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Z.Car   Zaha Hadid Architects-print.jpgThe Eco Technology Show 2013 opens in Brighton this Friday 14 and Saturday 15 June.

Over 120 exhibits have confirmed including an ultra modern transport collection and the latest in environmentally friendly products from eco-stoves to waterless urinals. Features of the show also include the opportunity to:

* View concept cars including Vauxhall's Ampera electric car and Citroën's DS5, the world's first diesel Hybrid vehicle.

* Discover the latest renewable energy home products from infrared flooring to organic roofs.

* See the latest self build innovations including sustainable plumbing, heating and construction products.

* Explore the latest garden products from rain water harvesting to micro irrigation.
Take part in the Children's Waste Resource Recycling Trail competition and Green Games with Pedro and his recycled robots.

* Workshops including Sustainability on a Shoestring, Green and Sustainable Technology, Greening your Business, Saving money on Utility Bills, One Planet Living and Cities for Change.

Visitors to the show will also be able to enjoy free 15 minute consultations with experts in build, finance, energy, waste or transport issues in the Advisory Hub. Experts, including eco celebrity Oliver Heath, will be in attendance to offer advice and expertise on all aspects of eco living and working.

Nicola Gunstone, commercial director at The Eco Technology Show, comments: "We are absolutely delighted, not only with the variety of eco technology led products and experts participating in this year's Show, but also with the interest already expressed by businesses and members of the public.

"Over 1,600 tickets have already been sold in advance, which really demonstrates a growing appetite in the region for making eco technologies an intrinsic part of our lives."

Also happening throughout Brighton and Hove will be the Eco Technology Show Fringe, offering visitors a view on eco technology in use in everyday life. This will include:

* Eco Open Houses - Over 20 house holders throwing open their doors to the public, showcasing the very best in self build, energy efficiency and green architecture.

* People's Day - People's Day is a community event to celebrate the diverse communities of Brighton & Hove. The city centre is transformed into a street festival showcasing different activities from various communities across the city.

* 'Sustain' - a brand new show this year and dedicated to the art of Eco Design.The Sustain Show is a part of Brighton Fashion Week 2013.

The Brighton Waste House - A collaboration between private, public and community sectors, The Brighton Waste House at the University of Brighton is the UK's first house made almost entirely of thrown-away material.

The Eco Technology Show opens from 9am-5pm on Friday and from 10am-5pm on Saturday 15 June. Tickets are £5 and children under 16 go free. Tickets and further details can be found on the website www.ecotechnologyshow.co.uk. Can also follow on Twitter at @EcoTechShow

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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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Those of us who life and work in London will have seen banners announcing the imminent arrival of the London 2012 Olympic Games. One week from now, the capital of England and Great Britain will see millions of visitors and athletes descend for a month long celebration of summer sports, and we will find out if the event that has been seven years in the making will live up to the hype. While the athletes are looking for gold this August, what we would like to know is: will the London 2012 Olympics be the greenest in history?

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Ever since the announcement was made, one word has been dominant - sustainability. As with any modern day event, organisers Locog know the games have to be sustainable and environmentally sound, and much have been done over the past years to ensure this.

A former industrial site, the Olympic Park is the largest new urban parkland in Europe for 150 years with 300,000 plants and 2,000 native trees. An impressive 90% of the materials from the demolition of old buildings on the site were recovered so they could be reused or recycled.

If VIP visitors were hoping they would be able to roll into the venues in their snazzy cars, they will have to find somewhere else to go because no vehicles are permitted to drive onto the Olympic grounds. There is also a lack of parking lots - a strategic move to get people to use public transport. As a result, over the past years, Britain's public transport infrastructure has been improved to accommodate the anticipated high footfall during the Games and we will see new trains and cleaner, safer and better staffed stations welcome visitors. And if you're into your cycling - as many of us are - there will also be 18,800 cycling parking bays scattered around all venues, with 7,000 at the Olympic Park alone.

Athletes and officials on the other hand will be driven around in BMW cars - 4,000 in total! - that are said to meet Locog's requirements on average CO2 emissions. There are also 200 electric cars in the Olympic fleet to make sure the athletes get to where they need to be on time. Wouldn't it awful if Usain Bolt missed the start gun at the 100 meter final because he was stuck underground on the Central line?

Another really innovative aspect of the London Olympics, is a pioneering energy walkway created with floor tiles that convert the kinetic energy from human footfall to renewable energy. Created by British company Pavegen, the tiles are expected to receive more than 12 million impressions which would be turned into 72 million joules of energy - lighting the walkway 27/7! Speaking of energy, 10 % of energy used during the games is to come from renewable resources (this was originally meant to be 20%, but this was halved when the plan to have an on-site wind turbine was axed).

The Sydney Games left a legacy of solar panels and vast-scale urban renewal project, something which Boris Johnson and Sebastian Coe are keen to top. But can London really pull it off?

