Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Get Growing!

I've actually already planted some potatoes already! And yesterday I was thinking about how we get non-gardeners to start growing and reduce waste.

My idea was to dig out a bean trench which can be dug anywhere so long as its light and not too shaded.The trench is filled with fresh vegetable waste grass clippings etc from now on and then when full, covered.

In May you simply plant the beans into the soil and then all that lovely rotting stuff gets to work.

You don't need to stick to runner bean. I tried Borlotti beans last year and they were a great success.

Monday, 16 January 2012


Well, I don’t know what your year was like, but mine just seemed to mostly go from one challenge to another in quite the most unrelenting fashion; bereavements, complex and life threatening health issues, and an employer that just seemed to keep asking for more and giving not very much at all! 11 is normally a good number for me, having been born on an 11th, but something went wrong with my luck last year.

But, as always, I learn what I can from these experiences and do my best to work my way forward.

I should have more time for SEA this year, which I am very pleased about, as it nourishes my soul both socially and ecologically and it makes me feel a part of my wider community. Saltash is not really my home and in the long term probably won’t be, but I lived near Trematon for 8 years and will probably now be in Saltash itself until at least 2016 I reckon, so I may as well do what I can for my temporary community and kindred eco-spirits!

I don’t really ‘do’ resolutions, but I have just been given a mountain bike and a very beautiful pony, so I’d better learn how to maintain my bike and increase my natural horse skills for the good of my slightly naughty (mistreated) pony. I have also vowed to stick to buying my favourite tasting and more eco-ethical coffee, and just try to drink a few cups less a day. I have also found a source of unpasteurised organic milk* near Callington, so am trying to buy this each week, rather than my usual Lidl, Tescos or Waitrose Organic milk.

Hopefully I will be more eco this year, than last year, and thus more happy. Wishing you a great 2012. Louise Austin lovethecows@yahoo.co.uk

*I am happy to collect this milk for others. The organic herd is a closed herd at Sevenstones, near Callington, has been TB free for over 30 years and is tested regularly and licensed to sell unpastuerised milk direct to the end user. If you give me a plastic or metal container I can pick you some up once a week and you can collect from outside my house (50p/litre).

BBC Gardeners Question Time

Saltash Community College is hosting the BBC's Gardeners' Question Time Radio 4 show on Monday Feb 13th at 6. 30pm. ( have to be there by 5.30 pm) Tickets are £2 50 and are available at Piglets. SEA is hoping to have a piece about Saltash being a Transition Town in the programme's introduction, and we will be entering a question relevent to SEA, and maybe even baking a special cake to sweeten up the panel into using our question!!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Waitrose Takes The Biscuit!

I could hardly believe my eyes today when I saw that Waitrose are selling 6 slices of apple and a teaspoon of strawberry goo for £1.15!!! All packaged up in a plastic container! No doubt destined for incineration pretty soon!!

Not that this was the most non-eco item Waitrose are pushing! For £2.99 you can also buy another plastic box containing 5 (all imported) small portions of melon, cherries,pineapple and kiwis.

Oh I think there were 3 slices of apple in there too but what chance is there of them being British?

I'm glad to find that I dont have the money to waste on such ridiculous nonsense.

posted by Rebecca

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Goodbye to shampoo and shower gel! by Marianne

Would anyone like to share their eco new years resolutions? They could perhaps appear in the next newsletter?
Here is a my little one! To reduce the number of 'things' I buy in plastic bottles. Not a major resolution but quite fun and a challenge!
The idea was started by reading Matthew Parris's very funny article in the Times on Oct 3rd last year. He thought it was typical that, of all he has written in the last quarter of a century on all the major issues affecting mankind, only 3 have really excited his readers. The first was his campaign to get a milk sachet on trains that you could open without having to use your teeth and without it squirting milk all over you (the pre-torn dotted lines are due to him!). The second was the controversy he sparked over shampoo. Should one put regular dollops of detergent (which is what shampoo is) on the natural oils on the scalp? Strip away the natural oils and the hair feels it must produce more. He gave up shampooing 20 years ago! His third grouse is with shower gel, why not use an ordinary bar of soap? If you hang it it's impossible to get just what you need out - you always get too much! (Have designers done this on purpose he asks so we have to buy more than we need?). "Soap is more environmentally friendly than shower gel because it produces lss waste. However, statistics show they have fallen out of favour - the average person uses only half a bar of soap a year, while 85% of us now use shower gels"
The article got me thinking. I've abandoned shampoo and hair seems to me less 'whispy' (you may disagree!), shower gel has gone (hope our visitors don't mind too much) and I am trying to make sure than any product I do buy will do as many jobs as possible.
Marianne Beale

Vegetarian Recipes - by Claire

I found our Evening on Food [Meat versus Vegetarianism versus Veganism] to be really stimulating. Although I love meat and wouldn’t be a Vegan if you paid me, I found the short film on the Vegan way of eating to be really interesting, and I was horrified at the chart showing the relative amount of greenhouse gases caused by eating one kilo of various kinds of food – beef and lamb in particular were so far above the rest. I think most, possibly all, of us went home determined to reduce the amount of meat we ate. The thing is, we generally eat far more meat than we actually need from the point of view of getting enough protein, and we all know the ill effects of eating too much saturated fat. Vegetarian dishes are so much better both for our health and for the environment, and they can be absolutely delicious – as we proved at the AGM, where we proved a totally Vegetarian meal, and everybody loved it.

The trouble with eating Vegetarian-type food is not that it isn’t very nice, but that it is difficult to find which are the good recipes – also, that it’s difficult to get out of the habit of imagining, totally erroneously, that a meal without meat isn’t a proper meal! So we have decided to dedicate part of the Newsletter to this subject, trying to find some really nice Vegetarian Recipes to publish there. In fact, I have always eaten a certain amount of vegetarian food, through having a number of Vegetarian friends. More recently, when I spent 12 years with my husband on a boat in the Med, we found ourselves eating more still, because nuts, dried beans, lentils, cheese, eggs, etc. are so much easier to store than meat, when one doesn’t have good refrigeration. So I have ended up with a store of recipes, and I thought that I would start off with perhaps the one I like best:-

Turkish Aubergine Roast

Serves Four Vaguely taken from the BBC TV’s Food and Drink Program of many years ago

Baked Potatoes go well with this dish, and you’ll have the oven on anyway. If you partially cook the potatoes in the Microwave, they won’t take so long in the oven [needed to crisp them up].


2 large Aubergines [about1½ lbs weight, or 6 or 700 grams]
2 medium Onions [about the same]
1 chilli pepper or a half teaspoon full chilli-powder
3 or 4 cloves of Garlic
Thyme, Basil, and Green Coriander
1 teaspoon Salt, or more, depending on taste
1 teaspoon Sugar
3 or 4 skinned Tomatoes or a medium tin
Lemon Wedges, and Fresh Basil and Coriander leaves if possible, for the Garnish


Slice the aubergines, sprinkle with salt and leave them in the sink for half an hour. Meanwhile, chop the onions and fry them in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the chilli pepper (whole), squeeze in the garlic, chop the tomatoes and add them, and add the flavourings. Simmer (covered) for half an hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, rinse the aubergines, and chop them into cubes. Put a little olive oil in a non-stick frying-pan, and fry the aubergines (covered preferably), tossing them (or stirring) at intervals. It's better to do them in two goes if you do this amount, or you won't be able to stir them properly.

Put a little of the sauce in a large, greased, oven-proof dish, add the aubergines, and cover with the rest of the sauce, making sure that it falls down into the gaps. Sprinkle with pine-nuts, and bake in a moderate oven for half an hour. Serve hot or cold, garnished with lemon-wedges, and sprinkled with fresh Basil and Coriander leaves.

Incineration is wrong?

