Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Day Thirty: 2010 Year of Green?

Barack Obama openly condemns BP's handling of Deepwater Horzion's 'leak'. Caroline Lucas takes Brighton and succesfully pushes Green issues into the limelight under the glare of the UK 2010 elections. Is 2010 to be a Green year? It is not without a slight wry smile and a huge dollop of irony that a giant like BP should be the courier to deliver climate change to the forefront of the news but,  when you think about it, I suppose it was always going to be like this - fate is not without a sense of humour. Environmentalists have been waiting for a fuck-up this catastrophic to cash in  on (unashamedly, and rightly so) to harness the sheer power disasters like this can hold. Images of thousands of gallons of oil covering the Gulf, birds literally entombed in the thick black sludge and the reports from the many thousands whose lives depend on the ecosystems that thrive in the Gulf has brought the kind of 'blitz spirit' seen during natural disasters like Haiti's earthquake.

My own personal journey, and my decision to start this site, was spurred on by the recent election and a growing awareness of the world around me - that had to come from somewhere. A general sense of apathy is, and probably always will be, the greatest enemy of these kind of issues. Problems that, for the most part, we cannot yet touch, taste or see for ourselves means that even though most left-wing among us draw a line somewhere between 'being green' and wanting that new Range Rover - it's a tricky equation to balance, and one that few can honestly say they've solved. These issues will, of course, only grow to become more pronounced, more damaging and ultimately become irreversible. (check out the film Age of Stupid

So how does it help when I blog and tweet about growing runner beans in my garden and deciding which brand of washing powder to use? I cannot express how vital these kind of changes are. Until we take a step back and look at what we can do ourselves, how can we ever expect multi-billion dollar companies to do the same? On a base level, if I'm not prepared to give up something, or change my lifestyle to suit the needs of the environment than how can I expect [insert oil hungry corporation here] to do the same? The 'Greenwash', as it's been dubbed, is in my opinion a pathetic piece of rhetoric that perpetuates the idea that we cannot change things as individuals, and that it's up to the Big Boys to sort us out. Well I for one have one very concise answer: fuck that.

Chaos theory states that one tiny, seemingly insignificant incident can affect a change massive in comparison to itself. So, you could argue that if you don't recycle that milk carton, that it ends up in a landfill site, and maybe that carton just might cause that landfill to reach its capacity, which in turn would mean a new landfill would be made, which means more pollution and ultimately the production of a new bottle that could have been made from this poor recyclable one. That one little change does make a difference. Once we all cotton on, and our collective conscious gets the better of us, I think we'll be surprised to see the power we hold over these [insert oil hungry corporations]. 

So let's make 2010 Greener than last year. Just by a bit, that's all I'm asking. For now. 

- James
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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Day Twenty-Four: 2010 European Solar Decathlon

The 'Solar Decathlon' is essentially a worldwide competition for architects and designers to create a dwelling that runs completely from solar energy - no prizes if you guessed that already. The 'decathlon' part refers to the various trials that each project is put through to test their 'eco-credentials'. Take a look at the website here and check out all the entries from around the globe - my personal favourite is Finland's ultra-efficient house that actually creates more energy than it uses - genius! Have a gander at it's beautiful form:

The UK entry from the University of Nottingham looks pretty nifty too, check out their video below:

University of Nottingham - Nottingham House from SD Europe on Vimeo.

The competition runs between 17th - 27th June in beautiful Madrid, Spain. Now to try and make my own home a little more like these - wish me luck!

- JamesTweet This

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Day Twenty-Two: iPhone 4

The iPhone 4 was unveiled in San Fransisco yesterday (drool) and I found myself not just admiring the incredibly sexy phone itself, but it's eco-credentials. Here's what Apple say:

This all makes me feel even better about wanting one so much it hurts. Of course, I cannot tell you that an iPhone is carbon neutral, nor that it is particularly environmentally friendly (Apple are undoubtedly trying to appear 'eco-friendly') but I think it takes guts in an industry that rarely looks at the environmental impact of it's creations. Kudos Apple! Plus, well, just look at the thing.

- JamesTweet This

Monday, 7 June 2010

Day Twenty-One: 10:10

More digging, more planting, more sweeping and the garden is getting better and better. With some runner bean plants donated from my parents we now have a decent stock of fruit and veg in the garden that I'm hoping will come to fruition nicely over the coming months. My new compost bin has proved successful and already the amount of waste being thrown away has been greatly reduced, although I have had to fish out a few teabags from the bin - I just keep forgetting to put them in the compost bin! 

Also on the horizon is Bristol's Biggest Bike Ride 2010 - an event that promises to be lots of fun, and a great way to promote an eco-friendly cause. I'll be taking part in the Avon Gorge Loop, a beautiful and not too taxing 14 mile loop, starting in Bristol's Millennium Square - wish me luck! 

With all this lovely weather leading us slowly but surely down the road of the ubiquitous summer festival, I was pleased to read an article in the Guardian called the '10:10' pledge - the basic idea is many of the big festivals have signed up to reduce their emissions by 10% in 2010. The festivals include: The Big Chill, Latitude, Bestival, Reading and Isle of White - not too shabby! 

The idea is also going global with France and the US getting on board too. Check out their website to sign up and find out more about how you can join in and try and cut your own emissions by 10% - a very achievable target, so they say. Once you've signed up the site has loads of really useful ideas to help you along your way including a carbon footprint calculator and something they call 'Monthly Themes' - whereby you tackle one big issue in your home per month. June is all about saving: "We're hunting down (and ruthlessly eliminating) wasted energy around the house. The writing's on the wall for electricity-hogging appliances and gas-guzzling boilers."

Get your calculator out, add up your emissions and let's make June worth saving.

- James
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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Day Fifteen: The Good Life

I've not blogged in a while - my excuse this time being the Bank Holiday. I traveled up to London on Friday night for my partner's birthday celebrations and, through nothing but pure neglect, put my eco-life to the back of my mind for a few days. It was nice to see, even with my mission filed away, that there are still things out there to get you back on track. I was wandering around London's Borough Market on Saturday morning taking in all the wonderful sights and sounds and, low and behold, was jerked right back into action when I saw something that made me smile.

Recycling bins everywhere! Not only that, but the drink I bought came in a 100% biodegradable cup (the confusion set in when we were told to put this in the non-recyclable waste bin - I'm not sure many people understood that part!) The food was all locally sourced and organically grown. Pricey maybe, but worth it on a Bank Holiday weekend I think.

The weather took a bit of a disappointing turn and saw the first real rain in weeks. Luckily my plants got a good soaking without the need for tap water and, because it stayed relatively warm, they are still looking good. My parental instincts towards them is something of a fascination to me - those who know me have been a little taken aback by my new 'green fingered' approach to things. One of my friends referred to myself and my partner as 'Tom and Barbara' from The Good Life (not sure which one I'd be) and cast himself as Margot - now a little running joke between us all.  As I said in my last blog, I feel I'm at a point now where I need to look further, I need to go above and beyond what I'm currently doing and really get my teeth into this environmental issue we're all facing - suggestions on a postcard please! My next short-term mission is to plan a holiday for late July with some friends - a camping trip to Wales - let's see how environmentally friendly I can make it.

- James
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