Tuesday 26 October 2010

Interview: Martin Orbea from Corona Save the Beach Campaign

So Martin, what’s the Corona Extra Save The Beach campaign?
The campaign has been launched with the mission of preserving Europe’s endangered beaches. Its aim is to recover at least one European beach each year. The campaign was launched in 2008 and we work in partnership with the Foundation for Environmental Education and its world-recognised Blue Flag programme.

How are you raising public awareness?
Through a number of pioneering initiatives. It ranges from calling for volunteers to join us in beach clean-ups, to projects such as our Beach Hotel built from rubbish, which was created by famed German artist HA Shult.

A hotel made from rubbish? Tell us a little more about that...
The hotel was built using litter collected on beaches from across Europe to raise awareness of the need for conservation. It acted as a representation of how we can expect our shorelines to look unless actions are taken now to protect them. Supermodel Helena Christensen was the first guest, spending a night at the hotel sleeping on a bed made from rubbish.

What beach is the campaign saving this year and how was it chosen?
This year’s beach is Bahia De Portman in Murcia, Spain. Our volunteers will shortly be involved in the big clean-up. The beach was chosen in an internet poll we set up on our website:


Sustainable Restaurant Review: Otarian

Review of Otarian: Shaftesbury Avenue and Wardour Street, London

Otarian has recently opened at two locations in central London. I checked out both, the scores below apply to both venues.

Eco Credentials: 5 out of 5
Otarian is a completely vegetarian restaurant chain. The business is founded on ecological principles which are integral to the identity of the company.

Food Quality: 4 out of 5
Healthy and good quality, presented more as cafe style fast food than luxury cuisine.

Views and Decor: 4 out of 5
More of a cafe atmosphere than comfortable restaurant to relax after your meal. A big screen displays a world map and environmental facts and figures.

Affordability: 5 out of 5
Congratulations to Otarian for making sustainable food affordable and therefore accessible to the mass population.

Overall Affordable Eco Stars: 18 out of 20


Sustainable Hotel Review: The Scarlet Hotel

by Lucy Cornes

The Scarlet Hotel near Newquay opened in 2009, with the promise of combining luxury with sustainability. A decadent break, without the guilt trip. The 37-room hotel is heated by a biomass boiler, reliant on woodchips sourced from Devon and Cornwall. Deluxe red hot tubs, which perch on the edge of the cliff overlooking the beach, are also wood-fired. Solar panels are used to power the indoor swimming pool.

The beautifully practical sea thrift roof both insulates the building and provides a natural habitat for insects and butterflies. ‘Grey’ water is collected from shower waste, treated and then used to flush toilets.

Combining luxury and sustainability right down to the details cannot have been an easy task, yet The Scarlet seems to have redefined both terms, setting the standard for a new generation of hotels where neither need be compromised.


Sunday 26 September 2010

Graduate Fashion Show and After Party hosted by Fashion Babylon!

When: Friday 1 October 2010, 7pm

Where: Vendome Mayfair, 85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB

How: Book online and quote the code “ECONEWS20”.

Tickets: £10 including party: www.fashionbabylon.com

Advertise, Sell and Buy Eco Fashion and Accessories

To advertise, sell and buy environmentally friendly clothing and accessories via www.fashionbabylon.com, email michael.bailey@fashionbabylon.com and in the subject line quote the code “ECONEWS5”.

Save Your Wallet and the World...Literally!

Drink, Shop & Do Review

Drink, Shop & Do is a new establishment near King’s Cross station, where you can indeed drink, shop and do! Some of the things you can ‘Do’ are free or very cheap, as well as good for the environment, hence saving your wallet and the world! As if the metaphor isn’t literal enough already, I went along to one of their ‘Do’ evenings, and learnt how to divert an OJ carton from landfill and turn it into a wallet! My sewing skills haven’t improved since primary school, but other attendees were clearly talented.

Next class is on Thursday 7 October 2010: www.drinkshopdo.com

Ethical and Safe Belts

Josyflo belts contain hidden pockets for the wearer’s valuables, allowing you to stay safe and look fabulous! Instead of using plastic packaging materials, the producers make special bags, which are used to send the belts to the UK. These double up as re-useable shopping carriers!


Top 2 Eco Entertainment Links

You and I Films were screening some inspiring short films in the solar tent at the recent Urban Green Fair in Brixton. Check out their website for new films and videos.

Ecotube is a similar format to Youtube, but focuses on environmental content.

Edition 19 and counting....

Eco News is a free e-newsletter. In keeping with its environmental ethos, the author has never printed a copy thus far!

To subscribe to Eco News, email the subject line 'subscribe' to atul@ecoexpert.tv

Interview: Tania from Oria Jewellery

Tania, what are the main environmentally friendly aspects of Oria Jewellery?
Oria sources our silver from Bolivia and gold from Argentina. The miners still use traditional methods, which do not involve the use of cyanide and mercury in their extraction, which are highly toxic to the environment, animals and people.

Do you think ethical jewellery and ethical clothing have different challenges?
Yes. Currently there is an extremely limited supply chain for ethical jewellery. There are a very small number of mines that produce ethically, therefore there is a limited quantity of metals and gems available to the jewellery industry.

What do you think the future holds for ethical jewellery?
Public awareness and demand is on the increase. This is pressurising jewellery manufacturers and retailers to look at how they produce and who they stock. Next year we will see the launch of Fairtrade Gold, which is extremely exciting and marks a significant milestone in acknowledging the importance of ethical sourcing. For more information and to see our full range of jewellery please visit: www.oriajewellery.co.uk

Special Offer – Discounted Oria Jewellery for Eco News Readers!

Oria Jewellery is offering a 15% discount for Eco News readers. Quote the code “ORIAECONEWS” when purchasing to claim your discount. Their website is: www.oriajewellery.co.uk

Special Offer – Discounted Promotional Films!

Much of my work involves short interviews with individuals and businesses in the environmental sector. If we film your interview you can use it for your promotions! See examples at:
To find out more, email atul@ecoexpert.tv

Thursday 2 September 2010

Atul Srivastava - Showreel

Food for people on low incomes - Plan Zheroes project launched

I was delighted to present the launch of Plan Zheroes at The Hub, on behalf of London Citizens Greener Planet Action Team (GPAT). The presentation included 3 live interviews with key members of GPAT, and was followed by a screening of the film Food Inc.

This was a great way of raising awareness about the campaign and attracted new volunteers to support the cause. Plan Zheroes aims to direct food waste from shops and supermarkets, and give it to homeless people or those on low incomes, rather than it going to landfill. If you would like to get involved, or just find out more contact me at atul@ecoexpert.tv

Affordable Eco Fashion - Interview with the Environmental Justice Foundation

Following my report from the Clothes Show 2010, readers asked to see the transcript of the interview with the Environmental Justice Foundation. Here it is...

So you’re from the Environmental Justice Foundation, what’s your name and position?

My name is Valerie, I’m an intern on EJF’s Marketing and PR team and I’m working on the cotton campaign mainly.

Ok, so what is the cotton campaign?

The cotton campaign is an EJF campaign to raise awareness of the environmental and human right abuse linked with cotton production, especially in Uzbekistan. Non organic cotton production uses very harmful and toxic chemicals and in Uzbekistan the government has taken control of the production and farmers do not get fair prices for their work.

Can I ask for those who don’t know, cotton grown isn’t grown in the UK is that right?

No it’s not.

So people talk about locally grown material as being good because it reduces the miles that the goods have to travel. What do you think about the balance between having locally grown materials in the UK, and organic cotton from other countries?

Well I actually look at it the other way around. When cotton is grown in poorer countries such as India or Mali, so it can be way of generating wealth for countries and communities that needs it. It can be a very positive thing, because you buy a great product here and you’re also helping somebody at the other side of the planet.

In terms of transport our t-shirts are 100% organic cotton and are produced in India using wind turbine and are 90% carbon dioxide neutral. The company which produces the t-shirts has a no freight policy so all is shipped by boat. Ethical and ecological brands often try to reduce the amount of transport involved, so for example they might ship large amounts of items at once. In other words there are ways of reducing CO2 emissions linked with shipping if it’s not a product that is produced locally.

I find it very interesting, the similarities between food and fashion, organic food and organic cotton.

The main thing those two areas have in common is the pesticides. Any food or fibre like cotton that has been grown organically has been grown without the use of toxic chemical pesticides. People often understand the implications of pesticides in food more easily – by eating organically they avoid possibly ingesting something which is, simply, designed to kill. Clothing kind of takes it to a next step as its more down to the health of the people that grow the cotton in the first instance. But of course, when the pesticide are sprayed in the fields the wind transport these pesticides all over the planet literally and it can affect all of us.

So the Environmental Justice Foundation sells cotton bags, what other products does it sell? Does it sell clothes as well?

EJF has recently collaborated with Jade Jagger and the organic cotton bags are a limited edition. But our main range of products are the organic cotton t-shirts. EJF has developed the t-shirts collection with various fashion designers such as Betty Jackson, Giles Deacon, Christian Lacroix and many more who support our “Pick Your Cotton Carefully” campaign for environmental justice in the cotton industry. Every year we have more designers coming on board and the collection keeps growing! You can buy EJF t-shirts on our website, they are beautiful and there is a design for everyone.

So does the Environmental Justice Foundation focus on fashion, or does it do other things as well?

For nearly ten years EJF has run a number of major campaigns including action to resolve abuses and create ethical practice and environmental sustainability in cotton production, shrimp farming and fisheries. The NGO works to stop the devastating impacts of illegal fishing operators, prevent the use of unnecessary and dangerous pesticides and to secure vital international support for climate refugees.

So no, it doesn’t focus solely on fashion and cotton! We use t-shirts as a message board to raise awareness, funds and actions for all our campaigns which you can see films and read reports about on the website. You can find out more information about all EJF campaigns on the website: www.ejfoundation.org.

Interview with Dan Bucknell, the man responsible for all those colourful elephants around central London!

Dan, can you tell us a little about Elephant Family, and how the idea for this campaign came about?

Elephant Family is the only UK charity dedicated solely and exclusively to saving the Asian elephant from extinction in the wild, while the Elephant Parade is all about raising awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant. Elephant Family has always looked for fun and novel ways of drawing people’s attention to this.

I was surprised that thousands of people had clearly made it their short term hobby to go around London locating all 258 elephants!

I have the general impression that those who have really taken the Elephant Parade to heart so enthusiastically have certainly taken on board the more important message, have signed the petition and will hopefully go on to be regular supporters of ours.

What will be done with the money and the petition?

The funds will be invested in our projects in Asia, the majority of which involve securing habitat – particularly wildlife corridors – for the endangered Asian elephant, as well as finding ways of reducing conflict between people and elephants. The petition will be used to demonstrate the level of support there is for Asian elephants around the world, making it easier for governments in particular to take the necessary action to save them. This could be anything from investing in conservation projects, designating protected areas, or changing and enforcing legislation to protect elephants etc.

How can people donate? Can they sign the petition online?

Both can be done online: www.justgiving.com/elephantfamily/donate and www.elephantparadelondon.org/petition

And the question everyone wants to know the answer to....will there be more elephants visiting London or other cities again in future?

Elephant Parade is a unique event for each city in which it takes place. Therefore, while we will not be repeating the event in London, we are certainly looking to host future parades in other cities within the UK and beyond!

Affordable Organic Wine

Cono Sur organic wine benefits the environment, the consumer and the vineyards’ workers. They use geese, sheep, insects and plants to regulate the vines instead of pesticides, and all vineyard workers travel around on bikes.


Tuesday 24 August 2010

Clothes Show Report - Part 2

In Part 1 of my review of the Clothes Show London 2010 at Earl‟s Court, I reported a notable lack of eco fashion relative to demand. But let‟s not forget to celebrate the brands that did show, and encourage more to come in future. Here are the 7 organisations I interviewed at the show:

The Environmental Justice Foundation has a leading position in the eco fashion industry. Celebrity endorsement is always useful, and as well as working with Lily Cole, EJF secured the services of Jade Jagger who designed one of their organic cotton bags, with net proceeds supporting EJF. To request a transcript of my interview with Valerie from EJF, email atul@ecoexpert.tv

“What we hope for the future is that it will just be the norm...we always say it‟s a fashion brand first, and eco is how it should be done...” To request a transcript of my interview with Tony from Komodo, email atul@ecoexpert.tv
Environmentally friendly footwear made from natural cotton, jute (affordable, vegetable fibre) rope and recycled tyres.

Swimwear that changes colour and pattern on contact with water, made from UK materials including recycled nylon.

Stole the show with an enormous water tank with bikini clad models posing for photos, which were sold to the media. Profits go towards clean water provision in Madagascar. Keira Knightly had a go in the tank.

Launched by Bar Refaeli, the Corona Save the Beach campaign had a mock beach at the Clothes Show, used as a catwalk. CSTB is touring a „trash hotel‟ to warn what future beaches will be like if we do nothing.

Fashion magazine and community launched at the Clothes Show 2010.

Clothes Show Report - Part 1

The Clothes Show London ran from 25-27 June 2010 at Earl’s Court. My conclusion? Not enough eco fashion! Punters told me they wanted more. Supply is not meeting demand.


