City Hippy

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

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

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

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Friday, June 30, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

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

The CityHippy Week!

STORY OF THE WEEK: Lessons for our time from the lost Mayan civilisation
Dee Smith (chief executive of Strategic Insight Group (SIG), a global, US-based private intelligence agency serving the investment, legal, and corporate communities) gives an analysis of the lessons we can learn of how the famed Mayan society seemingly took no account of their finite resources i.e. wood only to suffer the most dire of societal consequences due to the exploitation and disregard for the resource. Clearly if we ignore the lessons of history we are doomed to repeat them.
Meanwhile, the United States, Europe, and Japan continue to use 80% of the world’s energy resources for a collective 18% of its population. This is what is required to live the lifestyle. The question of whether there are actually enough resources on the planet to expand by more than 400% the number of people enjoying anything like a Western standard of living, must be asked. In fact, it is hardly a question: under the present circumstances, clearly there are not.
And that is from a fairly conservative business newspaper folks.

What else caught my little green eye?

The Art of Climate Change is on at the National History Museum in London. Looks very interesting and profound.

London's fuel cell buses are on extended trial until January 2007. Plus London's Transport Museum has announced plans to go solar. And it does not stop there as London Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced the launch of the Sunshine Garden which you can visit between the 4th and 9th of July at the Royal Horticultural Society's Hampton Court Flower Show. The goal of the garden was to create an urban garden with low water needs i.e. drought-tolerant trees, slow-release water systems and so on.
The dry garden shows ways of saving every drop of water in your garden and using it only when you need it!
How useful in these parched times.

Staying with the London Mayor it turns out that whilst Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square is being worked on the wood used to protect the monument has come from protected Papua New Guinea rainforest sources. Needless to say heads are going to roll but I sincerely hope that good comes of this in that the company using the wood realise why this wood should not be used, instead of them just having their knuckles wrapped. Better to engage with them as opposed to just condemning them. pick of the week: Environmental chiefs join forces to fight growth in air travel
All about the new AirportWatch campaign to start making the airline industry and its customers responsible for its contribution to climate change emissions.

…and that's the way it is folks!



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REVIEW: Prestat Chocolate

My award-winning pals over at Natural Collection recently sent me some items to review which I will do so over the coming days and weeks. I will be honest so the reviews might not always be me recommending stuff but I will always stay positive, as usual.

First up are the Prestat Organic White Chocolate Wafers Infused wth Sweet Orange

These delightful little English handmade numbers are delicate and posh. Very English. If I close my eyes I can see Her Maj (the queen for all you non-Brits) tucking into these choccies - both her crest and that of her late mother are on the box.

The orange is in there but tucked away in the depths of this deceptively light number. Very morish and clearly bad for they go well with a cup of tea.

The box is gorgeous and with the company established in London in 1902 Prestat clearly know how to make a chocolate or two. I bet they served these on the Titanic.

At £9.95 they are not cheap but they make a perfect gift for someone you care about. Also come in Mint and Earl Grey flavours. Earl Grey, as in the tea, interesting.




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Thursday, June 29, 2006

FEATURE: The power of words

Words clearly have immense power. I take words seriously, sometimes too seriously. Words have many functions for me but mostly they inspire me, one way or another.

I currently subscribe to two Daily Quote mailing lists as I find them very useful in a) reconnecting me to my beautiful world and b) remaining positive and focused.

First up is the daily quote from Positive Press. Here is a recent example that explains why I continue to stay on this mailing list.
It is wonderful to be in on the creation of something, see it used, and then walk away and smile at it. Lady Bird Johnson (1912- ) American First Lady
As a new father I cannot tell you how true that is. Every time my son Coby Zephyr (pictured) experiences his world I watch in total amazement and give silent thanks for his presence in my life and the role I get to play.

The second list I am on is my favourite of the two. Debra Lynn Dadd was the Queen of Green back when being green was unheard of. She has a myriad of sites and resources all of which are well worth exploring. But her daily Words of Wisdom just continually invigorates me and has a special place in my inbox. Here is a recent example.
The only limits are, as always, those of vision. James Broughton
My own favourite quote of all time has to be Gandhi's Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Although coming in at a close second is Groucho Marx's I would never want to belong to a club that would have me as a member.

My favourite quip of all time is Winston Churchill's reply to Lady Astor when she remarked on his boisterous behaviour at a party Sir, if you were my husband I would put poison in your tea to which the witty Winston responded Madam, if you were my wife I would drink it.

And to finish off my favourite words, my all-time favourite poem is by Emily Dickinson:
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.
So there you go, just a small personal insight into the words that keep me going.



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NEWS: Big Tent 2006

Big Tent 2006 takes place from tomorrow in Falkland, Fife. Described as a 'festival of stewardship', it's all about encouraging us to care for our communities and the environment. There are loads of debates, activities, crafts and enough to keep the whole family going.

I'm really impressed that there will be a free half-hourly shuttle bus from Glenrothes and Markinch , not only encouraging people to use public transport but meaning that those who have to can still get there without worrying about service bus times and routes or the cost of a taxi. Check with First Scotrail if you're coming from Edinburgh though, construction work at Haymarket means services may be disrupted.

Chatiryworld (not working)

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

WEEKLY Q: SUV drivers are people too

SUVs & 4x4s in urban areas are pointless. No argument from me there. MPVs (Multi-Person Vehicles i.e. People Carriers) are clearly much better in terms of cost, efficiency and safety.

