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:


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

NEWS: Starbucks on Sloane

No joy at this store (Store 74920, 65-67 Sloane Avenue, London, England SW3 3DH).

Actually did this challenge on Nov 15th (night before baby was born) and only just remembered to post it.

Here is how it went:

Barista: Hi
CH: Hi, can I have a Fair Trade coffee to go please?
Barista: I am afraid we have none brewed. How about Americano Sir?
CH: would you mind pressing me a cup of Fair Trade coffee?
Barista: Sorry I can't do that. Would you like Americano instead?

[Is she on commission for Americano???]

CH: Are you sure? I am sure you are meant to press me a cup if I request it?
Barista: Let me check for you Sir.

[1 minute delay whilst Barista checks with manager in back office.]

Barista: I am afraid we can't do it for you as we do not have a press available. Would you like something else instead?
CH: Sure...can I have a Hot Chocolate to go.

Got my Hot Choc as it was a cold night and I needed something warm.

A sad failure.



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Monday, November 28, 2005

NEWS: Climate change clip

Just caught the tail-end of tonights BBC Newsnight show which featured a special report on climate change which is available via the web. Interesting show that looked at how individuals can affect change...not sure what the start of the segment was about - have not had time to watch it.

Click here to check out the show - the segment is on the right next to the pic of our lovely planet.



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NEWS: Carnival of the Green #4

Great Green Goods have hosted and posted this weeks carnival...and a great job they have done too.

Visit the carnival at here.

So much too choose from but my overall favourite this week is the post by Green Thinkers (on which I occasionaly post but no bias I promise) about Winterizing Your Home In One Day. Very useful info.



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NEWS: FairTrade in Islington

This one was a close call though. Was in Islington (Store 14670, 71 Upper Street, N1 0NY to be precise) and saw a headed on in.

Barista1: Hi
CH: Hi, I would like a Fair-Trade Venti please.
Barista1: Sorry we do not have Fair Trade brewing.
CH: Ok...could you press a cup for me please?
Barista1: [irritated look and shrug] Yeah sure.
Barista1 then spent about 2 minutes looking for FT coffee.
Eventually Barista2 got involved and took over.
My coffee was now being pressed by Barista2 right in front of me.
Barista2: Do you mind if I ask you Sir why you insisted on a Fair Trade coffee?
CH: Sure, no problem, I insisted on Fair Trade as I believe in Fair Trade and also because of something happening on the web.
I figured I had a good chance to spread the gospel.
Barista2: Oh cool...
CH: Yeah it is something called the Starbucks Challenge where people are testing the Starbucks promise to provide a Fair Trade coffee upon request.
Barista2: Awesome! Well you do realise that our FT Coffee is a blend.
CH: Yep...sure do.
Barista2: We are obliged to tell all customers who ask for Fair Trade that plus the fact that all Starbucks coffee is bought at a higher price than normal and is Fair Trade but without the certificate.
CH: Yeah Fairly traded right.
Barista2: Exactly. Do you know why it is Fairly Traded and not Fair Trade?
CH: Sure do...[thanks to Green LA Girl] is apparently to do because of the various reasons to do with cost of certification and the amount of FT coffee available. [Sadly did not think to counter that Nestle seem to find lots of FT coffee]
Barista2: [smiling] Exactly.

I had a great chat with this guy and told him I really appreciate that Baristas do a tough job very well. Superb customer-staff interaction to be honest. Starbucks should be proud of that and also of how well-informed this guy was.



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Thursday, November 24, 2005

FEATURE: Gifts that really give!

The holiday season approaches and Christmas has to be one of the most wasteful times in the calendar. Cards, wrapping paper, food, useless unwanted gifst and so on...all discarded as if we live in a world of infinite resources and zero problems.

Ironically Christmas is of course meant to be about giving but nowadays it seems to me that it is more about receiving than ever before.

Treehugger have produced a great green Holiday Gift Guide for this year to help you source your stuff as ethically and sustainably as possible and City Hippy has something to add for your consideration.

If you are looking for the perfect gift to give that is ethical, sustainable and completely in the spirit of both charity and giving then City Hippy collective member Moo Hippy, who works for Oxfam in one of their charity stores, has the perfect solution for you. Take it away Moo:

Many times in 2005 I have been reminded just how lucky and priviledged I am! We have seen the awful Tsunami in Asia, the hurricane(s) in the US, the Earthquake in Asia and the famines across Western and Southern Africa to name just a few of the tragedies that have befallen at least hundreds of thousands of people.

In light of these terrible events and being involved with various events to try and Make Poverty History my belief that 'I do not need anything' has been re-enforced. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and my cupboards, safe drinking water on tap, plenty clothes to wear, a good education and friends and family that love and support me.

This year for my birthday instead of being given something just because I have lived for another 365 days I really wanted to give my presents to someone who would really benefit from a gift. So I asked all my friends & family to give me Oxfam Unwrapped gifts instead of buying me presents.

The idea is that you get given a gift but it gets sent to where its really needed, somewhere where that gift really can make a difference to someone's life. You get sent a card explaining what the gift was, who sent it for you and why it's so important. Here is a list of what was bought on my behalf for my birthday:

One planted allotment
Training for an organic farmer
Training for a health worker
Some safe drinking water
Some textbooks for a classroom
2 mosquito nets
2 essential hygiene kits
2 goats
10 emergency buckets
150 trees
& 700 school dinners

(WOW! Now that's what I call making a difference!!! - CityHippy)

I can't tell you how pleased I was to be sent so many things that actually made a difference to people in need of help. I was also amazed at the range of different and interesting gifts people had sent on my behalf.

It was a real thrill to see all the cards arrive and place them around my home and to learn about all the gifts. The picture above is all the cards I received collected on one table. Still blows me away.

It is really good to know that my birthday has made a difference to someone I will never meet.

Doing something different for my birthday has enabled me, my friends and my family to take a step back from this consumer-driven world we are constantly encouraged to take part in and do something that means something! Something so much more important and rewarding too!

To find out more about Oxfam Unwrapped please visit

And maybe this Christmas ask for and give something unwrapped...


Moo Hippy

p.s. City Hippy here, just wanted to thank Moo, who is a very good friend to the City Hippy project, for this great post and to let you all know that she runs Moo Moo Magic which makes the most awesome handmade cards - so if your family or office needs awesome handmade cards get in touch with her and get her to email you some sample pictures.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #3

Not much time at the mo but just enough to say that Sustainablog has done a superb job with the carnival this week and very in-character I might add. Check it out here. My fav? TreeHuggerMum's a new dad am loving her blog.

Also...have one post for you this week from a collective member...coming tomorrow.



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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

SPECIAL: Mini Hippy

Our baby boy was born at 8:35am this morning weighing 7 lbs 8 ounces...words cannot describe how we feel. Mum and baby doing ok...thanks for all your kind comments and emails.

Let me introduce you to Coby Zephyr.

Not sure when I will blog next...will be soon but precious times right now.



SPECIAL: It's started

For those of you that do not know, Mrs Hippy & I are pregnant, heavily pregnant, in fact, we will not be pregnant for much longer.

She has had the 'show' (don't ask!) and her waters have broken, well, trickled.

First contraction, we think.

Watch this space...don't know when you will next hear from me. Just in case you wonder where I am.



REVIEW: Green your home

OK as mentioned tonight I went to Going Green: Make it happen to your home.

Interesting event hosted at London's Science Museum (all free and paid for with taxes - hurrah) with an interesting mix of people: students, engineers, homeowners etc. Cynics, realists and idealists. Excellent!

OK quick summary for you - key points are my comments and observations and not neccessarily the comments of the companies - did take pics but batteries ran out (sigh) so have grabbed pics from their sites. Enjoy:

Craig Anders
Design Director, INTEGER Intelligent and Green & Partner @ Architects Cole Thompson Anders

These folks get involved in interesting renovation and new build projects where they bring as much sustainability and low energy intelligence to bear.

Key points, comments and observations:
- Go green to lower bills OR combat climate change
- Did the Dream House (see above) project featured on BBC1
- Also involved in Tower block projects
- All about lowering home energy needs by upto 50% and water needs by upto 40% PLUS using sustainable materials
- Combining green AND intelligent technology for a more modular lifestyle home that adapts as you do. Resulting in a home that should last you for longer.
- If I was building a house these are exactly the kind of people I would speak to.

Peter Holdsworth

These folks make a really interesting low cost water recycling and reuse system that takes water from your bath and shower and uses it for toilets.

Key points, comments and observations:
- Can save 30% of your water needs resulting in something like 40,000 litres saved per year per house! (WOW! - Ed.)
- Plus saves money by lowering your water bills and if you have a sewage bill then obviously you save by reduction there too.
- Pays off in 6-8 years and costs approx £1,500 to install.
- Not intrusive once fitted.
- Intelligent system that removes any solids from bath water (hair and soap residue etc) and sends to waste direct.
- My favourite product of the night. Low-cost, works well, well thought out.

Anya Gordon
Sales Executive, Windsave

Windsave are the producers of a micro-generating wind turbine for homes. Learnt a lot about these systems.

Key points, comments and observations:
- Was struck by their honesty about not installing if they do not think you will benefit from strong enough wind.
- Currently only runs on AC (not DC) so is not stored, which seems like an issue to me.
- Light sound given off but to me that is fine.
- Heard someone else mention that acoustic vibrations need to be taken into account.
- Also heard an electricity engineer say that turbines do not produce much power in reality and have asked them for an article for the site explaining more for us non-engineers.
- Do not think council planning permission is needed although turbines could attract complaints from neighbours.
- Payback period over 5 years according to Windsave.
- Clearskies grants available.
- Am in touch with them to see some in action and speak to home owners who use it.

Simon Gerrard
Solar energy expert, Solar Century

Solar Century are one of the leading experts in PhotoVoltaics in the UK.

Key points, comments and observations:
- Could not hear this chap to well but spoke to him afterwards and found out that 8 meters squared provides approx 1 KiloWatt of power or the equivalent of what one WindSave turbine is meant to deliver.
- PV is clearly better developed and more aesthetically acceptable to Wind Turbines.
- Interesting developments ahead it seems with PV in general having discussed with some other event attendees ie paints and 3D PV cells.
- PV seems like a very good bet.
- Solar Century are cladding a building with PV cells - very interesting idea. Why limit them to roofs?

Nick Hopper
Natural lighting and ventilation expert, Monodraught & Sunpipe

These folks make the Sunpipe (and various other sun and wind tech) which allows you to direct sunlight into rooms with no access to natural light.

Key points, comments and observations:
- Very interesting solution to rooms with no natural light
- Spoke to the Nick about any developments and was delighted to hear that they are thinking about passive heating and cooling and many other diversifications and developments.
- Nick commented to me that as the SunPipe does not produce energy it qualifies for no grants. Which seems absurd to me. Anything that encourages energy efficiency should be encouraged if the government wishes us to believe that they are committed to solving climate change problems. In fact, why are energy efficient lightbulbs still subject to VAT? Have written to my local MP to get them to ask Tony Blair or whoever on my behalf. Watch this space.

Bill Dunster
Founder, Bill Dunster Architects ZEDfactory Ltd

These folks are amazing. Sustainable architects, inventors, innovators and social engineers is a good description. Pleasure to talk to. Very down to earth.

Key points, comments and observations:
- These are the folks behind the BedZed project
- They calculate that our carbon emissions comes from heating (33%), food miles (33%) and transport (33%).
- They try to tackle those key issues.
- Their work is stunning - check out their ZedFactory site for examples. Gorgeous!
- They are opening a Climate Change shop where you will be able to buy micro-generating kits for wind and solar, cooking converters for your car and tons of other stuff to solve energy dependence problems.

WOW! What an event. Hope you enjoyed the summary.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

EVENT: Green your home

Am going to an interesting event tonight:

Going Green: Make it happen to your home
New-build eco-homes may be one solution to becoming more sustainable. But what can you do to go green if you live in a period property? This informal event will be a unique opportunity for homeowners to see how they could make their own homes more sustainable, be they a Victorian terrace or a 1930s semi.

Come along to meet leaders in the field of sustainable housing, see for yourself some of the most innovative eco-products you could install in your own home, and talk to homeowners who've already 'taken the plunge' and made their houses more environmentally friendly.

Speakers include:
Craig Anders
Design Director, INTEGER Intelligent and Green

Bill Dunster
Founder, Bill Dunster Architects ZEDfactory Ltd

Simon Gerrard
Solar energy expert, Solar Century

Nick Hopper
Natural lighting and ventilation expert, Monodraught

Representatives from Ecoplay and Windsave will also be attending to showcase greywater recycling and domestic wind turbine technology.

Anyone else going? Will report back with pictures.



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Monday, November 14, 2005

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #2

Carnival of the Green

Triple Pundit has posted this weeks Carnival of the Green and a great job he has done too.

Check it out at here.

My favourite carnival entry is the brilliant defence of wind-power from Groovy Green.



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Friday, November 11, 2005

FEATURE: Poyzer Parlay Finale

Image hosted by TinyPic.comAnd now, the end is near, so we face, the final curtain. Well not quite but we are delighted to present the final part in our three part interview with Penney. Part one of the interview can be read here and part two can be read here.

City Hippy: Hi again Penney. We have a question for you from Japan, from Diane Clark.

Diane Clark, Japan: Hi Penney, sadly I haven't seen your show - wish I could! I'm wondering about a recommendation you made on the show that was mentioned by CityHippy, about reusing plastic water bottles (refilling bottles you've purchased with your own tap water and refrigerating them).

First of all, wouldn't it be more eco-friendly not to buy the bottled water in the first place (unless you're out and really in a bind)? I'm asking this question in part because of all the recent news about chemicals leaching from plastic, even plastic that is designed for food and drink. For example, plastic margarine tubs are not to be reused, even for cold food storage. Plastic containers often used to reheat foods in the microwave are apparently not healthy, either. I have read that the bottles used for bottled water are "one use only" as well. Even if they turn out to be minimally dangerous, my recommendation would be to buy one of the great reusable water bottles on the market - the Swiss company Sigg makes colorful bottles with inert liners, in a variety of sizes and colorful patterns.

Also, the company Klean Kanteen makes all-stainless water bottles which are very affordable. These bottles can be washed out every evening, refilled with filtered tap water, then put in the refrigerator to be ready for the next day.

My thanks to you and to CityHippy for all you're doing to help people live greener lives!

Penney Poyzer: Dear Diane, Konichi wah! That's my Japanese exhasted.... I agree wholeheartedly with you - bottled water is a stupid waste of resources and I never buy it. Plastic is not as stable a material as we have been led to believe and tap water in the UK is excellent. A simple water filter will remove any serious trace elements and indeed, bottled water contains far more bacteria than tap water.

Stable, reusable containers such as stainless steel - which is of course very recyclable are the best. I am trying to wean people off buying bottled water but you have to be pragmatic and encourage people through intermediate steps - such as reuse of empty bottles, before you can fully get them to 'buy out' of the bottled water hype that has been so cleverly, and relentlessly sold to us through health messages.

I would never recommend that people ever use plastic of any description as a container in which to re-heat using microwaves. This method of cooking destroys nutritional content anyway, so I'd stay away from them. Eat more raw food that does not require any form of cooking - and better for you too!

Namaste Diane

City Hippy: Good answer Penney. We agreed with Diane and you and actually went out and bought a couple of Sigg bottles recently. They are superb and so lovely to look at too! We also agree with you that it is about a slow progression to help people change their lifestyle. Our next question is a simple one: What is your favourite: Book? Movie? CD?

Penney Poyzer: Oh no! Can't I have 10 of each?

Book - Food For Free by Richard Mabey (Collins £9.99) This book lists over 240 edible species and is the wild food forager's bible. It also has recipies and nutritional tips.

Movie - well, it is not widely available, but it would have to be a documentary rather than a movie. 'The Coconut Revolution' is the story of the islanders of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and their survival against invasion and naval blockade when they decided that they no longer wanted their island to be mined by Rio Tinto. They lost 10% of their population through war but survived through learning how to live sustainably and by wasting nothing. They became a nation of gardeners. Truly an inspiration. Available for a tenner at buy it and share it with everyone you know!

Movie - but if are asking for a movie - then it would have to be Requiem for a Dream, confusing, powerful, harsh but amazing performances.

CD - this is very very difficult, could have been The Prodigy, Fat of the Land but I guess I will have to go with Massive Attack and Mezzanine. Still fresh everytime I play it. I saw their homecoming concert in Bristol and it was amazing - with lots of environmental references on the graphics.

