Tag Archives: personal

Earth Baby’s New Home

 


Good evening beautiful readers, welcome to my new website!

This site – earthbabyblog.org – is completely my own. I’m using WordPress software and I’ve imported all my articles and their comments from my old blog which was hosted by wordpress.com. I’ve wanted to get my own domain name for a while, but what sparked such a hasty transfer was my unpleasant discovery that all my posts on the old blog were hosting adverts. I didn’t realise they were there until yesterday, and some of them were completely inappropriate for a blog about sustainability.  So now here we are, ad free and fully customizable…

Earth Baby is now in a bit of a changeable period while I get everything sorted out. I still need to download plug-ins that’ll allow me to have a subscribers feature and access to my statistics. Also I’m not 100% happy with the design yet. I’ll be going through a few different themes and getting my techno-savvy boyfriend to customize the coding for me. I’m also thinking of getting my artsy friend to draw up a logo for my blog! So keep checking back, because it’s all change as far as Earth Baby’s concerned.

Thank god I’ve got rid of those pesky ads.

Have a lovely evening!

 

Outrageous WordPress Ads

UPDATE: This post doesn’t really apply now that I’ve got my own website for Earth Baby. I’ve just left it here in case anyone still wanted to read it. 

I’m absolutely livid.

Today I looked at one of my older posts, because somebody had commented on it, and I was presented with this message at the end of the article.

I knew that WordPress have a special option for bloggers to earn money from their writing by getting ads on their blog. Some people earn a full time living wage in this way. I decided not to, because it’s totally inappropriate for my blog. I criticize advertising and consumerism, not to mention many specific unethical companies. So it would be ridiculously counter-productive and hypocritical to then earn money from adverts. But as you can see, I got this message saying ”Occasionally, some of your visitors will see an advertisement here.” Confused and angry, I clicked on the ‘Tell me more’ option.

It turns out that even though I decided not to earn revenue from my blog by allowing ads to encroach on it, WordPress have been going right ahead and making money for themselves by sticking adverts on my posts! Without my knowledge or permission! God knows how long this has been going on. Apparently logged-in WordPress users will never see the ads, but other readers will. Obviously I wanted to check out what other people would be seeing, in the box where I got the above message. In Internet Explorer this is what I got.

I almost fell on the floor when I saw this. Fucking McDonald’s! How fucking dare they! Plus Samsung, and two other random companies. This is not okay. Why haven’t I got any sneering comments about this glaring hypocrisy? It must be obvious to any reader that this is completely against the philosophy of Earth Baby.

To help me check out the scale of the problem, my boyfriend searched through my posts on his computer. He didn’t find any more ads, and I breathed a sigh or slight relief. Then he realised he had AdBlocker installed, which was doing its job of blocking them out. He changed to another browser and tried again. Sure enough, not just some but every single one of my heartfelt posts had an advertisement on the bottom. They were for random products, and even banks.

WordPress offers a No Ads Upgrade to ensure against these commercial intrusions, for the sum of $30 per year. Great. Make me pay money to have what I thought I was getting anyway. I can’t even afford that at the moment, as I’m pretty much skint until my student loan comes through next month. I guess I’m going to have to either fork out for that, or stop using WordPress. I don’t want to give up blogging. I could use another platform I guess. But I don’t like Blogger, and they probably do the same thing anyway, come to think of it. I’ll plan to get my own website I guess.

I’m so upset and angry about this.

Needless to say, if you’re a WordPress user reading this, then this is going on on your blog too, unless you’ve already got the bloody upgrade. If you’re not from WordPress, then I’m so sorry about this – I’m incredibly embarrassed and feel like my words have been violated. There’s probably an ad showing on this post. Ignore it. I don’t want it there.

earth

Happy Birthday Earth Baby!

WordPress informs me that Earth Baby is 2 years old today!

It may be a small achievement compared to the mega-blogs that have been going for years and have thousands of subscribers, but for my part I’m incredibly proud of myself for actually keeping up with this hobby. Before I started blogging I was much more fickle, and would constantly be starting projects and then leaving them in the dust after a short burst of activity. I secretly thought Earth Baby might see the same fate, but 2 years on I’m still as excited as ever about this little internet haven.

