Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Picture imperfect?

Call it grumpy Tuesday. End in sight?

The sad thing is I actually agree that there is a need for stirring imagery to motivate. I just am getting weary of a new class of eco-warrior who see it as their job to educate the rest of us in the error of our ways, but seem immune to the slight irony behind much of what they do for fun and/or employment being pretty much what the rest of us are being told we mustn't any more.

And, if true, when there turns out to be sting in the tail (there would appear to be another story about the plight of the village in the picture), it rather sets the more moderate causes back a tad.

I guess I'll get a slapping from the 'but you're missing the point (of flying the world to share this)' crowd, but it all rather smacked of 'them' and 'the rest of us'. Like doco makers who 'do' the Caribbean or dive shop owners in the Red Sea getting their knickers in a twist about plastic bags as the main priority. Hence:

Just wondering, but from what was that picture of Kivalina taken?

Passing plane, fine(ish - but it rather begs who is in it going where and why), but if someone went up in a helicopter I'm guessing that will be ok because 'it's their job', and there was a need to 'raise awareness'.

The way it's going I think the Antarctic will have set up a pub at the airport to handle all the journos popping up there to do a piece to camera about, well, all of this being caused by other folk flying hither and thither... if not to do a piece to or with a camera.

But as our new climate savour TB would say, 'it's not like, really practical for HIM not to fly'.

I guess some just have more green cred to blow than others.

So here's a wheeze for all those in the 'meedya' popping off for a weekend's skiing while the snow holds this Easter: when you're taking your happy snaps off piste, just claim it's for a piece on the effects of global warming.

Seems to work. And nice if you can get it.

NEWS/LOCAL - UK - HR area- Litter pick, Hereford, April 1st

Hmmn. This needs thinking about.

It will work fine on the main site (only all those from overseas using my advised HR9 postcode will get a lot of stuff that may be a tad beyond an easy commute... sorry:() when we start popping stuff up there again.

Here, well, all of you are getting it. For now, if you see a 'LOCAL' heading and the title and/or locale doesn't appeal... please ignore.

But if it does, read on MacDuff!

As taken from their PR:

Some local worthies are planning on doing a litter pick in Hereford city on April 1st. (I am assuming this isn't, well, you know... a leg pull. But check!).

The plan is to meet at M&S in High Town at 5 pm, pick for an hour or so and then retire to the pub.

It's not a substitute for the Council, but a way to bring concerned people together and draw attention to the problem while actually cleaning up some of the mess in the City.

They are looking for a few more volunteers. If you'd like to come along, do let them know. Or if you know of others who would like to come along, please encourage them (as Junkk.com is doing here) to get in touch, via jesse4hereford@gmail.com. They have some kit already but need to know numbers in order to locate more.

Civic share, over and out.

NEWS/Commercial PR - It's what you leave behind that counts

This blog and the site both have categories devoted to the sensitive issue of eco-funerals, so I am happy to add this PR to the blog to kick off as it's in keeping.

As received, with a few edits and comments:

Daisy Coffins bury taboos at Retirement Show 2008

Daisy Coffins will be at the Retirement Show will demonstrate how sustainable and attractive natural coffins can be, which are 100% natural made from water hyacinth and banana leafs.

The handcrafted coffins are a real alternative to the main stream wood chip veneer products and are getting noticed by many funeral directors, as more and more requests for sustainable coffins come flooding in.


Once you have done a few, you come to realise that there are certain inevitabilities about tradeshows.

One is that in the last few hours of the event, a smart, besuited lad or lass (or three) will saunter up and be incredibly concerned about how well it has all gone, and hence interested 'how it was for you?'. It's was only after a a couple I sussed that these were the advance guard for next year's sales.

I suspect my stock answer is hard to read, being 'I'll tell you when the cheque clears...'. Because you sure as heck are not going to commit until you figure out if being there resulted in anything to cover the time and money it cost... plus a bit on top to make it worthwhile.

And I defy most to know that, short of a guy whipping out his chequebook on the stand and making a purchase on the spot.

The best one gets (or at least I do), is 'a sense'.

So... what was my sense here? Short answer: No idea.