City Hippy: Cool Penney...the Coconut revolution sounds amazing...will get hold of a copy for sure...and Food for Free too...what a great sounding book. You are clearly quite the tunester, Prodidy is great and we particularly loved their Music for the Jilted Generation CD back in the day.

OK next question. Is a second series of 'No Waste Like Home' on the cards? What does the future hold for the UK's Queen of Green?

Penney Poyzer: No re-commission for No Waste Like Home!! No idea what the future holds. I am developing some programme ideas but who knows? Could we start up a lobby with the BBC?

I have lots of plans to write, to hold training courses and speak at events and to share whatever knowledge I have with whomever wants to hear it! Me and my husband are planning to set up an eco community so this will take a lot of planning time.

I trust the Universe and the course she has set me. It will be exciting I know that much.

City Hippy: Cool...well hopefully the BBC will get the point...but c'est la vie...sounds like you have your hands full being pregnant and thinking about starting up an eco community. Keep us all posted whatever you do though. Next question is from Vicky Stevens who runs an ethical media company called Make Hay in your part of the UK, Nottinghamshire.

Vicky Stevens of Make Hay: Hi Penney, I really believe that if everyone gets stuck in and does something then a real difference can be made but so often I hear people say "What difference will it make if I do it, I'm just one person and there are billions of other people who don't care and don't make an effort". That makes me feel like AAARRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!

If we can all convince one person each to change their habits, that would be a lot of people converted and often the best way to promote something is word of mouth.

So Penney, how can we convince friends and family who are cynical about doing all the practical things to save energy, create less waste etc to join in and do it? What can we say to convince them?

Penney Poyzer: Hi Vicky. Simple. By showing them.

By the way, you are practically my neighbour Vicky! Whereabouts in Notts do you live? Love the website - have sent you a message.

If I hit resistence, then I ask them the following question. If your energy bills were £100 a month, would you take action to reduce them? If they say yes - and who can afford THAT kind of money, then point out to them that gas per therm has DOUBLED in one year and that it is projected to rise by another two thirds in the coming year. Every increase on a barrel of oil results in a increase in all other fuels - including green sources, because the global energy market is all linked to increases in oil costs. Then ask them, why wait until then?

If they have kids, grandchildren, nephews or neices, tell them, shock them with the news that if we don't take action NOW that when those small people they love reach 50 years old that there will be only 10 years left of gas and oil reserves TOTAL. The lack of clean water and rising sea levels will have resulted in the loss of at least 2 billion lives. If they can live with leaving them that kind of legacy, then so be it. But if they love them and of course they do, then they need to save resources and take their heads out of the sand.

And if all that fails, give me their address and I'll go and sort 'em out!

City Hippy: Hahaha nice one Penney, can just see you charging round there...god we so need to produce clones of you!!! OK next question for you is another dream type question for you.

Tony Blair calls you up for advice (sadly it is only a dream although with the recent humiliating defeat of his terror bill lord knows he could do with some decent advice). He wants to make the UK greener and asks you to suggest three things the government could do to make that happen. How do you reply? (No swearing please).

Penney Poyzer: I would say #@*%$, @@~#%*&, #@&^£" and he replies, yeah, sounds good, you ~@##@£$&!!!

No apologies for not limiting myself to 3 ideas - you pick the best!

First off, I would tell him to vastly extend the Clear Skies Scheme, which provides grants to householders and NGOs to install renewables. This programme - now sadly coming to a close...was hugely over subscribed. They put in £10m, they should put in £500m and make it so cost effective to install renewables that millions of people would take it up. For example, until recently you could get a grant of £500 to install solar thermal panels, which meant you could get them installed by an accredited installer for around £1500. I would increase the grant to £1000 so it would cost the householder less than a grand. Most people waste that on a crappy holiday! With energy prices on the increase, producing energy at home makes more and more sense and is increasingly cost-effective.

2) Number 10 is an environmental nightmare - I would tell TB to make it the greenest dwelling possible, which would be a positive legacy for the next lot and might make the people of the UK think he was serious about the environment. As part of that, I would make it mandatory that every public building reduced energy use by 25% and produced at least 25% of remaining energy needs. With no get out clauses.

3) I would tell him to slash the cost of train travel by at least 50% to get commuters out of their cars.

4) I would tell him to pass legislation which made it illegal for packaging not to be either fully and easily recyclable OR to be 100% biodegradable. This is achievable now.

5) Air travel - don't build terminal 5 at Heathrow and tax air fuel. Use money to fund railway expansion and subsidised fairs.

6) Re-open the entire canal system and give tax breaks to companies that use it to move freight. Just think, a fleet of photo voltaic powered barges!!

7) Give renewables grants to all landlords to make it easier for tenants to green up their energy use and save money. This could apply to business tenants as well.

8) Make it mandatory for businesses to put their waste products onto a national waste exchange database: one company's waste is another's raw material.

9) Mayer Hillman had a great idea - to introduce an individual CO2 limit - which would become more stringent year on year. This would make CO2 emissions personal! Would love to see this happen.

10) Ken Livingstone for Prime Minister - move over Tony.

I could go on and on and on....

City Hippy: Cool...we buy all of that...even the Ken for PM...he has so many enemies...and to be honest...that is a good thing...he is not part of, and does not support the status quo. PLUS he made a Green Assembly Member his Deputy Mayor!!! Sadly it is so not going to happen though...sigh! Then again...never say never eh!

OK Penney you get the last word...any final thoughts?

