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:

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 29, 2005

REVIEW: Hippy Shopper

Continuing our site review series we have taken a really good look at a brilliant recent addition to the Green web: Hippy Shopper

This site is wonderfully accessible, with subheadings acting as gateways to separate categories, including: Kids Stuff, Green Gadgets, Fashion, Travel and much more besides.

The site is an involving, fun read with explorations into bizarre green accessories such as wind-up and solar power mobile phone chargers and eco wedding rings (which, by the way, are stunning).

However, it’s not all about green products on this site; it is a fantastic access point to many other useful and informative links, including Guardian Chemical World, Grist (which had a great article by Ian Mcewan, discussing the effects of climate change), and a great vegan cakes site (bring on the coconut flapjack!) called Blue Lotus.

A real high point on the site is the fact that it takes the time to acknowledge those who are fighting the good fight, including a hats-off to Mike Skinner from the Streets for publicly proscribing KFC. And Vans for making vegan trainers for conscientious skaters that want to wear skate shoes, minus the suffering and waste involved in leather production.

This is certainly a useful site for young green minded people that want to know where they can find organic fashion. But it also useful for us oldies that want to know how to make our homes more energy efficient and where to buy naturally made clothes for our sproggs.

Hippy Shopper is a positive, highly readable blog, which succeeds in encouraging people to broaden their green horizons, experiment with new things and discover how easy it can be to take care of Mother Earth.

We give Hippy Shopper a City Hippy top rating of 5 stars!

Well done Hippy Shopper!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

NEWS: Getting rid of greenwash

A really useful document has been produced by a UK government department.

We know, we know...we did just say that a government has done something useful. It is easy to be cynical of our governments but they are full of people just like us and they ultimately do reflect society. And that means that more of the time more people in government are trying to confront the environmental and social justice problems we all face.

To that end the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has created the extremely helpful and simplistically informative PITCHING GREEN consumer guide to eco-labelling.

Pitching Green is designed to help consumers cut through the plethora of bogus green-wash statements and logos that proclaim unprovable statements like 'this product is good for the planet' and so on which tend to be meaningless. The guide helps consumers discover what the various certified organic and green labels mean. And if a label you have seen is not in this guide then chances are it is worth investigating and not simply to be taken on trust.

Pitching Green is also good for businesses with green products. Get your products properly labelled and if you run a labelling scheme then get it approved.

One obvious ommission is the Fair Trade logo. But as this is about organics and not social justice we can understand why they did not put it in.

We recommend that you visit the Pitching Green site and download the guide today. It is small and simple to read...took us less than 3 minutes to download and digest. We think its worth it...we had never heard of some of the labels in the guide.

It is all about the those companies who are paying attention and doing good things.

Friday, April 22, 2005

SPECIAL: Happy Earth Day

The 35th anniversary of Earth Day is a sobering occasion. On previous anniversaries we have hailed this "new awakening" as millions around the world suddenly rose up and pledged their support for a new campaign to save the natural environment.

In 1993 American Heritage magazine called Earth Day "one of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy." There has been progress, of course, particularly in public awareness of the critical role environment plays in our lives and in the education and training of new environmental leaders. Environment has become a major political issue. The public is prepared to support those measures necessary to forge a sustainable society, if the President and the Congress have the vision to lead us to that goal.

Unfortunately, the President and the Congress have not stepped up to the challenge of providing national and world leadership on the environmental crisis.

In fact, on some key issues, they are actually resisting or reversing progress made in the past 30 to 40 years. And without strong, sustained leadership from the President and Congress the urgent challenge to protect the environment and create a sustainable society cannot succeed. Theodore Roosevelt made conservation a top priority for the Republican party, and many members of his party carried that torch over the years. Recently, however, the GOP leadership has abandoned this cause.

There are many serious environmental problems confronting us. But two current environmental issues dramatize this failure of leadership -- energy conservation, and population control. Both are critical to the sustainability of our society. In each case, there is not only a lack of wise national leadership but an apparent determination to turn back the clock. The surrender to special interests on these two issues makes a mockery of any claim to environmental awareness.

Egged on by the President, the Senate on March 16 sneaked into the annual budget resolution a scheme to allow drilling for oil in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, protected in 1960 at the urging of great environmentalists such as Sigurd Olson, Justice William O. Douglas, and Wilderness Act author Howard Zahniser. The bill was signed by President Eisenhower.

This is not just a sabotage of environmental policy. It also undermines any hope for a wise energy policy. When all the evidence calls for bold steps to conserve energy and develop alternative sources, this cynical action implies that we can burn all the oil we want and just move on to the next untapped source, no matter where it might be.

