Wednesday, August 22, 2007


This could be a help in my quest to decide on the merits, ROI and enviROI, of solar: Solar photovoltaic panels could lead to cheques from your electricity supplier

It comes from a post in Treehugger, which has other worthy info.

Nice to see the UK on top of such issues, and with our weather that it can seem to work!

Sounds.. Looks Intriguing

Frankly anything that's about the environment with a luvvie celeb attached is enough for me to head straight for the Hummer dealers, but I must say this has my interest piqued: The 11th Hour

If only for this comment: '’s got everything An Inconvenient Truth was missing…solutions. It should be regarded as the crown jewel for the kid movie star turned environmentalist, Leonardo DiCaprio, as an engaging review of what the global community is facing due to environmental decay and what we can do about it.'

I like solutions. And am quite aware already thank you. Let's hope it lives up to this review.

Hero Time!

Ok, now, Focus people, Focus.

In case you are wondering, I am selling out to... er... being seduced by the corporate sector. But it is in a good cause.

While I was away a PR agency asked me if I would be interested in a competition, and while I am always up for an adventure have to confess that it slipped my mind.

Well, big up to them for not letting me forget, and so here it is:

Calling all you Green Heroes!

Have you got what it takes to be the King or Queen of Green?

Are you a recycling Queen or a composting King? Do you regularly collect the drain water to keep the roses in bloom? Or, perhaps you know someone who goes out of their way to protect the environment in everything they do?
If so, then you could be the ultimate Green Hero as Focus DIY launches a search for environmental champions across the country - no compost heap too big or watering can too small - to be crowned Green Hero 2007.

The nominations come as new research shows three quarters of people have taken positive steps to go green and save the planet for their children and grandchildren. Despite this, there's still a lot to be done. A third of drivers admitted they will drive less than a mile - easy walking distance - to see friends, drop the kids off at school or simply to pop to the shops.
To help you go green and celebrate the start of the Green Thinking from FOCUS campaign we have compiled some simple top tips to a greener life:

* Buy Forest Stewardship Council (
FSC) recommended wood products, They contain wood from legal and well-managed forests.

* Use peat free multi-purpose compost. Peat is best kept in its natural state in the countryside - providing a home for unique types of plants, butterflies and insects.

* Use energy saving products e.g. light bulbs or check out the Energy Saving Trust.

* If you see a light on, that doesn't need to be, why not turn it off and do the earth a favour.

* Don't just throw it in the bin. Is it glass, plastic, cans, cardboard or paper that can be recycled. Where is your nearest recycling centre? Better yet... reuse it on (Ok, so I added that)!

* Donate unwanted household or gardening items to charities.
Or give it away via JunkkYard (uh-huh... that too).

* By taking garden waste to a local recycling centre, or recycling through their doorstep collection service for it to be turned into compost, gardeners are saving valuable space in landfill

The efforts of people who go that extra green mile make a huge difference to the environment and set a great example to others in the community. So if you are, or know someone who cares about the environment and takes the green option when doing jobs around the home and garden then visit
and nominate your Green Hero. You could be in with a chance of winning great prizes.

Thing is I am being a smidgen selfish here as I do note the words '...if you are...' in there, so I will be applying for yours truly too. Don't feel you can't say nice things about us too, though.

But if in learning about this from me and you get to win instead, think kindly of your old mates at pretty please?

I may even add this to our February newsletter if I can find the time.

Blue Oval. Greenwashing?

Try as I might, I am really struggling to see what the heck this ad... and this product... have to do with it at all!

Does it all add up?

Just had a press release from WRAP's Recycle Now: Media success for Recycle Now Week

The final numbers are in and our major publicity campaign for Recycle Now Week delivered widespread national and local media coverage and 57,000 hits to the Recycle Now website.

An astonishing 170 regional events took place and analysis of the media coverage shows that over 60 million opportunities were generated for people to see the campaign and its ‘Transform Something Today’ message.

TV presenter Denise Van Outen was the public face of Recycle Now Week and appeared in national media including The Daily Star, Hello magazine and Closer. Denise also featured in The Daily Telegraph and BBC online in a dress made from recycled materials, which was specially designed for the campaign.

Interviews with Denise were aired on GMTV and 50 local radio stations. A centre page spread in the Guardian and a mini-newspaper dedicated to recycling in the Daily Mirror also helped to make Recycle Now Week a success.

Local council recycling teams, community groups and businesses rose to the challenge organising activities across the country and generating publicity on a local level.

All things considered in terms of staff and money expended, if anyone in the world of online is out there, what does 57,000 hits to a website mean by way of an achievement? Especially when how much was blown on ads and PR to point at the site?

I just ask, because I'm (that's all one of me - no quango board slary or bonus either) trying to drive to a monthly target of 500,000 unique visitors (having been told hits mean diddly) before I can claim to have a significant public medium to attract advertisers.

Bush Administration Must Publish Climate Change Reports

Environmentalists won a court case on Tuesday over the white house's reticence to publish climate change reports which are required by law. The full story is from Associated Press.

"Judge Saundra Armstrong ruled Tuesday that the Bush administration had violated a 1990 law when it failed to meet deadlines for an updated U.S. climate change research plan and impact assessment."

"The plaintiffs - the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace - said the ruling was a rebuke to an administration that has systematically denied and suppressed information on global warming."

So it appears to be true - even the big guys do lose sometimes. It will be very interesting to see just what the report, when eventually issued, has to say, especially if some of the Big Oil funded boys are involved in its creation.

Talking of what really blows

A useful Category 5 editorial on hurricanes from the Indy: The Big Question: Are there more hurricanes, and are they the result of global warming?

Especially as Dean did not quite deliver what the news media obviously were hoping. This seems a very balanced piece, though.

My only caution beyond this is that casualty figures do not get used willy-nilly to support things getting 'worse', rather meteorological facts. The sad fact is that there are more of us, in more exposed places than ever before, so death and damage are inevitably going to increase.

'Course, it won't help if there are more of the things and they are bigger too.

Flying in the face of reality

I'm just back from my first holiday in a while, and intend to share some thoughts inspired by my travels soon, but first would like to share a press release from the NCC (National Consumer Council).

UK holidays are good for the environment but bad for the pocket

The NCC calls for collective action on climate change by urging government, business and regulators to address the domestic tourist industry and make UK destinations more attractive and better value for consumers.

As record numbers of Britons fly abroad, the NCC argues that far more could be done for climate change by making UK holidays better value, in particular by reversing the high costs of rail fares, accommodation and leisure facilities.

Despite the UK being hit by floods this summer, a new report reveals that many people think Britain is becoming warmer and a better place to spend holidays. Around one in three (32%) say they are prepared to switch future holiday plans to avoid flying. But, in the face of high costs and inertia, only one in twenty five (4%) do so. Examples emerging from research show that:

· Barcelona is cheaper than Blackpool. For example, the total cost of travel to Blackpool with accommodation in mid-August can work out more expensive than a similar trip to Barcelona. A return flight with seven nights’ accommodation costs £518. This compares to £554 for a return train ticket from London to Blackpool and a week’s accommodation.

· Planes are cheaper than trains. Seven in ten people have decided not to travel by train because of the cost of a ticket, according to fellow consumer organisation Passenger Focus. Only 40% of people who do travel on trains feel they are getting value for money. However, the vast majority (80%) would travel more on trains if the fares were a bit cheaper.

Ed Mayo, NCC Chief Executive said: ‘People are increasingly being asked to think before flying, but poor value at home means that this is a stick without a carrot.’

The NCC’s report: The Environmental Contract: How to harness public action on climate change

I couldn't agree more with almost all of this, but there are certain facts that cannot be escaped.

While my holiday was mainly to see relatives, it did coincide with being in a place that had sun, sea and sand.

Ignoring costs of travel and accommodation, the simple fact is that because of these factors (plus being happy with a $2 bowl of noodles for lunch), I sat in a deckchair for several days doing sod all (and spending same), while my kids played in the sea and made sandcastles. Sadly, in the UK each day of any holiday requires at least £100 to feed and entertain, sun out or not (more if not).

