Author

Laura Fitzpatrick

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The ancient black and yellow flying warrior gardeners, patrolling the world in a never ending quest to pollinate flowers are now under serious threat!

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Bees: so important to our world

The commercial world of farming puts the monetary value on them in the billions, for most plants to produce fruit and veg – the bee is essential.

Given Albert Einstein’s  famous prediction – “when the bee is extinct humans will have only 4 years left”, perhaps we ought to be more concerned at the rapid rate of decline in their population. Last year, the minister responsible for animal health, Lord Rooker, said if nothing is done the British honey bee could be wiped out in 10 years.

Part of the reason is due to modern agriculture methods – pesticides and fertilizers – potentially very harmful to the navigation systems of bee’s, also the fact that huge area’s of land covered with the same crop all flowering simultaneously leave huge gaps in the food supply for bees through out the season. Given these problems coupled with the dreaded mite – for the first time in 35 million years the bee is under attack. Cities with there large variety of flowers and lack of pesticides are, surprisingly, becoming havens for the struggling bee population-with bee keepers in these regions doing far better than their country counter parts. Random and freak weather events, as a result of human produced carbon emissions, are also causing major problems for the vulnerable bee.

So what can you do in such a situation? Well often it is the simple things that make the biggest difference. Buying organic food will promote a reduction in the use of harmful pesticides. Growing plenty of flowering plants, especially lots of varieties that flower at different times will provide sustained food for bee’s as well as giving your garden plenty of colour year round. Chives are great and are delicious to eat. Also, you can check out future articles in hello eco living, on how to become a bee keeper – we’ll give you the low down on to make money from honey, how to get setup fast and the health benefits you will receive, not to mention the delicious golden nectar you’ll have on tap!

When you buy organic, you want to make sure that that you’re making the right choice. This is why the Soil Association has proudly announced a new EU-wide, harmonised standard for organic health and beauty products.

 

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New organic standards come in to play

At a time when the organic health and beauty market is experiencing extremely significant growth – in 2008 UK sales of organic health and beauty products increased an impressive 69% to £27 million – it’s important that we are clear on what we’re buying.

Francis Blake, director of Soil Association standards said:

“This new harmonised standard is a real breakthrough for consumers and for the organic health and beauty industry and we hope it will be used as an international blue print. Application to use this standard is open to all certification bodies as of 30 Sept 2009.”

The new ‘COSMOS-standard’ is a result of six years work in collaboration with five other European organisations. It also covers the regulation of ‘natural’ cosmetics. The objective of this new standard is ambitious and goes beyond all current requirements for organic and natural cosmetics.

Current organic brands will have a 3-year transition period [up to September 2012] if they need to alter formulations and labelling. Any new organic brands will have to adhere to these new standards immediately. So watch out for new little labels on your products meaning your safe in the knowledge that they’re making your skin wonderfully gorgeous.

Why go organic?

Safety

For products to use the term ‘organic’ they need to be certified by the Soil Association or a similar organisation. The SA very careful with the products certified, and if there is any doubt about an ingredient it is banned – so no parabens, no phthalates and no GM ingredients. Meaning lovely skin all around!

Avoid irritation

Synthetic fragrances, which have been found to cause a third of all cosmetic allergies, are banned,

‘Cocktail effect’

You don’t need a lot. Cut down on the products that you and your family use. Much of the concern is about the ‘cocktail effect’ of chemicals in the different products that we use. Many women are using over 20 different products a day, bombarding themselves with hundreds of different chemicals.

Trust

Look for the Soil Association symbol on organic products to ensure that they meet strict organic standards.

No need to compromise

Delicious balms, gorgeous lotions and beautiful baby products are all widely available and perform so well that there is no need to compromise on performance to become an organic beauty.

There’s a whole bunch of things to keep children amused, and you can find them in your garden!

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An eco summer for the kids

A lovely garden centre called Notcutts has been taking the advice of children this summer, asking their advice about what makes their ‘perfect garden’. You’re bound to find this interesting if you have little ones to be amused over the long summer holidays – what’s best – it can all be done on a budget!

Notcutts conducted a research panel comprising of very opinionated 6-7 year old school children from East Anglia asking them all about their perfect garden.

So, what do the children themselves want to keep them amused this summer?

Wellies, buckets and waterproof games! Bad weather isn’t a deterrent: kids love playing in the rain, with 80% of them finding it as much fun as the sun!

‘A bit of garden to call my own’ was a popular request, with 90% of the panel wanting even the smallest area earmarked for their own gardening project.

Treehouses or dens also proved popular, with 60% of kids wanting somewhere specific to play in. (A low cost alternative would involve a card board box – my Mum always reminds me that I was more intrigued playing with the boxes my pressie came in rather than the pressie itself)

Weeding!! – apparently kids think this is fun and tops the list of gardening activity, above planting and watering! Just give them some pointers and watch them go, takes the pressure off Mum and Dad!

To make things a bit more fun for them, you could invest in some nice children’s gardening tools – there’s some cute items available from Notcutts as well as other garden centres – and when you’re children grow out using spades with ladybugs on, then you can be sure to pass them on to another young child who is discovering the wonders of exploring the back garden!

Would be explorers are wanted for a World Record Attempt to Reach the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility in 2010! Have you got what it takes?

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You could be an ice warrior

Veteran Explorer, Jim McNeill, announces the Search for Ice Warrior Expedition Members

Defined as the furthest point from land on the Arctic Ocean and therefore its centre, the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility remains the last truly significant place in the Polar Regions, yet to be reached by mankind. It is over two hundred miles further than the Geographic North Pole and one of four recognised north poles.

Jim is looking for 28 highly dedicated and committed people to take part in a comprehensive and intensive training programme to take on one of four 200 mile legs, pushing the route across the Arctic Ocean.

Along the route “crucial datasets” will be gathered to benchmark the condition of the ocean for the NASA funded National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) scientists, led by Walt Meier. These deliver the reality of climate change and make the whole expedition worthwhile and purposeful.

The journey itself is a complicated logistical problem with the need for highly remote fuel and food caches to enable the exchange of teams and resupplies.

People wishing to get involved should visit the website where there are more details and a downloadable enrolment form for an Induction Weekend in August.

Jim said: “I’m looking for highly motivated individuals who want to go way beyond their comfort zones and push the boundaries of endurance in a wholly worthy and justifiable cause. Between now and February I will train them in every aspect that makes them competent and safe polar travellers.”

If you’re up for the challenge you can contact Jim McNeill at: jim@ice-warrior.com – and don’t forget to let Hello Eco Living know if you’re selected to take part in this amazing challenge – we’d love to read your blog all about your adventures in the run up to the expedition itself!