Archive | 11:04 pm

A free weekend of Fairtrade family fun.

16 May

Between May-August 2010 I was interning at Fairtrade Foundation, I was given the chance to blog about an event & blog I did. http://thefairtradefoundation.blogspot.com/2010/05/free-weekend-of-fairtrade-family-fun-by.html

 

It will be a lie to say that the weather was excellent for those three days of the festival. That the weather was fantastic and everyone was in T-shirts complaining about the heat.

In actually fact it was cold, windy and the sky looked like it had woken up on the wrong side of bed.

However being a happy bunch of Fairtrade staff and volunteers, we didn’t let this get us down. We drank coffee from the CaféDirect stall, had Fairtrade mulled wine from the bar (when we had finished our duties of course) and listened to the live music coming from the stage. We were there to promote Fairtrade as well as to celebrate Dubble’s 10th birthday – we were having a party.

The Fairtrade festival took place on Potters Fields on the South Bank of the Thames right beside Tower Bridge. As well as celebrating Dubble’s 10th birthday (in case you do not know it is an excellent Fairtrade chocolate bar- yum!) It was also to celebrate  World Fair Trade Day.  http://www.worldfairtradeday10.org

Stalls selling crafts, books, nuts, dried fruit, ice cream, beauty products and pants were all present; many of the stalls also had free samples. Though if you felt your kids should do something more active than just eat,  they could get their face painted, play some football, compete in the banana jousting, do some singing, drama and drumming workshops or just sit back and listen to the author Tom Palmer read from his book Foul Play. 

We cannot forget the live music upon the stage.  A wide variety of acts appeared – from samba to rock, hip-hop to folk. There was no reason for anyone not to dance to at least one genre of music over the three days. If you still did not feel like dancing then the banana people made sure you did!

What can be said about the Fairtrade festival is that it was fun, joyful, musical and cold – those working had high spirits, those that were there got stuck into the activities, whilst those that stumbled upon us on Potters Fields looked bewildered, then delighted, then amused by the variety of products and entertainment – not bad for a cold windy weekend.

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The issue with going green

16 May

So you are going green, fantastic?

You feel like the sky-rocketing trend of rising temperatures, melting ice caps and C0² levels isn’t just a coincidence at that you, your community, your government and the world should move towards a sustainable future ASAP.

Therefore you decide to cut down your meat intake, dust off your bike and search for gadgets that reduce your dependency on mains electricity and use the free power of the sun and wind.

So it is only right if you turn round to your housemate and state – ‘look I should not pay an equal amount on the electricity bill as I use a lot less mains electricity energy then you do!’

Now this can seem a little bit pragmatic; but as solar power gets more powerful and smaller (just like those things called computers)

Folks will start to power their mobiles, laptops and heat produce appliances like kettles or hair straightness.

But they will still be those stuck in dark ages, which use things like plugs and have stuff on stand-by, who will complain about ‘You live here, so you should pay equally amount!’

Solution: Buying an energy monitor, which you would then look at constantly- seeing the peaks and troughs of kWh’s and calling it precious and thus becoming a Gollum of the energy world.

 Turn off that lightses!!!

 You would then produce graphs explaining to said housemate, the difference in electricity energy use and within a short time either

  • Converting them to a carbon Gollum or
  • Having them move out.

 It is a fine line between being uber carbon efficient or a (swear word)

There are more subtle ways to introduce housemates to carbon efficiency – showing how much money is saved, reeling of stats on how evil the stand-by button is and getting them to understand that many of their bad carbon habitats are more useless then actually saving power/ using your own body.

Example: I had a housemate who always switched the hall light on. No reason for it, the street light outside lit up the hall enough to read a novel; so why switched on the light just to see 0.001% better?

My cheeky solution was to take the bulb out. So he just thought it was broke and thus stopped switching the switch.  – Result!

Have any of you had similar issues? Have you resolved them?

My Climate Squad action

16 May

For COP16, whilst working for the youth intiative Climate Squad. We decided to each do a 24hour carbon cutting challenge, here is the details on mine.
*

My punishment, sorry my ‘challenge’ was to give up gadgets for the day.

If you were to tell my 16 year old self to do this – it would be near impossible. Back in those days I had TV, Playstation 2, mobile phone, laptop and Hi-Fi on 24-7

Nowadays, I have calmed down. Technology allows me to only need a mobile and laptop to catch up on TV, find interesting internet links and stay connected with friends.

