Friday, July 10, 2009


They are concern, important and are cropping up. Hence this category.

Articles (note BEES link to further ones on this blog in 'Labels' below)

Guardian - Why bees are the most invaluable species


PR from DEFRA (E&EO):


The number of beekeepers has grown over the last year, according to the National Bee Unit, which runs BeeBase, the national beekeepers’ database.

More than 1,500 new beekeepers have registered on BeeBase this year and much of this has been attributed to the increased publicity on bee health, leading to more people donning bee suits and picking up smokers for the first time.

Bee health Minister Lord Davies [no, really - Ed] said:

“This is great news – more beekeepers are registering on BeeBase. This entitles them to the free inspection service offered by the National Bee Unit and ensures that they are able to keep up to date on disease developments.

“It is encouraging that more people appear to be taking up beekeeping and taking up bee health training opportunities. By working with all beekeepers we can collaborate to improve bee health.”

The BeeBase database was constructed in 1991 and made live in 1992. It holds data on all the inspections made by staff of the NBU as well as laboratory samples submitted by beekeepers. BeeBase allows beekeepers to access their own apiary, diagnostic histories and details over the web. It also provides information on the functional activities of the NBU, legislation, pests and diseases including their recognition and control, interactive maps, current research areas, publications, advisory leaflets and key contacts. The database also allows beekeepers to request a free apiary visit from a local inspector who will provide help and advice.

More information on the National Been Unit is available at,
(won't work - try this: and the Government’s Healthy Bees plan can be found here.

A little less e-spam might help

I'm forwarding a forward.

It looks kosher. And considering the current 'fun & games' with accessing our mobiles, maybe a good idea:

You may already have heard about this but early next week all UK mobiles will be on a directory which will mean that anyone will be able to access your numbers. It’s easy to unsubscribe but it must be done before the beginning of next week to make sure that you are ex-directory. You may want to suggest it to all your friends and family who have UK mobiles or they could be swamped by unsolicited messages and calls. Removal is recommended by the BBC

To remove your number click on the link below, you need your mobile phone with you to do this as they text you a code


2, Click on ‘Ex Directory’ at top right hand side of page, from there it’s straight forward.

ps: Just tried it and it's 'down'. Sort of typical, really. Probably all of us trying to go ex-Directory. Maybe an extension is in order?

CATEGORY - Carbon Offsetting (Trading)

I know I discussed this recently elsewhere, but while I search for that to add the topic deserves its own category.

And I know they are different, but as they are most surely related, I lump offsetting and trading here (for now, until they need splitting)

Telegraph - Offsetting your carbon is 'confusing' - at the very least
Reuters - Carbon offset schemes "confusing" - seeing a trend?
Indy - The great carbon con: Can offsetting really help to save the planet? - I recall Sting copping it even then, but he was really a celeb ahead of his time.
Indy Letters - replies to above
Indy letters - more - Reply from Rainforest Alliance
Greenbang - Carbon trading ‘paid for by small business, car users’ - 'So, how do you feel about that Mr. Public? Or may I call you Joe?"
Guardian - Europe's vital step to make carbon markets work - The commenter who made the point about the small war next door might be nearer the mark for now.
Guardian - Can carbon offsetting ever be truly green?
Guardian - A permit to print money - Quite spoils my Friday
Guardian - Carbon trading may be the new sub-prime, says energy boss - Another Friday, and guess what? The phrase 'sub-prime' does not inspire optimism.
Guardian - An environmental market
Which? - Has this online link, but the July '09 magazine has a special feature: 'Which way to reduce your carbon footprint' - where they investigate current schemes... and their claims.
Guardian - NEW - Should we care about the UK's place in plastic bag league tables?
I am with George on this one though, having raised some concerns initially (which I still have, especially on the enviROI of alternatives, more on the consequences of biodegradation than reuse options - too big to go into here) as it stands I am erring on the publicity being basically helpful in shaping public actions.

That said, in matters green I usually view targets and tables a short route to all sorts of pointless and unhelpful consequences, and if box-tickers get involved lord help the planet.

