Do humans dream of electric cars – a review

do-humans-dream-of-electric-carsIt’s book review time folks, and the subject of our delectation on this occasion is a book produced by Sustrans with a lovely little forward by that ever congenial bicycle riding inventor and informer of how easy it is to do self-assessment tax returns online, which incidentally it is; Adam Hart Davis.

Do Humans Dream of Electric Cars? Is heavily focused on the use of cycling as an alternative method of transport which is not surprising given it’s produced by Sustrans but it does provide a few thought provoking arguments. Even though it touches on other wider environmental issues, it concentrates on transport issues in particular.

In particular I like the idea that cars should not be thought of as a necessity but as a luxury. Perhaps that’s because that is the way in which I’ve always looked at them anyway. We didn’t even own a car up until January this year and even though we now do, its usage is pretty light and designated mainly for taking the kids out to places that would be difficult if not impossible to do on public transport which mainly means trips out to the countryside. What it’s not used for is regular commuting or such things.

Herein lies a problem though. We’re blessed with a rather good public transport network in the West Midlands. Outside of London or Glasgow I’ve not come across others that I’d say rival it on our fair little island. Unfortunately large swathes of the country don’t enjoy these benefits, especially when you exit the urban areas so whereas it’s wholly possible to live ones life without needing a car in these parts, that’s certainly not true elsewhere.

It did make me think a bit about the viability of cycling more though. I used to cycle a lot and although long distances aren’t particularly applicable on a regular basis; I don’t think I’d cycle from Willenhall to London, it takes 13 hours (I know, I did it once) smaller distances are easily possible.

That said, I do like the idea of sitting down, letting someone else do the driving while I knock about on the web via my mobile phone, or perhaps I’m just getting a bit lazy in my old age?

There’s a nice little bit about the school run in there. I concur on this one. I seem to remember way back in the days when I were a lad that the number of parents dropping their kids off at school wouldn’t have topped half a dozen. When we were looking for a school for the little ones, unlike it seems (if you believe the newspapers) we weren’t hunting out the ‘best’ school for the little ones after hours of studying dopey league tables. We looked on Google Maps (not that we needed to) and found the closest/easiest to access by foot.

Hence we ended up with a school technically not, but sort of on the same road within 300 metres walk of the front door. Here however is where it’s not just about individuals attitudes or practices but that they also have to be supported by those who make the planning decisions and that those people need to be able to see further than a balance sheet.

There’s a particularly good example of this in our locality. Odds on our little ones wouldn’t have been going to the school they’re (very likely to go to) had Walsall MBC not closed down and amalgamated three other schools. When we’re talking about sustainable and practical travel to schools, no amount of good intention from parents is going to counteract bad planning decisions by myopic councillors. (In this case Tory and LibDem at the time). No one I knew argued against the need to combine the schools, they were low on numbers (no sign of the hoards of immigrants clogging up the schools ala Daily Mail fantasies round these parts) and the buildings themselves needed serious and costly upgrading, not to mention the limited access to outdoor recreational areas.

Those of us at the time argued (this was way before I had kids btw) that a school closer to the town centre that could be built on a reclaimed former industrial site (of which there are plenty) would both regenerate, bring people into the town which would help traders and be accessible as regards public transport.

Instead the decision was made to build a school on green belt, (a nature reserve to be more precise) opposite a haulage company (yes, think safety) on a road that has no public transport (not where the school is, one bus runs at the other end but goes nowhere near it) access. Not exactly a school for the 21st century, more a relic representing the knock it up on the cheap and worry about the consequences later of the 1980’s era. They did however make lots of space and indeed a dedicated drop off point for kids being brought by car which to be fair I wouldn’t blame the parents for as they simply built a school in a crap location by not thinking in the first place.

So yes, lifestyle change is important which is where the book focuses on, but equally good planning is just as important and a good amount of fore-thought on behalf of those making the decisions is even more handy, even if it’s lacking round these parts.

