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Thoughts from June 2011

reusing our packaging

Recycle_week

Tales of weird and wonderful ways to make use of our packaging once the contents have been enjoyed never fail to make us smile.

Apparently our veg pots make great homes for chilli plants and orchids

Matthew Walton chilli plants

Our fruit tube packaging can be turned into a mirror discovery box for exploring in the garden

Mirror_box11

Juice carafes come in rather handy for impromptu games of skittles (add water to make things a bit trickier), and the caps are the perfect spot for growing just enough cress to spruce up an egg sarnie.

Cress

It also turns out that our kids' smoothie boxes are just the thing for carrying sick ducklings to the vets

Photo

And as if that wasn't enough, they make pretty nifty conveyor belts for transporting snacks from one end to the other too.

Thanks to Matt, Laura, Dominic, Emily, Ian, Mrs Barry, Minnie's mum and Craig for the photos and suggestions.

If anyone thinks they can top these, we'd love to hear from you.

madgascar 3: the preview (not really)

I have recently come back from an incredible couple of weeks in Madagascar. It's a land full of contrasts with unique wildlife and beautiful landscape, but it's also home to some of the poorest people in the world.

During my time there I visited Project Lanirano run by Azafady on behalf of the Innocent Foundation. Azafady are a small NGO based in the south east of Madagascar and they do some fantastic work to alleviate poverty in the area and create more sustainable livelihoods for the local people.

Project Lanirano is an initiative that has two main aspects: an urban side, and a rural side. The urban element of the project assists women in making their small businesses more profitable, and the rural side teaches farmers new agricultural methods.

I think the best way to tell the story of my visit is to talk you through some good ol' pics:

Day 1

Here are some women receiving small business training. Many of the group were illiterate before they started so their progression has been immense.

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I met a number of women who had already benefited from the small grants for their business. They told me their stories and it was incredible to hear how such a small amount of money can have such an enormous impact on their lives. The lady on the right gave me a zebu statue as a gift, which I clearly seem happy about but not sure she was quite so pleased by the look on her face.

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This woman told me that because of the business grant she was now able to afford to feed her family 3 meals-a-day.

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I spent the afternoon looking at a flash spreadsheet that held some frightening data about the women's income & expenditure. The average member of the group is living on 4p per day.

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Day 2

This is me and Latena (Head of Sustainable Livelihoods for Azafady), just before we embarked on a bumpy mission out to the bush. Despite my smile I was feeling rather ill, having been up all night being sick. Not ideal.

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This didn't deter me from visiting the rural side of the project where I watched a lesson in how to compost.

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The locals have also started to grow their vegetable patch to get more variety in their diet.

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After chatting to some of the locals about the new methods, my illness had finally caught up with me and I needed to go back to the Jeep to crash out.

The work Azafady are doing is making a huge impact on people's lives in Madagascar. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to see their efforts first-hand.

I recommend checking out their range of volunteering programs, including the community conservation I undertook prior to visiting the foundation project.

I would also like to take the opportunity to say a massive thanks to Samm & Latena and everyone at Azafady - you were amazing.

P.S I couldn't write a blog about Madagascar without including some pictures of Lemurs. So I bid you farewell with a few new friends of mine.

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And this happy chap.
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recycle week

Recycle_week

Simon says

This week is Recycle Week and to mark its beginning this morning we played a big game of "guess the bin". We put pictures of lots of things including cartons, used tea bags and deodorant cans up on the big screen and asked everyone to vote on whether they thought they went in the landfill, recycle or compost bin by putting their arms in different positions. Sustainability Lou thought she'd taken some great photos of the action but it turns out she hadn't (she's blaming the camera), so we can only imagine that it looked a little bit like the above but without the American president. He got stuck in traffic.

Run by our friends at Wrap, Recycle Week this year has a Home and Away theme. Nothing to do with Alf, Ailsa and Bobby (sadly), this year’s event is all about how even the smallest actions can make a real difference to our environment. So whether that means remembering to take your cotton bag/wicker basket/coat with the really big pockets to the shops instead of using a plastic bag, rinsing out and reusing your empty pesto jar or taking part in a Big Tidy Up in your local area, there’s loads of ways to get involved. We’ve made a handy guide to recycling our products right here, and if you want to find out more about what can be recycled where you live (or just watch some nifty videos about what happens to your recycling after you put into those green bins) then check out the Recycle Now website.

having a miserable day?

Us too. Our feet have only just dried out after traipsing through the sodden streets to get to work this morning and our hair is unlikely to recover. The weather has, mercifully, brightened up, but the umbrella carcasses that litter the office are a cruel reminder of what we went through to get here.

So at times like this we find comfort in the knowledge that someone, somewhere is on a log flume, having the time of their life and considerably wetter than us.

Log flume

Thanks to Frankie and his friends for making us smile.

picture this

We think some of the best things about summer take place on the beach. The feeling of warm sand between our toes; the sound of waves crashing against rocks; the sight of a beautiful sunset; the smell of BBQs on the beach. We'd go on but we've run out of senses.

One dreary day last week we decided to surf the net for holidays (pun intended), and came across some spooky images from the depths of Moilinere Bay, Grenada.

Sea Sculptures

Now imagine you're minding your own business - doing a spot of snorkelling, when you see something that looks distinctly like a man typing at a desk

Sea Sculptures 2

And if that wasn't quite weird enough, you then bump into a woman with big, gaping holes where her eyes should be

Sea Sculptures 3

We're strangely fascinated, but can't help feeling we'd have a lifetime of nightmares if we ever stepped foot in this part of the ocean.

Maybe some other time.