News: Study shows by 2030, 53 metric tons of waste could be polluting the environment each year

Since the invention of plastic it has revolutionised the way society operates. The many uses of plastic has grown to an enormous rate. However, one of the major drawbacks to plastic, which we have realised too late, is the large amount of damage it causes to our environment. For example, plastic is not only being dumped into waterways but most of the Indonesian food chain has been found to be poisoned by Western plastics being exported to the East (Ray et al. 2019). This is concerning as plastic waste is now everywhere we look, one critical hotbed for plastic waste being the Pacific ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, spanning from Japan to North West America it demonstrates the harm thoughtless consumerism has had on the planet.

This highlights the tipping point that we are currently at with the environment and how our expendable view of the planet can lead to a possibly catastrophic future if we do not begin to repair our mistakes. A recent study as shown that current rate of plastic waste production exceeds the efforts taken to reduce it, meaning that even if reduction goals are met plastic waste will continue to be a burden. Researchers have estimated that by 2030 the plastic waste in the environment may increase six times the current rate. As of this year, the plastic waste produced is currently at 1.5 billion tons.

This is an extreme problem as what is somewhat overlooked is the way plastic waste can be damaging. For example, plastic takes a considerable amount of time to degrade and can break down into what is known as microplastics. These microplastics can find their way into aquatic life through consumption, as we eat many different species of fish ultimately this microplastic will find its way into humans and the consequences of this are yet to be fully discovered. Therefore, plastic waste is somewhat poisoning the environment and the health of aquatic and human life. However, there are ways to reduce the use of plastic as demonstrated in my previous posts.

The study mentioned above and the consequences of plastic waste highlight an urgency in halting the use of plastic and a serious need in finding alternative methods. Like many other damaging practices, such as the output of CO2 emissions, if we do not transition to healthier practices for both the planet and human life then in ten years time we will see the negative consequences of our destructive habits. This is made even more apparent by the climate clocks which are starting to appear in developed nations, with Berlin and very recently New York estimating that we have seven years until we see the damaging consequences of our actions. Thus, the time to change is needed now more than ever as recent news has shown that the climate goals of the Paris agreement in 2015 are not being met.

Sources:

Contribution is key

Inspired by a recent YouTube video, which I shall link below, I went on a cycling trip to try and help clean up my community.

I decided to load my bike with black rubbish bags and head off to see what I could find.

Living in a city, seeing litter has become somewhat normalised to a degree. As I started to look for it I began to realise it was everywhere. I travelled down a lane which leads to an old WW2 airfield. However, I didn’t make it 10 metres before my bags were full, I wasn’t even able to fit one of them back into the bag on the bike.

Unfortunately, I underestimated the amount of rubbish I would encounter. I spent approximately 40 minutes picking up all the little bits of rubbish. To just clear this lane would have taken days.

I proceeded to take the rubbish to some bins not too far from the lane. Altogether this only took around an hour and is a tiny step in the right direction. So next time you take a trip, it might be a good idea to pack a black rubbish bag and combined these small acts can eventually have a big impact.

Sources:

News: California wildfires

In the past decade frequent wildfires have damaged lives and wildlife in various countries. In part wildfires are natural, however with the increasing temperatures we are experiencing around the world demonstrate that the intensity of these wildfires are a result of climate change. Last year the wildfires in Australia are a clear example with approximately 5.9 million hectares of land being burned, an area almost three times the size of Wales (White & Gilbert, 2020). Currently, we are experiencing a similar catastrophe on the West coast of the United States.

The wildfires in California have spread all along the West coast across Oregon and Washington. Many people have died as a result, as well as many acres of wildlife being scorched and habitats lost. Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes and as the fires continue to spread, people are announcing that this is a climate emergency.


The West coast of the United States is currently dealing with around one-hundred wildfires. Specifically, California is currently experiencing some of the largest wildfires to date whilst simultaneously experiencing its worst drought. The signs which show that this is a result of climate change are clearly visible. As California experiences its worst droughts and hottest temperatures, neighbouring states such as Colorado are experiencing snowy weather and strong winds. One consequence of extreme climate change is unpredictable weather patterns, therefore the situation in the United States demonstrates this clearly. Additionally, strong winds exacerbate the wildfire situation, increasing the probability that it will continue to spread.


However obvious the science may seem, continued denial that climate change is ruining lives and the environment still exists. For example, when President Trump was interviewed about these catastrophic wildfires all along the West Coast, he stated that science didn’t have the answers and that it will get cooler soon. This demonstrates an obvious lack of understanding from the president as decades of scientific research show a clear causation between the increasing temperatures around the world and the frequent wildfires as a result (Young et al. 2018).

