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‘It’s difficult choosing which company to draw about. So many of them do the same appalling behaviour’

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Once a month, we’ll be publishing a topical cartoon created by Polyp – a Manchester-based cartoonist who has designed images for the New Internationalist, Friends of the Earth and War on Want, among others. The series, called B******* as usual… began this afternoon, with this entry.

We’ll also be collaborating with him for our monthly guides, and in fact, the partnership began in our Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013 when he created the excellent image to the left regarding the investment ‘sextet of sin’ (click here for a larger version).

To introduce Blue & Green Tomorrow readers with Polyp’s work, we threw a few questions at him via email about his career and his love for cartoons.

This is what he had to say.

How would you describe your work?

Uh oh… tricky question! Err… something, something, Bill Hicks… blah blah ignored by mainstream… er… radical thingamajig whatdyacallit… blah blah…

John Pilger said they were “a bit ruthless” which I loved. “Acidic” is my favourite term.

Where does your interest in cartoons and the issues you draw about come from?

I’ve just always been interested in cartoons and comic books since I was a kid, I’ve no idea why. Maybe it’s the power of being able to turn a blank sheet of paper into anything you want? I loved Lego, so maybe it’s about creating these imaginary objects and then playing with them?

My interest in politics came from watching Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and wondering if people in the future were to look back on this society, what would prompt them to ask, “HOW could they have DONE that to each other?!”.

The answer seemed really obvious, and hit me like a brick – that we let kids starve to death. When I started looking into it at the student’s union, I was just appalled to find injustice was at the root of it all, rather than simple misfortune, and that really politicised me.

How much do the cartoons reflect your own views on the issues?

Pretty much 100%. I take some stuff on trust from the campaign groups I work for, and assume their research is solid, but I try and be really careful not to attack anything unless there’s good evidence to justify it.

Most of the things I say are trying to tease out the really obvious ethical outrages I see around me: people assuming it’s OK to be billionaires when others go hungry doesn’t really need much research to back it up.

No-one’s yet insisted I take a point of view I don’t agree with, though there’s been a few close shaves and heated arguments.

What makes a good satirical cartoon?

Click to enlarge.

For me it’s about distilling down an ethical issue to its bare roots, and trying to capture that feeling people have – that there’s something wrong with a situation, and they can’t fully articulate it.

And of course it takes a lot of chewing pencils and thinking to get me to the point of articulating it clearly, as well.

But once there, I’m often struck by the fact that in the middle of a political argument, I get frustrated with words and just want to whip out one of my toons: “Hands speak for me!” as it says in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar.

Though I’ve not stabbed anyone with a cartoon yet.

One thing a lot of political cartoonists get wrong is they have no love of the rhythm and nuance of words, and so they write excruciatingly laboured, leaden, didactic dialogue and can’t understand why people then cringe.

What impact do you hope they have on people?

When I’m sat there drawing them I feel like I’m tightening a noose around the necks of my targets. I want to block off every avenue down which they can slither to escape the implications of what I’m saying – the message about the fundamental morality of their behaviour.

I’ve been known to snarl out loud and say, “Let’s see you wriggle your way out of this one, you little fuckers!

I really like to imagine them squirming. Pilger’s right: I’m not a goody-goody nice guy; I have a mean nasty cruel streak, and hope I’m putting it to good use.

Which issues do you most enjoy creating cartoons about?

Ones where I can give free reign to my nasty streak and give someone a really good kicking.

I imagine some people get rather angry at some of the cartoons? How do you react?

I get angry back! I get furious about the high handed defensive kneejerk ‘more-politically-correct-than-you’ nonsense I sometimes have to listen to. Particularly if I stray into any of the green, liberal, lefts, sacred cow fields. And there’s a LOT of those! Acres and acres.

This cartoon about the burqa got a really feeble response along the lines of, “Well I think you’ll find not ALL burqas are black, some are quite vivid colours, so your cartoonist is being racist.” I’m parodying a bit here, but not that much.

Click to enlarge.

It’s hilarious when you can so easily tell the person just doesn’t want to acknowledge and engage with the point you’re tackling, and so lashes out irrationally just in order to complain.

I’ve had one orchestrated complaint letter writing attack, and they can be pretty intimidating. You have to stand your ground and keep calm. It’s really important, once you’ve had the initial idea, to try and anticipate misunderstandings or wrong interpretations. But the kneejerk thing really annoys me. On Facebook, at least you can battle these things out and face your accusers in real time.

Oh, and because I’ve done cartoons debunking and ridiculing ‘political’ conspiracy theories, I get told I’m a shill for the New World Order. I love those! They make me happy.

You’ve done many cartoons about climate change. Why do you think the issue makes for good satire?

It’s so emotive. Lots of my stuff is about stepping back from everyday life and trying to look at what we’re doing from a different and hopefully more clear and sane perspective. And ecocide is a godsend for that. WHY are we committing collective suicide when we don’t HAVE to?!

The If ordinary people behaved like… series is interesting. Where do you get your ideas and how easy is it to find companies to satirise?

If ordinary people… just fell out of the pen and wrote itself. But I stopped doing them because I didn’t want to get repetitive. They’re the perfect example of what I was talking about above – distilling things down and stepping back for a new perspective on things.

The difficult bit was choosing which company to label them, since so many of them do the same appalling behaviour.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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