Posts Tagged ‘UK’

The Rough Guide to Community Energy: Free book

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 9th, 2012

What can we do to create sustainability in our own communities? How can local people work together to save or generate energy and tackle climate change?

The Rough Guide to Community Energy has the answers. Packed full of practical advice and inspiring case studies, it covers:

  • Local energy groups – how to set one up and keep its momentum going
  • Types of project including solar, wind, hydro, biomass, CHP and energy efficiency
  • Getting a project off the ground, from fundraising and planning to construction
  • Real-world advice from successful groups all over the UK

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or you already have a local energy group, The Rough Guide to Community Energy will help you make your project happen.

>> Get your free copy.

Check out the Resources section at the back of the book for websites and further reading.  KA


Climate Challenge: Play the game

Posted in Models, Tools by Kate Archdeacon on December 14th, 2011

Climate Challenge: Earth’s future is in your hands

A game where you are president of the European Nations. You must tackle climate change and stay popular enough with the voters to remain in office.

Play the game.

(It’s a bit confusing but the help button gets you through) 

About the game:

Currently there is a growing consensus amongst climate researchers that Earth’s climate is changing in response to man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The main debate amongst scientists is focussed on the amount of climate change we can expect, not whether it will happen. With the current level of debate in mind, the BBC decided a game might be a good introductory route into climate change and some of the issues this creates for governments around the world. The producers’ primary goal was to make a fun, challenging game. At times it was necessary to strike a compromise between strict scientific accuracy and playability. For this reason, Climate Challenge should not be taken as a serious climate change prediction. Wherever possible, real research has been incorporated into the game. This document describes the scientific sources used to create Climate Challenge and some of the compromises made by the producers. These sources are a good starting point for someone interested in learning more about climate change. This document also describes some of the compromises the producers made for the sake of playability.

Game focus and aims

Apart from the primary goal of creating a fun game, Climate Challenge’s producers aimed to:

  • give an understanding of some of the causes of climate change, particularly those related to carbon dioxide emissions.
  • give players an awareness of some of the policy options available to governments.
  • give a sense of the challenges facing international climate change negotiators.

Players must respond to catastrophic events caused by climate change as well as natural and manmade events, which may or may not be linked to climate change. This aspect of the game is meant to give some idea of what could happen as the Earth’s climate changes and also introduce the unpredictable nature of some natural events.


Food Waste & Blaming the Individual: Research Article

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on October 13th, 2011

Source: Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)


Photo by abbyladybug via flickr CC

From “Attitudes to and behaviours around food waste“:

This paper is written by David Evans of the Sustainable Consumption Institute. It is based on observations of ‘ordinary’ people shopping for and preparing food (19 households in all). It argues that, contrary to the prevailing view, people do know how to cook and do care about throwing food away. However it argues that the pressure to ‘eat properly’, in part a consequence of the styles promoted by celebrity chefs, gives rise to food purchasing habits that are unrealistic and give rise to waste. It concludes by suggesting ways in which food waste can be reduced – by portion resizing and by moves to “normalise the provisioning of foodstuffs that are not susceptible to rapid decay” (ie. tins, dried foods, frozen foods etc).

Reference and abstract as follows:

Evans D (2011). Blaming the consumer – once again: the social and material contexts of everyday food waste practices in some English households, Critical Public Health, 1–12

DOI:10.1080/09581596.2011.608797

In public debates about the volume of food that is currently wasted by UK households, there exists a tendency to blame the consumer or individualise responsibilities for affecting change. Drawing on ethnographic examples, this article explores the dynamics of domestic food practices and considers their consequences in terms of waste. Discussions are structured around the following themes: (1) feeding the family; (2) eating ‘properly’; (3) the materiality of ‘proper’ food and its intersections with the socio-temporal demands of everyday life and (4) anxieties surrounding food safety and storage. Particular attention is paid to the role of public health interventions in shaping the contexts through which food is at risk of wastage. Taken together, I argue that household food waste cannot be conceptualised as a problem of individual consumer behaviour and suggest that policies and interventions might usefully be targeted at the social and material conditions in which food is provisioned.

Read the article and related links on FCRN.

Or read about it on the SCI website.

 


Sustainable Ethical Fashion: Discussion

Posted in Movements, Opinion by Kate Archdeacon on October 6th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk


Photo by Bert van Dijk via flickr CC

From “Discussion round up: sustainability in the fashion business” by Jenny Purt:

What should the priorities be for the apparel business?

