City Hippy

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

Google Search:

City Hippy

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

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

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


Friday, March 31, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

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

The CityHippy Week!

Another great round-up of my green week for you. Various bits and pieces cross my path and this week the #1 spot goes to the awesome Global Warming feature from the Independent: Your World Your Say

Basically it is a public forum for debate about Global Warming and all credit is due to them for facilitating this massive objective debate.

Check out what people are saying and most importantly have your say, it is after all, your world.

This is what I just emailed to them:

Instead of being in a position where we have to spend £70bn+ on cleaning up after our Nuclear selves we could be in a position where that £70bn could be broken down into 7 million units of £10,000 which could be used to take 7 million homes more or less off grid. We could then be a net exporter of energy to others and could in one foul swoop massively reduce our emissions.

Sadly we are not in that position because we have politicians too scared to govern for the common good. Shame on them. And now they want more Nuclear power.

As Craig Sams, the founder of Green & Blacks, says in an upcoming interview on my site: What if the Romans 2000 years ago had discovered nuclear power and left us with the burden of having to keep an eye on the deadly waste that they left behind so that they could leave the lights on all night and live in buildings that are overheated in winter and overcooled in summer?

Madness indeed.

We need to radically shift our economy NOW into renewables. We need to start making life more sustainable at a devolved level. Otherwise Blair et al will be cursed for all time as those who could have, but didn't.


Al from
What else caught my little green eye?

Biodegradable phones that sprout flowers
A mobile phone implanted with a sunflower seed and made from biodegradable material is among the cutting edge cellular technology which has been unveiled at the Science Museum
What great news. Imagine a world where everything electronic was made from biodegradable materials? Think about how much less land-fill we would need. Flowers everywhere!

Mr Ikea's recommendation for a frugal lifestyle
IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, ranked 4th richest man in the world, drives a 15-year-old car and always flies economy class, in part to inspire his 90,000 employees worldwide to see the virtue of frugality.
OK so he is not perfect but he makes staff use both sides of note paper. That makes him ok in my book.

Honda plans to take on Toyota
The thing is, there's one potentially large drawback: as this model has been specifically developed for the hybrid-hungry US market, it comes in four-door saloon form only, which rather limits its practicality and appeal to British buyers. It might be more usable on a day-to-day basis than the Insight, and it might not have lost any bootspace to its battery packs and associated extra drivetrain technology, but that boot certainly isn't very large. The five-door Prius has a clear advantage on this score.'s trying to get away from the idea that so-called eco-friendly cars are all budget runarounds driven by sandal-wearing tree-huggers.
Not sounding that great but what is interesting is that choice is rising and price will start dropping.

Archbishop of Canterbury thinks Bush's anti-environmental stance is unchristian

He said US President George W Bush's stance of refusing to cut emissions because it might compromise American jobs was not compatible with a Christian point of view.

"I think if we look at the language of the Bible we very often come across situations where people are judged for not responding to warnings," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I think what the Bible and the Christian tradition suggest is that those who have that challenge put before them, and not only that challenge but the evidence for it, and don't respond, bear a very heavy responsibility before God."

Go Rowan. Must say I like this guy. Not as much as I like what Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, has to say. Am loving the way social justice is finding a stronger voice in the Anglican Church. Liberation Theology in general does much to inspire me. Never heard of it? Check out this movie.

Montana glacier 'memorial' park?
"We had over a hundred glaciers," said Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who took ABC News for a helicopter tour of Montana's Glacier National Park. "Now we're down to a couple dozen, and by 2025, 2035 at the rate that they've been declining, there will be no glaciers in Glacier National Park."
Funny isn't it but as stuff starts to disappear the value of nature will dramatically increase. Let's just hope we do not leave it too late. One of my favourite First Nations sayings for you:
Only after the last tree has been cut down.
Only after the last river has been poisoned.
Only after the last fish has been caught.
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
- Cree Indian Prophecy
…and that's the way it is folks!



Technorati tags:

NEWS: Green Guy is Go!

Today sees the launch of a new green blog launched by Adam Vaughan, he of Hippyshopper fame.

Using a positive tone, which we at CityHippy applaud, promises reviews of the latest green gadgets, Fairtrade fashion and, soon, everything from organic food to healthy and beauty. No judgement, just the info you need to go green.

Adam aims to devote the blog to all things ethical you can do and buy without changing your entire life: 'ethical stuff that anyone can do'. Adam is aiming for about 15 posts a week so plenty of content to chew through.

Sounds great. Check it out. I certainly will be.



Technorati tags:

NEWS: The family way

Many of us dream of moving out of the city and starting a family, but for most - it is unlikely to happen and we will be destined to be struggling on and off buses and tubes with our screaming rabble!

...or maybe not.

Scientists have given us an extra reason to leave our city dwellings if we are considering getting in 'the family way''.

They have shown in a study in Los Angeles, that over time as the ozone levels have measurably increased over the city so has the sperm count of donors, to the sperm bank, measurably decreased!

Yet another loud bell in my ear that NOW is the time for us all to either down tools and go live on a beach in a hut and have lots of babies (slightly tempting!) or to shout louder to everyone I meet to ALL make small changes to give us all a fighting chance!

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Thursday, March 30, 2006

INTERVIEW: Craig Sams (part 6)

We have taken a break since the last installment but things are starting to get really interesting now and in this the sixth ( 1 2 3 4 5 ) of our Craig Sams interview series, we find out how Craig thinks we can get past what he sees as the biggest obstacle to attaining his vision i.e. a lack of transparency.

CityHippy: Transparency is everything of course. Only those with something to hide have anything to fear. What do you think stops us from being more transparent and how do we get past this obstacle?

