Supporting eco charities: The Railway Land project Lewes

December 4th, 2009

Every month, Good Green Gifts gives 10 % of its profits to a small ecological charity.

This month our chosen charity is the Railway Land Project in Lewes. The land is an area of 20 acres on the edge of Lewes by the river Ouse that was once a neglected railway yard. It was saved by a group of local residents to use as a nature reserve and the Railway Land project began.

railway land

The Project is run by the Railway Land Trust and by a Junior Management Board of budding ecologists.

At the entrance to the Reserve, the Railway Land Wildlife Trust is now in the process of building a unique ecological centre that will be a centre of environmental education for all generations. We are delighted to be supporting this grass roots led ecological project.

10:10 campaign: Reducing carbon emissions by 2010

September 4th, 2009

10-10-logoI was lucky enough to be at the launch of the 10:10 campaign at the Tate Modern on Tuesday.

This campaign was started by film maker Franny Armstrong, who like a lot of us, feels desperate about the lack of political action on matters environmental, thus decided that the only way to bring about change is for us to act individually and en masse, regardless of policy.

The campaign invites us all to identify ways of cutting our own carbon emissions by 10% by the end of 2010. It is vital that a 10% cut is achieved by then if we are to slow global warming. If we dont, the result, put bluntly, is the end of civilisation as we know it.

Time is running out, and as Franny put it: ‘We will be the only species to knowingly wipe ourself off the planet’.

The 10:10 campaign website provides lots of information about the simple steps that we can undertake to reduce our carbon footprint and make simple lifestyle changes. It really doesnt take much to reduce your personal emissions by 10%.

Tens of thousands of people have signed up – but it matters that we ALL make this commitment. Politicians – who appear to have done very little are jumping onto the 10:10 bandwagon, with Simon Hughes committing the Lib Dems to the campaign on launch day, David Milliband personally signing up, the Shadow Cabinet pledging to support the camapign and today, the Cabinet have also commited. Lots of celebs have also committed to do their bit, Colin Firth, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Delia Smith, Sarah Cox, Tottenham Hotspurs football club…..

But this is not a choice that should be influence by politics. Neither does it matter which celebs have added their name to the campaign list. It is a personal issue.

We can choose to act now to preserve the planet for future generations and for the wonderful wildlife around us. Or we can do nothing, live selfishly, consume incessantly and destroy the lot.

For me there is little doubt as to the right way to go…. and although the launch event was a little muddled at times and lacked finesse/gloss, the essence of it was brilliant and one can only be inspired by the energy and commitment of Franny Armstrong and her team to encourage us all to bring about change.

Sign up to the 10:10 campaign at: www.1010uk.org

Plastic bags vs eco shoppers

August 2nd, 2009

Plastic bags are not the only plastic waste causing an environmental catastrophe, but they are a significant and high profile plastic and thus are an effective starting point for beginning to address the reduction of plastic waste.

Thousands of shoppers trekking to the supermarket will re-emerge with four or more carrier bags each week. That means approximately 360 bags per year per household are consumed from the weekend shop alone.When you consider that there are over 10,000 supermarket outlets in the UK (Tescos has over 2000 outlets and Morrisons, although having only 382 superstores sees over 10 million shoppers a week!) you can see how each year, an estimated 500 billion plastic bags are used on planet Earth!

Little steps are being taken. In 2008, UK supermarkets reduced consumption of plastic bags by 26% (from 13.4 billion in 2007 to 9.9 billion). They have also managed to use 40% less plastic, replacing it with recyclable materials. A report on the production of carrier bags made from recycled rather than virgin polythene concluded that the use of recycled plastic reduces energy consumption in their manufacture by two-thirds, saves 1.8 tonnes of oil for every tonne of recycled polythene produced and reduces of carbon dioxide generation by two-and-a-half times.

Marks and Spencer has made the most visible commitment to reducing plastic bag consumption, charging 5p per carrier bag since May of last year. They give funds as a result to the charity ‘Groundwork’ dedicated to creating sustainable and environmentally friendly communities.

However, this activity is at best tokenism, as the reality of plastic bags and plastic packaging is posing a serious danger to our world and ecosystems. It is simple really: We should ban plastic bags completely. We all have a responsibility to use cotton shoppers.

Not only do plastic bags account for an enormous portion of our landfill as all too few are recycled, but the immediate effect of plastic in the oceans is becoming apparent.

Charles Moore, an American Oceanographer, discovered what he named the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, over 100 million tones of flotsam floating between Hawaii and Japan, of which 90% is plastic and a proportion of which (approximately 8%)consists of plastic bags. Closer to home, the Mediterranean is the most polluted sea in the world, with 2,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre. The plastic waste kills seabirds, turtles and marine mammals who mistake it for food. Studies have shown that the stomachs of these amazing creatures are often full of discarded plastic.

Plastic bags are normally made from polythylene, which means that they don’t biodegrade. They break down into small toxic particles eventually, and in so doing pose even more of a danger than as bulky landfill items. The materials that are used to fabricate the plastic bags are often lost or spilled into the seas each year, and the particles and raw materials are thought to act as sponges, absorbing chemicals such as DDT. The effects of this disintegration is yet unknown, although small sand-hoppers, barnacles and lugworms have also been found to have ingested tiny fragments of plastic, and as they are at the base of the marine food chain it is likely that ultimately they end up on our dinner plates!

There is only one thing to do! Stop using plastic bags. If you switch your plastic carriers to a cotton shopper you can reduce the number of carrier bags consumed by 290 a year, 2900 over a decade, 14500 over your consumer lifetime! Its easy and something that we can all do.