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Thumbnail image for Natural Eco Burial.jpgIt's perhaps not a subject we want to think too much about, but it seems more of us are deciding to reduce our carbon footprint when we die as well as well as during our lifetime.

Natural, or eco, burials are on the increase with over 270 sites having been created in the UK since 1993 (the majority of these in the last 10 years alone). And apparently the UK leads the world when it comes to natural burial, thanks to this country's unregulated funeral industry.

A recent MORI poll found that 70 per cent of us would choose natural burial if they better understood it - the same percentage as those who currently opt for cremation.

Cost effective

Unlike a conventional burial, natural burials are both 'green' and cost effective. Cremation uses fossil fuels and creates toxic fumes while traditional burial, because of the depth of a grave, can cause issues with methane. Likewise, the materials used to build a coffin are often non-biodegradable. Coffins used in natural burial are usually made from wicker or cardboard and can cost as little as £120.

But the popularity of natural burial isn't just about environmental issues, as Rosie Inman-Cook of the Natural Death Centre explains:

"Most people decide on a natural burial having attended such a service. They love the freedom and slow pace - you don't have to have a hearse, for example. Some people have chosen to use a VW Camper van and one family even turned up with their grandmother's coffin in her beloved Renault Clio.

The experience is time rich - there's no sense of urgency and people can stay as long as they like at the graveside. I've visited sites with people who are terminally ill and it's given them a great sense of relief to see their final resting place whether or not they have religious beliefs."

Final resting place

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Landscape architect, Ann Sharrock (pictured below) is hoping her show garden at this year's RHS Malvern Spring Gardening Show will help to raise awareness. Based on a natural burial site she created for multi-millionaire publisher Felix Dennis at his estate in Warwickshire, the garden is the antithesis of manicured cemeteries and contains few hard landscaping features to respect its rural location (see image above). Many such sites are designed to return to their natural state over the course of 50 years.

Whatever type of burial we select, it is clear that there is a shortage of burial space. Within the UK Green Infrastructure typography, cemeteries and graveyards are seen as assets and Ann Sharrock believes urban areas, as well as rural areas, may well reap the advantages.

A natural burial site provides a unique, bio-diverse environment helping to counteract air pollution and contribute to the health and wellbeing of the local community.

Both Ann Sharrock and Rosie Inman-Cook will be at the RHS Spring Show, taking place May 9 to 12 at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern. The Natural Burial Site Garden is Show Garden OS909.

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mother and toddler flickr-db Photography Demi-Brooke.jpgWith global warming, food shortages and impendent doom looming, chances are the world as we know it will be a distant memory in not too long unless we do something drastic pretty soon.

Some of us are already trying to live as sustainable as possible helping the earth one recycle at a time, but it's safe to say that most of today's grown-ups who haven't yet seen the greener picture are a lost cause. So what can be done?

In order have a future we need at the future citizens of the earth. Enter the 'Green Baby'.

Your tiny tot may grow up to one day become the leader in environmental advancement, but their little feet actually leave a larger carbon footprint than you may realise and can have a considerable environmental impact. So just how can you be a greener parent?

If you dress your baby in cotton (who wouldn't?), it's worth remembering that the main carbon and environmental impact of cotton clothing is in its production. Ask around for hand-me-downs or visit your local charity shop to diminish the clothes' carbon impact. This also goes for toys, cribs and anything your toddler may need in their first years.

Breast is best. Not only is nutritionally beneficial, but it's also a green source of food for your baby. A mother's milk is environmentally friendly as it doesn't need to be processed, packaged and shipped to the shops.

Once your baby is off the milk and eating solids, try to stick to seasonal fruit and vegetables. These are less likely to have been grown in a greenhouse that requires a lot of energy, and therefore have a smaller carbon footprint.

Most importantly, start your child's environmental education early. Talk to them about the importance of a low carbon lifestyle and explain why you think this way. They will grow up to follow your example and will pass the message on to their friends and their own children.

If you're interested in discovering how you can make your baby's future a greener one, the Science Museum in London is hosting a discussion with environmental experts where you can dive into the complex issues around green parenting.

Green Babies; 27 September 2012, 11am to 1pm; The Science Museum's Dana Centre, South Kensington, SW7 5HD; Booking required - 02079424040 or email tickets@danacentre.org.uk.

