City Hippy

The diary of our struggle to live a green and fair life.

Google Search:

City Hippy

CityHippy has posted its last post now (I now work for EMP plc, run At Home magazine online and more and personally blog over at Why? Click here to find out. We might be back. Keep our RSS feeds, keep us bookmarked, sign up for the news alert on the right. You never know...

We are dedicated to exploring how to live a greener and more ethical life. City Hippy is a growing collective of writers bringing you two types of content:

ARTICLES: Enjoy real content by real people trying really hard to live a greener and fairer life. Generally in-depth with weekly updates at least. Located in main body below.Subscribe:
BOOKMARKS: Follow our web travels & explore our 1400+ links to a greener life across various categories i.e. baby, cosmetics, DIY, furniture, garden & shopping. Short, sharp and frequent updates. Located down to the right. Click here to see our latest three bookmarks.Subscribe:


Friday, April 28, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

Ladies & Gentleman, it's Friday night! Welcome to...

The CityHippy Week!

Karma Cola indeed
Uhm I think someone at Coke has gone nuts. They commissioned Jack White (and oddly he accepted) of the White Stripes to write a new song for a new Coke campaign. He did so and the results are here.

Weird thing is that the song is apparently called What goes around comes around and the ad itself features a sort of karmic story of a women losing her pet bird, giving away her coke and that then leading her back to her bird. What a happy ending. Apart from one tiny little thing.

If Coke are saying they now believe that 'doing the right thing is the right thing to do' and that 'what goes around comes around' then surely the myriad of bad things they have done over the years are seriously gonna come back and bite them on the butt. Unless it is not true and they are just exploiting a sense of karmic justice in the world. Cynical? Moi?

What else caught my little green eye?

Leukaemia & power lines - a connection!
The possibility of a link between electricity pylons and childhood cancers was officially confirmed for the first time yesterday. And Ministers are to consider issuing new guidelines to protect public safety.
And for years we were told there was no problem and they wonder why no one listens to or trusts politicians.

British Gas promoting efficiency
Interesting ad seen on TV recently here in the UK from British Gas (Free Energy Report & you can even join their Energy Savers Club) advising people to switch TV's off of standby mode.

I have noticed more and more companies actively promoting greener activity and am starting to think business may have a conscience after all. Perhaps even the most hardened business people are starting to realise that regardless of wealth and class climate change is a great leveller and will affect people irrespective of who they are. And about time too!

Bear Putin dons green coat
President Putin clearly is smarter than people realise and he has demonstrated this by listening to protestors concerns about siting a new oil pipeline along side the largest fresh water (holds 1/5 of the global fresh water supply) lake in the world, Lake Baikal. He has moved it well away and for that we say 'Well Done Vlad!'

BP's green goddess wins award
And so the Veuve Clicquot award for Business Woman of the Year goes to....Vivienne Cox, BP CEO for Gas, Power, Renewables and Integrated Supply & Trading.
More recently, Cox has also been charged with spearheading BP's $8bn (£4.4bn) punt on developing alternative energies - which, she believes, probably won her the award. She says: "That is serious money to invest in green technology. And we will make a good business out of this."
Whilst BP have much to answer for investing that much money into renewables can only be a good thing. Whether we like them or not they are a major renewable investor and innovator. And we have Vivienne to thank for creating that renewables business within BP and being at least partially (if not wholly) responsible for channeling $8bn (£4.4bn) into developing alternative energies. Well done Vivienne!

Medical miracles massacred
Plants that can offer cures for many serious diseases could be lost because of deforestation in Borneo, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Such plants could be used in the fight against cancer, Aids and malaria, the conservation group said in a report.
Like Sean Connery in that powerful (yet rubbish) film, Medicine Man, City Hippy is aware that whilst we destroy our rainforests we are also destroying our own futures and salvations. We must protect these vital organs of the planet before it is too late. If not you, who? If not now, when?

…and that's the way it is folks!



Technorati tags:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

NEWS: Good food - share your tips

God bless the Guardian for being so gosh darned practical. They have decided to compile a list of Good Food establishments up and down the UK. In their words:
Let us know which organic shops, farm shops and box schemes you rate and why. Who produces the tastiest meat and the freshest fish? Have you discovered a great local cheese-maker? Do you have a favourite artisan baker? Where do you buy British wines and beers? And where do you get your secret stash of organic chocolate treats?
A worthy project and the more that participate in it the better. If you live in the UK make sure you represent for your own purveyors of local, organic and ethical food.

It is all about showing people there ARE alternatives.



Technorati tags:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

WEEKLY Q: Why do we need roads?

I have decided to start a new regular mid-week section. Every week I will ask a provocative (in theory) question to (hopefully) stimulate debate on a green issue. Please do feel free to nominate questions (email me at

First up we have:

Why do we need roads?

A good friend on mine (Wassup Pep) was visiting this week from San Francisco and we talked about a lot of great stuff including a book he told me about that I must read, Collapse, by Jared Diamond (am wading through Ancient Sunlight right now which seems to cover some similar ground at a glance...thoughts anyone?) but one question he asked just stuck with me. So simple and clear.

