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blackfriars-solar-01-379px.jpgIf you've been around the River Thames recently you'll have noticed the construction work taking place on the new Blackfriars Station, which is being built on a bridge spanning the river. A new bridge isn't very newsworthy, but the fact that it is on its way to becoming the world's largest solar bridge is!

London-based company Solarcentury has now begun installing over 4,400 solar photovaltic (PV) panels that are to generate an estimated 900,000kWh of electricity every year. This will produce 50% of the station's energy and reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year!

But that's not all. The new station, build on the foundations of a 1886 Victorian bridge will also have other energy saving measures, such as rain harvesting systems and sun pipes to let more natural light in.

We're loving that London's new builds like Blackfriars are more environmentally-friendly and sustainable that its predecessors, as it is imperative for a bright future for the capital.

Now what if The Shard, London's latest skyline addition, was built with solar panels...

Not sure what the current McDonald staff dress in as I never go in there, but the fast-food chain has revealed its new and eco-friendly uniforms just in time for the London Olympics - and there's a certain nod to the mod era.

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Designed by husband-and-wife due Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway with input from the upcyclers at Worn Again, the new designs will make its first appearance at the London Olympics when the 2,000 Olympic Park restaurants staff will be kitted out.

Made from recycled plastic the uniforms will enter a 'closed loop', meaning old or damaged textiles will be remade into new ones instead of going to a landfill.

It is great news that the garments are made from recycled plastic and are recyclable, but we can't say the same about the plastic burgers that the staff will be flipping in their snazzy mustard yellow and gherkin green polo shirts. Need to speak to a manager about your order? They'll be identifiable by monochrome clothes, skinny ties and neck scarves.

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e-magic-recycling-flickr-creative-commons.jpgBeing from Scandinavia, recycling is like second nature and it still shocks - and angers - me that in Britain there are so many rules about what can and can't be recycled depending on which borough or city you live in. Cameron et al, if you're listening one rule for everyone would make recycling a whole lot easier and probably encourage more Brits to take responsibility for their consumption and subsequent packaging waste. One can hope right?!

Actually the announcement that ACE UK, the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, will be recycling beverage cartons at its UK plant from 2013 new research appears to be changing the recycling habits of Britons. Tetra Pak research has found that more than half (58%) of UK adults say they would be more likely to recycle their used food and drink cartons knowing they would be recycled into other materials in the UK instead of being shipped abroad.

The research also found promising results of the overall recycling habits of UK adults with two-fifths (40%) saying recycling is now 'second nature' and more than a quarter (29%) have a set routine they follow for recycling.

Not entirely sure why people are more encouraged to recycle when it happens in the British Isles - less carbon footprint perhaps or the fact that it can be reused in the UK - but whatever reason it is welcome news.

Image credit: e-magic

Cruelty Free International is the biggest ever global campaign to end the unnecessary torture of animals by testing cosmetics on them for the sake of people's vanity.

Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais has signed the global pledge and is helping to raise awareness of the ongoing cruelty that happens behind closed doors as the campaign call on governments and regulators around the world to introduce a ban on animal testing.

Over 80% of the world still allows animals to be used in cruel experiments for the sake of beauty. Despite progress with some countries and companies, animals that many consider pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats, are routinely injected, gassed, force-fed or killed for cosmetic testing.

Find out more about Cruelty Free International here.

Sign the petition!

M&S creates world's most sustainable suit

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marks-and-spencer-worlds-most-sustainable-suit-2-537x402.jpgIn a new eco-push, British high street retailer Marks & Spencer has unveiled what it is calling the 'world's most sustainable suit'.

The eco suit (sounds like something a superhero would wear doesn't it) is made from the most sustainable materials possible, with everything from the buttons to the lining having been carefully sourced to produce this green garment. Could this be the future for the fashion industry?

Considering the suit has taken several years to develop by M&S experts to ensure it is made from the most sustainable materials available and also of the highest quality, it will probably be some time before the rest of the high-street shops joins the eco trend fully.
But as Mark Sumner, M&S Plan A Expert noted this is 'a huge step forwards for the industry'.

The suit is made from organic wool that is fully traceable back to the farms from where it is produces, and all of the chemicals used in the production are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) approved. The lining is made from recycled plastic bottles while the buttons are reclaimed.

In another twist, the suit label also has a QR code which can be scanned with a smartphone to download information on the suit and the materials it is made from.

The suit is just the first in a new range of sustainable clothing that M&S will be launching during 2012, all of which will be made in the most sustainable way possible.

