Thursday, 30 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - The green way to wash your smalls

I have to admit that I am probably not the most perfect domestic goddess at Adessi but we all have to do the every day chores.

Doing the laundry is one of my least favourite but at least there are ways to be green while doing it!

By changing the little things we can make a big difference, for example did you know that by using full loads in washing machines can save up to 8.3 litres of water per household per day?

Other ways to be green when doing your washing are:

- Wash clothes at the lowest recommended temperature. By setting the temperature at 30°C instead of 60°C, you can save more than 60% of energy
- Using a concentrated fabric conditioner helps cut packaging by 60%
- Wash on a short cycle using less water and energy
- Use the correct doses for your washing load this will save unnecessary chemicals going into the environment

There are some great hints and tips on Cleaner Planet Plan

Monday, 27 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Food Labels, What do they Mean?

A little while ago I posted my thoughts on 'Radical Tranpsarency' when it comes to the ecological impact of how a product is made. The article quoted a survey that indicated that only 10% of people would go out of their way to find out the eco-impact of a product, while two thirds of shoppers feel that they would take the eco-impact into account when making a decision if the information was readily available.

You can read that blog post (if you missed it the first time round) here.

Today, I've read this article on the guardian website, which further supports that there should be clearer labelling on products indicating eco-impact, as well as it's sustainability and ethical credentials. A survey by Which? found that seven out of 10 consumers would pay more attention to the environmental impact of the food they buy if labels were clearer.

The awareness of the nine main schemes used was shown to be low, even though the internationally recognised Fairtrade label was recognised, but many didn't understand what it meant. Only 3% of those asked were aware of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), which supports sustainable farming, and only 6% recognised the Marine Stewardship Council label, which supports sustainably sourced fish and seafood.

I think it's great that Which? want to work with the government to provide honesty in food labelling. It has already been shown that two thirds of people would be affected by labels indicating the eco-impact of food, therefore, I think food needs to be labelled with all the environmental information available.

I'm in the same boat as most of the people surveyed, but if I knew more about these labels and understood what they meant I think they would affect my shopping habits.

What do you think? Do you wish food labels were clearer so you could buy more environmentally friendly products? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Friday, 24 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Bubbles From the Tap

At Adessi, I don't think I'm the only one to consider how much bottled water I drink since we joined the 10:10 initiative. In 2009  the sales of bottled water in the UK grew by 1.4% despite the recession and people being more environmentally aware.

This week, Paris has unveiled a brand new water fountain, which serves both still and sparkling water! With even sparkling water being available from a tap, does this signal the end of bottled water? The fountain provides still water, chilled tap water and sparkling tap water, which is made by injecting carbon dioxide into the tap water before it is chilled.

I've been really good and haven't bought any water bottles in weeks, and have been reusing them every day at work...until today! I've left my water bottle at home, and even though I was tempted, I didn't buy another one on my way to work.

Do you think water fountains like these should be rolled out in England? I think they should be in city centres, parks, schools and workplaces - as anything that encourages people to drink tap water instead of bottled should be a priority for our new 'greener' government. In my opinion, if the water fountains did not include sparkling water they would still be beneficial, and would hopefully encourage people to refill and reuse rather than buy new.

You can read about the new water fountains here and here.

What are your thoughts?


Thursday, 23 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Watching Our Wasteline

Did anyone see the ‘Great British Waste Menu’ on BBC1 a few weeks ago? It was highlighting the amount of perfectly edible food that’s discarded and wasted because it doesn’t conform to certain preconceived standards we have. 

The average family wastes around £700 worth of food a year, and restaurants, supermarkets and farms are even bigger culprits. It seems that if a tomato isn’t a perfect round snooker ball shape and a courgette isn’t between 17 - 21cm long, it isn’t worth eating! Have the supermarkets even asked us if we mind a not so aesthetically pleasing knobbly carrot or oversized courgette? Instead, they seem to make the decision to bin vast quantities of produce that doesn’t quite make the grade.

The programme followed top chefs sourcing ingredients which were to be thrown away and cooked up a 3 course banquet for 60 VIPs. The least attractive course was pig’s head ravioli, but all courses were well received by guests and critics and demonstrated a very good point that excellent-tasting food can come from less than perfect produce.

Here is the link to the programme page if you want to read more

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Compost Bugs

Jude sent me a link to a video on the BBC yesterday about a company using genetically modified compost bugs to create ethanol from waste such as municipal waste and corn/maize. The bugs called TM242 have been modified so that they can break down cellulose into simpler sugars, which can then be fermented to produce bioethanol.

Watch that video here.

While doing some research into what they're doing now, I saw that TMO Renewables have signed a contract with a US firm, who say that their efficiency will rise by 35% with the introduction of the bugs.

