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TEDxEastEnd: Society Beyond Borders

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It was a mild winter’s day as I stepped out of Bethnal Green tube to head to Oval Space and TEDxEastEnd. Volunteers with Red umbrellas and signs marked the route to the event, now in its third year.

The theme was Society Beyond Borders, timely given the fevered debate about immigration. Why were we there? Sustainability is about matching the needs of the economy, environment and society. It was that final area that piqued our interest. TEDx events are independently organised TED events, the technology, entertainment and design-fest beloved by so many. TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to ideas worth spreading.

Maryam Pasha (the curator), of the Migrants’ Rights Network, and Mike Mompi, of impact angel investors ClearlySo, were the masters of ceremony. The event was held at Oval Space, in London’s increasingly cool East End, and my old stomping ground (when it wasn’t so cool). It’s a warehouse-style venue that comfortably housed the 450 people who were there to listen to thought leaders about the varied perspectives on borders. There’s a nice industrial feel with massive gas holders as a backdrop.

The BBC’s Home Editor Mark Easton kicked off proceedings with a light-hearted exploration of identity. As a child we often describe ourselves as being from a street, a country (Scotland in Easton’s case), Britain, Europe, the world, the galaxy and the universe. 2014 is the year for deciding on whether we are European and for the Scottish, whether they are British. Easton explored how we define where we are from and touched on exclusive identities and inclusive identities and the contradictions between them.

Mitu Khandaker gave a fascinating insight on the games’ industries endemic racism and sexism and punctured the myths of tidy quick-win solutions of representation and criticism. Her untidy solution was that we need to take tiny steps towards what will inevitably be a messy solution. She is tackling this through her game Redshirts, a reference to the stock characters in fiction who die soon after being introduced, with its origin in the unfortunate sounds of Star Trek.

Paul Smyth of FARM:shop is trying to create a London Free Trade Zone, with art installations in empty spaces that double as low cost, low regulation retail spaces.

Stephanie Pau extolled the virtues of citizen invention, specifically citizen space exploration. In a society without borders, space is the final frontier.

The inspirational Laura Bates talked about the daily abuse of women that led her to create the Everyday Sexism Project. A hushed hall heard the horrifying abuse women suffer in their daily lives. Her eloquent impassioned argument showed how this diminishes us all, from young girls who report their fear on her website and men who are ridiculed for wanting to take paternity leave. An economic, political and cultural system designed around employed, white, heterosexual, able-bodied men, needs radical reform.

Sugata Mitra had a TED wish. He demonstrated that children’s natural curiosity means they can learn without being taught. His hole in the wall project and subsequent SOLE and Granny Cloud projects are well worth watching at TED.com.

Lisa Ma socialises activism and gave a slightly surreal speech about the virtues of quiet activism.

Hamit Dardagan, of Iraq Body Count, explored the belligerent developed world’s unwillingness to count the innocent killed in our wars, and how his organisation filled that void.

The scientist Brooke Magnanti, better known as Belle de Jour, gave a determined defence of the world’s most successful author, anonymous. Her compelling argument asked who benefits from abandoning anonymity (the corporate media and politicians trying to silence dissent), and how countless women and dissidents have used anonymity to get their words across. Trolling is often thrown together with the word anonymous, and this is misleading, as most Trolls are not anonymous. They abuse and bully under their real names. Behaviour, that in any other walk of life would lead to a collar being felt and the stern punishment of a magistrate.

Leandro Herrero, a fusion of professor, teacher and boss, gave a counter-intuitive and amusing talk about the importance of personal borders. In the digital age we live our lives in their glare of total exposure and disclosure, diminishing our personal stock. Holding something back, being undiscoverable, enjoying silence and your own company were part of his borders diet.

Peter Tatchell is a formidable human rights campaigner who has done much for LGBT rights in the UK and around the world. In his speech he gave an impassioned speech for economic reform that we will try and publish in full over the coming weeks. His argument is that poverty is a human rights issue and economics has done more to create the current inequity.

Martin Wright, of Forum for the Future, argued the case for a new environmentalism, which doesn’t tell people off or make them feel guilty. He used his experiences in Bangladesh to show how the developing world can leapfrog the capital intensive infrastructure. They can use mobile phones and renewables to increase their prosperity, from the fisherman phoning from offshore to get the best price for their fish, to replacing dirty lamps and cookers with cheap, clean energy.

Mica Nava is the emeritus professor of cultural studies at the University of East London. Her carefully constructed argument showed the negativity that frames our discussion about immigration. Exploring the inadequacy of terms such as multiculturalism, superdiversity and cosmopolitanism she explained how the slightly uncomfortable term of mongrelisation better explains London’s gradually merging racial profile. Her talk was one of optimism for the future, built on her own family’s incredibly global heritage.

The award-winning slam poets, The Chill Pill Poets (Raymond Antrobus, Deanna Rodger and Adam Kammering), brought down the house with poems about difference. In a case of perfect symmetry with Easton’s opening remarks, the event ended with Deanna Rodger performing a moving poem on how she is asked, “where are you from?”

The event was supported by Tata Consultancy Services, Migrants’ Rights Network, Oval Space, Fleishman Hillard, Razorfish, Creativedynamicprint, Eventbrite, Honest, Impact Hub Westminster and the English Dance League. Catering was provided by our friends at Think Eat Drink and the event was streamed live by Be Inspired films.

The content will be released as individual talks in February and you can get updates here.

Further reading:

TED talks: does money make you mean? – Paul Piff

The Truth about Immigration was more of a narrow discussion

TED talks: obliquity: how complex goals are best achieved indirectly – John Kay

TED talks: a journey of mortality, renewal and ethical investment – Joel Solomon

Capitalism’s woes will not be solved by 16th or 19th century economic theories

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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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