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How Healthy Are We?

Earth Day 2017 is on Saturday April 22nd.

Diet and exercise define our body shape and can determine our future health.  To stay healthy, we think about what we eat or drink and take action on how much.  Likewise the health of the Earth is determined by how we treat it – whether we feed it properly or starve it of resrouces; whether we work out or let it go flabby?

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We can damage our bodies by overeating and also by undereating.  We also damage the Earth if we strip it of the natural resources it needs to thrive – such as the Rainforests.  If we continue to strip away the Rainforests at the current rate of 32 million acres per year we will increase the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere by 20% (according to figures from WWF).

Oceans are under threat from us feeding it with our pollution which not only affects the sealife but also enters the food chain and ultimately affects us.  Global warming also affects the availability of fresh, clean water for human, animals and agriculture.

Coral reefs (the rainforests of the oceans) are critical marine habitats – but oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

coral_58171_360124We exercise to keep our bodies functioning efficiently.  The Earth needs protection from the Sun’s harmful ultra violet rays to carry on functioning efficiently.  It is more than 20 years since scientists discovered a gaping hole in the ozone layer.  The efforts made to ban or reduce harmful chemicals have initiated a gradaul recovery of this hole; but like exercise, once you stop it’s so easy to fall back into bad habits.

Finally, we all need sleep to stay healthy as a lack of sleep leads to fatigue, lowers your immunity making you more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes and heart problems.   The Earth is increasingly fatigued as we drain it of resources without allowing it to replenish itself.

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Overfishing of the oceans has a devastating impact not only on the supplies of food for us all but also on the economies of the coastal communities that depend upon this resource.  We cannot continue to take more fish out of the ocean than can be replaced.  We also cannot continue to ignore the Earth’s fatigue when we choose to use fossil fuels instead of exploring renewal energy sources.

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photovoltaic solar panels

We sustain our body by nurturing it and looking after it – and many of us take pride in doing so.  Does not the planet that we live on and depend upon for our very existence deserve the same consideration?

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We all have a part to play in this endeavour – just like the choices we make in our everyday lives have an impact on our own health – other choices we make have an impact on the health of the planet.  You can choose to buy foods that have come from a sustainable source, or you can choose to reduce your use of plastic bottles and bags – simple steps and achievable.  Just like going to the gym, you start off slowly and gradually build yourself up until staying healthy is a way of life and you can’t imagine ever living any other way.

Without a healthy Earth there isn’t a healthy anything!

Happy #EarthDay2017

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Whale Dies with 30 Plastic Bags in Stomach

Scientists in Norway found more than 30 plastic bags inside the stomach of a whale stranded in shallow waters off the island of Sotra, Norway.  The creature had very little blubber and was emaciated, suggesting that the plastic had led to it becoming malnourished.

The Cuvier beaked whale was put down by wardens after it became apparent that it wasn’t going to live and had clearly consumed a large amount of non-biodegrabeable waste.

When researchers at the University of Bergen performed an autopsy on the mammal, they analyzed the stomach contents and found huge amounts of plastic, including 30 plastic bags and other plastic packaging with labels in Danish and English.  Dr Terje Lislevand, a zoologist who studies whales added that the intenstines were also probably blocked up with plastic, causing severe pain.  Unfortunately, they weren’t shocked by this but Dr Lislevand said that it very sad to find such large quantities.

The following video may contain distressing scenes.

Cuvier’s beaked whales grow up to 22ft long and usually feed on squid and deep sea fish.  They are not normally found in Norwegian waters.  At the beginning of 2016 experts warned there will be more plastic than sealife in the oceans by 2050.  At least 8 million tonnes of plastic already ends up in the ocean every year – the equivalent of a rubbish truck of waste every minute, according to the report from the World Economic Forum.

The rate of plastic pollution is only expected to increase as more and more plastic is used globally, especially in emerging economies with weaker waste and recycling regimes.

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Cuvier’s beaked whale – courtesy of arkive.org

Some facts about plastic in our oceans

  • Every year millions of tonnes of plastic debris such as bags, bottles and food packaging seeps into our oceans.
  • As plastic degrades slowly, it pollutes the oceans for a long time.
  • It breaks down into fragments called micro-plastics, which are ingested by sealife.
  • It can badly affect living organisms as they become entangled in or ingest it, and they can become choked or poisoned.
  • Researchers estimate the amount of plastic in the oceas is set to increase tenfold by 2020.
  • There could be more plastic than life in our oceans by 2050.

If you visit our STOP page, you can find out how you can help with our campaign to Save the Oceans from Plastic.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water………….

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Plastic Bags are Rubbish!!!

According to a 2015 report published in Science magazine, it is estimated that about eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in global waters each year.  The UK’s Marine Conservation Society say that in just one weekend, they found over 5,000 plastic bags on UK beaches.  Without the hundreds of volunteer groups that regularly clean up the beaches, the majority of these bags would end up in the ocean.

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Although the bags do not decompose, they do break down into smaller and smaller pieces and are then, in turn, eaten by birds and marine mammals.  Some creatures can become entangled in the plastic bags which restricts their ability to feed and they die.

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In order to try to combat this, the UK government has introduced a levy (currently 5p per bag) on single use plastic bags in large stores.  Wales was the first in 2011, followed by Northern Ireland in 2013 and Scotland in 2014.  England finally came into line in October 2015 and it has been reported that in the past six months the number of plastic bags used in seven major supermarkets has fallen to 640 million from an annual figure of 7.6 billion!!  If this trend continues, it would represent a drop in usage of 83%.

Overall, according to government figures, large retailers (any store employing more than 250 staff) have sold 1.1 billion single use plastic bags raising £41.3m, of which £29.2m was donated to good causes such as environmental, education, health, arts, charities and other voluntary groups.

This is fantastic news as it means that marine life is safer, communities are cleaner and the bags that don’t end up in the ocean will not clog up our landfill sites for hundreds, possible thousands of years.

 

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Southport Co-operative

Green Waste Enterprises set up a six month feasibility study for local small businesses to join together in order to help them to comply with their duty to dispose of their waste responsibly.  The commercial costs imposed by larger waste disposal companies was prohibitive for the tight profit margins of smaller businesses.

Over the course of the six month study, over 16.5 tonnes of cardboard was collected free of charge from businesses and then transported to a local recycling facility.

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