Ben Goldacre pulls chain on 'the poo lady' once again

Gillianmckeith3 Nobody gives healthy eating quite such a bad press as Gillian McKeith, the nutritionist who today finally agreed to drop the "Dr" title from her publicity. The quinoa-loving, self-acredited dietry dominatrix seems to revel in the self-denial and pain of eating well, and never makes it look as enjoyable and easy as it can be. Just looking at her is enough to make me want to reach for the Krispy Kremes, and I'm someone who actively prefers healthy options...

Which is why we've been enjoying Ben Goldacre's column in the Guardian, and his Bad Science blog so much recently. His rants about the 'Awful poo lady' today reached a crescendo when he published a 'digest' of dirt he's dished out on McKeith over a series of articles, presented under the heading of 'What's Wrong with Gillian McKeith?' There's a healthy six pages in response to the question, which (be warned, those of a sensitive disposition) includes a full-frontal double page spread of McKeith posing nude on a bed of broccoli, carrots and watermelons. Tasty!

If you don't think you're quite ready for the illustrated version, there's a transcript of Ben's article here.

February 12, 2007 in Columns & Opinion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Getting the green light: Energy efficient LED bulbs

This week, Katie Lee, editor-in-chief of Shiny Shiny, swaps energy guzzling halogen for some long life LED alternatives - but do they really offer a usable alternative?

Petrol_crochet_hat_1_thumb_1When I saw Gabrielle's post the other week about GU10 bulbs I headed straight over to the grammatically ambivalent Your Welcome website to make a quick purchase. Until recently I hadn't even heard of these damn GU10 halogen bulbs, and I could have quite happily kept it that way had I known just how evil they are.

It all started when I foolishly bought a light for our bedroom. I'd looked at quite a few lights in our local 2nd hand furniture store, but all of them seemed on the dodgy side (requiring a full service from an electrician and various wire checks). After too long spent dithering and living without a bedside light, I eventually made an impulse purchase on a trip to the hell that is Ikea, picking up a lamp with two movable spot lights and separate flick switches. And boy did I come to regret it.

Evil  bulbs
Flygge The lights came with GU10 halogen bulbs. I hadn't really checked what bulbs they took, assuming I would be able to replace whatever was in there with some of my long life screw-in numbers. It was only when I got it home I discovered those idiosyncratic GU10 connectors make swapping to normal bulbs impossible. Not only did I get to feel foolish about that, once I switched them on I also got to feel foolish about the amount of light they churn out.

All I wanted was a couple of gentle bedside lights that would allow a spot of bedtime reading without disturbing my boyfriend (and vice versa). Instead, we were drenched in light, so that even just with one bulb on it almost outshone the main light.

Then there was the heat. I burnt my hand within the first fortnight, reaching up to switch my light off. Just a week later, one of the bulbs blew, obliging me to hand over some ridiculous sum for a replacement. It was about at this time I started to contemplate relegating the lamp to the dustbin (hardly a sustainable way to deal with bad impulse purchases). So these LED bulbs appeared in the nick of time.

Gu10led200_1 And are they any good?
Well, the light is a whole lot less bright, taking us down to around 15 Watts instead of the glaring 40 Watts the halogen bulbs provided. They stay cool, so I'm not longer a burns victim, and they'll last longer and consume less energy, making them both energy and purse efficient. The light is much whiter than halogen light, which won't suit everyone. I quite like it though - it gives the room a moonlit glow, which works well in the evenings. They're not all that bright, and while that's perfect for what I wanted, you may want to look at the brighter alternatives over on the Your Welcome low energy bulb page.

If you use these sorts of halogen bulbs to shine very bright light onto your work or similar, these LED bulbs probably won't live up to your standard. But if you just want a bit of mood lighting that means your partner won't trip over all your stuff when coming in late of an evening, I'd definitely recommend them.

November 14, 2006 in Columns & Opinion, Energy saving | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Offsetting foreign flights - salving your conscience or solving the problem?

In the first of a new series of columns, Katie Lee, editor-in-chief of Shiny Shiny, discusses her attempts to live a greener life. This week, she looks at the thorny issue of carbon off-setting.

Petrol_crochet_hat_1_thumb_1 I read Adam (aka, the Green Guy)'s post about off-setting his New York flights with no small amount of interest. I was on that very same press trip, feeling similarly guilty about the environmental unfriendliness of it all. And a few weeks afterwards, I trebled my sins with a trip that involved a return flight to Japan with a return flight from Seoul to Tokyo sandwiched in between. So when I finally got my act together to go some way to counteracting the effects of my trans-planet trips, Adam's run down of the offsetting options available made for helpful reading. Following Adam's lead, I plumped for Climatecare, which is the offsetting option beloved of BA and The Guardian (other options include Carbonneutral. Treeflights and CO2Balance) and I duly handed over the £35 or so that will go towards research into energy efficiency, renewables and tree-planting projects.

So did that salve my conscience? Not entirely. I'm well aware that off-setting isn't the catch-all solution to a carbon rich lifestyle. You can't just waltz about the planet on planes and then throw money at the problem you're helping to create. But, having said that, I'm not one of those neo-puritans who believe it's all or nothing when it comes to doing our bit for the environment. It's important that hardcore hippy shoppers don't get too carried away with feeling superior. Those of us who try to do our bit, but who aren't quite able/ready/willing to have a complete lifestyle overhaul, may still have a global footprint that's clownsize, but at least it shows a degree of awareness that is still lacking in an awful lot of consumers.

With those carbon emissions still playing on my conscience, I sought advice from the Carbon Trust website. The trust advocates off-setting, but only after you've already made efforts to reduce the Carbon you already waste in your day to day life. It would far rather that you spend the money that off-setting sites request on updating your home with energy efficient products that make more of a direct impact on our daily carbon usage. Since I have been slowly upgrading my lifestyle to a more sustainable level, I would be spending that money on energy efficient products anyway, hence my decision to cough up for the off-setting as well.

In the next few columns, I'll discuss some of my efforts to live a cleaner, greener life, no doubt featuring my latest purchases. Yes, I know we live in a consumer culture, and that if I were a true eco-warrior I would frown on such product-led thinking. But I am, after all, a consumer technology journalist, and I just can't resist those gadgets. Those of you who deplore such consumerist tendencies should probably look away now, but if you're hoping to integrate sustainability into your daily life without having to move to a log cabin in a self-sufficient coppiced wood, hopefully you'll find something of interest!

Next week: Getting the green light: the wonders of the Light Emitting Diode.

November 8, 2006 in Carbon Neutral Living, Columns & Opinion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack