Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oops... and a look forward to Christmas

Ok, well I have procrastinated enough, but finally have to come clean, I didn't make it to the tree planting. A mix up in planning (I hadn't planned to drink all that rum) meant that I forgot to set my alarm clock and was generally in too much of a weakened state to find the place. I did try to cycle up there and find everyone though but at the end of the day, VERY POOR!!

So instead of lots of lovely pictures of people planting trees it is all just text again. (I could post a picture of me looking befuddled and sorrowful...)

However, it did sound like the day was a great success, so well done to all those that were a lot better than me!

Now, onto Christmas... tricky one this, Christmas must be a nightmare for all the proper environmentalists. I tend to reconcile myself with the payoff that, yes, ok it does have 14 tons of plastic packaging, has been made in sweat shops somewhere poor and horrible and has been flown half way round the world to get here, BUT AREN'T THE FLASHY LIGHTS AND GO FASTER STRIPES COOL!!!!

Not this year though. This year I shall be thinking about recycling and more importantly PREcycling.

More soon, but there is an interesting article about precycling here:

Any thoughts and tips on how to make this Christmas as environmatally friendly as possible, please let me know...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trees Company

Its finally here, the first, I hope, of many environmentally themed events we can do to hopefully make things a bit better! You didn't think this was just going to be about reading my strange antics did you?

On Sunday 23rd November a group of people are going to be planting trees in the Forêt de Soignes here in Brussels.

The plan is to try and plant as many as 1500 new trees in the forest so let me know if you are interested and I will sign you up.

Thinking about this, I can see mostly positive things, we are helping the forest, the planet and all that stuff.

The downside is that it is early Sunday morning, likely to be cold and muddy, but that shouldn't put you off!

Details about the event are below:
What is the event?
The organisation, Natuurgroepering Zoniënwoud vzw, takes care of the Forêt de Soignes (Sonian Forest) and provides guide services to those wishing to learn more or contribute to the growth of the forest. The Forêt de Soignes is the largest wooded area in Flanders and Brabant. This forest conveys an image full of impressive trees but regeneration is absolutely necessary as most of these trees are very old. This is where we can help.

EFQM would like to organise a casual and fun event to bring together a group of people for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning to plant trees in the forest. The guide service will work with us to teach us how to plant trees. By the end of a few short hours, we hope to contribute 1500 trees to the Forest. (Yes, this is possible!)

EFQM will also make a financial contribution to the Natuurgroepering Zoniënwoud ( for their guide service.

Because this is a weekend, we can make this a fun event where we can all meet – but also, we can include our family – partners and children of any age. We would also like to extend this event to those friends of EFQM – those who have worked with us in the past. Also – we plan to mention this to members who are nearby in the hope that they can join us. Our goal is to bring together at least 45 people from EFQM for this day. If you can think of anyone we should invite, please let us know.

Details of the Day
The Forest service will provide a main guide, Dirk Raes, and two others to help us throughout the morning. Their preparation includes gathering the trees to be planted, clearing the area and digging the holes – all completed before we arrive.

We will meet at 9:30 a.m. at a parking area reserved for EFQM where we can begin with fruit juice and pastries. Dirk will introduce himself to us and guide us toward the clearing. We will begin with an ‘inauguration’ of the space and then we will plant trees. Children can participate too and are encouraged at any age (and they get to put their name on a label that will be hung on ‘their’ tree). The space will then be marked with an EFQM sign that will last about 5 years in the space. Each participant will receive a certificate.

All in all, the day begins about 9:30am and will end about 1pm – so just a few short hours to contribute to the forest.

In the case of extreme weather conditions, the event will be cancelled. You will need to wear boots and gloves.

So let me know if you fancy coming and I will sign you up! Hope to see you there!!!

I shall spend the rest of the week thinking about treemendous puns, hopefully this will branch out and we can do even more. So please, get involved and don't just leaf it to me!

To sign up, leave your details on the comments page or e-mail me at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where have I been?

Sorry folks, not been online much this week.

I have something BIG planned for a couple of weeks time though... More details soon. All you need to know is it involves getting dirty and will be happening on Sunday 23rd November at 09:30hrs.

Sadly it is not my suggested mud wrestling event.

In the meantime, send me your thoughts, experiences and ideas for future challenges please. I only know so much about all this so I need YOUR help. Actually a lot of people tell me that I need help.

Oh, and as a sideline, check out for info about something else I am doing this month.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Eat a belgian!

Picture this! I have actually been MAD busy for the whole of last week and most of this one so far.

Actually today was particularly stressful as I had to delver a training course. Easy peasy I hear you say, however, it turned out that the course was booked in French... I don't speak French...

So through the few words I remember from school, some interpretive dance and mime I think the class got what they expected... A headache probably.

What I have noticed though is travelling is a real killer when you are trying to keep to these challenges, but it is doable... just.

I failed miserably on the plastic bottles though so I shall self flagellate with the carrier bags I accidentally had to use on Monday whie trying to be OH SO VERY GOOD buying organic local produce.

Now, on to the challenges. I REALLY need your suggestions. But for this week I want us to think about food miles.

I have been amazed to noticed the carbon footprint of my (often veggie) dinners. Chillis from thailand, limes from brazil and all manner of weird and wonderful places. Even fair trade food is no good as those bananas didn't walk here. Or did they? I read somewhere that some trees can walk. But it may have been in Lord of the Rings so it may or may not be true.

Anyway, this brings me to the challenge. EAT BELGIANS! Or at least as much as possible, eat their food.

When I say this, I don't mean nicking someones chips, but try to buy local produce. Organic even better...

Now I have been thinking about these challenges too. Is anyone doing them? Should we make it a monthly challenge from now on and collect experiences (please leave me comments, I get so terribly lonely when I am away from home!) or shall we try to keep it weekly for now until I am perfect and have a long life, low carbon emmission glow (BLAME GLOBAL WARMAL ON READY BREK!)

Anyway, let me know how you get on and what you think. I am back to the grindstone here. I will be forced to sit through 90 minutes of Chelsea vs Roma in a pub drinkng LOCAL beer (the water is from France so can't fail the challenge quite yet)

All the best

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bottle up and Explode...

Gosh, is it tuesday already? Doesn't time fly when you are saving the planet*

*if saving the planets means spending the weekend in the sunshine supping far too many bottles of red wine!

Well, come on then, how are you all doing? Are any of these changes sticking yet? I'm genuinely enjoying the veggie bit and although I have had to use a couple of plastic bags, for the most part it is now second nature to take a bag out with me whenever I go shopping. Although if they have good cheap meats I always buy far too much. Sarah tries to ban me, but I can't resist a bargain. Our freezer is now full of half price kangeroos and various bits of animal all put aside for the summer barbeque that somehow never happened (all that rain... climate change? Or just Belgium???)

This week we are upping the steaks a bit! Steaks? oops, I meant stakes. This meat deprivation comes out in many forms...

Ok, so what are we going to do, well it is a simple challenge, STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER!!! There are these shiny things in the kitchen called taps where you can get all the water you need. Of course at a later date we'll need to have a look at how we save that, but for now, here are some facts about the bottled water industry you may find surprising:

Americans consume about 29 billion water bottles a year. In order to make all these bottles, manufacturers use 17 million barrels of crude oil. That’s enough oil to keep a million cars going for twelve months.

Worldwide, 2.7 million tonnes of plastic is used every year by the bottled water industry. And not many bottles are recycled - perhaps 20% in USA, 10% in UK. The rest go to landfills or incineration ... or are just thrown away in the countryside or in the ocean.

Around a quarter of the 90 billion litres of bottled water drunk each year is consumed outside the country of origin. It is flown and shipped around the world, from France, Italy and Norway at best, from Japan and Fiji at worst, creating millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Pretty amazing eh!

So good luck with the challenge. Keep me posted on how you are getting on...

All the best!

Ok: I will give one of Sarah's ecofriendly washing machine balls to the first person to recognise the song title of this post... I want the artist and the album it is on. No googling!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Challenge Ideas

Please send me your thoughts and ideas for future environmental challenges and any info you have as to why we should do them.

Also, do the survey on and let me know what your carbon footprint is like.

Veggie week - updates

Hello folks,

So how did you get on last week?

I quite enjoyed it actually, had roasted beetroot which was nice, and lost 2kgs as well. Saying that, it was great eating a mountain of sausages yesterday.

So plus points from last week:
- I actually like vegetables although avocado, swede, sweetcorn and mushrooms are horrible and should be illegal.
- Quorn is a pretty good substitute for meat and is healthy
- I lost weight

Negative points:
My own methane emmissions were definitely up...

How about you? Time to get some feedback and experiences from you all...

More soon... This week is all about water, but I am supposed to be working right now so we'll get on to that tonight (or as soon as I get bored of working again).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Green greens...

Well hello there,

Been a while! Must admit, I haven't been busy, just being very lazy. Luckily, a lot of this environmental stuff does point to a 'Less is More' attitude, so I like to think that by sitting around in my pants watching TV most of the weekend I did my bit.

So how did you get on with last weeks challenge? After declaring war on plastic bags I haven't used one for over a month now (except that one last week which was old, full of holes and left me in so much fear for my bottle of rum and coke that I opted to drink it as quickly as possible - and recycled the bottles)

I guess with these challenges it is important to remember that by trying something we are making changes. Some of them might not stick, but I think the war on plastic has begun and I shall endeavour to keep it up...

So on to this weeks challenge, and another reason why I am late writing this... Did you know that one of the biggest problem with the enviroment is caused by the meat industry? The methane (yes, this is farting and burping) produced by cows makes the emmissions from planes seem tiny by comparison. Add to this the devastation of forests and the cost (environmental) of bringing a burger to your plate, it is a scary beast indeed.

Did I ever mention I am actually scared of cows? Really give me the heebyjeebies!!!

However, I do love eating them!

So the challenge this week is to try and cut down the meat you eat. Try to go veggie for a day (or longer if you want). Especially, try to do it when you are going out so it makes a difference (lunch in Belgium is not easy either)

I am also pretty scared of horses, but don't eat those!

Oh, and the other reason I am writing this on Tuesday was that I had a lovely chicken soup last night.

Good luck, tell me your successes, failures, veggie recipes and experiences. Feel free to send me your ideas for future challenges too!!!

Sheep can't be trusted...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This weeks challenge!!! Back to the beginning!

Righto, now I have got your attention, it is time to get busy with extending out these challenges.

To keep it simple (it is Sunday, I have just spent a lovely weekend in Antwerp drinking beer with Billy Bragg no less and frankly can't be bothered to think of something new and, let's be honest now, the first time round even my own wife was useless) so this week I am asking you all to give up using plastic bags.

Easiest way to do this is to take your own canvas bag into the supermarket (most of them sell reusable ones these days) with you or carry a fashionable man bag type thing and look cool like me!

Of course it is not that easy, what about fruit and veg? Well Sarah got a few funny looks, but this worked... take tuppaware or similar, weigh the veg and stick the price tag to the box.

What else? Well, if you must use a bag, ask for paper. Start looking to the market instead of the supermarket for your food (we'll get onto food miles later) or best yet, sign up to a local organic service and get random dinner for a week.

If anyone has any recipes for kohlrabi, we seem to get the stuff every week...

Please let me know how you are getting on, and ask questions, make suggestions for future challenges and please, teach me how to be better at the environment!

Good luck!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The first challenges... They'll be back!

So we got home and tried to think of what to do. The first idea was to try and spend a week being veggie. All was pretty good there. Sarah barely noticed, I started looking at dogs a bit oddly but made it through.

Next up was plastic bags, a whole week without using any! I was superb, Sarah failed on day one and pretty much every day after. Then again I don't do much shopping and my local chinese takeaway does paper bags.

The next week we decided to try and look at electricity. This is quite an weird one as the facts out there are pretty scary. Did you know that:

1. Your phone charger still uses as much electricity whether your phone is plugged in or not?
2. The digital clock on your microwave uses as much power as using the microwave on full power all day every day?
3. Your TV, stereo, dvd, laptop etc, use as much as 80% of their total power while on stand by?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much electricity being used when it isn't needed it is shameful!

I'm still learning about all this, but hope to be able to back this up with more facts and stats soon. (Did you know that you can prove 83% of things with statistics?)

We'll be rolling out some of these challenges in the coming months...

This weeks challenge is a beginners level one, but important nonetheless, RECYCLING!

Recycling is fairly easy, but is so easy to forget. Plus there is so little information on exactly what to recycle. What do you do with lightbulbs for example?

So, this week, try to recycle as much as possible!

So here is how it began...

Well, those of you that know me will be well aware that I am an avid fan of gadgets, gizmos, fast food, faster women, booze, fun and general malarkery, but while on my honeymoon recently I read a book. It was very good actually. Once I finished that one I read another, Crap at the Environment by Mark Watson. That's where it all started to go wrong (not the honeymoon, so far Sarah and I are still very happily married and at least 85% of the time we are on speaking terms - I have slept on the sofa a couple of times mind...). Anyway, I digress (though Sarah plays a big part in all that will follow on here...), so there I was, reading this book and realising, "hmmm, this guy is as bad as me at the environment, maybe I should try a bit harder..." while at the same time thanking my lucky stars I didn't share his welsh accent.

I had bought that Al Gore film, I even tried to watch it once, but never really got into it and switched back to watching American Dad again.

But now I was sure I was ready, I am going to make a difference!!! Every week I am going to take a little step towards become better at the environment, and as sure as hell, I was going to tell everyone about it!

Once I finished the book, Sarah read it and, since she is a much better person than me and has a lot more substance to her than my random outbursts, she came on board which meant I was actually going to have to do this thing.

So what have we done so far? Well, as per the book, one of the first places I went was to get a bit of an idea of my own carbon footprint. Superb I thought, about 3 tons, I am probably about average, just cut it down a bit and I'll be aces. Then Sarah did it for both of us and it turns out it was closer to 15 tons!!!! I am sure mine is still 3, so my wife MUST be using 12 tons all by herself. And she doesn't even use hairspray!

What happened next was almost entirely out of the book, we decided to set ourselves a challenge each week and try to stick to it. These challenges have been pretty good so far, I am avoiding any that involve being smelly or anything. Environment light i guess.

So here it is, my environmentally challenged blog to describe, hopefully encourage, probably end in disaster, but will maybe make you laugh along the way. The thing is, I would really like you to join in these challenges too and suggest your own. I realise that I am rubbish at this, so if any of you know stuff I need to know, please feel free to tell me.

Thanks to the crowd at The Well and Heather, Janice and Lucy for already getting me going... Let's see where it goes!