However there was an interesting motoring editorial by David Williams in London's Evening Standard on June 16 about how the targeting of 4x4s and SUVs is actually not a good idea. And I agree with his logic enough to throw it open for debate.

The reason is that whilst we are focusing solely on 4x4s and SUVs all other motorists are not being engaged with about their own driving impact on the environment. And lets face it the majority do not own 4x4s or SUVs.

I suspect that it might even achieve the reverse in non SUV and 4x4 drivers in that they probably think 'Oh well I do not drive an SUV or 4x4 so I am already doing my bit for the environment'.

The larger green issue at the heart of the matter is not WHAT people drive and WHERE it is WHY and WHEN.

We need to get everyone thinking about why they drive and how often and get them looking for alternatives. We need to all think about our own personal modes of transport for the sake of our environment and our health. We need to encourage people to take less trips by car and walk/cycle more. We need to encourage people to look at alternative vehicles and fuels i.e. hybrids, electric vehicles and biodiesel.

I suggest that the above positive goals will make much more of a green impact than just demonising and alienating a minority.




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TIP: Furniture polish alternatives

Instead of using regular furniture polish here is a great alternative thanks to 1001 Natural Remedies by Laurel Vukovic (Read our review here).
Lemon Furniture Polish
Extra virgin olive oil helps to protect the wood in the furniture. Lemon essential oil cleans the wood and provides a refreshing scent.

1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon essential oil

Mix the ingredients n a glass bottle, shake, and store. Rub a small amount on to wood furniture with a soft cotton cloth.
Trust me it works. And if you like the sound of that everyday green alternative you should check out her other furniture care alternatives including those for leather & bamboo care, removing sticky labels and candle wax, repairing scratches and the astonishing Raw walbut rub method of removing stain rings. And she goes way beyond furniture covering pets, body care, pest control and a whole lot more.

Happy polishing



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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

REVIEW: Not Just For Vegetarians

In my quest to eat less meat books like these are crucial. Making vegetarianism mainstream gets easier with recipe books like this.

Not Just For Vegetarians contains recipes you could serve to meat eaters. Recipes that might just make them realise that meat-free meals can tantalise, satisfy and impress.

Subtitled Delicious homestyle cooking, the meatless way undersells just how tasty this stuff is. Don't you just wanna dive into the pics?

Think delicious and homestyle and you probably, like me, as a typical Brit, think Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Roast Potatoes and all the trimmings.

Three helpings later plus dessert (explains a lot if you know me) and I hit the couch for a nap followed by a sloooooooow afternoon.

Well these recipes give you all that without the meat itself (and without the financial, ethical and environmental costs of meat) and the meat coma and meat sweats that normally follow.

The whole thing from start to finish screams healthy, hearty and tasty. An interesting and original combination when you think about it in the vegetarian context. All too often the vegetarian fare I come across leaves me with an empty feeling inside. Meat is just, well, more meaty. This book makes vegetarian food seem filling just by looking at it.

The book has been created by Canadian Author Geraldine Hartman and frankly if she did not live so far away I would track her down and live with her just to eat this well all the time.

Geraldine sent us a review copy months ago now and we have been busily cooking up a few test dishes to find out how good she really is.

We have tried quite a few of her recipes including the Fried Red Tomatoes (with parmesan coating), the Creamy Mushroom & Potato Soup, the Full Meal Pasta Salad, the Cheesy 'Ham' Oven-Baked Wraps and lastly the Honeymoon Squares.

City Hippy likes this book so much it is not giving the review copy away as a prize/freebie. Get your own. This book gets a CityHippy rating of 5.

You can order this book online via Amazon AND if you buy it via this link then Amazon will give a little bit of money lurve back to the CityHippy.

Incidentally Geraldine also blogs @ Veggies Yarns And Tails, well worth keeping an eye on.

Happy cooking



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FEATURE: If you go down to the woods today...

Last Friday I chopped down trees. Yep, you read right, while the rest of the world is planting trees in a desperate bid to offset our extravagant lifestyles (a practice currently being debated in a carbon themed issue of the New Internationalist and by Leo Hickman in The Guardian) I was chopping them down.

But isn't that a little irresponsible? I hear you ask. Not at all, because this was's (geddit?) volunteering day. We unglued our eyes from our computer screens, unchained ourselves from our desks, and skipped merrily out into the sunshine and down to the woods.

The woods in question are Wolstonbury Woods in Pyecombe, East Sussex - about a 20 minute drive from Brighton. The property of The National Trust (NT), we had been drafted in to deal with a little Sycamore problem they were having. Sycamore is an invasive non-native tree that holds little attraction for our wildlife but is becoming dominant in the woods and crowding out the native Ash. Our job was to cut small to medium sized trees with hand held bow saws (a fetching shade of pink!) and make wildlife habitat piles with the debris.

After a health & safety briefing and a quick lesson in distinguishing the leaves of the Sycamore from those of the Ash, it was gloves on and saws out. A lovely sunny day, we could hear the birds singing and the bees buzzing. It was not long, however, before the peace was broken by cries of "Timbbbeerrrr!"

Relaxing in a meadow over lunch (was this really work?!), we had chance to ask the NT warden whether it was actually worth their while taking a group of inexperienced volunteers into the woods for a day's work. His response was to the point: if it wasn't, they wouldn't do it! As the day wore on, we could see for ourselves how much a group of people working together could achieve as the Ash, previously hidden by all the Sycamore, became more visible and began to reach towards the sun.

Heading home for a well-earned drink, (arms aching with an ache that would be so much more painful the next day!) we badgered the boss to know when we would be out volunteering again - much more fun than sitting in a stuffy office!

If you want to take your office down to the woods today, check out National Trust Volunteering. Or if you want to check out our handiwork, why not take a stroll around Wolstonbury Woods?

Until next time...

Take care,


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Monday, June 26, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #33

Carnival of the GreenMy weekly quick link to the Carnival of the Green which is located today at Jen's Green Journal

My pick of the week is a tough one this time round as so much has inspired me so my picks of the week include the very thought-provoking posts by Carnival Host Jen and Jeffrey Strain over at Personal Finance Advice on walking in suburbs and how discouraged it seems to be even at the planning level. Surely if cities were planned for more walking people would walk more? So why is this not the case? Why are cities not planned with walking in mind? Perhaps projects like Arcosanti (submitted by Interesting thing of the Day in this weeks carnival) should be encouraged and better supported?

Also a quick shout to the post from The Greener Side about how Craigslist encourages sustainable recycling etc of items we no longer want in a kinda freecycle way. Very good point...gets me thinking about some for that they get a mention.

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



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Sunday, June 25, 2006

NEWS: Edinburgh increases recycling facilities

Many people (myself included) live in tenemant buildings in Edinburgh, which can make providing recycling facilites hard. Where I used to live we had a paper bank outside and glass and packaging facilities at the back of a nearby supermarket. Now I live in a conservation area and we aren't allowed great big ugly recycling bins. We manage with a paper bank 5 minutes walk away and the rest of the time my boyfriend carts rubbish over to a not-so nearby supermarket to use their facilities.

Good news though, Edinburgh City Council are considering giving us better facilities and are definitely giving other areas more recycling banks! Other parts of the city (New Town, for example) have the blue/red box collection schemes that I gaze upon enviously as I walk to work... The more recycling facilities the better, I say.


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Saturday, June 24, 2006

FEATURE: How to start a Blog Carnival

Carnival of the GreenNow whilst this post is not about green living directly it is about something that those of you who are passionate about some aspect of green living (or anything else for that matter) will find interesting.

What is a Blog Carnival?
A blog carnival is loosely defined as a weekly roving digest of a specific blogosphere. Roving in that it shows up at a different blog each week. This is a guide to starting and running a blog carnival.

The blog I run, founded, along with Nick Aster of Triple Pundit) of the Carnival of the Green which aims to provide a roving digest of the Green Blogosphere.

A host blog volunteers to put a specific week's Carnival together and host it on their blog and anyone can submit a post (url, title and summary only though) for inclusion. The host gets to decide what to include and what not to include. Our carnival tends towards being inclusive and I think we have only ever left out two posts since Oct 05.

I often get emails from people wanting to start their own Blog Carnivals and looking for advice and a how to.

As I have not yet found a 'How to start a Blog Carnival' guide on the web (UPDATE: Althought thanks to Rich Owings via the version of this post on Performancing for this link) I thought the following might be of use to anyone looking to start their own Blog Carnival.

Feel free to add your comments re your carnivals and how they work better and differently at the end.

How to start a Blog Carnival or Have blog will carnival
Why bother? Why go to the hassle of starting a Blog Carnival? Well for me it was because a) it knitted together a group of people talking about similar things and b) because it is nice to see in a single glance what other people are talking about that is likely to be of interest to you.

Before you even start a Blog Carnival you need to understand it will require some effort. The reward comes in many forms but facilitating such a widespread conversation gives me a great warm feeling every time a new Carnival of the Green gets posted.

If you are up for it and think there is a blogosphere, or a topic that covers many blogospheres, that needs a Blog Carnival then these are the steps I think you need to take.

1) Find a friend
The best way to start a Blog Carnival is to partner up with someone else (or maybe a couple of people or even more if you like) in the same blogosphere to share the workload, promote the carnival and decide on carnival policy (see below).

Identify who the Blog Carnival is for and give it a name. Does one already exist? Check out the exhaustive list at Blog Carnival (you can also use them for submissions and archive linking if you like). You might want to register a domain and set up a dedicated site for the Blog Carnival itself to sit on but I didn't and you do not need to do that. I run the Carnival of the Green from the launch post.

2) Get people signed up before it launches
You do not want to have to host the first few yourself. Speak to other bloggers who are likely to be interested and get them signed up in advance. Create a buzz about it so that when the first one launches everyone starts talking about it.

When Carnival of the Green started other green blogs quickly signed up to host. Now, here in June 06, we are booked up through Feb 07. Awesome!

3) Rules and regs
It is very important to have some sense of what and who the carnival is for and what content it will carry.

In the case of the Carnival of the Green we carry almost anything as long as it is to do with sustainability issues/products/tips/reviews etc. We are not about general green politics. And there is a difference. But we only worked that out after the Carnival of the Green started.

Basically the rule is that if a submission is from a green blog then it gets in. But even then if it is a relevant post from a non-green blog then why not include it?

Ultimately it is up to each host to decide for themselves and that is indeed the point of Blog Carnivals in my view. A roving digest of a blogosphere. Organised and structured yes but what goes into the carnival itself is not controlled and is left upto the host.

I have had a few hosts forward me submissions in the past asking whether it should be included or not. My answer always tends towards inclusion even if the host disagrees with the post, the post is offensive and even combative i.e. in our case is anti-fairtrade etc. Unless the post is way off topic, illegal or poorly written I personally would not want to see it excluded.