Image provided by PR / Photographer Demi Brooke

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Former California governor and actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has launched a new environmental initiative, Sustainia, that hopes to help people visualize a sustainable future using low-carbon resources.

With the support of the UN, Terminator star Schwarzenegger and Europe's climate chief, Connie Hedegaard are spearheading the virtual environmental campaign that encourages people to live a greener lifestyle.

The Sustainia initiative aims to show new and developing technologies, such as renewable energy and hydrogen-powered buses, on a virtual platform that will show people what an environmentally friendly world would be like.

Schwarzenegger says: "Being a champion in body building, in movies and in politics where I was able to lead California to renewable energy, energy efficiency, green jobs ... I believe it is important to demonstrate that sustainability is the better choice for all of us."
"For communities around the world and for the individual, the Sustainia award offers a multitude of benefits in terms of better health, more liveable regions and cities and increased productivity. But we need to actually see it to understand it. And this is what we will make possible."

Over the coming months, people will be able to visit, inhabit and help build the new world on a virtual construction site.

The project also comes with an accompanying book 'Guide to Sustainia, which was developed by Scandinavian think tank Monday Morning in a collaborative effort with 16 global companies, including Microsoft, Philips, Tetra Pak, and Cisco.

Visit www.sustainia.me for more information.

carbon-emissions.jpgWe might all be trying our best to keep our new year's resolutions (unless you've already caved in and forgotten about the [gym membership/recycling scheme/diet - delete as appropriate] already). But there is something we cannot fix by ourselves and that's the fact that by the end of today, Friday 13th January, the average person in Britain will have emitted as much carbon dioxide as the average person in Kenya will in an ENTIRE YEAR!

Recent data released by the World Development Movement shows that Kenya's annual per capita carbon emissions at 0.293 tons, while the UK's are 8.351 tons. And despite having such little responsibility for causing climate change, Kenyans are facing some of the worst weather related disasters globally. For instance, last year Kenya and neighbouring East African countries suffered their worst drought in 60 years, resulting in a severe food crisis.

Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement, said: "This is a stark reminder of the UK's responsibility for climate change. Developing countries like Kenya make almost no contribution to the problem, yet they face the worst consequences. Meanwhile the UK is failing to make sufficient emissions cuts or to meet its obligations to help poorer countries cope with the effects of climate change."

Campaigners are calling on the UK government to honour its promise to be the 'greenest government ever' by meeting its commitments to reducing emissions under the Climate Change Act. Developing countries have already pledged to make emissions cuts 30 to 50 per cent higher than those of rich countries like the UK, despite their per person emissions being a fraction of those of developing countries.

Now we of course know that our sweet Hippyshopper readers are doing what they can for the environment - and we love you for it - but the figures from the World Development Movement are startling nonetheless.

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On September 24 over 150 countries will join in on the Moving Planet day to help put the focus on the global climate crisis and spend a day without fossil fuels.

In Moving Planet's own words "for too long, our leaders have denied and delayed, compromised and caved," it is now time to call for the world to go beyond fossil fuels. It doesn't matter if you're marching, biking or skating, just get around in a sustainable way.

On Thursday, people all over the world are organising events that work locally but have a potential global impact: cycle to work, drum up a non-violent march against the use of fossil fuels, or to get your local community to hold a mini-festival with fun, food and talks about creating a sustainable future. The more people that join in the more effect our actions will have!

The global fossil fuel infrastructure is a threat to our planet's future; it is polluting our oceans, our lands, our communities , our air and our lungs. Don't be part of the things that will tip climate change into climate catastrophe - take action now!

If you live in or around London, UK, we found a couple of interesting events that might be worth joining in on:

Camden up Close: a treasure trail

Camden Friends of the Earth will host a treasure hunt that will link some excellent eco haunts, hidden green spaces, unique shops, pubs and cafes using sustainable transport to explore trendy Camden.

To take part, pick up your treasure trail map and instructions from our stall at Camden Lock (outside Lock 17), between 10am and 12 noon on Saturday 24 September.

Be part of London's biggest bike aerial photo - Haggerston Park, Hoxton

Bring yourself - and your bike if you want - to be part of a gigantic aerial art image to create London's biggest ever bike! With an aim to show how transport is a key part of reducing the use of fossil fuel this is a fun event that is certain to get much attention.

To take part, RSVP via their Facebook events page and get to Haggerston Park (nearest tube station is Hoxton) for 12 noon - 3pm on Saturday 24 September.

