2015 Review: A Year of Acknowledgment

2015 Review: A Year of Acknowledgment

Community Entrepreneur Environment Inspiration SavinGreen News Uncategorized

I believe it is important to take time to look back and reflect on where one has traveled in the last year. To see what worked and what didn’t. To analyse how our experiences guide growth and lead to identifying what we are truly passionate about: this is the stuff that works. It is the same for business.

2015 for SavinGreen was a year of acknowledgement. Acknowledgement of what the true purpose of the Company is, and recognition of what we are passionate about. This has helped me, as CEO, to better articulate what we stand for, what the SavinGreen vision is, and where we are going.

50,000 plus Trees through Carbon Neutral

This is the primary purpose of SavinGreen: to demonstrate that a commercial business model, adopting the principles of “people, planet, profit”, could enable all Australians to contribute positively to our environment.

The SavinGreen model does not rely on government legislation or complex Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor Maptrading schemes. It ties environmental benefit directly to consumer choice with no requirement of substantial time or extra money.

Hitting 50,000 was a huge milestone. This is thanks to you, our customers, who have made a conscious choice. To make it even better our partner, Carbon Neutral, received Gold Standard recognition for their Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor Project, the first in Australia. Wow!

CEO, Dr Elizabeth Sigston, Finalist, Telstra Women’s Business Award (Vic)

2015 Elizabeth Sigston Telstra Business Woman Vic Finalist _1024The biggest acknowledgment of the year was being named as a Finalist for the Telstra Women’s Business Awards (Vic) in the Entrepreneur Category. For me, this was recognition that a business, which has the courage to be authentically purpose driven and aims to empower consumers, CAN be successful and CAN create positive change.

It was a great honour to be named amongst a group of truly amazing Victorian women including: Lyudmila Fishman, who has been making the iconic Ugg Australia sheepskin boots since 1981, Gabby Montagnese, managing director of fast-growing Epping manufacturer New Age Caravans, Rosli Reid, who turned a home-based dairy feed manufacturing business into Reid Stockfeeds, one of Australia’s largest privately-owned producers and suppliers of stockfeed, Dr. Amantha Imber an innovation psychologist and founder of Australia’s leading innovation consultancy Inventium, and the ultimate winner of not only the Entrepreneur Category but also Telstra Business Woman of the Year for Victoria, Cyan Ta’eed, co-founder and Executive Director of Envato, the largest digital marketplace in the world.

B Corp CertificationBcorp-Orange

Obtaining our B Corp Certification (“B” stands for “Benefit”)was another huge acknowledgment for SavinGreen. To be officially recognized as a “Certified B Corporation”, that is a company that is using the power of business to create a positive impact on the world and generate a shared and durable prosperity for all, is extremely humbling and rewarding.

Energy Division

EA_Stacked_AWC_No_Number_CMYKOur Energy Brokerage Division continued to grow. Energy Australia became an Energy Retail Partner, joining AGL, Powerdirect and ActweAGL.

SavinGreen is unique in the energy brokerage space, turning consumer choice to use our services to find an energy provider into a positive environmental impact. Thank you to all our consumers who took our calls, made a difference, and become part of our community.

Anyone can request to receive a call at a time that suits via our website.

LED Lighting DivisionSavinGreen-LED-8WMR16

This year our wholesale provider, Indice, was lured by demand for their outstanding energy efficient technology to the United States, a wonderful acknowledgement of the quality of their products. Very sad there was not enough incentive to keep them here in Australia.

Unfortunately SavinGreen has not found another company we deem suitable to fill this void. We will be marking down all remaining stock and closing this division (for now…) to focus on other areas where we can create impact.

Telecommunications Division

The biggest shakeup for the Telecommunications Industry in 2015 was the new legislation introduce around Data Retention. This has created a lot of angst especially for smaller providers who do not provide underlying infrastructure. It does appear moves have been made to ensure that this legislation does not impact negatively on competition. The real impact is unlikely to be apparent for some time yet. Watch this space.comm2015

NBN has been the growing area for SavinGreen this year. In particular we have had a focus on NBN Fixed Wireless areas. Regional areas tend to not benefit from the same level of competition as metropolitan areas, usually because it is harder. SavinGreen sees this as an area where we can make a difference.

SavinGreen continues to be recognized as compliant with the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code.

Internal Structure

Those who know me personally will know that I am a big proponent of constant change. It is important to keep on looking for ways to improve and encourage employees and partners to do the same.

The end of 2015 saw us say goodbye to John Pellew, who has branched out to follow his passion in the finance sector. John successfully launched Othera, an online tool that uses a unique approach to assessing whether businesses are credit worthy and gives businesses a leg up by helping to predict their likely credit rating in advance of applying for finance. We wish him all the best with this new venture.

The end of the year also saw Caron (Caz) Margarete from Your Third Hand Services take a temporary pause from being my EA to start her family. Hopefully she will be back later in 2016 to keep me on track!

We have had the pleasure to welcome this year the “Young Guns”: Amanda, Sam, and Madeleine, balanced by the experience of Russell Gould in his role as our technical manager.

SavinGreen thanks all our commercial partners who have played an important role in our unique business structure including: ActewAGL, AGL, Carbon Neutral, Energy Australia, Indice Ecotech, Kounta, Sqid Payment Gateways, Oracle CMS, Oz Green Homes, Telcoinabox and Your Third Hand Services.

Vision and Strategy

The process of acknowledgment by B Corporation Certification and Telstra Business Women Awards had the wonderful side benefit of clarifying future directions for SavinGreen.

One of these has been the concept of “Community”. This is reflected in our updated by-line “For the Conscious Community”

2015 saw the introduction of the “SavinGreen Conscious Guarantee” for all our services. This guarantee states that SavinGreen will

  • Have a purpose beyond profitSG-Conscious-Guarantee-White-Text
  • Respect Consumers’ power
  • Treat people well and fairly
  • Champion sustainability

Big changes are in the wind and will be revealed as 2016 unfolds. The primary focus of these changes will be to build our community, get our message out on a wider scale, and ultimately escalate and accelerate the impact that can be generated through conscious choice.

I invite you to make a difference. Join our “Conscious Community” in 2016.

SavinGreen’s CEO, Dr Elizabeth Sigston, Finalist, Telstra Women’s Business Award (Vic)

SavinGreen’s CEO, Dr Elizabeth Sigston, Finalist, Telstra Women’s Business Award (Vic)

Entrepreneur Environment Inspiration SavinGreen News Women in Leadership

This week, I had the honour of being named as a finalist for the 2015 Telstra Victorian Business Women’s Awards in the Entrepreneur Category.

I absolutely believe that health and environment are intertwined.

Environment impacts everyone.Envrionment-and-People-Venn

I established SavinGreen in 2010 to demonstrate that a commercial business model adopting the principles of “people, planet, profit” could enable all Australians to contribute positively to our environment. Our model does not rely on government legislation or complex trading schemes. It ties environmental benefit directly to consumer choice.

Siemens-Gigaset-610C

We have targeted services that are used everyday by business and individuals, delivering these at a compelling price point to capture the widest audience. Our consumers do not need to invest substantial time or extra money to make an impact. They need only to consciously consider their choice.

SavinGreen utilizes its own services to create a “virtual office model” leveraging partnerships to keep overheads low and our carbon footprint to a minimum.

Carnaby CockatooThrough this model, SavinGreen has generated annual revenue of over $4.5 million and been responsible for the biodiversity planting of more than 50,000 trees through our partner, Carbon Neutral. The impact is a lifetime oxygen source for more than 100,000 people, regeneration of homes for our native fauna, including the endangered Carnaby Cockatoo, and contribution to the creation of a carbon sink.

The SavinGreen business model is easily replicable and could be applied across any industry to generate social, economic and environmental impact through conscious consumerism.

Selection as a Finalist for this Award is recognition that a business which has the courage to be authentically purpose driven and aims to empower consumers, CAN be successful and CAN create positive change.

 TBWA 2015 VIC_Finalist_pos_RGB_V3

2014 Review: The Year of Metamorphosis

2014 Review: The Year of Metamorphosis

Community SavinGreen News

I’ll admit, I was glad to see the end of 2014. It seemed like such a tough year. Many other businesses and people I know felt the same. In retrospect and with time, 2014 may very well turn out to be the year of instrumental change.

SavinGreen has definitely moved from the category of small to medium business and has undergone some of the growing pains that inevitably come along with the process. A bit like a teenager, who has to develop constantly to find their own individualism, despite what feels like constant opposition, obstacles, rules and objections. Only at the end of the process can they reflect back on the achievements, the lessons learned, the growth and maturity gained, and truly appreciate the metamorphosis that has taken place. This was 2014.

Partnering with Carbon Neutral

The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the trip to Western Australia to see first hand the impact on the environment that SavinGreen has, and continues to, contribute to and celebrate becoming a Platinum Supporter of Carbon Neutral.

Filming with Carbon Neutral, in Western Australia

What started as a “just visit and take some photos so our Clients know what we do is real” idea, ended up being a full-on trip with film crew and one of the most personally fulfilling experiences. The Carbon Neutral team, Kent, Matthias and Ray tirelessly showed us around the plantings, participated in interviews and demonstrated the benefits of biodiversity planting.

This was my first time to speak publicly about SavinGreen. The process of which was supported by Jerome Rault from Jerome Rault Media. My gratitude is extended to him for producing our videos and supporting me through the relatively painless speaking process. The videos from our trip can be seen on our Video Page or YouTube Channel.

LED Lights Division

Elizabeth Sigston, CEO, at the Total Facilities Exhibition

Our LED Lighting Division kicked off the year in a big way. Our SavinGreen 8W and 5.5W MR16 Dimmable LED Downlights, designed for retrofit of halogen downlights, were approved on the Victorian VEET program. We also attended our first exhibition, “Total Facilities” at the Exhibition Centre in Melbourne with our wholesale partners Indice Ecotech. Our offerings have now expanded to include LED Panel lighting, 240V Downlights and AR111’s, all suitable for commercial use.

Energy Division

Our Energy Division had some up and downs. The Energy Retailers, including our partners who we broker for, were definitely under pressure from the ACCC and ACMA this year. This resulted in extensive refinement of interpretation of how various laws and legislation would be implemented. This led to extensive tightening up of existing processes, implementation of new processes and intensive training for staff. We also began moves to engage in the “Move-In” sector, particularly for SMEs, to assist in making the establishment of new businesses simpler by helping getting essential services connected. We are combining this with our Telecommunications offers at competitive pricing.

Telecommunications Division

NBN-Retailer-Stacked-TransparentOur Telecommunications Division continues to grow. SavinGreen was re-certified as compliant under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code (TCP). We have also been registered as a NBN provider, for home and business, a very exciting area of growth. In addition, we have built specific telecommunication packages to support cloud P.O.S. services, partnering with Kounta, and established a Move-In service, which combines nicely with our Energy Brokerage.

Fundraising Division

One of our biggest moves was entering into fund raising for Medical Research. This is something I am personally passionate about, being a cancer surgeon, having had cancer and undertaking a PhD in cancer research.

This was a challenging journey. The difference in the psychology of commercial enterprises and not-for-profit organizations was quite a surprise. NFPs seem to have been left on the back burner in terms of technology and there is clearly a gap between academia and community and how they engage with each other.

The timing was really bad: the start of the actual campaign coincided with the Government’s announcement of its Medical Research Fund to be made up from GP co-payments, which meant the public would be less incentivised to support the industry.

SqID Payments Secure ID Anywhere Anytime
SqID Payments Secure ID Anywhere Anytime

Despite this, we were able to contribute to the development of an innovative PCI-DSS compliant payment solution, in partnership with SqID Payments (the development was undertaken at no charge) allowing contributions to be taken in a secure manner over the phone, and were able to directly reach over 20,000 people to share information on some of the wonderful achievements being made.

