Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There are facts, numbers and then statistics .....

..... the big question, as always, is whose numbers and statistics do you trust?

This article from Sustainable Development International (seemingly taken from The Guardian) highlights a typical example of just such a possible distortion of figures and statistics. Vegans have long claimed that 18% of CO2 emissions are a direct consequence of meat production (that's more, supposedly, than some calculate is the total output of the entire transport sector) - this report appears to debunk that statistic as incorrect.

"a Food Climate Research Network report concluded that UK meat and dairy consumption was responsible for 8% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions. This is still a worrying amount, but considerably less than the 18% claimed by the green and vegan movement. It is also far less than the UK's transport emissions, which, according to the Department for Transport, represent around 33% of all our greenhouse emissions, if aviation is included."

As ever, statistics appear to be getting massaged/manipulated/falsified (delete whichever you feel relevant) to suit one particular side of the argument. I'm finding it all totally confusing. Just who do you believe?

A game of two halves

I nick, and probably mis-requote the original, but it kind of sums up my day.

Mostly, I was in Birmingham, and using some mental athletics I soon hope to turn to the common good with a program addition to and/or tripsplitters, managed to combine two meetings.

The latter, from which I have just returned, was my first tentative step into the hairy world of Venture Capitalists and Business Angels. As I say... a step. It was not with anyone with whom I might end up working or is going to introduce me to all the right FMCG folk or wads of wonga, but rather a broker. Very nice chap, who gave me a fair and considered hearing. Thing is, I really had no idea how it went. I may never hear again (which I doubt, but it won't be the first time), or I may find myself on another roller-coaster. Quite disconcerting. There was so much I wanted to share and to ask, but it was just the pertinent facts, little reaction or feedback... and then wait for the call.

In contrast, my first appointment was a very different affair. I was meeting the Technical Manager and crew of the Jewellery Innovation Centre, part of Birmingham City University.

The purpose was to see what they could do for me to help with selling RE:tie, by way of prototyping.

I was there for a few hours, and had a ball. We toured every nook and cranny of the facility, and they have toys and skills you would not believe, to make just about anything out of just about anything. And they are keen to help if you qualify and the idea seems fun.

There were big boxes that housed lasers that burned away. And little boxes with inkjet layered powders that built up. The one that really blew me away was a hi-tech version of an ancient Chinese ivory carving craft whereby a lattice ball is created within another lattice ball. Only this fellow was a ball within a ball... times 6! They had things in metal, things in aluminium and things in plastic. From 40cm cubed down to the size of a pinhead, with angels dancing upon it... and a logo stencilled on their tushies.

What was quite funny, and I guess interesting, was when they showed me a tray of stunning creations (try a sailing ship with full rigging... the size of a fingernail), and the one I zeroed in on was a gorgeous structure composed of rows of rods, which I thought would make a stunning piece of stationery ware. Turns out it was a waste mould and was to be thrown out! I think they understood where my reuse mind was at once this happened.

Of course we went off topic and roamed all manner of other things they could do for the inventive mind, and I was keen to repay the commitment with anything I could offer in return.
Links all round and features at the show stand to start!

Because it's all looking good. They don't see any problem making not just a prototype but a fairly large number of demo pieces of the RE:tie for the March show. A few design challenges to sort out, but from the patent drawings through CAD-CAM to an on bottle-top mock-up or score.... to not just claim what RE:tie can do, but show it doing it to those who will hopefully be an audience with an imagination and chequebook to match.

Here's hoping.

It's just interesting that when it comes to these aspects I was in my element, but when it came to the related, necessary and highly complementary issues of taking business I go from being a Orca doing flips above the ocean to a beached whale gasping on the shore. So now, more than ever, I need that all too missing piece to my commercial structure. With luck, if this finance guy sees merit I may be en route, but I honestly have no reading.

But here's hoping.

So why, oh why, can't our lot do it?

Yet another example of a country's sensible government issuing tax incentives for the adoption of energy saving measures as reported by EDIE. Well done Ireland!

Our lot seem so stuck with their heads in the sand (or should that be Northern Rock?), talking 'til they're blue in the face, but at the end of the day, achieving, and incentivising, absolutely nothing.

Plus ca change.

GOOD PACK, BAD PACK - What do you make of it all?

ADDENDUM at end - we're not the only ones on the case (geddit?)

, we admit it. We bought grapes in a box... but they were Fairtrade!!! You can see by the label.

Speaking of which, what has inspired this blog is what was on the other side, namely the packaging recyclability advice.

It's a bit hard to see here, so let me retype for you:


This packaging is partly recyclable

Punnet/PET - [tick]
Label - [x]

[tick] - Not recyclable everywhere yet.
To find out about recycling in your area visit


Sooooo.... let me get this staright.

The packaging is partly recyclable, but might not be so first go on an online hunting trip to find out.

More than this, the [tick] goes from being a yes, to a maybe.

And just for good measure, the [x] is for the label, which is glued to the plastic which might be recyclable. Or not.

Now, is it just me, or is this not just the most confusing thing you ever saw/read? And also shows that there's a whole lot of effort being p*ssed away by a whole lot of folk to make it look like we are addressing waste, without first tackling the main ways that need to be put in place first so the poor consumer can actually DO something about reducing it or disposing of it correctly?

Me, I think I'll try finding a reuse first.

Gaurdian - Listing the green labels