Another area of the book that I find interesting is it’s focus on the insular nature of modern child upbringing. I’ve thought about this a bit, from the practical issue of actually being a parent. In some respects it harks back to an era where kids were out kicking balls in the street which I assume did exist although when I was growing up you wouldn’t have stood a chance of kicking a ball about in my parents street (it was a rat-run between two areas and even back then was too busy with traffic). Likewise I won’t be encouraging my kids to play outside the front of the house because, 1. We live on a main road frequented by people who can’t drive, seem to have a problem with the concept of speed limits (although it’s better since the speed camera went up) and 2. Apart from the <15 square metre bit of real estate that constitutes Penguin mansions that has to fit a car and assorted Walsall Council wheelie bins, there ain’t no room to play there anyway.

Again we’re back to planning, not strictly in the local authority sense, but also in the building sense. If we assume that kids playing outside the front of the house is something desireable, which I’d agree it is, we actually need properties where it’s possible. Willenhall could be an odd little isolated example but I’m at pains to think of any of the recent housing developments that have any real playing area at the front of properties. They are dominated by paved driveways and if you’re lucky a strip of grass.  This trend isn’t specifically according to the value of the properties either, even in places like Prince Thorpe Road where the houses would have set you back 300K when they went up, the emphasis on front side recreational area is pitiful.

Compare it with the council houses across the road in the Rose Hill area and they have almost acreage of front gardens in comparison. They were, looking at them anyway, built a fair while ago, they look like typical 1930’s builds but I’m happy to be told otherwise. So once again, it’s poor planning, coupled with economic desire to squeeze as much profit from bits of land by the developers that counteracts this need for frontside recreational space. These aren’t areas where individuals can make a real difference on their own, they require change at levels of governance and decision making which equally require the ability to see past balance sheets and appreciate the social capital that can be built up over time.

Even where we’re faced with roads outside the front door, the least we can do is make them safer. As I mentioned, we have a speed camera on our road. It’s been there a few years now. I’ve never seen it flash so there’s probably nothing in it. However it is better now. Not perfect, but people doing 60mph down the road doesn’t happen now like it used to. (It’s a 30mph limit btw). That said, the local council were on about getting rid of them across the borough. I vaguely remember the argument being that they weren’t cost effective. I know it’s not perfect, but I’d rather have the situation we have now compared to the one a few years back as regards cars speeding along our road. I can’t possibly imagine why local councillors (not strictly speaking local to me as ours are Labour and it’s a Tory controlled council that seems to not like them) but as we’re in the spirit of openness and honesty as our elected representatives go these days, how about making councillors driving records public, see if they’ve got any points on their licences and what they got them for eh?

It’s not impossible, there’s some great examples in the book where it’s happened. None in the UK of course, but some forward thinking continental cousins have managed it. In particular Freiburg in Germany where they only allow cars on a third of roads with the rest for buses and cycles only and the suburb of Vaubon where no cars are allowed at all. It’s a pity it’s on the other side of the country from where I normally go, otherwise I’d love to drop by and see how it works.

Again though, it’s planners with foresight that made it work. 20 years ago it was the same as everywhere else, trying to manage more cars but they changed the perspective and apparently it’s a rather sought after place to live these days with rather lengthy waiting lists so it’s not impossible, it just requires a bit of forward thinking. The question is, is there any sign of this forward thinking planning out there? Would be very interested to know.

Congratulations to Tory controlled Walsall Council

Actually that really should be the EU who’s legislation has managed to drag an area of UK environmental practices into the 20th century* but we’re dealing with the new recycling scheme we’ve got round these parts.

Bit of background. A fortnight ago we got a new wheelie bin. One of those 120 litre ones that is now designated for non-recyclable waste – it’s black btw. The old 240 litre green wheelie bin is now for recyclable waste only and we’re allowed to keep the old green box that was supposed to be for recycling.

