Tuesday, June 30, 2009

At least we're not last:)

Britain's green shame

Actually this story, and the comments that accompany it, seem to illustrate the rather yawning gaps between what is actually meant by 'green', what is done to 'be' it and, perhaps most significantly in terms of targets and subsidies, why.

Especially at a major political level. I for one have never been able to grasp how it is possible to have economic growth without 'consequences'. Hence the solution seems to have been to say one thing, do another and hope no one will notice. Trouble is, when they do, trust is blown and things tend to get a lot worse.

Not a great way to run a country. IMHO.

Monday, June 29, 2009

COMPETITION - Doing the Right Thing

WHEN:This week
WHAT: Classic FM - Doing the Right Thing
WHAT... MORE?: See the website
URL: http://promo.classicfm.co.uk/contests/2009/m_s/index.php
COMMENTS: A bit of green PR. Can't hurt. I'll be plugging Junkk!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Head 2 head with Mr. Ed

Post your questions for the energy and climate change minister Ed Miliband

They have their flaws these efforts (esp. what gets chosen to be answered...Michael Jackson's passing???!), but can still be enlightening. I did note this:

Q - Have you read David MacKay's book Sustainable Energy - without the hot air? How will you ensure arithmetic is at the heart of energy policy given it doesn't seem to have been up to now?

Ed Miliband: MacKay's a smart guy. His book is by my bedside and my permanent secretary keeps telling me I have to finish it!

Actual answer seems to be.. 'No, I haven't read it and I just do what other folk tell me'

Explains a lot.

No excuses

I just happen to like the song.

And this now allows me listen to it whenever I want. And the emotive imagery is effective.

Michael Jackson's biggest selling UK single wasn't Thriller or Billie Jean — but a song about the environment

A major talent with a troubled life. Worth acknowledging the contribution, but the flaws cannot be ignored. Especially those of a 24/7 media-dominated world that has lost ALL perspective. This did not warrant a news blackout in the UK on any other topic.

I must get back to writing again with the missus. But our protest stuff was not wanted so much back then. Now...? For now there's always Junkk.

Plus ca change

After my Monthus Suckius on personal matters, I am starting to get my head around getting various ongoing projects back on track.

For Junkk.com there is the reuse competition, which I had left woefully to its own devices.

There are still not that many entries, but a few more have come in, and one is, frankly, excellent. And it only just came in.

Hence I have asked for and got permission for another extension of a month from the Guardian's organisers. And will try and promote it more.

In complement, and with luck soon, we will also be improving the Junkk.com website with a few new features, added at the same time as trying to sort out some persistent glitches. Frustratingly, these latter seem to pop up without warning, rhyme or reason and are as hard to cure as they are impossible to predict.

And to share all this I will try and get the next newsletter out early July, and will be using a new improved creation system from dotmailer to do so.

And I will also be be trying to relight the fire under RE:tie. The international patents are well underway, so a major sales push is needed.

But as money is now really tight, I have to be even more careful, and ruthless.

A few days ago I mentioned a post that highlighted a website called quirky.

It looks fun. But so do many others. The trick is to try and guess the ROI on this potential avenue to....what?... more PR?...investors? ...an audience? It looks cute and slick, and that's the danger of the internet. There might only be six people using or viewing it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh, blog off!

Or... how not to mess with your blog.

I'll let this set the scene as it is pertinent: quirky-social-product-development

I came here specifically to post to you, and was going to apologise for being O/T as the thread more appropriate to my intended comment (follows below) - the green gadget one - is no longer so enabled with this spiffy new system.

However, I think I can kick off by still being being relevant.

As an international Gold Medal-winning, multi-awarded, all-the-PR-you-can't-pay-the-bills-with-yet inventor of an eco packaging design, I gave quirky a gander.

Sadly, as most of us are, they are in competition with a horde of others, and I have lost count of the number that will charge one 'just' $99 for an intro to some folk they might know who might help.

Which may explain the lack of decent entries? I'd be hard pressed to see it as worth it, especially as my design is for mass marketing and really won't fit the model. I am seeking to licence about a billion a day. And moving from design to prototype to short-run moulds to full-blown seems a stretch at first glance.

However, the value of the PR and market research may tip the balance, especially if the founders have some IT scores on the board that gets PR from IT types like you. Reflected glory and all.

Now, on to the reason for seeking you out. Not easy as you and some other valued (to me) colleagues don't seem to be quite as valued (by the head honchos) in this spiffy revamp, and took a bit of locating under all the politico, sporty & opinion big guns who I will now be sparing my blood pressure by mostly passing on in future.

Just wanted to say that where I used to surf, skim & select all in the main scrolling version, I no longer have the time to do what the system demands and cherry pick, but will make a note of checking back here specifically as the odds of a green post are good. Maybe not as often as I did,but there you go.

A real pity, as I have found worthy enviro posts in odd places across many of the blogs, but will have to forgo most as there really is not enough time.

Seems an odd way to drive viewing figures, but there you go.

What this does not do is fully address the horror of what these clowns have done to a system that seemed to work pretty well, and by not being broke as far as I could see, didn't need fixing.