One of the biggest worries we have is the amount of potential waste and we do wonder how Locog's 'zero waste to landfill' target will pan out. The Olympic Park is reportedly scattered with recycling bins to encourage people to recycle empty food and drink packaging and other waste. We do hope people will use them but visitors will have to have an element of environmental awareness within themselves, if not some poor steward or 100 will have to go around picking up other people's litter for a month. And what happens when the visitors leave the Olympic Park? The hard working street cleaners of London might have a mammoth task ahead...

One that we are certain will produce a large amount of packaging waste is MacDonald's, one of the Games' main sponsors. They have created a temporary and entirely recyclable restaurant in the Olympic Park that will see the 2,000 strong staff in their eco-uniforms serve millions of meals of sustainably-sourced fish and local meat - all fried in oil that is to become biodiesel to power its trucks once the games are over - in compostable containers. This is all great, but is it just a bit of a 'greenwash' - what about the other 3,251,357 MacDonald restaurants in Britain, will these receive the same eco-makeover in the future?

Then there's the issue of the main stadium's £7 million wrap funded by Dow Chemical, which owns the company behind the 1984 Bhopal catastrophe...

Reality is that the green credentials of the London 2012 Olympic Games can really only be measured after the Games have come and gone. That said, a new critical report by WWF and BioRegional has already found fault with the handling of the Games' environmental impact. It states that on key issues such as energy, waste and the use of resources, as well as the effects on public health, London 2012 falls short.

Sue Riddlestone, BioRegional's Executive Director who was involved writing in the original strategy, said: "London 2012 has set the sustainability bar for future Summer Olympics. It has built venues which set the standard for energy saving and embodied carbon. We are proud to have been part of setting the vision for London 2012 and helping deliver it. That said with over-consumption of resources driving rapid environmental degradation, London 2012 should have pushed sustainability more and had a stronger focus on changes beyond the Olympic Park. It is important that lessons are learned and that a commitment to sustainability is a key criterion by which the 2020 Summer Olympics bids are judged."

London will have set the bar high for the 2016 host city, Rio de Jainero, but it will need to ensure a few things to make the London 2012 Olympic Games remain a green beacon: The Olympic site needs to be kept in good condition and see regeneration; the venues will have to find new occupants once the gold, silver and bronze medals have been awarded; and Locog needs to ensure the sustainability plans don't fall dead once the banners have been taken down and the cheering crowds have jetted off back to their own part of the world.

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Environmental artist Ha Schult has installed his army of one thousand life sized trash people in the Arctic at Longyearbyen, Svalbard.

The German artist has travelled the world with his sculptures made of discarded materials since 1996 and has been below the La Défense arch in Paris, in the aptly named Piazza del Popolo (the people's square) in Rome, by the pyramids of Giza and now the freezing conditions of the Arctic.

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Images: top - www.lokalstyre.no / all others www.haschult.de

orange power wellies1.jpgI thought this was an April Fool. But seemingly not, given we are half way through June. Orange really has developed a mobile phone charging device for your wellies.

Billed as perfect for this weekend's Glastonbury festival (handy given your mobile phone normally runs out of charge after a few hours of texting/phoning your mates to find out where they are) it apparently works by converting the heat from your feet into electric current.

Twelve hours of stomping through the mud will give about 1 hour of charge (not much really), but you can increase it by dancing around because the hotter your feet get the more energy you produce.

Developed in conjunction with Got Wind, the Power Wellies are unfortunately still in prototype form. But you can recharge your devices in the Orange Chill 'n' Charge area. For more information go to www.orange.co.uk/glastonbury

Here's a video featuring a guy from Got Wind explaining how the wellies work. Though after watching it I'm still no clearer whether this is for real or just a wind up.

Battersea-Autumn.jpgLooking for something earth-friendly to do this weekend? There's plenty to choose from, with the main event being the first Sustainability Show at the 02 centre in London. The show promises to cover all areas of sustainable living, from ethical fashion, cosmetics, holidays and investments to cars, travel and much more. There'll be new products to try out, screenings of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (if you haven't yet discovered what the fuss is about), an electric vehicle rally and a programme of forums, lectures and presentations to discuss many of the issues highlighted will be run during the show.

Also taking place this weekend is Reading's Big Green Market, one of many eco-friendly fairs that will be taking place all over the UK in the run up to Christmas. An ideal place to find unusual and sustainable gifts, it's a street market with a conscience -- expect an exciting range of green, eco-friendly, ethically traded and organic products offering some highly original and alternative gift ideas for all.

