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Share your organic food secrets

Hereford_cattle_in_snow_5_281299 The Guardian are requesting that we reveal a few of our favourite local food suppliers; from organic shops to box schemes.  They are compiling a directory of good food sources and want to hear from hippyshoppers. Read about their search and related reader's comments at the Guardian's news blog or simply email tips to [email protected].  My vote would have to go to Graig Farm (see picture - isn't it beautiful?) who have won various awards.  Graig Farm have an excellent mail order service; plus their products are also available through various outlets, my local being Green Bean Organics, Gower. If you are stuck for idea's then read previous reviews in our food and drink archives.  I will let you know the results when the directory is completed. [Ella]

April 28, 2006 in Food & drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, April 30: World Pinhole Photography Day


I love digital photography - the endless reuse of materials, not needing to make prints that may or may not be good, the frolicksome sense of freedom - but I can see the appeal of World Pinhole Photography Day, (as mentioned on flickr blog).  It's a good idea to step back from increasingly sophisticated and controlling technology to hand-made, home-made, a little gadget that expresses natural beauty and basic science, resulting in a creative work that's all your own.

Pinholeday.org has some good instructions on how to build a fairly sturdy pinhole camera, and also how to figure out exposure times, with notes that really, a cardboard box with a hole in it and some film inside works too if that's all you feel like doing.  Or you can expose directly onto photographic paper, to create a one-of-a-kind sun print.

Group events are taking place everywhere from Bristol to Bangladesh.  Participants are encouraged to scan their results and upload them to the permanent Pinhole gallery.  For such an imprecise art form, the results can be quite beautiful, as evinced by Daryl Furr's laundromat photo to the right.

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 28, 2006 in Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tortue Rouge aromatherapy for pets


If you've ever felt your pet could benefit from aromatherapy, you'd probably also prefer the essences were 100% organic.  In that case, Tortue Rouge has got your back.  They have an extensive listing of animal health complaints and recommended aromatherapeutic solutions.  (Theoretically at least; I couldn't get the list to work on my browser.)

They say that most animals appreciate aromatherapy, but also warn you to never force an animal to smell something it doesn't seem to want to.  If you do, they note, it probably won't benefit anyhow.  (I am wondering, though, how they can have aromatherapy for pets but also say "no animal testing" on every page?)

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 28, 2006 in Pets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Toshiba announces three greener portables


Today Toshiba  Canada announced three of their notebook computers, the Portégé R200, the Tecra M4 and Tecra S3,  are freshly compliant with RoHS directives to slash use of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and both polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.  That makes 18 such notebooks they've put on the market since September 2005.  This is significant because the RoHS directives are only applicable in Europe.  They're producing more environmentally sound computers in North America too 'cause it's a good idea, not because it's the law.

Tech specs:

The Portégé R200 is a 12.1 inch notebook weighing 2.7 pounds, with an Intel Pentium® M processor 773 ULV at 1.3GHz, a 60 GB hard disk drive, 768 MB of DDR2 memory, some anti-theft stuff and an integrated fingerprint sensor.  $2,399 CAD.

The 14.1-inch Tecra M4 is a convertible Tablet PC / notebook computer with a Intel Pentium® M processor 750 at 1.86GHz, an 80 GB hard disk drive and 512 MB of DDR2 memory. Tecra S3 has a Intel® Pentium® M Processor, DDR2 memory, and a  15-inch TFT display with NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 6600 Express graphics. $2,799 and $2,399 respectively.

In March, Toshiba also announced that in Canada, they'd take old notebooks, LCDs and PDAs and either recycle them or put them to charitable use.  Doesn't matter what the brand is.  No charge to you - they'll pick it up from you and even give you a free USB flash drive in exchange.  Good stuff all around.

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 28, 2006 in Green gadgets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I can annotate my house from here

Platial_map_1Platial: the People's Atlas (still in beta, one should note, but making a pretty good show of itself nonetheless) is a very neat repurposing of Google Maps to allow people to annotate the maps with their own points of interest.  Being able to mark your own house on Google is pretty cool (and of course, I did so, as shown to the right) but that's only part of what makes this site interesting.

Platial actually lets you create and share your own mapsThe Activist Atlas is a listing of all the developing maps of points like public biodiesel stations, green buildings, vegetarian restaurants in Liverpool, community gardens... ah, yeah, now this is starting to sound like a really exciting use of the technology.

It's pretty easy to both get around the site and add your own material (although I was somewhat annoyed that I found my house, was told I had to log in to claim the area, and then lost the map point during registration, so I had to hunt it down again - which was kind of annoying because I couldn't, being Canadian and therefore under-represented in Google Maps, just type in my street address).  The idea of individual maps for everything is good, although it would also be handy to be able to overlay multiple maps (condensing, say, bike paths, vegan restaurants, and good lavatories onto one map) and especially useful if one could then download them to, say, one's PDA or GPS system.  I'm not sure if it's possible to do these things or not, but if not, those are upgrades I'd like to see.  But very good beginning, guys, keep it up.