Here’s how it should work. The 120 litre bin should be collected on weekly and the 240 litre on a fortnightly basis. All good stuff although I’m curious as to whether the council would have bothered if it weren’t for the EU threatening to impose massive fines on councils but in general terms I like this arrangement as opposed to the previous ‘system’.

Given that Walsall MBC failed to collect my recycling box for the five years I had it and our genuinely positive attitude towards recycling here at Penguin Central I was looking forward to see how the new system would pan out.

A fortnight in and our black bin was collected last week but not the recycling one which is fine because last week we had a couple of bags in it as an overhang of our rubbish that had accumulated before we were able to actually separate everything out. This week we managed to cut our non-recyclables down to a single bag which is pretty good going for a family of four but the recycling bin was getting dangerously close to capacity.

Today’s bin day in our parts and thankfully the recycling bin was emptied. Oddly though, our non-recyclables bin wasn’t. The bin men couldn’t have missed it, it was sitting next to the other bin they emptied so what exactly is all this about? We were promised by my favourite Tory Councillor Rachel Walker who apparently has responsibility for Environment that weekly collections for non-recyclables were guaranteed. If I was in a particularly sarcastic mood I guess I could say this was a case stealth fortnightly collections by the back door but I’m not, they might just have accidentally missed mine.

There is however an important point to this. In a situation where the ability to put out non-recyclables has effectively halved, a missed collection is even more problematic. It is in the end just a good job that we’ve been so good at sorting out our rubbish here which means we’ve still got plenty of space for this week.

That said, I think there should be a little more care taken in how the bins are put back after they’re emptied. The pavements on our road were strewn with bins all over the place this morning which makes me rather glad that I don’t use a wheelchair or motability scooter because I’d have had no chance. It could of course be a clever method of creating temporary chicanes to stop the kids riding their bikes fast on the pavement though.

Well done Tory Walsall council, after 5 years of not collecting my recycling box you’ve managed now not to collect my new non-recycling bin.

*That was deliberate.

A book review: The Big Earth Book by James Bruges

Every once in a while someone contacts me to review something so tonight folks, it’s book review time. “The Big Earth Book” by James Bruges, published by Sawday’s and printed by Cambridge University Press.

As it name suggests, it is qute big and I really should have penned this review a good three weeks ago but I’ve been busy undertaking (none shelf stacking) duties.

What’s it all about?

Well it covers a vast array of enviromental related topics, heavy on the issues of climate change and owing to recent events ties in elements of global finance, inequality and pretty much the future of our species.

Given it’s wide remit there are areas that I feel are stronger than others reflecting the author’s specialism but across the board it’s challenging in terms of some of the accepted wisdoms and practices of the way we humans go about things.

For me, the core interest despite my background in economics which kicks in later in the book is the first half around enviromental issues. The challenges of negating human detrimental impact on our environment and unlike it seems the current focus of by many writers and the media being around carbon emissions, it deals with the traditional concerns of environmentalists, that of actual pollution and importantly for me the degradation of soil quality across the world.

For me though it’s all very well reading about what are the problems but I’m interested in solutions and despite my trying to keep up with things and finding novel ways that we can negate our impact on the environment the one that stuck out the most for me was in India a scheme that uses wood to produce heat for cooking while also creating charcoal that can be used the enrich the land for growing crops without the use of agro-chemicals which I’d like to look into further.

So on the environmental side the book is strong and full of really interesting ideas but as it moves into the area of global finance there are some contradictions that seem to creep in. The proposition for a global currency against which all others are trading and key resources like oil can be set against instead of an individual countries currency at present like the dollar are classical Keynesian ideas which I’d have a lot of time for. However later it discusses the use of barter instead of currency where people trade their products and skills directly. Although this can and does in places work on a smaller scale it’s not a sensible means by which to run a global economy so I would have to be critical there.

