Friday, September 14, 2007

Bin & Gone - Freebie Alert!

I'm rubbish at PR (quite good at rubbish).

I can write the release and all, but all the other stuff, the stuff that really counts, such as calling and cajoling, etc... nah. I send it off and, if I call at all it will be but once. No more. Which is not what it takes.

What it takes is persistence (and staff/time/budget I don't have), plus a polite manner.

So eventually, I, very busy media overlord, have succumbed to the charms of a very nice young lady.

After her 3rd call on when I was going to put up what I said I might when I had a 'mo, here it is.

It's a bucket.

A wee while ago a nice courier turned up with a nice box in a big plastic bag, and this was what was inside. Along with a helpful 5-page set of instructions.

It's from Cedo (leader, so the blurb says, in a wide range of household disposable - hold that thought - products), and Sainsburys.

And between them they are giving away 150,000 of these little chaps, from now 'til the end of the month.

So if you fancy a bucket, free, I'd scoot along.

Thanks to being in the right conferences at the right time, I already have a few, and they are very nice. As a means of getting stuff from the house to the compost bin they do serve a very helpful function. Many other buckets can do the same of course, but as this is free it's a 'why not'? If you fancy being even more eco of course, awaits any and all suggestions for second use packaging that can do the same and not use extra resources.

There is the lid of course, which is vital at this time of year to avoid fruity flies buzzing about in between empties down the garden end. I speak from current experience, the lid having popped off the paint can I was using.

I do also note that CeDo have available compost caddy liners, which will provide years of useful convenience. They should be, by all accounts, changed a minimum of 2-3 days. I'd say that could be stretched a tad.

Then again, you may prefer the option, as I do, of lining the bottom with an egg box, sides with newspaper and slotting small cereal packs inside to offer the right organic/fibre mix to make for a nice brew.

Gosh, I feel like I've come all over Just call me Martin.

'tis Autumn. So naturally a young man's thoughts turn to.. stuffing

Chimneys, that is, should you have them. With a hat tip to FoE, I was impressed by the savings that could be enjoyed by - WHEN NOT ALIGHT - blocking the chimney up temporarily to deny yet another source of heat loss.

There was also a lead to this merry band, or, if you are of a more DIY Junkkly bent, I'm on the case. The old Reebok medicine ball is looking favorite. With a nice warning dangly-doobry to remind one to remove prior to a stoke or two.

Meanwhile, back in the local industrial estate

An interesting arctile on enviro regs and SME engaement - A long way to go - that prompted me to write.

With some glorious exceptions, I think that if most small businesses are thinking about their impact on the environment, it’s currently mainly because of the law.

And that’s a pity, because environmental good practices, especially where they create a relationship with the consumer, should be viewed much more as an opportunity than a problem to deal with it.

But as the fine is both first and fierce in this regard, it’s not surprising this is the case... nor very fair. One problem is communications, and the other the mindset behind them. It’s amazing the guff that I get that seems to presume I have a [Unameit] director on staff, whose entire day is spent staying on top of all the regs that are out here.

I once went to a NetRegs presentation and found myself next to a Brummie chippie owner. He was colourful as he was concise. ‘What do they mean get my *****ing IT head on this... I”M our *****ing head of IT. On my ****ing Amstrad! There was also, beyond him negotiating a labyrinthine entity designed for technocrats by technocrats, the small matter of trust. He didn’t feel they were there to help him with how to get rid of several hundred gallons of oil, and was therefore not going to give them any chance at fining him for not disposing of it properly.

Ignorance is, temporarily, bliss?

And while I just love research without access to the full methodology, it’s great to note that nearly half of SMEs are starting to improve their green credentials, usually by recycling. I guess it’s all in how you define ‘improve’.

As to the claim that SME’s can’t afford to do this purely as a marketing exercise, beyond savings, how about thinking harder how to make green marketing pay?

There are some examples on – try here - though these are more aimed at brands. More relevantly, let me relate one at a more local, small sME level. On the site is an idea for using bike inner tubes as door draft excluding curtains. Some folk liked that. So I popped into the local bike shop and asked if he had any. Turns out he has a bucket a week... which the council charges to turn away! What about creating a relationship such that such reusable waste can be provide for those who can use it...FOC? At minimum great goodwill. At most, they’re in the shop where you sell stuff...

It’s then down to communication. That is of course an art as well as a science. I’m just not so sure most involved in environmental issues have quite what it takes in this regard though.

Great that NetRegs wants to try and fill the knowledge gap by offering SMEs an online tool that will compile a free environmental policy for them. I just hope that those who are not in the business of such things daily will be able to engage with it all.

Growing broccoli in Greenland

As reported in Guardian CIF today.

The article contains some very interesting and some very worrying snippets.

