Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Otters back from the brink of extinction

Pesticide polluted rivers three decades ago almost wiped out England’s otter population. However, now that many of these pesticides have been banned the otter has made a remarkable comeback according to the Environment Agency. In fact, in many watercourses in the south-west and along the River Wye otter numbers are at maximum capacity.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

“You Are Pure Potential” - Martin de Maat Magnet

YES, that’s US - all of us. We have the potential* to change things - loads of things. The thing we’re talking about here is changing behaviour and challenging our seemingly out-of-control disposable culture.

There was a time, long ago when people bought things to last and then reused them. But then a myth arrived on the scene, which made us all believe that reusing is somehow bad for us or out-of-date, and that it is better to buy new each time.

Reuse in the broadest sense means any activity that lengthens the life of an item.

Reuse is nothing new. What is new is the need to reuse.
Reuse can often be more effective than recycling. Once an item has been made at great cost to the pocket and the earth – doesn’t it make sense that it is used until it is rendered useless?

You might think that a reusable bottle or bag can’t make that much difference in the grand scheme of things. BUT... remember that we have the potential to change things - it is part of us.

*POTENTIAL existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality

Onya Bags

Reusable Bottle

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Does Fair Trade help us?

UK consumers are now familiar and well aware of the Fair trade movement. Countless supermarket products come with the fair trade stamp of quality, almost to the point that its presence is diluted. Greedy westerners putting another selling point on their commodities – does this compromise the ethos of the Fair Trade Foundation?

The Fairtrade organisation’s core values remain intact. The movement is aimed at aiding both producers and consumers – encouraging clearer communication with a transparent set of standards.

The Fairtrade mark is a certification for products sourced from companies based in developing countries, with a goal of helping poverty and improving long term development. This is an internationally recognised logo and is in many terms a household brand in the consumer’s eyes.

The Fairtrade standards for generic producers are set high and provide detail in their requirements. This drives businesses such as commercial farms into improving their processes and operations but also supports financially and managerially.

Ethical products have seen a rise in sales volumes over the past four years. Organic food has seen a recent decrease which is attributable to the economical downturn. Contrastingly RSPCA backed Freedom Food products have seen considerable increases in the past two years showing the level of support in the UK economy for ethical consumerism.

The question is does the average consumer knows what the ‘ethically produced’ means? Large organisations such as Sainsburys and Starbucks openly support Fairtrade and there is high amounts of information and retailers backing fair trade products. Therefore, part of the increase of ethical product sales has to be down to genuine demand.

Experienced ethical product wholesaler Premcrest penned a great ‘what is fairtrade’ article giving more information on the Fairtrade and its impact to us in economical terms – visit Premcrest

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Solar panels on the White House

US President Barack Obama is to install solar panels on the White House roof, in a move which will please climate activists and send out a strong message about the nation's energy future. The panels will heat water and provide electric power. "Solar panels on one house, even this house, won't save the climate, of course," global warming activists wrote on their website. "But they're a powerful symbol to the whole nation about where the future lies."

HSBC Insurance

HSBC Insurance has switched all of its marketing material in the UK, including direct mail, to FSC certified virgin/recycled paper, affecting the 4000 tonnes of paper destined for customers' letterboxes. Over the next few years, as more FSC certified paper grades become available, this policy will be extended to all of the paper the HSBC Group uses around the world.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Con-fused Arts

Con-fused Arts aim to provide you and others across the UK with contemporary high quality Fair Trade jewellery that easily competes with high street and fashion brands. All their products are sourced from business and social projects that follow Fair Trade Practices ensuring fair payment to disadvantaged craftspeople and artisans alike. They also endeavour to ensure only natural and sustainable materials are used minimising the impact on the environment.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Cold winter in a world of warming?

At a New Year’s Eve party I was approached by someone with a cynical grin, “Looks like your global warming theory thingy has gone badly wrong, it’s the coldest winter on record – how do you explain that?” It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such comments. My son recently came home from school and told me that his friend’s dad had said global warming was a myth, and that the recent cold snap ‘proved’ it.

The two very cold winters we’ve had in the UK have been seized upon by sceptics as evidence that global warming is a lie. Unusually cold winters may make some people think that scientists have got it all wrong. However, the truth is far deeper than this. There are now strong findings that suggest that the unusually cold winters of the last two years in the UK are in fact the result of heating elsewhere.

Record high temperatures were experienced in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Burma and Pakistan, causing heatwaves and devastating harvests throughout 2010. In fact, record high temperatures were set in 17 countries. Two leading groups of scientists say it was the warmest since records began in 1850; another suggests it was the second-warmest. This decade also proved to be the hottest on record, with temperatures averaging 0.46C above the 1961-90 average.

Last June, during the International Polar Year conference, James Overland suggested that there are more cold and snowy winters to come in the UK as the rest of the world heats up. The reason? The exceptionally cold snowy 2009-2010 winter in Europe is connected with the loss of sea-ice in the Arctic, which results in a persistent ‘blocking event’ bringing in cold air over Europe from the north and the east.

The UK has experienced very cold temperatures recently. But that doesn’t ‘prove’ that global warming is wrong. Quite the opposite. The world is warming and record temperatures are being seen across huge swathes of the globe. The UK’s lower temperatures follow from loss of sea ice in the Arctic caused by global warming.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The largest windfarm in the world?

Construction will begin next year on one of the largest offshore windfarms in the world, led by RWE Innogy, and is expected to be completed in 2014.

The £2 billion Gwynt y Mor windfarm will consist of 160 wind turbines around 10 miles off the north Wales coast near to Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. It is claimed that around 1,000 jobs will be created by the project.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said: "This is excellent news. Gwynt y Mor will be one of the single biggest private investment projects ever seen in Wales, creating up to 1,000 quality jobs and contributing many millions of pounds to the regional economy of north Wales.

"It will also become one of the largest offshore windfarm projects in Europe, able to provide enough clean, green electricity to power the equivalent of around 400,000 homes.”

"Surrounded by wind, wave and tidal resources, we are in a prime position to be able to benefit from investment in the green economy whilst making a significant contribution to the UK government's carbon reduction targets through safe, clean renewable means."

The project has, however, been opposed by some people in Llandudno who claimed it would destroy the resort's views out to sea and that wind energy was unreliable. Which brings us back to our often cited counterargument – where would the protestors like their electricity to come from? Imported foreign oil from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran? Nuclear power stations (presumably not on their own doorstep)? Or from burning dirty coal? Finally, what happens when fossil fuels run out? (Yes, fossil fuels are finite unlike wind).

UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said: "This is the first of what I hope will be many examples of how we can make the most of our island's huge renewable energy potential. I want to make sure we grab all the opportunities the rapidly expanding renewables industry has to offer, and that wind power can come of age under this government."