Sunday, 26 June 2011

Is it possible to have a green festival?

© Matt Cardy
Glastonbury, the largest music festivals in the UK, was this weekend and while everyone was enjoying the sunshine and music and possibly a beer or too most people forgot about the environment. Tens of thousands of people travelled from all over the country to take part in this event adding unnecessary CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. According to organisers around 50% of Glastonbury’s CO2 emissions arise from travelling to and from the event.

So this year Glastonbury has come up with a green initiative whereby anyone arriving by public transport gets exclusive use of solar showers, discounted main meals and access to compost toilets. This sounds fantastic and a great way to encourage people to think about their travel arrangements especially as it is for no additional cost. I know if that was me I would definitely arrive by train or coach for the possibility of a solar powered shower! It will be interesting to find out how many people took up this opportunity and whether it was a success in reducing travel related pollution.

According to the Little Hampton Gazette this year Glastonbury organisers have launched the ‘Love the Farm – Leave no Trace’ campaign, which aims to tackle many of the environmentally negative aspects of the festival. The campaign covers many of the initiatives already mentioned as well as handing out biodegradable tent pegs and using bio-fuels to power the generators.

There will also be 100 ‘green police’ wearing comic costumes reminding people of their responsibilities whilst at the festival. This is because the mountain of rubbish created by these week long events takes days to clean up.

What could you do as a festival-goer to go green at Glastonbury or any another festival this summer:

  • Travel to the event by public transport;
  • Use biodegradable tent pegs;
  • Use the toilets provided and not the ground;
  • Use the recycle bins provided;
  • Use the cigarette ‘BUTT’ bins;
  • Limit what you bring and take everything home again;
  • Clean up behind you; and
  • Pack up your tent and take it home;
So while your out their having fun remember everything we do has some kind of impact on the planet.
© The Telegraph

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Can Environmental Differences Break Up a Relationship?

Most of us have different views from our partners especially something as controversial as global warming or deforestation but can said differences lead to the break down of a relationship?

If you’re not really a follower of Greenpeace you may not know what I’m talking about and I must confess I am not an avid follower myself but their latest campaign really caught my eye. The campaign is likely to attract a large amount of new activists and raise huge awareness because, as reported in the Londonist, this particular campaign is a winning combination of a serious message memorably delivered.  

The headlines read: Ken dumps Barbie! Now even to the none believers this headline alone is intriguing enough to make you want to read the whole story. According to Business Green environmental campaigners Greenpeace are targeting the manufactures of Barbie, Mattel, after revealing that their packaging is made from pulp from the Indonesian rainforest's. The pulp is produced by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) who have apparently been dropped by a number of major retailers in recent years over concerns that its policies were contributing to the estimated one million hectares of Indonesian rainforest cleared each year.

Whether we are buying these toys as a gift or receiving them from someone else we are contributing and responsible for clearing areas of priceless rainforest's and threatening the endangered species which live in these habitats. Do we really want that on our conscience?

The campaign has lead to banners and posters being displayed on tubes and bus stops around London to highlight the importance of this campaign in a fun way to include everyone and not just us eco warriors out there. Barbie has been an iconic symbol for the last 50 years and almost everyone will know who she is. Hopefully, these tactics will open the facts up to everyone and make people realise that actions need to be taken. It doesn’t just stop with posters, Greenpeace have also co-ordinated a Barbie hunt whereby hundreds of dolls are hidden around the UK with chainsaws strapped to their arms and Greenpeace want you to track them down. Check out their website to see if there are any in your area.  
If you want to help protect the Indonesian rainforest you can write to Mattel’s CEO here.

© Greenpeace

Greenpeace also argue that it isn’t just Mattel who are associated with AAP, other companies such as Disney are also thought to be involved. I mean what’s next – will Prince Charming really divorce Cinderella?

It is encouraging though that in less than a week of the campaign starting, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mattel had received between 80,000 and 200,000 emails (depending on which source you trust) from people around the world and because of this, announced last week, that it would develop a new policy to make its packaging suppliers “commit to sustainable forestry management practices”. So it just goes to show that our actions really do count and that together we can all make a difference to the world.

I still have one question though can environmental differences really end a relationship? I’d like to think not as everyone is allowed to have their own opinion but it is nice to think that these issues are being discussed and that people do feel strongly enough about them to tell their partners and families and encourage environmental awareness around the home and in our everyday lives.

Friday, 10 June 2011

A Spout of Drought?

Reservoirs around the UK are drying out following, what the Guardian has coined ‘the driest March in 50 years’. Some parts of Cambridgeshire had less than 2mm of rainfall during this month which is less than normally recorded in the Sahara desert for this time of year according to the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology. A representative from the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology was reported as saying back in April that “a dry April could lead to a significant deterioration in the resources outlook, so we need to keep a careful eye on things over the next few weeks.” As many of you can probably remember April was pretty dry too!
The drought also has the potentially to affect our food supply. Without enough water to harvest crops flood prices are expected to rise. The Guardian has reported that Ministers will meet with farmers, supermarkets and utility companies this week to assess the threat of this drought becoming an environmental and agricultural disaster.
Ecological damage is also likely with low river levels across the country which of course is impacting upon fish levels and plant species.
Therefore the next few weeks will be critical for water companies, farmers and wildlife and unless we get prolonged rainfall soon, water companies may have to restrict the amount of water we use in the form of a hosepipe ban. In some regions water companies are already on alert.
If a hosepipe ban is put in place you could try and reduce your water consumption in the following way:
·          Don’t let the water in whilst washing the dishes;
·          Collect used water for watering houseplants;
·          Water your lawn either n the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler;
·          Take timed showers;
·          Use the washing machine and dishwasher only when full;
·          For cold drinks keep jugs of water in the fridge instead of running the tap;
·          Wash fresh fruit and vegetables in a bowl of water instead of running the tap;
·          When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on;
·          Collect water from your roof to water the garden;
·          Teach your children about water conservation;
·          Avoid recreational water toys;
·          Turn water off whilst brushing your teeth; and
·          Wash your car and pets on the grass to water the lawn at the same time.
Whilst this may seem like a negative to most people maybe this is what the countries needs to make the public realise how much water we waste as a nation. During previous droughts people have thought of innovative ways to reduce consumption and we now need to teach younger generations the importance and value of reducing water. The tips above are really useful and can be used in everyday life without much effort. If we are forced to take these measures then once the hosepipe ban if lifted then we may as well continue these measures to conserve water in the future and help fight climate change.
I know I say it all the time but seriously, is this Mother Natures way of fighting back? This year we seem to have had so many environmental issues all over the world, floods, forest fires, tornado's, earthquakes, tsunami’s, volcanic ash clouds and now a potential drought!  Should we not be listening and trying to make a difference?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A Prickly Situation!

© Guardian

The beloved British hedgehog, adored by wildlife lovers around the country is said to be declining in numbers according to the BBC. The Mail Online has reported that in the 1950s hedgehog populations were around 30 million whereas now they are said to be potentially less than 1 million. A survey was undertaken by volunteers funded by Mammals Trust UK and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to determine wild hedgehog numbers in the UK.
Gardening has become a popular past time over recent years and has resulted in walled gardens and increased paved areas, destroying the natural habitats for hedgehogs. The decline in hedgehogs has also been associated with more road deaths, modern farming practises and the loss of hedgerows that has left the hedgehog vulnerable to badger attacks.
Conservation charities have warned that unless urgent action is taken to protect this species the mammals could vanish from some parts of the UK by 2050.
Therefore, in an attempt to increase numbers, gardeners are being urged to take a few simple measures to help. These include:
·         Removing a single brick from the bottom of a wall;
·         Cutting a hole in a fence;
·         Leaving patches of long grass;
·         Putting out food and water (usually cat or dog food but never bread and milk); and
·         Providing a hedgehog home.
In response to the latest figures, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society has got together with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species to launch a three year campaign to encourage people to get involved. It will include both funded research projects and a public participation campaign which is aimed at promoting hedgehog friendly gardening practices.
If you want to find out more information on how you can help take a look at the Hedgehog Street Campaign.
Several commercial organisations have also been getting involved in protecting this animal in recent years with fast food chain McDonald's agreeing to alter the deign of its ice cream containers which, according to the BBC, wildlife campaigners claimed were death-traps to hungry hedgehogs.
If they can do it so can you. How are you going to help protect the much-loved hedgehog? I think I might start leaving out food and water.

© Pugh Graphic