographic.”

Foyt’s first young adult novel, The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond, garnered rave reviews and was recommended by the Center for Children’s Books. In addition, it earned a five-star, “must-read” rating from The success of this coming-of-age, mystery young adult novel inspired Foyt to write the Save the Pearls series. Foyt’s career also includes co-writing several critically acclaimed feature films, Going Shopping (2005), Déjà Vu (1997), Last Summer in the Hamptons (1995), and Babyfever (1994).

Victoria Foyt is an author and filmmaker. Her debut novel, The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond, released in ’07 by HarperCollins, is a Young Adult coming-of-age mystery thriller. It achieved excellent critical reviews, including a five star, “must-read” rating from, and was recommended by the Center for Children’s Books. During her film career, Victoria co-wrote and starred in four critically acclaimed feature films, Going Shopping (2005), Déjà Vu (1997), Last Summer in the Hamptons (1995) and Babyfever (1994), which were helmed by indie film director Henry Jaglom. She also co-wrote Festival in Cannes (2001) and has penned articles for O At Home, Harper’s Bazaar and Film & Video. For more information, visit

Sand Dollar Press, Inc. is an independent publisher of fiction for young adults and women, specializing in quality novels in the areas of science fiction, adventure, mystery and romance. For more information, visit

Review to follow but what I can say so far that it is a very gripping story that moves rather fast and appears to be very interesting and, oh, by the way, I am not a young adult (at least not according to my date of birth) but still I am enjoying it.

© 2012

Small wind turbines helping Scottish households escape the fuel poverty trap

  • Evance small wind turbines helping Scottish Government towards meeting its 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy commitments
  • Scottish sales of Evance R9000 turbines up by 300 percent during 2011
  • Growing number of Evance small wind turbines helping Scottish households escape the fuel poverty trap

Scotland, January 2012 : Small wind turbines are playing an increasingly important role in helping the Scottish Government to meet its Renewables Routemap commitments ? specifically with reference to the Government's ambitious renewable energy target of 30 percent by 2020. The 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy report highlights how innovative migrogeneration technology solutions – such as the Evance small wind turbine – can support community and locally-owned energy generation, and also help address fuel poverty issues in the most remote areas.

An Evance R9000 small wind turbine operating in Aberdeenshire

An Evance R9000 small wind turbine operating in Aberdeenshire

Evance Wind Turbines – UK manufacturers of the R9000 small wind turbine - has seen an increasing number of homeowners and farmers across Scotland put small wind turbines to work, with many benefiting from installing multiple small wind turbines rather than one large turbine. During 2011 Evance has seen impressive sales growth in Scotland, especially in the more remote regions. For example, 50 Evance turbines were installed in the Orkney Islands alone, and all have performed perfectly during recent storms – despite peak wind gusts of over 130mph.

Evance's small wind turbines are also proving an attractive option for Scottish residents who are increasingly unable to afford domestic heating oil costs that remained high throughout 2011, and have increased by some 66 percent over the last three years and by over a quarter in the last year alone. For these and other remote residents, fuel poverty is a very real threat. It's estimated that around 900,000 households in Scotland - more than 1 in 3 – are currently in fuel poverty. By installing an Evance R9000 small wind turbine in the right location, remote households and businesses can make substantial energy savings and generate an income through Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs). Some organisations also offer a service where they provide free wind energy in return for the land to install a R9000 small wind turbine.

We have had great success in Scotland during 2011, and enter 2012 with a strong order book for Scottish customers “we anticipate 10 turbines per week being installed during the first three months of 2012,” commented Kevin Parslow, CEO of Evance Wind Turbines. “With impressive wind speeds in most regions across Scotland, especially in the Highlands and Islands, it makes sense for that renewable energy source to be put to good use.”

“Working with organisations such as Community Energy Scotland, we have been particularly successful in communicating the benefits of small wind turbines, and helping our customers to realise dramatic energy savings and CO2 emission savings,” he continued. “Our turbines on Orkney are generating around 870MWh of electricity annually ? based on an annual average wind speed of 7m/s – so saving over 370 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year – equivalent to taking over 160 cars off the road. Many of our customers have also been able to reduce energy bills by 50% and some even eliminated their electricity bill over last winter.”

One Evance customer, the Linnitt family from Orkney, saw their R9000 turbine produce 18,500kWh of power in its first year – dramatically reducing energy bills and earning a Feed in Tariff income of over ?5,000. According to Mrs. Linnitt: “It's a great feeling to be producing green energy and to know that over the last year we have saved nearly 8 tonnes of carbon emissions. We wanted a reliable turbine with good performance, and the Evance small wind turbine has met all our expectations.”

Evance Wind Turbines, a world leading manufacturer of small wind turbines, is dedicated to helping customers capture and use wind power to reduce both energy bills and carbon footprint. Evance has a global footprint of over 800 installations helping farmers, schools, businesses and home owners to become green energy producers.

Evance's 5kW R9000 wind turbine is fully MCS certified and eligible for the UK's Feed-in Tariff scheme.

As a leading manufacturer of small wind turbines Evance delivers efficient and reliable solutions designed to produce maximum energy yield.

