How green is my bottle?


The label proudly proclaimed this was an eco-bottle because the plastic was made from plants, in contrast to most other plastics which are made from oil.

It didn’t say whether the total impact on the environment of producing the bottle was greater or less because of that but as it was the only bottle available and I had left home without water to take on a walk I bought it.

I drank the water but kept the bottle to re-use it, thinking that would be the right thing to do with an eco-bottle.

But alas, look what happened when the plastic met hot water:


It’s called Charlie’s Honest Water, but is it being honest about the eco-bottle? The PR  says it’s good, but how good is it if it can’t be reused?

I know that it’s better to use tap water in a reusable bottle, but for those occasions when that’s not available should I opt for a one-use eco-bottle or a plastic-from-oil one which doesn’t collapse when it’s washed?

Or is it true that the ones that don’t collapse leach nasties into the water so shouldn’t be reused anyway?

Kermit was right, it’s not easy being green – especially when you don’t know whether what you are doing is good for your health and that of the planet and what’s simply greenwash.

Who said what about whom?


When I studied English literature it overwhelmingly meant poetry and prose by English, or at least British, people.

I’ve broadened my reading since then, but not enough to be able to win the chocolate fish which Art & My Life has offered to the first person to identify who or by whom three quotes were made.

You have until this evening to give her the answers.

While on matters literary:

 Quote Unquote  has a reminisence of Frank Sargeson by Kevin Ireland.

Mary McCallum  reviews The First Touch of Light,  by Ruth Pettis which was published after the author’s death and Vanda Symon  posts on the book’s launch.

Bin that idea, Nick


Please bin the idea to charge shoppers 5c for every plastic shopping  bag they use, Nick.

It’s bad politics and it’s not necessarily good for the environment.

The negative fall out from following the previous government’s example of wasting time and energy trying to explain the relatively small benefits isn’t worth it.

There are far more important issues to act on and far bigger environmental problems than plastic bags.

Far better to leave this one to businesses and individuals.

But if you choose to go down the resuable route yourself, I have just the bags for you:


(You can tell by their crumpled state I do use them).

Politically stupid and environmentally questionable it might be but The Visible Hand reckons it stacks up economically.

P.S. – I’m not against people paying the true cost, it’s the government intervening in this way which I object to.

Who benefits from protection?


Subsidies are just a transfer of funds from taxpayers to producers and as taxpayers are also consumers they end up paying more twice  – first through their taxes and then through higher prices.

The subsidies also blind producers to market signals so they produce more than the market requires.

The other weapon in the protectionists armour is tariffs. They are also a tax which costs both producers and consumers because goods subject to tariffs cost more.

So who benefits from protection?

In the short term inefficient producers and politicians. In the long term no-one because protection stunts economic growth.

The global recession could provide an opportunity to reduce protectionist policies because it costs too much, but the signs aren’t promising as the Inquiring Mind notes in a post on the rising tide of protectionism.

Anti-Dismal   illustrates the problem of protection with this:

Much easier to find employees


A year ago dairy farm workers were in short supply because of the sharp increase in the number of conversions and advertisements were lucky to result in a trickle of responses.

This year people advertising for staff are receiving a flood of replies.

Among these are managers who have been told that farm owners are taking over again because banks are putting pressure on them to reduce their costs and doing the work themselves rather than employing others to do it results in substantial savings.

The fall in the milk payout is also having an impact on the wider economy and the ODT reports that there will be considerably less flowing from dairy farms into the New Zealand economy this season compared with last year.

After two years of unprecedented growth, lower international prices this year are predicted to remove more the $3 billion from the incomes of the country’s 11,400 dairy farmers.

The final payout will be announced later, but it appears farmers will receive $5.10 a kg of milk solids (kg/ms), compared to $7.66kg/ms last season.

Some bankers have estimated 40% of farmers will make a loss this year, as many had budgeted on Fonterra’s forecast milk price for this season – $6.60kg/ms – and committed expenditure and investment accordingly.

Had this price been achieved, the southern economy would have been $280 million better off.

Neal Wallace writes that a 500 cow farm will have a potential income drop of $300,000 this season.

Southland farm consultant Alastair Gibson said he made his $300,000 calculation based on a typical 500- to 550-cow farm producing 200,000kg, and on the difference in income from $6.60 a kilo forecast by Fonterra in September and the present forecast payout of $5.10 a kilo.

. . . The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry estimated farm working expenses last year were $3.31 a kilo, but Mr Gibson said he knew of some farms at $4.40 a kilo, which included some capital expenditure.

For some farms, a break-even point could be $4.70 a kilo, allowing for debt servicing of $1.58 a kilo and working expenses of $2.80 a kilo, and then additional costs such as personal drawings and tax.

When income drops the sensible response is to reduce costs but even small economies on lots of farms will result in a lot less flowing into the wider economy.

Patient travel & accommodation aid increased


The centralisation of specialist health services may be supported by sound clinical and financial reasons but it does increase the costs for people who live outside the main centres.

Health Minister Tony Ryall has recognised that by increasing the amount patients can claim under the National Travel Assistance scheme for the first time in 20 years.

The eight cent increase takes the assistance up to 28 cents a kilometre and the accommodation rate has also been increased to $100 a night.


No-one is pretending this will fully cover travel and accommodation costs for patients.


The NTA support has always been a help rather than a reimbursement. But in tough financial times every bit extra will help, especially for people who have health issues that are not easy to manage close to home,” Mr Ryall said.


When you choose to live in the country or a small town you accept that you won’t get the same level of health services which are available in cities but long distance or frequent travel and accommodation can be expensive and add to the stress of illness.


Most referrals to specialists will be from GPs rather than other specialists so won’t qualify for the assistance so the increase in assistance isn’t a miracle cure, but it will provide some relief.


Information on who is eligible and how to claim is available on the Ministry of Health website.

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