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   Inside Out - London: Monday September 18, 2006
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Sustainable London...
Part two

There are constantly warnings that climate change threatens London with flooding.

However residents seem to be reluctant to take action to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

Every year millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, are poured into the atmosphere.

So what should we be doing to become environmentally friendly?

And how green is your family?

The Murray family's green excursion

Getting Around

Walking or cycling to work instead of driving helps to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion as well as your risk of heart disease and stress.

A 10% increase in the number of people cycling regularly would lead to a 4% reduction in the number of people with heart disease, saving the NHS £200 million a year.

If you cycle around London, why not consider joining the London Cycling Campaign which offers members various benefits such as free third party insurance, bike-shop discounts and free cycle maps of London.

Try to use public transport if walking or cycling is impractical.

Ring the Transport for London Travel Information line to find out the current status of services

... or speak with a travel advisor to get advice on how best to reach to your destination on London public transport.

Call 0207 222 1234 or email

If you travel long distances and do need to use a car think about car sharing.

The Murray family from north London have agreed to go green for three months.

Dad Martin, mum Stella, 16-year-old Tom and eight-year-old Joseph all have to play their part.

We follow their story in his three part diary.

Green transport

Samantha Heath is Head of the London Sustainability Exchange - an organisation set up to help people like the Murrays change their carbon creating habits.

This week Sam challenges the Murrays to cut the use of their carbon hungry cars by a third.

Between them, they clock up more than 25,000 miles a year - the equivalent of driving once round the equator.

Martin tries a Brompton bike and investigates bio-fuel and Stella and Joseph take the tube to school. Sam also encourages them to try eco-friendly clothing on for size.

Martin's diary Part two: Getting around

Two-car family

"I couldn't really believe it when I found out we clocked up about 25,000 miles a year with our two cars, so cutting our mileage down will have to be dramatic.

Stella, Joseph and Martin Murray traveling with Samantha Heath
Stella, Joseph and Martin Murray face-up to green transport

"Stella left extra early with Joseph to catch the tube, I don't think he was so keen but I'm sure he will enjoy it."

Alternative transport

"It seems Joseph and Stella were fine taking the tube. She said it was a lot easier than she thought it would be. Joseph even seemed to enjoy going on the tube and they are going to try to do it more often.

"Sam suggested I try bicycling at work. I think it will be difficult though. At work, I have to visit clients in their homes and so really my car is like a portable office, it has everything in it.

Martin Murray tries a Brompton Bike in place of his carbon-guzzling car
Martin Murray tries a folding Brompton Bike

"I'm still keen to try to make as many trips as possible on a bike and the local authority employers say they will provide me with one.

"I was given a Brompton Bike which folded out of the boot of a car. I used to be a keen cyclist in my younger days, however after my first ride I couldn't remember how to signal or anything. However, I am sure I will get the hang of it.


"I thought using bio-diesel, produced from recycled chip fat, might be a good alternative to normal diesel for when I have to use my car.

"The bio-diesel I chose neutralises carbon emissions by 20% . However, it was not as easy as it seemed.

"There are few garages in London offering this green fuel - it was about the same price of ordinary diesel but I had to search the Internet to find it."

Martin, Joseph and Stella Murray try on eco-friendly clothing
Martin, Joseph and Stella Murray try on eco-friendly clothing

Invalidate warranty?

"Unfortunately I checked my warranty and if I poured the chip fat into my car then my warranty would no longer apply.

"Instead I found out I can cut my carbon emissions by filling up at Tesco as their garages mix their diesel with 5% biofuel."

Eco-friendly apparel

"Sam says we should try eco-friendly, organic clothing instead of normally manufactured clothing as a lot of mass produced clothing is made in sweatshops with damaging chemicals.

"These are harmful to the environment because of how they are made and how they were dyed. I could not believe they contribute 2 to 5 kg of carbon a day!

"Sam showed us some clothes that were actually quite nice, Joseph liked his t-shirts, I quite liked my shirt and Stella really liked the shoes."

Samantha Heath shows the Murrays a bag made of recycled seatbelts
Samantha demonstrates a bag made from recycled seatbelts

Seatbelt cushions

"I thought the seatbelt cushions were great. However I don't think Tom would be too interested in eco-friendly clothing as he wouldn't think it very cool, and a bit hippy. But Sam's suggestions of recycled Nike clothing may be a good idea."

'It seems we have done exceedingly well! We have cut our carbon emissions by more than we expected to and I think Sam was happy with our results.

"We had a 75% reduction in our carbon emissions so I think using the Tube and the bike a bit more made a lot of difference."

Follow the progress of the Murray family in their bid to become greener over the next two weeks on BBC Inside Out London TV and our website.

Read Part one of the Murray family's green excursion

If you want further information on any of the activities in the programme, please email us at


Beijing Olympics logo

Drinking to Olympic Glory

"You have this dream and you are not going to give up until you have reached that goal.

"My dream is to win Olympic gold at Beijing 2008."

Jo Fenn has been out of competition for nearly two years due to injury and is now investigating new ways to boost her performance with nutrition.

Her coach, Ayo Falola says the competition is already fierce:

"There are about five under 1.57, there are seven girls this year under 2.0 in Britain."

"If you have a inappropriate diet you will not get the same effect from your training session. So nutrition cannot be under-estimated"
Professor Asker Jeukendrup

She needs to shave seconds of her time just to qualify for her race and Professor Asker Jeukendrup from the University of Birmingham thinks nutrition is a key constituent for this.

"If you don't have the appropriate diet, then you won't get the ultimate benefits from your training," said Jeukendrup.

Fenn has turned to meat now but was a vegetarian for many years and thinks this lack of iron in her diet was holding her back.

"I do feel better, I can string 2 or 3 hard training sessions back to back. Whereas before I struggled," said Fenn.

"Some green leaf vegetables contain much iron, but absorption of iron from vegetables is poor. The absorption of iron from meat is much better."
Professor Asker Jeukendrup

Six months ago Jo's team contacted Jeukendrup and now world leading sports scientists are working on a drink that may be her answer.

"We have been working on a drink that improves the peripheral capacity of the blood, when you run your body produces lactic acid, and that acid accumulates in the muscle and will eventually cause you to fatigue.

"So if you can buffer those acids in the muscle or in the blood, then you can delay the onset of that fatigue and your performance will improve," said Jeukendrup.

But the taste is not great, "a taste between mangoes and tuna fish," said Fenn.

Professor Juekendrup's work may also benefit England's 2012 Olympians.

The taste will not deter her:

"I'm 31 now, I don't think I'll be there in London 2012, this is like my chance, and I just have to get it right," said Fenn.

Read more on this BBC Inside Out story

Links relating to this story:

Professor Asker Jeukendrup

University of Birmingham School of Sport and Exercise Sciences

BEIJING 2008 Olympic Games

Sport England

London 2012


Nick Lawrence
Reporter Nick Lawrence goes undercover


IT training is big business.

Words like "multi skilling" and "upskilling" are part of every day language, so it's no surprise IT course providers are raking in millions from hopefuls looking to get ahead.

Metropolitan International Schools Ltd trade as Skillstrain and Scheidegger.

They claim to be Europe's number one for computer training, having been in business since 1947.

And their most recent accounts show a turnover in excess of £18 million.

Impressive numbers, but not so impressive are the numerous complaints received by the BBC about the Skillstrain "course advisors" responsible for student enrolment.

Posing as a would-be web designer Inside Out reporter Nick Lawrence contacted Skillstrain.

A couple of days later "course advisor" Dave turned up.

Dave not only promised a job in web design at the end of the course, he also told Nick the course certification he was selling for £2,500 was required by a lot of companies.

He also claimed Skillstrain worked in association with Manpower and they were advised by Elan IT on the content of their courses.

No relationship

Manpower told us whilst there used to be a relationship between the two organisations.

As far as they were concerned, their association was at an end and they had been in contact with SKillstrain over the past 18 months requesting them to stop using the Manpower name.

Elan IT told us they have never advised Skillstrain on the content of their courses, and the certification Nick was being offered was certainly not a requirement in the UK and was, in fact, largely unheard of.

Nick handed over footage of his meeting with "Dave" to Colin Steed, Chief Executive of the Institute of IT Training who give accreditation to SKillstrain.

Colin told us the "course advisor's" behaviour was unacceptable and has said that he would investigate.

Skillstrain told us they were not at fault because they had contracted out their student enrolment to a company called Multimedia Computer Training, and also said:

"Since 1947 (59 years) Scheidegger has trained, under its various brands, over 5 million people in 12 European countries.

"We invite feedback from students and take any complaints we receive very seriously…

"It is not our policy to guarantee jobs at the end of our courses... If it turns out Multimedia Computer Training Ltd and or its advisor have broken this policy, we will take this very seriously and take further action against them... As far as we are concerned, we have a current agreement with Manpower."

Multimedia Computer Training Ltd say that they don't believe such false representations were made - if they were, then disciplinary procedures will be taken against the salesperson.

See also ...

On the rest of the web

Green electricity

Save energy

Solar grants

Green score

Recycle close to home

Recycled Products Guide

Organic Delivery Company

London Cycling Campaign

Environment Agency

London Sustainability Exchange

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