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Friday's ecotourism: Outer Space with Virgin Galactic


The space travel itself, offered by Virgin Galactic, probably has all kinds of environmental issues in regards to the fuel burned, but the interior itself is designed to be incredibly inert - a dream vacation for anybody with chemical sensitivities. However, the eco-aspect comes in in that it is a travel company owned by Sir Richard Branson, who pledged all his travel profits to fight global warming for the next ten years. So if you have a spare $200k USD lying around, you can spend it knowing you get to go to space, and the profits stay with the planet. [GT]

Virgin Galactic

Related stories: Sir Richard Branson pledges £1.6bn for global warming | Friday's Ecotourism: Go Differently - to Thailand, to see the elephants | Friday's Ecospot: Liquid Therapy at Moonbeach Retreat, Egypt

September 29, 2006 in Transport & travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sainsburys brand new bag


Good news from Sainsburys after the debacle of the report on how not so green supermarkets are. They're replacing their old white bags with satsuma-coloured ones which are made of 33% recycled material. The changeover will be complete by next February - it takes a long time to replace 1.7 billion shopping bags. This, on top of their 500 new products with compostable packaging, should bump them quite a few rungs up the ethical ladder.

New 'green' bags for Sainsbury's [via EcoStreet]

Related stories: Greening Supermarkets revisited: not so green | A new green image for Tesco? | Waitrose, Sainsburys and Marks are great (boo hiss: Asda, Tesco, Morrisons)

September 29, 2006 in Arts & information | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ITV Granada Big Cleanup campaign


A whole slew of green groups have gotten under the ITV Granada umbrella to help green up its viewership. The campaign has daily eco-tips, a free 'green guide' in a reusable keepsake box, and a freephone response line you can call to find out how to get greener. As part of the campaign, you can get a hand cranked mobile charger for only £5 after P + P. 3 minutes' crank = 3 minutes' talk time. Adapters available for a wide variety of mobiles for only an extra 24p. [GT]

ITV Granada Big Cleanup campaign | ITV Big Cleanup Mobile Charger

Related stories: Back in black - the Solio solar charger | V.posh wind-up torch | Sunlinq Folding Solar Power Panel

September 29, 2006 in Shows & events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Weekend DIY: Floppy Disk tote


We've all still got a box or three of those old-school 3.5" disks lying around, and they don't even make good coasters the way AOL CDs used to.  Well, now there's a nice weekend DIY project for you: the Floppy Disk bag.  While it does involve a drill, the rest of it looks pretty simple, and if you whip up a lining so that it actually becomes functional, you've got a tote that even has a flip-top lid.  Not exactly chic, but totally geek.  [GT]

Floppy Disk Bag [via Shiny Shiny]

Related stories: Weekend DIY: Build a workbench from an old fridge | Site of the week: Instructables | DIY Kyoto at home

September 29, 2006 in Do It Yourself | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub


The second-best bar in the UK (according to the Observer) is also the world's first certified organic gastro pub, the Duke of Cambridge, was founded in 1998 and began winning awards shortly afterward. They're also sticking with fully organic catering even though the EU guidelines were recently reinterpreted to exempt organic restaurants from having to provide same. They only use organically farmed salmon and trout, so you know where it's been. Located at 30 St Peters Street, Islington, London N1. [GT]

Duke of Cambridge

Related stories: Pizza Piazzo / Pollo / Pizza Organic / GM free | Vitaorganic Organic Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant | Second helpings from the Dinner Lady

September 29, 2006 in Food & drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Fun Chair your child is supposed to draw on


Like Ella before, I'm pretty keen on cardboard furniture, and think the Fun Chair is a great idea for a kid's toy. It's a small, folding chair of plain brown recycled cardboard, costing £19.50 at Green Apple, which is designed for your child to decorate to his heart's content. Which, at risk of invoking Valkyries of Protest, sounds pretty steep for a disposable kid's toy; Susie would probably be just as happy with a cardboard wine shipping box (very sturdy and usually white) that you told her was an ottoman for her to decorate. (Though it might not be recycled then, so much as repurposed.) [GT]

Cardboard Fun Chair

Related stories: Still not bored of cardboard furniture | Recycled cardboard fort from Ecotopia | Recycled kids stuff takes off

September 29, 2006 in Kids stuff | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Diary of a Green Wedding #6: Early house hunting

AkHippyshopper editor Gabrielle (aka [GT]) chronicles trying to have a small, affordable wedding while pleasing her dreamed-of-a-fairytale-wedding- since-he-was-a-boy fiance John, and trying to keep her consumerism low.  This week, a look ahead at green housing.

A friend who manages an apartment building called up today to let us know a two bedroom was coming up available soon.  Great location, room for the all-important home office, and good neighbors - he lives there himself.  But my green lifestyle was thrust upon me by having a rash (more like a plague) of chemical sensitivities and classical allergies, so there's a good chance I won't even be able to set foot in the place.  This got me thinking about the after-the-wedding part, where we go home together.  Which reminded me of something: I hate paying rent.  And I'll tell you why.

Sure, everybody hates paying rent, but as I was growing up, my mother was an accountant, and my father had a construction company.  It was dinned into me: get equity.  Buy a house.  Don't throw away money on rent.  So the arguments I'm going to give you in favour of owning are coming from bias, to be sure.  However, owning a house makes you interested in what happens to your part of the world in a way that renting never can, and encourages better behaviour.  (Yes yes, it also gives you equity, so your money is working for you instead of being burned up and blown out the window.  That's beside the point.)

We all want the trendy, tiny flat near all the cool shops, but if you also want a home office, there's a good chance that what you need is a house.  If you're going with a house, you might as well look into building your own, which is what I got thinking about.  Land is pretty cheap around here, especially exhausted farmland.  My uncle had previously convinced me of the merits of straw bale housing, since it has fantastic insulation value and is much less expensive to build sustainably (as well as without ugly chemicals) than with conventional materials.

The Straw Bale Building Assocation has a lot of good workshops (and The Last Straw magazine).  Most straw bale is simple post and beam, with bales of straw stacked up like Legos, then sprayed with lime plaster to create a smooth, breathable surface.  Don't use concrete if you can avoid it; concrete locks in moisture which leads to the straw rotting, whereas lime disperses moisture and dries out.  Concrete also offgases for years to come.  Lime is also generally pretty, and concrete generally is not.

If you want a basic idea of what you can do with it, BaleWatch has 50 plans for straw bale buildings, ranging from small storage sheds up to a nine bedroom Bed & Breakfast.  The idea I liked most is the Compound, which involves building a perimeter wall, then several small buildings inside, so that you can perfect your ability one square room at a time.  This also allows you to spread out the cost of your house building and easily expand for, say, more office space, an art studio, or, well, possibly sometime after the wedding there'll be children.  Assuming science catches up with us and John can carry them.  [GT]

See more Diary of a Green Wedding at Hippyshopper, and more Green and Organic Weddings at Bridalwave.

September 29, 2006 in Green weddings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google specs standards to save power - LOTS of power


Your computer uses a lot of power, much of which is wasted.  Some adapters are so bad as to produce only 20% efficiency - and the good ones still lose at least 10% of your power.  Consequently, Google, which has thousands of computers, proposes we go over to a 12 volt standard - not just for computers, but for pretty much everything that doesn't have a high demand (microwaves and fridges would be exempt).  That would lead to economy of scale (like how you can get USB cables for under a pound in the right high street shops now) and a huge efficiency boost.  How huge?  Google's plan shows a savings of $5bn USD in America alone, annually.  The ERPI consulting group is slightly less optimistic: Currently, EPRI said, power supplies account for more than 2 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption and that more efficient design could cut use in half, saving nearly $3 billion in electricity costs.  Either way, that's a lot fewer rolling blackouts, and standardization would make converting gadgets wholesale to solar power that much easier.  [GT]

Google to Push for More Electrical Efficiency in PC’s [via TreeHugger]

Related stories: Water saving gadget roundup | Alternate Energy Sources For A Flourishing Future | France shames high-emissions vehicles

September 29, 2006 in Energy saving | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lovely Organics at Bridalwave


We've been neglectful of the best bridal site out there, which is Shiny's own Bridalwave, run by the utterly super Camilla Chafer, and paid the price of not plundering her totally fantastic Green and Organic Weddings category. I hereby publicly apologize for being such a dope and urge any matrimonially-minded readers to hotfoot it over there. Go on, I'll wait. The eye-opener was her writeup of Lovely Organic's wedding hampers. I was introduced to them by Kiss and Makeup's writeup of Lovely Organics, but Charlotte seized on the most relevant part for my brideness-to-beness, which is the gorgeous range of Lovely kits for brides and bridesmaids, including a terrific thank you bag you can give your bridesmaids - a total steal at only £5. I also was intrigued by her post on heart shaped rice confetti (as a biodegradeable alternative to the normal rice or paper) and she had a great option for plantable invitations. The Bridalwave organic category has really taken off lately and Camilla is to be congratulated hugely! [GT]

Lovely Organic's wedding hampers [via Bridalwave]

More Green and Organic Weddings at Bridalwave | More Green Weddings at Hippyshopper

September 29, 2006 in Green weddings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Farmhouse sexy cardboard furniture


Okay, so the Fun Chair didn't totally do it for me, but the Farm Designs cardboard furniture by Giles Miller really does.  Instead of just having a smooth surface, he has a 'flocked' design, where he manipulates the angles of the corrugation to give the cardboard exciting and gorgeous textures.  It obviously also lends itself to room dividers, but even more surprisingly, apparently he's made rocking chairs and laptop cases (from carpet and cardboard) as well.  It's fantastic to see innovative uses of cardboard to dispel the idea that you'd do just as well to cut up an old fridge box - an old fridge box wouldn't have such texture.  [GT]   

Farm Designs cardboard furniture [via Treehugger]

Related stories: The Fun Chair your child is supposed to draw onStill not bored of cardboard furniture | Recycled cardboard fort from Ecotopia

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