"The IPCC predicted an ice-free Arctic by the end of the century; some scientists now predict it for 2020. Ten years ago, it was thought that the Greenland ice cap - 11,000 feet high in some places - would take centuries to melt. Now, the pace of melting of the ice cap, and the unpredictable interaction of the feedback loops such melting may trigger, makes any firm prediction hazardous. In Greenland they know human civilisation is already entering unknown territory."

"But as the ice melts, the dark seas and the bare rock surface absorb heat, further accelerating melting and triggering sea level rises that will inundate, among other places, the Nile Delta, much of San Francisco and 40% of Bangladesh."

"'For the last 10,000 years,' Corell says, 'we have been living in a remarkably stable climate that has allowed the whole of human development to take place. In all that time, through the mediaeval warming and the Little Ice Age, there was only a variation of 1C. Now we see the potential for sudden changes of between 2C and 6C. We just don't know what the world is like at those temperatures. We are climbing rapidly out of mankind's safe zone into new territory, and we have no idea if we can live in it."

As the Arctic ice cap itself is disappearing (see Arctic Ice Update), the Greenland ice sheet appears to be starting to follow suit too. The potential for sea level rises that may have massive effects on mankind is well understood. The worrying thing is that the evidence suggests that it is already starting to happen at an accelerating pace.

Trust me. I'm a green ad man.

Do green and ethical claims need to be monitored? You know I like such questions.

Looking first at the headline, my immediate thought was 'isn't every claim monitored?'. I know the ASA site is alive with greenwash complaints, mostly upheld, which may explain the consumer reaction. Fool me once, shame on me... etc.

To the question in the body... er... which logo?

I made a joke a while ago that may yet turn out to be true, that soon my Smartie pack will have a CDR attached with all it is deemed I must know to 'assist' my purchase choice and disposal obligations contained therein. With of course, a CDR on that to 'assist' with its disposal in turn.

I believe we have already two health systems in place, no? And these are embraced - either legislatively or voluntarily - by some of the manufacturers and retailers but not all. In the wings we have Carbon Footprints and or food miles. Morrisons has already launched theirs (noted here, I believe), while WRAP is talking up another. And now this.

Am I going to have a clue what this is all about as I walk the aisles or watch an 8pt para scroll along the base of an ad? So... will it give advertisers credence? I don't think it will, no.

Nice use of funds though.

I also note that this initiative has been awarded an UnLtd grant. These guys are the ones who did not deem or RE:tie to have any social contribution or commercial application.

Brand Republic - Public distrustful of green claims in advertising

I'll repeat a bit from my answer to your other post question elsewhere.

How does this scheme fit into all the above? Extra, or instead of? And while costs need to be covered, there has to be an immediate concern on anything that is paid for by those it endorses, surely? No reason why I should I guess, but no word I can recall in the various trades of the industries involved either. Just how new is this? And how extensive?

The principle is fine, but I am unclear how it fits into the current industry and legislative frameworks already in place.

Seeing the light

Illuminating ideas

And a chance for a plug:

Valuable post and comments.

I'm staring at a row of GU10 halogens and deciding what's best to get the light I need for my work vs. the costs vs. the enviROI.

The low energy bayonet/screw fitting elsewhere were a no-brainer.

However, in the Grush (green rush), one factor has arisen that I think is worthy of more attention: reliability.

There are some I have been suckered into buying that have lasted but a few months. The key is low-energy, long-life. But not only that, write the date of installation on the base and keep the receipts. Simple maths usually means the shop will refund you for a dud. And if enough of us do it, they will only stock the goodies.

Friday morning chews

We need a good story that covers all the bases. I hope this will be one such: Non-stick gum could slash £150m street cleaning costs

Who fancies the licence for Singapore?

Me, too

When it hits the business section more than the environment one, you know things are afoot: I don't believe that going green should cost more, says Asda chief

So I think, with others, we can all be happy to see the guys earning the big bucks and able to make the big differences starting to catch up.

The discrepancy between what the chiefs of our two most significant retail entities say (much less do) is striking.

Who is right, I wonder?

Guardian - Mr High Street - There is a bit about M&S' enviro moves too, if you look hard.

Further to the previous post ....

..... here is the Guardian's take on the Tory proposals. I think that this provides a more concise and clear summary than most of the rest of the media.

This is the article reproduced in full.

Under proposals published yesterday the Tories have promised to redefine the measure of the UK's success away from simply measuring GDP and towards a group of indicators taking in economic wellbeing, societal wellbeing and environmental wellbeing.

Climate change

· Set a target for carbon dioxide emissions focused on ensuring global temperatures rise no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels. This means the UK must plan for an 80% cut in global emissions by 2050, higher than current government targets.

Now that is ambitious - and, unfortunately, probably unachievable.

