The Final Countdown
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It’s seven days to go until we reach Earth Day and the eight events we have lined up around the UK! We are very excited to be hosting some of the millions of events taking place across the world on the 22nd of April. If you haven’t already seen what events we’re hosting yet, head over to our events page on the website or on Facebook to see if there is an event near you. If one of ours isn’t near enough, set up your own event and register it with the Earth Day Network! So far, we’ve been really pleased with the reception of our events, and the people who have reached out to us to get involved, and we can’t wait to meet everyone at each location! Thank you to our friends and family who have agreed to host some of the events we can’t reach ourselves, and thank you to everyone who has jumped on board to help promote them, including our friends Glasgow Schools Rowing Club, Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club and the fantastic parents of the children getting involved who will be helping to clear the Clyde riverbank alongside those of you who join us in Glasgow Green. A lot has to be said for the people that have helped us to spread the word about these events and issues, but we also couldn’t live without the other organisations like the Cambridge Green Party that has been sharing our event with their own supporters. 

This week our Green8eam member Earth Day t-shirts arrived! At each of our events one or two friendly faces will be wearing these t-shirts and helping to guide you on your way for the litter picks! We will also be hosting a RAFFLE at each event for some of you lovely Green18er’s to have the chance to win your very own t-shirt and some other Earth-friendly goodies! All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is turn up to one of our events and pass your email address on to our rosy-cheeked Green8eam member. 

Please keep helping us promote the events on Facebook and elsewhere – it would put a huge smile on our faces to see a big group of keen bag-wielding litter pickers across the country. We will be posting with final information and advice for each event this week so stay tuned!

The Ivory Trade
image of Kenyan ivory stockpiles being burned as a statement to dealers. Taken from  http://www.trbimg.com/img-5724cce4/turbine/ct-ivory-burned-kenya-20160430

image of Kenyan ivory stockpiles being burned as a statement to dealers. Taken from http://www.trbimg.com/img-5724cce4/turbine/ct-ivory-burned-kenya-20160430

Michael Gove made me proud to be British last week. There. I said it. Let's move on.

Gove plans to implement one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales. This will make sales of ivory of any age illegal in the UK, and is an attempt to stifle poaching. He rightfully states that 'ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.' There are some very limited exceptions to the ban, such as rare or important items that are at least 100 years old, which will be assessed by specialist institutions before exemption permits are issued. Breaking the ban will result in a five years in jail or an unlimited fine. 

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It is estimated that about 20,000 elephants are killed every year for their tusks and, the closer elephants come to extinction, the higher the price of their tusks becomes. Disturbingly, this means ivory traffickers actually want to see the extinction of this majestic creature, as it would be 'good for business'. The ivory trade is driven entirely by greed. It is a truly soul-destroying story.

Thankfully, China has now also made the sale of ivory illegal. This is a significant step as China remains one of the world’s biggest markets for ivory. Hong Kong is following suit, and all domestic sales are to be prohibited from 2021 onwards. As a consequence of these bans, Laos now has the fastest growing ivory market in the world. Without a comprehensive global ban, the value of ivory will continue to soar and trade-capitals will simply migrate.

The black market is the crux of the problem. Poachers in Africa go through Vietnam to deliver ivory to dealers in China or elsewhere. There is a growing fight against the ivory trade in China but, inexplicably, owning ivory is still seen as a sign of wealth to some.  

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot being done to try and tackling poaching. When you enter game parks in Africa, all vehicles are thoroughly searched and hundreds of rangers give their lives to protect elephants from poachers. There is a lot of work being done by organisations like the African Wildlife Foundation, Tusk Trust, and Stop Ivory to protect the elephant population. 

In February, Esmond Bradley Martin, who was known for his undercover work in rhino conservation and ivory sales, was found stabbed to death in his home. His work uncovering the illegal sales of ivory and rhinoceros’ horn is inspirational. He spent his life exposing wildlife black markets, and produced an immense volume of research and investigative works on this issue.

There’s also a pretty bad ass organisation called Wildleaks, which is a whistleblowing initiative for wildlife and forest crime. These are true undercover heroes who risk their lives to protect animals. They actually tackle a whole host of issues like illegal logging, and the human toll on wildlife crime. Anyone with information about illegal wildlife or forest activity can anonymously tip-off the organisation, and they then investigate.

If you can handle it, there is a truly heart-rending documentary called The Ivory Game on Netflix. I had refrained from watching it for a while, which I regret. Full disclosure, it is not an easy watch. I was in floods. But it is truly one the best documentaries I’ve come across. The thing that really made it so tough to watch was the conservationists’ accounts of how the elephants deal with loss. They explain that elephants feel in similar ways to humans. They have very strong family bonds and, when one elephant dies, the death has a huge emotional and developmental impact on the rest of the herd. If you have a spare couple hours, and are emotionally prepared, watch it.

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I’m pretty confident that none of our Green18 followers would even contemplate owning any ivory. Our role in this particular battle is now simply supporting the good guys. We are thankfully on our way to some very meaningful wildlife protection policies, and anti-trafficking enforcement is becoming much more stringent. We can support the conservationists by donating or even just talking about these issues. It is great that people are pushing for change from the Government, because it does work.

It would be beautiful if at some point we stopped pillaging the earth for everything we deem to be a valuable commodity. However, that's a blog post for another day...

 

 

Vegetable Ramen
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Taken and adapted from A Couple Cooks

Ingredients

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  • 1 egg per person
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pints of vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • Stir fry vegetables such as tenderstem broccoli, beans, spring onions etc.
  • Bean sprouts
  • Ramen noodles (I used Sharwoods medium egg noodles)
  • Vegetable gyoza (optional)

Method:

  1. Thinly slice the garlic cloves. In a saucepan, heat the sesame oil and olive oil over. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Add the soy sauce.
  2. Once the stock is simmering, add the stir fry veg and cook for a minute. 
  3. Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a rolling boil and place one egg per person into the pan. Start a timer for around 5 minutes and 10 seconds if you like your eggs runny. If using gyoza, place these into the pan after 2 minutes to cook while the eggs finish.
  4. When you add the gyoza to the egg pan, add the noodles to the stock pan and boil into just soft.
  5. To serve, spoon the ramen and broth into bowls and top with the gyoza and eggs once they are ready.

Things to note:

I've been finding it difficult to find new vegetarian recipes because it's not the first food I think of when I'm really hungry. But we were having a Green8eam meeting and I decided it was time to try something new. This is such a simple recipe so I have no complaints. Before I even started to cook, I knew it was going to be super easy, and it ended up taking me literally 20 minutes. Not only is it easy but it's filling and, for once, I did not miss the presence of meat. So it's tasty, filling, easy, and eco-friendly. Give it a go!

Maia Gentle Comment
Hopping Towards Earth Day
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Happy Easter to you all! We have had a very busy weekend eating lots and seeing family, but it’s also been a very busy weekend for Green18. Here's our weekly update. 

Yesterday marked the launch of our plans for Earth Day, which will be happening worldwide on the 22nd of April. We will be hosting litter picks in several locations around the UK in order to help target plastic pollution in our environment and raise awareness of the Green18 cause. The first few events are now live on our website and on social media, but we will be releasing more as we approach Earth Day itself. Check out the current events on our events page and share them on social media to get the word out as far and wide as possible. If you have any other ideas for Earth Day events or are interested in hosting something, do not hesitate to contact us. We want as many people to be involved as possible!

