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Pharrell Williams and Oliver Letwin Hook Awards For Marine Conservation At Inaugural UK Ocean Awards



American musician and producer Pharrell Williams is recognised for his work to promote awareness of the plastic waste filling up the oceans through sustainable fashion label, Bionic Yarn while Oliver Letwin, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, gets “visionary” award for engineering UK government’s key commitment to “Blue Belts” around its Overseas Territories. Retailers M&S and Selfridges also scooped awards among the 12 categories for their efforts to address ocean issues. The Awards event, held at Mark’s Club in Mayfair, was attended by judges including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Sir Charles Dunstone and Princess Zahra Aga Khan.

Last night, Boat International held the Inaugural Ocean Awards, in partnership with leading marine charity, Blue Marine Foundation. The Ocean Awards were created to celebrate conservation champions who have made outstanding contributions to the health of the world’s oceans.

American singer, songwriter and producer Pharrell Williams, won the ‘Personality’ category recognising his work to promote awareness of our ocean crisis. He was celebrated for his role as creative director of Bionic Yarn, which uses fibres recycled from plastics removed from the ocean to make clothing. His initiative encourages other creative thinkers to repurpose ocean waste and raises awareness of the impact of plastic on our oceans and rivers.

Oliver Letwin, MP scooped the award for the ‘Visionary’ category, acknowledging his achievement in the proposed creation of a new marine protected area around Pitcairn in the southern Pacific Ocean. This was followed in the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto by a promise to safeguard precious marine habitats by creating a ‘Blue Marine Belt’ around all 14 of the UK’s Overseas Territories, and complete the network of Marine Conservation Zones around the UK’s coast. Thanks to Oliver’s determination, and a private donor found by the Great British Oceans coalition, the government announced earlier this month the creation of a marine reserve almost the size of the UK around Ascension Island in the Atlantic.

Editorial Director of Boat International and co-host of the event, Sacha Bonsor, said: ‘Oceans are our planet’s lifeblood. For us to be able to enjoy them for years to come, we must take greater responsibility in protecting them. We hope that by recognising the people and organisations doing the most to help the oceans, we can establish a formidable annual event that makes significant strides in ensuring the future health of our planet.’

Charles Clover, Chairman of Blue Marine Foundation commented: ‘We all know this is a moment of crisis for the oceans, but thankfully in the past year there has been an extraordinary number of reasons for hope. We decided it was important to celebrate those individuals, groups and companies who are leading the charge in fixing one of the world’s largest problems.’

Each category was judged by an illustrious panel, which included Sir Charles Dunstone, chef and television personality, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and financier Ben Goldsmith.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, said, ‘As a lover of the oceans, both as a source of food and a source of wonder, it is inspiring to hear about the determined people and brilliant initiatives that give us all hope. It’s all too easy to be dragged down by the doom and gloom of the many things going wrong in our seas. But today we are reminded that these are all solvable problems, and we celebrate the leadership and commitment of those who are determined to solve them.’

Retail giant, M&S netted the trophy for the retailer that has done most through corporate policy and public engagement to address ocean issues over the past year. The supermarket’s ‘Forever Fish’ campaign spanned educating primary school pupils about sustainable sourcing, funding WWF marine projects, launching beach clear-ups and marketing less traditionally popular species of fish such as dab and flounder.

Selfridges also received a nod of approval for their ‘Project Ocean’ initiative, which removed single-use plastic bottles from its food halls and restaurants earlier last year. The intimate awards ceremony was held at Mark’s Club in Mayfair. Each trophy took the form of a unique sculpture, created by coastal-based artists from the debris littering our beaches.



Environmentally Sustainable Furniture for Dummies



eco-friendly sustainable furniture choices
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We probably don’t think a great deal about our furniture choices. I know that I tend to just buy whatever looks pretty, seems functional and fits my budget. That usually means a trip to a few showrooms and big warehouse stores, like Ikea.

But we have a responsibility to the planet. We can do better. There are three major ways that our furniture can help the environment:

  1. Purchase used and/or recycled furniture and extends the lifecycle of precious materials.
  2. Source furniture that is free of environmentally unsustainable products.
  3. Choose furniture that doesn’t require electricity – opting for manual transitioning.

By investing in environmentally sustainable, high-qualify furniture, you’ll be able to pass down items from generation to generation. This will save your heirs on the cost of furnishing their own home, and help to protect the environment from wasteful fad furniture that only lasts a season or two.

Natural and Recycled Furniture Materials

If you absolutely love the look of wood furniture, search for environmentally sustainable products. For example, locally sourced wood or bamboo can easily be replenished without requiring excessive international harvesting of precious woods that harm the environment.

Sustainable wood products are only sourced from companies and locations that have the ability to quickly replace harvested wood – providing a responsible resource for generations of manufacturers and consumers.

Recycled furniture can either be a gently used item from someone else’s home, or a new piece of furniture that’s been used from reclaimed sources. You’ve probably seen examples of this at your local park – cities are increasingly using recycled materials to create benches and picnic tables.

But recycled materials don’t have to feel rough or rustic. Items made from recycled wood are readily available for order online or in-store. And believe it or not, electronic waste can be reclaimed and crafted into beautiful pieces of modern furniture.

The only limitation on recycled furniture design is the imagination of the creator. If you want to do it yourself, check out this DIY recycled furniture pinterest board!

Avoid Harsh Chemicals that Harm the Environment

Did you know that many cushions are made of highly-flammable polyurethane? Furniture manufacturers help keep our butts out of the hot seat by treating the materials in cushions with fire-retardant toxins. Unfortunately this padding breaks down overtime and the dust is both toxic to humans and the environment.

There are multiple lines of eco-friendly furniture that avoid the use of flammable polyurethane – often substituting with organic cotton. Just understand that you’re going to be in for a bit of sticker shock – eco-friendly furniture, when purchased new from major brands, gets pricey.

If you can’t afford the pricetag, I recommend finding used furniture from the same product line. There are a ton of websites dedicated to helping eco-friendly consumers find used organic, responsibly sourced products – and that includes furniture.

You’ll also want to stay away from faux leather. Furniture made from pleather and other leather substitutes are heavily treated with chemicals. That’s never a win.

Hypo-allergenic stuffing, combine with traditional leather might be a decent compromise if you have to have the leather look to tie a room together. But be conscious of the fact that tanning is not an environmentally friendly process, so try to limit these materials in your design.

In conclusion, it’s up to you how crazy you want to go. I think that as long as you stay with used furniture, you’re on the right track – even if it isn’t environmentally perfect, it’s at least a sunk cost for the environment – the damage has been done and you’re extending its useful life. But I think the most important takeaway here is buy quality items that you can pass down to your next generation – if that means spending more on higher quality new items that are sustainably sourced, so be it.

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Livery Services: Mother Nature Needs You to Invest in an Eco-Friendly Fleet



green fleets
Shutterstock Photos - By tostphoto |

In the United Kingdom, fleet vehicles make up most of the traffic traveling our roadways. If there’s one area of the transportation sector environmentalists should be focusing on, it’s the way we move goods, services and people around the empire.

Businesses that operate a fleet of vehicles need to realize the environmental impact of their service, and the opportunities available to help them lower their operating costs, while saving mother nature.

A green fleet is much cheaper to operate – both because of lower petrol consumption and government grants and tax benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at the things your company is unnecessarily spending money on every year due to an old, dirty fleet of polluters.

Vehicle Taxes on Polluters vs. Environmentally Friendly Fleets

If you want to operate your commercial van on public roads, you’re going to have to pay a VED, or Vehicle Excise Duty. The total fee assessed for this is based on the age of your vehicle, not how much you drive it. This is important, because an idle fleet of polluters can be just as costly as a fleet of green vehicles that produce value for your company.

Vans that were built after 1 March 2001 were taxed either £132 every six months, or £240 annually. This rate is effective per the TC39 VED tax code. There are exceptions to this rate.

For example, if your van is classified as a Euro 4 van, and was manufactured between 1 March 2003 and 31 December 2006, TC36 VED tax code applies to you. The six-month rate is £77, or £140 annually.

For older vans, manufactured prior to 1 March 2001, your tax rate is based on the size of the engine. Vans with engines less than 1549cc are charged £82.50 every six months, or £150 annually. Old vans with larger engines must pay £134.75 every six months, or £245 annually.

Euro 4 vans are the cheapest to operate from a tax perspective. Why? Because they were fitted with specialized filters that help to reduce the amount of dangerous pollutants that make it into earth’s atmosphere. You enjoy the tax savings year-after-year by operating these vehicles.

It really is economically more affordable to operate a green fleet.

Petrol Costs – Another Reason to Think Green to Save Green

The cost of petrol is heavily impacted by our environment. When Britain is thrashed by stormy weather due to global warming, or oil production is impacted by environmental disasters, the cost of filling up skyrockets.

At the time of this writing, petrol is £1.16 per liter, and diesel is £1.18 per liter. There are forecasts from reliable agencies that see the price continuing to rise in the near future, passing price points not seen since 2014.

Regardless of the speculative nature of future fuel prices, the fact remains that vehicles that use less fuel save their operators money every time the wheels turn.

As an alternative, many companies are heavily investigating and testing all-electric and hybrid alternatives for a greener, more economical fleet. As an example, the Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular all-electric vehicles – and it’s a fantastic choice for transporting people or smaller cargo payloads to residential destinations.  The total cost to charge a Nissan Leaf, using current electrical vehicle charging technology, is just £3.64 to go from empty to full charge.

That’s a HUGE savings over filling a petrol tank. And with the prevalence of fast-charge locations, it’s possible to go from zero to empty in just 30 minutes.

In conclusion, there are many ways to save on fleet operation costs. And by investing in a more efficient fleet, you’ll be doing your part to save the environment. Both tax incentives and lower operating costs make green fleets a no-brainier for serious fleet operators throughout the United Kingdom.

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