Why do we need roads? And I do not mean why can't all cars just go off-road (heaven forbid!!!). I ask the question on a deeper level.

Why has society developed to the point where we are so widely separated from our daily requirements that we need roads to move food, to visit friends, to commute to work & to take our kids to school?

I am not saying we should all have everything we need within 5 miles...not an extremist about it. But why is everything so spread out? Seriously.

Surely my life and society/community would be better off if kids went to a school that was only a 5 minute walk away, if parents worked mostly from home, if most of our food was produced locally and if most of our friends and family lived nearby. What would the negatives to that scenario be?

So why has it turned out the other way? Has, for example, the motor industry and any other relevant special interests, played a role in defining how our communities have developed?

He asked the question because we were talking about the fake elements of our world we are told we need when perhaps we should regularly re-evaluate such needs. Do we need it? Who benefits the most? Who benefits the least? Are there alternatives? What are the pros and cons either way?

There are probably no right or wrong answers but I think debate on these sorts of issues are crucial. Questions should be asked. Assumptions should be assessed.

Look forward to your thoughts.



Technorati tags:

FEATURE: Plastic bag trees

I know the issue of plastic bags gets covered lots, even on this site (see here & here) but as Deputy Editor I have not said my piece on the topic so I just wanna stick my oar in and drum up some discussion on this issue.

I'm amazed at how littered our plant is with plastic bags. I don't know if I am looking at the world more aware than before or whether there actually has been a steady increase in the use of plastic bags - they seem to be EVERYWHERE.

On a particularly windy day recently I did happen to look up as the sun was out (at last!) and noticed how many bags were caught up in trees - hanging down as little reminders of how we are getting through SO MANY plastic bags - I did some digging around and got these numbers and hopefully this will be enough to shock just a few of you reading into contributing to this post, doing EVEN more and educating others to make a few changes.

  • The average length of 'service' of a plastic bag is twenty minutes!
  • They hang around on the planet for approx 500 to 1,000 years before degrading.
  • Apparently the average family grocery shop takes 12 to get the job done.
  • Over a trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide.
  • That requires 120 million barrels of oil!!!
  • Based on the recent cost of US$75 approx per barrel that means we spend US$9,000,000,000 (9 billion) a year on oil to produce plastic bags and that is without factoring in the production costs. US$9,000,000,000!!! What a waste of money.
I do re-use and recycle my bags wherever possible but I am exploring alternatives to combat the problem including Jute bags, string bags and even the more durable 'bags for life' available in most stores. Obviously the latter is not ideal but remains a better step than using the flimsy bags.

Am curious to find out what you use to do your shopping.

Cityhippy tells me he has added his reusable bags to flickr using the tag: cityhippyshoppingbags (see his images here). Perhaps you could upload pics (using the 'cityhippyshoppingbags' tag) of the reusable bags you shop with and we will then pull them all through in a flickr feed below.

An 'alternative to plastic shopping bags' gallery if you will.

HOT TIP: We find that the trick to avoiding having to use plastic is to keep your alternative bags to hand i.e. in the boot/trunk of your car, so that when you go shopping the bags are always to hand.

Oh yeah and there is a great Squidoo lens on 'How to live without plastic bags' which is worth a visit. Of course checking in with the CityHippy lens @ will ensure you keep on top of all the cool green lens we find ;)

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Monday, April 24, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #24

Carnival of the GreenAnd so the Carnival of the Green makes its 24th stop at the Evangelical Ecologist and I have looked forward to this for a few reasons. Don at EvanEco is so different to most green bloggers. He wonderfully represents the growing Green Christian movement and I have often had enlightening chats with him. The Green Blogosphere is all the richer for it's broad church (pardon the pun) and continued and welcome inclusion of all political persuasions. I have always believed that being green is not political; it is not about whether you voted for left or right etc. It is about caring for your home.

My pick of this weeks carnival is: How to throw a green party. Yet another very practical Cityhippy type post. Greening our world is all about helping people make better choices and this post scores a perfect 10 on that score.

More info about the Carnival of the Green re hosting (2006 now booked up) and posting available here.



Technorati tags:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

NEWS: Wipe out Wasted Wattage

Anyone who read my earlier article on wasted power and long life lightbulbs will know that reducing the world's wattage wasteage is very dear to my heart!

Well I am gonna plug the good folks at Robert Dyas for the excellent deals they have at the moment on packs of energy saving light bulbs from just £2.99!

They also have a good deal on a wind-up torch (aka flashlight for our American readers) - one minute's winding gets you THIRTY minutes of light for just £6.99!!

Or if a radio is what you seek then they have a great deal on a wind-up radio with a built-in torch for a mere £7.99.

Nice one Robert Dyas!

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Friday, April 21, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

Ladies & Gentleman, it's Friday night! Welcome to...

The CityHippy Week!

Took a break last week for Easter/Passover. Hope you all had a good rest, if you got one. I did :)

Before I get into the swing of it all let me draw your attention to the fact that Saturday 22nd April marks both Earth Day and the start of National Downshifting Week 2006 here in the UK.