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Earth Day aside, we also did a beach clean in Saltdean today to work off some of the Easter chocolate. We found this to be slightly different from previous cleans. It was encouraging to find the beach a lot tidier than other spaces that the Green8eam has visited. However, once we had trained our eyes to search among the pebbles, we found a lot of washed up material caught amongst bits of seaweed and ocean debris. This included all kinds of plastic, ranging from bottle tops and lollipop sticks, to bits of rope and polystyrene packaging. My particular problem on this litter pick were the lollipop sticks (seen on the right of the image to the right), as I found I often overlooked them thinking that they were feathers. Surely given that I had an issue making this distinction, there will be animals having this difficulty as well, for example, birds flying using the lollipop sticks for their nests. Straws seem to have taken the world by storm at the moment, and for good reason – see our own article to attest to that. However, we need to think about plastic on every level. These lollipop sticks are just as bad as straws, and straws are just as bad as all of the other waste people are carelessly throwing away. Remember – there is no ‘away’. The litter pick today really highlighted to me that, even when a space looks clean, there is always waste lurking underneath the surface. Renewed inspiration to recycle whatever you can and put the rest in the bin.


This week, we have an Edinburgh litter pick planned for Saturday in The Meadows, starting at 10am. Go to our events page or our Facebook page for more information and, as always, share with friends! Keep a look out for more updates to our Earth Day campaign as well. Further events will be posted on the website and will also be added to Facebook for you to attend and also share with friends. 

We will also have a new documentary review coming to our Reel Talk blog, as well as a new recipe for your delectation on Food Re-viewed. Keep your eyes peeled! As always, do comment below or contact us if you have anything to contribute to our Earth Day plans or blog! 

Maia GentleComment
Eggscuse me?
Photo from: http://happy-easter.info/wp-content/uploads/Pics/01/Chocolate%20Easter%20Eggs%20Uk%20(05).jpg

Photo from: http://happy-easter.info/wp-content/uploads/Pics/01/Chocolate%20Easter%20Eggs%20Uk%20(05).jpg

Easter is the biggest chocolate-selling event of the year after Christmas. We eat more chocolate per head in the UK than almost anywhere else in the world. Luckily for the chocoholics, consumption isn’t the problem, it’s the waste produced during this holiday every year. Wrap, the Government’s waste advisory unit, calculated that we discard about 3000 tonnes of packaging every Easter, which is equivalent to the weight of 1000 elephants. The campaign against Easter egg packaging is not a new one. This has been going on since it became socially unegg-ceptable for me to partake in Easter egg hunts.

The biggest problem-plastic is the moulded “vacuum form” that sometimes surrounds the entire egg. I appreciate that this is to ‘protect the egg’. However, surely this should be made recyclable, be made from recycled plastic, or maybe just not be made from plastic at all! Why does it always have to be plastic? They should shove a picture of the plastic’s journey after Easter in the centre of the egg to brighten up our holiday weekend. Too much. I know.

Photo from: http://www.staegerclear.co.uk/assets/Uploads/Plastic-Cartons-Marks-and-Spencers-Easter-Egg.jpg

Photo from: http://www.staegerclear.co.uk/assets/Uploads/Plastic-Cartons-Marks-and-Spencers-Easter-Egg.jpg

We need to stop being so chic during Easter. Part of the problem is that we feel the need to examine the egg before we buy it. I’m unsure if this is because we are so sceptical of the big Easter conglomerates that we don’t actually trust they’ve put our egg in its rightful box, or whether… nope, that’s all I got. We are illogically drawn to big packing, which is really sad, and is causing companies to go bigger and bolder every year just to grab our attention, in what The Independent calls a 'confectionery arms race'. And it isn't only the plastic casing. Sadly, nowhere is safe this Easter: incognito plastic can also exist in the cardboard of the egg packaging. However, this can easily be tested by soaking it in water and trying to scrunch it up, or, more simply, just by checking the label.

The big Easter conglomerates are thankfully not as bad as I claim. Some of them do make an effort towards recyclability. Nestle has been fab and, in 2012, the company made its full range 100% recyclable. The managing director of Nestle Confectionery UK and Ireland has stated that the company considers the environmental impact of packaging as an integral part of its product design. Thank you, Nestle! They have moved onto bigger things now like cutting down their overall carbon footprint. Cadburys is also deserving of some praise for releasing their unboxed eco-egg range years ago, before it was cool. Aluminium, which Cadburys eggs are wrapped in, is very eco-friendly, as it is recyclable. It also takes 95% less energy to make new aluminium from old aluminium than it does to make it from scratch. You can read about all the best eco-friendly chocolate treats to buy here. Egg-cellent.

Plastic left behind from the 'plastic attack' near Bath (photo from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-43559636)

Plastic left behind from the 'plastic attack' near Bath (photo from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-43559636)

MPs are saying that companies are not doing enough to cut their packaging, and the hard truth is that it is our consumer culture that drastically needs to change. So why wait for the big companies? It is so much easier for us to stop buying over-packaged food than it is for us to convince big companies to stop being so environmentally neglectful. Take inspiration from this 'plastic attack' at a Tesco near Bath, where shoppers left all of the unnecessary plastic from their items in store. All it takes is for you to stick it to the man this Easter. Buy the least flashy egg you can or at least recycle the darn packaging.

Keeping Up with Green8eam
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It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Green8eam, so we didn’t have time for a progress post last week. But that means this week, you get twice as much to catch up on! 

 

Glasgow #Green18Clean

Saturday 17th March saw our first #Green18Clean outside of Edinburgh, hosted by our wonderful news editor cum eco warrior, Kimberley. Walking down by the River Kelvin, she was surprised and unhappy with the amount of litter she found, the usual suspects being bottles and single-use plastics like food packets. However, there was a great deal of bizarre unexpected waste around, such as hula hoops and tents. If I am being kind, I could claim this might be as a result of the windy weather the previous week but the sceptic in me is more likely to blame this on ridiculous human laziness and disrespect for our surroundings. We must do better. 

If you are interested in getting involved with our litter picks, please do go to our events page to see our events for the upcoming Easter weekend! This time, we’re going south!

Symphonic Nature Tour with Music Planet

Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th took Rufus and I to the Isles of Arran and Bute with Music Planet and the University of St. Andrews Chamber Orchestra, on a tour called Symphonic Nature which aimed to emphasise the connections between music and nature, particularly with regards to Beethoven’s 6th Symphony. In Lochranza, the performance was also introduced by the team at COAST, the Community of Arran Seabed Trust, which protects the seabed’s around the island from the dangers of fishing, thus sustaining its marine life. It was wonderful to see an audience that was primarily there to watch a musical performance also engaging with a very important environmental cause. Getting the word out to as many people as possible through whatever medium is essential, which is why groups like Music Planet are so important. Below is a short video documenting the tour!

 

International Earth Hour

The Eiffel Tower before lights out

The Eiffel Tower before lights out

This weekend, we’ve gone international and we got to see Earth Hour from the perspective of a few different countries. This was better in some places than others but people are getting the idea! For anyone who doesn’t know, Earth Hour is a project that aims to engage as many countries as possible to turn their lights out at 8.30pm local time to show the impact of reduced energy consumption over a tiny space of time. Rufus was in Paris and got to see the wonderful light show at the Eiffel Tower where, at 8.30pm, the tower went completely dark. France is particularly engaged with events such as this. On the first Sunday of every month, for example, the famous 2km long Champs-Elysees is closed to traffic between 9am and 5pm as part of the Paris Respire programme, which aims to reduce pollution in the city. It is a surreal and beautiful sight to see pedestrians walking up the street on these days, in a vision of what it could be like without cars in our cities. 