So far 500 eco-suits have been made and will be available online and in stores in September, prices at £349. You can find more information about the suits here.

Ahead of the Rio+20 - the United Nations conference on sustainable development - the push to end fossil fuel subsidies became the second most talked about topic worldwide on Twitter yesterday.

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The #endfossilfuelsubsidies hashtag was introduced to the micro-blogging site, which has over 100 million active users, by 350.org, a global climate campaign and it is estimated that the hashtag was tweeted once a second. We certainly saw it show up in our Hippyshopper and personal feeds throughout the day!

Taking part in the campaign were active Tweeters, from politicians and journalists, to high-profile activists and celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Robert Redford.

The EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, who is expected to play a key role at the Rio+20 negotiations, tweeted, "Fossil fuels subsidies have no place in today's world. They must be phased out as the G20 pledged. #EndFossilFuelSubsidies #Rioplus20."

According to figures by Oil Change International, countries are combined spending as much as $1 trillion dollars annually on fossil fuel subsidies. That is twelve times as much in subsidies as the world is providing to clean energy, like wind and solar. The International Energy Agency estimates that by cutting these subsides the world can reduce global warming causing emissions by 50%. This will significantly contribute to preventing a 2 degree temperature rise, the number most scientists say is needed to prevent runaway climate change and the destruction on our planet.

As part of the campaign, tweets were projected onto famous landmarks around the world, including London's Marble Arch, St Paul's, Battersea Power Station and the Houses of Parliament.

The current draft of the Rio+20 agreement released on Saturday includes a paragraph on ending fossil fuel subsidies, but negotiations now hang in the balance as oil exporting countries led by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela attempt to delete any references to the proposal.

Follow the Twitterstorm at endfossilfuelsubsidies.org and take part by tweeting #endfossilfuelsubsidies.

All images by Stephen Brown.

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the-developing-city.jpgBoris may have tried to make the capital greener with his bikes, but according to top architects London needs to be greener - and taller - in the future.

A new public exhibition opening this week - The Developing City - will display visions of the City of London in 2050. It will look at how the physical environment of the City - its buildings, public spaces and culture have helped it to thrive as a major business centre, and how it will be in the future.

According to architects, whose visions are on display, The Square Mile will become greener with more parks and riverside walkways, while buildings will increase in height to accommodate continued growth.

The Developing City takes place at The Walbrook Building, London EC4 between 21 June and 9 September 2012.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of breakfast talks, curator's tours, walks, building visits and other special events.

One of the most famous photographs of all time has been recreated by PETA UK in honour of Sir Paul McCartney's 70th birthday this coming Monday, 18th June.

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This time it wasn't John, Paul, George and Ringo who crossed the famous Abbey Road zebra stripes, but a fish, pig, chicken and cow carrying signs that spell out 'Happy Birthday, Paul! Thank You for Loving Us.' A very fitting birthday card for the celebrated vegetarian and animal rights campaigner, we think.

In addition to sending Sir Paul the one-of-a-kind photograph, the animal-rights organisation will also be distributing free copies of its 'Glass Walls' DVD - narrated by Paul - to the fans who will gather on Abbey Road and in Liverpool on Monday.

"PETA couldn't be happier to celebrate Paul's birthday", says PETA Manager Mimi Bekhechi. "He has done so much to help animals during his legendary career, and we can't think of a person more deserving of celebration."

Sir Paul has been vegetarian for more than 40 years, deciding to give up meat out of compassion for animals after realising, whilst fishing, that a fish's life is "as important to him as mine is to me." Now, Sir Paul says, "I would never go back. I enjoy being vegetarian, It's a thrill and I can walk past a field of animals with a clear conscience."

We've always secretly hoped that Sir Paul is a reader of Hippyshopper; so join us in celebrating the ex Beatle's 70th by leaving him a birthday message in the comments as we celebrate him on the next Meat Free Monday on 18 June 2012.

In Paul McCartney's own words: "Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty".

9dcde656a8e0fa1407844bf5c95f984f_0.jpgIf you think Sweden is having a social media nightmare at the moment after their current civilian started tweeting some random messages today, then you should take a look at what appears to be Shell U.S.'s latest social media user-generated endeavour: Let's Go! Arctic.

Well if it is for real that is... The fact that most of the other pages apart from the Arctic ad gallery appear to be down for maintenance and the 'about us' section has some dubious non-PC wording such as"everyone can appreciate how oil--the dinosaurs' parting gift to Man--can be used to help build a better future for everyone. Let's Go!" Also the image of Titanic sinking is just a little too much...

The oil giant is 'asking' people to help them create ad to be using for Shell's Let's Go! Arctic campaign, by creating slogans that run across images of dangerously cute and fluffy Arctic animals, ice bergs and... oil rigs.

The Let's Go! Arctic website states:

We at Shell want everyone to feel as "pumped" as we do about freeing much-needed Arctic resources. After all, the Arctic is the common heritage of all humanity, and what we do there matters to everyone."

Oh and if you enter (and have people vote for your ad idea) you could 'possibly win an all-expenses-paid trip to see the Kulluk in action' - Hmm... Is this for real?

At closer inspection, and a tweet or two, it looks like Let's Go! Arctic is the work of The Yes Men, an activism group that 'impersonates big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them'. So not the work by Shell after all. But we do like it!

Here are some of our favourite 'entries' so far...

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Reverse graffiti, where you remove dirt from urban areas, is a great way to show the impact pollution has on the environment and cities.

Today, fifteen members of eco-activist group Climate Rush, armed with brightly coloured feather dusters and pinnies, cleaned the message 'We object to dirty air' onto the pavement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The activist wanted to make a statement as today is the first day of a hearing where the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) action on air pollution will be scrutinised by the judicial system.

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The case was brought to the High Court in December by law firm ClientEarth, resulting in DEFRA admitting to breaching EU laws on air quality. Sadly, the judge didn't force DEFRA to adapt its plans to improve air quality in the UK to address the breach of EU law at that point, and the case is now being heard again.

Long overdue their 1 January 2010 deadline, the air quality plans currently in place mean that 17 UK cities and regions, such as Manchester, London and Glasgow, will not achieve legal limits for air quality until 2020. It gets worse for those dwelling in the capital; safe breathing in London is postponed until 2025! Just another 13 years of smog and breathing in fumes then.

A spokesperson for Climate Rush, Andrew Tobert, said "We've cleaned a message outside the Royal Courts of Justice today to let DEFRA know that they need to clean up their act for the hundreds of thousands of people who are forced to breathe toxic air. This is a public health epidemic and our government should be doing all they can to improve air quality by improving public transport services, investing in cycling safety and banning the most polluted cars from the most polluted places."

Air pollution is linked to the early deaths of 29,000 people in the UK, childhood asthma and permanent reduced lung capacity in children as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease in people over 65. It is a public health epidemic that we simply cannot just ignore anymore - and neither should DEFRA.

bees_love_organic.jpgOver the past years beekeepers and researchers have seen a worrying worldwide drop of bee populations, which could, if not addressed, could leave to bees disappearing completely.

Now Dutch based organic fruit and vegetables distributor Nature & More have teamed up with a number of NGOs to launch initiative Bees Love Organic to distribute 400,000 bags of organic seeds throughout Europe during the coming summer. The aim is to create over 400,000 square metres of bee flower pasture.

In the Netherlands, a popular 1,000 km long cycle trail that runs along farms and countryside will be transformed into a 'bee path' after more than one thousand environmentally aware cyclists have helped sow the seeds.

Further north, the Swedish Youth Initiative Program has created a flowering meadow as well as an online video that features buzzing students.

According to a Bees Love Organic campaign spokesperson, bees have better survival chances with organic farming, not only because pesticides are not used, but also because organic farming increases biodiversity. Nature & More founder Volkert Engelsman said: "Since the '90's of last century we have been trying to get across that 'organic' means much more than not using chemical inputs. Farmers in Asia, America and Europe, who work with us, recognise that the future of agriculture must lie in teaming up with nature, instead of fighting it. The bees are our allies, so let's support them."

Find out more about the campaign at www.natureandmore.com.

Anti-animal testing activists rejoice! Lush has put the horrific sequences of animal testing into a space where no-one can ignore it: one of London's busiest shopping streets.

Joining forces with Humane Society International, Lush Cosmetics today launched the largest-ever global campaign to end animal testing on cosmetics in its Regent Street store window.

lush_animal testing_0.jpg Image via The Drum

Horrified shoppers witnessed the 'test subject', a young woman called Jaqueline Traide, being put through a series of tests that highlight the pain and cruelty inflicted on animals during laboratory tests on cosmetics.

Unlike the real life animals that through painful experiments each and every single day for the sake of beauty, 24-year-old Jaqueline had volunteered to be put through tests such as:
- Being force-fed, her mouth stretched open with two metal hooks
- Having irritant sprayed into her eyes
- Being restrained for ten hours
- Having a large strip of her hairline shaved off using electronic clippers
- Being manhandled by a lab technician

Publicly humiliated and nursing the red-raw skin on her cheeks after having various wonder creams put on her body, Jaqueline was, unlike helpless animals around the world, free to go home after the experiments had ended. The animals on the other hand will have suffered a miserable death.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Lush campaign manager Tamsin Omond said: 'The ironic thing is that if it was a beagle in the window and we were doing all these things to it, we'd have the police and RSPCA here in minutes. But somewhere in the world, this kind of thing is happening to an animal every few seconds on average. The difference is, it's normally hidden. We need to remind people it is still going on.'

Humane Society spokeswoman Wendy Higgins said it was 'morally unthinkable' that cosmetic companies should continue to profit from animal suffering, adding there could be 'no justification for subjecting animals to pain for the sake of producing lipstick and eye shadow'.

Well done for Lush and Humane Society International for taking a risk and showing people exactly what is going on behind closed lab doors!

Sign the petition here.

More images and a video can be found on The Daily Mail.

peta-animal-testing-ban.jpgLondon tourists certainly got a different view of Big Ben as blonde beauty Victoria Eisermann - the female winner of PETA's 2007 Sexiest Vegetarian in Europe contest - gave bloodbath a new meaning this morning.

Sitting in a bathtub filled with fake blood with a banner that read "Stop the Bloodbath, Dr Cable: Support EU's Cosmetics Testing Ban", the naked lady was in full view of the Houses of Parliament earlier today.

Eisermann and PETA's 'blood bath' took place to make a statement to the European Commission, which is considering postponing the 2013 deadline for banning the sale of cosmetics that have been partially or fully tested on animals after pressure from the cosmetics industry.

Why was Vince Cable, UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, targeted? Because he has refused to commit to backing the ban as scheduled. Naughty Mr Cable, very naughty.

"Everyone knows that cosmetics testing on animals is a bloody, indefensible business, but the government is standing by and doing nothing while the EU ban on selling cosmetics that have been tested on animals is under threat", says Victoria, a vegan and an ex-Playboy model. "Vince Cable needs to stand up for what's right, represent the people of this country and throw Britain's weight behind the 2013 ban."

In 2003, the European Parliament voted to end the sale of all cosmetics and toiletries containing ingredients tested on animals, setting a final deadline of 2013 for a full ban. Although the testing of cosmetics on animals is already banned in the EU, companies that test elsewhere can still sell their products in the EU until then.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.

greener-office-happiness.jpgWe love that feeling of doing something for the environment and living sustainable lives. Unfortunately, depending on where you work, it isn't always easy to keep up your good intentions during the working day. But now there appears to be even more reason for UK employers to reconsider their and their workers' green efforts.

According to a national survey, companies who take their environmental responsibility seriously are far more likely to benefit from a productive, happy and motivated workforce. More than half of the respondents feel they would be more positive at work if their employers were more supportive in their efforts to be green.

But all is not rosy. Despite a clear link between being green and happiness levels, 41% of workers said they had previously found themselves in awkward situations with their bosses in the past simply for trying to positively implement green practices at work.

All of this has left over one third (40%) saying they would avoid suggesting greener working initiatives as they're afraid it would be seen as 'nagging' and reflect badly on their career prospects.

It is a shame that UK companies are not more open for suggestions when it comes to creating a greener working environment and possibly a greener future. Luckily the study also found that a whopping 60% of workers look at the company's environmental credentials when applying for jobs, meaning non eco-friendly businesses are missing out on top talent.

How green is your office? Leave a comment below to inspire or condemn.

*The study was commissioned as part of Avery Green Office Week (14 - 18 May 2012).

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Wouldn't it be great if there was a place where all sustainably produced goods were listed to make life easier for the conscientious consumer? Well this brings us one step closer to that reality.

The Rainforest Alliance has launched Shop the Frog, a consumer directory of all Rainforest Alliance Certified products available around the world. Wherever you are, you can now locate goods that support a healthy environment and good conditions for workers, families and communities with just a few clicks. All you have to do is specify which country you'd like to shop in, pick between five categories, including food & beverages, building materials or health & beauty, and select the type of product you're after.

At present, Shop the Frog features more than 300 brand names, retail locations and online retailers that all carry the green frog seal of approval - a sure sign what you're buying is good for you and the environment. But there are still many categories to expand on, so if you represent a frog carrying product, do make sure you're on the list!

Visit the site today and find out where you can Shop the Frog.

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