Craig Sams: The corruption in the US and EU agricultural lobbies mean that the struggle for trade justice will be long and hard. The price fixing of cotton, soybeans, corn and rice by the US costs the rest of the world trillions each year – just for a handful of overblown Texas cotton farmers who produce the most expensive cotton in the world but can undercut an efficient grower in Mali because he’s got the US taxpayer to cover his excessive costs.

It does seem absurd that despite all our progress the potential for fair trade seems constantly hampered by those seeking Free Trade. How ironic that those who clamour for Free Trade actually deliver the opposite. Personally, perhaps controversially, I think Free Trade would a world without selfish manipulative people. And as long as we live in that world where Free Trade remains an impossible dream (and Free Trade is black and cannot be partial - a bird in a gilded cage is still a bird in a cage etc) then Fair Trade has a role to play in protecting those most likely to find themselves abused by bigger and badder folks.

Join us for part 7 when we find out what inspires Craig to be green. His answer resonates very closely with me.



Technorati tags:

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

FEATURE: Ethical Weddings #2

Internet overload
Ever since university, I have been addicted to the Internet. It is my first port of call for all queries, conundrums, or simple curiosity and finding out how to have an ethical wedding was no different. So I sat down at my computer and typed it in: e t h i c a l w e d d i n g s back in 2004 and I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly what Google served up on that occasion, however…

I don’t believe it! This is awful! I just meant to take a look to see what came up when you type in ‘ethical weddings’ now in 2006 and have just spent the last hour and a half (possibly more) scrolling and surfing through acres of information, leaping from link to link, bookmarking pages for potential suppliers and emailing other ethical bloggers! ‘My name is Katie and I am an Internetaholic’.

Anyway, to get back to the matter in hand, that is exactly how this all began two years ago. My incessant searching quickly showed me that while quite a lot was happening on the ethical nuptials front in the USA (e.g., of which there will be more in later posts but there wasn’t so much out there for the Blighty-based bride.

There was a lot of information, too much information (the magic word ‘wedding’ being largely responsible for this) but so much of it was irrelevant or linked to adverts that on further inspection had nothing to do with weddings, ethical or otherwise!

It required a considerable amount of extra digging and inspired word combinations to unearth the purveyors of beach diamond engagement rings or the Dorset organic wrap maker, as we were later to do.

Often I would become very frustrated or simply too tired (at 2 in the morning) to carry on searching. I assumed that my fiancé and I were not alone in our search for an ethical wedding. We imagined other newly engaged couples trying to do the right thing but ultimately finding the task too taxing and time-consuming. Especially at a time when there are so many other things to plan, organise and think about in an ordinary way, let alone in an ethical way.

And so, only a month or two into the planning of our own wedding, was born. Wouldn’t it be great, we thought, to have all the resources and suppliers you need to have an ethical wedding just there, at your fingertips in one web-based directory? Of course it would! I typed the address into the address bar – nothing. I mentioned the idea to my family that night. The next day my dad emailed me, he had bought the domain name for me! No hanging about there then; Ethical Weddings was go!

Join me next time when I check out the resources I found that helped me develop the idea of ethical weddings and gave me some contacts and things to think about.


Technorati tags:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

TV ALERT: It ain’t easy being green

Amen to that! Although it is getting easier.

The awareness of green choice and the interest in making changes to our daily lives is without doubt on the increase and is now more frequently making it’s way into our TV viewing.

Today is no exception. On BBC2 at 8pm there is a show called: It's not easy being green. In the words of the BBC:
The Strawbridges have decided to go green, moving to Cornwall and living an entirely sustainable and eco-friendly existence. But will life with a compost toilet be as glamorous as it sounds?
The star of the show, Dick Strawbridge is quoted in the Independent saying:
I don't want to wear a hemp shirt and hairy knickers, I want a 21st-century lifestyle with a coffee machine.
Sounds like a guy we can identify with. And you have to check out his moustache. Awesome!

It looks like a really interesting show and if you don’t get to watch it you may see a review on CityHippy.

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Monday, March 27, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #20

Carnival of the GreenJust so busy did not have time to get this up until now. Sigh! Monday is Carnival day and this week I trotted on over to Greener Magazine for a quick mooch around.

This Carnival is #20...who woulda thunk it eh? Could not have done it without you folks. Here's to the next 20!

My pick of the carnival this week is Steven Silver's Bodyshop to L'Oreal analysis post. He makes the great point that this deal, and others like it for that matter, are polarising activists. Worth reading.

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



Technorati tags:

NEWS: Carbon Rising

Scientists are saying we are close to the critical irreversible point of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere which represents a 30 million year high of CO2 levels.

The issue hit the headlines recently and these warnings have been coming more frequently and are more shocking; taking us closer to breaking point. What I want to know is how much more will it take?

How much will it take to make people stop and think? I have not yet decided the time is right to start a family, but the more time goes by the less I can bear the thought of the legacy we are creating on this planet for our future children and grandchildren.

Thinking about it makes me want to hide in my room with the light off and not come out! Politically that is what our government and 'leaders' seem to be doing. Friends of the Earth director, Tony Juniper, suggests the government are 'lacking ambition' in tackling the problem! That is an understatement – we will soon turn the corner and climate change will be UNSTOPPABLE – think about what that means.

If there are changes you can be making in your personal life, even small ones like power saving lightbulbs, switching off all items on standby, switching off your phone charger when you aren't charging your phone and so on then do it!

If in your work capacity you have the power to influence people please do so!

Speak to politicians. Tell them your concerns. Discuss the issue. Whether it is encouraging recycling, telling a neighbour, asking your boss to look at green ways to cut costs – it can ALL help.

If we each encourage one person to make one change we will make a difference and who knows what the power of that simple action could be. I want us to leave a positive legacy on the planet!

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Saturday, March 25, 2006

REVIEW: Organic Gossip

Took a run with Al (Mr CityHippy to you) down to the Organic Café 'Gossip' today just off the King's Road near where we work (at the start of Sydney Street) in London's fashionable Chelsea.

Gotta say was impressed by the setup (we sat in the conservatory) and by the extensive (sorry did I say expensive?) menu! The prices might be Chelsea but the food is definitely 'of the land'.

Gossip boasts a superb range from breakfast porridge to light bites and full on winter warmers & desserts. Al & I had a gorgeous organic hot chocolate as a starter and we shared (well Al had the lion's share but if you know Al that will make sense) a bread basket of gorgeous breads with
fantastic organic oil and balsamic vinegar. We followed that up with the tastiest BLT I have ever had whilst Al had the Lamb with something potatoey. His vegetarianism is sporadic. Both came with an excellent side of organic greens garnishing the plate.

The whole thing was organic including the WholeEarth Cola drink Al had.

Unfortunately they do not have a website (how quaint?) so you will just have to take my word for it and pop down if you are nearby. Worth an outing although if your budgets are like ours then special occasions only. We spent £30 (!!!) on lunch. Sheesh! Nice lunch though.

If you like the food they serve then after a meal you can stroll along to the nearby Organic Shop owned by the same folks where you can buy pretty much every edible product I could think of buying! As well as the finest quality supplements as well!

Green hugs


Technorati tags:

Friday, March 24, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

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

The CityHippy Week!

Got some great stuff for you the most exciting of which is that Starbucks UK are definitely singing about Fairtrade much more than ever before now. In the last week have seen more in-store promo than in all my experience up until now. A point-of-sale hanging promo over every checkout AND a huge promo bin by the barista station. Go Starbucks. Sell that Fairtrade.

What else caught my little green eye?

News of British Gas partnering with Ceres to bring to market a fuel cell boiler the size of the palm of one's hand. This little gem produces both heat AND electricity and is literally a £3,000 mini power station to be used in people's homes. After years of inactivity we are seeing stunning speed to market of these alternative energy products. About bloody time too!

London Transport's proposed Low Emission Zone wants Londoner's thoughts and feedback during a public consultation period ending 24 April 2006. all for it. Want to increase air quality. Fine with me.

According to the UN the impact of Humanity on Planet Earth is as bad as an asteroid strike. Why might you ask? Well turns out we are ushering in, through our destructive tendencies, the Sixth Extinction. According to the UN's Global Biodiversity Report we are causing the loss of biodiversity at a rate not seen since the age of the Dinousaurs. As the Register puts it 'we're now in the same destructive league as asteroid strikes, enormous flood basalts and ice ages'. More tea anyone?

This week saw Gordon Brown deliver a 10th consecutive Labour budget and it was heralded as delivering some great green incentives. The highlight was a zero road tax for the cleanest cars and a higher road tax for less clean cars. Overall not bad but not nearly enough. Sigh...

And finally news that British car owners are ready to embrace Hybrids. London's Evening Standard (no link available - their search is down right now) reports that a majority of British drivers would buy a hybrid if their performance improved. CityHippy certainly intends to buy a second hand hybrid if the current CityHippyExpress expires. Green of course ;)

…and that's the way it is folks!



Technorati tags:

NEWS: Ethical Nuts

I've always loved nuts – some people might say it's because I am a little nutty myself! However I recently received my Sight Savers newsletter and I can't deny I'm shocked. I had no idea what goes on behind the scenes before my little bags of nuts get to me and it has changed my whole approach to buying these tasty little snack items!

The article that sparked all this relates to one of the Sight Savers projects in India where there are many Cashew (my personal favourites) factories are based. The workforce sit for many hours a day 'peeling' the nuts! Peeling the nuts???

This badly affects the workforce who typically make less than a dollar a day for tasks including sorting, peeling and burning the nuts. Now I do not wish to stop the world buying these nuts as over half the population in one area alone are employed in Cashew nut factories. What I will do in future is influence the production process by only buying fair trade cashews from shops or via online stores like Traidcraft which will at least guarantee some standard of care to those in the supply chain.

My personal lesson is to be much more aware of my purchases in the future!

Green hugs


p.s. I happen to be a reseller for ONE Group who sell organic cosmetics so if you need any organic cosmetics feel free to check them out.

Technorati tags:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SPECIAL: Deputy Editor

As many of you know life is very busy for me right now what with a gazillion jobs and projects plus a 4 month old son (who is soooooo cute he he he).

So a couple of months ago I started thinking about getting someone to join me on CityHippy as more of an editorial fixture. A few posts a week type thing. I wanted to bring someone on board who wanted to blog without the hassle of, well, running a blog.

Enter Becky.

We met about a year ago when she started work where I work. Becky is a lot like me in that she cares deeply about our world and wants to live a greener and fairer lifestyle. We ain't perfect but we are doing our best. Neither of us can afford hideously expensive stuff nor do we want to live a meagre burlap-sack lifestyle. We consider ourselves normal urban folks trying to be greener and fairer.

So hopefully 3 times a week you will get to hear a new regular voice. Ladies & Gentlemen, please give it up for Becky, your new Deputy Editor:

CityHippy: Hi Becky, a few questions for our readers to help them get to know you a bit better before you start posting. First off, where are you from?

Becky: Hi Al, can I just say how excited I am to be a part of CityHippy. You have spent so much time and effort getting it this far...I am honored to be a part of it all. Namaste.

CH: [Grinning] Thanks mate, it's all good and I am equally as excited to have a Deputy Editor on board to be honest. What fun.

Becky: OK, to answer your questions I am originally from a small farming town in Lincolnshire but having spent four years in Middlesbrough and nine in London – you can understand my hankering for all things green and good!

CH: Fair enough...I sure can. Sounds like a good enough reason to me. But what actually inspired you to be green and start making changes?

Becky: I guess it was something inside me in general; a growing awareness of the increasing decay of social responsibility as a whole!

CH: Well put...society seems to be getting more negative. There are positives but in general it is definitely a rougher world out there. OK what is the one thing you do that you are proud of doing?

Becky: The one thing I am most proud of three do? Walking on fire, travelling in the USA for fifteen weeks with forty dollars in my pocket oh and most of all is my decision to make a difference to my world & life and not just live it!

CH: Oh wow! We are gonna get on just fine. Walking on fire. Oh my god! Braver than me for sure. Your USA travels sound interesting...I hope we will hear more about that although $40!!!! I almost don't want to know ;) As for the last point that sounds just like me. As Ghandi said: Be the change. No point cursing the darkness eh? OK next question: What is the one thing you wish you could do?

Becky: Live in the best eco-friendly house but with eco-friendly technical comforts too and only spending my money with organisations that try to do good!

CH: Fair enough, there is work to be done but people are not going to retreat to caves and live without electricity, until they have to that is he he he. I can appreciate all of that. Very City Hippy. Here's another question for you: What is the one thing you wish everyone in the world did differently?

Becky: Loved thy neighbour and mother earth – sorry just gonna run off and cuddle a tree was feeling very earthy then!

CH: Hahahaha nice one. We love trees and get many strange stares when we literally hug them. OK up next is a nice day dream for you: What is your dream job?

Becky: Hmmmmm honestly – living a River Cottage life. (I appreciate it isn't a job spec that appears on insurance options for occupation!)

CH: Oh I am with you there. Growing my own (vegetables people, vegetables) and living the life off-grid with all my power straight from that would be cool. OK penultimate question for you: What is your favourite way to relax?

Becky: I don't switch off – the only time (and even then there is no guarantee) that I am relaxed is when I'm asleep!

CH: Oh we are so alike it is not funny. I just cannot shut my brain down when awake. OK final question: Why is the world a mess andwhat do you think we can do about it?

Becky: There is too much apathy – I was there, I didn't think we could make small changes and yet make a big difference! We just need enough of us doing it and talking about it and as demand increases affordability for all should come into play.

CH: Great stuff Becky. We are gonna get on just fine. Ladies & Gentleman, please give Becky a great big welcome. She has three great posts already lined up (all I am saying is CO2, nuts & a restaurant review) and plenty more in the works. She will start posting them this week.

I am sure you will enjoy her contribution.



Technorati tags:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

FEATURE: World Water Day

So March 22nd is World Water Day and here are my thoughts on the Global Water Crisis (and there is one believe me), an interview with the head of a leading Water NGO plus 10 things you can actually do right now to conserve water. And out of all 10 only one costs money!

My thoughts?
Water has got to be the most abused global resource in history. When you factor in the growing shortages, and I do not just mean in remote third world countries, I mean right here (New Zealand, UK, UK2) in the 'developed' world combined with the amount of conflicts caused by resource-related arguments it makes for scary stuff. It is estimated that more than 1 billion people do not have access to a safe supply of drinking water. Shameful stuff. Read on for more about the problem and more about what you can do about it.

Water is everybody's first problem. We need it more than anything else to survive. Until it is secure in people's lives they have to spend all their time and energy thinking about it which means they are trapped.

I did not conduct this interview with Gary White (Executive Director and Co-founder of WaterPartners International) myself but it makes for very interesting reading so enjoy.
Let’s start from the beginning. How did you become interested in and committed to sustainable water projects? I became interested in this because I saw it as the intersection of one of the world’s greatest needs and my greatest passion. The roots of that lie in my parents, teachers and my faith. Those influences inspired in me the need to dedicate my life to issues of social justice. Water itself emerged because of experience I had as an undergraduate in the slums of Guatemala City—witnessing children playing in areas saturated by raw sewage and taking their drinking water from disease-ridden water sources helped me to understand safe water as the world’s greatest need that I could help address. My studies in civil engineering seemed to provide a good fit for tackling the global water crisis.

As the Executive Director of WaterPartners, why did you start the organization how and how does it differ from other water projects? The start of the organization was driven by two key realities: 1) people in the US were oblivious to the global water crisis and 2) many projects that were constructed were going into disrepair. WaterPartners is different because early on we took a hard look at why projects fail and built into our approach best practices that are associated with sustainability. Working exclusively through local partners, requiring community leadership in projects, addressing sanitation and hygiene education are some of the key elements of our work. Integrating these in a way to catalyze great projects set us apart when we first started in 1990. With many of these now widely accepted by many organizations as minimum standards, we now are pushing forward with new innovations, like WaterCredit. We are different because we don’t see our role as simply sinking one more well in one more village, but also finding ways to multiply our efforts by playing a leading role in the international water supply space.

How does the Global water crisis affect international communities in particular? The Global water crisis is the leading cause of death and disease in the world, taking the lives of more than 14,000 people each day, 11,000 of whom are children under age 5. In addition to the health problems, more than 200 million hours are spent every day by women and girls walking to collect water from distant, often polluted sources—time that could be better spent on more productive endeavors such as work and school. When you combine these factors, it’s clear that the Global water crisis is the single biggest problem facing the world’s poor, preventing them from reaching even the first rung on the socioeconomic ladder.