I was in the Netherlands for Earth Hour and went to Amsterdam for 8.30pm in the hope of finding some Earth Hour inspiration. However, I was disappointed to find that nothing was going on there and disheartened to feel like the only person who was there for this occasion in a very busy tourist city. Likewise, Kimberley was on Ashton Lane in Glasgow, where strings of lights roofing the street remained turned on at 8.30pm. Earth Hour is acquiring worldwide attention - their social media can attest to that - but people need to become aware of these schemes because they are so important in showing the effect of a tiny reduction in our global energy output, as well as showing how many people worldwide are really engaged with this issue. Check out Earth Hour’s Instagram to see more of what was going on last night around the world.

 

Coming Up

We’ve got another busy week coming up, where Rufus and I will be heading to a few primary schools in Fife to teach them about seagrass ecosystems. In a similar vein to Music Planet, we will be collaborating with musicians to do so, and members of Scottish Chamber Orchestra will be joining us. Tune in to the Our Progress blog next week to see how we get on with that. 

Earth Hour has also been our motivation to get planning for Earth Day, which is happening on Sunday the 22nd of April. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on what we’re planning for that. Events will be happening all around the UK so please do get involved! 

That’s all for this week. As always, make any comments and suggestions underneath or drop as an email on the contact page if you have any ideas or want to write for us! 

Maia GentleComment
The End of the Line
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If you, like me, throw your phone out of the nearest window every time you see a Brexit headline, you will not have heard the news this week about the Common Fisheries Policy (devastated, I can tell). This policy basically controls where European ships are allowed to fish and, given our current Brexit-fuelled turmoil, the borders are somewhat blurred, and the EU has been allowed to control the UK's fishing policy for the two-year transition period post-Brexit. Full disclosure, before you abandon ship, I have no intention of debating the politics of this situation or the government’s decision in any great depth. Despite partaking in some dutiful reading, I was still left at an absolute loss. The multi-literalist in me believes that a unified effort is necessary to protect the oceans, but I also admit that Europe has had some truly daft fishing policies in the past. In light of my own opinion, I'm going to leave you sitting comfortably on the fence. 

However, politics and borders aside, this is an environmental issue. The real sharks are deep sea bottom trawlers. These particular fishermen drag their net behind their fishing boat catching thousands of fish as they go. Sadly, because of depleting fish stocks, industrial trawlers are travelling even further out on the world's continental shelves, and below 650-foot depths. This leaves them damaging our planet’s largest and most diverse ecosystem and catching a lot of ‘unwanted fish’, such as sharks and dolphins, as they go. Some countries have in recent years started banning this type of fishing, but the problem continues. Irritatingly, we hear about the collapse in fishing stocks and then foolishly we overfish elsewhere. By refusing to learn from our own mistakes, we are posing a real threat to the biodiversity of our oceans. We need to rethink the way the fishing industry is managed.
 

 
Larger animals often get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time as a result of deep sea trawling. (Image courtesy of https://www.occupy.com/article/europe-seeks-ban-deep-sea-trawling#sthash.EWztn9jw.dpbs)

Larger animals often get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time as a result of deep sea trawling. (Image courtesy of https://www.occupy.com/article/europe-seeks-ban-deep-sea-trawling#sthash.EWztn9jw.dpbs)

 

If I haven’t lost you already, this is where I am likely to: Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management, or EBFM for short! In brief, this is a concept which involves fishery managers being sensible and protecting not just one species of fish at a time, but the entire eco-system surrounding the fish. Look after the fishies' homes, and there will be fishies to live in them. Simples.

Learn about your future with the batfish here.

One fairly humorous Green Peace campaign has some short clips that are well worth watching about the potential of ‘Marine Reserves’, which are protected areas of ocean, like underwater national parks. The main point Green Peace makes is if we want to eat fish tomorrow, we need marine reserves today. 

I appreciate this week’s issue is a big one, and the solution is no mean feat. We either convince the nation’s fish lovers (me) to give up their weekly fish supper; convince the world’s governing bodies to enforce more stringent measures on fishing; or we go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for this all to blow over, suffering the consequences later.

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I admit, this is an unbelievably dry topic. But it’s important. It would be incredible if, just once, we could say we managed to turn the situation around before it reached crisis point. I am truly open to suggestions here on how to get the job done, because I really don’t fancy life as a vegetarian. 

The Last Straw

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The Marine Conservation Society estimates the UK alone uses 8.5 billion straws every year. Their life span is as long as it takes for you to quench your thirst (approximately 30 seconds for a strawpedo) and then they stick around for 200 more years on our beautiful planet. They pollute our oceans, our streets and pose a very real threat to wild-life. No doubt you all saw the devastating impacts of single use plastics on marine wildlife during Blue Planet II.

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Thankfully, some people are waking-up to this madness, and breaking-up with straws. The Scottish Parliament have only gone and done it. Holyrood is leading by example and has rid the Parliament of plastic straws. Not only that, Scotland might actually become the first nation to ban plastic straws. It’s hoped that plans to phase them out will be confirmed in the coming months and the ban is set to be extended to the rest of the country by the end of 2019. (Happy side-note: cotton-buds will be phased out by the end of this year.)

However, way ahead of the Scottish Parliament is the picturesque seaside village of Ullapool in Wester Ross. Encouraged by an incredible group of school pupils from Glasgow all local watering holes in Ullapool have banned straws, or are using eco-friendly alternatives. The children were motivated to start this campaign after spending their field trip to the majestic Isle Martin picking up thousands of straws from the shores of Loch Broom. They brought their enthusiasm home with them and also convinced Glasgow City Council to implement the ban. If you want a job done, why wait on Parliament?

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Also, a little further south to the land of pasties, Cornwall deserves a pre-emptive shout out! The Cornish may become the first county to ban straws from all bars and restaurants after a successful campaign by The Final Straw Cornwall. Keep it up Cornwall!

Slightly slower off the start, Westminster is flirting with the idea of developing a similar policy and implementing a ban. There are whisperings of this policy becoming a possibility but,*sharp intake of breath* Michael Gove is claiming this will be much easier to do post Brexit… (should have put that on the side of the bus).

Admittedly there are some issues that arise with implementing an entire ban on the straw, and these need recognised. One in Five, a campaign that encourages political participation amongst disabled people in Scotland, is concerned about the impact that banning the straw will have on those with disabilities. This is why we need to stimulate conversation about our alternatives. In true #Green18 fashion this is not about cutting things out of our lives entirely, it's just about being conscious of our choices. We need to find alternatives, and as soon as we put pressure on straw manufacturing companies to change, they’ll have to.

The Chief Executive of Primaplast has admitted that there are no affordable alternatives yet: "We have to be rational… it's not reasonable enough to say 'stop using the products' without a solution," he said. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but the solution seems pretty clear to me. Don’t use them unless you need to.

There are straw4life alternatives on the market, so really there's no need for this vast wastage of single-use plastic. If I’m being honest, I’m not ready to break-up with straws. But I do intend on being your lame friend that turns up to the club with her straw4life, likely with a comical moustache attached to the tip. This doesn’t have to be your last straw… just your only one.

Join me - buy your straw here!

Honey and Garlic Cauliflower
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Taken and adapted from Kirbie's Cravings

 

Ingredients:

FOR THE MAIN

1 cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets

panko bread crumbs

cooking oil spray

2 eggs, whisked

2 spring onions, finely sliced

FOR THE SAUCE

4 tablespoons honey

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp onion powder

6 tbsp water + 2 tsp cornstarch

1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce


Method:

1.     Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread panko crumbs in a thin even layer across the surface of the baking sheet. Spray panko crumbs with cooking oil spray and then bake for about 5 minutes until golden brown. 

2.     Set whisked eggs aside in a small bowl. Line another large baking sheet with parchment paper.

3.     Dip cauliflower in egg mixture and then shake a few times so that excess egg drips off. Then place into sheet with panko crumbs. Cover cauliflower with panko, pressing the crumbs gently against the cauliflower to help them stick. Place coated cauliflower on empty prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all cauliflower is coated. 

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4.     Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked and the coating is a dark golden brown. 

5.     While the cauliflower is cooking, make sauce on the stove. In a small bowl, completely dissolve cornstarch in water and set aside. Add all sauce ingredients to a saucepan, except the cornstarch and water. Bring to a gentle simmer and mix all ingredients together. Add some water to dilute and then then add cornstarch water to the sauce. Stir immediately to dissolve cornstarch into the sauce. Let sauce come to a simmer, stirring to make sure the cornflour doesn't make the sauce go lumpy. When the sauce is ready, drizzle over the cauliflower. Garnish with spring onion.


Things to note:

This was my first attempt at a proper Pinterest-inspired vegetarian meal, and it turned out pretty well. I think it was quite clear that the cauliflower was acting as a substitute for chicken but, in the same way as with previous recipes, I found it was necessary to ignore this for fear of disappointment. This is not going to be sweet and sour chicken.

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The cauliflower did not coat as well as expected in the breadcrumbs because it isn’t a very sticky surface, so I would try and coat it with more egg before the breadcrumbs next time. I also found it to be crunchier than expected given that it was not cooked prior to baking, so I would try to leave it in the oven for longer than the given 15-20 minutes. I did actually try to leave it in the bottom of the oven while I completed other parts of the dish, but the baking paper caught fire and I was forced to remove it…

In other news, I think this sauce was far too saturated. In hindsight, I should have pre-empted this when I saw it contained 6 tablespoons of honey. When making this next time, I will maybe only put in 4 tablespoons and adjust the other ingredients accordingly, add some water to dilute it, and then add cornstarch paste to thicken. I ended up making enough sauce for a second batch, so this should still make more than enough for one portion.

I served this will rice and stir fry veg to make a very nice Asian-style meal. I’m slowly starting to discover that meat doesn’t have to be at the centre of every meal, although still battling to feel satisfied. I’m going to be going out of my way to try a lot more new vegetarian recipes in the hope of conquering this. Onwards and upwards!

 
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Maia GentleComment
The Long Game
Celebrating Mothering Sunday (and Mother Earth!) with the Incan Pachamama ('Earth Mother')

Celebrating Mothering Sunday (and Mother Earth!) with the Incan Pachamama ('Earth Mother')

It is weeks like this one that remind me how difficult the battle of convenience versus #Green18 really is. As I am writing this I can’t help but think about that bottle of Ribena I drank with lunch the other day, or the Chinese takeaway I had last night or the bacon I had for breakfast… These all go against the goals I have set myself and the morals I am trying to live by. Should I be ashamed of all of these? Absolutely not.

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If I had known two and a half months ago where this #Green18 New Year’s resolution was going to take me I would never have believed it. I am almost at the point of using no harmful chemicals, I haven’t used any plastic bags for a month, I haven’t bought any bottled water in 2018 and for the first time this week I have had six vegetarian dinners (and I have prepared no meat for myself!). As well as that, I have been able to drag Maia along with me with less kicking and screaming than I expected. It has been such a rewarding and comforting experience with many of you, our readers and followers, getting in touch with so much enthusiasm and so many of your own suggestions. It has also been a real delight to see our website has been read by people across the planet from the USA to Russia – hello world! Getting as many people to take on board this lifestyle has so much more of an impact than one person with an impeccable environmental record, so don’t worry about your cheat days (as long as you are getting other people on board!).

There are quite a few interesting activities coming up this week. The University of St Andrews’ Chamber Orchestra is performing the first of three concerts, with Beethoven’s 6th Symphony ‘Pastoral’ as part of the programme. These concerts are all coordinated by the University’s Music Planet platform that combines environmental issues with the arts. They have been doing some lovely projects already educating people across Fife – here is a video that our own Maia Gentle made for one of Music Planet’s school workshops, where leaders told children about the importance of whales in our ecosystem and how they communicate using music. I have been lucky enough to be able to work with Music Planet this year and I will be travelling with them on this project as they perform in St Andrews, Arran and Bute. If you can make it to any of these concerts, it would be great to see you! Check out the Music Planet website for more information about the concerts and their other projects.

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We are also going to be launching some #Green18Clean events further afield than Edinburgh so watch out for our new Events page filling up. Earth Hour is approaching on the 24th of March, and we’ll be sharing coverage from around the world! We are also now starting to build up some events for Earth Day, which is on Sunday 22nd April. If you would like to host your own #Green18Clean on Earth Day then do contact us – we would love to reach out to as many parts of the country (and the world!) as possible!

I must also mention how fabulous Kimberley Somerside has been with her idea to start our ‘18:00 News’ blog, which she will write for every week. She really is an inspiration with her enthusiasm for #Green18 keeping us all going!

Please do keep following our progress and sharing it with others! Please also share your own #Green18 stories with us on social media – we would like to hear from everyone starting something new this week!

Chasing Our Future
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Inspired by Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral, dir. Jeff Orlowski

It is encouraging when you type something like ‘plastic’ into the Netflix search bar and you see a plethora of documentaries just a click away. I don’t know whether it is too broad of me to say but I’m going to say it anyway. I think documentaries are coming into their own at the moment in a way that I haven’t seen before, and I think that’s because of sites like Netflix seizing them and making them accessible to a lot of people.

My encouragement is slightly dampened, however, by the passivity with which I know people sometimes watch Netflix content. The number of times I’ve talked to people about some awful film they watched ‘just for something to put on’. It’s the downside of things being a click away – something is lost in the ease of it all. So, the chances are you’ve already watched Chasing Ice or Chasing Coral, or both even. I’d watched Chasing Ice before and I’m ashamed to say I remembered very little about it when I watched it for the second time last week. We need to put an end to this passivity in both viewing and consuming this kind of content, and we need to start doing something about it.


The crews involved in both documentaries are headed up by Jeff Orlowski, founder of Exposure Labs, which ‘creates films and campaigns to change the world’. Both films use similar groundbreaking time-lapse technology to take footage of a changing ecosystem over a period of time: in the case of Chasing Ice, we see changes being wrought on ice sheets in Alaska, Greenland and Iceland over a period of around three years; in Chasing Coral, the time period is much shorter, filmed as the world witnessed its 3rd global-scale coral bleaching event in just over 10 years. These are not documentaries overwhelmed with facts and figures but simply portals for undeniable physical evidence. The results of these photography experiments are obviously heartbreaking but they are also guilt-inducing. What you see at the ends of each of these films are physical manifestations of the actions we take every day, the earth literally showing us that we’re doing something wrong – but we’re being either too selfish or too stupid to do anything about it. 

