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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Friday, September 30, 2005

RANT: Plastic bag hell

I am getting really sick of plastic bags. They seem to be everywhere. And they end up in the street looking gross. Even some of the biodegradable ones are not really biodegradable.

Some countries like Ireland have imposed a plastic bag tax with immense success whilst here in the UK they remain free at most supermarkets etc.

We recycle our plastic bags and have some of those heavy duty now gonna invest in Jute bags. But what really wound me up today was buying vegetables and feeling forced to put them in their own private little plastic bags. Ridiculous.

From now on I refuse to put my vegetables in their own little bags...I will just keep them all in one big bag. Together!

From now on will use a basket for fruit and veg and avoid those annoying fiddly little plastic bags.

And of course the Co-op has green bags...completely biodegradable.



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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

FEATURE: Electricity Suppliers

When we bought our new house, well, our not new 1950's house, we wanted to find an electricity supplier that offered us greener renewable energy.

It is so tough to wade through all the marketing blather. But wade we did!

We need both gas and electric because we bought a gas oven, a decision I, if not Mrs Hippy, since regret. The oven could cause us a problem I fear as there is no way to replace gas with a renewable energy supply as far as I can tell - the thought of plumbing in a cow's bum to convert the oven to methane makes me retch.

We could of course replace it with an electric oven which would enable us to use renewable energy and even eventually wind and solar as we intend to do.

Oh well..gas oven for now.

Anyway, I digress. We hunted for a renewable energy supplier and found quite a lot of choice.

We really wanted to go with Ecotricity or Good Energy as we perceived them to be the most committed to renewable energy.

We got great info from WhichGreen which has handy advice although they put ecotricity at the top of the table even though they are investing peanuts overall compared to the big energy companies.

For us, we take a longer-term view: we want green energy and we want to encourage big existing energy companies to offer and invest in green energy.

Don't get me wrong...we hope some of you go with Ecotricity - but for us nPower seemed the better fit.

nPower's Juice programme - in their words:

Juice is currently generated at North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm. As a Juice customer, npower matches every unit of electricity that you use and feeds the same amount into the electricity network from North Hoyle. It's as simple as that.

We have made a commitment with Greenpeace to ensure we purchase enough electricity from clean, renewable sources to match our Juice customers' estimated electricity consumption throughout the year. At year end we will check your actual consumption to ensure that, for every unit of electricity you have used, a unit of green, clean electricity has been fed into the electricity network. (Renewable sources include hydro electric power, wind power and solar power.)

And we all know what a hard bunch of uncompromising folks Greenpeace are. If it's good enough for the Rainbow Warriors then it's good enough for us.

Of course it has to be an individual choice and you will get no judgement from us.

The one really big surprise was that the giant of British energy, British Gas, does not offer renewable energy, well none that we could find. Despite their partnering with WindSave to offer turbines they do not have a green energy offering that we could sign up for.

Their loss.



p.s. this post is our 100th post...just another milestone of course but makes us feel proud! Could not have done it without you. Have an extra namaste...namaste!

p.p.s of course this is all UK focused...what's the story in the US? Canada? Wherever you live?

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

NEWS: Green Engage Survey

Just wanted to flag up a green survey taking place that closes on 30 September 2005 (email and postal entries must arrive by then).

The goal of the Green Engage survey is to:

see what people think about the environment and ‘green lifestyles’

The project is called Green Engage and is a project run by a variety of organisations including the following: Transport 2000, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Friends of the Earth, Sustain, Green Alliance, Passion for the Planet and Grownupgreen.

You can complete the survey anonymously or to be entered into a free prize draw to win one of a few copies of 'Save Cash and Save the Planet', a great new guide to living a greener lifestyle, you can give your details.

Either way your answers and details, should you give them, will only be used for the purposes of this survey and will not be used for anything else or given to anyone else to use.

We just filled it in and sent it off and the whole process only took 5 minutes. You can email the completed survey to or you can print it off, complete it and mail it back to the address on the form. Upto you.

Click here to download the Green Engage Survey word document.



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Friday, September 23, 2005

FEATURE: Up On a Roof

Green roofs - they're as primitive and as old as early human habitations, and as futuristic and new-age as the 2008 Olympic city in Beijing. They have been in use in Europe for thirty years, and are fast gaining wide usage in the USA.

Green roof systems are ancient technologies that are once again being considered for a variety of modern applications. Their history dates back thousands of years. The most famous green roofs were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. These terraced structures, constructed around 500 B.C. were built over arched stone beams and waterproofed with layers of reeds and thick tar. Soil, plants and trees were then planted. A version of green roofs were used in Iceland and other Nordic countries; the sod roofs used by pioneers on the American prairies were green roofs.