What types of programs has WaterPartners implemented to help communities solve their own water supply problems in a sustainable fashion? The key to the WaterPartners’ approach is involving the community. All WaterPartners projects are designed to be community-empowering, with local water committees overseeing construction and ongoing maintenance of the projects. Since the people who benefit have a real stake in the outcome, it helps to ensure that the projects are sustainable over the long term and won’t fall into disrepair. Also, all of our projects have a health education component, which is vital because many of the people in the project areas lack a good understanding of sanitary practices. And finally, our most recent innovation is the WaterCredit Initiative, which brings a micro-finance approach to water for the first time. By offering small loans where credit is virtually unknown, we give people a vital tool for addressing their water needs.

World Water Day is March 22, 2005. What exactly is World Water Day and how can communities participate? The UN General Assembly designated March 22 as “World Water Day” back in 1992. It is a time set aside to draw attention to the largest public health issue of our time – the global scarcity of clean water. There are a variety of activities being planned around this event. For more information about these, you can visit

WaterPartners has a great Web site: Can you describe some of the site's features and what visitors can find there? Of course, there is lots of general information about the organization, including our finances and governance. But I think what people are really drawn to is the stories about the projects. We have a 15-year track record of success in providing clean drinking water to people in developing countries. Our website includes lots of examples and photos of people we’ve helped over the years.

What is your best piece of advice for people interested in helping to solve the global water crisis? The number one thing people can do is to get involved in spreading the word about the Global water crisis. Let your neighbors, church and civic organizations, and your elected leaders know that this is an issue that you care about. And if you really want to make a difference in someone’s life, support an organization like WaterPartners International that is doing something about it.

Children always seem to be the most vulnerable during any health crisis situation. Can you describe how the lack of clean drinking water affects children in particular? The leading cause of child death in the world is diarrhea. Each year, children under age 5 suffer 1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea, 4 million of which are fatal. Even for those children who survive, this chronic diarrhea prevents them from thriving the way they should. And for older girls, the responsibilities of carrying water are a leading cause of dropping out of school.
Heavy stuff eh? Basically to summarise: Water is life. It is being squandered and wasted and so life is suffering. And when I say life I mean that eventually all life, including you, will be affected directly or indirectly. Lets start treating Water with the respect it deserves.

10 things you can do to conserve water:
  1. Get involved with a water NGO like Water Partners or WaterAid.
  2. Put a brick in your toilet cistern if you can and save upto a third with each flush.
  3. Even better, if it's yellow let it mellow - don't flush for the quick visits.
  4. To drink cold water don't run the tap: just fill a bottle and refrigerate to chill.
  5. Don't buy bottled water - moving water around in plastic bottles wastes an awful lot of water. Buy a Sigg like we did.
  6. "If everyone in England and Wales turned off the tap while brushing their teeth, it would be enough water to supply more than 600,000 homes every day," Environment Agency. Nuff said.
  7. Wash your car with a single bucket of water to soap and one more bucket to rinse.
  8. Cut down the number of baths you take.
  9. If you have a pool or a hot tub, well, frankly, you know what I am gonna say.
  10. Finally, the best thing you can do to conserve water is tell people about the problem in the first place. Email someone else right now amd tell them about it...feel free to point them to this article for more information.


Technorati tags:

FEATURE: The Ramsay Home Project (part 6)

Here in part (see part 5 here) of our regular updates from RamsayHome we hear good news about how spring has sprung and the project seems not only on track but better resourced too. Plus the Ramsay's got to spend time in a very cool place. Last post all seemed gloomy but it is funny how things seem to work out in the end eh?


Work on the Ramsay House Project is days away from beginning again – just in time for spring. We are thrilled with the new team we are working with. They have all kinds of experimental side projects on the go, including a community housing project entirely off the grid, and a few straw bale houses throughout the province.

In the meantime, we are lucky to have found a permanent place to live until the house is ready. (We've been house-sitting vagabonds since last fall.) My brother is letting us stay in his apartment while he is away at university. And this is no ordinary apartment.

We are living at Prairie Sky Co-housing – Alberta's only co-housing development. It is an inspiring project: many families sharing resources including the centre of conviviality, a large common kitchen and dining room where residents eat together weekly. All maintenance and chores are shared, as are decisions and resolutions to any friction that arises. Community consensus is the primary mode of decision making.

Some co-housers have established a car share. There are flourishing community gardens weaving through and surrounding the property. Children and teens have there own common rooms in the common house, and the kids have input in the consensus process as well. It is a marvellous place to find support and inspiration during this transitional time. Living densely, communally and sharing resources is a wonderful way to live an ecological life. Thank-you Prairie Sky for welcoming in a couple of Ramsay vagabonds.

M from the RamsayHome project

What great news...not only is the project seemingly re-invigorated but the Ramsay's have had the chance to spend time in a positive co-housing scenario which must be a fascinating experience and no doubt the people there are superb.



Technorati tags:

Monday, March 20, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #19

Carnival of the GreenAh Monday...that must mean it is Carnival day...and this week we find ourselves wandering the e-stalls over at Baloghblog.

Great work done over there by Steve who is also to be congratulated for his new role with Michael over at The Groovy Green.

My pick of the carnival this week is Jeff's How to turn your kid into a treehugger post. With a four month old son and spring / summer looming we are very excited about getting him out in the garden. I certainly remember my scout camping trips etc and felt very empowered by them out in Nature. Good job Jeff.

