START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Oct 22, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Baby, You Can Buy a (More Efficient) Car

Really bad Beatles allusion aside, there are more reasons than ever these days to focus on fuel efficiency when shopping for your next car. If gas prices continue moving in the upward direction we've seen over the past few years, "summer driving season" may become a contradiction in terms! By making fuel efficiency a priority when you shop for your next vehicle, you can take a bit of the sting out of gas prices, and also green up your life.

Hybrid-electric vehicles have gotten incredibly popular for their high efficiency (upwards of 60-70 miles/gallon), but they still may be a bit pricey for some buyers (even with the tax credits offered by the federal government). The Green Life Guide points out a variety of more efficient vehicles that are available on today's market, including:

  • High-mileage vehicles - conventional cars that achieve higher-than-average fuel economy. These include the Honda Fit, the Toyota Corolla, and the Hyundai Accent (all manual transmissions, though).
  • Flex-fuel vehicles - cars that can run on multiple fuels such as unleaded gasoline, gasoline-ethanol blends (or gasohol), and natural gas. The cars themselves are fairly widely available; the fuels, unfortunately, aren't.
  • Electric cars - these require no liquid fuel, as they run on rechargeable batteries. Unfortunately, they're also not widely available on the market.

Of course, there's another option for some - do you need to own a car? Could you take advantage of carride-sharing services, or public transportation, or your bike, or your feet, and avoid the costs of insurance, gas and maintenance completely? Not owning a car is always an option... and

Your Action for Today:
Look at Greener Car Options

You may not be in the market for a car right now, but it's certainly not too soon to start looking at your greener vehicle options. Some sources you might want to check:

  • The Green Life Guide's "Automobiles" section
  • The EPA's list of "Highest and Lowest Overall Fuel Economy" vehicles
  •'s tool for comparing hybrid and non-hybrid cars and models

Find anything interesting? Write it down in your Green Journal.

Tomorrow: Shopping for (and Disposing of) Electronics


Green Options

The GO Team

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Posted: Oct 22, 2007 3:16am
Oct 20, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Mow Green for Mo' Green

We're down to the last third of 30 Days to a Greener You, and from here on out, we'll take a look at various steps you can consider to move beyond the "low-hanging fruit." Keep in mind that greening your life doesn't have to involve big investments; at the same time, we all do make larger purchases, so keeping our environmental footprint in mind when shopping for bigger-ticket items is a natural next step in greening our lives.

If you're a homeowner or house renter, keeping the yard and garden healthy takes a lot of work, and various kinds of tools, particularly power tools, help ease that work load. If you're cranking up a gas-powered lawn mower, leaf blower or rotor tiller, though, all of your efforts to green your gardening may be offset by the pollution that tool is belching into the atmosphere: according to a 2001 Swedish study, small engines such as lawnmowers may contribute up to 5% of the US' total air pollution.

Fortunately, greener alternatives are available. Reel mowers (you know: the "old-fashioned" lawn mowers) use only human power, and are a perfect tool for a small yard. If you still need some power for a bigger yard, consider an electric mower (many of which are now cordless), or even a solar-powered mower (they're still a bit pricey, but what a way to impress the neighbors - and avoid any emissions).

Your Action for Today:
Take a Look at Some New Tools

While you may not currently be in the market for a lawn mower, it's good know what's available. Take a look, and record what you think might work for you (and why) in your Green Journal.

  • Reel mowers are likely the greenest alternative - no fuel or batteries.
  • Solar-powered mowers have batteries that are charged by sunlight - Appropedia tells you how to build your own!
  • Electric mowers require plugging in at some point, so while they don't emit pollutants themselves, they're drawing electricity that may come from a dirty power source. Overall, they're slightly better than a gas-powered model.

And a tip for organic lawn care: leave the clippings on the lawn - they don't contribute to thatch growth, and do provide organic material for your lawn.

