Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

Disposable coffee cups

November 28, 2017

In the UK we throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year.

…the thing we found with the glass-only to-go program, is that once people understood why we made that choice and the benefits of doing so, we’ve seen tremendous support and love for the program. – Zayde Naquib, Bar Nine

Often there are very simple things we can do … like relaxing in a coffee shop with a cup of coffee, not walking down the street with a takeaway cup in our hands.

Simple things, when we all act, can change the world.

If I go to a coffee shop, unless they know me, I am greeted with, to drink in or takeaway?

I can just about understand a cappuccino in a takeaway cup, but a single origin V60, no way.

I would not drink a good red wine in a disposable cup, I object to beer in a plastic glass, why would I wish to drink a single origin V60 in a takeaway cup?

These takeaway cups are often referred to as paper cups. They are not, they have a plastic liner, and it is this plastic liner that makes them take a one way trip to incarceration or landfill, as they cannot be recycled.

OK for the pedantic, maybe a couple of plants that can recycle, but, no one is going to take the effort to separate out, therefore for all practical purposes, cannot be recycled, and are therefore on a one way trip to landfill or incineration.

That is a lot of disposable cups. One estimate puts the figure at 2.5 billion throwaway coffee cups every year in the UK.

According to a recent article in fake-left Guardian, environment department Defra using 1400 disposable coffee cups every day.

There can be no excuse for this, not when from their own internal canteens, nor for House of Commons or House of Lords.

It also means it can easily be tackled.

Bulk order KeepCups, sell to staff at a discount. Staff have to bring their own mugs or KeepCups if they wish to buy a drink.

KeepCups with Defra logo together with a few words on recycling could be handed to visitors.

Defra should look to the Bank of England. Staff were encouraged to either purchase a KeepCup or bring their own mug, for which they received a small discount of 10p. 10p was chosen as it was self-financing, cost neutral, it covered the actual cost of the disposable cup. The KeepCups have the Bank of England logo.

Lush in Australia and New Zealand gave all their employees a KeepCup in vibrant Lush colours as a Christmas present.

Disposable cups are lined with polyethylene and have a polystyrene lid, there is sufficient plastic in 28 disposable cups to make one small KeepCup.

In 2009, Simon Lockrey from the Centre for Design at RMIT completed a Symapro Life Cycle Analysis which has independently verified KeepCup sustainability claims.

Research by Canadian chemist Dr Martin Hocking found the break-even energy requirement to manufacture a reusable plastic cup versus a paper cup over a lifetime use was under 15 uses.

A captive audience at Lush, Bank of England or Defra is relatively easy to eliminate the use of disposable cups, what of the passing trade in the street?

A few coffee shops offer a discount if use your own cup. I found one offering a a substantial discount. But these are rare and makes little difference on the use of disposable cups

Coffee shops have KeepCups on sale. I have seen the cheap plastic ones in Harris + Hoole and at FCB kiosk, the more expensive glass in Coffee Island flagship store in Covent Garden.

I mention KeepCup, as they are the industry leaders. There are alternatives. I have seen a bamboo version of a KeepCup.

I have yet to see anyone walk in a coffee shop and buy a KeepCup, let alone walk in and request a refill of their KeepCup.

HuskeeCup made from coffee bean husks is unusual in that it is reusable and recyclable. If not made at country of origin, questionable environmental credentials, and even more questionable the husks are being sourced from Burma, a major human rights violator.

The cups are around $10 each, not including a saucer.

The coffee shop, it may have been a kiosk, that was offering a substantial discount, maybe half price, I asked were there any takers. I think a couple of takers, that was all.

Ben, at Ben’s Records, pops to the adjacent coffee shop with a mug.

Prior to Budget November 2017, it was suggested impose a levy of 5p on takeaway cups, cf 5p levy on plastic bags which has reduced use of plastic bags. It was not taken up.

I doubt it would make a difference, not when the takeaway coffee is cheaper than drinking in.

Tax has various functions, raising revenue, changing behaviour.

The principle the polluter must pay be would be grounds for imposing a levy.

Let us assume a tax on takeaway cups of 10p, levied on 2.5 billion throwaway coffee cups that would raise an annual £250 million, not a paltry sum.

There are recyclable paper cups, that can be composted, but I do not see them in use. There is though a problem. If a few unlikely coincidences occur, I am on my way home, have coffee from a kiosk that serves coffee in a compostable paper cup, I have been to the market and can drop my cup in my bag with the fruit and vegetables, else where do I put the cup, and if I remember when I get home to remove from the bag with my fresh produce, then yes I can throw on my compost heap.