· Reform the European emissions trading scheme (ETS) so that all permits to the utility sector and aviation are subject to auction, a means of raising the cost.

· "Clean development mechanisms" (such as carbon trading) should not be used as a way of avoiding domestic reductions in C02 emissons.

It will be interesting to see how they could enforce that.


· Moratorium on airport expansion, VAT on aviation fuel in domestic flights, and inclusion of aviation in ETS. Reform air passenger duty so it is linked to the flight and not the passenger.

· Publish comparative details of carbon dioxide emissions on tickets and set up a global trust for all climate change communication.


· A new purchase tax on cars of up to 10% depending on CO2 output, as well as a sliding VAT scale between 5% and 17.5%. Vehicle excise duty set at maximum of £500, more than double the present £215 top rate.


· Introduce car efficiency targets of 120g of CO2 emitted per kilometre by 2012 and 80-100g by 2020 throughout the EU.

European vehicle manufacturers are struggling to meet the EU's current target of 140g, the UK trying to enforce even more stringent cuts is rather pointless.

· Place cigarette-style warnings, of a mandated size, on all car adverts.

This will be an utter waste of time if you ask me!

· Introduce a new employer parking spaces tax set at market rate.

Could cause a few problems, especially for bigger businesses.

· Reduce volume of car trips by 10%-17% by designing neighbourhoods where people can walk between amenities.

Errrmm, like, how? My nearest bank/cinema/post office etc. is over 6 miles away.

· Review cost-benefit analysis of road building.

Surely they do this already? If not, why the hell not?


· Trespassers and burglars should no longer have the right to sue for damage done to them on other people's property.

That just might win them a few votes!

· Improve the needs test to control out of town shopping.

· Abolish regional government tier in planning.

Meaning what, exactly?

· Double council tax on a home that remains empty for more than a year.

· Relax planning controls on all estates with four or more houses built since 1945.

Also, meaning what, exactly?

· Review the spread of buy to let.

· Local councils, by referendum, able to rule that only people living in a countryside home for 200 days a year or more are allowed to buy the property.

That could prove extremely difficult to implement!

Energy efficiency

· Abolish home information packs, the government's controversial attempt to streamline the house buying process.

· A mandatory code for new sustainable homes, plus energy performance certificates requiring improvements by landlords and homeowners when major changes are made to a house.

About time too - we should have been doing this 30 years ago!

· Financial incentives (such as council tax rebates) plus low-cost capital to help homeowners improve energy efficiency, and reduced stamp duty for energy- efficient homes.

Bring it on!! The most sensible idea so far!

· All public companies to make annual statement on energy use by setting out their energy consumption per square metre.

Hmmmm, I thought that they are already supposed to do this? (Not necessarily by per M2)

· Smart meters introduced over a period of 10 years to aid energy saving.

Again, we should have been doing this years ago!

· Standby switches to be abandoned subject to EU agreement.

Not sure that this is achievable - I'd prefer to ban products that consume anything more than say, 1 watt, whilst on standby mode. Imagine having to reset the clock on your DVD/VCR every single time you switch it on!


· No new coal power stations after 2020 without carbon capture and storage. Existing stations will have until 2025 to introduce the technology.

Hoo - bloody -ray! Again, we should have been doing this for years now!

· No taxpayer/government funding for nuclear fission, risks and costs of nuclear borne by the private sector. But new carbon price in ETS will make nuclear more competitive.

So does that mean that fusion technology research is still funded?

· Withdraw subsidy for onshore wind farms.

If they are in poor, wind inefficient locations, then yes, it makes sense, otherwise I'm not too certain.

Food and waste

· Bans on the landfilling of recyclable and compostable materials.

Errrrm, wasn't this already supposed to be in place? Or is that just some local councils own initiative?

· 20p deposit on returnable bottles.

Back to the good old days when I was a kid! Bottle collecting for pocket money!

· Incinerators would capture and generate heat.

And put out lots of CO2 and toxins unless mandatorily fitted with CO2 and noxious gas scrubbers.

· A strengthened, legally binding code of practice on supermarkets and a ban on selling below cost price.

Hmmmm, a code of practice or legislation? Loss leading is a way of life for the big supermarket chains, it's one of the only tools they have for gaining market share!

· Reform Common Agricultural Policy but do not cut the amount of money spent on CAP in the UK.

Now there's a can of worms waiting to be opened!!

ADDENDUM (by Junkk Male):

I guess it's part of the political fabric, but it sill seems a shame that whatever one lot does the other lot(s) will trash it all. Anyhoo, as those with perhaps more claim to being green than most, here's what I got sent (maybe there'll be more detail on what was in the report to come):

Greens dismiss Tory environmental claims

Speaking in advance of this week's publication of the Conservative
Party's 'Quality of Life' review, Green Party Principal Speakers Siân
Berry and Derek Wall today dismissed suggestions that the Tories had
gone Green.