We are told it may be 10 years before a very modest amount of oil could be produced from this pristine refuge. And what would it cost in real terms?

For the President to call for oil drilling in the Artic Wildlife Refuge is like burning the furniture in the White House to keep the First Family comfortable.

Equally critical is the failure of the President and Congress to confront the issue of population control, in our own rapidly growing country and the rest of the world.

A "Rockefeller Report" in 1972, issued by the President's commission on population growth, urged the U.S. to move vigorously to stabilize our population at about 200 million as rapidly as possible. Since then our population has ballooned to 282 million, and is expected to reach 500 million between 2060 and 2070. We are heading into a century in which we will double and triple our population in a short time.

World-wide population projections are equally chilling. A series of international conferences have called for bold action to control population growth.

Yet the United States in recent years has become an aggressive opponent of family planning programs in other countries, and we are now facing efforts by some "new conservatives" to impose similar restrictions at home.

On previous Earth Days we have offered a solution: The President should set the standard by delivering a message to the Congress on the state of the environment, citing priorities that need to be addressed. Congress then should hold hearings on these issues. This would produce a "national dialogue" on the sustainability of our environment, and provide a roadmap to the future.

Without Presidential leadership and Congressional hearings, we cannot claim to be taking seriously the most compelling threats facing our society.

On environmental issues, our intelligence is reliable. Our scientists have the facts, if we will only listen. It is a "slam dunk" that we cannot continue on our present course. But without Presidential and Congressional leadership, even an enlightened public cannot cope with the greatest challenge of our time.

By Former US Senator Gaylord Nelson
Founder of Earth Day and Chairman Emeritus of Earth Day Network

Click here for more information about Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


City Hippy comes across many great websites, companies, books, magazines, ideas and so on all trying to address the issues that are of concern to us and our readers. Whilst we normally like to simply highlight what green and fair choices they offer occasionally we connect to a real pioneer. We need these heroes of the new green evolution and City Hippy feels compelled to bring these role models to your attention.

In the first of many interviews with green entrepreneurs we were delighted to speak to Josh Dorfman, the founder of has a simple goal: to provide 'environmentally conscious design and fashion'. Their mission is to give people the choice to choose a luxury lifestyle that does not compromise people or planet. They consider themselves purveyors of eco-luxury!

City Hippy totally agrees with what they are doing. We accept that not all people are going to change their patterns of consumption radically: that they still want to consume. We believe that if they at least have the choice to consume more responsibly then many of them will do just that. They will give their money to companies that provide them with green and fair choices. delivers that choice.

We spoke to Josh about how it all began, what he would say to budding green entrepreneurs and also discovered what he considered to be his darkest hour and how he overcame it.

City Hippy: Hi Josh, first of all can we just say how great it is to be in touch with you. We love your site and we applaud what you are trying to do. Very City Hippy in our opinion. Our first question is: What was the spark that drove you to set up

Josh Dorfman: Thanks for your support. To answer your first question I was two semesters into a Ph.D. program focusing on the impact of globalization on the environment. Thankfully, I realized fairly quickly that theoretical discussions of environmental problems were well, too theoretical for my tastes. Still, I really wanted to pursue a career that would resonate with my personal values and my concerns about the challenges facing our environment. I hit upon as a way to actively promote a cleaner environment while doing something that would feel considerably more tangible to me and decidedly more fun. And the best part about it was that it would offer consumers great ways to support a cleaner environment without really having to alter their behavior too much. I think at heart we all really would prefer to live in a cleaner environment. I think we all would like to see global warming addressed. I think we all want to leave an enduring positive legacy to our future grandchildren. And I also think we’'re all pretty damn lazy so the idea of making environmental action super easy and fun is really appealing to me.

City Hippy: That makes a lot of sense Josh. We totally agree with your analysis. There are definitely two camps: the people who will radically alter their consumer behavior and the people who will not sacrifice their quality of life. Plenty of other folks spend a lot of time judging either group for one reason or another. We sense that we both, however, are more concerned with making the world better instead of arguing about the politics. If people want to consume then so be it but at least they can consume more responsibly. We guess that is what is all about.

Our next question is what three tips would you give to budding green entrepreneurs?

Josh Dorfman: First of all, understand your target market. Be very clear about to whom you are selling. One of the challenges of running a green business in my industry is that people with core green values make lousy consumers because they often choose not to consume. While that’'s a good thing for the planet, it’'s a challenge for my business. I have to find people with environmental values who also like to buy luxury products.

