All posts by info@gwe2011.org

Turning the Tide on Plastic

A UK supermarket will be the first in the world to remove plastic packaging from all of its own-label products.

Iceland’s landmark move puts pressure on its rivals to follow suit amid public demands to turn back the tide of plastic pollution.
The company, which has more than 900 stores, has a five-year plan to ditch plastic from all of its own-brand products.

Packaging on 1,400 product lines will be replaced, and the changes involve more than 250 suppliers. First to go will be plastic ready meal trays in favour of wood-pulp alternatives made in Britain. Plastic bags used for frozen vegetables and other food will then be dropped in favour of paper alternatives.

Iceland, which has already removed plastic disposable straws from its own range, is also working on alternatives for plastic bottles and milk cartons.

Last week, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May set a 25-year deadline to banish ‘avoidable’ plastic and called on supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles.  However, the reaction to this from many campaigners (including Green Waste Enterprises) was that a target of reducing plastic waste by 2042 without the full weight of legislation behind it was “far too long” and  appeared to many as “weak and woolly”.

Iceland’s move suggests it is possible to go further and faster.  Iceland managing director Richard Walker said: ‘The world has woken up to the scourge of plastics.  So what are some of the other leading supermarkets up to in the fight against plastic?

TESCO

By 2025, Tesco wants all its packaging to be recyclable or compostable and its total packaging weight to be halved compared to 2007.

It has removed all polystyrene from its fish packaging, and claims that more than 78% of its packaging is recyclable, though this depends on the type of material accepted by local authorities.

Replacing two layer plastic trays with single layer plastic has also helped them to remove 92 tonnes of plastic.

ASDA

Asda has reduced the weight of its packaging by 27% since 2007, partly by introducing “skin” packaging on some of its meat products.

It also saved 82 tonnes of plastic by making its two-litre own-brand water bottles lighter.  All Asda stores have had carrier bag recycling bins for customers since 2008.  Plastic from these bins is combined with the plastic from the back of Asda stores and comes back as their Bags for Life.  Customers can also use these bins to recycle clean plastic film from their homes.

MORRISONS

Morrisons also recycles its carrier bags and uses “returnable bins” for fish products to reduce the use of poly boxes. The company says it keeps 95% of its store waste out of direct landfill.

It has also banned microbeads and plastic cotton buds in its own-brand cosmetic products, and plans to phase out drinking straws in its cafes.

In September, it trialled removing single-use carrier bags entirely in six of its stores.

WAITROSE

Waitrose has thinned its prepared salad bags and reduced smoked salmon packaging by 50%.

It charges 30p or 40p for its food to be delivered or collected in plastic bags. Despite plastic bag charging, Waitrose says it supplied 63 million bags in England from April 2016 to April 2017 but donated £2.6m to good causes.

By switching to biodegradable cotton buds, Waitrose estimates it has saved 21 tonnes of plastic.

Last July, the supermarket introduced a new sandwich wrapper, the plastic and cardboard of which can be more easily separated for recycling than other packaging.

It also trialled a non-plastic punnet made from tomato leaf and cardboard pulp in October, and does not sell any products containing microbeads.

It plans to make its own-label packaging widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025.

WHAT MORE CAN WE DO?

Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, has said that while initiatives like these were good, “more radical and comprehensive policies” were needed to tackle the plastic waste crisis.

“We need to see supermarkets making firm commitments to move away from using disposable plastic packaging altogether, starting with going plastic free in their own brands.”

Businesses should be using “reusable containers wherever possible”, she said, and investment in research and development was “vital” to finding less problematic packaging materials.

Supermarkets also needed to avoid solving one problem by causing another, such as reducing the weight of packaging by replacing glass with plastic, she said.

But the most important step for retailers was to make an open commitment to reducing the use of resources and carbon emissions. “None of these processes will be reliable without significantly increased transparency,” she added.

