Posts Tagged 'environmentalism'

Natalie’s Party

“Heading for the beach, head for the sea.

Belongs to you belongs to me”.

From “Natalie’s Party” by Shack.


I love the beach.  Just to kick off my shoes or Birkenstocks and walk on the sand or to submerge my feet in the cool water.  I love those rare times where I have needed to stoop and to walk, bent over, into the wind – wrapped up as the white sea foam cascades with my sole aim of enjoying the battering and looking forward to the shelter of a warm cafe…

This week BBC’s Panorama unearthed a frightening story of the state of many of Britain’s beaches and the resultant water quality of our coastlines.  One particularly novel stunt was for the reporter to drive an ice-cream van around Cornish beaches and to secretly film customers.  When he handed them their ice-cream he warned them that there was a 1 in 7 chance that they might get ill if they ate the ice-cream they all looked baffled and refused to take it. 

Who would willingly take that risk?  Yet, many of the beaches that are monitored by the Environment Agency and SEPA and which have “good” or “excellent” blue flag status offer such risks for those who venture into the water.  This affects those who walk dogs, whose kids play on the beach, surfers, canoeists, kite-boarders, body boarders, etc.  You can find out more here.

Surfers Against Sewage are trying to place pressure on Scottish Water to clean up their act.  If we get success with our first campaign then we can focus on other Scottish beaches.  Our first target is Pease Bay in East Lothian.  We need to get 500 signatures by next week.  We’re only halfway there.  Could you take a few seconds to add your support by clicking here?


My Favourite Things

“These are a few of my favourite things…”

From The Sound of Music.


We all have favourite things.  A favourite item of clothing, a favourite book, film, place.  A comfort blanket of sorts…

I discovered a new thing today and I really like it.  I was talking to my wife this evening about Finisterre in the context of an environmentally friendly, surf related, clothing company.  She smiled with a look of wanderlust in her eyes recalling memories of an excerpt of a book she had heard read on Radio 4 some time ago called “The Price Of Water in Finisterre.”  Then she went on to pass comment on the meaning of the word – the idea of “finis” meaning “end” and “terrae” related to earth.  So whilst used on ancient maps to depict “Land’s End”, it could also be interpreted as “the ends of the earth.”  I really like that…

The great commission is to take the truth of our beliefs to the ends of the earth.  To live out our convictions and demonstrate grace, mercy and humility.  To preach the gospel and, if necessary, to use words.

A few of my favourite things? 

Smell:  wood burning on a frosty day.

Word:  Kindle or tinder.

Book: Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland.

Song: “Freak Scene” by Dinosaur Jr.

Film: “Rushmore” or “The Big Blue”.

Place: a cozy room with good food, close friends, coffee brewing, red wine open and the wee small hours beckoning to talk honestly, to do life together and put the world to rights…


“I want you so much closer…”

From “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab For Cutie.


I recently looked at the structure of my daily routine: the amount of time I spend in front of a PC at work; the number of lunch hours spent scoffing sandwiches whilst checking emails; the amount of time in the car with the radio on; the number of evenings spent simply preparing for something else in the diary; the constant pressure of trying to beat the clock; places to be; people to see…Was it any wonder I constantly felt tired?  Was it any wonder that my mind was often elsewhere?  Was it any wonder that God often felt distant?

Of late I’ve tried to take 20 or 30 minutes over lunchtime to find an empty room in the office and to eat my sandwiches and fruit slowly, to read my bible and scribble in my notepad.  A small thing has made a huge difference.  I’ve tried wherever possible to walk or cycle instead of using my car for non-essential car journeys.  Life is so much better with the wind in my hair, my iPod in my ears and a range of smells in my nostrils (cherry blossom and bacon butties were notable moments today).

 Maybe a walk with God can be literal aswell as metaphorical…

These Are Days

“These are the days.
These are days you’ll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you
Are touched by something.
That will grow and bloom in you”.

From “These Are Days” by 10,000 Maniacs.


The little small group collective that gather around our dining table and inhabit our home and hearts have been working through a series looking at the topics of simplicity, love and justice in recent weeks. 

There are some big and small ideas that seem to challenge me to the core weekly.  Some little changes I can make and some bigger ones I am trying to work through. 

It’s good to enjoy food and laughs with friends who are also determined to encourage one another to grapple with things it’s easier to dismiss.  For each of us to become who we are meant to be and to think and live counter-culturally at times.

I seem to be hearing lots about consumerism at the minute.  I always falter with that when the new Howies or SAS catalogues arrive.  Mind you, this little piece made me smile:

“Come rain (and there will be), come shine (here’s hoping).  Even if our knees have knobbles and our calves are like sticks, we’ll be hunting through our wardrobes for our favourite shorts.  Because just a few hours of sunshine is all we need to remember those summers when we were kids.  When the sun shone for longer, the days were endless and our only deadline was tea on the table.  And when we got up in the morning and threw on our shorts and t-shirts, grabbed some toast and our bikes or skateboards and left for the day we knew that one day in the future the sun would be shining and we’d be putting on our shorts and remembering that feeling.

These are the days and they always were.”


I’m A Message

“I am the best message out of the rest of them.

Are you all alone?  Are you all alone?”

From “I’m A Message”  by Idlewild.


So, Andy and Hugo from Surfers Against Sewage came to Dunbar on Sunday.  They gave a really good overview of environmental issues affecting recreational water users.  It wasn’t just some dusted down powerpoint slide show, but it was pretty obvious they’d really looked into the stuff that affects us locally.

The numbers may have been small, but a really good discussion ensued afterwards.  Some local concerns about the proximity of our surf spots to a cement works, incinerator, landfill and nuclear power station may all seem obvious, but how often do we talk about it?  Some key areas for action were identified.  Thanks, guys.


You can watch the TV coverage on this little clip.

Little Twig

“Your bicycle makes trouble for us all.
Got no brakes.
You got the shakes.
And little boys, well, they drop their toys
When you fly past..yes they do…”

From “Little Twig” by Neil Halstead.


Read this interesting article in the paper over the weekend.  

This quote caught my attention, “cycling is proven to get safer the more people do it. For instance, a 91% increase in cycle use on London’s main roads between 2001 and 2008 was accompanied by a 33% reduction in cyclist casualties over roughly the same period”.

I also read the following whilst preparing our small group this week, “The massive middle class of the world, numbering some three billion people, travels by bus and bicycle.  Mile for mile, bikes are cheaper than any other vehicle, costing around $100 in most of the Third World and requiring no fuel.  They are also the most efficient form of transportation ever invented and, where not endangered by polluted air and traffic, provide their riders with healthy exercise.”

On yer bike.

Message In A Bottle

“I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world.
I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world.
I hope that someone gets my.
I hope that someone gets my.
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle”.

From “Message In A Bottle” by The Police.

What does the bottle you drink from say about you? 

 Soft drink manufacturers try to sell us an image through their products – from the extreme sports ads of Pepsi Max in years gone by to the fact that we all know 11.30 is Diet Coke time.  Did you know that Scotland is the only place where coke isn’t the best selling soft drink?  I’m kinda proud of that.


Our bottled beers are also heavily branded and advertised as if we are what we drink.  Take that to its natural conclusion and it might look quite messy. 

Whilst we will have different preferences based on taste, do we think about what certain consumption promotes about us or those that produce it?

I discovered recently that 15 billion plastic bottles of water are sold every year.  I am part of that target market too as I often shun fizzy drinks in favour of water.  But, actually, what does that cost in terms of manufacturing bottles, extracting water and recycling the empty bottles? 

Vending machines dispense 3 billion cups per year in the UK alone.  A further 3 billion cups originate from other sources and together these cups use 24,000 tonnes of polystyrene annually.

I have used a mug at work for years rather than disposable cups for that very reason, but I still go through hundreds of plastic cups a year on the premise that they get recycled anyhow.  Even that process has a cost financially and environmentally.

I get tired of political tirades on the state of our nation’s education measured on the three R’s (reading, arithmetic and writing).  It seems we have begun to educate ourselves better in terms of stewardship of the planet and are using another three R’s – reduce, re-use and recycle.  Clearly our spelling is improving too.

So today I am the proud owner of a new aliminium bottle.  It should reduce my use of plastic cups from the water dispenser in the office and my need to buy bottled water when I head out.  It fits on my bike or in my bag.  It’s not revolutionary and, yet, maybe, somehow it is?


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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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