Category Archives: Cool Things

Energy Democracy

Here’s a really cool short video I found on Films for Action about the energy revolution we so desperately need and deserve – a democratised renewable energy system designed to meet all our energy needs sustainably rather than just make a few corporations obscenely rich. And that includes the billion people currently living without power. Give it a watch!

Also – I apologise for my lack of posting recently. I’m two and half months away from finishing my degree, I’m working voluntarily for the Post Growth Institute and the UK’s Green Party and I have a job as a waitress as well. I’m just a bit busy basically. I have loads of ideas I’m dying to put into words though. Come June I’ll be back on to regular blogging.

Much love!

Labour and Nature: Power in Numbers

This post originally appeared on postgrowth.org, I wrote it for the Post Growth Institute blog, and wanted to repost it here as well. 

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“Good jobs! Clean environment! Green economy!”

That is the rallying cry of the BlueGreen Alliance, an impressive coalition of environmental organisations and labour unions in the US, with over 15 million members. Their existence is part of a growing synthesis between the labour and environmental movements, which is based around two core ideas: 1), that building a sustainable society has the potential to create millions of decent ‘’green-collar’’ jobs, and 2), that the effects and even the mitigations of climate change will have serious impacts for workers and will hit the poorest hardest, unless they have a voice in the debate, ensuring their right to a ‘’just transition”.  Continue reading

Post Growth Institute

postgrowth
Okay, so I may have been slacking on my blogging lately, but I’ve been crazy busy in the rest of my life. My dissertation and other university coursework is taking up a lot of time, and I’ve been volunteering with my local Green Party each week, campaigning to get our Green MP re-elected. But the most exciting reason why I’m extra busy, is that I’ve become a core member of the Post Growth Institute.

If you haven’t heard me mention them before, they’re an international group exploring how we can chart a course to a shared sustainable prosperity beyond our addiction to growth-mania.  Continue reading

Orangutans in the trees! Photo from projectorangutan.com

Blading For Borneo

Today I want to give a little shout out for a close friend of mine, who’s been doing something amazing.

My friend Aleesha recently spent eight days skating solo across the whole South coast of England, raising money for The Orangutan Project in Borneo.

Between the 14th and 23rd of September 2014 she in-line skated from Hastings to Plymouth, a distance of 310 miles, averaging roughly 40 miles per day. You can read about her adventure on her blog, Blading For Borneo, which she updated each night while staying with generous coach-surfing hosts.  Continue reading

People’s Climate March!

Today I went to London for the People’s Climate March, a global mobilisation of people demanding bold climate action, ahead of the UN Climate Summit in New York on Tuesday. Over 2,600 events took place around the world today, in 156 different countries.

Even just in terms of organisation and phenomenal use of social media and logistics, that’s a huge achievement. The fact that so many people, from all walks of life and all around the world, could be bothered to spend their Sunday marching and rallying for action on climate change is incredible.

It’s easy to think people don’t care much about this stuff. Apathy is evident everywhere. But today while I was marching in solidarity with thousands of strangers, waving placards and chanting our demand for clean energy, I felt such a sense of shared passion, energy and determination that it was almost overwhelming.  Continue reading

Greenpeace & Glastonbury Festival 2014

I just got home yesterday from a summer-time adventure.

I was working for Greenpeace at Glastonbury Festival. I can’t believe I haven’t written about the project sooner to be honest, but my life’s been a bit of a whirlwind since I finished the 2nd year of my degree at the beginning of last month.

Basically, me and my friend Lola won a competition, which was about designing innovative ways of communicating climate change and the plight of the Arctic. In our application we summarised three ideas, which were for igloos with sound and visual installations for various Arctic issues, a timeline of melting icebergs and a large bird’s eye view map of the Arctic. The prize was to actually come to the festival and build your designs. We didn’t hear back for ages, so I was pretty shocked when Lola rang me excitedly telling me we’d won. They wanted us to create the timeline idea, and said the igloos were cool but there wasn’t enough space for them.

Anyway, that was about two weeks before the day we were expected onsite, and we were asked to stay from 17th June to 2nd July. We had the actual festival weekend off, which was fantastic. Working on the decor team of the build crew was a lot of fun, and it was also hard work. It was baking hot all week, and I felt close to sunstroke on a couple of occasions, but somehow I managed to avoid coming home looking like a lobster.

We spent three days painting our timeline, which was very big and right at the front of the Greenpeace field, next to the giant replica of the Arctic Sunrise ship. The timeline showed two scenarios, one called ‘business as usual’ which depicted melting icebergs giving way to rising sea levels and open water filled with oil rigs and industrial fishing ships. The other was called ‘global sanctuary’ and showed ice and water levels stabilising and lots of Arctic wildlife and sealife. This was supposed to show the consequences of our collective actions, and to underline that we have a choice – the melting of the Arctic is not inevitable.

 

Our double timeline, photo by Lola Rose.

Our double timeline, photos by Lola Rose.

Continue reading

Skeptical of Solar Roadways?

Yesterday I excitedly posted an article waxing lyrical about a new project to turn roads into solar-panel-covered roads that could generate all the clean energy the US needs if replicated nation-wide.

Solar cycle lane. Artists rendition by Katherine Simons.

Solar cycle lane. Artist’s rendition by Katherine Simons.

Apologising for being cynical, one of my lovely environmentally-conscious friends commented that he didn’t think it was a practical idea, and directed me to this article that dismisses solar roadways as a wild fancy. Well, I think they have a couple of fair points, and a fair few not-so-valid points. Let’s walk through them.  Continue reading

Artists rendition of what the solar roadways would look like with their programmable LED lights. Art by Sam Cornett.

SOLAR ROADWAYS

This is just about the best idea I’ve heard of in a very long time.

Solar Roadways are pretty much what they say on the tin: solar panels that cover the roads, generating clean electricity. They can also cover car parks, pavements, cycle lanes and any other impenetrable surface. The solar panels are encased in modular, hexagon-shaped tiles that can be replaced individually and are topped with a special kind of glass which can withstand even the heaviest trucks driving over it. The tiles are partly made with recycled materials, and they heat up slightly so as to melt snow and ice – meaning less snow-clearing costs, safer winter roads and of course year round functionality of the solar panels.

And the best bit?
How much energy these things could actually generate. The calculations, which use conservative estimates based on one of the least sunny states, show that if all roads in the USA were solar roads,each year they would generate three times the power the whole country  used in 2009.

Let that sink in for a minute. Three times the amount.  Continue reading

The coconut oil I now use.  My photo.

Coconut Makeup Remover

I’ve been wearing makeup since my early teens, and this has sadly involved wiping my eyes with harsh chemicals every night so my eyelashes don’t fall off as I toss and turn in my sleepy time.

It’s very bad for you to forgo removing your makeup at the end of the day. But I’ve also always been casually concerned about the makeup removers and how toxic they’re likely to be. One time a few weeks ago I used a new type of remover and instantly got an unpleasant rash all over my face. My mum was visiting at the time, and she offered to try making me a natural makeup remover (she’s a medical herbalist and is experimenting with making natural beauty products). I scoffed that it couldn’t be done, because the makeup itself is full of chemicals so even more are needed to remove it. I switched to a different brand and the skin rash gradually subsided.  Continue reading