May I first draw your attention to the enlightening Earth Day Footprint Quiz which showed me my total footprint is 3.8 global hectares where the national average is 5.3 global hectares per person. So that made me feel good. I am doing well but clearly can do better. And then it told me there is only 1.8 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE global hectares per person so I need to shave off 2 global hectares to consider myself sustainable. The crowning reality check is that if everyone lived like me we would need 2.1 planet Earths. to do!

And now to direct your attention to two superb resources the NDW team have put together . The first motivates me to resolve the 2.1 planet Earths problem whilst the second gives me a great plan to actually resolve the problem.

The NDW 2006 'Slow Down' Clip and the awesome Downshifting Year Planner. Check them out.

Janet Street-Porter started out as a tv presenter here in the UK back in my youth and has carved out an enviable media career for herself over the years - she is now the Editor-at-large for the Independent on Sunday. What a cool job.

Janet wrote a great article last week about Marks & Spencers, Ethical Shopping and the consumer addiction needed by shops to further growth and profitability. I think she is spot on. But we must be careful, I think, to not connect ethical consumerism with anti-consumerism. For me it is about responsible consumerism and that would mean, in my world, better products, sustianably developed, lasting longer and more people not falling prey to marketing and buying what they need more than what they want. If ethical consumerism is responsible consumerism and if responsible consumerism means less consumption then surely that is better than the rising debt and stress levels that come from what we call normal aka over-consumption of finite resources. So ethical consumerism is anti-over-consumption. Got that?

What else caught my little green eye?

The Chinese PM this week told the world that he admits sandstorms hitting Beijing are a sign of ecological destruction. Their solution is to plant green-belts of trees and to rainmake to settle the dust.

This week we saw the annual Queens Awards, well, awarded and those that received Sustainable Development awards were:

Eco Arc: Ecological Architecture Practice
Design of low energy, sustainable buildings relying on renewable energy

North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo)
Contributions to conservation, education and sustainability

Alastair Sawday Publishing Co. Ltd
Reduction of carbon emissions

ScottishPower Renewables
Sustainable best practice in windfarm development

Shepherd Neame Limited
Management of a brewery and public houses in Kent and South East England. Note: Shepherd Neame actually got the award for sourcing ingredients as locally as possible I believe.

Traidcraft plc
Promotion of fair trade, ethical business practices, social accounting and stakeholder engagement

Yeo Valley Farms (Production) Ltd
Approach to management with continuing support for sustainable UK organic farming thereby minimising environmental impact

Take a bow folks! Triple bottom line in action. Eat that Milton Friedman!

Astonishingly it seems a boo boo has been made with the BBC / Climate Prediction distributed computing modelling project. Turns out they forgot to add the sulphate emissions correctly and so the results were sped up - sulphates slow climate change I guess.

Turns out McDonalds think that McJobs are great opportunities and that McDonalds is a great place to work. What we need are McBloggers to tell us their thoughts.

The town of Camelford here in the UK is the site of a suspected water contamination disaster. Just goes to show what can go wrong even in modern times. Sheesh! Despite knowing that 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate had been dumped accidentally into the water supply at Camelford, in north Cornwall, in 1988, despite the towns folks complaining of a variety of ailments it turns out that:
An expert committee told the Department of Health last year that it could find no evidence of delayed or persistent health effects at Camelford, but it did recommend further research.
Do you want to tell them or shall I? Outstanding questions that must be answered:
  1. Who dumped the aluminium sulphate? Have they had any connection to any of the governments tasked with investigating or leading the investigation?
  2. Was it preventable? If yes then why was it not prevented?
  3. Could it happen again? If yes why, how and how can we stop it?
…and that's the way it is folks!



Technorati tags:

REVIEW: I am an Earthling!

Joaquin Phoenix, Moby & Brett Harrelson (Brother of the Woodster) have been brought together to produce arguably the most powerful, dogma-questioning, politically thought-provoking film of our time. If food is politics then this film is a Martin Luther King speech or a Gandhi march.

I struggle to recall a film that has left me so enraged, aware, exhausted and ultimately reconnected to an issue. And others agree - the film has won three film festival awards.

At the end of this post I have a copy of the DVD to give away and with only 1000 copies produced that is a great way to ensure you see this film. Win the copy below. Find a copy. Borrow a copy. Hell even steal a copy. Just watch it. With no food nearby and a hankerchief the size of Texas I might add.

Earthlings ( is a beautifully presented analysis of humanity's relationship with animals. Set to music from Moby and others the film lays bare the globally dominant ideology that animals are merely a resource for our use. That animals are merely fodder for the machine that sustains us, a machine that inflicts pain for the sake of our wants (not needs), for the sake of our economy.

And if that is not enough of a reason to reassess our relationship to animals then additionally our treatment of animals leads to pollution, deforestation and a potential food-chain collapse which will in turn require extreme chemical management of our food production system quicker than you can say Mad Cow or Foot & Mouth. Sound familiar? It is happening already. More Soylent Green anyone?

The film focuses on how we treat animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and science test subjects. With copious amounts of grim hidden camera footage, humanity's treatment of animals is on brutal display. And folks, it ain't pretty. No punches pulled. Heavy stuff. The heaviest.

Oh, some will say these incidents of pain and suffering are isolated incidents (even though the film starts out stating that what you are shown is acceptable industry standard), that we need to use animals this way and the usual blah blah blah justifications that are often heard by those perpetrating any kind of systemic slaughter.

I have been struggling with my commitment to vegetarianism up until now. Looking ahead having seen Earthlings I feel incapable of treating animals with anything other than the same respect I show to my own son from now on.

As well as this film I strongly recommend When Elephants Weep: Emotional Lives of Animals as the best evidence I have ever come across that animals feel. A brilliant read.

Change is inevitable but the question is will it be thrust upon us or will we display real intelligence and initiate change ourselves?

The power to change resides with you. Resolve to first of all see this film. Then resolve to eat no more meat and use no more animal products! Educate yourself about animal testing and Campaign for recognition of Animal Rights. Animals have no voice in our world other than you. And thus far our silence has been deafening.

WIN!!! WIN!!! WIN!!!
To win a copy of the DVD (Limited Edition of 1000) all I want you to do is the following two things:

1) Email me and tell me how much grain is required to produce both 1 kilo of pork and beef (clue: search this site for the 'ethical food').

2) In the same email answer the following question: What would you say about meat to a young person?

I will then pick the best answer to part 2 from all those who get part 1 right after the weekend.

I am going to sleep now. God save me from the nightmares I know lie ahead.



UPDATE: Just discovered you can watch the video at Google Video here or you can download a version here. Thanks to here for the links

Technorati tags:

NEWS: Save Fordhall Farm!

I may be preaching to the converted here as I am well aware of what a community spirited, organic loving bunch you are! However, just on the off chance that you don't already know, here it is: a family farm in Shropshire (it has been farmed by the same family since the 1700s) is facing crunch time and they desperately need your help.

Charlotte (23) and Ben (21) Hollins inherited the tenancy to Fordhall Farm in 2004 from their father, the late Arthur Hollins, a pioneer in organic farming methods and author of 'The Farmer, the Plough and the Devil' (secondhand copies available from Abe Books). Their plan is not just to run the farm along organic lines but also to build an education resource room to pass on their discoveries and enthusiasm to the next generation, a “bunkhouse” for schoolchildren and volunteers, an organic café, a farm shop and even, potentially, to offer the farm as a venue for occasional wedding receptions*.

But all their plans could be in vain as the landowner wishes to sell the farm (or rather the land) to developers.

Using all their powers of persuasion, the Hollins have seen off an eviction order and now have the opportunity to buy the farm and the land to prevent Fordhall Farm ever coming under threat again. To do this, however, they must raise the princely sum of £800,000.

By 1 July this year!

So far they have £65,000. So they need your help, and your friends' help, and your friends' friends' help!

The best way to do this is to buy lifelong “co-operative” shares in the farm through the Fordhall Community Land Initiative. These shares cannot be traded and no profits can be made from them. As Ben says, “The idea is that a trust will hold the land for the community, so it can never be developed.”

The shares cost just £50 each (each share buys 32 square metres of land and entitles the holder to a vote at the annual general meeting).

To buy shares, contact Fordhall Community Land Initiative on 01630 638 696 or via the Fordhall Farm website @

If you want to help out and have fun at the same time, why not attend the Fordhall Farm Charity Ball on Saturday 13 May - tickets are £50 and they are looking for Auction Prizes. It is set to be a cracking night with all local or organic food and a ceilidh.

The Fordhall Farm Family Fun Day is on Sunday 11 June. There will be something for everyone with stalls, games, sheep shearing, football, gymkhana, hog roast, storytelling, vintage tractors and much much more.

For further details on either event or if you would like to donate a prize or bring a stall/game to the Fun Day please contact Sophie on 01630 638 696 or at

The 'Fight for Fordhall Farm' featured in The Telegraph last Saturday (16th April) and a copy should be available through the Fordhall Farm website very shortly. An earlier Telegraph article of 22.08.05 entitled 'Shares issue aims to save the good life' can be viewed here.


Technorati tags:

*In fact, the first time I contacted the Hollins, having been alerted to their plight by the Soil Association publication, 'Living Earth', was to ask them if they had considered this avenue of revenue to fund the farm – a possible venue for Ethical Weddings! Watch this space...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

NEWS: CityHippy 2.0

I have been working away for quite a while on a new version of this site and thought now would be a good time to fill you all in on our progress. Obviously progress is slow as whilst CityHippy is a love of mine it plays permanent second fiddle to my wife, 5 month old son and full-time job etc etc etc.

Why did the blog cross the street? To explain Web2.0 to the chicken of course!
I am going to move this blog come hell or high water (not intentionally a climate change prediction) and move it I shall. I intend to move it to the WordPress platform and it will reside full time on the domain. I used to own the .com but thought that just too damn, well, commercial. From that point on, the blogspot will languish eternally, frozen in time. Incidentally, if you have any links to on your blogs feel free to start updating them now as points to this current blog for now.

