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Wed, 8th Aug. 2007, 07:53

I've changed my profile to reflect my new aims. Bear with me.

Thu, 5th Jul. 2007, 12:50
Activism and pledges

It seems that I was quite an activist over the weekend.
On Friday I attended the CATE disco and comedy night and managed to meet a couple of faces I knew online. I'd made a partial effort with my costume - it started life as a pair of trousers and had ripped across the seat a few days before the event so I added a fabric offcut and made it into a skirt. A lot of people had really made an effort to make their costumes out of rubbish - very impressive. I took a 'green' test and made a pledge to switch to green energy. To be honest I've been meaning to do this for some time and it was the push I needed. I'll let you know when it's done. I was rather disappointed to find that the venue itself was far from green, using plastic cups that they couldn't refill and probably didn't recycle. I realise that these are safer than glasses but would prefer to see some sort of intermediate stage - possibly sturdy plastic that could be washed and re-used? Perhaps we could persuade them to start recycling. What do you think?

Saturday saw me heading off to the VIVA Incredible Veggie Show (and breaking the SOCPA law as I passed through Westminster tube wearing a Friends of the Earth badge without a permit - oooh!). Now I've been vegetarian for 18 years but I haven't quite made it to vegan although that's what I aspire to be. The festival provided me with some great ideas for replacing dairy in my diet and some convincing reasons to do so. With food samples available all over the place it was hard to resist and I came away with a few jars and packets as well as a load of literature. I even had to buy an extra canvas bag to put it in. I will try to cut down on my dairy intake although I'm not going to make a straight jump to the vegan boat as I think I would probably just land in the water. I managed to resist a cheese pasty yesterday. It's a start.

We then moved on to LGBT London Pride parade and festival. We caught the back end of the parade just as it was moving off and worked our way forward to the Amnesty International float which was playing Eurovision hits as part of the current Amnesty campaign. It was wonderful to see so many happy people celebrating diversity and equality and I was indeed proud to be part of it. Not sure about the environmental part - there was a lot of litter on the floor and I'm not sure that it got recycled - but at least there were a few environmental stalls which I guess shows that people are interested.

So I have this week pledged:
- Switch to green energy
- Cut down on dairy

I also want to really work on promoting the current Greenpeace campaign asking supermarkets to make a total switch to energy efficient bulbs. Please take a few minutes to participate in this campaign as it is vital if we are to win the war against climate change. I filled in letters to all shops listed but if you really can't spare the time then at least please write to the two or three shops that you use most. Also consider putting details of the campaign in your own journal and/or emailing your friends about it. I will be.

Have you switched to energy efficient bulbs yet? Have you changed all the bulbs in your house? Don't wait until a bulb blows to buy an energy efficient one - you'll actually save money by replacing them all now! For further info see my previous post on energy saving CFL bulbs.

Talk to me.
I'll be back next week.

Thu, 28th Jun. 2007, 14:26
OneLittleThing: The Return - coming soon

Ok so I wasn't back when I promised. I seem to have lost my ability to research and write blogs. I'm still making changes at home although not as many as I would like. In light of this I will be changing my profile slightly and re-shuffling my aims. Perhaps one thing a week was a bit ambitious.

Tomorrow (Friday June 29th) is the Crap At The Environment (CATE) Green Feet disco and comedy night in London. For those of you who don't know, CATE is a movement of people who -although they're not very good at it - are trying to be greener. So I'll be going along tomorrow and hopefully coming back full of enthusiasm and inspiration. If you're in the area you might consider coming along - tickets available on the door.

And then I'll write a whole new blog entry next week. Fingers crossed.

Subjects I have lined up (in no particular order) are:
Washing up
Toilet cleaner
Menstrual protection
Loo roll

This Saturday (June 30th) I will also be exploring the VIVA Incredible Veggie Show. If any of you are considering becoming vegetarian this is a good place to start.

I had also hoped to create a website for the One Little Thing project, with a blog feed and tips, campaigns etc., but it just hasn’t happened. Partly due to lack of a web designer/editor and partly due to me being lazy. If any of you have web design/editing skills and would like to create some pages with me then get in touch.

Well I think that's it. I hope someone is still reading. See you soon.

Tue, 5th Jun. 2007, 21:23
Still here

Hello everyone.

