Category Archives: Consumer

Got Pus?

Mmmhhh tasty pus on my lip!

The dairy industry spends a lot of money to persuade you, me, and everyone, to drink cow’s milk. ‘Be like a celeb and get the healthy goodness!’ Unfortunately, if you are buying milk from an industrially farmed, dairy herd then you are drinking up to 10% pus in every serving… Yum!

Cow’s udders produce lots of pus when their teets are infected (mastitis). This painful condition results from the unnatural stresses inflicted as part of the industrial system established to get everyone cheap milk. The EU has passed legislation to restrict the somatic cell count to 400,000 cells/Ml (i.e. roughly 10% pus). Milk in the USA is allowed to contain considerably more.

Aside from the fact that industrially rearing cattle is cruel and unnatural, the milk it produces is less healthy. The total protein content is decreased, the amounts of calcium, phosphorus and potassium content are decreased, the taste deteriorates (becomes bitter), and the levels of undesirable components rise. Mastitis is treated with antibiotics delivered directly into the udder. These drugs can also end up in the milk with negative health implications for humans. Mastitis occurs in around 50 % of cows in the UK.

Alternatives:

Happy, healthy cows play in a field

Industrially reared cattle on a ranch in California (up to 100,000 head)

The Amazon Rainforest is being cleared for soya beans to feed cattle

Hayden Panettiere; likes dolphins... not cows...

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Got Life

Scary Sea Creature

 

 

Lurpak Go Home

Annoying advert

These days I cannot cycle across London without giant advertizing  boards getting up in my grill, hawking Lurpak butter. The posters shamelessly try to link a mass butter product with the complex and rich well-being benefits of cooking. Be happy, buy Lurpak and cook.

The one problem with this cheery narrative is that Lurpak butter  is shipped across a sea to get here releasing unnecessary and dangerous green house gasses into our unbalanced atmosphere. Why are we creating this risk when we have great local butter, produced skillfully within these lands? The only butter I will buy is local butter. So Lurpak get your big, dangerous, stupid adverts out of my face and stick to selling your Danish butter to the Danes.

Another annoying advert

This is just getting boring

Reclaim Your Mind

EcoHustler is inspired by Adbusters. Not least for their refusal to allow our shared space and reality to be owned and controlled by corporations who exist solely to sell shit and make money. Much is made of the corporate take over of nature, our lives and our economies but what about the corporate take over of our minds!?

Photo by James Porto, jamesporto.com

Our sensitive brains are bombarded with negative and unsustainable messaging as soon as we walk out the door. People in cities can be hit with up to 2000 messages a day urging them to buy shit they don’t need. No wonder well-being is declining and the natural world is collapsing. Reality is a mass, shared hallucination and with this relentless onslaught of carefully crafted messaging human behaviour is normalized in a pathological state of endless wanting.

It is not just nature we are paving over but our minds.  the practical and proactive response is to ‘culture jam’. That is to compete with an alternative narrative that  can help people see that another world is not only possible… it is preferable, imminent and will be co-created by us. To spark a wave of epiphanies that shatter the consumerist worldview. We must all fight against pro-consumerist advertising wherever it rears its ugly head.

Ads Work by Ron English

Responding online is all well and good…. but there is a danger we just preach to the converted. How do we reach the people out on the street, walking between the invasive advertising hoardings? How can we offer an alternative message?

Positive urban messaging by Paula Chang http://www.quitecurious.com

Not: drink cola to be happy or drive a car to have status or spray this chemical to get laid. But: breathe, exist, create, grow, resist, love and be a part of something bigger than ourselves; something with meaning.

To reach people we have to be brave and head out at night with our faces covered. We have to find the shadows and upload our home-grown messaging to the urban fabric. We need to give the human beehive a repaint.

Problem Me, Solution Me by stevele7

This is your invitation to get involved. Download an eco-propaganda poster and stick it up in your neighbourhood using the wheat pasting instructions below. Even better, design your own poster and send it in. The best posters submitted will be featured on this site available for others to use.

Useful links:

Banksy: Napalm

How Deep is your Love (part 2) update from Kenya

I Don't Love You Credit: Jhows' photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhows/with/3619406017/

Many thanks to Francesca and her team at The Green Belt Movement for sending in this update from Kenya in time for Valentine’s Day. Original article here. Please remember whatever you buy for V day has an impact on our world. If love is your main gift check yourself before you buy.

Red roses have become the quintessential symbol of love. This Valentine’s Day, boyfriends, husbands and lovers alike will flock to their local flower store to buy a dozen red roses – supposedly an embodiment of their love, passion and commitment.

Thousands of miles away, people in Kenya face a different reality on the 14th of February. It’s not one of e-cards and chocolates but an effect of globalization – a side effect of so called ‘free-market’ capitalism that many are not aware of.

One in three roses sold this Valentine’s Day in the UK will be from Kenya. Despite the 4,600 miles travel, Kenyan flowers are often the cheapest; a dozen Kenyan red roses are as little as £2.99 or £4.99. Yet these prices do not reflect the social and environmental costs.

Nearly 75% of Kenya’s horticultural exports are a product of the cut flower industry around Lake Naivasha.  It is economically important for Kenya being the second largest export after tourism. Lake Navaisha was once a quiet community best known in the UK for being the home of naturalist and wildlife preservationist Joy Adamson who wrote Born Free about Elsa the lioness; for being one of the 10 best sites for bird watching in the world; and for its abundant plant and animal life – hippos, giraffes and zebras to name a few.

Today giant green houses occupy the banks of the lake, which has wrecked its aesthetic value as well as changed the local culture. While Maasai cattle may still be found roaming the area, private property rights and division of their traditional range lands have dramatically decreased the spaces that they can graze and access to the lake for water has become a source of conflict.

Western style consumerism arrives in Kenya

A new culture has been brought to the region that revolves around global capitalism and international trade. Lake Navaisha’s flower industry began in the 1980s and grew rapidly in the 1990s as European companies flew in to exploit the desirable growing conditions and year round temperate temperatures and seemingly abundant water supplies. The hundreds of thousands of pounds of flowers grown annually are picked in the morning and arrive in British shops by the evening.

The economic boom of the horticultural market has led to a dramatic increase in the local population. In 1969, 27,000 people lived in the surrounding areas and today that number has jumped to nearly 300,000. A direct result of Lake Naivasha’s industry is overcrowding of both people and businesses creating social and environmental instability.

Water levels in Lake Naivasha have fallen as a result of the flower industries that directly pump water from the lake to the green houses. The lake is currently being drained faster than it can be replenished. Erastus Mureithi, the chairman of the Kenya Flowers Council, says that small-scale flower farmers are likely to be banned from withdrawing water from the lake. Without the involvement of the major (non kenyan) flower companies, this move appears to be more of a public relations stunt than a solution to the environmental problems of Lake Navaisha.

What future for the children of Kenya?

Furthermore, the once clear waters of Lake Navaisha are now mucky and brown as a result of the rapid clearing of trees for agricultural production. This problem is not unique to Naivasha. Rapid removal of indigenous tree species around the country and particularly in water catchment areas has led to major siltation problems and has dried up rivers and threatened lakes.

Operating with these unsustainable methods will certainly result in the disappearance of Lake Naivasha and the further decline in the traditional livelihoods of the surrounding communities – a travesty that can be stopped.

In order to curb environmental degradation, organizations, such as the Green Belt Movement, are working at local, national and international levels. The Green Belt Movement has planted over 40 million trees in Kenya and works with communities who live in the uplands above Lake Naivasha to protect the watershed to empowers communities with the skills to think and act sustainably. However the issues surrounding the lake its self and access remain complex and sensitive.

Its founder, Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai, said in her keynote speech at the launch of the United Nations’ International Year of Forest on February 2nd that “It is not that we do not know. None of us can claim ignorance. We know what to do. Much information is out there.”

 

Wangari Maathai

Let’s not claim ignorance this Valentine’s Day. Instead of playing a part in promoting the side effects of capitalism, think sustainably. Lets do as Wangari would do and plant a tree–a symbol of your love that will last for a very long time. As Wangari always likes to say:

“I cannot live without the green trees and nor can you”

A Green Belt Movement Nursery in Nairobi

Baby Trees in the GBM Nursery

 

Turbo Charge Your Love This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the culturally appointed moment when we affirm our love and appreciation for our partner. En mass we get amorous and consummate our passion. Naturally capitalism feasts on this kind of mass behaviour. In today’s world Valentine’s Day comes with a price tag and the costs are not just financial.

Many of the things marketed to us come with unpleasant impacts that we may not be aware of. By causing harm elsewhere these gifts dent our karma and unbeknownst to us muffle our mojo. Buying imported Kenyan roses, any kind of disposable tat or, god help us all, a diamond, actually reduces the total amount of love in the world. Is this what you want!? If it isn’t… avoid the dodge and go with the natural, free and sexy alternatives listed below.

Valentine’s Gifts that harm

  1. Roses: Roses bought in UK supermarkets at this time of year are almost exclusively from Lake Naivasha. It is drying out like the Aral Sea, the hippos are gone and the people are denied access to the lake. Full story here.
  2. Disposable tat: your partner may giggle when you first give them the plastic: heart, teddy bear, balloon… whatever… but it ends up in the Earth poisoning nature. Buying less stuff is the only real way to consume sustainably.
  3. Diamonds: there is no such thing as an ‘ethical’ new diamond… even if De Beers says there is. They probably have human blood on them. If they don’t they have almost definitely been torn from the guts of the Earth from one of the biggest holes ever dug . Not nice.

    Lesotho mine in South Africa (world's biggest)

Valentine’s gifts that turbo charge your love

We cannot ‘ethically shop’ ourselves out of the collapsing biosphere. We must buy less stuff. But don’t sweat! Research shows this makes us happier. Maximize your mojo with these cunning manoeuvres:

  1. Massage: the benefits of massage are manifold and on Valentines day the chances of a ‘happy ending’ are high! If you are not the massaging type get down to Wahanda to get you and your partner a bargain massage.
  2. Local Food: tastes better, fun to cook, better for you. Can’t be arsed to cook? Use this website to find a local restaurant serving local food… lovely!
  3. Home made: cards, poems, pictures. Being creative boosts your well-being whilst showing you do actually give a shit.
  4. Vintage: if you need to buy a ‘thing’ make sure you are reusing. Vintage diamonds and more can be bought at the enchanting Grays Antique Market in London.
  5. Plant a ‘love tree’ together. If your partner won’t plant a ‘love tree’ with you… this probably means they are planning to dump you or that they are shagging your mate. Buy a native tree, grab your lover, find a good spot and get planting. Feels good right? that’s Gaia blowing you a kiss.

The Love Tree by Isdelth: http://isdelth.deviantart.com

We joined the Shark Side!

Team Shark 3/2/2011 China Town

When the photographer Alex Hofford first contacted EcoHustler and asked if we would write about shark finning drawing on the images and video from his Man and Shark project we had no idea where it would all lead. I certainly didn’t think we would end up organizing an event in China Town on Chinese New Year! I am not sure how it happened but after a great day raising awareness about sharks I am very glad Alex got in touch and that we all decided to go a step further and take action! Massive thanks to everyone who came down and joined the Shark Side and big props to Global Ocean who are collecting signatures for their important petition.

Shark Ambassadors out on the streets

Initially the idea of making a stand in China Town went down like a proposal for a pay toilet in a diarrhoea ward. Several UK shark organizations we contacted actually told us not to do it. Apparently we were being politically incorrect and culturally insensitive. The trouble is, eating shark fin is a cultural phenomenon so you have two choices: be politically correct and look the other way or strap a pair on and have a conversation with the people who like to eat it. 90% of all the sharks that were in the oceans have been removed… so we decided it was a conversation worth having.

We advertised the direct action publicly on this site. After the Mark Kennedy scandal I joked with friends that the first few emails I received from people wanting to join in would be policemen. It wasn’t a massive surprise therefore when I got to the allocated meeting place to be immediately jumped upon by two undercover police officers. Initially they were confrontational and almost threatening. Pretty soon they seemed to realize that we didn’t want to cause trouble and they became polite and asked us to move up the road which we did. Unfortunately it wasn’t until a bit later that I realized the police offers were skillfully keeping us away from the Chinese Ambassador and all the press. When we walked back up to the throng I was grabbed and actually read my rights. I am fairly sure that I wasn’t breaking any laws but apparently you need a permit to speak your mind in public… or something.

Once the ambassador had gone we fanned out and handed out hundreds of flyers. These are available for download here: 110201_GO_Leaflet_A5_02. We also have hard copies available. If you would like to use some drop us an email and we can post you a good stash.

Definitely the hottest shark in China Town!

Although we missed the photographers we did interviews with LBC radio and BBC London. We had a great reception in China Town. People were not offended or angry that we were there, they seemed genuinely concerned about the plight of sharks and keen to find out more. Generally, most people have no idea how endangered sharks are and how serious this is for marine ecology. We had an interesting conversation with a restauranteur who was clearly concerned about the bad PR his place might get still serving sharks fin.

In the pub afterwards we were all very happy to have made the effort and to have taken a stand for sharks. The main thing we learnt is how easy it was for a relatively small number of us to have a big impact. We will certainly be taking further action possibly against specific restaurants. For example, the Royal China chain probably sells the most endangered shark parts in London and their restaurants are not in China Town. (On their website they say they don’t sell shark fin but I have checked in the restaurants and they definitely still do).

Although it is important to rally around iconic species that are in danger such as sharks, rhinos, tigers, whales etc it is clearly also very important to respond to the socio-economic forces driving their demise. Most large, marine animals killed by humans will be caught by large-scale, corporate fishing operations which are currently totally unsustainable. We have to keep the pressure on governments to regulate this industry effectively to allow marine ecosystems to recover. This is especially important now with the up and coming review of the Common Fisheries Policy. Our work is just beginning!

The Shark Side on other sites:
http://unemployedmarinebiologist.blogspot.com/
http://www.demotix.com/news/579154/ecohustler-shark-fin-demonstration-chinatown

More photos

Discussing the issues

Chinese Radio keeps track of events as they unfold

Signing for the Sharkies

Shark

Relaxing afterwards with a well earned drink

Join the Shark Side

ATTENTION JEDIS! Ancient and awesome creatures from planet Earth need your help. If you live in a big city the chances are that near you people are profiteering through the brutal killing and trade of endangered species which is tipping marine ecosystems out of balance. Up-market Chinese restaurants around the world make big bucks selling endangered shark fins. This cruel and unnecessary trade is about to reach its annual peak this Chinese New Year (February 3rd 2011). It is time for us to take action.

On Thursday 03 February people from many walks of life will come together in London’s Chinatown to celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year, and also to show their support for local efforts to take shark fin off the menu. The global trade in shark fin is pushing these ancient and awesome creatures to the brink of extinction. Sharks are apex predators, so when they are taken out, ecosystems are pushed out of balance with devastating knock-on effects. It is estimated by scientists that 90% of the global shark population has already been wiped out. 

Sales of shark fin traditionally reach their peak at Chinese New Year. By visiting Chinatown on that day with flyers detailing the extent of the problem, with a positive message sustainability, we hope to change attitudes for the better, and persuade consumers to change their dining habits to protect our oceans.

You are invited to join this loose alliance of marine conservationgroups , environmentalists, scientists, students and other concerned citizens to make a stand for sharks. 

Whale Shark

 

What else you can do:

Beginner: draw up a list of up-market Chinese restaurants near you (use google). Ring them and ask if they serve shark fin soup. If they say yes ask to speak to the manager. Let her know that you and your friends are deeply disturbed by the damage caused by this trade and that you will never visit the restaurant until shark fin is removed from the menu.

