Bringing the BP oil spill home (via the nef triple crunch blog)

I had not realised how big the oil spill was… but depicted on a map of the UK shows it all too well! Just one of the instances where language fails to encompass the severity and size of a disaster – the word ‘spill’ just doesn’t cut it!

Bringing the BP oil spill home Andy Wimbush is nef’s Communications Assistant and blogmaster. The word spill doesn’t really do justice to the unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, brought to you by oil giant BP. A spill, as Sophie Elmhirst has pointed out, is what happens to milk: “There’s no point crying over it, as the saying goes”. But before you start wondering whether to call it a slick, a disaster, a catastrophe, be sure to pay a visit to IfItWasMyHome.com. Enter you … Read More

via the nef triple crunch blog

Book Review: ‘Style, naturally’ Summer Rayne Oakes

Most definately the best name in the business! Which comes in useful when you’re aiming for world domination as an eco-model. At first, I thought… great, another model seeking world peace with green credentials like limp lettuce but this book has fast become a favourite…

There’s one element that gets overlooked more than any other when it comes to carbon dieting and that is consumption…the acquiring, buying and using of stuff! Summer’s green mannual is a welcome relief from the hardline ‘consumption is bad’ and answers the question “Is sustainable style an oxymoron?”, very convincingly.

‘Style, naturally’ is divided into sections on fashion and beauty. Despite being US-centric, there is an incredibly useful resource chapter with websites and store names for countries world-wide. Focusing on a particular garment or product individually, the book acts as a ‘shopping guide’ showing what to look for and what to avoid if you are wanting to make ‘sustainable’ choices. One thing that is missing is the hierarchy…borrow, mend, second-hand should all come before buying ‘new’.

This is not a read-all-in-one-night book but definately to be consulted regularly or revisted for a reminder of what questions to ask yourself before purchasing. However, there is an assumption that the reader would never dream of carrying out impulse buys and would most certainly always wait and research before buying a new outfit…

So again, it comes down to ‘mind over matter’ and personal inclination to become more planey-friendly and shopping is no exception. However, once the mind has been made up, the actions can most definately be aided by the breadth of information that ‘Style, naturally’ neatly articulates. Albeit designed for readers with a bank balance more akin to a top model rather than a local sustainability officer!

Leeds Plan B!

Whilst procrastinating…I stumbled across the website for the ‘Leeds Plan B’ project that I was involved with at University.

…For those of you Radical Geograhpers… we may have missed out on radicalism but we were lucky to be involved with the Plan B project…urban safaris, massive hand drawn colourful city maps, random conversations, challenging social norms…   so much fun and hopefully is still living on…

…For those of you who don’t have a clue about what I am on about, check out Leeds Plan B, the most exciting and inspirational research I did at University and also a great influence on the ‘sustainable’ values I now hold.

Swishing: An Extreme Sport!!!

Well… I have just about come down after my swishing-induced adrenaline high last night! It was at the same time peculiar but fascinating, exhilarating yet sometimes underwhelming but most definitely a success. It was every woman for herself….

So our team was dwindling in number due to illness and my remaining comrade had issues with national rail…but we got there in the end and they let us in…fashionably late…placed our items on the rails and mingled… The first hour was browsing and trying on…Great!… There was definitely a mixed-age range which hindered the availability of desirable items. I saw 3 items; a very nice black slim-fit dress for work, a white coat and a purple baby doll floaty dress and my swishing friend found an excellent pair of killer heels; black, high, caged with gold metallic detail as well as some other interesting pieces… However it was only 9.15pm and there was a whole 15 minutes left to guard our finds from other swishers very ready to pounce!!! We tried on our items several times in order to keep them off the rails and hopefully be in with a chance of grabbing them come the moment of reckoning!

A very well-to-do lady announced that all items were to be put back and we had to step away from the rails…5…4…3…then a voice sniggered …. “You do realise I want that black dress”, I replied with an evil mwaahaha laugh and said that if she wanted it, we could toss a coin (complying with swishing rules).  I became fixated on the LBD, it was going to be mine, I lost sight of the other two items I wanted…2… The tension was mounting, it could go either way…1… Yes!!! I had it and to my surprise my component had gone for a hideous grey and multicoloured striped thing which was an object of desire for more than one person for reasons unbeknown to me! The woman said “Don’t worry, you have this grey dress and I am tossing for the black one with her”…well… I don’t know what came over me but I said “No…you didn’t go for the black dress, therefore we don’t toss” and without waiting for a reply, I hastily moved away victorious!!!

