Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Green Cleaners

Of course the holiday season is upon us, with lots of magic and merriment. But as wonderful as this time of year is for many of us, the planet isn't quite so happy. The holiday season produces a lot of waste. Household waste jumps an astounding 25 percent in December, according to the EPA. That excess "25 percent" totals 1 million tons of trash.

So as we head into the holiday season, let's all agree to take it easy on the Earth and try to reduce that insane amount of waste that seems to come with our festivities. From us all at Green Cleaners we wish you a Very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year.

We look forward to seeing you very soon!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Apes 'threatened by climate change'

Some species of monkeys and apes are in danger of being wiped out by global warming, say scientists. A new study suggests that many of the animals will not survive if temperatures around the world rise by just 2C.

Those that cannot adapt could be driven to extinction, experts warn. The species most at risk are the already endangered gorillas and colobine monkeys, say the British researchers.

The study, published online in the journal Animal Behaviour, pinpoints which primates are are most threatened by climate change. Old World populations in Africa will be hardest hit, especially species such as colobines whose diets are mainly leaf-based, the scientists predict.

New World monkeys in South America are much less likely to be affected by a rise of 2C in average global temperature. However, they would not be spared if temperatures rose by 4C, causing their habitats to become fragmented.

The researchers coupled climate models with an analysis of behaviour, diet and group size of different primate species across the world. African monkeys and apes with leafy diets are vulnerable because their habitats are so restricted, being confined to a narrow region of the equator. Fruit-eating species such as the baboons and guenon monkeys of Africa typically have a much wider latitudinal range and could cope with more variable climatic conditions.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Green Cleaners on Channel News Asia - 'Eco Ventures'

As featured on Channel News Asia's 'Eco Venture' highlight in November 2009. Green Cleaners' director and founder Colin Pudsey talks about the type of people that choose Green Cleaners and who can benefit from our eco friendly services.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A bit of humour for you :)

Award winning stand-up comedian Jon Richardson gets hot and bothered about living with climate change....

Monday, December 14, 2009

8 Ways to Give Up Buying Wrapping Paper Forever

Avoid store-bought supplies and still end up with a present, perfect....

We know you can't judge a book by its cover, or a present by its wrapping, but a pretty presentation can go a long way toward making your holidays merry and bright. But when you think about all the money you spend buying paper that gets cut, ripped, and then (hopefully) recycled, it's hard not to feel some green guilt. Here, we've tracked down eight ways to use what you have on hand—from empty cereal boxes to old magazines—to present your gifts in beautiful wrappings (without blowing the budget).

1. Prepare for Odd Sizes

Some gifts just don't wrap easily—like footballs, action figures, and body lotion. To keep the contents a secret until opening time, you need boxes—so why not try making your own? This tutorial from Eco-Artware shows you how to repurpose a Corn Pops box into a square cardboard container custom-sized for whatever you're giving. Keep the patterned side out for a fun and funky finished look, or show off the plain side and decorate with stamps, paint, or a simple bow.

2. Have a Boxing Day

If you're the type who prefers online ordering to braving the stores during the holidays, then chances are good you have a ton of cardboard boxes in your house—or on their way. Skip the paper entirely with this kid-friendly idea from Morton Skogly: just mix up some childsafe paint, collect some old or spare sponges, and let the little ones put their own stamp on your decorating. Plain cardboard works fine, but you can also use smaller boxes from your pantry, old shoe boxes, or even tissue boxes since the paint will cover the design.

3. Cut and Paste

When it comes to wrapping gifts, don't underestimate the power of your magazine rack. You know you're not going to read those weeklies from July, so why not put them to good use? This mosaic decoupage project from Bellenza lets you create bright, colorful patchworks by gluing one-inch squares cut from magazines to crumpled newspaper for a look that's both eco-friendly and inexpensive.

4. Let It Shine

Covering your gifts with recycled aluminum foil gives them a holiday sparkle worthy of even the fussiest decorator—just picture a pile of these underneath the tree, reflecting your new collection of LED lights. On smaller gifts, you won't even need to use tape, and you can finish off your wrapping job with ribbon, bows, or even a simple piece of twine or colored string. Then once the unwrapping chaos has settled, collect your foil and reuse it in the kitchen—or on next year's gifts.

5. Get on a Roll

Prefer a more traditional look? Try making your own wrapping paper from a roll of plain butcher paper. At A Little Hut, designer Patricia Zapata sketched a leafy design and let her kids color in the pattern; try drawing a winter- or holiday-themed picture instead, or just freehand it. In the end, you'll recycle this paper just as you would any other wrapping paper, but you'll spend a lot less making it than you would buying.

6. Try Stripping

We like this project from MAKE because it feels like a take-off on the classic wrapping-a-gift-in-the-Sunday-comics route—though the finished product is more magazine-spread chic than preschool birthday party. The woven design comes from cutting wavy lines on one sheet of paper that's big enough to wrap your gift; then cut strips from magazines, newspapers, construction paper, or any other paper you have on hand and thread them in an alternating over/under. You're right: this is a lot of work. But the reuse possiblities—and the looks you'll get when people hear you made the paper—will make it worth it.

7. Know When to Fold

Want to give your gifts a more luxurious look? Try upcycling old fabric—shirts, sheets, pillowcases, towels, napkins—by dyeing, marbling, or painting it, and then folding it around your present for a unique wrap job. If you don't have any spare cloth on hand, look for old (good condition) pieces at your local thrift store or at yard sales; give yourself a bonus if you can find something (like an apron, kitchen towels, or placemats) that your recipient will use again.

8. Take a Bow

Then there's that perfect finishing touch: the bow. Anyone who's found a bag of unusable crumpled bows in last year's holiday carton will understand the relief of having just as many as you need, in just the right colors, without having extras to store; this year, try making your own from strips of magazine pages or paper cut to length and folded onto each other. You can also use pages from old books, scrapbook paper, or even spare photos to add an even more personal design to each present.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Climate change puts us all in the same boat. One hole will sink us all

Global warming does not respect borders. A mindset shift is required if world leaders are to save us from ourselves - Says former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan....

The UN climate change conference in Copenhagen offers the prospect of a robust political deal, endorsed by the world's leaders and witnessed by the world's people, that sets out clear targets and a timeline for translating it into law. To be a truly historic achievement, such a deal must do two things.

First, it must lay the basis for a global regime and subsequent agreements that limit global temperature rise in accordance with the scientific evidence. Second, it must provide clarity on the mobilisation and volume of financial resources to support developing countries to adapt to climate change. The stakes are enormous. Economic growth has been achieved at great environmental and social cost, aggravating inequality and human vulnerability. The irreparable damage that is being inflicted on ecosystems, agricultural productivity, forests and water systems is accelerating. Threats to health, life and livelihoods are growing. Disasters are also increasing in scale and frequency.

But despite the mounting evidence of negative impacts, reaching a deal will not be easy. It will require extraordinary political courage – both to cut the deal and to communicate its necessity to the public.

A mindset shift is required. Distrust and competition persist between regions and nations, manifest in a "no, you must show your cards first" attitude that has dogged the negotiations leading up to Copenhagen. This has to be overcome.

A deal that is not based on the best scientific evidence will be nothing better than a line in the sand as the tide comes in. But short-term considerations, including from special interest groups and electoral demands, are working against long-term solutions.

Success in reaching a deal will require leaders to think for future generations, and for citizens other than their own. It will require them to think about inclusive and comprehensive arrangements, not just a patched up compilation of national or regional interests.

A deal that stops at rhetoric and does not actually meet the needs of the poorest and most climate vulnerable countries simply will not work. The climate cannot be "fixed" in one continent and not another. Climate change does not respect national borders. We are all in the same boat; a hole at one end will sink us all.

