Friday, March 30, 2012


Time for a repeat, and a post to leave up a few days...

We shall be there, with a bunch of Junkk. And, as they say, 'questions will be asked'. Well one, by me, at the Q&A.

WHAT:  Greenlinks Expo Event

WHERE - at The Courtyard

WHEN - on Monday 2nd April 2012.

Venue: The Courtyard, Edgar Street, Hereford, HR4 9JR.

Parking: Parking is located outside the courtyard and also over the road behind the Football Stadium, please note that they are Pay and Display car parks.
TIMING: The exhibition opens at 6.00pm,  The exhibition will end at 9.00pm. 


4.30-5.30pm                       Set-up for Exhibitors                                    
6.00pm                                 Exhibition Opens                           
7.15pm                                 Seminar with Vince Cable starts
8.20pm                                 Seminar finishes
8.20-9.00pm                       Exhibition re-opens
9.00pm                                 Event Close



In partnership with Herefordshire Greenlinks
Monday 2nd April, 6.00-9.45pm, Courtyard, Hereford, HR4 9JR
Question Time with Vince Cable: £5.00
To post your questions to Vince Cable simply log onto and visit the discussion forum page.
For more information contact the Events Team on / 0845 641 1641.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Can stand the competition...

... plus bottles, jars, cartons, etc.

On matters triple bottom line, I noticed this story and asked for the Press Release (much too lazy to rejig much as it doesn't need it). Seems some can make green out of, well... green:

‘Innocent’ named as most admired brand for its environmental approach to packaging

Packaging professionals have named ‘Innocent’ their most admired brand for its environmental approach to packaging according to a new survey released today.

The survey, put together by packaging trade show specialist’s easyFairs, questioned 289 packaging professionals, asking them a number of questions, of which one was to openly name a brand that they really admired for its green packaging approach. In response 10% suggested the ‘Innocent’ brand, followed by ‘Marks & Spencer’ (7%) and ‘Kenco’ (5%).

Matt Benyon, managing director at easyFairs UK and Ireland comments: “Innocent have made tremendous steps over the last few years in making their packaging better for the environment, from using food grade recycled plastic in their bottles, to making their cartons from 100% Forest Stewardship Council certified material. They also have a very strong sustainable packaging policy in place.”

He continues: “What impresses me most, is that we asked all those surveyed to name any brand they like, so to have 10% come back saying ‘Innocent’ is quite amazing, and just shows how Innocent get things right in not only the green packaging side of things, but conveying their green message across to its peers and consumers. A lot of companies are doing great things out there, just they don’t tell us, which is a real shame.”

Indeed, over a quarter (27%) surveyed, admitted that they were doing lots when it comes to environmental packaging but not shouting about it.

However, when asked what is driving their packaging decisions at the moment, top of the list was cost, with a huge 69% stating this. Over half (58%) also said that the tougher economic climate means they are less likely to introduce more environmentally sound packaging unless it saves them money as well.

This shows that there is still a battle between keeping costs to a minimum and improving environmental performance of packaging for most professionals working in the industry.

Matt explains: “Our survey showed that 46% are interested in greener materials, but it’s paying that bit extra for these materials that is the problem. It’s that catch 22, companies need to keep costs down, but also understand the importance of having a proactive approach to environmental packaging. At the moment too many companies are still afraid to take that risk to switch to a greener solution, unless it costs them less, which in most cases is unlikely. We all know that Innocent is not the cheapest of products on the market, but it has educated the market place on environmental issues and how purchasing their products can help, which is why they have become so successful.”

Without a doubt, and issues that many professionals identify and agree with. For example over a third (35%) said that it is the brand owner’s responsibility to educate consumers on the positive effect that environmental packaging has. 75% of those surveyed also admitted that it is the customer who is driving them to improve their green packaging and 66% said that their environmental performance was important to their consumers of their products. It’s just delivering at a cost that works for them.