Now I notice an Oz town has now become, Modbury-like, 'the first' to ban bottled water. So, who next will get to be a ban-twin town with Boondoggle or whatever it is, and blow any benefits sending the mayor out Business Class to shake hands with half of Fleet Street and the BBC's Ethical man along for the flight?

Not sure the two are quite equivalent, so how this one might radiate will be interesting. Having lived in Asia, if it works its way to here organically country by country then I rather fear it may have unwelcome consequences as those at the top impose a ban-wagon on those less able to afford it in many countries between here and there.

Honestly, I am not in favour of bans or fines, and am happy that my half dozen hemp efforts seem to get noticed and appreciated at the check-out and might even score me some points at a reward-motivating outlet.

I also appreciate the odd plastic for meats and frozens, which I then find good reuses for around the home.

RE:VIEW - Green Cone - Talking Rot

A wee while ago I had a press release on this item, leading to my taking an interest.

Well, I am glad to say it has now arrived to test, and this will form the start of an ongoing review.

Weather permitting (I am total woos when it comes to digging in the garden in anything bar sunshine) this weekend it will get installed.


Speaking of sunshine, having read the instructions this presents a slight complication, in that the unit needs to be in a location that gets as much sun as possible. Fair enough technically (I'll share the way it works later), but the way the sun arcs over my garden this limits options. And as I pop out now to have a gander and a ponder, I am going to have to weigh a few issues.

Despite assurances on the safety of the results on the decomposition going into the ground, outside protection in from animals and inside out from flies, it would really be preferred by all in the family further away from the main home (the composters are all at the end of the garden under/behind some trees... not an option here now. Which is a pity as that would make the 'top-up' runs more convenient).

There's also the not small matter of the image it presents, especially as the sunny bits tend to be in view of where we look more often. It's not small (you can get a sense of size as it sits next to its box from the small boy peeking out - at least my sons proved the adage about packaging... and found a second use!), but not ugly.

The trick will be to find that combination of distance, exposure, suitable ground (that's a fair hole to dig, and it needs good drainage below) and screening.

Let me pop the next heading here and I'll report soon. With more pictures!


Not a great start. Having scouted the optimal sunlight location, it is pretty much going to be at the SW corner of the house. OK, maybe we can live with that. So I start excavating away. Now this baby needs to sit in a fairly deep hole to do its job and not let in the nasties, so the spade is flying. Crunch! I have now discovered the drainage pipe from the downpipes on the South wall, which joins the sewer line I know runs across from a manhole to another manhole at right angles across the back of the house. Unfortunately I have broken the pipe with my spade. to the rescue! A patch will be made and affixed. So.. a learning tip: before digging a hole try and know what's down there (not that I could). Trouble is, I don't think this location will now do. Problem is... where else? I fear the next option will be good for about 3 hrs sunlight tops... on a good day.

Addendum - 05/04/08

Learn more about the related issues to do with composting here. I should point to the cautions on fungal spores that have been raised. In checking with Green Cone, the rather curt reply was that it 'should not be a problem'.

Addendum - 10/07/09

Just had an interesting conversation with the Green Cone Co's new PR lady, and this has reminded me to update this re:view.

In the end I decided to stay with the location I'd found, as it is really the only point with a fair chance of sunlight, which seems pretty key to the decomposition process.

Speaking of which, we got chatting on this aspect. If there is a chicken carcase in there, that is really no different to burying a corpse surely? And it's not 6' down. Perhaps not an issue in a country garden (albeit near the house... too near for the missus) with some acres to 'absorb' the soup (too much CSI), but I do wonder if there is a minimum volume required to handle the resulting waste via the basket.

I say volume because on top of area there is depth, and from this we got on to a smaller version, and if it could be used on a rooftop planter in a city flat, for instance. I know there are hibachis (or is that a BBQ grill?) that seem OK, so maybe.

She has promised to come back with a few answers, including my ongoing concern on fungal spores, and I'll update as and when.

Making A Statement

Bearing in mind how 'green' our banks like to claim they are, I am sure there is a good reason for this. If so, I would love to know what it is.

