A drinking straw, made out of straw. A Kickstarter project you will want to fund #sustainability

I think this project is so important that I will only mention this one today. I have a little child and he likes drinking with straws. I’d love to make this part of our lives more sustainable and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to do so, hence I went ahead and funded it. Projects like this need our support, because who else will make our planet more sustainable if not ourselves? If you would like to see less plastic on this planet and/ or use straws, please support.

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Litter picking, DNA, Mad Men for not-for-profits and yes, tampons #sustainability

Some interesting impact & sustainability stories that were on my radar this month. 

Creepy ads use litterbugs’ DNA to shame them publicly, brilliant campaign. Creepy or necessary? Littering in the area where I live became so unbearable recently that I joined Street Friends and now pick litter around the area each Sunday. The glamour! I wish I could identify those who throw nappies in the birch alley or those who think clearing out their car onto the street is a good idea! 

Having just left a media agency, I continue to keep an eye on the industry, and ran into this media agency, which is like no other, working only with charities. Some interesting impact stories and ideas on their blog if you are interested in impact, charities, campaigning or advertising and marketing in general. 

Finally, tampons – a product we don’t talk about often in general, here Guardian takes it a level up and looks into how unhealthy and unsustainable they are. 

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Join the complaining revolution! Resolver, free escalation tool from MoneySavingExpert  

This news definitely falls into ‘I shoulda thought about this!’ category. Not sure how everywhere else but in the UK often the only way to get a decent customer service level (not at the ‘delight’ level, just normal, that we pay for) from the utility companies, banks, mobile phone companies, authorities and other organisations and businesses is to complain. Profusely. In an organised way. 

I am telling you, it’s the only way. I had personal experiences with Virgin, Halifax, BT, the property management company HMLAndertons, Southeastern where the service I was receiving was so appaling that I had to go through various levels of escalation and in some cases track down their CEOs and complain, or report the case to the ombudsman. Hours, days of precious life energy spent to restore some fairness and make the big guys do what I pay them for. 
How exciting it is then to hear that MoneySavingExpert launched a Resolver complaining tool which drafts letters to all of the above and more, sends them, monitors replies and escalates to ombudsmen if necessary. Now if only we had more of the US legal culture and it could liaise you with a relevant lawyer to initiate a lawsuit for compensation, it would have been complete. 

I’ll let Martin & Co do the talking: 

‘Our aim’s always been to cut your bills and fight your corner. Yet complaining isn’t always easy for everyone – they often ignore or fob you off. So often it takes a certain type of person to get their due. Now we want to level the playing field…

  • resolver Resolver – helps you complain for free to 3,500+ firms & public bodies. The free Resolver tool* is a unique new automated complaints system, to take out the pain and cost. It works with energy, finance, legal, leisure, motoring, retail, food, travel, telecoms, water and other firms. Full help in our Resolver guide, but in brief:

    – It tells you your rights. 
    Select your issue and it gives you the lowdown.
    – Drafts a letter.  You get to make a bespoke version of one of 44,000 templates, incl the bit most people forget: what resolution do you want? Alternatively, you can call and it will record it.
    – Monitors replies. It will keep an eye on whether there’s been a response and prompt you to act if not.
    – Escalates if needed. If you don’t get a resolution, it works with many ombudsmen & regulators – eg, the Financial, Energy, Parking, Flights – and some even take complaints directly from the system.’

Well done, guys! This should be quite an impactful initiative. Looking forward to using it! 

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Marketing to multiple allergy sufferers – where is the food? 

Among my family and friends, there are several multiple allergy sufferers. Most of them are children. A person with multiple allergies would be allergic to many things, often the food basics- eggs, nuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish. Here are some stats: 

Food allergies are on the rise in developed nations, but scientists aren’t sure exactly why this is happening. Between 1997 and 2011, food allergies in children increased by around 50%. Eight foods account for around 90% of all reactions, including wheat, milk, shellfish and peanuts.

UK specific stats here

An estimated 10 million adults suffer from more than one allergy (Mintel, 2010). 50% of children and young people have one or more allergy within the first 18 years of life (Journal of Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2009).

My little nephew has multiple allergies (eggs, soy, dairy, nuts). For his third birthday, I wanted to get him a dessert that he could eat. Continue reading

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3 sustainable products of the month- my shortlist

I buy and test a few sustainable products. I will occasionally introduce here three new products that I think deliver. This time it’s Oatly milk drink, Simply Soaps shampoo bar and Ethos vegetarian restaurant.


Continue reading

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Anonymous the unlikely force in the fight with terrorism? #JeSuisCharlie #OpCharlieHebdo

This week’s Charlie Hebdo attacks caused outpouring of public grief and protests all over the world, the web and social media. Hashtag #JeSuisCharlie has been trending on Twitter since. Like with any tragedy of a global magnitude, emotional pressure will inevitably lead to a large number of people (let’s call them the general public) wanting to do something about it. To get closure. Politics and activism aside, what can an average Joe or Jane do to help? And how exactly can one individual help in the fight with terrorism?

This is where it gets murky. If this was a hurricane or a tsunami, there would be a relief operation and a couple of respectable charities who one could donate to. Yes, throwing money at the problem is not a solution, but other than politics or activism, for the general public this is the only immediate way of dealing with grief, a way to help from the comfort of the sofa.

And with events in France currently, there is a void. Nothing. Je Suis Charlie merchandise is out there to help one show solidarity with what is becoming a cause, however producers have already been accused of trying to make profits from outpouring of public grief. But if not this, then what?

I was wondering about this in the last couple of days. There is not much hope for governments – they are too slow, conflicted and restricted by their own rules. There is no effective, well established charity working to counteract radical Islam and terrorism, at least not that I am aware of. The only thought I came up with was that if terrorists use the web and social media to recruit young people, why don’t we collectively counteract that by using the same tools, which are widely available to all of us? And yes, I did think about Anonymous.

What do you know, today I learnt that Anonymous started Operation Charlie Hebdo #OpCharlieHebdo. Their video is below. I may not agree with everything they’ve done before, or their ways, but at the moment they are the only ones doing SOMETHING and enabling the general public to jump in on the action.

blog pic

Anti terrorism is becoming a movement. A cause. Events in France might have just been the last straw. And general public wants in on the action. For businesses, there will be inevitable desire to express solidarity with the cause and tap into the zeitgeist. Be careful. I’d say don’t do it at all, at least for the time being. But if there is a high synergy between what you do as a business or your mission, your intentions are crystal clear and potential risks thought through, then please by all means lead the pack and show us how it’s done. For governments, I’d think about a way to help people by introducing a way of participating in the positive change, outside of elections and protests. Do not leave this to Anonymous. For not for profits, this is the time to get public attention and support, if you are working to counteract radicalism and terrorism. Let us know you exist!

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Ambulance drone to save lives in cases of cardiac arrest

It’s innovations like this that make you think ‘why has no one thought of this before!’ Amazing innovation by a Dutch engineering student has potential to increase cardiac arrest (heart attack) survival rates 10x. Genius. All details here.

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