HJ Fantaskis | 25.04.13
The aspirational wishes of 50 of the UK’s leading voices to build a more sustainable way of living have been turned into an art installation, was unveiled in London yesterday.
The Bottled Wishes exhibition showcases an installation of 50 fused recycled glass bottles, each one containing a different wish for the future. Contributors include Greenpeace, Fairtrade Foundation, Triodos Bank, presenter Julia Bradbury and environmental journalist Lucy Siegle.
The diversity of contributors is reflected in the wishes, which showcase ‘ideal world’ visions for issues such as waste, food, poverty, water and development, as well as more conceptual ideals concerning the happiness and attitudes of people.
Curated by the consumer forum Friends of Glass, the project’s aim is to celebrate the 100% recyclable qualities of glass while promoting ideas for more sustainable solutions in all areas of life.
Rebecca Cocking, Head of Container Affairs at British Glass, the trade body behind the Friends of Glass campaign, said: “Glass is a healthy and sustainable material that has and will continue to stand the test of time. We wanted to create a window into what other things we would like to see as part of a more sustainable future and thus the Bottled Wishes concept was born.
“While many of the wishes are aspirational and ambitious, the key to success is to start with a clear goal. We hope in exhibiting the wishes, we will help inspire the action required to turn them into reality.”
The exhibition will run for one month at Global Action Plan’s offices near Covent Garden, London, beginning Wednesday 24th April. At the end of the exhibition the bottles will be auctioned with 100% of proceeds donated to clean water charity drop4drop.
Members of the public are invited to share their own wishes for the future on Twitter. Those that include the #bottledwishes hashtag in their tweets will be entered into a competition to win dinner for two at Galvin at Windows, and five pairs of viewing tickets for the spectacular new all-glass building The Shard for the lucky runners up.
What is your Bottled Wish?
HJ Fantaskis | 07.11.12
Last week, we announced the launch of AshTag, the smartphone app that enables members of the public to take photos of potentially diseased Ash tree leaves, shoots or bark and send it directly to plant pathologists for assessment.
As predicted, the data collected by some 500 sightings has been a huge asset to the teams dedicated to monitoring and containing the spread of the Chalara fungus.
Greenhouse spoke to Toby Hammond, lead on AshTag at UEA, about the early success of the app. 'The Forestry Commission are treating AshTag's data as high priority. We're working with Iben Margaret Thomsen from The University of Copenhagen who is leading the sighting analysis. She's found many sites of serious concern - 30 case of which she is no doubt are infected with Chalara fraxinea, and the Forestry Commission are immediately following these up.'
You can download the free app from AshTag.
If you go for a walk this week, be sure to keep an eye out for Ash trees around you. There's a gallery in the app to help you identify possible cases - and, if you're not sure, take a photo anyway.
Toby Hammond says, 'I encourage Greenhouse readers and app users to keep sending in reports - and get your friends involved. The most signficant issue this week is the seasonal change - the leaves will have fallen from the trees, so you're looking for the distinct lesions on the bark. I've updated the gallery so users will know exactly what to look out for now the leaves have dropped off.
The lesion is very characteristic - and now the leaves are gone, the diamond-shaped lesion or scar will be more easily identified.'
Take a look at the sightings submitted using AshTag.
Map republished with permission of IAS.
Admin | 06.09.12
Helen Munro from The Political Communications Studio is our guest blogger today, and gives us her expert view on the cabinet reshuffle.
DEFRA is now to be led by Owen Paterson, a West Midlands MP and former Secretary for Northern Ireland. He sits on the right of the party holding both social and economic traditional conservative values.
He has in the past made comments on wind turbines that will not be well received by energy groups, however he will have a natural following of farmers and landowners as he led the bovine TB campaign whilst in opposition.
DEFRA also has a new Liberal Democrat recruit, David Heath, an MP in the South West, who becomes Agriculture and Food Minister. He has held the shadow position in opposition, however this was some years ago. He will perhaps provide some balance to the new Environment Secretary.
Charles Hendry is a shock move from DECC, having created support and trust from across industries in the energy market. He is replaced by John Hayes, an East Midlands MP and former Minster for Further Education. He too sits on the right of the party and has also in the past made unhelpful comments about the viability of wind turbines.
Chloe Smith has moved on from Treasury as economic Secretary and is replaced by Sajid Javid, a West Midlands MP and former junior minister in education and treasury. He is an investment banker. This Ministerial role encompasses environment and energy policy, such as the control levy framework that sets 'budgets' for renewable energy subsidies i.e the Feed-in Tariff and Renewables Obligation.