Ever got into the office on a dull day in need of a kick up the backside? A far more pleasant solution is using dynamic lighting, which can be adjusted to mimic daylight, create a more intimate, relaxed ambiance or promote concentration. The new system I tested at the Philips Simplicity event does all these things and more, and amazingly, uses eco-friendly technology, as it relies on a modernised version of the humble fluorescent strip-light to do its thing. See how it works in the video below.

nspring22a.jpgIt may have ended months ago, but Springwatch fever is still alive and kicking on Scottish island Islay. The special reports from the island, which featured golden eagles, choughs and hen harriers amongst other things, has meant an increase of 30% in visitor numbers to the area's RSPB reserves. As many as 100 people have been attending the weekly walks around Loch Gruinart and The Oa reserves to see the Springwatch 'characters' for themselves. Generally people are most interested in the fate of the golden eagle chick and the chough chicks being raised by their dad (all of which are doing well by the way).

0.gifWhat did YOU have for breakfast this morning? Maybe a muesli bar? Toast, or (hang your head in shame) nothing?

Get ready to put such paltry fast-breaking behind you as you celebrate the Soil Association’s Organic Fortnight between 1st and 16th September by waking up to an organic breakfast, that’s the challenge set by the Soil Association for this year. Retailers are set to promote organic breakfast goods and there will be events around the country, including the Organic Food Festival in Bristol on 1st and 2nd September. If you’re anywhere nearby, this is worth going to.

chris.gifIf you have an interest in wilderness living, survival skills and primitive crafts and technology, then this is the show for you. Now a three day event, the Wilderness Gathering at Bush Farm, West Knoyle, Wiltshire is now in its fifth year. Running between the 30th August and 2nd September, the price of this family-oriented event remains the same as the previous years’ two day events.
There are masterclasses in skills as varied as arrow-making, tracking, wild food and moving silently in the landscape, and you can also learn how to procure and purify water, know your trees, fish, make shelters and herbal tea making.

Various Bushcraft and Survival businesses have stands, and for the children there is the Coyote Kids Club running events throughout the weekend. The Food Court includes drinks by the Sussex Cider Man, which should be something to look forward to.
This really is a unique event and deserves to be a great success. Maybe you should join in.

uwwhasthome2.jpegThis year’s National Marine Week runs from 11th August to 19th August celebrating the UK’s marine life and environment. The UK has a fascinating undersea environment, being a home to crabs, anemones, fish, seals, dolphins, seabirds and all kinds of plants. Anyone who has ever enjoyed poking around in a rock-pool as a child will enjoy all the activities all over the UK to celebrate the UK’s seas and the life within them. The Wildlife Trust is running all kinds of events, from Seashore Safaris, and Rock-pool Rambles to Coastal Minibeast Safaris. Check with your local sealife centre for events running there. It’s an excellent excuse to hang around on a beach during the belated lovely August weather!

bowmore_chair_7.jpgThis year's Eco Prize for creativity is now open for entries. The award is open to anyone who lives/works or studies in Scotland and covers any artistic work from any creative industry, including arts, crafts, publishing, music etc. The winner in each category will be someone who has best promoted environmentally friendly living and green practises, and whose work makes a positive statement. Previous winners include the 'Bowmore Chair' by David Trujillo-Farley, which is a chair made from the used barrels of Bowmore Whiskey using minimal amounts of energy, and which is ultimately a bio-degradable piece of furniture. There was also the 'Green Roof' by Beth Hamer, which is an urban organic garden situated on the top of a nightclub in the centre of Glasgow. Entries can be made online here, and the deadline is 31st August 2007.

team2.jpgYou may have missed the fact that yesterday was World Ranger Day. A celebration of the men and women who devote their lives to protecting nature and the environment all across the world. I have a vested interest, as I volunteer with the East Lothian Countryside Rangers, and I can certainly vouch for the sterling work they do. Last night a film documenting the work of the world's rangers - The Thin Green Line was shown in over 50 countries. The film is the brainchild of Sean Willimore, a ranger from Warringine Park in Victoria, Australia. He sold his car and remortgaged his home three times in order to fund the documentary, so you could say it was a labour of love!

stonycart4.jpgSince Stony Organic Yoghurts came to the UK with their catchy ‘Stony, Yogurt on a mission’ moniker, they have been living up to their name with initiatives aimed at reducing our impact on climate change. The latest of these is the ‘De-pollute your commute’ initiative to raise environmental awareness amongst car drivers. Did you know that the average car driven for 12,000 miles creates 3.5 tonnes of carbon emissions, and a 4x4 creates 5.8 tonnes? I know cars are vital for certain journeys, but for short trips cycling or walking are much better, both for you and the planet.

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If you want to chill out this weekend, get yourself down to Epsom in Surrey for a happy family day with arts, music and ethical food and drink at the Ambient Picnic Festival.
It’s on Sunday 8th July from 12 noon till 9pm and this is its first year in a new location but featuring all the things that have made it so good in previous years. Entry is £6 and you can buy tickets in advance or at the location.
The countryside area is in partnership with Surrey Wildlife Trust and there is also a natural healing area, a real ale area and a family arts area as well as a live music stage, acoustic stage and a dance tent. There’s bound to be something for everyone.

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