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A month and a half of Christmas

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 30.11.2016

Time: 10:17

It’s not even the first of December and already we’ve got our Christmas tree up. My family’s enthusiasm for the festive season runs hot between November and January; beginning with our traditional cultural celebrations of Thanksgiving (American) until Three Kings Day (Puerto Rican). It’s a good month and a half of spirited get-togethers and family celebrations filled with happy decorations, indulgent  food, and heartfelt gifts.

With that said, as someone who cares deeply for our environment, questions about consumption certainly are never far from my mind at this time of year. And with my new role supporting businesses in Investors in the Environment (iiE), quantifying resource consumption is now a daily exercise.

From Christmas cards (e-cards or paper?) to trees (real or fake?), there is a lot to consider when you’re trying to act sustainably whilst also satisfying cherished traditions. How much is too much, and just how do you set the balance?

Having small children, good Christmas atmosphere is essential. So a Christmas tree was important to us this year. We went with a small local supplier in our neighbourhood selling UK grown trees then promptly decorated it with strings of LED (low energy)  fairy lights. Christmas cards, however, are less important to us this year (who has the time!?), so aside from sending cards to grandparents not on email, we’ll be sending e-cards and making a donation to our favourite charity instead.

As far as gifts are concerned, I’ve been hard at work chipping away at little projects for friends and family. Not only are handmade gifts lovely and personal, but the making process helps slow me down in the evenings when the expectations of the season start getting out of control. I took a course on willow weaving at the Green Backyard last summer and am using some of those skills  to make what I hope will be interpreted as beautiful works of art, rather than just wonky sticks stuck together!

As I get older, I feel I’m slowly learning that it’s all about the process, rather than the end result – and this feeling certainly extends to the Christmas season when we often work ourselves in a frenzy to do what we think is expected. I’m hoping this comes through in my well-meaning but less than perfect gifts.

No matter what variation on the theme we’ve got going this year, the best bits are just the time spent together – during our whole month and a half of Christmas!

April Sotomayor is the Senior Advisor / Business Support Officer at iiE, the green accreditation scheme for organisations. 



Tree planting in Peterborough

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 29.11.2016

Time: 16:20

Hazel Cottrell, from the Creative Content Company, writes about her experience of tree planting with PECT's Forest for Peterborough.

What I love about running Creative Content Company is that I am able to find out loads about what is going on in my local community – and there is always so much to get involved in. Whether its dressing up as an elf to help Rotary, supporting the prison or planting trees in the middle of the field, there is lots to get involved in around Peterborough that can help make the community a better place for everyone.

I recently came across something organised by Peterborough Environment City Trust, it was Tree Planting at Sacrewell Farm. The plan is to plant over 180,000 trees around Peterborough by 2030, which is roughly one tree for every person living in the city. The only downside was that I came across the event in October and the nearest date we could do was November... which isn’t known for its warm weather!

So, the day arrived and my partner and I, with his kids, headed down to Sacrewell Farm. Luckily it was a clear and dry day, but it was very cold and in the middle of a field there is not much protection from the wind. On arrival there was a large ditch along the side of the field and Simon came to greet us with a very friendly and warm welcome.

We quickly learnt how to dig the holes and where to plant the trees and we were off. Tree planting is not something I had ever tried before and the same can definitely be said for the kids, but we all got stuck in and had a brilliant time. In just over an hour we managed to plant 23 trees between us and we were all really pleased with the results.

It was a brilliant event for all ages, with special spades for children and adults. Hollie loved putting the ‘dresses’ on the small trees to protect them from the wind while Jamie enjoyed the ‘wiggle wiggle’ of the spade to dig a deep hole for the tree.

There are loads more tree planting dates coming up so why not contact simon.belham@pect.org.uk to find out when and where you can get involved. Although it was a cold day it was a very rewarding experience and the kids are still talking about the different animals that could live in the trees we have planted.



Should we be flexitarians?

Category: General

Date: 23.11.2016

Time: 10:55

After reading an article on Twitter about Hellmann's rebranding one of its most popular products as ‘Vegetarian,’ I am now left somewhat perplexed.  The rebranding seems fairly reasonable considering the decision to go ‘meat-free’ is no longer a niche idea, with many people in fact now trying out this style of diet for the health-related benefits as well as the environmental.

However, the reason I, and no doubt many other sceptical readers remain confused about this rebranding is about the product itself. Why we ask ourselves, has Hellmann's decided to rebrand its completely meat-free classic mayonnaise as ‘vegetarian’?

I found myself clicking on the Twitter post and reading the entire article, intrigued to find out a justification. I didn’t have to read very far to get the basis of their justification (according to the writer), which clearly features in the title of the article: ‘Hellmann's aims to woo flexitarians by branding its mayo as veggie.’

As much as I appreciate the attempt to target the particular group of people known as ‘Flexitarians’-  who are neither fully vegetarian, yet neither are they meat lovers, but remain a group of happy mediums, looking to reduce their meat intake – I remain unconvinced.

The question still poses, why bother labelling a product that is meat-free anyway? Are consumers these days really that incapable of telling the difference between a product that contains meat and one which doesn’t?
Taking this from a slightly different angle, the trademarked ‘V’ symbol added to its labels might be a clever marketing ploy by Hellmann's, in an attempt to gain a win in the public’s eye.

However, despite Hellmann's potential attempt to promote vegetarianism through the extremity of relabelling its products, the question is: should we all be flexitarians? In the face of this costly and seemingly pointless rebranding, I feel this does, in fact, bring an interesting point to light.

As a population, if we are concerned with the increasing threat of global warming, with having clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, maybe we should relook at our meat intake. With intensive meat production being a significant contributor towards these issues, perhaps we should all consider consuming less meat-based products (and potentially more Hellmann's Mayonnaise)?

Michaela Anthony is the Digital Marketing Apprentice at Peterborough Environment City Trust.