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



Technorati tags:

Saturday, March 18, 2006

FEATURE: L'Oreal & The Bodyshop to wed

Oh my this will create quite the storm won't it. So many issues. Here are my thoughts.

Personally I think we are going to see more deals like this although perhaps this will hold the 'largest deal' record for some time. Lots of green consolidation ahead. Mostly small scale stuff I imagine.

Question is whose next? Marks & Spencers to buy PeopleTree? By the way Safia Minney now has her own blog - welcome to blogging Safia. Powergen to buy SolarCentury? Coca-Cola to buy Santa Cruz Organic?

Anita Roddick is not a sell out. Well no more than any person part of a capitalist economy. Anita has said she will be giving away most of the money. She is certainly wealthy enough and hardly did this deal for the money. So how exactly is she selling out?

Anita Roddick has done so much to project ethical business practices into the mainstream spotlight. If you are one of those who condemn Anita for 'selling out' you need to get over your big bad green self. Being green is not that black and white.

The only people who should feel comfortable condemning her are those who have done more to make this world greener and fairer. And that is a very short list. And to be are probably not on it.

Why was this deal done? L'Oreal have bought a successful green retail brand to distribute and market green cosmetics on a scale that the Bodyshop could never have hoped for. That is a good thing.

L'Oreal see which way the wind is blowing re people and chemicals and will almost certainly look to learn from the Bodyshop and evolve their own business onto a greener platform over time. That is a good thing.

L'Oreal certainly cannot weaken the Bodyshop's ethics but do not underestimate the potential for the Bodyshop to shore up and strengthen L'Oreals less than green position. That is a good thing.

Nestle apparently own 26% of L'Oreal which makes the sale of the Bodyshop to L'Oreal even more difficult to digest for some. Let me be clear about why I think Nestle are buying into or launching green brands. I believe they are doing so not to attract customers who are already ethical consumers or on that path. They know 'we' know who they are and what their company has stood for over the years.

I believe that Nestle buy into or launch green brands to cater for those amongst their millions of mainstream customers who are starting to exhibit ethical consumer tendencies. That is very telling in itself. They are changing tack because they see the wind changing.

As those customers become more aware of ethical issues Nestle's stock can only suffer once their sordid history surfaces. Nestle are fighting a losing battle akin to those of the Tobacco companies and the Oil companies. They all have one think in common: they are making hay whilst the sun shines.

Just for a moment imagine in ten years a Nestle making money primarily from ethical sources. How would that be a bad thing?

For me the issue is more about someone with green ideals gaining power. More power in the hands of greens can only be a good thing.

And just imagine all the good Anita is gonna be able to do with an extra £120 (approx) million behind her. I get the feeling we ain't seen nothing yet. Go Anita!



Technorati tags:

Friday, March 17, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

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

The CityHippy Week!

CityHippy was down all day today and much of yesterday. Blogger had server trouble. Grrrrr! Do not want to move the blog for various reasons but any more of that and I might have no choice. Apologies folks.

Fairtrade Finale
As Fairtrade Fortnight 2006 draws to a close I do feel like the agenda has been shifted and that more people than ever before are thinking instead of just consuming.

Lots of Fairtrade noise around this week but the one that gets a special mention, seeing how I am always giving them a hard time for not really trumpeting in-store the fact that they sell Fairtrade coffee, is Starbucks.

For the first time ever I saw them advertising Fairtrade coffee in their window. Albeit a small tasteful promo...but it is a good start.

Has anyone ever noticed a Fairtrade window ad before in a Starbucks? If not then perhaps the Starbucks Challenge had an effect? Would like to think so. Am sure Starbucks would deny such a thing.

Some other interesting green stories of note this week that caught my little green eye include:

London is heading for a hard summer as the first major hosepipe ban to be imposed in over 15 years comes into force in April. With a third of water lost in transit due to inefficient water systems combined with very hot summers in previous years basically all non-essential use of water is now not allowed. Crisis? What crisis?

A worthy campaign has been started to save London's small shops. The Evening standard has stirred it up and created the SAVE OUR SMALL SHOPS campaign. Worth checking out.

Apparently Nitrogen Dioxide fumes at some major UK Airports exceeded EU recommended levels by as much as 75%. Needless to say at least one airport thought this was 'misleading'. They think we should rely on their readings taken from within the airport compound. Funny that.

Antarctic ice melting faster then previously thought. This really scares me as the film 'The Day After Tomorrow' is dismissed as being too fast a scenario. Well clearly we need to reassess our knowledge of the systems that sustain us and start planning for a worst case scenario sooner rather than later. Surely it is better to err on the side of caution?

More scary news of an impending potential energy crisis. Talk to people. Speak to your MP. Ask questions on phone-ins. Engage with others. Write letters. Raise the issue. Or do nothing...clearly your government has your best interests at heart [ahem].

And carnival hosts include:

Aug 21 - Frugal For Life
October 9th - EnviroPundit

Make 'em welcome folks!

And don't forget to sign up yourselves. Host for the first time or if you have hosted before why not host again. More info of course available here.

…and that's the way it is folks!



Technorati tags:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

NEWS: Fairtrade Football

Global_fwCross-posted from Hippyshopper and updated.