Tomorrow: Time for an audit


Green Options

The GO Team

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Posted: Oct 20, 2007 8:00pm
Oct 18, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Clothes Make the (Green) Man (or Woman)

Look at what you're wearing... go ahead, look. What you see, whether made from cotton, wool, silk, rayon or leather, likely has a pretty hefty environmental impact. A recent report (in PDF) from the UK's Cambridge University notes that the clothes we wear represent large expenditures of energy, toxic chemicals (esp. fertilizers), and water (both in production and cleaning), and also create huge amounts of waste because of changing fashion trends. On average, every American throws away 68 pounds of fabric per year - that's over 10 million tons of waste annually.

Fortunately, greening your wardrobe doesn't have to mean buying all-new clothes (clearly, that's part of the problem). Rather, it involves choosing carefully when you do buy, and then lowering the use of energy and toxic chemicals when caring for them.

Your Action for Today:
Take a Look at Your Wardrobe

Take a look at the clothes you own, and think about your normal buying patterns. Answer the following questions in your Green Journal.

  1. Are you a "dedicated follower of fashion?"
    We all like to dress well, but constantly buying "the latest thing" contributes to an awful lot of waste. More timeless styles don't have to cleaned out every season.
  2. Do you buy all of your clothes new?
    Used and vintage clothes can be inexpensive, and carry a much lighter footprint - think of them as "offsetting" the purchase of a new item. Clothing swaps are becoming popular social gatherings, and allow you to change up your wardrobe frequently without as heavy an environmental footprint. On the flip side, when you're done with an item of clothing that's still wearable, donate it - don't throw it away.
  3. Do many of your clothes need dry cleaning?
    Traditional dry cleaning uses perchloroethylene (or "perc"), a highly toxic chemical. While some efforts are underway to change this, and some cleaners are adopting more eco-friendly practices, avoiding dry-clean only clothes prevents this dilemma altogether.
  4. Do you ever use a clothesline?
    Drying is the most energy-intensive part of laundering clothes. Cut your electric or gas bill (as well as your carbon emissions) by using a clothesline. If you use a liquid fabric softener, dry the clothes for five minutes to activate the softener, and then remove them and put 'em on the line.
  5. Are most of your clothes made from cotton?
    Traditionally-grown cotton needs lots of water and fertilizer; add the drying time and ironing needed to keep it looking good, and you've got a fabric with a massive environmental footprint. Organically-grown cotton is better, and much more available than in the past - Wal-Mart, in fact, is the biggest seller of the fabric. Synthetics that require little drying time and ironing are even greener. Fabrics like hemp and bamboo, while not yet as widely available as cotton, are catching on with designers... and they're much more eco-friendly.

Want a look at some of the most affordable green apparel designers? Check out the Green Life Guide, and our weekly series "Green Style Spotlight."

Tomorrow: Green Food by Subscription


Green Options

The GO Team

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Posted: Oct 18, 2007 8:53am
Oct 2, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Up, up and away!

For the typical American, that’s exactly what’s going on with their energy bill, especially when the weather is very warm or very cold. According to ENERGY STAR, the US government’s energy efficiency program for consumers and businesses, the average American spends $1,900 on energy, much of which is consumed for heating and cooling. With the prices of natural gas and heating oil on the rise, that figure will certainly go up.

Additionally, every American generates about 2,700 pounds of carbon emissions per year in operating their home, mostly through using electricity to power the range of appliances. Taking control of your energy use will not only lower your utility bills; it will also help decrease your impact on the planet.

Take Charge of Your Energy Consumption!

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional contractor to make your home more energy efficient. You can take simple steps over the next few days to reduce your energy use, lower your electric bill, and put a cap on your carbon emissions.

Your Action for Today:
Learn about Saving Energy at Home

ENERGY STAR@Home is an interactive tool that will help you identify the places and devices using energy in your house or apartment, and give you tips on how to reduce the amount of energy needed to keep living well. Visit the site, spend some time looking at the facts and suggestions it presents, and then commit to making three changes around your house in the next two days. These changes don’t have to be large or expensive: changing several light bulbs, for instance, can have an impact on your costs and your environmental footprint.

Record your specific commitments and actions in your Green Journal. While you’re there, take a look at what other 30 Days participants are saying. Give them your feedback and support!

Tomorrow: Start looking at the impact of your transportation choices.


The GO Team

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Posted: Oct 2, 2007 9:16pm
Oct 2, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

First You Buy It, Then You Throw it Away

Doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? Yet, we do this every day: we buy paper towels, napkins, plates, cups and tissues. We buy plastic cups and utensils. We use them once, and then we throw them in the trash. We also buy products in perfectly usable containers that we throw away when the product's gone. Is this convenient? Certainly! Is it green? Hardly.

Reusable Rocks! Recyclable Rolls!

We discussed recycling in Day 2, but reusable items are even greener: beyond the materials and energy used to create them, items we reuse only require a little soap and hot water to return to their useful state. We wash clothes and dishes regularly, so the inconvenience involved isn't life-changing; rather, it usually involves a few extra items in a dishwasher or laundry load.

Still, sometimes we will want the convenience of disposables, especially if we're going to be away from home, or are casually entertaining a large group of people. Occasionally choosing disposable items shouldn't send us into paroxysms of green guilt; it should, however, make us look at the products we do buy, and ensure that we're purchasing the greenest items available. Many paper items, for instance, come in varieties with post-consumer recycled content - that's a good place to start. Other convenience items are compostable - throw them into the backyard compost pile to turn them into soil nutrients for your lawn or garden (Note: some materials will require industrial-grade composting - check your local phone or business directory for services in your area).

Finally, many of the products you buy come in reusable containers. So, why not reuse them! You may find that you can buy refill quantities of soaps, cleaners and other household necessities.

Your Action for Today:
Take a Look at Your Disposables

Take a look around your home, and notice the things you buy regularly that get thrown away. Paper towels? Plastic utensils? Liquid soap? Identify three items you regularly throw away that have non-disposable or greener (recycled, compostable) alternatives. Commit to buying those items in your Green Living journal. A good place to start looking: Green Options' "Tip(s) O' the Day".

Tomorrow: Reduce your food miles: eat local!


Green Options

The GO Team

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Posted: Oct 2, 2007 8:03am
Jun 4, 2007

At Cafe Gratitude, you can find self-affirming appetizers and deep-down satisfying desserts.

by ann parker

Sentinel restaurant writer

Try this. Say out loud: I Am Worthy. I Am Passionate. I Am Perfect.

Was that comfortable? Consider yourself primed to visit Cafe Gratitude, where you'll utter phrases like these each time you order — because each dish is named with an affirmation, from the I Am Generous guacamole to the I Am Lovely fruit cobbler.

Now imagine saying it to a server. Anyone ordering I Am Generous better leave a good tip.

Cafe Gratitude isn't just a restaurant; it's more a philosophical phenomenon. With two locations in San Francisco, one in Berkeley and a brand new site in San Rafael, these organic/vegan/raw food bistros offer unusual cuisine as well as a unique menu.

What Are You Grateful For?

Michael and Terces Engelhart opened the first Cafe Gratitude three years ago in San Francisco, their signature "What Are You Grateful For?" slogan arching over the doorway. The restaurant essentially evolved as a vehicle for the couple's original inspiration: an interactive board game called "The Abounding River"

"We surrendered ourselves to inner guidance and had an insight about designing a game of abundance," Michael said, making it sound easy. But before their game was produced, two years later, the couple first created an Abounding River logbook and workshop — and opened the first Cafe Gratitude. "It was a backward process," Michael said, laughing. "The cafe is like a gaming parlor, where people eat good, healthy food"

A millionaire who founded the phenomenally successful Flax clothing company with his former wife, Jeanne, Michael married Terces in 2002. He and Terces were alumni of the Landmark Forum, a program which promotes empowerment and self-realization.