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

“The Bill of Wrongs” Released By Absolute Rights Reports

“The Bill of Wrongs” Released By Absolute Rights Reports On The Survival Of The American Economy By Increased Drilling Of The Bakken Oil

America’s fastest growing manufacturing sector, the oil and natural gas revolution, is covered in depth by “The Bill of Wrongs” ebook that was recently released by Absolute Rights.

“The Bill of Wrongs” begins the report with the full story on the 24 billion barrels of the Bakken oil reserve fields of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, that can help the survival of America’s economy, by doubling America’s proven oil reserves.

gI_99124_Investment advice

Austin, TX, January 2012 : America’s economy is discussed in depth, along with solutions for it’s survival, in “The Bill of Wrongs” that has been recently released by Absolute Rights.

Harold Hamm, who understands everything about the energy business, is discussed in “The Bill of Wrongs”, because he discovered the Bakken reserve. “The Bill of Wrongs” explains how Harold Hamm recently visited the President in Washington D.C. to discuss the potential of how to break America’s dependency on foreign oil, by supplementation with oil from the Bakken oil fields.

(Harold Hamm’s accomplishments brought to the energy industry, what Steve Jobs brought to personal computing.)

“The Bill of Wrongs” exposes how the current administration has addressed the extraction of oil from the Bakken reserve. The Absolute Rights eBook “The Bill of Wrongs”, reveals the fact that there are approximately 10 million royalty land owners in America, which would benefit financially when drilling is done on their land. “The Bill of Wrongs” eBook points out that because of the quantity of land owners who would receive these payments, causes the oil field wealth to be widely shared. “The Bill of Wrongs” explores the fact that the U.S. imported oil has currently dropped from two thirds in the 1990’s, to approximately 40%, with the ability for imported oil to drop into the single digits from increased drilling in the Bakken oil reserve.

“The Bill of Wrongs” discusses in depth about how Harold Hamm’s survival skills in the energy industry pushed him to develop the horizontal drilling technique, which allows oil rigs to reach two miles deep, then spread thousands of feet horizontally. This horizontal drilling technique that “The Bill of Wrongs” points out, has unlocked new fossil fuel sources, because it allows for a much more affordable cost of drilling for oil. As “The Bill of Wrongs” makes the comparison in the beginning of the eBook, that Harold Hamm’s accomplishments brought to the energy industry, what Steve Jobs brought to personal computing.

Absolute Rights published “The Bill of Wrongs” with current information about liberty, The Bill of Rights, and survivalist strategies, along with civil liberties information. To download a complimentary copy of the $49 eBook, “The Bill of Wrongs” which examines the great collapse of America’s economy and infrastructure go to

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.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

P.S. A review of the book/report may be done in due course.

greentomatocars goes zero emissions in 2012

greentomatocars, London’s most innovative private hire company, is electrifying its leading green fleet with two state of the art 100% electric Renault Fluence Z.E. cars. Complementing their existing fleet of more than 200 hybrid and bio-fuelled vehicles, the two electric vehicles (EVs) will make greentomatocars the first private hire company to offer a fully electric solution to its clients.

greentomatocars’ introduction of the private hire industry’s first zero emission vehicles[1] onto London’s streets comes as a boost to the capital as it struggles to meet air quality targets, currently ranking as one of the worst polluted cities in Europe[2].

Co-Founder and Managing Director, Jonny Goldstone, said, “We’re delighted to be taking delivery of the industry’s first two EVs and already know that our clients will be as impressed by their performance and credentials as we are. In 2011, greentomatocars became the 1st company to offer environmentally friendly alternatives to executive cars and people carriers, by adding biodiesel-fuelled vehicles to our blend of cars. So it’s especially pleasing to kick off 2012 with another first by offering our excellent EV service to our most forward-thinking clients”.

He added, “We know our customers want to make a consciously green decision when choosing a private hire provider. We've already taken bookings for 40% of our EV capacity with orders from corporate customers for our Zero Emission shuttle services. We fully intend to add more Zero Emission vehicles to our expanding fleet this year.”

Andy Heiron, Head of Electric Vehicle Programme, Renault UK commented, “We are delighted to have teamed up with greentomatocars who have consistently provided innovative solutions in London’s private hire market. We believe that the Renault Fluence Z.E. is a sleek, comfortable and spacious vehicle well-suited to the requirements of London’s demanding clientele. We look forward to working closely with greentomatocars and helping to reduce air pollution in London.”

With an official combined NEDC[3] range of 115 miles the Renault Fluence Z.E. will be strategically used for specific shuttle runs and events for greentomatocars’ clients, rather than for the full range of journeys that are currently undertaken by the company. Using the vehicles for these purposes, such as between a company’s office and the nearest station at the start and end of the working day, maximises the reduction in emissions, and ensures the vehicles stay well within their daily mileage limits.

On the occasion that the cars require a mileage uplift, drivers are able to plug in at many of the public electric charging points available in London, as well as at the offices of some of greentomatocars’ clients that have their own charging infrastructure or greentomatocars’ own fleet and vehicle servicing facility.

Fluence Z.E. is one of a range of four electric vehicles to be launched by Renault in less than 12 months. The 100% electric line-up includes Kangoo Van Z.E., a commercial vehicle and Twizy, a compact urban 2-seater. The fourth and final vehicle will be Zoe, a stylish five-seat supermini that will go on sale at the end of the year.

With over 200 environmentally-friendly vehicles now on London’s roads, greentomatocars has firmly positioned itself as the greenest option for the Capital’s private taxi and minicab-users and remains the most forward-thinking private hire service in town.

[1] Whilst in use.

greentomatocars is London’s original and leading green private hire (quality minicab) service. Established in 2006, the fleet of 220 vehicles consists exclusively of the most viable environmentally-friendly cars on the market.

The company “double offsets” any unavoidable emissions by planting trees and engaging in energy-saving projects, while office and other equipment is procured from environmentally-friendly sources wherever possible.

Prices are in line with, and often lower, than competitors meaning that choosing the green option represents financial as well as environmental best practice.

For general information or to book a greentomatocar: download the free “What’s Hot” iPhone Booking App from the iTunes App Store

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

Cornish design company expands ECO range of products

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

ashortwalk is expanding their multi award winning range of ECO products with a unique selection of garden products made from recycled plant pots.

ashortwalk1_web The Cornish design company ashortwalk is proving that great products need not cost the earth, or the environment. Building on their success at the 2011 Green Business Awards, where they achieved a joint second place with Samsung for their best selling ECO range made from recycled coffee cups, they are now launching an outdoor garden range made from recycled plant pots.

Working with their 500 plus retail partners across the UK, customers will be able to drop off their unwanted plant pots in store and pick up new useful products made from the very same pots, such as the new triple faced Time/Thermometer/Moon Phase Clock, or the unique ‘recycle.... reuse’ bird feeder that enables you to offer unwanted food to the birds rather than throw it away.

Using around 2 bin liners full of pots to make one clock, the resulting finish closely resembles natural slate with a lovely solid, earthy look and feel. In fact, I am wondering as to whether this material could be used as an alternative to slate for roof covering.

Everything is sourced, recycled, designed and re-manufactured in the UK. “ashortwalk products offer a rare opportunity for people to participate in the full recycling loop’ says Dan, the founder of the company and an ex Dyson designer, ‘The recycling process is only truly complete once the same item is reused in the place of a product made from virgin materials. The plant pot scheme offers people the chance to close the recycling loop”.

Products range from ECO House Numbers and Signs to robust Plant Markers and Chalk Boards so there is something for everyone. At last, an answer to the question of what to do with all those old pots in the shed!

Products range from £1 to £29.95 and are available from forward thinking outlets across the UK.

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

London Bike Show 2012 at ExCel – Visit Report

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

How very exiting... NOT!

bicycle002 I am really beginning to be at a complete and utter loss as to why, despite the resurgence in serious cycling for commuting and shorter journey and for some the choice of personal transport, the only things that are on display at such shows are overpriced cycles, predominately street racers, BMX bikes and mountain trail bikes, and other kit, rather than “real” bikes.

With the exception of a very small number of companies the show was all but geared for those with lots of money who do extreme cycle sports.

Very few proper, affordable, commuter bicycles, and I do not class folding bikes here which are way too pricey anyways, could be found and let's not even talk about your ordinary general use bicycle.

While cycling is a sport too “Tour de France” kin d of bikes (and kit) hardly are any use to the ordinary punter, especially not the average person wanting to use a bicycle in order to get from A to B rather than a car.

The same goes also as regards to mountain and trail bikes. They are not, in the main, either, necessarily, what the ordinary user is going to be looking for.

Very much like the Cycle Show, which has moved from London to the NEC in Birmingham, the London Bike Show seems to, in my opinion, address the wrong target audience.

If the cycling industry really wants to get people onto bikes and out of their cars then it really has to get its finger out and get presence on such shows with real bikes, and that with bicycles that people can actually afford and which are, also reliable and what they need for day-to-day use.

Is it time for a “workhorse” bicycle show? Methinks that it could be...

© 2012

Influenza is slowly progressing in Europe

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

According to the Weekly Influenza Surveillance Overview published on Friday, January 20, 2012, influenza is slowly progressing across Europe and is currently dominated by A(H3N2) viruses.

During week 1/2012 (2–8 January 2012), of 625 sentinel specimens collected and tested, 81 (13%) were positive for influenza viruses. While this influenza season is so far characterized by the dominance of A(H3N2) viruses, A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses are significant among the severe cases reported. Since week 40/2011, 157 severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) cases have been reported by six countries.

Two countries reported regional spread (Italy and Sweden), three countries (Netherlands, Norway and Spain) reported local spread, while sporadic activity was reported by thirteen countries (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia) and the UK (England and Northern Ireland).

Obviously, chances are that with rapid travels between our countries the virus may sooner or later be caused to arrive at the shores of the UK proper and, in the same way as elsewhere, could cause an epidemic.

However, I would suggest that, if and when it arrives, we do not give out Tamiflu again like candy as, aside from the rather serious side effects – been there and done it, the drug actually does not speed recovery by more than a day.

