City Hippy

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

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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:

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

FEATURE: Desperately Seeking Veg

As I’ve said before kicking the supermarket habit is something I’m working hard to do. One way I thought would make it easier would be to have my veggies delivered to my door.

I used to live in Norwich and as a student had a part time job in a wholefoods store which provided weekly local home deliveries of organic veg, fruit, bread, vegan dairy products, snacks, everything. This was nearly 10 years ago so I guess I thought that if Norwich did it 10 years ago then somewhere in Nottingham would do it now, right?

A little while ago I carried out a search on the internet for shops or farms in Nottingham who would bring the lovely organic veg to my door, found a few places and excitedly decided to give them a call. After a short time I started to understand how JR Hartley must have felt. In fact I don’t think he was looking for a copy of his book on fly fishing at all but just wanted to order an organic veggie box in Nottingham. Four of them told me “I’m sorry, we’re not doing that any more”.

A little despondent I decided to give up on the idea for a while but didn’t turn back to the supermarket. Instead I’ve been buying my veggies, fruit, dairy and lovely cakes from Spring Lane Farm, a local farm shop which sells some excellent produce. It’s not all organic but it's all local. If it doesn’t come from their own farm it’s from one of the neighbours’ or another nearby. After all, I'd rather buy local than organic from the other side of the world!

I know that there are a lot of places in Nottingham which do sell organic vegetables and after further investigation I have discovered a couple more organic veg box delivery schemes, mentioned below:

Rivernene Organic Veg – Although not strictly based in Nottingham they do deliver to the south of our county and in many other parts of the Midlands. Their website is brilliant, showing types of veggie box and a online ordering facility.

Eden Farms – This farm is in our neighbouring county of Leicestershire. They deliver to Nottingham including the Screaming Carrot Bakery where you can collect your veggie box.

I don’t want to be unfair to all of those fantastic shops in Nottingham such as Roots Natural Foods and Out of This World who stock a huge range of organic food including fruit and veg and I’ll certainly be writing about them in the near future. However, if anyone knows of a Nottinghamshire based farm/shop which delivers locally produced veggies I’d love to hear about them.

I can’t help but wonder why those farms/shops I called had stopped their organic veggie box delivery scheme. Perhaps businesses like these need more support from us Nottinghamshire people to make it viable? I’m making a pledge to try do more to support our local farms (especially organic farms) from now on.

Make Hay - Web Design Making a Positive Difference

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

WEEKLY Q: Encourage green behaviour?

Yesterday I posted my 'Drop The Tax' Top 10 list of 10 ways the government could encourage green behaviour not by punishing ungreen behaviour, but instead by rewarding green behaviour.

Some great comments were left and made me realise that the debate on whether to punish or reward is still intense. So my question this week is:

Do you believe in rewarding green behaviour, punishing ungreen behaviour, or a hybrid of the two?

Whilst punishment is harsh treatment for people behaving normally I do like the idea of removing subsidies and government financial support for ungreen practices and letting the free market move naturally. I also think that rewarding green behaviour incentivises positive action without marginalising anyone. I therefore support a mixture of reward and punishment.

What do you think works? Thoughts?



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FEATURE: Inconvenient Urban Recycling

Last year I was overjoyed to find out that, as part of a Waste Awareness Campaign, Aberdeen was to roll out their recycling scheme throughout the city.

Originally set up in February 2004, Aberdeen City Council introduced a fortnightly kerbside collection scheme to 20,000 households in the north of the city. Households in this area could recycle cans, glass, plastic bottles, cardboard and paper from their own doorstep.

Each household was provided with a black box to recycle cans, glass and plastic bottles, a white bag for cardboard and paper and a guide detailing collection dates and ‘how to’ recycle.
The scheme has since been rolled out to cover most of the city and today the collection helps 80,000 households recycle.

Unfortunately my home is not one of those covered by the scheme. I live in the city centre, metres away from the main shopping thoroughfare and transport links. I see the recycling van pass my flat on a weekly basis and yet if I want to recycle I have to make my way to the local tip – by car. According to the council the reason my home isn’t included in the scheme is because I live in a flat with a communal bin store. The communal store means they won’t make a collection!

If I want to recycle I have to do it myself.

Thanks to the efforts of householders throughout Aberdeen City, nearly 130 tonnes of cans, glass, plastic bottles, cardboard and paper are now being recycled using the kerbside-recycling scheme. Fantastic but surely more can be done. Communal recycling bins are being introduced in some parts of the city for those who aren’t serviced by the doorstep scheme but as yet I haven’t seen one in my area.

Until then I will have to continue taking papers and carrier bags to recycling points when I do my weekly shop and sneaking plastic bottles and milk cartons in to the ‘white bag’ at work.
In the meantime if you want to know the journey your rubbish goes on once you recycle click here.

Until next time, be as green as you can be


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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

FEATURE: 'Drop the Tax' Top 10

It is all very well talking about taxing air travel etc and all that malarkey but lets face it, adding taxes to travel will probably just marginalise those who cannot afford to pay more whilst those who can afford any price rises will still carry on travelling without a care in the world - unless the tax is massive enough to hit everyone of course, which it very rarely is.

So do we start to play that sort of negative punishment game with its short term gains but long-term negativity or do we approach things from a different angle?

How do we encourage people towards better green behaviours without making it about who has the money to continue affording life little pleasures?

Surely the best way to encourage people to adopt a variety of sustainable behaviours is to positively reward their good green deeds. To that end I think we should no longer tax the following:
  1. CFLs and appliances with the highest efficiency rating in their industry
  2. All non-petrol/diesel vehicles including bicycles
  3. 3+ night stays in UK hotels for those with a UK passport
  4. Organic products - both food and clothing
  5. Second hand & Charity Stores - might already be the case
  6. Renewable energy itself or the equipment to generate it including solar powered torches, radios, chargers etc
  7. Money made from Green Investments
  8. Train journeys over three hours long
  9. Recycled products ie toilet paper, other paper products etc
  10. Building projects designed to produce energy-efficient housing
Now am not a tax expert...some of those might already be the case (although pretty sure they are not) but I do not think they are. What do you think?



