Pen and paper…

Thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences

Data visualization: BBKA stats on bee colony loss rates June 2, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 1:47 pm
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I recently found some stats from the British Beekeeping Association whilst searching for contacts. So I’ve had a play with Many Eyes to see what the stats look like in visual form – I have to say not that exciting but I think the tool would be great for bigger and more complex date sets. I’m sure there’s probably a way of embedding them here but since I can’t find it at the moment, try clicking here…. and here…


All things bees and eco-teams… May 31, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled,News — Kellie Maddox @ 11:36 am
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Let’s not dwell on my absence the last few weeks (all in the name of work I assure you). A few interesting things to report from the last few weeks – some enviro, some not. But for these purposes, let’s talk ‘green’…..

Last week I took a trip to Birmingham Chamber of Commerce  – the intention wasn’t wholly to discuss new ‘green’ developments but something quite exciting did crop up. I won’t reveal too much as a Birmingham Recycled article will be posted soon to tell you more, however the general gist of the Chamber’s latest venture involves a newly-devised environmental team/project which is aimed at encouraging Midlands’ businesses to operate in more enviro-friendly ways e.g. energy saving, reducing waste and improving efficiency.

So you’ll be hearing more about the project in the coming months from the Chamber, but also from moi, as I’m going to be working as an intern on the project to get the site going ( along with the team and Jon Hickman) and filling it will lots of informative (and hopefully exciting) content.

Next……following lots of media interest the last couple of weeks about the plight of our beloved bee population, I thought it was something worth looking into. The Guardian reported that honeybee numbers were still in decline after the harsh winter this year. Referring to the results of a survey published by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), the figures show a wide regional variation, with northern parts of the UK suffering greater losses than the south.

I decided to try to find out the picture in the Midlands so contacted several groups to find out how the bee population has fared in the local area. Although not so great for me, many groups weren’t able to accommodate me because they were so busy with huge numbers of people learning the ropes of beekeeping – a great sign that more people are interested in the conservation of these insects.

South Staffordshire Beekeepers’ Association were kind enough to invite me along to one of their meetings, held at their apiary at Shugborough Hall. I was pleasantly surprised to find a gathering of 20-25 ‘beginner beekeepers’ along with several experienced committee members who look after the apiary and run the course.  

After the informative session, which was all about ‘swarms’, I managed to grab a few minutes with apiary manager Neil Leadbetter and the knowledgable membership secretary Phil Healy. I filmed my brief interview with them, asking about the local picture in terms of bee numbers, why there is a decline, what can be done and how many people are taking up the hobby. I’m hoping – if me and Sian manage to hone our video editing skills – to have the video up on Birmingham Recycled tomorrow so you’ll have to have a look.

Finally, my most time-consuming and least-progressed project is the mapping I’ve been attempting, but let’s not talk about that. It may or may not materialise depending on my inclination to process another hundred or so calculations before the week is out. A miracle needed please…..


Stories in the pipeline February 23, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 2:50 pm
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My recycling research today has surfaced several potential leads for Birmingham Recycled in the coming days/weeks. I shall be working on all or some of the following to see whether anything strikes me as a good story:

Roots and Shoots: Mission Possible is… 

An Education Programme for young people. It inspires practical positive action for people, animals and the environment by developing an understanding of how important a healthy planet is to human survival.

It seems that quite a few Birmingham/Midlands schools are part of the scheme, which is also part of the Eco Schools project, so I’m looking to follow-up on what local schools have been doing. It’s not really ‘recycling’ territory specifically but I want to have a dig anyway!

battery recycling initiative started at the beginning of February – where stores selling more than one pack of batteries per day will have to accept old batteries for recycling. I was thinking of following this up with local shops and supermarkets to see how successful the in-store collections are and whether the public use them/know about them/still throw batteries in the waste bin.

Compost bins – spurred on by the comments of @karldstevens:

@kelliem24 wonders whether the council should charge for compost bins if it reduces the waste they have to collect?

@karldstevens: Don’t be silly. B’ham City Council are run by the Conservatives. Anything they don’t have to pay for they wont.

@kelliem24: good point, you’d think to encourage more people to #compost they’d give them a free bin!

@karldstevens: I saw recycling teams drive past a street of recycling last week en route to uni. Road seemed too narrow for them to be bothered.

@kelliem24: i asked earlier whether anyone has had problems like that – looks like I’ll be challenging the council quite soon!

@karldstevens: Well the recycling boxes worked – they were free, people used them. Maybe compost bins will work the same. Pilot first ofc

I’m interested to find out about Birmingham City Council’s approach to recycling waste by composting. It seems you can buy a bin from them, but surely if they’re trying to encourage composting they should be giving residents bins for free? As Karl pointed out, it worked with the recycling bins so maybe it will work for composting? I’m looking to challenge the council about it…..soon!


Birmingham Recycled – what are we talking about?

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 11:06 am
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Having battled through the maze of RSS feeds, Twitter, Delicious, WordPress and all manner of other exciting online ‘tools’, the Online Journalism group is finally ready to start writing for Birmingham Recycled.

I’ve now been given the role as editor of the recycling section of the site, along with Jess Dutton and our ‘reycling’ team: Ben Harrow, Chris Smith, Liam Richardson, Rachel Giaramita and Jasmine Hachani is raring to go (well, maybe that’s a little optimistic!)

Stories the team are working on this week include:

  • Clothes recycling – Northfield Eco Centre Clothes Swap (Thurs 25th) and SOS Wardrobe Exchange (Wed 3rd)
  • Recycling/eco news feeds – why aren’t newspaper RSS feeds kept up-to-date? (See Ben’s blog post)
  • Council’s lack of response to recycling bin requests (See Chris’ blog post)
  • Costa coffee – do they use paper cups as default instead of washing up ceramic ones?
  • Moseley Swap Shop (Sat 27th)
  • Local Authority Recycling Advisory committee spring campaign (See Liam’s blog post)

I’m hoping to go along to the Northfields Eco Centre on Thursday and will be talking to Style Our Souls Director Emma Wellings next Wednesday about their ‘green’ alternative to shopping – the Wardrobe Exchange.

We’re keen to work with any Birmingham/Midlands based groups/businesses with a ‘green’ outlook and will be monitoring all things recycling in the coming months. If anyone has any ideas, thoughts or upcoming events you think our Birmingham Recycled users would be interested in, please let us know.


Thoughts on recycling February 17, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 4:18 pm
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So, as newly appointed journalist for Birmingham Recycled, I should get into gear and actually start digging up some mildly interesting – if not informative at least – news, views, events and general environmental shenanigans. Here goes…

I’ll be focusing on recycling – initiatives, new ideas, issues and debates in Birmingham – and hopefully I’ll learn lots about this very important ‘we-should-all-take-responsibility-for’ social issue. My aim for the project is to delve beyond the norm – we all know how, where and why we should recycle plastic, paper and metal (I assume anyway) – therefore I hope to address the ‘unknown recyclables’ and move away from the ‘you should recycle’ lectures.

So, my first port of call is going to be clothes recycling or ‘swishing’ as the in-crowd call it. I shall be attending the SOS Wardrobe Exchange event in Birmingham next month and will bring you the inside low-down on this fabulous eco-friendly answer to trawling the high-street. I may even be tempted to give swishing a go for myself (my wardrobe breathes a heavy sigh!).