Tag Archives: environment

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 recycling 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 act sustainably.  “We also need to mobilise businesses like aquaculture that suffer from marine pollution.”

Life in the seas risks irreparable damage from a rising tide of plastic waste, the UN oceans chief has warned.  Lisa Svensson said governments, firms and individual people must act far more quickly to halt plastic pollution.  “This is a planetary crisis,” she said. “In a few short decades since we discovered the convenience of plastics, we are ruining the ecosystem of the ocean.”

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.

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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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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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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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.

pv panels
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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Earth Hour 2017 – Sat March 25th – 8.30pm

 

2016 has proved to be the hottest year on record for the third year in a row and now more than 1 in 6 species is at risk of extinction due to climate change.  Earth Hour is a global movement that brings people together across the continents to call for greater action.

Last year a record number of 178 countries took part – a number that rises every year. From the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower to Buckingham Palace and Edinburgh Castle, cities, towns and communities like yours across the world switch out their lights and come together for an hour, to join a global show of support for action on climate.

So for just ONE HOUR at 8.30pm on Saturday March 25th (wherever you are) we are simply asking that you turn off your lights and power down as many things as you can.

And that’s all there is to it!!

#ChangingClimateChange

Climate change poses a fundamental threat to everything we love. Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and new and more frequent weather extremes will leave no continent untouched. Impacts are already being felt by many communities and ecosystems worldwide. Water supplies are shrinking, crop yields are dropping, forests are burning, and our oceans are becoming more acidic. This has huge implications for our livelihoods and human security.

The task and hand is managing the unavoidable impacts and, at the same time, mitigating the impact of future climate impacts.

To have a chance of preventing dangerous global warming, the vast majority of fossil fuels—the biggest driver of climate change—have to be left in the ground. Fortunately, renewable energy alternatives are growing rapidly and a more competitive than ever; helping to shield the world from the worst climate risks, while improving human health, boosting our economies, and creating jobs.

Why Does it Matter?

Governments and scientists have agreed that global warming must remain under 2°C to avoid catastrophic climate change. The mean global temperature has already risen by almost a full degree since the start of the Industrial Revolution (c. 1750). At the United Nations climate talks in Paris in December 2015, governments acknowledged the growing threat of climate change and agreed to work towards keeping warming to 1.5°C.

The world can still avoid dangerous climate change, but action is needed urgently to cut emissions and to prepare communities and ecosystems for a hotter world.

People around the world are facing extreme weather. From more dangerous floods and storms, to droughts and heatwaves, extreme weather events are growing in frequency and intensity. We’re loading more and more heat into the air and seas, upping the risks, costing trillions of dollars, and mounting an even bigger toll on people, with the poorest the most exposed.

Climate change is a health emergency. Extremes of heat, more intense drought, ferocious storms, and more torrential downpours are already undermining human health and security. We risk undoing years of public health gains if we let global warming get away. Climate change and our continued dependence on dirty energy are polluting our air, increasing the spread of disease, fuelling food insecurity and malnutrition, and making water supplies scarcer and less safe. A world of more than 2°C would see an increasing number of people move across borders, exacerbate inequity, and raise the risk of conflict and social strife.

The oceans are warming and acidifying. People and wildlife depend on the healthy oceans: a vital source of livelihoods and sustenance. The oceans have absorbed most of extra heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) so far—more than the air—making the seas both warmer and more acidic. Warming waters are bleaching coral reefs and driving stronger storms. Rising ocean acidity threatens shellfish, including the tiny crustaceans without which marine food chains would collapse.

The ice is melting and the seas are rising. Sea ice in the Arctic is shrinking before our eyes with summer sea ice expected to virtually disappear before 2050. This would have dangerous consequences for global weather, not to mention degrade the region’s marvellous ecosystem. In the Antarctic and Arctic, massive ice shelves are disintegrating and breaking away. Glaciers are retreating at alarming rates worldwide, threatening a sea-level rise of several metres by century’s end.

Our ecosystems are in peril. As climate change wreaks havoc across the globe, ecosystems could undergo serious and irreversible changes, and even disappear altogether. The increase in average temperatures will see optimal habitats for many species move higher up mountains and further towards the poles. Where there is no higher ground or where changes are taking place too quickly, local losses or even global extinctions will follow.

How does this affect our Oceans?

The marine environment is already registering the impacts of climate change. The current increase in global temperature of 0.7°C since pre-industrial times is disrupting life in the oceans, from the tropics to the poles.

Marine species affected by climate change include plankton – which forms the basis of marine food chains – corals, fish, polar bears, walruses, seals, sea lions, penguins, and seabirds.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a further rise of between 1.4°C and 5.8°C by the end of the century. Climate change could therefore well be the knock-out punch for many species which are already under stress from overfishing and habitat loss.

The key impacts of climate change on the marine environment are…

Coral bleaching

One of the most visually dramatic effects of climate change is coral bleaching, a stress response caused by high water temperatures that can lead to coral death.

Recent years have seen widespread and severe coral bleaching episodes around the world, with coral mortality reaching 70% in some regions.

 

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Indo-Pacific Ocean temperature rises affecting coral

 

Stormy weather

Most scientists believe that global warming will herald a new era of extreme and unpredictable weather.

Tropical storms and heavier rainfall may increase and so too would the consequent physical damage to coral reefs, other coastal ecosystems, and coastal communities. Hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn hit the US Virgin Islands National Park in 1989 and 1995, respectively, and did massive damage to coral ecosystems.

Moving homes?

As the oceans warm, the location of the ideal water temperature may shift for many species.

A study has shown that fish in the North Sea have moved further north or into deeper water in response to rising sea temperatures. Other species may lose their homes for other reasons. The distribution of penguin species in the Antarctic Peninsula region, for example, is changing with reductions in sea ice due to global warming.

Altered lifestyles

Rising temperatures can directly affect the metabolism, life cycle, and behaviour of marine species.

For many species, temperature serves as a cue for reproduction. Clearly, changes in sea temperature could affect their successful breeding.

The number of male and female offspring is determined by temperature for marine turtles, as well as some fish and copepods (tiny shrimp-like animals on which many other marine animals feed). Changing climate could therefore skew sex ratios and threaten population survival.

 

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Hawksbill Turtle – lifestyle and metabolism may be affected by climate change

 

Rising sea levels

Global sea levels may rise by as much as 69cm during the next 100 years due to melting of glaciers and polar ice, and thermal expansion of warmer water.

Rising water levels will have serious impacts on marine ecosystems. The amount of light reaching offshore plants and algae dependent on photosynthesis could be reduced, while coastal habitats are already being flooded.

Rapid sea level rise will likely be the greatest climate change challenge to mangrove ecosystems, which require stable sea levels for long-term survival.

Decreased Mixing

Vertical mixing in the ocean is important for many reasons, including transporting nutrients from deep to shallow waters, and surface water rich in oxygen into deeper waters. In some areas, changes to ocean temperature profiles induced by climate change are causing a reduction in the amount of mixing, and for example, reducing oxygen levels at depth.

Acidic oceans

After absorbing a large proportion of the carbon dioxide released by human activities, the oceans are becoming acidic. If it weren’t for the oceans, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be much higher.

The effect could be that fish, squid, and other gilled marine animals may find it harder to “breathe”, as the dissolved oxygen essential for their life becomes difficult to extract as water becomes more acidic. And shellfish, crabs, lobsters, and corals may find it more difficult to build their calcium carbonate shells. In some areas, calcium carbonate shells may even start to dissolve.

acidic ocean

DOES THIS LOOK LIKE HOME TO YOU?????

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From Cars to Crocodiles

Driving along the A59 through Ormskirk, near Liverpool, UK the last thing you would expect to see a life size giraffe or elephant looking at you.  You would not believe that a few short weeks before these magnificent sculptures were just pieces of scrap metal discarded mainly from the car industry?

elephant

Pangea Sculptures was set up in 2014 after Ian Unsworth saw the sculptures being sold by the side of the road while he was on a trip to Africa. He became fascinated with the designs and met with the artist, Moses, in his community in Nairobi. Ian bought a couple of pieces for himself and made arrangements to ship a container of these beautiful animal sculptures over to the UK to see if other people had the same reaction to them as he did, and was delighted when the sculptures sold within weeks.

ian unsworth

The company name, Pangea, comes from the old name for the supercontinent that existed millions of years ago before geological changes split it in to the land masses that we are familiar today; an appropriate name for a company so closely connected with the long history of Africa and the people and animals that live there.

Since 2014 the company has gone from strength to strength, exhibiting the unique sculptures at large exhibitions and shows across the UK and trading from a purpose built showroom in Lancashire where visitors can see the sculptures in detail.  Although the life sized pieces are more suited to making in a statement in a corporate setting, Pangea Sculptures also sell their pieces in several smaller sizes right down to miniature that would not look out of place in your home. Businesses can also hire pieces on a daily basis for themed events, or even weddings!

showroom

Moses and his artistic team, The Ark Collective, create powerful and striking true-to-life metal sculptures that are cherished by art lovers all over the world.

crocodile

Moses is head artist at the Collective in Nairobi and started producing the sculptures from recycled metal with the help of just two other designers. Every animal sculpture is created by hand with incredible skill and attention to detail using reclaimed materials discarded from the car industry and other sources, which would otherwise be wasted. Materials are bought by the pallet load and then painstakingly sorted, cut, shaped and welded to a unique armature to create these stunningly realistic and often life-size works of art.

moses

Since Pangea Sculptures was set up the sculptures have come to the attention of a wider audience, creating a ripple effect of change in Moses’ community. As demand has increased, Moses has trained and guided more designers and the Collective now supports over thirty highly talented artists and craftsmen. This is now a sustainable business which Moses has been able to invest in, doubling the studio space, buying specialist equipment for his team and bringing employment opportunities and security to his community.

When Ian and Moses first met the sculptures were being produced in very basic conditions and with little safety equipment. Things have changed considerably in the last couple of years as the workforce has increased and now the designers have much better facilities, proper safety equipment to use when they are welding the sculptures and an improved range of tools to use.

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There are plans to build a larger workshop near the original site so that the artists can expand the range of sculptures that they are able to safely create and house. The new workshop will be a real focus of village life, sustaining a community of over 400 people and having the potential to change the lives of many more.



Moses is committed to training his young artists and giving them a lifelong creative skill; each sculpture is worked by hand taking hundreds of hours to complete, and no two pieces will be exactly alike. The artists produce a wide collection of animals from tall and elegant giraffes and magnificent life-size elephants to gorillas, rhinos, hippos, a frog chorus and even a reindeer. The character of every animal is captured perfectly and the beautiful completed pieces are then shipped to the UK where they are hand finished and lacquered.

What a great example of one man’s vision bringing about a change in so many people’s lives whilst at the same time making scrap materials into something beautiful and unusual.  Another example of Making Waste Worthwhile!!

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New Year Green Resolutions

Have you made and broken your New Year Resolutions already?  Did you vow to lose weight or learn a new language maybe?  Well why not sign up for these Green Resolutions that are not only good for YOU but good for the PLANET.

  1. Walk, run or cycle to work.

    Not only is it better for the environment, but not using your car to for your morning commute will help you out on your resolution to lose weight.  A brisk walk of more 30 minutes each day will lower your BMI and help to get rid of all those Christmas inches on your waist.  Feeling fitter and healthier puts you in a good mood too!  Many employers now operate a Cycle to Work scheme where you can get tax breaks to obtain cycles and safety equipment.
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  2. If you have to drive…..

    Switch to petrol or even better an electric car.  The UK Government’s Chief Medical Officer has said that diesel should be phased out to cut the tens of thousands of deaths caused each from air pollution  Diesel cars emit more nitrous oxides (NOx), which can cause health problems for people who have lung and breathing problems.  But petrol cars also emit higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).  This has fewer immediate health risks than NOx but as it is a greenhouse gas this causes big problems for the environment as a whole.  Air pollution contributes to at least 25,000 deaths in England each year through heart attacks and other respiratory diseases.
    A greener alternative to using your own car is to join a car pool with colleagues from work.  There are also a number of ride-sharing apps that you can sign up to like BlaBlaCar or UberPool which is a taxi service that matches up people travelling the same way and is hoped to launch in London by the end of this year.

  3. Reduce the amount of meat you eat

    There is growing evidence that the amount of meat we eat has a direct effect on the environment as it takes the same amount of energy to produce 1kg of meat as it does for 3-10kg of vegetables.  According to the Vegan Society, their numbers have doubled from 150,000 to 300,000 in the last 9 years.  It is now estimated that around 12% of Britons now follow a meat free diet.  However, if you can’t give up meat completely, you can cut back on your meat consumption for a few days a week and try some alternative vegetarian meals instead.

  4. Grow your own!!!

    Growing, transporting, packaging food together with clearing the land for growing, accounts for as much as 30% of Britain’s carbon footprint.  And there is a certain satisfaction in eating something you have grown yourself isn’t there?  You only need a small patch in your back garden.
    CARBON FOOTPRINT

  5. Take your own bag to the supermarket

    In October 2015 the UK Government introduced a compulsory 5p charge for single use plastic bags.  Since then the number used have fallen by an estimated 85%.  In the first 6 months usage fell from more than 7 billion a year to less than half a billion.  This was a saving of almost 41,000 tons of plastic – roughly 300 blue whales.  It just needs a bit of planning to make sure you keep your own shopping bag handy in your bag or your car’s glove compartment.

    i-hate-plastics

  6. Choose your cosmetics wisely

    Microbeads are now in lots of everyday products like face and body scrubs.  It is hoped that these will be banned by the end of this year under new Government proposals.  The beads get flushed into rivers and oceans in their billions with an estimated 86 tons in the UK alone each year just from facial exfoliants.  If you add these to the plastic bags that also end up in rivers and oceans and over time, gradually break down into microplastics you end up with a real danger to marine creatures and birds who end up eating the microplastics which causes damage to them as they are not able to digest them but can also end up as part of our food chain.
    microbeads

  7. Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea

    When you fill the kettle to make your tea or coffee, only fill the kettle with enough water for your immediate use.  Most kettles nowadays have a gauge showing how full it is and you will cut down on the amount of energy used to boil and reboil water
    If you use coffee pods, make sure you recycle them – don’t just throw them with the general trash that ends up in landfill.  The UK spending on coffee pods rose by more than 30% in 2015 when we drank £109m worth.  If buy your coffee in a carton to go, make sure you recycle this also.  Last year, fewer than 1 in 400 high street coffee chain cups were recycled.  Starbucks even announced that it would offer customers who bring their own coffee cups a 50p discount.

  8. Turn your home green

    There are many greener, natural alternatives to chemical cleaning products.  Here are a few

    • Kitchen surface stain remover – make a paste from salt, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda.  This will leave a natural “lemon fresh” scent also.
    • Toilet cleaner – Use a can of cola to clean your toilet – YES REALLY!!!  The drink contains carbonic, citric and phosphoric acids which are often found in household cleaning products.  Leave the liquid to sit in the basin for an hour, then use a brush to clean and flush away.  You can also use vinegar as an alternative as it works in a similar way.
    • Wood polish – heat grated beeswax, lanolin, sweet almond oil and lavender essential oil in a pan then leave it to cool.  Clean wood floors with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar.
    • Removing limescale – put 1/4 pint of vinegar in the kettle, fill up with water, bring to the boil and leave it overnight.  The next morning rinse out well and fill, boil and discard the water twice before drinking.  You can remove the limescale encrusted on taps if you soak a cloth in vinegar and wrap it round the taps and leave for an hour.  Just wipe with a damp cloth after.
    • Cut your fuel bills (and help to save the Planet) by being fuel efficient.  A cheap way to do this is to invest in some draught-proofing keeping those icy winter chills at bay.  You might also get some thicker curtains which you should make sure are drawn at night to help keep you cosy.    Some of the more expensive ways would be to consider getting a new boiler, loft or wall insulation and even solar panels.  There are many grants available to help with insulation depending on the age and type of property you have.
      pv panels
      photovoltaic solar panels

We hope we have given you a few ideas on how to make this year a Greener Year  We would like to know if YOU have any tips to share with us.  Please comment below.

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Let’s Make This The Year of Recycling

According to a recent Ipsos survey of over 1,000 US adults (one of the world’s largest market research organizations), nine in ten adults in the US  (87%) report that they recycle, though only half of adults (51%) recycle every day. Roughly a third (36%) tend to recycle less frequently, while13% admit that they never recycle.

Who Does Recycle?

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It seems that willingness to recycle is linked to education, age and location.

Why Do We Recycle?

IMG_3946.JPGIt is good to see that most adults recycle as it is good for the planet – reducing landfills, saving trees and conserving energy. Many also believe that recycling has economic benefits, such as creating jobs (45%) and making money (33%). According to the EPA, for every 10,000 tons of solid waste going to landfill, 1 job is created.  If the same amount of waste is kept out of landfill it can create 10 recycling jobs or 75 materials reuse jobs.  If the US were to achieve a 75% recycling rate by 2030, this could create between 1.5 and 2.3 million NEW jobs.

Fortunately, very few are unsure of the benefits (3%) or do not see any of these as advantages.

Reasons NOT to Recycle?

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Though many acknowledge the many benefits of recycling, the top reason given for not recycling is that it is not accessible or convenient to where they live (25%).  This should be seen as a failure of state and local government for not making recycling more available to them.

Some give the excuse that it takes too long or that they just forget, that they aren’t sure what is recyclable and what isn’t (8%).  This is also a failure to EDUCATE residents by providing them with simples accessible information you see below.

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A minority thing that recycling costs too much and very few report that ideological concerns prevent them from recycling more often, such as feeling their efforts wouldn’t make a difference (3%), not thinking it’s important (2%), or not understanding the environmental benefit (1%). At the same time, a majority (52%) reports that none of these barriers prevent them from recycling.

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We need remove the uncertainly surrounding recycling to target those 50% who throw things away without making an effort to recycle.

How and What Do We Recycle?

Nearly three quarters (72%) report that they recycle to most at home, either through curbside recycling (46%) or by taking their recyclables to a local recycling center (26%). Just 6% say that they recycle most at work, though this proportion jumps to 11% among full-time workers. One in ten (10%) say that they recycle elsewhere and 12% report that they do not recycle at all.

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The most commonly recycled items include plastics, such as water bottles and packaging (69%); metals, such as soda cans and soup cans (64%); newspapers (56%); other paper products such as cardboard boxes, magazines, junk mail, etc. (56%); and glass, such as jars and juice bottles (49%). Fewer report that they most recycle electronics, such as CDs or old computer parts (14%) or other items (4%).

While majorities say that they recycle plastics, metal and paper products, there does some to be some confusion about which items can be recycled and which cannot. While majorities understand that cell phones (78%) and motor oil (67%) can be recycled, many are unaware that other, less typical items can also be recycled, such as trophies (36%) and crayons (36%). Conversely, many may be trying to recycle items that are not actually recyclable, such as pizza boxes (77%) and juice boxes (73%). Waxed paper and cardboard that is contaminated by food cannot be recycled.

Similarly, many adults are unconscious of the fact that certain household items are often made from recycled paper. A third (34%) report that they would be most surprised to learn that cat litter can be made from recycled paper, followed by greeting cards (8%), egg cartons (6%), and phone books (5%). However, nearly half (48%) say that they would not be surprised to learn that any of these items are made from recycled materials.

Perhaps some of these misperceptions about what can be recycled and what can’t stems from a lack of information. Nearly half (47%) say that they haven’t learned anything about recycling in over six months and 12% report that they have NEVER learned anything about recycling. At the same time, some are exposed to this information more regularly, with 13% reporting that they are flooded with information about recycling and an additional 29% saying that they learned something about recycling in the month.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted May 2-5, 2011. For the survey, a national sample of 1,004 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been if the entire population adults aged 18 and older in the United States had been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.A

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Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree!!


It’s the time of year when Christmas trees go up, becoming the centrepiece of our family festivities. We will adorn their branches with twinkling lights and colourful baubles and place our lovingly wrapped gifts underneath. As such a focal point in our celebrations, getting the tree right is important. But what are the pros and cons of choosing a real or artificial tree? 

This weekend many families will be heading up to the loft or to a Christmas tree farm to find their perfect pine. It’s been a tradition since the Victorian era but today we are spoiled for choice.

From cost to carbon footprint what should you consider when choosing your tree?

Dr John Kazer, at the Carbon Trust, says an average artificial tree was made of plastic which comes from oil. This accounts for two thirds of its carbon footprint.

Another quarter of its environmental impact comes from the industrial emissions produced when the tree is manufactured.

He said a 2m artificial tree has a carbon footprint equivalent to 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than twice that of a real tree that ends its life in landfill – and more than 10 times that of real trees that are burnt.

“So if you have an artificial tree at home you would need to reuse it for at least 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact lower than that of a real tree,” he said.

Mr Kazer said the way in which a real tree is disposed of was “much more significant than where it comes from”.

The Carbon Trust estimates that for a two metre real Christmas tree with no roots, the carbon footprint is equivalent to 16kg of greenhouse gas emissions if it ends up in landfill.

This is because the tree decomposes and produces methane gas, which is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, according to the trust.

“If you burn your Christmas tree on the bonfire, plant it or have it chipped to spread on the garden, that significantly reduces the carbon footprint by up to 80% or around 3.5kg CO2e (greenhouse gas emissions).”


Burning the tree emits the carbon dioxide that it stored up when it was growing so there would be no net increase, he said.

So real trees have much lower carbon footprints than artificial Christmas trees. But what else is there to consider?


Stephen Evans, managing director of Christmas Tree World based in Wigan, sells both real and artificial trees.

His artificial trees can be found in airports, universities, stately homes and hospitals.

“Our artificial trees are flame retardant which is a major thing for big public buildings,” he said.

“When real trees dry out they become quite flammable.”

He said hospitals use artificial trees because some patients have allergies. The company also supplies Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

House manager Kate Ballenger said: “Whilst we do grow our own trees on the estate, it’s important that we also use artificial trees to limit the risk of insects being bought in that would damage the collection inside the palace.”
Artificial trees have some benefits for large buildings but what about the average household?

One of the greatest benefits of an artificial tree is the cost, said Mr Evans.

“You can use them year after year so the money saving is enormous,” he said.

“You can bring it out of the loft each year instead of the hassle of going out and getting a real one.


“Artificial trees have improved so much that they actually fool people into thinking they’re real.

“Pre-lit trees are increasing in popularity. The lights are put on better that you could ever do it at home.

“Also artificial trees don’t drop needles all over the floor.”

But for Harry Brightwell, secretary of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, there is something about a real tree that cannot be replicated.

“It’s the look, texture and smell of the real tree that makes it so special,” he said. “Just like us, each one is unique.


“The process of buying a real tree, going out with your loved ones, friends and neighbours and selecting the perfect size, shape and colour for your home creates the most wonderful memories.”

The answer lies in the tree’s carbon footprint, how many times it is reused and how it is disposed of.

Other factors to consider when choosing a tree include cost, effort required, fire safety, allergies and insects.

This story was prompted by Kathie Walters who asked the BBC “Is my artificial Christmas tree good for the environment or are real trees better?”

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Leonardo DiCaprio – Before the Flood

Leonardo DiCaprio has told the BBC’s Newsbeat that he thinks climate change is the biggest issue facing young people today.

He was speaking at the premiere of his documentary about environmental issues, Before The Flood, at the London Film Festival.

The film sees the Oscar-winning actor travel the world to see the impact of global warming first hand.

He says there are many things young people can do, but the most important is to use their vote.


“I think this is the issue of [young people’s] generation and there has been a huge movement out there from the youth,” he told Newsbeat.

“The main thing is to try to vote for political leaders that are going to do something about climate change, because it affects them directly.

“It really boils down to their vote, if we have political leaders in office that do not want to take fundamental steps to combat this issue we are ultimately doomed.

“And the best way you can do that in a democracy is by putting people in office that are going to take action.”

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Leonardo DiCaprio and film director Fisher Stevens

Both Leo and filmmaker Fisher Stevens said when making this film, they wanted to focus on the youth.

“It is for the youth, it is to inspire the youth, it is to know what is going on because that will inspire them more because they will know what is going on,” Fisher told us at the premiere.

Leonardo DiCaprio has been campaigning on environmental issues and climate for a number of years and is also a messenger of peace for the UN.

He says with this film, as well as inspiring a young generation, he wants to put to rest the argument that there isn’t an issue.

“You can listen to pundits but ultimately we have to listen to the scientific community,” he told us.

“As we have stated many times in this movie, if you don’t believe in man-made climate change then you don’t believe in gravity.

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In discussion with Barack Obama who features in the documentary

“We also present solutions and this is going to take everyone from all walks of life, from everywhere around the world.”

He says he’s grateful the agreement, which will limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) found in fridges and air conditioners, has been agreed.

“This is going to be something that affects young people for decades and decades,” he said.

“It will affect their children and their grandchildren and their life. It is a long-term problem and we need long term solutions.

“But we need an entire generation out there that is going to be focused on this issue, use their vote to put people in their office that are going to take action on this issue and get involved.”

Before The Flood premieres on the National Geographic Channel on 30 October

(article courtesy of BBC News)

 

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Making Waste Worthwhile