Sunday 25 April 2010

Exclusive Interview with Nicola Woods from Eco Fashion Label Beautiful Soul

Fashion is a bit like food. Organic food and organic cotton. Fairtrade food and fairtrade clothing. Even local food and local fashion help to reduce climate change by reducing the ‘food miles’ or ‘fashion miles’ of transporting materials around the globe. I caught up with Nicola Woods, founder of Eco Fashion label Beautiful Soul, to find out how and why she wants to make fashion more palatable.

Nicola, can you tell us a bit about your background and involvement in the Eco Fashion industry?

I have a slightly unusual route in to the Fashion Industry. I remember writing to ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ to make me a fashion designer, but life has twists and turns and I found myself caught up in the rat race. The lifestyle it provided seemed to outweigh my lack of passion for my work (Insurance Broking). Something was missing, but I didn’t know how I would cope without the next pay rise. I was stuck in a rut and the security of payday seemed to mist the way. How could I possibly cope without my luxuries.

I had the opportunity to backpack around the world with my best friend and breaking away from the rat race for the first time in my adult life, gave me an insight into living on a budget. I was starting to see life in a different light, with endless opportunities.

Whilst in Tokyo, something happened to me. I was surrounded by the most amazing boutiques. I was like a child in a sweet shop. Mesmerised. Excited. Totally Inspired. Something inside me quite literally *came to life* (hence my love of vintage kimonos).

I realised that I needed to make radical changes. I accepted that everything else would have to be put on hold. I needed the opportunity and guidance to follow my dreams of becoming a fashion designer. I had buried these dreams for too long. I was determined to make this happen. I had found my calling.

I haven’t looked back since. I graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2008, with a BA (Hons) in Fashion: Design and Technology (Creative Pattern Cutter). During my final year, I was involved in a project based around ‘saving the earth’. I was hooked. Fashion with a TRUE meaning, for me, is the only way forward. It makes sense and it adds to my determination.

Fresh from graduating, I won a scholarship through the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and worked as a designer for a South African charity. The work I carried out with Tabeisa, an organisation committed to supporting disadvantaged communities across Africa, sparked a determination to set up my own sustainable fashion label and Beautiful Soul became a reality in November 2008.

Why was the name Beautiful Soul chosen, and what are the main eco credentials of your products?

Beautiful Soul is my nickname given to me by one of my closet friends. I am all or nothing and I thrive on challenge. Beautiful Soul aims to recycle the most 'scrumptious ingredients' from around the world sympathetically, and has made a name for itself with its unique use of vintage Japanese kimonos. The label does not conform to 'throw away fashion' but instead combines luxurious vintage fabrics with sustainable alternatives, such as British wool (sourced from Izzy Lane) and peace silk and organic jacquard (sourced from Tammam). The materials and innovative design combine to give the wearer a truly unique fashion experience.

Silhouettes are considered throughout the design process and a strong emphasis is placed on product longevity, multi function and garment adjustability, offering a versatility determined by our change in body contours. Material remnants feature as fastenings and embellishments, providing a solution to 'zero' waste. Beautiful Soul’s collections are expertly made in London.

What makes Beautiful Soul different from other Eco Fashion brands?

The combination of ingredients.

Where can people buy Beautiful Soul clothing?

You can visit Beautiful Soul’s website for a full list of Stockists: www.beautiful-soul.co.uk.

Current Stockists:
Ascension Boutique: www.ascensiononline.com
Beautiful Soul: www.beautiful-soul.co.uk
Junky Styling: www.junkystyling.co.uk
V&A: www.vam.ac.uk

How do you think the Eco Fashion industry is different in the UK and other countries?

Judging by the feedback from visitors at London Fashion Week, I believe that London is leading the way when it comes to Ethical Fashion. I am proud to contribute to such a positive movement. It’s truly exciting.

What do you think the future holds for Beautiful Soul and the Eco Fashion industry?

It is very early days for Beautiful Soul, but I thrive on challenge and I am extremely driven by my ethos. Change is difficult to influence, as a lone player, but individuals acting as a unified force can make change tangible. Since starting out, I have learnt that there are no rights or wrongs in ethical fashion. The most important thing is to stay true to yourself, keep an open mind and offer transparency. I am at my happiest when I am sharing and believe that this is the most effective way of pushing responsible fashion in to the mainstream.

If readers want to know more about your company or see your next show, where can they find out more information, and who should they contact?

They can visit Beautiful Soul’s website and join our Facebook page (through our homepage) to keep up to date with all our news. There are so many exciting things happening!

Atul Srivastava
Follow my daily updates of Eco News on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Which of the main 3 UK political parties is the most eco friendly?

Please rank the main 3 UK political parties in order of which is the most eco friendly!

Have your say by:
-voting on this Blog
-voting on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv
-voting by email to: atul@ecoexpert.tv

Please set out your votes by:
1. Most eco friendly party
2. Middle party
3. Least eco friendly party

The results of your votes will be published in Eco News, on this Blog and on my Twitter page!

Please include any relevant quotes if you wish, indicating whether or not you give permission for your name to be published or you wish your quote to be anonymous.


Atul Srivastava
Follow my daily updates of Eco News: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv


• A Brief History of Eco-Issues in General Election Campaigns in the UK
• The General Election Campaigns in the UK in 2010

A general election is an opportunity to examine global, national and local environmental politics.

The image of the Earth as a circular object with clearly defined limits is perhaps the most succinct and pervasive image that can be used to express concern for environmental management. In circulation since 1969, the year that startling images of planet Earth were relayed from the surface of the moon, they fundamentally recast environmental perceptions and legitimated the environment as a major political issue. The subsequent message of a key book published in 1972, The Limits to Growth, that infinite consumption of non-renewable resources within a finite system is impossible, was the starting point for the Green Party of England and Wales, contesting its first general election in February 1974.

There was a shift in the 1960s and 1970s away from previously deeply entrenched party loyalties, and towards “judging parties according to their stances on the issues of the day” (Pattie, 1990).

Environmental issues reached an electoral high point in the 1989 European elections, where the 14.9 per cent share of the vote won by the Green Party was the highest ever won by a Green party in any national election in any European state (Garner, 2000). However, the ‘first past the post system’ meant that the Green Party won no seats in the European Parliament. In 1999 the European elections were run on a form of proportional representation, and the Green Party elected Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert to the European Parliament (Dobson, 2000).

By May 2001 David Watts, Liberal Democrat candidate for Broxtowe, wrote in the Nottinghamshire Evening Post that “The protection and preservation of the environment is the single biggest issue facing the world”. The Ecologist published the results of its ‘Great British Environmental Survey’ in May 2001, revealing that over half of the electorate were about to vote, to some extent at least, on the basis of environmental policy.

