Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Vivisection: A Summary


Vivisection: performing what are generally painful/agonising experiments on other beings, without their consent, and ending in their death in the lab. It's a way of trying to benefit your own group at the expense of another group, treating them in ways you would not want to be treated yourself. A form of selfish cowardice. Depending on your viewpoint it may be more about profits and self-sustaining industries than knowledge (especially in the tests for me-too drugs, cosmetics etc); results from one species also can't be relied on to give any useful information about how another species would react in the same circumstances. The industry is rife with incompetence.

Universities are one of the types of organisations happy to take money to do vivisection. This is a common occurrence, as the Licensed To Kill site shows. The universities play it down as much as possible, and there are layers of secrecy to try and prevent taxpayers from knowing what is really going on, which is often massive-scale and pointlessly cruel research. Yes, Wales is involved too.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Footwear

We all need footwear to protect our tootsies, and there are some companies providing ethical options in our links. We've already featured Ethical Wares, here are links to some of the others we recommend (usually from having bought their products in the past).

Tivydale - women-only, designer boots and shoes

Friday, 12 December 2014

Ceredigion County Council Survey On Waste


I just found out that the Council are asking for your opinions on waste and recycling here. There isn't a closing date listed on the survey.

(Aside: I don't know why the Council don't share things like this survey with us, you'd think they would want to publicise it as widely as possible).

Monday, 1 December 2014

Aberystwyth University clangers

Oops, Aberystwyth University is in the news again.

In a heartfelt but badly-written statement it claims to source food locally and sustainably.

But then it was revealed that they buy their sandwiches from London and have them shipped over 400 miles rather than source them locally or employ staff to do it:

From the Cambrian News,
20 Nov 2014, p31

The discovery of that bit of hypocrisy must have left egg (sandwich) on their faces.

Friday, 21 November 2014

A New Developers' Charter


There's an interesting and worrying article in Green World (Autumn 2014): A New Developers' Charter by Jenny Jones (p. 13). It's relevant in relation to fracking and general planning issues.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Stop Circus Suffering


Animal Defenders International has spent years exposing the horrific suffering behind the scenes at circuses in the UK - from the brutal beatings of Anne the elephant, to the suffering of tigers currently living on the back of a lorry at Peter Jolly's Circus. The evidence gathered by ADI has led the government to promise to ban wild animal acts, but they are yet to deliver! This is why the new Bill is so important – it is our last chance to ensure the ban goes through before the general election. If it fails, we could be back to square one.

Luckily, a ban on wild animals in circuses is supported by an overwhelming majority of the public, by politicians, celebrities and animals organisations. But we really need to get the word out there to get the government to finally act. To help:

1. Urge your MP to support the bill
2. Sign this petition

You can find out all about the latest news on the campaign here.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Wasted Car Seats Cost Our Planet Dearly

[Guest post by Liftshare]

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If you’ve ever wondered how many empty car seats travel around Britain’s roads every day the shocking answer is 38 million. The untold damage this is doing to our environment seems to go largely unnoticed, except by a movement lead by Ali Clabburn who founded the UK’s sharing economy 16 years ago when he launched Liftshare.

Liftshare is the UK’s largest ride-sharing community with around 200,000 active users and growing at a phenomenal rate. The main motivating factor for people joining is the average saving of around £1,000 a year but the environmental benefits are also significant. One happy member, John from Essex, estimates he save around 4,000 fuel miles and another enthusiastic advocate, Emma from Swindon, did an online calculation that sharing her journey is the equivalent to planting 90 trees.

Collectively Liftshare members will share an estimated 507 million miles over the next 12 months, saving approximately 167,000 tonnes of CO2. With around 4 million seats available to share each week through the site, Liftshare offers the greatest chance of finding a match and they promise to make travel simple and help members to make amazing connections. Definitely worth a try!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Colour of Money

[Guest post by Triodos Bank]

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For most of us, our pension is by far and away our most significant investment. Collectively, the UK’s pension pot is worth a whopping £200 trillion. However, despite the relative significance of this pot of money, how many of us actually stop to think about what our pension providers are doing with it? What it is being used for? If you’re unsure about what your pension is investing in, you are not alone.

We recently did some polling for Good Money Week and found that almost two thirds of UK investors don’t know what their pensions and other investments are financing; if you’re one of them, the chances are you could be financing something that doesn’t match your personal ethical preferences.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Ethical Wares

[Guest post by Ethical Wares - image above shows some of their products visiting New Quay]

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Ceredigion-based vegan mail order company Ethical Wares are celebrating our 21st anniversary of ethical trading. We sell a wide range of vegan footwear, leather-free belts, guitar straps and more, as well as fair trade goods, Tibetan handicrafts and music from animal-friendly musicians.

It’s been a long haul from fairly modest beginnings to today’s leading e-commerce website supplying vegan products to compassionate consumers all over the world. Recognised by Sublime Magazine as their ‘Best Online Store’ from 2013 and by Ethical Consumer Magazine as one of their select ‘Best Buy Label’ companies, the only footwear company to have been accredited as such – Poet/author/ actor and musician Benjamin Zephaniah even said he would have no problem with Ethical Wares taking over the world!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Great Vegan Challenge

[Guest post by Animal Aid]

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For all you would-be vegans out there, here’s the perfect opportunity to take the plunge and give the plant-based diet a go.

This November, Animal Aid is running the Great Vegan Challenge and the idea behind it is simple: you pledge to go vegan for the month and they aim to make it as easy, fun and engaging as possible. Plus it’s free to sign up and open to anyone, anywhere in the world!

When you register to take part, you’ll get:
- Advice on nutrition and vegan products
- Recipes and motivational tips sent regularly
- Access to an internet forum for swapping tips and stories
- A telephone hotline for any burning questions
- Information on exclusive events, offers and product give-aways

Around 900 people took part last year from all over the world and the response from them was overwhelmingly positive.

‘So glad I gave the Great Vegan Challenge a go! It’s been fantastic and made a big change in my lifestyle for the better! Everyone should try it!’ – Katrina Powis

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Dr Hadwen Trust

[Guest post by the Dr Hadwen Trust]

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Millions of animals are used each year for research into human conditions.  In 2013 in the UK alone there were 4.12 million scientific procedures conducted using 4.02 million animals, the vast majority (82%) being on rodents but the figures also include 3,554 dogs, 109 cats, 2,468 primates, 138,287 birds, and 330 horses.

Despite the huge number of animals used and the millions of pounds  spent studying conditions such as cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease, we are still looking for cures for these and many other illnesses.

Alongside the ethical considerations of animal experimentation, there is also growing evidence, as highlighted in the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) in May 2014, that when animals are used for medical research purposes, including drug development, they often yield results that do not translate to the human condition.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Good Energy


Do you use a 100% renewable energy supplier? Does you employer? If not then it's a good idea to investigate this, as it is the only environmentally-friendly option. Good Energy is one such provider, and having used them for years we recommend them as an ethical alternative to the big energy companies.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Links!


We've rejigged the blog a bit. There's now a handy shortcut bar at the top of the blog. We have also closed our Delicious account, weeded the links, and rebuilt them as a page on the blog - the links button in the top bar will take you to it. Hopefully there are at least a few recommended links there that are new to you, and useful or interesting. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Fish Aggregation Devices


Industrial tuna fishers like Princes and John West use FADs - Fish Aggregation Devices - which are artificial platforms, made up of floating materials and netting. These attract all kinds of marine life - which are then scooped up indiscriminately. The unwanted 'bycatch'- animals like sharks, turtles and rays - are then dumped overboard, dead and dying.

Back in 2011, a massive public campaign convinced them to commit to quit using these destructive FADs. But three years on, it looks like those promises are getting broken.

With two months left until their commitments are due, more than three quarters of the tuna Princes sells is still being caught using FADs. A mass public outcry will be hard to ignore. Tell John West and Princes to keep their promises and cut out FADs completely.

Better yet, tackle the problem at source - stop eating fish. Leave them in their home. If you miss the flavour then try cruelty-free alternatives. But human desires don't over-ride the lives of other beings.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Frack off, Cameron


Can you imagine finding out that a company wanted to drill beneath your home, and the law said there was nothing you could do about it?

Help to fuel the backlash against David Cameron’s plan to push through his new fracking law. Cameron's plans are unpopular already - 74% of British people don't agree with changing the law so fracking companies can drill under our homes without permission. We need to show MPs across the country how unpopular it is as well. Please sign the petition here!

(If you want to follow this topic Greenpeace is a good place to start).

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

More houses planned


We've been asked to share the fact that Ceredigion County Council have been working with developers to build a number of new housing estates on greenfield sites in Llanbadarn Fawr. More information on one of the sites below. If you care about the loss of green spaces we recommend objecting to this crazy proposal.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Ecological footprints


"An ecological footprint is the amount of productive land area required to sustain one human being. Globally, there are about 1.9 hectares of productive area per person, but the average ecological footprint is already 2.3 hectares. So we would need 1.5 Earths to live sustainably. The largest footprint belongs to citizens of the US, at 9.57 hectares. Five Earths would be needed if everyone in the world consumed at that rate. People in Bangladesh, on the other hand, need just 0.5 hectares. And China is somewhere in the middle, at 1.36 hectares.

But what will it look like in a few decades, when China has a population of 1.5 billion? Supposing that Chinese levels of consumption then are equivalent to American levels now, the Earth doesn’t stand a chance. If the US provides the benchmark for global consumption, 25 Earths will be needed to satiate everyone’s wants." [Adbusters]

More on eco-footprints.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Badger group need additional volunteers


A message from those campaigning peacefully in the West Somerset and West Gloucestershire cull areas – now that the shooting of badgers has started for the second year, they desperately need additional volunteers to supplement their existing resources. Whatever time you can give will be appreciated and your presence may help to prevent the death of a completely healthy badger.  Even one evening can make a difference so please contact them.

The key message from the Somerset and Gloucestershire Badger Patrols is that they are a peaceful presence in the countryside.  Law abiding and non-confrontational, they:

Walk along roads and public footpaths within the cull area
Never intimidate land owners
Inform the police of our intentions and whereabouts
Respect the countryside code
Make new friends with likeminded people

Get in touch:
E: somersetbadgerpatrol@talktalk.net 
E: info@Glosagainstbadgershooting.org
Website: www.glosagainstbadgershooting.org

Also see the Badger Trust site.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

[CANCELLED] Flash clean on South Beach, Aberystwyth, Saturday, 4-5 pm


Beach Clean CANCELLED - blustery winds forecast for low tide would impede collecting fragmented pollution. Keep your eyes peeled for a weekday clean next week and hopefully another Saturday clean for next weekend.

This Saturday (30th) there will be a flash clean on South Beach, Aberystwyth, 4-5 pm. There will be some litter picking tools and gloves, and some sweeties courtesy of Isaacs Traditional Sweet Shop, plus some free biobags and dog poo bags.

Aber Beach Buddies will be concentrating on small scale pollution, which is every bit as damaging to marine life as larger, more noticeable items of pollution and is causing havoc in the world's oceans. Don't be shy, dress for the weather on the day and come along and meet other Beach Buddies while helping out one of your local beaches.

Children over 5 are very welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Meeting point is opposite the Life Boat Station. 4pm, Saturday 30th August.

Please check for updates via this page.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) - Ceredigion action


A group of 38 Degrees members who live in Ceredigion are meeting next Saturday, the 30th August, to spread the word about the sinister EU-US trade deal TTIP. Are you free?

TTIP is the deal that’ll make privatisation of our services like the NHS and National Rail irreversible. It’ll also allow big corporations to sue our government if they make changes to the law which affect businesses' profits - like raising the minimum wage. George Monbiot wrote a summary here.

The TTIP negotiations are happening in secret. The deal is hardly in the news. Nobody is talking about it - and the government is hoping it stays that way. So let’s spread the word to thousands of ordinary people, and kickstart the buzz.

Joining in on the 30th August is easy. As soon as you sign up using this link, you'll be able to see the plans in Ceredigion and chat to other nearby 38 Degrees members. You'll also be sent a pack with everything that you’ll need for the day - including leaflets for you to hand out that explain the dangers of the deal in plain English.

So will you give an hour or two on Saturday 30th August? The office team needs to place an order for flyers tomorrow, so please sign up now.

Already, over 120,000 38 Degrees members have signed a petition against TTIP. But the government is not going to have a sudden change of heart unless they’re bombarded with questions and opposition. The only way we can do this is through people power - making sure as many of us as possible know about it.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Earth Overshoot Day 2014


"In just eight months, the world has consumed more natural resources than the Earth can produce in one year. Today marks Earth Overshoot Day, the day the world goes into its overdraft – after which we will be living on resources borrowed from future generations."
More here.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Who recycles your recycling?

Householders in Wales can now find out more about what happens to the material they send for recycling, with the publication of the latest Destinations Dataset by the Welsh Government.

Friday, 1 August 2014

HS2 (High Stupidity train network)


We love trains. However, as people who care about the environment we don't agree with the controversial HS2 which will destroy wildlife sites. All the money that goes into it, all that destruction, all those resources - just to slightly speed up connections for those in one area of the UK. It would be better if the money was used in other ways, e.g.
  • to improve cycle routes in the whole of the UK, letting them connect cities and towns; 
  • if tax on bicycles was dropped, increasing sales and use of bikes; 
  • cheaper train journeys, and more of them (ideally a single nationalised service again);
  • proper guaranteed bicycle and transport, enabling you to take bikes on buses and trains (currently you can be refused, leaving you stranded);
  • and many others.
Options like these would lowers emissions, be healthier, greener, more futureproof ... but those aren't the concerns of UK Government.

Find out more about the negative sides to this proposal via Stop HS2, the HS2 Action Alliance, and (to a lesser degree) the Right Lines Charter. As to the local (Welsh) view: Welsh AMs need to look at how badly Wales comes off from HS2. Billions of pounds will be redirected from other projects and no Barnett consequentials.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Griddles needn't be a sticking point

Many people are now aware of the risks of using certain types of non-stick pans for cooking. Teflon is Dupont's brand name non-stick coating, connected to chemicals such as PFOA and PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene). Up to 260°C PTFE remains relatively stable but above 260°C, PTFE starts to decompose and is known to release a multitude of toxic chemicals.

What are the alternatives? Cast iron often comes out favourably in comparisons, and there is more about cast iron cooking here.

We'll list a few companies which make Teflon-alternatives. This isn't an endorsement of any of these products, and we haven't tested any ourselves, but we'll present what we have found. If you have any thoughts or experiences, please pop them into the comments.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Keep reusing those bags!

Thanks to the implementation of charges for carrier bags in Wales, we have seen consumption of single-use carrier bags reduce by 79% since 2010, according to a new UK report. This is great news. People now take bags with them when they go shopping. A little bit of thought is all it takes to make a difference.

Just in case you wonder what the fuss is all about, do you know how long it takes different items to break down? Let's take a look.

Friday, 18 July 2014

So much for your right to settle in a home


Ceredigion County Council don't believe you should have a home, with its distinct features, location, views, memories. You just have a house, and if it gets in the way of their plans then they will happily force you out.

It's as if the council wants big business to move in, and force out the independent shops that give a place its individuality. Well, they've succeeded.

They used public money to go to court and have persuaded the Welsh Government to allow their compulsory purchase to force a pensioner from their home so it can be knocked down in favour of developers and supermarkets. The shrewdly-chosen Welsh Government inspector, Si├ón Worden (who has ignored objections to developments in the past), concluded: "To my mind, the interference with Mrs Jones’ human rights is justified. [...] I recommend that the  Cyngor Sir Ceredigion County Council (Land at Mill Street Car Park, Glyndwr Road and Riverside Terrace, Aberystwyth) Compulsory Purchase Order 2013 be confirmed."

Screw human rights. Let's have M&S and Tesco, to join the other raft of supermarkets already landgrabbing the county. Aberystwyth continues its transformation into an identikit chainstore supermarket town.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Tea


This is a reminder about our article on plastic in teabags. As you can see from the photo above, teabags don't break down because most tea companies add unnecessary plastic to the bags (but make a point of keeping quiet about that).

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Centre for Alternative Technology is 40 years old!


This year, the wonderful Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) celebrates 40 years of positive solutions to environmental challenges.

CAT is an education and visitor centre demonstrating practical solutions for sustainability. They cover all aspects of green living: environmental building, eco-sanitation, woodland management, renewable energy, energy efficiency and organic growing. Based three miles North of Machynlleth in an abandoned slate quarry CAT was founded in 1974. They are now known internationally and have been an inspiration to the world-wide green movement.

Find out about their celebration events and take part!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Aberystwyth beach clean - 12th July


There will be a Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch clean on Saturday 12th July, starting 10am. This beach clean runs alongside the Penparcau Community Forum's Pen Dinas nature trail day. You can join us before or after the events below, for the duration of the beach clean or for however long you can make it. Bring the kids, connect with and learn about your natural surroundings, make them even more beautiful while you're there - it's a great feeling. Many hands make light work! :) Please do let ABB if you can or can't make it, that way we'll have a rough idea of how many to expect.
Dolphin Watch: 12th July, meeting 11am-2pm at the Pen Dinas Monument
Beach Explorers: 12th July, meeting 2.30pm at the stone jetty, Tanybwlch

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Fracking


Find out more about fracking here and here. There is also a Ceredigion petition: please consider signing it and sharing the link as widely as possible, particularly in Ceredigion. Although there is apparently no shale gas in Ceredigion, it would be a powerful statement for a local authority in Wales (even the UK) to declare a county frack-free.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Campaign against pinch/prong collars


The campaign to ban pinch collars continues and gathers pace. If you want to know more, try any of the following links:

Friday, 20 June 2014

Citizens' Advice Bureau office in Aberystwyth to close


Ceredigion Citizens' Advice Bureau will close its Aberystwyth office this month following Ceredigion County Council funding cuts. A petition to keep the branch open reached over 500 signatures.

Aberyswyth has had a Citizens Advice (CAB) service since the 1940s but will not run the service by telephone from Cardigan, despite the increasing demand for their services, particularly now that more people than ever need help or advice concerning money, benefits, debt, employment, housing and other issues. Many official services now refer you to CAB and will only communicate with you if CAB refers you on (e.g. Trading Standards) - reduced CAB services means other services are even harder to use.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Tan y Bwlch beach clean


From Aberystwyth Beach Buddies:
Tan y Bwlch Beach Clean! Down to the nitty gritty folks. This beach and the riverside behind it needs to have a lot of fragmented plastic and polystyrene removed. There'll be larger items to be removed as usual, but good eyes and a fairly good back will be needed for the smaller bits of pollution. There'll be a break half way through and the clean should be finished by 4. If you can come for the duration or just for half an hour it'd be great to see you there. Many hands makes light work. Pop the date on your calendar, more details to follow  Enquiries can be made to aberystwythbeachbuddies@yahoo.co.uk 

Friday, 30 May 2014

Cheese review (no palm oil, no-dairy)

We sometimes review products (as we did with Fry's). This time we decided to look at three new dairy-free cheeses made by Bute Island Foods which they informed us do not contain any palm oil.

Melty Smoked Cheddar, Melty Strong Cheddar,
and Spring Onion & Cracked Black Pepper soft cheese

We passed them on to our hard-working testers and will let them supply the rest of this blog post.

Spring Onion & Cracked Black Pepper soft cheese
"This has a subtle flavour and is as good as all the other soft vegan cheeses. I enjoyed it on crackers, fresh bread, toast, and as a sandwich filling with cucumber. I even put it on some olive focaccia and it was lovely!"

Soft cheese on focaccia


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Greens do well

In the European elections last week the Green Party got 1,646 votes in Ceredigion, which is 8% of the total vote for this county! It's good to see so many people caring about green and social issues.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Badger cull company used constabulary "as a private police force"


Well worth reading - it is incredibly worrying that the police work with vested interests against protesters (the same thing occurs with anti-fracking demonstrations).

Friday, 16 May 2014

Vote for Policies


We first came across the Vote for Policies site via A Welshman's Blog. It's an interesting idea - forget what you know about political parties. Instead you select things that are important to you, then it matches your preferences up to the policies of the main parties and shows you which have the closest match. It's not connected to a political party, just based on a different way of doing things.

Vote for Policies hasn't been updated for the European election but might still be of interest, and will be updated for the next UK general election. FT.com said “The test is well worth taking”; according to Channel 4 News “Vote for Policies is an interesting survey based on policies alone - allowing users to find out who they would vote for if the policies were anonymous.”

Friday, 9 May 2014

Where does your council money go?

Do you know how Ceredigion County Council (CCC) spends your money?


Money spent on smoothing the way for developers

We have been covering Mill Street developments (Aberystwyth) for some time. Recently we received a copy of a Freedom of Information request about how much the county council is spending (of taxpayer money) in order to push through these developments. It's very interesting.

The request was for the total cost to the council of all the work to turn Mill Street car park and its environs into new land for supermarkets, including money spent on trying to push through compulsory purchase. They were requested to break it down into as much detail as possible under categories such as:
- Council legal costs (e.g. hiring of barristers such as Melissa Murphy, solicitors etc)
- Money spent on reports and advisers
- The cost of the total council staff time e.g. people had to hire external people, write or commission reports, brief people, gather information etc.

This is the response:
£1,159.33 Advertising costs associated with promoting the development
£9,662.16 Planning application consultancy fees
£102,846.37 The Council acquired leasehold interest in the Lucas depot, Riverside Terrace, 2008
£140,941 The council acquired leasehold interest in former gas showroom park Avenue, 2011
Subtotal: £254,608
However, that figure does not include the costs of council staff time, future estimated costs, or other purchases: e.g. the council purchased lots more land "to support this development" but refused to give the figures. We could easily be talking half a million pounds.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Pen Dinas walk, 17th May


17th May, 2pm, Aberystwyth: a free stroll up Pen Dinas nature reserve. Go along, it should be lovely! More information here, including details of future free events.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The downside of Easter eggs


The market for eggs is huge; male chickens don't lay eggs; therefore they have no value to the industrial egg industry. As a result they get ground up alive. Not everyone knows this.

There are some videos about it here and here.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Road verges are important


Another quick post - preserve our road verges! Find out more and sign a petition here.

From the organisers:
"We aim to make councils and other highways authorities take better decisions when it comes to road verge management. Plantlife’s vision for our road network is to see good management for all verges, wherever possible, conserving good verges and allowing new flower-rich ones to develop over time. One estimate suggests that there might be as many as 600,000 acres of habitat along our road network, equivalent in area to the Public Forest Estate in England, or the counties of Northamptonshire or the East Riding of Yorkshire.  With good management, imagine the diversity of wild flowers and animals that such a resource could harbour. After all, road verges are the life-giving arteries across the countryside, linking habitats and acting as vital corridors allowing wildlife to thrive and spread. They also represent an ever-more irreplaceable remnant of our native grasslands in a countryside that has lost so much in our quest for cost-effective modern farming and cheap food.

Friday, 11 April 2014

The Wales We Want


We interrupt our usual programme to mention the "Wales We Want" survey, a Welsh Government initiative. Click on the image above to access it and have your say. What do you want? A more natural environment? Wildlife? More forests? Better public transport? Better cycling provision (and for it to be easier to take bikes on buses and trains)? All planning applications requiring some form of re-greening component? Towns full of independent shops, not generic chain stores and supermarkets? A greener environment generates tourism, health, wellbeing, and has intrinsic value too. Is population the issue politicians avoid mentioning, even though it aggravates every other problem we face in terms of the natural environment? So much to think about!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Litter in Ceredigion - 3


There is an amazing coastal path across West Wales. This week we were sent photos of the section just as you leave Clarach, heading north along the path towards Borth. We followed this up by visiting the site ourselves.

Yes. Farmers really do care about the environment.

Soon you come across an agricultural field on your right, which has been turned into a tip. As well as the rubbish being an eyesore, it is just dumped loose on the edge of a cliff path where high winds prevail. Guess what happens next?

Friday, 4 April 2014

Litter in Ceredigion - 2

We said it was Ceredigion Litter Awareness Time!

There is an illegal fly tipping site by the side of the cycle path/road in the woods on the route between Glanyrafon Industrial Estate and Rhiwarthen Isaf B&B (running alongside the steam train line). Irresponsible people park in the layby and dump items down the bank.

Ceredigion County Council are well aware of this, having known of it for more than 20 years. However, they have never cleaned it up, or put up a fence to stop vans being able to tip heavy stuff like fridges down the bank, or taken any other positive action. So the problem has been worsened by Council inaction.
  • They have justified their inaction by saying they will apply for money to do something about it - but shouldn't they be acting on these issues anyway? Isn't that what Council Tax goes towards?
  • They point out it is private land. Imagine if you owned land and people used a council-maintained layby to dump things onto it, and the council told you they weren't willing to act because it wasn't public land? The point is that it was public land that caused the problem. It's like when litter is dropped on public paths, and you report it to the Council - by the time their staff visit the site (if ever) it has already blown onto the verges of the bordering land, and they claim it is no longer their responsibility because it is now on "private land". It only got there because the Council were so tardy in cleaning it up in the first place!
  • They also say it will be expensive to clear it up, claiming that they need thousands of pounds extra (£10,000 is one estimate we have seen).
It seems strange that they claim to need extra money to do this. Don't they already have employees in the council? Don't they already have equipment?

Oh, look what CIN found!

A County Council depot at Glanyrafon - fewer
than five minutes from the known fly-tipping site!
 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Litter in Ceredigion - 1

There has been lots of talk about the increase in litter in Ceredigion recently, presumably due to the Council cutting back on litter-collecting services (and in some cases contracting workers who add to the litter problem). Even when you do report problems the Council generally does nothing if it can get away with it (e.g. here and here). So we are going to do a few posts about this topic in the next month. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a reminder of how Council decisions make the litter problem worse.

A recent example of the litter left after
Ceredigion County Council cuts the grass

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Aberystwyth train station alterations

An artist's impression/a study in grey

Apparently millions of pounds is going to be spent on altering Aberystwyth train station. Information is thin on the ground about the exact details.

There are six things that would make the station, or rail transport in general, better. How many of these will be improved by all that money? We're guessing only 1-2 of them, but we would love to be proved wrong.

Our list of the things to improve the train experience (feel free to add to this):
  1. A waiting room that is warm and is not part of a cafe: when it is part of a cafe it is not clear if you are allowed to wait in it without buying things.
  2. A clean station. (Note - this does not require millions of pounds and should not depend on special one-off pots of money).
  3. Toilets that are always open and free. (The Aberystwyth train station toilets are closed around 50% of the time; Ceredigion County Council has closed a number of useful public toilets over the last ten years).
  4. Cheaper and more regular trains with simple pricing.
  5. Make it easier to take bicycles on the train with guaranteed places for them. Currently you can be refused, leaving you stranded, which puts people off using this option. (It is relevant that despite all the money spent on replacing paving stones as part of the "Aberystwyth Transport Project" there has been no improvement in connecting cycle routes to the "gateway"; secure bike storage; the ability to take bicycles on the Aberystwyth trains and buses; and so on...)
  6. Some trees and plants would be nice.
We've fixed that for you - let a visitor's first view
of Aberystwyth be a green one

Friday, 21 March 2014

Aberystwyth University - environmental credentials

Aberystwyth University plans to build a new campus on Mauritius. It's an island that has suffered environmental degradation at the hands of Europe in the past (indigenous lifeforms like the dodo were made extinct by sailors) and you can safely assume that the campus will be built on, and therefore destroy, a greenfield site. If that wasn't the case you can be assured it would have been mentioned as a positive feature in the university's press release.

This isn't a new thing. See previous posts that cover developments at Aberystwyth University. Only this July the university announced a new "Aberystwyth Innovation and Diffusion Campus" at Gogerddan, funded by biotechnology interests (you know, the nasty industries responsible for GM foods, patenting life forms, terminator crops and so on). And the construction of their massive new halls on a greenfield site continues (which wouldn't have been necessary if they hadn't knocked down and closed other halls, where students would have been nearer to their lecture locations - the new greenfield site will irresponsibly encourage car use).

Aberystwyth University building on a greenfield site


Massive scale of the barn-like halls

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Say no to palm oil


Our demand for palm oil is responsible for massive deforestation and the destruction of the wildlife that inhabits those areas. And the demand is doubling every few years. It's a topic we should all know about and act on. Further information:
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that sustainable palm oil is a perfect answer - the RSPO has been criticised for being ineffective or a sop to companies like Nestle and Unilever, aimed more at fobbing off consumer pressure than fixing the problems (e.g. see here, here, and here). Even with certification the chances are the land was still rainforest originally.

Read the ingredients, boycott products with palm oil in, and tell the companies why you've done that. Many companies that use palm oil try to disguise it as "vegetable oil" in an attempt to trick ethical consumers into buying their products - let them know that you aren't happy with these attempts at deception. Consumer pressure works. Share the information. Get involved with campaigns (e.g. some of the links above). Do we really need to destroy rainforests just so we can have a different ingredient in Morrison's crackers? See this other advice about what to do. Also remember that when you make your own food, rather than buying overly-processed products from supermarkets, you know exactly what goes into it! You also have more control then over where the ingredients come from, and can use local ones more easily.

Also: this petition.

At the end of the day the western nations are creating an unsustainable demand because we have too many people consuming too many products with too-high an environmental impact. Let's make an effort to improve things.

PS: You can even make your own palm-oil-free spreads! (Recipe 1; recipe 2). If we can do it then big companies have no excuse.
PPS: The excellent Unicorn Grocery's wrote to all companies asking them to reduce or replace (often unnecessary) palm oil in their products. In the interim they will stock products that have organic and RSPO palm oil e.g. from Columbia. Their policy is available online (bottom right corner).