Where there is a will there is a way

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

To hope or not to hope at the butchery shop

I went to get my meat at the butchery, getting it put directly into reusable plastic containers, as I always do now. A new employee served me, and I explained what I wanted to do that was different and why (zero waste). He used tongs a few times, then used a sheet of plastic to grab and weigh one of the meats, which he then threw away. I (uncomfortably) asked him if he could use tongs next time, otherwise it defeated the whole purpose.

He said he would, but also communicated to me that he couldn't see what difference it made. "One person doesn't make a difference", he said, saying he did know each person's "carbon footprint" was great. "But there's too much greed", he said. I did try to tell him, we had to try, saying frankly that if we didn't we were all fucked (probably too loudly, in the shop). I told him that slavery used to be accepted - and if it weren't for all the conservationalists nothing would be saved. "There's good and there's evil." But then I scanned his soul, looking into his eyes. He had no hope. There was no point trying, at least until he was open to it - maybe even a few years from now.

I would have told him that if you give up you are assured failure. At least if you try there is hope.

Later... it has surfaced that I actually found that annoying. If you can't help, at least don't discourage those that are!

The Fall by Red Hunter, album Alien Sun

Listen to this. The Fall by Red Hunter, album Alien Sun.

A million tents and trailers will cover the open desert your kids will learn again how to build a fire where to look for water and the families are bound together now by the fall of all the great cities finally to sing out their stories and the histories of hunger and a victories back into the old gypsy circles where the swaying girls will play out the old rituals the boys will be delirious the desperate and serious the chasing will be furious. The drums and the rain will come out and the cities are all lost but the circle is found that'll tie us together... ooh my kind of town.

Who were you before the fall I was a singer I saw the future laid out in dominoes now I hunt the buffaloes and my darling who are you behind the counter with the day memorized and those cold vacant eyes well you swore you were free, swore you could see him coming it was Old Angel Midnight staring you down, he's stealing the water right out of the ground, and the newses are true but the views are unsound, the market is dead and the phone lines are down, but it ties us together, ooh my kind of town.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Putting the hard word on Cottonsoft" (Good magazine, issue 24)

This one-page article was featured in Issue 24, page 22 of Good magazine (NZ). I like it as it explains what has been going on behind the scenes with Cottonsoft (although I have heard of it in the headlines.) This is why not to buy Cottonsoft toiletpaper - if you like biodiversity, and rainforests. I reproduce it here for benevolent purposes only.

Loo roll hit the headlines in recent months with the epic tussle between environmental groups, led by Greenpeace, and the paper giant Asia Products & Paper (APP), on behalf of their toilet paper subsidiary Cottonsoft. Caught in the middle of the debate are various sustainability certification schemes.

Indonesian-based APP has been targeted by environmentalists for ItS felling of forest habitats essential to the survival of critically endangered Sumatran tigers and endangered orangutans. And APP in turn is part of the Sinar Mas group of companies that have been key players in rainforest destruction for palm oil production.

The campaign against APP began when forensic testing carried out as part of an eight-month investigation by Greenpeace, the Green Party and WWF New Zealand discovered the presence of mixed tropical hardwoods in a range of Cottonsoft products. Cottonsoft hit back, saying the testing was carried out by inexperienced researchers, and did not prove that the wood matenal found came from protected Indonesian rainforest. They also claimed that Cottonsoft retail brands are sourced from sustainable forest locations independently certified by the international organisation Programme for the Endorsement
of Forest Certification (PEFC).

With large parts of the North Island planted in pine trees and other plantation forests, you might ask.why a Kiwi company would need to cut down
tropical rainforests to make toilet paper?

In round two, PEFC told WWF they didn't cover Cottonsoft’s claims of sustainable production Indonsia. And the conservationists pointed out that APP ad pledged, and failed, to switch to 100 percent plantation sourcing of timber for major pulp mills three times: missing self-imposed deadlines to stop using
native forest timber in 2004, 2007 and 2009.

The public campaign has certainly had an impact. In 2011 Cottonsoft laid off seven workers in Dunedin and two in Auckland, blaming it on the effects of the campaign, and has said it will now seek New Zealand’s official Environmental Choice certification for its retail products. In the meantime, another Greenpeace investigation claims to have acquired video evidence of APP timber yards containing large amounts of legally protected ramin hardwood, and PEFC say they are investigating this as a possible breach of APP’s certification.

Consumers would do well to stay tuned, as it appears this particular battle will continue for some time yet.

Can’t remember what’s what? Go to www.good.net.nz/toiletpaper to download Greenpeace’s guide to rainforest friendly toilet paper


Greencane Ecopaper toilet paper review (sugarcane-bamboo)

There are no trees involved in the making of this toilet paper (which is important, as some companies even use old growth rainforest - ahem like Cottonsoft, of Asia Products & Paper (APP)...mentioning names).

Greencane Ecopaper is made up of (up to 70%) recycled byproduct of sugarcane processing and bamboo. The back is complete with a picture of the makers hugging trees (Geoff and Helen Arden).

I used it, and couldn't tell the difference. In fact it was really soft. That was good enough for me. 4 rolls were $4-something at the New World supermarket. According to Good magazine (Issue 24), it is $1.23 per roll (as apposed to $0.89 cents per roll for Purex). Other brands of eco toilet paper available in NZ are Safe (Australia, $0.94 cents per roll), and Earthcare (Australia, $0.74 cents per roll).

Further from Good (Issue 24): "Made of: up to 70 percent recycled fibres from crushed sugarcane residues, mixed with timber pulp and then put through a chlorine-free bleaching process. Greencane's plant based material breaks down fast, so it's particularly suited to composting toilets, older plumbing and septic tanks. It's rolls are 30% bigger than the average roll (300 sheets instead of the standard 230 sheets) and are ink and fragrance free. Made in: Asia. Certifications/accreditations: The Greencane factory has ISO14001 environmental quality manufacturing standards."
So, it's really neat - but is more expensive. I like the accreditation of Purex (and price) better, but I do hate the plastic packaging it comes in each time... Greencane's packaging is 100% compostable - which is important to me.

Well whatever you choose - just don't buy Cottonsoft. Article about Cottonsoft's use of old growth rainforest trees in their toilet paper here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kiwi modified RAV4 into electric car powered by windmill - 3NEWS New Zealand

I saw this aired on 3NEWS and seldom have I seen anything more awesome. If you are in NZ, you can watch the newsclip here. I have typed up the words from the news clip below:

Announcer: “Welcome back. Volatile petrol prices and road taxes, they’re a worry of the past for one Otago man. Hagen Bruggemann has converted his petrol fueled RAV4 into an electric car. As Dave Gooseling explains, even the electricity is free.”

Waitati, Otago
Dave Gooseling: “It takes a bit of grunt to get up Hagen Bruggemann’s driveway, but putting the foot down doesn’t guzzle the gas, this SUV is powered by a 3-blade windmill.”Hagen Bruggemann: “Buying a hybrid car is not quite my style, and we can make…the same thing…powered by sun and wind…sort of like an electric car I guess.

Gooseling: “Every second night he reverses his car into the garage, popping the fuel cap and plugging it in for an overnight charge. He can drive a good 150km before running out of juice, something he tries to avoid. “

Bruggemann: “But what we can do obviously we’ve got to regenerate and so if somebody tells me a way I can actually charge them the batteries up again, aways(?) time ee.”

Gooseling: “He spent two years converting his petrol RAV4 into an electric car. Things look very different under the bonnet, a Scott drive, developed in Hamilton, converts power from a bank of lithium ion batteries to drive the motor, which is hidden under the car.

“It cost around 20,000 dollars to fit out the vehicle, but the running costs of driving the car each day work out to about $3 per 100 km. And Bruggemann says his windmill often makes more electricity than the car can use. Some goes to power his home, with excess pumped back into the national grid, earning him a rebate.

Bruggermann: “Yeah, yeah, it’s dollar for dollar at the moment, I hope my reading keep going that way, I love it.”

Gooseling: “And with commercial goals for the Kiwi developed systems, his electric car hobby may one day power a fullt-time career. Dave Gooseling, 3News.”

ENDQUOTE - Yes, right now it costs $20,000. But I might just be crazy enough to start saving... and at least the cost can only go down from here. Great job, Hagen my man! You're my hero.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Babies documentary

Troy, Luke and I just hung out, watching this, laughing and enjoying it. We were tearing around the house after that, inspired to touch things feel things more - like the kids in Africa.

I always think I want to visit Mongolia! It feels so free and also alive, just the right balance of being in nature, but also so comfortable in their strong tents.

The contrast was the greatest between the African village where they play and live on the dust all the time, but standing up strong, totally in nature all the time, feeling things, - and the baby in California which was always in a house, by itself, with no nature around - the mother expressing milk before feeding the baby, always with alot of technology around. No animals, dust or dirt, except in the books in the quiet house.

