Green Action Winter Trip – The Dales

Dale house barn has been CANCELED

Due to the icy, treacherous road from the train station and the freezing cold barn the Dales trip has been canceled (the woman at the barn seemed to think it wouldn’t be safe).

INSTEAD:  I propose that we have a walk in the Dales.  There is a train leaving Leeds train station at

9am on Sunday 8th – BUT meet at 8:50.  We are going to Settle (or beyond) so buy tickets to there (£7.85)

I thought that Green Action might be up for a snowy walk instead.  We really get lovely snow so come out and enjoy it.

We are planning a summer trip to Botton in the North York moors to make up for it.

Ethical Careers

There is lots of advice available at Uni to help you think about what you would like to do in the future.
This is a major topic to cover in just one page and until recently it was difficult to find information about ethical employment but don’t worry! There is now a wealth of easily accessible information available about how to earn money and have a positive impact on the wider world.

The Careers Centre
 

(careerweb.leeds.ac.uk) regularly runs informative sessions with various organisations. They focus on NGOs, conservation groups and how to gain experience through voluntary work. They will also give you lots of help in perfecting your CV. Beware though: they have been known to host companies with rather dodgy track records so have your wits about you, and do some research on companies before signing up. If you’re concerned about a companies ethical policy (or lack of) then ask questions, and see if the representatives are able to justify this or any other dubious practices.

Another great opportunity to learn about ethical careers while you’re at Leeds is at the Ethical Careers Fair which is organised by People and Planet. Look out for details on their website: www.luupeopleandplanet.co.uk and for more info on how you can join and help out!

The nationwide People and Planet also offer a popular ethical careers service and have teamed up with the Ethical Careers Guide to bring you a comprehensive one-stop site full of useful information www.ethicalcareers.org

Scientists for Global Responsibility:
For people in the fields of science and technology there are loads of guidelines and lots of information available on the SGR website at: www.sgr.org.uk

‘The Sustainable Careers Handbook’ by Allan Shepherd and Fiona Rowe is worth seeking out for more detailed information.

A low cost future?

There are more and more pressures placed on us by society and the media to have more/bigger/faster things/houses/cars; however, it really doesn’t have to be this way. There is a growing movement now of people seeking to minimalise and ‘downshift’ their lives. There is now significant research which shows that by working less, having less things and spending more time with family and friends people can be much happier. You will have more time to do exactly what you want and can put the skills you have learnt during your degree to use in all sorts of ways. For example, a friend who did genetics at university now runs a small seed company and breeds diverse and tasty vegetables. Just use your imagination to apply what you know in the best way you can.
 

Banking and Money

What happens to your money when it’s in the bank is just as important as what you spend it on. Once your money is in the bank it gets invested all over the world. Banks lend or invest billions of pounds every day on your behalf but often you have no say in these investments at all.

Most of the main high street banks carry out some pretty unsavoury business practices such as dealing with countries with poor human rights records and providing banking services to arms companies. There is another option though! Ethical investment puts social and environmental considerations before profit so you can be sure your money is being invested in environmentally and ethically sound practices. You can check your bank’s record at www.ethiscore.org or in Ethical Consumer (copies at Green Action Food Co-op).

Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank is the only UK bank to have an ethical investment policy. They have a branch in Leeds at 41 Vicar Lane, across the road from the market (0113 234 3703). You can also get an account with Smile, their online bank, at: www.smile.co.uk Student accounts are available from both. Smile also got the best buy award from Which? Magazine for best bank and best customer service.

Leeds City Credit Union

A credit union is owned by its members. It works on a local level helping people organising their finances and offering affordable credit.

Ecology

For savings accounts the Ecology Building Society is the most ethical option possible. They only lend money for green build/ ecological housing projects in the UK. Their offices are based in an eco-design building in Silsden, West Yorkshire but their postal services are excellent and very quick via pre-paid envelopes. For more information see: www.ecology.co.uk

Things you can do:

Switch your bank to Smile or the Co-operative Bank so there is a clear ethical investment policy for investments made on your behalf.
When you make the change write to your old bank and tell them why you moved.
Only buy things that you need and when you do spend money try and spend it in as ethical a place as possible. See the ‘[[Ethical Shopping]]’ section.

Links

 • The Good Shopping Guide:
www.gooshing.co.uk
• Ethical Consumer Magazine
www.ethicalconsumer.org
• Leeds City Credit Union
www.leedscitycreditunion.co.uk/

Cleaning products? What’s good?

Here are some facts, and some tips on how to be ‘cleaner’ in your home…


Cleaning products

The main ingredient in many commercial cleaners is surfactants (detergents) which help remove grease and dirt. These can be naturally derived from vegetable substances but many big brands use petroleum derivatives. These are non-renewable and biodegrade slower and not as completely as the naturally derived alternatives. They can also form dangerous chemicals during the degrading process.
Try reduce the use of unnecessary and poisonous chemicals
European governments are discussing policies to give consumers the right to know about all the chemicals in household cleaners, but for now we have to do our own research!
All bleaches act by oxidising, which sterilises organic matter, undermining the bacterial action that breaks down sewage.

What can I do then?

Keep it simple, try to use one type of multisurface cleaner for all household jobs.
Choose Ecover and Bio D products (these can also be refilled in some places including the Green Action Co-op at Uni and Out of This World in town) as these use acids which dislodge waste rather than sterilise it. Ecover is owned by Unilever though.

Use concentrated products in smaller bottles. Water is the main ingredient in many commercial cleaners and transporting it wastes energy and packaging. Choose products packaged in HDPE, LDPE, PP, PE and PET plastics as these have fewer environmental problems in their manufacture and disposal than PVC (shown by a 3 inside a recycle symbol.
Hand made soap keeps more people employed! Suma and other firms use a cold saponification process which is more energy efficient than commercial processing that uses a boiling process (this could consume up to 65kw hours of electricity and 15 tons of water in producing one ton of soap).

DIY

White vinegar, baking powder, lemon juice, and olive oil are all useful for cleaning.

Food

Your choice of food and drink is an area where small changes can make a big difference to you, farmers, the countryside, and biodiversity in general. Buying locally produced or organic food needn’t be as expensive as the supermarkets would have you believe! Think about…


How was it produced? Choose organic!

Organic farming uses less-intensive practices which seek to minimise environmental impact. The use of artificial chemical fertilisers and pesticides is restricted as these can damage ecosystems and pollute rivers. Organic foods do not contain genetically modified organisms “GMOs” (no one quite knows what these will do). This means the food you eat is not full of added chemicals and neither is the land it is grown on.

One of the cheapest ways to buy organic fruit and veg is from a vegbox scheme. Join the one in the Green Action Food Co-op or Oblong, or get together with your housemates for a delivery anywhere in Leeds. See: www.goosemoor.info or
www.theorganicpantry.co.uk

If you choose to eat meat and eggs, try to buy organic and free-range. Meanwood Valley Urban Farm (LS7 2QG) sells eggs at £2.00 dozen from their hens. Soil Association organic rules try to ensure animal welfare.

Where did it come from? Try to minimise “Food Miles”

Buying local produce that is in season means that you get fresher, tastier and often cheaper food. It also helps cut pollution as it doesn’t have to be transported so far. Check out Leeds City Markets (by the bus station) during the week or the Farmer’s Market (same place) every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month for some bargains! Better still – why not grow your own?

Grow your own!

It’s cheaper and tastier to grow your own food! You know exactly how it was grown, where it’s come from and its fun! Windowsills are great for tomato plants or fresh herbs like mint or coriander. Chillies are really easy to grow in your window, look good and can impress your mates. Or, for those special moments, strawberries are surprisingly easy too.

Once you have a taste for home-grown vegetables, you could even get your own allotment. For around £30 a year, you can rent one from the council or local allotment association see www.leeds.gov.uk/allotments for more info. The Green Action Society has an allotment where you can get involved with whether it is ‘stewarding’ a patch or helping out on a workday.

Preserving and brewing

Dismayed at the frequent sight of moulding fruit and vegetables? If you’ve got some time and too many fruit and veggies think about preserving them through making jam, chutneys, or wine!

Foraging

For some foods there isn’t even any need for us to work hard or spend money as nature does it for us! Look out for blackberries and raspberries in late summer, and various edible mushrooms throughout the year. Richard Mabey has written an excellent book called ‘Food for Free’. You’ll be surprised what can be found in the urban landscape. But don’t get too excited, it ain’t gonna provide dinner every day, and leave some for the birds… don’t pick it all.

Vegetarianism and veganism

A vegetarian is someone who does not eat any products derived directly or indirectly from the slaughter of animals. A vegan takes this a stage further by not eating or wearing any produce of animals. This means no dairy products, eggs, honey, silk and other items. People have different reasons for deciding to follow a veggie or vegan diet; these might be concern for animal welfare, human health, the environment. If you look at energy usage 25 kcal of fossil energy per 1 kcal of meat protein (25:1) compared to (2:1) of grain protein, so meat is 11x less energy efficient [[http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/78/3/660S|American Journal of Clinical Nutrition]].
There is too little space here to discuss the meat and dairy industries in terms of animal welfare, but you might want to look at some of links.

• www.viva.org.uk
• www.vegsoc.org
• www.vegansociety.com