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Monday, August 28, 2006

SPECIAL: The Ecologist

Am delighted to annnounce that I have recently become the Blog Manager for The Ecologist magazine. On top of my day job of course.

It is only intended to be an interim thing to tide them over whilst they assess some internal stuff but it should be great fun and needless to say I am very excited. I will be blogging, managing other bloggers and helping them get the blog more blog like (ie links, rss etc). Mostly.

But first things first, if you are a green blogger and you do not already do so then please do link to The Ecologist Blog.

I will be blogging weekly, starting today, a series of posts (tentatively titled 'Everyday Green') that will follow my attempt as an ordinary urban guy to understand, appreciate and reduce my own and my immediate family's impact on our planet.

These posts will exclusively appear on The Ecologist Blog although I will flag them up on CityHippy as they are published.

'Everyday Green' intends to create a roadmap that ordinary mainstream urban folk (like me) can follow to green their lives. It will hopefully be the kind of thing you can refer people to when they ask your advice about being green. It will cover all aspects of modern urban life. Should be fun.

I also hope to help The Ecologist editors post a whole lot more and we have some other exciting plans but more on that soon.

In case you do not know anything about The Ecologist:
The Ecologist is the world’s most respected environmental affairs magazine. For 35 years The Ecologist has helped set environmental and political agendas around the world by focusing on the root causes, not just the after-effects, of current events.
The magazine is famous for many reasons but my favourite is to do with them having an entire issue on Monsanto mysteriously pulped by the printer back in 1998. That back issue is now the best selling back issue ever having sold nearly half a million copies apparently.

Additionally the magazine is also credited with producing the book (A Blueprint for Survival) that inspired the formation of the political party that came before the now well established Green Party of England & Wales.

Incidentally the back cover of that book is a searing indictment of our global governments total inactivity in addressing the environmental issues we all still discuss today. The book was published in 1972.

More recently the magazine has become famous thanks to the advisory status of Editor, Zac Goldsmith, nephew of magazine founder Teddy Goldsmith, to the Conservative Party here in the UK. Clearly Zac's impact on that party's environmental awareness is immense although whether the party is as green as they say will be discovered in time. Personally I do believe that by pulling the Tories over to the green agenda Zac has helped to pull the green agenda into the Westminster Foreground and has contributed to the greening of both the Labour & Lib Dem parties who now also fight on a greener platform as well.

Zac is often criticised for his family wealth and elite status but to be honest without independent means a magazine like The Ecologist would have historically struggled to survive.

Incidentally Zac is the brother of Jemima Khan, current boyfriend of Hugh Grant, for all you celeb-spotting ecorazzi's out there.

It is a great honour to work with a magazine with that kind of pedigree. I look forward to them bringing much value to the green blogosphere.



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FEATURE: Hemp Wins in CA

There’s been a struggle over here in America, particularly in my neck of the woods, over industrialized hemp. Many folks are trying to re-instate farmers being able to grow hemp without any legal ramifications. I say re-instate because during colonial times hemp was readily grown, in fact during WWII farmers were required to grow it to help the war effort. The first draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp! So what’s all the fuss?

I won’t go into great detail about the myriad of benefits this little plant offers; as the environment editor at, I wrote an article titled “High Five for Hemp” which you can read if you want more info, I’ll just point out that we are one of it’s largest importers of this plant. So why not grow it ourselves? Well pretty soon we may finally get the chance (again!).

The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act passed in the Senate on 8.16.06 with a bi-partisan vote of 26-13. The bill will now head to the assembly for a final vote, then to Governor Schwarzenegger for his signature. Politicians are starting to recognize you can’t get high from hemp, so there’s no need to fear growing it again for the production of clothing, food, skin care, and even auto parts. This bill was first introduced in 2005 by Assemblyman Mark Leno, a representative from San Francisco. There has been a huge outpouring of support from business owners, farmers, and citizens, illustrating there is strength in numbers. The final vote is expected to pass by the end of this month. I personally am happy to hear such great news, as I was one of many who wrote my representatives urging the passage of this important bill. This is a victory not only for the farmers but for everyone!


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NEWS: Carnival of the Green #42

Carnival of the GreenAnother monday and that means another Carnival of the Green.

This week's carnival is to be found at Disillusioned Kid and my pick this week is the new blog from Barbara - she of the 'going to New Zealand in as green a way as possible' news from last week. Will be watching her journey with interest. Be sure to stop by and give her your support, seems like she is getting a whole crop of negative comments...swines!

More info about the Carnival of the Green re hosting (now booked up into April 07) and posting available here.



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Friday, August 25, 2006

NEWS: San Francisco

Hello All

I’m so excited to become a part of the CityHippy team. As a contributor I’ll be writing to you from San Francisco. The San Francisco Bay Area has such a thriving green community. It can be daunting at times trying to keep up with everything that’s going on here. Yet it’s exciting because it shows that things are happening and change is taking place.

I wasn’t around in the 60’s when the “original” hippies prevailed, but growing up I could still see remnants of the Peace and Love era; and I’ve seen this city transformed from then - to a dot com driven capital - to now, an eco-conscience community. It’s great to see more lines at our local farmer’s market than chain grocery stores. Tours of San Francisco’s architectural homes include not only the “Painted Ladies” Victorians, but also green built homes, and our famous Napa Valley is making organic wines as commonplace as the others.

