Thursday, June 07, 2007

Today, I will be mostly staying at home...

...and, in so doing, I will help the environment a bit. Plus saving a fair wadge of wonga by not paying for travel. Now, while that is all very laudable, it is not perhaps the most relevant thing to any reader's day, nor indeed very interesting.

Hence, I am trying to figure out why ads like the one at the top, and all the press releases I still keep getting about banks now recycling their paper, are any different.

While super-dooper and all, the fact is that they are doing something that is only reasonable, and in the case of energy may even end up saving them money (will those eventual operational profits go back to the consumers?).

So, while I am happy to say 'good on ya!', I can't for the life of me see what is being served by blowing vast amounts of dosh on ads such as this, when they could be using the money to actually, oh, I don't know... DO something worth sharing, with the consumer in mind and not soem fuzzy green agenda.

Who gains? A box ticked on the CSR chart. The creative guys, ad agency and media are pretty chuffed (hey, I await the brief... or space booking). But am I going to hang a U-ee as we head for our weekly shop at the local supermarket and go to M&S because 'some' (the weasel of choice - as it's all down the same pipe, I can't also quite figure why it all can't be. You just switch tariff surely? Or is this another turbine on the roof job, as already advertised by a competitor?) of their expenditure on energy doesn't go to to npower any more?

I guess we'll be subjected to several months of these from competing sources - 'Buy your airflown spring water from ASDA because our loos are flushed with the grey variety!' - until they run out of ways to spout green, and /or all have parity with each other.

This is not just pointless advertising, it's... pretty... wasteful advertising.

So, speaking as a consumer, I'd be much more interested in ads like the one I mocked up a loooong while to show Tesco a potentially more valuable green communications route, and repeat the original and adapt here.

Crossing the pond!

Well, the old G8 may not be going so well, but I am happy to report one small bit of transatlantic special relationship-forging that is real, active... and not consuming a single gram of carbon!

Those lovely folk at American Inventorspot have kindly run a much-delayed piece I'd promised to write about the Geneva Show, and by way of chocolate sprinkles on the cherry on the cake, have said some pretty nice things about the RE:tie, too.

Read it in all its glory here.

Righting wrongs

Having just had a valued piece of input, I'd like to formally share a site that came my way today, called newscounter. Sadly, at least for my RSI and blogging addiction, I fear they will be added to my daily must read... and contribute to.... list.

For instance: How sorry does a newspaper have to be? Which deals with the woeful disconnect between a front page porky and the back page retraction.

I shake my head when I read such as this, and the state of what once could have been deemed a worthy 4th estate.

However, I also try and suppress laughing out loud trying to reconcile the all too true words in your last para with the fact we are talking about... the Mail. As papers go, they really don't get much sorrier than that.

But, as we are running a gamut of emotions here, how sad is it to feel that way, especially when you look at their readership? Sure you wouldn't want your son to admit he dated one, but they are raking it in based on a lot still listening to them.

Guardian - No vinegar for Woolmer - interesting, especially in light of a previous discussion on the Newsnight blog about how only traditional media can be trusted. I am not saying blogs are any better, but they sure as heck are no worse these days, sadly.

I know the G8 important 'n all, but....

The world moves on, and every nuance of revolution needs reporting upon I know, but that doesn't mean Dave from Solarventi can't be replied upon to push some of my buttons, especially when he uses the Daily Mail to do it with:

I thought you might be interested in the fact that the Beeb has sent 60 staff to Germany to cover G8!! See here.

Yes, I say, through gritted teeth, very 'interested', in light of the irony of the climate change main topic.

But maybe they all went over by coach... oh, no... it seems they had to fly. Anyway, here's what you get for your licence fee:

BBC - G8 leaders 'agree climate deal' - Oh, I really hope so.


I made a mistake last night, albeit with the best of intentions.

Though I co-designed pretty much every aspect of the site, the reality is I did it with pen and paper and briefed in 'making it so' to guys who knew/know a lot better how to make it all happen. And as it did get handed over from the first set to the current one in not the best of circumstances, there is frankly a vast amount that is somewhat of a mystery in the details.

Don't worry; nothing too awful, but just some operational functions in the admin area seem to have a slight mind of their own.

Anyway, in anticipation of our next newsletter I was looking through the system and stumbled across what seemed to be a bunch of people who had signed up but seemed to have been left in some kind of limbo. We're talking names, passwords, nicknames, where they read/heard about us, etc. Hard to see how it was not genuine. It appears they had been denied final confirmation by some discrepancy between our registration system and their personal ISP, firewalls, etc.

So I thought it would be nice to try and sort this out, and clicked on something that I hoped would allow me.. us to write and ask them if they would like to stay with us. Well, somewhere... somehow... that act simply fired off a confirmation.

Now I'm hoping that most will be cool and either be happy their confirmation has at last come through or, if for some reason it was not them (who signs up another person with such details?) will simply ask to be removed, which is easy enough to do.

Or, if I'm unlucky, someone (who will not be reading this having been, on firm demand, promptly actively removed from the system) will make rather more of it all than perhaps the situation demanded. Fingers crossed!

Telling you so.

Today was another bumper crop of eco on BBC Breakfast news.

First up was part of an ongoing series on 'Future Schools', which on the whole can only be a very good thing. So much so, I might make this something to assist with.

My only slight concern was the mantra nature of the information being dished out and played back by some of the kids, but that might have been a consequence of the terrible addiction to silly short timeslots and 'that's all we have time for' that is today's TV. I loved the science and the way the kids were getting on board, but there was a slight eyebrow twitch at what seemed to me was a trip to Japan to study what they are doing over there. It's an impossible task trying to balance our need for/addiction to travel - especially in the name of education and promoting good eco-behaviour - but I have to wonder at the symbolism of a child cranking that out without being aware of the irony. And I couldn't resist a slight guffaw at the wind turbine 'providing power for 3 homes' - except, one presumes, at the dead stop it was shown with. I fear I hear the slight sound of boxes being ticked, with targets and agendas being met too much at the expense at decent, objective, questioning education.

I want my kids to be aware, concerned and proactive about their future, but I don't want them trotting out stuff they are fed as a done deal, that may not be quite so clear cut in reality.

What I did feel was telling was that out of a £50M pot to green-up public buildings, only £1M has so far been used. Er... why? Don't tell me, £49M is required to staff the system to administer it. Oo... oo... sir, I know. Let's run an ad campaign!

Then, there was almost VERY GOOD piece about recycling, based on a Which? report. The intro inferred, to my approbation, that the big problem with all this is that consumers don't know what can and can't be recycled, and often have little help to do so correctly.

I have to say I groaned a bit that to address this we were treated to the thoughts of Neil & Christine Hamilton, though there was also a rather charming and erudite Michael Warhurst from the FoE. Sadly he was unable or not provided enough opportunity to do too much to develop on his expertise, such that we were treated to a load more 'will need looking ats' than much that moved anything on.

Funnily enough Neil, who was there as the spoiler (well, more so than Christine), posed quite a few sensible questions and legitimate concerns, and they really did not get answered very well. At least to allow the viewer to feel theirs 'as consumers' had been addressed.

As I wrote to the BBC (in the slim hope of a plug, if they have short memories):


It is good to hear some thoughts on the actual enviROI (benefit to the planet) of some more target-based systems such as recycling, which can often be very uncritically served up by those with a vested interest in meeting them. Let us not forget that re:duction, re:use and re:pair all stand higher on the re:hierarchy.


If you look in the comment section you will see there is one with a very useful lead to the Which? report via an equally great find, a website called newscounter

This is obviously an issue to follow very carefully, and I will.

It's so odd, because I was just talking this morning with the editor of Recycling and Waste World (another worthy read to stay on top of things) about this, and trying to get my head around how this story tallied with their front page that 92% of local authorities now offer plastic bottle recycling.