I am still here, I do still care, and I am still being green.

I just needed a break from writing blogs but I'll be back next week.

See you then!

Fri, 11th May. 2007, 18:41
No Post

I've been rather lax with my actions of late. I missed a week and intended to make two changes and write two posts last week but only managed one. This week I've managed nothing. This makes me feel sad, disheartened and a bit of a fraud. If I can't take up my own challenge why should I expect anyone else to bother? The only reason I can give is that I'm dealing with a long-term health problem (nothing terribly serious, just rather difficult) and it sometimes catches me out. Take that as you will - as an excuse or a reason.

I was going to give myself a complete break this week and end the post there. Then it occurred to me that as I had titled my post 'No Post' and someone had last week asked me a question about cutting down on junk mail then maybe I should just do a quick post about that. I'm not sure what will happen next week. I'll try to post something although it might just be a quick tip. Or it might be a long post, I just don't know right now. In the mean time check out my personal journal for campaigns to sign up to.

Stopping unwanted mailCollapse )

Mon, 30th Apr. 2007, 21:12

Once again missed my deadline for last week, so once again two posts this week: today and one at the weekend. This is a different subject to the one I was originally going to write about. This post was brought about by several things that have happened (or not happened) recently. The first involves skips.

I hate skips. I hate the wastefulness of them, the way that perfectly good items of furniture and building materials get thrown into them. I am not above salvaging/scavenging items out of skips. The problem is that I'm polite and like to ask the owner of the thrown-out items if it's alright to take them.

Last month I asked for a bench - a beautiful and perfect garden bench - from a skip along the road from my mother's house. The skip was for house clearance after the old man who lived there had passed away. I was told (by a builder) that the owner wanted £5 for it. Hmmm. Then why put it in the skip? I went to make further enquiries of my mother. I found out that the house was indeed being cleared by the old man's son and that my mother knew him. We went back along the road but no one being about we dropped a note through the door saying that we definitely wanted the bench and would there be any chance that he could drop it along (a few doors away) so that we didn't have to drag it out of the skip. We left the issue of money unmentioned. A few days later my mum bumped into the old man's son and he said that of course she could have the bench for free (the builder, as suspected was trying to make himself some cash) but that unfortunately someone else had piled a load of rubble on top of it. All sorts of goodies got covered in rubble. Too much rubble in the end to move. I never did get my bench and it went to the dump.

Last week I heard about a friend taking some furniture to the dump. Not only was the furniture in excellent condition but it was actually wanted by another friend who would have snapped it up given the chance.

Saturday saw me walk into a charity shop and get offered a pile of books for free as they were about to be thrown away. Arghhhhhhhhh!

Yesterday in another skip opposite my mum's house I saw a couple of large plastic bins - or potential plant pots as I prefer to call them. I couldn't bring myself to take them (that's stealing isn't it?) but I badgered my mother into asking for them. On the way home from my mum's I saw (oh the horror) a piano (albeit an extremely beaten up one) sitting in a front garden. I was a little upset, and the look on my face prompted my best friend to suggest that I commandeer it and use it as a planter!

It upsets me that I constantly see discarded or about-to-be-discarded items everywhere - items that I know could be put to good use. It worries me that I have to rescue as many as possible. Where will it end? Will I really end up with a piano planter? I've already asked to cannibalise my mum's dead washing machine. The drum will make a nifty planter (if I can get it out) and the glass part of the door makes a great salad bowl. It worries me more that other people don't see the use of these things. OK, maybe not a piano-planter, but at least that someone might want their perfectly usable furniture, clothing, whatever.

So this is my complaint for the week: stop throwing out things that can still be used!

The rule here - as always - is Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.

Why do you need a new one? Can it be repaired, renovated, redecorated? If it's still suitable for the purpose for which it was made then don't throw it away! Often something just needs a new coat of paint or some creative jazzing up. By reducing what you throw away and what you buy, you save energy and resources - both in creating a new product for you to buy and in disposing of the old one.

If you don't want something let someone else have it. Just because it's old, worn, or even broken, doesn't mean that someone out there won't want it. This can be either for the use which it was designed for (a bucket as a bucket) or for something else (a bucket as a planter). Creative re-use of an item (or part of an item) means that even if something is broken it can still be useful (a bucket with holes still makes a great plant pot). Think hard before deciding to throw something away.

