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Activism Environment

Buy Nothing New for a Year

A few days ago I was looking through online January sales for DVDs, and I wondered about how much more happy and fulfilled I feel when I add more material things to my life. Not much, if at all. And this reminded me of Robert Llewellyn buying nothing for a year (about 3/4 down in this article). So I googled it and found a different website all about ‘the movement’, and this has helped me develop my own guidelines for the project:

  1. Stick to the essentials: I will obviously continue to buy food, toiletries and other essentials. But I will make an effort to keep this to a minimum. I don’t buy a lot of toiletries anyway, and rarely waste food so this shouldn’t be too difficult. But I do want to make an effort to cut out excessive packaging, reducing food miles, and possibly growing my own. I’m not very green-fingered though so I don’t want to commit to this.
  2. Support local: I will try to support locally grown food, locally made toiletries, local suppliers, and small businesses.
  3. Carry reusable products: I will keep shopping bags and a travel mug in the car, so I’m not caught short when I’m out and about.
  4. Buy services and experiences: I will continue to spend money on enrichment and entertainment, but be aware of how much ‘new’ stuff they use to provide that service and their impact on the environment. Anything that makes use of local community spaces is OK. Haircuts are OK but not too often. Concerts, museums, etc. are all OK.
  5. Buy used: I want to keep what I buy to a minimum, but if there is anything I have to buy I will try to get it used instead. I’m already pretty good at this – love charity shops and ebay – but I could be better.
  6. Borrow or share: I will check if I can borrow items that I need in the short term, and also have items available for others to borrow.

Saying this, I do have a few conditions to attach:

  • Bathroom: I have bought everything except the bath and tiles, and it would life much easier to have a shower installed and have the extra space in the spare room. The cheapest bath I can find is a new one, and this has been on my list for a year. So if I have the money I am OK with getting this sorted out.
  • Shed: Another thing that has been on my list for a long while, and it is for the wellbeing of the horses. It also has the added benefits of not using bale wrap, saving money, and generating electricity.
  • Gifts: I will try to stick to experiences instead of buying new material stuff for people, but I’ll just have to see how this goes.
  • Christmas vouchers: I still have some vouchers to spend from Christmas and if they’ll expire I will spend them within the year.
  • Amazon Prime: I haven’t decided yet whether this is classed as material stuff or a service. I don’t own the films and TV shows in my playlist, and I watch this more than my TV.

I will also use this time to try to get rid of stuff I don’t need, use or want. I’ve already turned my clothes hangers around so that I can really see what I don’t wear (and make an effort to go places in order to wear any favourites that are in danger of not being kept!). I’m going to get rid of gifts I’ve received once I’ve kept them for an appropriate length of time, which I guess is about 12 months, depending on who the gifter was. I’m going to go through all the stuff I hang on to and decide if I really need to keep it, if it is improving my life in any way. And I’m going to need to be quite ruthless as far as sentimental value goes.

Hopefully I will also use this time to get crafty again, with all the craft stuff, beads and material that is taking up space in the house.

And as a reminder of what our consumerist lifestyles lead to, here are some none-too-heart-warming photos. None of dead, suffering or misshapen animals though.

ocean tyres
Activism Disaster Management Environment First Time Farmer Photography

Resolutions 2016

I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I last did a post about resolutions. And FYI, the last lot didn’t go that well, apart from getting a Distinction in my Masters.

So this year’s resolutions are:

  1. Clear the fields: I’m getting really fed up of all the mess taking over the hedge lines, and it will need to go if I’m going to get a shed built. Yes, the bigger stuff will need more effort and a big skip delivered, but I want to make a real effort to take at least one box of smaller crap to the town skip every week. I don’t need to get the car onto the field: I can just carry the box up to the gate. And there’s plenty of small stuff to go too.
  2. Pull ups: my general fitness has declined recently, and I would like to be stronger especially if I plan to do mounted games and want to be able to vault. So I want to be able to do pull ups. I’m pretty sure I can’t even do one at the moment. I don’t really have a goal as to how many – I’ll just see how it goes and count every extra one as a positive.
  3. Use my cameras: I have a moderately expensive DSLR camera and accessories, and now an action camera. I would very much like to make more use of them, whether that’s going out and photographing fun stuff I’m doing or just improving my skills.
  4. Get back into disasters/development: I know the chances of me getting a decent job in the field in my current situation are minute, but it is still something I’m very interested in. I spent a lot of money and time developing my knowledge and skills and it would be nice to put that to good use again. So I intend to start writing blog posts and LinkedIn posts to prove my continued interest and knowledge.
  5. Rekindle friendships: I’ve written another ‘motivational presentation’ and in it I have listed people I would consider friends, as well as close family. And I see maybe about 10% of those people on a regular basis. Which is crap. I’m always down about not having people to spend time with and friends getting coupled off; and yes, it sucks, but there are still plenty of people on that list who I could make an effort to see and I don’t.
  6. Be more positive: about 18 months ago – during one of my lethargic, apathetic, miserable periods – I started a mantra of “Woo hoo! Yeah!” for everything I did, to try to inject some enthusiasm and positivity into my life. I mean everything: vacuuming, ironing, dog walking in the rain. And it worked. Yet for some reason I stopped. So this time I’m going to make a real effort, because quite frankly, there’s a lot about my life that I would like to change, but focusing on the negative is what makes me miserable. So if I can do something simple to feel positive and enthusiastic, maybe I can find the energy to change the negatives, or at least learn to live with them a little easier.
  7. Buy nothing new for a year: I’m going to write a longer separate post on this, but basically I have a lot of stuff, it doesn’t really make me happy, and I have to pack it up and move it every time I move house, and find somewhere to put it. It’s also bad from an environmental point of view. So barring essentials, I am going to try to buy nothing new for a year.

I started well last night: I forced myself to go out, saw some friends I hadn’t seen for a while, chatted to strangers, and had a good time. And considering I flaked on climbing twice this week, I think that’s pretty positive.

But I was really hoping not to start the year fancying someone else’s boyfriend. I should find someone else to be the object of my affection. Not something that comes easily to me in my current situation.

Disaster Management Environment

Global Carbon Footprint

This is an interesting graphic I re-posted on my tumblr site a couple of weeks ago. Admittedly it is limited in that it doesn’t show emissions against population, but just a quick glance shows that the USA emits about as much as China, and the UK about as much as Brazil. While I don’t know the populations of each of those countries off hand, I know that they are vastly different.

The graphic is originally from here.

Activism Environment

Block tar sands oil, not the FQD

Once again, the government proves itself to be untrustworthy. Cameron stated that he wanted this to be the greenest government ever (or something to that effect). But apparently all it takes is the Canadians pushing hard for tar sands oil to change all that.

This article from Greenpeace shows that the UK has done a 180-degree turn on their position regarding the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). This proposal would have blocked a lot of tar sands oil; but now the UK has decided to block the FQD proposals.

So the greenest ever UK government is quite OK with importing one of the dirtiest forms of oil, and the greater pollution it will emit: 3 times more than crude oil. The greenest ever UK government is also OK with destroying Canadian forest, homelands of indigenous people, and accelerating climate change.

The greenest ever UK government will be a little off target with emissions reductions.

Write to Nick Clegg to tell him to sort out the government’s green credentials, and to sort out his Transport Minister, Norman Baker.

Activism Environment Justice

WWF’s Timber Pledge

As a local authority I’m sure you buy all sorts of timber products, from office paper to wood for construction. But many local authorities don’t know where the timber they buy comes from, which means it could be from forests which have been logged illegally or unsustainably. This is devastating for forests and the people who depend on them.

By buying certified timber you can support sustainable forest management and help ensure a future for the forests around the world where our paper and wood comes from.

So far Cardiff is the only council in Wales to have made a pledge with WWF to improve the way they buy wood and paper products.  I’m asking you to commit to improving your timber purchasing by making a WWF pledge. I would like to know that the wood and paper you buy for use in our community is not damaging forests.

This is an important step towards ensuring that our community has a positive impact on forests and local communities in places like Indonesia and the Congo Basin where they rely on healthy forests for shelter, food and fuel.

Please make a WWF pledge.

Thank you.

Activism Environment

Greenpeace Arctic Oil Drilling Petition

Cairn didn’t want you to see their Arctic oil spill response plan. They essentially admit that a spill in the Arctic would be catastrophic, and near impossible to clean up.The fact that this report is now public puts pressure on Cairn and other oil companies to get out of the Arctic, as it makes it absolutely clear that their drilling operations are breathtakingly irresponsible.

Please sign the petition asking Greenland’s Prime Minister to protect the Arctic.

Activism Environment Justice

Avaaz Climate Petition

Right now, a major climate fight is blowing up in Australia — the government is about to pass a law that would cut carbon emissions and get polluters to pay. But big businesses are trying to kill the bill.

This carbon pricing law is a win-win measure — it will push dirty businesses towards clean production and generate more resources for working families. If it passes, it will spur other major emitters to follow suit and could be the next best hope for our climate.

Sign the urgent petition to back this bold initiative

The measure would make polluting companies pay, encouraging them to become more efficient while funding technologies of the future and increasing support to the most needy.

Countries like Denmark, Sweden and Costa Rica have already introduced carbon-pricing, spurring innovation and reducing pollution. If we now embolden Australia — the worst rich country per person carbon polluter — to follow their lead, it will generate momentum for other major emitters such as China and the US to follow suit, boosting our chances of a global climate deal next year.


Ever heard of environmental estrogens?

So, Disaster Management & Sustainable Development is not a course to do if you want to feel good about the state of the world. I already knew that, but I am still learning lots. For example, one of my tutors is fairly sure that men will be infertile within 50 years, due to environmental estrogens. These are manufactured estrogens and have been shown to have effects on hormones and fertility and have even have effects on the sexualisation of fish: changing them from male to female.

Where are environmental estrogens found?
They have been produced by industrial, agricultural, and chemical companies and introduced into the environment for most of the 20th and 21st century. They can be found in food such as commercially raised beef, chicken and pork, and they have been used to increase milk production in dairy cows. Two food additives have also been suspected of altering hormones: propyl gallate and 4-hexyl resorcinol.

Pesticides used on fruit and vegetables and in the garden contain them, as well as household products like cleaners, air fresheners, paints, solvents, glues, varnishes, carpets, fibreboard, and other processed woods. Personal care, cosmetic products, nail polish and remover also contain them.

Lastly, they can be found in plastic containers for food and drink, including styrofoam and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, which were found to be leaching estrogens into the water inside.

Some conditions associated with environmental estrogen:

  • Faster aging
  • Autoimmune disorders such as lupus erythematosis. thyroiditis, and possibly Sjoegren’s disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cervical dysplasia
  • Early onset of menstruation
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Fibromyalgia (thought by some to be related to estrogen dominance)
  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Low sperm count
  • Man Boobs (Gynecomastia)
  • PMS
  • Premenopausal bone loss
  • Thyroid dysfunction mimicking hypothyroidism
  • Water retention

How do you reduce your exposure to environmental estrogen?

  • Avoid buying food and drink in plastic containers, wrapping food in cling film, heating food up in plastic
  • Use glass or ceramic containers to store food
  • Replace your chemical based household cleaning products with natural products; avoid solvents; use natural pest control
  • Buy hormone free or organic meat; avoid the fat on meat or poultry where the chemicals accumulate
  • Buy organic fruit and vegetables where possible
  • Eat a diet high in whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables and low in processed food
  • Avoid food and drink with artificial additives
  • Use natural, chemical free cosmetics
  • Avoid birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Use bio-identical hormones based on saliva, urine or blood tests done by a functional medicine doctor.
  • Do not use spermacide

So there we are. Lots of fun facts about the state of the world we live in.

Activism Environment Justice

Airplot wins!

I’m not yet sure how I feel about this new government – especially with planned increases on VAT – but I am glad they’ve chosen to scrap the third runway plans at Heathrow. I signed up to airplot a few weeks ago, along with thousands of other people over the past 18 months, including Nick Clegg, Justine Greening (Cons) and Susan Kramer (LD). Zac Goldsmith, one of the legal owners, was also Environmental Adviser to the Conservative Party, and is now MP for Richmond Park.

It might not be reducing the effects of climate change, but it certainly goes some way to ensuring they don’t get even more out of control.

Activism Environment Justice

Copenhagen Climate Talks

I won’t go into any great detail right now (mostly because I’ve only been hearing the headlines), but it would be a great disappointment if the ‘world leaders’ don’t reach a substantial agreement in Copenhagen this week. Developed nations seem content to continue as they are, despite all the warnings. And why should we trust these leaders, when we already know they’re only interested in short term gains that keep them in office?

They seem perfectly happy to spend billions to wage war and access more oil, rather than spend less (still billions, but much less) on developing renewable energy technology and reducing demand (through actions such as better insulation and behaviour change to produce less waste).

But fair play to the Small Island nations, who are being outspoken and getting their views across. And why shouldn’t they? The behaviour of developed nations over the past 200 years means they may have to abandon their entire island (see Dan Box’s blog on the Carteret Islands for the first climate change refugees).

The New Economics Foundation are conducting research on monetary reform: “A combination of centralisation, globalisation and deregulation has allowed private financial institutions to create a credit bubble which has now burst”. This financial system has crippled the natural world: businesses buy and ship products worldwide; massive consumption has lead to huge tracts of land being brought into ‘productive’ use; people with disposable income are encouraged to spend their money on the latest stuff, then throw it away and replace it with the newer stuff six months later; nothing is built to last. Everything is secondary to the market: family, community, the natural environment, politics, democracy…

And to finish I will quote a Cree Indian proverb: “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.”

Follow COP15 with:
Friends of the Earth
The Ecologist Magazine

Environment Other


A quick unfocussed rant about people in general and our relationship with our natural environment.

I was once telling a friend about how I ran over a rabbit in my car. His response was “I know, they’re stupid aren’t they?” Like they didn’t get the memo that they shouldn’t cross the big black tarmac things, and that when a vehicle comes you should run into the hedge.

Foxhunters frequently tell me that dogs ripping a fox to shreds is justified because foxes kill sheep and get into hen houses. But from the foxes’ perspective surely we’ve just helped them by thoughtfully rounding up all the animals they want to eat?

An enviro-sceptic once told me “look at fields and hedges – they’re not natural”. Possibly one of the weakest arguments I’ve ever heard. Fine, fields and hedges are manmade, but if we were to grade ‘naturalness’ I think they would come in a bit higher than concrete and tarmac structures that we’re so fond of.

I suppose my point is that, for the most intelligent species on the planet, we don’t half say and do some stupid things. Every other creature in the world lives in harmony with its natural environment. Their habitats are natural, their food is natural, and everything in their life is geared towards survival.

Homosapiens however decided that this just wouldn’t do. Why use things that naturally degrade in a few months/years when you can use plastic which takes 500 years? Why buy food in one layer or no packaging when you can have plastic, card and a sticker?

For the most intelligent species on the planet, we are the only ones that seem intent on its devastation.