City Hippy: Spot is about giving the group of people who will not alter their lifestyle the chance to at least consume in a way that benefits, as opposed to harms, the people and planet.

Josh Dorfman: Exactly. Secondly, surround yourself with people who know more than you. That’s true for any business and I think it’s especially true for ideologically driven green entrepreneurs. You need to surround yourself with seasoned professionals who will ground your vision in reality and help you realize it.

City Hippy: Makes sense. You have got to be humble enough to know when you need help and have the courage to accept help when you need it. We can't all be experts in everything.

Josh Dorfman: Yep. Finally, always remember that you’'re a trailblazer and an inspiration. As a green entrepreneur you touch the lives of many people who you don’'t know and may never meet. They'’re rooting for you to succeed and your success gives them the confidence to pursue their own dreams.

City Hippy: Absolutely. Being humble is all well and good but you should also feel very proud of what you are trying to achieve and how far you have come.

The green and fair evolution needs heroes and Josh we think you are a fantastic role model.

It can't have all been a bed of roses though. When was your darkest hour in trying to set up

Josh Dorfman: The darkest hour came a month after our website launch.

City Hippy: Wow! That was quick. What happened? What caused this rough patch?

Josh Dorfman: Well, the first month was really exciting. The Washington Post wrote about us. I was invited to exhibit our product lines at the LOHAS conference in Los Angeles (City Hippy: LOHAS 2005 is next week by the way for those of you in California - LOHAS stands for Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability).

Friends were emailing to say how envious they were of me. Old bosses were calling to congratulate me. The only problem was that no one was actually going on the site to buy anything. Suffice to say, it was discouraging. I was burned out from a year and half of non-stop work. I was running out of cash, and I was demoralized.

City Hippy: We guess that happens to most kind of assumes that evidence of success will be quite quick. So what got you through it?

Josh Dorfman: I was sitting at my desk one day when my office manager came in and handed me yet another bill to pay. She saw my head droop and my shoulders sag and heard me mumble something rather unpleasant under my breath. She'’d only been working with us a month and didn'’t know me that well, but she said bluntly, “You know what, Josh, you chose this. No one is making you do it.” I started laughing because I recognized the obviousness of her statement and it made me feel silly and a little embarrassed at how dejected I'’d let myself become. I thanked her, bought her lunch and started making my to-do list.

City Hippy: So it is all about staying focused and keeping the faith. Success will come, just not necessarily overnight. Thanks so much for talking to us Josh. We know you are busy and lets face it, saving the world is a big task so we will let you get on with it. We wish you and every success and we think you have a great concept and that it will continue to succeed.

Josh Dorfman: Thanks City Hippy...your support is really appreciated.

City Hippy's final thoughts: and Josh Dorfman have much to be proud of...we salute them. But that is not enough. Go and buy something from Tell your friends...especially anyone you know in the US where they are based.

City Hippy has no hidden agenda...we get no commission or other reward from The only thing we get in return if they and other companies like them grow and succeed is that we get to live in a greener and fairer planet. And that is good for all of us.

City Hippy's green entrepreneur summary:
If you have a good idea run with it. Regret is a horrible thing and it never goes away.

Green and fair businesses can and are working.

Investigate LLC and LLP status for your business to prevent it falling out of your control.

Be professional and if you need help be humble enough to go get it. You cannot do it all on your own.

Feel fantastic...because chances are that you are doing something wonderful.

Have patience. Success will not come over night. Don't give up ... keep your head down, get stuck in, solve the problems and success will come.

No problem is insurmountable. You just have to be creative.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

NEWS: Urban Car Solutions

Just a quick post...

Two sites have come to our attention that we think are really worth mentioning. (Check out this BBC article on Zipcar)

It is all about a concept that is rapidly gaining support: Car-sharing.

Essentially, if you live in a city and want the benefits of a car but none of the hassle. Well these services allow you to rent a car for an hour, a day or even a week.

Check them out...very useful indeed and we reckon this is the start of something massive.


Friday, April 08, 2005

FEATURE: Green and Ethical A - Z

Becoming greener and more ethical can be as easy as A...B...C...

A is for Action
Actions speak louder than words. A lot of little things can add up to a big change. For a great list of actions you can easily do why not buy Go M-A-D: Go Make a Difference - 365 Daily Ways to Save the Planet

"Solutions start at home, with you and me. Think small drops of water and tidal waves - that's the effect this book will have. Go for it!" Charles Secrett, Director, Friends of the Earth.