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 28, 2006 in Transport & travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CoopAmerica launches ResponsibleShopper.org

Responsible_shopper_1Responsible Shopper is a brand-new site from Co-op America, the same group that operates the  National Green Pages.  Its purpose? It gives people the information they need to vote with their dollars when they shop – and to email companies to tell them to clean up their acts.  Is DaimlerChrysler ethical?  What is Amazon.com's attitude toward unions?  Is Vivendi Universal really that bad?  Check Responsible Shopper's profiles.

It's a very new site (launched three days ago) but it already has a lot of nicely presented, well-crossreferenced information about corporate ethics. They also have practical recommendations on what to do if you are dealing with, say, a polluting energy company like Peabody. Responsible Shopper is off to an excellent start and I'm quite curious to see what else develops as it grows.

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 28, 2006 in Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Glen Hunter's white lights


While Glen Hunter was putting together his well-documented straw bale house near Toronto, Canada, he went to Eurolite looking for LEDs to light the house.  The design he ended up with in his gallery uses a total of four watts of power to light the entire room - so little that, even though the house is self-sufficient energywise (so they try to keep all consumption at a minimum) they can leave the lights on when they go out.  Eurolite liked his ideas so much that now they sell his lighting designs.

The lights are basically  LEDs suspended in clear acrylic - mostly blue or clear.  TheBorealis_sq_sidebar effect of floating balls of white light is remarkably beautiful.  He also has tubes that look quite similar to office flourescents (aside from that they're efficient, quiet, and have a brighter, whiter light).  Hunter doesn't get into the excruciating technical details of how the lights are made, but they don't look that complicated, and a middling handy person could probably work up their own set based on his essay and photographs. 

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 28, 2006 in Design & furniture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

1 cent shipping promo at Animal Rescue Site

Logo310For a "limited time" (probably until April 28) the Animal Rescue Site is running 1 cent shipping on international orders of $50 USD or more.  Combine that with the prices  on discontinued shiny and regular sales they have on ethically sourced gewgaws and the aforementioned free bling you can get with that order and it sounds like that new pair of earrings is a downright socially responsible purchase.

The Animal Rescue Site, as you probably already know, gives bowls of food to starving animals in pet shelters whenever you buy from their store.  You can also click their button once a day (and a bunch of other buttons also) to provide a bowl of food.  These are sites you should be proud to visit daily.  (Oh, Lacerda, I'm not giving away any of your food!  Quit eating so frantically!)

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 27, 2006 in Ethical & green gifts | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A new twist on the mortar and pestle


Fun and useful?  A jam jar with a  pebble in it?  You decide.  The  Flavour Shaker by Jamie Oliver (£17.94 from Amazon) is a matrushka-like update on the mortar and pestle, which allows you to grind spices and press garlic and powder sugar with a flick of the wrist (well, probably a few dozen flicks of the wrist, but you get the idea.)  Judging by the reviews on Amazon it's either stupidly great or greatly stupid.

Basically, you crack open the polycarbonate body, you put the spices in it with a little ceramic ball, and shake.  You can even go so far as to make vinaigrette in it.  Is it a marketing con?  Easy way to tell.  Try putting some cinnamon stick in a jar with a rock in it and see how well it crushes.  Or star anise  I don't see garlic cloves being effectively crushed by your average irregularly shaped rock, and it claims to do garlic beautifully.  If it does actually work on hard spices, you've got a hand-powered replacement for an electric spice mill.

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 27, 2006 in Green gadgets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Review: Who's Afraid of Niketown?


Who's Afraid of Niketown?  Nike: Urbanism, Branding and the City of Tomorrow
Friedrich von Borries
available in German or English
Episode Publishers, available from Amazon for £16.99

What is Nike? von Borries asks.  Is Nike a religion, an ideology or a political movement?  Nike proffers a cult, a lifestyle, a basical attititude through which we can attune the maxims guiding our behaviour.  Nike speaks of revolution and propagates the images of another, better world.  More than a mere manufacturer of sports articles, Nike sells more than shoes and sweatshirts.  Nike is a proposal for experiencing my own self the way I would like to.

Nike is a brand, and it wants to sell products.

This unusually and compulsively readable analysis of Nike brand culture discusses not only Nike's intentions, but the way the world reacts to Nike's involvement. For example, in Toronto, Nike tried to sponsor an art gallery, allowing artists to exhibit free of charge, with the only stipulation being that no non-Nike logos could be shown in the space. The artists rebelled and filled the space with branded bags. Nike shut the gallery within a few weeks. In Berlin Nike tried to set up a basketball court in a gang-heavy area - a court paved with recycled sneaker soles. Artist Marc Bijl put a cast concrete Nike logo on the court. It was removed. Bijl blacked out all the Nike logos and ad copy, and replaced it with Adidas logos.

Von Borries indicates that Nike's urban advertising strategies go so far as to create alternative realities.  One might even say alternative unrealities.  But it comes to a simple question: is everything Nike does automatically wrong, because of their corporate goals and methods?  It is an interesting accomplishment of von Borries that he's managed to make that a question to chew on for a bit.

[Gabrielle Taylor]

April 27, 2006 in Arts & information | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack