On an industrial estate ten miles outside Antwerp, the Ecover detergent factory sticks out like a sore thumb. The other buildings are nondescript sheds with grey or beige metal roofs. Ecover’s factory is topped with a bright green lawn.
It’s not the immaculate sward beloved of suburban gardeners, more of a meadow, really. But it blends in with the surrounding fields and it is a key feature of what is still, ten years after it was built, the world’s most environmentally-friendly factory.
Its products – household cleaners and detergents — can be used in off-grid homes with no threat of pollution to groundwater or gardens when the washing water is recycled.
Here are some of the best UK Organic suppliers From the Sunday Times Organic Guide
1. Heal Farm
Good value for money. Farmhouse produce that’s home-reared or made in the farm’s kitchen. Multibird roasts include duck filled with goose breast and orange and walnut stuffing (£38.75, serves eight) and turkey with chicken breast and cranberry stuffing (£52.85, serves 10). Christmas in a basket is its biggest hamper (£465 including delivery). Last orders Dec 9; 01769 574341, www.healfarm.co.uk.
2. Eversfield Manor
Organic farm rearing Aberdeen Angus and Romney Marsh sheep, pigs, free-range chicken and game. Its Christmas hamper (£185.25 for orders placed in November) includes all you’ll need for a gourmet meal, such as goose or turkey, beef or lamb joint, brace of pheasant, smoked salmon and gammon, plus a Devon blue cheese, Christmas pudding, chestnuts and fresh herbs. Last orders Dec 15; 01837 871400, www.eversfieldmanor.co.uk.
We all know its an orgy of pointless over-consumption. But despite our moaning, most of us succumb to the jingle of bells and the mulling of wine, telling each other its “for the children” or “the old folks.”
So later in the week we will feature the founder of freecycle.org telling us how to give the gift of giving. Today we give you recipes for organic Christmas dinner, and tomorrow some suppliers of the basic ingredients that will warm your heart on the coldest of nights. But also, a way of making Christmas decorations out of cheap and recycled materials — as if it will salve our consciences! (click below for more)
have an organic Christmas
Part of the reason for going off-grid is the obscene price of property. But even high-earners will be appalled at the £140,000 asking price for a small beach hut in Dorset.
Crazy places – crazy prices
Hut 180, and the 344 like it, sits on a spit of sand and shingle between the natural lagoon of Christchurch Harbour in Dorset and Christchurch Bay, with the Isle of Wight and the Needles in view eight miles away.
Tony Juniper cycles and walks whenever he can, but the Director of Friends of the Earth UK freely admits that it is not always possible to live a 100% pure green life. And he told Off-grid he was inspired by the “spiritual” environmentalism of the Southern hemisphere rather than the “science-based analysis” we use in the West.
Inspired by “spiritual” environmentalism
“I am constantly challenged as to how to withdraw” (from the world of mainstream consumption) he told Off-grid. “And like a lot of people I am defeated. At home, we buy Energy from one of the green producers. It’s wind generated. And things like transport you can make a lot of difference walking, or bicycle and train.
He’s the heir to business millions and she’s the former model who swapped the catwalk and high heels for wellies and a life down on the farm. Together they are, according to The Guardian “the eco movement’s most glamorous couple.”
Sheherazade Goldsmith lives with husband Zac on a 300-acre organic estate in Devon. Zac took over editing the Ecologist from his Uncle Teddy in 1997, the same year in which his businessman father Sir Jimmy Goldsmith died. Uncle Teddy is still going strong — investing in Green companies, attending seminars on the Environment and holding forth unstoppably on all things Green. (Click below for more)
A new factory in North Wales could give the solar energy market in the UK the impetus it needs. The Sharp Corporation, the world’s major producer of photovoltaic (PV) products, initially expected that the new Wrexham plant would turn out PV panels for residential and commercial installations at a rate of 20 MW worth per year. But orders quickly exceeded output and the company announced that it would be doubling it’s capacity.
Faced with a dramatic 75% decline in farming through disasters as diverse as Chernobyl and BSE, many Welsh hill farmers decided to pack up and try a new line in work. Not the three families that make up the Cwmni Gwynt Teg (‘fair wind’ in Welsh) cooperative. When faced with disaster in 1997, this ingenious group looked to the the mountains for inspiration and harnessed the wind, on their own land. They now run the Moel Moelogan Wind farm, a profitable and growing business.
Shake off your prejudice and start looking for your tow bar; the chicest (and easiest) way to be independent comes in the form of the good, old-fashioned caravan.
Cool Caravans for sale or hire
Always strong on the conceptual front, (a house on wheels that you can take anywhere? Keep changing the view? Genius.) it was let down badly by unchic design. Now, finally, the cool caravan has arrived. And you can hire it for a weekend.