I've been researching this architectural feature for a couple of months now. The more I learn about it, the more I love it. We are planning a move to the Southwest of the USA in about a year. Doing this will entail downsizing our lives to fit into a much smaller house, hopefully of Pueblo design with a flat roof. That flat roof is where I hope to put my research on green roofs into actuality.

Most of the green roofs in the US are large public buildings. Chicago City Hall has one, so does the Toronto City Hall. Perhaps the best known is the roof of Ford's Rouge Centre Plant in Dearborn, Michigan. It covers 454,000 sq. feet and is the showpiece of Ford's effort to revitalize the historic plant. The Chicago roof is one of my favorites, because they are attempting - with a great deal of success - to establish a native prairie on this roof.

There are two types of green roofing systems, Intensive and Extensive. The extensive systems are for large expanses of rooftop not intended for public access. They use a scant amount of dirt, and mostly use sedums as their plant material. Intensive systems use a good deal more soil, and can support larger plantings, even trees.

Both of these systems have enormous beneficial possibilities for urban environments. Some of these are viable storm water management, energy efficiency, urban ecology and aesthetic benefits. Further benefits include insulating buildings, extending the life of the roof membrane, increasing property values, eliminating "heat islands," and providing wildlife habitat.

I mentioned the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing - well, the guy in charge of getting the city ready for this enormous undertaking, one Mr. Wang, has a masterplan to bring the city's air quality into line with the Committee's requirements that involves covering most of the rooftops of the city with green. See Mr. Wang's 'Garden in the Sky' for more info.

Landscape architects are getting very interested in this idea, as it opens up a whole new area to exercise their craft. However, so little has yet been written that there is a paucity of sources. The books I found on the subject are Green Roofs: Ecological Design and Construction and Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls. These two explain the history of green roofs, describe components and plantings used, and show off case studies from around the world. The third one is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things a book by two green and extremely inventive designers.

I'll close with some links to sites to see, learn, read more about green roofs. The best article I encountered is this one: Green Roof Activism, or, We are All Bozos on This Bus by Patrick Carey. It's full of information of all sorts, including places to find more information.

DC Greenworks
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities
Ford Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant
Green Roof Proposal, Temple University
"How Green is Your Roof?" Natural Life Magazine
Chicago City Hall
Greenroof Industry Resource Portal
Greenroofs, by Kathie Bond Borie



UPDATE: Check out this great Green Roof post on Treehugger.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Just wanted to mention (especially to all those coming to this article via Treehugger) that it was written by a good friend and City Hippy collective member, Marigolds2, who normally writes for THE BLUE VOICE blog. They deserve a visit!

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

NEWS: The Poyzer Philosophy?

Have decided to do regular updates after each episode of the NO WASTE LIKE HOME show as I figure lots of you non-UK folks, and even some of you UK people, will not have the chance to see the show.

Tonight's episode was all about six students who one would have thought would be quite active on green issues (another student stereotype broken) and yet to begin with were sending 14 bags of rubbish/trash to landfill EACH WEEK!!! With zero recycling. All cooking independently and generally living extremely energy inefficient lives.

By the end of the show Penney had of course tackled all the issues and got them to happily reduce their waste to landfill by an immense 93%. Along the way Penney also got them to reduce their gas, heat and water consumption and dramatically increase their recycling. Oh and they ate communally more and observed that communal conversation had massively increased.

Some of the six housemates had really caught the bug and having been challenged to become activists managed to help green the kitchen of a local restaurant. Impressive.

Not only that but one of the students decided to grow potatoes in the garden as that was their main staple. They sought advice at a local allotment (Do you have those in the USA? If not they are local green patches you rent for a year to grow stuff on) and discovered that an allotment cost only £30 per year and yielded all the vegetables for one guy from his patch. He bought no vegetables all year round! Stunning! Kind of reminds me of those good Pasadena, California, based folks at Path To Freedom who produce something like 5 tons of produce a year from a regular urban garden. Wow!

Anyway the Poyzer Philosophy seems to be emerging and we think it is as follows:

1) Learn to connect cause and effect

2) Think laterally

3) Be active and be an activist

So City Hippy has decided to do the following:

1) Find and visit our local landfill

2) Find out how to grow potatos and do just that

3) Evangelise about our local Freecycle group at our local recycling center

Should be this space. And if you can do watch Penney's show. Thursdays 8:30pm BBC2. Remember USA readers to lobby BBC America to get the show on in the USA.



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NEWS: Red Ken pushes the green

With Londoners still bagging and binning enough rubbish to fill an olympic sized swimming pool every hour, it seems Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has a long way to go, getting citizens to use his recycling facilities.

Services throughout the capital are improving all the time, with better doorstep collections and additional processing available at many recycling centers, but how are the busy inhabitants supposed to keep a handle on what’s available to them?

Some bright spark has found a green way to do it - no paper publicity involved either, just the good old mobile phone.

Many people have sport and news items delivered via text messagine these days so what about information on recycling services available to you in your London borough? Text the word “Recycle” and your full postcode to 63131 and the info will follow.

This is a great step forward and one that I hope will start to break the apathy connected to this important subject, but the key lies in individuals taking more responsibility for what happens to their trash and physically doing something about it.

Penney Poyzer is hard at work on BBC2, with her “No Waste Like Home” programme. She battles away with a good cross section of the general public, none of whom were malicious with their thoughts on sustainable living, they just hadn’t seen the errors of their ways until they met the Eco-queen, Penney P.

National Downshifting Week is another project designed to create more public awareness, in an encouraging fashion. It offers a list of suggestions for people to get on the right eco-track, as well as slow their lives down a gear. Tracey Smith, its creator explained, “Downshifters give themselves the time to embrace green issues, the two are inextricably linked”.

These ladies have, without a doubt, helped to prick the conscience of the nation and until we all think twice before slinging stuff in the bin, it’s up to the Penney’s and Tracey’s of the world to keep ramming home the point and for the ones that have got ‘The Point’ to pass the message on to their friends and family too.

Recycling is not rocket science, but if we keep feeding our landfill sites at the present rate, we might all need a rocket to get off once it’s full…now there’s a thought…



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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NEWS: Organic Emergency in USA

The USA's Organic Consumers Association has put out an urgent SOS for consumers to act NOW.

Congress is trying to sneakily pass a law that would allow two bad things to happen:

1) Certain synthetics would be able to be labelled organic
2) Power would shift from consumers to legislators as to what can be labelled organic

Both of those are ludicrous and could damage the organic industry. Not kill it but cause it major problems.

ACT NOW! Click here to find out how you can answer the SOS. Just send an email. Not asking you to remove a limb. Or risk a world where Organic produce is no longer a meaningful standard.



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RANT: Fetid freebie

Today a free daily newspaper in London were handing out free samples of a 48 hour proven protection anti-perspirant deodorant. Not gonna mention or link to either of them to be honest.

Really ticks me off when people give out crappy freebies especially when the freebie is essentially made of stuff that harms the planet. As if newspapers themselves are good for the planet.

Wish that newspapers and so on would turn away freebies that are wasteful i.e. samples. Why not hand out vouchers for the product instead. Less wastage. Plus people will redeem the voucher for the normal size supply and so will use it longer. Better all round. For people, planet and profit.



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SPECIAL: Our partners

Some of you may notice that we now have a PARTNER section running on the site (in the right hand side bar).

As this is our first 'partner' ad we thought we would set out our thoughts about ads on our site:

These nice people pay City Hippy to showcase their stuff.

These nice people will help City Hippy grow.

Please click their ads and give them a fair shot.

By doing so you will be also supporting City Hippy.

Please support green, organic and fair trade businesses.

We do not endorse them and they do not endorse us but we will ensure that any partners have something to add to helping you live a greener lifestyle.

We thank you.



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NEWS: Green streak

This is one of those stories that just make us howl.

New Zealand Green Party MP Keith Locke made a bet with a rival, Rodney Hide of the ACT Party, that if Rodney won in last Saturday's election he would run naked through the town.

Rodney was an outside bet as far as the media were concerned. And of course Rodney won!

Now I am not sure that many other MP's would be true to their word, let's face it, they are not known for keeping election promises, but Mr Locke said:

the Greens were a party of their word...we do not want to break an election promise.

He will be running naked through his Epsom constituency some time soon. Brilliant!

Apparently he intends to run in an 'artistic manner smothered in body paint', presumably to hide any blushes and avoid breaking any public nudity laws.

A loincloth has been offered and paramedics are standing by.



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Monday, September 19, 2005

NEWS: Car Free Day

Thursday, 22nd September, 2005 is World Car Free Day.

All around the globe (1,544 cities in 40 apparently) people will be leaving their cars at home and using alternative means of transport to prove that we can seriously reduce our reliance on cars.

In a world where petrol/gas costs are spiralling. Where wars are fought over oil. Where the instability of the Middle East is compounded by the world's addiction to oil. Highlighting alternatives is a very positive act.

