greening it up - mon 02

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2006-10-02 09:56

News around the world today includes:
Local organic wine maker, Johnathan Grieve, has begun using ducks, wasps and beetles in a bid to farm organically on his Avondale farm in the Paarl area. Nothing new to the permaculture community, but for South Africans, using natural predators instead of chemical insecticides is.[Mail & Guardian online]

The first UK solar energy charity, aimed at the developing world, was launched last Tuesday at the Climate Clinic Night Labour Party Conference in Manchester. Their aim - using solar energy to relieve poverty and educating in matters relating to solar energy, climate change and protecting the environment. They intend doing this by training local communities in DIY solar skills and have already started in Malawi with a project that is installing solar panels for a youth centre, which helps children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Read more about it

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greening it up - thu 28

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2006-09-28 12:18

News around the world today includes:

Arnie's signing a law which has set targets to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions - way to go California! [BBC] Someone called Babs is busy blogging about trying to get to Brisbane from the UK, without travelling by plane as it's so environmentally damaging - now that's quite a feat if you can pull it off. I just hope she can convince her employer to change the number of days' vacation she's entitled to? [ecostreet]

Someone's started recycling plastic bags into funky, very aesthetically-pleasing bags, now that companies and even cities have begun banning them - a nifty idea and possibly a business plan for an entrepreneur in SA? [Treehugger]

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junk culture killing off childhood

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2006-09-18 15:18

LONDON - Britain's children are being poisoned by a "junk culture" of processed food, computer games and over-competitive education, an influential group of authors and experts warned on Tuesday. In an open letter to the Daily Telegraph, 110 teachers, psychologists and children's authors -- including the internationally acclaimed Philip Pullman and Penelope Leach, a leading childcare expert -- called on the government to act now to prevent childhood being killed off altogether.

Schoolchildren in a cafeteria. Britain's children are being poisoned by a "junk culture" of processed food, computer games and over-competitive education, an influential group of authors and experts warned on Tuesday. REUTERS/File Forced "to act and dress like mini-adults", children are becoming increasingly depressed and experiencing growing levels of behavioral and developmental problems, they said.

"Since children's brains are still developing, they cannot adjust as full-grown adults can, to the effects of ever more rapid technological and cultural change," the letter said.

Source: Organic Consumers

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e. coli outbreak linked to tainted spinach packaged by organic food company

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2006-09-18 12:44

Natural Selection Foods, apparently the world's largest producer of organic foods, has recalled all of its packaged spinach products due to a link with an outbreak of E. coli in the United States.

Over 100 people have been sickened and a 77 year old woman has died from kidney failure.

The company has said that the product codes of the spinach that infected patients turned over to health officials were all from NON-ORGANIC spinach.

What can be read into the fact that the dangerous e. coli strain appeared to taint the non-organic spinach? Probably not too much.

I would have thought organic food production to be more at risk of e. coli contamination as it can be found in faeces. So the situation of infected pig manure being spread around organic veg is perhaps not too far-fetched? But then again I'd wager that raw sewerage, manure or faeces are not exactly allowed as an input into organic production!

an inconvenient truth

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2006-09-15 12:24

Yahoo Uk's front page today has finally got wind of Al Gore's documentary - An inconvenient truth - which looks at the myths & misconceptions around global warming. was airing stories about Al Gore's attempt to get across his environmental message as early as February! (possibly before) The film sold out at the Sundance film festival and the Q&As before the screening were packed. Amazing how the minute you get celebs to draw focus to an issue, people sit up and notice! Now they've coined the phrase 'green celebrities' - I mean, hello! I suppose we should be grateful that these sorts of issues are becoming mainstream, but look at the lengths someone as famous as Al Gore has had to go, just to get people to listen? It certainly didn't seem to do the trick when he presented to governments - he is supposed to have presented his talk, before the film, to various government officials from around the globe.

It seems to take the mainstream a lot longer to catch on to anything remotely 'green'? Largely due, I think, to the misconception that 'green' and being environmentally responsible is someone else's problem?

What are we doing in South Africa about global warming? Today's green clipping's headline that SA is to 'green' the 2010 world cup and the Global Environment Facility, the world's largest funder of projects to protect the environment, is planning to help our country with the greening of its public transport system.

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global electronics companies rated on their 'green' credentials

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2006-09-14 15:37

Greenpeace recently ranked top electronics manufacturers on their use of toxic chemicals and their e-waste policies in their quarterly Green Electronics Guide.

The ranking criteria reflect the Toxic Tech campaign's two demands of electronics companies.

    clean up products by eliminating hazardous substances;
    takeback and recycle products responsibly once they become obsolete.

I was not too surprised that European company, Nokia was ranked at the top of the log. Albeit they still have some way to go in order to impress Greenpeace, clocking in at a rating of 7 on a nominal scale of 10.

Innovation and design leaders Apple failed to make the grade scoring a measely 2.7 and coming 11th out of 14 companies rated. So maybe owning an iPod is not so cool after all?

Admittedly the Guide does not take into account labour practices, energy use or other environmental issue

consumer activism at

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2006-08-25 12:40 is a great site to check out for lodging your complaints (or compliments) where the rest of the world can see them.

You would think that most companies would be interested in seeing what actual customers think about them. And maybe even respond to complaints. Or at least show in a superficial way that they cared. Or at least manage the risk to their reputations and brands by responding and repudiating your claims. Or explaining their side of the story, right?

Wrong. Some of SA's biggest companies don't give a damn. We don't care what you think. We're megaprofitable and our shareholders like us... so $%^&@ off! That's the message I get when someone doesn't care to respond.

In order of the most complaints logged against them, here are the top ten who couldn't care less:

TELKOM (626 complaints on - why am I not suprised!
South African Airways (293) - another state owned company in second place, surprise, surprise.
BIG Concerts (192) - lots of allegations of not managing concerts responsibly
Standard Chartered/20twenty (168) - "where's my money?"
Nokia (140)
SABC (106)
Ster-Kinekor (105)

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do advertisers get away too easily with misleading us?

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2006-08-25 10:30

This was the title of today's After 8 Debate on SAFM. And listening to the panelists and the callers phoning in, I'd say yep it is way too easy for the South African public to be misled.

What are two products that everyone owns (assuming that you can afford them)? A car and a cellphone come to mind. And which products were those that were most complained about? Misleading advertising of car purchase plans and cellphone contracts!

Car finance companies (usually the car manufacturers) are guilty of hiding the REALLY IMPORTANT TERMS AND CONDITIONS conveniently in the small print. They don't want you to know that after paying your R600 a month for 4 years they will repossess your car because you are unable to afford the R30 000 residual value (such a euphamism!) to make the car legally yours. John Perlman said that a particular motoring magazine was scrutinised and 9 such payment plan centered adverts found of which 1 spelt out the residual payment.

Cell phone contracts and charges are as difficult to to understand as your banking fees. Where else in the world are you tied in to a 24 month contract for a "free" cellphone. Actually it's a 25 month contract as one caller pointed out when it comes to Cell-C.

The advertising agencies seemed to be sidestepping the issues neatly by placing the responsibility of misleading advertising with their clients. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) admitted that they can withdraw unethical advertisements, but only once a complaint has been received by the public, so they will always operate in a reactive manner.

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