Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Up in smoke?

This is one for the dilemma file (or ITanic Vs.).

Cremation or burial?

Despite most in the eco-sphere on this topic surrounding casket design (Cardboard, bamboo, etc), I must confess to having treated it as a bit of a niche thing, despite death, along with taxes, being a bit of a growth industry, along with the global population.

And that is a key consideration. Because if there's more and more of us standing on top of the earth, there's an ever more limited series of places to stick folk under it. And once we start fighting with the guys planting bio-fuel crops, it could get ugly.

Of course it already has to an extent. When I lived in Singapore over a decade ago, large numbers of ancestors were quietly, if rather unceremoniously JCB'd from their eternal slumbers and popped in an urn in a wall if they were lucky.

So pretty much my whole experience, including personally with my Dad, has been cremation.

But in the whole dental filling (mercury) pollution and simple combustion products (heat, gas) scheme of things, is it a good idea?

I'll have to go find out.

Following In Jeremy Clarkson's Footsteps!

Well, apart from the height. And the money. And the cars.
And less-than-eco attitude. And, for that matter, the job.

Because I was going to say that like him, I today became a local newspaper journalist.

Thing is, he was hired and asked and paid, and I wasn't but offered and wasn't. However I see it as a milestone of sorts. And a good sign (except the STILL doing things for free bit - I need an agent). I have of course written op-eds before, but this seemed like my first real bit of citizen journalism.

The occasion was a council meeting to discuss getting hydro-power in Herefordshire.

The rest you can read here.

What is also worthy of note is that in that spread above, there were at least 3, maybe 4 other stories about the environment. It sis getting BIG! I hope we can play a part.

ps: The lights are mentioned in the article. It was good to see huge chandeliers with low-energy bulbs. At least someone is walking as they talk

A dish best served cold

If you go back in these blogs a fair way, you'll find I was less than impressed with the way SKY's Big Idea competition was handled.

I took part in the online Forum for a while with similarly unhappy contestants, but when it got a bit nasty (either a resident psycho or, more likely, production house minion, PR or lawyer) decided to move to more fruitful areas.

Today the OFCOM paperwork arrived. I'm going to enjoy this. We may even yet profit.

Especially when I read this the same day: ITV Play rapped over 'unfair' quiz

It's a bit broad, but 'rule 2.11 of the broadcasting code, which states that "competitions should be conducted fairly".' And if they can be nabbed on this, then I'd say we're looking even better.

The right behind the write

As readers will appreciate (as in 'know', not 'you're a bonzer dude, mate', sadly ) I trawl a lot and get sent a lot each day. Some of which I share. So it's always nice to see others finding what I have found interesting equally so.

My interests are eclectic, but obviously take in the eco, design, invention, ads, media, etc. One I have just surveyed (I will leave it nameless), which I do open as it is useful, had a monthly round-up. However I was moved to write to them (and those they quoted):

"I am enjoying and valuing the summaries that pop into my in-box from you guys. Such as:

McDonalds tries to surf the ethical tide and up its green credentials with a rainforest connection. As of January 9th all of its 1,200 outlets in Britain will sell only coffee from growers certified by global non-profit organisation the Rainforest Alliance.


UK retail giant Marks and Spencer launches its £200m, 100-point eco-plan to inject environmental responsibility into every layer of its business and make it carbon neutral by 2012.

While it has to be welcome that organisations are moving in a better direction, it is also sad that often the hype is not matched by the subsequent realities. The jury is still out on the above, but even after a few days caution is advised.

I, too read about the McDonalds story and was impressed. However, a qualification and Fairtrade reply I saw tucked away in the Business letters page of the Sunday Times has made me more circumspect.

Equally, after its first flush, the M&S story bears further scrutiny. According to the Telegraph today they have put no numbers to it which, if true is very noble for a such a marketing-led company."

I'd like to think that I here, and we at do try our best to not just take what we're served and pass it on, but cock an eyebrow at least at everything, and where the situation demands add our own take and, if necessary, doubts.

There really is a tad too much these days being served up and taken as given, when a few questions may not hurt before passing on.

All that's Green... need not be?

I was interested in a new travel initiative called Greenbee, from John Lewis Partnership, for whom I have a high regard on several counts.

Sadly, it was not what I thought it would be. Tap in environment to the search, and this is the closest you get.

Interesting name, though. I wonder what lies behind it?

Well, he did ask.

So where are the new ideas?

'...Here, for one.

And if the party's environmental record so far, and even the tangibles behind the 'bold new thinking' is anything to go on, it's a shame the current system/regime is incapable, or unwilling, to genuinely try and find them in new places, and support them if they have merit.'

For once, a short answer (though it need a lot more) to a short question.


The author has kindly replied, thanking me for my input and suggesting it needs reflecting upon. To which I have followed up (you never know):

'As will many of us, I'm sure. I just hope we have the time to do so before inactions reap unfortunate consequences.

I am of course politically and even corporately (if not commercially) naive, but having embarked upon a one-person effort to DO something about our environmental future, using the skills at my disposal, it can be frustrating to find those that who one thought were claiming and indeed tasked to help were in fact dedicated, either through ignorance, inefficiency or ambition, to thwarting one's efforts at almost every turn. I am currently looking at a govt.-funded quango - to whom I took my business plan for support 3 years ago - now moving into an area of direct competition with me! And this after they claimed no interest in what I was doing 'because it was commercial'. They now have 'sponsors' logos on their site, which is an ad where I come from.

In my 'job' I read a lot, and have done so daily for several years, and the number of times what is said ever gets done at all, much less as claimed originally, makes for a sorry state of affairs. But even most major media are complicit in allowing such short-termism to succeed and flourish.

The system is not working, yet it is still growing and hence becoming ever more complex, which only makes the chances of restitution and repair more difficult. But we must try, if only as individuals, though it would be so much better to do so in concert. An empire of minions between the top and reality can be very comforting for a while, but when there are no more beans to count, or manage, because the bean-makers have been depleted and worn out then even those with index-linking and gold-plating may yet starve. Trouble is, perhaps not in their (career) lifetime.

So it can be hard. I was at a '3rd sector' gathering last year, which claimed to be about improving creative thinking, innovation and pushing social entrepreneurship with private types like me. In my view it failed on all counts, and was almost designed to maintain the status quo behind a facade of hype by the composition of invitees and structure. Pity.

I will keep trying to engage, indeed in some ways for selfish reasons (if there's money I will try and bag some), but really it is not often worth the effort. So we end up with 'us' and 'them'... again.'

Selling beans. No longer counting them. Apparently.

A few days ago I noted the coverage of the M&S green announcement, and felt this was one that needed time to settle.

Happily, others are still paying attention: No figure on M&S's green payback

To whom I felt moved to write (plus a ps on EDF snitching on pot growers):

"Thank you for your piece today, which will make a nice counterpiece in my blog to the mostly uncritical gush that has been accorded this announcement in other quarters.

It has not been my experience that anyone in marketing, especially retail, has not put a price, first, and as high as possible, on anything they do. This has to be a new one.

However, with this new found hue, maybe my little organisation, which does no more than offer free (with paid ads if they want to push something genuinely, planet-savingly, consumer-benefittingly green they sell or do - only not going 'carbon neutral' because, as you say, they should have done ages ago and it really only helps their own bottom line, PR and CSR at AGM time) opportunities for them to upload their product data for reuse and recycling info purposes (which one would have assumed a savvy marketer would see as a possible ADDITIONAL sales opportunity), as has such as ecover, maybe they may feel like getting back to us after 3 years trying to get through the minions, using such e-dm as our Folda-Holda.

We cost them nothing and could make them money, after all. But maybe looking good is more important and needs more attention than actually doing good.

Rgds, Peter Martin

ps: Shining a light on EDF's true role in joint supply-side issues

I was recently at a seminar at the Science Museum where one of my co-presenters was extolling the virtues of hemp as source of textiles, etc. In eco-terms it is even way ahead of bamboo for instance. However all our enthusiasm for the potential (myself included) was dampened slightly when the speaker was asked how we grew it at home... you know the rest.

Still if EDF does feel like making a contribution to global warming in synergistic areas, it may be worth looking at!"

Suits who, Aunty?

In my time I have had occasion to doubt, and take issue with the BBC's ability to remain objective. Or, more and more, the provision of free ads to those who may or may not deserve it. While one presume no money changes hands, one can only wonder what happens 'in kind' (I challenged a piece a while ago that devoted 30 minutes to cosmetic tourism, where a full crew had a week at one resort in South Africa showing little more than slappers having their t&a jobs to great acclaim, and doubtless ratings. No mention of any other options, or indeed the risks).

As it does cross into areas of enviro-concern (suit-miles, local trade, etc), I took issue (in the form of some questions) on its complaints/Newswatch site (which seems to have melded):

"I realise there is a continual fine line being walked in sharing items of consumer interest, but what is it, who sets it and who polices it?

Take this morning's Breakfast TV item on cheap suits.

While it could have been a legitimate piece on outsourcing, global trade, consumer demand and ethical practices, I felt it was little more than an ad for a one week store promo, for which the BBC happily provided free air time. I got the price, how long, where, and that they were machine washable. Even vox pops of impressed shoppers. At no stage were any of the other issues, or indeed alternatives mentioned more than in passing.

Some poor UK craftsperson's venue was used (at least in the slot I saw) to make the commercial, but at no stage was he offered an opinion on quality, etc.

Is my licence funding major supermarkets’ marketing now?

No wonder our retail industry is heading to out of town megamalls with such assistance."