Internal Structure

Part of our growth required reviewing our strategy and our staffing. Our aim is to maintain the “virtual office” model, connecting with partners/ contractors, and keeping direct employee numbers low as these are the essential ingredients in keeping down costs, allowing us to provide services at competitive prices and meet our primary aim of planting trees at no extra charge to our clients. With growth, ultimately comes some change.

This year we welcomed John Pellew into the role of Chief Operations Officer, Caron (Caz) Margarete from Your Third Hand Services as specialist client liaison and personal E.A. to myself, and Russell Gould as our technical specialist contractor. Adrian Chiprian, moved from a casual position into a full-time role as customer, sales and executive assistant and then, later in the year, to part-time as we supported his pre-apprenticeship studies, an initial step in pursuing a desire to become an electrician.

Our principal of being client-focused and wanting to be able to provide support 24/7 necessitated saying goodbye to Barry and Rob from TMG. In line with the size of our business, I officially moved into the position of Chief Executive Officer in November.

Vision & Strategy

The biggest changes and struggles arose out of the development of our long-term vision and strategy.

SavinGreen is not solely about environment; it is has a much bigger key philosophy. Consumerism and business are the keys to creating social, environmental and economic change. SavinGreen epitomizes, currently on a small scale, how this can be done.

bcorpThe articulating of this key philosophy put into motion a major shift, encompassing re-branding with a new logo and  a new tagline, “For the Conscious Consumer.” We revamped the website and identified the key factors that make us a Client-Centric business. We commenced our B-Corp Certification, which clarifies our position of being a profit-for-purpose company, dedicated to providing services for the conscious consumer. We also began the process of developing a new sales and marketing strategy. The implementation of which, like the process of teenage metamorphosis, has been both rewarding and painful.

I truly believe that 2015 will be the year that SavinGreen will leave its teenage years behind. I invite you to come along with us for the ride.

Become a Conscious Consumer

How to Choose Your LED lights

How to Choose Your LED lights

Energy saving technologies Enviroment

As the cost of electricity continues to rise, now is the right time to consider changing your existing halogen or incandescent lights to LED. However, with the amount of options and variations available it can be confusing. In fact it was a comment by one the visitors to our stand at the recent Total Facilities Exhibition in Melbourne that prompted me to write this blog. The comment was “I thought that LED lights were all the same…. LEDs”. If only this were true! It would make switching to LEDs really simple.  So here are a few tips on things to know and how to choose.

Brightness is about Lumens not WattsSavinGreen-LED-8WMR16

Stop thinking about brightness in terms of “Watts” and think “Lumens”.  Lumens are the measurement of the amount of light emitted from a light source. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light. The brightness is NOT determined by the wattage but by a number of factors including:

  • The brand of LED chip
  • The colour of the LED chip
  • The quality of the LED driver
  • The quality and type of materials used to make the housing of the light

So look at the Lumens not Watts.

Beam Angle

Beam Angle is the spread of light. Technically this is the point on both sides of the light where the light intensity drops to half. You will have light outside this area but it will be less bright.

This is a measure that is often overlooked when considering LEDs as the average typical halogen downlight will have a beam angle of 60˚, regardless of the make.

Beam angle becomes more important when choosing LED downlights and spotlights, as there is a greater variation.

The beam angle required to give you even light will depend on:

  • The height of your ceiling
  • The distance between your light fittings
  • What you want to use the light for

In general, a minimum beam angle of 45˚ should be sought if retrofitting your existing halogen downlights.

Colour Temperature

Colour temperature refers to the warmth of the light or the hue produced by a light within the white spectrum, which is measured in Kelvin. Warmer light is has a lower Kelvin and cooler light has a higher measurement.

To give you an idea of what this means, halogen lights are in the warm white spectrum and fluorescent lights are in the cool white spectrum.

The colour you choose will depend on the use and your personal preference. If you choose a warmer white colour, make sure the lumens are higher to provide the same brightness as a cooler colour. Cooler colours may seem to have a bluish hue to the light.