If you don't want it and no one else will take it then it's time to recycle it. Don't put it in the bin! Take it to the recycling centre!

How to Reduce, Re-use, RecycleCollapse )

Sun, 22nd Apr. 2007, 23:15
Organic Box Scheme

We ordered our first ever organic fruit and veg box last week. We had been meaning to do this for some time, the only thing stopping us being the concern that we were really rubbish at actually eating a lot of vegetables and that much of it would go to waste. Our solution to this has been to gradually increase the amount of vegetables that we buy and make sure that we eat them. A lone carrot or potato gets chopped up and used in a curry or stew. If something starts to look wrinkly we have to eat it right away rather than trying to pretend it's not there! By keeping our meals simple and quick we have ensured that no food is wasted and that we now get our five-a-day.

I have suggested this plan to everyone else who has declared their interest in a veg box but their hopelessness with vegetables. As with many things in life it takes a little planning and perseverance. Even if you have no skill in the kitchen (me) you can still chop the veg, boil it, smother it in a tasty sauce (from a jar!) and serve with pasta or rice. We aren't all Jamie Oliver and most of us don't want to be.

My veg box was £11.99 for 6 types of veg and 4 types of fruit. My first box contained potatoes, carrots, a cauliflower, onions, pak choi, mushrooms, apples, bananas, kiwis, oranges. We did a price comparison of these at the supermarket where we usually shop and the equivalent in organic veg there came to just 13 pence cheaper and only 3 of the items were UK sourced. In contrast, the pak choi in my veg box had a label on it with the name and address of the man who grew it in Cambridge!

We checked out three different companies that deliver locally before we made our choice. We based our decision on how well we thought the company did in terms of local sourcing policy, fairtrade, transport of foreign items, packaging etc. We finally went for Everbody Organic. Their veg bags and boxes start from just £6.49 for 6 items. They try to keep all produce seasonal, but with things like oranges and bananas (which I don't want to give up) they have to source from abroad. When they do they ensure that goods are transported by boat (not plane) and are fairtrade where possible. Packaging is a wooden crate with cardboard dividers that can be re-used. If there's a type of veg that you really hate you can have it permanently excluded from your order, and you can add extra fruit and veg to your box, as well as other grocery items. All in all a good deal I think.

I'm also making an attempt to grow some veg of my own this year. You can see some photos of my attempt here. I may have started some things off too late or early but only time will tell.

What you need to know about Fruit and VegCollapse )

Action for this week

Sign up to a local organic veg box scheme. Check that the company actually sources locally and seasonally wherever possible, and that it has a good policy on any imported produce (e.g. bananas are all fairtrade as well as organic and always come by boat) and packaging. Get your neighbours to sign up too - either separately or by sharing a box.

Grow your own organic vegetables. Anyone can do it - even if all you have is a windowsill. Check out the RHS Grow Your Own Veg site, Self Sufficientish, or The Window Box Allotment for ideas. Garden Organic is also an invaluable source of information.

If buying organic fruit and veg at a supermarket check the country of origin and whether it has been shipped or flown in. Try to choose produce that has come less distance (like me you might need a geography lesson!) or has come by boat.

If you don't want to buy organic at all then try to buy locally - from farmers markets or nearby farms (yes city farms do exist!). This produce is better for the environment than its foreign-sourced equivalent.

Wed, 18th Apr. 2007, 00:54
More Recycling & overview

I completely missed posting an entry last week. I've had quite a bit happening recently so instead of feeling like a failure I'm going to post two entries this week. This one - mainly an update - and one on Friday(ish!).

So what action did I take last week? Well, I managed to increase the range and amount of items that I recycle. When I took my drinks cartons to the supermarket recycling bank I found that they also had facilities for recycling cardboard, paper, glass, metal and plastic, as well as collecting clothes and shoes for redistribution in developing countries. Fantastic!

I already recycle paper and glass (doorstep collection), and metal and drinks cartons (bank), so now I can add plastic and cardboard - in truth the bulk of my bin - to the mix.

All types of card and brown paper can go to the bank. Plastics I'm not so sure about. The picture on the side of the bank is of plastic bottles but there is no indication of what actual materials it takes. The staff in-store aren't very knowledgeable, and the website is two years out of date. So I have emailed the store customer service department so see if they have some answers. Meanwhile I am saving all types of plastic until I have a definite answer.