But if not, if these happy but unlikely coincidences do not align, then what do I do with this cup? Throw it on the nearest waste bin. That is the dilemma most will face, what to do with the cup? It is unlikely to be composted, even though it could be. It will go into the waste stream with all the other non-recyclable cups.

In Athens and Cyprus, it is the norm to see people drinking from a takeaway cup. The worst offenders are Coffee Island (Greek equivalent of Starbucks) and Coffee Berry, two chains which serve coffee in disposable cups.

At Jamie’s Coffee at Gatwick Airport, Italian catering supply coffee served in takeaway cups.

Personally I would not buy a coffee in a takeaway cup, I prefer to sit down and relax with a cup of coffee, not drink on the hoof, which I find uncivilised, apart from the very act of drinking out of a takeaway cup as opposed to a ceramic cup or from a glass.

That is not to say I never. I will have a coffee from FCB kiosk at Guildford Station or the Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station or the little kiosk on the South Bank at the foot of Hungerford Bridge or Ethiopian Coffee Roasters on the South Bank Street Food Market, but only because these three kiosks and one stall serve excellent coffee, not because I wish to grab and go.

Kaya has a narrow bar, barely wide enough to balance a cup, the ground slopes, pick the height that suits you. There are no seats. The coffee shop is long and narrow, with no room for seats. Stools outside to sit at the bar not possible as the ground slopes. I was the only one drinking out of a cup. All I saw were office workers, grabbing a takeaway coffee on their way home.

Coffee shops must do do more. They could voluntarily refuse to serve coffee in a takeaway cup.

Bar Nine does not serve coffee in takeaway cups. If you really need to take away your coffee and not sit and relax with your coffee, they will lend you a glass jar and trust you to return it on your next visit.

Nova Gea serves fresh fruit juices in jars.

Eden Cafe does not serve coffee in takeaway cups. It buys ceramic cups from local charity shops, the cost about the same as a takeaway cup, which customers can take away if they wish.

I have seen beautiful china tea sets in a charity shop. I recommended to a local tea shop they bought them. Not for everyday use, for special occasions when groups come in to celebrate.

We could turn the serving of coffee on its head, charge more for a takeaway coffee than if sit and relax with a coffee.

This sounds impossible, pigs may fly, and yet Lemonjello’s Coffee do just that, charge more for a takeaway coffee.

You pay for the cost of the takeaway cup, it is built into the price, it is not made explicit. Why not make it explicit? Why not separate out as airlines do with luggage? You pay for your seat, want to take luggage that is an additional charge. You pay for your coffee, want something to carry it away with, that is an extra charge.

If I drink a coffee, I wish to sit down and relax in a coffee shop with my coffee in a ceramic cup, whether or not a saucer a moot point. If V60, Chemex or Japanese syphon, in a glass.

I do not like carting stuff around, if had a KeepCup I would have to cart it around. Then I would leave it somewhere and lose it.

Where I think a KeepCup comes into its own, is for office workers and shop workers who pop out for a takeaway coffee, then yes, they should be using a KeepCup.

I like to post pictures of the coffee shops, the coffee served. But not on Instagram, they claim rights to the pictures, and Instagram not visible on twitter.

What looks more photogenic, a takeaway cup or a ceramic cup or a glass?

To put your image, logo, marketing crap on a disposable cup is to associate your message with trash, it is saying you are ephemeral, transient, worthless. But then is that not true of most marketing?

One person using one paper coffee cup a day is the equivalent of a tree being cut down each year to produce those cups.

Why do we not value the coffee we drink? If we would not dream of drinking wine out of a disposable cup, why do we treat coffee in this way?

The only way this can be tackled, is to ban the use of disposable takeaway cups, coupled with information on why they are being banned.

The takeaway cups are not the only waste coffee shops generate. What of the coffee grounds? These can be used on the garden, used in cakes.

A couple of coffee shops, at my suggestion, have made the grounds available for people to take away. The take up has bordered on zero.

3fe recycles waste, compost bins, using waste milk, sources local food, chaff from the coffee roasting process is used by a local supplier to smoke bacon.

Coffee grounds are used on their garden out the back, what they do not use, a local cress grower Littlecress uses, who then supplies them with cress.

Steaming milk for a cappuccino wastes a lot of milk. 3fe use for making yogurt.

Coffee industry, the speciality end, has quite rightly focused on the supply chain, traceability, transparency, quality, accountability, from farm, through roastery to the coffee shop and what is poured into our cup.