The City by the Bay will soon be known as The Green City by the Bay. San Francisco can proudly boast being the location of the “greenest” federal building ever built west of the Mississippi! Our Mayor has replaced approximately 40% of its government cars with hybrid and natural gas and has an outstanding program called Green Connect, which is to improve the environment and beautify our public spaces around the city, through the collaboration of local government, non-profit agencies, and citizens.

There are so many fun and interesting things I can’t wait to share with the rest of the world about my city. Let me be your guide and I’ll show you what, where and when that’s green in the city.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

NEWS: Green fish and eating 'Welsh only'

First the Guardian celebrates Gower cockles available in Swansea market in their article on Britain's most vibrant food markets and now the same cockles have been classed by the Marine Conservation Society as one of the most eco-friendly fish available to consumers. Before you screw up your face in disgust (although they are lovely doused in vinegar and straight from the bag!) you can check out your favourite fish too. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) yesterday launched its latest online guide to buying eco-friendly fish at Fish online for consumers concerned about the sustainability of the fish they eat. The website provides information for 150 species of seafood, with revised lists of 'Fish to Eat' with a clearer conscience, and 'Fish to Avoid' from unsustainable and damaging fisheries.

What I love about cockles is that they are local food, something that is really important to my green journey. BBC Wales health correspondent Hwyel Griffith spent last week trying to eat only Welsh food, he also roped in the Brice family from the Vale of Glamorgan. This is definitely something to try! Hwyel admitted that he settled for cheese and tomato sandwiches most lunchtimes (I think he could have been a little more inventive - although there are countless different welsh cheeses available). His evening meals included chicken with goats cheese and courgettes, as well as lots of good old welsh lamb. Hwyel clearly missed snacking and even struggled to find healthy snacks such as Welsh apples (and banana's!). Hwyel and the Brice's also discovered the art of foraging in Pembrokeshire and tasted blackberry leaves, flower petals, hairy bitter cress and wood sorrel. Hwyel commented "none of the ingredients were any more expensive for being Welsh - in fact I think I've spent slightly less on shopping this week than normal. " Good on you!

Organic Jac

Info: Similar foraging day outs are available locally in Gower (try Dryad Bushcraft) or join the 'Wilderness Gathering' - the bushcraft skills festival in Wiltshire on 1st - 3rd September.

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FEATURE: Make Noise!

Have you ever considered how far your joke e-mails travel? If you’re sad like me you might look at all the addresses they’ve been forwarded to before they reach you. If you do you may well see that the e-mail had already gone around the world at least twice!

This is where my initial idea for Make Noise came about. After receiving the “How well do you know your friends” questionnaire (you know, the one where you answer questions on your favourite smell, vanilla or chocolate, first album ever bought and so on) for the 100th time I started to wonder how far could we go with a positive message by e-mail? People seem quite happy to pass on rubbish jokes and silly pictures but would they spread the word about the positive work that people are doing?

The point of Make Noise is twofold; to inform the world about green and ethical business and organisations (hopefully inspiring them to use the services of these organisations and think about green and ethical issues) and to help raise the profile of these businesses at no extra charge.

The first thing I needed to do was build a community by asking people to sign-up to Make Noise. Once signed up they would receive information via e-mail about green and ethical businesses and organisations. Most importantly they would be asked to pass on these e-mails to friends, family, colleagues, anyone who they thought would be interested, therefore spreading the word about positive work (hopefully around the world ) – Indeed we do have international members!

To maintain Make Noise as a high quality service, I needed to establish some criteria for the businesses and organisations I would share with the community. I didn’t want to send them things that they wouldn’t be interested in and I wanted to build on that community feel by having some reciprocal support between Make Hay and the businesses we are highlighting. Therefore we only share details of organisations which are either Make Hay clients or members of Make Noise themselves (which means that they will comply with our ethical policy).

Make Noise is still a growing community and from it I (and hopefully its members) have learnt a lot about the positive work that committed and driven people all over the world are doing. If a Make Noise e-mail drops into your mailbox from a friend then why not pass it on? Even better, go to Make Noise now, find out more about us and join, after all it costs nothing but a couple of minutes of your time. Let’s make sure that green and ethical businesses and organisations are known about and become the mainstream rather than the alternative. Support positive action – Make Noise!

Make Hay - Web Design Making a Positive Difference

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NEWS: Hello from Aberdeen

Aberdeen promotes itself as the ‘Energy City of Europe’, it has earned the majority of its wealth from North Sea Oil and Gas and as such isn’t the greenest city in which to live.

Aberdeen is a ‘fairtrade’ town, there are plans for a large offshore windfarm in the pipeline and recycling schemes have been set up throughout the city but I want to now what else out there.

I want to find out what I can do to make my lifestyle greener and find out what is available to help others who feel the same way.

I will keep you posted.

Be as green as can be.


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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

WEEKLY Q: If you had to pick one green act?

Last week I asked what 'being green means to you' and this week I am curious to know what is the most important thing you do to be green.

What one thing would you do if you could do nothing else?

For me it would be thinking before I spend money about whether there is a greener choice. But opting out of advertising comes a close second i.e. actively deconstructing the messages delivered to me by those I do not trust.