As most of you already know this year between the 6th and 19th of March 2006 we get to enjoy Fairtrade Fortnight: the biggest push towards ethical consumerism all year long. With over 1300 fairtrade products available in shops making an ethical shopping decision has never been easier. Plus Fairtrade Fortnight makes bringing fairtrade up in conversation a doddle. You can even thank, as I did last year, those who run your local shop for listening to you and stocking Fairtrade products. Of course you can then encourage them to do even more. I had some very interesting chats with supermarket staff. With hundreds of events up and down the country you can meet fellow CityHippy types and even get to talk to people that grow Fairtrade produce. My Fairtrade pick of the fortnight? A Global All Star Football available from Fair Deal Trading for only £12.90



Technorati tags:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

FEATURE: Ethical Weddings #1

CityHippy is proud to introduce a new columnist. Katie from will be writing for CityHippy regularly and will take you through her struggle to have an ethical wedding and how that prompted her to set up an ethical wedding website (launching soon) to help others through the same process. Part wedding diary; part diary of a green start-up, our new ethical weddings columnist promises to entertain and educate.


In the beginning…

I have been asked to tell you the story of Ethical Weddings, or rather the story so far as it is a long way from being finished. The question of course is where to begin. I could start when I first met my (now) husband, sitting on the floor in a grimy corridor in a hall of residence in Sheffield asking the usual questions about where we were from and which A-Levels we had done? I could start four years later when we finally realised we were “more than just friends”? Perhaps I should start, most logically, with the marriage proposal, another four years down the line, walking in the peak district the day after Valentine’s Day 2004, my ever-obliging boyfriend helping me do up the shoe laces on my hiking boots and deciding that while he was down there on one knee, he might as well pop the question! Yes, let’s start there.

Of course I said yes (I had after all been harassing him to ask this question for the last year so it would have been rude not to!) and our attentions turned to the planning of the wedding, which was to take place in a year’s time. For a while I resisted the lure of the glossy wedding magazines, convinced they had nothing to offer me, but once I gave in there was no going back and soon they were everywhere – on every sofa, every coffee table, beside the loo – for my housemates and my fiancé there was no escape! What we quickly discovered from these venerable tomes was that weddings are potentially a very expensive business. The average wedding of 2004 apparently cost £17,000, money we simply did not have, especially not to spend on just one day. A quick flick through showed that many of the greater excesses could be easily avoided (the £500 Gucci watch as a gift to your bridesmaid, for example) but it also highlighted just how much money there is in the wedding industry and we started to think about where it was all going.

Skip to a couple of weeks later and a quiet moment reading the Oscar Wilde short story, ‘The Young King’. The story, which tells of the preparations for the coronation of the young king of the title, struck a particular chord with me at that time, attuned as I was to the extravagances of the modern wedding. The young king demands the best of everything for his coronation; it is his ‘big day’ after all. His robes, the pearls, the rubies that are to adorn his sceptre, no expense nor effort is to be spared in the search for perfection. What he does not take into account is the human cost (and we could also insert here the environmental cost) of his demands and it takes a dream to make this real to him. In his dream, he is able to observe the different people around the world slaving and even dying to fulfil his demands, the boy who is made to dive again and again until he finds the perfect pearl – and then dies, the weavers making the fabric for his robes, working for a pittance. When the king-to-be awakes the morning of the coronation, he can no longer bear to wear the results of such suffering: '...on the loom of sorrow, and by the white hands of Pain, has this my robe been woven. There is Blood in the heart of the ruby, and Death in the heart of the pearl'. And then: 'Shall Joy wear what Grief has fashioned?'. The contrast between a day of celebration and the suffering that has gone into making it possible is too great.

Over the years, we have become increasingly interested in fair trade, human rights and issues affecting the environment. This short story (good old Oscar!) suddenly made all these things very relevant to our own day of celebration and we resolved there and then that wherever possible our celebrations should not take place at anyone else’s expense. To find out how we were going to do this, well… you will have to wait for next week’s instalment!


The world is changing and alternatives are appearing in every commercial direction. The economy is being greened from the ground up which to me seems like the best way to do it. Katie is a champion for putting her plans into action and we are right behind her and

Oscar Wilde speaking from an age long past and yet profoundly and presciently reminding us to remember exactly what most of us have long since forgotten or ignored. Shall Joy wear what Grief has fashioned? Nice one Oscar! Nice one Katie!



Technorati tags:

Monday, March 13, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #18

Carnival of the GreenAnd so this weeks carnival brings us to the Dirty Greek where little green men have taken over. No I am not talking about ET and pals. I mean our little green Leprechaun chums who have appeared in preparation for St Paddy's Day this Friday. Whilst we may never get hold of their lucky charms George has managed to distract them for long enough to get hold of this weeks Carnival of the Green.

As usual I am so impressed with what us Green Bloggers are upto but the one lil' post that catches my eye this week is the collaboration between a few green bloggers to preserve and protect America's Forest Land. Inspiring stuff. Check out the Forest Image Registry Project.

They want and need your help America!!!

Please send copies of your personal photos and images of the American forests you have visited.

Add your pictures to the F.I.R. project and share them freely with the world. Doing so will perhaps help us learn to appreciate America's National Forests before they are changed forever.

Send all submissions to You can also submit images by uploading them to your own Flickr! account and tagging them (forestimages, firforest=ForestName, or geo:lat= geo:lon=, etc).

Great stuff folks! Take a bow Harlan, Andrew, George and Jeff.

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



Technorati tags:

NEWS: Fairtrade Web Development

Just a quick note to let you all know about a great Fairtrade Fortnight offer.

Make Hay Ethical E-media are good friends of the CityHippy collective and they have a great promotion on right now.

If you sell Fairtrade products or raise awareness about fair trade issues then read on.

They are offering a 30% discount on any website work worth upto £2000 in value until the end of March.

