According to Tom Hodgkinson, author of ‘How to be free’ we should be thank ful if we are ‘lucky enough’ to lose our jobs. Less stress, less boss and more free time to do what we want- you will even save money due to less travel and less going out with your boring colleagues!
Personally, I would be reduced to a quivering ball of stressed out jelly if I lost all my income overnight and so I am not sure I totally agree with his laid back thoughts.
However, he does have a good point about taking redundancy as an opportunity to redefine what your life is all about and if you really are fed up of working for a big corporate, then why not reduce your costs and work for yourself and take the time to disover life outside of the 9-5.
Mmm….I will give it a go this weekend, but then back on the grind mill and out to Abu Dhabi on Monday for some more dirty lucca to keep the family fed for the rest of the week!!
8th May 2009
Next month Knowaste, a Canadian waste recycling company, will start construction on the UK’s first nappy and sanitary pad recycling centre. Based in Birmingham, it is expected the plant will recycle up to 36,000 tonnes of nappies per year.
The nappies and sanitary pads are collected and transported to the processing plant where they are mechanically sorted. Up To 84% of the components can be recovered within the knowaste process; plastic and textile fibres are recovered and recycled into products such as roof tiles, cladding and bicycle helmets, fibre and super absorbents are sent for composting with the organic waste being used to generate methane.
Provided that there is an end user for the recycled-nappy products, and dependent on the amount of methane produced, this could have serious impact the EA’s Nappy Study (see blog entries below) conclusions.
It is expected that the plant will be operational Autumn 2009 with another three plants planned for the UK, potential sites include; London, Sheffield and Newcastle.
Presuming that they are of the same scale, this could remove a total of 144,000 tonnes of nappy and sanitary pad waste out of an annual national nappy landfill 750,000 tonnes (not including sanitary pads) out of landfill. This is a very positive development by the recycling sector and it will be interesting to see how this influences the nappy industry, national waste disposal policies and environmentally conscious parents’ buying patterns.
Pragmatism rules again and whilst the fundamentalists amongst us might shun such an approach, this at least provides a solution to the vast majority of users who will keep with disposables, whatever the numbers. It also puts a value on waste - just think it may even spurn a new generation of businesses, collecting nappies. The question is will a dirty nappy be worth more that a wet one because of the potential methane available?
Such thoughts take me back to my childhood when the local paper mill offered payment for recycled papers. As a budding environmental business boy I wondered the neighbourhood collecting papers and then taking them down to the mill to get paid my £1 for every trolley load. I remember one day, on a slight detour from my usual round, I knocked on the door of an old lady to ask for her papers. She invited me into her house and showed me into 3 rooms stuffed full of news papers worth at least £100/room!!! . Wow! My eyes lit up and I could already feel the weight of the money in my pocket. It turned out she was a paper hoarder and obsessive collector of papers but try as I might to persuade her otherwise she was determined to keep them and would only part with a few each week….oh, the pain of it, so close and yet so far!
For Ziga however, until the London plant opens and a full study has been completed – We’re sticking with the 2nd hand reusable!
For more information on the Knowaste check out their website www.knowaste.com
2nd March 2009
ps with thanks to Maeve Hall for this research!
Our on-line calculator has gone live this morning! This has been more complicated that we thought and took longer then we had hoped but at least our web site is now complete!
The calculator represents Phase 1 development at the moment. It does not include embodied carbon and only allows you to do an annual footrprint. The next phase will have more functionality and we hope to get all of your feedback. So, please try it, even if you do not make a final payment (although we hope you do!) and let us know what you think.
Of course this will open the big debate about whether Planet Positive should be investing into developing countries to help them become low carbon economies. Some people call this carbon offsetting and are vociferously against it. We call it ’low carbon investment’ and we know that if this is not done, then countries such as India, Vitenam etc will just follow our (bad - fossil fuel led) example and carry on building and using carbon intensive technologies which are cheaper and easier to implement
It is true there are some very good alternaitve ideas out there but at the moment this is the only show in town, so get with the beat and Join Us Now!
20th February 2009
Ziga - My Low Carbon Baby
And so I have spent the week looking at which nappies to use and trying to source as much information as possible to try and justify any ongoing decision I would take about whether to keep on using disposable or to switch to reusable cotton nappies.
It seems that we stumbled on a bit of an argument here with conflicting data from the Environment Agency and Woman’s Environmental Network. Both have carried out detailed studies looking at the carbon associated with making the nappy as well as washing and disposal.
On top of this, I also need to persuade my partner that the extra washing and hassle of washing nappies is worth it!
The two key studies that we have looked at include;
- EA Study (pdf download) - ‘Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK’
- Women’s Environmental Network
The team assessed the footprint over a 30 month period of using the nappies and produced various dull graphs and pie charts so that I could really understand the issues. I have included a sample pie chart.
Summary and Results
And so to the results; We have laid out a full summary of the results below, and the clear winner is
Second Hand Re-Usable Nappies washed at 60deg C in an energy efficient washing machine.