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FEATURE: Eco Fashion - Wear & Care

Just wanted to flag up an article I had published over at FashionTribes AfroLove Tribe in their Sep 06 issue. The AfroLove Tribe covers style, sustainability, travel, food and much more with some great stuff from Treehugger and co. Worth a visit. Here is the link to my article which is also reproduced below for your immediate viewing pleasure, looks like they tidied it up a bit, for the better I might add he he he.
Being an Eco-Conscious Fashionista Has Never Been Easier
Fashion is a statement, and whether you like it or not, what you wear shows how much you care. From Leo DiCaprio & his Prius, to Laurie David's campaign for eco-enlightenment, to Al Gore's Hollywood turn as a documentarian on the effects of global warming, being green has come out of the fringe. Which is good news for fashionistas with eco-leanings. It's never been easier to find fashionable and cool organic & ethical clothing. Gone are the days when you had to sacrifice style for sustainability. To increase the green factor of your wardrobe, here are some affordable resources worth checking out:

- Ciel, the new label from Sarah Ratty, the designer who brought you Conscious Earthwear, makes it easy for the eco-friendly gal to look fab. Really, really, on a budget? 'The Natural Store' from Ciel has new 'Fabulous Reductions' on already low-priced products every week.

- If the ecology, fashion, and ultra-hip, must-read blog doesn't do it for you, the 75 percent off on all Fair Trade and Ecological collections on People Tree definitely will.

- Natural Collection isn't just a website for all your organic fashion needs. Their 'inspiring products for a better world' also consist of natural gardening products, well-being products, and books, among other thing.

- For the casual, comfortable fashion hippy, Howies has your everyday jeans and super-cute tees at very affordable prices.

- The cute, eco-related t-shirts found at Glo4Life are available for men, women, and children. A must-have for the snarky ecoist.

- For something a little funkier and off-beat, check out the very limited edition recycled shoes from Worn Again, the awesome handbags from Ecoist and the ultimate online store for handmade stuff, Etsy.

- Finally, to keep on top of ethical fashion choices and issues, keep an eye on Treehugger's Fashion Articles, and of course, our own urban experiments with being green at City Hippy.
Being stylish was never so green!



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NEWS: Help the Hidden Gardens

I love the Hidden Gardens in Glasgow, definitely one of my favourite places. Today they sent an email asking for help. The gardens have won a B&Q 'You Can Do It' award and need assistance to create an area to become a community resource, including space for an artist in residence.

Over the next four Tuesdays (starting 29th August) you can go along and help construct raised beds, compost bins and a workspace for the artist. You must be over 16 and as well as getting to spend some time in a beautiful garden, you will learn more about the environment, meet new people and get a bit fitter. Gardening is my favourite form of exercise but sadly I don't have a garden (and no, that's not why it's my preferred way to work out!).

There isn't anything on the website at the moment about these sessions but email for more information.


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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

REVIEW: Wake up and smell the Fairtrade

Cross-posted from Hippyshopper and jazzed up a tad just for thee:

Life is busy, and whilst rushing to and from work every day I often consider buying a coffee. I am trying to cut down as it just is not good for me personally but the smell of the roasted beans at Kings Cross just gets to me. They smell soooo good. Mmmmmmmmmmm. Most days I can't be bothered if I am honest as I am in a rush (is there another way to be?) and figure I will have a free coffee as soon as I get to work or reach home.

Granted at work it is not as good, nor is it fair trade or organic but it is free and there is no queue. At home of course it is fairtrade and organic. Naturally...

Occassionally I do cave in and line up for my shot at Kings Cross and then I take massive pride in the knowledge that I at least have the option of the greenest coffee in town.

AMT Coffee offer not only Fairtrade coffee but they also now offer Organic Milk. How cool is that? Plus I just noticed today that they even sell fairtrade food. I think they were brownies or nut bars etc. Not sure it is even worth bothering with the Starbucks Challenge any more when there are much greener options in town.

So do look out for the AMT logo and give them your support if you see them.



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FEATURE: Ethical Wedding Gifts

Slap bang in the middle of the wedding season, you're probably, like us, being faced with a range of wedding gift lists to examine and dissect.

A recent entry in the Observer's regular ethical living column, asked: ‘Can I say ‘I do’ with an eco wedding list?’, and proposed ‘offering up your wedding list to a higher purpose’ discussing the merits of an actual gift list versus a charity gift list where rather than buying gifts, guests donate to the couple's charity of choice.

The ‘eco-themed’ list, offering devices to help you make your home more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly was deemed a ‘lite-green’ option as opposed to the charity list which was termed the ‘true ‘ethical’ list’.

At Ethical Weddings we wholeheartedly approve of charity gift lists to replace the buying of goods when they are neither needed nor desired (we often use them ourselves for Christmas and birthday gifts) and The Alternative Wedding List will soon be appearing in our directory. However, we also see the ‘eco-themed’ (insert also fair trade, organic and recycled products) as an excellent one-off opportunity. Not only do you get to furnish your home with all those energy-saving devices that you always meant to get around to buying, beautiful organic bed linen and a complete set of fairly traded crockery to supplement the chipped bowl and plate you’ve had since your first term at university (ok, maybe just us!), but you get to showcase these wonderful products to your guests without preaching at them, and you are supporting small producers and community cooperatives who, given the choice, would probably prefer to earn a living from what they create than be the recipients of charity.

If you choose to do without a wedding list, that’s great. The only problem is, it’s a wedding, it’s a celebration, however much you tell them not to, your guests will still want to buy you something, and if you don’t give them a clue, that’s when you end up with multiple toasters and kettles. When it comes down to it, the invention of the wedding list was an exercise in sustainability – to avoid waste, avoid duplication by giving the bride and groom just what they need to set up home – and nothing more!

There are ethical gift lists out there of all shapes and sizes and to suit all tastes.

Ganesha is an Aladdin's cave of lovely fair trade items to make you and your home beautiful. Their wedding gift list launched in March and the happy couple can sign up here!

Greenfibres is a well-established online and high street shop in Totnes offering high quality organic and fair trade items for the home. They have an excellent gift list - guests could even contribute to a new marital bed! Find out more here.

For something a bit different, why not try Otterton Mill? A centuries old working water mill, their gallery sells work from a selection of the best artists from Devon, Dorset and Somerset. You can support them through The Otterton Mill Wedding List Service selecting unique works of art from the gallery to adorn your walls and surfaces.