After the ordeal, I needed a few moments to re-group… my swishing buddy had been successful and had even tried to grab the purple dress for me.. she grabbed the hanger but the dress slipped from it in slow motion “Nooooooooooo” and another competitor seized the opportunity, snatching the dress…but it didn’t matter, I had the black dress! We then both mouched around looking for items that hadn’t count our eye first time round but we may give a second try. The main battle was won.

So…did I enjoy the experience? Overall yes, it was fascinating to see the female species at war in its natural environment but it definitely brought out my evil, extremely competitive twin. I hated the idea of finding something I loved, making my mind up I wanted it and then being faced with the possibility that someone else might steal it! I can liken the experience to bingo – incredibly stressful but lots of fun at the same time…although with swishing you don’t ever go home empty-handed. I would definitely recommend the swishing experience!!!

My top 3 swishing tips: 1) Take the cavalry; hunting in numbers means come the moment, you can position yourselves in a wall around the rail with all your items on it ready to grab them all, 2) Diversion tactics; perhaps if this woman hadn’t seen I wanted the black dress so much, maybe she wouldn’t have gone for it as well – keep your cards close to your chest  and 3) It is actually about the taking part; even if I hadn’t managed to get the ‘top prize’, I cleared out my wardrobe a little, raised some funds for the local pre-school, enjoyed some guilt-free sustainable shopping and had a good catchup with my friend….

Such a thing as Green Shopping?

I was alerted to this issue by Katy, of London Culture Club fame, and sure enough it got me thinking…

Most people have heard the awful truth behind “conflict” and “blood” diamonds and now Calleija is producing “ethically” mined diamonds from Australia that take into consideration overall sustainability. The focus is on protecting cultural as well as environmental heritage.

Thinking about where our ‘stuff’ comes from isn’t always top of people’s shopping concerns. Leading on from my last post about docu-films, perhaps we also need a “mainstream” film with well-known faces to get people really waking up to issues of sustainability within the things they purchase. Fair trade is just one example of one element of sustainability. Shoppers could have an incredible influence on the quality and sustainability of “stuff”, if they started making full use of their  purchasing power…of course for most people, myself included, I don’t have to worry about where my diamonds come from as I am not exactly a regular consumer but the sustainable checklist can be applied to lots of other things from socks to sandwichs or even scooters!

P.S It was Fairtrade fortnight recently …did anybody swap an item for a fair trade alternative? I decided to swap to yummy Fairtrade chocolate, oh it’s a hard life being sustainable!!

Alternative cinema…’Dirty Oil’

So …we had Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ on global warming- bit drab, not a personal favourite….and there was ‘The Age of Stupid’ – which always leaves me feeling depressed (for those of you who have seen it, you will feel my pain having had to watch it many times) but at least it makes me feel something!!!…

The latest ‘climate-conscious’ offering from an evolving genre of docu-film is a trilogy of films called ‘Toxic Fuels’ opening with ‘Dirty Oil’ in selected cinemas on Monday 15th March (next week!).

It remind us of the effects of mining Canada’s Tar Sands in Alberta. Not a new topic (we covered it a couple of years ago during my undergraduate degree) but perhaps sometimes overlooked. ‘Dirty Oil’ deals with sensitive content that affects all of us not just Alberta locals or those receiving most of Alberta’s oil in America… This quote sums up the importance of the film…”If fully exploited, tar sands alone would take us to the brink of runaway climate change and trigger a local environmental disaster”

People go to the cinema for differing reasons… sometimes all you want is a good ‘chick flick’ – perfect for escapism but the docu-film experience is something quite extraordinary…it makes you face those hard-to-swollen truths that are normally easy to avoid, which can sound scary but actually can be invigorating and exciting. After all, ‘variety is the spice of life’ which makes alternative cinema the perfect antidote for monotony. This film won’t be in every cinema, nor will it be shown for months on end (I think most places only have one showing!!!) which adds to its appeal!

I think Dirty Oil and the other films in the Toxic Fuel trilogy might succeed where some others fail. It focuses on a particular component of the whole environmental-climate change-peak oil-sustainability frenzy. Hopefully avoiding a lot of hot air disucssion and no useful conclusions, in favour of exploring the breadth of the debate. I am interested to see how it deals with the issues of peak oil and the unavoidable truth that we are all responsible for the addiction to fossil fuelled energy…

Update: Swishing…

They have just updated the website – the Gt Shelford event is £7 in advance, £10 on the door…at first thought it is a  little steep but the event is a fundraiser for a local pre-school so it’s a worthy cause with nibbles, cava and glamorous antics all thrown in. There’s a group of 3 of us going…very excited!!