Monday, December 29, 2008

My greenish Christmas

I got a one-man tent, which is not an unsubtle hint from the rest of the family, but will allow me to continue my love of travelling sustainably alone - cycling or hiking.

I gave my partner a funky shoulder bag made out of recovered Chilean film posters in a social enterprise and some ornaments and a picture frame made out of recycled metal from RE at Corbridge. And some soap. And that wasn't a hint either.

Santa brought the boy a "pre-loved" Thomas the Tank Engine Train set and a similar garage.

And the organic turkey was, and still is, gorgeous and worth the, ahem, cost.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading, I hope you're finding Eco-living of interest and some use.

Have a great break and don't let the guilt get you down - just make some big fat green resolutions for the New Year.

All the best,


Saturday, December 20, 2008

It shouldn't happen to a green part 2

The other day I was working/facebooking diligently at my desk when I heard the cat flap go twice followed by a mewling sound the cat only makes when she's caught something. Now Pip lays waste to the local rat and mouse population, but they are plentiful around here so we turn a blind eye to it, but as I went upstairs to see what she had, I heard a flutter followed by a pounce. My heart sank. I got to the living room, but was confused as she appeared to be staring at a bright blue ball with a rod sticking out of it. When I realised it was a kingfisher, my heart went down even further. It was motionless and its neck was twisted at an odd angle with its beak (the rod) vertical.

I scooped it up and it looked at me without moving much. I now had a real dilemma. If Pip leaves a mouse disabled, I have no qualms about bopping it on the head to avoid further suffering. But I had a beautiful and highly protected species in my hands, which may or may not be illegal in itself, and I was now probably going to have to stave its head in*. I took it out and down the lane by the river. I found a stone and set the bird down on it to assess its condition and prepare myself for the grim task ahead.

You will never know the relief as it rose into the air with a single flick of its wings and soared down along the river as if nothing had ever happened.

* I have since checked out the legislation and, for the record, it is not illegal to kill a protected species which is injured and unlikely to recover, unless you unlawfully caused the injury. I guessed this was the case at the time, but did not have time to google it...

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Zoos - good or evil?

I spent last Saturday afternoon at Edinburgh zoo with the boy. I'm always really conflicted with zoos - the thrill of seeing a wild animal like a polar bear against the sickening feeling that this beautiful creature is cooped up in such a small space for our entertainment - particularly pertinent for polar bears as they are known to adapt badly to captivity.

At Edinburgh, though, the conservation aspect to zoos really hit home. They have 2 Amur Leopards and there are only thought to be 50 in the wild. We also saw 3 Drill monkeys - there are only thought to be a couple of thousand out there in the world. And it went on...

So my assumption that these beasts would otherwise be roaming in an unspoilt wilderness doing their natural thing unmolested is somewhat fanciful - they are under serious threat from us out there and, if nothing else, zoos now represent a genetic library from which we may be able to re-establish populations. Add to that the educational aspect - the zoo was very good at pointing out exactly why these species are under threat.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Petrolheads go green...

Interesting TV (in the UK) last night if you are a green...

A cyclist beats an F1 driver to Sports Personality of The Year on BBC1 and then over on BBC2 James May on Top Gear calls the hydrogen powered Honda Clarity "the most important car to be developed in the last 100 years". Even Jezza Clarkson enjoyed the Tesla electric sports car until it started running out of juice - the practicality of recharging it was what made him dismiss it as 'doesn't work', not the frightening torque an electric engine will produce.

But looking back, Top Gear has been showing a green tinge for a while - the three petrolheads raced across Europe on a single tank of fuel a couple of weeks ago and the top two drivers in the 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car' are Jay Kay and Kevin McCloud - two avowed greenies...

Times they are a changin'

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BBC Breathing Spaces Viral

The Beeb has produced this very cute viral video to promote its 'Breathing Spaces' initiative. Breathing spaces encourages people to develop areas in their local communities for wildlife, for example by building a pond or planting trees. The website has advice on finding a suitable piece of land, getting a team and an action plan together and where to find funding.

Now I can't get that blimmin' tune out of my head!

BTW, if you want to pass the clip on, the YouTube link is

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Monday, December 08, 2008

A New Chapter on Climate Change

Barack Obama makes a very clear and specific commitment to tackling climate change.

Monday, December 01, 2008

My sustainable watch... and the joy of fixing stuff

...OK, so you're not going to save the planet just by choosing the right watch, but the Mondaine Ecomatic has impressive green stats - a 100% recycled brass case and it takes its energy from the movement of your wrist (about 50% of life time energy). Plus, I got it second hand and have just repaired the strap. And it's a design classic.

On the second hand and repairing front, the Guardian reported this week that repair companies and charity shops are seeing a mini boom as people try to cut costs in the credit crunch. I find that getting stuff fixed is much more satisfying psychologically than throwing it away and starting again - recession or no recession. I was devastated when I couldn't fix my old bike, but was dead chuffed with how pleased Recyke y'Bike were to get the bits to build new bikes. Last week I also got a pair of trousers - which I'd bought in haste only to find they were too long - taken up for just £8. Result!

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