Matt comments: “I do think we’ve come along way, and packaging professionals are doing a lot more than they ever have done compared to previous years to meet the ‘green’ demand from consumers. For example, we asked our respondents to be truly frank, and rate on a scale whether they could be doing any more to reduce the environment impact of their packaging, where 10 meant they couldn’t be doing anything more. 65% wrote down either 7 or above, which is very promising.”

Elsewhere the survey also showed that the toy industry is the most guilty of over-packaging, with 26% thinking this. Whilst 61% thought that the cosmetics/perfumery/toiletries industries were the most innovative when it comes to packaging.

Now this is all very interesting, given's ongoing efforts to promote RE:tie, especially given the latter's latest research to show that there are ways that consumer can be delivered eco-innovation that also translates into sales. Extra and/or sucking share from competitors.

By sheer coincidence, Innocent, or at least one of its founders, has cropped up today with a competition we have been invited to enter: BBC's 'Be Your Own Boss'

Now, I have entered too (sadly Innocent have shown no interest in RE:tie, despite its obvious relevance to their brand and environmental commitments, so no point rehashing that route. Luckily, Yoda-like, 'there is another') so if, in sharing this you enter and kick me off... at least put in a good word!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Water, water everywhere...

...and the problem is, mostly where it is is not where it is needed.

Or when.

The current glorious weather we are enjoying is to be enjoyed, but it does carry a caution.

Clear blue skies... means no rain.

No rain for too long means parched gardens.

And... hosepipe bans.

Of course, the issues are not so clear-cut as often made out:

And hence, speaking of basic engineering, I am proud to bring you the latest Junkk creation, albeit one for personal use.

What have the Romans ever done for us, eh? The Martin Mk #1 aquifer is now up and running. Well, not yet as there is not a drop falling from the sky. But when it does, I am having as much as I can to keep for when needed. And those years of keeping old guttering from the roof renovation.... vindicated!

Raising an interesting question. Is the term 'hosepipe ban' in any way a legal definition? Because I will be seeking to use this water if necessary to water the garden... with a hosepipe, from such bowsers (boning up on all the round and square gutter capture devices as we speak, to get every drop off the house roofing too). No issues with my neighbours, but what if some nanny state numptie decides to stick an oar in?

At least the spirit of Heath Robinson is alive and well still.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

EXPO - Green Business Showcase - Hereford

I'm a sucker for a show.

Despite not having as such, 'a budget', and so far selling little, if anything to cover costs, I still get seduced easily into various schemes that offer the promise of 'selling' further and wider.

And so it is that we shall be standing at (as kindly supplied in a blurb invite from our MP) the following:

Hosted by Herefordshire Greenlinks, H&W Chamber of Commerce and Herefordshire Council

When: Monday 2nd April 2012 @ 7pm

Venue: The Courtyard, Edgar Street, Hereford, HR4 9JR.
This is a public event where the Secretary of State for Business will answer our questions about economy, business, jobs, prosperity, and environment in Herefordshire. Individual tickets can be booked through The Courtyard on 01432 340 555

There will be a Green Business showcase of innovative local enterprises in the foyer;  anyone who would like a stand in the showcase contact H&W Chamber of Commerce 0845 641 1641 xt 235.  To post your question to Dr Cable, 2 weeks in advance

6.00 pm                   Exhibition Opens
7.00 pm                   Main House Theatre; Introductions and outline of the event; 
                               Herefordshire Greenlinks, H&W Chamber, Jesse Norman MP
7.15 pm                   Question Time with Vince Cable starts
8.20 pm                   Question Time finishes
8.20-9.00 pm            Exhibition re-opens

Cost: This is a public event -tickets are £5. 

Do come along and say hi.

Not quiet sure what I will be presenting, as they are still vague on what the space will be, or can handle. I am working on a 2m x 1m footprint and not much else. So nothing fancy. RE:tie for sure, plus maybe a few of the best ideas made up.