The Liberal Democrats worked with Friends of the Earth to produce their 2001 election manifesto. FoE helped them to integrate a green column onto every page of the manifesto, rather than bolt on an ‘Environment’ page at the end. In contrast, the Labour manifesto placed climate change policy at the end of the manifesto, rather than being integrated into other policy areas.

During my interview with David Watts in 2001, he revealed that many local environmental policies were actually justified to voters on social or economic grounds. For example, the proposed bus lane on the A52 in Nottinghamshire was justified for its social and economic benefits rather than environmental. Similarly, local campaign leaflets justified energy efficiency policies in economic terms rather than environmental.

With the General Election in 2010 approaching, it appears that the environment is steadily moving up the political agenda, but driven by social and economic rather than purely environmental incentives. I will be watching the election campaigns carefully to see how social, economic and environmental incentives are expressed in 2010!

Atul Srivastava

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Zero Heroes - London’s Zero Food Waste Heroes

Waste has an image problem. For many there’s a perception that it’s not in vogue, not as important or ‘sexy’ an environmental issue as climate change or water shortages. Yet agriculture is the world’s largest consumer of water, and the food miles required to transport food around the world contributes to climate change, which in turn disproportionately affects the poorest people in the world. Reduce food waste and you’re dealing with a multitude of environmental and moral injustices. I met with Chris Wilkie from London Citizens Greener Planet Action Team, to find out what they’re doing about all the food waste in London.


Chris, can you tell us a bit about London Citizens, and the Greener Planet Action Team?
London Citizens is a charity with a large membership of faith groups, universities, schools, trades unions and other community organisations, working together on a wide range of important social issues across the Capital. In the couple of years I have been working with them I have seen amazing progress on issues including the London Living Wage, affordable housing, engaging communities in tackling street crime and immigration/asylum issues. London Citizens is not affiliated to any political party, so it can work independently with no political influence. Issues to be tackled are chosen democratically by the members.

The Greener Planet Action Team (GPAT) is a group within London Citizens, formed almost three years ago to tackle environmental issues across London. In May 2008 we held an event called London’s Green Future at Imperial College, featuring guest speakers and workshops with experts such as London’s Green MEP, Jean Lambert, and the environmental broadcaster Mark Dowd. In January 2009, together with Transport for London and the major newspaper publishers, we launched a publicity campaign on tube trains, in stations and on buses, encouraging people to recycle the free newspapers they picked up each day. Throughout 2009 we delivered a series of environmental training workshops for our member organisations. Last November we held a screening of the film “The Age of Stupid” followed by a discussion on which major issue to tackle in 2010. We decided that the problem of food waste was an area where we could make a real difference in our communities. This is how Plan Zheroes was born.

So what is Plan Zheroes and what does it aim to achieve?
Plan Zheroes is the name we have given to our food waste project. The aim is to prevent good food from becoming waste, ideally creating zero waste. Those achieving this would be promoted as “zero heroes”, hence Zheroes!

We want to create links between food donators (e.g. supermarkets, restaurants, schools etc,) and people who really need the food. Our aim is to inspire as many businesses as possible to help us solve this environmental and social issue.

Why do you think supermarkets, restaurants, schools or other businesses will want to be a part of Plan Zheroes? Will it help them to save money?
They will want to participate because they all recognise the problem of food waste, they aspire to be more environmentally and socially proactive and we will help them celebrate and publicise their successes. I think it is too early to say whether it will help the supermarkets save money but those who receive the food will certainly make savings.

Where will the food be directed and who will benefit most?
The idea is to redirect the food to organisations who help people on low incomes, the homeless, perhaps the elderly – in fact anyone who can benefit from it. We know that many families and individuals are struggling financially and cannot afford to eat properly every day. For example, we heard of one family which can only afford to give one member a hot meal each day, so they have to take it in turns. This is a really unacceptable situation when so much food is simply thrown away each day in London. The Greener Planet Action team is determined to help do something about it.

Which other organisations are you consulting for advice and support for Plan Zheroes?
We have already had discussions with The Green Alliance, Waste Watch, The Soil Association, FareShare, and Ealing Friends of the Earth. We will work together with these and other organisations as the project develops. Our aim is not to reinvent the wheel where good work has already begun but to add the considerable influence and power of London Citizens.

What are the timescales for Plan Zheroes to start taking shape?
We began the project in January this year and are currently gathering evidence about good and bad practice in food waste management, piloting surveys initially in West London. We anticipate this will take until May, at which point we will assess the success of the pilot and modify the surveys if required. After May we will use volunteers from our member organisations across London to continue gathering data and begin matching donators of food with organisations who can redirect it to those who need it. I would like to see some tangible results, i.e. systems in place where food is being donated and used, by this summer.

And finally, if readers want to know more, support or get involved, where can they find out more information, and who should they contact?
Further information will be available on the London Citizens’ website - www.londoncitizens.org.uk. Anyone interested can contact me by email at chris.wilkie@tiscali.co.uk or on 07985 306 832 if they would like to find out more or help us with this very important work. The more volunteers we have, the bigger impact we will make! Thanks, Atul, for giving us the opportunity to publicise Plan Zheroes.

Atul Srivastava
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Monday 8 March 2010

EcoSaving Property: Report from Ecobuild 2010

Ecobuild is the world’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment, bringing together more than 1,000 suppliers of sustainable construction products at Earl’s Court on 2 – 4 March 2010. I teamed up with cameraman Felix Gonzales and interviewed Emma from Buglife about green roofs and how they can save people money, at the same time as proving a high rise home for wildlife.


About a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes. With fuel prices on the rise, there is increasing incentive for us to reduce our energy use in our homes and business premises. By undertaking straightforward measures like insulation, and simple actions like switching to low energy light bulbs, a typical householder would save about £300 a year, potentially over £500 a year.

The Energy Savings Trust is a major player in the eco property industry. They have quantified the following top tips for saving money in your property.

1. You can save around £55 per year for every one degree Celcius you turn the thermostat down.
2. Upgrade to Energy Saving Recommended appliances and save up to £36 a year.
3. Turn appliances off standby and save around £33 a year.
4. Replace single glazing with double glazing and save around £135 a year on heating bills.
5. Replace inefficient light bulbs with low energy light bulbs and save around £37 a year.
6. Save around £25 a year by draught proofing around windows and doors.
7. Insulate your loft to the full recommended depth of 270mm and save up to £150 a year.
8. Insulate your hot water tank and pipes, and save around £45 a year.

Total savings: £516 a year!

Over 1,000 suppliers were demonstrating their products at Ecobuild 2010, I couldn’t possibly get around to see all of them. In essence they were mostly trying to do the same thing: help us to achieve the ‘EcoSavings’ listed above. There were some innovative approaches, such as Mira Showers, who have invented an Eco showerhead that reduces the amount of water used by up to 75%, saving money particularly for people on water meters, as well as saving money on the energy required to heat the water.

