Friday, 30 November 2007

Norfolk Wildlife Trust - Don't miss the kiss this Christmas!

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust is asking people to help and look in trees in the county and try to map the location of mistletoe as part of its Citizen Science Mistletoe Survey.

NWT is interested not only in mapping where mistletoe can be found but also to find out which trees it is growing on.

NWT needs to know when and where you saw it, and what type of tree it was growing on. The survey can be completed online click here or via a survey card. To receive a free card you can send a SAE to Mistletoe Survey, NWT, 22 Thorpe Road, Norwich, NR1 1RY.

The survey runs until the end of January 2008.

For more info on mistletoe have a look at this page on NWT's site.

Happy hunting.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Pledge to Tread Lightly - join The Guardian's low carbon diet and save the world!

I got an email this week, and it read as follows:

Hi Tractorboy,

My name's N***** and I work for Outside Line, a digital PR agency.

At this moment in time we are currently working with The Guardian to promote their new Tread Lightly campaign:

As one of the top 20 Green Bloggers, I am contacting you today as I thought your readers may be interested in reading about the Guardian’s ‘Tread Lightly’ initiative and learning more about how they themselves could making a real difference to this campaign.

Guardian Tread lightly is a new community site, which aims to encourage online communities into reducing their CO2 emissions through making weekly pledges and recording their actions against their pledges.

The idea is that every pledge is simple, straightforward, and something that everyone can do, so that people who are normally put off doing environmental things because it sounds like a lot of effort will find Tread Lightly a good solution to easing their carbon conscience.

A large part of what we are trying to achieve is to get community and online evangelists in the subject, such as yourself, to help us help educate and motivate the online community into taking those first small steps that make the big difference.

We have campaign outlines and a blogger’s button that we can supply you with, plus the Guardian weekly blog will make mention of key bloggers helping in the campaign, and we really hope you will consider being one of them.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you require any more information on this, if you aren’t interested then thank you for taking the time to read this and we wont bother you again.

Many Thanks
N***** P******

It was a bit of a surprise to be described as an "online evangelist" on matters green!

Not sure I deserve this. Just trying to listen to my conscience and do the right thing when and where I can.

There are loads of these pledge-based groups around and I may do a post collecting some of the better ones I have found and subscribed to.

The Tread Lightly community seems worthy of a mention and I will add a link to the site on my blogroll.

Whether you are green, orange, red, blue or some sort of rainbow in terms of your politics, there is some good stuff here that goes beyond the standard Guardian readership.

Do have a look and maybe get involved. The issues go beyond politics and are about trying live a good life and cause as little harm as possible.

Even better, tell your mates as well and encourage them to live a low carbon lifestyle so that we can each save our little bits of the world. These bits could add up to a lot of planet.

Another incentive is that you could win a G-Wiz car in the New Year, or at least get a free cotton bag so you can stop using all those platic bags! :-)

If you want even more info, I asked for more from the PR company and received this:

Guardian Tread Lightly

Guardian Tread lightly is a new community site developed by Guardian environment that aims to encourage people into a low carbon lifestyle so that they come together to save the planet.

The idea is that people can go to
where they will find a different pledge every week that, if they take an act on, will help them reduce their CO2 emissions. The pledges will all be quite simple, achievable things, so the first one will be change your light bulbs for energy efficient ones, and this will be followed by things like: take showers not baths, recycle all of your newspapers this week, turn down your heating by one degree and recycle your glass this week. The idea is that every pledge is straightforward, simple and something that everyone can do, so that people who are normally put off doing environmental things because it sounds like quite a lot of effort will find Tread Lightly a good solution to easing their carbon conscience.

Once a user has registered with Tread Lightly and clicked on Take the pledge, they will be sent an email reminding them of what they have said they will do and this will be followed at the end of the week with reminder to go back to the site and say whether you fulfilled the pledge or not and what the next weeks pledge is.

The user will then get a personal profile page that will show them what pledges they have taken, how much CO2 they have personally saved and how much it equates to (5 less cars on the road for a day at rush hour etc).

The community aspect of the site will include a message board / blog where people can share tips on how to achieve that weeks target, a little bar chart showing how much CO2 the community has saved so far (in kg) and what this equates to (big things hopefully, like a coal powered power station being turned off for 2 minutes), and users will be invited to write in and give suggestions of other pledges.

With a big community, it’s hoped that when all of the individual carbon savings
are added up over time, the users will have made a real difference to the environment.

The launch will be supported by a competition to win a G-Wiz car and a free bag giveaway. Anyone who completes a pledge by the end of November will be automatically entered into a competition to win a G-Wiz electric car. Anyone who completes 12 pledges by the end of February 2008 will be sent a free Tread lightly cotton shopping bag. .

Monday, 26 November 2007

Plastic bag tax - sign the petition

Plastic bags are useful and are a menace to the environment.

If we use them then we should pay for this.

Apparently in Britain, we use an average of 300 plastic bags every year. Each bag lasts up to 400 years, spending the vast majority of that time in a landfill site or strewn across the British countryside.

Other countries have been more active and successful at sorting out this problem.

