Monday, 8 August 2011

A-dressing domestic violence

Fashion designer Henry Holland for Designers at Debenhams has created a new charity range of men’s t-shirts in support of ‘The Real Man Campaign’ – a national campaign launched by Women’s Aid to combat domestic violence.

The t-shirts, which carry the slogan “I’m a real man”, have been adopted by celebrities including DJ Reggie Yates (pictured), Spurs striker Jermain Defoe, and pop-band Westlife, to show their support for the fight against abuse.

Physical, emotional and sexual violence against women and children is a devastating international issue. Globally, about one in four women and girls are beaten or sexually abused in their lifetime, while at least 750,000 children witness domestic abuse each year. Women’s Aid provides crucial support and protection for those suffering from domestic violence. With 124,895 women and 54,370 children using Women’s Aid refuge and outreach services between 2009 and 2010, fundraising and charitable donations are vital in the fight against abuse.

The Real Man Campaign invites male role models to publicly criticise violence against women, asking ‘Real Men’ to help promote the message that real men do not abuse or control women.

England International and Harlequins Rugby Player Danny Care says; "While it can be aggressive playing rugby, the aggression doesn't leave the rugby pitch. A Real Man doesn't need to use violence or be abusive to others, especially towards his partner and family. I am proud to support the Women's Aid Real Man campaign."

The ‘Real Man’ range of charity t-shirts are a way to raise awareness about this furtive issue. The profits from the sale of the t-shirts go directly to Women’s Aid, and are available exclusively at Debenhams stores and online at

And don’t worry girls, you can also show your support by wearing an “I’m a fan of a real man” t-shirt.

Why not show your support by signing the Real Man Pledge for Women’s Aid by the 25th November - the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women. We here at Recognise have!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

We hit Timberland's Power Camp at Camp Bestival

Last weekend we were the very lucky guests of Timberland at Camp Bestival in Dorset where we spent most of the time lounging around on the very comfy bean bags on the upper ‘deck’ of the Timberland Power Camp stand which had pride of place right in front of the main stage.

Timberland Power Camp is a construction made entirely of recycled wood from shipping containers and rubber from old tyres, designed to show to the public what the brand is doing for the environment.

As a brand whose products are all designed for the outdoors, their ethos is about protecting the environment and making products in a responsible manner. The footwear is made entirely with this ethos in mind, with the soles made from 40% recycled rubber and the lining from old plastic bottles.

We were very kindly given some Timberlands to wear during the festival, and we can safely say that they are some of the comfiest footwear we have ever worn. I know that Sarah (our fashion editor) will be wearing her Timberland sandals when she is running about London!

As well as lounging on the bean bags we did have a go at blending our own smoothies at the Power Camp, not by hand, but by powering the blender on an exercise bike. Although it sounds a bit bizarre it was the perfect way to educate the children at Camp Bestival about renewable energy and how much energy it takes just to make a smoothie. It did seem worth it in the end as my passion fruit smoothie went down very well in the heat.

For children with an abundance of energy, and not lazy journalists like us, there was the opportunity to have a go at running on the log rolls for 6 minutes which made enough energy to power a kettle. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate were all on the menu for those who had the stamina.

The Power Camp was a brilliant, interactive and informative way of showing the younger generation the importance of renewable energy and at the same time showing that Timberland are as much about protecting the environment as they are about the famous yellow boot.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Big Audition

Last night we went down to the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho to watch an intimate gig with Jamie Cullum to celebrate the launch of The Big Audition.

The Big Audition is an opportunity for budding musicians to get their big break into the music industry with the winner getting a master class from Jamie Cullum himself, the opportunity to perform at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, and a £5000 prize to kick start their career.

During the gig, fans could Tweet in their song requests which ranged from The White Stripes, Seven Nation Army to Stephen Sondheim’s musical classic, ‘Not while I’m around,’ Those who were not Cullum fans at the beginning of the night were certainly converted after his off the cuff set. Seemingly Jamie can play literally anything without even knowing the song, (although he did sing the same verse of The White Stripes three times, which just meant we could all sing along!) The most touching part of the evening was Jamie’s tribute to Amy Winehouse, who also started her career at the jazz club. He played his own version of Amy’s song, ‘Love is a Losing Game,’ before pointing out where Amy had scribbled on the wall in the dressing room.

The founder of Pizza Express, Peter Boizot is a huge music fan and set up the jazz club so people could enjoy music while they ate- ingenious! The venue itself always has an amazing line up of people playing, from new up and coming acts, to the old cronies so is well worth a visit.

The competition is not just open to jazz musicians, it is for anyone who wants to try and get their name out there into the world of music. To enter, upload a clip of yourself playing/singing to and Jamie and the team will judge the best of the bunch.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Damage of Denim

The Italian fashion giant Versace is the latest brand to support the movement to end sandblasting – a process that is used to give clothes like denim a fashionable, ‘worn’ look, but which campaigners say destroy workers’ lungs.