Or for the eco gift list option, head for the Centre of Alternative Technology. Their wedding gift list has a massive range of products all aimed at helping you live more sustainably; from organic bed linen and towels, recycled wine glasses and bird-nesting boxes through to the UK's best range of environmental books.

And if you happen to be Stateside, why not check out one of these stylish eco-friendly stores. BTC Elements, based in California already has a gift list ready and waiting for you, while Greenjeans in Brooklyn are looking forward to launching their gift list later this year.

Happy wedding planning!


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Monday, August 21, 2006

SPECIAL: San Francisco Editor

City Hippy is truly going international. In our quest to bring together a collection of real people to tell their story of how they are going green it seems that the UK tells only part of the story.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce our first non-UK city editor.

Arcadia Maximo (what an awesome name eh?) lives in San Francisco and just loved the idea of telling her tale and letting you sit on her shoulder as she greens it up in one of the greenest cities in the USA.

Arcadia runs The Goode Life blog which she says is:
my answer to all my friends who think in order to live green they have to give up meat or their cars! It's my personal quest to show others that for every conventional way of doing things there is a greener and oftentimes superior alternative.
We could not agree more...very City Hippy indeed.

Arcadia also happens to be the Environment Editor at Bella Online. As usual we chucked over our intro questions and this is what Arcadia had to say:

CityHippy: Who are you, where do you come from and live?

Arcadia: I'm a former fashion stylist, who is now a general contractor who builds green! Crazy I know! I'm a big believer in the LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) philosophy. I'm an avid reader and can often times be found rearranging my furniture as I am on a perma-quest to improve my feng shui)! I was born and raised in San Francisco; but spent a great deal of my childhood in Honduras where my father is from. We lived in a very rural part of the country where growing your own food, raising cattle and pumping water from a well is not uncommon but the norm. We did not have electricity or indoor plumbing. Coming back to the US taught me that things people take for granted here would be considered luxuries over there.

I've been fortunate enough to travel to a lot of different places but I always return home to San Francisco. I love living near the water and our weather is pretty mild. Plus San Francisco is a city where pretty much anything goes. We truly believe in freedom of expression and aren't afraid to be the first to try new things. I love the city for that!

CityHippy: What inspires you to be green?

Arcadia: My childhood mostly, and I just truly believe green is better. A long time ago I suffered from a physical ailment that no medical doctor could help me with; it wasn't life threatening just uncomfortable. I went to go see a naturopathic doctor who actually gave me some options, and showed me how our environment affects our health. I've been green and healthy ever since!

CityHippy: What is the one thing you do that you are proud of doing?

Arcadia: I recycle like a mad woman!! Collecting and recycling cans was how my brother and I earned money as kids. I recycle so much I rarely need to put our garbage bins for pick up because there's nothing in them!

CityHippy: What is the one thing you wish you could do?

Arcadia: Can I say two things? 1. I am such a wannabe gardener. I live in a house that actually has a backyard and I don't tend to it. I keep telling myself I'm going to start growing my own vegetables. My aunt has a gorgeous vegetable garden that she shares with the family. I wish to grow organic vegetables to be able to donate to food banks and shelters around the city.

2. I also wish I could convince everyone that in order to be green you don't have to give up your modern day comforts and live in a yurt! That's one reason why I started my blog, to show others you can be eco and chic at the same time!

CityHippy: What is the one thing you wish everyone in the world did differently?

Arcadia: Conservation! I'm not just talking energy, but everything. We waste so much. I see it in my own industry with the amount of wood and building products that are thrown away everyday! I wish people would bring re-usable canvas bags with them when they go grocery shopping, purchase more post-consumer products, and bring your own mug from home for coffee instead of using disposable cups. It's stuff like this that is so simple but makes a big difference!

CityHippy: What is your dream job?

Arcadia: I have my dream job already. I'm so lucky to be able to be my own boss. I love building and designing homes and interiors; and the fact that I decide which products will be used for my projects makes it that much better. (Secretly I covet Kofi Annan's job in the United Nations, there hasn't been a woman in that position [yet!], and I love meeting people from all over the world.)

CityHippy: What is your favourite way to relax?

Arcadia: A good book and a glass of organic wine or a movie. I also daydream a lot!

CityHippy: Why is the world a mess? What can we do about it?

Arcadia: The world is a mess? I had no idea!.....just kidding, actually we need to get the idiots out of office, perhaps I speak for my country only! [Erm, sadly no Arcadia, the UK is full of idiots in power I assure you - CH] I truly believe in strength in numbers, just look at the ban of Coca Cola and Pepsi in parts of India, because the local people came together and said you must fully disclose your ingredients! We can't count on our elected officials to always have our best interests at heart. We must start doing it for ourselves regardless of how small it may seem. Edmund Burke once said "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."

CityHippy: Superb stuff Arcadia, you definitely have City Hippy DNA. We look forward to your contributions.

...Ladies & Gentleman...Arcadia!!!



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NEWS: Carnival of the Green #41

Carnival of the GreenAnother monday and that means another Carnival of the Green.

This week's carnival is to be found at Frugal For Life and my pick this week is the green exploration of her own shopping habits by Sally. Very honest and real and sounds sooooo familiar.

More info about the Carnival of the Green re hosting (now booked up into March 07) and posting available here.



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NEWS: It's Party Time

I am having a Birthday party on Sunday (am 34 this friday - gulp!) for friends and family and am expecting a good turnout but we realised that we need to figure out a green way to serve food...

Should we get paper plates on the basis that they are probably recyclable? What about glasses? Plastic are obviously a no no.

Should we go out and buy a load of cheap reusable plates and glasses and keep them for the future parties we will doubtless have?

What should we do? My gut tells me just to buy a ton of regular reusable plates and glasses.

Best suggestion will win a prize, I promise.




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Sunday, August 20, 2006

NEWS: Ronald McHummer

McDonalds promoting Humvees is laughable and tragic. If we ever wanted proof that McD's do not get how out of synch they are with our planet and its inhabitants then this is surely that proof. As if McLibel was not enough. Goodnight McDonalds, thanks for coming out.

Want your own personalized McD's Sign for your blog? Get it here.



Hat tips to Treehugger & Green LA Girl for flagging this one up.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

SPECIAL: Aberdeen Editor

Ah Scotland, Bonnie Scotia. Spent a great year at Stirling University. Stirling is of course the home of William 'Braveheart' Wallace immortalised in film by Mel 'YA CANNAE TAKE OUR FREEEEDOMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!' Gibson. Of course I wonder what Mr Wallace would have made of the struggle to green the planet?

Never made it to Aberdeen. Luckily for me I am delighted to announce that we now have an Aberdeen editor to educate us as to the green goings on up there in Scotland's third city, on the North East coast of Scotland.

Paula tells me that living in a town built on oil and the energy industry can make it quite hard to make a difference but that she tries. Should be interesting to see how she copes and adapts. Before she kicks off, here are the usual introductory questions:

CityHippy: Who are you, where do you come from and live?

Paula: My name is Paula and I live in the centre of Aberdeen, in Scotland.

CityHippy: What inspires you to be green?

Paula: I believe that any positive changes I can make to the way I live my life - whether they be the food I buy, the energy I use or the amount I recycle - can only be good for environment. Each of us has the capability to make a change and no matter how small this change may be it will make a difference.

CityHippy: What is the one thing you do that you are proud of doing?

Paula: I bought myself a Christmas present last year. A goat. This goat was sent on my behalf to Africa where it is given to a family who uses the milk to feed their family and passes the offspring on to another family. I also bought chickens for a friend. I think it is great idea.

CityHippy: What is the one thing you wish you could do?

Paula: I hate big gas guzzling 4x4s used for the school run and trips to the supermarket and wish I could persuade the people that use them to drive something more economical.

CityHippy: What is the one thing you wish everyone in the world did differently?

Paula: I wish people were more tolerant. We are all different and if we could just accept this the world would be a more peaceful place. I may be naive to think this but I live in hope.

CityHippy: What is your dream job?

Paula: I want to do something that makes a difference. I don’t know what yet.

CityHippy: What is your favourite way to relax?

Paula: Recently I have found myself baking cakes. There is something therapeutic about baking a cake and the chance to lick the bowl is great fun. The cakes taste even better when they are organic!

CityHippy: Why is the world a mess? What can we do about it?

Paula: People are too caught up in the consumer world. We all use too much energy, we buy too many of the latest gadgets and want our goods as cheap as possible. This isn'’t sustainable. Somewhere down the line someone has to pay. We need to take a step back and think about what we are doing. Even if we all made one small change the cumulative effect would be staggering.

CityHippy: Paula, you sound like a City Hippy kind of gal and I look forward to your contributions and finding out more about Green Aberdeen.

...Ladies & Gentleman...Paula!!!



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Friday, August 18, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

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

The CityHippy Week!

STORY OF THE WEEK: Wealthy nations now hit by water shortages warns report whilst Businesses are 'wasting water'.
We must start taking this seriously before it is too late. And I do not mean just us comfortable folks living in the Global North...for many in the Global South disaster is sadly all too near. Conserve water or die...seriously!

Business must accept its role in this tragic march towards chaos or face regulation from outside to force it to do so.

What else caught my little green eye?

Sales of 4x4s dip for first time and Londoners back charges for 4x4 owners
I think this indicates the slow success of our efforts to make people understand that urban 4x4s, unless needed, represent extreme excess in a world that is already struggling to cope.

Friedman energy plan focuses on renewable resources
Seems like Texas is heading down a very renewable energy road. God, could President Bush BE more outflanked?

Egmont is a Green Hero in the UK
Kudos to this publisher for being innovative and pioneering in a paper-intensive industry not known for huge profit margins.

To receive all the headlines that caught my eye this week make sure you sign up to my 100% spam-free weekly Newsletter (see top right to subscribe). PLUS subscribing also gets you:

The perfect email to get you through the week.

Cityhippy bookmark of the week:
Ronald McHummer
Tell McDonalds what you think of their support for, and promotion of, Humvees to kids. Also create your very own McD's sign with your personalized message. Very funny and definitely worth a look.

…and that's the way it is folks!



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Thursday, August 17, 2006

REVIEW: Happy bum, happy planet

Originally posted on HippyShopper but updated, just for you:

I have a nine month old son and trust me wipes are the key to happiness. You want effective wipes that, ahem, do the job literally at hand but they also need to be good for your baby and for the planet. Bad wipes lead to unhappy babies and unhappy babies, you guessed it, lead to unhappy parents. To be honest, wipes are everything!

We have tried a few different alternative wipes (more on those later I am sure) but these Herbal Wipes from Jackson Reece are a great choice. They contain aloe vera and tea tree and have been created to offer parents an alcohol free option. Smelling of lavender and lemon you not only get a pleasant olfactory experience, you also get more for your money with more wipes in a packet than in most other brands.

Herbal Wipes are available from Little Green Earthlets for £2.19

Happy wiping



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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

WEEKLY Q: On being green

When someone asks you what 'being green means to you' what do you answer?

My answer would be that for me being green is about living with an appreciation for the interconnectedness of our world, an acceptance that people and planet count for more in the long term than profit. In practical terms it means engaging my brain when making decisions involving resources of any kind.

I guess in as few words as possible being green, to me, means, caring about our world.

What does 'being green' mean to you?




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REVIEW: Green Arts at the Eisteddfod

All last week, Swansea played host to the National Eisteddfod of Wales - an annual festival dating back to the twelfth century celebrating Welsh art and culture and supporting the continuing use of the Welsh language. Green minded visitors would not have been disappointed by the numbers of stalls and organisations supporting local food and crafts. Gwalia Stores were selling produce from all around Wales including rather trendy welsh wool blankets, including those designed at Melin Tregwynt. There was new cheese to be sampled from Pont Gar - excellent! Naturals Cymru were displaying smart clothing woven from welsh wool and made in Wales. If you wanted to take up the harp, this was the place to be as well as watching skilled performers there were Welsh harps for sale (at a price!). Welsh gold and other locally crafted jewellery was also on sale (try Menai jewellery).

Highlights for me including viewing the craft and design gold medal winning jewellery by Carol Gwizdak of Nantgaredig. Her rings made from silver and other natural materials were ecologically inspired which understandably impressed the judges. In contrast a far more humble craft on show was rag rugs made from discarded sheets from a local Swansea hospital (Loomessence). In a similar vain 'Zalingai' had a beautiful range of women's accessories and rugs using recycled textiles.

As well as being a great place to listen to choirs, singers, musicians and poets, the Eisteddfod is an effective way of charities and public organisations reaching to the Welsh public and those who'd travelled from afar. There were representatives from Wales Fair Trade Forum (Fair Do's shop, Cardiff), Environment Agency Wales, Oxfam, Organic Centre Wales and Women's Institute. It was great to see so many people supporting sustainability; Organic Centre Wales was giving out local organic directories and even the good old WI were chatting about their campaign against supermarket packaging. My only real bug-bear (apart from that awful dusty gravel surrounding 'y maes' (the showground)) was all those disposable pens, badges, carrier bags and leaflets being handed out. Well done to 'Keep Wales Tidy' campaign who gave out keyrings made from recycled coffee cups and the Environment Agency for their hemp reusable bags - I didn't get the latter I am sorry to say, apparently people were queuing up every day for this freebie!

Organic Jac

Other interesting notes:-
The Wales Fair Trade Forum will be holding their annual conference in Newtown 11/11/2006.

The first Eisteddfod is commonly thought to have been held in 1176 at Cardigan Castle. However I picked up information from the Organic Farms Network that a soil association approved farm in Carmarthenshire - Dolcoch - has a standing stone commorating an eisteddfod in 1140.

Browse and buy Welsh crafts at Ecco Wales [Pictured - Flower rag rug from Zalingai]

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

INTERVIEW: Donnachadh McCarthy

Not too long ago Treehugger's UK based Bonnie Alter highlighted Donnachadh McCarthy, the man who can rightly claim possession of the first wind-powered home in London. Donnachadh does many things worthy of note (see below) but in becoming the first Londoner to legally erect a wind turbine holds an esteemed position for all us City Hippy's. In fact I hereby canonise him as City Hippy's first patron saint. Patron Saint of Urban Off-Gridders ;)

He uses the StealthGen turbine but I personally prefer the look of the uber stylish Quiet Revolution turbines also mentioned on Treehugger here and here. Gotta love Treehugger eh?

Anyhoo...a while back (around Christmas time to be precise) I contacted Donnachadh for an interview but what with my wife giving birth and Donnachadh being pretty busy himself this interview took a while to pull together. I have had it lined up for a couple of months now just waiting for the right moment and by jove I think that moment is now.

Now unlike my Craig Sams interview series over seven parts I am just going to let this one loose in all its glory in one big fat juicy post. So here goes. Enjoy. Donnachadh is a great guy.

CityHippy: Hi Donnachadh, great to talk to you. Journalist, Green home pioneer, Author, Guru, Human and so on...can you outline what you do? What pays your bills?

Donnachadh: Currently work part-time for a children’s charity but have just given in my notice to concentrate on my environmental media work and home and business auditing, which have begun paying my bills also!

CityHippy: What first prompted you into caring for the planet?

Donnachadh: I was a professional ballet dancer when my homeopath invited me to join a group of alternative practitioners who were going to visit the Yanomami in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest in the summer of 1992. I ended up spending two weeks by myself with a tribe and was so gutted at the continuing genocide and forest destruction, that I decided to do what I could to stop Britain destroying the planet when I returned.

CityHippy: What was your darkest moment when pursuing a green career? Did you ever think 'This is not going to work'? What got you through that dark time?

Donnachadh: Advocating an alternative approach to how we live in the modern world was always going to be a challenge but when I feel a bit disempowered, I always go down to a woodland that I organized the planting of in 1993 in my local park which had been ear-marked for a car-park and which now has trees over 30 feet tall and it reminds me that an individual can always make a difference.

CityHippy: If you had a mantra (perhaps you do?) what would it be?

Donnachadh: Whatever it is that you are doing, always stop and think with the time and money available, can I do this in a way that is less damaging to the planet

CityHippy: What is your favourite book, movie and album?

Donnachadh: My favourite book is that old romantic chestnet Wuthering Heights, my favourite movie is The Mission (showing my age!) and favourite album is Beethoven’s Pastoral – I absolutely love the music portraying the sunshine re-emerging after the storm.

CityHippy: Where were you born and how did that shape you, both positively and negatively?

Donnachadh: I was born in Tipperary and grew up in Cork. This meant I grew up in what was then a very narrow Catholic society but the beauty of the countryside in West Cork where I spent many youthful summer holidays gave me a love of nature that now manifests itself in a determination that my local park in the inner-city should provide local kids with a taste of that natural beauty. Catholic intolerance bizarrely gave me a deep intolerance of hypocrisy, something that many organizations practice when it comes to the environment.