For it to work, climate justice must be at the heart of the agreement. An unfair deal will come unstuck. Industrialised countries such as the United States must naturally take the lead in reducing emissions and supporting others to follow suit, but developing countries like India or China also have an increasing responsibility to do so as their economies continue to grow.

Tragically, it is the poorest and least responsible who are having to bear the brunt of the climate challenge as rising temperatures exacerbate poverty, hunger and vulnerability to disease for billions of people. They need both immediate help to strengthen their climate resilience as well as long-term support to enable them to adapt to changing weather patterns, reduce deforestation, and pursue low-emissions, clean energy growth strategies.

The deal must include a package of commitments in line with the science and the imperative of reducing global emissions by 50-85% relative to 2000 levels by 2050.

This requires a schedule for richer countries to move to 25-40% emission cuts by 2020 from 1990 baselines; clear measures for emerging economies to cut emissions intensity; and clarity about both immediate and longer term finance and technical support for developing countries, notably the poorest and most vulnerable among them.

Will we get there? The targets that have been proposed for emission reductions by many industrialised countries such as the EU, Japan and Norway are encouraging, as are those being made by the big emerging economies including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Korea.

Recent announcements by the US on emission targets represent a significant shift and provide a basis for scaling up commitments in the coming years. So does the recognition by emerging economies that they also have a role in supporting the most vulnerable countries.

Welcome too are the proposals for financial support to LDCs and small island states made at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad, as well as proposals by the Netherlands, France, and the UK, among others.

But much greater specificity on finance is needed. Existing official development assistance (ODA) commitments to help the poorest countries meet the Millennium Development Goals need to be met. And significant additional finance that is separate from and additional to ODA needs to be mobilised to support them meet the incremental costs generated by climate change.

A deal that is not clear on the finance will be both unacceptable to developing countries, and unworkable. Finding the additional resources and communicating its necessity will not be easy, particularly in the current economic climate, but it must be done.

A successful deal could incentivise not only good stewardship of forests and more sustainable land use, but also massive investment into low-carbon growth and a healthier planet, including in sectors such as energy generation, construction and transportation.

And it could usher in an era of qualitatively new international co-operation based on common but differentiated responsibilities – not just for managing climate change, but for human development, social justice and global security.

Ultimately, at stake is whether our leaders can work to help us save ourselves from … well, from ourselves. The legacy of today's politicians will be determined in the weeks to come.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Please help the world

"Please Help the World", film from the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) in Copenhagen from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Shown on December 7, 2009 at COP15.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Plea over chemical in baby bottles

Campaigners are calling for baby bottles containing the Bisphenol A chemical to be removed from UK shelves.

Scientists, charities and representatives from the National Childbirth Trust said there is "compelling" scientific evidence that the chemical is linked to breast cancer and other conditions. Scientists have long been divided on whether Bisphenol A (often abbreviated to BPA) causes health problems in people after several lab studies showed problems in mice, including changes to the reproductive system. The chemical is widely used in plastics and is commonly found in food and drink containers. Some experts believe young children may be particularly vulnerable.

In March, baby bottle manufacturers in the US removed BPA from their products, saying they were reacting to consumer demand. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing BPA after experts questioned its view that BPA remains safe for food containers and baby bottles.

Breast Cancer UK has released a survey of more than 2,000 adults which found that 50 per cent strongly agree and another 29 per cent agree "it is important that the UK Government acts in a precautionary way when it comes to protecting babies and very young children from BPA". It also published a letter to Health Secretary Andy Burnham from a group of scientists backing its No More BPA campaign.

The experts, from universities in Stirling, Ulster, London, Plymouth and Reading urged the Government "to adopt a standpoint consistent with the approach taken by other governments who have ended the use of BPA in food contact products marketed at children".

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Copenhagen climate change talks must fail, says top scientist

The scientist who convinced the world to take notice of the looming danger of global warming says it would be better for the planet and for future generations if next week's Copenhagen climate change summit ended in collapse.

In an interview with the Guardian, James Hansen, the world's pre-eminent climate scientist, said any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch. "I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it's a disaster track," said Hansen, who heads the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

"The whole approach is so fundamentally wrong that it is better to reassess the situation. If it is going to be the Kyoto-type thing then [people] will spend years trying to determine exactly what that means." He was speaking as progress towards a deal in Copenhagen received a boost today, with India revealing a target to curb its carbon emissions. All four of the major emitters – the US, China, EU and India – have now tabled offers on emissions, although the equally vexed issue of funding for developing nations to deal with global warming remains deadlocked.

Hansen, in repeated appearances before Congress beginning in 1989, has done more than any other scientist to educate politicians about the causes of global warming and to prod them into action to avoid its most catastrophic consequences. But he is vehemently opposed to the carbon market schemes – in which permits to pollute are bought and sold – which are seen by the EU and other governments as the most efficient way to cut emissions and move to a new clean energy economy.

Hansen is also fiercely critical of Barack Obama – and even Al Gore, who won a Nobel peace prize for his efforts to get the world to act on climate change – saying politicians have failed to meet what he regards as the moral challenge of our age.

In Hansen's view, dealing with climate change allows no room for the compromises that rule the world of elected politics. "This is analagous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill," he said. "On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can't say let's reduce slavery, let's find a compromise and reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%."

He added: "We don't have a leader who is able to grasp it and say what is really needed. Instead we are trying to continue business as usual."

The understated Iowan's journey from climate scientist to activist accelerated in the last years of the Bush administration. Hansen, a reluctant public speaker, says he was forced into the public realm by the increasingly clear looming spectre of droughts, floods, famines and drowned cities indicated by the science.

That enormous body of scientific evidence has been put under a microscope by climate sceptics after last month's release online of hacked emails sent by respected researchers at the climate research unit of the University of East Anglia. Hansen admitted the controversy could shake public's trust, and called for an investigation. "All that stuff they are arguing about the data doesn't really change the analysis at all, but it does leave a very bad impression," he said.

The row reached Congress today, with Republicans accusing the researchers of engaging in "scientific fascism" and pressing the Obama administration's top science adviser, John Holdren, to condemn the email. Holdren, a climate scientist who wrote one of the emails in the UEA trove, said he was prepared to denounce any misuse of data by the scientists – if one is proved.

Hansen has emerged as a leading campaigner against the coal industry, which produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other fuel source. He has become a fixture at campus demonstrations and last summer was arrested at a protest against mountaintop mining in West Virginia, where he called the Obama government's policies "half-assed". He has irked some environmentalists by espousing a direct carbon tax on fuel use. Some see that as a distraction from rallying support in Congress for cap-and-trade legislation that is on the table.

He is scathing of that approach. "This is analagous to the indulgences that the Catholic church sold in the middle ages. The bishops collected lots of money and the sinners got redemption. Both parties liked that arrangement despite its absurdity. That is exactly what's happening," he said. "We've got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as usual and then these developing countries who want money and that is what they can get through offsets [sold through the carbon markets]."

For all Hansen's pessimism, he insists there is still hope. "It may be that we have already committed to a future sea level rise of a metre or even more but that doesn't mean that you give up.

"Because if you give up you could be talking about tens of metres. So I find it screwy that people say you passed a tipping point so it's too late. In that case what are you thinking: that we are going to abandon the planet? You want to minimise the damage."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Siberia melting away

If you live in a developed country, you're pretty well insulated from climate change. Shifts in weather patterns, heavier rainfall, gradually rising sea levels and temperature increases - at the moment western society absorbs these changes without us really noticing much difference. But for the indigenous peoples of the arctic who live on one of the front lines of climate change, such shifts in the planet's behaviour are much more obvious.

The Nenets people of the Yamal peninsula are nomadic reindeer herders who live within the Arctic circle on the northern coast of Siberia. In summer they graze their herds on the tundra of the peninsula, and in winter as the ground freezes they move south to milder parts of the Siberian steppes. They use the frozen surface of the landscape to cross the large rivers that criss-cross the peninsula. But things are changing.

The arctic is the most sensitive area of the planet to climate change. While the global average temperature has risen by around 0.8 degrees, some parts of Siberia have warmed by as much as five or six. And so the Nenets have noticed the freeze is happening later and later in the year. The reindeer herders have to wait longer and longer before they can move their animals south across frozen ground.

Here, on the frontiers of the world, the warming of Siberia is already threatening a way of life that has remained fairly constant for thousands of years. It's not only that the Nenets have to move later in the year - many of the freshwater lakes that dot the landscape are leaking away as the frozen walls of earth that contain the water melt, and collapse. And so the Nenets are also losing the fishing that provides one of their main sources of food.

Eternal ice
Siberia is a landscape that's underpinned by frozen ground called permafrost, but this ground is beginning to thaw. Off the coast, the coastline and even whole islands made of permafrost are vulnerable to an Arctic sea that is increasingly turbulent as sea ice also disappears. The sea is literally washing away the melting land. Melting permafrost is causing roads, pipelines and foundations to collapse across the country. Every year, there's an increase in the area of ground that melts in summer and the area that doesn't refreeze in winter.

This isn't just a problem in the arctic. This melt has global implications, because it's going to speed up climate change. Permafrost is like a giant frozen compost heap - full of dead plants, animals, trees and other carbon-rich organic matter, and in places it reaches 1500m deep. While it stays frozen, that carbon is locked up in the ground. But as the arctic warms and the permafrost thaws, microbes start to break down that organic matter, releasing carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

Flaming lakes
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas - probably causing, tonne for tonne, around 25 times more global warming over a hundred years than carbon dioxide. By lighting escaping methane, scientists can capture dramatic images of plumes of flame bubbling up through holes cut into Siberian lakes.

Melting permafrost is releasing additional emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change. Permafrost contains massive amounts of carbon - probably about twice what's currently in the atmosphere, and about five times more than all greenhouse gases we've released by burning fossil fuels. While we don't have a really clear understanding of how much carbon might be released as the permafrost melts, it's fair to say that any extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from melting permafrost are bad news.

Because of the melting permafrost, what happens in the arctic doesn't stay in the arctic. And so we need strong political action from world leaders at Copenhagen. We need to control the warming that's leading the arctic to melt away. It's probably too late to stop climate change ending the Nenets' traditional way of life for good. But if we don't act now, that's going to be the case for pretty much everyone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mount Everest to host Nepal cabinet meeting

Nepal is to hold a cabinet meeting on Mount Everest to highlight the threat global warming poses to glaciers.

On 4 December prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and those politicians physically fit enough will ascend 17,192ft (5,250m) to base camp. In October the Maldives held a cabinet meeting underwater to warn of the effect of rising sea levels.

This meeting, to be held before the Copenhagen climate conference, aims to highlight Himalayan glacier melt. With ice in the region melting at a rapid rate, lakes have been formed which could flood nearby villages.

Melted ice and snow also makes mountaineering routes more hazardous. At such a high altitude health is a major concern, so a team of doctors will accompany the politicians. They will fly to Everest's only airstrip, Lukla. Doctors will make a final health assessment before a helicopter takes the cabinet to base camp, at the foot of Everest. Once there they will hold a brief outdoor meeting.

Mount Everest is the highest point on earth, with a summit 29,035 ft (8,850 m) above sea level.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Amazon summit in Brazil

Brazil is hosting a regional summit to discuss climate change and ways of tackling deforestation in the Amazon.

Delegates from eight nations who share the Amazon basin, as well as France which has an overseas department there, have been holding talks in Manaus. They are discussing Brazil's plan on slowing deforestation with the financial help from rich nations.
The meeting comes ahead of a global summit on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is chairing the one-day summit. Delegates from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam, are attending, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy is representing French Guiana.

'Ambitious message'

Presidents Sarkozy and Lula said richer nations must increase their aid to help the poorer countries fight global warming. "The poor need to be supported without any country giving up its sovereignty," President Lula said.

The BBC's Paulo Cabral reports from Manaus that for the past few days diplomats have been negotiating a common position to be presented by the Amazon countries and France at the conference in Copenhagen. He says most of the presidents invited did not come to Manaus, though diplomats say that the ministers and ambassadors sent in their place are in position to close a deal. Mr Lula's spokesman said the Brazilian leader hoped that the talks would yield "an ambitious message on issues of great relevance to the region".

"Brazil believes it is crucial for the [Amazon] region to have a converging and co-operative participation," AFP news agency quoted the spokesman as saying. Brazil is proposing to combat deforestation in the Amazon basin with financial backing from wealthy nations. "Let no gringo [foreigner] ask us to let an Amazonian starve to death under a tree," Mr Lula said in a speech ahead of the meeting. "We want to preserve [the forest], but [other countries] have to pay for that preservation."

At the summit, the Brazilian government was expected to present its efforts to reduce destruction in the Amazon as a key part of its strategy to combat climate change. Earlier this month, Brazil's government said the rate of deforestation in the Amazon had dropped by 45% - and was the lowest on record since monitoring began 21 years ago. It said that just over 7,000 sq km (2,700 square miles) had been destroyed between July 2008 and August 2009. Brazil is seeking an 80% reduction in the deforestation rate by 2020.

The environmental group Greenpeace has welcomed the latest drop but says there is still too much destruction in the rainforest. Earlier this month, Brazil said it aimed to cut its carbon emissions by at least 36% below 1990 levels by 2020.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obama to vow greenhouse emissions cuts in Denmark

Putting his prestige on the line, President Barack Obama will personally commit the U.S. to a goal of substantially cutting greenhouse gases at next month's Copenhagen climate summit. He will insist America is ready to tackle global warming despite resistance in Congress over higher costs for businesses and homeowners.

Obama will attend the start of the conference Dec. 9, a week from next Wednesday, before heading to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. He will "put on the table" a U.S. commitment to cut emissions by 17 percent over the next decade, on the way to reducing heat-trapping pollution by 80 percent by mid-century, the White House said.

Cutting U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by one-sixth in just a decade would be likely to hike energy bills, but the administration says there would be important health trade-offs. Slashing carbon dioxide emissions could save millions of lives, mostly by reducing preventable deaths from heart and lung diseases, according to studies published this week in The Lancet British medical journal.

The White House said Obama's decision to attend the international conference in Denmark was "a sign of his continuing commitment and leadership to find a global solution to the global threat of climate change." But Obama's stopover on the conference's second day — instead of later when negotiations will be most intense and when most other national leaders will take part — disappointed some European and U.N. climate officials, as well as some environmentalists. Others said Obama's personal appeal will resonate with the delegates from more than 75 countries and help reset the U.S. image on the climate issue after eight years in which the Bush administration staunchly opposed mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases.

The president's first trip to Copenhagen — just last month — was less than fruitful. He made an unsuccessful pitch for the 2016 Summer Olympics to be held in Chicago. Obama's participation had been in doubt since it became clear that the Dec. 7-18 conference was unlikely to produce a binding agreement, The original goal of the conference was to produce a new global climate change treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. But in recent weeks it became clear that delegates were likely to produce at best an outline for an agreement to be considered late next year. Administration officials don't want to repeat the mistake of Kyoto, when the U.S. agreed to emission reductions but never implemented them because of strong political opposition at home. The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto agreement.

Most environmentalists hailed Obama's decision to go to Copenhagen, even if it's early in the conference. They said it will help set the tone of the talks and reverse America's image internationally on climate change. Said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University: "The U.S. has stood as the bad guy for so long that it's critically important for the U.S. president to set the tone for the meeting." But Kyle Ash, climate policy adviser for Greenpeace USA, said Obama should be even more involved, and later in the conference. "The Copenhagen climate summit is not about a photo opportunity. It's about getting a global agreement to stop climate chaos. President Obama needs to be there at the same time as all the other wold leaders," he said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not enough time for climate change deal?