LED light is made up of a number of components, not just the LED part

A LED light is actually made up of a number of different components, all which have an impact on the final quality of the light. A key component is the LED driver. The technology in the LED Driver is what determines the compatibility with transformers and dimmers, the power factor, the active temperature and power management features and the life of the light.

 

Government Schemes

A number of states are running energy saving schemes to encourage people to switch to more energy efficient lighting. These schemes allow for energy efficiency certificates to be generated. Each certificate represents one tonne of CO2 equivalent abated by the switch to more energy efficient products. These are signed over to an Accredited Business or Company who has been approved under the government scheme to generate the certificates when they install an accredited product.  In return, the consumer (either an individual or business) receives some sort of discount, which may be free installation, discount off the product or a combination of both. The Accredited Business or Company can then market the energy efficient certificates to large energy retailers, who have a liability under the energy efficiency/ energy target scheme in that state.

It is important to realize that a product that has been approved on a government scheme, has met the minimum required standards. There is still quite a variation in quality of the products available on a government scheme and there will be products available, not on a scheme that may be of similar or superior quality.

NB. SavinGreen Brand and Indice Ecotech Brand MR16s are available under government schemes

Finally…

As a general rule, quality is related to price. As you are investing in a product that you will be living with for the next 5 to 10 years, it is worth considering paying a little bit more now rather than installing a product based on price that you don’t really like and will want to get rid of in 18months.

Hopefully these tips will help to shine a light on the LED lingo and what things to look for. If you have any further questions or enquiries, please contact us at SavinGreen to see if we may help.

For more information on various Energy Saving Schemes in your state you can click on the following Links:

Victoria https://www.veet.vic.gov.au/

NSW http://www.ess.nsw.gov.au/

ACT www.actsmart.act.gov.au

SA http://www.escosa.sa.gov.au/

 

 

SavinGreen 2013: the year in review

Community Energy saving technologies Enviroment Health SavinGreen News Telecommunications

It is hard to believe that it is almost the end of another year… harder to believe that it is more than 12 months since I wrote our first Blog and totally unbelievable that I managed to write only one other post! However when I look back over what we did achieve this year, I think I could be forgiven (…please).2016-Supporting-Carbon-Neutral

Our biggest achievement by far has been in not only exceeding our target for the number of trees to be planted (the aim was 18,000) but smashing it! Creating sustainability is the core of our Company. Through contributions to Carbon Neutral we have now planted over 28,000 trees. In August, SavinGreen became a Gold Supporter and I had the privilege of being the August Carbon Hero of the Month.

SavinGreen-LED-8WMR16In January, SavinGreen launched our own range of LED Dimmable Downlights to replace halogen globes. These are designed by Australian R&D Company, Indice Ecotech, and are among the highest standard available at a reasonable price for “Plug n Play” LEDs. The SavinGreen brand will soon be listed on Victorian VEET scheme (the wholesale brand is already approved). We will be increasing our range to include a 9W LED GU10 halogen replacement, 17W AR111 LEDs with a mixture of colour and angle sizes, and a 5W MR16 with an LED driver.

The “big” products for this year for our SavinGreen Telecommunications Division has been in the move toward data: we have a great Ethernet Product supported by AAPT and our newly re-named “Digital Office Phone Services” are being actively sort. SavinGreen also participated in, and implemented all the requirements of the new “Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code” that came into effect comm2014at the end of last year and have been recognised by the authoritative body, Communications Compliance Pty Ltd, as being compliant. Our latest step has been to source a high quality, not so expensive, dual sim Smart Phone.
This Smart Phone is available on most of our mobile plans with no extra handset repayments, or for purchase outright… watch out for the special introductory price!

In our Energy Sales Division, SavinGreen has partnered with AGL, one of Australia’s leading renewable energy companies and Australia’s largest private owner, operator and developer of renewable generation asset, Powerdirect and ActewAGL to help our Clients save money on their electricity bills. For each customer that signs up through SavinGreen, we make a contribution to Carbon Neutral to plant a tree. We will be working with our partners a further ways to help reduce your power bills and also to help reduce your carbon footprint.

SavinGreen was the proud sponsor of the Prahran Junior Football Club Under 15 team this year. After being Premiers in 2012, the boys went up a Division. It was fantastic that they again were again successful in making the finals. The boys lost a nail-biting semi final that went down to the last siren. Pleased to say that the Team will be lining up again next year in the Under 16s and SavinGreen is looking forward to sponsoring the team for the 2014 season.

Finally, we also have updated our Website ( a few little hiccups,headaches and extra grey hairs along the way…) to provide a cleaner looking site, easier navigation and a higher level of security. The new Customer Portal for our Telecommunication Clients with new features to help manage your services and account online, is also available through links from our website.

Thank you to all our Clients, Customers and Partners that have made our achievements possible.

Wishing all a Happy and Prosperous New Year and hoping you will continue to support us in our quest to be part of the global movement towards  creating a sustainable future.

 

 

 

Eco Tourism

Eco Tourism

Community Eco Tourism Enviroment

By Guest Author Sam Marquit

As a contractor with both independent and commercial experience, I have had many opportunities to see the implementation of green building materials. As a result, I have seen the great impact of more and more LEED certificated properties. One industry in particular that is at the forefront of this process is the hotel industry. Organizations have seen that there are positive eco-friendly changes other than LEED certifications happening that should also be recognized.

sustainable_cards_1.8ay4wic4ch44cwkoscc4oog4.5r15frdicg4kos40gwk400wsw.thFor example, I have noticed that some hotels have begun handing out ‘green’ key cards. When I asked about the new cards, the hotel clerk informed me that they are made from a corn by-product, and they are both recyclable and biodegradable. After doing some research, I discovered that the average 100-room hotel property uses about 10,000 key cards per year, adding up to fifty pounds of material. Marriott Hotels have done their part in not adding to the waste to land fills by purchasing approximately 24 million of these key cards. As a result this saves about 66 tons of plastic from being thrown into landfills.

Ritz_Charlotte_Beekeeper_Hive_GalleryThe Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, North Carolina, has incorporated innovative and sustainable concepts at its hotel as well. It boasts a rooftop garden with two fully contained beehives. With thousands of honeybees, the Ritz-Carlton is able to use their own honey produced from the roof at their restaurant. All their dining and beverage menus use organic, local, and 100% natural products. Their Spa & Wellness Center incorporates treatments utilizing 100% organic products, and they utilize environmentally sensitive cleaning products in the hotel.

Organizations in Las Vegas especially have also done excellent work meeting LEEDLas Vegas Palazzo Resort certified standards. In fact, Las Vegas’ Palazzo Resort was named ‘Most Eco-Friendly Hotel in America.’ It has self-sustaining elements and constantly regenerates it’s own waste. With over 124 thousand hotel rooms and nearly 40 million travelers last year, more and more hotels in Las Vegas are developing new practices to be more sustainable. These practices would be anything from serving local foods, to installing faucets and showerheads with automatic shut off valves.

ink48 meeting roomHotels in New York City have also made efforts to reduce their carbon footprints. Manhattan’s Ink48 Hotel and its Earthcare program hosts green meetings and events. This program allows members to discuss different ways in which they can reduce their own carbon footprint.

Worldwide the tourism industry is finally becoming more eco-friendly. Organizations such as Wild Asia promote this through their Responsible Tourism Awards. These awards identify orgaWild-Asia-RT-Logonizations that have adopted eco-friendly practices and recognize a number of categories. Among these categories is wildlife preservation as well as which items are being bought locally. The Palazzo, ink48 and Wild Asia Tourism Awards are great blueprints for other others to follow and have the ability to change the future of our planet.

Sam Marquit is an independent “green” contractor and author of “Fair Marquit Value” find more of his bolgs at fmarquitv.tumblr.com

Genetically Modified Foods: A way to feed the world or control it?

Genetically Modified Foods: A way to feed the world or control it?

Health

The topic of Genetically Modified foods (also called transgenetic) is in back in the news again, this time because environmentalist, Mark Lynas, has changed his stance. He has moved from destroying GM crops to now supporting them, saying they are a way to feed the world. So I thought this was a good time to generate some thought and discussionDNA

So what are genetically modified (GM) foods? They are the “designer” crops, where a certain characteristic that is deemed to be advantageous to growing a specific crop is introduced by taking parts of DNA, the biological coding contained in cells of all living things, from a microorganism that has the desired characteristic and introducing it in to the plant DNA, usually soy, wheat or corn, so the crop grown from the modified seeds will then have that characteristic. Most commonly, this is resistance to herbicides or pests. So if you have a herbicide resistant crop, you can spray herbicides to your heart’s content to kill all the weeds and not affect the crop and supposedly end up with a bigger yield. Sounds good? So what’s the problem?

The issue is that these characteristic changes don’t happen naturally. In nature, if you cross species that really shouldn’t go together, any off spring produced are unlikely to reproduce. The mule (cross between a female horse and male donkey) is a classic example. It is extremely rare for mules to have babies. The studies that have been conducted to say GM foods are “safe” are generally only run over 90 days. “Safety” is determined by the lack of short-term consequences, not long term. How long did it take to figure out that the first mule wasn’t going to have a baby? I am guessing a bit more than 90 days.

Rats fed on Genetically Modified maizeIronically, Mark is making this statement 4 months after a French study, carried out under peer review and led by Molecular Biologist, Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini at the Caen University has raised serious concerns about the safety of GM foods. The study demonstrated that rats fed GM modified foods, in this case corn that had been modified to be herbicide resistant, over a lifetime (which is 2 years for rats) had a significant increase in the number, size and aggressiveness of breast tumors as well as liver and kidney damage compared with rats fed corn that was clean of GM or Round Up.  An important aspect of this study was that the majority of tumours were detectable only after 18months.. A number of Russian scientists have conducted studies that raise questions about the long term safety of GM foods: Dr Irina Ermakova, Russian National Academy of Science back in 2005 found that 50% of babies born to mother rats fed GM food died compared to 10% in the control group; Dr Alexei Surov, National Association for Gene Security and Institute of Ecological and Evolutional Problems, found that after feeding hamsters GM foods for 3 generations, they stopped reproducing. Probably the big kicker though is the paper published by Dr Robert Kremer of the USDA in 2011, regarding the significant negative effects of the glycophosphate (a key ingredient of the Round Up we can now use freely on our GM herbicide resistant crops) on the actual soil. It essentially destroys it and leads to an overall decrease plant productivity overtime.

APTOPIX Kenya East Africa FamineMark now believes that GM crops will solve world hunger. Well let’s look at this a bit closer. Firstly world hunger is not  created by a lack of food, but lack of access to it: one of the biggest health problems in USA, UK, Australia and other Western Countries is obesity (hardly due to a lack of food). In addition, it estimated that about 30% of food in these countries is actually wasted. Not only is this such a shame when there are people starving, but food that is thrown out goes into landfill, which then releases methane gas and contributes significantly to green house gas production. So why don’t we share it around a bit more? The excess and waste of many Western countries would go a long way to solving world hunger. I guess that is where we really get to the real hidden potential of GM foods.

GM foods are owned by Corporations and subject to Intellectual Property Rights and patents. When a farmer decides to grow GM crops, they enter into an agreement with the Corporation and agree to not save any of the crops for replanting but to buy new seed every year. In many cases the seed has been genetically altered to ensure that it will not reproduce. That’s OK, you may say, the farmer can change their mind and go back to “natural” crop planting. Well its not that simple. As the number of GM crops increase, the amount of biodiversity of available seed is being lost, so it may not be possible to find an alternative seed that is suitable to your geographical location. Then because the GM crop is herbicide resistant, the Round Up that has been used to GM Foods Who Owns Themproduce bumper crops for a number of years has now destroyed the soil, so nothing will grow. And then finally, even though the GM seed is not supposed to reproduce, sometimes it does. This means if you no longer have a contract with the Corporation and a single seed from a previous crop decides to reproduce, the farmer is now in breach of IP and patent legislation and is subject to legal action. So what are the options? Potentially lose your farm and livelihood or go back to GM crops. Where is the choice in that? GM foods have the potential to become the ultimate instrument of control because yes, I agree there will be increasing demand for food. In fact food and water will become the “new age” gold. Whoever controls those essentials of life, will in fact be well placed to control the world. Do we really want it to be big Corporations?

Australia has a unique position by way of its geological location. Being an island nation, we could choose to say “No” to GM foods and be pretty safe from GM seed randomly floating across our border, unlike Canada who initially had to contend with canola GM contamination and now alfalfa GM contamination coming across from neighbouring farms in the US, and become a major food bowl for the world. There is a demand for “GM Clean” food worldwide.

DSCN0254 So, Mark, it is OK to change your position and opinion. Life does that to us. What I don’t get is why, when there is increasing scientific evidence to support your original stance against GM foods, you would now choose to hold up GM foods as the panacea to world hunger. Didn’t you read the 2008 United Nations Report “Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”? This found that organic or near-organic practices resulted in a yield increase of more than 100%. I guess not, so here is the reference:

“Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”.

Foreword by Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, and Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 2008,

Download Here ditcted200715_en-2

By the way, it’s ok to change your mind again.

As always, this is a “Perspective”, so readers are free to agree or disagree. The aim is to encourage you to review your position and investigate. Hopefully this has provided some food for thought.

References and Links for those with further interest.

Seralini GM Food

Dr Kremer Article

GM-Crops-just-the-science

National Food Waste

http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au/

http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/ecologicalfootprint/calculators/personal/completed.asp#food

http://www.epa.gov/foodrecovery/

 

Why SavinGreen: A Company Introduction

Why SavinGreen: A Company Introduction

Enviroment Health SavinGreen News

Welcome to the first SavinGreen Perspective” Blog. This blog aims to cover a variety of topics and issues ranging from the environment, health, research, green technologies, telecommunications, politics, business and whatever may be topical, in a way that is thought provoking and may, from time to time, be considered a little controversial. The purpose is to encourage people to actively question, investigate and form their own perspective. We will be providing opportunity to various organisations and groups who contribute to our community, be it locally, nationwide or worldwide, to share what they do with our readers, and will also be inviting different contributors to provide their “perspective” on topics of interest.

So this first blog is really to give a background as to “Why SavinGreen?”. My professional qualifications are as surgeon in the field of Otorhinolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery (ORLHNS or ENT –Ear, Nose, Throat). I am active in my profession and have a special interest in Head & Neck Cancer, including thyroid, airway and paediatrics. Currently I am also part way through a PhD investigating a potential Head & Neck cancer biomarker. I am often asked, “Why would a surgeon become involved in telco?” A fair enough question, but one that really only scratches the surface.

The circumstances and path by which I have arrived here have been convoluted, unintentional, unpredictable and would fill more than a few chapters in a book. The short answer is that I don’t see SavinGreen as “just a telco” or even view it as “just a business”. To me, it is a vehicle of action to create change, a way to start doing something to help our environment and community. Sure, it’s a small step and what we are doing is simple…. We arrange to plant a tree when people use our services. Not mind blowing, not revolutionary and maybe not even original, but it is action, not just talk, and the momentum is growing. We have now made contributions to Carbon Neutral, an Australian not for profit organization, for the planting of over 6,000 trees since our first bill run in April 2010. With our recent acquisitions, the finalization of a contract to market energy (electricity and gas) and the formalisation of a relationship with Wii Barraay, an aboriginal enterprise group, to market high quality LED lighting, we anticipate to at least triple this number in the next 12 months.signed and tested in Australia,  we hope to double this number in the next 12 months.

Why the need for change? Because the health of every individual human being is inescapably and irrevocably intertwined with the health of our planet and of our society and it’s not looking the best. Disagree? That’s fine; this is a “perspective”. The aim is to have you review the reasons about why you disagree and if after that you may still disagree, that’s OK. You may alter the reasons why you disagree or even change your perspective a little. If we have got you thinking, then our purpose has been achieved.

I will explore this further in a future blog, “Our Health and the Environment: the Historical Evidence”.