At Cafe Gratitude, Michael said, "I'm about the vision; Terces [who recently co-authored the "I Am Grateful" recipe book] is about the food"

I Am Initiated

My neighbors, Claudia and Bruce described Cafe Gratitude by saying, "Well you really have to experience it yourself"

So the three of us drove to San Francisco to visit the original Cafe Gratitude on Harrison Street. We parked nearby [there's gratitude for you] and chose a sunny corner banquette in the bustling, colorful little restaurant. A stained-glass canopy glowed above the central bar; people chatted at tables laminated with the Abounding River game.

Charmaine, a beatific young server, greeted us warmly and invited us to "have fun and be nourished" She beamed, and said, "Are you ready for the question of the day?"

"Sure," I said warily. She asked, "Where in life do you experience complete freedom?" and sailed away.

I froze. Freedom? Freedom? I hadn't felt complete freedom since ... "in the water," I heard myself say, remembering leaping into a mountain pool. "In the garden," Claudia said firmly. "In the shower," Bruce said, chuckling.

We Are Hungry

Bruce and Claudia hadn't warned me that ordering any of the 170-plus menu items, from cold-pressed coffee to "live" desserts, meant saying names like I Am Ecstatic, I Am Eternally Youthful, I Am Surrendering, etc. Ordering at Cafe Gratitude is fun if you're open to it — and discomfiting if you're not.

I bet some people just point at items or recite descriptions. But I have to admit feeling a certain pleasure in saying to Charmaine, "I Am Charmed," ordering my cardamom-spiced green tea. Claudia giggled, "I Am Sassy" [virgin lemon margarita] and Bruce declared, "I Am Rich" [orange, carrot, lemon and beet juice].

We also ordered I Am Prosperous [arugula salad], I Am Heroic [quinoa tabouli] and I Am Celebrating, the day's special salad. Claudia announced, "I Am Cheerful — with cheese" [pumpkin seed and walnut burger topped with macadamia nut "cheese"]. For dessert, we were "Magnificent" [raw chocolate mousse] and "Awakening" [key-lime pie].

Charmaine soon returned with our drinks, saying to each of us respectively, "You Are Charmed. You Are Sassy. You Are Rich" I only felt slightly silly; my aromatic tea charmed me and Claudia's drink was indeed sassy. Bruce's drink, however, was glorious: a vegan pousse-cafe of orange, purple and yellow embodying sweet carrot, earthy beet and tangy lemon flavors. We Were Pleased.

And We Were Delighted with our salads and entrees, delivered on cheery Fiestaware inscribed "What Are You Grateful For?" All of the generously portioned food was attractive, interesting and flavorful. I especially enjoyed my minty quinoa tabouli [Heroic] and the veggie-loaded spinach salad [Celebrating] topped with marvelous Meyer lemon pesto and chewy flax "crackers"

But We Were Ecstatic over the scrumptious "Awakening" chocolate mousse and a truly "Magnificent" key-lime pie with coconut meringue and macadamia nut crust. And remember: no dairy, no eggs, no refined sugars.

And no big bill bite: our meal was reasonable as well as delicious.

Sacred Commerce

Michael Engelhart describes Cafe Gratitude as "sacred commerce" and says the popular restaurants have exceeded his expectations, although he admits more profit would be nice. "Our food is labor intensive with expensive ingredients," he acknowledges, while noting wanting to keep prices customer-friendly.

The cafes employ an unusual approach to food production, pre-preparing ingredients in one central kitchen and then delivering it by refrigerated biodiesel van to the four sites. "Raw foods are preparation-heavy, with lots of juicing and soaking," says Michael's son Ryland, general manager of the new San Rafael cafe. "Food prep starts at midnight, until about 8 a.m" All-organic local produce, he explains, is outsourced by Veritable Vegetable organic distributors.

And Cafe Gratitude workers are given a unique perk. "We promise our employees a life breakthrough," Michael says matter-of-factly. Charmaine, a Cafe Gratitude employee of six months, told me, "It's completely transformational"

Will Cafe Gratitude come to Santa Cruz? It's a future possibility, says Michael; the next site planned is Los Angeles.

About the "Abounding River" game that started all this. You can see the extraordinarily detailed, award-winning board design on Cafe Gratitude's Web site Or I could describe the matching cards, bearing quotes like "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one" [Albert Einstein] and questions dealing with values, pleasures, illumination, forgiveness.

But you really have to experience it yourself.

{ cuisine: Very good [all organic vegan, mostly live foods. service: Very good, enthusiastic, energetic, personal. Atmosphere: Colorful, relaxed, unconventional, and where else can you play a game during your meal and say things like "I Am Triumphant" Prices are reasonable, drinks, shakes and smoothies, $2 to $7.50; appetizers, soups and salads, $5.50 to $10; entrées, $8 to $12; desserts, $3 to $7 }

Where to go for gratitude

All four Cafe Gratitudes offer the same menu and philosophy but distinctly different atmospheres. For more information, visit

  • Cafe Gratitude, San Francisco, No. 1, 2400 Harrison St. (at 20th Street). (415) 824-4652, option 1. Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The original Cafe Gratitude: bright, airy, colorful and cheerfully funky.
  • Cafe Gratitude, San Francisco No. 2, 1336 9th St. (at Irving). (415) 824-4652, option 2. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cozy with a pretty courtyard; attracts doctors and patients from nearby medical centers.
  • Cafe Gratitude, Berkeley, 1730 Shattuck Ave. (at Virginia). (415) 824-4652, option 3. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The busiest of the four cafes; its unusual and appealing building is all brick, inside and out.
  • Cafe Gratitude, San Rafael, 2200 4th St., (415) 824-4652, option 4. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The newest location; Marin's influence is felt in the graceful design and wisteria-draped patio.

What are you hungry for?

All 170-plus items offered on the Cafe Gratitude menu can be viewed by visiting A few favorites:

Appetizers, soups and salads:

  • I AM BOUNTIFUL live crustini: Four different toppings on live toast: Fresh tomato, basil, garlic; thinly sliced avocado with Himalayan crystal salt; hemp seed pesto; raw olive tapenade ($8).
  • I AM INSIGHTFUL live samosas: Two spinach-wrapped samosas filled with cauliflower and macadamia 'otatoes' and carrots; comes with spicy fresh mint chutney ($8).
  • I AM THANKFUL Thai coconut soup: Coconut curry soup with avocado, tomato, cucumbers, and shiitake mushrooms ($7).
  • I AM DAZZLING Caesar salad: Romaine lettuce, live croutons, Caesar dressing and Brazil nut parmesan, with or without capers ($9).

Entrées and warm grain bowls:

  • I AM FABULOUS pad thai: Veggie noodles with shredded kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, teriyaki almonds and almond butter thai sauce ($12).
  • I AM ABUNDANT sampler plate: Chili con queso with chips, Asian kale-sea veggie salad, hemp seed pesto crustini, olive tapenade, live hummus and a mini soup of the day. Served with assorted live crackers and almond toast ($12).
  • YO SOY MUCHO Mexican bowl: Shredded kale under a choice of grain; topped with guacamole, spicy salsa and sprouts ($10).
  • I AM ACCEPTING stir-unfry: Steamed Bhutanese red rice tossed with raw vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, scallions and Asian sesame dressing; served with romaine leaf wrappers ($8).

Specialty drinks and desserts:

  • I AM INSPIRED Masala chai latte: India-inspired almond milk chai sweetened with agave nectar ($3).
  • I AM TRANSFORMED elixir: A shot of wheatgrass juice in fresh Thai young coconut water ($5 small, $8 large).
  • I AM LUSCIOUS healthy raw chocolate smoothie: Fresh Hazelnut milk, figs, dates, raw cacao and vanilla ($7).
  • I AM DEVOTED live coconut cream pie: Rich coconut cream pie in a coconut date crust.
  • I AM ADORING live tiramisu: Raw cacao and almond tiramisu cake, with sweet cashew cream and raw chocolate espresso filling.
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Posted: Jun 4, 2007 2:29am
Mar 30, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Visit - in person
Location: New York, United States
Join Rainforest Action Network & Global Exchange on Saturday April 7 when the "OIL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY" turns out in force to "police" the New York Auto Show.

Wearing "official" OEA uniforms and badges, and armed with caution tape, clipboards, and walkie-talkies, officers of this prophetic Federal law-enforcement agency will converge on the Jacob Javits center to impound vehicles that fall below the agency's recommended MPG guidelines, warn citizens about the public safety hazards of America's addiction to oil, and model what a real law enforcement agency should be doing about the climate crisis.

The OEA is recruiting now.
Contact : Agent Chartreuse (Andrew Boyd)
347/228-7416 cell

And check out our hilarious mockumentary at :

The OEA is the theatrical wing of the Freedom From Oil campaign:
Chapters are starting up around the country, offering a creative new way for people to take action to pressure the big-6 automakers to improve fuel-efficiency standards.

The Javits Center is located at 11th Ave., between 35th and 36th streets.  We will assemble at 11am in the little park across the street from the convention center's main entrance.  Uniforms and agency gear will be issued at that time.  If you can, please wear olive drab pants and black boots or shoes.  And choose a color-coded code name.  Agent Orange and Agent Chartreuse are already taken.

Officer-candidates that wish to receive pre-action training, please contact Agent Chartreuse (Andrew Boyd).

Andrew Boyd
347/228-7416 (cell)
"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it." --Andre Gide

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Posted: Mar 30, 2007 1:08am
Feb 16, 2007
Focus: Education
Action Request: Visit - in person
Location: United Kingdom
Vegan Oscars and Academy Awards at International Vegan Festival

As the season for Oscar nominations and Academy Awards kicks off a Bristol based businessman Tim Barford from Yaoh has launched the vegan equivalent. Just who are the people, products and the companies that are helping change the way we live and the world we live in, and in a positive way rather than a destructive and nihilistic way? Who is making it easier to be vegan and thus easier to be kinder to health, people, animals and the environment?

London, UK (PRWE February 12, 2007 --


Bristol based businessman and Hempologist Tim Barford from Yaoh the UK's pioneer hemp food company has launched a nationwide quest to find the people's choices for favourite vegan people and things in 2007 - The Yaoh 007 Vegan Environmental Awards

Members of Vegan Societies and members of the general public, vegan or otherwise, are being urged to vote for their vegan favourites, such as Beanies Health Foods' new dairy free ice cream B'Nice.

There are 007 categories with 007 nominees in each category. Voters can vote for as many or as few nominees in each category as they wish. Voters can also nominate an 8th nominee for the 2008 awards.


The chance to thank people making a vegan lifestyle easier should be gratifying enough for most veggies but voters are also entered into a free draw. 12 vegan hampers in all, each one worth over £50, are planned to be given away as an incentive to attract voters. Two hampers are to be given away free to two separate lucky voters every month starting through till June '007 at the awards at The Bristol Vegan Fayre.


43 year old Hempologist Tim Barford says 'By helping to highlight the awesome array of vegan choice out there, combined with our massive 2 day vegan festival, we hope to give many new people the opportunity to see the advantages and enjoyment to be had from a vegan lifestyle.'

All the UK animal welfare charities including The Vegan Society, Viva, Animal Aid and a number from other countries are making a concerted effort to reach new people and help them see the solutions that a vegan lifestyle has to offer.

'2007 is set to be a massive year for veganism, if we can help get everyone fired up enough and working together there's a good chance they can double the number of vegans ' adds Tim Barford

We want to encourage everyone to dynamically focus on the fun side of veganism and publicly demonstrate how pleasurable it can be to make a positive difference. Veganism doesn't need to be the earnest and vexed image that the UK newspapers so often portray.

The Vegan Lifestyle and diet have recently been the focus of a number of BBC programmes and environmentalists everywhere are begining to see vegan diets as a logical solution.


The 007 categories for the Yaoh 007 Environmental Awards are

001 Best Vegan Product
002 Best Vegan Company
003 Best Vegan Individual Achievement
004 Best Independent Health Store
005 Best Vegan Campaigning Organisation
006 Best Vegan On Line Shop
007 Best Vegan Media/publication



Yaoh are a Bristol based company manufacturing hemp based food and cosmetic products. They also sell a unique Hemp milk maker. Tim Barford the owner has launched a number of Vegan initiatives in Bristol including the Vegan Guide to Bristol and five Bristol Vegan Fayres.

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Posted: Feb 16, 2007 7:59am
Feb 16, 2007
Focus: Human Rights
Action Request: Read
Location: Israel
SOUTH AFRICA: Avocados, Diamonds at Core of Anti-Israel Trade Campaign

by Moyiga NduruInter Press Service
January 26th, 2007

A call from a South African trade unionist for national supermarket chains to stop importing avocado from Israel could ultimately lead to the banning of all imports from the Jewish state, if unions and human rights activists have their way.

Katishi Masemola, secretary general of the Food and Allied Workers' Union (FAWU), told South Africa's supermarket chains earlier this week that Israel produces avocado under "slave-type conditions". He says the International Labour Organisation (ILO) forbids the use of child labour which, he claims, Israel is employing on avocado farms.

IPS contacted the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, for comment. It did not return IPS's call.

Masemola told IPS in an interview: "Israel is occupying parts of Palestine and it's frustrating its moving towards statehood. In those occupied territories, avocados are produced under harsh slave-type conditions. Israeli farmers hire Palestinian children and pay them peanuts."

"The amount of avocado the South African supermarket chains import from Israel is negligible. It's just two percent of the total avocado they procure from overseas and locally," he said. "The supermarkets can do without it."

Derek Donkin, general manager of the South African Avocado Growers' Association (SAAGA), said South Africa produces 100,000 tonnes of avocado a year. "Between 40,000 and 45,000 tonnes are exported. The rest is sold for local consumption," he told IPS from his organisation's headquarters in Tzaneen, a four-hour drive from South Africa's commercial hub of Johannesburg.

"South Africa imports a small amount of avocado during off season (November-February) when we don't produce avocado. Many of the avocados come from Spain," he said.

In a Jan. 16 letter to Shaheed Mohamed, the coordinator of the South Africa branch of the Sanctions Against Israel Coalition, Brian Weyers, marketing director for Shoprite Checkers, a leading supermarket chain, said the Shoprite Group imported only 1.12 percent of 6.8 million avocados which it sold in 2006 from Israel.

"We bought 93.85 percent of the avocados locally and imported 5.03 percent from Spain and Kenya," he said. Weyers said the fruit was out of season and that was why they were forced to resort to alternative sources.

"In the instance of imported avocados, these were bought from a company in Israel, Carmel Agrexco, whom we are assured also has many Arab growers supplying fruits to them for export," Weyers said.

"We must also point out that Shoprite is not the only company in South Africa that sells Israeli produce. Today we purchase Israeli minneolas, grapefruit, naartjies, and persimmons in most of our competitors' stores in Cape Town," he said.

When IPS began making inquiries, it found that the fruit debate was only the tip of the iceberg. "It's not only avocado. The main item that concerns us is diamond. Israel imports diamond from South Africa; polishes it and cuts it before selling it back to South Africa at almost ten times its original value. It does the same with gold," Mohamed told IPS by phone from Cape Town.