Amongst the usual suspects of companies displaying their innovative ways to insulate your boiler or stop heat escaping from your windows, there were also some unexpected exhibitors. Buglife, RSPB and the Bat Conservation Trust were on hand to explain how property and nature are intrinsically linked. I teamed up with cameraman Felix Gonzales and interviewed Emma from Buglife about living roofs, also known as green or brown roofs. Emma explained that they can save people money at the same time as providing a high rise home for wildlife. Green roofs provide extra insulation to a building, improving its heat efficiency, which means lower energy use at the same time as supporting an incredible diversity of wildlife, from birds to beetles and rare bumblebees.

No wonder Ecobuild was buzzing this year!

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Sources and thanks to:
1. www.ecobuild.co.uk
2. www.buglife.org.uk
3. www.mirashowers.co.uk
4. The Sunday Telegraph Special Report: 31 January 2010
5. Fraser Winterbottom, Chief Operating Officer, Energy Saving Trust, quoted in The Sunday Telegraph Special Report: 31 January 2010

Monday 1 March 2010

Model Thinking: The Economic Benefits of Eco Fashion

After speaking to many of the 28 Eco Designers at London Fashion Week, I felt the 'Slow Fashion' movement could benefit from publicity as money saving for individuals - buying fewer clothes, perhaps at slightly higher prices, that last much longer and therefore save people money in the long term.

Many of the 28 Eco Designers within the Estethica Exhibition at London Fashion Week mentioned the term ‘slow fashion’ during our impromptu interviews. The slow fashion movement aims to slow down the fast turnover of clothing in the retail industry, reducing clothing waste to landfill, and moving towards eco friendly clothing that lasts more than one or two fashion seasons. Men’s suits are a good example of slow fashion; you can wear the same smart jacket 15 times and remain fashionable, as long as you wash it occasionally.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my experience in the environmental sector, it is to never forget the accepted and astonishingly simple model of sustainability. That model is portrayed by 3 interlinking ‘Olympic’ circles of sustainability: Environmental, Economic and Social. The central area where these 3 circles interlink is where true sustainability occurs. I’m yet to find an example where this model of thinking is not helpful.

I’d say the Eco Designers are all pretty sorted on the Environmental circle. Their eco clothing features organic cotton, recycled and up-cycled materials, pesticides free, etc. On the Social circle, a few of them quite rightly said the phrase ‘Fashion First’ – there’s no point being eco if no one wants to buy their clothes to look good for social occasions.

But what about the Economic circle? While some of the designers highlighted that slow fashion can save consumers money in the long term, my feeling was that this was not emphasised enough in their advertising strategies. Perhaps it’s the very labels eco, ethical or sustainable fashion themselves. These terms appeal to an altruistic sensibility that may make existing consumers feel good about wearing their clothes, but not necessarily reach new audiences concerned with economic self preservation during a recession.

If PR based on eco, ethical or sustainable fashion is preaching to the converted, how do they reach new customers?

As an environmentalist I’ve learnt to emphasise the economic and social benefits more than the environmental. Try emphasising your clothes as durable in your advertising, saving people money because they won’t need to buy new ones next year. If you make full use of all waste materials, try advertising this as efficiency and a means of keeping your costs low. If your materials are sourced within the UK, that’s a benefit primarily to the consumer who doesn’t have to ultimately foot the bill for the ‘fashion miles’ of flying materials around the world; the secondary benefit is reduced climate change.

Some of the designers were already using this model in their PR. I hope more Eco Designers benefit from this model of thinking.

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Sunday 21 February 2010

10 Affordable Eco Fashion Designers

Eco Fashion may sometimes be slightly more expensive, but it tends to be more durable. Buy a winter coat from the high street for £100 and you may have to replace it in two years. Buy an eco winter coat for £400 and it may last you for 40 years. Eco fashion saves you money in the long term, as these designers show with their durable eco fashion items.


Under £400 for a tailored jacket designed to last for decades. Garments are made using sustainable sources such as organic cotton and bamboo.

The Environmental Justice Foundation receives donated designs from established names such as Luella and Katharine Hamnett in order to keep their prices low. T-shirts from these designers would normally be considered high-end and retail for around £90, whereas EJF sell them for £30, and they’re made with organic and fair trade cotton. A great example of affordable eco fashion.

Stamo features an innovative ‘half garment’ concept. For example, two half jackets of different styles are sewn together for form a whole, using various recycled and vintage fabrics.

Minna’s zero waste policy means that all waste remnants are used to embellish the garments. They are hand made using sustainable and organic fabrics.

The North Circular use Wensleydale sheep wool and other materials sourced within the UK. Their cashmere garments are up to £150 cheaper than you’ll find on the high street.

Even if you forget about fashion, Izzy Lane is making an essential contribution to global biodiversity. They look after Wensleydale sheep and save them from extinction.

Not only does Beautiful Soul use Wensleydale sheep wool, they also use up-cycled materials, and have won the Ethical Fashion Forum’s Innovation Award.

Joanna Cave converted to being ethical, and found she didn’t need to increase her prices. 90% of her materials are recycled. For example, she found that recycled silver is the same price as buying it new.

These shoes are hand-made in London with recycled materials sourced in the UK. Heels are formed from sustainably sourced cork and wood, and soles comprise largely of recycled leather. The curvy collection has recently introduced vegetable tanned leathers.

Famous for having Cameron Diaz wear a belt made from recycled fire hoses, Elvis & Kresse Arts have stylish eco accessories in the range of £90-£300, affordable for an exclusive high end range.

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Monday 8 February 2010

5 Eco Money Saving Valentine’s Day Gifts!

Valentine’s Day gifts are inherently somewhat personal, so there may be fewer conversations amongst friends or around the dinner table about ideas for eco money saving Valentine’s Day gifts. We English are happy to share tips about saving energy in the home or where the nearest recycling points are, but what about your love life? Here’s my no holds barred, top 5 eco money saving Valentine’s Day gifts!


1. Pants to Poverty! These pants are made from fair-trade and organic cotton, starting at £7 a pair. Established in 2005, the company has a serious mission behind its comic marketing. Pesticide pollution, empowering women and economic empowerment for farmers in India. Pants to Poverty aims to “rid the world of bad pants”, saying “we want our pants to be completely transparent”. They mean in terms of the production process, of course.

2. Eco Condoms! Yes, you read that right. A pack of 12 costs £8.99. French Letter have brought out eco friendly condoms made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified rubber, so the planet doesn’t suffer while you have fun! They carry the BSI (British Standards Institution) kite mark, so they are as safe as any other brand.