B is for Bike
Can you take your bike rather than the car? It's better for your health and the environment. See your local government body for information on cycle paths and routes. Think of the money you could save.

C is for Cosmetics
Cosmetics more often than not contain chemicals that are bad for you and the planet. You will not believe what you are putting on your body. Check out the ingredients of your cosmetics here. For alternative companies offering organic cosmetics please check out our links list to the right.

D is for Donate
Donate unwanted books, gifts, clothes & household items to charity. It saves on waste and will help those less fortunate.

E is for Energy
Can you change your energy supplier to one with a more eco-friendly outlook? The answer is almost certainly YES! Visit Energy helpline or Greenpeace who are running a campaign with nPower to supply lean, green, friendly electricity generated by the UK's first offshore wind farm at North Hoyle.

F is for Fairtrade
Fairtrade product ensures that the producers of the product are paid fairly for their work. You can buy fairtrade gifts, tea, coffee, bananas, cereals, chocolate, biscuits and soon even clothing. Make sure you look out for the distinctive green & blue fairtrade logo. See Fairtrade online for more info and to see the logo.

G is for Glasses
Your old glasses can be sent to the third world and can help someone with sight problems who may not have access to glasses see better. Makes sense to us.

Ask if your local optician takes part in these schemes. If they don’t ask them if they would consider taking part. For more information check out these links: Help the Aged (UK) - Give the gift of sight (US).

H is for Hemp
Hemp is a fantastic plant and from it you can make paper, cloth, plastics, building materials, rope, cosmetics as well as cleaning products and paint! Learn more at Hemp clothing.

I is for Independent
Your local independent retailer will value your custom and opinion far more than the corporate giants. Find your local shops and support them. Or they slowly die out. Upto you.

J is for Junk Mail
Junk mail is a pain and is not good news for the environment. So stop getting it my signing up for the mail preference service (UK) @ this link or if you live in the US you can find out more here about stopping junk mail.

K is for Kicking bad habits
There are many things about our modern lifestyle which are absurd...try and use less stuff, try not to let advertising and marketing dictate what you buy and when...think about every thing you buy and see if there are alternatives. City Hippy and so many other sites are now here to help you find a better way.

L is for Library
Libraries are under threat because we do not use them as much as before. They are a great way to get information without spending anything, as well as saving space at home or at the office. Borrowing books, CDs, DVDs also helps to saves the planet from excess production of paper-based products. They are great places to meet and chat with people and kids love them as books offer them access to an unlimited universe which just feeds their imaginations.

M is for Make your own
Personal handmade cards, gifts, cakes, biscuits, toiletries etc are far nicer to give & receive. It shows that you have put that little extra time and effort. Check out Mad about cards and Cierra candles for some card and candle ideas. Get is great fun and very can really get into this.

N is for No aerosols
There is no need to buy anything that comes in an aerosol can. Buy pump action dispensers and/or other alternatives. Aerosols are bad m'kay!

O is for Old Mobiles
Old Mobile phones can be recycled or sent out to the third world. Take your old mobile to Oxfam or to Tesco.

P is for Play Fair
Many corporate giants have very little regard for the environment, the marketing tactics they use are questionable and they do have a very good ethical record. To find out which companies do not care about you or the planet you live on visit End evil Blacklist or Gooshing - the free ethical shopping tool from The Good Shopping Guide.

Q is for Questions
Ask yourself: Do I need it? If you do, ask yourself. Can I get it organic, fairtrade or second-hand? Always question...don't be complacent...don't leave it upto business to care for you and the planet....their track record thus far is not all that convincing.

R is for Recycle & Re-use
Recycling does not mean we can use even more of our planets is about using less and less and getting more and more out of a smaller number of resources. Find out where your nearest recycling facilities are from Recycle more

Also you can recycle donate to charity a variety of things that will be very useful to those less fortunate than you ie phones, hearing aids etc. Check out Help the aged

If you live in the US then the best site about recycling we can find state side is Earth 911

S is for Second-hand
Second-hand clothes and furniture help both your wallet and the world natural resources and help to slow down the filling up of our landfill sites. Landfill sites are fast filling up...some areas in the UK will run out in two years or less!!! This is not a future problem...this is a now problem.

T is for Toxic Home
Find out which are the most ecological sound products for you and your home. Greenpeace are running a big campaign on this at the moment and you can click here for more information about the 'Chemical House'.

U is for Unbleached
Try and buy Unbleached cotton and paper products. Especially nappies/diapers...bleach and babies just does not mix well. Check out Spirit of Nature in the UK and Vivavi in the US for more info on healthy adult and baby clothes.

Spirit of nature also do organic nappies and diapers that look more or less identical to regular throwaway diapers. If you know of any sites in the US where you can get these diapers...let us know.

V is for Volunteer
Volunteer a few hours a month at your local charity shop or hospice. You will have fun, met new people and learn new skills. 2005 is the year of the volunteer so get involved. Visit Year of the Volunteer for more information in the UK and here for more info in the US.

W is for Wood
Wood needs to be farmed from sustainable resources. The Forest Stewardship Council is an international, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world's forests. Check out the Forest Stewardship Council online to find out more & look out for the FSC logo when you buy anything made from wood.

In the US you can visit Forest Stewardship Council for more info.

X is for X marks the spot
Vote with your feet, your wallet and your pen. Vote for environmentally friendly companies, shops and political parties that speak up for the planet and the developing world rather than ignoring them. Voting is not just a 'once in a while' thing...every penny you spend is now about a spend wisely.

Y is for Youth
Teach your kids all about their beautiful planet. Get them involved in ecological issues, they will then be more likely to be interested and keen to help. Children's Scrapstore was set up to take clean safe waste products from industry to create a resource for children's art and play activities, click here.

The Green Frog News also looks like a very interesting resource to get kids thinking about the issues.

We like to buy our friends kids a gift subscription to National Geographic no matter what age they are...even the pictures are wonderful to look at.

Z is for Zzzzzzzz
Go relax and let this all sink is for living...feel good...we can change the world, one step at a time.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

NEWS: UK Election ahead!

And so a UK election looms, finally and officially, on May 5th.

In the run-up to the election we will be evaluating each of the three main parties (plus the greens) committments to the Environment and Social Justice.

We will remain objective and realistic. What we want is action and we will end up on the side of those we feel are most likely to deliver the required changes.

We will evaluate how they each address key issues surrounding Social Justice and the Environment.

We are not looking for policy statements or stats or jargon. We want real solutions for real people. We want simple answers and demonstrable solutions that can be easily understood and implemented.

We also want to know what you think about all these issues and how the parties respond to our questions. Be sure to email us at: Image hosted by or comment as we post their replies.

We also encourage you to print these questions out and ask politicians when they canvass you for their opinion on these issues.

The eight questions we will ask all of them are as follows:

1) Energy Efficiency
How will you make it easier for people and companies to be more energy efficient?

2) Transport
How will you make private, public and commercial transport environmentally friendly?

3) Renewable Energy
How will you increase the use of clean, safe and renewable energy?

4) Environmental Protection
How will you protect our Environment from people and companies?

5) Corporations
How will you address the imbalance of power created by corporate lobbying?

6) Poverty
How will you get more people, in the UK and globally, away from poverty?

7) Trade
How will you ensure that an honest days work gets an honest and fair wage?

8) Citizenship
How will you get more people involved in solving societies problems?

We will then evaluate how likely they are to deliver based on their answers overall, their grasp of the issues and their credibility.

Finally City Hippy will come off the fence and tell you who we think is the best bet to make the UK, and the World in general, a greener and fairer place.

The rest will be upto you!

So check back soon...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

REVIEW: The Sanctuary website

We here at City Hippy visit a lot of 'green' websites. The second in our series of site reviews takes a good look at:

The Sanctuary - Environmental Commentary, News, and Stuff Related

The Sanctuary addresses the core issues affecting our planet. It provides more in-depth analysis and seeks to provoke thought and more reasoned debate. It's less about the surface solutions to the problems and more about an analysis of the fundamental problems themselves.

Written by an American it brings voice to the lesser-heard perspective of an American who sees the light despite living in a land of darkness.

The Sanctuary's content is sharp, timely and deeply thought-provoking. We get the feeling that this site speaks for many Americans who are being crushed under the weight of their Republican relatives.

We visit the Sanctuary a handful of times a month and we recommend you do the same.

Why? Well where City Hippy seeks to provides alternatives to solve the problems we face The Sanctuary reminds us what those problems are. It is not always easy-reading: you will need to engage your brain and also may read some unsettling truths about our world. Then again like anyone seeking recovery the first steps we need to take are those of acceptance of the problem. Only when we have understood the problem can we start to think about solutions.

The Sanctuary provides that space: it is a place to go to seek the truth and allow recovery to begin.

Perfect sunday morning reading.

City Hippy gives The Sanctuary a 4 out of 5 City Hippy rating.