Wednesday, 16 December 2009

the really big apple...

I found this little story via Treehugger and I just had to share it with you all.

Can you imagine the amount of food thrown away every day by New york residents? Can you imagine 270,000 lbs of grub?

Many of us can't, and so to illustrate the point City Harvest of New York filled an empty subway train with the equivalent amount of green apples and flooded the otherwise empty platform.

The images are quite amazing - click here for the video.

It would have been magic with stacks of people on the platform though. I suppose that was a little too far to stretch the Health and Safety regulations, and if London's Victoria Line is anything to go by, people would have just climbed in on top of the apples anyway and waited for the train to move on.

Visually amazing and shows exactly what could be utilised for many in need. City Harvest aim to rescue and redistribute 25 million pounds of usable grub in 2009. Amazing.

(and as Treehugger pointed out, no apples were harmed in the making of the event - here is how it was done)

Up the Freegan generation!

Friday, 11 December 2009

the return of the lesser spotted paper lover...

My love / guilt relationship with paper has been covered previously here, but I have realised that it literally does come to a head at the Yuletide season.

If I am being a hard core greenie, I should shun all crimbo cards and send out email versions instead. But I can't. There is something truly lovely about returning home to a little pile of greetings sitting on the door mat. People we haven't seen in ages, spoken to in a while - they are all there waiting with happy tidings for us on a dark afternoon. And if I love returning home to a little stack of cards, how can I deny the joy to someone else?

So, if the electronic version is out, how do I justify the black mark of sending a card - both in manufacture, transportation and deconstruction?

Firstly, I try and get cards which are made from a significant amount of recycled content. This is harder than you may think, but there are some available, including some beauts from Oxfam. This makes me feel a little better. FSC accredited cards are also a possibility and easier to find.

Secondly, I try to get cards which can benefit another person with my purchase - this is the charity card once more, but do not forget that your precious squids can go to both the large international charities or the hospice down the road - most have a card range at this time of year. Whose pockets would you like to line, however small? (it is worth looking at the amount that goes to each charity, which is usually stated on the back of the card)

Thirdly, I think about how the card will be disposed of. If it has any bright spangles, glitter, foil or fancy bits it can be impossible to recycle. These sort of cards can contaminate whole bundles of card, so I avoid them like the plague. AND if you receive any from distant well wishers or Mavis down the road make sure you only place the 100% card bit in the recycling bin after crimbo.

Fourthly, can I incorporate a gift with the card, thus doing two jobs in one (surely this will act as a plus against my guilt???). Some you buy ready done, but how about fashioning your own - a gift card slotted in (do you really need another card and envelope for this?), a pair of earrings, a book token, a charm - nothing too delicate or expensive, but there are a myriad of possibilities.

And lastly, does it say something about me? Now this is not as self centered as you may think. Cast your mind back to the last time you bought a card - I can bet you chose one that was most appropriate for the person you were buying for but also one which you liked or said something about your own likes and character... And so it is with my cards - they never say 'merry christmas' (I am not christian) but usually 'seasons greetings', they never have spangles (see note three above), are mostly nature based or fifties in appearance and are quite graphic. This is me.

So - send your cards and spread a little love, as green as you can manage.

Friday, 4 December 2009

the full monty...


Seasonal activities - (presents and general consumption of)

Sort of go hand in hand don't they? I am sure that not many people get through the Yuletide season without some degree of consumption.

But if you are to consume, chocolate is one area I think you should afford to be very particular about. Bad chocolate is, well, bad - not to say a huge waste of your daily kcal intake. But good chocolate can make your eyes sink into your skull with ecstasy and the calories seem insignificant.

Maybe it is because we are a city of gluttons, or maybe because we are so particular, we are blessed in Brighton to have quite a few little chocolate shops of varying specialities, sizes and prices.

Plus, a few seem to have sprung up in the same area of the city in a place I now like to call 'the calorific quarter'.

choccywoccydoodah sits here, with the most magnificent confections in cacao you will ever see. Opposite, you can enter the clinical perfection of Hotel Chocolat.

But my favourite, and the destination my taste buds waft towards is always the fantastic Montezuma's chocolate.

A Sussex enterprise, the story began in good old Brighton in 2000 (and I remember going to the opening and tasting my first chunk of chilli chocolate. I was converted and it is now one of my favourites). Since then they have gone from strength to strength and have won a smattering of awards all over the place for their delicious, innovative and responsible chocolate.

Organic chocolate is a huge hitter here, with many of the offerings being certificated, but the combination of flavours is incredible.

As well as the chilli choc, you can choose from butterscotch, geranium, nutmeg and sweet paprika and strawberry. Amongst others. And that is just the bars....

So if you find yourself in Duke Street, nip into Montezuma's, grab a treat and wander off to get lost in the Lanes...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

holidays are coming, holidays are coming...

Someone told me the other day that they do not consider it to be Christmas until they have seen a particular television ad from a particular red and white branded soft drink company.
I do not agree, but I did hear myself chanting the 'holidays are coming, holidays are coming' mantras from the very same ad today. hmmm.

Plus, it does seem to be a bit of an urban myth that they invented Santa himself (well, the red and white version anyway).

So the coincidence was quite uncanny, when I stumbled across a couple of very interesting little pieces about Coca Cola recently - and a couple of positive eco ones. For a change.

Firstly, the announcement that they are introducing recycled material bottles based on plants into the US very soon. The 'plantbottle' is based on the by-product of the sugarcane industry in Brazil and each piece will be 30% sugar founded. The bottle that is. Not the content. I am sure that is more.
Secondly, and much more impressive in the short term, both aesthetically and eco wise, is the lush and beautiful concept can by Harc Lee.

The naked can is stunning, and loses the probably trademarked red and white branding whilst keeping the swoosh and font. I (personally) think this is nothing to worry about, as the iconic design is still there and massive amounts of toxic inducing ink would be saved.

But would this mean that Santa would become a silver only wonder? hmmm.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

well, if your going to buy something...

My last posting was about buying nothing on the UK's 'Buy Nothing' Day. Did you manage it? Did you do something creative? I hope so.

But, on this, the first day of Christmas, I have succumed to the perils of gift buying and planning.

I am planning to make a lot of presents this year (including the once yearly gift to my sister of a strangely constructed scarf - this Yule based on a pattern of chains), but there are always people you end up buying stuff for.

And with this in mind, I thought I would make a little list of nice places to visit on the internet to do your shopping - some creative, some ethical, some interesting and some beautiful, but all green in some way or another.

I hope you find some inspiration for your own loved ones (and even not so loved ones) here. Have fun kiddlywinks.

Inhabitat - green gift guide - US based, but fantastic for inspiration

Nigel's Eco Store - really local for me as he lives down the road. but on the web too. great.

Ethical Superstore - massive amount of stuff, so loads of shopping possibilities

The Green Store - nice variety of nicely priced things

Oxfam - get a goat or coat or a goat and a coat here. you know what I mean. really. you do.

Soil Association - what about a gift membership?

EcoCentric - part founded by the lovely fellow Brightonian and eco designer Oliver Heath.

My Eco Store - says it all really?

Love Eco - again - says it all!

ECOutlet - lovely things, from face cream and man candles(?) to vintage bits and bobs. lush.

Ecotopia - again, a great variety of bits, including a voltaic laptop bag. which I HUGELY covet.