Thursday, 6 December 2012

Enter the Doodle-Bag Competition!

For the month of December Doodle-Bag is running a great, festive competition to win three customised Doodle-Bags! All you have to do is share your favourite tip for being eco-friendly over the winter and Christmas period, and you could be the winner! Entries close on 31st December 2012, and the winner will be announced in early January - just in time to beat those New Year blues!
For your chance to win, just share your best eco-friendly tip for Christmas on their Twitter page, Facebook page, or via e-mail. They'll be sharing the best entries as well as their own tips for environmentally-friendly festive fun!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Worse than malaria or TB but never discussed

According to the Blacksmith Institute in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland, the health burden of pollution from industrial activities is as bad or worse than that of malaria or TB. Yet the problem goes largely ignored. Why? Because pollution is seen as the necessary price of economic growth. And economic growth is what keeps governments in office. The new report claims that waste from mining, lead smelters, industrial dumps, mercury, radionuclides, pesticides and other toxins affects the health of an estimated 125 million people worldwide. In one tragic example, doctors carrying out vaccinations in a Zamfaran village in Nigeria questioned the general absence of children attending their centre. They found the reason. Hundreds of children from the village had died from lead poisoning whilst thousands more were stricken with the effects of high levels of lead in their systems [read more].

Where have all the bees gone?

Albert Einstein once remarked that if the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination and no more men [read more]

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

African conservationists resort to 'shoot to kill’ to stop poaching

Rhino horns command a very high price in some parts of Asia where they are used in dubious medicines, which fuels poaching and puts already endangered species at further risk. Some poachers are heavily armed professionals, who will shoot people as well as animals in their quest for money.

In contrast, the development of nature tourism has generated a great deal of international pressure to save high-profile species. This has been to such an extent that some conservation groups regard the protection of the gorilla, rhino and other endangered species as more important than human life.

Professor Rosaleen Duffy has conducted research in this field and discovered that private security firms and mercenaries are now being used to train game rangers. In countries such as Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and

Living for a Cause

Called 'Living for a Cause,' Greenpeace have launched a new series of web shorts giving an 'insider' look at the organisation today. The series highlights some of the more surprising aspects of the organisation, and future episodes will cover the well known Greenpeace protest actions, their people, and their volunteers. To find out more click on the video link

Monday, 23 April 2012

Chevron fined for Amazon pollution

The US oil giant Chevron has been fined $8.6bn (£5.3bn) by a court in Ecuador for polluting the country’s Amazon region. Campaigners claim that the company dumped billions of gallons of toxic materials into the Amazon rivers damaging crops and killing farm animals. The company has also been told it will have to pay a 10% legally mandated reparations fee, which brings the total penalty to $9.5bn (£5.9bn). However, Chevron has condemned the ruling as fraudulent, and has said it would appeal. Pablo Fajardo, lawyer for the plaintiffs, described the court ruling as ‘a triumph of justice over Chevron's crime and economic power. This is an important step but we're going to appeal this sentence because we think that the damages awarded are not enough considering the environmental damage caused by Chevron here in Ecuador,’ he told the BBC.

Princes new policy on sustainable fishing

The UK’s biggest supplier of canned Tuna, Princes, has announced that it will source its fish from more sustainable supplies after heavy lobbying by the environmental group Greenpeace. A proportion of Princes’ tuna will now come from ‘pole and line’ fishing. From 2014 its tuna will come from fleets that do not use fish aggregating devices, which can kill other types of marine life such as dolphins.

Salmon’s role in defining Canadian ecosystems

According to the publication Science, pacific salmon play an important role in delivering nutrients to part of the world’s largest old-growth temperate rainforest. The annual migration of salmon to western Canada to spawn provides food for bears and wolves, which then transport the carcasses away from the streams into forested areas. In turn, this allows nutrient-rich plants to thrive in such areas, adding to biodiversity there. "Along the Pacific coast, all salmon die after spawning so carcasses can line rivers, but many of them are killed before by bears and wolves," explained co-author John Reynolds, professor of ecology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Canada. "This adds up to a huge amount of nutrients being dumped into the stream or on to the banks," he added.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Will ethical consumers sustain their values in times of economic hardship?

A key question for providers of fair trade products is whether ethical consumers will sustain their values in the face of scepticism, apathy and more difficult financial times. Or whether demand for ethical product and services will decline. Indeed, one of the main challenges is how ethical businesses can continue to engage with consumers with a social conscience and ensure their continued business [read more]

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Big increase in sales of fuel efficient cars

Rising fuel prices have encouraged more people to buy low emission, fuel efficient cars according to the motor industry body SMMT. In fact, 47% of cars sold in 2011 emitted less than 130g per km, an increase of 11% since 2007.

Average emissions from new cars sold in 2011 stood at 138.1g/km. The average must fall below 130g/km by 2015, then below 95g/km by 2020, in line with European Union regulation.

New or nearly new cars are now so fuel efficient that, combined with the current high cost of petrol and diesel, switching from an old, thirsty model often pays for itself. And it is not only private car buyers who have cottoned on to this. Demand for fuel efficient cars has also soared amongst fleet buyers.

Both fleet and private car buyers realise this, so demand for fuel efficient cars has soared.

There are other savings too, such as road tax and insurance, which are typically lower for low emission cars. Many green insurance companies also now offer discounts for drivers of low emission and fuel efficient cars.

Taken in combination, the savings from driving a low emission car can be significant.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

China tops list of world's list of investors in clean energy

Despite what you may have heard in the press about China being a major polluter, it remains the world's leading investor in low-carbon energy technology according to a study by the US Pew Environment Group. The Chinese invested $54.4bn (£34.1bn) in low carbon technology across 2010, an increase of $39.1bn from 2009. The US also increased its investment $34bn, but it still fell from 2nd to 3rd in the ranking, behind Germany at $41.2bn. Disappointingly, the UK did not even make the top 10 as investment fell by 70% in 2010.

Electric cars take a step forward

Research chemists at BASF are working on next-generation lithium-ion batteries that will have significantly improved energy densities and lower material costs than today’s products. The researchers are hoping that the technology will increase the travelling range of current hybrid vehicles and bring long-distance all-electric cars closer to mainstream production. Company research director Dr Andreas Kreimeyer said: Existing batteries are too expensive, their range is too limited and their weight is still much too high. We must develop innovative concepts for more efficient electric cars if we are to convince potential users.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

New species of monkey discovered

Scientists have discovered what they believe to be a new species of monkey living in the northern eastern Myanmar region of Burma. The monkeys are distinctive in appearance due to their strange, upturned nostrils. The total population of this new species is estimated to be just 300 individuals and they are critically endangered. The new species has been named the Burmese snub-nosed monkey [read more]

Monday, 5 March 2012

Only nine car companies achieved EU target for CO2 emissions in 2011

According to figures produced by Clean Green Cars, only nine car companies have achieved the EU target for CO2 emissions of 130g per km set for 2012. However, on a more positive note, overall emissions for new cars fell by over 4 percent.

The nine car companies who achieved emission targets were:

Alfa Romeo

Many well known car manufacturers, some of whom promote themselves as green and eco-friendly, failed to meet the EU’s emission targets and do not appear in the list of nine. Another example of ‘greenwash’ aimed at deceiving car buyers where reality is divorced from the truth.

The same principle applies to green car insurance, where companies who promote their ostensibly green credentials have simply bought carbon credits without actually doing anything worthwhile to protect the environment.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

California approves first US carbon-trading scheme

California has become the first US state to approve a carbon-trading plan aimed at cutting greenhouse emissions. State regulators passed a "cap-and-trade" framework, which allows companies to buy and sell permits, thereby providing an incentive to emit fewer gases. State officials hope the scheme will be copied across the US, but opponents warn it may harm California's growth and lead to higher electricity prices. The scheme means that from 2012 California will allocate licences to pollute and create a market where they can be traded.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

UK and India urged to follow low-carbon path by businesses

Closer co-operation between the UK and India could accelerate moves towards a low-carbon economy, according to business leaders from both countries. Retailers Marks and Spencer, wind energy giant Suzlon, and HSBC Bank are among the companies calling for closer ties. Among other things, they argue for more UK investment in clean energy in India. Prime Minister David Cameron said the collaboration could "deliver jobs, growth and environmental protection". The UK government believes that bilateral collaborations could potentially improve the prospects for a new deal within the UN climate negotiations.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Hemp clothing and the environment

Hemp is particularly useful in making organic clothing and accessories such as bags, because the bark of the hemp stalk is very rich in cellulose and natural, long fibres. On a like-for-like basis, hemp is a far stronger, more absorbent and insulating material than cotton. Hemp fibres can be woven into extremely durable clothing material. The original Levi Strauss jeans were actually made from hemp and use of hemp for making clothes dates back 10,000 in China.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

What is fair trade?