Not everyone can live without cars though...rural transport is generally terrible so don't feel too bad if you cannot participate. Do what you can...maybe make extra effort to tell people who can participate to do so on your behalf?

This is what my wife (32 weeks pregnant) and I (not often described as fit, ahem) will be doing on Thursday in celebration of a world without cars.

Catching the bus in the morning instead of driving to the station.

Walking home, at least a 30 minute walk, as the bus timetable ends before we get home.

When my wife goes on maternity leave in about 5 weeks I intend to start cycling to the station. No more car! Healthier heart! Hurrah!

We will let you know how the day goes for us. Be sure to let us know your thoughts and if you manage to ditch the car at all.



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Sunday, September 18, 2005

NEWS: Worn Again

Just wanted to flag up a really great recycled product. They are limited edition trainers but we reckon they will be a more long-term thing once word gets out. What a good idea!

Basically the good people over at Anti-Apathy, who are based at one of our favourite, creative, pay-as-you-go, business spaces, The Hub, have worked with Terra Plana to produce the Worn Again series of trainers. These funky looking trainers are made from recycled materials like old prison blankets, discarded suits and so on.

We can so see these trainers catching someone famous gets and wears a pair, gets snapped in them and then that will be that! They will be in Marks & Spencers before you know it.

Thanks to Make for the link. (via Treehugger and Boing Boing)



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Saturday, September 17, 2005

NEWS: Oil Companies to save Arctic?

One of our friends over at The Blue Voice, one of our favourite blogs, has brought the Arctic Refuge Action Day to our attention.

This Tuesday, September 20th, at 11am, on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, a protest will take place to highlight public disgust at the Oil industry's / Bush administration's desire to find a few gallons of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). The protest will be followed by discussions with your local representatives. This may be the last chance to prevent this pristine part of our planet being 'explored'.

I have to admit there seems no logic to drilling in the Arctic...the probable energy return is at best minimal. And will not be available for at least a decade. The cost to that part of the world? Well based on the Oil Industry's record in other parts of the world it would appear that the region is screwed if the Oil Industry gets their hands on it.

But what can you do for the Arctic? Click here to find out your options.

And if you live outside of the US then contact your local representative to demand that your government voice its disgust and concern ASAP.

Or do nothing...perhaps the oil industry will protect it for you?



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Thursday, September 15, 2005

NEWS: Poyzer Power

My god this woman is unstoppable. No one is safe. Not even a young affluent couple living in a luxury apartment downtown. They are just like most urbanised people. Comfort and convenience first! Sound familiar? You are not alone!

In tonight's 'NO WASTE LIKE HOME' the Poyzer Panzer challenged them to change their ways and their response was basically:

If recycling takes me an hour and I could do something better with that hour then I am not gonna recycle!

This was going to be a disaster. Their lifestyle was massively challenged by Penney. Surely she had met her match and would fail to convert these two consuming criminals?

These guys blew her targets (water consumption, food miles, landfill waste and so on) out of the water, so to speak. And they loved it...well most of it. No-one's perfect.

At the end of the show they had become active in their own apartment block working with the 180 other apartments to reduce water consumption and working with the building management to get the building greener and recycling more.

They even started writing letters to their local Member of Parliament and even sent one to TONY BLAIR!!!

They were so amazed at how easy it was to be greener and they took to it like ducks to water.

This is what I came away with:

Going green is not expensive.
On the contrary it saves money.

Going green is not difficult.
On the contrary it has never been easier.

Going green is not depressing.
On the contrary it is uplifting.

At the end of the show Penney gave them the money she calculated they had saved and they wanted to take her out to dinner as a thankyou for changing their lives and flushing away their ignorance.

Penney was in tears. What a transformation. Awesome show! Nice one Penney.

Personal lessons learned? We are pretty good at the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but there is always room for improvement. I need to study our water consumption (dishwasher, bathroom etc) and get it down. Really need to exercise more sense when shopping and get the non-recyclable packaging and the food miles down. Must find a non-supermarket to shop in.

Watch this space.



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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

YEAH RIGHT: Ecomagination

John from Oakland brings us our second YEAH RIGHT. We followed his tip and what we found was hilarious and definitely deserves a big fat juicy YEAH RIGHT.

GE's Ecomagination is interesting. We have another article planned on this GE initiative but for now one of their ads has caught John's eye.

John tells us that the 'Model Miners' ad 'pretty much left me speechless' and to be honest having watched it we agree.

What on earth are GE trying to say? Coal can be a cleaner energy and can help solve our energy problems AND climate change issues at the same time? Uhm...