I also have been prevailed upon to pose a question to the guest of honour, and it may be viewed, with others from fellow exhibitors, here. Though I have been given a version of it that has been supplied back, editted for me to intone.

On that, we shall see.

I am hoping, for the investment, at least a cheery wave from a government big-wig (and, who knows, a helpful answer to my question), plus a bit of support from the media who will doubtless be follwing in his wake.

Not promising so far, as the only ones to call to ask what we are doing are the ad sales guys trying to flog a slot in the supplements they are all producing. I did ask if editorial may be interested, but they seemed less than keen to transfer the call.

With luck, bells and whistles on the day may see some coverage.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Smart Mums Go...

I am pretty green.

And that includes on the credulity side, so if there is a spoof to be played, I'll be the first victim.

However, I must say I rather screeched to a mental halt at this ad in my local paper.

Are they really trying to say, to the extent of blowing a fair whack on the message and media, that the perfect gift from cash-strapped kids (even middle--aged ones) to their Mums on Mother's Day is a... £26 licence to throw out garden waste?

Now I know there are many and varied Mums out there, but in the 'thrill' stakes, perfect gift-wise, I'd say that was kind of a stretch, even for the most optimistic local authority.

Friday, March 16, 2012

It never hurts to ask

Well, you'd think, especially if you are a reporter. is now an old lady.

What cost tens of thousands to custom create are now free, infinitely better scripts.

Sadly, you cannot plonk a '12 Veyron engine in a '98 Volvo just like that, if at all.

So we muddle along.

Hundreds if not thousands, monthly, accept that, and we thank you as much as we hope you feel you have gained from the site.

But a few... a very few... seem to think they are the only time-poor folk who can get inconvenienced by the fact that IT is not all black and white, zeros and ones. Gremlins and glitches are the order of the day. This post is being crafted using yet another new incarnation of Blogger that will take some getting used to, warts and all. That's Blogger, of Google fame. Junkk is not quite as well resourced to cope...

The following query has been submitted from the Junkk website:

I'm a journalist, currently writing about recycling and decided to visit your site. I honestly feel you make people jump through too many hoops to gain access to any useful stuff on your site. I signed up but never got the email. I'm not surprised there is nothing under 'print' on your media page! I would have written about you in my women's mag but have given your site too much of my time now and will go elsewhere.
Crazy.  If you want to be useful, make it easier for people. 

Now, we do our best, and try and sort things out as quickly as we can, explaining where and whenever we can as we do so.

I think this 'journalist' (from the email addy in fact  a freelancer) had a bad day and decided to take it out on me. Unfortunately, and perhaps unwisely in this 'grin and bear it' culture the double standard media estate inflicts, I had also not be having the best day either...

They do say that the most valuable consumer any business can have to learn from to improve is one who cares enough to take the time to complain, so we must thank you for your input.

But as you will gather, we are somewhat at a loss as to what more we can do other than apologise yet more than we do on site for the inconvenience you have suffered. was created for us over a decade ago, using the best advice and design input available at the time, and as many things have evolved in site design, navigation, social media, etc it is now admittedly positively antique.

However, given it cost a lot to create, still does to run and populate, yet remains free to all, there have been limits as to what can be done to improve as it would take a small fortune we don't have.

We presume the 'hoops' you refer to are the registration, as a few have over the years expressed frustration.


Solution routes are even covered on the registration page:

If you suspect you have not had back this email and/or an activation, please write to us at (don't worry, someone will read it and respond/help) and we'll see what we can do!

But once that is completed there should be no further barriers to enjoying the full site and all that is shared therein.

This registration requires only the filling out of a short form, involving name, email (for contact) and first block of postcode (to enable distances to be advised between users on such as JunkkYard, a feature many appreciate). Plus a user name and password. And two opt-ins. These do not seem overly onerous even today, and especially compared to some.