I also find myself having little space or with the opportunity to own a TV and game console and being the environmental-nerd I am, I’m used to switching off appliances when not in use.

So this was more of a battle of wills – going back to the 1990’s when being connected with the world 24-7 was still a dream or part of a movie plot line. 

I was to keep off Facebook, Twitter and my mobile.

Total disconnection.  

Within minutes of waking up, I wanted to tweet- ‘flippin’ hell, I am late for work due to having to switch my phone of as a challenge’  – there was an obvious problem in doing this.

I wanted to text mates about the nights plan – Instead I had to really on the small belief chat we had two days before and that they would be still turn up at said place at said time.

I wanted to Facebook state “I may OD on mince pies this Christmas!!!’

 

However come Saturday morning I moved back into my old ways – checking the back catalogue of updates in case they was anything interesting (there wasn’t) and texting my mate to find out if he did that thing, with that thing that stood by the door of that 8th pub we went into. 

But did I save carbon? Well…

Facebook:

Just check out this watch?v=QPty-ZLbJt0

Twitter:

A twitter employer (probably the best job ever) has worked out each tweet you send equals 0.02grams of C0². Thus using some quick maths: I spend 58kg of carbon per year tweeting!) 

Mobile phones:

Roughly 47kg of carbon per year – roughly as it does depend on its manufacture, transport, how often you use it, how long you keep it, how you use it (texting, calling, internet) and what network you use.

 *  

To me, the challenge and writing this blog has been one of those cases in which you realise everything you do affects the world around you and creates carbon.

So maybe it is worthwhile ever-so-often, to switch off and notice the world around you, just to rein back those social media carbon emissions and notice clouds floating by.

After-all humanity has been around a lot longer then @Stephenfry twitter account.

VAT busting

16 May

As you may know all ready, quite a lot of people are complaining about money issues.

Complaining about student fee’s, tax dodgers and now VAT rises…

At 12.00am 1st January 2011 pretty much everyone in the land shouted out Happy New Year!

However 5 days in and already – VAT has increased by 20% !!!!!!!!!!

As you can guess, with this being a carbon orientated blog – I can go on and on about how driving you car less, saves money on the VAT and on carbon etc. etc..

However there is another important point to Vat, and that’s food. 

  • Vegetables do not attract VAT unless they are ‘ornamental’, such as a cabbage ‘grown for its appearance rather than consumption’.

Thus turning veggie, seems quite an acceptable method of saving money (and carbon)

Also 

  • Famously, no VAT is paid on Jaffa Cakes, but only after a long court battle with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which included showing the judge a 12-inch Jaffa Cake to prove it is a cake (no VAT), not a biscuit (VAT).

CAKES!!!

What a perfect combo of low cost, low carbon food. – Veg and Cakes

Some of you, may now be thinking.

‘I cannot bake and I cannot cook any veg stuff’

Well take a minute and think of all those high street shops and supermarkets, with cake aisles and vegetable sandwiches, veggie ready meals and raw carrots.

Of course, this isn’t a precise science and maybe a full diet of cakes and veg isn’t entirely healthy.

But if your money is low and you are hungry well…

Read more on VAT:

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=520758&in_page_id=2#ixzz1AAZYE24x

Youth Food Movement

16 May

Does the following list tempt your taste buds?

  • Chocolate brownies, made with a hint of beetroot, to give a creamy sweet texture.
  • Sensual cheese that had a powerfully flavour making you nibble it like a addictive mouse.
  • Vodka distilled the old fashioned way, made with potatoes that give it a varied amount of sweet flavours and a peppery after taste
  • Raw wild oysters, that have earthy grassy tones with a dash of salt. And cooked oysters with a dash of lemon plus Tabasco sauce giving a spicy zing to your pallet.

Maybe I ate all this food in the wrong ‘meal’ order. – but each was just, a perfect statement to suggest that what appears in our main supermarkets is a little bit pants.

And maybe I didn’t learn the name of the cheese, or where the oysters came from – but I learnt oyster Martinis are a pure alcoholic orgasm.

                  oyster martini    DSC01283    oys

This is the Youth Food Movements doing. 