Young et al. 2018

Sources:

https://disasterphilanthropy.org/disaster/2019-australian-wildfires/
⦁ White, J. Gilbert, D. (2020) Accessed online: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/02/australian-bushfires-numbers-highlight-sheer-scale-unfolding/
https://heavy.com/news/2020/08/california-fire-map-near-me-august-18-evacuations/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-54130785?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cjyq4rd3x3zt/california-wildfires&link_location=live-reporting-story
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-54097598?intlink_from_url=&link_location=live-reporting-story
https://www.newsweek.com/trump-dismisses-climate-change-wildfires-blaze-along-west-coast-1531828
⦁ Young, M. Gillett, N. Zwiers, F. Cannon, A. Anslow, F. (2018) ‘Attribution of the Influence of Human-Induced Climate Change on an Extreme Fire Season’. Earth’s Future, 7, pp. 2-10.

Community involvement – Grassroot Communities

Helping to improve the environment and improve upon the current climate crisis can often be felt as a daunting task. However, sometimes the small acts of kindness and commitment taken by others can be enough to make a large change in the right direction.

Locally, there are many different organisations and events which aim to aid the environment in some way. In my case, I recently got in contact with an old friend Ben Carpenter, who has started a non-profit organisation called Grassroot Communities. This is an organisation tailored toward the youth in Bristol, England. Its main goal centres around providing a platform for young people to grow their confidence, social skills and learn more about the importance of nature.

Grassroot Communities helps young people from different areas of Bristol by allowing them to break down barriers and bond with one another to form healthy relationships which inspire confidence. Additionally, teaching the youth valuable skills such as cooking, leading activities and growing their own food. Organisations such as these are important as they raise awareness of environmental issues whilst encouraging young people to get more involved. Finally, with the drawbacks of social media and globalisation making communities more isolated, organisations like Grassroot help to provide a community for people to express themselves and connect with the people around them to build long-term relationships.

Organisations such as Grassroot Communities are likely to be found in most of the UK’s major cities such as Bristol, so if you would like to make a difference do not be afraid to reach out to the people near you. However, if you find there is not an organisation anywhere like this near you, it may be a good idea to create your own organisation and make a difference in your community today. So please feel free to contact myself or Grassroot Communities on Facebook for more information and guidance on the following topic.

Sources:

10 alternatives to everyday plastic

One of the most environmentally friendly ways to reduce the use of plastic is through biodegradable or compostable products. The distinguishing factor being that biodegradability consists of natural materials breaking down, whereas compostable items are a form of biodegradability that transforms organic waste which is more beneficial for the environment. In an effort to spread awareness, here are ten items that can help you avoid the use of plastic. (Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any of these companies to endorse these products).

  1. Sandals made from algae

Scientists in California have manipulated natural organisms such as algae to create environmentally friendly footwear. Items such as sandals often wash up on coastlines and are mostly made of plastic and rubber which can damage the environment. This new alternative is one small step to helping the planet.

2. Banana leaf packaging

Supermarkets in Asia have started using banana leaves for packaging. This helps reduce plastic packaging and minimise the chances of plastic waste.

3. Plastic made from cactus

Mexican researcher, Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, has figured out a way to create plastic made from material extracted from cactus. Serving to be much more biodegradable than everyday plastic, it can degrade in just one month and only takes several days in water. Therefore, some useful items can retain the same durability as plastic without the negative consequences of damaging the environment.

4. Paper straws

Some businesses already use these and they are a great way to prevent using plastic by switching to a more biodegradable alternative.

5. Sea sponge

A shower sponge made from natural materials, making it biodegradable and environmentally friendly. A great alternative than sponges which use synthetic fibres and create more waste which damages the environment.

6. Ayate washcloth

A multi-purpose washcloth made from the agave plant which are easy drying. Another great alternative to washcloths made from synthetic fibres.

7. Compostable food packaging and cutlery

As people are slowly realising the harmful products which most people use everyday, a transition is emerging where more and more items are becoming biodegradable or compostable. Online you will find many items such as food packaging, cutlery and cups which are compostable and thus a healthy alternative to regular plastic items.

8. Compostable clear gloves

Clear gloves useful for many messy situations such as cooking or for those working in health care. Again, a healthy alternative to plastic gloves which are frequently used but damage the environment.

9. Biodegradable tampons

Specifically for the women (or men that want to buy their significant other a slightly weird gift) biodegradable tampons can be purchased online to help reduce the amount of plastic waste produced.

10. Bamboo products

Products made from bamboo such as sunglasses, toothbrushes and clothes can be found either online or in the shopping mall. This is a great way to avoid synthetic plastics and harmful waste by switching to a more environmentally friendly solution.

Sources

News: Plant based diet could remove 16 years of carbon emissions by 2050

As mentioned previously in my earlier post, eating less meat can help to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere in various ways. Analysts have found that meat production and distribution uses a considerable amount of water and contributes to the harmful gases currently in our atmoshpere.