China and the US say there isn't enough time left to agree a legally-binding agreement on climate change this year.

Charlie Kronick, senior climate advisor at Greenpeace, argues that the vast majority of countries signed up to the convention are still clamouring for an agreement with
188 countries still wanting a deal in Copenhagen....

Radio Link

Monday, November 16, 2009

World Food Summit Opens Amid Charges It May Be ‘Waste of Time’

World leaders start a United Nations summit on food security in Rome today that international aid agencies say may be a “waste of time” because it won’t commit donors to provide more money to end world hunger.

A draft of the final declaration for the Nov. 16 to Nov. 18 “World Summit on Food Security,” promises no new financial commitments. Governments will “reinforce all our efforts” to halve the number of hungry by 2015, it says, and rich nations should reverse the decline of aid dedicated to agriculture, which fell from 19 percent in 1980 to 3.8 percent in 2006.

Jacques Diouf, who is hosting the meeting as director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, has urged governments to invest $44 billion a year to end chronic hunger suffered by 1.02 billion people and achieve “food security.” World hunger has continued to rise even with food prices falling from their peaks of last year, which coincided with FAO’s previous summit where donors pledged $11 billion in aid.

The lack of new funding requests prompted two aid agencies, Oxfam and ActionAid, to say on Nov. 12 the summit may be a “waste of time and money,” and that “governments are at risk of throwing away a great chance” to reduce the number of hungry. Francisco Sarmento, ActionAid’s food rights coordinator, called the declaration “just a rehash of old platitudes.”

Sixty heads of state and government plan to attend the meeting, which Pope Benedict XVI and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will address, FAO said.

Previous Crisis

Last year’s surge in food prices sparked riots in more than a dozen countries from Ivory Coast to Haiti, where the unrest prompted the dismissal of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis.

Prices for wheat, which supplies about 20 percent of food calories consumed in the world, more than doubled between the start of 2007 and a peak in March 2008. Soaring energy prices boosted costs of fertilizer and transport while also lifting demand for grain-based alternative fuels like ethanol.

Today’s summit opens as the Rome-based UN agency predicts world cereal stocks will expand by about 4 million metric tons to 509 million tons next year, the highest level since 2002. Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay the $2.5 million cost of the gathering.

The Group of Eight nations, at a July summit in L’Aquila, Italy, approved $20 billion in aid over three years to help farmers in developing nations grow and sell food.

‘Summit Fatigue’

“My biggest concern is that we have to make sure that there is no summit fatigue,” Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior FAO economist, said in an interview. “If FAO felt there was a need for another summit, it is probably because it felt that the previous ones haven’t achieved what they were supposed to.”

Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome, says the international community should use the summit as an opportunity to redefine how rich and poor countries work together to boost food production and cut poverty.

“When there is an opportunity, you don’t say ‘it is just another summit,’ you say ‘OK we are having this, how do we make it add value,’ and that was our goal,” the ambassador said in a Nov. 10 interview.

Developing countries must design their own plans and donor nations must work with them as partners, Cousin said.

“For us to suggest at the global level that we can have a patterned answer that is going to resolve all the issues on the entire continent of Africa of 54 countries is far too simplistic and very naïve,” she said.

Private Sector Role

At a FAO-organized meeting with food and agriculture companies, including Nestle, Unilever, and Bunge Ltd., in Milan on Nov. 12-13, private sector officials pledged to increase investment in farming in poor countries.

“We stand ready to invest meaningfully to help build national capacities in applied agriculture and food systems research and technology transfer in developing countries,” the companies said in a statement after the meeting.

Foreign direct investment in agriculture tripled to more than $3 billion since 2000, FAO said in report on its Web site.

Oxfam and ActionAid say the best way to reduce the number of hungry is to target resources on small farming families, who make up a third of the world’s population, FAO estimates.

Hunger Frontline

“Smallholder farmers, mostly women, are on the frontline in the fight against world poverty, hunger and climate change and we must not continue to ignore them,” said Frederic Mousseau of Oxfam.

While increased cereal production has slowed the rise in global food prices, Abbassian of FAO predicts future shortages and price hikes.

“The one certainty is that there will be a food crisis, and the reason is simple: we haven’t done much to prevent such a thing from happening,” he said. “We have talked a lot, we have committed a lot, but we haven’t really acted.”

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to Be Green: Dishwashers

Water, energy, and and often chemicals are involved in the act of washing dishes. Increasingly, so is a dishwashing machine. To stay out of hot water with your dishwashing habits, you wash and we'll dry with our dishwasher tips!

Top Tips for Greening Your Dishwashing

Check Your Habits: As usual, going green starts with a re-evaluation of what we take for granted. For example, by using fewer dishes and utensils over the course of the day, you will end up doing fewer loads in the dishwasher, saving energy, water, and detergent. Of course, you could sometimes wash your dishes by hand.

Wash Wisely: The most efficient way to use your dishwasher includes waiting until you have a full load and then running it at off-peak hours, not pre-rinsing the dishes in the sink, using an earth-friendly cleaning product, and allowing the dishes to air dry.

Shop Around: Which dishwasher you buy and use naturally plays a role in the greenness of your kitchen. To find the right machine for you, check Energy Star ratings and look into compact dishwashers.

Did You Know?

- 80% of the energy used by dishwashers goes to heating hot water
- The amount of water saved by using a fully loaded dishwasher, without pre-rinsing, in relation to the water consumed by hand-washing all of those dishes: 35%
- 400 gallons of water can be saved each month by running your dishwasher only when it is full

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Punggol Waterway to have eco-friendly features

Singapore's first public housing project along the Punggol Waterway will have eco-friendly features and resort-like designs.

The 1,200-unit waterfront project will be launched in the middle of next year. The firm behind the winning design is a partnership between international architectural firm Group8asia and local design company Aedas.

They stole the crown with a distinctive sky terrace concept which creates public spaces along the waterway. More than 100 design firms from Europe and Asia took part in the Punggol Waterfront Housing Design Competition. They had to submit plans that matched the housing board's theme of "Green Living by the Waters".

HDB said the waterfront flats will be kept affordable. National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: "New HDB estates look like private condominiums, but don't cost as much as private condominiums.

"New innovative construction methods like pre-fabrication reduces cost and construction time. And that's one of the reasons why we are able to keep the cost of construction down."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Japan planning solar station in space!

It may sound like a sci-fi vision, but Japan's space agency is dead serious: by 2030 it wants to collect solar power in space and zap it down to Earth, using laser beams or microwaves.

The government has just picked a group of companies and a team of researchers tasked with turning the ambitious, multi-billion-dollar dream of unlimited clean energy into reality in coming decades. With few energy resources of its own and heavily reliant on oil imports, Japan has long been a leader in solar and other renewable energies and this year set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets.

But Japan's boldest plan to date is the Space Solar Power System (SSPS), in which arrays of photovoltaic dishes several square kilometres (square miles) in size would hover in geostationary orbit outside the Earth's atmosphere. "Since solar power is a clean and inexhaustible energy source, we believe that this system will be able to help solve the problems of energy shortage and global warming," researchers at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, one of the project participants, wrote in a report.

"The sun's rays abound in space."

The solar cells would capture the solar energy, which is at least five times stronger in space than on Earth, and beam it down to the ground through clusters of lasers or microwaves. These would be collected by gigantic parabolic antennae, likely to be located in restricted areas at sea or on dam reservoirs, said Tadashige Takiya, a spokesman at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The researchers are targeting a one gigawatt system, equivalent to a medium-sized atomic power plant, that would produce electricity at eight yen (cents) per kilowatt-hour, six times cheaper than its current cost in Japan.

The challenge -- including transporting the components to space -- may appear gigantic, but Japan has been pursuing the project since 1998, with some 130 researchers studying it under JAXA's oversight. Last month Japan's Economy and Trade Ministry and the Science Ministry took another step toward making the project a reality, by selecting several Japanese high-tech giants as participants in the project. The consortium, named the Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer, also includes Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Fujitsu and Sharp.

The project's roadmap outlined several steps that would need to be taken before a full-blown launch in 2030. Within several years, "a satellite designed to test the transmission by microwave should be put into low orbit with a Japanese rocket," said Tatsuhito Fujita, one of the JAXA researchers heading the project.

The next step, expected around 2020, would be to launch and test a large flexible photovoltaic structure with 10 megawatt power capacity, to be followed by a 250 megawatt prototype. This would help evaluate the project's financial viability, say officials. The final aim is to produce electricity cheap enough to compete with other alternative energy sources.

JAXA says the transmission technology would be safe but concedes it would have to convince the public, which may harbour images of laser beams shooting down from the sky, roasting birds or slicing up aircraft in mid-air. According to a 2004 study by JAXA, the words 'laser' and 'microwave' caused the most concern among the 1,000 people questioned.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

2009 MTV Europe Music Awards

Music industry leaders find time for charity too.

Major celeb-packed events like the EMAs are not exactly light in the consumption department. To put it in perspective, we're talking 600 false eye lashes, more than 25 different glitters, 60 eye shadows, 300 nail polishes, 20 pots of loose powder, 200 powder puffs, and 125 different shades of lipstick to get those faces in the limelight alone, reports Reuters.

The arena, which boasts an energy-efficient design, 400 bicycle stands, and a bicycle rental service, does have vocal green efforts. And while it would be better to ban the bottled water, staff will recycle the 24,000 bottles of water artists, crew and guests were predicted to drink on site during the event.

With precision-highlighted curly locks flying in the wind machine, Beyoncé Knowles cleaned up at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs), held at Berlin's O2 World arena. From four nominations, the 28-year-old Knowles took home three coveted awards: Best Female, Best Song, ("Halo") and Best Video, ("Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"). The Houston, Texas native gave a shout-out to hubby Jay-Z for "putting a ring on it" and a gushing thank you to friend and fellow nominee for Best Female, Shakira.

Now U2: Were the Environmentalists in the House; despite a tour said to have the same carbon footprint as a trip to Mars, U2 was probably the most environmentally active group in the house. The Irish rockers landed Best Live Act and gave a free show at the Brandenburg Gate the same night. With organic clothing company Edun, launched by Bono and his wife Ali Hewson to drive trade into Africa. Bono also wears recycled clothing, combats HIV/AIDS, and fights poverty and pushes for trade reform with One, the global activist organization he co-founded. Take that Beyoncé!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cambodia Relief Efforts Donation Drive

Hi everyone! I would like to raise awareness of donation drive from our good friends at Olive Ventures aimed at bringing some much needed relief to people afffected by floods in Cambodia.

Stuart from Olive Ventures will be heading to Cambodia on the 19th of November 2009 to provide relief efforts for the recent floods and as such we are organizing a donation drive for food, clothes and cash donations to purchase food and medical supplies there! Help spread the word and bring down your donations to our shop at 26A Sago Street S(059021). The donation drive is daily from 10am - 8pm and will close on the 13th of November 2009. Call us at 63230651 if you have any questions!

All support much apreciated - Thanks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Global warming could create 150 million 'climate refugees' by 2050

Global warming will force up to 150 million "climate refugees" to move to other countries in the next 40 years, a new report from the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) warns.

In 2008 alone, more than 20 million people were displaced by climate-related natural disasters, including 800,000 people by cyclone Nargis in Asia, and almost 80,000 by heavy floods and rains in Brazil, the NGO said.

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, who presented testimony to the EJF, said people in his country did not want to "trade a paradise for a climate refugee camp". He warned rich countries taking part in UN climate talks this week in Barcelona "not to be stupid" in negotiating a climate treaty in Copenhagen this December. Nasheed urged governments to find ways to keep temperature rises caused by warming under 2C. "We won't be around for anything after 2C," he said. "We are just 1.5m over sea level and anything over that, any rise in sea level – anything even near that – would wipe off the Maldives. People are having to move their homes because of erosion. We've already this year had problems with two islands and we are having to move them to other islands. We have a right to live." Last month, the president held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to the plight of his country.

The EJF claimed 500 million to 600 million people – nearly 10% of the world's population – are at risk from displacement by climate change. Around 26 million have already had to move, a figure that the EJF predicts could grow to 150 million by 2050. "The majority of these people are likely to be internally displaced, migrating only within a short radius from their homes. Relatively few will migrate internationally to permanently resettle in other countries," said the report's authors.

In the longer term, the report said, changes to weather patterns will lead to various problems, including desertification and sea-level rises that threaten to inundate low-lying areas and small island developing states. An expert at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris recently said global warming could create "ghost states" with citizens living in "virtual states" due to land lost to rising seas.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts sea-level rise in the range of 18-59cm during the 21st century. Nearly one-third of coastal countries have more than 10% of their national land within 5 metres of sea level. Countries liable to lose all or a significant part of their land in the next 50 years, said the EJF report, include Tuvalu, Fiji, the Solomon islands, the Marshall islands, the Maldives and some of the Lesser Antilles. Many other countries, including Bangladesh, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Chad and Rwanda, could see large movements of people. Bangladesh has had 70 climate-related natural disasters in the past 10 years.

"Climate change impacts on homes and infrastructure, food and water and human health. It will bring about a forced migration on an unprecedented scale," said the EJF director, Steve Trent. "We must take immediate steps to reduce our impact on global climate, and we must also recognise the need to protect those already suffering along with those most at risk." He called for a new international agreement to address the scale and human cost of climate change. "The formal legal definition of refugees needs to be extended to include those affected by climate change and also internally displaced persons," he said.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A bit of humour....

Jim Carrey - Environmental Guy

With so many serious climate issues affecting us and our planet - sometimes a bit of humour can be a great tonic and raise just as much awareness in the process! Enjoy :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

5 Fun Green Ways to Manage Stress

Want to stop stressing? Then start swearing, kissing, getting dirty, cluttered and eating garlic instead!

Being "stressed" seems to be as trendy as being "on a diet." Everyone's doing it, throwing the terms around as if it's an excuse for a bad mood or short fuse. Problem is: stress has some serious side-effects that can be detrimental to your health and happiness if it isn't addressed. Of course there are lots of pills to help you ease off angst, but we prefer to do it green… naturally. No drugs, no chemicals, just good natural cures. Our favorite and the most fun by far: Kissing!

Touching, Kissing, Hugging

Touching, kissing, and hugging (or any other affectionate activities) are eco activities that stimulate the brain's release of the hormone oxytocin. If you want to take it up a notch, get a room! Recent Studies reveal that the surge of oxytocin released during orgasm can lower blood pressure, calm nerves and tame tension. In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, sex is so good for your heart that it cuts your risk of heart attack and stroke in half when performed three times a week.

Reduce Stress by Swearing it Off!

Swearing has been shown to minimize stress and increase workplace camaraderie. That's according to scientists at East Anglia Norwich University in England.

Reduce Stress by Eating Garlic

The main ingredient in garlic when digested is organosulfur allicin, which triggers your body to produce hydrogen sulfide. The combo creates an internal reaction that relaxes blood vessels and encourages blood flow. Translation: garlic is good for your heart and your head and helps manage stress.

Reduce Stress by Eating Chocolate

Balance isn't just for yoga. In fact, a little bit of chocolate can go a long way when it comes to your diet. Dark chocolate has been shown to be filled with antioxidant flavonoids (which can minimize your risk of heart disease and reduce blood pressure). Some scientists have gone so far as to claim that the sweet stuff has more flavonoids than any other food (including blueberries). According to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those said flavonoids help blood vessels relax, helping calm overall stress. Word to the wise, choose the lower fat dark chocolate to milk chocolate. It has a higher count of the good stuff. And of course opt for organic chocolate.

Reduce Stress by Rubbing your Hoku

Your "hoku" is that flap of skin on your palm that connects your pointer finger to your thumb. It's also an acupressure spot related to upper body tension that, when squeezed, can minimize stress by up to 39%—that's according to scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Climate change a challenge for Singapore

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges ahead for Singapore and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the country will bear its fair share of the global effort to reduce emissions.

This is despite the fact that Singapore's carbon emissions are a 'negligible' part of global output and it is not among nations which committed themselves and were obliged to make specific cuts in greenhouse gas emission levels.

'We don't have this obligation,' he noted on Friday in a reference to what is known as Annex I countries. 'But as a responsible member of the international community, we have to bear our fair share of the collective global effort to reduce carbon emissions.

'Therefore, provided other countries also commit to do their part in a global deal, we will reduce emissions from 'business-as-usual' levels and do what we need to do with other countries to reduce humankind's carbon-dioxide emissions.'

Speaking at the launch of the Clean and Green 2010 campaign at the HortPark on Thursday, Mr Lee said that Singapore faced serious limitations in switching to alternative energy sources or reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's the weekend - Go on a Green Date!

Keep it green with these 10 eco-friendly date ideas while hitting the town with your new guy or gal. Here are some eco-friendly dating strategies to aid the earth for your next date.

1. Walk. Pretty straight forward. Walk to your next date instead of taking a taxi or driving. The benefits are numerous for both you and Mother Nature -- you can burn some calories and less carbon emissions will be released into the air.

2. GPS. If driving is essential for the date and the locale is far away, use a GPS system or save the directions onto your phone instead of printing them off. The less paper you use, the fewer trees that need to come down. Most web direction sites will even allow you to e-mail yourself the directions for convenience.

3. Eat at a local restaurant. Try and find a dining establishment who supports local agricultural operations in their cuisine.

4. Presents. If a present is in order for the date, try and gift Mother Nature instead of your significant other. Save a tree in his name, donate to his favorite local charity or drop off shoes you are not wearing anymore to a shelter -- all men love when women can sacrifice shoes for love!

5. Cooking. If cooking up a meal at home for your man, try and use linens and actual plates and glasses instead of the plastic stuff. There are even organic and recycled napkins out there.

6. Decor. When decorating for an at-home date, use fresh cut flowers from your garden or a neighbor’s (you might want to ask before snipping). Purchase organic wine from a local store and walk to your favorite bakery to grab a great dessert -- get out and support your local economy.

7. The date. Take your date on a hike, bike ride or swim in the local lake or watering hole. Try to involve your outing with something that requires fresh air and the outdoors. Even taking the pooch to a dog park (don’t forget to clean up after Fido) is a step in the right direction.

8. Community. Donate your date time to a local non-profit. You and your date can serve up some hot meals at a soup kitchen or help out at a retirement community -- some even allow you to bring your dog for good cheer. Find something you both enjoy doing and make it work for both you two and the community.

9. Give. This might be for a couple dates down the road when you two are more comfortable, but grab a glass of organic wine and go through a closet and get rid of some of the unwanted clothes, sports equipment or clutter. You two could have a good laugh from the outfits one another has held onto. Take the unwanted goods to a local shelter, Goodwill or Salvation Army.

10. Garden! Whether it’s yours, his or someone else’s, get out and get dirty. This is easier in spring and summer when the weather is nicer. You two can start a small vegetable garden for some goodies later on in the season. In fall or winter, start an herb garden inside. There are lots of kits available or you can even pop over to the local nursery and grab some easy-growers such as mint, rosemary or thyme.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Denmark in climate deal warning

Denmark's prime minister says he does not think a legally binding deal on climate change will be agreed upon at a December summit in Copenhagen.

Lars Loekke Rasmussen spoke ahead of an EU summit at which climate change will be one of the main topics. EU leaders must also decide how to secure the Czech Republic's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty would create a full-time EU president, and leaders are expected to discuss who could fill the role.

December's eagerly anticipated United Nations' Copenhagen Climate Summit will attempt to hammer out a new global climate treaty to replace the UN Kyoto Protocol. But Mr Rasmussen said he did not believe a final deal on reducing greenhouse emissions could be reached at the meeting. The main story will revolve around what can be gleaned about Tony Blair's chances to become the first President of the European Council. "We do not think it will be possible to decide all the finer details for a legally binding regime," he said.

However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that even if no treaty is signed in Copenhagen, he was confident a political agreement could be reached there. "We are not lowering expectations," he said. "If we can agree on four political elements, then that could be a hallmark of success on climate change."

At the Brussels summit, European leaders will try to iron out their differences over how much each EU member should pay to help developing nations fight global warming. The European Commission has recommended EU nations pay up to 15bn euros ($22bn; £13bn) a year from 2013 to developing nations to help them cope with climate change. But aid and environmental groups have said Europe should be prepared to pay more than twice as much. Talks last week on how to fund such aid collapsed as EU finance ministers disagreed over how to share the costs.

'Risk of deadlock'

On the eve of the summit, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, urged his counterparts to compromise on agreeing climate aid figures to developing nations. "We have a risk for a clear deadlock in the negotiations," he said. "The emerging economies are looking for financing and without it they will not make the required reduction targets."

It is unclear how much money the EU is willing to put on the table and who should pay what.

EU 20-20-20 TARGETS

20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020
20% of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020
20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020

Poland and other Eastern and Central European countries say they are too poor to contribute much, our correspondent says. The EU is committed to cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% by 2020 and by up to 30% if other countries join in.
Developing nations have been arguing that industrialised countries should carry most of the burden, because they are responsible for the majority of CO2 emissions.

The two-day Brussels meeting must also try to seal an agreement for the ratification of the Lisbon reform treaty with the Czech Republic. Czech President Vaclav Klaus is the only EU leader who has yet to sign the treaty, demanding an opt-out from the treaty's Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Eurosceptic Mr Klaus fears that charter could be used by ethnic Germans to reclaim land they lost in the Czech Republic after World War II. The Czech Constitutional Court is expected to rule next week on whether the treaty complies with the country's constitution, clearing the way for Mr Klaus' decision.

EU leaders are also expected to discuss who will fill the post of full-time president that the Lisbon Treaty would create. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Luxembourg Premier Jean-Claude Juncker have been touted as the leading candidates for the job.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Have a Green Halloween!

Halloween is just around the corner and like any other celebration that usually means two things: spending cash, and decorating with props. Props like costumes, scary skeletons, tombstones and eerie lights that cast an orange-ish glow all are part of the fun and they help create fond memories for kids and adults alike.

It’s all part of bringing in the Halloween spirit so how can you preserve the fun and still do something to reduce impact on the environment? We’ve pulled together some easy tips and they’re centered around three words – reduce, reuse and recycle.

1.Costumes are an essential part of every Halloween celebration and a great alternative to shopping for something new every year is to attend a costume exchange party. It’s a spooky twist on traditional clothing exchange parties, and if there aren’t any happening in your circle of friends host one!

2.Jack-O’-Lanterns are a wonderful way to decorate because they’re almost entirely organic. Pumpkin seeds can make a great snack when roasted and the other remains left after carving are easily compostable.

3.It’s fun to pass out handfuls of candy to ghouls and ghosts trick or treating, but it can lead to waste as kids accumulate mounds of candy – more than they’ll eat. The solution? Hand out one piece at a time, let them work for their stockpiles!

4.If you end up with extra candy, get the family together and pull off the wrappers. Then compost it rather than throwing it in the trash where it will end up in our landfills.

5.Those wrappers you pulled off? Create something unique out of them! Crafts are one idea, or some companies are even making handbags. You could also post free candy wrappers on Freecycle and someone may grab them.

6.Hanging up electric Halloween lights? There are energy friend LED lights available which will last longer and use less power.

7.Rather than drive house to house while trick or treating, walk!

8.When sending out invitations to your party, e-mail them out instead of printing them.

9.Markets provide local, inexpensive outlets for finding pumpkins and apples to complement your haunted cuisine.

10.Lastly, carry two bags when out trick or treating. One for trash and one for candy.

Have fun! :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Doritos bags find new life as MP3 speakers

A US-based environmental firm has developed audio player speakers made from recycled chips and candy bar packages.

TerraCycle is using its large waste-collection program to turn Doritos and Cheetos bags, as wells as Mars candy wrappers, into funky, foldable speakers. The Frito-Lay Speakers have a 3.5 mm universal plug and don't require batteries. They sell at Radio Shack and on the TerraCycle Website, where they're listed for USD$19.99.

TerraCycle "upcycles" waste into over 100 useful products, such as backpacks made from Capri Sun drink pouches, pencil cases made from Chips Ahoy wrappers, and kites made from Oreo cookie bags. The company collects waste from groups across the country and donates money to charities for each item received. It aims to save thousands of tons of packaging from entering landfills each year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

One to put in your diary - World Vegan Day 2009

World Vegan Day is 1 November - This marks the start of World Vegan Month. Feel free to post us your events and how you are celebrating and we'll share with our community.

Veganism and the environment

Throughout the 20th century growing populations and ever-increasing industrialisation had devastating effects on our environment. Global warming, widespread pollution, deforestation, land degradation and species extinction are just some of the problems we now face. The full consequences of such large-scale environmental degradation are impossible to judge, but what we do know is that the impacts on humanity will be most devastating in the developing world. With hundreds of millions of people already not obtaining enough food to meet their basic needs and billions of people lacking access to safe water supplies, it is imperative that we find sustainable methods of food production that do not further degrade planetary health.

"Removing the causes of environmental degradation is often more effective than seeking to control the symptoms." - Cornelis de Haan, Livestock Adviser to the World Bank

Agriculture in general is one of the most resource-intensive and environmentally damaging aspects of industrialised living. What this means for us as individuals is that if we are trying to reduce our car use, limit the amount of water we waste, become more 'energy-efficient' and generally lessen our environmental impact, then we should also examine our eating habits.

People are increasingly becoming aware of the direct correlation between what they eat every day and the health of the planet. Environmentally conscious consumers are concerned not only with food miles, over-packaging, pesticide use and GM foods, but also question the environmental sustainability of modern animal husbandry. Farmers used to be seen as 'custodian's of the countryside,' but the overriding image of modern industrial farming is one of destruction and waste.

World meat production has quadrupled in the past 50 years and livestock now outnumber people by more than 3 to 1. In other words, the livestock population is expanding at a faster rate than the human population. This trend contributes to all of the environmental problems already outlined.

A report commissioned by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank concluded that factory farming, "acts directly on land, water, air and biodiversity through the emission of animal waste, use of fossil fuels and substitution of animal genetic resources. In addition, it affects the global land base indirectly through its effect on the arable land needed to satisfy its feed concentrate requirements. Ammonia emissions from manure storage and application lead to localized acid rain and ailing forests."

Friday, October 23, 2009


The Global Day of Climate Action is tomorrow! Join in, show your support and spread the word!

Organised by, this is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand.

Their mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

You can see more here or check out their universal language (cool) animation below:

For Singapore events; Please head to Hong Lim Park, 8 am to 10am or arrive at LASALLE at 3:50pm for the Human Tidal Wave! With so much support already, everyone is really excited about the day itself. 350 organisers are saying it's shaping up to be the most widespread coordinated political event on anything. Ever.

Be a part of history, please help spread the word by:
1) Invite your friends: Not just on facebook, but talk to them about it, send them a text, let them know why 350 is important.
2) Tweet about it: Include 350 in your tweets so that it can become a trending topic leading up to this Saturday.
3) Change your profile pic: Help keep 350 in everyone's mind by changing your profile pic to 350 for the next two days.

We look forward to seeing you Saturday and bring BLUE! Blue shirts, blue hats, blue towels, blue flags! Your support will help protect our future.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Top Green Baby Tips

A new baby entering your life can create an enormous number of unexpected changes. Along with the little one comes a whole new category of things to purchase -- not only the obvious large items like furniture and diapers, but also all the unforeseen extras that seem to accumulate. While having a baby is consumer heaven, the key is to not be gulled into an unnecessary buying frenzy. In truth, a baby has very minimal needs. On the flip side, there is more to a sustainable life with your baby than cloth diapers, organic baby food, and fair-trade clothing....

Choose the right diapers
Studies are divided on the subject of environmental impact of disposables vs. cloth. But knowing that your baby will use approx 6,000 diapers before toilet training, and that disposable diapers take 200-500 years to decompose, this is certainly a key issue to ponder. Washing cloth diapers takes water, energy, and chemicals (not to mention time), but you might want to consider the benefits of a laundering service. One study has found that home-washing cloth diapers has only 53 percent of the ecological footprint of disposables, and if you use a diaper laundering service that impact is halved again.

Feed your little one: From breast or bottle?
This one’s a no-brainer: breastfeeding is best. It's free, has health benefits for mother and baby, has no environmental impact, and is a precious bonding experience. However, in our commerce-driven society there are products for everything, and breastfeeding is no exception. For breast pads, ditch disposables and try re-usable organic cotton or wool felt pads. While there are many great, organic nipple creams available, some locally produced olive oil or organic lanolin does a great job. If bottle feeding becomes a necessity, pumping your own is the first choice. Beyond that, using a fair-trade organic infant formula is preferable. If this is neither affordable nor accessible, then the next best thing is to ensure the brand of formula you buy is from a company not profiteering from marketing their product to developing countries. These companies disregard or try to get around the marketing code set by The World Health Assembly.

Chow down on solid foods
At about six months, babies starts to eat real food. Rice cereal and mushy veggies turn to combinations of fish, meat, eggs, legumes, and vegetables—yep, a regular person’s diet. Buying jars of food is sure convenient, but as an adult you don't live out of jars, so why should your baby? For those occasional situations, purchase organic or fresh frozen baby foods. Otherwise, make your own. Cook up veggies, casseroles, or tofu and lentils, whatever is your thing, and freeze it in tiny containers or ice cube trays ready to take out and defrost when needed. (Be sure you discuss any concerns over dietary requirements with your health professional)

Dress your baby in smart green clothing
All those designer baby clothes are cute and oh so hard to resist in their fruity colors. But be careful. Not only does a baby grow out of clothes amazingly fast, they are constantly sending bodily fluids flying onto those precious outfits. The baby couture might be better replaced with convenient one-piece suits in practical white terry cloth. Choosing organic hemp or cotton, bamboo or wool fabrics made without toxic chemicals are best against a baby's sensitive skin and last longer with the constant washing. Second-hand clothing is the cheapest and most sustainable option. Get hand-me-downs from friends and family or look in thrift shops, Craigslist, or Freecycle.

Lather up with natural skin care
It’s very easy to get sucked into the constant advertising of baby powders, creams, and lotions. But the best baby lotion is plain old olive oil—cheap, natural, and un-perfumed. As for other products, keep it as natural, organic, and fragrance-free as possible.