That said there are some other interesting ideas like the Jak Bank in Sweden that works on the principle of not offering interest on saving. A bizarre concept at first for those used to our general model of banking in the West

Credit where credit’s due

I don’t much go in for nationalist based political parties even if they do have a broadly left of centre agenda but in all fairness it’s heartily encouraging to see the SNP getting something right.

Not like I’ve been banging on about the importance of bottle recycling for ages like but a bit sad to see that it’s the SNP that are the first to promote it’s introduction while south of the border we still seem to be obsessed with sticking microchips in everything and building dopey databases.

Rainwater diverters redux

Following on from the follow-up post to my original post on rainwater diverters and honest, the site hasn’t turned into some kind of pseudo green DIY forum I’d just for information’s sake like to put up the results of my inquiry to Marley.

Marley unfortunately at this time don’t sell anything in the UK comparable to the DN75 that they sell in Germany and this of course doesn’t fit to British Standard UK downpipes. (Mine was a funny size that it actually fitted quite well)

However they point me in the direction of another company called 3P Technik UK Ltd based in Cardigan, Wales, who appear to ironically be a German company that makes diverters that seem to fit UK downpipes.

They have two diverter type models as far as I can see. The ‘Rain Collector’ model and the ‘Filter Collector’ model.

The sizes aren’t clear on the Rain Collector but the Filter Collector does specify the size of a normal UK downpipe and I may look into this further for my own uses.

So there you go, hopefully that helps a few people although I’d certainly drop them a line beforehand to check out any specifications that anyone might require. That’s my bit of public information for today.

Osbourne and carrots

Hey, promised we’d get back to a bit of politics didn’t I?

Our subject for today is Georgie ‘I is a greenie and I’m going to bung you some wonga in the process’ Osbourne.

OK, first lesson in recycling for George. In almost all cases there is no financial incentive in recycling. Sorry but there isn’t. One would hope that the bloke who wants to take over the country’s finances would be able to get his head around this.

Whether you like it or not, our economic structure is based on capitalism (yes, you don’t hear that word very often these days). Its driving principle is the creation of profit and that’s, well about it. There is no profit in recycling because when everything is reduced down to the hideously crude and simplistic concept of price, then barring a few odds and sods like some metals it’s simply easier (cheaper) to get new materials than it is to recycle old.

All ‘incentives’ to recycle are in fact sticks somewhere along the line. It doesn’t matter if you dress it up as we’re going to bung you some dosh to recycle because the premise on which that scheme is based is to creation of a false economy through regulation and or taxation.

In this case we’re dealing with landfill taxes on local authorities which is a pan-European scheme set up by the EU to encourage/force (choose whichever you fancy) member states to up their recycling rates because it’s been decided at a political level that reducing the amount of waste we as human beings produce is probably a good idea.

There’s nothing wrong with the introduction of targeted taxation to attempt to change societal behaviour as long as you can justify it with sound reasoning and preferably a lot of evidece to support your position too.

In the case of landfill, it’s fair to say you’d be hard pressed to find many people who think that reducing the amount of rubbish we chuck on tips is a bad idea although when you mention they might actually have to do something about it themselves or cough up a few bob then for some reason perspectives suddenly start to change a bit.

So we’re here, Osbourne’s little carrot is actually nothing more than the product of a very large EU stick that has created certain market conditions in the first place.

That of course leads us nicely on to the whole civil liberties malarky that seems to be doing the rounds of late.

The US company in question that Osbourne has so fallen in love with is RecycleBank and there’s two very interesting elements to their operation. The first being their use of ‘chipped’ bins. Yes folks we’re back to putting little bits a silicon chips in the bins to monitor how much waste we throw out.

Now for those with short memories, last year the Government was falling in love with the whole hi-tech approach of chipping everyone’s bins and forgive me for being a cynical old sod but wasn’t it all the Tories coming out of the woodwork saying it would be a crap idea (actually I agree with them on this one) and that flytipping would go though the roof.

There were a few pilots done, the first that springs to mind was South Norfolk District Council where it was such a disaster in both the technology breaking down and surprise surprise flytipping going through the roof that when the *ahem Tories took over the council they scrapped it.

Georgie boy might also want to have a word with Eric Pickles their very own local government spokesman because he said ‘they are also an invasion of people’s privacy’ on the issue of chipping people’s bins. Go on, what are the odds on another principled resignation of seat to stand in by-election moment? Nah, didn’t think so either.

To be fair to RecycleBank they seem really good folk and there’s nothing to suggest that they would use any information gleamed from such a system in a bad way. That said, they operate in the States where they have like proper bits of legislation and stuff written down on paper ensuring their citizens rights, not the data-mining free for all we have in the UK, seriously folks, the possibilities are endless.

How’s this for a wicked idea to catch out naughty people burning stuff in the back garden or flytipping. We could hand the service over to Tesco. They could monitor what we buy and if it doesn’t end up in our bin then we could get automatic fines as well, how’s that? Seriously folks, I’m here all week.

What Ozzy boy doesn’t exactly go out of his way to mention is the nature of payments, if indeed we’re taking RecycleBank as our model.

We’re not talking cold hard cash, you know, that stuff that’s readily accepted everywhere, even in the local boozer. No we’re talking tokens, and not the 30p off a box of Daz type (do they still sell Daz? Haven’t seen it for ages).

We’re talking (at least as far as can be ascertained from the information on their website) spend £50 in selected partner store and get £10 off tokens. OK, don’t quote those figures but we all know where we stand, to get the sweetener we’ve got to shell out a larger amount which is all well and good if you’ve got a reasonable income in the first place but if you’re getting by down to the last penny then are you going to have or even want to spend the extra to redeem the token?

What this approach also fails to address is the exact criticism the Tories were laying at the concept of pay as you bin last year. When you introduce a system whereby there is either a financial cost or benefit to putting less in your bin, doesn’t matter which. You will encourage fly-tipping and backyard burning because the financial incentive is there.

Of course what is continually being missed is not the actual desire or lack of from households to recycle, many aspects of the problems we face in the UK arise from the inability to recycle due to either poor facilities or, at least in my opinion poor packaging.

I’ve lived abroad, over a decade ago, seen how they did it back then. I’ve travelled about a bit, observed different recycling practices because it’s an area of personal interest but all came down to one very important factor. The recyclability of the packaging in the first place.

It doesn’t matter whether you try to penalise or incentivise recycling, if consumers can’t recycled the 2 litre bottle of coke they bought from Sainsbury’s then they can’t recycle it. They could if they lived in Finland or Germany but they can’t here. It’s the same product (admittedly produced locally under license) but in the UK it goes in the bin because it’s made of cheaper thinner plastic compared to thicker reusable (after being washed out) plastic abroad. There’s no scheme available to recycle them here, in other countries you just take them back to the supermarket, plonk them in a machine, it prints out a ticket that can be used at the checkout and hey presto, there’s your incentive system, it’s really not that hard and the whole lot doesn’t even have to be done by the public sector, you simply mandate the supermarkets to do it instead. They do after all have extensive distribution networks and it makes sense that after making deliveries they can do a pick up as well rather than driving back empty.

A bit of joined up thinking wouldn’t go amiss here.

I’ll finish on a positive point. It used to be (the last time I looked) impossible to recycle Tetrapak in the UK which is barmy. I was going to write a bit about it in this post but after some research it does appear to be picking up and your humble Penguin is planning a trip to Sandwell in the near future now he knows that he can recycle the milk cartons. Wednesbury to be precise as they apparently have a facility at the Leisure Centre. It’s just a bit sad that the most accessible facility for me is in an entirely different borough, but hey, that’s what you get from living in an area covered by Walsall Council I guess.

My final good deed for this post is a littl link to Tetrapaks recycling locator. I think I should move to Sandwell.

Rainwater diverters and all that

This is a politics blog, honest guv. Not like there’s been much in the way of it of late but I will try and rectify that in the near future as the rather hectic planting season draws to a close and the crops slowly, well grow.

Sometimes it’s a bit strange the posts that get attention. You can write at length about a complex political issue and zip, nothing. You can write about something as obscure as rainwater diverters and bang the inquiries start coming in.

So this is a special post for those who’ve dropped a comment on the blog or who have privately contacted me via the contacts section.

As I mentioned to Betty in the comments section on my original post about rainwater diverters I had a hunch that the manufacturer was actually the same one that produce the one’s sold at B&Q.

I just happened to drop into B&Q in Wednesbury today hunting for shelving which due to the wonders of modern society the helpful staff couldn’t tell me if they had the extra two brackets I needed in stock because the computer system was down.

Side note. I love computers, they’re ace, but if as a species we lose the ability to think ‘hang on I can nip in the stock room and have a look’ without the aid of microprocessors then we’re losing it. Either that or the person I spoke to was just lazy and couldn’t be arsed. They didn’t get a sale and my money went across the road to Ikea instead who were well helpful.

However while I was there I did think about Betty and pop outside to have a look at their drainage stock. The brand in question that they sell which is square and designed to connect to a water butt is produced by a company called Marley.

That rang a bell and I was sure it was the same brand as my German procured system.

A few searches later and I got to this site which is the German arm of Marley. Quite clearly, that’s the system that I’ve got that fits to a round downpipe and has a connector to hook up to a hosepipe as opposed to a water butt. Mines the DN75 btw.

Having a further scoop around I ended up at the main Marley site and it turns out that Markey are a UK company based in Kent which also appears to be their manufacturing base as well which is ironic that to get what I wanted I had to go all the way to Germany when it was banged out of a factory down the road. (Note, that’s one of those perspective remarks. Strictly speaking it would be hard to define Kent as being down the road from Wolverhampton but in contrast to Cottbus in Germany it would be).

So we know they’re made by a British company in Kent. What we don’t know is if they’re available here. I’ve sent off an inquiry to Marley about this to ask if they are available in the UK and I’ll post up their reply when I get it.

What’s on your botty?

I’d like if I may, to tell a little tale about the conscientious environmentally aware parent and their hunt for a more environmentally friendly method of poo disposal for their little one.

When Little Penguin came along I’ll be the first to admit that we as parents probably did exactly what the vast majority of parents do. It was a whiz around Mothercare for various items followed by the steady routine of purchasing the various paraphernalia of associated accessories that go along with the rearing of small persons in modern day Britain.

Part and parcel of these is the procurement of nappies. I’ll be the first to admit it was a straight choice between disposables and terry towels of which Mrs Penguin certainly didn’t fancy the prospect of the terry towel option so like millions of other parents it was off for some disposables. Sometimes Huggies, sometimes Pampers but there really isn’t a great deal of choice out there spare the few own-brand versions.

About 18 months down the line having contributed no end to our countries ever increasing landfill problems I by chance came across the the Real Nappies Campaign and I started a bit of a personal crusade. It wasn’t going to affect Little Penguin but were a Littler Penguin to come along then the desire was definitely there to do something different second time around.

When Littler Penguin popped out last month there really wasn’t much choice, being premature and relatively tiny there was only the option of those ‘size 0’ disposable nappies which worried me that we were going down the same path once again.

So a couple of weeks ago I took it upon myself to undertake a bit of a mission. Checked out the Real Nappy Campaign website for local stockists of reusable nappy solutions and headed off to Wolverhampton. The likely contenders listed were the obvious Mothercare, Boots and Waitrose.

First stop was Mothercare who do their own line in reusable nappies. It’s a complete system but having done a bit of totting up in my head the prices didn’t seem any more favourable than using disposables and much as I’d like to think it was purely an environmental concern at heart, I’d rather have preferred there to be a financial payoff as well. That said and this purely my own personal opinion, I didn’t much like the look of the Mothercare system either but it was all they had to offer.