The process was prohibited in Britain in 1950, yet some of the world’s poorest textile workers are still performing the technique manually, which critics blame for the irreversible lung disease Silicosis. ‘Sandblasting’shoots a high-powered jet of silica at denim, which may make the fabric look shabby-chic but which can also have a damaging effect on the workers’ health as they breathe in air-born particles. According to US government scientists, victims' lungs can become inflamed and filled with fluid, which causes breathing problems and low oxygen levels in the blood.

This month, Versace issued a statement that encouraged the elimination of sandblasting as an industry practice. Other big names such as H&M and Karen Millen have also pledged to stop selling sandblasted products.

Versace’s new position is brilliant news in this campaign for workers’ safety standards. However, since many countries fail to properly enforce legislation to protect their workers, complete prevention of this health-damaging technique is near impossible without a global boycott on sandblasted products.

The Real Cost of Medicine

The Academy of Medical Sciences has published a report that demands better regulation of experiments on Animals Containing Human Material (ACHM) in scientific research.

Animals that contain human tissues, cells or genetic information are used in medical research since they can better represent human disease. For instance, by putting human breast tumor cells into mice, researchers were able to test cancer drugs on human tissue.

However, such controversial testing has divided public opinion, and whilst most medical groups consider it a vital part towards understanding and treating human illnesses, many religious bodies and animal welfare groups condemn the practice as unethical.

Animal research is currently regulated by the Home Office’s animal procedures committee. However, Professor Martin Bobrow, chair of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “Our report recommends that the Home Office puts into place a national expert body, within the stringent system of animal research regulation, to provide specific advice on sensitive types of ACHM research”.

Such ‘sensitive’ types of experiments that were of concern to both the public and the scientific community could involve modifying non-human primates to create what are perceived to be uniquely human-like behaviors, although Professor Bobrow stressed that nobody had done anything like this as yet, and were they to go ahead, such experiments would require strong scientific justification.

Such an area of research has the potential to provide significant advances to medical treatments, but at what social and ethical cost? The study by The Academy of Medical Sciences recommended that the UK should lead the effort to raise international awareness of testing on Animals Containing Human Material, and should promote consistency in research practices.

The government said it would consider the recommendations.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

EU Commission work towards sustainable Biofuel production

The European Commission has approved seven schemes that were established to guarantee that biofuels used in the EU are produced in an environmentally sustainable way.

A biofuel is any kind of fuel produced from organic matter – from living things or from the waste they produce. This is a long and diverse list, but includes wood chips, straw, biogas (methane) from animal’s excrement and liquid fuels made from processing plant material. As an alternate technology source, Biofuels are a part of the EU strategy to cut CO2 emissions.

However, recently, the term “Biofuel” has come to refer more exclusively to the last category – to ethanol and diesel that is produced from crops including corn, sugarcane and rapeseed. This method of production is controversial because the crops need to be grown specifically for biofuel production, which means that in some countries they have replaced forests, which harms biodiversity, while the space allotted to their farming is seen as a rival to food crops.

The EU Energy Commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, said that the damaging side effects of biofuel production were “a real concern…particularly in the big producing countries, South-East Asia and South America”.

The EU Commission’s new schemes aim to tackle these concerns by promoting a sustainable and regulated production of biofuels. Commission data indicated that in 2007, roughly 26% of biodiesel and 31% of bioethanol used in the EU was imported, mostly from Brazil and the US. Biofuel producers will now have to verify how and where their crops are grown, and those farmed on land that used to be forest or wetland will not qualify.

Companies importing or producing biofuels will be required to prove that they meet the EU’s strict criteria. To be approved, the Commission requires that biofuels emit at least 35% less greenhouse gases then fossil fuels such as petrol, though this minimum is set to increase in the next few years.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Conservation on Camera

British actors Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton will appear in a captivating new short film this summer which highlights the work of leading conservation charity WWF. Written by the critically acclaimed writer-director Stephen Poliakoff and directed by BAFTA award winner Charles Sturridge, the 5-minute movie ‘Astonish Me’ introduces some of the world’s lesser known or recently discovered species. The film uses both real images and special effects to portray wildlife as diverse as massive insects and colossal squid, a fish with a transparent head and a rainbow of birds and frogs.

Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns for WWF-UK and Executive Producer of ‘Astonish Me', said that the film:

“shows that the natural world is every bit as magical and surprising as the fictional world you might see in a Hollywood film. We know about less than a tenth of the species that we suspect are out there and I really hope this film inspires a new generation of conservationists to be curious about the natural world and to want to protect it.”

WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservationist organisations, with a global network that is active in more than 100 countries. They work to tackle the most serious environmental issues facing our planet and focus on safeguarding the natural world, so that both people and nature can thrive. 2011 is WWF’s 50th anniversary year, and ‘Astonish Me’ is a great way to both celebrate the successes of WWF so far and also get people excited by the splendid variety of nature so that they are interested in tackling the challenges of the future. Although approximately 15,000 new species are discovered every year, we are also losing species and habitat at an alarming rate, and many of the new species that scientists discover are already on the verge of extinction.

‘Astonish Me’ will be screened in Odeon cinemas across the country from the 29 July 2011, and to celebrate the film and WWF’s 50th anniversary, WWF is offering a family of four the chance to win a conservation experience at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, one of the world's most prestigious research centres for deep-sea exploration in California. To enter the competition please visit