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Sunday, 16 December 2018

Not the death of the high street - just a whole new way of shopping in person ( NOT just via the internet!! )

Overly wordy title …… in a period of transition of recession which a decade in is showing no real signs of letting up. The death of our high streets? Death of shopping rituals? Death of materialism? With the media highlighting reduced footfall in November shopping and lead up to end of the year etc. Is it the end of the High Street?

HIGHLY UNLIKELY: Our livelihoods as communities have been the post offices, congregating in pubs, meeting up in the shopping high street. The corner shops may be a thing of the past - yet many reclamation entities (be it council recycling centres, industry reclamation centres, or volunteer scavenger crews storing their finds in a safe place for you to visit!) can be a potential part of a 21st century High Street which embodies the circular economy.

The materialism in the western world of the 1970's (products creating false status) and 1980's (making something big out of very little') has spiked our 'waste productivity' with some partical improvement in 1990's and 2000's seeing some consumers demand a need for organic, Fair Trade and fair deal social responsibility products..... yet the waste mountains are still accruing big time!!!

The end point ………….

Waste Food   This is not just about 'I did a responsible thing putting my waste food in the caddy' - what if more composting could be done on an individual home basis? Creating 1000's of micro compost producing homes which could make very strong use of the end-product for local community planting projects, or adding more nutrient to your own garden or in-house plant pots. What if communities were the feeding point to local gardening shops to top up their compost/soil requirements as part of their procurement process?

Waste Textiles  The 'secret life of landfill' documentary where 1980's garments discarded to landfill look almost brand new (hence they will take a very long time to decompose!) Yet with clothing in contemporary 2010's having a 'shelf life' of barely 3 years before they degrade, become unwoven and quickly discarded …. still much must be done.

Waste White/Grey Goods Now many scarp dealers go around in vans looking for discarded fridges, tv's etc. which they'll recover - sell for parts, or recondition and sell as a whole. Much of this does challenge safety, challenge legalities, or licensing, or safe disposal/recovery protocol - yet if you are able to innovate an angle for improving longevity of products with minimal or zero breakdowns - this will sustain your products. Yet will it sustain industry? As they need customers to keep coming back - the sooner the better …. or is this forced economics that demand buy, buy, buy - not a more socially/environmental acceptable process of buy, use, make it last (forever?) !!!!

Employment: Can posts be created to support the most vulnerable? the homeless? the violated?

The starting point ……...

New economy / new sustained growth / new era of shopping? Many feel 'the young' do everything online, so they'll order 3 pairs of jeans from multiple purchase points - which means possibly 3 different delivery waggons bringing it to your front door - which after you try them on you will discard and return 2 pairs of the jeans. This is a significant amount of fuel/resource to ensure you got what you wanted - 'when back in the day' you'd go into town and have a look at what you wanted to purchase, try it on - do everything there & then in the shop!

Many High Street local shops may claim a reduced footfall compared to previous years and they believe the younger professional demographic is not supporting their businesses as say regular traditional families may have done.

Many shops are leading the way with ZERO packaging, ZERO delivery service, ZERO tolerance for wastage! The chicken and egg scenario plays here with who leads by example - industry/commerce - or the client/customer?

This is a transitional era of the 2020's and 2030's as many discard materialism for social status, yet purchase 'quietly' from strands that offer quality, longevity, ethical sourcing and guaranteed end disposal safety (i.e. zero waste). There is a still a long way to go though on innovating the perfect international formulae of buying/selling/use/disposal/circular economy.

Localisation is the focal point for now, the holistically developed (- or evolved) good practise is understood, categorised then reproduced on a larger nationwide, then international arena. So just focus on your own tiny area (be it village, town or city).

Totally clean procurement, raw extraction, processing, distribution, retail point, disposal life cycle of any product still has a long way to be genuinely zero carbon. Obviously we are a little way off of having electric lorries/trucks - yet they will be mainstream by the 2030's (particularly with pressure groups slowly winning with voicing air toxicity levels in city centres!) - what else can do to improve air quality directly in High Streets? More trees? more planters?

So? The 2020's, 2030's, 2040's are looming ….

What can you do?

Thursday, 8 November 2018

7 billion daily bowel movements - a significant threat to global health, peace and natural environment?

Many of us take for granted the use of a flushing toilet. As the World Toilet Organisation has expressed concern and attempting to mobilise higher standards in human sanitation and treating and making use of the waste more effectively.

Natural (or biological) technologies such as Reed Bed Technologies to clean water effluent is one format that modern cultures have looked at in recent decades. Compost Toilets can do significant good for many urban and rural environments which continually produces a compost/soil substitute source for private gardens, public green spaces, community gardens, allotments, small holdings all the way up to large scale agriculture. It may sound like an impossible logistics exercise - yet 7bn daily bowel movements if handled properly could provide a lot of necessary nutrients for our agricultural systems as well as our urban/rural green spaces.
The massive infrastructure our water services give us (waste water extraction, clean water delivery, rain water re-direction, flood abatement etc) and yet we still have a long way to go of having a zero emission system and zero waste produced so faeces that does not end up in parks or the beaches.
From low tech practise like Compost toilets to higher end technologies of Japanese toilets that wash your bottom for you - many of the solutions in themselves do use high energy embodied practises of manufacture, use and disposal.
Significant changes in attitudes and practises should be considered in both developed and developing countries. It is one thing that 'poor countries' aspire to practises of richer countries when the more affluent could be using more sustainable, locally sourced and dealt with faeces delivery/distribution processes which will be more low embodied in energy and resource use.

This very insightful video: 'The toilet: an unspoken history' BBC 2012 (which I would have renamed: "7 billion daily turds: can the planet deal with it?") The first half of this video deals with design & social evolution - the latter half is more hard hitting highlighting significant waste problems the world needs to deal with - and solutions are presented.

Now really is the time to give a s#@t about sitting on the thrown/spending a penny!
What can you do?

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Food – high tech & low tech ………. Can all be part of the solution – as we stop the acceleration of our demise ….

The proverbial and literal fires may have been really lit up on 7 BILLION people as the international scientific community believe we must all accelerate efforts to stop global warming.

The real issue is not lack of intelligence, or skills - its a capacity that overwhelms millions of individuals when they think/believe they can not do anything to improve given situations like global warming etc.

Best practise must be shared everywhere - a few billion more trees planted, a few trillion indigenous wildflowers/flora and fauna can be propagated within 24-36 months! Its just about mass un-coordinated voluntary efforts to make it all happen.

Food miles is one of many of the heaviest burdens internationally we suffer. All countries across your world have shown interest in local food growing. One recent example is In LA: Los Angeles (yes California) a pioneering group who have grown the majority of their own food in close proximity of the City of Angels.

Imagine 100,000 locations all over the world doing this? The immediate causal positive impact of reducing fuel/chemical/resource intense use producing less methane/CH4 …. then also adding a few billion baby trees whose teenage years in the 2030's will suck in peta-tonnes of Carbon dioxide CO2.

Every small step can mean so much. Connected communities can mean stronger, peaceful, crime deterring diverse communities of rich culture, sharing skills - sharing responsibility - sharing the international benefits.

This is YOUR time now - not to prove to 7 billion others - yet to prove to yourself your contribution is invaluable!!

What can you do?






Thursday, 24 May 2018

Water Butts – is it really a balance for floods and droughts?

Water Butts – is it really a balance for floods and droughts?

The worst thing about being human is also the best thing! We don’t react/act proactively until the proverbial shit hits the fan! Yes when it comes to fires, over the years we’ve built our communities to have sprinkler systems, quicker access via route planning for Fire Engines, materials that are more resilient to fires/heat damage etc.  Yet all too often we should try and make efforts to deal with problems before they start.

At present UK is having a dry spell with a lot of bright hot weather of direct sunlight bathing the countryside and urban areas of Britain. Within a fortnight our agricultural systems, small holdings, community gardens, back gardens etc. see the early signs of strain as water disappears quickly and we don’t have sufficient back up resources.
Water saving measures is something we often forget. Caught up in standard 70-80 hour weeks that many citizens face up to on a regular basis means our minds are stretched thin juggling multiple tasks, coupled in recent years in explosion in social media that stretches us that little bit more. We forget things, priorities jump queues and non-immediate threats slide down the triage …..
With hot perfect ideal spring & summers becoming potential droughts – it’s time we put some checks & balances into play. If it was mandatory in every city/major town that each household must have a water collection measures – be it;
·       Nature: Water Butts – for gardening, community gardens and expanded managed green spaces
·       Domestic/office: Rainwater collection for toilet flushing, showers etc.
·       Industry: mass retention points for cooling etc.
The opportunities are significant. During drought periods to have a few million litres in water butts ready to bail us out. It’s not really that hard considering that 1 million litres = assuming 150 litre water butt capacity = just over 6,600 water butts; just a few dozen extra Water Butts in every town & city will make a significant difference. What is London has to add in 10,000 new water butts – major fresh rain water resource to help us in the hot/dry season!!
Yet what about the opposite and it floods? Would all these empty water butts help absorb some of the heavy downpours which does hit UK at times. Yet if the 1 million Water Butts are half full at the time have they prematurely outlasted their usefulness? Where else can we put rainwater storage? On every level of high rises? Can City Farms LINK be centres of clean natural rainwater (harvested) resource? If a transport accident resulted in contamination hitting the river eco-system; would 1,000,000 Water Butts who are directed to flush into the river system help dilute the contaminated river? This blog is not presenting solutions – rather inviting you to think about the logistics of rainwater harvesting, when to store, when to use, when to utilise in emergency etc.
When it comes to flooding a more comprehensive approach should be recommended (not just artificial basic mechanisms to capture/hold the rainwater). The excellent Transition Chepstow LINK (part of Transition Town Network) LINK have added in trees to areas renowned for high flooding (and commuter disruption with it) which has helped significantly reduce the pooling/flooding areas due to the hundreds of extra trees grown by the Transition Chepstow volunteers – which has obviously resulted in absorbing excesses of localised rainwater and reduced the significant level of local flooding.
COSTS: always the thing we don’t want to hear! Yet how can you on a basic and very localised start get your rainwater collection initiative started? Recovery of used/discarded Water Butts may be one format forward – be it looking at business junkyards or council skips/recycling centres, using Freecycle LINK, asking amongst your own community if they are imminently about to thrown any water butts out if you can freely recover them?
It all starts with small steps. You may be surprised in your own locale at how many people would wish to get involved in such a project. Its up to you to reach out and find everyone.
Is smart-micro-water-grid and analogy or reflective of an electricity-micro/smart-grid? Can the two work in tandem together – or as a three with heat-smart-grid, or local-food-smart-grid? Is this all the cusp of something bigger to come which we all need to initiate in our own areas ……?
What can you do?

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Ready to give up? When something can be made from nothing !! Keep talking, writing, blogging, tweeting ..... sharing!

Too many times we get wrapped up, side-lined and deferred by life. Who would have thought producing 500 words a month as a simple blog would be such a challenge? 24 months has passed since the 'volunteer burn out' entry was produced in January 2016 - and 2018 begins in a few short days ..... A lot can happen in 30 days (as politicians will say "a week in politics is a long time!") yet in 24 months significance rebuilding has been undertaken by Davius and it's ongoing very long term projects from 25 years ago to present ..... the progress is excruciatingly slow - yet when progress is not reported; many assume things are dead - when they are in fact potentially thriving on a micro level.
Would Big Data models of reporting in a few decades be able to show the real in-depth vast dynamics of just one community of 500 - 5000 people? Is reporting in the current day effective in really getting an absolute factful and true account (don't those two cancel each other out?) of what is really transpiring in a given social phenomenon or entity?
This insignificant tiny blog writer has failed the few people who read these blogs by not being consistent with them - as when blogs started in 2011 at least half a dozen were put a year then .....  now what? 1 in 24 months? How did this happen ....? No discipline to allocate 1 hour a month to blog-it-up? Is there any point blogging? Is it supporting the local and global reinforcement that we wish to tackle the massive global challenges of abuse-of-power, wars, trafficking, disclosure, global warming etc - or is blogging about selfish self-promotion - in itself a self-destructive process?
The only thing that can be reaffirmed is that you are NOT alone. What positive 'small thing' you do will have some positive causal impact if you talk to your neighbours, build local relationships and engage with your community; be it families, faith groups, local businesses, local voluntary bodies etc. you will be inspired by the fact that many of them will wish to collaborate - or at least share in the information/news/updates about what is happening in your area! People will continue your efforts from vast distances away from where you originally began the process.
This has been achieved - in districts that are wrongly perceived to be ghetto's - when in fact where individuals have made the effort to go out and find everyone, give them information (like contacts local police, councillor, or health entities - or invitations from community, libraries, voluntary tasks) then build it up into a regular newsletter (hard copy as many are not digitally proficient or have internet access), support the formation of sub groups that can all tackle individual problems in local waste, planning, noise, anti-social activity ..... believe if people are armed with the process to deal with local issues - they can all be empowered to do something about the local problems and create a connected, socially stronger and safer community !! If you believe in the process - you can mobilise a district, encourage everyone to work together - as long as it is done for the spirit of the community; not your own selfish agenda as people will figure it out in the end !!
The immediate challenges we face all have always been at crisis point (global warming, the harvestable soil disappearing in the mid to late 21st Century, starvation, homelessness, crime and anti-social behaviour) - yet quickly forgotten by our immediate problems (all spun from a warped economic model, sense of vacuous appearance focused on vanity not real health, a manipulated media system, aspirations facilitated by social mobility which encourages only falseness, pretentious and snobbery) which has only caused more social decline than social progress. To this it should be encouraged that we actively keep reaching out to each other - communally, locally, globally ... and beyond. 
We are all held to account - not by a legal system, Government or council guidelines - yet by our peers - be it community; our friends & families, our neighbours ... the ones that should be there to keep us in check, help us reflect, aspire and ensure we are objectively and fairly moving forward together! 

Friday, 29 January 2016

When volunteer burn out culls many prospective strong sustainability initiatives!

This is not a blame game, although if irrational minds could turn to such activities when people set on each other. With support that Davius has put behind recent voluntary groups it was saddening to find a lot of initial links from only 12-18 months ago have all dissolved.

Why? People being ignorant? Far from it – the reason a lot of links amongst groups have dissolved is due to many voluntary entities have sadly dissolved after real efforts in the early days. For many – the local entities were set up by just one person, and over several years were maintained by people flying solo. They may have been cheered on by their community – yet trying to get support off the community with volunteer contribution being next to zero.

This is not an attack; rather a reflection with hundreds of thousands of families stretched to their limits the last ten years, very few can contribute towards local positive initiatives due to lack of time etc. So regrettably a lot of sustainability/community initiatives are set up by just one person. Invariably after a few years many good people across UK give up on their projects. This is a real tragedy as some of their projects could have really taken us in a new direction. No names – you can find out who they were in your own locale.

For group collaborations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, AECB local groups, Transition Town groups, Community Food/growing Markets, Community Renewable, Housing Community Projects just to name a few – it is very hard to maintain core group structures as responsibilities have to be maintained upon collapsing numbers.

So how to improve this situation? How will make the sacrifice when so many in this era are so stretched already? What is the magical solution to improve so many voluntary or community entities?

Is there a magic administration software package that can stream line the process? With legal frameworks, constitutions, reminder prompts of meetings – or will this not work in the real world where we all have responsibilities, setbacks and unpredictable events that sway us.

The only thing we can all do is persist …. If you have a good idea for human innovation, community process and/or environmental regeneration – keep at it. You may have the saving grace that helps the whole country start moving.

However – a warning from the experienced ones from multiple voluntary initiatives …. A little power for just one entity within the voluntary group can break the natural progress and overall group dynamic.

You have been warned ….

All that said and done – on a positive …. What can you do?

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A new economy?

As UK goes through a continuous periods of austerity throughout the remainder of this decade, and the remainder of the plant has their own practices to deal with their ongoing recession. Even when economies were ‘good’ many Governments still ran up huge national debts …. How can these ever be minimised? If ever? Can you really affect your government? Or is it more feasible and realistic to focus upon your locale?

What can we really do to improve the economy in your local area? Realistically you cannot change something – like a disaster on the other side of the planet. Yet you can affect your own locale for the better – and contribute ideas to how things should be undertaken.

Communities want to be stronger. Too many times in our isolated world where you only know the immediate neighbours on your street and not those ten doors down. This does create some element of disillution where people think they live in challenging areas, ghetto’s or disconnected communities – yet if you reach out and start finding out who your neighbours are? What they think of locale? What would they like to see improved in the area? You can all begin working on a community plan.

Yet how to empower that community? What realistically can you do in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? 25 years? Could your community be a lifeline that begins creating your pension? A savings plan for the children and grandchildren? With so many people working into their 70’s and 80’s in this day – many people are keen to be better involved in their community. Employment and community initiatives enhance local links for many who feel somewhat disconnected.

What do we need?

Water, food, shelter, sex – the basics. If our local economy provided housing, food, energy and other basic needs (local social good links so that people can actually meet each other) then perhaps our communities would be genuinely stronger.

On the energy front the UK is finally beginning to embrace ‘community owned energy’ (even though some trail blazers started this in UK decades ago and suffered the wrath of backward and archaic systems in life which were long overdue for an overhaul.) and this is something that could really develop local benefits as funds from PV, wind, micro-hydro, CHP, anaerobic generation could really help your locale.

Same goes for housing co-operatives to infuse a much needed demand for real skills in UK (which the skills deficit is heavily cited by many industries – yet we seem to act too little too late to address the skills deficit challenge.) with building, carpentry, electricians, engineers, plumbers, manufacturing, processing etc.

Possibly more importantly than above two is food production. In the face of the recent years flooding problems many have suffered in UK, farms under water etc. we should focus on micro-growing as well as large scale agricultural production (with lesser impacts) and look to creating a new industry of soil integrity support mechanisms.

What do we want?

NO we are not chanting – what do we want? When do we want it? Too much (materialistic demand it would seem) – hence we are in such real trouble with backlash of economic yo-yoing, flooding/droughts, wars etc. etc.

Generally we only react when disaster strikes (a totally normal human trait!) yet what we need is consistency of good practice (and not wait until it’s too late) to address food production, community production, manufacturing, flood/drought reduction, energy black outs, peak oil.


You’ll all have your opinion on the outcome of COP21 in Paris …. Where do we go from here? Less reliance on technological innovation – more reliance on human innovation.

What can you do?