I am more chilled about paper than many examples of waste, but this seems quite bizarre: they create an extra page to tell you that they are not using it on purpose?


This* came a while ago and was discussed here: DON'T LEAVE BOTTLED DRINKS IN CARS

I have now changed it from a Prof's Poser to a CATEGORY, as it is topical, ongoing and certainly contentious.

Note: new update added below

As you'll gather, there was some debate and obviously still some more to come. As I promised at the time, it's too important not to kee on top of. So I am. And share more in the ADDENDUM as they arrive (see end).

*With the really warm weather just around the corner [it came from Singapore], please read, if there's even a slight chance, and share with all the gal-pals.

Stop drinking that water left or stored in the car!! This is how Sheryl Crow got breast cancer. She was on the Ellen show and she said this same exact thing. So please be very careful, ladies. Drinking Bottled Water Kept in Car.... A friend whose mother recently got diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctor told her: women should not drink bottled water that has been left in a car.

The doctor said that the heat and the plastic of the bottle have certain chemicals that can lead to breast cancer. So please be careful! Do not drink that water bottle that has been left in a car. Pass this on to all the women in your life. This information is the kind we need to know and be aware and just might save us!!!! The heat causes toxins from the plastic to leak into the water and scientists have found these toxins in breast tissue. Use a stainless steel canteen or a glass bottle when you can!!!

I don't know. It seems credible, but also astounding if true, if only on a Food Standards basis. I guess it struck a chord as we have several in our car from ages ago (and I presume juice and fizzies are even worse for their corrosive actions).

Anyone? I am, of course, now off on a(nother) mission to find out.


Grist - More info

Food Navigator -Back to tap: bottled water's enviro-woes - An industry view

Times - Number of genital defects on rise - Just when you thought it was safe to drink the bottled water. Another media scare story with as much on one side to say 'Yay' as there is on the other to say 'Nay'. I'd err on caution & limit the number of reuses, but don't get to freaked yet.

ENN - Polycarbonate Bottles unsafe for hot liquids - I'd say avoid the things if you can

Grist - Use the Force: Lukewarm - And certainly with hot liquids!

Daily Mail - We throw away ten billion bottles a year; we have GOT to think again, says environment minister - The DM... who'd have thunk?

PRW - Bottled water industry faces growing eco pressures

Indy - Should restaurateurs charge for tap water?

Times - AA Gill at Waterhouse - an odd, but interesting take in a food review

BeverageDaily - 'Ethical' water brands may boost flagging UK sales

Grist - Flex and Effects - plastic bottles and BPA - not sure that 'stop using a fundamental aspect of modern life, that is still legal and approved, is quite the kick-off to start with. This seesm to be the new mantra for the shop fresh/local brigade, who are worthy but seem to have a lot more money and time on their hands than most.

Plastics News - Are industry-funded studies biased?

Plastics News - Consumerist on degradable water bottles

FoodProductionDaily - Regulator confirms safety of BPA for use in food packaging

Gaurdian - We have a drinking problem, and it makes oil seem cheap - 'Come on: more of it is being sold than beer - you and I know that can't be right.' An interesting statement; even ignoring the health implications I wonder hwo many litres of water are consumed 'making' a pint of beer vs. a pint of water?

Foodanddrink - Which? survey adds to bottled water woes

Guardian - Packaging chemical linked to greater risk of diseases - Again, caution all round. Don't take risks, but also don't freak out.

Indy - Bottled water sales starting to run dry

BBC - NEW - Australia town bans bottled water - It will be interesting to see if this evolves in the same way as the plastic bag campaign. Our family doesn't use much, if any, as in this country the alternative is cheaper and just as good. That said, there always seems to be a bottle lurking in the car or bought around town to walk with. So I wonder if this might be a Planet Ban-it that will end up distracting from more pressing issues. That a small town in Oz gets the full UK media treatment seems... odd. I concede many of the arguments against, but in the global society (some not blessed with quality on tap) this might be a 'careful what you wish for'. Frankly I'd prefer a town to ban paying water utility bonus payments until he vast waste through leaks is addressed.