Intermediate: same as above but visit the restaurant in person, ask to see the manager and explain the case (see below). Consider handing out some flyers to customers explaining the harm caused by global shark finning (flyers to follow: watch this space).

Hustler: ring the target restaurant. Ask if they serve shark fin, if yes, book a table for 12. Don’t turn up. Ring the following day and explain to the manager that you and your friends will keep booking tables (on random nights) and not show up until shark fin is removed from the menu. Repeat.

Join us on Chinese New Year in central London for a protest. As well as enthusiastic, marine loving participants we need photographers, film-makers, media managers, artists, street performers, flyer designers and translators. Oh, and anyone got a shark suit? Get in touch here: ecohustler@ecohustler.co.uk

Sign up: public plea to ban shark-finning in the EU: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/a-public-plea-to-ban-shark-finning-in-the-eu/

Pass it on.

Healthy Black Tip (Credit: Alex Hofford)

The shark finning crisis

Our seas were once bountiful with thriving populations of sharks. Today we have a different story. Worldwide fish stocks of all descriptions are dwindling (check out  ‘The End of the Line’ documentary. Overfishing is rife and amongst the species most in peril are sharks. Sharks are not commonly eaten for their meat, and some of responsibility for their dwindling populations results from by-catch. However, a massive cause of the problem is the burgeoning market for shark fins.

Hunted indiscriminately (Credit: Alex Hofford)

The numbers are staggering. Each year it is estimated that over 70 million sharks are caught around the world for their fins. The market for this harvest is worth over 1 billion dollars annually.

The results are catastrophic. Sharks are ‘apex predators‘. This means they sit at the top of long food chains, where they have a crucial role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems. Removing sharks has a devastating effect on marine ecosystems around the world. Predator removal causes a potentially irreversible cascade of complex knock-on effects that destabilises food-webs and the marine environment as a whole.

“More than 90% of all top marine predators have disappeared from the oceans”.—Myers et al. 2007; MacKenzie et al. 2009

“It appears that ecosystems such as Caribbean coral reefs need sharks to ensure the stability of the entire system.”–Enric Sala, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Dead sharks in a refrigerator in Micronesia (Credit: Alex Hofford)

It is not only the numbers alone that we should be crying out to stop. The industry itself is barbaric. It is common practice for sharks, once caught, to be finned and thrown back into the sea alive.

So for the health of our oceans (and therefore the whole planet) as well as for the prevention of extreme and extensive cruelty to animals we need to stop this industry in its tracks. Whilst it may be important to preserve cultural diversity and maintain the world’s many and varied traditions it is more important to conserve biodiversity and the stability of the global ecosystems that we all depend on. There has to be a line drawn somewhere, and this barbaric practice totally crosses it. So this new year, get involved and join our protest.

London Restaurants proudly serving shark’s fin
(please add in comments if you know others)

  1. Royal China Club, 40-42 Baker St, London,  W1U 7AJ,  020 7486 3898
  2. Super Star, 17 Lisle Street, London WC2H  7BE, 020 7287 3822/ 020 7437 1717
  3. Mr Kong, 21 Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BA, 020 7437 7341/ 020 7437 9679
  4. Young Cheng, 22 Lisle Street, London WC2h 7BA, 020 7287 3045
  5. Joy King Lau, 3 Leicester Street, London WC2, 020 7437 2629
  6. Golden Dragon, 28-29 Gerrard Street, London, W1D 6JW, 020 7734 2763
  7. New China, 48 Gerrard Street, London, W1D 5QL, 0207 287 9889
  8. Golden Pagoda, 15a Gerrard Street, London W1D 5PH, 020 7434 2888
  9. London Chinatown, 27 Gerrard Street, London W1D 6JN, 020 7437 3186
  10. Gerrard’s Corner, 30 Wardour Street, London W1D 6QW, 020 7287 1878
  11. Chuen Cheng Ku, 17 Wardour Street, London W1D 6Pj, 020 7437 1398
  12. London Jade Garden, 15 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PH, 020 7437 5065

Videos, links and resources

Man and Shark the film: http://www.manandshark.com/
Man and Shark the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shark-Paul-Hilton-Alex-Hofford/dp/9881721512/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1287158388&sr=8-3

Bite Back: http://www.bite-back.com/

Shark Trust: http://www.sharktrust.org/

Global Ocean: http://www.globalocean.eu/

Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF): http://saveourseas.com/

Pangeaseed are the only shark protection NGO in Japan and they organized a protest in the Chinatown district of Yokohama: http://www.pangeaseed.com/pangea/English/Entries/2010/7/19_PangeaSeed_Shark_March.html

Freeze mob organised in Hong Kong:

Merry Apocalypse

Termipeitto: The End is Nigh

Christmas is a time for family, tradition, good food and coming together to remember what is important in life. Right? Wrong! Christmas has been hijacked by the Dark Side and now is ‘the retail event of the year’ or, put another way, the peak of the annual consumption calendar, or, put another way, exactly what is killing the biosphere.

We used to bring plants and greenery into the house as part of a pagan nature worship ceremony. Now we chop the tree down, stack imported plastic tat under it and when we are done throw the lot into the bin. Well it seems sometimes you get what you pay for because our perversion of christmas, like our perversion of life in general is a one way ticket to oblivion. We are hungry ghosts and our desperate attempts to be fulfilled by consumption is a drawn out mass suicide.

kaboom1976: Crashmas

“Gather round children, Daddy has re-morgaged the house and bought a bundle of goodies…  stuff your ears with tissues so you don’t hear the wails as we gouge out nature’s eyes. Watch these cartoons so you don’t see us dig up nature’s sacred heart and impale it on the shopping mall’s spire. Stop crying children! This is what we wanted! Wasn’t it!?”

This festive season the suicide economy works like this: disposable products are manufactured in the East; shipped to the West, sold, and then disposed of. Then the vast ships return empty to do it all again, all the while burning millions of tonnes of precious oil .

The relationship between China and the United States says it all. Last year the USA spent $455 billion over christmas. The biggest retailer in the USA is Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart buys 91% of their consumer goods in China (no surprise the US trade deficit is currently $440 trillion). In order to get these across the Pacific Wal-Mart have had built some of the largest vessels this planet has ever seen.

Emma-Maersk: the world's biggest container vessel

These vast, incredibly fast ships (31 knots ) were commissioned by Wal-Mart for the sole purpose of getting all their goods from China . They hold 15,000 containers.  Longer than a US Aircraft Carrier (which has a crew of 5,000) the full crew of these emblems of our era is just 13 people on a ship. These behemoths are emblematic of the consumer culture we have created which is feeding off the living fabric of our planet. They are totally juxtaposed to a sustainable economy.

Christmas presents on route

Globalization has shrunk the mighty Pacific down to an earthly river Styx. Charon, the ferryman of Hades, now uses Maersk to transport death and the money isn’t a coin in the eye but digital transactions wired at the speed of light between banks that would collapse were it not for the billions we pay in tax; handed them by governments because they are ‘too big to fail’ (Check the video below: Taming the Vampire Squid). The whole system is a self-perpetuating rip-off and it is all driven by good-old, trustworthy, consumer demand… so keep watching those adverts… and buy, BUY, BUY!!

This is one of three ships  presently in service, with another two ships commissioned to be completed in 2012. Aside from destroying local, sustainable economies the major catch here is that the annual carbon emissions of Maersk is 40-50 million tonnes of CO2,  which, by coincidence, is the same as its country of origin, Denmark!

Greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping currently account for around 3% of total global emissions and are predicted to grow fast in the future. Indeed, all the world’s governments are working hard to boost this trade because this is how they measure their success… economic growth. You have to feel sorry for the hapless ‘negotiators’ trying to square that circle in Cancun… or perhaps they know the whole thing is a joke. Governments have just found another arena in which to compete for resources.

So, this christmas, think of Jesus and keep shopping like crazed little robots and when the Apocalypse comes early don’t be surprised… we sponsored it.