Planning permission for the Devonport incinerator was voted in by Plymouth town council 7 to 5 on the 22nd December. Is it too late to overturn? 


 We must remember that the implications of this project are that unless we wake up and eliminate our non recycled waste then we will end up inhaling some of it-quite a strong message. There has been much debate within the committee and we would welcome views from the wider membership.


Here are some of the environmental arguments in favour and against incineration to get things going:

(mostly taken from a presentation early in the year at Burraton Community Centre which was organised by the German Company that would develop the incinerator)
Stop transporting and dumping thousands of tons of Devon waste in Cornwall causing road pollution (several lorry loads cross the Tamar Bridge each day) and methane and water pollution from the landfill site which I believe is currently near Taphouse-the landfill tax quite rightly is starting to make this prohibitive.

Burn the waste close to the people that make the rubbish-50% of the rubbish will be fed directly from dust carts into the incinerator from the streets of Plymouth-if they don't want it they could stop generating the waste.

I am told that the pollution from the process is minimal with advanced technology and is acceptable in Germany and Switzerland which have very high environmental standards

I am told that the company is using proven technology

I asked about batteries and other metals and materials which could contaminate the waste and the Company showed all the range of filters and after burners which would remove such contamination

The company pointed out that they have to demonstrate that the exhaust gases meet the air standards they are claiming

Heat will be generated from the plant for the dockyard. They claim that in Switzerland it is used for housing heating

More rubbish in the atmosphere

Bad for the people who live in the development area as may affect their house values

From a NIMBY viewpoint the prevailing wind will send any pollution back to the people who are generating the rubbish and their council has now decided that this is acceptable.

30 year lock-in contract. In order to fund the building of the incinerator under PFI the Councils (Plymouth and most of Devon) sign a contract to provide a minimum tonnage of feedstock (waste) for 30 years. This locks out any future changes in the way waste is managed - for example a successful drive to reduce the quantity of waste generated, or a new technology like recycling plastic from the waste stream becoming mainstream, or a depression reducing the amount of waste produced, or other increases in recycling.... the council just has to go on paying them to incinerate the waste whether it is there or not.

The site will be burning industrial and commercial waste from Torbay, Devon, and South East Cornwall for starters. There are NO restrictions as to how much waste will be burnt and from where the waste will come. In order to get the waste to the site, and carry the toxic ash away there will be 264 HGV lorries every single day. The impact of this will be massive, let alone if any lorry carrying toxic ash has an accident. The waste incidentally will be transported to Buckfastleigh and dumped in a quarry there. The residents are less than happy for obvious reasons.
A large proportion of the incinerator will be in flood zone1! it will be very close to our railway line, and the closest homes will be 60m away and there will be a 95ft tower. It has not been denied that the local residents will lose all sunlight in their homes, and the constant noise from the plant, and the additional traffic thundering past will impact their lives considerably, in an already deprived area where people are earning lower than average wages, and the life expectancy is also lower than average. The company responsible for building the incinerator has already given Western Mill primary school a significant amount of money as way of recompense. The human rights of these people have not been considered.
The health implications of the incinerator have not been explored as there have been no other incinerators built in such a densely populated area . It will be years before anyone can really know how breathing in all the toxic fumes will affect us, but I can guarantee it will not be good.
The toxic dust cloud will spread as far as Bere Ferrers, St Germans, and Millbrook so everyone in Saltash will be affected even if they don’t know it.
It is an outdated form of waste control and has been banned in the states for its negative impact on peoples health.
The carbon footprint will also be massive, there are better solutions and this plant will be burning many items which can easily recycled such as plastics, glass, paper and cardboard to name a few. There are better alternatives. The website www.iiw.org.uk incineration is wrong outlines a few alternatives for our waste problem.

Note: The Ernesettle incinerator was rejected, an incinerator in St Dennis got planning permission but then went to judicial review and was rejected, and the councillors in Kings Lynn forced a referendum, and Caroline Spellman ( a Westminster MP) had the decision over turned.