There is no black and white though and at the end of the day the Carnival belongs to the Blogosphere it serves so if a host does not want to include something then so be it.

4) Hosts
You need to ensure that all email submissions for the weeks carnival goes to the right host. What I do is use a gmail account and just flip the forwarding address to the hosts email address.

Incidentally I also automatically sign up all hosts to a weekly reminder email I mail out to ensure that when they are not hosting themselves that they support other hosts by submitting posts for inclusion. They do it anyway but sometimes we all get busy so a reminder might be useful.

Hosts are generally hosting for the first time so they need to know what to do. This is the email I send out to hosts the Saturday before their hosting week begins i.e. the week they start getting submissions culminating in their hosting the carnival at the end of their hosting week.
Hi there [host email]

So...[blog name] is hosting the carnival on [host date] and you should now receive emails from the account automatically at this email address - [hosts email address] - is that the right address? Let me know.

Feel free to test by emailing that address and let me know if there is problem. Watch out for any submissions that might look like spam as they are forwarded email, don't forget, and may be treated like spam by your inbox.

You can ignore all emails sent to that account that are not carnival submissions - I will address them all.

Important Note
Please be aware that the carnival will be a large post on your site, depending on the number of submissions, with certain basic formatting ie links to various mechanical anchors (carnival info, last week and next week). If you wish to withdraw from hosting then speak now.

Inclusion of submissions
Unless a post is badly written, offensive or off topic we tend towards inclusion. We want to create a weekly digest and foster debate. If you disagree with something then that is no reason to exclude it. Again if this does not fit with your site then let me know now.

To link the carnivals all together and maintain some degree of consistency all carnival posts should ideally have the following:

1) Links back to the launch posts on City Hippy & Triple Pundit so people can get more info about hosting and posting.

City Hippy
Triple Pundit

2) Links to the previous and next carnivals:

[Date and Address of the previous carnival before you host]
[Date and Address of the next carnival after you host]

3) The title of the carnival post should be: [Carnival name] #[Carnival number].

Any questions...ask away.
5) Posts
Once you start your Blog Carnival hopefully lots of fellow blogosphere bloggers will want to submit posts for inclusion. They need to know what to do and what should (and should not) be submitted. So make sure your launch post has clear instructions for posters as well as hosters. This is what I say:
To submit a post for consideration to the Carnival of the Green (do not submit content - just a link to your post), please email (Subject: Carnival of the Green submission) with the following info:

Post URL
Post Author
Post Summary

This carnival is a summary, a digest, of the green blogosphere. When we say green we mean sustainability issues etc as opposed to plain old general Green Politics. Each host has the right to include whatever they wish, whatever they feel is worthy of being in the carnival.
6) The Launch
So now you have set it all up and got everything ready and it is time for the launch post where you kick things off and bring it all together. The launch post I posted offers all the info needed by hosters and posters.

Make sure you don't forget that people will visit the launch post who are not involved with the Blog Carnival itself and so will want to know what it is and where the posts are.

7) The Archive
Hosts spend ages pulling Carnivals together and posts from all over the world are pulled into superb digests of blogospheres. You need to make sure there is a link archive to each hosted carnival somewhere that acts as a Carnival archive. I maintain the link archive on the launch post but I also add all the Carnival posts themselves in at

8) The Timetable
For the Carnival of the Green the timetable I follow is:
Carnival hosts switched on Saturdays (sometimes Sunday due to other committments) and host pointers (see above) email sent out along with submission testby founders. This is the point at which the next host starts getting the email submissions whilst the previous host who has been receiving the email submissions all week can now put the carnival together.

Carnival published by Host on Mondays - this is their last duty at the end of their hosting week.

Carnival added to archives on Mondays by founders

Carnival posters email reminder sent out on Wednesdays by founders
So that is pretty much my collected thoughts and wisdom on setting up and hosting a Blog Carnival. Any questions, thoughts or comments?



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Friday, June 23, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

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

The CityHippy Week!

STORY OF THE WEEK: Waitrose gets Ugly
We apparently waste a massive proportion of our produce because it does not look nice but Waitrose have now decided to carry 'ugly' fruit at reduced rates. Hurrah.
Apples, plums and pears so plain that only their mother could love them will now sit proudly alongside their finer-featured siblings.

Marvellous. When Whole Foods opens their first store in the UK next year they will doubtless be shocked to find just how green the UK supermarket industry is prepared to go with all this local and sustainable produce and even biodegradable bags. Perhaps this is the UK Grocery industry's way of out-flanking Whole Foods in advance? Although Whole Foods will of course be considerably greener they will not have as easy a ride here in the UK as they do in the USA. Will still be good stuff though I am sure. Can't wait.

What else caught my little green eye?

Caroline Lucas: Airlines must lose their right to pollute the skies
We must reduce aviation's expansion or give up on tackling climate change

Obituary: Professor E. Arthur Bell
Plant-chemist Director at Kew

Poppies return to make a red and pleasant land
There are the first signs of a colourful resurgence thanks to increases in organic farming and a reduction in the use of weedkilling sprays. pick of the week: Anything Into Oil
Turkey guts, junked car parts, and even raw sewage go in one end of this plant, and black gold comes out the other end.

…and that's the way it is folks!



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Thursday, June 22, 2006

FEATURE: Glacial Gold Rush

I occasionally get appeal emails sent from friends and this one caught my interest recently.

In Chile there is a region where indigenous farmers use the water derived from two glaciers. There is no unemployment and the farmers provide the second largest source of income for the area.

