January 17th, 2014

Picking up the evidence: what’s the cost of litter?

640px-Walkers_Crisps

by Chris Sherrington

 

Is all this concern about litter overblown? Does government really need to intervene to reduce levels of litter, or is it just a distraction from more urgent issues? What are the negative effects of litter and how significant are they; and given the range of apparently competing pressures, what is a policymaker to do?

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November 15th, 2013

Waste prevention: an article of faith?

Toolbox

by Chris Sherrington

 

A friend of mine was walking in the countryside with his children when they came across an interesting array of characters. Dotted around a hillside, facing out to sea, with their hands held chest high and palms facing out, they seemed to be conducting some sort of prayer ritual. When they’d finished, they were happy to chat about what they’d been doing.

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November 5th, 2013

Bonfire of the profanities

512px-Midsummer_bonfire_closeup

by Chris Sherrington

 

The whizz and pop of fireworks; sparklers; mulled wine; and of course gathering around the bonfire to keep warm: the annual celebrations on November 5th are a firm favourite in the Sherrington household. For my children it’s all great fun and for me, while I have reservations about what is being celebrated, Guy Fawkes Night evokes happy childhood memories of building and lighting bonfires with my grandfather. For those reasons, although I’m now aware of the damage unrestricted bonfires can do to our health, I wouldn’t want to deny my children the same enjoyment. Refusing them a bonfire on November 5th would be a crime equal to pretending the Tooth Fairy was bankrupt, or setting the dogs on the Easter Bunny. But I would like to see the time around November 5th, and other events of similar importance to communities across the UK, kept as an exception to a wider crackdown on polluting bonfires at other times of the year.

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September 24th, 2013

Clegg’s debagging

Green_sea_turtle_portrait

by Chris Sherrington

 

Nick Clegg’s recent announcement of a five pence charge for single use carrier bags in England from Autumn 2015 was definitely welcome, even if a cynic might describe it as jumping before being pushed. Until recently, England seemed to be dragging its feet compared with Wales, which introduced a charge in 2011, closely followed by Northern Ireland, and with Scotland planning to introduce a charge in 2014. The indications are that the charges have been extremely effective in reducing the use of plastic carrier bags, but I’m concerned that the scheme announced by Clegg is being set up to fail.

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July 19th, 2013

Crazy paving?

Seaside garden

by Chris Sherrington

 

It’s tidy and hard-wearing. You can park your car on it, getting it off the side of the road, and it doesn’t need watering or mowing. What’s not to like about block paving your front garden, if you’re lucky enough to have one?

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May 24th, 2013

It’s not fair

Electricity Meter

by Chris Sherrington

 

As the father of two young children I am frequently reminded how early in life we develop a sense of what is fair, and (perhaps more intensely), what isn’t. One of my favourite methods of avoiding adjudicating on such matters is to step outside and busy myself with preparing materials for recycling. Given the nature of my work and my company’s culture, it will come as no surprise to hear that I am a pretty diligent recycler. Moreover, as far as I can, I try to prevent the generation of waste in the first place. The upshot is that the Sherrington family’s black bag waste is comprised almost entirely of plastic films and wraps.

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February 13th, 2013

Where there’s smoke…

Open wood fire

by Chris Sherrington

 

There’s something undeniably appealing about a wood fire and even the smell of wood smoke wafting down from someone’s chimney. Perhaps it stirs something deep within us, evoking a time when fire meant safety, and an alternative to raw food, in a world much more dangerous than that we inhabit today. A gas hob and a combi boiler just don’t offer the same appeal. Whether it be this ancestral attachment, or the more prosaic drivers of increased gas and electricity prices, burning wood is enjoying a resurgence. Sales of domestic woodburning stoves have rocketed over the past few years.[1]

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