Unless you are odd, you are there to get in front of a person who will like your product or service enough to want to buy it. And I am pretty odd, having done several of these with such a vague offering (Junkk.com) that it was hard for anyone to know what to do with it. At least this time we had RE:tie. And in combo they did great. Our Steptoe-like stand was like no other, and certainly attracted many who were intrigued. This presented the opportunity to chat on re:use in general, and then close with the RE:tie. And one has to presume anyone who devotes the time and cost to visit 'Innovative Packaging/ECOPACK' must be quite keen on, well, innovative or eco-packaging.

Being 'co-located', there were in fact three distinct but complementary events running concurrently. At one end was Innovative Packaging, at the other ECOPACK, and in the middle
Packtech & Contract Pack. Hence our main interest was our end and t'other end, as the bit in the middle was mainly big machines sticking stuff on or in things. And we presumed our audience would come to us for the same synergistic reasons.

So... who came? Well, the reason for the stand was to capture the Heads of Marketing, PR, Production and CSR of the likes of Tesco, Unilever and Kelloggs. Sadly, they did not seem to make it. But all those companies' logos are on the cards of folk who did stop by. The key is whether they are senior or motivated enough to turn their interest and enthusiasm (which all were... very) into actual follow-up. But it's a start. There were also the mysterious one. These are folk who don't wear their badges. I have a theory that they are either big shots not wanting to be pestered or minnows who don't want to be seen for what they are so they can nick a free pen and mint. At least one hopes there were some big shots breezing by. Then it's a case of fingers crossed they see what you are doing and bear you in mind. Unlikely.

And finally the media. Not good. I did not get the impression the show was very well attended by anyone, even from the trades, much less the nationals. Which, bearing in mind the interest in packaging these days is odd... and sad. We did get a few visits, but all from overseas design magazines!

As to fellow exhibitors, I was pretty disappointed. Though there were lots of nice folk, there were very few products to float my boat. In the innovative bit there were a few cute designs, but nothing special. And in ECOPACK about 99% were bio/compostable trays. Some worthy... some not so sure. A less than inspiring collection, at least in a reuse sense.

I am having a definite rethink on our ideas-packed stand. Great for educational shows, but to attract a business visit maybe it's time to invest in one of those pull-up Nimlock jobbies and just stick it up with one message and a sample on the table. KISS.

Was it worth it? Hard to say. Between the stand and my speaking there were several score who loved what we're about and with whom who knows what may transpire. And all it takes is one nugget to turn things around and cover the costs.That's the trouble with the old digging for gold thing... unless you keep digging you may miss the seam that lies just a few more feet ahead.

Frankly, our thinking is that it's now time to go personal, and pick up the phone and make appointments. One thing the stand did show was that when people get the 30' elevator they 'get' it and like it. And a phone call and a warm-lead trip is a lot better than standing in a 3x4m void hoping. And for several thousand pounds paid for the stand and logistics, you can make quite a few sales calls.

On an 'in-passing note' , what was interesting is that the NEC has recycling bins in the foyer with four choices of separation (no glass, oddly). Inside, there were a few token cardboard jobs for paper, but as to the rest... chuck it in the bin mate!

There was also a repeat at the end of what I witness time and again with events that claim to be green. With no excuse, but plenty of fair reason in a world dominated by time and cash pressures. As soon as the end bell rang everything got thrown away in the dash to strike stands as quickly as possible and get gone with as little to weigh one down. Of course every part of ours was/is reusable, so I was one of the last to leave. I even tried to get our press kits back, mainly because they are reusable and expensive to make up, but of course they were already in a skip. Frustrating.

And maybe a fair metaphor for the show. A bit too much trying to look green and not enough actually wanting to really be it. But maybe one or two of those visitors will make it worth our whiles to have gone... and us being their the same for them.

No suprise at all

Given that our Gov cannot even decide what actual CO2 emissions are (see previous post), it comes as no surprise, too, that they are failing to meet their own internal CO2 emission reduction targets, as reported in the Guardian.

"Apart from the Ministry of Defence, which significantly reduced its emissions in 2005/6 following a part privatisation, central government now emits 22% more than it did in 1999, according to the sustainable development commission."

Looking good to achieve the set targets then? (Even though they are probably not sure what the targets actually are.). I think not!

"It recommends that each department urgently reduces its annual energy budget and only uses air travel when there is no alternative."

Hahahahahahaha! Sorry, I'm rolling about laughing at that one! It seems to me that when it comes to the great and good in our Gov, air travel IS the chosen option at ALL times EXCEPT when there is no flight available to a specific destination.