Labour conditions, water footprints, fibres and carbon.

An initial step would be for companies to make a concerted effort to adopt a few fabrics that are more sustainable but which may cost 5-10% more in base price. This would cause a chain reaction in the rest of industry. As big brands source more responsible textiles for their collections, there will be a bigger volume of orders which will lower the overall manufacturing cost (and therefore retail price), making the product more accessible to the mainstream market.[…]

How can companies increase sustainability throughout their supply chains?

In order to implement systemic change, there must first be a market for sustainable products, and currently that is quite small. Companies need to heighten customer awareness of where clothing comes from, how it is made and the social and environmental impact of its production. One panellist commented that there is a market for sustainability but currently consumers just don’t know enough. The first step is internal transparency.[…]

Can collaboration help?

Sharing best practices is a key element for change in the industry. Sharing knowledge is critical because the clothing industry is very complex and there is not just one answer. Only through collaboration at different stages of the supply chain we can find solutions.

How can brands bring ethical fashion into the mainstream?

While there are some super-premium ethical fashion brands, the market lacks stylish, affordable clothes from well-known high-street brands. One of the problems is that many ethical fashion companies do not get the exposure of the big, non-ethical brands because they cannot afford PR representation which is the engine house of the fashion industry. This means while there may be editors and stylists who would like some of the ethical fashion being produced, they are not exposed to it in the same way they are to big labels. The Mintel report in 2009 showed that some consumers would buy ethical fashion if prices were lower. However others said they would not trust cheap ethical fashion.[…]

What steps are being made across the apparel industry to encourage people to value quality and longevity over quantity and trends?

Mainstream retailers saw a “flight to quality” during the last recession. This means customers moving away from the cheaper, value products to more design-led and added-value pieces. This could be an interesting way of moving mainstream fashion to more sustainable sources if we can demonstrate real design value in ethical alternatives.[…]

Is organic cotton a sustainable solution?

There are a whole range of viewpoints on organic cotton with the most controversial being that farming cotton, organic or not, is not a sustainable option due to water availability. With many man-made fibres starting to mimic the touch, feel and handle of organic cotton, we will start to see cotton production levels falling and replacement fibres taking centre stage. The WWF recently produced a report on cotton highlighting the work done by the Better Cotton Initiative and the wider issues surrounding cotton production.[…]

Adopting more than one fibre type

Made-by has created an environmental benchmark for fibres which compares 23 fibres and ranks them on their sustainability impact. The organisation works with brands to develop a sustainable fibre strategy, swapping less sustainable fibres for those that are more sustainable.[…]

How can brands communicate sustainable approaches to consumers?

M&S [Marks & Spencer] is a leader in terms getting the message of its sustainability strategy out to the public but there are also other big brands doing some really interesting things. For example, Nike’s apparel eco index has now been released as open source. The company has also integrated its sustainability team into its business innovation lab with the ethos of “business as normal”. Puma are well known for its Clever Little Bag campaign, getting rid of shoe boxes and using a reusable bag instead. The sports company is also working on product development with eco scorecards and converting more of their range to sustainable materials, including cotton made in Africa. It is key for a brand to find an appropriate product and lexicon to communicate their approach to sustainability […]

How can companies change consumer behaviour?

One panellist said that some of the best examples have come from the laundry sector. Procter & Gamble’s Ariel Turn to 30 campaign has been successful in raising awareness around washing at lower temperatures to save money as has Persil’s Small and Mighty washing product which is designed to clean in 30 minutes. There have also been encouraging examples in the apparel industry with Patagonia developing closed loop recycling for their fleeces and Tesco’s collection and redistribution of used school uniforms through British Red Cross a few years ago.[…]

How can businesses work with suppliers to increase sustainability?

Panellists agreed that talking to suppliers is key to getting internal transparency. One panellist said that in her experience suppliers are quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic about traceability and sustainable materials. If a business has an existing supply chain, a life-cycle-wide assessment of the overall impact might help identify the weakest areas in the chain. An initiative such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s could help identify what issues to start chipping away at.[…]

What comes next for the fashion industry?

One of the major trends will be securing resources, raw materials, energy and water to run factories. Cotton prices have gone up over the last 12 months with factories in Bangladesh suffering four or five power cuts every day. With rising energy and water bills all over the world, even the big brands will struggle with these issues. Companies should see these challenges as an opportunity for more sustainable designs. The sector will face even tougher competition as suppliers from emerging countries establish their own brands and export to international markets in parallel with their work as contractors. New rules must be set and a common and clearer understanding about what is and is not sustainable is needed.

Key issues are:

  • Consumer behaviour change – especially in how we clean and dispose of clothes.
  • Making sustainable development desirable.
  • Climate change adaptation – as the planet’s temperature changes, consumers needs from clothes will change.
Read the full article by Jenny Purt on the Guardian.


Lunchtime Gardening for Office Health

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 23rd, 2011

Source: Sustainable Bristol


Photo: Ovagrown.blogspot.com

From “Will Business embrace Lunchtime Allotments?” by Paul Rainger:

Growing your own is all the rage. With long waiting lists for allotment space, we’ve seen veg beds spring up in parks, guerrilla growers taking over derelict land and even veg growing on supermarket roofs. The beneficial effects of reconnecting which nature through growing are well studied, from healthy eating itself, through to general improvements in health, happiness and even productivity at work. So, could leading business embrace Lunchtime Allotments as the next must have staff perk?

Will tomorrow’s young generation of more values-led employees see an hour lunchtime break to tend their veg as another key differentiator between good and bad employers, just as secure bicycle parking and showers are for many today? One company in Bristol, Arup, are already leading the way in the city. Staff in their city centre Bristol office haven’t let lack of space get in their way. They have simply taken over the nearby wide grass verge by the main bus lane.Now beans and courgettes pass by the window of the traffic heading up to the train station. You can even follow their adventures on [their blog http://ovagrown.blogspot.com/].

What if every business played its part in greening our city? Not the bland corporate shrubbery we see today, but the real veg growing of Lunchtime Allotments like this. Businesses would benefit from the improved productivity, health and wellbeing of their staff. And in these times of recession in the public sector, it may now be the best way of achieving the truly edible city.

Read the original article by Paul Rainger on Sustainable Bristol

 


Capital Bee: Supporting Beekeeping in London

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 15th, 2011

Capital Bee promotes community-run beekeeping in London and campaigns for a bee-friendly city.

The heart of Capital Bee is its seven training sites across the capital, offering 75 new beekeepers one year’s training from some of London’s most experienced beekeepers. These communities will then receive a hive and bees in 2012. The community sites, throughout the capital, are in schools, colleges, housing estates, businesses, and allotments. A full list of sites is available here.

Capital Bee is asking Londoners to support their local beekeepers and honey bees by growing plants that bees like, finding alternatives to garden pesticides, and opting for organic choices where possible. Solitary bees and bumble bees also need a suitable habitat in gardens, in much the same way as we put up bird boxes. A honey bee will fly up to three miles, so with over 2,500 hives already in London in London, you are never far from a bee!

The 50 new community apiaries are part of the Capital Growth campaign, which aims to support 2,012 new community food-growing spaces in London by the end of 2,012. Capital Growth is a partnership between London Food Link, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund.

In August this year, Capital Bee ran the London Honey Festival – “a celebration of London Honey, from across the capital as far as Croydon to Bexley, Tottenham to Ruislip, King’s Cross to the Royal Festival Hall. [People could] participate in the festival at selected restaurants, local shops and at the Honey Festival itself.”

http://www.capitalgrowth.org/bees/

 


Restoring a River and its Wildlife: People Power

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 14th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk


Photo by danielbradberry via flickr CC

From “Yorkshire’s revived river Aire is a lesson in people power” by Peter Lazenby:

News that Britain’s once foully polluted rivers are achieving levels of cleanliness and wildlife occupation not seen since the industrial revolution is to be welcomed. But credit for this cannot be claimed only by the government’s environment agency and anti-pollution legislation. Behind many of the improvements lies people power – the mobilisation of individuals and organisations to force polluters to clean up their act. In the 1980s and 90s, that is exactly what happened in my part of the world, industrial west Yorkshire.

The river Aire starts out as a healthy river in the Yorkshire dales, springing from beneath a limestone cliff known as Malham Cove, where falcons nest. By the time it wound its way through Bradford and Leeds, some 50 miles downstream, it had received the industrial waste of textile, chemical and engineering industries, plus the domestic waste of more than a million people. The pollutants killed off the river’s oxygen supply.

[…]

In the 1980s, a group was formed called Eye on the Aire. Its volunteers brought together more than 30 organisations with an interest in the river. They included community groups representing people living near its banks, conservation and environmental organisations, sporting groups such as rowing clubs, local councils and companies such as Tetley’s brewery, which had a riverside location. For a decade the group campaigned to press Yorkshire Water to install an extra level of filtration at its sewage works – tertiary treatment. The system involves the filtering of already treated sewage effluent through pebbles and increasingly fine layers of sand.  It took a decade to win the campaign, which included the harnessing of government influence and action by the environment department.

Yorkshire Water installed the tertiary treatment at a cost of millions of pounds. The effluent it produced was often as clean as the fresh river water into which it passed. The effect was near miraculous.In the late 1990s, more than a decade ahead of much of the rest of Britain, otters, heron and other wildlife began to return to the river Aire in the heart of industrial Leeds. Salmon appeared in the lower reaches, blocked only by weirs and other obstacles. Water passes will eventually allow them to reach spawning grounds in the Yorkshire dales where they have not been seen in more than two centuries.

There was an economic spin-off. The Aire in Leeds had been part of a comprehensive canal and river transport network in the days before rail. Its city riverside was littered with semi-derelict warehouses and factories not used in decades. No one wanted to invest in and develop buildings adjacent to a stinking open sewer. The restoration of the river to life changed all that. Today the Leeds waterfront thrives with homes, restaurants, bars and markets. The Aire hosts an annual water festival.

The driving force behind the return to life of the river was Eye on the Aire, an organisation made up of ordinary people with determination and a belief in their cause. We should remember their example in the face of future struggles.

Read the full article by Peter Lazenby for the Guardian


Urban Food Production Potential: Edible Hackney

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on September 8th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk

From “Edible Hackney” by Edward Platt:

“I’m always amazed by the way that professional planning fails people,” Mikey Tomkins says, as we stand beneath a 17 storey block of flats called Welshpool House, near Hackney’s Broadway Market. Even on a bright, sunny afternoon in August, the area is not particularly inviting: people have congregated around a bench on the far side of the road, but the concrete terrace beneath the building and the three adjoining areas of fenced-off grass, are empty.

Tomkins, who is an expert on urban agriculture and a bee-keeper with hives on the roof of a nearby building, is incensed by the sight of so much wasted space. Last year, he produced a map called Edible Hackney, which imagines how the streets and estates of a small area of E8 could be turned to food production. He drew beehives on the roof of the 17-storey building and placed raised beds of vegetables and fruit trees around its base. The garages on the far side of the road became mushroom farms, and London Fields was the venue for an annual festival of local produce. The map offers a beguiling vision of a district recently ravaged by riots, and yet it isn’t entirely wishful thinking.

When Tomkins had greeted our small group half an hour before with a pot of his London Fields honey, he had explained that the tour we were about to embark on would not only take in the places where food might be produced, but the places where it was already in production.

[…]

Read the full article by Edward Platt on the Guardian.


Straw-Bale Council Housing

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 28th, 2011

Source: guardian.co.uk


ModCell makes sustainable, prefabricated straw bales and sets up a ‘flying factory’ in a space such as a farmyard where wall panels for homes can be assembled close to where they are needed.” Click through to see the image gallery on the Guardian.

Two local councils in the UK have chosen to build straw-bale council houses, in order to decrease domestic GHG emissions.  The houses are extremely well-insulated, potentially reducing residents’ heating costs to 20 percent of those of conventional homes, and helping address the issue of fuel scarcity.  The straw-bale homes are built using locally produced hay-bales, and they achieve a higher fire safety rating than the required standards.

Read the full article by Cath Harris in the Guardian.


FARM:Shop – Growing Food in a London Shop

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 18th, 2011

From “Urban Farm in a Shop” on Urban Gardens:

FARM:shop is a workspace, cafe, and events venue packed to the rafters with living and breathing food–literally a farm in a shop. Asking themselves “how much food can we grow in a shop?” FARM:shop opened its doors in March and aspires to become the meeting place of choice for London’s food lovers and urban farmers, as well as a special place to rest one’s feet, have a coffee, and smell the countryside without ever leaving the city. Busy growing their idea, FARM:shop folks have filled the old space with a mini fish farm, vegetable garden, and are raising chickens and livestock.

The first FARM:shop, in Dalston, is the start of [a planned network of shops and grow sites across the UK.]

FARM:shop aims to:

  • Excite and inspire city dwellers to grow their own food, fabric and medicine and make an income doing this.
  • Create direct links between farms in the countryside with urban communities
  • Grow food commercially via a network of FARM:’s across cities and retail this food at FARM:shops
Read the full article on Urban Gardens