In Ireland, a tax of 15cents per bag resulted in a 90% drop in plastic bag usage, and raised 3.5 million Euros which was spent on environmental projects. Bangladesh has banned polythene bags altogether while Taiwan and Singapore are taking steps to discourage their use.

Paying for what has been free and has caused us to be wasteful and thoughtless might start a change for the better.

Paying 10p or so for any plastic bag might encourgae us to start reusing them, use longer lasting bags, boxes or non-plastic bags.

If you think that it is time to pay the price for our wasteful, thoughtless use of plastic bags then sign this petition at Green England.

If you can go out and spend some time gathering signatures, a document version of the petition is available here.

They have hit the 10,000 signature target and it is still rising!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

In the "Light Garden" with Greenpeace

Came across this video that gives some insight into what is now possible with energy saving lighting, and shows a fun, artistic way in which the myths about CFL bulbs can now be dispelled.

This lighting installation, the "Light Garden" was commissioned by Greenpeace and designed by the Jason Bruges Studio and made the shortlist for the "most innovative lighting"category at the 100% Design Show in London in September.

Varilight bulbs were used in the work.

For more info on this project, go to this link on the Greenpeace site.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Dimmable Energy Saving Light Bulbs Are Here!

I've been waiting for some bright spark in the UK to start producing with energy saving light bulbs that work with standard dimmers and at last, someone has!

It is the DigiFlux Dimmable and comes in 2 varieties and are equivalent to 100W bulbs. Screw and bayonet fittings are available.

The company that manufactures these is Varilight.

One works with a standard dimmer switch so long as it can cope with a minimum load of 20W (as pictured), and the other works with a normal light switch, which you flick on and off to control the clever electronics in the bulbs.

I bought one from Nigel's Eco Store and it cost me £10.95. The bulb that works with a standard switch is slightly more expensive (I think a couple of quid more) and I guess that is because of the extra electronics in the bulb.

The bulb works brilliantly and the light is really good. It warms up quickly as well.

The slight niggle is that the bulb hums a bit and it is noticeable.

Small price to pay though for reducing my electricity bill and producing less CO2!

In addition, my dimmer switch may need replacing to cope with the low loading on it and Varilight supply compatible ones so I'll investigate.

These bulbs are excellent and highly recommended.

Great to see that the company has won a Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation. Well deserved.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Volunteering - Friends of Eaton Park

I have been thinking about whether there is something I can do in my local area to help the community.

I don't have much time and I am lucky that my employer has a very progressive and supportive policy on paid leave for volunteering.

We got a flyer from some political party and what caught my eye was a group called the "Friends of Eaton Park".

My family visits this regularly as it is our nearest one and it is fantastic with its football pitches, skate park, basketball court band stand, model boatiung lake, miniature steam railway and children's play area.

You can visit the Friends of Eaton Park web site and find out about the history of this the largest park in Norwich, and how to get involved to keep this park special.

For example, the Annual General Meeting is at Eaton Park Community Centre on Thursday 29th November from 7 p.m. At 8 p.m. there is a guest speaker: Terry Baine from Norwich in Bloom.

I hope to be able to do some voluntary work in the Park, starting on Wednesday 5th December, 10 to 3 pm.

The volunteering opportunity is as follows:
Wednesday 5th December, 10 to 3 pm: 'work-in' with Norwich Fringe Project to help thin out and coppice a small piece of woodland in the park. All welcome - training, tools and refreshments will be provided. The Friends hope as many people as possible will come along and help with this practical work. Meet in the top car park (near Colman Road). For further information contact Judith Lubbock on 01603 504126.
Why not get involved with this or some other volunteering opportunity in your area?

If you visit the web site and type in your postcode, there will be lots of volunteering ideas and options for you.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Grocery Store Wars! Learn the ways of the Farm...

This is brilliant, especially if you grew up on Star Wars and like your organic veggies!

Go to the Store Wars site for the video and more downloads.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Norwich's largest "No Cold Calling Zone" to be launched in Eaton

After inviting Eaton residents to vote on the issue, on Wednesday the 7th November, Norwich is going to launch its largest "No Cold Calling Zone".

At 11 a.m. on the 7th November on the corner of Norvic Drive and Leng Crescent, residents are invited to the launch and to show their support for the scheme, which will be attended by a Trading Standards Officer.

This scheme means that this area of Eaton is a specified zone where the residents, supported by Norfolk Trading Standards, declare they are not willing to accept uninvited callers.

A "No Cold Calling Zone" is a designated area where the resident community declare they no longer wish to accept traders calling at their homes without an appointment.

The zone is designated via the installation of signs at the entrance and exit to the zone and residents are supplied with educational and advice information and door stickers.

Nationally there are 427 "No Cold Calling Zones" with many more planned.

This deterrent to unwanted callers has its benefits, particularly crime prevention.

In Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire have recently evaluated the success of their established zones. Cambridgeshire report an 11% drop in distraction burglary rates and Bedfordshire a drop of 23%.

Previously, the first scheme in Norwich was set up in George Carver Close in Northfields and was reported on the BBC News web site.

If you want to set up a similar scheme in your part of Norfolk you need to download this form and send it to Norfolk Trading Standards.

More information on "No Cold Calling Zones" can be found on the Norfolk County Council web site.