A UK wide, but international found organisation which is all about

fjhgfyoung farmers, cooks, artisans, activists and students actively changing the future of food and farming. Sharing the goal of bringing more food that is good, clean and fair to their communities. Plus the principles of justice and sustainability to local and regional food systems.

and there have just started the ball rolling in creating a London based network, to promote and create this different food future within the capital.

Thus explaining why I was able to spend a night feasting on the simply gorgeous delicacies listed above. As they arranged a launch night within the bowels of The People’s Supermarket , near Russell Square tube station.

It is a great idea to have a London hub – God knows, I still have to learn to cook more stuff then pasta and find more sustainable food then what could be in supermarkets.

I’m guessing many of you fellow London youth feel the same?

So allies like The Peoples Supermarket and the UK Youth Climate Coalition will join them in making London YFM develop and you can to, via:- signing up to their mailing list online, Facebook, Twitter (@YFMUK) and by joining them in future London meetings.

Lets all get out there and find good, clean, fair food and celebrate our future achievements with oyster Martini’s

 

Pens Vs Pencils

16 May

VS

 

 

Both writing implements have been going strong since Ancient Egyptian times – both have undertaking different forms since and both have been more popular within certain areas depending on resources.

Firstly the typical pencils of today, were first created in the 17th century via heating up ground up graphite & clay into a thin strip to place within a wood casing (before this pencils were raw stripes of graphite)

Nowadays annually -14 billion are produced, with over half of these coming from China.

If every bit of an average tree is used – 172,000 pencils could be made. But we know this isn’t the case, whole forests must have been wiped out for the next budding Picasso or school art project.

Whilst the typical pen (not one of these fancy uber expensive ones) – needed to wait until plastic was commercial available to be made into casing. The ink itself, can be a complex medium, composed of solvents, pigments, dyes, resins, lubricants, solubilises, surfactants, particulate matter, fluoresces, and other materials.

which all leads to environmental issues concerning volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and non-renewable oil. use Not forgetting annually around 1600000000 pens per year are chucked out just in the USA

So the WINNER must be pencils, even if they all come from China.  The wood can be sustainably managed, or you can have one of those funky pencils made out of plastic cups.

However you will be buggered if you have no nearby sharpener.

It is a moral but POINTLESS victory.

Green Jobs

16 May

I am one of those people that aims for a green job; a career that in whatever small way leads to being a savour of the world.

Reasons for this:-

  • Climate change is happening, within the 24 years of life – I am able to give hundreds of examples of it destroying environments and peoples lives.
  • I love the idea of working within a communication sector that is not all about profit, but aims to create great change individually, within a community, a nation, a continent, a whole planet!
  • I have grown up with superhero’s on the brain and without coming into contact with radioactive material or wearing my pants on the outside, this is the nearest I get to saving the world

They is a slight issue with this career goal however.

The United Nations Environment Programme define Green Jobs as

Work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high efficiency strategies; de-carbonize the economy; and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.*

which covers quite a lot of different varied jobs – so how come – there are so few about?

OK that’s a little white lie. Day-by-day in my search for the perfect full time job, they has been a general small increase in opportunities and roles that involve some sort of sustainable, environmental aspect.

Its just none seem applicable for graduates.
you need ‘at least 2-3 years experience’ a ‘blah blah blah qualification’ and a ‘high level of something you never were taught at university’ 

Therefore the only way to get a job is to work hard get those years of experience behind you so that one day you will get that fantastic job and you will in turn push aside those recent and growing number of graduates aiming for a green job.

Will this continue?

Will the unbelievable happen and an army of green jobs appear that have been promised for the last couple of years by the government and others?

This of course, does not include clothes on the floor

Will companies, organisations, groups charities etc realise that whilst these recent graduates do not have 2-3 years of labour behind them –  they are keen, they want to save the planet and they can actually pick things up quite quickly.

Maybe..We the graduates have to be the ones to push this to happen.
If we can complain to friends and family about the job situation, why can’t we push this to those who could make the change.

After all we are now voters, We will be joined by 4/5 years of new voters. What can stop us?**

*http://www.unep.org/PDF/UNEPGreenjobs_report08.pdf 

**The only answer I am accepting is global destruction.

Boris bikes

16 May
 

 
The Barclays Cycle Hire, or as everyone else is calling it Boris’s Bike’s (Fitting into the view of him being a megalomaniac, who owns every single one of them, and will one day use them as some sort of tool to gain greater power – cue evil bumbling laugh) have rolled out across London.

By 2015 this splendour of sustainable travel will consist of :-

■5000 Bikes

■350 Docking Stations

■12 Cycle Superhighways
(The nearest to Richmond will be running through Honslow)

Spread all over greater London and with more then 1200 people signed up, no one can knock it for being a bad idea ‘sustainable, low carbon travel’ is a big thing these days.

Be wary though, as soon as one person goes under a bus on one of these bikes; the tabloids will change their tune and call for the scheme to be scrapped and Boris to be hung from the Tower of London.

So what other challenges do TFL, Boris and Barclays face in the future

Well all the people that want to cycle in London; most likely already own a bike

The price for some seems more pricy then the bus or tube :-

Free first 30mins, though this does not include the fact that you have to pay a £1 access fee, or get a membership key for £3. An hours use is £1, rising to £15 for four hours. If for what ever reason your are unable to return the bike after 24 hours its a £150 fine.
This is standard though – the Paris Vélib’ is exactly the same and has grown into the worlds largest cycle hire scheme.

That someone has already figured out how, to make a fake membership key and thus steal a bike (Vélib’ since starting in 2007, has had over 3000 bikes stolen)

THEN they is ridiculous issue that whilst Boris plans to reduce carbon emissions and look sustainable using the scheme – He is actually cutting out a proportion of the Congestion Charge area, allowing roughly 30,000 cars back into central London – and thus increasing its air pollution, already stated as the worst in Europe..

But how about positives

Paris’s scheme has grown over the years due to better cycle routes, tourists seeing it as viable option to getting on one of those buses and transport strikes. (London is quite good at this) It will also benefit to the health of Londoners, who may end up dusting of their own bikes after riding one and help cut down on personal carbon emissions. We could even get to see drunk people falling off bikes more often, Fantastic!

I’m also sure, it isn’t long until other cycle schemes appear in UK major cities, as if the bicycle is a brand new invention that everyone must own, just like those fruit based technology pad things.

So watch out for those cyclist coming soon

Green Parks

16 May

reporters field

As you may of heard recently Richmond Borough achieved 9 Green Flag Awards for 9 of our fantastic parks.

Our reporter in the field – Went out to investigate

To achieve a Green Flag Award, the park must comply with 8 key features.

  • Be a welcoming place
  • Healthy, safety and secure
  • Clean and well maintained
  • Sustainable
  • Conservation & heritage
  • Community involvement
  • Marketing
  • Management

Well as I travelled the stretch of the borough from East Sheen to Hampton, peeking a look at the parks or sitting on the grassy verges to rest my weary feet – you could tell how these parks stood out.
For one they had people in them, doing a range of activities and on another point,  the parks did not just feel like an open space – playgrounds, kiosks, tennis courts, cricket pitches skate parks, flower beds, scenery and wildlife make them feel homely and fit the bill for Cliff’s song ‘English Country Garden’

  • Twickenham Green, Twickenham. Or as I like to call it Twickenham Cricket Stadium
  • Hatherop Park, Hampton. A little gem, tucked into the corner of the Borough
  • Palewell Common and Field, East Sheen. A mini Richmond Park, shhh don’t tell the tourists
  • York House Gardens, Twickenham. Fact. this location stars in the Michael Caine movie ‘Alfie’
  • Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens, Richmond. You must have legs of steal, to climb the hill here

    You must climb the hill here

  • The Kings Field, Hampton Wick. Huge field + skate park = the place where all the cool sporty youngsters go
  • Richmond Green, Richmond. Sometimes its quicker to take a detour via the green, then to walk the narrow High street
  • Kneller Gardens, Twickenham. Just built a new play park and kiosk + it has an added bonus of being next to the River Crane
  • Radnor Gardens, Twickenham. It may flood once in a while, but you have to give it credit for its River Thames views

In addition, If you live near to these parks and would like to becoming involved, many have their own group which REN aids and supports. http://www.richenvironmentnet.org.uk/Groups-database.aspx

As its the Summer and you are stuck with the kids for several weeks – then take this opportunity to search these parks, greens, gardens and fields out. – happy wandering.