It's a movie with meaning, but lovely to watch. You do understand your own life more to see it. It's not just a movie 4 babies - but about new people being introduced to 4 worlds.

For example, at one point there is a fascinating contrast between the African baby and the American one - the African baby picks a bone up out of the dust and chews on it. The next scene is of the American mom vacuuming the house, after which she lint rolls her baby.

Although people in the developed world might find a baby chewing on a random bone from the dust shocking, I think that it is equally shocking that a baby could sit in a house totally separated from nature most of the time - no animals (not counting cats), plants, dirt, grass, trees, wind, horizon... as the American and Japanese babies were. There was a lovely scene where the African village baby was just lying in a stream of water, and drinking from the water, totally free to do so.

In an interview with the director, Thomas Balmes is quoted as saying, "you could read this film as a metaphysical tale about the craziness of the world we live in".

Buy the movie, rent it at a video store that stocks good movies, or - watch it online now using the links below. (I found it uploaded in French on Youtube (which matters not at all as only the opening title of the movie is in language).


After you watch the movie, you may want to read this: Babies - Meet the Parents, interviews with all the parents of the four babies followed in the documentary.

"Mayor Rob Ford asks council to scrap plastic bag fee; council instead scraps plastic bags" Toronto Star, Canada (Jun 6 2012)

Original article found at http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1207073--toronto-city-council-votes-to-ban-plastic-shopping-bags?bn=1

Votes against a plastic bag ban in Toronto were cast by Toronto City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and Mayor Rob Ford. The plastic bag ban, however, did pass. Photo: LUCAS OLENIUK/TORONTO STAR

by Daniel Dale, Urban Affairs Reporter

Mayor Rob Ford asked council to get rid of the bylaw that requires stores to charge 5 cents for plastic shopping bags.

Instead, council got rid of plastic shopping bags.

In a major embarrassment for Ford, his effort to kill the fee boomeranged on him in stunning fashion on Wednesday, when council voted 24-20 to prohibit retailers from giving out or selling any plastic shopping bags, “including those advertised as compostable, biodegradable, photodegradable or similar,” as of Jan. 1, 2013.

The vote — on a surprise motion from Councillor David Shiner, a conservative Ford ally — would not have occurred if Ford had not brought the issue to the council floor. To the consternation of other conservatives, it was imposed without any consultation with major retailers or study by city legal or economic officials.

Ford earned a consolation victory: council also approved his original proposal to eliminate the fee bylaw. That means retailers will be allowed to hand out plastic bags for free between July 1 and Dec. 31 this year. But they will then have to distribute non-plastic bags or no bags at all.

Fort McMurray, Alta.; San Francisco and Seattle, among other U.S. cities; and countries including Italy have already imposed plastic bag bans. Toronto is the first major Canadian city to do so.

Ford appeared upset after the vote, blinking rapidly, though he told reporters he had succeeded in doing “what people wanted” by getting the fee bylaw scrapped. When it was pointed out that he had also inadvertently gotten plastic bags banned, he said council’s decision “doesn’t make any sense.”

“I think we’re gonna get sued. I don’t see how we’re gonna win that. It’s gonna be very difficult. It’s not a smart move by council to ban plastic bags. I don’t think it’s gonna hold up,” Ford said.

The Retail Council of Canada did not respond to a request for comment late Wednesday. A spokesperson for Loblaw said the company already has eight stores across Canada where bags are not offered, including a Real Canadian Superstore in Milton.

“We have good experience in the area of bagless stores,” said the spokesperson, Julija Hunter, in an email. She would not say whether Loblaw would go bag-free or offer paper bags in Toronto.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association immediately blasted the decision, though executive Marion Axmith said it was too soon to say whether the group would challenge the ban in court.

“We’re pleased that council rescinded the bag fee bylaw because bags are not an environmental problem. We’re shocked, however, that they moved to ban bags, because there will be no winners here. The residents of the city, the environment, the industry, no winners whatsoever. Jobs in the city will be lost, and investment in the city will be lost,” said Axmith, director general of issues.

Shiner, one of Ford’s most loyal allies, said he spontaneously came up with his motion in the middle of Wednesday’s meeting. A Ford opponent, Councillor Anthony Perruzza, had already proposed a ban for 2014; that proposal failed on a 22-22 tie before council approved Shiner’s proposal to begin the ban in 2013.

Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale) served as Mel Lastman’s budget chief and ran for provincial office in 2007 as a Progressive Conservative. Citing environmental concerns and calling plastic bags “junk,” he told reporters that the ban is “the most progressive move that this council has ever had.”

Shiner dismissed criticism of its sudden imposition, saying it is simply the right thing to do. And he attempted to frame the move in fiscal terms. “Less plastic use equals less plastic in the garbage, less litter in the street, and ultimately less cost to taxpayers,” he told council.

Ford did not campaign on eliminating the bag fee bylaw, which has cut plastic bag use in half. He has said that he was persuaded to pursue the matter by people who have called him to complain about it.

“Has it been a success? Absolutely, it has. But it’s really irritating people,” he told council.

Councillor Gord Perks, a Ford opponent and former environmental activist, said the mayor has only himself to blame for the defeat. He said Ford was “reckless” in asking council to make a decision on the fee without study or consultation.

“He continues to block good governance,” Perks said. “Typical of this mayor — thinking and public policy don’t seem to go together.”


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TEM - an alternative value system is tried by a community in Greece.

From "Making Money", a feature aired on Dateline (Australia's longest running current affairs program), SBS TV.

"TEM stands for Τοπική Εναλλακτική Μονάδα, which translates as Alternative Local Unit." - quote from Dateline's website
In this time of difficulty in Greece is experiencing with its money system failing, the city of Volos has established its own revolutionary trading system called "TEM". Basically, the people can trade any good or service - such as olive oil, electrical repair - and receive TEM, which is transferred online. Members advertise their goods and services online. Because there is a cap on how much TEM you can accumulate (no more than 1200 TEM), the profit motive is controlled. There are TEM markets where people can trade, and get food. In the documentary I saw about it on Dateline, they said there was no bad feeling at the market - people were just trading in good spirit. People felt liberated - even if they were unemployed, or their salary has been reduced, as long as they have something to contribute, even eggs - they can buy food.

Yiannis Grigoriou is a co-founder of the system. He says, "It's invigorating. We've got to see ourselves able to do this. Once we realize the potential of this, maybe the whole world can change."
The documentary narrates: "People often join TEM to make money. They soon discover that solidarity, not profit, is the invisible hand in this market." - ie the mechanic they interview wanted to participate in TEM to help people out of work who needed their cars to go job looking.

A lady at the market, translated: "It's as if a world of abundance has opened up. Outside there's a crisis," says a buyer. "Yes, yes..." another agrees. Another lady standing beside her says:"I buy marmalade, strawberry marmalade, yes yes. I don't have Euro, I have TEM. I am rich!"
They asked Yiannis Grigoriou how they were able to do this. "How do you start a currency from scratch? How do you start money from nothing?" He answers: "Because we believe that the creation of value, which means currency - as your question - is the right of any individual, and the right of a community."

The feature's narrative continues on, still at the TEM market: "This is still capitalism, but with a kinder face." Man at a market booth, translated: "One thing I'll say that is one day's work in here, is one week's work outside. If that says something. Here people buy much more easily. And they help and support each other without any feeling of negativity."More on this at http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/about/id/601479/n/Making-Money

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Refilling printer ink cartridges - cheaper and creates less rubbish

It cost $15 a cartridge as opposed to $30. ($60 total instead of $120 as there are 4 cartridges in my HP printer.) Need I say more?

AND creates far less plastic waste.

I waited a year before having ink in my printer - it was a new Cartridge World hadn't figured out how to hack them yet. But now - what a reward! I can print....ethically...

Click here if you live in NZ to find Cartridge World store locations.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Box fun

I have finally remembered that despite my own personal fine art inclinations - the best activities for kids are the simplest. The simpler the project, the more their imagination takes flight to fill the gap. For example, we used to pretend that these low L-shaped walls with siding on them along our front porch were horses. We had far more fun calling these our horses than we ever could have had with premade horses.

I saw a cardboard box with a door cut out of it at Troy's school, and some windows cut out with plastic panes inserted - and I thought it was brilliant. Not the window panes - just cutting doors and windows out of a box! I did this activity with the kids and they loved it. The house-making turned into making paper fans (inspired from my failed attempts at making them stairs). Then they each put a fan in the back of their pants for a tail, and held a fan in each hand, being "fantails". That was the most magic of all, and it was their idea.

Back in the day: My brother Colin as a robot.

(And behind him - a horse.)