"The appointment of an environment secretary who sits firmly on the right of the conservative party will satisfy a significant number of backbenchers who may be feeling disenfranchised with coalition policies that do not conform to their ideology. It would also, if Paterson still holds his views on wind turbines, give leverage to Osborne's view on investment in the Green Economy. This final point also relates to Hayes appointment, although he is not in the Cabinet to have that live debate.
The Lib Dems have done well to trade a post to get into DEFRA and could provide a some balance." - Helen Munro
Greenhouse's selection of the key news coverage:
Energy and environment departments dealt new faces in cabinet reshuffle - Blue&Green Tomorrow
Editor's viewpoint: we deserve better from Westminster - Belfast Telegraph
Admin | 15.08.12
On A Mission to Re-think The Future
At Greenhouse, we've been following with interest the focus and energy behind the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and their Circular Economy model. And, with the launch of their business toolkit, it seems like the very time to share the good news.
Their Mission - "The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is an independent charity with the aim to inspire a generation to rethink, re-design and build a positive future through the vision of a circular economy."
What is the Circular Economy and How Do We Contribute?
The current macroeconomic model is a highly unsustainable linear model of 'take-make-dispose'. An exciting and burgeoning movement of businesses have started to explore ways to reuse products or their components and restore more of their precious material, energy and labour-inputs.
The Circular Economy takes this positive action a step further. It is a term which describes an industrial economy that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.
One of the basic principles is that, rather than owning and disposing of electric appliances (for example), in a circular economy you can for example license say 30,000 laundry washes from a washing machine manufacturer. Then, the manufacturer takes back the machine, and re-purposes the materials to make the 'new' washing machine for your next 30,000 washes.
The fantastic TED talk, from Ken Webster (Head of Innovation) on the Circular Economy is just under 20 minutes, and well worth a watch.
Circular Economy Business Toolkit
The EMF commissioned a report which addresses the linear macroeconomic model of manufacturing, and offers the economically-sound business case for adopting this 'closed-loop' process. You can download the executive summary and the full report.
Once the Circular Economy report was released, EMF realised that there was no 'one-size-fits-all' method, or check list for businesses. There was a need for a practical guide, as flexible and dynamic as the businesses looking to investigate the circular economy.
In response to this need, the EMF has announced the launch of their business toolkit, which helps businesses understand the circular economy, and their place within it.
It is in its initial stages of development (at time of publishing, the toolkit is in Phase 1), but the hope is that the toolkit will help begin to accelerate the transition to a circular economy within the business. Beginning with guiding businesses through assessing their principle values the toolkit offers case studies to examine (and apply as appropriate). Exciting stuff!
Admin | 23.07.12
Abundance Generation is launching an investment platform to give people the chance to invest directly in renewable energy generation from as little as £5, up to £50,000 per investor.
Greenhouse PR is delighted to be supporting Abundance’s new campaign to attract £1.4million of investment by the end of September 2012.
With growing concerns over rising energy costs, threats to energy security and tough carbon reduction targets, there is an urgent need to build new green energy.
And, as the recession continues to hit UK wallets hard - combined with the nation’s furore over unscrupulous banking and tax-dodging dominating the headlines over the past few weeks and months (think Bob Diamond and Barclays, think Jimmy Carr and K2) - consumer concerns are also focusing on, ‘where is my money going? Where’s it being invested? Do I have a say in this?’
Enter Abundance Generation. Their goal: to crowd-source £1.4million in funding for a renewables energy project based in the Forest of Dean, by September 2012.
Abundance is offering the opportunity to invest in its first renewable energy project in partnership with Resilient Energy Great Dunkilns (REGD) at Great Dunkilns Farm in the Forest of Dean. Investors will buy debentures in the project to secure a return based on a share of the profits produced by selling renewable energy with an effective rate of return of between 6.75% and 8%.
Through ‘democratic finance’ (coined by Abundance), their mission is to create a Renewables Revolution, by providing people with a real opportunity to invest in renewables projects and help shape the development of clean energy infrastructure - however much they have to invest.
As the banking crisis deepens, traction has been gained by pressure groups, such as Positive Money and Move Your Money, as consumers seek more control over financial investment.
The scheme has wide appeal to the increasing number of people who want to make a difference with their money. Investors will be directly funding renewables infrastructure for the 21st Century, generating growth and revenue in the real economy, whilst being rewarded with a good financial return.
Renewable energy development and infrastructure builds have been severely underfunded, and government subsidies (now cut by Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change) for smaller groups hoping to meet consumer energy needs simply have not been able to support demand at scale.
Bruce Davis, co-founder and Joint Managing Director comments, “There’s a massive gap in the funding of renewable energy. The current well-intentioned, individually-organized projects are good as far as they go, but are relatively inefficient and can’t scale up quickly enough to meet demand. By bringing together lots of investors, Abundance can attract levels of funding needed to build large scale projects costing tens of millions of pounds.”
Davis is no stranger to peer-to-peer lending. Founding Zopa in March 2005), Davis established the very first online peer-to-peer lending marketplace in the world. Today, Zopa has around half a million members (including small businesses, refused loans by the banks) who have lent more than £190million between each other. Davis is now bringing his expertise to Abundance and the renewable energy sector, enabling people to use their money to build a secure, sustainable UK.
With the success of the build in Forest of Dean with REGD, Abundance plans to focus its attention to bigger projects with the mission of reaching £250million of investment over five years - making renewable energy more widely available, as well as offering regular cash returns to its investors.
Abundance Generation is now live and people are able to invest between £5 and £50,000 in this new democratically-financed project, and join the Renewables Revolution.
Richard Lemmer | 11.07.12
With just 21 days left to the Olympics, London is preparing to be dazzled with gold, silver and bronze. But how green will London 2012 be?
Originally, Locog (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) said that London 2012 would be the most sustainable games ever. But earlier this month, activists targeted BP sponsored London 2012 advertisements on the Cromwell Road, spraying the billboards with oil-like black paint and leaving a spray painted website address, which hosts pictures of other hijacked BP branding. This brand hijacking came a week after the Reclaim The Bard activist asked “BP or not BP?,” storming the stage at the Roundhouse during – aptly enough – a Comedy of Errors, which was been shown as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
You can now vote for which polluting/unethical London 2012 sponsor should win the Greenwash Gold – will it be BP, Dow Chemical or Rio Tinto? Embarrassingly for Locog, this coalition of activists is chaired by Meredith Alexander, who quit as commissioner for the London 2012 sustainability watchdog over Dow’s deal with the International Olympic Committee.
And then there is the continuing food fight surrounding McDonald's and Coke's sponsorship. Jenny Jones, the Green Party's London mayoral candidate, proposed a motion at the London assembly to block high calorie food producers from sponsoring London 2012. “London won the right to host the 2012 Games with the promise to deliver a legacy of more active, healthier children across the world," she told the assembly.
So far London 2012 seems less than green or golden. But while the activists provide a valuable job reminding us how the sponsors could clean up their act, there has been some progress in making London 2012 a sustainable event. Whilst the site for the games was far from an ecological paradise (it was an underused brownfield zone), the London 2012 constructors ensured that 98% of the materials reclaimed during the site cleanup and demolition were reused in the creation of the Olympic Park. During the construction, over half of all the materials delivered and the waste removed were transferred by trains and barges, reducing the carbon emissions of transporting the goods and waste.
And the resulting buildings have proven to be some outstanding example of sustainable architecture. The Velodrome, home to the cycling events, is the most sustainable venue for London 2012: it is nearly 100% naturally ventilated and makes optimal use of natural light, and rainwater from the roof will be collected and used for flushing toilets and irrigating nearby greenery. Originally, the Velodrome’s designs needed 2,000 tonnes of steel; but a little engineering ingenuity and commitment to sustainability cut the figure down to 100 tonnes of steel. The Basketball Courts are recyclable: two thirds of all the material used to create the courts can be recycled or easily reused elsewhere. You could find an Olympic standard basketball court in your neighborhood after the London show is over.
How will you get there? Of course there is the Tube or one of London’s many bikes-for-hire, but there has been much environmentalist ire over the VIP’s fleet of BMWs. Whilst most of the cars will run on ‘clean diesel,’ 200 of them will be new varieties of BMW’s electric car.
So does London 2012 win the green medal in your eyes? Or has sustainability become an also-ran in this Olympic Games?
Richard Lemmer | 04.07.12
In a fight between a polar bear and a fish, it‘s no real contest. And this applies whether the fight is for survival or just public attention. Polar bears are the mascots of climate change activists the world over. Cute, cuddly and close to becoming homeless thanks to CO2 emissions, they have become a ready emblem for our climate crisis.
Greenpeace’s latest video features a homeless polar bear wandering the streets of London, sniffing at plastic fish and car exhausts, whilst Thom Yorke of Radiohead sings and Jude Law narrates. The video has been live for two days and has over 15,000 views. Greenpeace’s video on sustainable fishing has been live for over a month and has 8,000 views. Polar bears shine on, while the fish swim out of sight.
But Greenpeace’s ‘Be A Fisherman’s Friend’ campaign has taken a dry subject (a little ironic given its place in the natural world) and given it a human face. The EU’s Maximum Sustainable Yield model of the Common Fisheries Policy may not sound like a day at the beach, but it has big implications for the fish & chip shops that line our sea sides. At the moment, large corporations can afford to discard fish, completely de-populate fish stocks and cut out sustainable fishermen. Small boats make up over 70% of the UK fishing fleet, but they are given just 4% of the allocated fishing quota.
Greenpeace knows this can’t go on, and its campaign rises to the challenge. We get to understand how important sustainable business is not just to the environment, but to the individuals who depend on the environment for a living. “It is the green way of fishing,“ one fisherman explains, but skewed economic policy means the next generation of fishermen are not able to sustain the tradition. To change this, members of the public can join the campaign by signing the petition, sharing the video and using social media to show their engagement. Greenpeace has even provided a campaign theme tune in the form of a sea shanty.
Whilst the polar bear may be the emblem of climate change, the small boat fisherman is a worthy emblem for sustainable business. They have to work within nature’s means to ensure the next generation have a livelihood. And as the Guardian has reported, this method can be much more profitable. So make sure you join the campaign.
Richard Lemmer | 20.06.12
Today marks the official start of the Rio+20 conference, a landmark event in sustainable development. Officially called the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, it will be the largest United Nations conference ever. Over 130 Heads of States will be attending - an increase of 22 Heads of State from Rio 1992 conference. President Hu of China will be going, a very encouraging sign as China rivals the US as the world’s biggest emitter of CO2. Roughly 20,000 members of civil society delegates will also be attending.
There will also be hundreds of journalists attending the event, and no end of news stories and updates. To prevent a case of information overload, there are several reporters worth focusing on:
- The Guardian will be going above and beyond the call of duty to provide the bigger picture and the finer details. Jo Confino (@joconfino) will be providing a diary of the event, whilst Adam Vaughan will be running the live blog, sifting and highlighting the best coverage.
- John Parnell (@rtcc_John) and Ed King (@rtcc_edking) are providing rolling coverage with great videos, which can be found on the Responding to Climate Change website.
- Hannah Ryder, winner of this year’s Observer Ethical Award for best blog, will be part of the official UK delegation: her blog can be found here and her twitter username is @hmryder. You find the full list of the UK delegation here.
What will be the outcome of this landmark event? The conference is going to be focusing on two major themes: how we create a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and how we organise the world’s institutions to create sustainable development. Hopefully, the heads of state will agree on a document that will be called the ‘The Future We Want.’ This will outline how a new global network of sustainable economies will work.
At the same time, Rio is hosting the People’s Summit, an alternative to the world leaders’ conference. The People’s Summit - funded by the Brazilian government to the tune of £5m - is supported by Greenpeace and Oxfam, and it will feature over 200 civil society groups. A rally of 50,000 people is expected to mark the end of this alternative summit. Already we are seeing members of the People’s Summit capture the world’s imagination, with 350.org’s #endfossilfuelsubsidies. It’s not every day that a complex argument about energy policy can out tweet the #justbieber hash tag.
Rio+20 shows that we are on the verge of dealing with the most pressing issues of the 21st century. While progress may be painfully slow, in 20 years we have seen the sustainable growth movement grow from being a fringe issue to being the gold new standard for businesses, governments and peoples across the globe. This is an achievement in its own right, and whilst we must be patient to see its results and we must not be complacent about its direction, we should celebrate the hard work that is beginning to challenge the problems facing the planet. Hopefully, Rio+40 will an overview of global sustainable development as a successful universal practise.
All eyes are on Rio, as time is running out and resources are further depleted, it is crucial that we get an international framework in place to ensure a more sustainable future ahead.
Visit our site on Friday to see our Storify round-up of the best Rio+20 coverage.
Richard Lemmer | 06.04.12
Where does a good Easter egg hunt begin? Most children, sweetly innocent, assume that for some reason a giant rabbit with no appreciation of recession austerity has managed to misplace his precious eggs. Most parents know the hunt begins in the shops, weighing up the choice between their children’s favourite brand and their own shopping budget. Like a lot of holidays, Easter has been saturated by extravagant products, with business safe in the knowledge the holiday mood will lead to sales. But are the big chocolate businesses growing too complacent? And exactly how many egg based puns can you get away with in a blog post?
Easter egg hunters are growing more environmentally aware. Jo Swinson, Lib-Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, has released her sixth annual Easter Egg Packaging Report. The findings would not make the Easter bunny a happy bunny. “A few manufacturers are hiding behind green credentials with packaging that isn't easily recyclable by the majority of consumers, " Jo told the Daily Telegraph. ''Manufacturers know that their plastic boxes aren't widely recycled and yet they continue to use them, despite other companies showing how Easter eggs can be packaged with a mind to efficiency and recyclability.” When it comes to non-recyclable and egg-sesive packing, the reports highlights Marks and Spencers, Thorntons and Sainsbury’s as particularly bad eggs.
However, some brands are beginning to show that when it comes to packaging and the environment, you don‘t have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. Cadbury’s has launched Treasure Egg, an Easter egg with no packaging, just a foil wrapper; and Nestle have created news by being the first major brand to package all of its UK and Ireland Easter eggs with recyclable materials. After Swinson’s report, every brand with egg on its face has been quick to show they are reducing their environmental impact, but Nestle and Cadbury stand out with clear and effective solutions to the packaging problem. Sure, 91% of M&S food is packaged with recyclable materials, but that missing 8% is a niggling number that stops the brand from being newsworthy and weakens its ethical claims.
But the hunt doesn’t stop with environmentally friendly packaging. Is the egg’s chocolate Fairtrade? The majority of brands are conitunting to be hit-and-miss in this area, even though Fairtrade sales increased by 12% last year. Divine and Green and Black’s, which also scores highly for reduced packing, offer an extensive range of Fairtrade chocolate eggs.
Finally, the hunt comes down to budget. Unfortunately, major brands are telling the consumer to suck eggs when it comes to keeping prices down in a time of recession. An egg made by Nestle, profit of £34 billion, sold by Tesco, profit over well over a billion, was £4.99 two years ago - now its £7. And as ethical as Green and Black’s is, a family struggling to budget could not afford their Easter eggs. This is despite the cost of making the chocolate eggs falling in the last year, according to one survery. Its arrogance to assume that people won’t find alternative ways to get their chocolate jollies at Easter.
If the big brands continue to ignore the struggling but environmentally conscious Easter egg hunter, how long before people take the Ecologist's advice and make their own eggs?
Greta Jonyniate | 20.03.12
News stories – 20th March 2012
Top news stories
Government to scrap 53 green rules – The Independent
Slashing of environment 'red tape' is far from over – The Guardian
'Dash-for-gas' means its the Big 6 vs consumers for the UK's energy future – The Guardian
Environmental regulations set to be slashed – Business Green
Drought will cause ‘wildlife tragedy’, says Environment Agency – The Independent
Solar panels that may deface a Cornish hillside – The Telegraph
No D, no fee: EPC partnership provides support for UK solar installers – Solar Power Portal
Highbury-based UK Solar Generation struggling after FiT cuts – Solar Power Portal
Planners give 'yes' to home's 16 solar panels - This is Gloucestershire
Tory patriotism fuels wind energy ad campaign – The Guardian
Alstom open to wind-energy acquisitions -CEO - Reuters UK
Scotland to become a 'wind farm landscape', warn planners – The Telegraph
Farmers disappointed by wind power revenues – Edie
Rainwater harvesting is essential to feed the world – The Guardian
A not-so guilty pleasure? Nestlé promises greener Easter eggs – Business Green
Ethiad Airways to introduce organic inflight dining -Khaleej Times
OECD slams rich countries’ water pollution record – Farming
Wellcome Trust creates biotech start-up fund - FT
Osborne urged to free Green Investment Bank to unlock clean investment – Business Green
Budget must deliver 'credible' green growth strategy – Edie
Get Started Green: Buying Sustainable Stock - Earth911.com
Rhinos May be Extinct in South Africa by 2015 – Treehugger
Flushing toilets could heat future buildings – Smart Planet
A spectacular eco friendly home built in the middle of a forest – Ecofriend
Lies About Apple Factory Abuse Lead to This American Life Retraction – Inhabitat
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