Sunday, 31 August 2008
Friday, 29 August 2008
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
There are three wind turbines on the hillside above Stornaway. I heard that a plan to build a major wind farm with 200 turbines elsewhere on the island was finally rejected in April 2008 after many years of wrangling. There will be more wind farms there, but none on such a massive scale. Of course they will change forever a wild and ancient landscape, but so did the building of the standing stones, brochs and blackhouses of which the islanders are so proud. Could wind farms eventually become the tourist attractions of the future?
Monday, 25 August 2008
Sunday, 24 August 2008
I'm liking his green hints and tips page, although those who read my previous post will be interested to see that washing machine balls aren't much in evidence there!
Saturday, 23 August 2008
Friday, 22 August 2008
According to a report in The Guardian, the companies involved in the pilot project will display their labeled items at an eco-products fair in Tokyo in December, and the products are expected to start appearing in shops at the beginning of April 2009.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
This project follows the fine example set by Ian Thorpe with his Pump Aid project, which provides low cost water pumps using locally-sourced materials.
Monday, 18 August 2008
Samsung also boasts that this phone and its charger are also free from "harmful bromine-infused flame retardants" - but I thought these had been banned throught the EU a couple of years back under the RoHS directive anyway. Samsung is a huge global corporation and one of the World's top 10 brands - a fact which earns it instant credibility with the majority of consumers who don't have the time or inclination to examine green claims. I wonder how it will perform in next year's Greenpeace Green Electronics Guide?
Sunday, 17 August 2008
A question – since energy saving lightbulbs are compact fluorescents, presumably they consume more energy when powering up than they do when actually lit. So in a room which is often vacant, but visited frequently – like the toilets in an office – is it better to leave them on all day or to switch them off when you leave the room? When we first installed such lights in our office, we were told to leave them on all day, but that was fifteen years ago. Has the technology moved on since then, or did we just stop paying attention to it?
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Currently about 5% of UK grid electricity is generated from clean hydroelectric and wind sources, and in 2005 the government said companies buying such renewable electricity tariffs could report them as producing zero emissions. However, environmental campaigners and energy experts have called into question the benefits of green tariffs. The Carbon Trust has indicated that concerns over green tariffs are similar to those over carbon offsets: transparency, double counting and additionality – ie whether they cut carbon emissions over and above what would have happened anyway.
Hence the move by Defra, which could prove costly for larger businesses, which from 2010 will have to participate in the Carbon Reduction Commitment. The cap and trade scheme will not just impose levies on companies with above-average carbon emissions, it will also rank them in a league table, causing potential embarrassment for organisations which have previously earned a reputation for carbon busting.
A consultation will now take place on this subject, but it's likely the controversy will continue for some time. In the meantime, organisations which are serious about cutting carbon should focus on reducing energy use rather than relying on the potential carbon benefit of renewables.
Friday, 15 August 2008
So, what do you do with your junk mail? Dump it in the recycling bin (or, worse still, the waste bin) - or unsubscribe? The easiest way to avoid receiving direct mail which is personally addressed to you is to register with the Mailing Preference Service. And since March this year, the Direct Marketing Association has also offered the Your Choice scheme to opt out of unaddressed mail. It will only protect you from mail drops by DMA association members, but it's a start.
If senders persist, you need to let the sender know that you don't want to receive future mailings. Preparing self-adhesive labels to attach to packages and return them to sender with an explanation is probably the least labour-intensive method. Yes, I know the transport impact of the returned package needs to be taken into account but if it’s sent via the normal mail system this is negligible and at least it will prevent further impact from unwanted mailings. There are more useful tips at stopjunkmail.org.uk.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
However, the rejuventation of water freight won't all be plain sailing. A proposal to build a commercial wharf near Heathrow, which would have saved tens of thousands of lorry journeys around the M25 or through central London, was recently shelved. Meanwhile, former wharves are being sold off for waterfront homes. In fact, so many of London's wharves have been sold off to developers that those that do remain have protected status; a plan to extend this protection to the rest of the country is awaiting government's response. The regulatory body which oversees the canal network, British Waterways, was founded to support their use for leisure and heritage use and a revival of their use as a transport network would require a major change of its focus and remit. In short, whilst the freight companies recognise the opportunity to cut their carbon - and their costs - by moving goods on water, the government and regulatory bodies are not rising to the challenge. Whilst we continue to subsidise the road network, the potential to revive the waterways as a transport network will probably never be realised.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
It's interesting to note that before any radio advertisement can be aired in the UK, it has to be submitted for clearance and any any claims must be substantiated to the satisfaction of the relevant authority. Yet press advertising is not usually scrutinised until somebody complains. I'd like to see the radio system adopted for all types of advertising, then consumers could be more confident that advertisers' claims are "legal, decent, honest and truthful". In fact, it would also benefit conscientious advertisers, who already perform this kind of due diligence only to find their position undermined by the less scrupulous organisations.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
I'm not against carbon offsetting per se - take air travel as an example. Even if you do your best to avoid flying to meetings, sometimes in a global ecomomy there's no alternative. When you've exhausted all the other options, incurring a specific carbon impact and then offsetting it is OK. But that doesn't make the activity carbon neutral. What offsetting does is neutralise both the negative carbon impact of the act you wish to offset and the positive carbon impact of the action taken to offset it. At best, it gets us back to square one (although that depends on the effectiveness of the offsetting project - and that's a whole new can of worms). It's just a gesture.
