Monday, October 01, 2007

Is it possible to agree and disagree at the same time

Mixed feelings on this one - No more greenwash, groups tell Government

The start... had me nodding away.

Then I ran into this: 'The good news is that there is now a broad consensus that climate change is real and man-made,'

Really? I am a total convert to doing all we can to reduce whatever we can and avoid waste wherever possible, because I do think there is negative climate change. But at best, on present evidence, I can only accept that whatever might be causing it man is simply making things a lot worse than it need be, and hence any moves to correct 'our' impact need to engaged with asap and big time. Getting some to the notion that mankind's numbers, activities and ambitions might be having an impact at all is proving tricky enough, and I am not sure going for the whole hog in this way won't spark more unnecessarily divisive and distracting stalling debates. Green simply cannot be viewed in such black and white terms if we are to achieve consensus enough to move on and make a difference together.

Meanwhile, on slightly less lofty local issues, to be slightly uncharitable one might ponder whether all these different quangos - with all these different departments and all these different budgets to meet all these different targets - may be competing a tad too much to allow a single (or at least sensibly coordinated) set of messages get through to the hapless punter at large.

I've lost count of the number of different ways I can measure just my carbon footprint, and often feel actual public purse funds would be better spent on tangible initiatives that help me actually DO something, rather than prop up vast empires of folk with massive comms budgets to share various box-ticking awareness-obsessed visions.

100 Billion plastic bags!

We thought that we used a lot here in the UK, but that's the estimate of just how many of the ubiquitous plastic carrier bags the citizens of the USA get through each year. (That's equivalent to about 12 million barrels of oil each year!)

This from the New York Times argues that Americans need a complete change in behaviour before anything will ever be achieved.

I particularly liked the story of the lady who took her own reusable bags to a supermarket where they still packed all her groceries in plastic ones anyway!

"if we can’t change our behavior to deal with this one, we can’t change our behavior to deal with anything."

Well, let's see; with so much heavyweight muscle applied to the pols in the white house by the Big Oil boys and their brethren in the downstream petrochemicals industries, I can't see much significant change in behaviour occurring under this particular administration.

After you

Analogies abound on climate. So I was interested in this from the Economist, recalling a philosophical notion from my school days: Playing games with the planet

No a lot to get too optimistic about, mind.

CONFERENCE - Applied Green - London

MONTH - Now!

FIELD: Enviro-related
WHEN: Oct 3
WHAT... MORE?: 'Applied Green is not your usual conference. It's a festival of minds where the biggest names will tackle the biggest issue we face - the impact of green issues on conventional business and mindsets.

This is a day for anyone from any industry who cares about green issues. As you see from the speakers listed here you will find out about the latest green thinking across a range of fields in just one day.

What about the green debate? While the world obsesses about solutions to environmental problems, the media industry lacks a clear consensus on the environment. The interests that converge on the issue - business, consumers, government and conservation - clash chaotically.

Where's the centre of gravity for this crucial debate in the marketing and advertising arena? Why can't we create it? Why can't we build a green debate around the big themes, subjects and thinking in marketing?

At the end of the day we want to have come up with a leading position for the media industry. We want people to go away having learned about green media as well as green messages. We want to imspire new thinking, new solutions and new inventions and behaviour change.
WHERE: The British Library, London
Greg Nugent, managing director, Eurostar
Jonathan Porritt, founder director, Forum For The Future
David Hieatt, founder of Howies.
Philip Gould, Philip Gould Associates
John Grant, co-founder of St Luke's, planner, consultant, author
Michael Bremans, chief executive, Ecover
Eugenie Harvey, founder of We Are What We Do
Adam Morgan, partner, eatbigfish
Naresh Ramchandani, Karmarama founder and Guardian columnist
Ben Terrett, co-founder, The Design Conspiracy
Michael Johnson, Johnson Banks
Marc Sands, marketing director,The Guardian
Matthew Anderson, group director of brand and communications, BSkyB
Russell Davies, Open Intelligence Agency
Dr Arlo Brady, special advisor, Freud Communications
Steve Howard, chief executive, The Climate Group
Arlo Brady, who is special advisor on sustainable development at Freud Communications, there's opinion and thought on the latest sustainability developments at There's also an article putting the "greenrush" in a branding context at
HOW: Sooooo not free!
COMMENTS: Well, it would be nice to go, but it's in London (fair do's; that's where most relevant folk are) and getting close to a grand. So one has to wonder how representative a group of those who care vs. those who can pay there will be. Still, if you want to run shoulders with some and maybe see a bit of green rub off, I guess it's the place to be.

This is posted 'as provided' from their site as a new blog feature


I don't often get overtly political, and it's not this blog's place to stray too far from enviro issues (that said I have a notion that there is a lot of logging going on there), but I've been sent this which seems worthy:

I don't know just how effective online petitions are, but for the effort required I don't see this as anything other than a why not.

The UK is also better than the Swiss at navies (for now)

I clicked on this with some anticipation: Blue skies, yellow sand and shades of green

And this did look like encouraging news: There’s little doubt that the UK is ahead of the green game.

However, I was then moved to comment:

Well, I'll take your word for it that the UK is 'ahead' of Spain, at least.

Though I still chortle as I read my Indy and see an Evian ad or my Guardian and get a 4x4 tootling across the banner. And I must look out for bio at my local Morrisons.

Have fun at the conference. As it's a long way away and a tad pricey at £649+VAT for the day I would have loved to come but for various reasons cannot. I hope those who can afford the time and money to do so will have lots of lovely green wheezes.

Hence your report will be welcome.

Some FT. Some more comment.

I gave a cheer today to this news: End of paid-for content edges closer as makes changes

Now, what registration hoops will I be letting myself in for as I try and sign on/up?

Indy - to offer more free content to see off WSJ threat


I was so busy posting to a blog today that I almost didn't notice the Google ad that had crept in on my own site.

It was for, of all things, a Washington Lobbying Firm! Pretty much a bunch of guy saying 'we can 'assist' the democratic process any way you like if you have enough dough'.

Sadly, I rotating I lost it and can't seem to get it back to show the darned thing.

However, what I did get was this one under the heading 'Global Warming'. What caused me to pause was the odd notion that in solving it you could 'win a trip.'

Now I am all for incentives and and rewards 'n all. but surely the powers that be can come up with a slightly more appropriate prize these days?

Gis' a twirl

I have tended to dismiss anything that purports to be 'green' when it is associated with the word 'fashion', as the latter tends to depend on the less attractive extremes of consumption, but this looked worth a gander: Supermarket's eco- fashion under threat?

What the author has described kind of speaks for itself and I'll let you decide on the facts vs. the opinion, but it also to me shows the perils of 'dabbling' with issues such as this. And, indeed, those who see themselves as the leaders of the cause.

Every time I see a fashion spread in the Sunday glossies I tend to wince, as I have seen this week'; recycled 'must have' become 'so last year' by the next, which to me is such a mixed up message I'd prefer they just didn't get involved.

Sassybella - Ethical Smethical - Clothing, Ethics and London Fashion Week

Saying and doing

Hot on the sentiments of my last post we move to this: Red tape and cuts see householders give up on green grants, MP says

That last bit made it look like it was simply a bit of electioneering until I saw the party to which the MP belonged.

One can see the... a... any government's dilemma. Almost anything designed to encourage going green either involves less revenue (LPG, etc) or forking out.

But I'm sorry, if the prime minister and other ministers are only capable of renewed pledges to extend Britain's action on climate change, but then allow reality on the ground not to catch up,then at best I have to ask what use they are.

And looking at the money doled out (£624k?)to the number of homes (629?) out of all eligible in the UK, I have to wonder how much was spent administering the whole thing.

Any bets on more than has been provided?

As it is of value, I reproduce here the actual grants as outlined. It may still be worth the effort trying:

Ground source heat pump (water/space heat): Maximum of £1,200, or 30% of the total, whichever is lower.

Solar thermal (hot water): £400.

Photovoltaics (electricity): Maximum of £2,000 for each kilowatt installed.

Wind turbine (electricity): Maximum of £1,000/kw, or 30% of cost.

Micro hydro power (circa 5kw; electricity): Max £1,000/kw or 30% of cost.

Pellet boiler (space/water heat): Max £1,500, or 30% of cost.

· Government grants for pensioners and those on benefits, up to £2,700 for insulation. Councils and energy firm grants also available.


I was interested (whilst noting it was but one) in this letter in the Indy: Changes to what can be recycled will result in overflowing bins

Here we have a willing and keen recycler essentially turned to the Dark Side by a system that says one thing but makes it very hard to actually do it.

Now our local kerbside system, the RE:box (logo designed by yours truly) does not present such a problem as no plastics are accepted anyway. I matter, I might note, of some irritation to many who think it should (I am prepared to listen to and weigh the ROI and enviROI explanations if and when provided).

Oddly, in the swimming pool carpark next door there is a dirty great skip that will take plastic. However it's a little vague on what exactly, so I give it all I can on the theory that this will encourage better logistical system from cradle to grave to deal with all the options, or at least sensible communications of what is going on and why.

It will be interesting to see whether efforts will be made to help such as me or, as i suspect, vast funds will be applied to 'dealing' with me rather than the waste I am trying to recycle.

The replies she got are equally telling.

'I continue to be amazed at the wide variation in recycling initiatives, which go from the disgustingly paltry to the exemplary. I would be intrigued to learn why there is such a huge disparity in the schemes currently in place across the country. Surely all councils have access to the same recycling technologies?'

'It does seem as though what started out as a good idea to benefit the environment has been taken over by the bureaucrats and turned into a money-saving exercise.'

The last one I think was written by the Indy's editorial dept.