Tuesday 26 February 2008

Palm Oil Perambulations and Soya Search

Why aren't we doing more to save the rainforests and other species rich habitats?

According to a Friends of the Earth report written two years ago, at CURRENT RATES of Forest destruction in Indonesia, the orangutan will have become extinct in the wild within twelve years from then (- so that's ten years from now). Forest is being burned to grow huge monoculture oil palm plantations.

Fact: 10% of the food you buy in a supermarket has palm oil in it.

If you were to stand in the food department in Tescos or ASDA or the Coop and throw a cucumber up in the air there is a one in ten chance it would land on a food with palm oil in it. Usually it is just labelled vegetable oil or hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Try it. Go round your supermarket and look at the labels. Often it is only the high quality food that actually labels it as palm oil - the cheaper brands just label it simply as vegetable oil.
Another crop that is replacing the rainforest is Soya. A chemical called soya lecithin is used as an emulsifying agent (helps water and oil to mix together) in many food products. It has other uses too.

It is also exported to the UK in vast quantities to feed cattle.

Meanwhile have a look at this site.


So tomorrow, why don't you go for a walk round your supermarket or grocer's shop and see if it is true that 10%of the food contains palm oil?

Finally to my delight I found the following:.... Patersons olive oil oatcakes:


Sunday 17 February 2008

How to organise a presentation evening

Friday 8th Feb- Presentation Evening

A further £65 was donated at the Presentation Evening, bringing the total raised so far to: £295

The presentation evening went well.

In writing up this blog I am torn between:
  1. Making it sound like a ravingly successful project (when in fact there is sometimes an awful lot of work for a small return..)
  2. Writing this in a rivetting blog style (still learning) rivett, rivett
  3. Giving useful advice for others who may want to do a similar project
  4. Just making a true diary of what happened.. It is hard enough finding time to write things up while I can still remember.
Who came?
  1. Our team of five organisers: Myself - the speaker, David Briggs the chairman , digital projector provider and operator, and Hilary, Lesley and Richard making the coffee and scones.
  2. Two people came from our church
  3. A couple came as a result of my handing out leaflets for the coffee morning
  4. Six people came as a result of my sending out emails to Craven Conservation Group and others.
I wrote out a detailed programme and emailed it to the chairman and we both forgot to bring printed copies. However the preparation did mean we were able to pack a lot into the session.

At the beginning I asked people to work in pairs and find from their partner: their name, where they lived and anything else the partner wanted to say. They then had to introduce their partner to the group. This created a good buzz.

I gave a 15 minute talk on the importance or rainforests, and how they are being lost- e.g., Just one urgent example is that at current rates of forest destruction in Borneo the Orang-utan will become extinct in the wild withing 10 years according to a FOE report.

Main threats throughout the world include:
  • To Palm oil
  • To soya
  • To cattle ranching
  • To mining such as "coltan" rare metals for mobile phones in the Congo Basin
  • To logging, especially illegal logging
I showed how much of this is linked to things we buy

Palm oil - soap, hydrogenated vegetable oil in food, etc
Soya- soya lecithins (emulsifiers) in processed food
Soya - to cattle food in this country
Cattle - Corned beef, leather
Coltan - Mobile phones
Logging - Garden furniture in Garden stores.

Then we showed extracts from two videos of the World land Trust: One on Belize, made in 1994, and one on the Philippines made more recently. The Philippines video is about an island - where as well as forest there is mangrove swamps and also an important marine reserve. Fishing is a key source of income for the people there but overfishing by big trawler ships and also local over fishing had reduced fish numbers. By having certain parts of the coral sea protected from all fishing, fish numbers were beginning to pick up.

There was then coffee and scones and lots of opportunity for questions and discussion.

Work before the meeting involved:
Sending off to World Land Trust for the videos and more leaflets
Having support of local group at church who voluntered to get projector tea coffee etc
Preparing display used at coffee morning.
Producing posters for local shops and sending a short item to the local paper.
Sending out an email to my contacts list.

Sunday 10 February 2008

How to get more people to your coffee morning..

On Tuesday 5th February we had planned a coffee morning at Richard's flat.

  1. We changed the location and held it at the Church - so that it became "The First Coffee Morning of the Season in the Church" - The church has coffee mornings on Tuesday (market day) mornings - but there is a break over winter. This was good because more people know where the church is than Richard's flat, and a good number of the "Regulars" came
  2. This regular Coffee Morning has two big signs we put up outside the church. These signs drew two sets of people.
  3. I had put up a few posters round town.
  4. I spent half an hour just before we opened going round Settle with A6 size leaflets giving them to peopleI knew and I called in at several shops and Age concern. This resulted in three sets of people who would not have come otherwise, and who also were very generous.
People could see the big writing on the display I had made without having to go too close.

Everyone enjoyed the freshly ground fair trade coffee.

About 30 people came including ourselves, and we raised £80. That was £50 to buy and acre with World Land Trust and £30 to A Rocha ghana.
Thanks to all who supported it!

Saturday 9 February 2008

Speakers Club, Amazon, and "Don't Eat Beef"

"You can save the Rainforest" was the title of my ten minute speech at Craven Speakers Club on Monday 28th Jan 2009, it went well. The tips I have learned at Speakers Club are helpful. I'm not giving the text here - You'll have to come and listen to it sometime!! I wore a brand new t-shirt that a friend had given me two years earlier with pictures of useful fruits of the Amazon. and would you believe it - whilst I was practicing the speech two hours before the talk, she skyped (phoned) me from Brazil! "What should I tell them in my speech?" I asked "Tell them not to eat beef" she said. "They are cutting down the forest for soya and then the soya is exported as cattle food to Britain."

Sean McDonagh's Talk at Bradford

On Tuesday 29 January I attended Sean McDonagh's two talks at Bradford University. I used the opportunity to tell people about the St John's Methodist Church Rainforest Project.

Fr Sean McDonagh (on the left) is a Columban priest who worked in the Philippines and has written many books on Christianity and Care of the Earth. His talks today were on Climate Change, Environment and Faith. I had taken a display of Christian Ecology Link Resources.
At the beginning of the first talk members of the audience were invited to say a little about their organisations and upcoming events - WHICH IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA. (In the Centre is the Bishop of Bradford and on the right the organiser)

I told people about Christian Ecology Link and I told them about the St John's Methodist Church Settle Rainforest Project. You can see my report of the day here:

Sean McDonagh has written a book about species extinctions, which is very good in spite of the morbid cover. I give some of the VERY USEFUL quotes and facts from his book here. You can print it as a leaflet here.