21 12 2009

We all have something we want to do, be, see. So let’s make it happen in 2010.

Frequently when women are asked what they most want it is to lose some weight. Arguably this is the easiest thing to achieve as it is entirely within your own control. In contrast, if you want to become CEO of Microsoft, for example, there are a few obstacles to be overcome first and while it may be possible it will take time and there will be stiff competition. But, unless you are being held against your will and force fed, losing weight is a simple case of eating less and/or exercising more. What could be simpler?

So if this task over which we have total control is so simple, why is it so hard to lose weight? And if this easy thing is so difficult in practice then what about the rest of our resolutions? Where will they be this time next year?

The reason most people face is not the lack of ambition but the lack of support. Very few people have that single-minded determination to succeed – most of us need support.

And this is where DO JUST ONE THING comes in.

We are not challenging you to do anything. We are SUPPORTING YOU – and providing a platform for us all to support each other to DO JUST ONE THING.

So between now and 1st January choose JUST ONE THING that you want to achieve in 2010. Then, follow this link and join with us.

I’ve started us off and, as you will see, it doesn’t have to be a big thing.  Life is fun…it shouldn’t be a battle against the world or against your self.

Choose to DO JUST ONE THING and we will support you in reaching your goal and by being part of a group of like-minded people all doing JUST ONE THING together we can achieve hundreds, maybe thousands of things.

To your health – your wealth – your happiness

Karen x

Be part of it!

Between now and 1st January


2) Follow this link and join together with like-minded people

3) Post your JUST ONE THING

Will my faithful friend be my eco-undoing?

18 12 2009

A couple of months ago, for the3rdi magazine, I wrote a piece about my carbon footprint. While I was surprised that it was as high as it was, I was pleased to see that it was at least below the UK average.

And I have been thinking again about how eco-friendly I really am as Mike Small from the fabulous Fife Diet project has agreed to write a piece for the magazine each month. I’m a vegetarian, control my dairy consumption, try to consider the air miles of the food I eat and try to shop locally. On the whole I think I do OK.

But one thing has been bugging me for a while.  I own a dog. A fit young Labrador, Lola,  with a voracious appetite.

I take considerably less care in choosing her food. She’ll eat anything and so I buy whatever is the cheapest, dried food from the local petshop.  As I said, this has niggled at me for a while but there seemed no easy way to measure her ecological footprint.  Then I read this in The New Scientist;

“A medium-size dog’s ecological footprint – the area of land required to keep it fed – is 0.84 hectares annually. You could run two SUVs on that and still have change. Even a toy dog such as a chihuahua has a footprint of 0.28 hectares per year.”

And it gets worse.

I feed the birds.  Leaving aside the air-miles in shipping red-skinned peanuts to the UK til another day, I do this to protect their numbers through the harsh Scottish winter. And because I like birds! I bang on the window to shoo away cats.

According to the New Scientist, ” in the UK alone they kill more than 188 million wild animals each year. But dogs are no bunny huggers. They have been implicated in the decline of the rare European nightjar, they disturb ground-nesting birds and, even when walked on a lead, their mere presence may reduce biodiversity.”

On looking into this further I came across this book, whose name alone gives a fair indication that I am right to be uncomfortable as a pet owner.  Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living, is written by  Robert and Brenda Vale from New Zealand, who specialise in sustainable living. In the book they compare the ecological footprints of  pets with the impact of various other lifestyle choices.

They calculated that a medium-sized dog would consume 90 grams of meat and 156 grams of cereals daily in its recommended 300-gram portion of dried dog food.  At its pre-dried weight, that equates to 450 grams of fresh meat and 260 grams of cereal. That means that over the course of a year, a medium sized dog, like Lola, consumes around 164 kilograms of meat and 95 kilograms of cereals.

It takes 43.3 square metres of land to generate 1 kilogram of chicken per year – far more for beef and lamb – and 13.4 square metres to generate a kilogram of cereals. So that gives my dog a footprint of 0.84 hectares, as reported in the New Scientist article.

On the other hand an SUV – the Vales used a 4.6-litre Toyota Land Cruiser in their comparison – driven just 10,000 kilometres a year, uses 55.1 gigajoules, which includes the energy required both to fuel and to build it. One hectare of land can produce approximately 135 gigajoules of energy per year, so the Land Cruiser’s eco-footprint is about 0.41 hectares – less than half that of a medium-sized dog.

So there we have it. It would seem however careful I am with my own consumption the fact that I keep a dog will undo all of my good work!

Soundbites and Headlines

14 12 2009

I don’t read newspapers.

For the editor of a business magazine I suspect that is an extraordinary admission, so let me explain.

The world is a complex place. Issues are not often straightforward. There is frequently more than one side to any story, but more and more, in my view, the newpapers reduce everything to headlines, snippets and catchphrases .

They may well feel that they have to do this to keep pace with the TV news and the web, which together seem determined to reduce everything to soundbite and celebrity.  But, whatever the reason, it does mean that the newspapers no longer provide detailed, rounded comment and reporting on current affairs.

So I read the New Statesman. I don’t expect their coverage to be totally balanced. The journal is left leaning, but it does give full, rounded, detailed coverage and explanation to complex matters such as climate change and world politics.

At least it did.

A couple of months ago I was concerned at their cover story  “The 50 people who matter today”.  A paragraph on each of 50 indivuduals seemed to be at odds with the depth of comment usually found in the magazine. It added nothing to the understanding of the people or the issues for which they had received this recognition.

Then a couple of weeks ago the cover story was ” 20 green heroes and villains”.

Is it such a clear choice?.  Are companies and individuals always one or the other? The National Grid was claimed as a hero solely as when energy expert David Milborrow wrote a report showing that Britain’s energy system is already capable of taking a large amount of wind power, they backed his work.  Is this really enough to be granted hero status?

But that is not really the issue. The issue is with yet more sound-bite debate. And from a journal that I had come to rely upon to fill the gaps left as newspaper reports become all headline and no substance.  Can the climate debate be summarised as collection of heores and villains?

I don’t think so but if more journals go the way of the New Statesman where are we going to get our detailed, useful information from? And if the information isn’t available, how can we have informed debate?