Get it while you can



Technorati tags:

Sunday, March 12, 2006

NEWS: Starbucks Challenge Stats

My good pal and fellow Starbucks Challenge Starter, Siel, has done a stats update over at GreenLAGirl. We are now upto 331 challenges with 209 blogs participating! Wahoo! Thanks to you all for joining in...and thanks to all new challengers for keeping up the pressure. It ain't over people...we are just being nice and giving Starbucks plenty of time to get with the programme and deliver on their promise to serve Fairtrade coffee to anyone who requests it etc.

Siel's report makes for interesting reading. Starbucks clearly are committed to offering Fairtrade in all their stores as they promise although why the Fairtrade success rate is going down is anyone's guess. Still, at least Starbucks write huge CSR reports talking about how much they love Fairtrade. Priorities people!



Technorati tags:

Friday, March 10, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

Life is hectic right now, have so much going on and a young son to bring up but all week long I come across lots of great stuff that I just sadly do not have the time to blog about. But it is all too good to throw away and so in the last couple of weeks I have started posting a sort of news summary. I have now decided to make that a more permanent fixture on CityHippy.

Should give you lots to chew on over the weekends ;)


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

The CityHippy Week!

Fairtrade festival focus
First up this week is the first week of Fairtrade Fortnight 2006. For those of us in the UK it is a two week Fairtrade fest that makes us all feel a part of something bigger. All the stores make more of an effort, some more than others as you will see below, and with lots of events up and down the country this fortnight is a wonderous time for a wannabe ethical soul.

This week I have noticed the following Fairtrade support / advertising:

  • This Fairtrade-free (grrrr) window of the Starbucks near where I work (although they do mention it on their UK Homepage)

  • This window of a Ladbrokes (a betting shop) where surprisingly there were three mentions of the Cafe Direct Fairtrade coffee brand on display. These days it seems like everyone is plugging in coffee shops to their stores.

Some other interesting green stories of note this week that caught my little green eye include:
Some UK ministers favour limited trials of the Suicide 'Terminator' seeds.

Leader of the UK Tory party, David Cameron, has plans to install wind turbines, rainwater collection and solar panels on his home in central London despite anticpated resistance from local residents.

Electic cars in London's Westminster district will now have access to special parking with recharging sockets in various places, subject to an annual £200 license fee.

The premier Fairtrade coffee brand, Café Direct, is to pay its first dividend (2p a share) back to those who helped them raise funds a couple of years ago. Hurrah! If only I had shares...sigh.

The definitive travel guides, The Rough Guides & Lonely Planet are working with ClimateCare to encourage readers to take trains instead of planes and to plant trees to offset plane usage and carbon emissions.

New leader of the UK's Liberal Democrats, Sir Menzies Campbell, is planning to use taxation to adjust people's behaviour and society's direction more towards sustainability.

The Drax power plant wants to use more biofuel so what do the UK Government do? They reduce the amount that can be counted towards green targets. Brilliant! They do care, honest.

And finally just wanted to flag up an email I recieved this week from Resource Solutions about Kelley Stoltz being the first music artist to offset the carbon cost of their album and earn themselves the 'Green E' stamp of approval. Kelley said: Hopefully, people will see their logo; check into what they do, and make renewable energy a part of their lives, too. Nice one Kelley.

…and that's the way it is folks!



Technorati tags:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

HELP: Ethical suits

I need your help. I need to buy a few suits. For various reasons. Will have to have them made due to my unique [ahem] shape. I want to buy suits that are sustainable / ethical / organic / fairtrade / green. I live and work in and around London. Any ideas?



Technorati tags:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

REVIEW: Living Generously

A good friend of the Cityhippy collective, Joe Turner of the Freedom Clothing Project, emailed me to tell me about these folks but I thought he did such a good job I asked him to turn it into a post and so here it is. Take it away Joe!

Sometimes our journey towards sustainability and wholeness seems a bit of a struggle.

One time, I was with a small community in a town in the Nilgiris hills of South India. Despite being fairly small in number, they were involved in many things in the wider community. They fed the sick, schooled the street children, cared for the elderly, ran a school for handicapped children, built houses. Yet it was fairly clear that even in the context of their situation, their efforts were barely scratching the surface of the problems. I asked a leader how they kept going, kept doing, kept trying in the midst of all the poverty, when most of us would have given up, if we had bothered starting in the first place. He looked at his shoes and said that they were just doing what they could.

That day, I decided two things. Not to complain about problems unless I was prepared to, at least, make some effort to do something about them. Not to continually beat myself over the head about what I can't do, but to focus on what I can - even if each step forward is tiny.

The Year of Living Generously Project is a self-help group for people like me. We try to support each other as we try to refashion our lives. Looking back over the year and a half we've been involved, my family and I have made quite a few changes to our lifestyle. Each month as a group, we think of a few more ideas that we can challenge ourselves and others to take up. Some are quite small - eg hippos in the cistern - some are larger - eg get rid of the car.

Every journey of a thousand miles eh?

Read more about it at

Joe Turner
Freedom Clothing Project
Dressing for a better world

Joe is a great guy doing good work to enable people to take control of their lives. Would want nothing less for my own kids...round of webplause for Joe folks...or better yet...go buy one of his t-shirts.

As you all know we here at Casa CityHippy love the 'do what you can' approach. For us it is the only way. Judgemental just does not work. Turns ourselves and others off. Needless to say we have applied to join the Year of Living Generously project. Will keep you posted on our progress.

Joe kindly gave me two Freedom Clothing Project t-shirts to give away so first person to email me and tell me where their t-shirts are made wins both t-shirts. One is blue with a nice Freedom design on the front and the other is white with the letters F R E E on the front - both Large and both damn cool.



Technorati tags: