Friday, 26 June 2009


So, I spent all afternoon researching paper!

I have three issues:

1. I heard somewhere that the energy used to recycle the paper was more than the energy to produce it…
2. I was attempting to buy not only recycled but chlorine free and good quality as well…
3. I wanted to try to buy paper produced in UK.

I have settled on 3com paper.
(This 100% recycled A4 copier is off-white/grey in appearance, due to the use of low-grade post-consumer waste material, which is generally in low demand and hence more likely to be consigned to landfill. Manufactured at the Steinbeis mill in Germany, this 80gsm paper passes the Blauer Engel/Blue Angel certification. Sold in reams of 500 sheets.)

It ticks as many boxes as I could do without resorting to buying Elephant poo paper (made in the UK but with poo from Sri Lanka???)
Unfortunately it is made in Germany (I could not find a recycled paper made in UK that ticks as many boxes, they are mainly in France or Germany) but it has the highest ‘right type’ of recycled material in it (hence its colour) and no Chlorine has been used in the recycling process. It also has the badge of recycling honour Blue Angel Cert. My third issue with the energy used for recycling was discussed in the article below and seemed to make sense to me. However, i am still quite interested in finding out about how recycling plants actually sort all the stuff they collect. Watching them collect in the dump trucks they seem to just chuck everything in and compress it, surly this makes it make harder to seperate, which makes me wonder if they do...

Phew – Let’s hope it doesn’t jam the printer…
It was delivered today, its very thin and i guess we will find out soon if it was the right choice.

I came across an article after reading many others; this is by far the best.
Happy reading…

It's from the website linked below where i also ended up buying the paper from.
Recycled paper, sustainable forestry and bleaching

A Pleasant Email to Hackney Commercial Waste Services

We're starting to see some results from the changes that have been implemented around here! Today, I had the pleasure of sending this email to our Waste Removal contractors:

Dear Sir / Madam:

Last year we started making some changes to our business and made a commitment to send less waste to landfill. We’re very pleased that we are achieving this and we are now in a position to downgrade our waste removal contract. Currently we have two bins removed on a weekly basis. We would like this reduced to 1 bin per week.

Please let me know when this can be implemented. Thank you very much.


Audrey Seguy
Managing Director
The Castle Climbing Centre

How cool is that- we've reduced our waste to landfill by half already (not to mention reduce our waste collection bills).
Well done everyone.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Home 2009 video project

I watched this film last night...all 1.5 hours of it. I can only describe it as a cross between Planet Earth (amazing footage) and Age of Stupid. Anyways- I highly recommend it. You may have heard of Yann Arthus-Bertrand who shot 'Earth from Above'. His techniques are so effective for showing the scale of the changes that we are responsible for.

The beginning is a bit slow, but stick with it and you will be rewarded. Enjoy!


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Audits, Codes and Blogs

Well if I thought that launching the EP was the hard part, I was wrong. Now comes the real nitty gritty of auditing, assessing, reporting and monitoring.

Thankfully most of the really boring stuff is for Audrey to sort out. She is currently working on an Environmental Report for 2008 (including our Carbon Footprint) and getting us Acorn registered, both of which require a lot of paperwork and writing of action plans.

For my part, I have tried to bring some sort of order to the timeline of changes and started this blog with the intention of letting our customers and the wider public know what we're up to: why we started this, where we started and how far we've come. A common worry has been that we'll get too focused on the EP and lose focus on our business: climbing. With so many plans afoot for developing the climbing within the centre, I don't see this as a real concern (though I might need to find some more inspiring climbing magazines for the cafe again - they seem to have been replaced with one called "Rhubarb").

Other changes in progress at the moment are:

  • Improving our bike parking facilities

  • finding an alternative for disposable ice packs

  • subsidies for staff to buy bicycles

  • trying to find more vegan/vegetarian alternatives in the cafe

  • researching low energy lighting solutions

  • monitoring wind power potential

  • monitoring the power circuits

  • Researching agroforestry potential for the garden

And now the EP launched, I'm off for a year's sabbatical from the Castle but will be watching this space closely for many more exciting and radical changes. It's something I'm really proud to be involved in, as I've come to think in the last 9 months that preventing "runaway global warming" is the single most important thing humanity can do, and in fact has to do now. To paraphrase Leo Murray in Wake Up Freak Out: Those who came before didn't know about this problem and those who come after will be powerless to do anything. It's fallen to us to do something about it. These are exciting times.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Environmental Award Scheme

The Castle is proud to announce the launch of it's Environmental Awards Scheme.
For more info on how to apply, look on our website here.
Closing date for applications is 31st July 2009.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Thank you from the boss

Hi Everyone,


The Environmental Policy launch was a great success because everyone pitched in and helped out. I have heard so much positive feedback from our customers and other people who attended the day. A few personal mentions:

Janos- your food was divine. Thanks.

Ray – your illustrations and creativity made the event look amazing. Your support for the policy over the past months has really helped get everyone enthused.

Kerry- Thank you for all your hard work- you’ve done more things for this than I can begin to mention. Your commitment was evident when you stayed until the bitter end (nearly 11?)

Dean – In addition to all of the research that you’ve done for us on the issues, thank you for the tents and sorry about the banner.

Steve – It really meant a lot to us that you came down just for this on Saturday and your speech introducing the film was just right.

I’m sorry if I missed out specific people who organised things (Sieta, Min with the DJs, Caroline, etc…) but the list would be endless!

OK, now the policy is officially launched and we’ve got to keep the ball rolling! There will be new information on the Environmental Policy Intranet and the website this week. The Castle Enivronmental Awards will be publicised this week on the Intranet and by email.

In the meantime I’m going to be working on our Enivronmental Report 2008 and getting accreditation for our Environmental Management Scheme.


Thursday, 4 June 2009

Environmental Policy is Launched

EP Launch Festival 2009

On Saturday 30th May, we launched our new Environmental Policy in style with a festival in the garden, DJs and a film powered by bicycles, a free BBQ, workshops, stalls and a surprising amount of organic pear cider! The environment must have sensed what we were up to and been pleased with our new initiatives as the weather was absolutely perfect!

…So where did our journey start? It’s a bit hard to say – it was mostly a dawning realisation that things can’t go on as they are. About 9 months ago, The Castle’s CEO Steve Taylor approached the core managers and the board of directors with his thoughts about the state of the planet. He’d been reading up on climate change, carbon emissions and peak oil and become certain that if he didn’t act now in any and every way he could then he too would be to blame for runaway global warming – the point of no return for human life on our planet.

Needless to say, if we weren’t already switched on to the urgency of the situation (and some had been for years) we all got excited by Steve’s approach that “now is not the time to panic or despair, now is the time to act!” as it became obvious that we can’t rely on governments to help us, and it is not enough to make individual changes in our own lives – businesses like us HAVE to change the way we do things.

Since last September, The Castle managers and staff have been reading books, watching films, debating vegetarianism, planting vegetables, going through the rubbish, looking at light bulbs, writing policy and trying not to panic. Finally around April we came up with our Vision Statement:

Our aim is to make The Castle Climbing Centre a benchmark for environmental and economic sustainability and to demonstrate that there is a place for sport and commerce in a sustainable future without compromising financial success and high standards.

The full Environmental Policy (EP) can be found here

And a thankyou letter to staff from Audrey here.

Included in it are our goals of:
  • Producing our own energy
  • Capturing our own water
  • Zero waste to landfill by 2015

No greenwash here!

Our launch party was to be a celebration of our exciting new policy that has brought about so many changes since we began just talking about it, and with some help from our friends it was one of the best festivals The Castle has ever seen. (We might even do it every year…)

It wouldn’t have been what it was without all the other inspiring organisations who joined us on the day:
Magnificent Revolution (bicycle-powered DJ, film and workshop)
The Energy Saving Trust (info on helping everyone save energy in their homes)
Greenpeace (info on taking action for the environment. And lending us their tents)
Climate Camp (info on camping for climate action)
Growing Communities (organic local veg boxes)
The Pangea Project (veggie BBQ and delicious curries)
AK Press (Anarchist and Environmental literature)
Small Mountains (illustrations of the EP journey)
The Age of Stupid (the film)
Transition Finsbury Park (part of the Transition Towns Network)
Ecoclimber (climb harder, climb greener)
Ecoactive (the worms!)
Sustain London (the alliance for better food and farming and the lovely Ida with a planting workshop)
Capital Growth (2012 new green spaces in London by 2012)
London Plains (seasonal cookery demo. Get in touch with Deborah via Growing Communities)
The DJs: Ed, Mike and Simon.
(sorry if I missed anyone!)

Of course our journey does not stop here – it has only just begun!

Finally – the biggest thanks must go to you, the humble climber. For getting excited, for getting involved, for coming along and joining us in our love of climbing. It’s our love of climbing that has got us where we are and we hope to help preserve our wonderful climbing habitats for future generations.


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Wake Up Freak Out

- Then Get a Grip.

This is (in my opinion) a really good explanation of climate change. It helped wake us up to what is going on and galvanised us into action...

Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.