I have been working with a superb, friendly and UK-based ethical e-media company Make Hay and have so far produced a new logo (with some great over-the-shoulder advice from an old pal and a staunch member of the CityHippy collective, GingerLeaf, experts in graphic design & art direction). I have a favourite logo and am pressing ahead with it but would love to hear your thoughts and if you can guess which one is my favourite from the four shown below, and essentially why, I will give you a prize.

Make Hay have received my intended site structure and they are beavering away on a site design to fit the structure and compliment the new logo, unless you can sway me he he he. In the meantime I have to get to grips with Wordpress templates etc. Easy peasy. Gulp! Any advice gratefully received.

Progress Shmogress
So how will the new site be different? Well some interesting new functionality but most importantly the site will be more useful, easier to navigate and generally leaner and you guessed it, greener. Greener because we intend to host on a wind-powered hosting solution. More on that later.

To store or not to store?
I would love it if CityHippy somehow freed me from the treadmill and allowed me to green-blog full-time. Wishful thinking methinks but, as Carl Lewis (I think it was him) once said, winners look to the horizon, not to their feet. So horizon here I come.

Ads are easy to carry and as long as they are relevant and ethical I do not think anyone really minds. But ads don't give daddy enough sugar sadly.

And so to ecommerce my head turns. Question is would you purchase relevant books & movies via CityHippy? What about tried and tested (and reveiwed) green and ethical products?

At this point in time I am planning a CityHippy general store (any interested store partners please feel free to get in touch) with selected items that we will trial, review and then, if they score high enough on the CityHippy scale (and we will be very discerning I assure you), offer them for sale to our readers. I do not expect to become a millionaire from this site and intend to continue CityHippy regardless of whether it pays my bills or not. But if I could do it full time then just imagine how much more the site could achieve. Ultimately if ecommerce helps me produce more content for you and further green my life and help others green their lives then that cannot be a bad thing eh?

Really would appreciate your thoughts at this crucial planning stage.

I love the sound deadlines make as they go by
Lots going on in my life so it is hard to give you a live date but this is a must-happen move and upgrade and I would like it done by July 1st so should not be that far off. May 2009 then it is ;) We shall see.



Technorati tags:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NEWS: Freedom Clothing

Originally posted on Hippyshopper a while ago but lovingly updated and reposted on CityHippy just for little old you.

Ethical clothing companies seem to be springing up all over the place right now but I think the Freedom Clothing Project might just be about the most ethical I have ever come across (although we have mentioned them in passing previously). Billed as ethical, organic AND even open-source they are a not-for-profit co-operative that anyone can join. The t-shirts come plain in four colours but they also have a deal with ethical printers if your school or club want a printed set. And at only £9.99 a shirt via The Olive Coop you are not sacrificing your wallet for the sake of the planet. Worth a look.



Technorati tags:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

FEATURE: Ethical Weddings #4

Top Ten Ethical Weddings Issues

1. Getting service venue and reception venue in the same place
This is more of a problem for church weddings. We were getting married at the church in my home town (no public transport – train tracks were pulled up about 30 years ago!) but struggled to find a suitable venue in the town. Our eventual venue was a 25-minute drive away although guests were able to stay at and around the venue so did not have to drive back to my home town afterwards. We also asked guests on their invites whether they were willing to car share and managed to fill most cars this way (my husband’s cousin had to go in the boot of his parents’ car so my friends could fit in – and he’s 17!).

2. The dress and bridesmaid dresses
Finding a dressmaker working with organic fabrics, trying to get a design that could be worn again for other occasions. Liaising with dressmaker to get it done on time!

3. Finding local flowers
We did not think this would be a problem but our flower arranger (a friend of my mum’s) had trouble finding local flowers that would be in bloom at the time of our wedding (after a cold March – our wedding was in April) and that would hold up throughout the day without falling apart! In the end we had a combination of local flowers and Holland’s finest! If we did it again (for an anniversary maybe!), I would probably forego the flowers altogether and go for other forms of decoration – such as pebbles in vases of water or plants in decorated plantpots.

4. Distributing leftover food
Again, this problem was partly due to being in the middle of the countryside rather than in a city – there were no homeless shelters immediately to hand – but there were also hygiene and health & safety issues. Fortunately, the food was great so there was very little left over! However, it is something I will be looking into for the Ethical Weddings website.

5. Finding organic caterers at an affordable price
Obviously, unless you are able to do the catering yourself (including growing the veggies!), organic comes at a premium. One option would be to have fewer guests so that you can afford the higher price for organic catering per head. We really wanted all our friends to attend (school friends, university friends and work friends on both sides!) so we weren’t able to go entirely organic but we did discuss our concerns with our very friendly and amenable catering company who sourced their produce locally wherever possible and we also picked a menu based on produce that was in season.

6. Rings
Non-conflict diamonds, gold mining issues. This turned out to be a bit of a quest for my husband – many of the places he asked didn’t seem to know what he meant by ‘non-conflict diamonds’. In the end, we got a platinum engagement ring with a beach diamond from Jess James, Carnaby St, London. The rings were from fair trade jewellery company, Silver Chilli.

7. Offers of help from family and friends
This is a bit of an awkward one. If family or friends say, ‘Don’t worry about the catering/cake/flowers (delete as appropriate), I’ll take care of that!’ it is a little difficult to turn around and say ‘Thanks – and make sure it’s organic and fair trade!’. Obviously, it depends on the sort of relationship you have with the friend/family member in question whether you can discuss the issues with them or just be thankful for their help and let them get on with it!

8. Fulfilling wishes of others
This relates back to the family / friends issue. If, for example, your father has always dreamed of having the perfect vintage car for you to arrive at the church in it is difficult to turn around and say, actually we want a rickshaw (also difficult for the rickshaw driver if your onward journey is another 20 miles!).

9. Budget
See organic catering above. If your budget is limitless, you can be as ethical as you want. Organic flowers, organic dresses, organic everything! And fair trade too! If not, it takes a bit more work – and thought – to work the ethical aspect into your tight budget. Some careful charity shopping and recycling is probably on the cards…

10. Having someone to check everything is done as it should be on the day – you need to enjoy yourselves!
This is why I am already thinking about the wedding coordinating aspect of Ethical Weddings. On the day, you simply don’t have time and shouldn’t have to be rushing around checking bottles are being recycled, fairtrade tea and coffee is being served, leftover food is packed up and sent off to the local homeless shelter, flowers are distributed to local old people’s homes etc. I couldn’t do this on the day; I was too busy having my photo taken a million times! As an Ethical Wedding Coordinator I could. Watch this space!

Join me next time when I check out whether diamonds really are an ethical gal's best friend.


Technorati tags:

Monday, April 17, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #23

Carnival of the GreenEaster Monday and all is quiet in the world, well in my world at least. But come rain or shine (or chocolate) the Carnival of the Green still gets posted.

Rolling over to Organic Authority for this week's Carnival I remain so thrilled at how well the Carnival works. My pick of the week is: Dishwashers 101. A very Cityhippy post.

More info about the Carnival of the Green re hosting and posting available here.



Technorati tags:

Thursday, April 13, 2006

NEWS: Eco Mist in the House

Originally posted on Hippyshopper but updated just for you.

I have a real problem with the smells people fill their home with. Cigarette smoke...yeuch. Wet dog...gag. The worst thing though is when you walk into a house and someone has one of those auto-air-freshener jobbies that used to only exist in airport know the ones, as you walk past the goddamn timer goes off and whack, one in the eye for you AND the environment.

A much better option, if you have to spray something in your home, although god knows why an oil burner is not good enough, is now available from those funky folks over at

Zangy Citrus Eco Mist Air Freshener (£7.95) has nothing dodgy in it, smells great, is very economic and comes in a recyclable container. What more could you ask for?

A name just a tad less bs-sounding? Indeed.



Technorati tags:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

NEWS: Junior Gourmet

I absolutely marveled when my sister was weaning her wee boy onto solids!

The array of fine dining foods was scary and I found out my small baby nephew was eating pureed butternut squash - I've never eaten it - have you! (I have and its b-e-a-utiful! - Al)

Whilst I would love to say I wish I had the time to do such things my sister is a superwoman and a wondermum. She manages to work from home full-time and still bring up my adorable nephew!

Now for the rest of us mere mortals I have good news of healthy organic solutions.

From Daylesford Organic we hear they have launched a delicious new range of apple, banana, carrot, pea AND even butternut squash purees to delight your little one's taste buds.

Another lovely bunch called Mums4 offer an excellent range of organic fruit purees with no additives and with the stress taken out.

If you (like my big sis) want to raise your little 'un on super foods check out Plum Baby (available at Sainsbury's). Even the packaging is sophisticated (although plastic - grrr) and reading the information makes me hungry.

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

FEATURE: Ethical Weddings #3

Let’s Get Ethical!
I wrote last time about my struggle to find what I now know does not yet exist in the UK: an online ethical wedding suppliers directory, and how this led to the setting up of

This week, however, I want to talk about the resources that I did find helpful – and that might be of use to those of you out there planning ethical weddings at the moment!

The issues surrounding an ethical wedding – or any ethical celebration – are not new. In my first post, I mentioned Oscar Wilde’s short story ‘The Young King’ as the inspiration for Ethical Weddings (you can read the story online here) – and that was published in 1891!

Over the last few years, the press surrounding this concept has grown rapidly. However, one of the first articles I came across when planning my own wedding was on Get Ethical, a site that combines fair trade online shopping with in-depth discussion of a whole range of ethical issues. The reason for this was quite simple; as I said in my last post, I sat down at the computer, typed in ‘ethical weddings’ and up popped Get Ethical’s ‘Tying the Ethical Knot’ post.

This article acts as a very useful checklist for anyone planning an ethical wedding as it takes the reader through every aspect of the big day – ethically! It also kick-started me into action with its opening comment that ‘we are leaving the huge organisational process up to you’ leaving me thinking: I could do that!

NOTE: Don’t try the Google route that I went down as Get Ethical have had a revamp lately and the Google link now takes you to somewhere completely different! And please have patience with the hyperlinks in the article; Get Ethical know that I am blogging about them and are busily reconnecting them as I type. (If you want them now, let me know as I have found most of them myself).