For those that don't know, all the blogs went up chronologically in a massive scrolling page, broken up by 'back' & 'next' breaks. Hence you could see exactly what was new simply by starting at the top and working back to where you left off last. If it was of no interest (such as sport) you skipped by. But there was usually a headline, subhead, picture and first para to scope to see if it was worth delving further.

No they expect me to check a few score specific thread channels..in case there might be a new or interesting piece? Numpties. Just waiting for a page to load takes 30". Multiply that by the number of channels and there's my tea breaks gone before I see anything.

And I am not sure I am alone in not thinking this has been a real advance.

But at least I got a blog out of it. Though I will miss the odd green avenue I stumbled across, often from non-tech or green authors.

And as we try and make this blog and Junkk.com better, boy, do I have some great examples of what not to do!

A new look

Welcome to the new Telegraph blogs

Thank you for your feedback

Some of the ostrich/'hear no evil' monkey responses from the Telegraph's great and good puts one more in mind of the current Government. And such as 'listening' and 'responding' to minor stuff and ignoring dirty great elephants in the room. Which is odd, as this is just what they seem to mock them for.

I can live with a light grey type. I have no time to devote to scores of separate threads. Which one are they now 'urgently looking at'?

Addendum 1 -

Of course, one constant drip from the 'professional', 'quality', paid, establishment media is that you can't trust what Bloggers write. If they say so: Press Association and Big Media Fail to Double Source

I can't afford the resources of these guys. But I do have a well-primed eyebrow and tend to slap a few caveats in if the sources are dubious, such as the Government, the BBC, any press spokesperson, 'scientists', quangos, charities, 'research', 'polls'....

Addendum 2 -

Just scoping the Indy. Their 'system' is called Live Journal, and it sucks too. Just looking at some major stories and they have no comments. This seems unlikely. So it's not just my Mac OS and Safari browser then. I wrote to the web, IT and editors to tell them, but no reply. They really are an insular bunch who don't take well to customer feedback.

Guardian - Telegraph relaunches blogs, now powered by WordPress

RE:view - Which? does packaging

The July '09 Which Magazine is a bit of a greenie bumper edition.

I have already mentioned two other topics covered, but just as recent additions to the CATEGORY sections they complemented (see recent CARBON TRADING and PLASTIC BAGS Labels).

However, there is one main one they have tackled which, for obvious reasons, piqued my interest: PACKAGING, with a piece called 'Don't keep it under wraps'.

So, what was of note?

The first thing is that it concentrated pretty much on supermarkets and own labels. Therefore the big brands escaped investigation. You will not find Heinz or P&G or Unilever there, and that's a lot of plastic (which, at the end of the day, was the near exclusive focus).

What was interesting was when they got into 'like-for-like' comparisons on weight which, bearing in mind the constant reminders I have been getting from WRAP for donkeys on the joys and successes of lightweighting with the Courthauld Cabals , struck a few chords.

Try good old Plan A M&S bacon slice packs a stonking 40% more than Sainsbury's, and explained away as 'within expected variations'. Such airy ways with numbers might explain a few things in the boardroom of late! Or try Morrisons Cheddar slices at 86% more than 'eco-evil' Tescos.

Thing is, such specific samples and examples really don't address the overall main issue, and the piece acknowledges this and merely ends up repeating what we know and bang on about, seemingly to very deaf ears, as quangos, councils, government and big business all point at each other in tut-tutting at how tricky it is to deal with all this due to the huge variations in rules, regs and waste disposal systems.

And, often, it seems that those who often like to claim how green they are can often... slip. Don't know about you, but this latest Waitrose ad looks to me more like a plastics' packaging showcase.

What we do at Junkk can't help mitigate much either, as we are mainly here to advocate reuse. But every little bit helps:) There was a feature on a chap who Which? had asked to keep what he couldn't recycle... for a week. Well, try 5 years, and counting, as I have! I am struggling on most of these trays too, but when you have a stack 100 high of identical ones, you do start to think big. So I am getting glimmers. They are plastic, so they are invincible to weather. And they are black, so they absorb heat. You'll see where I am going. Just my luck when they all end up on biodegradables, which initially might seem a solution, but then one needs to ponder, as I have before, on what organics biodegrade to. Not easy, this being green and not just looking it.

But, for now, if anyone else has some ideas of their own, don't forget the Junkk.com plastics reuse competition.

Return fair?

Newsnight's 'Ethical Man' has enjoyed a high profile journey of late.

And I have followed, not always approvingly.

Now his latest has come to an end: Looking back over an action-packed odyssey

Sadly, I feel we are again in an area of the best messengers for the message, as this frank if perhaps not wise introductory justification from his plane seat* would suggest :

'... to be honest, I have had enough... I know it's a cop out'. Ain't flying great (well, in most ways) when others pay (especially if it's for the family, too... ask the DG). There's also the small matter of *'Doing this 6500 mile trip around America without flying' So, basically, it has all just been a bit of show for a show that has green more as a theme. Hmn. Inspiring. But I have enjoyed the bits without the agenda bolted on, especially anything that reduces practically, improves efficiencies and minimises waste. These, and those who create them, are who I hold out real hope for.

His last series ended after a year with him dropping most things mainly because, as far as I could judge, on a personal basis he didn't find it much fun and, fortunately for him, professionally there was no need to keep on doing it as the cameras were now off.

