Thursday, January 26, 2006

Your tax dollars at work

And before we go any further I know it should be '£'s', but somehow 'Your tax pounds at work' just sounds daft. Just like a ITV cop show chase scene down an alley in Penge looks naff, but the exact same one in CSI:NYC looks well atmospheric.

Anyway, to get my bloggly, eye-twitching, ROI of the Rovers juices flowing this hour, I have just alighted upon this:

While I have no problem with anything that is trying to make a green difference I simply have to wonder if this is the best use of £1.3 million of your and my money. 

Apparently 200,000 van drivers are to be encouraged by the government to improve their driving skills, in an initiative aimed at reducing vehicle and fuel costs for businesses and helping the environment, through funding 200 instructors to train 3,500 (or 17.5% of total, and over £400 per newly inspired lead foot by my calculations) van drivers across the UK.

How about subsidising them to convert to something non-polluting? And I'm rather wondering what the time frame is here. Hopefully there will be much better alternatives in place way before this little to gets worked through. And the best part is you don't need to use most of the cash for the scheme administrators' salaries and instructors' pension plans!

Things that make you go... hmnnn.

What do bean counters count when there are no more beans?

This from yesterday's Telegraph: Lloyd's abandons paperless system.

It's actually nothing to with environmental benefits or consequences as far as I can see, though one might ask why that aspect could not play a significant part. And I must make clear I am not well equipped to understand the logistical issues, but it just strikes me that there was the potential of saving an awful lot of paper that will now again go to, along with.... £70 million.

However, these may give a clue:

"the platform was not optimal in ensuring more efficient business processes for the Lloyd's and London market and as a result it will close."

 "The problem was underwriters and brokers just didn't seem to care about getting involved and making the market more technology based."

"Like all institutionalised projects, it fell foul of politicking, agendas, and civil service management structures, which drove costs through the roof."

Lloyd's role "should be primarily on standards setting, not building infrastructure"

Well, that's ok then.

We're in the business of trying to promote better ways of helping the planet. It can often feel like we're in the wrong one.


I know a few potentially relevant folk do read this blog, so I'm slapping this (with thanks to PRW) up here in complement to all the other feverish activity we're devoting to seeing how we can get in on the act ourselves.

In a nutshell, Wrap are "asking groups to suggest ideas which they believe will have a significant impact on minimising packaging or food waste from the home. The project should involve a retailer or major brand, though, in order to maximise the chances that any successful innovations are widely adopted...   and are keen to encourage applications from project teams which could include manufacturers, packaging suppliers, designers, as well as brands and retailers. All proposals must demonstrate a potential major impact on minimising household waste.”

If that's you.. go for it. And good luck. Just remember who passed it on:)

If that's you and you would like to go for it with us... it's amazing how much luckier people can be if they work at it. Together.

Sometimes you can end up with a result that is much greater than the sum of its parts. 

In case you read this before we get in touch with you, we're waiting at:

Strike up the bandwagon!

I was the only 6th-former in my school not to be made a prefect. It was not that they could pin anything wrong I'd done on me (not that there was much, and certainly nothing to get me invited to join the Lib Dems), but there was little obvious that I had done right either. As my house-master commented: 'If you devoted half the energy you do to avoiding tasks to actually carrying them out as asked, you'd be looking really good'. Which brings me to today's blog.

Lurking within our information categories is a section headed 'CSR' (by the way, after months of posting and pasting, it has only now been pointed out to me that you can create a hyperlink on a word without adding all the http.. gubbins. D'oh! But I'm still trying to get around only being able to upload with these still intact any way other than un-spellchecked emails), which stands for 'Corporate Social Responsibility'.

Like many things in life it's hard to fault it in theory, but somehow the actual practice seems to to often fail to live up to the promise, intentions or what 'we' might reasonably expect.

Apologies if you have already clicked the link above, as you'll gather there's nothing there... yet. We are but a small, self-funding enterprise still seeking revenues, and so we beaver away as best we can, and will get to it soon.

I think we'll need to. It's a topic that needs addressing.

I don't like slapping links in under such category without there being a article above it to 'set the scene' ( tries to stay objective and factual, but is happy to add well-reasoned arguments/opinions to broaden the scope of knowledge and provoke debate, which we encourage by popping across to the Forum), but as it's the blog I'm going to make a small exception.

It's just because these all have arrived or we've stumbled across in just the last few days:

And my personal favourite:

Leaving you to read for yourselves to ensure my choice does not affect context (the trail of the last story showing how things can acquire twists and turns as they progress), I select these key sentences:

"..criticism of the move being self-serving, because there is already a ban on marketing soft drinks in schools starting in September."

"The organic food movement has been hijacked by supermarkets intent on being seen to be green, but their disrespect of food miles shows they are anything but."

"It’s a good sign these companies recognize that American consumers are beginning to develop a green ethic when it comes to purchases, it’s too bad that they’ve relegated that market possibility to a ton of advertising hooey."

Amen. I'm not saying I agree with all of what all of them have said. And it can be easy to cherry-pick in some cases. But it's clear that there is a growing disconnect between what a lot of businesses are doing, are saying they're doing and are perceived as doing by some potent sectors. note that the majority of these articles were not from the eco-activist sector.

Now, I haven't done this for a long time. What would be great if there was a genuine way for these big brands to do something tangible that does make a genuine difference, won't cots them much and potentially drive more sales, rather than p****ing away money pretending they are doing stuff when patently the snake oil ain't selling. Now, what would be worth supporting with a fraction of your smoke 'n mirrors budget if you crank out packaging, are seeking to appeal at a local level or engage with a more environmentally-aware traveling public?

Answers (in case you missed the hint in the last line) please, to