Sadly for them the glaciers have deposits of gold, silver and other minerals lying underneath them. And predictably a company now wishes to extract those deposits.

Despite the fact that the world should be doing everything in its power to preserve the ice we have left for obvious climate reasons this project just stinks for so many other reasons.

To extract the minerals requires breaking, and almost certainly in the long term destroying, the glaciers.

Two huge holes each as big as a whole mountain will be made: one for extraction and one for the mine's garbage.

The project is PASCUA LAMA and the Chilean Government has now approved the project to start this year, 2006. Apparently it is not too late for the sane amongst us to act though.

The only reason it hasn't started yet is because the farmers are awaiting a ruling from Argentina.

If Barrick et al go ahead and mine underneath these glaciers they will not just destroy the source of pure water for these people but they will also apparently contaminate the two rivers due to the extraction process.

Every last gram of gold will go abroad to the multinational company and not one cent will be left with the people whose land it is.

They will only be left with the poisoned water and the resulting illnesses.

Barrick claim that their: vision is to be the world’s best gold mining company by finding, acquiring, developing, and producing quality reserves in a safe, profitable and socially responsible manner.

Uhm, right. Socially responsible?

The farmers have been fighting a long time for their land but have been forbidden to make a TV appeal by a ban from the Ministry of the Interior. Uhm why? Their only hope now of putting the brakes on this project is to get help from the international community. And that means you!

Click here to act now.

Green Hugs


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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WEEKLY Q: Big green statements?

What is the single biggest greenest positive statement I could make? What action could I do to send the most upbeat cityhippy message to the world?

And it cannot be a negative like NOT flying.

Buying organic? Switching to green energy? Gotta be something even bigger than that.

All too often the green message is about what we should not do. Lets give people things they can do...and the bigger the impact for the least amount of input the better.




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NEWS: Starbucks Challenge: No Organic Milk

Wandered over to the Starbucks across the road from where I work yesterday (123A Kings Road, London, England SW3 4PL, United Kingdom - store 10731) to order a cup of Fairtrade (which they had brewing - hurrah) and asked if they had organic milk for my coffee as per my Monday post.

The barista did not understand (?) and offered me Soya milk instead. When I said no thanks I mean Organic she said something in a foreign language, shook her head and smiled.

Despite the obvious language concerns there in terms of effective customer service capabilities in an English shop I do not think Starbucks offer organic milk and I have certainly noticed it in the past anyway. And that is sooooo the kind of thing I would have noticed.

But a source at DEFRA's Food & Drink (Milk & Milk Products) Division (amazed they have one to be honest) confirmed that rBGH is not allowed in EU production. So any non-Organic milk in the EU is pus free! Hurrah! and phew!



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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

FEATURE: An unsung green hero(ine)

It has been argued that having children can be one of the most un-green things to do. Luckily there are plenty of resources to help parents ease their guilt. Personally I have found a great deal of support and advice through the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). Whilst the NCT isn't an overtly green organisation, much of the work its involved in nationally and locally is directly helping the environment.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Each local branch frequently runs Nearly New Sales where you can buy and sell second hand children's clothes, toys and equipment. You can usually pick up lots of bargains as the mums try to compete in price with cheap supermarket clothes. With the advent of ‘ebay’, most people have moved on from the snobbery related to second hand stuff. The energy and water which goes into the production of plastic toys is not inconsiderable so it’s better to reuse those we’ve got rather than keep buying new ones. The NCT are also collecting old printer cartridges. As well as helping the environment, recycling is a great way to raise funds for the NCT. Currently, only 10% of printer cartridges and phones are recycled in the UK. The other 90% are dumped in landfills.

Addressing our landfill problem
The NCT support the use of ‘real nappies’ which you can buy from them mail order or through their website. There are now plenty of different styles and prices of washable real nappies and starter packs available to try. If the thought of washing pooey nappies puts you off then why not consider a local nappy laundering service. Another suggestion (I would recommend!) is that you could combine washable and eco-disposable? For lots of great links to local products and services, see the Sustainable Wales Real Nappy Campaign.

Breastfeeding is one of the greenest things you can do as a mother - a natural sustainable resource and locally produced! The NCT provide support during early parenthood through their breastfeeding counselling line (0870 444 8708) and locally trained Breastfeeding Counsellors. They also support the Nestle boycott as part of the Baby Milk Action campaign.

Green holidays
The NCT house-swap register is an economical way to holiday in the UK. It’s a win-win situation, you haven’t got to take all the toys and equipment you need. Plus you are not polluting the atmosphere through flying and probably use less energy than a hotel (who launder towels daily for example). Extra green points if you travel by train! Why not ask the family you are swapping with whether they have a local organic veg box scheme and arrange one for you stay? Annual membership for the register is £30, there are no other fees to pay and you can swap as much as you like. I cannot guarantee that all the houses will be as pictured though! Check out their newly updated website for full details.

As well as all this, meeting with other mum's through the NCT has been an invaluable source of sharing tips on the best organic produce and green baby stuff. Thanks to all the Swansea and South West Wales branch for all your tips!

Organic Jac

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Monday, June 19, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #32

Carnival of the GreenMy weekly quick link to the Carnival of the Green which is located today at Savvy Vegetarian

My pick of the week is the Guide to Green Living's Tips to More Efficient Home Cooling mainly because I have a 7 month old son who needs keeping cool cos he cannot do it for himself yet, ahhhh. But I have no desire to use a whole power station to do the job.

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



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NEWS: Starbucks Challenge Award & Organic Milk

Starting today and running until June 25th there is a National Week of Action over in the US coordinated by the Organic Consumers Association to get Starbucks, as a major buyer of milk, to serve organic milk with coffee, tea and so on. Why do they care about organic milk? In their words:
Despite over five years of grassroots pressure, Starbucks continues to serve milk from cows that are injected with genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone, also known as rBGH or rBST. Virtually every industrial country, except for the United States, has banned the sale of rBGH milk. Milk produced from cows injected with rBGH poses serious dangers to human health and the general welfare to dairy cows.

The time has come to kick rBGH off the market, once and for all. If Starbucks, a major buyer of milk, were to reject rBGH dairy products, we could effectively eliminate it from the market.
I will certainly ask for organic milk in my Starbucks today. I recommend you do the same...

PLUS congrats to Two Heroes for winning the People's Choice Award for Phase 4.0 of the Starbucks Challenge. Check out the great prize that Siel, aka Green LA Girl, has organised.



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Saturday, June 17, 2006

NEWS: Events in Edinburgh

It's getting to that time of year when it's hard to keep track of everything that's going on in the city, and we haven't even got to the festival month of August yet. So, what's on?

Green Design: Creativity with a Conscience is an exhibition at the Museum of Scotland, on until next Sunday. It's only small, but exhibits include a paper coffin, organic cotton and an environmentally-friendly electric guitar. There are also several interesting books for you to peruse, which I always appreciate!

Experiences in Organic Gardening is a free event organised by Friends of the Earth Edinburgh. It's at the Friend's Meeting House on Victoria Street on Thursday 29th June at 7.30pm.

Edinburgh World Justice Festival on July 1st looks at what has happened in the year since the Make Poverty History March (making me think what has happened in my own life over the last year since my boyfriend and I got together on that day!). It's a free event looking at fairtrade, international development and campaigning. Taking place between 10am and 4pm, it's at the Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge. Email kathsevarATyahooDOTcoDOTuk and/or look out for flyers around the city, I picked one up in Henderson's Farm Shop on Hanover Street.


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Friday, June 16, 2006

NEWS: The CityHippy Week

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

The CityHippy Week!

Before I start I want to apologise for not posting the Week last week. Sometimes life just gets in the way...I know you understand. Oh to be able to do this full time, sigh ;)


STORY OF THE WEEK: Winners announced at the first Observer Ethical Awards

So heartening to see people receiving pats on the back and recognition for all the hard work they do.

Ecover award for young campaigner of the year
Meare Village Primary school - Walking bus, local food initiative and link project with Kenya

Innovation of the year
Architecture for humanity - Not-for-profit organisation working in emergency, disaster and conflict zones

DIY project of the year
Averil Stedeford, Oxford - A grandmother's eco retrofit in Oxford

Building of the year
Jubilee Library, Brighton - The country's most energy-efficient public building

Retailer of the year
Natural Collection - Online/mail-order ethical retailers

Campaigner of the year
Make Poverty History (MPH)

Round of applause please.

What else caught my little green eye?

Plans to build Europe's biggest incinerator in south east London have been given the go ahead by Government. Oh goody more fumes and smoke mmmmmm.

Largest Hawaiian Marine park created by Bush is largest in world - but will he protect it should pollutants threaten it? I would not bet the reef he will sadly.

Businesses demand an end to exploiting developing world. Clearly business wants to change their ways, over to you Mr Blair. pick of the week:
Cheap Drinking Water from the Ocean

Using carbon nanotubes it will be possible to reduce the current cost of desalinating sea water by approx 75% PLUS we could apply this to remove CO2 from air.

…and that's the way it is folks!



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NEWS: Local Works

Pens at the ready everyone: I have a date for your diary - especially you Londoners out there. On Monday 26 June there will be a Local Works Parliamentary Forum Meeting at 6pm in The Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Embankment, London SW1

If you haven't heard about Local Works yet, you can probably guess by the name that it's all about supporting the local (which we like!), and shaking a fist at the clone high streets that we've been hearing so much about lately. The Local Works website tells you all about it and what you can do to help.

At its heart, Local Works is the campaign for the Sustainable Communities Bill. The Bill was originally drafted by the New Economics Foundation (nef) and a collection of civic and environmental organisations. Currently, Local Works has 62 national supporting organisations.

The meeting on Monday 26 June gives you the chance to hear about the great progress the campaign has been making. You will have the opportunity to put your views to Oliver Letwin MP (and his Party’s Policy Review), and to Julia Goldsworthy MP, the sponsor of the Bill - as well as hearing first hand from Jim Dowd MP about the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group’s report on High Street decline and possible solutions.

The speakers at the meeting will be:
Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP - Head of the Policy Review for the Conservatives
Jim Dowd MP - Labour Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group
Julia Goldsworthy MP - Lib-Dem sponsor of the Sustainable Communities Bill
and a campaign update from Ron Bailey

Space is limited so if you do want to attend, you will need to let Natasha Keskin know ( or 020 7833 9898). You also need to be a member of the Local Works campaign which is very quick and simple to do here.

Please get behind this campaign - it gives us the chance to really make a difference.

Take care


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Thursday, June 15, 2006

NEWS: 5 million reasons to go green

The National Lottery are offering a cool £5 million for developing 'Breathing Places' - in your local area.

I think that this is an excellent opportunity for any budding conservationists to actually 'get involved'!

My back garden is already an oasis for wildlife. The landlords are shockingly bad at maintaining the property or providing the tools to do so. The result is a large space with all sorts of chest hight wild plants including weeds which provides homes for bugs, butterflies and, erm, well a few rats, yeuch. Hay ho - all creatures great and, er, ugly.

On a serious note - I do hope that even those inspired by the financial incentive to do more will still make whatever changes they can to their local environment.

If you get involved let us know about your project. We will be interested to see how you get on.

Green Hugs


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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

WEEKLY Q: Local, organic or ethical?

When you shop in what order of importance do you place the organic, local and ethical goals?

For example: would you pick the local option, the organic option from the other side of the world or the fairtrade, but not organic, option from the other side of the world?

For me I aim for local first as reducing food miles are most important in my opinion. Then I choose the ethical option if local is not available. Finally I go for organic if local and ethical options are unavailable.

Local wins for me because food miles, and the carbon emissions they produce, affect us all. Next come ethical choices, i.e. Fairtrade, as they directly affect the lives of others. Last for me is the organic option as they predominantly affect my own body first and others and the environment where the produce was grown to a lesser degree than ethical or local selections effect the bigger picture. Murky and subjective but how do you like them apples?

What do you think? What order do you place them in and why?




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NEWS: Ethical Football Gear

Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool Football Club manager, once said that Football is not a matter of life or death, it is much more important than that.

To many Brits and the remaining near 3 billion people who will be watching the FIFA World Cup 2006 final on 9 July in Berlin we know what he means.

Sadly for the people that produce the balls, boots and other equipment commonly used in the game it often is a matter of life and death due to poor labour standards and practices.

Oxfam recently compared sports brands to find out who used sweatshops etc and the results are worth reading. No brand gets a pass from Oxfam (or from Christian Ronaldo for that matter) although some are clearly better than others. (Thanks Mrs Moo, for the Play Fair! link to that Oxfam report.)

I wanted to see if I could put together a stylish football (or soccer) kit made up entirely of ethical components. The good news is that it was not that hard and here are the results:

Boots: Ethically produced from Vegetarian Shoes for only £25 reduced from £54.95 (NOTE: they tell me they have less than 50 pairs left so get them while you can).

Balls: Fairtrade from Fair Deal Trading from only £9.49

T-Shirts: Fairtrade AND Organic from Epona from £9.99

Cargo Shorts: Sweatshop free from Justice Clothing for $49.50

Socks: Organic AND Fairtrade from Ralper for only £3.50

Misc etc: Get your other football (or soccer) needs including goalie gloves, bags, ball pumps and even an entire Fairtrade kit for your team from Fair Deal Trading.

Now I am not advocating you go out and buy it all but isn't it nice to know you could play the beautiful game without trampling on the freedom of others.

They think it's all is now.

Come on England!



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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NEWS: Responsible Tourism Awards

Hurrah! The 2006 First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards have launched! I know this because as Project Manager for I helped to launch them! So pencils (or laptops) at the ready and get nominating your favourite eco / community friendly / all-round good egg (delete as appropriate) holiday here.

If you need a little more information before you put finger to keyboard, read on...

The 2006 First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards launched in The Times on Saturday 10 June. These annual Awards are now into their third year and this year promises to be the best so far with the current buzz around all things green.

The Awards, organised by in association with The Times, World Travel Market and Geographical Magazine, recognize companies and organisations in the travel industry that are making a substantial commitment to 'responsible' tourism – projects which make a positive contribution to conservation and the economies of local communities, while minimizing the negative impacts that tourism can have.

If you think you have been on such a holiday, get nominating now. All you need to do is email me at with the name, website and email address of the tourism venture that you would like to nominate with a brief explanation (no more than 100 words) as to why you think they deserve an Award (for more info click here).

You can nominate in one or more of 13 categories and if your nomination is a winner, you will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win a 10 night voyage for 2 to Antarctica worth £9000 courtesy of Peregrine Adventures.

For the runner up, there is a long weekend for 2 at the luxurious Evergreen Bed & Breakfast in Inverfarigaig, mid way down the quiet south side of Loch Ness, in their superior room with ensuite Jacuzzi and direct views over the loch. A bottle of champagne awaits your arrival!

So what are you waiting for?! Send in your nominations! - oh, and don't forget to tell me that you saw it on City Hippy ;)

Take care


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NEWS: Scotland hits renewable energy targets early

We may not have a team in the World Cup but there's an even better reason to celebrate in Scotland today - we're going to hit our green energy targets a whopping three years earlier than planned. There's still room to do better and much of it is down to so-called controversial wind farm developments that are going on throughout the country. There are lots of arguments for and against them but I know I'd rather look out the window and see a windfarm than a nuclear power station. In fact, I'd quite like one in my garden, if indeed I had a garden...


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Monday, June 12, 2006

NEWS: Carnival of the Green #31

Carnival of the GreenMy weekly quick link to the Carnival of the Green which is located today at Science & Politics which has now moved and morphed into A blog around the clock.

My pick of the week is the very funny post about how climate change will affect wine production and as Sludgie puts in California's loss is Canada's gain.

I think it is a very good idea to bring the realities of climate change home to people and help them appreciate the more mainstream activities we all enjoy that may be adversely affected by climate change...hmmmm...any thoughts?

Moosehead Merlot anyone?

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



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FEATURE: A girl's best friend? Part II

The engagement ring seems to be such a big deal these days – or maybe it always was – perhaps being somewhat self-centred I only became aware of it when I got engaged! It took quite a while between the proposal of marriage to the bestowal of the ring. This was partly due to my fiancé’s fulltime occupation as ‘student’ during the first few months of our engagement, and partly due to my insistence that whatever it was, it must be ethical!

I have never been overly fussed about diamonds and, given the ethical issues surrounding them, was quite happy to have an alternative stone if necessary. Not being a ring-wearer at the time, I wasn’t that bothered about even having a ring but my fiancé said I must have one! (And as he doesn’t often put his foot down about anything I thought I should give in to him on this – it’s a sacrifice but hey, that’s what relationships are about!).

So I left it up to him and after much ‘conflict free diamond’ searching on the Internet on his part for once (yes, he had managed to wrest the laptop from my grasping hands for a few precious minutes!), my steps were steered towards Carnaby Street. As we walked, my fiancé presented the results of his research: the diamonds we were about to see were ‘beach’ diamonds. “Uh?” I enquired. Glad to be able to tell me something I didn’t know, he told me, in his own words, what the Jess James pamphlet on the subject explains as follows:

“And finally there are the diamonds that have been washed out to sea. Some of these stones are found on beaches. In this case the beach is literally scooped up and roughly sorted on a mobile separating machine. The diamond rich material retained and the sand replaced close to where it was lifted.

In shallow water, covering the first 50 metres from the beach, a diver dives with what is effectively the nozzle of a giant vacuum cleaner and vacuums the seabed. The collected material is centrifugally separated on the boat overhead and the excess dropped back to within metres of where it was lifted.

These final two methods cause the least disturbance to the environment as the operations are so precise.

All of Jess James's Beach Diamonds™ are collected by one of these two methods. Having travelled to many mining sites across the world I am a strong advocate of the beach and inshore methods of diamond recovery, which is why Jess James now carries a selection of set and loose Beach Diamonds™, which I personally guarantee to have been environmentally and morally recovered and cut.”
So, you ask, who or what is Jess James? Well, by this point I was facing a little gem of a shop (no pun intended!) displaying a tempting array of rings under the banner of ‘Jess James’. The service was discreet but attentive and as my fiancé had already been in to discuss his requirements with them, they knew what we were looking for. We chose a simple platinum tension ring with the beach diamond completing the circle. It fitted perfectly so I put it on there and then – and there it is now, I am looking at it as I type, though above my wedding ring now…of which more in a later post!

If you want to check out Jess James’s Beach Diamonds why not give them a call on 020 7437 0199 or pop along to 3 Newburgh Street, Soho, London W1F 7RE. The website is being updated so do ask for information on their Beach Diamonds. At present they are negotiating to expand with the Beach Diamonds by partnering up with a small-scale diamond-cutting workshop, so that they will be able to track each stone from the sea all the way to the display case.

Join me for my next post when I will be discussing the even more difficult task of finding a suitable venue!

Take care


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Saturday, June 10, 2006

FEATURE: Co-op Green Q&A

I recently ended a nine month contract in the CIS Tower in Manchester. One of the ten top Green projects of 2005 was the re-cladding of its service tower with solar panels. I thought it would be worth finding out a bit more about the Cooperative group's Environmental policies, so I sent them a few questions. They were answered by Liz Thompson, an Environment Adviser at the company.

How much electricity will the solar tower generate?

The solar tower will generate 181MWh of electricity each year. This will result in a CO2 saving of 78 tonnes each year.

What percentage of the buildings total consumption is this?

The electricity generated will be enough to light six floors of the 25-storey high building or is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 55 average UK homes.

How long will it take for the solar panels to pay for themselves?

When the Tower was built in the early sixties, it was a pioneering and experimental building, and was, at the time, the tallest commercial building in the UK, leading to it becoming Grade 2 listed. However, while many aspects of the design were a success, the choice of millions of one-inch mosaic tiles to clad the windowless service tower was not. While the project will generate renewable electricity, its primary motivation was to tackle health and safety concerns. The mosaic tiles have been falling off since the building was built, and despite on-going re-fixing, over time it became clear that this was an increasing risk to the health of nearby pedestrians and was risking serious long-term damage to the building's structure. Various re-cladding solutions were explored, all of which cost many millions of pounds. The Tower's listed status meant that any solution which altered its external appearance would need robust justification. Given the significant expenditure already needed for repair and the ethics and sustainability stance of Co-operative Financial Services (see, it made sense for us to look at novel construction materials that promote sustainable development. Due to the provision of grants, this sustainable construction project is cost neutral when compared to other repair solutions.

What other microgeneration schemes does the CFS have planned or completed?

CFS has placed 19 micro-wind turbines on the roof of its Portland Street office in Manchester, making it the largest commercial application of micro-wind turbines in the UK. It is estimated that the wind turbines will produce 44MWh of renewable electricity and save 19 tonnes of CO2 each year. The micro-wind turbines became operational in May 2006.

Are the schemes to generate power on or near sites linked with energy saving initiatives (eg. replacing all filament bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, making better use of natural lighting)?

We do look at lighting and energy management programmes across the organisation.

Are there any other environmental initiatives being taken by the CFS?

Yes there are numerous initiatives - please see then refer to the section on ecological sustainability.

What is the company doing to encourage green behaviour in its customers?

Again, numerous initiatives - we offer 'green banking/insurance products' such as our mortgages and CIS insurance product for car loans, our Customers Who Cares campaign - this year is all about Combatting Climate Change. More details can be found in the 2004 Sustainability Report.

Note For more on the Co-op's ecological stance check out


How to Save the World for Free

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