Monday, 21 March 2011

In 2010 The Castle signed up to the Mayor of London's Green Procurement Code in a further bid to commit ourselves to reducing the effects of our activities on the environment.

About the MGPC
"The combined purchasing power of London based companies has huge potential to positively tackle the capital's waste problem, reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the Mayor of London's target of cutting the capital's carbon emissions by 60% by 2025".

The Mayor of London's Green Procurement Code is a support service providing practical advice and online resources to help embed green purchasing into all aspects of an organisation, including sourcing green products.

MGPC Achievements
Since October 2007 members of the Green Procurement Code have spent over £742 million on green products and diverted 191,131 tonnes of waste from landfill. This represents a saving of 78,863 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Our signatories also make a valuable contribution to the green economy - reported purchases from over 680 suppliers have supported more than 1300 jobs.

Why Buy Green?
  • To help the environment
  • Help combat climate change - even one small office can emit three to five tonnes of carbon dioxide a year
  • Conserve natural resources
  • Create markets for recycled materials - recycling becomes a redundant exercise if the markets for recycled products do not exist
  • Send less rubbish to landfill sites - landfill sites, nationally, are responsible for emitting over 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
  • Reduce costs - energy efficient appliances are cheaper to run and water efficient products offer ongoing cost savings on water bills.
  • Businesses will find waste costs rising as dependence on landfill increasingly attracts financial penalties and the costs of regulation and waste disposal are passed to waste producers.
Progress Review
We were asked to produce evidence of our green procurement through the completion of an online self-assessment tool. As this task fell to me, I was relatively lucky (and relieved) to have a lot of the information at my fingertips as it had already been collated for the 2009 Environmental Report.
Once this was completed we then just had the audit to get through and a couple of weeks wait to find out how well we'd done in carrying out the 'green' procedures we'd put in place.

I'm pleased to say we were awarded GOLD in recognition for all our hard work in the last few years! And we are hoping to continue to build on this success in 2011 with a number of plans in the pipeline which we'll let you know about in due course.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Winter 2011 in the Garden...

We had a much colder and snowier winter than we had expected, and we've done a little bit of hibernating over winter, (we even ended up having our mulled wine for winter solstice indoors!) However it was a very productive hibernation, with lots of plans made for other areas of the garden - more fruit trees (start of the forest garden), more vegetable beds and of course shrubberies!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to welcome the wonderful Min to the garden team, she bravely joined us just at the start of winter. Min had a taste of some garden work last summer being the first to take up the paid staff work hours in the garden. (She spent a lot of time working reception indoors) She took to the outdoors naturally, and after her return from her trip to New Zealand, she jumped at the opportunity to come and work in the garden two days a week helping develop and communicate the project as well as muck in and do lots of other practical jobs in the garden. She is currently working on the challenging steep terrain in front of the bees designing and developing the bee garden, and is also creating a mini terraced herb/edible flower garden behind the hives - all creatively using thrown away materials, unwanted wood and even empty wine bottles! She has been a great help over winter keeping all the garden team warm every volunteer day, by keeping a bonfire alight, thank you Min! Watch this space for more news from her.

Wassail ... and Cider drinking
We ended up have a great winter celebration despite the cold and snow and had a workday and wassail in February with the biggest and fiercest bonfire we've had so far. It was such a windy day, all the messy woodpile disappeared in one night, along with half of our home made cider made last year during the Castle Hackney scrumping weekend!) We had new Castle climber volunteers turn up during the day who helped dig big holes in the heavy clay soil for the fruit and nut trees which will go in on 12th March. Our regular volunteers Barry and Tom were there as usual helping us and keeping us entertained. Barry's famous BBQ and his culinary delights and Tom, leading us in a wassail poem and setting off a firework!We had a great reggae style Wassail song this year by Twelvie and Kerry of the The Fellows (cover of the Barrington Levey song "black roses" words changed to "apple tree in my garden.. you got to keep and care for it, you got to wassail it..

Signs of spring...... last October we sown lots of bulbs in the garden, here they are making appearances!