Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The curse of e-Xmas cards

I hate most things about Christmas (always lived in dread of presents I didn't want after a bad poppy umbrella experience aged 12) but I LOVE Christmas cards. I send loads and use them to keep in touch around the world. But time was that from 1st December onwards my workspace (all open plan here) would be filled with scenes of the frozen Thames and comedy reindeer from people we had dealt with over the past year. But now all the right on dematerialised people I come across have foresworn the physical Christmas card (waste, paper, envelope, stamp, signature, hassle) in favour of the animated e-Xmas card. My office is bare on any sign of Christmas. I know that this is a good example of sustainable consumption in action. I know it saves trees and saves energy and saves money. But at Christmas shouldn't we remember that third pillar of SD as well -- and allow a bit of personal contact -- if only a signature. Or at least that is what I thought until I discovered that my giant WWF penguin cards on recycled paper were going to cost me £ 1.12 each to send to Australia after queuing for half an hour in the post office. So maybe next year I will do Xmas online too.

Beyond the Constant Gardener

After two failed attempts (sold out on a Sunday; keys left in the office on the Friday) I finally got to see the "political thriller" cum anti-corporation movie "The Constant Gardener". Kenya and Ralph Fiennes both looked great - but, unlike some of my business friends, I thought it was a pretty simplistic Michael Moorish take on big business. More interesting was a report in last week's FT on a joint study between Unilever and Oxfam on the real impacts of globalisation on developing countries and the need to move beyond a knee-jerk view to understand the complex impacts multinationals can have - and not to lump all multinationals together. Oxfam was big enough to concede that without the partnership with Unilever they would "have probably reached some wrong conclusions". the report is availabel from both their websites -- so if you emerge from the cinema depressed by the fate of Justin/Ralph and Tessa/Rachel at the hands of the evil makers of Dypraxa take a look at this report on Oxfam and Unilever's website -- and see a bit of the other side of the story.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tipping Points

Last year the Sustainable development Commission launched a competition to find tipping points.. when would we reach the "magic moment" when we knew SD was becoming a reality... they ranged form the whimisical to the deeply earnest. Yesterday I was on a train to Liverpool to the Urban Forum annual conference chattign about SD to Paula Hirst who has just been seconded to work on SD at the Olympic Development Authority. After we left Runcorn we started chatting to the city type opposite (in second class) -- and to pass the time of day asked what he did... he was an ethical fund manager for Rathbone Investments. So my tipping point comes when strangers you meet randomly are involved in a sustainable activity. And then you pick up an abandoned Times -- and discover an interview with Jonathon Porritt about the SD strategy... the first national newspaper mention of Securing the Future???? and then the reality check of being yelled at by bunches of sceptical community acitivists.... more on tipping points at www.sd-commission.org.uk