Penney Poyzer: Dear City Hippys

Use less and do more for yourselves and each other. Treat your neighbour as you would wish them to treat you. Stop flying. Stop making excuses for change and embrace the process. Learn new practical skills. Learn to cook. Give yourself a personal challenge to reduce the number of food miles you consume. Buy Fairtrade. Buy secondhand. Do you really need to buy anything new? Join the Karma Army and get used to giving random acts of kindness. Put your ego to oneside and learn to listen to your true self. Work towards your highest good. Live as lightly as you can. Stop worrying and learn to live in the now. It takes less energy to be happy than to be angry, so be happy. Love your planet more everyday.

Namaste to everyone

City Hippy: Awesome Penney....what a finish...thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. We have learnt loads and we look forward to a brighter future because of people like you leading the way. Namaste.

So there you have it folks...we promised you an interview with Penney Poyzer and what an interview...nothing held back! Penney Poyzer in the house. Round of blogplause for Penney [sound of riotous clapping and whistling etc].

But it needn't end there!

Image hosted by
If you can't concieve of a life without Penney then why not invite her into your home? Her new book No Waste Like Home, which accompanies the BBC series, is now available.

If you click the above link or the image to the right and buy it via Amazon then you will be supporting City Hippy at the same time. Hurrah!

We promise you it is a cracker of a book filled with superb advice on how to go green in loads more practical and cheaper ways than just buying organic. To be honest, with this book you will probably end up saving money going green. If you take the plunge be sure to give us a review.

Hope you enjoyed speaking to Penney as much as we did. Thanks for all your questions. Until next time.



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Thursday, November 10, 2005

NEWS: Fair Trade Coffee Failure

Tried the challenge in the Starbucks opposite Embankment tube in London.

Barista: Hi
Me: Hi can I get a tall FairTrade coffee please to go.
Barista: Sorry none brewing but can I interest you in either of the blends we have brewing: Christmas or Brazil?
Me: No thanks could you please press me a FairTrade coffee?
Barista: Sorry we cannot do that.
Me: is corporate policy to do it, are you sure you can't?
Barista: Let me check with the manager

Comes back 60 seconds later

Barista: Sorry there is no FairTrade coffee in the store to brew for you. Can I get you something else?
Me: No thanks that's ok. Thanks.

Left the store. Not had a London failure before. Disappointed.



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Monday, November 07, 2005

FEATURE: Carnival of the Green #1

Carnival of the GreenCity Hippy & TriplePundit are delighted to officially open the Carnival of the Green. The Carnival of the Green is is a roving digest of the green (sustainable and environmental) blogosphere.

This week I (City Hippy) am hosting and next week Triple Pundit takes his turn fresh after his brilliant hosting of the Carnival of the Capitalists. After that we have hosts in place up until April 17th (Full list here).

So here it is...the waiting is over, the lights (energy efficient of course) are on, the coasters are oiled (biodegradable oil I'm sure), the smell of green cotton candy (candy floss to UK readers) is floating in the air. Ladies & Gentleman I am proud to present for your blogolicious entertainment the greatest bloggest greenest show on earth.

Welcome to the ... pause for effect ... Carnival of the Green! (Fireworks going off, clowns cartwheeling about in front of you, Stilt walkers, Unicyclists, Elephants...the works!)

We kick things off with a fantastic post from the co-founder of the Carnival of the Green. Triple Pundit has produced a superb video called Drawing a Line about the whole ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) issue.

I live in the UK so for me this totally serves to explain the issue for me and why it makes no environmental, energy or business sense to drill in the ANWR. Best 12 minutes I have spent online in months.

In Triple Pundit's words:
The 12 Minute Video "Drawing a Line" illustrates the economic folly of opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Oil Drilling. It's not only an environmentlaly foolish thing to do, but it makes no sense economically. In fact, it's a downright backward move for the US economy. Watch the video and find out why! And please, if you're in the US, email the video to your local politicians, friends and associates.
CITYHIPPY NOTE: Sadly as many of you will know the Senate have now voted the US one more step closer to opening up ANWR for oil exploration. To find out how your representatives voted check out this great Grist post. And maybe send the link to the Triple Pundit post and video to them if they still do not get it. The budget can still be shot down...there is still hope so ACT NOW...or do nothing...maybe Big Business really will care for the environment up there.

The Hip & Zen Blog brings us their great post: My sister is planning to buy an SUV!! Why, Lord, why?.

It is a good post outlining what happened when the author's sister wanted to buy an SUV. Did the author succeed in influencing the purchase? You will have to read and find out. All I will say is that condemnation is easy (City Hippy is not into negativity and condemnation) & life is never black & white (real life is much more complex).

One of our favourite UK sites, TreeHuggerMum has commented, in a post called Retrofitting Suburbia, on David Holmgren's essay entitled Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability.

Holmgren's essay focuses on how we can turn around the sterile wastelands, devoid of community that are the suburbs, and turn them into a permaculture paradise.

Well worth a read and I recommend checking out the actual essay itself. Very thought-provoking indeed. What a wonderful world it would be if we headed in this direction.

From the Common Ground blog comes Big Box Conversions, a head's up of a very interesting project in New York state. An artist has started a multimedia project to link communities across the country using creative ways to reuse abandoned big-box buildings. Very cool and creative. Shows how easy it can be to reclaim urban space.

My good mate Mary Ellen over at The Blue Voice brings us a great two-parter. Tremendous Opportunity Ahead (Part 1, Part 2) provides an optimistic look, inspired by Thomas Starrs' column in a recent issue of Solar Today, at ways to make people sit up and take notice of the coming post-petroleum crisis and how we can make the transition to a better life. We like it's positive tone...very City Hippy indeed. Nice one Mary Ellen.

From the World Bank's Private Sector Development blog we have some great news from Cambodia. Cambodia goes organic by Tim Harford draws our attention to how Cambodia is adapting to a changing garment sector. With an uncertain future ahead the country is diversifying it's income sources and a major possibility under consideration is organic farming. Cambodia's government feels it could become the "green farm of Asia", with customers in Europe and the United States.

That makes for a lot of food miles though so why not just supply more locally? Perhaps the value of the produce locally would not be enough to sustain the transition. Hmmm...tricky. But organic is always better than non-organic so good luck to them. This is a positive step indeed. Am right behind them.

Sticking briefly with the World Bank's Private Sector Development blog it seems that the IFC and World Bank now purchase 100% green power from Wind Current, albeit virtually i.e. as in offset. Very good news indeed!

Great Green Goods gives us two great green posts for inclusion. The first one we have seen before but wanted to include it in case you had not yet come across it. Check out their post about the Recycled Steel Fire Pit or if that does not light your fire (could not resist) then maybe this is the wind beneath your wings (groan, sorry). Recycled Bird Houses are clearly a great idea. So want one of these.

On the topic of shopping City Hippy firmly believes in giving our cash to companies whose ethics we agree with. Fellow blogger, Dave Pollard over at How to save the world has posted a superb take-away guide to responsible shopping across 17 categories including Travel, Clothing, Food and even Drugs and Healthcare and those companies who are socially and environmentally irresponsible.

The Boycott List (Updated from the 2003 version) is summarized from the Responsible Shopper database, supplemented with some assessments from the Better World Handbook, and a short list of companies and associations that offer exemplary socially and environmentally responsible solutions, taken from the Co-op America Green Pages.

And all in one handy chart that fits on your refrigerator. Superb!

A Concerned Scientist writes about a seminar given by guest lecturer Dave Foreman, founder of the Conservationist think tank The Rewilding Institute.

The post discusses the logic behind one of the best proactive approaches to wildlife protection and ecosystem rehabilitation.

Unapologetic appreciation for nature...a plan to save what remains...humans aren't the Earth's only inhabitants...all music to our little green ears.

Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen has written a great post on Toxic Neighborhoods about looking for ways to educate her neighbors on the dangers of chemical lawn treatments. Very useful info and advice for all of us. Save the world by starting with your own neighbourhood! Think global, act local indeed!

Jeff over at Sustainablog, one of our all-time favourite reads, has submitted three posts and told me I could pick one or use them all...he could not decide. And you know what...neither could I.

First up was a great post about a study on NIMBY attitudes towards renewable energy out of my very own Great Britain. Awesome stuff. It amazes me how small-minded and selfish people can be. But it goes the other way too. Not wanting wind turbines in your backyard is one form of madness as far as I am concerned...but what if someone wanted a Nuclear power plant in THEIR backyard???

I had a chat with a friend the other day...he is convinced Nuclear is the Green solution, our salvation to climate change. When I asked him if he would have a Nuclear power plant in his backyard he surprisingly said yes. That makes him nuts in my eyes. Why choose a Nuclear power plant when you can just have some harmless wind turbines in your garden or on your roof. Totally illogical...perhaps this will force a response from him? (Charles...are you reading this?)

Second up from Sustainablog is a post about how some retailers (other than Wal-Mart) are adopting renewable energy and other green technologies/principles. Jeff is right to say we should encourage positive behaviour and I agree with him about feeling uneasy feeling good about behemoths (great word) i.e. MacDonalds etc when they take a positive step. I guess they have such a negative account built up when it comes to the triple bottom line that they have to catch up before we will take them seriously enough.

And finally, Jeff's last submission for us was about how renewable energy fund managers are urging caution when investing in renewable energy. Jeff hits on the head when he discusses the possibility of fear a renewable energy "bubble"which may be scaring fund managers but overall the numbers and drivers do look good, for now. But that's the markets for you. They go up and down. My thinking? If I had spare cash (HA! - Baby due in two weeks knocks that dream on the head) I would be investing in wind/solar and fuel cell energy technology companies.

Steve from Balogh Blog attended a living off the grid lecture and wrote this piece about Living Off-Grid on locals using solar to power their home. The discussion focused on solar powered homes and "earth-berm" housing for maximum insulation. Great local examples of how you can lower your energy dependence and increase heating and cooling efficiency. Very good primer on alternative energy. Earth-berm houses seem like a great idea...use the earth to insulate. So simple.

Techno Event Horizon has a great post called Decentralized Energy Economy that explores the possibility that sometime in the near future it will be possible for the average American household to produce all of their energy at home. The post considers how this will likely happen and also contains a number of links to developments in this area. Energy devolution is very close to City Hippy's heart indeed.

Continuing the devolving energy theme Enviropundit gets the last word and let me tell you what a collection of words it is. Anatomy of a Distributed Grid IS a manifesto for a new energy system. So comprehensive and well thought out. If a country were looking at installing a new energy policy from scratch they would be nuts to not adopt this mechanism.

Well...have really enjoyed putting the carnival to bed. To host the Carnival or to find out how to submit a post for inclusion please read this post for more information. The Carnival of the Green is nothing without you hosters and posters!

Having completed the first Carnival of the Green I think there are testing times ahead but that the answers are right before our eyes. Our strength lies in our numbers, clarity and unity.

Whilst our eyes may be open clearly not everyone's eyes are. Forcing the eyes of others open too fast creates a negative backlash but open their eyes we must. So we must open their eyes gently. How I hear you ask? Well so often in my life I seem to come back to my favourite poem which for me serves to explain why a gentle approach is the key and how best to approach issues gently. Take it away Emily!
Tell all the truth but tell it slant
success in circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm delight
the truth's superb surprise
As lightening to the children eased
with explanation kind
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind
Emily Dickinson
Namaste to you all!


