Asbestos Awareness week 1st – 7th April

asbestos awareness week

Being green isn’t simply about changing your own habits, your home or even your work place, it’s about encouraging others to do the same either actively by campaign or making others aware of the benefits your life has. One the biggest ways we can develop a greener and healthier society is by changing government policy that encourages or forces large businesses and public sector services to rethink the way they do things. A  great example of this is the UK government’s ban on the use of Asbestos from 2001. Asbestos is a set of naturally occurring minerals which the building and construction industry having been using since the 19th century. They have lots of properties and different uses that can be applied in many ways throughout buildings but unfortunately it is an incredibly toxic substance that if inhaled can lead to an array of nasty illnesses including lung diseases and cancer. We had been aware of its risks for several decades, reducing the amount and types of asbestos we used until it’s complete ban for all use in new builds and all refurbishments. Britain is still full of asbestos and it now heavily regulated and controlled to maintain it in existing buildings without risk to the public. This is a brilliant thing and an effective foot forward for how government policy can really implement change. Unfortunately however we still have around 4500 deaths a year due to asbestos related illness and probably will continue to do so till the full effects of the ban are felt well into the 21st century benefiting future generations.

did you know this about asbestos

So why asbestos awareness week? Well it’s not for us Brits, it’s for our friends across the pond. The US government still has not banned it’s use, and it is estimated 30 million pounds are used each year. It is the biggest cause of occupational cancer in the US and if the continue to use it the problem could easily get worse. It seems ridiculous to me that they still haven’t banned it but I was equally shocked that the UK hadn’t till 2001 even though the health problems had been clearly visible for decades. We need awareness to be spread so the American people can understand the danger their construction workers and the wider public are in by it’s continued use throughout all types of buildings. If it was raised to the top of the political agenda if only throughout the awareness week it might encourage politicians to act upon the overwhelming evidence against asbestos and ban it’s further use and enhance the regulations surrounding it’s maintenance. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as a figure head for the current campaign, Heather Von St James (pictured in the top) was diagnosed with mesothelioma (A exclusively asbestos related cancer) and given 15 months to live, she and her husband Cameron fought the odds and with treatment beat the cancer! It always makes me so happy when people survive cancer and so pleased that Heather and Cameron can continue enjoying life together with their daughter. They now spend their time raising awareness about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure.

Please spread the word to others to educate them and encourage those in the US government to take notice of a practice that must be stopped for the goodness of society and the world as a whole (only 55 countries have banned it’s production and use)Find Heather and Cameron’s wonderful website here, along with websites relating to asbestos in the US. For more info  about asbestos and the law surrounding it’s use visit HSE and how to manage it here.


x xxx

p.s. Up yours cancer!


Got Milk???

I love MILK! It is absolutely gorgeous and good for you. I used to consume gallons of the stuff! That is up until I went to university and I had to start paying for it myself. My 4 bowls of cereal a day habit had to die. I am much more sensible with my milk consumption these days but that is only because I don’t have the money to buy as much as I could/would drink. Here lies the dilemma:

I want MILK! + I have little money = Buying Cheap MILK!!!!!!!

‘What’s the problem?’ I hear you say??????

What’s The Problem?

For the most part, cheap milk nowadays means that somewhere a British dairy farmer is going out of business. In just over 15 years British dairy farms have declined from 28,000 to just over 11,000 last year, the majority of those that disappeared were family-run farms with small herds*. The laws of supply and demand would tell you that since there are fewer farmers, milk would become scarcer and therefore more expensive, leaving farmers with a higher wage. However this is not the case and dairy farmers have been paid less and less per pint of milk in recent years. The National Farmers Union (NFU) estimates that it cost their farmers 29p-30p to produce a pint of milk, many farmers are being paid 27p and farmers were in uproar last month when this was set to drop to 25p for many producers. You do the maths.

 Who’s to Blame?

The supermarkets who retail the majority of UK milk have taken an increasingly bigger share of the profits in recent years from a 10% margin in 1995 to around 35% today.
The processors of milk, the middle men, are reducing the pay of farmers to keep their own margins of profit up as they are squeezed by the supermarkets. They reduce their price to gain supermarket contracts. The three biggest processors; Arla, Muller Wiseman and Dairy Crest were in the news after threatening to cut the price from 27p to 25p last month.
Grain prices have risen dramatically in the last few years, it is vital to feed cattle and so this has added an extra 4p to production costs.
The consumer wants milk at cheap prices as its an everyday essential, supermarkets have kept prices down to bring in customers.

What’s the solution?

Government forces processors and supermarkets to pay a minimum price for a pint to their farmers.
Supermarkets and processors keep milk prices for their customers low by taking a small margin of profit.
Farmers cut out the middle men and sell directly to the consumer.
Consumers think and drink in a different way.

 What can I do?

Buying organic generally provides farmers with a better wage, the downside is its often a lot more expensive for the consummer.
Buy from supermarkets that insure a fair price for farmers
Buy from smaller retailers who know their farmers personally and don’t have the buying power of big stores.
Buy direct from the farmer. Since many are being forced out of a wage, many dairy farmers are looking to processing and selling their milk themselves.
Buy better quality, fairly priced milk and drink less.

July saw the biggest protests by dairy farmers since 2005. They marched in protest, boycotted and blockaded supermarkets and threw away milk in demonstration against their loss of livelihoods and the threats of price cuts. This caused a huge backlash against supermarkets and the processors with the government stepping in with immediate debate to remedy the situation. The three main processors have since made a u-turn on the price drop and supermarkets have aligned their prices for now. A success that will only continue with added pressure.

What are your thoughts on the matter of milk?


X xxx