Thursday, 22 October 2009

Environmental Policy Interviews - Episode Four

Ben Levey, HR Manager at The Castle shares his views on the environmental policy.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Powered Out - Part 2

Well, our two-week testing period is over and the results are in. Just by exercising a bit of self-control and turning off our computers when not in use we've managed to cut down our inactivity hours by 30%! Not too bad but, to be honest, I was expecting a bit more progress. At least we've found out what computers are our worst offenders and can put some measures in place. I was a bit embarrassed to realise that my computer is the third worst! So I'm going to be extra-careful about turning my computer off and I've also asked that other people using my computer (weekends mostly) do likewise.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Research on membership cards

We have regained our sometimes unhappy card printer but the main question has been "do we want plastic cards at all?"

I ordered some sample 'green' cards from

There is one made of PLA - a plastic made from plants instead of oil - which is compostable at the end of its life.
Looking deeper into bioplastics lead me into another minefield - the fact that much of this new technology is created using GM crops and could potentially contaminate the recycling stream if added to conventional plastic. However, it does seem to be a really important material which may ultimately solve our requirement for plastic in a post-petroleum world. Ingeo PLA (the type that eco-card uses) is meant to be one of the better ones and the company that produces it ( uses certified non-GM corn.

Another card is made of recycled PVC. Which certainly seems better than using the newly minted variety. Though maybe we want to get away from using plastic.

But what other options are there?
A wooden key fob with a barcode on it?
Tattooing our customers with their memebrship number? ;-)

We want something that is long lasting as well as environmentally friendly.
In the meantime, we'll be trying some of the eco-cards to see if they work in our existing printer and see where we go from here...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Awards Shortlist- cast your votes!

We have a shortlist of 10 for the environmental awards. It was a tricky process to narrow it down to these great applications and now you can have your say on what you think of them.
From the 15th – 30th October we are holding a public vote. Read through the information and choose your top 3 projects, in order of preference. Vote by completing a ballot paper (available from the Castle) or by emailing your choices to need to include your name and castle membership number, without which your vote will not be counted.
Voting closes on the 30th October.

We will be holding an awards ceremony on Monday 2nd November 11am-1pm to announce the winners – please come along and support all the brilliant applicants.

Check out the applications here.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Powered out...part 1

Our IT superhero, John, has installed a nifty bit of software that helps us keep track of how much power we are wasting by leaving our computers turned on when we’re not using them. We’ve tracked this for the last two weeks without implementing any kind of policy to determine what our baseline is and to see which computers are the most prone to being left idle. The results are in and we’ve clocked up a terrible 719 inactive hours. On average the computers are inactive but left on about half the time. So lots of room for improvement there… I’ll report back in two weeks to see how much we’ve improved!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Garden Project, October

It's been a month since I've started here, and even though it's the end of the Summer, and the beginning of Autumn, leaves are falling, temperature is dropping, I've been busy researching, surveying to help plan and design the garden project (garden activities of developing and planting a garden doesn't just happen in the summer!) and have already started gathering a team of helpers to help this process.
We've already made use of existing wild resource from the garden rosehips - packed full of vitamin C. I've made some rosehip syrup - I've left a bottle at the Castle cafe.

Next week as part of the survey process, I'll be meeting with some of the staff, and finding out, their ideas, wishes for the garden. I am also in the process of gathering a garden team, of volunteers, and hope to plan some activities and work days in the next few months. If you've been to the centre, you may have noticed we've already taken a delivery of topsoil and compost, ready for some planting activity in the next few months.

There's lots of nice warm wall spaces on the outside building. Great potential for climbing and espalier fruit trees and bushes. Here are few remaining tomatoes making the most of the autumn sun.