Greenpeace UK suggests retailers should:

  • Eliminate all non-recyclable plastics from own brand products
  • Remove single-use plastic packaging for own brand products
  • Trial dispensers and refillable containers for own brand items like shampoos, house cleaning products, beverages
  • Push national brand suppliers to eliminate non-recyclable plastics and to stop using single use plastic packaging
  • Install free water fountains in-store and water re-fill stations
  • Support deposit return schemes in-store
  • Trial reusable packaging and product refills via home deliveries

A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was committed to stemming the damage caused by plastic waste and had made great progress in boosting recycling rates.

“We are encouraged by industry action to reduce plastic and packaging waste and look forward to seeing others following its lead,” it said.

Well done to Iceland taking the lead on this initiative.  We hope that the other supermarkets will follow their lead and that government will follow with meaningful legislation. The supermarkets can only initially demand that their own brand products are plastic-free.  It is up to YOU as the buying customer to show your preference for this so that the multi-national brands follow suit.

With thanks to BBC  News and infographic by Joy Roxas.

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It’s a Planetary Crisis – UN!!

ocean plastics getty
Getty images

Nations have agreed that the world needs to completely stop plastic waste from entering the oceans.  The third meeting of the UN Environment Assembly takes place 4th-7th December in Nairobi, Kenya with the overarching theme of pollution.

The UN resolution, which is set to be sealed at the Assembly, has no timetable and is not legally binding.  But ministers at the believe it will set the course for much tougher policies and send a clear signal to business.

A stronger motion was rejected after the US would not agree to any specific, internationally agreed goals.  Under the proposal, governments would establish an international taskforce to advise on combating what the UN’s oceans chief has described as a planetary crisis.

Environmentalists say ministers are starting to take plastic waste more seriously, but need to move much more quickly.  Li Lin from the green group WWF said: “At last we are seeing some action on this issue, but we still don’t have the urgency we need. The problem needs solving right now.”

top 10 plastic countries

One contentious issue is the wish of delegates to include businesses on the global taskforce.  Ministers say the problem will not be solved without business, but green groups point out that some firms in the plastics industry have been lobbying against restrictions for decades.

This links directly to Green Waste Enterprises’ Four Point Plan to fight this massive problem.

      1. Educate people of all ages of the importance of recycling
      2. Legislate to improve reclcying laws in the USA and UK
      3. Take the plastic industry to task
      4. Find a replacement for plastic that is biodegradable.

Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s environment minister, a leading voice in the talks, told BBC News: “Business is listening to markets and seeing how marine litter is a growing popular concern.  It’s possibly the fastest-growing environmental problem and it’s therefore a fast-growing problem for business.  We need to bring on board those companies that want to change things, then look at taxes and regulations to make more companies sustainably.  We also need to mobilise business like aquaculture that suffer from marine pollution.”

Lisa Svensson, the UN Oceans Chief added “This is a planetary crisis – in a few short decades since we discovered the convenience of plastics, we are ruining the econsystem of the ocean”.  “Life in the seas risks irreparable damage from a rising tide of plastic waste – governments, firms and individual people must act far more quickly to halt plastic pollution.  She had spoken to BBC News ahead of the UN environment summit in Nairobi.  Delegates at the meeting want tougher action against plastic litter.

Ms Svensson had just been saddened by a Kenyan turtle hospital which treats animals that have ingested waste plastic.  She saw a juvenile turtle named Kai, brought in in an emaciated state by fishermen a month ago because she was floating on the sea surface.  Plastic waste was immediately suspected, because if turtles have eaten too much plastic it bloats their bellies and they can’t control their buoyancy.

 

  1. The planetary crisis affects many marine creatures

    Kai was given laxatives for two weeks to clear out her system, as well as anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic medicines and appetite-boosting vitamins.  After six days no plastic had been spotted in the turtle’s stools and Kai was carried back to the sea to complete her recovery.‘Heart-breaking’ reality

    “It’s a very happy moment,” she said. “But sadly we can’t be sure that Kai won’t be back again if she eats more plastic.  “It’s heart-breaking, but it’s reality. We just have to do much more to make sure the plastics don’t get into the sea in the first place.”

    Caspar van de Geer runs the turtle hospital for the group Local Ocean Conservation at Watamu in eastern Kenya.  He had demonstrated earlier how uncannily a plastic film pulsating in the water column mimics the actions of the jellyfish some turtles love to eat.

    “Turtles aren’t stupid,” he said. “It’s really difficult to tell the difference between plastics and jellyfish, and it may be impossible for a turtle to learn.”

    On a pin board he’s compiled a grid of sealed clear plastic bags like the ones used at airports for cosmetics.  Here they contain the plastic fragments removed from the stomachs of sick turtles. Half of the turtles brought here after eating plastics have died.  A huge table at the hospital is laden with an array of plastic waste collected off local beaches – from fishing nets and nylon ropes to unidentifiable fragments of plastic film.

    Each bag contains plastic fragments removed from the stomach of a turtle

    Certainly, there has been a flurry of resistance from plastics firms to the bans occurring across Africa.

    One UN delegate, who did not want to be named, told the BBC that journalists in some countries were being paid by the plastics industry to write stories about job losses following the plastic bag ban.  In Kenya, a long newspaper report counted job losses from the sudden closure of a plastics plant. But it did not mention the jobs being created in alternatives, such as labour-intensive basketwork, which provides work for the rural poor.

    But some governments are standing firm, and the meeting has witnessed individual nations declaring tougher action against single-use plastic bags on their own territory.  South Africa and Cameroon are the latest to declare a tax on the thin bags which strew Africa’s fields and cities.

    Nations with a near total ban include Mauretania, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mauritius, Zanzibar and Uganda.

    Bangladesh imposed a ban in 2002 after plastic bags blocked drains and contributed to major floods.  Sri Lanka and others adopted a ban for similar reasons, although in Mauretania a ban came because cattle were getting sick from eating plastic.

    Whatever the motivation for restrictions, sea creatures will eventually benefit from a slackening in the tide of waste.  The UN’s spokesman Sam Barratt told BBC News: “Of course we would have liked to have gone further, but this meeting has made real progress. There’s now a sense of urgency and energy behind the issue that we haven’t quite seen before.  What is obvious, though, is that the UN can’t solve this problem on its own. We need to do it in partnership with governments, businesses and even individuals.”

    Whilst the UN grinds slowly forward, one delegate said that the meeting had been really useful for ministers to share their experiences on action they had taken in their own countries. Laggards were learning from progressives, he said.  He highlighted collaborative action from states along Africa’s Atlantic coast to clamp down on the waste that infests their seas. The UK may be brought into that partnership thanks to its British Overseas Territory of St Helena.

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Green Cleaning – Plastic Free

Do you want to reduce the amount of plastics you use?  There’s a lot more you can do besides taking your own bags to the supermarket or a reusable drinks holder out with you. The cupboard under your kitchen sink is probably packed with products in plastic containers………well why not Make your own cleaning products?
There is really no need to purchase ‘wonder’ pre-packaged cleaning products. Try making your own with products you can buy in bulk, and usually in cardboard. You’ve probably got all the ingredients in your cupboard.

All purpose cleaner: 

Fill an old spray bottle with vinegar and water. 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.

All purpose disinfectant: 

Fill an old spray bottle with 3 cups of hot water, 3 teaspoons of borax and 10 drops of eucalyptus, lemon or lavender oil.

Clean a burnt fry pan: 

Fill pan with a layer of water, add 1 cup of vinegar, bring to boil. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda (note: it will fizz). Empty the pan and scourer.

Clean microwaves: 

Combine 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup water in a microwavable container. Boil mixture for 3 mins. Let it stand in microwave for 10 mins. Wipe inside of microwave with a damp cloth.

Clean mirrors: 

Pour a little vinegar onto a scrunched up sheet of newspaper and wipe mirror. Dry with a clean sheet of newspaper.

Clean toilets: 

Sprinkle bicarb / baking soda into the bowl. Rinse with vinegar and scrub.