The Guardian, The Observer, and The Independent, with their regular spotlights on ethical issues, have been another very useful source of information. Indeed, the next entry that should now appear on your Google search is the Observer’s article of February 20th 2005, 'With this conflict-free diamond, I thee wed'. The article is an inspirational account of an ethical wedding with contributions from big players in the wedding ‘industry’ such as, ‘You and Your Wedding’, and ‘Brides’ magazine emphasising the extent to which the concept of an ethical wedding has entered the mainstream consciousness.

An earlier Guardian article, ‘My big fat green wedding’ is also an interesting read, focusing on the possibilities of going carbon neutral by supporting schemes such as Future Forests.

To get bang up-to-date, why not check out The Independent’s article from last month, ‘How to have a green wedding’.

Other publications that have covered ethical weddings include the new monthly, ‘Organic Life’, and ‘Lifestyle Green’, which covered our own wedding!

You might also like to take a look at:

White dress, but a green wedding

The Eco-Wedding: Saving the Earth, one vow at a time

Non-Traditional Ideas for Wedding Gifts

and last but not least, The Eco-Friendly Wedding

The point of this post is to direct you to resources that hopefully will be both inspirational and useful. Our eventual intention is that Ethical Weddings will have an online library of such articles and will write or commission further articles on specific ethical wedding related issues. If you know of or have written any articles that you think would be particularly relevant, we would be very pleased to hear from you.

In my next post find out what I reckon are the top ten key issues surrounding ethical weddings.


Technorati tags:

Monday, April 10, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #22

Carnival of the GreenBob Geldof once asked 'Tell me why I hate Mondays' and to be honest Bob before the Carnival of the Green came along I would have agreed. But no more. They give Mondays a reason for being!

PLUS great news about the Carnival, not only are all the posts available on the main page - see above link - but you can now also include a feed of all the carnivals onto your site or into your newsreader.

Simply burn a feed of and do what you will with it. Thanks to Dave Pollard over at How to Save the World for the nudge into action.

So over then to Exuberant Pantaphobia for this week's Carnival. I am very much into being green on a budget and so this week I salute the post from Melissa over at Living Green in LA entitled 10 free ways to be green. My fav is: If you see litter pick it up. So visible and political in its simplicity. Way to go Melissa!

More info about the Carnival of the Green re hosting and posting available here.



Technorati tags:

NEWS: Groundwork Wins!

I bring good news. As mentioned previously in Greening the Land Groundwork Hertfordshire are part of the larger 'Safe & Sound' project National entry in the Peoples Millions.

The votes have been counted and Groundwork have won!!!

I will try and stay involved with the project and let you know how it develops.



Technorati tags:

NEWS: Techology?

A couple of weeks ago in the CityHippy Week Al mentioned a superb new mobile phone development.

We are all used to our mobile phones needlessly doing so much more than just making calls (just ask Al who gets email and everything on his) but this is one phone advancement that I am happy to talk about.

The launch of the 'Eco Phone' is astonishingly good news and indicates a real flurry of green activity by business.

Essentially it is a handset that is at the pinnacle of recycling - it is made of a biodegradable, nutrient-filled material AND contains a sunflower seed!

The idea is to benefit from the 'throw away' society we have become - you simply 'bury' your mobile when you no longer need or want it. Then this clever little phone will reward you by growing into a sunflower! Obviously you should not get rid of it until its life is at an end but we all know that each year people want the next best thing. Question is: will those people buy this phone...probably not. But if one phone can do it someone will offer it and raise the bar forcing others to follow suit.

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Friday, April 07, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

Ladies & Gentleman, it's Friday night! Welcome to...

The CityHippy Week!

Ah another week draws to a close and so much has crossed my path. The key thing I want to mention this week is the news (seen in London Metro) of a sort of tribal timeshare (although not the dodgy type) for those seeking eco-bliss. Tribe Wanted looks like a lot of fun and is being assisted by the folks from Climate Care to ensure eco impact is kept to a minimum. There are three levels (you pay more and get more time on the island basically) at which you can join: Nomad, Hunter or Warrior.

Question is who on earth would want to leave having been out there for a holiday? They would have to drag me out to sea and abandon me to get rid of me. Obviously they will have to ensure they respect the environment of the island and ensure they co-exist instead of take over. Looks promising though. Best bit looks like the tribal names everyone gets.

What else caught my little green eye?
An amazing feat of energy efficiency has been achieved. The Fuel Challenge saw a couple travel around the world on only 24 tanks of petrol/gas. Sponsored by Shell & Guiness (a gas company that wants you to use less gas? and a booze maker that should not really have anything to do with driving, hmmm) on closer inspection one sees that they got 52.3 miles per US gallon. Not much less than a Prius. Impressive.

Scary proof that pollution really does kill or rather removes eight months off your life span. Despite all the naysayers the evidence is crystal clear. Tampering with our environment is arrogant and suicidal. To think we can solve the problem with more tampering is simply nuts. As Einstein said: you cannot solve a problem using the same mindset that created it. Personally my dealings with those who do not care about climate change tend to confirm that they are either blind, profiting directly or are Darwinists of the worst kind. Seems just living is enough to kill you these days. Reminds of a great Picard line in a Star Trek movie: Time is the fire in which WE burn. Smoke anyone?

Water load of madness and Janet Street-Porter of the Independent wrote a great piece (sadly now locked) about the insanity of government in/activity on the water shortages we are having here in the UK. Man summer is gonna get heavy. I predict water rationing in the streets if we have a hot summer. Janet makes the point that we should have been conserving water across the board as soon as we knew a shortage was on the cards. But Ceasar we not only fiddled while Rome burned we filled the bloody hot-tubs and popped the champagne as well. Sheesh!

Whilst I love the Independent I also love the Guardian (although the weird size prevents me from buying it much to be honest) and their article this week reminding us exactly how the Fast Food industry is contributing to the destruction of the World's Rainforests makes me proud to be a Brit. Sadly when the McLibel Two made the 'Why is it wrong for McDonald's to destroy rainforests?' claim back in the 90s they did not have this kind of journalism to back them up. Just more argument pushing me towards the meatless me. More on that soon. And if you want more on just how much of the worlds problems can be traced back to the Fast Food industry then check out McLibel.

Sainsbury's launched a new Organic range last year called SO Organic. However, So Organic is already a brand in use by So Organic who sell everything but food. Apparently the owner of So Organic contacted Sainsbury's when she heard they were going to use the name and unsurprisingly Sainsbury's refused to reconsider. So Organic have said that they have plans to sell food products which will place the two companies at direct odds with each other. This could get heated folks. Of course it is unreasonable for any small company to expect any large company to care but in this case I do think So Organic has a point. Sainsbury's should have done their research and as far as I can tell So Organic have a great case against Sainsbury's although whether they can afford it or not will be the clincher. One to watch for sure.

…and that's the way it is folks!



Technorati tags:

NEWS: Voting open!

As mentioned on Tuesday in Greening the Land Groundwork Hertfordshire are part of a larger National entry in the Peoples Millions.

Voting is now open folks and all votes gratefully appreciated.

The 'Safe & Sound' project, spread across the UK, aims to help 'young people and adults work together to turn local eyesores into safe and attractive spaces for communities to enjoy'.

Voting lines are now open for the British public to decide who will receive £1.5 million in Lottery funding. My vote goes to Groundwork.

Simply phone, email or text your vote today to ensure Groundwork can carry out their regeneration project to improve 25 neighbourhoods around the UK.

Phone: 0870 062 1303
Text: 'C' to 84070

Voting closes at 12pm (UK TIME) on Saturday so please vote today and vote often - you can call up to 10 times from one phone line!



Technorati tags:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

NEWS: CityHippy Clooney?

Sometimes celebs just go and use their fame for good and we love it when they do.

George Clooney, who now drives a zero-emissions electric car, makes up one very handsome part of the now nicknamed 'Green Team'.

The eco-fighting celebs, pictured on the cover of the first 'green issue' of Vanity fair, also include Al Gore, Julia Roberts and Robert F Kennedy Jnr!

Al Gore has made a climate change documentary, Robert F Kennedy Jnr is the host of a radio programme about environmental issues and Julia Roberts has flicked the green switch in her life - for the sake of her children. All very commendable indeed.

Those four celebs are just a few of those green folks mentioned in the issue. It makes for an impressive list and includes our very own number one green blogger, Graham Hill of Treehugger. Take a bow Graham.

Sadly, and somewhat scandalously to some, Vanity Fair did not manage to get the issue printed on recycled paper due to technical hitches but this issue bigs up being green so much and that is worth a serious pat on the back...nice one Vanity Fair.

All good news though as getting green issues into the media is an achievement in itself.

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

NEWS: Fairtrade Flood?

OK so it's not the latest of news as the word has been out for at least a month but this is worth mentioning and applauding.

Marks & Spencers has established Fairtrade products in the majority of their stores but now they are stepping up their commitment especially with their tea and coffee range.

From April there will ONLY be Fairtrade tea and coffee available in ALL their stores.

More and more retailers are putting their financial muscle & company name behind the quest for Fairtrade products and M&S are to be commended for being a trailblazer.

Top Shop will soon be trialing a range of clothing from three fairtrade fashion companies: Gossyplum (cannot find a link sadly), People Tree and Hug!

Surprisingly one of the first big retailers to meet this demand for ethical clothing was Asda (owned by WalMart) with the introduction of it's organic cotton baby clothes. Apparently they have plans to increase their offering.

M&S have now also laid out their plan for introducing ethically produced cotton men and women's T-shirts, men's formal shirts & babywear.

Currently there are 1,500 Fairtrade products available in the UK, worth £195 million in sales, up £55m from 2004 sales.

An estimated 5 million people worldwide - farmers, workers and their families now benefit from our decision to spend our money the Fairtrade way!

Just writing that fact makes me smile - WE ARE / WE CAN make a difference!

Green hugs


Technorati tags: