Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


On Air and Hair (May07)

After 10 consecutive radio interviews I began to wonder whether I was talking complete gibbberish! The BBC regional stations phone into the studio in 10 minute slots – some for pre-recorded interviews and some live. They were all interviewing me on the publication of The New Green Consumer Guide but coming at it from different angles. One of them picked up on my super sales patter – ‘the book has been expertly researched’ I’d said. Of course it has but actually I realised I was following up on something raised by a previous interviewer…..

Other meetings during the day and a visit to the hairdresser. Bizarrely, I managed to find a hair salon called ‘Environment’ – and they were able to wash and cut my hair on sthe spot. I couldn’t resist telling them that this was the publication day for my book – I was pleased that they decided to have a display copy for customers and sell some as well.

I’ve not really given much thought to greening hair dressers but was stuck by the huge amount of foil used in bleaching and dyeing. There were a couple of ladies who were having their hair painted with some pretty violent looking colour using foil as backing. I asked my cutter whether they recycled the foil afterwards. Not yet. But I pointed out that making aluminium foil is a very energy intensive process – and recycling it is a big saver.

Back to TV Centre at middnight for the Anita Anand Show on Radio 5 Live. Whilst I was waiting they were discussion the fact that Innocent Drinks hae agreed to sell their wholesome juices in McDonalds. This has apparently caused a huge outcry from many Innocent customers, who feel that it is contrary to the company ethos. I was longing to join the discussion but it was before I was on air.

My view is that it’s a good move for two reasons. First, it must be good for McDonalds’ customers to be able to order a healthy drink. Second, it’s a sign that this corporate giant – whose name is synomous with globalisation – is beginning to think out of the box – and this could be part of the greening of the golden arches.

When it came to me, Anita (the presenter) expressed amazement at some of my views. In particular about the superiority of plastic bags over paper ones. She is not alone. Listeners phoning the programme were equally surprised. It is a firmly held belief that paper is superior to plastic becasue it comes from renewable resources (trees) and because it’s biodegradable.

But as The New Green Consumer Guide explains, it takes as much fossil fuel to make a paper bag as a plastic one, they are much bulkier and their biodegradability in land fill sites is not actually desirable. Land fill sites are legally restricted in the amount of biodegradable waste that they can accept, because rotting waste creates carbon dioxide and methane – greenhouse gases. We don’t want them released into the atmosphere.

There’s more Radio 5 Live to come. They’ve asked me to come back and be a panellist for the full 3 hours of the show between 10pm and 1am on June 26th… It should be fun…

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