It is in fact not mandatory to register, but you will always be prompted to accept the t&cs at each stage if not, for the reasons given below, so it helps to do so.

It is necessary to ask users to accept t&cs. This is a legal requirement to protect ourselves and others, such as brands, whose products may be cited and, sadly, abused by those of malicious intent on making vexatious claims for compensation, for instance if attempting a reuse idea posted by another user over which we have no control. That... is... it.

The are many other sites of course, but few do what we do, or often as extensively with data and instructions. And some sites, interestingly enough government or quango or NGO ones, we do notice actually still break the law in being 'simpler'.

Most seem to accept the constraints we are under and have to pass on, given all the positives there are to enjoy once registered.

Certainly the several thousand opt-in newsletter signees, and the users who keep coming back, at a peak giving us a monthly unique visitor level so far of 130,000. Also such as Poundland, happy to support by using our URL on all their packaging and home pages. Even Government endorsers such as or media such as the BBC, Express or Guardian, who asked us to run a national reuse competition for all 330,000+ readers. Plus women's magazines such as Women's Own, Marie Claire, etc. Or features in books by such green issue authors as Sian Berry or Tracey Smith or Karen Cannard. None of whom seem to have had any major issues.

 I'm not surprised there is nothing under 'print' on your media page!

Not sure that is correct:


A bit out of date to be sure, but plenty more where all those came from... when we get the time to add it.

All easily provided... if asked first.

The double opt-in confirmation was an industry standard at the time, designed to ensure the highest levels of data protection. You sign up, we email back to ensure it is you, you confirm, and bingo. Wish it could be simpler, which it could be, but we'd run some risks with the data commissioner and in any case do not have the funds to change. It is a real pain, for us as much as any who fall foul. Did we mention this is a free site?

You mention you did not get the confirmatory email. This can happen. Maybe our end, maybe in the ether. But we also know that things like spam filters and/or firewalls in users' PCs or at their ISPs can take their toll.

That's what the question form or email is for. You had a problem, and posed it. Lucky it was read within a day if, it appears, even too late at that. Not sure many sites, like Google (we are currently having a nightmare with problems on the Blogger platform, with no one human to appeal to) twitter or FaceBook or even eBay or Amazon do that. Do they?

We have looked in the system and there you are. For what it is worth you are now confirmed registered. Sorted. We'll also ask our new IT gurus, again, if anything can be done that is effective, legal.. and cheap.. to make it better in this regard.

We also note that your article is about recycling. Whilst this is covered too, do note the site is mainly about reuse ideas. There are many, and more thorough, on just throwing stuff away, if more correctly. We prefer it stays in the home, to save £ as well as planet.

If that is still relevant to your readers, it seems a pity they are not to be given the opportunity to learn of it because you, not uniquely but rarely, had some issues that may not have been ours to control, and could not wait to be answered and assisted with.

If you want to be an effective journalist, you might reflect on that as you 'go elsewhere' (where comparable, exactly, we are not sure) for what may fit with your high expectations on convenience, but maybe nowhere near as (re)useful or relevant. You could mention the problem in review, and having now read this maybe add what might be expected but then offer the explanation to prepare and even help us find a person qualified to help with support in skill or money.

We'll be sorry to lose you as a user but from your tone that seems inevitable. Maybe in the circumstances no great loss all round as your critique seems exclusively negative when so much else was possible. And rather lacking in accuracy on a few points in just one para. Not the rarest of traits from some 'journalists', of course.

If you want to make a difference, try and be more understanding, and pleasant. We don't charge, we don't make demands. That you get paid to do so in such a manner is an interesting, if regrettable contrast.

But thanks for the heads up reminder that we could improve if we have the resources. Given what some others get handed from the public pot to build, staff and run... and then see fizzle and die as endures, and is appreciated around the world, seems to be the really crazy part.

Junkk has its faults. Many. But we will either try and fix them or help overcome them to help those kind enough to use it. IF ASKED.