Personally, I find it more credible when a company claims to be low carbon. This acknowledges the fact that the vast majority of businesses have a detrimental carbon impact, and that the best we can hope to achieve is to reduce it. By all means take some steps to help mitigate these impacts by investing in carbon-positive projects - and even pick some individual impacts to offset. But to claim that any of this makes your business carbon-neutral is just disingenuous.
Monday, 11 August 2008
The report's projections suggest that the potential contribution to a household's energy consumption that could be achieved with a turbine is so low that electricity prices would have to rise eight-fold before it became even remotely viable financially. Worse, over 50 per cent of installations have a carbon payback period of more than 20 years, which is beyond the expected life of most turbines.
Despite this damning evidence, the UK government is still prepared to give grants or tax breaks for a roof turbine. The Low Carbon Buildings Programme, Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) for domestic installations and the Code for Sustainable Homes. all encourage the adoption of small-scale wind energy. Perhaps in future such schemes should require actual carbon saving projections to be taken into account.
Friday, 8 August 2008
The project began in April, and biofuel accounted for 2.1% of UK road fuel for the first month of the scheme, against a target for the year of 2.5%. 865 was biodiesel, the rest bioethanol. Scientists and campaigners have warned that biofuels could cause more problems than they solve, with concerns over the destruction of tropical forests and impact on global food supplies.
The RFA's environmental standard is intended to address those concerns and covers issues from child labour to water and soil conservation, although it doesn't take into account the impact of changes in land use, which experts have warned could cancel out the environmental benefits of biofuels.
Under the RTFO, suppliers are supposed to ensure that 30% of the biofuel used meets the voluntary standard. Data shows most biofuels were imported, with the majority of identified supplies coming from the US. However, at least 6m litres came from palm oil, a highly controversial crop that has been linked to severe deforestation and threats to orang-utan populations in south-east Asia. This could be an under-estimate because half the biodiesel used was untraceable.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Whilst we should all be encouraged to reduce our energy consumption, it's a basic neccessity of life. Many MPs feel that energy prices should not be left to market forces and highlighted the lack of controls in Britain’s liberalised energy market in a parliamentary report last month. Some are calling for the UK to adopt the French government's approach and restrict energy price rises to the inflation rate. Certainly this would help vulnerable households which this winter could find themselves unable to afford heat and light.
For expert advice on how to find the cheapest energy providers, sign up to Martin Lewis' excellent moneysavingexpert.com - regular alerts will advise you on when and how to act to cut your energy bills. Tips on how to cut energy consumption are available from the Energy Saving Trust. And if you're committed to cutting your carbon, greenhelpline.com compares tariffs from renewable energy suppliers which can save an average of 2 tonnes of CO2 per household per year.
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
He's busy adding new cities to the site but while you're waiting from walkit to get round to including your own city, you might find that adding the Co-Pilot application to your PDA is a worthwhile alternative. It has a walking mode as well as the normal route planning and driver's satnav features and can even be used to avoid buying printed maps for countryside walks.
Finally, if you do decide to walk it, tell Green Thing. Walking was its first ever green thing, in October 2007.
As a marketer I understand the power of labels to shape people's perceptions and I think adopting the term global warming undermined early efforts to promote awareness. It's just not threatening enough. Ask any bunch of Brits over 40 what it means to them and a good proportion will smile as they recall the long, hot summer of 1976 and murmur "bring it on". The term climate change is less friendly, with fewer positive connotations, but still rather too neutral to describe a process which could ultimately mean the end of civilisation as we know it. I'd like to propose that we all adopt the term "climate crisis" as a more accurate representation of the situation - then perhaps more people would understand the enormity of the challenge that we face together.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
A mischevious colleague has just suggested that I should charge it in my car and, if necessary, take the car for a drive just to provide a charging opportunity. Thanks, Steve, but of course I mean when I'm using the car anyway. In fact, if the impact of charging my phone in the car is lower, maybe it can even help mitigate the carbon impact of driving in the first place. And because I'm bound to be there in the car to hear it beep when the battery is full, I'm likely to unplug it sooner than if it beeped at home when I'm in another room. So which is greener?
Anybody know? I'd love to find out!
Monday, 4 August 2008
CIWEM calculate that 22 million tonnes of bottled water are transferred between countries every year - ludicrous when you think about it. And, according to the Bottled Water Information Office, the average briton drinks 37.6 litres of bottled water per annum. It may seem like a small gesture to ask for tap water, but if enough of us do it - just like anything else - it really can make a difference.
Friday, 1 August 2008
They were as follows:
1. Mindless printing resulting in increased paper waste (40%)
2. Leaving lights on (37%)
3. Lack of recycling bins (33%)
4. Excessive air conditioning in summer and heat in winter (29%)
5. Excessive use of paper products, like cups, plates, etc. (27%)
6. Co-workers not recycling (27%)
7. Co-workers not printing double-sided when they can (24%)
8. Too many cover sheets when faxing or printing (24%)
9. Having to store paper copies of existing, electronic files (24%)
10. Leaving computer on and not powering down when going home (23%)
Go on, be honest, how many of these are you guilty of?