Saturday, April 19, 2008

What's New in the Sustainable Blogosphere?

For the last two weeks I have been too busy to keep up with my emails and blogging, and now I'm catching up. Here's a few of the things that landed in my mailbox that I thought worth sharing with Bean Sprouts readers.

Earth Day

First of all, this coming Tuesday is Earth Day. Earth Day has been going since 1969, but the time is right for it to really take off. I'd love to see it become bigger than Christmas (which is a religious feast for Christians like me but tends to be just an excuse for an orgy of over-consumption and wastefulness for, well, for Christians like me and everyone else as well). Earth Day is for everyone who lives on Earth. You'd have to be living in a cave not to notice Christmas when it comes around. Earth Day should be the same. Every time you buy a calendar or a diary it should have Earth Day marked on it already. So do something. Spread the word. Send an e-card. Give gifts of LE light bulbs and organic wine. Invite friends around for a meal of local food, obviously. Blog about it. Spread the word. Donates to the Sierra Club

In honor of Earth Day this Tuesday,, the website where you can trade the books, DVDs, CDs, and video games you have, for the ones you want, for free, will be donating $1 dollar for every trade made on Earth Day to The Sierra Club. Swaptree is like Ebay but cash-less. British readers of a certain age will remember Noel Edmonds' Multicoloured Swap Shop which used to be on TV on Saturday mornings. Young viewers would send requests to swap a Bay City Rollers scarf for an Action Man with eagle eyes and so on. Swaptree is much swankier - you type in the bar code of the book, CD, DVD or video game you have and the clever Swaptree software figures out 2-way, 3-way and even 4-way swaps that mean everyone gets the things they want. You don't pay Swaptree for the privilege. It doesn't cost you anything apart from postage, and Swaptree can calculate the shipping cost and print out a mailing label so you don't even have to go to the post office. You give and receive feedback so you can feel confident you won't be ripped off. There's a video tour so you can see how easy it is. But sadly it is only available in the United States at present. As soon as it comes to the UK I'll be the first to sign up.

Penguin Classics Partners with The Nature Conservancy

Staying with the topic of books, I have some news about one of my favourite publishing imprints, Penguin Classics. On April 1st, 2008, Penguin Classics began their support of The Nature Conservancy's ambitious reforestation plan to plant and restore one billion trees in Brazil's Atlantic Forest.

In bookstores everywhere, bookmarks (printed on recycled paper) featuring three of Penguin's favorite environmental classics, Rachel Carson's Under the Sea Wind, John Muir's The Mountains of California and Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature and Selected Essays, will encourage readers to visit The Nature Conservancy's website, donate a dollar and help plant a billion trees.

There's more information about this partnership here.

Downshifting Week

International Downshifting Week starts today. Yippee! Thanks to Rebecca from Sallygardens for the reminder. Last year it was just National Downshifting Week, so it's growing fast. Visit the website for ideas of how to take part, including:
  • Book a half-day off work to spend entirely with someone you love, no DIY allowed

  • Cook a meal from scratch, using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, preferably organic

  • Cut up a credit card
I'll have a think about what I'm going to do this year, and I'll let you know later in the week. Please leave a comment and tell me what you'll be doing for IDW.

Take Back the Filter

The indomitable Beth Terry from FakePlasticFish has started a new campaign to urge Clorox (the company that owns Brita in North America) to take responsibility for the millions of plastic Brita water filter cartridges that are disposed of each year. It's called Take Back The Filter and has its own homepage. Here in the UK we can recycle our Brita cartridges. The FAQ page of the Brita UK website says:
All components of the Brita cartridge are recyclable. Cartridges returned to Brita will be returned to our own recycling plant in Germany where the component parts are separated and processed for secondary use. For information on BRITA In-store recycling contact the BRITACare team on 0844 740 4800

And the Top Tips at Home webpage says:

In line with growing consumer demand for greener living, BRITA has launched a new in store recycling scheme. Recycling bins are now situated in a range of high street stores such as Robert Dyas, Argos and Cargo. Other major retailer collection points will be following soon.

The BRITA branded bins will be located next to the existing water filter category in store. Customers can recycle any BRITA consumer product filter cartridge, including those for the new BRITA water filter taps.

