Foraging for wild mushrooms is becoming increasingly popular and anyone on a mushroom identification group will know that ‘pick-shaming’ (mentioning that someone should not have picked a mushroom that they won’t use) is guaranteed to attract harsh comments and even a removal from the group! While these groups are wonderful for knowledge-sharing and ensuring that mushrooms are correctly identified, they most often fail to teach any sort of responsible foraging etiquette.
Foraged mushrooms in an inappropriate container for spore dispersal
spread their spores further. On that note: picking mature mushrooms that have released most of their spores is essential.
However, there are other less-obvious effects of mushroom harvesting that should be considered. Harvesters who do not consider the environment around the delicacies they seek will undoubtedly squash plants, other types of mushrooms, emerging new mushrooms and insects in their clumsy search. This may have long-term effects on forest floor dwelling species in popular mushroom-harvesting spots, as well as reducing the harvest for all as the season progresses.
It is considered good manners to leave behind at least half of the edible mushrooms in an area, for other human foragers. But, what about non-human mushroom-lovers?
With minimal studies done on mushrooms in general, especially on their importance in ecosystems beyond the obvious decomposition aspect, it is wise to be careful and respectful when it comes to handling mushrooms. While harvesting mushrooms won’t affect the mycelium, it will affect other species that have relationships with them. If animals and insects don’t have access to their usual nutrient-boosting mushrooms at a certain time of year, this could affect their ability to survive leaner seasons and periods of disease.
We have no idea of the ripple-effect that mass human mushroom-harvesting has on greater ecosystems, so let’s be responsible.
Squirrels are one of the many wild animals that consume mushrooms.
When harvesting wild mushrooms, follow the guidelines below:
*Pick just enough for your own consumption.
*Never pick an entire patch of mushrooms.
*Be aware of what else you are stepping on.
*Use a basket for spore dispersal.
*Do the ecosystem a service by picking up litter while foraging.
*Don’t pick more than one or two specimens before getting them identified – just because we can’t eat them doesn’t mean that other animals won’t.
*Pick relatively mature mushrooms that have dispersed spores, bearing in mind that some are inedible if too mature.
By Georgia Carter
Less than 1% of our freshwater reserves are available today, and it’s estimated that 80% of our wastewater - water polluted with chemicals and human waste - is returned to the environment.
These are shocking facts that act as a poignant reminder of what our carelessness has achieved, and it’s harming every living thing on the planet.
To protect precious water and keep it clean for all life forms, we need to adopt a few small yet effective habits when it comes to how we treat our water.
Caption: Less than 1% of our freshwater reserves are available.
Credit: Kazuend, Unsplash
Below are the best ways we as individuals can conserve our water from home:
1) Check your toilet/s, faucets, and pipes for any leaks. Leakages, when added up, can waste litres of water and cost you extra money every month. If you find that you have a leak, fix it straight away.
2) While this is widely known, it’s still important to emphasise as it's one of the most effective ways to save water - take shorter showers!
3) Install water-saving showerheads and taps, which may cost a little extra initially but will help you save money and the planet in the long run.
4) Turn off the tap while you’re washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or shaving. It may not seem like you’re using much water during these activities, but it all adds up in the end.
5) Only use your laundry washing and dishwashing machines when they’re fully loaded, making the most of the water required. Otherwise, litres of water are being pumped where they’re not needed.
6) Collect rainwater for all the little water-required tasks such as watering the plants and wiping surfaces. You’ll be surprised how much water you can actually save this way, and your plants will thank you!
7) Install an adjustable toilet flapper that limits the amount of water needed to flush.
8) Make use of a compostable toilet. No, this is definitely not for everyone and not just anyone can create one of these, but if you can, the benefits are tremendous. Not only are you saving water and money, but you’re also able to renourish and fertilise your plants.
9) Recycle water! Yes, water can be recycled - and easily. Keep a bucket in your shower, save some bathwater, or keep a tupperware in your sink. Reuse that water for certain tasks in the house, such as to flush the toilet or mop the floors.
10) Use a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor areas.
11) Cover your swimming pools to avoid evaporation and therefore having to add more water into your pool.
12) Water your plants during the early hours of the day. This will not only prevent evaporation and help your plants retain moisture, but will also ward off any pests for the day to come.
13) Add organic matter to your garden beds to help them retain water so you don’t have to water them as often as before.
14) Minimise or end your consumption of chemical products. There are numerous organic swaps for harmful products, such as chemical-free shampoo, eco-friendly face wash, and environmentally conscious hand soap.
15) Dispose of all hazardous materials correctly. These are your oils and paints that make their way down the drain, infecting the entire water system. It’s often better to collect these materials and throw them away rather than disposing of them via the drain.
16) Participate in river, dam, and ocean clean-ups!
17) Consume less of everything. That means less plastic, less processed food, less electricity, you name it - it all requires huge amounts of water to create and work.
Caption: There are numerous ways to save water when it comes to your garden, such as collecting rainwater, watering your plants in the morning, and adding more organic matter to your soil.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
Adopting a few of these necessary habits and behaviours has a dramatically positive effect on the environment and those who depend on clean water - which is all of us.
Written by: Kelly Steenhuisen
…Until we deal with invasive species.