Considering that the drug “Tamiflu” was known to have – one – serious side effects, including the ability to cause psychosis, and – two – that it actually did not really work, one can but wonder why it was given out like sweets? Was there more to it than meets the eye?

In fact, we all know, including most of the medical profession, that nothing really stops influenza, once it has hit, and that it will have to be left to run its cause.

There are many ways to ease this passage but there is very little else that can be done and thus we should steer clear from anything that is unproven and untested. Or was it unproven and untested? Was the use another?

© 2012

Lakeland Stainless Steel Universal Steamer – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Turn any 18 or 20cm saucepan into a steamer, or use with the Pasta Pot to steam veg whilst cooking pasta below.

Lakeland Ref: 15182

Size: 28.5 x 21 x 17cm H. (11¼" x 8¼" x 6¾").

15182_web This is a well-made stainless steel steamer insert, with glass lid, that will fit onto an ordinary saucepan (18cm and 20cm) turning it into a two-tier steamer. Thus, this insert eliminates the need for a dedicated, multi-tiered steamer.

The Lakeland Universal Steamer is ideal for the single person household, and also for two, where a bigger multi-tier steamer would be a waste as far as capacity and size goes. It also will do a great service as an extra steamer that may be required if more things are to be cooked in that way for a meal.

This steamer insert is made of high-quality stainless steel, is well constructed, and equals in quality many much more expensive “pots”, for lack of a better word.

Steaming food, as we discussed in a previous article, is probably one of the best way of preparing food – aside from eating your vegetables all raw – and one that retains most of the flavors and, I am told, nutrients.

The suggestion of cooking pasta in the pot below while steaming vegetables, as was suggested on Lakeland's website, had not, as yet, entered my head but, hey, what a great idea. Let's get steaming...

Another great product from Lakeland.

© 2012


Lawyers send complaint to European Commission about subsidies for nuclear power

“Like car drivers, the operators of nuclear plants should be properly insured”

A formal complaint about subsidies for nuclear power has been sent to the European Commission. If it is upheld, it unlikely that any new nuclear power stations will be built in the UK or elsewhere in the EU. The complaint may be followed by legal action in the courts or actions by politicians to reduce or remove subsidies for nuclear power.

The complaint has been prepared by lawyers for the Energy Fair group, with several other environmental groups and environmentalists.

One of the largest subsidies in the complaint is the cap on liabilities for nuclear accidents. “Like car drivers, the operators of nuclear plants should be properly insured” says Energy Fair. It has been calculated that, if nuclear operators were fully insured against the cost of nuclear disasters like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima, the price of nuclear electricity would rise by at least 14 Eurocents per kWh and perhaps as much as 2.36 Euros, depending on assumptions made. Even with the minimum increase, nuclear electricity would become quite uncompetitive.

Other subsidies in the complaint are: that uranium is exempted from a tax on fuels used to generate electricity, and that the UK government is proposing to provide support for the disposal of nuclear waste, and to provide a subsidy in the form of a “feed-in tariff with contracts for difference”. Research by Energy Fair shows that there are several other subsidies for nuclear power in the UK and that proposals by the government would introduce more.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and leader of the Green party of England and Wales, said: “The Government’s planned Electricity Market Reform is set to rig the energy market in favour of nuclear -- with the introduction of a carbon price floor likely to result in huge windfall handouts of around £50m a year to existing nuclear generators. Despite persistent denials by Ministers, it’s clear that this is a subsidy by another name, which makes a mockery of the Coalition pledge not to gift public money to this already established industry. If these subsidies are found to be unlawful, I trust the European Commission will take action and prevent the UK’s nuclear plans from seriously undermining the shift towards new green energy.”

Dr Dörte Fouquet, the lawyer who has been leading the preparation of the complaint, said: “The European Union has opted for opening up the energy market and is vigilant about creating a level playing field. In this regard, the Commission over the last years repeatedly underlined that distortion of the market is to a large extent caused by subsidies to the incumbents in the energy sector. This complaint aims to shed some light on the recent shift in the energy policy of the United Kingdom where strong signals point to yet another set of subsidies to the nuclear power plant operators.”

“There is no justification of any kind for subsidising nuclear power” says Dr Gerry Wolff of Energy Fair. “It is a mature technology that should be commercially viable without support. Renewables have clear advantages in cost, speed of construction, security of energy supplies, and effectiveness in cutting emissions of CO2. There are more than enough to meet our needs now and for the foreseeable future, they provide diversity in energy supplies, and they have none of the headaches of nuclear power.”

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

Alertors: An interesting concept

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

EXTON, PA – After one youth soccer player was killed and 29 were injured by a lightning strike on a nearby playing field in 1984, Eric Canfield, co-founder of nth Solutions, invented an extraordinary solution to an ordinary problem – he created the Storm Alert.

4-Alertors_sml Fast-forward 27 years, and the more technologically-advanced 4th generation StormAlertor is now part of an entire product line being launched through Kickstarter by nth Solutions, a Pennsylvania electronics development and manufacturing startup.

Alertors detect common household problems before they become dangerous or costly. In an era where conservation is king, the LeakAlertor is a solution for the estimated 50 million leaking toilets silently wasting precious water.

For the 5 million people with dementia and 25.5 million children under age 6, the Open DoorAlertor is peace of mind – detecting when a door has been opened and has been left open.

FridgeAlertor lets you know when the temperature of your refrigerator has gone above 40 degrees or below 32 degrees, preventing foodborne illness and food waste.

And the StormAlertor detects lightning 30 miles away, allowing time for children to be brought indoors and electronics powered down and unplugged.

Started in 2009, Kickstarter is a funding website for new ideas and projects. Supporters “back” projects and receive rewards instead of financial incentives for fully-funded projects. For more information about nth Solutions’ Kickstarter project, visit

From what I can see many of those alertors can also be seen as something that fits into the green and eco category, and the homesteading one, in a way.

However, they seem to be – though I have not had the chance to test any of them (as yet) – most useful for many and I would like to see them actually coming properly onto the market.

Could we, maybe, also get an alertor that tells us when a door has been left unlocked; I certainly could do with a reminder of that sort.

The “door left open alertor” or the “StormAlertor” certainly could be useful in many places and the “LeakAlertor” could be a very useful application to stop invisible water wastage.

It is my hope that they can get those devices into production and to market proper and that many people can be helped with them. Maybe I also could, in the end, get them reviewed as well.

© 2012

Lakeland 2lb Oblong Silicone Cake Pan – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Silicone as a cooking concept has been embraced by professional chefs and home bakers alike – an amazing material, it makes baking so much easier. Thanks to its amazing non-stick properties, the results simply pop out.


Conducting heat better than metal, your cakes will cook quicker, and they're so easy to store, squish 'em, squash 'em, roll 'em and fold 'em, they'll spring back into shape instantly.

  • Microwave and freezer safe.
  • Won't absorb flavours or odours.
  • Non-stick and easy to clean.
  • Won't crack or distort – heat resistant up to 240°C.

29 x 14 x 8cm H. (11½" x 5½" x 3")

Lakeland Catalog Ref #13294

The pan is made from what appears to be very high quality food grade silicone and performs well but one should use it for baking cakes only, as is intended.

I would – note to self – suggest not to use it for baking bread, as I tried, as the dough during the proving, when it is rising, will push out the sides of the pan, resulting in a misshapen loaf.

With cakes that do not – and most don't – require yeast things are a different story altogether here and the pan should perform well and as intended. I guess that it's why it says “cake pan” and not “bread pan” or “-tin”.

Removal of the trial loaf that I did bake in the silicone pan, however, was the easiest I have ever experienced without the use of parchment paper.

Using parchment paper in my heavy (duty) metal bread tin make also for a very clean and quick release and removal of the loaf without a problem.

As they say, it is “horses for courses”.

To recap: Great product for the intended purpose; don't use for bread.

© 2012

Ashortwalk: Interesting products made from recycled vending cups

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Ashortwalk Ltd. is a (small) product design and manufacturing company based near Truro in Cornwall, which is the country at the very south-western tip of Britain. Any further and you fall into the sea. In fact, Cornwall is actually a separate country attached to the UK.


It was started by Dan (the company, not the county/country) in 2003, who left his previous job as a product designer/inventor at Dyson and moved to Cornwall in order to realize a long-held desire: to set up a business, and live, “a short walk” from the sea. Hence that name “Ashortwalk” for the company.

The key to staying competitive in the global market from a shed in Cornwall has always been to design and make unique and functional products that fulfill a need.

While they no longer work from a shed the philosophy has remained the same, and most importantly, they have remained a short walk from the sea; well, just.

The difference in the operation compared to many other companies that do recycling and upcycling is that all products are collected, recycled, redesigned and re-manufactured in Britain. Nothing is “Made in China”.

Ashortwalk is a rare example of British-based design and -manufacture. Far too many companies may do the designing here and even the collecting as to recyclables, but everything is them shipped abroad to be made there, such as in China, and is then shipped all the way back here. Not so with Ashortwalk and long may it continue.

Their entire range is called “eco range” and there is an outdoor range, and indoor one, and a coastal one. In addition they also have eco house signs.

The material is also very much suited for chalkboards – once called blackboards – and I would love to see specialized ones in every pub and restaurant in Britain.

And while we are at it why don't we replace the blackboards in every school with an eco range one?

© 2012

Overseas aid or help those in need at home?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Instead of sending money to Sudan because there is, yet again, a famine, or was it Ethiopia once again, we need to send money to the following country: Great Britain.

Many in this country (and the same is true for the USA) are forced to go without food, shelter and clean drinking water.

Service personnel, after coming home from the wars, are forced to live on the streets because there is no money to care for them and their needs.

Residents are going without heat for the winter and no air conditioning in the summer, not that the latter is used much in the UK. Very few air conditioning units. And then again,does one really need an AC unit? However, the point is that many go without heating, families with children and the elderly included, and thousands die each winter of the cold. And this in a country that is supposed to have a welfare system.

Millions are without jobs, we need good healthcare for the sick. It is time to stop sending our money overseas to countries that want to see Britain go under. And the same is true for the Unite States. We have people here that lack the basic human needs. Charity begins at home

The British government has ring-fenced overseas aid for foreign countries while we have to cut services. But, says our government, we need to spend money overseas to help others as it helps our country. I disagree.

Overseas aid, which includes, obviously, the emergency aid for earthquakes, famines and such and it is there where we interfere with Nature. On top of that does anyone believe that if Britain would be in a similar trouble anyone else would come and help us.

Foreign aid, including emergency aid, whether from government monies or monies collected by the likes of Oxfam, and others, is not helpful to the needy people at home nor those needy the aid is supposed to help.

Many “greens” talk about the need to reduce the world's population (by preaching people in the developed countries to have fewer children – or even none) while interfering in Mother Nature's own way of population control.

Charity begins at home!

Some years ago, during one of the Ethiopian emergencies (oh dear, there have been so many) and emergency operations, I was friendly with someone who was involved with the relief operations who told me of the case when they tried to encourage the people to return to their villages and start farming again. The agencies gave them grain, sorghum and millet by the bushel so that they could have a start to farm again. But, instead, the men brewed beer from the grains and after getting drunk everyone stayed in the camps waiting for the next handout.

And, before anyone complains, I know Africa and the Africans rather well, thank you very much.

However, the same attitude prevails everywhere where people are made dependent on aid, be it famine aid, or welfare, and the same attitude can be seen amongst the Roma Gypsies in Eastern Europe too.

The British foreign aid budget is in such a high range that, more than likely, no cuts to public services and therefore no job losses in the public sector would be necessary and, if we also got away from having troops in places where no one wants us – defence of the realm is not done in Afghanistan – we would need make not cuts anywhere and could pay back all debts as a nation. Britain, like American, was never meant to have a standing army but was supposed to be defended by militia regiments raised as and when needed. But, I digressed.

With needy people at home any money should go, initially, to help them and not some people abroad. When the needs of the citizens have been fulfilled then we can go and help others. Same as with food grown here. First supply the needs of the country, then think of export. Let's get some sense back into our world.

© 2012

Bread makers and my own bread making

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Some while back I bought a Bread Maker, aka Bread Machine, at Lidl, a German discount store in Britain, for less than £30 (I know, very cheap indeed even when translated into US$ reading about $45) and it has been in regular use ever since making about two loaves a week. And this is at least for a year now, if not longer even.

In fact, I had been so taken with that particular kind of bread machine that, when Lidl had them again a couple of months later, I actually bought another one, as a back-up, so to speak.

As I like to use rather heavy flours in the baking, such as wholemeal, multi-grain, and rye, the baking of bread in the machine, while having otherwise good results always led to caved-in tops of the loaves. This is due to the fact that in the machine there is no heat applied to the tops.

I was not all that keen on that – well, now, after all this time – and have now (no! Stop fretting! I have not stopped using the bread machine) changed my use of the bread machine.

Now I use the machine to do the heavy work of kneading, thus saving me time, and the proving, and when if has finished, after an hour and a half, with all the kneading a rising cycles, I transfer the dough into a heavy bread pan, let it sit for another 30 minutes or so to rise again, and then bake it in the oven for about an hour and a quarter

Result: No more caved-in tops; just great (tasting) bread.

The reason for the caved-in tops is that my bread maker has a long tin, horizontally, unlike many other machines that have their tins, sort of, vertically set into the machine. This means that in the case of my bread maker is that the bread does not get heat from the top, as said, and hence the tops fall in in the middle.

Well, problem solved. Though, I have to say, it is a little more work.

© 2012

Gander Kids debut at the 2012 London Toy Fair

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

London, UK, January 24, 2012 : Precocious new distributor Gander Kids make their debut at the 2012 London Toy Fair with an award winning range of products from the USA.

We have gone from zero to 100mph in the space of one year.

pkgroup_sml As exclusive distributors for the American company P’kolino, the UK-based toy and play furniture distributor have had an amazing first year, attracting stockists including John Lewis, Amazon and Firebox along the way. Product ranges have also featured on BBC1 and the Disney Junior Channel as well as a number of national parenting and interiors magazines.

Riding the wave of the ‘slow toy’ movement, the new kids on the block will be exhibiting the P’kolino range of award winning wooden puzzles and eco-friendly Arts and Crafts on stand G136 at the London Olympia Toy Fair. The range features;

Crayons and pencils which are coloured with food dye and angular shaped so
they won’t roll away;

A stylish wall mounted Safari elephant easel, which releases the valuable floor
space taken up by traditional easels; and

Silly Soft modular toddler seating that’s part furniture, part toy.

Also available will be the award-winning Multi Solution Puzzles, which were quickly snapped up by the London Design Museum and have proved popular with independent stores.

Gander Kids founder Maxine Lewis said: "We have gone from zero to 100mph in the space of one year." 2012 will see us launching a number of new products and the LondonToy Fair will be a great opportunity for us as a small business to reach a wider audience."

Those toys here fall under the Slow Toy category and slow toys have been defined as;
* ethically sourced
* fun to play with
* without batteries
* sold in independent toy shops
* durable
* without thousands of different functions

Products in the range have won two Practical Pre-School Awards, and a Practical Parenting & Pregnancy Magazine Award. The toy range also includes Art supplies, Easels, puzzles, rattles, tops, stackers and nesting birds.

