Friday, 29 February 2008

Leap year traditions

If you are an eight year old with a birthday today then is it really your second birthday? Heard on the radio that about 700,000 women in the UK will propose marriage on the Leap Day! This year, why not use this day to do something small that will be amazing? Talk to a stranger while you wait at the bus stop. Donate an hours wage to charity. Do some volunteering. Reuse a plastic bag at the supermarket. Register on the National Organ Donation Register or to give blood. Whatever you do, have a good day.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Fairtrade Fortnight 25th February - 9th March 2008

Fairtrade Fortnight started on 25th February.

More of us are concerned about where our food and goods come from and the circumstances of their production, the human rights, ethics and environmental aspects.

You can get lots of ideas about how you can get involved and raise awareness over the next few weeks on the Fairtrade Fortnight website. There are resources available to help put up displays and hold events at your school, workplace or within your community.

A list of events taking place in Norfolk are:
  • Sheringham Quaker Meeting House: A Fairtrade sale selling merchandise and locally produced organic produce will be held at Sheringham Quaker Meeting House, Cremer Street, on March 1, 10am-noon in aid of Practical Action and Quaker Peace Projects in Northern Uganda. There will also be tea, coffee and biscuits available, all using Fairtrade ingredients.

  • Dereham Baptist Church: To celebrate Dereham Baptist Church becoming a ‘Fairtrade Church’ it will be holding a ‘Fantastic Fairtrade Fare’, including a cafe serving Fairtrade tea, coffee, chocolate and homemade cakes, and stalls selling Hatti Hand-bags, Traidecraft and Stop the Traffik. March 1 from 10 am-12.30pm at Dereham Baptist Church.

  • The Forum in Norwich: The Forum in Norwich is marking the end of the fortnight by holding a day of ‘Fairtrade festivities’ with local and national stalls selling fairly-traded produced, family entertainment, games and music – including the Norwich Samba Band. Saturday 9th March from 10am to 5pm.

  • Wells library: 'Wells Action for Fair Trade’ is holding an exhibition throughout the fortnight at Wells’ library.

  • Ethika, Timber Hill, Norwich: The shop which sells ethically sources, fair-trade and locally created clothes and homewares is holding a photo-graphic exhibition in the Timber Hill entrance of the The Mall in Norwich during Fairtrade Fortnight. The images will show how some of the shops produce is made both locally and in the developing world, including Rajasthani women creating the striking hand blocked tiger linens, wood turners and weavers in Thailand and East Anglian artists and crafts people whose work is also available at Ethika. From February 28 to March 8, 10am to 5pm daily.
Even if you don't want to go to any of these events, if you go to your local Co-op, you will get 20% off the price of all Fairtrade products.

Time to bulk buy on those goods you like to cut down on the number of journeys you make.

Chocolate for me then! ;-)

Monday, 25 February 2008

Join the "Stamp It Out" Campaign

It is my view that there is only one race, the human race. And yet we see and experience inequality and discrimination.

In the UK we are lucky that we have a voice and most people recognise and increasingly speak out against racisim and inequality.

One of the most subtle forms of reinforcing false difference, and promoting inequality is the use of language.

This is most dramatic in its effect when you consider the work of charities such as Survival International. They and their supporters fight for fair and equal rights for tribal peoples around the world.

The power of the media can be a force for good and if innappropriate language is chosen instead, the media can be a force for harm.

Using words such as "primitive" or "stone age" are more than innacurate or insulting - they can be a way of building a campaign to justify the supression and persecution of contemporary tribal peoples.

If you are like minded, please visit the Survival International link to get involved in the "Stamp It Out" campaign.

This campaign is just over 2 years old and I think it is worth me giving it some promotion, and getting involved myself.

Survival's Stamp It Out campaign aims to challenge racist descriptions, however unwitting, of tribal peoples in the media.

Several examples are cited by Survival and perhaps suprisingly, although regrettably, the UK is not exempt. A UK example of such innappropriate descriptions and language in the media is the article entitled 'Face to face with Stone Age man' in the Daily Mail on 21st July 2007.

Visit the Survival web site to get involved and find instructions on how to send one of the Stamp It Out postcards or e-cards to make a real difference to people's lives.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Calendar of Norfolk and UK Green and Ethical Events

I've decided to try to keep a calendar going of events in Norfolk and the UK that have an environmental or ethical living theme.

It's called NUKGEE for short, or Norfolk and UK Green and Ethical Events.

Over time it will improve and if you have any events that you think are relevant and of interest, please get in touch and I will add them to the calendar.

Although I put it together for my benefit so thay I didn't forget and miss out on things, I hope you find it useful too.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Make your town climate-friendly with the Greenpeace EfficienCity

Greenpeace has just launched a natty 3D interactive virtual city called "EfficienCity".

Its aim is to show how we in the UK can fight climate change, although it is being blogged about all over the world like at the excellent EcoGeek site.

It is a fantastic resource with a huge amount of information on the different options available to us, from saving energy to generation from renewable sources.

The way it is presented and the large amount of photographs, videos, and technical presentations make it a brilliant educational resource for individual citizens, schools, and the workplace.

You can even download the whole thing to run it offline with a PC version (51.5MB) and a Mac version (53.6MB).

You can take it further than just learning and you are invited to join Greenpeace's campaign to put pressure on you local council to find out what they are doing about climate change and securing a sustainable energy for the future. You can encourage your council to work with experts in Greenpeace to increase access to decentralised energy generation.

Whatever your views on Greenpeace, this is an excellent educational resource about the options we have to respond to climate change. Tell as many people as you can about it.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

National Nest Box Week 14th-21st February 2008

On the day of love, why not do something caring for our birds who rely increasingly on our gardens for their habitat?

Now in its 10th year, the British Trust for Ornithology has its annual National Nest Box Week from 14th-21st February. Their site has loads of information.

For some excellent advice and a DIY guide to building your own, you can visit this excellent post from The greenfingered photographer.

Happy Valentine's Day! :-)

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

More on a UK Ban for Patio Heaters

There is a good review of the debate on patio heaters on the Mygreenweek site.

Although this opens the debate more on the potential energy inefficiency and harm caused by patio heaters, suggesting it is not so clear cut, I would urge people to consider the fact that it is not just CO2 and water vapour that is emitted, they also give out other harmful, unfiltered by byproducts and gases, as pointed out by Leo Hickman of The Guardian newspaper.

We know that B&Q will stop selling patio heaters when its current stock is sold. Wyevale were the first when they announced they would stop selling these back in April 2007.

In the UK, there is increasing support for a total ban on these heaters with various campaigns, perhaps led most prominently by Friends of the Earth. I came across this plain speaking one called Patio Heaters are Evil. Definitely worth looking at if you are considering buying one of these things.

You can read the full details of the EU's Energy Efficiency Motion in its full proposal, which includes the proposed withdrawal from sale of patio heaters.

It is obvious that this is going to be most strongly opposed by the pub and catering trade who have had to deal with the smoking ban introuduced last summer in the UK. I have seen figures that suggest it could cost the pub and the catering industry £250 million per year in lost trade.

Maybe if we ban smoking completely as well then we can have the double benefit of improving human health and reducing the gases that cause climate change? ;-)

Friday, 8 February 2008

Garden waste scheme to be extended across Norwich

Norwich City Council launched a brown bin pilot scheme last April. For £35, residents of Eaton and Crome wards could buy this service for fortnightly doorstep collection of gardening waste.
It has been a great success with 1,700 households signing up, and more than 400 tonnes of garden waste collected in its forst six months.
As a result, the scheme will now be made available to all residents within the Norwich City Council's area.
This is great news and I have even seen at the Waste Disposal area/Dump at Kettingham that you can purchase compost. I guess that this will be an output from some of this garden waste?
We'll certainly be renewing this service.
You can download a leaflet about the scheme or visit the Garden Waste Recycling section of the Norwich City Council web site for more details.