3. For Her: BaByliss Eco Hair Dryer 5137U, £18.45 from John Lewis. Products in the home that heat things up tend to use the most energy. This hair dryer gives you the powerful drying performance of a conventional 2000 watt dryer, but uses only 1000 watts, saving you money on your energy bill. You could get her an eco kettle, but a hair dryer seems more appropriate for Valentine’s Day!

4. For Him: The Jimi Wallet, starting at £6. Made from 100% recycled materials, the Jimi wallet is water resistant and therefore already popular with blokes who enjoy their outdoor activities, particularly cycling and snow sports.

5. Bamboo Candles, starting at £9. Bamboo is a multi-purpose, eco-friendly grass that, when harvested, carries on growing again. Bamboo candles are filled with soy wax, an annually renewable resource which is non-toxic, biodegradable, and virtually soot and smoke free. It’s so soft, you can even use it as a massage oil when it’s warm.

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Eco Competition!

Which is the most worthy eco project? Six eco charities are locked in battle for a prize of 30,000 Euros! Who will you vote for? I voted for BTCV – you don’t have to register to vote. Just visit this link and click on the project you want to win!


Monday 25 January 2010

5 Eco Money Saving Resolutions!

At the end of January many people start to notice that their New Year resolutions are starting to falter. Psychologists have noticed that New Year resolutions are rarely maintained throughout the year unless they were already deeply embedded in what you want from life, not just made up for New Year. Use the New Year to help reaffirm any money saving or eco resolutions you want to become habit. Here are my top 5 eco money saving resolutions for 2010.


1. If you need to buy a car and can’t use public transport, convert to hybrid in 2010! Many hybrids are now cheaper than their full petrol counterparts by the same company. By definition, hybrid cars have the power there when you need it. Even if you’re not interested in the environment, you’ll pay less for fuel. And hybrids come with financial benefits beyond massive fuel savings. Hybrids often qualify for road tax and congestion charge exemption, car insurance discounts and parking permit discounts. Add it all up and you’re saving hundreds of pounds a year!

2. Walk or cycle in 2010! Jumping in your, hopefully hybrid, car might sound energetic, but it’s consistent walking and cycling throughout the year that will firm up your legs, bums and tums. You’ll look good on the beach, improve your life expectancy, save money on petrol, and save money on wear and tear on your car.

3. Eliminate gym costs in 2010! BTCV run Green Gyms throughout the UK, where you can get fit for free through conservation volunteering. Forget spending about £40 a month on that gym membership that you never make full use of anyway. You’ll burn up to a third more calories in an hour of Green Gym conservation than in a step aerobics class. Sessions are designed to work a variety of muscle groups. If you currently spend £40 a month on gym membership, join a Green Gym instead and save £480 a year!

4. Kill the ‘Phantom Load’ in 2010! The term refers to your mobile phone charger, computer cord and time-telling DVD player that all suck energy even when there isn’t anything attached on the other end, hence the spooky phantomness. Clock in the microwave? £50 a year added to your energy bill!

5. Holiday locally in 2010! Although some air fares are cheap, you will often save money overall if you take into account airport taxes, travel to and from the airport, insurance and other costs associated with foreign travel. You’ll also spend a smaller percentage of your time in transit, allowing you more quality time together.

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Sources and thanks to:

Sunday 17 January 2010

Eco News! Weekly Round Up - 17 January 2010

Volunteer to take part in the UK's biggest ever Swan count! http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news

'Wild Law' Post-Copenhagen Discussion in London, Wednesday 27 January 2010. Further details at: http://ecoexperttv.blogspot.com

Watch Ecology TV and listen to Ecology Radio online! http://ecology.com/tv/index.php

Locavore! Word of the year 2007! Person who eats local food, reducing food miles and climate change! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locavores

5 Media Myths of the Copenhage Accord! http://www.grist.org/article/2009-12-22-5-fallacies-in-the-coverage-of-the-copenhagen-accord

Cities to lead renewable energy! http://ecology.com/ecology-today/2009/12/23/iea-city-leaders-can-take-the-lead-for-alternative-energy-use

Onion waste used to produce electricity for company in California! http://ecology.com/ecology-today/2009/07/26/eco-roundup-072609

Middle East could solar power World 3 times over! http://www.greenprophet.com/2009/12/28/15169/mena-solar-power

Set some 'Environmental Intentions'! http://ecology.com/ecology-today/2010/01/07/step-forward-set-an-environmental-intention/

Fantastic sea creatures found in Antarctica! http://ecology.com/ecology-today/2010/01/02/eco-roundup-01-02-10/

Learn more about hydrogen vehicles! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle

Bolivian President praises Avatar for call to save nature! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/12/evo-morales-praises-avata_n_420663.html

Find out what can be recycled in your area. Enter your post code into www.recyclenow.com

Jeremy Clarkson vs Eco Expert: Battle of the Hybrid Car Reviewers! http://ecoexperttv.blogspot.com

Climate effort of world leaders delays Doomsday Clock by 1 minute! http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20100114/tts-uk-nuclear-doomsday-ca02f96.html

Climate and weather are not the same! The globe is still warming! http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/10/climate-change-uk-big-freeze

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow my daily Twitter updates of Eco News: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

'Wild Law' Post-Copenhagen Discussion in London: 27 January 2010

Wild Law: post-Copenhagen
Discussion January 27th 2010

The 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) took place in Copenhagen between the 7th and 18th December 2009.

Members of UKELA’s Wild Law Group invite you to discuss the implications of the Copenhagen conference for the Earth Community, and what is next for Wild Law principles in protecting the earth's ecosystems and preventing catastrophic climate change. To find out more about Wild Law go to: www.ukela.org/rte.asp?id=5

'Wild Law: post–Copenhagen' is an opportunity for lawyers and others interested and involved in environmental protection to meet each other, to discuss the legal ramifications of the Copenhagen talks, and to learn more about wild law and earth jurisprudence.

Fresh from her return from Copenhagen, we are pleased to invite Polly Higgins to share her involvement and observations on the COP negotiations: Barrister, Initiator of the Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights and Rights of All Beings, and Founder of Trees Have Rights Too (www.treeshaverightstoo.com).

We are also looking forward to welcoming Linda Siegele, staff lawyer at the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) (www.field.org.uk); hearing her experience of Copenhagen and hopes for the future. Linda has a varied professional background including renewable energy, international environmental law, intellectual property, traditional knowledge and biodiversity issues in East Africa.

Date: Wednesday 27 January 2010
Time: Networking from 6pm, talks at 7pm with time for discussion to follow
Venue: Upstairs at the Sir Richard Steele Pub, 97 Haverstock Hill, London, NW3 4RL (5 mins walk from Chalk Farm tube)
RSVP wildlawevents@live.co.uk (places limited: first come first served basis)

UK Environmental Law Association: making the law work for a better environment

Registered charity 299498, company limited by guarantee in England 2133283
Registered office: One Wood Street, London, EC2V 7WS www.ukela.org

President: Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Carnwath C.V.O.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Jeremy Clarkson vs Eco Expert: Battle of the Hybrid Car Reviewers!

