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There's an eco-friendly tinge to The Stirrer's politics and we make no bones about it. So when we heard a “green bank” had opened in the area, we sent Barbara Panvel to investigate.

The Co-Op has been taking the health of people and the environment seriously, and improving its practice for ten years. Artificial colours and monosodium glutamate have been removed from its food products, food labelling improved, only products not tested on animals sold, and Freedom Foods and Fairtrade goods promoted.

It was the first to ban the use of animal by-products and pigswill in animal feed, the stocking of GM food in its stores, the growing of GM crops on its farmland. It also bans the use of lindane and 20 other pesticides as well as other toxic chemicals still legally permitted.

Six years ago its first wind farm was planned and on 3,700 of its sites ‘green electricity' is used. It's Manchester buildings have over 7000 solar panels and 19 wind turbines. With help from Carbon Challenge the Co-operative Group is drastically reducing its carbon emissions.

Now the Co-Op Bank has opened ‘green branch', refurbishing a building in Solihull High Street using the most ecologically friendly construction materials, solvent free paint, chairs made of 96% recycled materials, energy efficient light bulbs, chlorine free paper, eco-friendly cleaning products, recycled pens and reusable mugs instead of plastic cups for their Fairtrade tea and coffee.

We salute them, and note that other corporations are following in their footsteps, but should these good moves take place within a wider framework of action?

Carbon emissions would be greatly reduced by stopping the ‘food swap' condemned by MEP Caroline Lucas: the practice of exporting roughly the same amount of meat as we import and importing fruit and vegetables which we can grow ourselves.

In similar vein, MP Michael Meacher - a candidate for the Labour Party leadership - proposes that families, according to size, are given a carbon entitlement which would reduce each year. The government could then credibly press other countries to do likewise.

Check out our various green threads…there's one about Green Guilt in our News thread, and another about Global Warming in our Miscellaneous thread.

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