Oslo, Norway, is giving residents $1200 toward purchasing an electric cargo bike

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One way to move toward a cleaner, greener city is through offering citizens financial incentives to get out of their cars and onto two wheels.

Getting around on a bicycle can be an excellent way to clean up our daily commutes and errand runs, but sometimes you need a little bit of a boost, which is where electric bikes come in. And sometimes you need a little more space to haul groceries and gear with you, which is where cargo bikes come in. Combine the two, and you've got an efficient and fun way to not only get from point A to point B, but to also get the shopping home in a single trip without having to stack boxes and bags on your rear rack until you're wobbling your way precariously down the road (been there, done that).

The capital of Norway, Oslo, is looking to get more of its citizens out of their cars and onto bikes, and more specifically, onto a set of wheels that is made to haul more than just a single person, in the form of grants covering part of the cost of an electric cargo bike. Last year, the city council offered residents a financial incentive toward buying an electric bike, up to 20% of the purchase price of an e-bike, capped at 5000 kroner (about $600). Now that effort has been extended a bit into an electric cargo bike grant program, which will cover part of the cost of purchase of one of these electric workhorses.

Read more here.

Caffé Nero reports coffee-waste-to-biofuel success, plans expansion

Italian-style coffee shop chain Caffé Nero is looking to extend an innovative coffee-to-biofuel recycling scheme beyond greater London after a successful partnership with recycling company First Mile and technology firm Bio-Bean.

First Mile's chief commercial officer Joe Allen (left) and Caffè Nero's commercial director Matt Spencer (right) are pleased by the success of the ongoing partnership

Nero expects to have converted 218 tonnes of used coffee grounds into 98 tonnes of biomass pellets – enough fuel to power the equivalent of 453 homes – when the retailer reaches the first annual milestone of its partnership with First mile and Bio-Bean in July.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our recycling so we are very excited to be working with First Mile and Bio Bean on this initiative and will seek to extend it beyond Greater London,” said Caffè Nero’s commercial director Matt Spencer.

The ongoing agreement sees First Mile provide Caffè Nero with special recycling sacks for used coffee grounds. These sacks are collected by First Mile every evening and passed onto Bio-Bean for processing into advanced biofuels.

First Mile’s chief commercial officer Joe Allen said: “This service marks another step in our ambition to create a world where you can recycle everything. Waste coffee grounds would previously go to incineration or landfill, and it is fantastic to see Caffè Nero embrace this new initiative and start recycling a significant amount of waste coffee. We look forward to supporting a wider roll-out and working with Caffè Nero on other recycling challenges.”

Caffé Nero reports that London-based Bio-Bean is also now exploring the opportunity to refine the oils within the coffee grounds into bio-diesel for use in vehicles. One tonne of waste coffee grounds creates 245 litres of bio-diesel and Caffè Nero claims that its current annual recycled coffee waste levels would be enough to fuel a complete circle of the M25 3,689 times.

Fellow coffee shop chain Costa Coffee announced the launch of a new partnership with Bio-Bean at the end of 2016, which will see 3,000 tonnes of Costa's waste coffee grounds converted into biofuel.

Closed-loop coffee

Caffé Nero’s coffee-to-biofuel recycling scheme forms part of a company-wide push towards a circular economy after the retailer was singled out by celebrity chef-turned environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his Hugh’s War on Waste TV programme last year.

Nero was recently involved with the #1MoreShot social experiment campaign, which saw 11 giant coffee cup bins placed in Manchester to solely collect paper coffee cups. The retailer has also trained its back-of-house teams to sort through waste before it is handed over for collection, to maximise efficiencies. This behaviour change scheme alone has resulted in over 154,000kg of cardboard and more than a million kilograms of mixed recycling being recovered in London since July 2016.

The group has also been expanding on its broader CSR strategy. Last year, edie reported that Nero was building on its work with the Rainforest Alliance to “move beyond certification” and train-up coffee farmers across South America, having launched a farming community support initiative in Nicaragua in 2015.

Source.

Ikea Releases Open Source Designs For A Garden Sphere That Feeds A Whole Neighborhood

It doesn’t even require nails.

If you’ve already constructed Ikea desks and chairs, then it’s time to take your skills to the next level.

This week Space10, Ikea’s lab for futuristic, solutions-oriented designs, released open source plans for The Growroom, a large, multi-tiered spherical garden designed to sustainably grow enough food for an entire neighborhood. Hoping to help spur local growing and sourcing, Space10 made the plans available for free on Thursday.

All it takes to complete the 17-step, architect-designed DIY garden of your dreams is plywood, a visit to your local community workshop, rubber hammers, metal screws and some patience:

Though it’s intended mainly for use as a neighborhood garden in cities, you could also build a Growroom for your own backyard, a spokesman told HuffPost.

Read more here.

Are we in the final stages of capitalism?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

karl-marxThe final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania of short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host.

If all those indicators are something to go by then we are in the last, the final, stages of capitalism as an economic (and political) system. The only worry is that the monster, this dragon, in its death-throes will take many people with it into the abyss. And it will not be the elite, the rich and powerful, unless we do something, but the working class and the poor that will be its victims.

The indicators certainly are all there, and there can absolutely be no denying that, and this includes the destruction of the ecosystem as much as that of everything what makes a society.

When we look at the UK every aspect of what once was, we have to say now, a public service, or at least almost every aspect and everything, is now being privatized our outsourced to private operators.

The postal and telecommunications, water and other utilities, transportation (still called public transport) – all buses, trains and trams – and now they are aiming to sell off the National Health Service in Britain. Capitalism, in its final hour, so to speak, is destroying the state and everything that goes with it, and with it society as we know it.

In its death throes capitalism will also turn into fascism and destroy even the very pretense of liberty. We can very well see that presently in Europe with the European Union (EU) where politicians and others openly talk about democracy being in the way of what they want to achieve and also and especially no longer want to see democracy as a government by the people. They want an elite that rules, without the people getting a looking in. In other words a return to, though a modern version of it, feudalism. Feudalism, on the other hand, is nothing different than fascism.

Fascism is not something that was invented invented by the National-Socialist Party of Germany, that is to say Hitler and his ilk, nor by Mussolini or Franco. It is much older though it may not have been called thus. The authoritarian form of government by emperors, kings, queens and what-have-you, that is to say feudalism, all was and is a form of fascism, as is any other authoritarian and oppressive form of government that predominately benefits one person or a group, whether political or ethnic, or which oppresses other or another ethnicity simply because of ethnicity. Thus, for example, the Zionist state is a fascist state. But I digressed by way of explanation.

In Germany it is always claimed – and that is not the only country that claims such a system – that they have a social free market economy and democracy. But the truth is a totally different one. What Germany has, and in fact all of the so-called free market economies have, is an antisocial dictatorship of capital, of corporations. The free market capitalist economy, we can also call it simply capitalism, is a dictatorship of the corporation and the investors over the masses and nothing else but fascism.

Everything, almost everywhere, is being privatized; health and social care, infrastructure and utilities, public transportation, etc. The services that should be run for the benefit of the population are being turned into profit-making enterprises to fill the pockets of CEOs and shareholders.

Marx' prophesies are on the road to fulfilling itself. The host, as he called it, is being destroyed. The worrying thing, however, is that, instead of heading towards true socialism as the stepping stone to communism we seems to be headed in another direction of a system akin to that of the so-called Third Reich, a pseudo-socialism of the kind that a particular little corporal from Austria and his ilk were preaching.

The growing army of unemployed and homeless are also a sign of what is going on. Some of it, probably, even deliberate to remove – physically – a certain strata of the population in the capitalist countries.

Valueless and useless (useless in the capitalist sense) life has to be eliminated. He who does not work also shall not eat! That were the words of a German government politician only in 2016. workers are no longer needs in such great numbers and thus they have become superfluous and one wants to reduce the population anyway. However, the creation of concentration camps and labor camps they do not dare to consider openly as yet. But death can be made invisible by simple leaving people to starve or freeze to death and thus weather conditions and such can be blamed for their death, not, however, so seems to be the reckoning, the governments. Thus they cannot be held responsible for this and be prosecuted.

Without a lot of money have people have no (political) power and this entire system needs to be turned inside out and replaced. We don't need new governments of a lesser of the two – or how ever many – evils but we need an entire new system and that will not come out of the capitalist one, and also not by giving capitalism a social face, as the social-democrats like to say.

It was the social-democrats, whether the SPD ine Germany or the Labour Party in Britain, and similar parties in other countries, that have betrayed the working class everywhere and sold them down the proverbial Swanee.

But, as Marx predicted, the capitalist system is now in its death throes but is destroying everything with it while it is fighting tooth and nail not to die. Every piece of infrastructure, every public service, including health care, social services, public transportation and utilities, is being sold off to stave off this inevitable death. The capitalist and neoliberal elite are even prepared to start another world war in an attempt to stop that which is already in a coma from dying.

And what does the working class do? Its members are being misled to fight the wrong battles or sit at home being entertained with bread and circuses, by means of the god in the living room, and other rooms in the house and even on their cellphones. No one is going to do it for us and the politicians that want us to vote for them in the elections won't do it either. To bring about the change that must be brought about the working class has to get off its backside and get active. The ways and means may vary but by itself it is not going to happen. The rich, the elite, and those politicians, will never permit their money and power to be voted away in election. It is not going to happen.

Capitalism (as we know it) may be dying and already be in a coma, but definitely in its last throes, but unless we take control of our destiny the outcome may be worse than what we have now. A real system change, as we must work for and achieve, a true revolution, will never be brought about by the ballot box, never. They will never allow it.

© 2017

The Compost King of New York

What happens to food scraps after the city takes them? Soon a large fraction will wind up on Long Island, where Charles Vigliotti hopes to turn them into profit.

On an overcast winter morning, Charles Vigliotti, chief executive of American Organic Energy, drove me to his 62-acre lot in rural Yaphank, N.Y., 60 miles east of Manhattan, to show me his vision of the future of alternative energy. He snaked his company Jeep around tall piles of wood chips, sandy loam and dead leaves. Then, with a sudden turn, we shot up the side of a 30-foot bluff of soil. At the top, we gazed down upon those many piles and breathed in the mildly sulfurous exhalations of a nearby dump. Vigliotti radiated enthusiasm. Within the next several months, he expected to break ground — “right there,” he said, thrusting his index finger toward a two-acre clearing — on a massive $50 million anaerobic digester, a high-tech plant that would transform into clean energy a rich reserve that until recently has gone largely untapped: food waste.

This resource, Vigliotti knew, had a lot going for it. Like oil and coal, kitchen scraps can be converted into energy. But unlike oil and coal, which are expensive to dig out of the ground, food waste is something that cities will actually pay someone to haul away. Many innovative municipalities, in an effort to keep organic material out of dumps — where it generates methane, a greenhouse gas — already separate food from garbage and send it to old-fashioned compost facilities. There, workers pile the waste in linear heaps called windrows, mix it with leaves and grass clippings and let oxygen-dependent microbes transform the gunk into lovely dark fertilizer. But the more material you compost, the more space (and gas-guzzling bulldozers and windrow turners) you need to process it. It can get a little smelly, too, which is yet another reason New York City, which generates about one million tons of organic waste a year, will probably never host giant compost farms.

Read more here.

Ein Hektar Sibirien für alle

Es ist Russlands neue Bodenreform: Seit dem 1. Februar kann sich jeder Russe einen Hektar Land zur eigenen Nutzung im äußersten Osten des Landes sichern. Die Grundstücke lassen sich online markieren, sie werden vom Staat kostenlos überlassen und können später auch privatisiert werden. Was verspricht sich die russische Regierung davon?

Darf es ein Grundstück auf Kam­tschatka sein, mit Blick auf einen Vulkan? Oder ist doch das Ufer des Pazifischen Ozeans vorzuziehen? Jaku­tien, wo sich die kältesten Orte der Welt befinden, soll auch sehr schöne Flecken haben. Man wird ja wohl noch träumen dürfen.

Beim Träumen muss es seit dem 1. Februar dann auch nicht bleiben. Denn jetzt kann sich jeder Russe –Ausländer sind leider ausgeschlossen – per Internet und völlig kostenlos einen Hektar Land in Sibirien reservieren, genauer gesagt in den neun östlichsten Provinzen Russlands, die den fernöstlichen Föderalbezirk bilden. Dabei handelt es sich um ein Regierungsprogramm, das dem Bevölkerungsschwund in diesen entlegenen Gegenden entgegenwirken und eine Art „Gegenverkehr“ für die Abwanderung erzeugen will. Spätestens bis 2020 sollen sich die beiden Ströme mindestens neutralisieren. Jurij Trutnew, Russlands Beauftragter für den Fernen Osten, hofft darauf, dass es schon 2018 so weit ist, wie er zuletzt der „Rossijskaja Gaseta“ sagte.

Der Ferne Osten macht mehr als ein Drittel der russischen Landmasse aus, stellt aber nur fünf Prozent der Bevölkerung (6,3 Millionen). Alle Regionen haben seit dem Ende der Sowjetunion massiv an Einwohnern verloren, Tschukotka an der Beringstraße sogar zwei Drittel.

Hier weiterlesen.

Man Single-handedly Repopulated Butterfly Species in a City Using His Backyard

Pipevine Swallotail Butterflies-Tim Wong

Tim Wong may work as an aquatic biologist during the day, but when he is back on terra firma he tends to other wildlife: raising endangered butterflies in his backyard.

Studying butterflies had been a childhood hobby of Wong’s, so creating a backyard conservation area wasn’t a life-changing metamorphosis for him—but it certainly was for this species, which had vanished from the San Francisco skyline.

When he first learned of the predicament of the pipevine swallowtail, the 28-year-old swooped in to help by creating a screened backyard enclosure with ideal environmental conditions for the insect.

He filled it with specific plants that the insects like to feed on. Then, he gathered a group of 20 different pipevine swallowtail caterpillars from nearby areas. As he carefully nursed the small tribe of precious insects, their numbers began to quickly multiply.

Read more here.

Garden Press Event 2017

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Thursday, February 16, 2017 saw the 11th Garden Press Event at the Barbarian Two Exhibition Halls in the City of London.

Elho_Tote1_webAccording to what I have heard the show attracted the registration of about 50% more journalists in the field compared to last year. This, to me at least, shows that the interest in all things gardening is still growing, and which also should me the interest in gardening in general, and that, hopefully keeps including grow your own, as in growing food. A good thing, surely.

Quite a few new interesting products were on show and here also and especially from old well-known companies, but there too were new ones present with new innovations.

Gardena: This German company was represented again, like last year, though with some new products as well. One of those that caught my eye and interest is their City Gardening range, especially here the Balcony Box, designed for the small urban garden, on the terrace or on the balcony. Many people in a urban setting do want to grow things – also by way of food, even if it is but a small amount – on their patios, terraces, balconies and in window boxes and the larger trowels, weeders, and what have you, are generally way too big to be used in such an environment. Thus the Balcony Box will definitely fill a gab in the market.

Wilkinson Sword has decided that green is the new black in that its carbon steel gardening tool have gone green, as in color green. This is as much an answer to the fact that people want a little color on their tools as well as an additional protection of the steel of the tools.

Kent & Stowe is including a children's gardening range to its gardening tools with proper forged tools suitable for little people, younger than the usual late elementary school age to which other children's gardening tools seem to be aimed, and those tools are, it would appear, to be of the same quality as their adult tools, with the same kind of proper wooden handles and stainless steel working bits. Those children's tools, especially here the trowel and the hand fork, will also lend themselves well for use by the urban gardener who uses containers and works in small spaces.

Elho was showing their latest additions to their range and a lot of nice things they are. As far as I am concerned the tote bag that was given out to journalists as gift should also become part of their range of products, in a number of different sizes. A slightly smaller version (in szie) would make for a great tool carrier for the home gardener. The tote itself, in the size that it is, however, lends itself equally well for use in gardening – a different kind of trug, so to speak – as for going shopping, now that the plastic carrier bags have become more or less a no-no.

It was also interesting to meet Charles Dowding of the No Dig method of gardening and author of many books at the show where he was, among other things, promoting his latest book, the Vegetable Garden Diary (of which more in a review later) and the upcoming one, written together with his partner, Stephanie Hafferty, “No Dig Organic Home & Garden”, to be published in May 2017.

Burgon & Ball also has brought out a couple of new products to their range including the hib-trug which comes in two different sizes; one more for dead heading of flowers and the bigger version for harvesting clipping onto belt or into the waistband of the trousers allowing both hands to be kept free for working (review to follow).

In closing I would like to thank the organizers of the Garden Press Event for another great one and the members of the sales and PR teams of the various companies for their time and attention.

© 2017

Plastic 'nurdles' found littering UK beaches

Nurdles on a beach

A search of 279 beaches around the UK has found that almost three-quarters of them were littered with tiny plastic "nurdles".

Volunteers signed up to search their local shoreline, ranging between Shetland and the Scilly Isles, for the lentil-sized pellets, used as a raw material to make plastic products.

They can cause damage to such wildlife as birds and fish, which eat them.

The findings will be reflected in a government study into microplastics.

What's the problem?

Campaigners estimate that up to 53 billion of the tiny pellets escape into the UK's environment each year.

This happens during the manufacture, transport or use of plastic products.

The nurdles are often spilt accidentally into rivers and oceans or fall into drains where they are washed out to sea.

Experts warn nurdles can soak up chemical pollutants from their surroundings and then release toxins into the animals that eat them.

Read more here.

Obst- und Gemüsebeutel selber nähen

Obst- und Gemüsebeutel selber nähen: Beutel mit Obst

Im Supermarkt liegen kleine Plastiktüten für Obst- und Gemüse bereit, das ist praktisch aber nicht umweltfreundlich. Besser ist es, einen wiederverwendbaren Beutel zu nutzen und darin Tomaten, Champignons oder Nüsse abzufüllen. Diese Beutel musst du nicht kaufen, sondern kannst sie ganz einfach selber machen.

Sicherlich bist du schon über die nützlichen kleinen Beutel gestolpert, welche Plastiktüten für Obst und Gemüse im Supermarkt überflüssig machen: Aus dünnem Material, klein, faltbar und waschbar sind sie eine tolle und vor allem nachhaltige Alternative zu den Plastiktütchen aus dem Supermarkt.

Solche wiederverwendbaren Beutel brauchst du nicht zu kaufen, hier erfährst du, wie du sie ganz einfach selbst nähen kannst: Aus Materialien, die du bestimmt schon zuhause hast! Ob mit oder ohne Nähmaschine – dein Beutel ist im Handumdrehen fertig. Näh doch gleich mehrere Obst- und Gemüsebeutel, entweder für den eigenen Großeinkauf oder zum Verschenken: Gemeinsam Verpackungsmüll vermeiden macht noch mehr Spaß.

Hier weiterlesen.