This is a simple matter of money. And a lot of it. And little here will change that, though many of the initiatives suggested will help. Along with global warming... if that is indeed what is going to happen. This summer has not bee the best evidence for this, though.

A holiday is about relaxing. Sitting in a wet tent seeing your bank account getting sucked dry hourly is not really going to do that. Sorry.

Trading places

This is a hoot: Rich 'can pay poor to cut carbon'

"Rich nations should be absolved from the need to cut emissions if they pay developing countries to do it on their behalf,"

Actually I have no problem wit the rich paying the poor to reduce emissions (with such as my still much vaunted, but sadly poorly supported, championing of buying up the mature rainforests as opposed to whacking a fir in the firmament), but to suggest that this is in exchange for going on doing what you're doing is plain daft. Who pays his salary?

In passing, I see this has angered environmental groups. What is an 'environmental group anyway? is one? How do you get such an accolade?

Dirty deals, done dirt cheap..

I don't know about you, but I have long since given up even trying price comparison sites as they simply are not worth the effort: Price comparison sites -- how impartial are they?

The reason was simple: they are obviously not very impartial and seldom, if ever, lead to a good deal. So it frankly amazes me how they exist, let alone proliferate and, it seems, make pots of money.

Insurance, shopping, utilities... all of them are simply a waste of space.

An interesting piece (and piece of logic) from Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert at the end, too.

Comparing the comparison sites

Dilemma, etc

It has been a short while, so it's nice to see another celebrity has been wheeled out to help us with our climate unawareness.

And to do so by travelling the world to visit lots of poor, but film-worthy places.

So this time I was treated to a very agitated Sienna Miller on BBC News 24 saying 'bring it on' to all those the blonde and the bouffant indicated my be being a bit cynical.

Thing is, I was pretty much on board until we we treated to how she offsets all her flights as 'it really wouldn't be practical, etc, etc... for her not to' . A bit of a mea culpa in this regard will be following at some juncture soon.

But what really cranked the eyebrow was how she has teamed up with Vodafone... yes, that's acres of free public broadcast PR for Vodafone... on a scheme to recycle your old mobiles. And what's really great is that the poor folk get some pounds too! I don't know, but popping 10% of value to charity on such a vast contributor to carbon as a 2"x5" mobly hardly seems top of the enviROI list to me, but hey-ho.

And now, having got that out of the way, her new film, which she's shooting next week, is...

It's a dilemma. Sure something needs to be done. But I remain unsure that these are the best people to do it. The media plays along because they get ratings from sticking a blonde celeb on screen, and can also gush a bit about global warming but also stir it up by asking here if she has a 4x4 or drinks Evian. I for one just find it a real trivial distraction.

And speaking of dilemmas, check out the picture above from today's Guardian. They will help us with ours!

Thing is, the only reason I saw that ad is because I clicked on a piece advertising an exclusive interview with conductor Claudio Abbado... (cue awestruck 'Oooooo') '..on a private jet'. I guess this was relevant because they were at least Lear-sharing.

Personally, I don't think celebrity and eco-cred mixes. So I really wish the media wouldn't do it.

There's Gold in them thar (Green) Hills!

This from the Indy: Democrats in $7bn plan to turn US green

What I liked most about the potential of this was that the green collar jobs referred to seem to be mostly productive, focusing on actually making something that makes a positive enviROI difference.

While over here, almost anything I see promoting the cause of green seems to be in the areas of trading or researching or managing or awareness, etc. Whilst some oversight and complementary admin is necessary, as I often say, if you have nothing but folk counting beans on the backs of those making 'em, soon all will starve. I just look at what is being blown on quango board level salaries or public/commercial 'green' comms budgets that could be invested in tangibles, and weep.

A lot of what I read here makes sense, though of course this is from the opposition, and some areas do pose a concern, such as this: 'Sensing winds of change, American businesses are also lobbying for subsidies for everything from corn to ethanol plants and coal-to-oil, despite dubious environmental benefits.'

Whenever I see the word 'lobby', especially associated with 'subsidy', I fear the enviROI goes out the window.

And considering the scale of the problem, $7B seems pretty modest.