Addendum - Speaking of wastes of time, and as predicted, the journalist in question has responded to ask that she now be removed from the database. Happy to comply. One has to wonder what restricted bubble her readership will be exposed to on this topic, or any other. I wonder if she will sneak in a reference to anyway, if not in a good way? There is after all, no such thing as bad publicity. And all this will have served:)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Sadly, I missed this year's ECOpack.

More specifically, I am sad to have missed a few of the seminars, as frankly it was getting a bit wearing tramping endless corridors year on year past booths screaming 'Green' when what was on the shelves didn't really seem that way and, worse, 'innovative' when I'd seen it all before.

However, family flu and fatherhood duties prevailed.

So the best I could manage was this video:

All things considered, not bad. Certainly I'm up 120miles' worth of LPG, £8 parking, most of a day and a few overpriced coffees.

The (roughly 1 hr) debate is carved up into 5 chunks.

And the basic theme, I'd guess (though halfway though a spanner is thrown) is the elusive icon that is 'Sustainability' in, given the event, packaging.

Though a few areas of environmental philosophy did get dragged along for the ride too.

The panellists were spread across a broad swathe of relevant industry bases:

Kevin Vyse - Chairman, and a fair one, with a broad knowledge base

Dominic Box - Research, and voice of the public (ish)

Tom Heap - Journalist

Prof Rob Holdaway - Design guru but also 'eco' advocate

Stuart Ledrum - Sainsbury's, voice of retail and hence the spotlighted packaging 'baddie'

Dr. John Willaims - NNFCC - Scientist and voice of the state(ish)

I don't propose to here go into a blow by blow. Watch yourself if you have that spare 60 mins. A high-ish powered group and so of potential value.

I just have a few observations.

Top of the tree was how little they seemed to really be sure of, and hence have to offer by the end.

It was interesting, if inevitable, how quickly where each made their money from guided their answers.

But I was truly struck by disconnects. The major one being that between industry, media and the consumer, in what is desired, offered and appreciated.

But also pure pragmatism. For all the fine words, few seemed able to square the circle between growing economies, making profits... and reducing impacts, especially with consumer waste. Which is, after all, what packaging ultimately ends up as. Eco-monics seldom results in improved eco-logy. Seldom, but not impossible.

So, again, I was disappointed to see a lot of talking being talked, but less walking going on, or even looking likely.

It was interesting that Dr. Williams mentioned (I think in that last panel) all the mixed messages there are, but he also was the one to acknowledge how much is still heaped on the hapless consumer.

Dominic Box was perhaps more often the one to try and raise the consumer's real motivations, but it was a shame not to hear end-benefit mentioned. Also Kevin Vyse did raise poor old Joe Public really not being too connected with inter-industry obsessions.

In fact all mitigation was pretty much focused on one re: recycling. I don't think reuse got a single look in.

Tom Heap seemed to rather revel in playing the cynic, and stirring the others up. His vocal trashing of the word 'sustainability' as having any value at all was a treat for any student of body language.

There was also a fair bit on labelling, and what it can or can't do, or indeed what the public makes of it.

I have to say some seemed rather wedded to the notion, perhaps with contracts in place to measure such stuff, but I was more with those who thought the consumer really could give a fig, even if they were comprehensive, accurate or placed in large enough type. Rather a hefty wadge of quango obsession and media PR-to-news down the pan there, I'd hazard.

Bio-plastics were touched on, but really not in more detail than most arguments any interested will be aware of. Not that it doesn't need talking about, as too often I feel these are trotted out as the saviours of packaging by those seeking icons, when in fact the cradle to grave aspects are far more complex and worthy of challenge.

So... I found it a useful hour of my time. However, mainly to have confirmed that there are a lot of folk making a lot of money talking, and possibly about all the wrong things.

Or with the wrong people too often.

And I have some research to prove it.