Green Party Principal Speaker Siân Berry said:

"It seems clear that Cameron is trying to slide out of his previous
promise that the Tories would support a new round of nuclear power
stations only as a last resort.

"Backing nuclear power makes a mockery of their green pretensions.

"Dirty, dangerous, unnecessary and expensive - support for this
ailing industry comes at a cost of funding for the cutting edge
renewables technology.

Principal Speaker Derek Wall said:

"If they were serious about tackling climate change, the Tories would
call for an immediate moratorium on any more road building or
aviation growth.

"As it is, their belief that a bigger economy is a better economy
undermines any hope they have of adopting the right policies for
tackling climate change."

"The Conservatives privatisation of public transport under Thatcher
is one of the reasons why 80 per cent of journeys are by car. They
need to support the renationalisation of rail as well as reregulation
of bus travel."

Not the greatest in consumer-helpful, specfics-heavy retorts I might have hoped for, especially when reaching back to the Thatcher era at one point.

And when they were up they were up, and when they were green they came down

There used to be a phase, now very un-PC and hence used no more: Indian Giver. Basically it meant (I think) offering something and then retracting it. It doesn't take much to see how this process is often worse than doing nothing at all.

So we come to Cameron 'drops controversial green pledges'

No sooner than I was getting my head around the 549 (lost two here) page report's summary (the full thing I'll leave to the 'RILEwings' (hey... and acronym: RIght/LEft wings) to cherry pick and gnaw to death, or hope some halfway objective journo may do so) than it looks like it really isn't worth the bother.

A shame, because that's not really how it was meant, but in this instant gratification/immediate reaction world, it was hard to separate a 'study' from policy. So while you can admire looking at an issue, warts and all, there seems to be a need to package it such that this clear distinction gets made in the minds of those for whom it is intended.

As it stands, I have no clue what is in or out, and hence really can have no opinion save for what seems a good idea, what might not be and, as they are different, what may/may not be good ideas to have if you want to win an election to get to do rather than just talk.

Carrots are good in this regard, but they better be pretty clear and trusted to salve the likely reaction to some less than lifestyle friendly hits.

There is also my enviROI bugbear: big vs. populist hits. At least as to what gets reported, which may be beyond the party's control.

The Quality of Life report analysis in the Indy does, I hope at least with the Recommendation ( I am unsure about the Expert View), conform to my desire for objectivity. I can't disagree with them, though I would want a lot more. For instance developing sustainable timber into stopping deforestation. I share its key points here:

Greenhouse gases

Recommendation: To combat climate change, the Tories should plan for an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, not the current 60 per cent target.

Expert view: This will hardly be among today's headlines about restricting flying and making gas guzzling cars more expensive, but to green campaigners it will stand out as an absolutely key commitment. It is increasingly clear to scientists that a 60 per cent cut in Co2 will not nearly be enough to halt the progress of global warming. In its draft Climate Change bill, however, the Labour government is sticking with the 60 per cent target.

Nuclear energy

Recommendation: The final decision on whether or not to build a new generation of nuclear power stations should be left to the private sector, and primarily based on economics.

Expert view: This nuclear fence-sitting is very different from the historic Conservative line on nuclear power, which (especially under Margaret Thatcher) was to give it unquestioning and rock-solid support. It also sharply differentiates the Tories from Labour, who are firmly backing nuclear power, and the Lib Dems, who would ban it. Probably a compromise that the Tory leadership, and the party, will go along with; the greens are pleased.


Recommendation: A Tory government should press ahead with biofuels to cut down Co2 emissions, but be very careful of the pitfalls associated with them.

Expert view: Transport fuels made from crops produce no net Co2 (because they absorb it as they grow) and therefore are increasingly seen as a quick fix to cut missions. But they also present potentially enormous environmental and social problems, including rainforest destruction and large-scale use of agricultural land, driving up food prices. Biofuels, says the report, should play an increasing role but be chosen for quality not quantity, with origin verified by the Government.

Sustainable timber

Recommendation: A Tory government should make the importation of timber from questionable sources illegal.

Expert view: Legislation should be brought in to ensure that only legal and sustainable timber products are sold in the UK. Many green campaigners and others concerned about the continuing destruction of the rainforests will welcome this proposal heartily. According to the World Wide Fund forNature, in 2005 the UK was the biggest importer of illegal timber in Europe, with the total making up 26 per cent of our imported wood.

Indy - Should we believe politicians when they promise to save the earth? I don't think so - my point about the messenger vs. the message writ clear. I must try and track Zac's Telegraph piece.

Telegraph - 'We can't carry on soaking up resources'