We now must ask what happens, beyond the coffee shop.

Underlying all this and more fundamental, is the grab it and go culture, pointless consumerism, a throw away culture. The consumer culture that keeps the economy afloat.

Consumer junk passes from extraction to factory, six months in the home, then on its one way trip to incineration or landfill.

Until that is tackled, we will have a problem, and not only limited to coffee cups.

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The race to save coffee

November 8, 2017

Coffee can only adapt by moving higher up the mountain, and in doing so moves into an ever more inaccessible, fragile and hostile environment.

The Devil’s Cup documents that in Europe when coffee was first introduced, it was  the drink of the rich.  Coffee will revert to what it once was, the drink of the very rich, ironically the very people who are accruing wealth through destroying the planet.

Coffee resides on a very narrow genetic base.

One reason why the work by Kew Gardens and Union  in Yayu Forest is so important, not only important in helping to safeguard an important forest but help safeguard the wild coffee trees which are a vital genetic reservoir.

But if we are serious, we have to support coffee roasters like Union who engage in direct trade, money goes back to farmers, encouragement to protect the trees and work on reafforestation.

But even more important, we have to deal with climate chaos.

This year, not yet ended, is likely to be one of the warmest on record.

As I write, yet another round of climate talks, corrupt politicians fiddling whilst the planet burns.

Polar bears dying, polar caps melting, a succession of hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, bleaching and die back of coral reefs, projections of the near future of coastal cities under water, it all has no effect, there is a disconnection from our lifestyle.

Could it be denial of coffee, will be the jolt that makes us finally act?

The Great Correction

March 7, 2017

The Great Correction, wonderful song and imagery from Eliza Gilkyson.

From her album Beautiful World.

She needs to release on bandcamp, not all the wrong sites that are owned and controlled by Big Business

Special thanks to 

Blockadia are the flash points, where paramilitary forces are used against protesters defending the commons. 

 

Cob house within solar geodesic dome in the Arctic Circle

January 6, 2017

The Hjertefølger  family has been living on Norway’s Sandhornøya island, where they started their journey into sustainable living, since 2013. Their three-story cob home—built from sand, water, clay, and other organic materials—is encased in an aesthetically pleasing, and functional, solar geodesic dome by Solardome.

Placing the 25-foot-high dome around the five-bedroom, two-bathroom home gave the six-person family protection from strong winds and heavy snow loads, as well as cutting down on heating costs. The geodesic dome, which also covers a garden area, gives the family the necessary greenhouse environment to grow much of their food.  Apples, cherries, plums, apricots, kiwis, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, squash, and melons are just some of what they can grow in an area that is without sunlight for three months a year.

Hard frost in the morning

December 29, 2016

Third day of hard frost in the morning.

Cold frosty day

December 29, 2016

Tuesday, frost all day, it never cleared.

Tuesday night, inky black sky, stars shining bright.

Wednesday morning a hard frost.

The sun was shining in the morning.

Fading light, since early afternoon fog rolling in, visibility dropping by the minute.

And yet only three days before, on Christmas Day, temperature was 15 C in Aberdeen, 14 C in Hull in Yorkshire.

Hinkley Point C

July 28, 2016

Hinkley Point C will cost 18 billion euros.

Correction, Hinkley Point C  has an estimated cost of 18 billion euros. Large infrastructure projects have a nasty habit of being over time and over budget. This is true of EDF’s latest project in France.

18 billion euros is larger than the capital value of EDF. Major shareholder in EDF is the French government. If Hinkley Point C proves to be, as many suspect, a White Elephant, it will destroy the French government.

The French Unions are oposed to Hinkley Point C and are considering mounting a legal challenge.

The new UK government is having second thoughts.

The price of electricity from Hinkley Point C is guaranteed for the next thirty-five years at double the current price of electricity.

The price of electricity from renewables has been halving every 18 months.

The offshore wind farms Siemens plan to build in the North Sea will deliver electricity at much lower price than Hinkley Point C

Hinkley Point C is a disaster and must be stopped.

Proponents correctly say we need reliable sources of clean energy. That is why we must push ahead with renewables, the more we have, the more reliable, as not reliant upon the unreliability of a  few sources.  Also resilient.

We must follow a Soft Energy Path, one wheres sources are matched to usage.

Nuclear power is hard energy, it is also very brittle.

installation of rooftop solar panels

installation of rooftop solar panels

Last week, my neighbour installed 14 solar panels on his south facing roof. Speaking to the contractors, they said peak output (on a good day when the sun is shining) is 3 kW.

Imagine if every house had solar panels, if new build was mandatory to have solar panels.

Inshore wind farms have been a disaster. Wealthy landowners reap the subsidies. Or did

We need to create community owned local area grids. Into which feed renewables guaranteed a fair price. Consumers would pay a  fair price. Any surplus energy would be fed to other local are grids via a publicly owned National Grid.  Any monetary surplus would either be fed back into the local grid or used to finance community projects, watering of the collaborative commons.

EU pushed diesel, thanks to lobbying by VW (the same VW that rigged emission tests). Net result nearly ten thousand deaths a year in London due to air pollution from toxic diesel.

In US and Japan, a different route of hybrid and electric cars.

One of the problems with electricity supply from renewables, is matching supply to demand. Electricity from the sun  during the day when demand also peaks. Wind blows at night when demand is low

Surplus generation, could be, at cheaper rate via smart meters, used to charge electric cars. Electric cars when not in use, with fully charged batteries, could be used when peak demand exceeds supply. Smart meters can also use the electricity for low grade heat, for example water heating and space heating, where being cut off for a short while does not impact on the user (especially if have manual override).

A couple of weeks ago, a useless report on abuse by the Big Six, a useless report that cost millions to compile. A couple of their worthless recommendations was better use of price comparison sites (better called price fixing sites as paid by suppliers to set up deals) and if consumers had not recently change supplier, add them to a database to receive junk mail from suppliers.

One measure at a stroke would improve the situation, eliminate standing charges, a fixed rate per kW-H, or maybe two rates, one a special cheap rate when surplus exceeds supply (requiring smart meters).

There are no standing charges when paying for petrol, there should be no standing charges when buying electricity.

We do not need to nationalise the Big Six, introduce community owned and controlled local grids, and the Big Six would be driven out of business, as unable to compete.

Post-Brexit, we need investment in green infrastructure, investment in publicly owned railways, in locally owned and controlled electricity grids. What we do not need is bad infrastructure, HS2, Hinkley Point C, expansion of London City Airport or additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Farnborough International Airshow 2016

July 17, 2016
Red Arrows

Red Arrows

Every two years, a jamboree for arms dealers, a showcase for the world’s most lethal killing machines, but portrayed as a fun day out for the family.

Try telling that to families in Syria.

For the local people and businesses in Farnborough, two weeks of noise, one week of gridlocked roads.

F -35 peaked at 112 dBs.

Day 1, a heavy downpour, nothing exceptional to what we have seen this year, but the Airshow could not cope. Exhibition halls flooded, loss of power, mass evacuation from the halls, Airshow closed early.

Irony, aviation fastest growing source of greenhouse gases, airshow shut down by inclement weather.

Those expecting lots of flying, would have been gravely disappointed. Very little flying, long gaps between.

Red Arrows did a fly past, and that was it.

No Lancaster or Battle of Britain fly pass.

There was a flying fortress, it did a fly pass, and that was it.

Normally, on Saturday and Sunday, it is packed outside The Swan at the end of the runway, best place for viewing, but this year few people.

Airshow organisers showed their usual contempt for local people. No compensation for nuisances caused, but they could buy one ticket and get one half price.

Buffet lunch at Gurkha Palace. I was surprised to find closes at three o’clock.

The Swan once again ripping people off during Farnborough Airshow. A fiver to sit in the garden, £4-50 for a pint of beer.

Early daffodils

February 11, 2016

 

early daffodil

early daffodil

Last weekend, one solitary daffodil out in flower. At a guess, in flower several days earlier.

Since the weekend, several other daffodils in bud.

Very early for daffodils. Usually towards the end of March.

A few crocuses in flower.

At the weekend, strong winds, even though there had been heavy rain overnight, meant the grass could be mowed, though it was still muddy underfoot.

Since the weekend, grass spiked, a little every couple of days. Hard work.

Today, as it was sunny, though hard frost earlier, more grass spiked.

Early Onward peas sowed.

I would usually dig the ground. Not today, raked off the leaves, in went the peas.

I would also have sowed the broad beans I picked up from Infinity Foods, but could not find them.

Grass seed sowed.

2015 hottest year on record

January 21, 2016
20115 hottest year on record

2015 hottest year on record

According to data collected by Nasa and Noah, globally 2015 was the hottest year on record, and not even by a small margin.

2016 is expected to break this record.

Higher global temperatures means more energy in the atmosphere, more frequent and violent storms, warm air holds more moisture, heavier rainfall.