Image from: https://www.inverse.com/article/34218-what-is-coral-bleaching-chasing-coral-great-barrier-reef-dead

Image from: https://www.inverse.com/article/34218-what-is-coral-bleaching-chasing-coral-great-barrier-reef-dead

Image from: http://www.toaks.org/departments/public-works/sustainability

Image from: http://www.toaks.org/departments/public-works/sustainability

In Chasing Ice, main man photographer James Balog likens our situation to a dental crisis: If you had an abscess in your tooth, would you keep going to dentist after dentist until you found a dentist who said, “Ah, don’t worry about it. Leave that rotten tooth in”? Or would you pull it out because more of the other dentists told you you had a problem?

Image from: http://marellascience.wikispaces.com/Other+evidence+of+climate+change

Image from: http://marellascience.wikispaces.com/Other+evidence+of+climate+change

One of the most shocking facts that will stick in my memory from Chasing Coral is that, if it weren’t for the sea absorbing the temperature rise, our average air temperature on earth would be up at 50°C, where it is currently only 16°C. Multiple graphs are used in both films to show that, although the earth’s atmosphere and temperature goes through fluctuations in CO2 and temperature, we are seeing an unprecedented rise in both, and this is not due to natural circumstances. With these kinds of statistics in mind, it is baffling to me that people are still fighting about this. We are on the cusp of something unknown here and we need to start acting now.

I myself find it difficult not to be overwhelmed by the global problem but I remind myself as I’m reminding you that we shouldn’t think about this in the context of the entire world. If we think about it on a personal and local level, it not only becomes more manageable but it also becomes more influential. If we all do our part, our individual contributions can be built together into a very important whole. So do turn your switches and your lights off when you’re not using them, and do think about eating less meat, and do think about walking instead of taking a taxi, you lazy thing, and maybe think about how cold you really are when you turn your heating on. How hard is all that really, when you really think about it?


At the end of Chasing Ice, James Balog tells us:

When my daughters look at me 25 or 30 years from now and ask ‘what were you doing when global warming was happening? You guys knew what was coming down the road…’, I want to be able to say ‘guys, I was doing everything I knew how to do.’

I can’t think of a more apt way to sum up our situation. We’ve let it come so far, it would be unforgivable, stupid and selfish to do nothing. I admittedly have been almost completely and blissfully oblivious to the climate change situation until this point. The only way to become knowledgeable is to seek information about the problem, and then to think what you can do about it. Watch these kinds of documentaries, but watch them actively, and then make active, informed decisions to change your way of life before it’s out of our hands.


Both of these documentaries are available on Netflix. Watch the trailers below or look at the Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral websites. As always, email us if you want to write something of your own.

Maia GentleComment
Day Zero

Staring out the window at the wintery goodness left behind by the aptly named “Beast from the East,” and writing about a drought in South Africa is as contradictory as it gets. But I’m not about to wait around for a sunny day on the West Coast of Scotland, so here goes.

I confess my water footprint is something I’ve never really sat down to think about, you’d be hard pushed to find someone further away from the situation in Cape Town than me. Which probably explains why I find it so difficult to imagine exactly what I would do on the day they switch off the taps. I don’t claim to be an expert on droughts, but I do feel that what Capetonians have managed to achieve amidst their water crisis is pretty incredible.

A couple of weeks ago headlines were predicting that on the 9th of July the taps were going to run dry in Cape Town. The event that’s now been dubbed “Day Zero” would make Cape Town one of the first major cities to have their fresh water run out.

Capetonians have had their water usage capped at 50 litres per day for a while now. I will admit my initial ignorance when I first read about these limits. I foolishly thought no matter how much coffee I need to get me out of bed in the morning there is absolutely no way I could come close to that level of water usage. It’s safe to say I was well off:

Your typical shower uses about 15 litres of water per minute, so those ten minute showers spent practising your favourite Tina Turner tunes eat-up three times your daily limit. Not to mention your average 15 litre toilet flush. The saying in Cape Town now goes “if its yellow let it mellow. If its brown flush it down…”

Image taken from:  https://www.npr.org/2018/01/23/579784235/drought-stricken-cape-town-braces-for-water-to-run-out-in-april

Image taken from: https://www.npr.org/2018/01/23/579784235/drought-stricken-cape-town-braces-for-water-to-run-out-in-april

The incredible news is that Capetonians have not only managed to push Day Zero back, but they may have actually prevented Day Zero from happening (if they continue their current level of consumption.) The community has achieved this simply by working together to save water. Local farmers have released water from their private reservoirs into a publicly accessible storage dam; residents are limiting their usage and recycling their shower water where possible; and decision makers are looking into long term solutions for topping-up the city’s water levels, such as desalination, water recycling and (on a shadier note) naming and shaming the biggest water wasters.

Notably, local artists such as 'Desmond and the Tutus' started a campaign to raise awareness through their 2minuteshowersongs website. Cutting their tracks down to two minutes and making them free to download, so you know exactly when your times up. Turns out you don’t have to do without your vocal warm ups...

However, as much as Capetonians have potentially prevented Day Zero from happening this year, they are still teetering awfully close to the edge of crisis. It’s looking likely that the city won’t be able to rely solely on its surface water reserves in future.

Cape Town is not alone. Water shortages have been a concern to many major cities for years, yet there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of awareness about the consequences of water usage.

Just as the irony is not lost on the coastal city of Cape Town it certainly won’t be lost on the rain soaked Brits. London’s supply problems are predicted to hit the city as early as 2025, with serious shortages by 2040. Not to forget that much of our food is currently imported from areas of high water stress. My coffee addiction alone leaves me with an 840 litre footprint on the water crisis every day.

Although Captonians may not have stopped Day Zero forever, they have avoided it for now. Cape Town has shown the world what can be achieved if communities work together to tackle big problems. Individuals doing their own little bit in their daily routine makes a huge difference. But we need to listen to the initial warning bells. It shouldn’t really take a looming crisis for us to finally take our planet seriously. We can only hope Toto’s blessed rains burst into action soon.

Ain't Snowbody Gonna Get Me Down
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Yet another week of excitement with only a little disappointment. We had to cancel our #Green18Clean this week after the Beast from the East decided to cover the Meadows, Edinburgh with several inches of snow. It was unfortunate timing because this clean was in aid of Keep Britain Tidy’s #GBSpringClean campaign. Luckily, Keep Britain Tidy has extended their #GBSpringClean until the 25th March in aid of the snow. We will be rescheduling our #Green18Clean for this coming weekend 10th March – find our event on Facebook.

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We now have a new blog with our recommendations for inspirational documentaries to show both the effects of our harmful actions but also the ways in which we can help to be part of the team working to reduce and reverse the damage we have done. Stay tuned for some more exciting documentaries in the weeks to follow.

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We have also focused specifically on what we do in the bathroom this week. We posted some tips and hints a few days ago if you want to try your own bathroom challenge – click here. To show our progress we have put everything in our bathroom (for this we have included make-up and moisturisers etc in the bedroom bracket) in a list below and how much progress we have made so far. The aim is to get to a zero plastic bathroom by the end of 2018!

