Tuesday, 28 May 2013


I am currently in the process of writing an introduction, or guide, to help everyone understand why sustainability is important and how to go about implementing more sustainability plans in their neighbourhood or community. It is a challenge, not only to avoid jargon and use language that makes the subject interesting, but also to explain in some detail how to go about starting your own sustainability scheme.

It is to be published by the British Standards Institution (BSI), the official body in the UK which sets standards for everything from plugs and kettles to quality management and professional services. The idea is to encourage grass-roots action across neighbourhoods in towns and cities as well as in more rural areas, with the action not being driven by ‘top-down’ government measures or initiatives; a refreshing change, I hope you agree!

The planned guide supports a more detailed standard called Guidance for community Sustainable development, first written in 2011. This latter document can be obtained by anyone for a small fee; however, the new guide I am working on will be free and available to all.

All standards have numbers for ease of reference, with this one being BS8904; it follows as part of a wider family of standards on sustainability in the BS8900 series. I have chaired, authored and championed these key standards over the last 8 or 9 years; as such, I hope that some, or even many, people will go on to use them!

We have already had some big successes with various versions of these standards. One was used for the Olympics in London in 2012 and another for boosting sustainable UK film production, while a further standard is relevant to companies in managing their supply chains, and so on.

While these are called ‘British Standards’, they are used all over the world; I have seen BS8900 used in Hong Kong and India! This trend is going to increase as we move to make the sustainability scheme a certifiable standard rather than just a guidance framework. Also, many such schemes go on to become international standards, like the much-used ISO9001 standard for quality management, which started as a British standard. I am travelling to Denmark soon, to draft an ISO for the sustainable community scheme i.e. an international version of BS8904.

I hope green24 readers and users will want to use the introductory guide; I am hoping we can upload a .pdf version later this year. Then, once the outline is up, you can also obtain the more detailed standards from the BSI online shop: http://shop.bsigroup.com/en/.

David Jackman

Monday, 13 May 2013

Making waves

Now for something completely different! Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, we learn that there are many ways that your lakeside trip can be greener, if that’s not a contradiction in terms!

As many of us start to plan our holidays or weekends away, we may spare a thought for our environmental impact. For one group of activities, namely motor water sports, we can be even more careful now, thanks to new guidance from the greener-boating project (www.greener-boating.org) and the environment agency. It's just one more example of independent organisations trying to make the world a better place and look after our environment.

Did you know that you should not anchor in protected areas where there are special wildlife habitats? You should avoid causing pollution by checking your bilges and engines for leaks, putting down drip trays and especially being careful when refuelling. Five litres of oil will leave a skin of oil over a lake covering 2 football pitches!

Of course you can help by using biodegradable oils and recycling oil when you can. Oil is responsible for 16% of all lake pollution in the UK, with most spills happening near jetties, thanks to overfilling or carelessness. Always carry a spill kit; they can stop a lot of damage.

It's also important to not allow toilet products (some are extremely toxic to water life), waste or grey water to get into the lake water; fortunately, many marinas have facilities for pumping out waste. Put cooking waste in a bin, not over the side. Also be sure to use phosphate-free detergents; ever seen the unsightly foam at weirs and around lake edges? By the way, an EU ban on phosphates in detergents comes into force on 30 June 2013.

Small things always make a difference. Washing your gear and clothes before going away can avoid unnecessary contamination by diseases or unwanted pests, such as the killer freshwater shrimp which can survive in damp sheeting or clothing.

We all want to see clean lakes and waterways well stocked with fish such as perch, roach and trout, or our own local Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus); it's cold here! This goes double for especially rare species which are very sensitive to chemical levels.

As with many green initiatives, it’s about education, allowing one to both protect biodiversity and have an enjoyable time.

David Jackman