"Israel imports diamond worth three billion rand (about 430 million dollars) from South Africa a year. Israel doesn't produce a single diamond. Yet 30 percent of its GDP (gross domestic product) comes from diamond. The diamond could be polished and cut in South Africa to provide jobs for the estimated 40 percent unemployed South Africans," he said.

In the past 12 months, De Beers -- the leading diamond mining company in South Africa -- retrenched 1,200 workers out of its over 10,000 workers, according to Rivonia Mura Khosi, a union leader at the De Beers mine in Kimberly, South Africa.

"On top of that they want to retrench 400 more workers. Next week we are going to meet the management over the issue. If we can save the retrenchment, the better for us," he told IPS in an interview. "If not, then we'll try to negotiate a good package for them. It will be hard."

Slowly, the anti-Israeli coalition is growing in South Africa. "We haven't made the call to impose sanctions against Israel yet. We know Israel commits atrocities against Palestinians. But we are moving there. It's just a matter of months," Masemola said.

"We are making a call to mobilise South African workers. We want to all diamonds from Israel to be treated as conflict diamonds. We urge people not to buy diamonds from Israel," said Mohamed.

An international campaign targeting Israeli crafted diamonds is planned for February in South Africa, Britain, Canada, Australia and Ireland.

For its part, the De Beers Group denies any wrongdoing. "100 percent of De Beers' diamonds are certified as conflict-free. Currently, less than one percent of the world's diamonds are conflict diamonds. While today more than 99 percent of rough diamonds are certified to be from conflict-free sources the diamond industry has a zero tolerance policy towards conflict diamonds and will not rest until conflict diamonds are completely eradicated," it said on its website.

"While Sierra Leone is now at peace, currently Liberia, Republic of Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville) and the Ivory Coast are under UN sanctions," it added.

Under the 2003 Kimberly Process certification scheme, which groups 71 countries, diamonds must be conflict-free. The process was prompted by bloody conflicts in diamond-rich African countries, which have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

In Africa, Mohamed's coalition operates in Morocco and Egypt. South Africa hosts the only one, so far known, in sub-Saharan Africa. Mohamed's four colleagues attended the Jan. 20-25 World Social Forum (WSF) in Nairobi, Kenya, where they organised a demonstration against Israel.

Mohamed said the coalition is also targeting South Africa for selling aircraft and helicopter parts to Israel. He said Israel uses helicopter gunship against Palestinians. "By implication, we are involved in the murder of innocent Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers," he said.

The South African government, which has not imposed sanctions, nor introduced boycott regulations, on Israeli goods, is perceived to be pro-Palestine, given the history between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The former apartheid regime worked closely with the Jewish state. 
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Posted: Feb 16, 2007 4:47am
Nov 5, 2006
Please forward to Media, Press, Concert Listings and your email list.

Press Release and Concert Listing for:

Dave Mason/Danny Nova
In Concert
The Baker Theater
Dover, NJ
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Doors at 7:00PM

Future Now Music and Musical Poets in Motion, in conjunction with Global Reach Int'l., Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice and Tramontin Motorcycle, presents in concert Grammy Award Winner, Dave Mason, formerly of Fleetwood Mac & Traffic, performing his hits "We Just Disagree," "Feeling Alright," and many more.  Also presenting "2006 Timmy Award" recipient for Best Singer, CO-headliner Danny Nova, the latest in acoustic rock music, featuring songs from his upcoming national debut CD, "Crushing the Stone."  Concert being held at The Baker Theater, 41 West Blackwell St., Dover, NJ 07801.  Buy tickets online at or call (201) 507-8900.  Enter raffle to win a 2006 Harley Davidson Road King Motorcycle, courtesy of Tramontin Motorcycle, proceeds to benefit Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice.  For more information see

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Posted: Nov 5, 2006 9:11am


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