GE's Ecomagination is an 'initiative to aggressively bring to market new technologies that will help customers address pressing environmental challenges.' Source. Awesome.

Final words of the ad: Harnessing the power of coal is looking more beautiful every day. Camera focuses on attractive female models...just the type you would be likely to find down a coal mine.

OK...ready? 1-2-3 YEAH RIGHT!

Greenwash all over. Yes we have an energy problem on our hands. GE accepts that and we applaud them. Yes we need to look at alternatives. GE accepts that and again we applaud them.

So GE concludes that we should make coal a cleaner energy source. attention GE...we are getting tired of saying this. We said alternatives. Coal is not an alternative. Fossil fuels are the problem. Not the solution. They are why we are in the mess we are in. We need you to find non-fossil fuel alternatives. And we don't mean Nuclear. Stop wasting time and resources trying to make fossil fuels cleaner. We need to use safe renewable energy sources. We know what they are. No imagination required for that. Wind. Sun. Water. All endless. All ubiquitous. Now go use your ecomagination to find ways of harnessing them.

By the way John also pointed us to the excellent job that 'Slate' does of tearing this ad apart. A must read.

Got any candidates for a YEAH RIGHT article? Email us at the usual address: Image hosted by



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Monday, September 12, 2005

REVIEW: Cold Feet

I love walking around the house and front and rear gardens barefeet...I know, I know, it's dangerous with all the broken glass (what broken glass?) and so on and yet I do not have a problem. Cannot remember the last time I cut my feet. Uh oh...fate tempted! Gulp!

But you know there is one exception to walking around barefeet that makes me smile. And that is when I get to wear the loveliest slippers in the whole wide world.

You see I hate buying mainstream slippers...they feel harsh and chemically and my sweet feet just don't want comfort exchanged for oppression and envirogeddon. The only thing said toes will allow me to slip onto them is a pair of Ethical Wares hemp slippers (Natural not rainbow). Fairly-traded, 100% chemical-free, wild Nepali hemp. Marvellous!

The only problem is that I will once in a while wander outdoors with them on for which they are not made and so they generally only last a year. And so every birthday, my wife, Mrs Hippy to you, buys me a new pair. I love all my gifts but those slippers are just special to me.

Well this year my birthday came and went and Mrs H bought me lots of great stuff...I sat on the bed that morning opening my gifts but no slippers emerged. I blinked. Perhaps I had missed a present? Perhaps it was delayed. My feet trembled. I had a brief waking nightmare of my toes locked out in the garden in a storm shivering and huddling together round a fire for warmth. I asked after the expected new pair, which I know is impolite but receiving a new pair was starting to be a routine, and Mrs H said she had not gotten me a pair this year. As if they meant nothing. How could she? The betrayal. Won't SOMEBODY think of my feet? Oh! The humanity!

And the rescue came my cousin-in-law. Terence. Turns out my wife had colluded with Terence who had bought me my new pair! I got them today. Hurrah! My feet would not have to suffer the cold ravages of winter for another year. Terence is now a god to my feet! They have started a new religion in Terence's honour. If my feet could have bowed down and worshipped an idol in the image of Terence they would have. My toes relaxed in the knowledge that they would once again warm themselves within the comfortable confines of my hemp slipper heaven.

Thank you Ethical Wares for giving me the only slipper good enough for my feet! Thank you Terence for feet heaven!



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Sunday, September 11, 2005

REVIEW: Organic OJ

Here in the UK we have plenty of choice when it comes to Orange Juice. You can get local, imported, organic, no name, fairtrade or premium. Whatever your politics...there is an Orange Juice to fill your glass.

And do not for a moment think that your Orange Juice is not Politics. By the time you have had your breakfast you have interacted with half the planet, as Martin Luther King, I believe it was him, so rightly pointed out.

If breakfast is politics then your daily glass of Orange Juice is possibly more important than the vote. The companies you support probably affect the planet more than most governmental policies.

So the OJ I drink to start my day is important to me. The better the OJ...the happier my day. I do not do freshly squeezed as I do not have the time during the week so for convenience I buy in cartons like most people.

I am embarrassed to admit that up until now I have been a Tropicana man. The flavour was good...what can I say...I am ashamed! But recently I have rediscovered the Organic OJ from Grove Fresh. By the way OJ is just one of their range of eight fruit and vegetable juices.

Now don't get me wrong...Grove Fresh ain't cheaper. Tropicana currently costs £1.69 and Grove Fresh costs £2.29.

But that extra 60p (approx US $1.10) per litre, or 15p (an extra quarter-ish) per glass, buys me a lot of taste and organic love.

And to be honest Grove Fresh tastes better. Not because it is Organic, although that helps of course. It just actually is a nicer taste of OJ for me. Seriously. I am hooked! Try it for yourself! Do the OJ Taste Challenge. Let me know what you think.



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Friday, September 09, 2005

NEWS: UK Organic Supermarket

We have learnt via the WholeFoods Market website that 'the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket' is opening up a flagship store in London.

Whole Foods Market have plans to open a 75,000-Square-Foot location, taking the first three floors of the Barkers store, in Kensington early in 2007.

I can't help but think this is a superb move. For the company, for London but most importantly perhaps, for the Organic and whole foods market. 2007 though...that is a long way away!

Whole Foods Market is no stranger to the UK although you may not know it. They purchased the UK's Fresh & Wild chain in early 2004.

Check out their plans...we are drooling at the prospect:

Cooking demonstrations, product samplings and in-house eateries will mingle with thousands of the freshest and finest natural and organic offerings in every area of the store, with a focus on procuring foods from local growers, food artisans and manufacturers. And, just as the company has done with its North American locations for the past 25 years, Whole Foods Market will actively become an integral part of the community by sponsoring events, donating food and money to local causes, providing volunteer opportunities for Team Members, and becoming a neighborhood gathering place.

So they know what they are doing and it sounds like it is gonna be awesome for nature, food, health and community.

Welcome Whole Foods...we can't wait. An Organic Superstore. Hurrah!



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Thursday, September 08, 2005

NEWS: Poyzer's Army

Having watched another two episodes of the awesome 'NO WASTE LIKE HOME' I have decided to do the following:

  • Reuse water bottles and stop running the tap for cold water when I have a fridge to make water cold.
  • Get my roof insulation checked for efficiency.
  • Get my boiler checked for efficiency.
  • Walk and cycle more.
  • Reuse, reduce, recycle and repair even more.
  • Use water less and ideally invest in something like this or even this when it becomes available.
  • Get solar and wind power.
  • Get a modern composting toilet like this one.
  • Grow my own organic vegetables.
  • Get my child into gardening. Baby is due in November so perfect timing to get them out in the garden next spring with me.

Will add all of these, more or less, to my TO DO list found on the right hand side of the site.



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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

FEATURE: Organic in the City

As I wandered through my organic garden and harvested my summer bounty of organic heirloom tomatoes I thought to myself, “what the heck am I going to do with all of these tomatoes?” Needless to say, when my husband and I went to purchase our starter tomato plants this spring, we were a bit over zealous with our tomato purchases. With over seven different types of tomato plants, it feels as though we have tomatoes coming out of our ears!

Our tomato plants are now close to ten feet tall and producing like crazy. The yellow and red pineapple tomatoes are deliciously sweet. The deep red Brandywine tomatoes have a rich yet sweet tomato flavor. The Green Zebras are out of this world with their sweet zingy flavor that borders on almost lemony. The Black Crimson is a beauty all of its own with its deep purple and red flesh. Finally the red cherry and yellow grape tomatoes are so prolific I resorted to feeding these to my dog, and she loves them! I think I fed her a bit too many the other night however as she started to break wind.

After searching the web for organic food recipes, I came across several cool recipes on a website about organic food and living called Organic Authority. There I found a few simple recipes that guide you on how to savor this delicious summer fruit. The Organic Heirloom Tomato and Red Ruffle Basil Salad couldn’t be simpler to make and is absolutely divine. It is a show stopping colorful array of tasty, sweet, summer tomatoes. If you want something a little more challenging but fairly easy, try the Organic Heirloom Tomato and Basil Terrine with Basil Oil and Balsamic Glaze. This is a great twist on the favorite Italian caprese salad.

Finally, I was at a complete cross road with all of our red cherry tomatoes and yellow grape tomatoes because they are extremely prolific producers. These tomato vines seem to grow in and around every plant and structure in our garden. The solution, oven-dry them! Check out this organic food recipe for oven-dried tomatoes! They come out scrumptiously tasty.

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NEWS: Feeling the love

Someone over at AOL really loves us. Not only were we featured on their Live Journal site in July as we previously mentioned but today our stats have gone through the roof and all because we have been featured by AOL again and this time on the homepage of AOL's new service: AIM TODAY.

God bless you AOL and a special welcome to all first time AOL readers! Talk to me...tell me your green concerns? Do you want to be green? What problems do you face? Is organic too pricey where you live? Is fairtrade the answer? Who do you blame for Katrina? Can the US save the world from envirogeddon? Is envirogeddon even an issue? What tips do you have for a greener lifestyle?

We look forward to hearing from you.



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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

NEWS: Meat coma karma

A few years ago I was a vegetarian until one slightly fateful and rather cliched day when I just walked past a fast food joint and caved. I felt bad but not bad enough to get back on the horse.

The alternatives were limited back then and it was tough as I recall.

Well thanks to the meat sweats/comas and various other reasons I have finally taken the plunge again. As of yesterday I am a ovolacto vegetarian to be precise. I have given up meat and fish but will eat animal produce ie milk, cheese and eggs but to be honest even the eggs are starting to get to me. And milk always bothered me....cow juice...yeuch!

There are many reasons why people become vegetarian: religious, ethical, environmental, nutritional and economic. I just want to focus a bit on the ones that have prompted me down this path: the ethical and environmental reasons.

Well the treatment of animals for food is becoming more of a concern to me. Treating cattle as, well, cattle, seems uncivilised to be honest. They are basically bred to die. Not happy about that cheapening of life; bovine, poultry or otherwise.

I am also bothered about animal testing which is why my use of needless cosmetics is at a minimum and when I do have to venture into the cosmetic world I buy almost exclusively from ethical sources like Lush and so on.

Around 4 kilos of grain are required to produce 1 kilo of pork, and 8 kilos are needed for a kilo of beef. American Association for the Advancement of Science

The math is ludicrous. If all the grain used for animals were fed to people then hundreds of millions of people would not starve. Simple.

PLUS to make meat we need to either: lock animals in sheds all day giving them 'medicated' grain to munch OR we put them out to pasture. The former is plain evil and the wave of free-range produce suggests that most people support that view. The latter results in grazing animals removing the soil's natural protection, grasses. When the grasses are gone the topsoil blows or washes away. When that happens the soil degrades and acidifies until nothing can grow in it. Desertification eventually occurs and drought and famine is next.

So two days in and I am loving it. The choice is is so easy...and cheaper...and better for my health.

Someone I know asked me what I am doing about belts and shoes and other animal leather products and I told them I had already bought vegan shoes in the past and that they are great. It is so easy to be vegetarian these days.



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Monday, September 05, 2005

NEWS: Give trees a chance

I am an avid reader of Spirit & Destiny magazine and each issue has a great section entitled 'What's HOT this month?'. Unlike your usual glossy magazines whose 'What's hot this month' section probably covers Victoria Beckham's latest beach ensemble, the Spirit & Destiny 'What's HOT this month?' provides an insight into alternative trends and lifestyles.

In the October 2005 issue, which landed through my letterbox with a welcome thud this morning, there is a 'What's NOT HOT?'. My eyes were immediately drawn to the headline: 'Giving Trees the Chop'.

It seems that in a bid to avoid insurance claims from people slipping on fruit or leaves, some local councils are considering cutting down thousands of trees??? Plus as some homeowners have been known to blame older trees with strong established roots for problems with subsidence it seems there is a War on Urban Trees ahead. Never mind that trees, apart from looking absolutely stunning anyway, replace carbon dioxide with oxygen and help us to de-stress just by gracing us with their general presence.

Trees for Cities encourages campaigning and you should contact the tree officer of your local council to check if they are secretly scheming to desecrate your green and leafy landscape.

I am a member of the Woodland Trust and, perfectly timed with the arrival of Spirit & Destiny today, they sent me a letter to update me on their plight to save Wentwood Forest which is the largest ancient woodland in Wales. They are dedicated to preserving our native woodland heritage and by becoming a member, you receive a fantastic welcome pack that includes a certificate for a tree dedicated in your honour, a beautiful wall chart displaying every tree indigenous to Britain, a directory of Woodland Trust woods and regular copies of Broadleaf, the charity's news magazine.

If, like me, you are crazy about trees and want to spread the love by contacting your local council to campaign against any current plans to destroy them, or you wish to become a member of the Woodland Trust, perhaps you may also like to sponsor a tree, or two or three while you're at it.

I have vowed to myself that everytime I destroy something of Mother Nature's (by accident of course...would never willingly do it) I will plant a tree to replace the life I've taken. I stood on a snail not so long ago, so a tree was planted in Fife as an apology. Yesterday I attempted to kill a dragonfly, on purpose I have to say, because it was huge and was bothering me while I pondered over my previous CityHippy article.

My husband (Mr City Hippy) managed to save it from my evil clutches and, with one leg missing, (I think it was more than one? - Ed.) it was set free outside the window with prayers from both of us that s/he would survive from whence s/he came! I will be planting another tree to try and redeem myself.

So be it campaigning, sponsoring, hugging or even capturing on canvas for prosperity, please don't allow our majestic oaks and beautiful birches to become the victims of the fearsome fellers!

Act today...or trees!


Mrs CH

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

NEWS: Organic Week 2005

Just discovered that Saturday 3 September 2005 until Sunday 11 September 2005 is ORGANIC WEEK 2005 here in the UK.

Lots of events going on around the country.



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GREEN GIRLS : Paintstripping

For many years I’ve been a sinner in my husband’s eyes and worn too much make up, used nail varnish and remover in abundance, obliterated the air with toxic perfume and all the usual chemical laden beauty products you can think of.

I am now a reformed person and although my husband is delighted, he is not as delighted as I am. I feel fresher, cleaner and healthier. Be it psychological or otherwise, I no longer spend half an hour in the morning clogging my pores up for the day with foundation and powder. I no longer waste precious time getting frustrated because my nail varnish has smudged or the colour isn’t right. And I no longer have sneezing or choking fits as a result of too much perfume or hairspray. I feel free!!!

My latest venture into the non-chemical world of beauty products is Nurtured Nails by ECO Solutions ( Now, while I no longer wear nail varnish on my fingernails, I do occasionally like to pretty up my toes. Lately they’ve been Va Va Vroom, a kind of russet and pink colour (a naughty chemical varnish). My husband handed me some samples of ECO Solutions nail polish remover a couple of days ago and I promised him I would try them out and review them for CityHippy.

Three words! Down with acetone! I’m happy to report that Nurtured Nails contains not a single drop so the smell immediately is less potent and the results were incredible. It took me about five minutes to wipe off every trace of nail polish, no staining either, and my toenails did not feel tight and tingly as they do when I use acetone.

The product description on the website says “Eco Solutions nurtured nails nail varnish remover wipes is a new patented non-hazardous, non-flammable product, which is totally free of hazardous solvents (such as Acetone) and complies with the criteria of the European Pharmacopoeia (3rd Ed.) Supplement 2000 for topical products.”

I can quite honestly say I will not be looking back now that I’ve used this non-toxic alternative – who wants the same ingredient used in insecticide spray and carburetor cleaner to be rubbed into their tootsies?

Not me!

Next step: eco-friendly nail varnish – watch this space.

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Friday, September 02, 2005

REVIEW: No Waste Like Home

Well we watched the third episode of Penny Poyzer's new BBC show 'NO WASTE LIKE HOME' last night and to be honest we cannot contain ourselves any longer.

If you have seen the show then tell us what you think? If you have not seen it then watch it...Thursdays, BBC Two at 8.30pm. Or check out the website for tons of info.

NO WASTE LIKE HOME is informative and witty and makes it easy to practically see how living a more sustainable existence makes sense on many levels. A philosophy for people and planet on a plate. The show presents the problems AND the solutions.

If City Hippy had a TV Channel then NO WASTE LIKE HOME would be prime-time. I bet they even make the show as sustainably as possible.

The show has so far covered how to:

- reduce household waste
- rely on cars less
- increase energy efficiency in the home
- avoid packaging and eat healthier for less money
- nappies and diapers

and that is just after three episodes. We particularly loved the way she showed people round a sewage processing plant to explain why putting food and oil down the toilet costs so much and wastes so much of our precious resources. Penny even found a Nappy/Diaper processing plant in Holland that can fully recycle disposable nappies!!!

New converts will not necessarily do everything Penny recommends at once. But as peakoil said on his blog with a nod to City Hippy:

the little stuff we do matters

They may do all, half, or just a few. Some actions large and some small. But they will be a start. A definite improvement and a tiny turn in the right direction. As the Ancient Chinese proverb says:

Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness

Society needs to change in every direction and the quicker the better. Those converts will act better themselves AND help spread the gospel of green throughout the lands!

Penny can seem a little bit tough at times, harsh even. Sometimes you feel for the families. You identify with them because you do some of the 'naughty' things they do. But that is good because if they can do it then you can do it. Very clever Penny!

And like all good medicine whilst the initial shock might leave a bad taste in the mouth, in the end they always felt better for it. And if saving the planet was not enough the families also saved the equivalent of thousands of pounds each year as a result of penny's tips.

Plus we loved this show because one family looks to have used Bambino Mio nappies/diapers for their babies and that is what we are intending on using.

From what we can tell the families seem to have taken much on board. We will try and track down the families, via the BBC of course, to interview them. We want to find out how much the whole experience has changed them.

Watch this space.



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