What is fair trade? After years as a niche market, the concept of ‘fair trade’ seems to have finally broken through into the mainstream, with most of the major supermarkets now stocking these lines. The fair trade market has grown massively in recent years with new product ranges being added all the time. There are now thousands of fair trade products available in the UK - everything from bags, teas and coffee to wine, clothing and flowers, biscuits, fruit juices, chocolates, snack bars, muesli and even footballs.

It appears that growing numbers of consumers are prepared not only to buy fair trade products but also to pay a little bit more for the privilege. Some have even suggested that it would be more logical to label unfair products.

True, fair trade products are still in a minority and will probably remain so whilst the current economic climate persists. Then there is cynicism, with a perception amongst some that it is a con, that the money doesn’t get to the producers, that manufacturers are using it as a smokescreen to charge more. A few die hard cynics have even compared fair trade to charity Christmas cards – that you pay a little extra cash and clear your conscience in the process.

The majority view, however, is that the growth of fair trade serves the common good and is a route by which poverty, ignorance and unfairness can be reduced across the globe. It can also be a platform upon which a more sustainable global economy can be built, empowering women through education and reducing birth rates, protecting endangered species and helping to preserve the Earth’s delicate eco-system.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Flood insurance cover – homes most at risk in the UK

At estimated 200,000 households will face insurance problems when the government’s protection agreement ends in 2013, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). This agreement currently ensures insurance cover for those properties most at risk from flooding.

In anticipation of this, the ABI has identified those areas most at risk of flood damage in the UK. These also represent the areas where some residents may struggle to find adequate insurance cover.

Anyone worried about flooding should speak to their home insurance provider to find out what their policy covers and any exclusions.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Greener cities – the future

Are greener cities the future?

There is a common misconception that during tough economic times we must abandon ‘nice to haves’ in favour of harsh commercial realities. That green initiatives and environmental concerns must take backseat.

A recent study by GreenWise, however, dispels this myth. Not only is investment in green initiatives justified but actually delivers real economic benefits. According to the study, cities in the UK that adopt a green stance can realise a return on investment within 4-5 years, whilst potentially saving billions of pounds in energy use and creating thousands of new jobs....

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Will carbon dioxide emissions defer the next Ice Age?

Climate sceptic groups who oppose limiting greenhouse gas emissions have already begun citing this research as a reason for continuing with industrialisation and carbon emissions (ironically including some who had previously disputed that carbon emissions contributed to global warming!) Read more

Urban tree planting programme launched

A £4.2m scheme to plant one million trees over the next four years has been unveiled by the government. The scheme involves planting trees in urban areas of England that need them most, and is the first government tree-planting campaign since the 1970s.

Led by Defra, alongside the Forestry Commission and organisations such as the Woodland Trust, the aim of the scheme is to halt the decline in the number of trees being planted in towns and cities. Trees for Cities and the Tree Council will also be involved in the Big Tree Plant scheme.

Indian mines company accused of unlawful deforestation

According to the BBC, a subsidiary of the Vedanta mining group in India, Sterlite Industries, has cleared forest land in violation of Supreme Court orders. The trees were cut down while constructing a new power plant in Chhattisgarh state. Two government reports - dated October 2010 - said that trees were cut down in an area owned by the state government which is officially designated as forest land in government records.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Fracking hell

Fracking is the process of injecting a high-pressure mixture of sand, water and chemicals thousands of metres into hard shale rocks to shatter them and release the natural gas inside. The concerns around this controversial technique surround its potential to contaminate water aquifers and poison drinking water. It will also simply extend our reliance on fossil fuels and contribute further to greenhouse gas emissions....