The London Toy Fair takes place at the Grand Hall, Olympia from 24-26 January 2012 and is the UK's only trade event dedicated to toys, games and hobbies.

Gander Kids is a London based importer and wholesale distributor of quality toys and play furniture to the UK market and was listed in the 2011 O2 SMARTA 100 Business Awards. Maxine Lewis founded Gander in 2010 following a successful career in financial services and is the winner of the 2011 Best Start Up at the Mumpreneur UK Awards sponsored by Yell.

P’kolino (pee-ko-lee-no) was founded to improve play at home by two dads with a passion for creating great products. With the help of friends, family and a global network of designers, P’kolino has created play products that are beloved worldwide for their playful style and smart functionality. Their innovative line of toys, play furnishings, art supplies, décor and more offer children of all ages playfully smart solutions to improve play at home. P'kolino was founded in 2004 and is located in Florida, USA.

© 2012

How to live (properly and well) in the 21st Century

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Why do we get the urge to publicise our private emotions and relegate our family and friends to cameo roles while we worry over the ups and downs of reality show characters or celebrities to fill the void of emptiness and loneliness? Why do we try as much as we can to act out a role, convinced that what we consume defines how successful we are, how independent we are, how worthy we are of attention?

Because it’s what we respond to best. Because deep down, we prefer the conformism of running the rat race like a hamster on a spinning wheel and the standardised consumption of “keeping up with the Jones”. We prefer the quick fixes of consuming, because we fear freedom – the freedom to be what we want to be rather than what we think others want us to be – embracing our complexity and tolerating our contradictions, doing things for the pleasure of doing them without calculating how we appear to others.

Whether it is our libraries or our post offices closing, our parks or our open spaces and other things not being looked after anymore, what can help us recover through the recession in a way that builds collective spirit and social solidarity?

The Big Society should not come from above, directed and “ordered” from government and enforced, basically, in that they cut services and then say “if you want them kept open you have to provide the people to run them”.

In some of our towns and cities this is happening even as far as the repair of potholes in the roads is concerned and the cleaning of the sidewalks. People, council tax payers, when complaining to the council, were told that they could have brooms and such provided to do it for themselves. The council, they were told, did not have the money to do it.

Having said that, when you look at our continental European neighbors, such as and especially Germany it is the norm there for the people to sweep and keep clean the sidewalk in front of their homes, etc. In fact, it is a legal requirement and that also extends to keeping the path free of ice and snow in winter. No one complains about it; they just get on with it, and often in neighborly cooperation.

Parks and open spaces can, indeed, to some degree, be run with, though I hasten to add not (entirely) by, volunteers and it will actually be one great way to involve the entire community of users, maybe even the young people, often referred to as YOBs. Doing some volunteering in the parks and open spaces of their neighborhood may, actually, give them a sense of ownership, but also of belonging and self-worth.

I do believe that many of our young people who do cause problems suffer from despair and a serious lack of self-worth and self-confidence, even though they act as if they have all the self-confidence in the world.

It is, I think, to some extent our serious consumerist society that is causing our ills, including the YOB culture and such like. In fact, I think that it is more than just to some extent; I believe the majority of our society's ills can be laid at the door of consumerism. And it is not just us, as people, who are to blame for this consumerism. Nay, it is our very governments.

We are told to go and spend, spend, spend, our way our of the recession, despite the fact that that does not work and we are told that we need this or that new and then to recycle what we no longer want.

Goods, that is to say, products, are no longer made to be able to be repaired, with very few exceptions, and everything has an obsolescence of a year to three factored in. If things work on after that you are lucky, and then things break down, as said, they cannot be fixed; they are made thus.

Things need to change and I do not mean here only things in a physical sense, as in products and goods, but the way we live, the way we travel, where we work and live, and how we interact with one another, and how we take care of our community assets.

It is time that we got off the idea that government has to do everything for us. In fact, I do not even think that that is a good idea for government to do everything for us. There are many things that volunteers and we, personally, can do things as well, maybe even better, than can government.

The most worrying sentence in the English language, as far a myself and many other people are concerned is “I am from the government and I am here to help you.” It also makes us dependent on and slaves to and of the system.

While I am the first to want to keep the welfare state – in its basic and original form – that we have in Britain there are many things where government has no place in our lives and many places where we, as people, individuals or groups, should get things done ourselves which we demand at present that the government do.

Time for some real changes and those changes begin with us and must come from within us...

© 2012

New Chinese lanterns developed to extinguish fire safety fears

eco-friendly sky lanterns with a patented in-built fireguard

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In response to safety fears over the fire risks posed by Chinese lanterns, Sky Orbs the firm behind the first wire-free, 100% biodegradable sky lanterns, has developed eco-friendly sky lanterns with a patented in-built fireguard.

Available from February, the innovative design is protected by global patent and also features a non-drip fuel cell and fireproof string and paper, making Sky Orbs Safety Sky Lanterns (from £2.99) the safest on the market.

The fireproof silica blanket sits underneath the fuel cell, creating a protective barrier to minimize fire risks in the event of the lantern returning to the earth whilst ignited. Completely non-combustible, the mechanism envelops and raises the fuel cell above the ground allowing the non-drip fuel cell to harmlessly burn out.

