First, many apologies for not having produced a newsletter for so long. I did wonder whether, in these days of electronic communications, the newsletter might be rather outdated, but at the AGM last month people agreed that it would be good to have one occasionally. So I hope to get a newsletter out every two or three months, and would be very glad of any contributions.
Annual General Meeting
At the AGM last month, the existing officers stood again for re-election and were returned unopposed. Co-ordinator: Alastair MacLachlan, Treasurer: Catharine Browne; Chair Virginia Fassnidge, with Mike Tyzack as Deputy Chair.
Catharine presented the accounts (already circulated). Expenses had exceeded income by about £30, but it once again we hadn't made any great efforts to fundraise during the year.
Our main expense was room rental and we discussed whether we should look for a cheaper option. However it was felt that as the current venue was reasonably central, accessible by various means of transport, and able to accommodate a larger audience on the occasions when we had a topic of wider interest, we should stay at St John's.
During the year we had stalls at the Animal Welfare Bazaar, Perivale Wood, Litten Nature Reserve, Hanwell Carnival, Wolf Fields Allotments Open Day and the Brentford Festival.
The Bee Cause continued to be our main campaign focus. Other activities included co-hosting a showing of the film “Mother – caring for 7 Billion” with Population Matters, and a talk on climate change to a group of schoolchildren.
Topic for this month's meeting
Biodiversity in Ealing
The borough of Ealing has more than 100 parks and open spaces. There is quite a variety of habitat, including ancient woodland, unimproved grassland, canalside and riverbank, and four key sites for nature conservation: Brent River Park, Horsenden Hill, Islip Manor Meadows and Northolt Greenford Countryside Park. One could therefore expect there to be a wide range of animal and plant species. Do people value this diversity, and how much do policy-makers consider it when making decisions? A group of planning students have been carrying out a project about attitudes to biodiversity among Ealing residents, and will be presenting their findings at our November meeting.
Other EFoE activities
On Saturday 15 November, several EFoE members are attending the Grand Union Alliance Conference and will be taking part in a workshop on waste and climate change.
On Saturday 29 November: Nic will be leading an 'explore your carbon footprint' workshop as part of a Challenge Network event for young people focussing on climate change and the environmental damage caused by people.
The Bee Cause
At last – the Government launched the National Pollinator Strategy earlier this month. It's not perfect. Friends of the Earth considers that it falls short in two key areas. It doesn't support all farmers to help bees, and action on pesticides doesn't go far enough – it refuses to rule out pesticides that threaten pollinators. But it is a start. There will be more for us to do, and FoE will be in touch soon about the next steps in the campaign.
While on the subject, in its latest product guide to honey, Ethical Consumer recommends that shoppers only buy honey from small-scale, local honey producers in the UK and organic and Fairtrade honey from the Fairtrade co-op, Equal Exchange. The bottom scoring honey brands in the survey include ASDA, Tesco and Sainsbury.
The guide reveals that most commercially produced honey is reliant on treating honey bees akin to domesticated farmed animals resulting in them being overworked and exploited. Ethical Consumer co-editor Tim Hunt said: “The main finding from our honey product guide is that consumers can have a positive impact on honey bee welfare through the brand of honey they buy. For the first time, shoppers can now make an informed choice about which honey brand to buy.”
For more information see http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/honey-product-guide-launched_10112014
Ealing Transition event
Sunday 16 November: Re-Imagining Ealing's Future – a participatory Open Space event exploring the future we would like to create for ourselves in Ealing. The emphasis is on the practical and the possible, rather than on the things we can't easily influence, like macro-economic policy.
The event starts at 7.30 pm in the Polygon, St Mary's Church, St Mary's Road, W5 5RH.
Free, but small donation towards costs welcome.
See http://ealingtransition.org.uk/ for further information.
Greater London – a National Park?
Ealing Green Drinks resurfaced recently with an interesting presentation from guerilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison on the campaign to make Greater London a national park. The aim is to preserve and enhance our natural and cultural heritage, promote the understanding and enjoyment of London's green spaces, and foster the economic and social well-being of local communities. London would be different from other National Parks, however, in that it would not need planning powers to achieve these aims.
You can read more about the idea on http://www.greaterlondonnationalpark.org.uk/ and find out how you might help. One thing that you could do would be to sign the petition to Ealing Council leader Julian Bell requesting LB Ealing's support for the initiative to turn London into the world's first National Park city: https://www.change.org/p/julian-bell-ealing-council-join-our-call-for-a-report-into-the-costs-benefits-options-and-opportunities-for-a-greater-london-national-park
Six times a week a 1/3 mile long train leaves London full to the brim with rubbish bound for landfill. At least 60% of this could have been recycled – why wasn't it? The Rubbish Diet is a not-for-profit social enterprise that aims to help people permanently reduce their waste. The message is “shrink the waste train”.
EFoE members are probably recycling as much as they can already, but you may have friends and neighbours who could do with some encouragement. If they sign up to the Rubbish Diet they'll get useful tips to help them reduce the amount they send to landfill. See the website for more information, including a Q&A section where people can request and offer advice.
LB Ealing is committed to reaching the national recycling target of 50% by 2020. They have teamed up with GreenRedeem to offer a scheme giving residents the chance to be rewarded for recycling and other green actions. People collect points which can be redeemed for discounts at local and national businesses within the borough.
See http://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/200489/recycling_rubbish_and_waste/1698/residents_rewards for more information and to sign up to the scheme.
The Council website also has an interactive visual tool helping to find out what and how you can recycle items from each room in your house or flat. Used cooking oil, for instance, is not collected at kerbside but can be taken to the re-use and recycling centres in Greenford or Acton.
There's also a section on the website explaining where the things taken for recycling are sent, the processes used and the end product. (The cooking oil goes to Living Fuels in Guildford where it's reformulated into bio-diesel.)