Check out the video below for more information about Moving Planet:


OK, so this particular skyscraper hasn't been built yet but the images we've seen of the Bionic Arch are very impressive.

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Taichung in Taiwan is in dire need to reduce the city's carbon and as part of the 'Taichung Active Gateway City' Vincent Callebaut has put together a proposal that is an architectural gem - a green gem.

With its vertical gardens and living facades the Arch is almost like a vertical park, and will receive all of its electricity from bio, solar and wind energy sources. It will have zero emissions so will help towards achieving the city's carbon reduction plans.

To go with the Bionic Arch Callebaut has also proposed to create green living quarters nearby for sustainable urban communities to prosper in.

I love the Shard that is currently being built in London, but can we also get a Bionic Arch please?

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Eastenders voted Britain's greenest soap

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We must admit that we haven't thought about which of Britain's most loved soap series is greenest... If you have, now you don't have to wonder any more!

Long-running soap Eastenders has beaten off its rivals to be named Britain's greenest soap in new research by London 2012 Olympics sustainability partner EDF Energy.

According to the study, the characters of the E20 post code - the same as the Olympic Park - are taking more action to reduce their on-screen carbon footprint than those in the other soap series analysed. And they say watching TV can't teach you anything!

Eastender character Shirley Carter was crowned the ultimate green soap queen, with the Mitchell family being named the greenest stars.

Apart from Eastenders, the researchers studied Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks. Each soap's characters were monitored for one month and judged against a set of green criteria. These included their use of public transport, how many times they used electrical appliances, remembering to switch lights off and using lower carbon forms of transport such as walking or cycling. Their positive and negative 'eco-activities' were measured and compared to reveal Britain's greenest soap family.

The top five green soap families and characters are:

1. The Mitchells/Shirley Carter - EastEnders
2. The Dingles/Zak Dingle - Emmerdale
3. The Websters/Rosie Webster - Coronation Street
4. The Mitchells/Ronnie Mitchell - EastEnders
5. The Barlows/Ken Barlow - Coronation Street

A green afterlife with Bios Urn

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You might have head of green burial sites or maybe not, as most people don't think about funeral related issues until it's absolutely necessary.

Spanish designer Martin Azua has created an eco-solution to help people leave this world in a greener way. Reintroducing the human being to the natural circle of life, returning to nature, the Bios Urn is a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose. Inside it contains the seed of a tree, so that once planted - with the remains of the person who has departed - the seed begins to grow.

As with the more traditional gravestones, you have the choice to pick the type of plant you would like to become.

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PA-6677800.jpgRemember when we wrote about solar panels and the benefits of installing them on your house? Now it appears that householders are rushing to put exactly that on their roofs! (They must all be loyal Hippyshopper readers)

According to guardian.co.uk, government subsidies have tripled the amount of solar power in the UK over the past year as people, largely homeowners, look to make nearly £1,000 a year as a result of installing solar panels.

This is most likely a result of the introduction of feed-in tariffs (Fits) last year, which pay individuals and businesses for generating green energy.

Are you planning on installing solar panels to your roof?

Photo: John Birdsall/PA

The world's first carbon neutral lingerie set

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If you've just had a spring clean in your lingerie drawer, you'll no doubt be looking to invest in some new items for the spring. You'll be happy to learn that Marks & Spencer is bringing out the world's first carbon neutral lingerie set.

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The high-street retailer's new range of carbon neutral lingerie, that will be available online, was made in an 'eco factory' in Sri Lanka. The factory has cut down its energy use by a third by ensuring that all lighting is from the sun and low energy light bulbs are used.

Through its Plan A commitment, Marks & Spencer is also tackling climate chance by investing in local rainforest replanting projects.

Soozie Jenkinson, head of lingerie design explains: 'The new range is sophisticated, elegant and glamorous. We've used a combination of intricate lace and dramatic embroidery, inspired by the exotic foliage of the rainforest." So not just eco-friendly, it's fashionable as well.

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Eco Fashion Focus: FIN Oslo

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Scandinavia is known for its green thinking and focus on eco-friendly materials, so it was just fitting that a Scandinavian brand would be the first to be featured in our Eco Fashion Focus.

FIN Oslo is a Norwegian label that was founded in 2007 with the vision of introducing high fashion collections that were also environmentally sustainable. Head designer Per Sivertsen explores interpretations of contemporary femininity in his quest for perfection.

"Taking inspiration from ever-evolving surroundings, FIN Oslo collections epitomize a modern, sophisticated Scandinavian look. The signature dusty colours, flowing volumes and attention to detail have led to a strong identity, visible through the collections."

All products are produced ethically; ensuring fair trade values are followed; and are made from organic cotton and bamboo, wild non-violent silk, baby Alpaca yarn or milk fabrics (made from surplus milk proteins that are not intended for food).

The company also buys climate credits based on the level of CO2 emissions from the production of FIN Oslo garments - the funds are consequently invested in renewable projects in the countries where the clothes were produced.

If you'd like to know more visit FIN Oslo's website.

solar_powered_house.jpgHave you been thinking about installing solar panels on your house to produce your own energy? If you haven't you definitely should, because the benefits of solar electricity are many:

It will cut your carbon footprint: it is a green, renewable energy source that doesn't release any harmful CO2 or other pollutants. A standard home solar panel system could save around 1 tonne of CO2 yearly.

Your electricity bills will be slashed: sunlight is FREE! So once you've invested in a system, it could help cut your electricity bills with 40%.

You can make money of it: yes that's right. If more electricity than you need is produced you can sell it back to the Grid.

You don't need planning permission for most solar electricity systems as long as they're under a certain size, but check with your local planning officer before you invest in one.

Also ensure you have a nice sunny roof or wall to fix it on, as there is no point having the panels if the sun doesn't reach them.

And most importantly, once you've got your solar panels installed and ready, invest in some energy efficient appliances that will help you maximise the electricity that is produced!

Installing a solar panel system will set you back around £12,000 + VAT (The Energy Saving Trust). But there are also some companies that offer free solar panel systems in return for a cut of your income. Read more about it on the Energy Saving Trust's website.

Boris Johnson wants to make London greener

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boris-johnson.jpgYesterday saw the start of Climate Week and mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced a £70m fund to make London greener, The Guardian reports.

London produces 2.6 million tonnes of organic waste each year which could generate revenues of £170m if diverted to composting and energy generation. Londoners and the capital's visitors also throw away around 280,000 tonnes of plastic which would be worth £140m a year if recycled correctly.

The £70m fund will finance the development of low-carbon waste and recycling facilities in the capital, and could create hundreds of green jobs, save 28,000 tonnes of carbon and divert 245,000 tonnes of waste from landfills.

Johnson said: "A century ago London was cashing in on carbon, but I am determined we now harness the wealth of investment opportunities coming from the shift away from the use of increasingly costly fossil fuels. The prize is not only better environmental stewardship and cash savings, but the injection of billions of pounds into the city's economy and tens of thousands of high quality jobs ... and a better quality of life."
He said the environmental goods and services sector was already worth about £23bn to the London economy, with carbon finance alone contributing about £5.8bn, despite the recent problems in the carbon trading markets.

Myleene Klass EDF Energy London Eye

Created to celebrate the beginning of a new millennium, the London Eye was only meant to be around for one year. Fast-forward ten years and four names later, the now iconic London landmark has secured a new sponsor and will be known as: EDF Energy London Eye.

The French electricity and gas giant has signed a three year deal with Merlin Entertainment's London Eye for the rights to the name and to light up the capital's night skyline. The announcement was made in the early hours of Tuesday 25th January, with Myleene Klass on site along with members of Team Green Britain. This also marked the start of a campaign to encourage Britons to live a lower carbon lifestyle and support EDF Energy's low carbon image for the capital. EDF Energy is also the first Sustainability Partner of London 2012, and will provide low carbon solutions to the Olympic Games.

Here at Hippyshopper we are all for reducing your carbon footprint and doing you bit to help the environment and community you live in. However, it is quite a paradox - regardless of its low carbon credentials - that an energy supplier is trying to make Britain become greener. After all, how can a company that relies on people using energy in order to be profitable be an eco-warrior? It's not like they would ever ask people to flip the switch on electricity...

EDF Energy London Eye

Last week British Gas's announced that they will raise gas and electricity bills by 7% effective December 10th. While this wasn't the Christmas present that most of us were hoping for, there are a number of things you can do to make this increase hurt a little less.

We have put together our top 5 tips to help you improve your household energy efficiency and save you a few pounds this winter.

For additional tips go to the energy saving advice site Think Insulation

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