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Be green and mean
Plan to use, where possible, recycled and salvaged building materials. See www.salvo.co.uk, www.wantsandoffers.com, www.freecycle.org or do some skip hunting.
Avoid materials that ‘off-gas’
Standard building and renovation materials such as MDF, carpeting, adhesives, paints and particleboard release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Your freshly painted ‘new home smell’ is the mark of off-gassing chemicals; and now homes are less drafty these chemical nasties hang around even longer. MDF deserves a special mention as the devil’s own work, containing urea formaldehyde that continually ‘off-gasses’, together with highly hazardous fibrous dust.
Recycled plastic lumber may sound horrible but it has come a long way since taking pride of place in Ye Olde English Pub as oh-so-real ‘oak beams’. It can make an attractive low maintenance alternative to cutting down more precious trees.
Only use sourced wood supplies. The Forestry Stewardship Council has a database of companies selling wood from well-managed forests. See www.fsc-uk.org
Buy salvaged and reclaimed wood. See www.demolitions.co.uk
Install water-efficient toilets and showers, such as ‘low flow’ units, to reduce water usage. With hosepipe bans and rising water costs, rainwater collection systems should be all the rage – fit yours now. See www.rainharvesting.co.uk
Forget about carpets and vinyl floor tiles. Invest in cork, bamboo and recycled glass floors to make a big difference to your footprint (metaphorically speaking). Don’t think Cathy Come Home but trendy eco alternative when you next see real linoleum. Durable, easy to recycle and low maintenance, it now comes in some great designs. See www.forboflooring.co.uk
Most standard paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that off-gas at room temperature. There are up to 300 carcinogens and 150 mutagens in a can. Non-toxic paints allow the material underneath, such as plaster and wood, to breathe and absorb moisture, as does unsealed timber.
When buying from your local store, check the paint’s VOC rating on the tin to ensure it has no, minimal or low VOC content. But beware: VOC-free may not mean free from formaldehyde, acetone or ammonia.
Insulation is the key to any ecologically-sound home, especially in the UK. Heat loss through walls and roofs can account for as much as 80 per cent of heating costs. However, it can take more energy to manufacture insulation than you will ever save.
Standard polystyrene insulation contains chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs/HCFCs) that are destructive to the ozone layer, while mineral and glass fibre insulation may be carcinogenic. Instead, invest in composite insulation made from recycled newspapers or wool. Wool, especially, has many benefits. As well as reducing condensation, it’s sound absorbent, insect resistant and absorbs toxins such as nitrogen oxide. See www.secondnatureuk.com
Try Termex for carbon-neutral insulation for your walls. It is made from waste newsprint and uses only one tenth of the energy used to make polyurethene and polystyrene-based insulation materials.
Warmcel DIY roof insulation made from newsprint is cheap and easy to fit. I can only think of one better way to use the Sun and Daily Mail while closing the recycling loop.
Avoid PVC window frames.
PVC is high in toxins and dioxins, such as lead, cadmium and phthalates (linked to DNA damage). Find recycled wood window frames or Forest Stewardship approved durable hardwood such as sweet chestnut.
Choose ‘Low e’ (low emission) glass for windows. It has an invisible coating to reflect heat back into the room. Placing a shelf above radiators or backing with kitchen foil has a similar effect.
Plant trees towards the west and south of your home to keep the temperature down in summer and shrubs on the north side to combat the cold winter wind.
Don’t use particleboard (aka chipboard)
Particleboard, used in cheap furniture, fittings and even flooring, uses a formaldehyde binding. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has classified formaldehyde as a ‘probable human carcinogen’, meaning it can cause cancer in animals and possibly humans too. Formaldehyde chipboard and MDF are now available but only for large volume orders. Try wheatboard or sunflower board instead.
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook
‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali
Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.
Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent
Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art
Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs
Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox
Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power