This has been broken down further showing the operational and embodied carbon breakdown
The chart shows that reusable nappies have a greater amount of operational carbon giving parents more control to reduce CO2e emissions through changes in nappy use & maintenance behaviour such as; air drying, using energy efficient machines, using less/eco-detergents etc.
It is far harder to contact the nappy supplier and ask them to reduce their emissions since a parent’s ability to influence is smaller but if it were possible then manufacturers should focus on weight reduction
Other options that we did not look at but are available are
- Hemp Nappies
- Bamboo Nappies
- Eliminate communication - No nappies!
At the start of this study I had hoped that the difference between disposable and re-usable nappies would be insignificant. Unfortunately for me this is not the case! And so never being one to shirk a challenge, it seems that I must take the plunge, so here we go- reusable here we come!
Coffee at Cafe Nero? A morning at the Gym? Or ‘Help me take my pigs to the slaughter house’!
Most mums might expect to hit the gym on a Monday morning or have a revitalising coffee with friends. When she heard that I had double booked and had to be in London instead of taking the pigs to the slaughter house, Ros had to enrol the moral and physical help of two friends.
Frankie (an expert on reversing a trailer thanks to a recent caravan driving course) and Sophie (a good knowledge of animal and country things) were happy to help Ros while I went to work!
One of the things that is apparent from trying planet positive, sustainable living (and we are mere beginners) is that people are only too willing to help. Where in the past I might have notionally talked about community, now I really feel it (and part of it).
Community works and it is rewarding - whether you are giving or receiving. Early this week, on Britain’s most depressing Monday (according to the press, this was statistically the most depressing day of the year), Ros found cheer and support from friends and strangers. Over to Ros:
With the porkers (not weaners as Steve described in the previous blog – they are weaners when you collect them. He told a bit of a porker…) loaded into the trailer, we set off to the local slaughter house. We became aware that we were following a queue of cars pulling trailers of animals. We had found the slaughter house.
I have always considered myself a practical person but my hands were shaking like a leaf. I jumped from the car and ran to the one in front. “It’s my first time,” I blurted out. The kind couple in the car guided me through the process. You reverse your trailer into a holding pen where Pork and Crackling were guided out of the trailer and along a corridor. With a heavy heart I gave them a final pat and they were gone…
I kept repeating to myself that that was their purpose and we would not have had the enjoyment of keeping pigs if we weren’t going to use them for meat. As a meat eater all my life, I have taken this for granted. Completing the circle has given me respect for the animal and the process.
The support of my friends was wonderful and much needed when I was feeling so sad. I recommend that, if this is your first time, don’t do it alone.
After a cup of tea, I went to the local butcher to run through the different cuts of meat. I had researched these using the River Cottage Meat book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (www.rivercottage.net) and Perfect Pigs by Clare and Robin Wilson (www.oaklandspigs.co.uk).
The decisions on the cuts are based around using the using the legs for hams or joints, the loins for chops or bacon, how many sausages, ribs, shoulder joints and so on. We will try cure and hang one back leg for Parma ham, cure one of the loins for bacon and one of the bellies for streaky bacon. These will need to be cured before being sliced.
The pigs will come from the slaughter house over the next few days so they can be hung by the butcher. He will make the cuts and we’ll collect on Jan 30. The butcher mentioned that ‘first-timers’ can overfeed pigs which can result in the outer fat being too thick (an inch or more where it should be ½ - 3/4” thick. He’ll let us know so we can make sure we get it right next time.
We are now researching where to get the next weaners. We’ve ordered 2 Oxford Sandy/Gloucester Old Spots (ginger with black spots!) but are also interested in Berkshires but there don’t seem to be many around.
So the cycle continues.
It has been fun bringing up these two weaners. It has been our first experience of pig keeping and I am sure it won’t be our last. They have been a valuable addition to Field End. The boys have loved feeding them, except when they get a bit boisterous and chew on their wellies, sitting watching them, giving them a scratch and just having them.
And people beyond the family have become involved. We have been getting apples from a neighbour, local pig breeders have been offering help and advice and our friends have been grilling us on whether we want to send them to slaughter and eat them…
As a family of animal lovers (if that is not a contradiction in terms), we have felt strong feelings about the pigs going. Tonight we’re all a bit fed up. They are only 6-months old and it seems such a desperately short life.
I think, perhaps, we are all a bit naive about food and this process is opening our eyes. I am pleased about that. We talk about the food on our family table a lot now – the taste, where it has come from, if we like it. However, we all knew (all except Charlie who’s 5) that they would be leaving us one day and return another as chops, sausages and bacon.
And the day has come. To transport them to the slaughter house in Heathfield we had to get a trailer. We had been buying meat from a local farmer and he has let us borrow a small livestock trailer.
It was now a matter of getting the pigs into the trailer. Using a bucket of food and apples, we coaxed them out of their pen and into a holding pen by the open door of the trailer. Once there they refused to move. Ros got in the trailer and Will and Tom shuffled and edged them forwards with the fence panels making the shrinking pen. I was pushing and shoving but they are pretty heavy and wouldn’t budge.
As light was fading, Ros told me of the tip she had from a local farmer: “Cover the head with a bucket and reverse him in.” Anything was worth a try, so with a bucket over Pork’s head, I heaved him up the ramp and into the trailer. Crackling soon followed. Great advice!
We now have to complete some paperwork, such as the Food Chain Information form from BPEX (www.bpex-fci.org.uk) and animal movement forms from Defra (www.defra.gov.uk/animalhealth). You can also find out more about pig keeping from The British Pig Association www.britishpigs.org.
Ros also has to let the butcher know what cuts we want. We haven’t done this before, so it appears to be a compromise on the type and quantity of meat you want. We are going to take advice from the butcher as this is our first go. We do want one ham, even though you have to hang it for a year.
Tomorrow the deed is done. Ros is taking them with her friends along for moral support. We will give you an update then…
We also had the hedge trimmed today. It’s once a year activity where local ace farm hand Will rocks up with his tractor to cut our hedge down to size. It’s helping thicken it up after a few years of neglect. It would take me a few days by hand and weekends are precious to keep the animals, vegetable plots and other projects going, so we gladly take this helping hand. A word of advice, stand well back because the wood flecks go flying.
Cheers, Steve & Ros Malkin, the boys and all at Field End
As many of you will know Steve Malkin (MD of Planet Positive) is trying to live the life! He and Ros have bought a small holding down in Kent along with a some pigs, sheep, chickens. They are growing their own veg and generally trying to live the life.
But it is not easy and there are many hard decisions along the way
Should they take the pig to slaughter, should they be even eating meat?
Should Steve sell his 15 year old (2nd hand) Jag or just keep on recycling it
Should the kids cycle to school along narrow dangerous roads or must Ros for the sake of their safety continue to drop them
How do they source and install a small diameter turbine and is this the right thing to do
It is not easy living a Planet Positive life, it means changing our habits and changing some of the things that we take for granted. And in this change we will be faced with many dilemmas and even ethical challenges.
Not everyone will be able to create a small farm like Steve and Ros but you will be faced with similar challenges- let’s here about them.
And so to get the ball rolling I have asked Steve and Ros make a guest appearance in my Blog over the weekend, to share some of their challenges and successes. Enjoy!
To a great fan fare and stirring drum roll Greenpeace announced yesterday their 2008 Award for Greenwash which goes to BP for their PR campaign in ‘Mixed energy’. I have shown the link below. It’s worth the time to look at it as it is embarrassingly funny and you can be sure will not have gone down well at board level.
BUT, should BP be singled out as the worst offender, and did they take into account all the good that BP has done with its ’carbon footrpint’ campaign. Also was there any real shortlist drawn up by Greenpeace and if so can we see it?
I must admit this video smacks of ‘judge and jury’ and whilst it is funny, it does not seem right that BP should get all the rotten eggs thrown at them alone when there are so many other worthy recipients.
Next year may I suggest that Greenpeace run on-line nomination to reach a shortlist, which they publish and then have an on-line vote to get the worst offender.
Now that would be fun and I can think of a few names already that I would feature…
Virgin Fuels - All his profits?
EXXON - suddenly they care?
30th December 2008
ps Image co. Start Up Nation who will help you avoid the greenwash! article entitled ‘How to Avoid Greenwashing in Your Marketing Efforts’
As we approach Christmas and we are sucked into the cycle of purhasing I am wondering if there is a way of making this present fest somehow good for the planet?
‘Baah Humbug! I hear you cry, xmas is for children and you should not be transposing your own feelings of guilt over the rest of us. We just want to enjoy!’
Well, I ask, shouldn’t it be possible to do both by being responsible in our shopping choices - the goods we buy, the places we go to, the manner in which we dispose of our old purchases.
Surely this is not much to ask for saving the planet and preserving our way of life?
So after this splurge, let’s make 2009 the year of Responsible Consumerism.
I am watching the debate with interest as the vote swings inexorably in favour of those against carbon offsetting. There are many views against ranging from the specific (preventing Brazil reach an agreement on REDD) and the reduction stick bashers. I have sympathy with the specifics but less so for the reduction stick bashers. I have been practicing as an engineer whose sole purpose in life over the past 16 years has been energy efficiency. Telling companies to reduce by 80% because ‘they have to’ when it costs them more and more to make those reductions does not work. They need a financial incentive.
If carbon investment is not the answer (which I still believe it is part of) then perhaps a Planet Positive world carbon fund that taxes all businesses and individuals and incentivises products and systems that do deliver real reductions.
The point is that we can’t just sit there on the sidelines screaming REDUCE. It’s not working! We have to get off our backsides and do something about it that engages the whole world ( the rich and the poor).
6th December 2008