Not sure things will work out too well if the rest of the population being treated to programmes of this nature adopt the same attitude.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not very social networking

If you take a gander over to the RHS Nav Bar of the blog (or here), you'll see a few social networks I've hooked into.

Especially following the competition, not that I have actually had a chance to do anything about it all yet, with a 'Here's One I RE:made Earlier' Group on FaceBook.

What you don't see is the MySpace equivalent.

I tried... hard... but it didn't seem to work. So I gave up. Plus I was getting a lot of friend requests on my personal from nice ladies in Eastern Europe.

So I guess I erred FaceBookwards.

A pity, but this might explain why it's headed this way:

MySpace to axe two-thirds of global workforce

I won't ditch it, but in a world of priorities, and time poverty, you go where the biggest bang for the buck is.

COMPETITION - Finish Diamond Standard Innovation Challenge

WHEN: Deadline July 16
WHAT: Finish Diamond Standard Innovation Challenge
WHAT... MORE?: From the site:

The challenge Looking for your ideas for an innovative product to make life easier in the kitchen. The Challenge is being led by world-renowned chef and culinary innovator, Heston Blumenthal, who – as in his role as head judge - will decide the winner along with an expert panel. The Prize You could win a £10,000 cash prize courtesy of Finish and see your very own kitchen innovation produced by Lakeland – in total a package worth an estimated £50,000. You’ll work with Lakeland to develop the design and help bring your innovation to market, receive royalties from future sales, and you’ll benefit from extensive business support and publicity. Ten finalists will be invited to attend a judging event in London in August 2009, where you’ll pitch your design to the judging panel. Four runners up will receive £1,000 worth of Lakeland vouchers and a year’s supply of Finish Quantum dishwasher tablets. Judges Alongside Heston, the judges include Dr Paul Pankhurst, the CEO and Chairman of British Design Innovation; Rosie Nagra, Finish Marketing Manager; and Wendy Miranda, Customer Ambassador of Lakeland. HOW MUCH: FREE!!!
URL: http://www.finish.co.uk/competition_start.php
COMMENTS: OK, this is not, at first blush, that eco.... but it could be! I for one am thinking of sending in 'RE:tie' for them to chew on. Not a hope in heck of winning, but it can't hurt to get on the radar. Then there is simply bending one's mind around other eco-notions that could apply kitchen-wide.

I have not gone through the t&cs in detail as yet, so be cautious. Not quite sure what 'a total package worth...' means, and the royalties on sales might need the Dragon's Den treatment before signing.

As to the enviROI's of washing in the sink vs. Dishwashers, and using chemicals that end up in the waste stream... another story (worthy of a Prof's Poser soon. And it looks like I had already been pondering).

For now... any publicity be good publicity.

IDEA - Cup stack holder

After a nightmare period with site glitches, it's great to see another really nice, simple idea up there that we can add to the competition (which I am thinking of extending for another month as I have really done zippy to help promote during June so far thanks to being so distracted on personal stuff).

Good job there are other judges who will vote 'blind' (I am there as casting), but this is in with a chance as far as I am concerned, especially as the entrant is a 'tween': Cup stack holder

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gadget Inspector

Here's one that caught my eye:

Green gadgets can do more harm than good

This young lady seems a tad more than the usual 'punt out a press release and call it reporting', so I wonder if I might get an answer* to my questions.

Failing which, I wonder how I might get to be paid for writing such stories and/or get funded to go find out.

I'm still trying to verify what the engineer told me the last visit to fix my washing machine, namely that all these cold temperature washes are not that great at keeping the seals and pipes clean and are causing premature failures through build-ups of deposits hotter washes could keep clear.

Any links to the truth of this, and if so what the gain in eco from lower temps might be vs. the losses of having to fix or buy a new one?

I really despair the lack of balanced science and engineering reporting in the 'green arena', such that a device or initiative can be assessed not just for its 'hue & cred' but actual enviROI.

I can sort of accept an eco-option that might 'cost' more in £ terms; that's a clear choice.

But one that also makes things 'worse' seems a bad deal all round.


Well, kudos to her. She saw a question and came back. Not a definitive answer, but it seems
I am on a worthwhile track, which kinda puts me at odds with every gov. & commercial marketing department in the land, all of whom have boxes to tick rather than enviROi's to ponder. She might be misguided on the hotter meaning whiter, mind, as it is my understanding that the water temp should not matter. Experience here does rather differ, mind.

PROF'S POSER - Heat and rust

Ok, best I could do.

And wrong from the off, as aluminium doesn't rust.

However it does frame this Prof's Poser, which is essentially an enviROI-based one pondering energy consumption.

Over the weekend I was making an oven-heated meal. And it dawned on me that I was popping a sheet of foil in the glass dish.

Now the picture shows it all becomes moot pretty quickly anyway as the foil ripped, but I was wondering which was more energy efficient, and hence 'better': cook in foil and incur the costs of that resource being used and disposed of (there's a limit to how food caked it can be to [put out to] recycle), OR just use the glass and end up with a few pints of boiling water being required.

What's the collective name or a group of gremlins?

I am opting for a 'dump'.

As in: 'a dump of gremlins'.

Two small setbacks this weekend, though I am hoping that by being highlighted they can be addressed and corrected pretty soon.

First up, having noted a nice, simple plastics reuse idea on the My Zero Waste site, I invited Mrs. Green to enter the Junkk.com competition.

Well, she tried, but it seems she hit problems. I am going to try and figure out why today, and with luck get the experts to cure it. Seems unlikely she was the only one, so who knows who else tried, failed... and gave up. I am grateful to her for letting me know (and for forwarding the error code, which makes things easier still). Most would not bother... the curse of e-ternal e-vigilance if you run a website, especially one with interactivity features.

For the life of me I can't figure out why a machine that works on 0's and 1's can suddenly decide to not work as it has for a decade.

The other was decidedly more human.

One of the main sections of Junkk.com is 'Answers', where you can pose questions via the Junkk site. It comes via a form, and is different to the info [at].

Frankly it was/is rarely used, at least so far. However, a while ago some spam bots got hold of it and I started getting inundated with porn site greetings. Clever devils some, such that I almost thought they were human.

Thing is, it was filling up my in-box, so I asked my IT guru to redirect them to a folder to address later... and then promptly forgot to check it these last several weeks with all the fun & games with getting my Mum cared for.

Anyway, on Sunday, as a Father's Day 'treat' I decided to clear these fellows out. Fortunately, despite there being thousands I didn't just dump and purge, but actually have started going through.

And guess what? As a consequence of the competition I found some questions related to it, including interest from magazines such as The Engineer... sheesh!

And all this with about a week left for the extended competition entry period.

Time for another? Plus another mea culpa? No real harm I figure. The contest could really do with more entries to make it worthwhile.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saving Private Members' Bills

Just watched Norman Baker interviewed on SKY.

Normally I have much respect for his example and pronouncements, especially in the green arena, but he really was floundering here.

And I was intrigued by his bike purchase... 'to save us money... and the planet'.

I'll grant the latter but I was wondering if, on top of the purchase, there is any mileage on top as can be afforded certain council employees... at 20p per mile.

Also, has anyone actually checked if he uses the thing we have paid for, for this purpose?

I just got (oh, with my own money) a great second hand folding bike from a renovation charity for £100, but it will rarely be used for 'work'. Pottering around town, yes. Holiday, yes. So... is this vehicle his primary commuting resource?

And on a purely political note (more appropriate, usually, for El Burro Hotay), it is worth noting that it is noted that of all these folk who control our finances and the rules to which we are held, when confronted by claims and trotting out a raft of excuses, NOT ONE has mistakenly, or accidentally UNDER-claimed.

In the black

Cuts are very much in the news at the moment.

In many forms. From government spending, to evidence of spending by those who seek to govern.

I am toddling off now to get my first hard copy of The Daily Telegraph in an age, as I think the redacted supplement might be worthy of keeping.

However, it's all out there in various places on line, too.

But having looked at these I do rather fear for the printers of Britain, as I suspect black ink will be getting lathered on page upon page.

Now I am just wondering why 'they', in anticipation of near inevitable printouts, cannot have just blotted out the redacted elements with a white box, as I can do with one click and drag on MS Word.

What we have seems bad for pockets and planet. Not to mention what is going on in Parliament.

No change there then.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

1,000 words - wrong message?

Speaking (albeit in another blog) about communicating with the public on matters climatic, I found this banner (leading to this page, should you be interested in going) topical.

Whilst it is good to talk, I have tended to find the preponderance of conferences, and indeed conferences about forthcoming conferences vexing.

Especially as I tend to suspect that they do little to help engage with or change the views of the general public.

However, beyond the fact that Google had ironically popped it in a less than 'green' site, the banner caught my professional eye.

All I saw initially was an overseas conference and a plane (Ok, headed the wrong way) belching out smoke, and it really didn't help assuage my views on these junkets much.

I suppose it is incumbent upon me... us to go if we are concerned, but also the phrase 'get the climate deal we need' smacked of a certain mindset I am less than keen on in this arena, too.

We're all "doomed", well, some* of us... maybe

It's a great headline: Possible unease over climate model stretching

Well, for a blogger like me it is at least.

I don't usually 'do' climate: too polarised.

But I do do communications, especially how the system persuades the people. And this is a doozy.

All very tricky. And one I don't envy the various 'powers that be', what with the massive authority, moral, trust and every other-wise that they currently enjoy with the (growing, but let's not worry about that) population.

I am just not sure that trying to unease the public into things slowly is quite working on past and present evidence, and when every flurry of climate foreboding is often followed by loooong fallow periods where navels get gazed at and economies get weighed (especially in terms of getting re-elected), if can often come across as tokenistic at best, half... um.. considered or, worse, when taxes heave into view, a tad opportunistic.

I must say that following what has doubtless been a very thorough briefing, that even as supportive a medium as the state broadcaster is littering its latest report with a preponderance of qualifying "quote" marks on every claim is hardly encouraging. *Especially on top of the "might's" and "depending's". The only certainties seem to be that as the grids get smaller, the derriere-covering gets greater. And, IMHO, that negates the whole exercise.

And if eyebrows are cranking here, I can only imagine what they will be like in some media, and how that will in turn be absorbed by some a wee bit preoccupied paying their Mum's annual care bills with less than certain leaders by example reckon is needed annually to sort out swirly ceilings, house ducks or faux timber their 50" TV rooms. Or certain quango senior execs still seem to score mega-bonuses for when what they are supposed to be doing fails and they try and blame the consequences of blocked drains or concreting over greenfields on a bit of weather.

At least Mr. Benn can hold his head high in this regard, but whether a disenchanted, distracted public will notice the distinction is doubtful.

ps: When it says 'on Thursday' on a blog dated Thursday, can I presume we are talking a weeks' time for the launch of this "research"?

Addendum - Having just found this via a Guardian writer Twitter feed, I am guessing not.

POOH CORNER - An Oasis of...?

Hard not to pass, er, comment: Manchester's manure to fill gas grid from 2011

Nice one, our kids!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Car-go cult

It runs. But on what?

As an LPG driver, and one pretty happy with the experience to date (a forthcoming summer EU camping tour will be a real test), I have a letter into VW UK having read this, to ask if it is going to be available here.

Though as I still have a perfectly good R-reg Golf even the scrappage* lure is unlikely.

And speaking of Golfing...

Meanwhile, back at the world of petals wafting from exhaust pipes, and energy conjured up from pixie dust:

Hydrogen-powered car makes debut

I actually like the idea of H2, but it's the 'Oh?!' of where it comes from that still concerns me.


Just stumbled across this:

I don't know what percentage of the 60,000 new cars ordered so far under the Government's scrappage scheme were manufactured in the UK. I would guess quite a small one. We could equally ask who would have repaired and maintained the 60,000 old cars to be scrapped in exchange, had they instead been kept on the road. The answer is small businesses employing skilled mechanics up and down the country. Perhaps the Government is content for us to be a nation of car salesmen and credit brokers.

New directions. Older problems.

Encouraged by helpful support from fellow bloggers, I feel more confident with the odd 'off piste' post.

Though not quite out of the woods yet (meetings with finance guys, trying to let her cottage, etc), with my dear old Mum now in a nursing home I hope to see my focus on work options returning more soon.

Not before time.

The extended competition deadline is already half gone, and I have not promoted it anywhere yet. Plus the newsletter is two weeks overdue...

Anyway, there is also the not so small matter of what to do with an aspect of my life I have not really had access to for nearly a decade. And that is my career and, more specifically, one that pays the bills.

With Mum in a home, a lot of money that stayed within the family is now redirected and, on top, requiring serious monthly supplements. Her cottage, for instance, might just generate enough rental for 5 days fees in the home.

I had always thought that, as a writer, I had skills that were relatively saleable no matter what. And as this body of work might attest, plus all that has been generated for and by Junkk.com, the spirit of creativity is still alive and well, if perhaps not of late in the cause of soap powders or sports cars.

But there have been a few reality checks, and not entirely welcome ones.

I have dabbled for a while with getting back in the ad game, but have put down any lack of interviews to not being exactly clear on my availability. Fair enough.

However, last week a forum post set me afire. It was for a job nearby and for which I was... am well qualified. It was also urgent, and encouraged the prompt submission of a CV. And hence I responded.

I even waited a day, and then called just to ask if they could confirm all had arrived safe and sound (firewalls and spam filters can prove regular spoilers). The person in question was busy, and the receptionist said they'd call right back. That was a few days ago. I do plan to chase, but it's not looking encouraging.

On a day that I read the football world is allowed to be ageist (with some justification - I don't see me dribbling round Ronaldo very effectively, at least not with a ball), I rather suspect yet more toothless, overhyped, box-ticking, 'may look good but by golly doesn't do any good' legislation (a bit like most in the world of 'green') will make much dent on an industry where you are lucky to still be employed, much less hired, if you are over 40.

Here's hoping RE:tie's patents pay off soon!

Addenda: Mind you, I could be worse, I guess....

Times - Recession threatens to create a beaten generation

Indy - You surely can't expect people to work for free

Monday, June 15, 2009

Making the most of wind

I have in the past expressed doubts in the past on wind as a decent enviROI+ energy source.

I still have them.

However, there seems to be no doubt that this renewable option is here to stay, and likely to get a lot more prevalent.

Hence I am always prepared to see how best to make the most of this. And I reprint this letter from the Indy as a consequence:

Sadly, the past few days have demonstrated why policy action is required to help address a major dilemma facing such [green] technologies.

The UK recently enjoyed a burst of high pressure with three hot and sunny days and temperatures averaging about 80F. This has led to the first surge of high summer energy demand, because people have deployed fans and air conditioners in the workplace as well as other cooling systems. During this period of high energy demand the country's 2,500 wind turbines have been almost motionless. During the three days, wind's share of UK electricity supply was 0.2%, 0.1% and 0.0% respectively.

We must begin to recoup our vast investment in intermittent renewables such as wind. A recent written answer in the House of Lords highlighted the cost of subsidies for renewable energies at over £30bn between now and 2020, at today's prices.

The answer lies in fitting electrolysers to wind turbines and solar panels to allow them to generate hydrogen which can be used later. Intermittent renewables should now be treated and viewed as a secondary energy source, with huge energy storage potential. The hydrogen they produce can then be used in hydrogen-adapted vehicles, gas-fired power plants, zero-carbon homes and the chemicals industry.

British companies are leaders in the development of the hydrogen economy and should be supported. When hydrogen is used in a combustion engine the only by-product is water vapour.

By supporting renewables as back-up suppliers with the ability to store energy, wind and solar can become regarded as more important and reliable renewables.

Now, I don't know if hydrogen is the best way to capture energy generated above demand from sources that only deliver at the whim of nature, but I certainly feel the principle of such systems should be assessed and, if feasible, embraced as a matter of urgency.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Two blog, or not two blog... THAT is the question

Let it never be said that, if there is a bad pun to be found, I will find it, chew it up and make it even worse.

Still trying to get my head around how what I write here ends up automatically elsewhere (like twitter), and also in spiffy truncated URL form.

Plus, where it doesn't.. yet... as it should... could.

In the course of discussions with the various IT gooroos helping make Junkk.com and this blog better integrated and more useful, an issue has arisen that, ironically, involves potential greater diversification.

There is a lot of debate about what a blog is, and/or should be. And as much opinion in turn on what 'people' want. Or don't. Frankly I think there are probably as many preferences as there opinions, and of those, well, at least one per reader.

However, it is clear that this blog is at the very least a tad schizophrenic.

On the one hand there are such as the growing number of, and ever-evolving Categories. Usually these are pretty factual and objective, mostly limited to the addition of a NEW url and possibly a line of my thoughts on it. I find them useful reference sources, and great at spotting trends by virtue of tracking the chronology (last posted at end, though I am thinking of reversing that as some get a tad long to scroll to the fresh meat), and hope you do, too.

Then there are the topic-specific eco-opinion pieces, usually inspired by an article. And thanks to the Labels facility on Blogger, these can easily be tied to a Category for archive research purposes.

And finally there are the more personal blogs. I've hived off onto other blogs those that have no real bearing on matters green, but these can also not really address these either, being more concerned with matters arising from things that happen in the course of running Junkk.com, and lately RE:tie, including matters of IT.

I am just wondering if, to most readers, these latter add or detract from the value of the blog. If so I'll keep on doing them; just elsewhere.

Or might it be that (as I understand it might) folk appreciate the more personal ups and and downs of running the business, written from the heart, and certainly not farmed out as just another 'aspect of the marketing mix'.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

NEWS/LOCAL - UK - SL area - RE:warding News

After a bit of a downer stretch, I'm happy to track down a positive.

Alerted by a Local Government story in one of my daily gazillion newsletters, I am happy to bring you this via The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council website:

RecycleBank - Rewarding You for Recycling

Taking some key points from the blurb:

Working in partnership with Veolia Environmental Services and RecycleBank, the Council will be the first in the UK to trial Rewards for recycling - an initiative that has already been successful in the United States where it has helped to boost recycling rates significantly.

It works by weighing the amount of recycling materials produced by participating households, using special equipment in the collection lorries. Households are set up with a unique RecycleBank Rewards Account, which means the more you recycle the more Points you accumulate to use in local and national outlets or for donations to charity.

The Council has underlined that the reward scheme is NOT a forerunner to any kind of penalty system. The Royal Borough believes in rewarding residents for recycling, not imposing penalties, and will not introduce 'pay-as-you-throw' or any similar scheme.

As it's a first, and only in that area, I could not access any more details or sign up, but I have asked to be kept informed and will share as and when I am.

But, looking at that last para alone, what's not to like?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

PROF'S POSER - Of mice and mending

Actually, this is more of a (and inspires another acronym in the process...) 'WIBNI'.

That's 'Wouldn't It Be Nice If..'

Today my trusty wireless keyboard conked. And being a Mac user, going to back-up (never throwing anything away has its uses) is proving a trail, as I really miss the scroll wheel and especially the right click button.

Anyway, a bunch of surfing and a chat with their tech guys suggests it has gone to the great WEEE pile in the sky, especially as its several years post warranty.

The WIBNI bit is that while the keyboard is no more, the mouse and all the charger/wireless gubbins is not.

It just seems a pity that I could not find a soul that has a dead mouse but still pukka keyboard and come to an arrangement. Even if it is just a central place to pool our respective working bits to recombine one operational unit.

Though I guess the frequencies would need to be matched.

A sort of 'Join 'Em Up JunkkYard' or 'Fix it FreeCycle'

enviROI again; this time on Tetrapaks

There are many good blogs in the green field.

One such is My Zero Waste run, appropriately, by a Mrs. Green.

Her interest is, as the blog name suggests, Zero Waste. A laudable aim to be sure, though I tend to wonder if it is a tad idealistic, and hence can compromise the overall very worthy intentions by working to an extreme many consumers might not accept and I doubt business or government could hope to satisfy.

But one area, amongst many, she is very good at is finding folk in places of responsibility, and getting them to talk. Better yet, to answer questions in public forum. And good on them in turn for agreeing.

Hence I was interested that a Tetrapak rep was on board, following a previous peice that elicted answers from a council (Cornwall) that seemed to me pretty technically comprehensive...

Recycling officer, Jenny Walden, from Tetrapak answers your recycling questions

All good stuff. however, some that was shared rather cranked an eyebrow or two (the piece rather smacked of being a carefully-constructed PR piece from a website), more for what was not said than what was, and prompted me to write in hoep of clarification...

I wonder if you could amplify that final Q&A on Transport with a few more facts beyond entirely laudable dedication, belief and passion.

I would like the technical details, and if life cycle analysis (what I equate to the 'enviROI' ) is the best tool to gauge the environmental impact so be it, though in this field I have found that science can be used to blind.

Is there anything objective, substantive and, most importantly, easy for the layperson to understand that you might direct me/us to in this regard?

I am lucky to have a carton recycling skip right nearby (though I am actually keeping all mine to see what reuse options might present first), and have pondered the heavy gauge steel container that requires a large diesel truck to get it and what is a large amount of fresh air to a place that might well compact more effectively, but then sends it all on still further.

Frankly I am just keen to be reassured I am not just getting boxes ticked but actually contributing to a scheme that might be sending even more Co2 skywards (a priority to reduce surely?) due to the lack of local alternatives that may appear less attractive, and only exist through policy failings, but for now are on balance perhaps better on a pure GHG emission basis.

I'd also be interested in how all this applies to the costs and processes involved in posting an empty carton in a Jiffy bag.


I have had a reply, or at least a sort of one, which is already to be commended as too often awkward questions go to the naughty corner.

I am very happy to say that a very thorough, independent, peer reviewed study has been done to show just how justified it is for you to continue to recycle your cartons in the UK, despite all these caveats you have highlighted.
Unfortunately, we are still awaiting the publication of this Life Cycle Study by a government agency for me to point you to this. We have asked the agency for special exemption so that we might show you this particular element of the study, but until we secure their permission, I am limited as to what I can communicate beyond this.

Hmn, so having alluded to all sorts of stuff initially, it is not, as such ready yet. And as you will soon gather, by eyebrow is already acquiver at who this all seeing, all-knowing and hence all to be believed government agency is.

It also sets me again to pondering what or why such 'officers' actually do or are. What is their job function, their mission, and what qualifications are the expected to, or do they have. There are an awful lot, in companies, LAs, quangos and schools, etc.

But many times they seem to be sweet young things who disseminate information from on high and 'respond', as here.

It is hard to imagine that most are in any way involved in strategy, discussing the science or setting policy. And so, too often IMHO, they really are no more than press officers with a green sticker pasted on.

Hence any reply to mine will be interesting...

Thank you for responding. I will await this information being made available with anticipation and interest.
In the meantime, might you be able to point to the others you alluded to?: ‘across numerous studies recycling has been shown to be environmentally preferable.’
Also, might I ask which government agency the latest is/will be with? Not WRAP perchance?
This is a quango whose ever-growing board gets bonusses on meeting targets, and it is my experience ticking a tonnage box does not often meet the same enviROI criteria that I tend to feel are better to hold some initiatives to account for improving my kids’ futures.
So I tend to crank an eyebrow at their objectivity.

As many here will know, I am not so convinced that the consumer side of WRAP at least (the industrial seems much more focused) is worth its salt. Quangos at best seem cursed by being vehicles of fudge and compromise, with lack of accountability at their core. It's the worst of business where explaining ROI is usually lost in jargon, and the same governments who use our money to pay them to do their dirty work use them as a firewall if...when things go wrong. Only they keep the pay and pensions as they were only obeying orders.

If it is WRAP, let us not forget this is the same entity who gave £250k of our money to Heinz to 'see how' they could lightweight their cans and save a honking great cost on raw materials.

TetraPak, by my memory, is not short of a bob or two. Now I accept that private, commercial entities should not be expected to fund ever-evolving government policy, that changes goalposts, without a fight, but one giving the other taxpayers' money to help resolve the CSR shortfalls of the policies and systems of both is hardly the solution I favour either.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

POOH CORNER - Careful not to leave the carbons in

I think this possibly addresses one problem but creates more...

Office Paper Recycling Machine Turns Trash Into Toilet Paper

...but at least it shows some folk are thinking about the issues. What amazes me is that such a honking great thing actually got made... for sale. And is soooo inefficient, never mind the costs.

Certainly I have had more than a few office memos that were good for only one thing.

But... are we not meant to go...paperless?

Might lead to some nasty images on the copier come the Xmas party (sorry).

GOOD PACK, BAD PACK - positives and negatives

Oh, dear, another less than positive observation.

I must still be in a bad mood. Or there really is not much to be positive about (I have press releases from the Guv and WRAP about food waste, labelling and/or energy from waste in my pending box, so here's hoping I'll find a gem or two).

Anyway, in my ongoing gallivanting I needed to get some batteries, and as I did not have several quids or access to my rechargeable stash was left with little option.

Even the stand looked odd, but when I got back and looked at the packs, a few things rather struck me:

1) Why is there a need for the 50% extra top section if they are in a custom stand? Presuming this is for other, dangly uses on top of the need to self-promo... and...

2) Why do the 8 AAA's get to squeeze in side by side, but the AA's go two by two, with all that extra spacing?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

There is much to commend about home working.

The freedom to work on what you want, when you want.

The freedom to wear shorts (or nothing at all, though that can scare the postman) if it is hot.

And much more.

I am lucky. As a writer primarily, and a net based one at that, I don't 'need' to be at an office to do what I do.

That all said, it is not a role many take to. And, frankly, not a first choice for me. I am a social creature and enjoy human contact. At my agency I would be at my desk 30 minutes but then off checking and chatting with my creative guys the next.

The main reason for me to be doing this is circumstance, and this situation has allowed me to balance looking after my aging Mum and her deteriorating mental and physical conditions at the same time. A bank of screens and sensors put me a few seconds away when needed, if I was not also popping over with daily cuppas, meals, TV channel changes, etc.

Sadly, as such things do, things have started to deteriorate, and faster and faster of late.

A bad month turned into a nightmare of a week, and she is now in the hospital I ended up having to resort to very bad behaviour to get her into, in the face of a box-ticking, target-concerned, bean-counter-driven medical system (nice one , Mr. 'getting on doing the job' - there a Gordon acronym there if I work on it).

And it looks like I will now be a tad distracted getting her out of there and into something I hadn't even thought about, not having realised 'residential' homes (which I had been planning and scoped out) are not the same as 'nursing' homes (which are much fewer, and farther away).

So, the day job is taking a second seat still, and a while longer.

And, I must say, I kinda miss having colleagues and bosses (or partners) who cover for you or let you scoot off on pay to handle such duties.

And I know it won't be easy, because we made the mistake of saving for just such a rainy day, and the system only really gets interested or helps if you have nothing to your name and no one to call on. Sadly, Mum has both, so I am still pretty much on my own, or in the hands of the truly inept, a while longer.

Pity it is while I am in the thick of the competition, the next newsletter in complement, and some big decisions and strategic efforts on behalf of RE:tie.

But, while still not ideal, I see a glimmer of stability at least soon, and then I can get back to helping save the planet a bit. But family comes first.

The end that is end of the world...averted

A planet-friendly diet for cows?

It's old news, but I just loved the coy last line.

Though he is quite right, that is the more dangerous end of the herbivorous meat tube's digestive system.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Every little less helps

It started as my Bernstein/Woodward moment.

However, I think fame, glory and Pulitzer Prizes may still elude me.

But a question still remains.

As some may know, I throw nothing out that might one day find a use.

This can raise many issues, and storage (out of missus' gaze) is high on the list. However, it is surprising just how much can slot together and actually see a ton of stuff end up in a very small space.

Sadly, yoghurt pots are not one. For years I have been only able to squeeze the end of one about 20% into the top of the next (there is a glimmer of a plan as a consequence, so where a door closes and all that...).

However, t'other day as I was stacking away, one pot just dropped straight in. What's more, there was a good 2mm gap between its exterior and and the interior of the more 'usual' ones. It is only 'proud' in the picture as I popped in a bottle cap to show it up.

'Hah.. Gotcha!' I thought. Clear tweaking to sell less at the same price. But... Peter... who I work with, had a gander and noticed the smaller pack had a different batching code, and reckons it's just another supplier. And that there was no way they'd pull a stunt like that...surely.

But we are talking one on several hundred, and why would a plastic mould, one presumes specified by the brand, differ?

And, in any case, if you can get the same legal amount of product into a smaller pack...self-evidently... why would you not anyway? Less plastic and all that...:)

I reckon the plot, like the product, may yet thicken.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A lesson in laying out policy at voting time...

Labour's real action on climate change

Or, possibly, not.

This being the Guardian, a once safe haven, the comments are telling.

I am getting a tad ticked off with the choice of only two sets of pols at the moment: those that are clearly deluded and will say anything, and those that are clearly scared of being nailed on anything substantive, and hence say nothing.

Doesn't make one's voting choice tomorrow (and, it looks, next month, if only to try and find a fully-stocked Cabinet to lead us) too easy, but I am at least working to a course if only by a process of elimination.


Helped, at the post, by another pol set that doesn't float my boat: if you haven't got anything good to say, say something bad about someone else. Nice one (and I don't just mean the ex's claims). Makes things easier by the moment.

How green is the Labour government?

What a waste. Who was going to decide between Labour and Green on eco issues?

Monday, June 01, 2009

GOOD PACK, BAD PACK - Damp squib?

Maybe more a sense of disappointment.

Interested as I am in reuse, and more specifically how things can be joined together in ways unheard of to make new stuff, I was attracted by an offer in my local Argos.

That it was for a water pistol, and the temp was heading for 25 degrees did not hurt. I still claimed it was 'for the kids' mind.

What appealed was that the majority of the plastic in such jobbies has, until now, been shipped all the way from China as part of the structure, namely the water reservoir, with all packaging enhanced to accommodate.

With this, however, the crafty part is to make the reservoir out of old pop bottles. Neat or what? And on so many levels.

Having got it I can testify that it is every bit as clever as made out, and my... er kids... reckon it's a top summer squirter.

But why, oh, why, was it necessary to come, to full length with card backing and plastic wrapping, with a custom bottle attached? Especially one whose plastic is so thick, it can't crumple (lack of pressure release vale being a design fault).

I'd have given it 5 J-stars, but this drops it to a 4.