Wash up: Green laundry, washing and cleaning
It’s quite possible that our war on germs is actually making things worse. Studies have shown that children brought up in over-cleaned houses are more likely to develop allergies, asthma, or eczema. The best thing you can do for sensitive baby skin is not to cover it with synthetic chemicals. Wash nappies with pure soap and warm water. Perhaps, give yourself some extra time to rest and enjoy motherhood, by using our professional green cleaning services!

Make play-time green-time with greener toys
Get back to basics and try old fashioned wooden toys and organic cotton or homemade teddies. Because babies put most things in their mouths, go as natural as possible, then when baby is a little older, get hold of second-hand toys. Also aim for toys that helps build a child’s bond with nature and the natural world. The sad truth is that the average American kindergartener can identify several hundred logos only a few leaves from plants and trees.

Rest easy with green furniture and accessories
Babies don't need much—a secure place to sleep, a car seat, a high chair, and a way to be trundled around. Go for second-hand furniture, everything except cot mattresses (some research suggests a link between second-hand cot mattresses and sudden infant death syndrome) and car seats, (which can have invisible accident damage). If you buy new furniture, purchase high quality, durable pieces made of sustainable, low-toxicity materials. Think about some alternatives to the regular old wooden baby bed; try using an organic cotton baby hammock or a cot that extends into a bed and lasts 6-7 years. The most ethical option for stroller (pram) is recycled.

Improve your indoor air quality and maintain a healthy household environment
It goes without saying that alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking while pregnant are bad for a baby. But it is also very important to avoid exposure to the synthetic chemicals contained in everyday products such as paints, carpet, furniture, bedding, and pesticides. When decorating the nursery, use natural and low-VOC paints and don't lay new carpet before the baby is born. Suspicious new items should at least be left outside to off-gas for a few days before bringing inside.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Glaciers from space....

Amazing images captured by satellites and astronauts on the space station

Glaciers are masses of ice which move over land, carving out the landscape. Because they are sensitive to any changes in climate, they are indicators of global warming. Here we look at images of glaciers captured by satellites and astronauts on the space station.

The Bear Glacier in the Kenai Peninsula along the Gulf of Alaska empties into a lake. Pieces of the glacier that have broken off look like shards of white glass in the blue water. Down the middle of the glacier run stripes caused by the dirt and debris the glacier has picked up as it moved

A detailed view of the leading edge of the Eugenie Glacier's "floating tongue" reveals surface cracks and extensive calving of icebergs in Dobbin Bay.

The Bering Glacier, about 10 km from the Gulf of Alaska, is the largest glacier in North America. Warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation over the past century have thinned it by several hundred metres.

The Southern Patagonian Icefield of Chile and Argentina hosts several spectacular glaciers, including Grey Glacier which terminates in three distinct lobes into Grey Lake.

Glacial lakes in the Bhutan-Himalaya suggest that glaciers in the Himalaya are wasting at alarming and accelerating rates.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Copenhagen climate change talks are last chance", Gordon Brown

There are now fewer than 50 days to set course of next 50 years and more, PM tells environment ministers from 17 countries responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Gordon Brown today warned that the world is on the brink of a "catastrophic" future of killer heatwaves, floods and droughts unless governments speed up negotiations on climate change before vital talks in Copenhagen in December. This applies to the US as much as anyone, he said, adding that "there is no plan B", and that agreement cannot be deferred beyond the UN-sponsored Copenhagen conference.

There are fears that Barack Obama does not have the political capital to reach a deal in Copenhagen and will instead use a visit to China next month to reach a bilateral deal that circumvents the UN. Downing Street is also concerned that there is no agreement on how to finance a climate change package in developing countries.

The prime minister delivered his warning to a meeting of environment ministers brought together under the umbrella of the Major Economies Forum. The 17 countries in the forum are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. Brown told them: "In every era there are only one or two moments when nations come together and reach agreements that make history, because they change the course of history. Copenhagen must be such a time. There are now fewer than 50 days to set the course of the next 50 years and more.

"If we do not reach a deal at this time, let us be in no doubt: once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement in some future period can undo that choice. By then it will be irretrievably too late."

Brown said that, according to estimates from the intergovernmental panel on climate change, an extra 1.8bn people – a quarter of the world's population – could be short of water by 2080 as a result of climate change. And the threat was not confined to people in the developing world, Brown said.

"The extraordinary summer heatwave of 2003 in Europe resulted in over 35,000 extra deaths. On current trends, such an event could become quite routine in Britain in just a few decades' time," he said.

"And within the lifetime of our children and grandchildren the intense temperatures of 2003 could become the average temperature experienced throughout much of Europe. In Britain we face the prospect of more frequent droughts and a rising wave of floods."

Brown said that he thought a deal at Copenhagen was possible. But negotiators were "not getting to agreement quickly enough", Brown went on, which was why he was appealing for leaders to get involved personally. "We cannot compromise with the earth, we cannot compromise with the catastrophe of unchecked climate change, so we must compromise with one another," he said.

"I urge my fellow leaders to work together to reach agreement amongst us, recognising both our common and our differentiated responsibilities – and the dire consequences of failure."

Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, yesterday highlighted signs of movement, pointing out that last month India said it was ready to set itself non-binding targets for cutting carbon emissions, while China said it would curb the growth of its emissions by a "notable margin" by 2020, although it did not specify further.

The US special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, said developing economies must boost their efforts to curb emissions, warning it was "certainly possible" that no deal would be agreed in Copenhagen. "What we need to have happen is for China and India and Brazil and South Africa and others to be willing to take what they're doing, boost it up some, and then be willing to put it into an international agreement," he said.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Green Cleaners - September 2009 Media Corp Suria

Took a while to upload, sorry! As featured on Suria's 'Fajar Ramadan' program Sept 2009. Green Cleaners' director and founder Colin Pudsey talks about Green Cleaners' carefully selected products, eco friendly services and our professional eco trained staff.

We also hear from a satisfied client on why choosing Green Cleaners is important to her family. (Malay / English subs)

Friday, October 16, 2009

North Pole Ice Set To Melt By Summer 2020

The frozen Arctic Ocean will become an open sea during the summer within a decade, according to the latest data. Climate change experts predict a massive melt which will see the ice cover completely disappear throughout the warmer months. British polar explorer Pen Hadow led an expedition to collect the data behind the alarming prediction.

He told Sky News: "We were able to reach the areas the scientists can't get to. Our findings are depressing. In just ten years or so 80-85 per cent of the Arctic Ocean will be ice free, and within twenty years we'll have completely lost the summer ice."

Hadow and the rest of the Catlin Arctic Survey team faced temperatures of down to minus 45C, and even had to swim part of the 450km journey. Using giant drills they measured the depth and age of the Arctic ice. Their results, the most recent gathered from the North Pole, show how the region is gradually disappearing.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge say it is "invaluable evidence". Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Physics Group said: "Up until now we've always thought of the Arctic Ocean as a white lid on top of the planet. But now that lid is being lifted and replaced with an open ocean which changes everything. It really is bad news."

As the ice disappears so too does its wildlife, from polar bears to walrus and seals. Moreover, the Arctic sea ice has been described as earth's refrigerator, and as it melts, it is expected to have a major impact on the world climate.

Campaigners are taking this latest research to the Copenhagen climate conference in December in the hope that the evidence will convince world leaders to take action in cutting carbon emissions. Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said the findings set out the "stark realities of a rapidly changing climate" and "illustrated the risk of an ice free summer in the Arctic in the not-too-distant future. This further strengthens the case for an ambitious global deal in Copenhagen in December which the UK is fully committed to achieving," he said.

Dr Martin Sommerkorn, from the WWF International Arctic Programme, warned there was "no time to lose". "Countries must see these results and think there is no alternative. We must deal with the problem and make investments. Humankind and our way of life is at stake."