Wire free and constructed from flameproof, eco-friendly materials, Sky Orbs’ new generation of lanterns are wildlife friendly and feature an innovative non-drip fuel cell which has a controlled burn time to create a beautiful spectacle before burning out and floating gently back to the ground.

Says Sky Orbs’ founder, Chris Burton: “We wanted to enable the public to enjoy Chinese lanterns without any nagging safety fears. There has been a lot of negative publicity recently, and low quality, budget Chinese lanterns just don’t have the safety features that offer peace of mind. Although the risks of an ignited lantern returning to earth are small – for example in the event of windy conditions causing the balloon to collapse, our new Chinese lanterns address these issues, which combined with sensible deployment mean that Sky Orbs’ lanterns can be enjoyed safely."

Sky Orbs safety lanterns cost £2.99 each for plain white and coloured designs. Personalised, printed and novelty designs cost from £3.29. To buy online visit

However, while it is good to see that someone is taking the safety concerns as to the Chinese Lanterns being a fire hazard to heart it is not only the fire issues that are a concern to farmers, park staff, and countryside managers. It is also the framing, the fact that there are wires included, and such.

In addition to that those glowing orbs also confuse wildlife left, right and center and as far as many of us are concerned, myself included, Chinese Lanterns should be discontinued.

They are a rather new phenomenon and were never seen before the advent of the new millennium properly but have become a major nuisance by now, that relatively short space of time of a decade or so.

Chinese Lanterns cause serious environmental problems in that they little up the countryside, parks and elsewhere and often they end up hanging in trees where they are an unsightly spectacle for many days to weeks.

While I do not wish to spoil anyone's enjoyment and fun there are things that just should have put a stop to and those glowing orbs are one of them.

© 2012

Research Shows Americans Still Prefer Print and Paper Communications

Research Shows Americans Still Prefer Print and Paper Communications, but Misconceptions about Environmental Sustainability Remain

If you prefer to read from paper instead of an electronic screen, you’re not alone.

by Phil Riebel

CHICAGO, January 2012 – If you prefer to read from paper instead of an electronic screen, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey commissioned by Two Sides, the fast-growing non-profit organization created to promote the responsible production, use and sustainability of print and paper, 70 percent of Americans, including 69 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, say they prefer to read print and paper communications than reading off a screen.

Most of those surveyed also believe that paper records are more sustainable than electronic record storage (68 percent) and that paper is more pleasant to handle and touch than other media (67 percent). But survey results also show that many Americans still have misconceptions about the environmental impacts of print and paper.

“Even though most Americans still prefer print over electronic communications, they also have misconceptions about the effects of paper-based communications on the environment,” says Two Sides President Phil Riebel. “In fact, print and paper have a great environmental story to tell, and Two Sides is committed to setting the record straight using factual information from well-known, credible sources.”

The Two Sides survey indicates a majority of respondents are concerned about the effect of print and paper production on forests and believe that there is a connection between the loss of tropical rainforests and the manufacture of paper, but data from a variety of sources show these beliefs to be unfounded.

“Authoritative sources like the U.S. Forest Service, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and others report that the amount of forestland in the United States has remained nearly the same over the last century at about 750 million acres, and the major cause of global deforestation is not papermaking, but the conversion of tropical rainforests to agricultural land,” Riebel says.

While 96 percent of survey respondents said they believe recyclability is a sign of environmentally responsible products, most significantly underestimated the amount of U.S. paper that’s actually recycled each year. “Most people think the U.S. paper recycling rate is between 20 and 40 percent,” Riebel explains, “but American Forest and Paper Association data show that more than 63 percent of all paper used in the United States in 2010 was recycled. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that’s more than any other commodity, including plastics, glass and metals. The industry has set a goal to exceed 70 percent of all paper recovered for recycling by 2020.”

The survey also found that more than half respondents believe that electronic communications are a more environmentally friendly way to read books, magazines and mail. “That’s another myth that has been perpetuated by financial institutions, utilities and other organizations that are trying to save money by encouraging consumers to go green by going paperless,” Riebel says. “The fact is that both electronic and paper-based communications have an environmental footprint, and making both smaller is the right environmental choice.”

Earlier this month, Two Sides launched its U.S. website,, as a resource for consumers, the media and others who are looking for a trustworthy resource for factual information on the environmental sustainability of print and paper. The website offers a “myths and facts" section that dispels many of the common misconceptions about the medium’s environmental impacts, including citations from authoritative sources with links to original source documents.

About the survey:

Two Sides commissioned Ipsos, a global market research company, to conduct a multi-country survey in September 2011. U.S. results included 500 respondents classified by age and gender.

About Two Sides:

Two Sides is an independent, non-profit organization created to promote the responsible production, use and sustainability of print and paper. Started in Europe in 2008, Two Sides is now active in 12 countries, with links to similar projects in Australia and Japan. The organization has more than 1,000 members that span the entire print and paper supply chain, including pulp and paper producers, paper distributors, ink and chemical manufacturers, printers, equipment manufacturers and publishers.

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