I really do think internet publishing is such a fantastic invention. I love writing, and I love doing things on my own terms. The fact that I can essentially publish my own work for free, and have people from all around the globe reading it for free, is a really empowering concept. Updating this blog makes me happy and gives me a sense of purpose in my everyday life. I may not have thousands of readers yet, but the fact that I have any readers – who might be inspired by my words – is to me a great achievement.

Here’s to many years of writing and the revolution I can feel brewing with every day.
Peace,

Tegan Tallullah x

On trees, excitement, books and writing

Hello lovely readers! I’m sorry to admit I’ve been neglecting my blog slightly these last few weeks, and I’ve only just noticed why. It’s my summer holiday from university and I’m back in my hometown for a couple of months, visiting my family and my old friends. I realised today that the reason I haven’t been writing is because I see it as something I do when I’m at home. That is to say, in the city where I study and have my own flat with my boyfriend, it’s very much part of my daily routine to read up about environmental news and theories and write blog entries about my little discoveries. Here in my small and eccentric hometown I’m accustomed to doing nothing more than taking my little brother to the park and drinking cider with my friends.
But seeing as I’m here for quite a while this time, rather than the fleeting visit that’s been the norm since I moved away, I really need to get into the habit of writing here as well.
So that’s quite enough of my rambling, now I’ll get on and tell you a couple of things that are more relevant.

  • Firstly, I’m very excited because I got a message from my dad today (who lives in Portugal and is a computer enthusiast) saying that he’s going to set up a new internet business for carbon-offsetting by tree-planting. I know there are several of these kinds of businesses already, but as he says, many of them charge quite a substantial amount of money, and some simply give money to people who were going to plant trees anyway. That’s great because such projects deserve the financial support, but it doesn’t mean any extra trees are going to get planted, if you see what I mean. Anyway lots of his friends in rural Portugal own land, plus the cost of basic things like seeds is very low there so he won’t need to charge much. The best bit is, he wants me to do the writing for the website, explaining the project to potential customers. This would mean I can a) help my dad b) support an ethical green enterprise and c) build my writing portfolio. Win win win!
  • It’s my 20th birthday this coming Tuesday (the 16th July) and I’ve asked my mother for one or two books on post-growth economics. As you may of read, I was bowled over by Enough is Enough and I’m desperate to learn more about the concept. It makes so much sense to me, and yet seems too good to be true. To think that there might actually be a way to attain the kind of sustainable, equitable and compassionate society that seems so out of reach on a bad day – it’s incredibly exciting. When I’ve researched more about post growth economics I’ll write properly about it, but for now please check out my review of Enough is Enough, or this FAQ by Make Wealth History (which, incidentally, is one of my favourite blogs at the moment).

I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer and I promise I’ll be more on it with the writing from now on!

One Planet Living, not my image.

One Planet Living

If everyone in the world consumed the same amount of resources and produced as much waste as the average person in Western Europe, we’d need three planets. If we all lived like the North Americans, we’d need five. On the global scale, we’re using just over one and a half Earths worth of resources and pollution assimilation capacity. This is only (temporarily) possible because we’re burning coal, oil and gas which are literally millions of years of solar energy compacted into convenient fossil fuels. It’s all very well saying ”we’d need three planets…” but that’s an abstract comparison, because obviously we can’t get more than one. Apart from the use of ancient fossilized sunlight, the other reason it’s possible for people in Europe and America to have such large ecological footprints is because about two billion out of the total seven billion people live in extreme poverty.

I want to live a lifestyle that could theoretically be lived by everyone, I want to use only one seven-billionth of the Earth’s productive land. I want to use no more than my fair share. In other words, I want a one planet lifestyle.

Unfortunately, I’m quite far away from that goal.

According to this sustainability calculator, if everyone lived like me we’d need about 2.5 planets.

One Planet Living, not my image.

One Planet Living, not my image. The calculator uses these 10 principles of sustainability to calculate your footprint.

Yes, that’s less than the average for the UK, where I live. But considering how thoughtful I think I’ve been, it’s higher than I expected/hoped. I’m vegan, I buy organic local vegetables, recycled toilet paper and clothes from charity shops. I only travel by public transport and always recycle. I use an ethical bank, donate monthly to three NGOs and only use natural cleaning products. All this is great, but my lifestyle is still shockingly unsustainable. There’s several areas that I think let me down, some of which are partly outside my control:

I throw away waste food
Because: my council doesn’t  recycle food waste and I don’t have a garden. 
What I have done: I’ve sent my MP two letters asking her to implement food waste collection, to no avail.  
What I could do: plan meals to reduce waste, look into indoor composting? 

My flat has no energy saving adaptations
Because: I’m only renting and my landlord isn’t interested in investing.
What I have done: Only put the heating on if it’s snowing!
What I could do: Approach my landlord about long-term money savings from energy efficiency.

I take baths not showers
Because: My flat only has a bath.
What I have done: Hassled my landlord frequently about a shower installation, taken fewer baths.
What I could do: Offer to pay half the cost for a shower to be installed.

I do buy some new consumer goods, e.g. clothes, books etc
Because: second hand shops don’t always have what I want.
What I have done: kept shopping to a minimum, often brought second hand, chosen independent shops.
What I could do: Stay focused on what I went in for when shopping!

Using the sustainability calculator has reminded me that just caring about sustainability isn’t enough, I need to continue to adapt my lifestyle. I think I’ve lately been a bit naive by thinking I’m already living a very eco-friendly lifestyle, when in actual fact there is still a fair bit of room for improvement. The FAQ on the website said it’s very unusual for Western citizens to be able to get to the one planet level because so many things are dependant on the infrastructure of the society you live in, as well as individual behaviour. Taking this into account, I think I should be able to get mine down to two planets at least.

It’s shocking really, that for a well-meaning and environmentally minded citizen, using twice their fair share of the Earth’s resources would be an achievement. To me this really shows how unsustainable the global socio-economic system is.
I’m going to tackle the key areas I’ve outlined above, and I can only hope to do my bit as a postgraduate environmentalist once I’ve finished studying.

If you like, why not  use the calculator I used and post your score in the comments section?

I wish this was my image, but it isn't.

On Journalism, Blogging and Aspirations

I wish this was my image, but it isn't.

I wish this was my image, but it isn’t.

Okay, now I’m going to sentence you to my musings, thoughts and half-baked plans.

As you may know already, I’m studying a degree in Environment and Media Studies. I’ve just finished my first year, and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. This September I’ll need to organise my placement year, a 12 month optional paid work placement taken before the final year of my course. Lately I’ve been getting very tempted to pursue journalism.

I adore writing. Although it’s a highly competitive field to get into, I feel desperate to try.

Ideally I’d like to work for a green publication (no surprises there) but I realise there’s only a small number of those kind of jobs up for grabs, and they’re often voluntary or poorly paid. Nonetheless it’s something I really want to get into, so I’ve been taking some steps towards that goal.

I’ve applied for an editorial position with my university’s student newspaper, The Verse.
And I’ve sent off a short piece – about a new ethical supermarket coming soon to my city – to a local magazine called The Brighton Source.

I’m really excited about this, and I’m really hoping they’ll publish it. I’m already quite proud of myself because it’s the first time I’ve had the guts to approach a publication and just say ”hey, will you publish this?”.

Published articles are like gold dust for the aspiring writer, so I just hope I can get my foot in the door with these guys. I’ve had a couple of things printed before, when I was doing a voluntary internship with Inspired Times magazine last year, but this is the first time I’ve tried to go freelance..

This blog has actually been one of the main drivers in pushing my interest towards journalism. I absolutely love having this platform to express my ideas and communicate with people. It’s by far the best hobby I’ve ever had, so much so that I wish I could make a living out of blogging. It is possible to do that, if you have tonnes of readers (waaaay more than I do) and you sell advertising space. But the thing is, having adverts would, 90% of the time, run counter to Earth Baby’s ethics. I’m quite critical of consumerism, so it’d be pretty hypocritical to have ads on here.

My vague (and decidedly optimistic) idea is to pursue a career in green media, and keep Earth Baby as a personal voice. I love the way the Internet allows us to self-publish in this way. One of humanity’s better inventions, to be sure!

Also, Earth Baby got to 100 followers today! Thank you to all you lovely people!

Sorry if this was all a bit self-indulgent, I’ll get back to writing insightful posts about what’s going on in the world – I promise!

A photo of my first veg box!

The Edible Treasure Trove

A photo of my first veg box!

A photo of my first veg box!

As you may know, I’m a university student. I may be incredibly wealthy compared with many people around the world, but compared with other people in the UK I’m pretty skint. This means that for the last year I haven’t been shopping in my local healthfood store nearly as often as I’d like and have instead been sulking around the crowded aisles of Aldi. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Aldi is a super super cheap supermarket. I know, shoot me now. If it makes it any better I also shop at an independent Indian food shop and I used to go to the farmers market before my lectures started clashing with it. But it’s still pretty poor for an aspiring environmentalist. Also, the fruit and vegetables from Aldi are horrible. Always tasteless, sometimes mouldy.

SO – enter the organic local veg box.
That’s right, I’ve finally got it together and signed up with Riverford Organics.

Above is a photo of my first veg box. Aren’t the colours wonderfully vibrant?

Anyway, they had a stall at the Brighton Veggie Fest last month and the vegetables looked so lush and the guys running it were so friendly that I took a leaflet and decided to sign up right away. After a quick (ok three weeks) jaunt across the country to see my friends and family over Easter I decided to order the Mini Fruit and Veg box for £13.45 per week.

This is going to cause quite a dent in my weekly budget as I’m used to spending only £20 a week on all my food. However, if I was working full time (even at minimum wage) I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at this cost as I know you get what you pay for when it comes to quality.  Aldi was a lot cheaper but the veg box option is better in several other ways:

a) It’s organic, fresher and seasonal, making it healthier and tastier
b) It’s more convenient, as it’s delivered to your door
c) It’s more ethical, as it’s supporting a smaller business rather than a supermarket
d) It’s better for the environment, as there’s much less food miles and pollution
e) It inspires a more varied diet, because you get different seasonal veg
f) It helps you keep in touch with the seasons and with the Earth

There’s also another benefit specific to my situation. I love fruit and will eat it as a snack if it’s available, but the fruit from Aldi was so horrible I never ate it, leaving me tempted to snack on other things such as crisps. Now I can grab an organic apple instead when I’m feeling peckish!

For all these reasons I would really recommend checking out their website or indeed another local veg box scheme that operates in your area or country. Bare in mind that there are loads of boxes to choose from, varying in size, price and contents, so there’s bound to be one that suites you.

For the record, here’s what I got in my box last week:

  • Broccoli
  • Aubergine
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Courgettes
  • Apples
  • Oranges

All the produce was in great condition and tasted wonderful. The apples were especially good!
I’m planning to juggle around my finances so I can afford to keep this up.
Working on a tight budget is all about prioritising!

Vegfest @ Brighton

On this cloudy Sunday me and a friend of mine went along to Vegfest – an annual veggie bonanza of deliciousness that takes place in Brighton, Bristol and London.  It was absolutely packed, like to the extent that it was hard to navigate around the place. There were 125 stalls and lots of talks and cookery demos – it was so inspiring to see so many people making vegan and natural products! And more importantly, its great that it was so popular. We enjoyed scouring all the food stalls for yummy free tasters – my boyfriend joked that they’d clock me and radio round saying ”watch out for the girl in the stripy top, she’ll eat your whole stall!” Hahaha. We had a wonderful lunch of veggie burgers and falafel wraps and then ‘put the world to rights’ over coffee. All in all it was a great day out, and if you’re around Bristol or London and want to check out the creme de la creme of plant-based goodies, I’d totally recommend it. The dates for the next two Vegfests in 2013 are:

  • Bristol – 24th – 26th May, £2 adults and £1 kids.
  • London – 5th – 6th October, £10 adults and £2 kids. Advance tickets buy-one-get-one-free.

The Brighton event was free admission for everyone, so I’m kind of surprised at the price of the others, but I still think its worth it if you’re interested. A high point for me was getting hold of some vegan fudge. I’ve always loved the smell of fudge and really wanted to eat it, but I’ve never seen any that isn’t made of butter. Today was my lucky day! I must say it was a bit too sweet for me but I guess I just don’t have a very sweet tooth. Also I tried some really yummy veggie sausages that I’ve never had before.

Next task for the day: impressing an avid carnivore and trained chef with a vegan Sunday roast.
Nuts, sweet potatoes and optimism at the ready.

Wish me luck!

Donating Delights

I’ve just run back from the bank, beaming like a Cheshire Cat after donating £101 to Save the Arctic.

Okay that’s not quite true, I didn’t run. I hate running. But the donation part is totally true! I know what you’re thinking:

“Wow you’re generous! Also isn’t that a bit of a weird amount to give?” 

Well let me lay this out for you. It wasn’t my own personal money. It was left over funds from this animal rights and conservation kids club I used to run when I was a kid, called Tiger’s Eye. It was such a specific amount because that’s exactly the amount of cash that was sitting in an old Engevita tub with ”Tiger’s Eye” written on the side, in the room in my mum’s house that used to be mine. It’s been there for years. Literally years. I’m so happy I’ve finally done something positive with it!

 

Tiger’s Eye was awesome. I started it when I was just 8 years old, and dragged my mum, my friends and their parents into it. We used to circulate leaflets and petitions, hold information stalls at Glastonbury Festival, run a website, and collect donations which we’d then re-donate to charities and groups which worked towards animal welfare and broader environmental protection. I stopped the group, or rather it kind of fizzled out, when I was working on my GCSEs and the other member’s were similarly busy. That’s when I was about 15 I guess.

 

I decided to donate it to Save the Arctic because I think that’s the most pressing environmental campaign right now. If you want to know more either hit up their website, or read my post called Hi Again and Save the Arctic. Basically though, there’s loads of oil under the North Pole and the melting ice from climactic change is making it more accessible. Shell and other companies want to drill there to get the oil, which would cause extensive damage to the pristine habitat, as well as the contribution to climate change the new fuel would cause. The problem is no one actually owns the Arctic, so the nearby states such as Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia are  all after ownership. Greenpeace reckon as oil becomes even more scarce and valuable, a war could break out over this rich resource base. In order to prevent violence and huge environmental damage, they’re campaigning to make the Arctic a global nature reserve. It’s a tough call as they’re going up against powerful corporations, but if anyone can do it they can, because they did exactly this for the South Pole in 1959.

So, go forth little pounds and do me proud!

The Guerrilla Recycler

Image

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my boss insisting on using paper cups in the student cafe, rather than china cups. I had a problem with this because Starbucks coffee is probably our biggest seller and all the cups are thrown out after just one fleeting use – resulting in heaps of trash that I have to lug out to the dustbins after every shift.

My boss wasn’t too receptive to my suggestion of real cups (“Too much washing up, Tegan!”) but I recently discovered that there are actually recycling bins at the back of the cafe for plastic bottles and cans, which are barely used. I didn’t know about them at first because my boss and all the other staff don’t use them, but I’m not surprised they’re there as the university as a whole has a fairly thorough recycling program. Anyway now while I’m clearing tables I get excited when I see discarded juice bottles and cola cans and swoop down on them before the other waitresses can throw them in the bin.

Despite this rather over-zealous approach, I have a slight suspicion these recycling bins aren’t actually emptied. Ever since I started using them I’ve seen all the bottles and cans I’ve put in there piling up, without others being added or the lot being taken away…

I guess if I fill them up before anything happens I can always ask the caretaker. They’re probably just not aware they’re being used. I have told my co-workers about them and urged them to use them but I can’t say I’ve seen any evidence of this so far.

The best bit is the label on top that reads “We ARE recycling! so should you!”. Mmm, of course you are, Mr Paper Cup and Apathy Man. I assume the sign was sellotaped there before he took over management.

There is also a large mixed recycling bin out the back near the smoking area, and I now run out there with armfuls of cardboard and glass bottles, although I’m sure my boss would scold me for ”wasting time” when we’re busy.  Sigh. Anyway, even if it’s a small victory it does make me smile every time I get to do some of this guerrilla recycling!