A recent study has been released demonstrating that switching to a more vegetarian diet may help reverse the amounts of CO2 present in the atmosphere. Claiming that a diet consisting predominantly of vegetables and other foods rather than meat will result in a healthier outcome for both you and the planet. Researchers have found that by making this dietary transition could remove sixteen years of harmful emissions by 2050. They claim that unlike large-scale technological solutions, this method is quicker and more efficient at extracting CO2 from the atmosphere.


Additionally, the researchers involved in the study demonstrate the areas of land-use that have been minimised due to meat production:

This highlights an alarming reality where a normalised diet of meat consumption has resulted in the degradation of the planet’s environment. As this is a norm for most of modern society to consume meat and however hard it may be for some people to resist advertisement, such as promoting fast food, there are clear indicators that switching to a more vegetarian diet can aid the planet toward a healthy recovery.


In summary, the profitable but harmful practices of modern day capitalism demonstrate an urgency in people to become more self-aware. This awareness, practiced by simply eating less meat and more, undertaken by the majority can be seen to have tremendous outcomes in repairing our damaged planet. Therefore, the urgency needed for people to act has now become more apparent than ever before.

Sources:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-020-00603-4
https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/consumption/foods-and-beverages/environmental-effects-of-meat-production/story

10 ways to minimise climate change on a personal level

Many people today know that the climate changing so drastically is a bad thing but many still do not know why. As scientific research has shown, global warming is causing sea levels to rise, as a result increasing the chances of flooding. Another result of climate change is the unpredictable weather patterns which causes storms to occur more frequent or long droughts which result in a loss of crops for communities that solely rely on those crops. These problems may seem beyond capable to solve for one individual but there are little changes people can make which collective make a big difference.

Factory Farming Is Sweeping the U.K. | Civil Eats

1. Eat less meat: Reports have found that the facilitation of livestock accounts for around 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, this is mainly due to the amount of transportation required. Furthermore, the amount of space it requires to keep livestock has reached an immense scale and continues to rise. For example, many ranchers in Southern America often turn to violence when in competition with indigenous communities for the use of land their livestock require. Therefore, by reducing the consumption of meat, this can help by reducing emissions and alternatively prohibit these animals from living quite depressing lives for the most part.

Family-Biking.jpg (1600×1068)

2. Cycle or use public transport: In 2017 transport was responsible for 21% of all greenhouse gases in Europe alone. Today with everyone deciding to own a personal vehicle it is difficult to want to change your lifestyle and be seen as abnormal. However, deciding to use public transport or cycle is more cost effective and can actually help keep you more active. On top of this, by choosing to share transport or cycle you are actively preventing more environmental harm.

3. Buy less plastic items: Trying to purchase less plastic is understandably quite difficult due to the modern everyday use of plastic everywhere, however there are some alternative s which one can practice such as: buying products made from more biodegradable material, buying products which can be compostable or buying items like fruit and veg from a local market to avoid plastic packaging.

forestry.jpg (1500×1000)

4. Volunteer at a local forestry or nature reserve: Maintaining the few naturally bio-diverse environments in your country can help to repair the damage to the environment. This is done by preserving a natural habitat for various species of life and various species of trees which may be critically endangered. Upon helping to combat the levels of Co2 in the atmosphere, it can also help maintain a natural balance against the constant growth of modern life.

5. Donate to a charity or volunteer to help spread awareness: Donating to a charity which is involved in a big project, perhaps overseas, is a great way to help in ways that you may not be able to. Also, volunteering the raise awareness will help gather more of a support network to tackle the problems which some may not realise are an issue.

6. Use renewable energy: Using renewable energy such as solar panels is a great way to save money on electricity in the long run and also help minimise your carbon footprint. Another way you can do this is buying a hybrid or electric car. Understandably due to the recent production of electric cars they are still quite expensive. However, hybrid cars can be a cheaper alternative and tend not to rely on its petrol alternative as much as one might believe.

7. Using the internet in an environmentally friendly way: Most people today are connected to the internet in some way, for example Google get a round 3.5 billion searches per day on average. Using search engines like Ecosia, which plants a tree every time you search something and it only takes two clicks to install it as a chrome extension.

Grow-your-own-food.jpg (440×310)

8. Grow your own vegetables: Growing your own food is something relatively anyone can start to do and helps by relying less on global supermarkets which are transporting goods constantly. It also helps reduce the amount of plastic waste resulting from packaging.

9. Recycle more: Not only can you recycle more by opting to apply for different bins to separate your recycling but you can also recycle in creative ways as well. For instants, the internet is full of interesting ideas people have created out of plastic or tin cans, whether that be for artistic reasons or practical reasons which can be beneficially utilised.

10. Being conscious about population growth: Today there are more people on the planet than ever before, each of us contributing in some way whether big or small to the climate change problem. By ensuring women are properly provided with birth control and reproductive health options as well as providing education can help minimise any unfortunate situations. Whereas, limiting the amount of children allowed would be a somewhat crude and misguided solution to the growing population.

Sources: