Saturday, November 03, 2007

Opportunity knocks!

This weekend I am drafting proposals for my grant-assisted IP/marketing gurus in preparation for a bunch of stuff for RE:tie, including the Caps & Closures event in Brussels at the end of the month.

Time to start selling this puppy.

And I am currently stumped . I don't do proposals. At least not very well. My life was selling stuff with ads. So most of me, when staring at a bank sheet, wants to put something in a box with an 8-word or less headline.

Market opportunities and demographics are not really... 'me' Help!

However, a karmic symbol shone down upon me just now as I opened the fridge door, like a light from above (bear in mind this is the month my fortunes turn, though Dave as no time for fortune cookie predictions and pricked that bubble a whiel ago).

Last night the boys and I were walking back from Warhammer, and I remembered we needed milk. At that time the supers were counting their money and planning world dominating land grabs, so I popped into the local shop.

Now as it looked like the usual I paid it no mind. But on opening it... bingo. A tamper-proof security closure strip peeled away.

And if it can happen there... it can happen anwhere.

Thank you Barntonsham Farm! (link is down)

And look what googling that lead to:

Advertising on Milk Bottles
MILK VESSELS. (Rose Flower Head design) (Overprinted in Blue on to an embossed ex Co-op bottle) ..... BARTONSHAM FARM, HEREFORD. ...

Would sir like the food, or the famine and fuel special?

Every now and again you come across something that really depresses you. This is one such. A comprehensive article on the global pressures on basic food stuffs by the Guardian's environment editor John Vidal.

"Wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50% higher than a year ago and rice is 20% more expensive"

"shortages of beef, chicken and milk in Venezuela and other countries as governments try to keep a lid on food price inflation".

"India, Yemen, Mexico, Burkina Faso and several other countries have had, or been close to, food riots in the last year"

"There are 854 million hungry people in the world and 4 million more join their ranks every year. We are facing the tightest food supplies in recent history. For the world's most vulnerable, food is simply being priced out of their reach."

"The food crisis is being compounded by growing populations, extreme weather and ecological stress, according to a number of recent reports. This week the UN Environment Programme said the planet's water, land, air, plants, animals and fish stocks were all in "inexorable decline"."

Now this is the consequence of multiple factors; climate, drought, weather patterns, over population, but the article firmly points the finger of significant blame at the rush to turn arable land over to the growth of crops for biofuels.

Much as I like the idea of biofuels, providing it can be proven that they are environmentally sound and carbon neutral, both of which some, of late, have been seriously questioned, I simply cannot understand that some can view fuel as more important than food. At the end of the day a human being can survive on a couple of sacks of maize, but will starve, even with a tank full of ethanol, if no food is available.

Maybe its time to start thinking about building the underground bunker again?

It's often how you tell it

Battling for recycling -

A long time ago I had a very good client. Respected him a lot. Once, in the course of a discussion I had cause to say 'you are misunderstanding me'. He replied: 'No, you just haven't be clear enough to make your case enough to persuade me'.

So this miffed me. Whether it was the sanctimony, the lack of acceptance of other views or the arrogance that having a major medium sounding board to spout from confers, but I was not a happy bunny. Or, maybe, it was just that, instead of trying harder to convince a tricky audience, she retreated to a comfort zone to wallow in a whinge with those who share her values. Not that it worked. You can't always blame those you bring your message to for not responding.

I wasn't at the debate, so I can only go on what you choose to share. A perk of those who control the medium. Noting also that debates can often serve an agenda by how the panel is structured. Who set this one up? Anyway kudos at least to the nay-sayer (though he sounds by your account a bit bonkers, which is another good technique in panel composition to help the cause), as a 3-to-one set-up on a chattering class 'issue' is worthy of a BBC 'debate'. Mind you, I could find little to empathise with in his stance. Though he is welcome not to believe in climate change (or at least man-made climate change, which IS different), because, as yet, neither am I. I am sold on the possibility of man-worsened climate change as reason enough to act now on reduction and saving wherever we can as sensible precautions, if handled sensibly. Hence saving anything, including water, can only be good.

So to the point that '... just because the logistics of recycling were currently flawed, this didn’t make the task pointless.' it rather depends, doesn't it, on what the point is?

I have little sympathy with any who can't see value in a bit of minor effort to save all sorts of [choose nouns here: money, planet, etc] but then also get a tad worried about some rallying cries to counter this from the 'anything green must be good and all naysayers are 'deniers'' brigade, especially in full flounce mode.

Quite a lot of recycling can be pointless if one views taking part in some initiatives in light if the imperative to reduce greenhouse emissions as a matter of priority. Because the interests of many protagonists involved are not often clear or explicable or as 'green' as they might be, from bonus-driven quango directors to supermarket-opening eco luvvies with a book deal, to London-centric, cherry-cause-picking journos (Prius - good, Air travel - bad, unless it's to review an eco-resort in the Rockies 'cos the snow is so poor in Verbier this year) to target-rewarded LAs and EU-fine-phobic ministers.

So I for one, get a bit offside when I see bazillions wasted on recycling initiatives and comms budgets that generate hardly any value that I can see in terms of enviROI+.

Maybe the - harrumphing like a rhinoceros (no agenda stereotype there) - enviro manager knew some things you didn't? Or choose/chose to avoid considering?

Or is it just much easier to be yet another yummie green goddess, go with the eco-flow and not on occasion challenge the vast eco-industry that exists, simply to make sure all the vast number of things that can and should be done are done for the right reasons, in the right way and with the aim of making things better for all of us, especially future generations?

Our local kerbside system is great, but still doesn't take plastic. And like all else collected if it did I'd want to know how the 2l volumes of 99% fresh air are disposed of to ensure it's to help my kids' futures and not just to tick a box before I started sanctimoniously doing down all who may be thinking about it more deeply.

Others may simply be confused or antagonised by ill-conceived, poorly-communicated schemes that are too often shown to be designed less for the reasons they thought and were on board with, and more as a bodge or patch job to make some quick money or dig a pol out of a landfill hole. We need coordinated systems that are proven to work and shared in a way that all see benefit because they GET benefit.

The odd thing here is that I may agree with what you say - of course well considered recycling is not a waste of anything - but by heavens I don't have to agree that the way you choose to say it... or that it is all right.

And in a democracy you might wonder why the audience in front of you seemed to be less than enthused with your (three of you) viewpoint. How did this group come to be in the room, and were they or were they not representative? (audience choices are another good way to set the tone as desired). Or maybe it was the way it was expressed? I am getting a little tired of being lectured by a self-appointed media elite whose lifestyles don't quite equate to the majority. Most of us don't get a VIP invite to the green room of the latest green love-in event, or the opportunity to pop off (as I recently read in another broadsheet column) on Eurostar (like, totally offset, yah) to commune for a week with their eco-guru in the South of France.

But at least you can go some way to correcting things to how they 'should' be, after the event, here in your piece. But I for one would have preferred to have been there to stand a chance of getting close to something approaching what happened... and the facts.

Taking the Pulse

I just stumbled across a thing in the Telegraph called Earth Pulse.

To early to say how good it is, but it looks useful and fun at least.

It does quite a lot, but you need to roll over things and click away to get them.

A neat addition to the info armoury I'd say.

G-Wiz! Electric car goes up in smoke

I rarely paste the headline/title piece I am commenting on for a variety of reasons, but here I am making a point.

Those who come to the website homepage will initially only see the Title and first line (above). And on that basis may, or may not, decide to learn more. So, what popped into your head when you saw this (prefaced by 'Carbon Neutral?'):

G-Wiz! Electric car goes up in smoke

To me it is a good example of how there is the chance of undue steering of public thought (maybe just in the cause of a nifty headline, but often one wonders. I too often hear the cry 'but it was explained in para 5' on Newswatch) by what happens between headline, subhead, copy and, often, links.

Because, though still literal, I have to say I thought it was something else at first, especially glancing at the first part of this opener sentence: 'The electric car's potential for saving the planet by reducing our dependence on oil and lowering carbon emissions has been dealt a blow with the news that a best-selling model may suddenly burst into flames."

That said, I do have a real problem with this: 'Its British retailer, GoinGreen, offsets the car's manufacture and use, allowing it to claim that the vehicle is completely "carbon neutral".'

Maybe it is being unfairly singled out by "a few petrolhead motoring journalists" (though safety issues are surely pertinent - how does a SMART stack up?), but I think its green cred was poorly served by a medium one might have thought to be more supportive.

Box clever... or not

Green gadgets and our expectations


I write this as my Mac Mini whirs away in a box the size of an airport novel. I had thought the reason was cooling, but I guess this and laptops give lie to such a misconception. And as with mobile phones, I at least have always thought small meant 'more sophisticated'. Maybe that is a notion to encourage more modest housings?

And as with all packaging, I often wonder why the maker would incur more cost unnecessarily. Now I know. Interesting there is a cut-off. What about a walk-in model... why not? Why is 40x50x20cm the limit?

In terms of changing attitudes one is in the arena of creating or reflecting consumer choice. I bought a Mini because it does the job and occupies the smallest footprint. By that I mean in area - Mac's are not that green. So.... how do we change my purchase decisions (and a lifetime with the O/S) on this basis? So which one of these manufacture/purchase/operation/disposal considerations is more important? Dilemma!

ps: There are some other, complementary, sites to Freecycle that can improve your options.

To stir, with love

Welcome aboard Air Ashcroft, the Tories' favourite airline (just make sure you offset)

And while others may do their weekly commute surrounded by fellow peons, I do note they also do it by air.

This is of course a cost/time issue, and fair enough for that for those aware of the purse of those they serve and time poor (though a lot can be done on a train that cannot on a plane). Like many of us.

I am just unsure who you need to be and when it's OK to choose you transport option on that basis, and when it is not.