296. A Trillion Dollar Scandal!


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For those of you who’ve read the ‘About’ page, or if you’ve been following my blog since January, you’ll know that the number in the title indicates that this is the 296th action I’ve taken this year to try and make a difference in the world.

Some actions have been small and short-term, some have been small and long-term, whilst others have been much bigger. An e-mail I received today gave me the opportunity to complete a very small action  to try and make a huge difference, this is what it said:

Today we have a global scandal on our hands, with a trail that leads to cities like London, Paris and New York. Developing countries are being deprived of a trillion dollars every year, through money laundering, tax evasion and embezzlement. The biggest heist you’ve never heard of is happening all around us – but we can stop it.

The leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful countries – the G20 – are meeting in Australia in November to make decisions that will affect billions of lives. ONE and our 6 million members are joining campaigners from around the world to tell them to take urgent action in four areas:

  1. Make information public about who owns companies and trusts so criminals can’t hide their identity from law enforcement officers.
  2. Make payments transparent in the oil, gas and minerals sectors so people can track where the revenues are going.
  3. Make sure that developing countries benefit from automatic exchange of tax information agreements so they can crack down on tax evasion.
  4. Open government data so citizens can hold their leaders to account.

This is where you come in. We need your help to make them listen. Between now and the G20 Summit in November, you can take different actions that put pressure on the people who have the power to stop the Trillion Dollar Scandal.

The action I’ve taken today, took 1 click to sign a petition, but if we all do it, who know what impact we can have.

295. Pumpkins!


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This evening I’ll be making a pumpkin lantern and I’m determined to keep waste to a minimum.

Turns out there are a lot of things you can do with pumpkin: bread, cake, pie, soup and filo parcels (which I’ll be having a go at) to name just a few. The seeds can be dried  and used in decorative ways, but I think I’ll be roasting the seeds so they can be eaten too.

The empty pumpkin carcase can be safely composted provided any candles, etc. are removed from within.

Happy Halloween and let me know what you do with your leftover pumpkin!

294. Supporting the NSPCC


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I know; it’s another festive themed post, but if I don’t think about this now I’ll be busy at work and then before I know it, it’ll be Christmas!

Santa Claus, St. Nick, Father Christmas, whatever you choose to call him, it’s probably the first big lie your parents ever told you and something about the big fat man in red always reminds me of this, but in a good way. Adults and children alike feel a warmth towards this magical character and happily indulge themselves in this seasonal, make-believe world.

Wasn’t it great when all you had to worry about at Christmas was trying to stay awake to catch a glimpse of Father Christmas? For weeks before you’d hear the phrase: “Father Christmas won’t be coming if you’re going to behave like that…” Sadly some children don’t share in an experience that is common to so many of us. The NSPCC works to end cruelty to children, so I’ve requested a letter from Santa and made the suggested donation to support their work and help some of the children who won’t have such happy childhood memories.

293. Join the Christmas Card Off!


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Yes, I know it’s a bit early to start talking about Christmas, but a) I like to be organised and b) I love this idea.

Lots of people would like a little more human contact in their lives and we all feel lonely at times, at Christmas this can be even worse for people without family or who are unable to be with friends.

Reaching out seems simple enough, but I live in the South of England where strangers look at you oddly if you smile at them. So how can you reach out to others? With the Salvation Army’s Christmas Card Off! You sign an e-card online and at Christmas they’ll forward your message to a lonely person from a Lifehouse or Older People Care Home to let them know that people do care about them.

To get involved visit their site and spread the word: http://christmascard.salvationarmy.org.uk/

292. Don’t forget about ebola…


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What is Ebola?

Ebola Virus Disease is a severe, often fatal illness, with symptoms that include high fever, bleeding and damage to the central nervous system.
Ebola is originally contracted from infected animals, such as bats. Once in the human population Ebola then spreads through contaminated bodily fluids. The incubation period for the disease can be as long as three weeks, allowing a long time for the infected person to spread the highly contagious virus.

There is no known vaccine or cure for Ebola, resulting in fatality rates of up to 90% amongst those affected in the most isolated regions. Access to proper medical attention can significantly reduce the fatality rates of the disease.

Surely we all know this by now? But I feel like we need reminding about the reality of ebola and some of the facts.

On 17 October, the World Health Organisation reported 9191 total cases and 4546 deaths as of 14 October.  This outbreak has now infected 22 times more people than any previous Ebola outbreak, and it is the first time large-scale sustained transmission has occurred in urban environments.

It’s no surprise these countries are having difficulties dealing with the outbreak, WHO’s figures from 2012 show that for every 100,000 people Sierra Leone has 2.2 doctors, compared to 279 in the UK.

Now the initial panic has subsided and the UK feels equipped to cope with any possible risk to Westerners the focus on ebola seems to have diminished, but thousands of people are still living lives affected by the outbreak. After the disease is controlled the economic impact will be devastating to countries that were already facing challenges that we don’t have to worry about.

I’ve made a donation to the Red Cross to support their continuing work in countries affected by the ebola outbreak. Text EBOLA to 70600 to donate £3.

291. Beavers!


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I’m supporting beavers! (Alright, a childish part of me is sniggering inwardly about the word ‘beavers’ even as I’m typing this – sorry! But there is actually a serious issue here…)

Beavers used to be native to all parts of the UK, but were pretty much wiped out by hunting, now some have been found in the wild in Devon and the government wants to put them into captivity. Friends of the Earth believe there could be a better solution and so do I: I’ve e-mailed parliament to let them know. If you’d like to do the same, please use this link: https://www.foe.co.uk/act/keep-devons-beavers-wild

290. Supporting the Screech Owl Sanctuary


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During our travels this weekend, my boyfriend and I got to stroke the soft, fluffy tummy of one of these fine fellows, courtesy of the Screech Owl Sanctuary. We made a donation to support their work.

You can find out all about them at http://www.screechowlsanctuary.co.uk/

The sanctuary’s aims are:

  • To provide care and rehabilitation for sick and injured wild owls in Cornwall. To ensure their safe release into the wild on recovery or, if permanently disabled, to provide a comfortable home in a suitable environment.

  • To promote awareness of the conservation needs of owl species and their natural habitats by working with schools, youth organisations, groups and individuals of all ages.

  • To enable visitors to see and touch owls at close proximity under staff supervision as well as providing a talk and guided tour of the centre to all visitors.

  • To work towards optimum accessibility for people with disabilities or special needs, who we welcome. To provide whatever is necessary to ensure no-one is excluded from hands-on education, and to provide a supportive and caring environment.

  • To win the support and involvement of our community for practical conservation issues and to offer a centre of interest and enjoyment providing affordable and accessible hands-on experience.

  • To provide information on the building and siting of owl nest boxes in suitable areas to enhance the wild population of owls, especially the declining barn owl. We also give advice to farmers and landowners on building requirements, barn conversions and land management.

  • To undertake captive breeding programmes, which conserve for the future many owl species which may be depleting in population, and which include the re-introduction of birds into the wild.

289. Visiting the Eden Project


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This weekend I was whisked away for a romantic break at a mystery destination. A couple of months ago my boyfriend booked a room at the Jamaica Inn (after which Daphne Du Maurier’s novel is named) in Cornwall. A week or two ago I mentioned my desire to visit the Eden Project, so without me knowing a thing about it everything was arranged and on Friday evening – after a 4 hour drive – everything was revealed.

To him it was ‘just a bunch of plants’, but to me the Eden Project was genuinely fascinating… if you’ve not heard of it here’s a little bit more information:

The Eden Project does much more than offer a memorable day out in Cornwall. Eden is also a charity and social enterprise.

As well as creating stunning gardens and laying on fantastic arts and music events, much of our energy goes into:

  • running transformational social and environmental projects on our doorstep and around the world
  • creating unforgettable learning experiences for students
  • doing valuable research into plants and conservation
  • making sure we run our operations in the greenest possible way.

Yellow dahlia flowers outside Eden Biome

Or visit their website to find out more: http://www.edenproject.com/

It was an amazing little oasis that made me think more deeply about our impact on the world; the bigger picture when it comes to conservation. It felt great to support something which I think is so important.

288. Let it go!


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A couple of weeks ago I found myself stuck behind an articulated lorry that had stopped directly after a roundabout blocking the road, the road ahead was closed, but there was a clearly signposted diversion turning left. The driver was out the cab stood speaking to a car driver on the opposite side of the road. It was 8am, the roads were full of people trying to get to work on time, but I waited. After a couple of minutes the queue behind me was backed onto the roundabout and likely to a) be dangerous and b) cause serious traffic problems. So I honked the horn. This was met with what I assume, from the facial expressions and hand gestures, was anger and not particularly polite sentiments.

Clearly this guy was having a much worse day than I was, but all he needed to do was go about 50 feet and stop in a more sensible spot, I certainly didn’t feel his response was warranted: I wrote down the company name and licence plate of the lorry. As I arrived in work I decided that my current level of outrage would probably mellow and that e-mailing his employer to complain could wait until I finished work and got home that evening.

As I got out of the car that evening I looked at the note that I’d stuck by the glove compartment with the details on it… and decided to leave it there. I looked at it again the next morning… I left it there… A few days later I realised it was still there, but I wasn’t annoyed any more, I chucked the scrap of paper in the bin and let it go.

Whatever I have or haven’t achieved this year I’ve definitely become a more forgiving person. Like everyone I can be short-tempered, but I’m not a sulker; I like to let it go and move on. Since I started thinking about making the world a better place I’ve realised that when other people piss you off there’s a good chance they’re having a hideous day or under a lot of stress, so if you can let it go that’ll probably improve their day and it’ll almost definitely improve yours.

287. Looking after the oceans…


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According to the WWF:

More than 70% of the world’s surface is covered with oceans, but only 2% of that is protected.

I received an e-mail today from Greenpeace asking me to contact Princes and John West about how their tuna is caught, as despite previously making promises to change their practice they have failed to keep their word.

Their suppliers are using Fish Aggregation Devices – artificial platforms, made up of floating materials and netting. These attract all kinds of marine life, which are then scooped up indiscriminately. The unwanted ‘bycatch’, animals like sharks, turtles and rays, are then dumped overboard, dead and dying.

Back in 2011, a massive public campaign convinced them to commit to quit using these destructive FADs. But the following link leads to footage suggesting they aren’t sticking to this:


Unsurprisingly I’ve sent the e-mail asking for action from these companies.


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