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Vote Green (where they can win) if you care about the future

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We do not involve ourselves in party politics, as a rule, apart from reporting on environmental and energy policies. On this occasion, we have taken a break from our convention to encourage people to vote Green to send a strong message to the major party leaders.

We will start with a confession. We wish the Green Party did not need to exist. We wish that climate science was accepted and widely understood; that clean and renewable energy was the mainstream; that sustainable investment was the dominant style of investment; that ethical shopping was the norm; and that we all chose to travel responsibly.

We wish the government realised that there is nothing else economically or socially, without the environment that sustain us.

Last week, we covered the policies of the five top parties when these council seats were contested last: the ConservativesLabour, the Lib Dems, the Green party and UKIP.

We have concluded that, until our wishes above come true, we will need the Green party. More and more, every year, for as long politicians and those who elect them, fail to act.

UKIP has done most of the running in the lead up to the England local elections today. By being a party for the protest vote, it has adopted the role normally taken on by the Lib Dems. Investigations by the press have revealed some less than savoury candidates in their mix.

Nevertheless, UKIP has clearly moved the national debate on Europe.

Similarly, a vote for the Green party will send a clear and much more positive message to the major national parties on energy, the environment and creating a sustainable economy.

Come on, Warwickshire, Norfolk, Worcestershire, Suffolk, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Devon, Essex, East Sussex and Cambridgeshire

Based simply on share of votes, good opportunities for breakthrough are in the county councils of Warwickshire (no seats), Norfolk (seven), Worcestershire (none), Suffolk (two), Gloucestershire (one), Hertfordshire (one), Devon (one), Essex (one), East Sussex (none, and home to the Greens’ only MP and former MEP, Caroline Lucas) and Cambridgeshire (one).

In six of those, the Green party has broken through and already secured councillors, which proves that even in first past the post elections, fourth, fifth and sixth placed parties can gain representation.

The same percentage of people (11%) voted for the Green party in Warwickshire (21,115) as they did in Norfolk (27,395 votes). Due to the perversity of the first past the post system, it secured them no seats in Warwickshire and seven seats in Norfolk. Come on, Warwickshire!

Come on, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Lancashire and Bristol

Also in the running are Oxfordshire (two seats), Northamptonshire (none), Lancashire (two) and Bristol (one). In each, the Green party came in fourth place and has an outside chance of securing more or any seats.

Local elections are, of course, about local services and their provision. However, they are a useful barometer on the national mood and a powerful signal to the main party leaders to change or strengthen their direction.

As we have said, most of the running has been made by UKIP and its anti-Europe, anti-immigrant message.

Local election victories are morale boosters for existing party members and recruitment sergeants for new members and voters.

The Green party’s membership has grown from just over 5,000 in 2002 to 12,000 in 2012. Its general election support grew from 166,000 (0.6%) votes in 2001 to over 265,000 (0.9%) in 2010. It is not massive, but our electoral system discourages positive voting so minor parties struggle to garner support.

An electoral boost for a party that makes environmental issues central to its policies is a good stick with which to beat the other parties.

Members of the National Trust, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, customers of Good Energy, Ecotricity and those who choose to invest or travel responsibly and shop ethically could all send a strong message to government and politicians that we care about our environment if they used their vote to back the Green party. The worst that could happen would be a shift in the major parties to reflect public over corporate opinion.

We certainly do not agree with everything the Green party says; nor are we here to bang a drum for any political party. That said, today’s elections provide English voters with opportunities to send a powerful positive message that we want the major parties to do more to promote a sustainable economy, support job creation in renewables and cleantech and protect the environment.

The Green party came fifth in 2009, the last time these elections were contested. This was above UKIP. A year later, UKIP had moved up to fourth place in the general election, while the Greens were pushed into seventh behind UKIP, the BNP and SNP.

We can send a message to the party or parties that will form the next government, the environment really matters and action is necessary today.

Further reading:

Public will vote for candidates that support wind farms, says poll

Local election results 2009: infographic analysis

Four decades of Green Party progress

International Green Party success

It’s not easy being the Greens

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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