So off I trundled to Boots who had nothing more than a couple of terry towels which wasn’t going to fly with the missus. Thinking that my last option was Waitrose and not being particularly up for a hike up the Penn Road I decided to get on the phone.

There are times in life when an internet enabled phone coupled with Google Search/Maps comes in very handy and this was one such time.

I spoke to a few of the other people listed on the Real Nappy Campaign site who mainly seemed to be home based suppliers but got some good advice, some of which was not to bother hiking to Waitrose. I talked a bit and finally came up with the kind of system I had in mind and was advised that the Bambino Mio range was probably my best option.

Sadly though no one knew a local outlet but going through the list I came across a store in Walsall called Kiddisave which for those with local knowledge is the place behind Woolworths with all the prams in the window.

Gave them a call and they had the Bambino Mio range in so off I toddled to Walsall very much to the annoyance of Mrs Penguin who I’d promised I’d only be out for an hour or so but t’was a trip worth making it was.

In the end I opted for one of the packs that contain three nappy outers, 12 cotton nappies and picked up a pack of the wraps and anti-bacterial washing stuff to boot. Cost about £50 all together which is a bit of a psychological barrier but when you consider the only part that needs buying again, the wraps, which are a fiver for 200. (the washing stuff will also need purchasing again but by the looks of it will last for a year).

The wraps also comprise the only disposable element of the system and are fully biodegradable and toilet flushable which is what we wanted.


So now we’re on to Bambino Mio’s which despite the name sounding decidedly Italian are actually a company from Northamptonshire so we can be equally content that we’re buying British as well. (to be precise the outers say made in the EU, and the wraps say ‘converted in the UK’ but to be fair, we don’t exactly grow much cotton in the UK so somewhere along the line something comes from afar but that’s good enough for me as it’s a UK based company that’s making the profit)

We’re not totally converted as of yet, it took a bit of learning and trial and error to get the folding and wrapping right and at nights we’ll still use some disposables for reasons that fellow parents will now but the principle is there and the bin is considerably less full on collection day than it was a few weeks ago.

If anything though, this little episode has taught me something. We’re using this kind of reusable system, not because there was a big fanfare of marketing aimed at us. Not because there was information about it in those packs that they give you at hospital when you’re going through the whole pregnancy thing (although there’s plenty of marketing in those packs for Pampers) but because out of pure bloody-mindedness it was something that we wanted to try. The problem is that to get to that point it took effort, research, asking around which I’m going to hazard a guess that most parents won’t be bothered with on the arrival of a little one as there’s far more important stuff to do.

When local authorities consider the cost of landfill tax then it would surely follow that they would have a strong vested interest in trying to make people aware of how they can use something other than disposables and it also figures that as at some point every parent has to visit said local authority to register the birth then some sort of information pack or even voucher scheme handed out at this point seems the most logical.

I’ll just add that yes, some local authorities do runs schemes along the lines of giving one-off payments of anything up to £70 on production of receipts for the purchase of reusable nappy systems. The only local one to these parts is Wolverhampton although we’ll see how long that lasts under the new Tory/LibDem alliance.

That climate change thing

Much as I normally like to write at length, particularly where scientific related matters are concerned and stick to the science and not rely on personal observation but this whole thing about the changing global climate.

I’m not sure if it’s indicative of the nature of the blogosphere or more to do with its primary inhabitants spending more time in front of computer screens in urban areas with little vegetation than getting outside and communing with nature that there seems to be a fair bit in the way of denying it.

I’m a keen gardener despite my rather limited estate but last year wasn’t exactly the most productive of growing seasons.

If there isn’t something rather dodgy going on with our climate then can someone tell me why my roses were still budding a week before Christmas and at present there are Autumn leaves blowing around on the drive?