CityHippy: You are trapped in a lift with George Bush & Tony Blair. What do you say to them?

Donnachadh: Listen guys let me show you how and you will fine!

CityHippy: What is your favourite meal?

Donnachadh: Erm…hard to answer. I am vegetarian and 95% of my food is organic but food is not the huge issue for me as it seems to be for so many people nowadays, who watch all these famous chef TV programmes – with the climate change crisis I thing that there are more important things to be concerned about but I do like a nice mixed fresh salad with French dressing and rocket!

CityHippy: How do you prefer to relax?

Donnachadh: I read sci-fi fantasy novels and practice Ashtanga yoga.

CityHippy: Where in the world do you call paradise?

Donnachadh: Agios Pavlos, Crete

CityHippy: What has been your proudest moment in life?

Donnachadh: When as then Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrats, I spoke in front of ¾ of a million people in Hyde Park at the largest war-time peace rally in UK history and challenged all those there to cut their car use and switch to a green electricity supplier as their use of fossil fuels was what fed Blair and Bushes illegal war for oil in Iraq.

CityHippy: On the UK energy debate: Nuclear, Alternative energy or a mix of the two?

Donnachadh: Energy efficiency and alternatives. Nuclear is too little, too late, too expensive and too dangerous.” I reckon it is 40% change in our habits eg only lighting and heating the rooms we are in , 40 % changing to more efficient equipment such as energy efficient bulbs and washing machines and 20% from renewables – then we are sorted!

CityHippy: Food: Which is most important? Local, organic or faitrade?

Donnachadh: Local AND organic is best. But there is room for a proportion of our food to come from abroad as a luxury and that of course should be Fairtrade and organic. My coffee is Fairtrade, organic and decaf!

CityHippy: You coach the Independent's Green Goddess, Julia Stephenson, on greening her life. Some people often write letters into the Indy complaining that Julia is a bit hypocritical: she flies a lot and so on. City Hippy understands their frustration but believes being green is not that black or white. What would you say to them?

Donnachadh: I think it is great having someone like Julia writing about the process of gradually changing and waking up to the changes she needs to make in order to save the planet. It is a process and I am enjoying helping her go through the process faster than I did. My target as her eco-coach this year is to cut her flying emissions by 50%.

CityHippy: What keep you positive?

Donnachadh: I was lucky in learning early on that the impossible is possible when I started training as a ballet dancer at 20 ( 7 years supposedly too late) and yet still managed to dance for the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, I am far less likely to listen to people when they say things are not possible. Every year in London has given me great fun and excitement for which I am really grateful. It has been a real privilege to be allowed to have done the political, environmental and media projects I have been involved in.

CityHippy: What promoted you to write Saving the Planet? How hard was it to get it printed on recycled paper? Any plans for follow-up books?

Donnachadh: I was approached by the publishers who were aware of my ground breaking retro-eco house and thought I would be the perfect person to write a book about how to live a green lifestyle. I was busy organizing the Lib Dem opposition to the war at the time but the book wrote itself as I battled repeated legal threats from Charles Kennedy after helping to bounce him into attending the Peace March. My editor was fantastic in moulding into the shape it became.

I refused to sign the contract unless they promised to publish it on recycled paper which to be fair to them they did. It is a disgrace how many supposedly eco-books are not on recycled paper. I have a proposal for a new book with my publishers at the moment and waiting to see if they think it is as exciting and challenging as I do!

CityHippy: What is your green vision for the world? What gets in the way of that vision?

Donnachadh: That humanity learns to live in harmony with the planet’s vibrant health, in other words we model our lives on a forest which constantly recycled its nutrients using the sun’s rays and rainfall. Short-term lack of knowledge and vision is what prevents it being manifested. Unfortunately, from first hand experience, all of our top level politics are controlled by the corporate interests, who have a vested short-term interest in preventing change.

CityHippy: What is your favourite green feature in your home?

Donnachadh: I love the LED displays that show how much electricity my PV panels and wind-turbine are exporting to the national grid from the roof of my home and the ones that show the temperature of the water in my tank, heated by the solar panels also on my roof.

CityHippy: What one green thing should every household in the UK do?

Donnachadh: Heat and light only the rooms that they are using.

CityHippy: Thanks Donnachadh it has been a pleasure speaking with you. Your answers are very positive, encouraging and thought-provoking.

Donnachadh: Thanks Al, a pleasure speaking with you too.

So there you go folks...interesting stuff from one hell of a green guru!



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Monday, August 14, 2006

FEATURE: Heston Wunderkrantz & his amazing Hessian Underpants


Heston Wunderkrantz here.

As promised in my recent launch post I am now delighted to launch my brand new Green Cartoon all about little old me and the story of MY struggle to live a green and fair life. So without further ado, Ladies & Gentleman, for your optical delight:

ARCHIVE: Heston Wunderkrant & his amazing Hessian Underpants

Issue #1: It starts (Filesize: Approx 2MB)
Issue #2: The Hardening (Filesize: Approx 2MB)

Of course if you get Al's CityHippy email newsletter (see top right) then you would have received Issue #1 last week. Oh well...

This page will be the home for all future issues of the cartoon but I will keep you posted as each one comes out every month.

Most original feedback about Issue #1 will win one lucky person the chance to appear in a future issue. So get commenting. OK!

Finally I cannot thank seriously talented British illustrator Paul Davis enough for immortalising me in ink for your comic pleasures. Take a bow Paul. Please visit his site and employ him to do illustrative work for you if you need any doing.

Please do show your appreciation by tipping us if you enjoy our hard labours.

Also feel free to promote this gritty and witty British eco cartoon on your own site using this Badge:


Heston Wunderkrantz
The real CityHippy

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