California legislature votes to ban disposable plastic bags

The U.S. state of California has passed a bill banning the use of disposable plastic bags in grocery stores, pharmacies, off-licences and other businesses throughout the state. The bill, which needs to be signed by the governor before becoming law, would usher in the first statewide ban of this type in the United States, starting July 1, 2015. A number of U.S. cities have already banned disposable plastic bags in shops, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. The law would allow the sale of reusable plastic bags at grocery stores.

Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions

The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.

The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms. Continue reading

Tesco vows to act after study confirms huge food waste

Britain’s shameful waste of food has been confirmed by a new study that shows more than two-thirds of produce grown for bagged salads, just under half of bakery goods and four out of 10 of apples are thrown away.

Tesco, working in conjunction with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), calculated the food waste “footprint” for 25 of the supermarket’s best-selling products – looking at what was wasted both inside its supermarkets and in the homes of its customers.

The retail giant admitted that 28,500 tonnes of food waste were generated in its stores and distribution centres in the first six months of this year.

It also estimated that uneaten food costs families about £700 a year.

Read the full story at the Independent.

The food gadgets that could save you money

The statistics are pretty alarming: UK households throw away more than 7m tonnes of food a year, more than 60% of which could have been eaten – including about 17bn “five-a-day” portions. That is according to Wrap, the government-funded waste reduction organisation, which estimates the average family wastes nearly £700 a year throwing out unused food.

“A staggering amount of food is bought and then thrown in the bin,” says Emma Marsh, who heads Wrap’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign. “Most of the time it is because people prepare too much food when they cook, or when they buy food they often let it go off, untouched or half-opened.”

Read the full article at The Guardian

Traffic fumes are confusing bees in their hunt for food

Traffic fumes can interfere with the critical odour cues used by honeybees to forage for food according to the first detailed study of how pollution can affect a bee’s ability to find nectar and pollen.

Tests show that the gases emitted by diesel engines mask the complex chemistry of floral odours that honeybees remember and use to navigate their way through their feeding range. Continue reading

The Big Tree Plant

The aim is to support community, not for profit, groups to plant one million trees in towns, cities and residential areas throughout England over the next four years (2011 to 2015).
Grants of between £500 and £25,000, for up to 75% of costs, are available to projects that:

  • plant trees in neighbourhoods in England where people live and work;
  • involve the local community and provide benefits to people in the neighbourhood;
  • plant individual street trees, small groups of trees in greenspaces, or other neighbourhood tree planting; and
  • have in place a method for ensuring the trees are cared for in the future.

 

The fund can cover the costs of goods and services such as: trees and material for tree planting; preparatory work such as utility searches, test pits, and planning applications; local community engagement; contract labour for running the project and undertaking works; time of staff spent on running the project; expert advice; hire of machinery; and small items such as tools or protective clothing for tree planting – however, these must remain the property of the group or organisation.

The closing date for applications is 15th March 2013

For more information and to apply click here

Cindy Gardener is BRAG’s 2012 Green Champion

Cindy Gardener, Waste and Recycling Officer at Hounslow Council, was presented with BRAG’s third Green Champion award at last month’s AGM. Cindy, the liaison officer for communications between Hounslow Council and BRAG since 2010, was honoured for her commitment to recycling and the initiatives she has spearheaded in her work at the council.

Cindy receiving her Green Champion award from BRAG members Patti Horsnell and Hugh Picton

Cindy receiving her Green Champion award from BRAG members Patti Horsnell and Hugh Picton

Last year, for example, Cindy’s team introduced a service for schools whereby food waste produced in the kitchens of the borough’s primary schools is collected and sent for anaerobic digestion rather than ending up in landfill. The food is collected on the same vehicles as the food waste from nearby homes, saving unnecessary trips by the recycling fleet.

Another initiative, launched this year, is a programme for mothers and mothers-to-be aimed at reducing nappy waste. Mums and pregnant women are being offered a free ‘taster pack’ to give them an idea of what it would be like to use washable nappies instead of disposables. As a result, 16 mums so far have made the switch to cloth nappies and said good-bye to nappy waste.

Cindy's Green Champion prize

Cindy’s Green Champion prize

Cindy’s Green Champion prize was a hamper of (mostly) locally produced goodies, including a cotton shopping bag made by BRAG member Rukmini West; jams from Abundance London in Chiswick; chocolate honeycomb, apple-and-chilli jelly, apricot-and-cashew biscotti, and bay leaves from Brentford’s Hen Corner; apple chutney from Chiswick farmers’ market; green tomato chutney and Ealing honey from Angela Malik in Acton; Brentford Dock honey;  Ringden Farm apple juice; Richmond blackberry jam; and some Turkish Delight labelled “Brentford Delight.”

BRAG reckoned that the prize was a chance to showcase the abundance of fine products available in and around Brentford as well as to honour Cindy for her efforts.

With characteristic humility, Cindy said the award had taken her by surprise. She added that every member of BRAG was a Green Champion in her eyes.
How our habits have changed
How our habits have changed – presentation (ppsx)