To me this sounds fantastic, using general household waste to create ethanol, which can then be used to power cars and trucks. However, this guardian article raises a very good point - why are we losing companies like this to the US? I've previously posted about our so called "Green Government" and the green-promises they are making, surely this is the kind of opportunity they should be supporting? It's all well and good to support electric cars, but this is a solution that can work right now, to cut down our fuel use and help us recycle household waste in an efficient and useful way.

What are your thoughts on renewable energy such as biofuels? I'd love to hear your opinions!


Thursday, 16 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Be Shower Smart

So, with all this energy saving at the Adessi offices going on, I figured it was time to encourage the Adessi staff to be greener at home too! One of these great gadgets was delivered to my house for my old housemate, I thought it was such a clever idea I signed up too!
Image from the Eaga website

The Eaga Shower Smart is a small gadget that claims to help you to stop wasting unnecessary water, to do this it creates a constant flow of water at 7.7 litres per minute resulting in a full jet of water with less fluctuation.For a two person household, the manufacturers claim that you will save more than 12,000 litres of water per year, which will mean a saving of roughly £30 each year on gas bills and a saving of £30 on your water bill per year (if it is metered.)

To find out more information and apply for a free showersmart go to the Eaga website and to read a review of the showersmart see the ciao website.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Green Tea

It can sometimes take a couple of cuppas to get moving in the morning - which means the kettle is working overtime as people make their own brews. 

However, did you know that on average it takes the same amount of energy to boil one litre of water as it does to run a fridge for seven hours? With six caffeine addicts on the first floor of Adessi Newcastle, that's potentially adding up to some serious wattage.
So we are taking our green crusade one cuppa at a time, and coordinating our collective caffeine cravings. This reduces the amount of energy used by the kettle by boiling a lot of water once, rather than a little bit six times. And, if you happen to be making a round in the Adessi kitchen, please remember that a blue light is not green light and leave the kettle off the stand when you aren’t using it.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Our Progress So Far...

We’ve recently received estimations for the electricity and gas use for both the Adessi Leeds and the Adessi Newcastle offices for July and August and we’re excited to say its good news!

From September onwards we will be receiving actual readings instead of averages, which will definitely help us to understand how we’re comparing to last year, but so far, we seem to be doing well.

Our Average monthly targets are as follows:

Electricity (Newcastle): 1821 KwH
Electricity (Leeds): 0619 KwH
Gas (Leeds): 1172 KwH

And the figures from July and August are (drum roll please):

Electricity (Newcastle)          
July 2010: 1822 KwH         
August 2010: Not available
Electricity (Leeds)                 
July 2010: 0665 KwH         
August 2010: 0655 KwH
Gas (Leeds)                            
July 2010: 0397 KwH         
August 2010: 0397 KwH

Hopefully we’ll have the electricity figures for Newcastle soon but we are very close to achieving our electricity target to ensure we achieve our 10% reduction, judging by July’s reading. However, these are summer months and our concern is that these readings should be even lower than the average target, with the winter months being higher. Meaning we need to keep pushing to cut electricity consumption even further.

In Leeds the gas results are excellent and we are well on our way to achieving our 10% target, but again, the heating hasn’t been on much throughout the summer. The average readings for electricity unfortunately may hide what is happening in Leeds, and we’re hoping that with actual readings being available for September we should see a bigger reduction.

Overall, we’re really happy, and feel that Adessi’s 10:10 campaign has started off really well and further to our gas and electricity use, our overall mileage as a company is down, which is great news.

Keep following this blog for our progress over the coming months!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Does Electricity Grow on Trees?

After watching this video on the BBC news website, Jude posed a question to the Adessi Leeds office (well, just me, because I'm the only other person in today):

By using an electric car you are not using petrol to run your car, but you are using electricity...where does that electricity come from?

I had no idea.

I thought about it some more, and neither of us really know if having an electric car is the best solution to helping the environment. Our point is that you will need to charge it, so unless you know for definite that all of the electricity you are using to charge your car has come from renewable sources, it is still affecting our supply of non-renewable energy.

Is this right? Can anyone offer any knowledge on the subject?


Adessi 10:10 - What A Corker!

Recycling, as we know, comes in many forms - over to Vicky, explaining how you can do your bit and help her plan her wedding at the same time:

"Do you ever find yourself feeling guilty for throwing old corks away? Well feel guilt no more because I can put them to good use!

"As you probably know, I recently got engaged, so obviously all my spare time is now spent looking at wedding magazines and thinking of ideas for the big day!

"One idea I’ve found for the place name holders is this:

"Trouble is I’d have to get through a lot of wine to have enough corks so this is where you come in.

"I’d really appreciate it if you could save any corks you have (plastic ones are great too!) so that I can give them a happy second life. And when the big day is over I can reuse them again as honeymoon transport:

Vicky O

Friday, 10 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - No Impact Man

I read a book last year called No Impact Man.  It is about a New York based journalist who decides to go on a mission to lessen his impact on the environment…

The book charts his and his family's journey through deciding not to throw anything away, stop using plastic, stop using cars and taxis, eating foods that do not come in packaging and lots more including stopping using electricity!  Just think of that list and see how you think you could do by cutting out the first few things on the list.