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Thursday, November 03, 2005

FEATURE: Poyzer Parlay (Pt. 2)

Image hosted by TinyPic.comOK time for part two of the awesome interview with Penney Poyzer. Read on to find out what Penney would do if she played the Spirit of Mother Earth to Scrooge Bush and how she would tackle Blair to make him care.

Part one of the interview can be read here.

City Hippy: Hi again Penney. OK we know you are gonna love the next question we have for you.

In a sort of Scrooge-like dream you are the Spirit of Mother Earth and pay a visit to George Bush. You take him to see something in the past, present and future in a bid to get him to change his ways. What do you show him?

Penney Poyzer: Hi CH, Gordon Bennett and associated saints! What a great question! I do have dreams about visiting George (and Tony) and mostly I tie them in a chair and scream at them. Not very productive but boy does it feel good.

OK, so what would I do as the Spirit of Mother Earth...

We would eavesdrop on Thomas Edison, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, March, 1931:

"I'd put my money on solar energy... I hope we don't have to wait 'til oil and coal run out before we tackle that."

I would say to him, "George, these are the men upon whom your economy was built. Maybe you should listen to them".

I would take him to the bedside of a child in a hospital in Iraq, dying from her wounds caused by US forces.

I would say to him, "George, you claim to hear the advice of God. When was the last time you went through the commandments? Do you remember the one about loving your neighbour? Check it out and remember that it means that you should treat your neighbour as you would wish them to treat you.

"Is this how you would want to be treated?"

I would take him 50 years ahead to the site of his grave. I would show him his memorial:

'Here lies the architect of our destruction. George Bush Junior'

I would say to him, "George, do you want to be remembered as George the Destroyer or George the Wise?"

City Hippy: Great answers...we have missed so many chances to take a better path we often wonder how many more chances we will have.

As for Iraq...well our view is that of course it is great that Saddam is gone. A saint he ain't. But if it was just about freeing the world of dictators then why has there been no action against the many other evils around the world?

US & UK foreign policy are clearly just protecting their own long term interests without a care for the rest, and majority I might add, of the world. United we stand, divided we fall. We are so all in this together. But somehow the UK & US seem to feel we can proceed without the rest of the world.

Odd that they just do not have the guts to stand on their true convictions and admit it.

We have paid an awful price to get rid of Saddam and one I fear we will only fully grasp the impact of way in the future. When it is too late to do anything about it. Still, at least we will have fuel for our cars eh?

OK...rant rant question Penney is which group during the 'No Waste Like Home' series surprised you the most and why?

Penney Poyzer: Had to be Andrew and Philip, our gay couple from Waterloo, London. I think that because they were so wedded to their extreme lifestyle and the fact that they lived in a block of flats with no recycling facilities, made them the greatest challenge.

After we finished filming, they persuaded Thames Water to help them to install water saving devices in every flat that will save over 850,000 litres of drinking water a year. Also, they set up a waste management group, and after much effort, got the management agency to set up recycling facilities in the undercroft. Everyone is now recycling.

They told me that after completing the show, they found that they had never felt so fulfilled and energised. They are lobbying MP's, supermarkets and coffee chains to push for change, they have become true activists. They experienced a green epiphany which I found inspirational and moving.

City Hippy: Yeah that was a hell of a show. Very inspiring. The impact was evident and immense. Really showed how easy it is to be greener and how easy it is for people to change with the right guidance. OK next question for you is which do you think is most important? Organic, local or ethical?

Penney Poyzer: Very good question - deep man.... I would put local before organic and ethical where there is a choice. For me, I would rather buy a locally grown apple than an organic one flown in from New Zealand - the foodmiles cancel out the growing method and the length of time in transit breaks down the nutritional quality anyway.

Supporting Farmer's Markets, eating seasonal food and growing as much of your own as possible is preferable. Lobby your Farmer's Markets to grow organically - we must support our UK agriculture and local food is best - this is also a matter of ethics.

Fairtrade goods are very important and the market share has increased exponentially - so I would like to see more of the profits going to the growers than is currently the case. The proportion of profit is still heavily favourable to the middle men and shopkeepers.

The only supermarkets I use are the Co-op and Out of this World - which is part of a very small chain of organic supermarkets. The rest is from my local veg shop, allotments, my garden and farmer's markets and a weekly veg box from our local farmer's collective. Great food, cooked fresh, the only processed food I buy is frozen soya processed mince and I am trying to wean myself off it.

Since I became pregnant, I have been craving fish, but am fastidious about what the species is and where it is caught. I feel very strongly about overfishing and will go back to a fully veggie diet once I have sprogged. I have been eating locally caught eel from a chap who works on his own from his boat in Lincolnshire. I can just about calm my conscience with that method.

City Hippy: Cool Penney, congrats on being pregnant...our very own Mrs Hippy is 8 months pregnant...happy days and swollen ankles eh? Good luck on that. Keep us posted of course. As for your answer yeah tis a tricky one but I tend to agree. The order I aim to source food in is Local, then organic, then ethical. Each to their own though. Have been trying to be veggie myself. Have done very well although have had some appalling lapses. But after years of eating meat I hardly eat any now so the improvement is evident and eventually full veggiedom awaits me I am sure. OK the next question is from PF in Birmingham, UK.

PF from Birmingham, UK: What is the one thing you would recommend parents to say or do to motivate their kids into caring about the planet?

Penney Poyzer: Wotcha them by example and make that process fun and educational.

City Hippy: Spot on Penney,can't wait to bring up mini-Hippy and just hope s/he has as much love for mother earth as they have for their dear old ma and pa. Will certainly try and help them inherit our love for the planet...not gonna force it on them though of course. Just wanna open their mind gently. OK next question is if you could change any one thing in the world what would it be?

Penney Poyzer: Our selfish gene!

City Hippy: Yeah another good concise answer...I read a great book about ten years ago called Rogue Primate which pretty much summed up the human need to domesticate and control. Recommend it to you all. Next question we have is as follows: We are told that Nuclear power offers us the chance to provide energy and cut emissions. That wind power and other alternative energy sources will not provide the energy we need to live the lifestyle we do. What do you think?

Penney Poyzer: I would say first and foremost that the answer lies in drastically reducing our energy needs, before attempting to answer the nuclear/renewable debate. The arguments about our future energy needs always, but always lead with the notion that we need to be able to meet our current needs - or even expanded demand. This is so totally diametrically opposed toward what we need to do. It is entirely possible for every home and commercial building to reduce its energy use by a third and further for them to easily produce 25% of their energy needs, through renewables such as solar thermal panels.

The argument between nuclear v renewables is an interesting one - but to produce 20% of our energy needs through renewables is cheaper by a factor of 10 v nuclear. Further the cost and diffiulties of decommisioning nuclear power stations are huge and longterm, versus say, the cost and ease of decommission land occupied by wind turbines - and there is no contamination.

Local production of energy through renewables is dependent on geological and topological features - some areas may be suitable for geothermals - such as where mines have existed (this is underway in the north east for example). The coast, rivers and streams can be harnessed through the use of hydro and wave schemes. The south has longer periods of sunshine, therefore generation through photo volatic panels is more viable. We have to look at a pallet of solutions, rather than a single answer to our thirst for energy.

Namaste - do what you can.

City Hippy: Yeah that sums up how we feel. We need to reduce our energy need and supply energy individually. Then we can address the remaining need. Renewables just make so much sense...will always be naysayers though. Our next question comes from Diane Clark in Japan. will have to wait to hear Diane's question...which, let me tell you, is a corker. So watch out for the final installment of the Penney Poyzer interview.

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If you can't wait for more Penney then why not invite her into your home? Her new book No Waste Like Home, which accompanies the BBC series, is now available.

If you click the above link or the image to the right and buy it via Amazon then you will be supporting City Hippy at the same time.

We promise you it is a cracker of a book filled with superb advice on how to go green in loads more practical and cheaper ways than just buying organic. To be honest, with this book you will probably end up saving money going green.

If you buy it or have read it let us know what you think of it.



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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

NEWS: The trouble with TV

Not much worth watching on TV these days. Hardly seem to use ours for much more than movies and when we are catatonic on the couch. Gone are the days of scheduling our lives around TV. Although saying that tonight Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is on at 9pm on ITV so will be racing home to catch that.

However, there are some great shows out there. In the UK my favourites are:

No Waste Like Home A great show about how to green your life, be happier, save money and the planet. Series has sadly ended now although it is currently running on BBC2 on Sign Zone aka graveyard shift at 3am.

The Heaven & EarthShow which is a show about various modes of Spirituality and our connection to each other and to the planet.

Gotta love the BBC!

But the one show I really want to talk to you about is The View from River Cottage.

This offering from the UK's Channel 4 sees Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a smallholding chef of mammoth repute, take us to a simpler slightly downshifted life where people cook their own food, source produce seasonally and as locally, ethically and organically as possible. Bliss.

Round of applause for Hugh and Channel 4. Have not even managed to catch it yet, just keep missing it but hope to see it soon though. Will report back if and when I do.

Am curious to hear about the shows that make you love your TV. What shows in your country do you think City Hippy would like?



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NEWS: Starbucks Challenge 2.0

So Starbucks agreed that according to its own policy, company stores should French-press a cup of fair trade coffee for you, any day of the week, in the 23 countries it is licensed to. And when, during the first month of the challenge, we found out otherwise, Starbucks admitted a "break down in customer service" and sent out some emails.

But things haven't improved since then.

Regardless of politics, most of us agree on one thing: If a company makes a promise, it should stick to it.

Join the challenge:
1) Simply visit your local Starbucks and ask: "Could I get a cup of fair trade coffee?"
2) Tell us what happens next. Was it hard or easy to get a cup?

Simply blog about what happened and tag it with "starbuckschallenge" (all one word) on (put the Starbucks location in the description). We'll pull all articles into a feed and run that on our site - you can run the feed too, of course, if you'd like. ALSO help us get feedback by telling people about this challenge on your blogs.

Tell us what happened by emailing City Hippy or green LA girl, and we'll do the rest.

Win a prize
On Nov. 30, we'll select three people who contributed:

- Prize #1: A 12 oz bag of Monkey & Son Velvet Hammer fair trade organic coffee, for the challenger who challenges the most Starbucks in Los Angeles County.

- Prize #2: A 12 oz bag of Monkey & Son Velvet Hammer fair trade organic coffee, for the challenger who challenges the most Starbucks in the U.S., outside Los Angeles County.

- Prize #3: Fair trade yummies from, for the challenger who contributes the most amusing or informative post outside the United States."

Survey results
We'll be in frequent contact with Starbucks, but on November 30, City Hippy and green LA girl will contact Starbucks to find out what Starbucks thinks about the results of the challenge -- whether positive or negative -- and to get some concrete details as to what the company plans to do, if anything, in light of them.

Have a fair trade day.

City Hippy and green LA girl

Useful posts:
The Launch, 2.0, 3.0, Activism 2.0 (analysis of new wave of consumer activism), FAQ, challenges ( and finally the ever developing Google Map.

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