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Actor Michael Sheen Meets Social Entrepreneurs At London’s Borough Market



Actor Michael Sheen Meets Social Entrepreneurs At London’s Borough Market

In celebration of Social Saturday, which took place over the weekend, some entrepreneurs got the opportunity to meet actor and activist Michael Sheen at London’s Borough Market.

Social Saturday is designed to inspire people to buy from British social enterprises. Well-known names include The Big Issue, Café Direct, Divine Chocolate and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant chain. Britain is home to 70,000 of these alternative businesses, which contribute 24bn to the economy and employ one million people.

Free of shareholders, social enterprises – which include cooperatives – choose to plough their profits back into the business to deliver on their social or environmental cause, which might be getting ex-offenders back into employment, or reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfill.

Michael spoke with a number of social entrepreneurs and took part in a cookery demonstration with Brigade, a life changing social enterprise that trains homeless people as professional chefs, helping them to get off the streets and into work.

The Welsh actor, who is Patron of Credit Unions Wales, said:

“Recently I’ve been visiting social enterprises in the UK and Spain to learn more about how they’re helping to regenerate communities and change people’s lives for the better. I’m keen to understand how I can help bring some of the strengths of this alternative business movement back to Wales.”

Awareness of social enterprise is growing in the UK and the key reason for this is the rise in the number of social enterprises selling to British consumers.

Peter Holbrook CBE, CEO of the campaigning body Social Enterprise UK, which orchestrates Social Saturday, said:

“We were delighted to introduce Michael to some of the UK’s most inspiring social entrepreneurs, who are using their business acumen to positively change the communities and the world we live in. Awareness of social enterprise is growing in the UK and the key reason for this is the rise in the number of social enterprises selling to British consumers. People care about the ripple effect of their spending – it’s one of the reasons that the social enterprise movement is thriving. Social enterprises operate in communities across the UK, from coffee shops and cinemas to dentists, supermarkets and leisure centres.”

UK social enterprise facts

  • Awareness of social enterprises is rising.
  • The majority of the British public (51%) are now aware of these alternative businesses, compared with 37% two years ago in 2014.
  • In 2008, only 1 in 5 (20%) were aware of social enterprises.
  • Social enterprises are much more likely to be led by women than mainstream businesses: 40% per cent of social enterprises have a female chief executive, compared with 7% of FTSE 100 companies.
  • The majority of social enterprises (59%) actively employ people who are disadvantaged in the labour market, including ex-offenders, people with disabilities and the long-term unemployed.
  • Three quarters (74%) of social enterprises pay the Living Wage as accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

Social enterprises at Borough Market on Social Saturday

  • From Babies with Love – baby clothes – every purchase supports orphaned and abandoned babies to grow up in loving family homes
  • Frank Water – reusable water bottles, using profits to provide life changing access to safe water and sanitation for marginalised people living in India’s tribal regions and urban slums
  • Alive and Kicking – make footballs in Africa, sustaining 155 ethical jobs and using 100% of profits to deliver health education programmes
  • Buy Rice Back – upcycled rice bags – use the profits to provide homes and education to children in the South of India who would have otherwise been forced into begging
  • Sniffy Wiffy – hand/body creams to help in the fight against breast & testicular cancer
  • The Soap Co – luxury soap and hand creams – employs people who are blind or disabled (80% of its staff) – the org behind it, CLARITY, is the oldest social enterprise in the UK, founded 1854
  • Stand 4 socks – ethically made socks – profits support global causes including providing vaccines to children in developing countries
  • Harry Specters – handmade chocolates, providing jobs and training to young people with autism
  • Tea People – sells tea – profits help to educate underprivileged children in tea growing regions around the world
  • Papi’s Pickles – sells pickles – provides women from Sri-Lankan and South-Indian communities training, jobs, support and skills for life


Borough Market is not only London’s oldest fruit and veg market, but also unique in being a charitable trust that exists to provide a market for the public. Borough works with small businesses and social enterprises, providing them with guidance and support. Currently it is home to three social enterprises – Change Please, The Golden Company and Rubies in the Rubble.


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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New Climate Change Report Emphasizes Urgent Need for Airline Emission Regulations




In less than two months, the United States has grappled with some of the worst natural disasters in its history. Hurricanes battered the south central United States. Fires destroyed homes throughout Northern California. Puerto Rico experienced some of the worst storms ever. A massive windstorm caused more damage to the northeastern United States then any other storm on record before winter even struck.

These recent incidents have spurred discussion on the dangers of climate change. A recent report from the University of London has shed some light on the discussion. The new report suggests that new regulations are needed, including stricter EPA regulations on Airlines.

Review of the new report

The new report was published in the British medical Journal, Lancet. The report concluded that climate change is a “threat multiplier” for a variety of social problems, including diseases and natural disasters. While numerous studies have processed the risk that climate change plays with creating natural disasters, University of London report is among the first to explore the relationship between climate change and disease.

The authors warned that the problems are becoming irreversible. They will continue to get worse if risk factors are not adequately addressed.

The most concerning part of the report is that these problems are having the most serious impact on the most vulnerable communities in the world. Countries that depend on agriculture and other issues will suffer the most if climate change escalates.

“The answer is, most of our indicators are headed in the wrong direction,”said Nick Watts, a fellow at University College London’s Institute for Global Health and executive director of the Lancet Countdown, one of the lead researchers of the paper. “Broadly, the world has not responded to climate change, and that lack of response has put lives at risk. … The impacts we’re experiencing today are already pretty bad. The things we’re talking about in the future are potentially catastrophic.”

Airline industry discovers climate change is a two-way Street

The airline industry is coping with the problems of climate change, while also coming to terms with the fact that it has helped accelerate the problem. Earlier this year, American Airlines was forced to cancel four dozen flights near Phoenix. Cancellations were called due to excessive temperatures. The air was over 120 degrees, which is too hot for some smaller jet planes to get off the ground.

One anonymous airline executive privately admitted that their business model has facilitated climate change. They warned that the problem may become twice as bad in the next few years if proper safeguards aren’t implemented. Representatives from Goindigo have echoed these concerns.

The EPA has stated that airplanes account for 11% of all emissions. They are expected to increase over 50% within the next 30 years. This could have serious repurcussions if newer, greener airplane models don’t become the new standard in the very near future.

This is driving discussion about the need for new policies.The EPA has been discussing the need for new airline regulations for nearly two years. An EPA ruling made in July 2016 set the tone for new regulations, which could be introduced in the next year.

The new policies may be delayed, due to the new president’s position on climate change. He hired an EPA chief that has sued the organization about a dozen times. However, the Trump Administration may not be able to oppose climate change indefinitely, because a growing number of people are pressing for reforms. Even younger conservatives primarily believe climate change is a threat and are demanding answers. This may force the EPA to follow through on its plans to introduce new solutions.

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