The recycling area in my kitchen is rather overflowing this week, whilst my bin is only half full and won't need to go out for collection. If I can get down to one bin bag every fortnight on a regular basis I will be very happy.

Action for this week

- Contact your local council and urge them to increase the range of items collected in doorstep recycling schemes and banks. If there are already recycling collection facilities / banks in your area, make sure you use them.
- Contact your local supermarket and urge them to install recycling banks. Give examples of their competitors, or other branches of their own store, installing banks and urge them to do the same.
- If you are a parent or teacher, urge your school to get involved in recycling.
- Consider whether your prospective rubbish has another possible use. Plastic ice-cream containers make good lunchboxes, bread bags are good for sandwiches, yoghurt pots make good plant pots. Be creative or google it!
- Try to buy items with packaging that you can recycle.
- Crush and tear items to make them as small as possible to fit in your bin. Smaller waste is better waste!

Updates & ReviewCollapse )

Sat, 7th Apr. 2007, 13:23

Well, it's Easter, so you're probably expecting me to write something about chocolate. Well it's actually a bit late - you've all bought your Easter treats. But I guess it might be useful for next year. I don't actually eat chocolate (I'm not allowed sugar) but I do buy it for Paul, who is a bit of a chocolate addict. And I was planning on buying him an egg this year.

So, what exactly are the problems with chocolate, or with Easter eggs specifically?Collapse )

Action for this week

- Check out the Good Chocolate Guide and commit to buying traffik-free chocolate.
- Sign the declaration that you will buy traffik-free.
- Where possible try to buy Fairtrade and Organic.
- Consider buying milk-free chocolate (most dark chocolate or soya-chocolate).
- Try to choose chocolate with less and recyclable packaging. And recycle it!
- Drop an email to the chocolate companies that you would usually buy from and explain why you won't be buying from them anymore. Or if you really can't give up your favourites at least pester the companies for information on their environmental, labour, trade and animal welfare policies and urge them to improve on these.

Thu, 29th Mar. 2007, 15:45
Drinks Cartons (and update)

I've been quiet for a while. At the moment I'm still struggling with illness and trying to have a full week of being well. Last week I didn't quite manage it and so no blog entry. But I haven't given up. In fact I've actually managed to make a lot of new friends, both on here and over at MySpace. Thank you to anyone who has added me recently. Feel free to make comments and suggestions.

Someone I spoke to recently who is doing a similar thing is comedian Mark Watson, who is Crap At The Environment but wants to get better at it. He is busy gaining followers and setting them environmental challenges and is definitely worth joining in his quest. Read his MySpace blog and check out his website. There is also an LJ community based around CATE. Go look.

And now to the subject in question:

Did you know that drinks cartons can be recycled?
Neither did I until recently.

It annoys me that the fruit juice and soya milk I buy are only sold in cartons. I have to bin the empty cartons and they end up in landfill. Even though I always flatten them down so that they take up less space in the bin I would much rather recycle them. And now I can. A carton recycling bank has just appeared at my local supermarket. This is great news and it's about time.

As I increase the number of items that I can recycle I need to make more room for storage. I have a small recycling area next to the rubbish bin in the kitchen and I empty and sort this every few days into individual containers in the garden. I'm lucky to have a larger space outdoors to keep my recycling, but if you don't have a garden you can still make room. The key to being greener (as with many things) is organisation. Know what goes where, make sure your entire household knows, and recycle it regularly, don't let it build up into an unmanageable mountain.

I've also written to my local council to ask them to start collecting drinks cartons for recycling. If I get a reply I'll post it here.

What you need to know about drinks cartonsCollapse )

Action for this week

- Contact your local council and urge them to collect drinks cartons. If there are already recycling collection facilities / banks in your area, make sure you use them.
- Contact your local supermarket and urge them to install a recycling bank for drinks cartons.
- If you are a parent or teacher, urge your school to get involved in recycling.
- Post your cartons for recycling.
- If you can't recycle your cartons, at least pull out the corners and squash them completely flat before binning them, so they use less space at landfill.
- Consider buying your drinks in a container that you do have the ability to recycle, instead of a carton that you have to bin.

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