It was one of the things that inspired me to join up to 10:10 at Adessi and it is well worth a read.  For those of you who would rather, you can read the blog and now a film has been released which is also very good.  It is a very direct approach and shows what can be achieved if you really want to make a difference. It is pretty extreme and goes way beyond what most people will be willing to do, but it is inspirational and very informative. 

I think you should watch it…  Let me know what you think

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Water: it comes out of taps for free, y'know

This is only anecdotal evidence, but the number of plastic bottles being consumed by the Adessi Newcastle office has fallen hugely. The plastics recycling bin is only small but has taken weeks to fill.
Well done to everyone for making the switch to tap water, which tastes absolutely fine, doesn't come wrapped in plastic and is almost infinitely cheaper than the bottled stuff.
On that note, though, quick bit of housekeeping: can everyone please make sure they remember to rinse and crush all plastic items before putting them in the recycling bins!
There’s nothing worse than the stench of souring milk in a lovely warm kitchen, and crushing the bottles uses less space and equals fewer drives to the recycling centre.

Adessi 10:10 - It's all downhill to Adessi

Having decided to lead from the front on our 10:10 pledges, Debs and I have been getting our bikes out and completing our pledge to cycle to work when possible. The very first journey to the office was extremely memorable because Molly also came with us, and so it was a full family trip from Jesmond to the Ouseburn. I have to say it was a lovely morning, and the ride was extremely easy and actually relaxing, so when I got to the office I remarked how ridiculous it was that we hadn’t just been doing this for a year.

Mark's uphill struggle...
By 5.15pm I was actually looking forward to the ride back to the house, and because Debs and Molly had left after lunch, and I was on my own, I thought I may as well put my foot to the pedal and see how quickly I could get back to the house.

By 5.25pm I had realised 2 things:
  1.  I am actually a lot less fit than I thought 
  2.  Jesmond is on a steady incline all the way from the Ouseburn, and so the lovely morning ride was complimented by the fact that it was all downhill, and I had freewheeled for about 70% of the journey.
 To be honest, I still enjoyed the trip, and have been able to make it into the office 3 times in 3 weeks, which does not sound a lot, but because of daily trips out to see clients, this is the best I can do. I have worked out that between myself and Debs we could reduce our mileage by around 600 miles a year if we keep our commitments of 1 to 2 trips a week by bike, which isn’t bad for us or the overall energy consumption of the business. 

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - Foiled Again…

So Adessi Newcastle has been collecting all things foil-wrapped – from crisp packets to chewing gum wrappers – for nearly three weeks now and we’re doing quite well.

We’ve seen a steady increase of crisp packets over the past week (see pic, right) or so which makes us think the summer diets are heading out of the window as the weather changes and the end of summer grows increasingly closer –
we all must be stocking up for autumn!

The office is also clearly a huge fan of minty fresh breath as we’ve collected almost double the amount of chewing gum wrappers. At least our clients can all breathe a sigh of relief as we arrive for afternoon meetings after a good old bag of cheese and onion.

The collection has also been extended to include foil chocolate wrappers so anyone with a sweet tooth can get in on the action!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Adessi 10:10 - A Glut from the Allotment

I’ve been getting about 10 courgettes per week from our allotment which is too much to know what to do with, we’ve had courgette lasagne, courgette fritters, courgettes with lemon juice and olive oil, courgette cake (very nice!) and we’ve been giving them away to as many people as can take them too!  Yesterday I got an email from the BBC - Dig In site, which I’d definitely recommend you sign up to (they give you free seeds!), with a recipe for courgette and gruyere muffins. 

I fancy myself as a bit of a chef so I had a go and here is a picture of the result, they are very nice with some freshly picked tomatoes also from the allotment. 

Here is a dilemma I’ve been having… One of my pledges for 10:10 is that I will stop buying fruit and vegetables from far flung places and buy local.  Did you know that 1 basket full of imported food creates more carbon than an average family’s cooking for 6 months? And it takes 60 times more energy to get a Californian lettuce to your house than the energy you get from eating it!??

However, it’s not as simple as just buying tomatoes from Yorkshire when my plants aren’t producing fruit in the early/end of the season or during winter.  Here’s why – UK grown tomatoes are often grown in heated greenhouses which obviously uses energy and emits lots of CO2 that could even out the emissions saved by them not coming from say Spain or Egypt.  

I think the answer is to eat seasonally, afterall it’s what our Grandparents did! They probably had the right idea about lots of things: they used paper packaging and certainly didn’t waste as much stuff as we do.  I think we could learn just as much from glancing back a couple of generations as we can from developments in the scientific world.

What's your view on eating seasonally? Do you have any advice? Comments, as always, are welcomed!