I would usually advocate that environmentalists take a non-confrontational approach. It’s usually unhelpful to set up an ‘us versus them’ dynamic. Besides, most moderate readers would conclude the truth is about half way in between, or that there’s a ‘third way’. Those people are wise. Nevertheless, I think Jeremy Clarkson needs challenging on his review of the Honda Insight, and I think framing it as an all out battle might help him to take notice!


Clarkson starts his review skipping over the fuel efficiency of the new Honda Insight, the point of the car. He tries to brush off the benefits to the planet: “sure, you could get 60 or more mpg if you were careful. And that’s not bad for a spacious five-door hatchback.” He prefers to base his review on “what it’s like as a car” to drive.

JC says: “It’s terrible. Biblically terrible.”

EE says: “It’s fine. Biblically fine.”

I have to wonder if Clarkson and I actually drove the same car. But we did. We both test drove the new Honda Insight 1.3 Hybrid, around mid 2009.

JC says: “It’s worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, you’d have to sit a dog on a ham slicer.”

EE says: “I couldn’t really hear the engine.”

Now I have to apologise to my readers. My language above was not as amusing as Clarkson’s. Perhaps I should rephrase, you know, just for effect.

EE says: “It sounds better than your parachute opening and drifting serenely to a soft sand beach for a peaceful landing. Really, to get an idea of how peaceful it is, you’d have to inject a dog with a tranquiliser”.

I think I’ve made my point. Clarkson is known for his colourful over emphasis, but in this case, I believe it’s at the expense of accuracy, and the planet. The engine doesn’t make your ears bleed, the seats don’t ruin your skeleton, and the top speed is a lot more than 23mph. Clarkson, you’re exaggerating. And what’s worse, numerically inaccurate. Not that anyone would believe 23mph anyway. Clarkson therefore effectively admits to his own journalistic hyperbole.

The systematically unfounded rantings of a famous petrol head have a dark side when people base their buying decisions on them. That dark side is the 150,000 women, men and children who currently pay for global warming with their lives each year. Tell readers in China and India not to buy the Honda Insight, and you’re adding to climate change. Perhaps I should over emphasise my point here for effect, and depict an image of Clarkson issuing death warrants and licences to drown.

Yes I noticed that the Honda Insight 1.3 has slightly less power than a Ford Mondeo 2.0. But it felt similar to any other 1.3. I pulled away from a roundabout pretty sharpish, getting me out of sticky situation. If you want to tow a caravan, maybe you need a 2.0, but for most people the 1.3 is fine.

We can at least try to say something is fine and be entertaining at the same time. How about we do a joint press release stating:

“If you want a normal family car that is “biblically fine”, buy the Honda Insight. It was built in Honda’s Fine Factory, designed by a team lead by Professor Fine of Fine University, Fineland.”

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow my daily Twitter updates of Eco News: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Sources and thanks to:

Monday 4 January 2010

5 Eco Films!

I watched Avatar at the cinema recently and there was a clear eco message. Director James Cameron has been confirming this in interviews. It got me thinking, what other eco films are out there, and which are the best ones? Here’s my film review of the Top 5 Eco Films of all time!


1. Avatar! Imaginative, thought provoking and ahead of its time. A standard formulaic rom-com is simply not in the same league. Director James Cameron has been waiting for technology to catch up with him so that he can make this film. Beings on another planet have ‘bio-electrical’ connections to each other and the planet itself. Individuals have connecting ‘cables’ to further the bonds, with Cameron striking a tone that says this is scientifically feasible rather than religious. A reference to paganism reminds us that people on Earth have believed in similar connections for thousands of years. Evil humans come along and threaten these wonderful beings, wanting to tear up their community for a bit of mining. Not exactly pro deforestation. It begs humanity to save ancient forests that may have secrets currently “beyond our imagination”. Avatar also critiques the displacement of indigenous tribes, and takes a jab at the second Iraq war.

2. An Inconvenient Truth. This documentary film earned Al Gore a Nobel Prize. The film has no element of fiction. My favourite moment is when he gets in the crane. Gore has a simple line graph the size of your living room wall showing two lines, demonstrating that temperature has reacted to CO2 levels in the atmosphere for thousands of years. He then reveals how the CO2 line suddenly rockets upwards for the last 100years. Gore climbs into a crane to be elevated to the top of the CO2 line. He then looks down and points out that the temperature line is following him upwards. Brilliant.

3. The Day After Tomorrow. Straight out of a textbook, the science behind this film is absolutely spot on. The sub plot of the father crossing the continental United States to save his son is a bit ridiculous. However, congratulations to the script writers for doing their research. Britain should be as cold as Moscow given its latitude. Only the warm ocean current called the Gulf Stream keeps us warmer. Block it with fresh water from the melted North Pole and we might plunge into a runaway ice age. The film popularised the valid scientific theory that a runaway Greenhouse effect does not necessarily mean the world will stay warmer, but can trigger a positive feedback loop of snow in the northern latitudes, that reflects sunlight and warmth back out into space. Global warming ends with us freezing our pants on. Today, then hot, then cold. Hence the day after tomorrow.

4. Medicine Man. Humanity has discovered only about 1.5million of the expected 100million species on Earth. In 2008 scientists discovered a species of immortal jellyfish, and are desperate to learn how to imitate the process for humans. The 1992 film Medicine Man predicted this kind of thing would happen. Sean Connery discovers a cure for cancer in the Amazon, at first thinking it’s in a rare plant, then realising it’s within a rare ant. He’s in a race against time against the loggers. As we all are.

5. The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear. This 1991 comedy has, perhaps surprisingly, been referred to in serious UK Government discussions on climate change. In the film the American President plans to be advised on the future energy strategy by Dr Meinheimer, who is expected to announce a strategy focussed on renewable energy. Renewable energy technology exists, but the fossil fuel giants don’t want to lose profits, sounds familiar? So they make an evil clone of Dr Meinheimer, who tries to announce the continuation of fossil fuels instead. Frank Drebin intervenes in the film. Maybe we need someone like Frank Drebin in real life.

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Sources and thanks to:

Want to help Albatross in Hawaii? Use Oxo-Degradables or Sign a Petition!

With all the recent talk about the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, we could be forgiven for thinking that climate change is the only environmental issue. Here I take a look at an environmental issue of epic proportions that has been largely ignored by the media. An unmanaged global rubbish dump twice the size of the continental United States.


The Pacific Trash Vortex is an ocean current of marine litter in the North Pacific Ocean, estimated to be up to twice the size of the continental United States. Otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it consists of plastic and other debris trapped by a swirling ocean current known as the North Pacific Gyre. The patch is not visible from satellite photography as it consists mostly of very small pieces floating just beneath the surface. It was discovered after a sailing race in 1997 and began to receive media attention in 2008. Out of sight out of mind? If we could photograph it, maybe it would have been dealt with earlier. As is often the case with environmental problems, they are not obvious but complex, and take time to observe and understand.

Long lasting plastic waste is captured in surface currents that gradually move floating debris toward the centre, trapping it in the region.

Many plastics do not biodegrade but simply break up into ever smaller particles, which are eaten by jellyfish, larger fish and humans. They’re potentially toxic at all levels of the food chain. Larger plastic items such as plastic toy motorbikes and toothbrushes also find their way to the centre of the vortex, often fully intact. They are innocently eaten by wildlife, thinking they’re fish. Albatross fill their stomachs on them, leaving no room for nutritious food and starve to death. Harrowing scenes on Hawaiian beaches show Albatross skeletons with mini plastic toys between their ribs.

Clean up operations began in 2008. We can also play our part by choosing, where possible, to use plastics that degrade more quickly in the environment. Look out for ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic bags that degrade in the presence of oxygen and sunlight. They are given out by the Co-op and Tesco, and degrade in 3 years rather than about 100. Or sign a Greenpeace petition for a network of marine reserves to protect 40% of the world’s oceans: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/pollution/trash-vortex

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Sources and thanks to:

Don’t Bounce The Babies! Global Birth Rate Stabilised!

Environmentalists don’t dispute that many, if not all environmental problems, are either caused or exacerbated by population growth. But is it still the big eco issue that it once was? Here I examine the relative importance of population growth and economic growth.


I attended a pre-Copenhagen Rally hosted by Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in late 2009, and was interested to hear his response to a question from the audience.

Why, asked the passionate inquirer, is there a global political conspiracy of silence around the issue of population growth in relation to climate change? Ed replied that global population is only expected to rise by around 30% by 2050, whereas global economic growth is expected to rise by 300% by 2050. Therefore green economic growth, rather than population growth is, relatively, the bigger issue.

But surely population growth can’t help? Well before you get in your helicopter to shower the Chinese with condoms, there’s a startling new statistic that may drop the jaws of even the most ardent environmentalists.

The global birth rate has now stabilised.

Those of us who did our A-Level Geography in the late 1990s need to update our text books. Global birth rates peaked at 163 million per year while we were revising. Then they dropped and in the 2000s they levelled off at 134 million per year.

What this means is that global birth rates are no longer the reason for global population growth. It’s because medical and health improvements mean the death rate hasn’t caught up yet. And it wouldn’t be very popular, or legal, to suggest we have a higher death rate.

Yes the global population will continue to grow, stabilising at around 9 billion in 2050. The reason is the death rate is still only 57million per year, compared to 134 million births per year. In fact the rate of global population growth rate peaked back in 1963 at 2.2% per year, declining steadily to 0% by 2050.

A more up to date and valid question would be whether the Earth can sustain 9 billion people. Most environmentalists shout no rather loudly, even with drastically more sustainable methods of living. So population remains an issue, but the challenge for the future will be to gradually and humanely reduce population in absolute terms, to claw it back from the 9 billion to something sustainable.

Steps are already being made in this direction. China maintains its one child policy, in place since 1979, and Australia is currently debating a one child policy. While such steps are important, it seems the more pressing eco issue right now is to decouple carbon emissions from the rocketing global economic growth. Letting the economy soar but not taking carbon emissions with it means green jobs and clean energy.

Still, better to keep the birth control methods handy.

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Sources and thanks to:

Copenhagen Round Up!

The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen ended on 18 December 2009. What on Earth happened? Ask 10 different people and you’ll get 10 different answers! Here’s my round up with some key observations.


I watched the final hours of the conference live on TV through various news channels, and was fascinated by the wildly different reactions shown by people being interviewed. Some were furious, others were positive.

I honestly believe no single person on the planet can give a comprehensive and entirely unbiased summary, especially in a short article. With 193 countries attending, one can only give political platitudes such as “lots done, lots to do”. In effect I believe that’s as fair a summary as we can get. But that would make a very neutral article, so I’ll pick out a few more juicy observations!

Apparently Gordon Brown “tweeted” from the negotiating table very late on the last night of the Conference, saying he was exhausted but they were finally making progress. Interesting. I didn’t hear of Obama tweeting. Does that make Brown cooler than Obama, or just lacking concentration?

I was also fascinated by some of the language that an emotionally exhausted looking Obama was using. He used wording such as “I only wanted to come here with pledges I knew I could keep”. I agree with the news journalists on the BBC and Sky that this was a reference to Obama being held back internally within the US by the Senate. Combine this with Obama saying “we don’t have international Government” and my interpretation was that Obama was indirectly acknowledging the need for international Government. If the US is still negotiating internally, how can it effectively negotiate with 192 other countries? Obama and the US looked crippled, while China took its first step as the new global superpower, asserting itself in a negotiation with the US regarding emissions monitoring and reporting. I think Obama knows the American political system must change long term. But I also think he knows we need international Government long term. Even if it’s 500 years away, it seems inevitable eventually. That’s a lot of work ahead of him, and possibly why he seemed exhausted.

Interviewed by the BBC, Oxfam reminded us that climate change kills 150,000 a year. Sudan said the Copenhagen Accord spells "incineration" for Africa, and likened it to the holocaust of 6 million people to the furnaces. Meanwhile Greenpeace UK painted another vivid mental image: "Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport."

Amidst all the negative quotes there were a few smug comments from China that everyone should be happy with the Copenhagen Accord. The other lone looking entity sounding positive was John Prescott. He negotiated for the UK at the UN Climate Change Conferences in Kyoto back in the 1990s, and urged journalists to stop the negative hype. Legally binding targets are, apparently, never set in stone during the conferences, always after the conference itself. In this case the deadline is the end of January 2010 for each country to submit emissions targets. There are meetings in Bonn and Mexico City in 2010 to facilitate. So journalists and charities lamenting the lack of a legally binding treaty do not necessarily understand the process.

I won’t go into all the ins and outs of that here. What strikes me, however, is that even if the Heads of State do nothing, we as other groups, charities, businesses and individuals can. Boris Johnson called for people to stop “overdosing on gloom” and announced that London will lead the world by ensuring no Londoner is more than a mile from a charging point for an electric car by 2015. And all the combined power of 193 world leaders still can’t stop you volunteering for a conservation charity, or sponsoring someone to run 10km to raise money for tree planting.

Atul Srivastava
Eco Expert
Follow me each day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ecoexperttv

Sources and thanks to: