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Green keyboard.jpgBy Zac Colbert

There's a lot of talk about companies going green and businesses becoming more sustainable. But more often than not it's just hot air. So what can you do in your office to encourage more environmentally friendly ways of working?

Day to day stuff: There are some simple things it's worth being aware of, everyday tasks that we frequently perform on automatic. It's nice when someone makes a round of tea or coffee, and in the afternoon late in the week that caffeine injection is essential. But when you're filling up the kettle be careful to only fill up as much water as you need. Not only does this reduce the water wasted but also the power required to heat it.

And the Lord said, let there be light. However he should have said, let there be fluorescent light. One Friday afternoon when the clients are quiet spend half an hour swapping all your old incandescent lamps for energy saving fluorescent bulbs. This will not only make your office more energy efficient but it'll also cut your electricity bills, making your boss love you.

Plants: Yes, literally, the colour green. Inhabit your office with some nature. House plants are very easily maintained, they require minimal water and sunlight. Not only will they help brighten up the office with their organic presence but they'll recycle the air, keeping it clean, fresh and healthier for the staff. Hopefully making for happier staff.

Moving offices? Consider the building you're moving into. As environmental issues are more and more prevalent there are increasing numbers of ecological offices springing up, built with recycled materials, green insulation like Thermafleece and with solar panels on the roof. If you're expanding and looking for a new premises, consider a sustainable building.

Getting a green office isn't a quick win goal, it takes time and consistent commitment but it doesn't always need a lot of effort. Some of the ideas above are easily implemented with very low cost.

The test is sticking to the aim of an eco-office, regularly thinking about ways of improving and questioning whether you're current processes are the most suitable.

Author Bio: is a writer covering a variety technology subjects, including sustainable business, eco design and mobile workforce management solutions. He aims to encourage companies to become more sustainable through his pieces both online and in print.

Michael Fish and John Kettley.jpg

Fed up of spending so much of your hard earned on fuel bills? Once a year, the six big energy companies usually increase their prices. However, so far this year prices have been increased not once but twice: first in April, and then again in June.

British Gas, E.ON, and Scottish and Southern Electric have hiked up their gas tariffs by 18%, increasing electricity by 16%, 11% and 11% respectively. Npower have increased gas by 16%, electricity by 7%.

And Scottish Power's gas tariffs have increased by 19% with electricity following at 10% more. These are only the most recent increases, and looking at past trends, they won't be falling anytime soon.

So how can you save money whilst the power giants increase their prices? This is where realistic, sustainable solar energy from HomeSun comes in. Installing free solar on your home could save you £237 and wipe out the British Gas price rise (see http://www.homesun.com/energy-price-rises). Developments in any good green energy such as that offered by HomeSun are held back by big power companies, but now people have the chance to declare independence from this. You can generate your own electricity by installing solar panels completely free.

200614_173305526055711_159321044120826_436552_7006518_n.jpg A home solar system consists of panels fixed onto your roof, wired to a small inverter (ideally in your loft). This converts solar electricity (DC) into household/grid electricity (AC). From the inverter, the electricity flows through a solar meter to your existing consumer unit (fuse box) where it’s connected to the rest of your home’s electrical system. Bob's Your Uncle!

To qualify for solar panels your roof should face as close to south as possible (southeast to southwest can be OK) and have a pitch of between 25 and 55 degrees. Ideally, you will also need to look for 24m2 squared of unshaded roof  for a 12 panel system size to 2.94KW.

However, if you are still unsure about whether you quality for solar panels go to the Home Sun website. On the website you can also get information on the benefits of solar panels and look at some of the featured homes, complete with homeowner interviews, images and videos.

HomeSun - http://www.homesun.com/

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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.

piccadilly_circus_earth_hour.jpgWe've briefly mentioned Earth Hour here on Hippyshopper. Do keep on checking back as we're certain to mention it again! One of the companies joining in on turning off the lights for Earth Hour on Saturday 26th March between 8:30pm and 9:30pm is Coca-Cola Great Britain. And it's not any light they're turning off; they are switching off the Piccadilly Circus sign! This is the fifth time the sign has been switch off since the Second World War.

And as an extra treat Coca-Cola is running a competition on www.cokezone.co.uk to win an environmentally friendly weekend at an eco-lodge and £150 in spending money. Just don't enter the competition on Earth Hour, as using your computer then would defeat the whole point of it...

Image: brandrepublic.com

Google recently launched Google Earth Engine, a global mapping tool which is designed to track the changes to our environment, at the International Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

The Earth Engine will be made available to researchers and scientists around the world to help with projects such as mapping forests and water resources. Comprised of a database of satellite images of the Earth's surface, which date back more than 25 years, with the aid of a number of software tools, it will help researchers spot and map environmental changes in those images.

According to Google's blog it will enable

global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth's environment. The platform will enable scientists to use our extensive computing infrastructure--the Google "cloud"--to analyze this imagery.

In fact Google will be donating 10 million CPU hours on its servers each year over the next two years to the Earth Engine platform for the analysis of these satellite images

cool earth

This week the iconic designer Vivienne Westwood launches Cool Earth Coffee with the message - "buy one jar get one tree".

Westwood, stated at the launch "It's really important we do our bit to help fight climate change,
drinking Cool Earth Coffee is going to help us do that, which is really good because we can all do it."

Westwood was joined by Cool Earth director Matthew Owen and the charity's founders, businessman and philanthropist Johan Eliasch and Frank Field MP. Cool Earth's aim is to gain the support from 1 million people, in order to save a specific section of highly endangered rainforest. They also hope that this will show the government just how much people really do care about saving the environment.

Here's an iPhone app with a difference. Called Cool Tree, it enables you to plant a virtual sapling and nurture it into a tropical tree, like a sort of green Tamagotchi. Neglect it and you risk losing it to loggers and bulldozers!

Costing £1.79, £1 from the app is donated to the charity Cool Earth. The idea is that your purchase protects a real endangered rainforest tree in the Ashaninka region of the Peruvian Amazon which is, handily, geo-located for you to view on Google Maps as part of this application.

Three different species are available to choose from. Take care of your tree and you can unlock the next levels. You start with the Cocoa Tree but progress apparently to the more challenging Murumuru and Capirona trees.

For more info go to www.syncstudios.co.uk/cooltree and www.coolearth.org

As far as a PR stunts for saving the planet go, it has to be said that building a boat made from plastic bottles is a pretty interesting one. When I say 'boat' I'm not talking about a model boat, a dingy, or a canoe but a fully functioning 60ft catamaran made from 12,500 recycled plastic bottles.

Today The Plastiki completed its expedition after 128 days at sea, arriving in Sydney Harbor having sailed 8,000 nautical miles.


"If there's waste, it's badly designed in the first place, and we need to start taking a serious look at the way we produce and design every product we use in our lives" explains David de Rothschild who, after discovering the damage that plastic waste was causing to the world's oceans, decided to become part of the change he talks about and The Plastiki was born.

As well as the several thousand recycled bottles, the rest of the boat's design lives up to its eco-friendly ethic with materials chosen because they are organic, recycled or recyclable. Even the glue that holds the whole thing together made organically from cashew nut husks and sugarcane.

The boat was designed to be fully sustainable, and includes electricity bikes, wind turbines, and even generates its own drinkable water for the crew.

If you want to find out more there is a lot of fascinating information about the boat, the voyage and the aims of the project on The Plastiki's website. Just click HERE

See the video below for the Plastiki story so far:

I've heard about trashing hotel rooms, but this is ridiculous. It's a hotel made entirely out of rubbish collected on the beach. Created to mark last weekend's World Environment Day, it's been designed to help promote the preservation of European beaches.

Located in Rome, the Corona Save The Beach hotel was created in conjunction with German action artist HA Schult. And its first guest was eco warrior and supermodel Helena Christensen.

Though the hotel is no longer open for customers, you can still go onto the website to nominate endangered beaches at www.coronasavethebeach.org throughout the summer and the winner will be recovered by Corona.

Last year, fans of the website chose an Italian beach (Capacotta) which received a major clean up in July 2009.

Flights may be grounded at present because of volcanic ash from Iceland, but this didn't stop a new 'airport development' appearing along the M5 near Bristol this morning.

The giant 70 metre-long mural in a field next to the motorway between junctions 14 and 15 with PLANNING APPROVED stamped across it is the latest stunt to raise awareness for the need for greater local consultation in the planning process.

It's the idea of Beautiful Britain magazine which is concerned that the wishes of local communities are being ignored by central government in an attempt to meet national infrastructure targets. Last month the magazine surveyed over 5,000 British people, revealing that eight out of ten feel that not enough is being done to protect the places that they love.

Says Rob Yarham, Editor of Beautiful Britain magazine which commissioned the mural: "With this mural, we want to highlight the threat to those environments posed by ill-considered and rushed planning decisions. We chose a runway because many of these involve transport infrastructure but there are other types of project putting our landscape at risk, including energy and housing developments.

"We want planning policy to be at the heart of election debates. Were concerned that the Infrastructure Planning Commission may fast-track large developments without giving local people enough input into projects that will affect them for years to come."

As part of its campaign, Beautiful Britain has created an e-petition to ask the government to enhance local democracy in the planning process, along with a simple guide about what to do if anyone is concerned about a particular development.

More information about the e-petition can be found at www.beautifulbritain.net

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Jo and Leah Wood.jpgLast week we featured Jo Wood's splendid Mrs Paisley's Lashings, a 'pop up restaurant' project which encourages people to eat in a more eco-conscious way . This time we're highlighting another environmental project she's involved with in conjunction with her daughter Leah (pictured right) called Global Cool.

Together they have shot a video to raise awareness of the benefits of turning your central heating down to 18 degrees - including saving money, saving your skin and also helping to save the environment.

Apparently heating within the home accounts for 30 per cent of the average Brit's carbon footprint, which is even more than cars produce at 26.1 per cent. Figures show that for every one degree you turn your heating down, you could save up to £40 a year and go from burning 20 calories an hour to 80 calories an hour - all while you're sleeping.

Other celebrities who have shot video include EastEnders' Adam Crossdale and models Laura Bailey and Stella Tennant. You can see their videos here:

Stella Tennant

Adam Crossdale

Laura Bailey

Global Cool's Facebook fans can also win a new winter wardrobe in association with ASOS.com - simply upload a picture of yourself wearing your most stylish winter knits, get your friends to vote for you, and you could win £500 worth of vouchers! Go to www.facebook.com/globalcool

See below for video of Jo and Leah Wood, highlighting Global Cool campaign:

More videos like this on www.t5m.com

surfers against sewage christmas cards.jpgThe other day we wrote about Surfers Against Sewage and their latest eco clothing range to highlight how polluted some of our waters have become.

This week sees the launch of their brand new range of environmentally friendly fundraising Christmas cards. Featuring marine litter collected from Cornish beaches frozen into an ice sculpture of a barrelling wave, they're printed on 100% recycled card using vegetable inks to lessen the environmental impact of their production.

The A6 size cards come in packs of 10 and cost £3.50 to non-members and £3.15 to SAS members.

Marine litter is a persistent and long lasting danger to surfers, swimmers, beach users, wildlife and habitats all around the UK's coastlines, but an effective Marine Litter Strategy could help protect our oceans and waves. To help put this in place sign SAS's online petition at www.sas.org.uk.

Paint your feet for climate change

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footprint friends.jpgIt seems there's a week for everything, including one for footpainting. Supporting the initiative is eco-kids website, FootprintFriends.com , which is calling on young people to get more involved with environmental issues by painting their feet.

It wants to send one million feet to Copenhagen and is inviting youngsters to upload photos of their painted feet for use in a 'book of dreams' creative project.This will be presented to world leaders at the upcoming climate change conference in the Danish capital.

Karen Ford, founder of Footprint Friends, says that children should be encouraged to engage with green issues:

"Our campaign looks to engage young people in a fun but memorable way, helping to make them aware of the world around us," she said. National Foot Painting Week is running across the UK from October 5th to 9th.

Via LowCarbonEconomy.com



Upload your Foot Art

Tck Tck Tck track for free from We7

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Tck Tck Tck climate change.jpgFormer Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Kofi Annan has launched a six month Tck Tck Tck awareness campaign to highlight the impact climate change is having on the lives of people around the world.

The soundtrack to this campaign, a cover of Midnight Oil's Beds are Burning (much better than the dirgy original in my opinion) is set to be released tomorrow. And, ahead the launch, free music streaming service we7 is offering an exclusive listen.

Featuring the vocal talents of Duran Duran's Simon LeBon, Mark Ronson, Angelique Kidjo, All American Rejects' Tyson Rittner, Oscar Winner Actress Marion Cotillard, Jaimie Cullum and many more, the track is available for free here: http://www.we7.com/album/Beds-Are-Burning-Tck-Tck-Tck-!albumId=399021&play=true

What do adults do when try as they might, they can't come up with a solution to a seemingly intractable problem? A popular solution is seeking an answer through the mouths of babes, and when the issue is as pressing and as controversial as the environment, why not seek the ideas of those untainted by the million and one problems and prejudices that plague adult pundits?

That's what Persil figured, and they've enlisted Phillippa Forrester to help prise out those planet-saving solutions. In this video, you can see just a few of the bright ideas they've already managed to glean from young minds up and down the country.

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