So once again this is more relevant to US readers than to our home grown readers. But the Internet is an international medium and I'm glad to support Beth's campaign.

This Bill's Got No Balls

Here's one specifically for UK readers, though. 'This Bill's Got No Balls' - the new short film from I Count - follows three hilarious scenarios where the protagonist, Bill, confronts three eyewatering situations - on the football pitch, in the office and on the street - that clearly demonstrate that he's lacking a sensitive part of his anatomy. Click here to watch the film.

Viewers are encouraged to visit the I Count website, from where they can put pressure on their local MPs to vote for a Climate Change Bill with balls when the new law is voted on in the summer. The film can also be viewed on myspace and facebook so please feel free to forward it to your friends.

Mathew Horne - of BBC3's 'Gavin and Stacey' who provided the voice over for the film - said:
The Climate Change Bill needs balls if we're ever going to tackle climate change. I will be putting the squeeze on my MP to make sure we have a tough bill. You should too.

The Broke Vacationer

Sally Thompson of TravelHacker has written an article called The Broke Vacationer: 100 Ways to Get Free Stuff When Traveling. I like some of the frugal tips in this article, although I don't really want to encourage people to fly all over the world on their holidays. Have a look at the article and decide for yourself which of the tips fit your own ethical values and which you might prefer to pass.

Home Gardening Tips

Bill Stanley, author of Home Gardening Tips, got in touch to ask if he could add Bean Sprouts to his blogroll. Bill has been a home gardener for over 20 years and enjoys sharing his gardening tips with friends and family as well as the rest of the world. As well as tips on plants and gardening, Bill has recently added articles about saving the environment whilst gardening, buying flowers online and those slimy little buggers, snails. Just for the record, I'm always delighted when anyone adds Bean Sprouts to their blogroll, or links to Bean Sprouts in a blog article. You don't need to ask permission, but if you do I'll check your blog out and maybe write about it, just like this! So email me and say hi.

We Dig for Victory

Rob Burns has built a mini campaign site called We Dig for Victory. He has created a little sticker We Dig For Victory! and his website says:

By using this sticker on my blog or site I'm digging for victory by...
1. Growing some of my food at home or at an allotment - however modest.
2. Eating locally and seasonally where I can and reducing food miles.
3. Buying from small, local shops where I can and supporting my local economy.

There's a bit more about the campaign on the page titled About This Site. Why not add the sticker to your own blog or website and spread the word?

Thats it, I'm all caught up with my emails now. I only wish the same were true of my laundry .


Anonymous said...

Hi Melanie. Thanks so much for posting about the Take Back The Filter campaign. We have over 500 signatures so far, and have already received a call from Clorox. But we will need many, many more signatures to really let them know we are serious. If folks want to go directly to the petition page, here's the link:

But like you said, this campaign only applies to North America (Mexico, Canada, U.S.) so signatures from outside North America will not be counted.

Brita users in Australia, I feel for you! But you will have to contact the European Brita company. Clorox does not own Brita in Australia.


adrian2514 said...

Hey thanks for the great blog, I love this stuff. I don’t usually do much for Earth Day but with everyone going green these days, I thought I’d try to do my part.

I am trying to find easy, simple things I can do to help stop global warming (I don’t plan on buying a hybrid). Has anyone seen that is promoting their Earth Day (month) challenge, with the goal to get 1 million people to take their carbon footprint test in April? I took the test, it was easy and only took me about 2 minutes and I am planning on lowering my score with some of their tips.

I am looking for more easy fun stuff to do. If you know of any other sites worth my time let me know.

Melissa said...

I LOVE the idea of the downshifting week! Isn't it sad that we need to set aside time for this? but we DO need to set aside time for this. I'm thinking about something meaningful that I can do.

Love the blog...I'm going to add you to my blogroll (hope you don't mind!)

Melanie Rimmer said...

Hi Melissa. I'm always very pleased when anyone adds Bean Sprouts to their blogroll. Thank you for the compliment.

Anonymous said...


I don't blame you- hybrids are expensive. I bought a Corolla because I couldn't afford a hybrid. Please feel free to check out my new website/blog at:

I'm trying to put together a website with practical things people can do to help the environment. Your feedback would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about the U.S. Brita recycling campaign. We have success this week! Check it out!

Check it out:

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