25th August 2010 by

Environmentally speaking, August has been an especially turbulent month. Just as BP’s Gulf of Mexico fiasco moves slowly out of the headlines, hundreds of Muscovites died from the heat as wildfires swept across Russia, China experienced its worst landslide in decades, and an estimated 20million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan. Meanwhile, a 100 square mile of ice departed Greenland, and we are told by scientists at the Met Office that the first 6 months in 2010 indicate that we are facing the hottest year on global record.

Wowzer! What a bleak apocalyptic picture to brighten up your day! As always though, Otesha is full of innovative ideas for you to confront this doom and gloom. This month’s challenge exposes the bottled water industry’s perfect con: bottled water (watch the story of bottled water for more info). Whilst the ‘Bottled Water Information’ website informs us that ‘bottled waters offer the ultimate in traceability, health, convenience and choice, as well as providing reassurance that they come from fully sustainable sources,’ the site’s run by the British Soft Drinks Association (a lobbying group representing the soft drinks industry) suggesting that your health, convenience and the apparent sustainability of bottled water isn’t exactly their main priority.

Despite the fact that access to clean drinking water constitutes a basic human right, over 1 million deaths are caused by waterborne diseases every year. 1.1 billion people are without access to clean drinking water, and yet the bottled water industry represents an estimated market of US $22 billion: enough to supply the world with clean drinking water.

When we waste our money on this unnecessary commodity (marked up by a whopping 2000%), we not only create the demand for the production of plastic bottles in an energy and oil intensive process, but for them to then be transported to our shops. Your challenge this month is to drink tap water.

Waste not water not

1st March 2010 by
Without water we ain’t got nothing and although this planet is full of it, only a tiny proportion is fresh water. Then bear in mind that every drop of the wet stuff that passed through our pipes, taps, drains and cisterns has been cleaned to drinking standard, using more than a bucketful of energy in the process.

This month we challenge you not to waste a drop of it:

But whatever you do, let us know (email jo@otesha.org.uk). We’ll put your drops of good advice up here and our favourite answer will receive a Fairtrade chocolate bar.

Our favourite water-saving stories

We have it on good authority that the hard-working hosts over at the Hub Islington have fixed their leaky tap. Way to go!

On top of this, we learned through twitter that the Adnam’s brewery harvests their rainwater & uses it to flush their loos and wash their lorries.  This is great news – we love an ethical pint.

Revolutionary Resolutions

1st February 2010 by

According to some clever bloke on the Internet people have been making new years resolutions since 153BC. This month we challenge you to carry on the tradition and commit yourself to a green resolution.

We’ve resolved to:

  • Go to more swishing parties (that’s clothes swapping to us lay men)
  • Stop buying new clothes
  • Mend old clothes
  • Reuse water bottles and stop buying mineral water
  • Take showers inside of baths
  • Vegan it up two meals a day
  • Write more letters (to friends and MPs)
  • Protest more
  • Brave the weather and the traffic and cycle to work everyday.

And remember, if you break yours you can always start again on the Chinese or Iranian new years.

Martha sent us this resolution:

Mine is to grow my own sweet potatoes, as it is apparently quite easy and I never see any for sale from anywhere closer than Spain.

For anyone who wants to try this first buy a couple of sweet potatoes now since you need to start them nowish. Put them in an airing cupboard or somewhere else nice and warm. Leave them till about April by which time they should have produced some lovely shoots. Take these shoots off and plant them in a nice peat free seed compost, and keep them somewhere fairly warm, definitely frost free in sunlight and don’t forget to water them.

In June either plant them in a reasonable bit of soil or, as I will, in a big tub- old plastic dustbin I used last year for strawberries in my case. Peat free compost and regular feeding with some seaweed product should work fine. If you can add some home made compost all the better. Make sure the tub is well drained. Leave to grow, making sure they are weed free- if you plant them in the ground it’s good to plant them through something, maybe old carpet.

I think they are ready in August-September. When you dig them up be sure to dig deep as they grow downwards or you’ll miss a load of them, one of my reasons for planting in a big tub; I should make sure to get them all.

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