  1. Toothbrush – using a Humble Brush made of compostable bamboo with nylon bristles. Hopefully non-plastic bristles can be found easily soon!
  2. Toothpaste – This is tricky. Some councils accept the plastic tubes where as others would prefer the easier to recycle plastic pumps. We are upgrading to a plastic pump. There are natural toothpastes (and some even in non-plastic tubes) out there but at £8 a tube we are searching for a cheaper alternative – anyone found something amazing for us? 
  3. Shower Gel – Upgraded to Faith in Nature products with recyclable plastic bottles. Still looking for non-plastic alternatives like Lush’s Naked range.
  4. Shampoo – Upgraded to Faith in Nature products with recyclable plastic bottles.
  5. Conditioner – Upgraded to Faith in Nature products with recyclable plastic bottles.
  6. Loofa – upgrade to a sea sponge alternative - NO PLASTIC YAY!
  7. Razors – Saving up this month to upgrade to a nice stainless steel safety razor. This is more expensive for the handle but the blades make it work out as cheaper in the long run.
  8. Shaving Foam/Gel – There are ways of making your own (search on Ecosia), but I will turn to the old-fashioned shaving soap and brush for now.
  9. Toilet PaperWho Gives a Crap will provide us with toilet paper with no plastic packaging and no cut down trees.
  10. Plastic Bin Liners – switching to biodegradable D2W liners
  11. Bathroom Cleaner – Anti-bacterial and fully recyclable from Method!
  12. Bleach/Toilet Cleaner – Our wonderful Ecoleaf toilet cleaner is environmentally friendly
  13. Hand Soap – using Method hand soap in recyclable bottle
  14. Towels & Bath Mat – 100% cotton towels are nice for you and the environment without releasing plastic microfibres into the waterways!
  15. Sanitary Products – hard for me to advise but we will have a review on the Mooncup coming soon!
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If each of us took on these steps and shared all our tips with each other we can all be plastic free in our bathrooms by the end of the year!

This week coming we will be taking our Green18 challenge to the bedroom in full force. We will be back at the end of the week with how we got on. 

Rufus SullivanComment
A New Dawn: Blue Planet 2
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Some of our biggest motivators to take action and get the #Green18 campaign started were the numerous excellent documentary films and TV series that show off the amazing natural world but also highlight mankind’s constant abuse of our beautiful planet. This has inspired us to add to our blogging series with ‘Reel Talk’, where we will show the big and small screen as an excellent medium for getting important messages out there and showing everyone that change needs to happen.

Our opening entry comes from possibly some of the best documentary footage ever shown – BBC’s Blue Planet 2. My personal admiration for Sir David Attenborough and his work over the decades is no secret to those who know me and I have been inspired throughout much of my life by the TV series that he has worked on and narrated. My first experience of Attenborough was one that has inspired me since that very point – The Blue Planet (the original) from 2001 was released just before my 6th birthday and eventually sent me into my marine biology degree and has put me where I am today.

A major part of the success of the BBC’s Natural History Unit’s documentaries comes from the ground-breaking equipment and skill that is put into each series. Blue Planet 2 is no exception to this but it also had that little bit extra to bring it to life for people at home. The music provided by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and David Flemming for this series is masterfully enhancing to the footage and gives so much to this powerful series. I would thoroughly recommend a listen. The videography and cinematography of each episode focuses excellently on the beauty and complexity of the wildlife found in these marine ecosystems. However, more unexpectedly, Blue Planet 2 focused on the damage that human activity, specifically plastics, is having on these wonderful environments, which was a new and necessary leap from the BBC.

One of the most heart-breaking moments of the series showed a female pilot whale mourning the loss of its baby calf by carrying it around in its fins. This type of premature death, caused by the leaching of chemicals from industries and our own plastic pollution, is becoming more and more common and is a serious ecological concern for the decades to come. We have seen this sort of problem before with DDT, one of the first widely used pesticides, that built up through each level of the food chain before being found at highly toxic levels in top predators like birds of prey. These birds were affected by thinning eggshells that led to increased mortality of young and, thus, declining populations. Without these top predators, a vast array of ecological issues arise that can see the shift of an entire ecosystem even having an effect on the physical geography of our surroundings (click here for an interesting example at Yellowstone National Park, USA). It is now, more than ever, that we need to tackle our plastic addiction, despite its practicality, and develop more natural alternatives to make them more widely available and economically practical.

This series led to a skyrocket in the publicity for plastic pollution in the oceans which is now a major concern for governments, institutions and companies as public pressure mounts. In recent days and weeks, we have seen the Scottish government and the Royal household tackle single-use plastics in world-leading fashion which, I believe, is as a direct result of this series and the voice of David Attenborough inspiring the masses.

 

If you haven’t taken the time to watch even part of this documentary series, I cannot recommend it enough. It will make you smile and laugh, gasp with wonder, shout with anger and cry with sadness. This is an emotional rollercoaster like nothing else I have ever seen.

Rufus SullivanComment
On a (loo) roll
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This week, I have tried to identify all environmental issues involved in my regular bathroom activities, aiming to do everything I can to improve my footprint – especially cutting down to a plastic-free bathroom.

Today I have outlined which parts of our daily bathroom activity have an impact on our 18 steps and it came down to these nine: #1 Recycling, #2 Plastic Bags, #3 Single-Use Plastic, #4 Microbeads, #6 Paper, #7 Water, #8 Chemicals, #11 Heating, #13 Lights and #15 Work.

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#1 Recycling – Quite a few things from our bathroom can be recycled. Toilet paper tubes, packaging boxes and empty plastic bottles are excellent examples. Choosing what you buy based on its packaging is a great way to make sure that you can recycle all or most of what you buy. Remember, always wash out your containers before recycling and help out your local recycling station by only putting what CAN be recycled in to the bins. You can find out where you can recycle everything here: www.recyclenow.com
N.B. Most of the time, plastic bags are NOT accepted!!!

#2 Plastic Bags –  Like most people, we have a bin in our bathroom that currently uses a plastic liner… Biodegradable alternatives are available and can be found easily with a quick search on Ecosia. I have found these D2W bin liners which are cheap, are better for the planet and can be found in several different sizes: www.amazon.co.uk/D2W-Black-Refuse-Sacks-Pieces/dp/B006CQU6JQ/ref=pd_bxgy_325_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=X0RKD45HGYP9Y2HG6DMD

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#3 Single-Use Plastic – The majority of bathroom products come at least partially packaged in or made from plastic. Sometimes alternatives are hard to find but they are beginning to appear more and more frequently as plastic pollution hits headlines so keep your beady eyes peeled! For example, shower products can now come in recyclable bottles or not in plastic at all. See: https://beautykubes.co.uk and https://www.faithinnature.co.uk for starters.

#4 Microbeads – This is already a fairly well-tackled problem with assistance from the government ban but they can still be lurking out there in some of your products. If you are struggling to identify where they might be lurking, use www.beatthemicrobead.org to help.

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#6 Paper – In the bathroom, the biggest use of paper will undoubtedly be toilet paper. In Britain, we are particularly bad for excessive toilet paper usage, using almost 18 kilos or 80 rolls per person every year which results in the loss of over 2 million trees a year (by my calculation). We have found uk.whogivesacrap.org which offers tree- (and wallet-) friendly toilet paper and uses profit to build toilets for those who need them. Why go elsewhere?!

#7 Water – In Scotland, it would be big news if there was ever a shortage of water. But that doesn’t mean we can be careless. Shortening showers and running taps less are amongst the easiest things anyone can do for #Green18.

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#8 Chemicals – Almost all products for showering, shaving, teeth-brushing and cleaning have natural alternatives with minimal impact on the environment. Another quick Ecosia search will help you to find effective alternatives to your products that don’t wash harmful chemicals into the oceans. Again, see: beautykubes.co.uk and www.faithinnature.co.uk but also www.ecover.com and www.methodhome.com to get you on your way.

#11 Heating – This is a flat-wide issue but I have included it because there is a heated towel rail in the bathroom. This only comes on when the central heating is on and so is never used for bathroom specific reasons. However, if it isn’t needed it could be turned off whilst the rest of the flat is heated. Use your smart meter to monitor your energy usage!

#13 Lights – Another flat-wide issue. Our bathroom is windowless and so requires the light to be on whenever the bathroom is being used. You can maximise energy savings by making sure the light is on only when the bathroom is in use! Keep using your smart meter to monitor your energy usage!

#15 Work – Most of us can’t control what we use when we are at work. Just remember to take your principles along with you to the office and keep them environmentally minded. Environmental solutions are available in almost all instances these days so work with your employers and help them find out about tree-saving toilet paper or natural soap!

 

Check out our update on Sunday to see how our bathroom products are falling short of the #Green18 challenge so far!

 

If you have any tips or suggestions or want to know more about the #Green18 campaign, please contact us or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Rufus SullivanComment
Chocolate Digestives
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Taken from Paul Hollywood


Ingredients:

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  • 165g wholemeal flour
  • 135g oatmeal
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 130g cold butter, diced
  • 40g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 150g chocolate

 


Method:

1. Place the flour, oatmeal, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until it looks a bit like breadcrumbs.

2. Stir in the sugar then add the milk and bring the mixture together, kneading in the bowl to form a dough.

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3. Flatten into a disc, wrap in greaseproof paper and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Roll the dough to 3mm thick and then use a cutter or a glass to cut the biscuits into circles. Place on the prepared trays leaving spaces between, although the biscuits shouldn’t spread too much in the oven. Prick the surface of the biscuits with a skewer or fork and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

6. Preheat your oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas Mark 5. Take the chilled biscuits from the fridge and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Once the chocolate is melted, use a teaspoon to spread chocolate onto the biscuits. Using a skewer, draw lines across the chocolate horizontally and then vertically to create a pattern on the surface of the chocolate. Leave biscuits on the rack until the chocolate has set.

 
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Things to Note:

These worked out more like Hobnobs than digestives, which I’m fine with, but they weren’t as sweet as I was expecting either, so they’re more like oatcakes with chocolate on. Next time, I’ll put in more sugar or perhaps look around for recipes that use more sugar in the first place, and I might put in less oatmeal. The plus side of no artificial flavourings being involved is that they’re not as addictive as commercial biscuits, so I can get away with eating 2 rather than 10 with my morning cup of tea. (Also, as a side note, for dunking fans, these will not fail you like a rich tea. Dunk away.)

Recipe-wise, these are really easy to make. The only thing I would advise is not to be suspicious of how dry the mixture seems at first. I put in the 2 tablespoons of milk and decided it needed more without trying to knead it together first, so it became very wet and I had to make more of the dry stuff to add in. Which is why I now have about 25 chocolate biscuits in my cupboard. Could be worse.

I would say any disappointment I’ve felt towards this recipe has been my own doing. I’ll be honest, they’re not McVitie’s but I don’t know why I expected them to be. Otherwise we’d all just make our own and it would be a hell of a lot healthier. (When I think about it, these maybe aren’t as bad for you as ‘biscuit’ tends to suggest.) I need to learn to rid myself of the notion that I’m going to make things that taste the same as my favourite brands, and then I’ll enjoy things in their own right. Onto the next recipe.  
 

Useful Links:

http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/chocolate-digestive-biscuits.html

Maia GentleComment
In Need of a Spring Clean
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This has been a busy week for #Green18!

We began our blogs, Food Re-Viewed and T-eco-nology. These will come back every week with new recipes and treats for you all to try at home alongside some apps, gizmos and gadgets for you to help improve your #Green18 lifestyle.

We also had our first public #Green18Clean at Bruntsfield Links, Edinburgh. We were very happy to have a team of 8 wander through and pick up litter whilst enjoying the lovely weather. It was surprising how much litter we could actually find as we wandered through a seemingly green and clean area. There were several common offenders like Starbucks and Costa coffee cups, McDonalds drink cups, Coca-Cola and Barr plastic bottles, and plastic bags on the walk. What was surprising, though, were some other finds.

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In Scotland, straws have hit the headlines with the news that plastic straws will be banned by the end of 2019. This hasn’t stopped them from being discarded across most of the area we covered on the clean up. The straw count was well in to the double figures by the end and each of us was astonished. It looked like the source of the straws was either the nearby Subway or Starbucks Coffee, judging by the green straws that we collected.

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One other astonishing find were nurdles – tiny plastic beads used by large companies to melt down and form into larger plastic products. There is a lot of attention for nurdles in the press because they are now being found washed up on shores across the globe. I have very rarely considered nurdles being spilt on land too! I have registered this find @ nurdlehunt.org.uk and you should keep your eye out to do the same if you are ever out picking up litter!

Check out our Facebook page to find out where and when the next #Green18Clean will be!

The rest of my #Green18 challenge is definitely more difficult to achieve than I ever thought it would be. So much of everyday life sends you down the easier but more polluting route. If I forget to make a soup for my week’s lunches, I head out to buy a lunch and realise that there is very little I can buy without some sort of plastic involved.

In addition, I have not yet reached my goal of one meat meal a week… I had some great advice whilst watching the rugby yesterday – if you force yourself to only eat meat from the butcher you are likely to minimise packaging, choosing to eat local produce and probably restricting what you buy because of the extra expense - #goals. Plastic is still very much in abundance at home. This could be tackled better if I venture to a packaging-free shop but not everything can be found in these #Green18 havens. I am going to start tackling my plastic consumption on a room-by-room basis to concentrate more on the sources of the problem. This week will be ‘Bathroom Week’, so come back next week to see what I have and will do to reduce plastic in the bathroom.

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   'Bathroom Week'

Despite these difficulties, I am happy that word about the campaign is being spread and getting others involved. It has been such a lovely experience to hear those reaching out to me to let me know they have been inspired by the things I have posted or to share their own tips and experiences with me. I have had countless documentary suggestions which have all been AMAZING! I have had people spend their time coming out and collecting litter with me. I’ve had people actively starting conversations about environmental news and what they can do to help.

I really do believe that, between each of us, we can stop having this awful cumulative impact on the environment shown so excellently by documentaries and TV series like the BBC’s Blue Planet 2. Look out for our first post in our new blog 'Reel Talk' this week!

Having experienced the great people of Edinburgh, Scotland and, indeed, those from the rest of the world that I have been in contact with, I know that there is enough desire to get the world to #makethatchange and turn the momentum around!

 

If you want to host your own #Green18Clean or get in touch about getting involved contact us by email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Rufus SullivanComment
Nutella

Taken and adapted from Handle the Heat
 

Ingredients:

·        135g hazelnuts

·        340g milk chocolate

·        2 tablespoons vegetable oil

·        3 tablespoons icing sugar

·        1 tablespoon cocoa powder

·        1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

·        3/4 teaspoon salt


Method:

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
     
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a greaseproof paper-lined baking tray. Toast the hazelnuts until they’re slightly browned, which takes about 10 minutes, but make sure they don’t burn or they will taste bitter. Once they’ve cooled a bit, remove the skins as best you can.
     
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie and let cool.
     
  4. Use a food processor to grind the hazelnuts until they form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue to blend until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Add the melted chocolate and blend until smooth. If you don’t want hazelnut bits in it, pour it through a sieve into an airtight container.

Things to note:

The spread will keep for around two weeks in an airtight jar, according to the original recipe. I filled a 0.5L Kilner jar, which is actually quite a lot if you’re not planning to eat chocolate spread all the time, so it could be worth halving the ingredients, which makes it cheaper, and also reduces the potential waste.

Also, when I had blended everything together, someone asked me what kind of chocolate I’d used. I’d just received a giant bar of Milka and I’d used that to put it to good use instead of just eating it all, without thinking that it would contain palm oil, thus defeating the purpose of trying to make a palm oil free Nutella. But instead of pretending this didn’t happen, I thought I’d use it as a lesson. I’ve discovered how easy it is to run on autopilot and make mistakes like this – it just emphasises how present palm oil is in daily life. So next time, I will go out of my way to use palm oil free chocolate, which is apparently true of Marks and Spencers own brand milk chocolate or Divine chocolate if you’re feeling fancy. So next time I make it, I’ll have created an alternative that doesn’t carry the same amount of ecological guilt and is healthier (ish) for me.
 

Useful links:

www.handletheheat.com/homemade-nutella/

http://www.divinechocolate.com/uk/good-stuff/news/2016/12/proudly-palm-oil-free

Maia GentleComment
Welcome to Food Re-Viewed

One of the biggest hits I’ve experienced so far while taking part in this campaign has been to do with food. I’ve never considered what I eat to have any effect except on my own body, and it’s a massive burden to think of it any other way. But here I am writing an article about the effect of food on the environment, my discoveries of which have been twofold.

After watching Before the Flood, I became aware just how negative your impact is if you eat meat. I’m not going to get bogged down in too many facts, but here are three big ones:

  • grazing for livestock takes up more than a quarter of the earth’s ice-free area
  • it takes roughly 130 times more water to produce a ton of beef than it does a ton of potatoes
  • livestock accounts for over 15% of the greenhouse gases we produce each year
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It’s pretty clear that our agricultural industry is bad for the environment and the fact that most of us consume meat on a daily basis is a contributing factor. Now, I love meat – I’ve grown up in a household in which food is very important, and meat is a big part of that – so naturally, these facts and figures make me feel guilty, but I’m also torn. Becoming vegetarian – or actually vegan, as cows are not only farmed for their meat – would severely impact my quality of life. So the decision that I’ve made is to limit rather than to exclude, and even this can have a massive effect on the statistics I’ve mentioned.

Aside from the meat production industry, there is palm oil, which I’ll admit I heard mentioned a few years ago and promptly forgot all about it. It was brought to my attention again after watching Before The Flood. Remember when we worried cutting down all the trees for paper? That’s basically what is happening now so big companies can replace them with the trees from which we get palm oil. Recycling paper has become part of the national consciousness and I don’t see why our attitudes towards the production of palm oil can’t be changed in a similar way. Sustainably produced palm oil exists, but products that use this are a tiny minority of a massive number. After seeing footage of palm oil-induced deforestation on screen, I immediately set about trying to limit the number of products I buy that contain this product. This has been hard, as it’s in a great number of my favourite supermarket items, namely biscuits and confectionary. However, it’s also in bread and tortilla wraps; it’s in some stock cubes and gravy granules; it’s in peanut butter and Nutella.

When I came to realise the sheer breadth of the issue, I was overwhelmed. But the whole point of this campaign is not to be overwhelmed but to realise the importance of local impact. So I set about trying to find alternatives to meat and palm oil alike – not to completely eradicate them in my diet but to take small steps towards reducing my consumption and make myself feel a bit better about my ecological footprint.

Every week, I will be sharing a recipe inspired by #Green18 on this blog, in the hope that who reads might like to try making something eco-friendly too. And I promise it won’t be disgusting cardboard food. Spoiler: this week it’s Nutella.

Maia GentleComment
First Steps...
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One month of #Green18 gone already! Making the transition to achieve all of the goals I have set myself hasn’t been the easiest task I have undertaken. I want to talk through everything I have achieved (or haven’t achieved) in the short time that I have been working towards a smaller environmental impact. January was always intended to be a transition month to iron out the creases and find my feet in this new way of life.

  1. Plastic bags are first on my list. I have already bought 4 bags in 2018, which could add up to almost 50 bags by the end of the year… I am aiming to have a plastic-bag-less February to set me back on track. I will treat one of my trusty canvas bags like I would my keys, wallet and phone – going nowhere without them.
  2. I haven’t used any disposable cups this month! I have been regularly making soup at home to take in my Thermos flask for lunch. I haven’t bought any bottled water – sticking to my trusty re-usable alternative! However, I am guilty of a few bought plastic bottles of other drinks. I can easily stop this by being more strict with myself.
  3. Luckily, we have an excellent pulley in the flat. We have stuck to using that and so have a perfect record when it comes to air drying clothes.
  4. It is hard to have an accurate measure of whether my electricity consumption has been controlled. There have been occasions where lights have remained on when I wasn’t in the room or when plug sockets were on without need.
  5. Despite passing my driving test last week (hooray!), I continue to walk where I can and use public transport for longer journeys. This may become more difficult when journeys make cars more necessary to prevent ridiculous public transport routes. Everyone knows that there is only so much time in the day and sometimes you just need to get to places as fast as you can.
  6. Food choice is again a hard one to measure. I am still guilty of some palm oil products. The more and more you look at ingredients, the more you realise that palm oil is everywhere. In the flat, we have begun to make our own bread because the majority of big brand and own brand loaves contain palm oil – I do keep asking myself why?! I have also endeavoured to buy British produce where possible – sometimes a lot more difficult that you might think.
  7. At the beginning of January, before watching Cowspiracy (beautifully recommended by Rebecca, THANK YOU!), I purchased meat and fish that has lasted in the freezer for the month. I have slowly made my way through it whilst eating more vegetarian meals than I otherwise would have. I am now at the tail end of it all and should be very close to my target of one meal with meat a week – you don’t have to be vegetarian to make a difference!
  8. The heating has been mostly off and jumper wearing is an excellent thing!
  9. Recycling is one of my keenest endeavours! I have kept at it but become more keen-eyed for what can and can’t be recycled.
  10. Quick showers and tap vigilance have helped lower my water usage. This isn’t the biggest issue in Scotland but if you read about South Africa currently you will realise the situation is dire elsewhere.
  11. I have begun writing electronic notes for myself rather than jotting down on paper quite as much. Being conscious and, by printing/using only what you need and then recycling, so many sheets can be saved.
  12. As soaps, detergents and other chemicals run out, they have been replaced with Method or Ecover alternatives.
  13. In January, it was my task to take part in the RSPB #BigGardenBirdwatch which I did and thoroughly enjoyed! I haven’t yet found what surveying I will take part in but I will find something in February.
  14. At work, I have joined the SCO Green Team which deals with the task of being more environmentally aware in the office – still more to be done but I am lucky to be part of such an eco-aware institution.
  15. I haven’t found a single microbead in the flat yet - that is success!
  16. I have failed on my target of one #Green18Clean a week. I have completed 2/4 so far. I can definitely improve that and help keep our public spaces clear of rubbish.
  17. I am finding reducing non-recyclable plastics a difficult challenge. I will aim to find all of my vegetables without unnecessary packaging first and start to make my way through my food cupboards before I can find everything in recyclable or reusable containers.
  18. I am hoping that all of this has encouraged others out there to join in and do their little bit too. I know that Maia had initially been begrudgingly dragged along but has now joined the team in full force feeling very passionately for the cause!

I think it has been a month of success stories with some less successful stories. I will soon begin some of the fact files to help you on your way with some of the challenges, as well as writing about other things throughout the weeks ahead. Very soon we will also have some other writers talking about their own discoveries and how they are making their own impact.

Let me know if you would like to write about anything – we are contactable via email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also share your progress with #Green18, #Green18Clean or #Green8eam!

 

Rufus SullivanComment