Cleaning rags: 

Instead of buying cleaning rags wrapped in plastic recycle old towels, flannels and sheets that are well passed their used-by date. Cut them us, use, the wash!

Descale your kettle: 

Half fill the kettle with water, drop a couple of slices of lemon and boil. Repeat once. Dry with a cloth.


Fabric softener: 

Add one cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. 

Make your drinking glasses shine: 

Soak in a solution of vinegar and water. Dry with a cloth.



Remove rust (from tins): 

Rub with a peeled potato dipped in bicarb / baking soda or salt.

Remove rust (from cutlery): 

Polish cutlery with a paste of bicarb / baking soda and vinegar.


Remove soap scum:

  1. from a shower screenFill an old spray bottle with vinegar and spay the screen. Leave for 3-5 mins then wipe with a clean towel, scrubbing lightly.
  2. from a shower screen: For stubborn screen stains squeeze some homemade toothpaste onto a sponge and scrub.


Soak and whiten nappies/diapers: 

Dissolve 1/4 cup of bicarb / baking soda in warm water. Soak overnight. Wash nappies as normal. Saves you a fortune on disposable nappies/diapers too!!!

Unblock a drain: 

Pour 1/3 cup of bicarb / baking soda into drain followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Immediately seal the drain with the plug. Leave 1 hour and pour boiling water down the drain.

Washing dishes by hand: 

Add 4tbs of baking soda to the hot water.

Washing dishes in dishwasher: 

Mix 1 cup borax, 1 cup bicarb / baking soda and 1/2 cup salt. Add 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the “soap/tablet” compartment. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the “rinse agent” compartment.

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Game, Set and Match!!

Professional tennis tours are not always played on green courts. Thousands of people fly around the world to play or watch the game which does not on the surface give the game a sustainable credential.   However, the four pinnacles of tennis, namely the Grand Slams in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York are attempting to impart a culture of recycling, sustainability and efficiency on the game.

1)  The Championships at Wimbledon see a huge amount of waste: from empty champagne bottles to tea bags and left over smoked salmon. This waste is sent to a Material Recovery Facility for recycling, or non-recyclables are processed at an ‘Energy from Waste’ facility. This means that 96% of Wimbledon waste is diverted from landfill.

wimbledon 2

2)  With the introduction of a simple two-streamed waste bin system at the All-England Club The Championships has seen waste recycling rise to 53% of all waste.

3)  The All-England Club makes use of a water recycling plant and 95% of all water used is recycled.

wimbledon 1

4)  Wimbledon is the largest annual single event sports catering operation in Europe with 350,000 cups of tea and 230,000 glasses of Pimm’s served to the tennis fans. Plastic waste is a primary concern, however, as 250,000 bottles of water are sold during the tournament.

5)  The air management system in “Centre Court” processes 143,000 litres of air per second to optimise playing conditions and eight litres of fresh air per person per second is pumped into the court, even when the roof is open!

6) Wimbledon’s famous strawberries and cream are locally sourced from inside a 100 mile radius, nearly all of the strawberries coming from Kent having been picked at 5.30am on the day they are served. In total, 28,000kg of strawberries are consumed during the fortnight (which is equivalent to 112,000 punnets) with more than 7,000 litres of cream!

strawberries

In Paris the Roland-Garros event became been the first French sporting event to have ISO 20121 certification in May 2014 and only the second event ever after the London 2012 Olympic Games.  Other than tennis, the focus at last year’s tournament was sustainable transport with a car pooling website operating for visitors and the installation of a solar-powered electric bike charging point.  Hybrid and electric cars making up more than 60% of the tournament’s fleet of vehicles meant it was certified as low-emission and the decision to stop washing the fleet with water saved a total of 226,00 litres.   The French Tennis Federation launched an initiative to redistribute leftover meals to charities.  15,000 meals were handed out in 2014 alongside food already distributed by French supermarkets.

The highest-attended annual sporting event in the world is The US Open Tennis Championships.  In 2014 the tournament started a carbon balancing initiative where it offset more than 2.2m miles of travel emissions from players attending the event, as well as all the fuel used on-site at Flushing Meadows.  The tournament continued a composting program which saw 425 tonnes of food collected and re-used in agriculture and landscaping initiatives.  More than 12,000 gallons of food grease from the US Open’s kitchens and food stalls, will be converted into biodiesel fuel.

The Australian Open held at Melbourne Park is in the middle of a £350m redevelopment plan.  Its’ goal is to become one of the most sustainable sports and entertainment venues in the world.  A key focus is to minimise the effects of the brutal Australian sun and building roofs have been coated in shiny coatings that reflect over 70% of the sun’s heat.  This keeps buildings cooler during hot days and onsite solar installations provides around 42MWh/year.  This is enough to power seven Australian houses all year round.   Tennis Australia has attempted to reduce travel impact by partnering with the city of Melbourne to allow Australian Open ticket holders free access to public transport on that sporting day.

GAME SET AND MATCH!!

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Plastic Free July

plastic-free-july-logo-straight-lge

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Being Sustainable – in 10 easy steps

 

CARBON FOOTPRINT

Environmental science is all about finding ways to live more sustainably, which means using resources today in a way that maintains their supplies for the future. Environmental sustainability doesn’t mean living without luxuries but rather being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste.

  1. Reduce household energy use

    Energy conservation is itself a source of energy. Here are several simple ways to reduce your household energy use:

    • Turn off appliances and lights that you’re not using.

    • Install energy-efficient appliances.

    • Use a programmable thermostat that lowers or raises the temperature when you’re not home.

    • Set your thermostat lower than usual in the winter and bundle up.

    • Open windows to allow a breeze instead of turning on the air conditioning.

    • Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.

    • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).
      light bulb

  2. Eat locally

    A powerful way to live more sustainably is to eat locally. The convenience of supermarkets has changed how people think about food. You can stroll through aisles stocked with fruits, vegetables, and other products from all over the world any time of year. But these products consume huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to get from those global locations to your corner supermarket.

  3. Dispose with disposables

    Previous generations didn’t dream of single-use razors, forks, cups, bags, and food storage containers, but these days, you can find a plastic version of almost any object and then throw that object away after you use it.
    single use plastic

    Many of the environmental health issues today stem from toxins released into the environment by trash. Even trash that’s properly disposed of, such as that in a landfill, requires careful monitoring to ensure that dangerous chemicals don’t enter the surrounding environment.
    single plastic bag

    When you make a purchase, consider the item’s life expectancy: How long can the item be used? Will it have more than one use? When you’re done with it, will it end up in the trash? Start investing in reusable products for the items you most often throw away.

  4. Plant seeds

    Try growing your own food. Simply plant a few seeds in a corner of your yard or in a container on your porch or windowsill. You don’t need acres; a few square feet on a patio, along the driveway, or in a window box can provide enough space to grow edible herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
    kitchen garden

  5. Recycle

    Recycle as much as possible! If your neighborhood or apartment complex doesn’t offer recycling pickup, either find a drop-off location or request the curbside service. Buying products labeled post-consumer lets companies know that recycling is the way to go!

    For other items, such as CFLs, batteries, mobile/cellphones, and electronics, find an appropriate recycler. Many local stores accept used batteries over the counter, but be sure to ask where these materials go for recycling and avoid companies that ship electronic waste overseas for unregulated “recycling” and salvage operations.

  6. Resell and donate items

    Items that you no longer need can get an extended life through resale and donation. By extending the life of any product, you help reduce dependence on disposable or cheaply made single-use products that end up in landfills.

    Providing your items are in good condition and are compliant with safety standards there are many charity/thrift shops that you can donate to, so your items not only continue to be used but they benefit others by generating funds.
    donation

    You can try reselling on Ebay or similar and make yourself some extra cash.  There are also many reseller or goods-for-free pages on Facebook where you can get in touch with people in your own area and give your goods a new lease of life.

  7. Drink from the tap

    Dependence on bottled water has added more than a million tons of plastic to the waste stream every year. One reason people rely on bottled water is because they believe it’s safer and better tasting than tap water. But most municipal water supplies in the U.S. provide safe, clean, fresh water (and many bottled waters are just bottled from city water supplies anyway).
    tap water

    If you don’t like the flavor of your tap water, consider the one-time investment in a filtration system. If you like the convenience of bottled water, purchase refillable bottles and keep one in your fridge, one in your car, and one at the office. Encourage your employer to install filters and offer glasses or reusable bottles at work, too.

  8. Save water

    An easy way to live more sustainably is to conserve household water use. Consider installing water-efficient toilets or dual-flush toilets that let you choose whether to use a full flush (for solid waste) or half-flush (for liquid waste). Newer clothes washers can automatically sense the smallest level of water needed for each load.

    Smaller changes, such as switching to water-saving shower heads and adding aerators to your sink faucets, are also effective ways to significantly reduce household water use.

    To conserve water outdoors, use landscaping adapted to your local environment. When buying plants, look for drought-tolerant species and varieties and be sure to plant them in proper soil and sun conditions to reduce their need for excess watering. Set up sprinkler systems so they don’t water the sidewalk, the driveway, and other paved, impermeable surfaces.

  9. Rely less on your car

    Using fossil fuels to support one person in each car on the road is clearly no longer sustainable. Investigate public transit options in your town or city, such as a bus or train or find out if your company operate carpool service for staff. When traveling close to home, walk or ride your bike.
    cycle to work

    Many workers in the UK now benefit from the Government Green initiative “Cycle to Work Scheme”.  Cycles and safety equipment can be obtained through an employer as a salary sacrifice.  This means there are substantial savings on average of 32% on the cost of equipment.  So a cycle valued at £800 would actually only cost £544.

  10. Purchase fair-trade products

    When you purchase items that are imported from all over the world — particularly coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, chocolate, and fruit — look for the fair-trade certification. This designation tells you that these items were grown using sustainable methods of agriculture and that local people are receiving fair prices for the goods they produce.
    fairtrade logo

    Items that don’t have the fair-trade certification may have been produced unsustainably and may be the product of exploitative labor practices that don’t benefit the local people.

We hope this has given you a few pointers on how live more sustainably.  It doesn’t involve a major change to the way you do things and it most certainly

won’t cost you the Earth.

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Make the Planet Great Again???

In the same week in June 2017 that the rest of the world celebrate World Environment Day (June 5th) and World Oceans Day (June 8th), President Donald Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement to which the Obama administration had signed up to in April 2016.

One of his justifications for this disastrous act is the claim that the Agreement has a detrimental effect on US jobs in the coal and fossil fuels industry.  This may be the case, but however, he has totally overlooked the fact that today whilst the coal industry employs just over 160,000 people in the US, there are almost 374,000 people employed in solar energy and a further 101,000 in wind power industries.

  • Natural Gas – 398,235
  • Coal – 160,119
  • Oil – 515,518
  • Solar – 373,807 
  • Bio Energies – 130,677
  • Wind – 191,735
  • Nuclear – 76,711
  • Hydro Electricity – 65,554

Fossil fuels

Renewable/low emission energies

You can see that solar energy employs 20% of the total energy jobs with coal only accounting for about 9%. (figures supplied by Department of Energy)

Renewable-Vs-Fossil-Jobs-Bloomberg

Clean energy employs more people than fossil fuels in nearly every U.S. state

Clean energy jobs have seen incredible growth in recent years, with solar and wind jobs growing at a rate 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. According to a 2015 report from the Environmental Defense Fund, renewable energy jobs in the United States enjoyed a 6 percent compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2015. Fossil fuel jobs, by contrast, had a negative 4.5 percent compound annual growth rate over the same time period. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s fastest growing profession over the next decade is likely to be a wind turbine technician.

Nonsense. The United States is notorious for inventing whole industries other countries end up dominating — because our private sector under-finances advanced development and commercialization.

Prior to pulling out the Agreement, Trump’s budget had already sabotaged America’s best chance to add millions of high-wage jobs.  This lack of foresight included zeroing the budget for the Department of Energy clean tech programs:

  • the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which invests in innovative clean technology
  • a program to improve manufacturing for clean cars, and
  • the loan guarantee program, which jump-started large-scale U.S. solar deployment, the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, and companies like Tesla.

The budget offers this rationale: “The private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.”

That’s a key reason America steadily lost manufacturing jobs while other countries make so many devices invented in the US such as iPhone, flatscreen TVs, and most consumer electronics….

So how does this help to “Make America Great Again”?  How can a country that considers itself to be a World Leader be so blinkered to its responsibility to actually LEAD?  Most developed countries are now moving away from coal and fossil fuels as they recognise and accept that it is a finite resource and prefer to invest in developing new renewable energy sources.  The Paris Agreement also  provided funding for newly developing countries to expand their energy needs along greener routes rather than relying on dirty fuels that the rest of the world have started to discard.

How can America ever be Great again if there is no planet for it be Great on?

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Ocean Plastics – How does that affect me?

ocean pollution cycle.gif

Experts are warning that humans “have the most to lose” from the manmade, toxic pollutants that marine life are being exposed to.

A leading scientist reported to Sky News that the millions of tonnes of plastic pollution floating in the world’s oceans could pose a threat to human health.

 Dr Robbie Smith, from the Bermuda Natural History Museum, warned plastic rubbish is attracting other chemical pollutants washed into the sea – such as flame retardants and pesticides – as sunlight breaks plastic down and waves churn it into tiny fragments.

Because the plastic pieces look so similar to the natural prey of marine animals, the chemicals then get passed up the food chain.

Dr Smith said: “The more we look where plastic is and the form it’s in, big or small, the stronger it is integrated into food webs.

“The only place it can go once it is in the food web is up to the top, and we are sitting at the top. So we have the most to lose here.”  Scientists have already found evidence of toxic chemicals in other predators at the top of the marine food chain.

The Sky News team joined the Ocean Tech team on an expedition to the Challenger Bank several miles off the Bermudan coast.  There, the scientists caught a three-metre (9.8ft) tiger shark and took biopsies from its fin for toxicology tests.

Choy Aming, who is part of the team, said: “As animals are digesting, the animals they have eaten have also ingested the toxins, the plastics and manmade pollutants we are putting into the ocean.

“So they work their way up the food chain into the sharks. Typically they have large levels because they are a top predator.”

Bermuda is increasingly alarmed by the amount of rubbish washing up on its shores.

It is on the edge of the Atlantic garbage patch, a swirling mass of plastic that is hundreds of kilometres wide and has been concentrated by the ocean currents.

microplastics
Plastics disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces

 

Scientists trawling a fine-mesh net have found up to 200,000 pieces per square kilometre.  Most are just millimetres across – fragments of the myriad of plastic items in use today.

Sky News was taken by marine conservationist Chris Flook to Castle Island, a remote part of the Bermudan archipelago. High tide had brought in a sheen of almost invisible microplastic.  He said: “Out in the ocean you would see small fish and jellyfish feeding on stuff that is blue, white and purple.  “And (the plastic) we see here is blue, white and purple.  “This is the nightmare here, when the plastic gets to this size.”

Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans every year. That is the equivalent of one full rubbish lorry’s worth every minute.

But the plastic does not disappear – it just disintegrates into ever smaller pieces over several decades.

By 2050, it is predicted that so much plastic will have accumulated in the world’s oceans that it will weigh more than all the fish combined.

A reminder of our four point plan to tackle this issue and how you can help

 

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World Oceans Day – What’s it got to do with me?

WOD-logo

#WorldOceansDay is on June 8th.  It is an annual celebration of the oceans and how important they are to everyone.

“But what’s that got to do with me?”  I hear you say……”I live miles from the ocean”.  You probably think it’s a bunch of hippy surfers who have nothing in common with you.  Well you are WRONG!!

The oceans are the lifeblood of this planet.  They flow over nearly three quarters of the planet and hold 97% of the planet’s water.  They produce more than half the oxygen in the atmosphere and absorb most of the carbon from it.

No matter how far from the shore that you live, oceans still affect your life and the lives of your families and friends, classmates and colleagues.

The air that you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, the products that keep you warm, safe, informed, and entertained — all can come from or be transported by the ocean.

So, how does your plastic bag or bottle get into the ocean, and what is the alternative?

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World Oceans Day – the effects and what YOU can do TODAY.

world oceans day2

World Oceans Day is an annual celebration on June 8th which has been in existence since 2002.

A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Every year, World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity to help protect and conserve the world’s oceans. Oceans are very important:

  • They generate most of oxygen we breathe    
  • They help feed us
  • They regulate our climate
  • They clean the water we drink
  • They offer a pharmacopoeia of medicines
  • They provide limitless inspiration!

If you participate in a World Oceans Day event or activity this year you can help protect the ocean for the future! It’s up to each one of us to help ensure that our ocean is healthy for future generations. World Oceans Day allows us to:

  • Change perspective – encourage individuals to think about what the ocean means to them and what it has to offer all of us with hopes of conserving it for present and the future generations.
  • Learn – discover the wealth of diverse and beautiful ocean creatures and habitats, how our daily actions affect them, and how we are all interconnected.
  • Change our ways – we are all linked to, and through, the ocean! By taking care of your backyard and helping in your community, you are acting as a caretaker of our ocean. Making small modifications to your everyday habits will make a difference, and involving your family, friends, and community will benefit our blue planet even more!
  • Celebrate – whether you live inland or on the coast, we are all connected to the ocean. Take the time to think about how the ocean affects you, and how you affect the ocean, and then organize or participate in activities that celebrate our ocean.

 

If we do nothing, then the future for our Planet is very bleak.  Henderson Island, an uninhabited island in the South Pacific is littered with the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world, according to a study.  Part of the UK’s Pitcairn Islands group, the island has an estimated 37.7 million pieces of debris on its beaches.

37 million trash

The island is near the centre of an ocean current, meaning it collects much rubbish from boats and South America.  The joint Australian and British study said the rubbish amounted to 671 items per square metre and a total of 17 tonnes.

“A lot of the items on Henderson Island are what we wrongly refer to as disposable or single-use,” said Dr Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania.

henderson island

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, described how remote islands act as a “sink” for the world’s rubbish.

In addition to fishing items, Henderson Island was strewn with everyday things including toothbrushes, cigarette lighters and razors. Dr Lavers added  “Land crabs are making their homes inside bottle caps, containers and jars,”

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“At first it looks a little bit cute, but it’s not. This plastic is old, it’s sharp, it’s brittle and toxic.”  A large number of hard hats of “every shape, colour and size” were also discovered, the marine scientist said.

It is hoped that people will “rethink their relationship with plastic”.

Scale of waste

Henderson Island is listed by Unesco as a coral atoll with a relatively unique ecology, notable for 10 plant and four bird species.

It is 190km (120 miles) from Pitcairn Island, about 5,000km from Chile, and sits near the centre of the South Pacific Gyre – a massive rotating current.

The condition of the island highlighted how plastic debris has affected the environment on a global scale, Dr Lavers said.

“Almost every island in the world and almost every species in the ocean is now being shown to be impacted one way or another by our waste,” she said.

“There’s not really any one person or any one country that gets a free pass on this.”

She said plastic was devastating to oceans because it was buoyant and durable.

The research was conducted by the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the Centre for Conservation Science at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Courtesy of Greg Dunlop, BBC

On World Oceans Day make your first move towards a cleaner, safer ocean by taking the simple step of reducing your use of single-use plastics.  Here are 10 simple ways YOU can make difference TODAY!

use less plastic

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