To be fair, sometimes there really is no option; after all, it a damned long way by train from Kings Cross to Bali or Washington.

ADDENDUM 1 (from Junkk Male):

To be fair, it seems they are on the case. PR as provided in full, with a few highlights and comments by yours truly:

New centre of expertise for cutting carbon emissions across Whitehall

Government response to Sustainable Development Commission's Sustainable Development in

A new Centre of Expertise is to be set up to help Whitehall departments achieve their targets for reducing carbon emissions and waste across the government estate.
Details of the Centre of Expertise for Sustainable Procurement (CESP) were unveiled as the Government published its response to the Sustainable Development Commission's latest report on how the Government is meeting its own sustainable objectives for tackling climate change.
Today's annual Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) report by the independent watchdog and adviser on sustainability shows a small improvement in the Government's overall performance against its key ‘eco’ commitments – including a four per cent fall in carbon emissions across the estate by the end of 2006/7. However, the Commission called on departments to urgently build on initiatives already taken to ensure targets can be met and to demonstrate that the Government is leading by example on sustainability.
The CESP will be set up within the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) alongside the Government's Chief Sustainability Officer – a new post to be appointed to take forward a culture of change across all departments in sustainable operations and procurement.
Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, who took personal charge of work in this area last March, has made sustainability of the government estate one of his four priorities for the civil service. Sir Gus said:
“The Civil Service must be fully committed to sustainable working, reflecting the increasing priority placed on environmental responsibility by the public we serve. We must find new and innovative ways of raising the bar for sustainable working, planning and procurement.
“There is still a long way to go but the establishment of the Centre of Expertise for Sustainable Procurement marks the culmination of significant progress over the last twelve months. This central co-ordination and guidance will help all government departments work to deliver sustainable working practices for the future.”
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said:
“In the year that has elapsed since the period covered by this report, departments have been working to cut emissions, waste and water use and to increase recycling levels.
“The measures we're announcing today will help us to do better in the year ahead.”
Nigel Smith, Chief Executive of OGC, also spoke about the way forward to ensure sustainable practice and procurement. He said:
“Government is taking the issue of sustainability very seriously, but we recognise that we need to do a lot more in order to meet the targets we have set ourselves. We can only do this if we build on the best practice that exists across Government, and if we have good and robust information, so that we know what's happening, what impact our actions are having and where the gaps are. I'm therefore delighted that the new Centre for Expertise is to be established in OGC, and that all Departments are committed to supporting its work.
OGC has a strong track record in achieving quantifiable results across Government, based on robust data, clear standard-setting, and close and collaborative working with Departments to achieve delivery. We believe we are now well-placed to lead real change.”
The Government accepts in principle all the recommendations made by the SDC, and among the steps that will now be taken are the following:
* From April 2008 all departmental heads will have a specific objective to meet Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE) targets, against which their performance will be assessed
* A major Green Government IT programme will be launched in the summer - Another one?
* From 2010 all central Government departments will be included in a pioneering emissions trading scheme, the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which will compel them to improve their energy efficiency. This mandatory emissions trading scheme will cover around 5000 public and private organisations, including government departments, retailers, banks and local authorities, which combined account for 10 per cent of the UK economy's emissions
* Action to achieve the work space efficiency standard of 12 square metres per FTE will be published in April 2008
* From this summer all new vehicles used by ministers and permanent secretaries (except a small number exempt for operational reasons) will have carbon emissions below 130g/km
* The use of bottled water for meetings and other official business is to be phased (er, can't they just, um, stop?) out across the whole government estate by the summer
In its response to the report, the Government accepts the need for more better and more accurate data against which the progress of departments can be measured. A major validation exercise to upgrade the quality of data provided to the SDC and the baselines used to assess performance has been undertaken in the past two months.

1. The 2007 Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) report, published today, assesses the performance of central Government operations for 2006/07 against the targets of the Framework for Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE).

2. The Government's formal response to the 2007 SDiG report can be found at

I must confess that I only just got around to this by virtue of rolling on the floor laughing silly at the notion of the creation of another 'Centre of Expertise', mind. That those highly talented, highly paid folk in various departments need yet more folk in new ones to help them all do, er, less, is choice.

Addendum 2: (Dave)
Ooooo-errr. A response from Hilary Benn, no less, to an earlier article claiming that our Gov was issuing 'misleading' figures on the overall UK's CO2 emissions. "It is nonsense". So that's OK then.