In previously colonized countries, one mark on the landscape is rarely noticed but continues to negatively affect people in these areas: invasive plants.
The scorch marks green over and people move on, however, the problem still persists and the fires will rage again until it is fixed. The devastating fires in Cape Town, South Africa are the most recent example of how dangerous these colonial remnants can be. A fire allegedly started by homeless people on Table Mountain, was fueled into an inferno by the highly flammable Stone Pine trees planted by Cecil John Rhodes, causing it to spread over to the University of Cape Town – gutting the iconic library and other buildings. Palm trees closer to the university and ivy on the walls, led to fire right up to its destruction of history.
While homelessness is indeed an under-addressed side effect of the heartless, broken society that we live in, it is not why UCT’s library was destroyed and neither is the indigenous fynbos that needs an occasional fire for optimal health. There will be more fires on Table Mountain – whether started by homeless people or hikers, hot weather or glass bottles – and there should be, as the natural fynbos needs an occasional burn. However, a natural fire would not have raged as hot, huge or quickly as the one that burned away sacred history and priceless seeds.
South Africa has become home to many invasive plants, including plantation trees like: pine, wattle and gum, that are able to burn ten times hotter than the Western Cape Province’s native fynbos vegetation, and are known to explode when subjected to extreme heat. Not only does this make wildfires much more difficult to manage and more likely to burn buildings, it also increases the intensity of the fire beyond that which would be beneficial for the fynbos – preventing new indigenous seeds from sprouting whilst creating perfect conditions for invasive tree seeds to germinate. Loss of vegetation on the slopes of Cape Town’s beautiful mountains will lead to delicate species extinction, erosion, soil quality degradation, less food for animals and will affect hiking for locals and tourists alike.
The fynbos biome of South Africa is home to around 9000 plant species, making it one of the most diverse in the world, and many of these special plants are critically endangered. For this reason, some areas of the Western Cape fynbos have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. These areas would only naturally burn every 15 years. Humans on the mountains for various reasons increase the frequency of fires but, invasive plants fuel them into infernos. Too frequent burning degrades the fynbos by burning plants that are too young to survive fire and those that have no yet developed the necessary seeds to facilitate fire-fuelled plant succession.
A research team found the same phenomenon – invasive pine trees in the place of indigenous fynbos vegetation and natural forests - to have significantly increased the severity of the devastating 2017 fires that hit Knysna, South Africa. The famous Knysna fires burnt 15 000Ha over four days, killing seven people and countless animals.
While it is important to accept that living in Africa means living with fire, the fires that have made the news over recent years have not been natural and climate change will only exasperate this in future. The government department, Working on Fire, has been slowly removing invasives between fire events but, it does not seem to be enough… not to mention the spraying of poisons by this and other departments.
As citizens across the world, we can all make a huge impact by planting only indigenous and edible species in our private gardens, educating ourselves on invasive, indigenous and endemic plants and their interaction within our local ecosystems, volunteering and campaigning to remove invasive species from public spaces near us and putting pressure on government departments to step up their game.
Written by: Georgia Carter
Unparalleled heat waves in Arizona. Impossible snowfalls in Texas. Uncontrollable wildfires across Europe. Flooding in Germany and China.
These are but a few examples of the weather catastrophes sprawling around the globe. The primary cause? Global Warming.
Caption: Uncontrollable fires are raging across the planet due to global warming.
Credit: Matt Palmer, Unsplash
There’s no denying it any longer. Rising temperatures and increased sea levels are starting to cause chaos on the planet - and this is only the beginning. In light of these natural disasters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, known as the IPCC, recently released their most current report on the matter. It’s the bluntest, most stark warning we have received yet.
“The evidence is everywhere: if we don’t act, the situation is going to get really bad,” climatologist and co-author Xuebin Zhang says.
Founded in 1988, the IPCC is a United Nations governmental body that consists of leaders, scientists, and climatologists from around the globe. The aim of this conglomerate is simple: provide truthful scientific evidence and information that proves human-induced climate change and global warming, the impacts of this destruction, and the potential responses we must take in order to mitigate the negative effects.
Caption: Individuals, businesses, and scientists are pleading for drastic change to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
The latest report was compiled by over 200 scientists from around the world. The report has been published three months before the next universal climate summit, which will occur in Glasgow, in a plea for all governments to come up with appropriate and drastic solutions to mitigate global warming.
The report contains numerous statistics, facts, and figures to help readers fully understand the complexity and dire situation presented by climate change as a whole. Below, we unpack the most crucial points:
1) Global warming levels are fast approaching the 1.5 and even the 2-degree limit. Currently, the planet’s temperature is reaching 1.1 degrees celsius - a first in the last 125 000 years. If we continue to emit as much carbon dioxide as we have been, we will far exceed the boundaries of the greenhouse gasses our atmosphere can hold within the next decade. This means we will reach our tipping point, which will be practically irreversible.
2) The effects of reaching this tipping point include uncontrollable wildfires, increased rainfall and flooding, severe droughts, and amplified permafrost thawing. We are already seeing the start of these natural disasters, but these are only minor impacts compared to the detrimental chaos that will occur if we supersede our global warming limit. The worst weather change will be drought, famine, and extreme heat waves. And these disasters won’t happen as singular events - they may occur all at once, making it impossible to find relief. This will dramatically impact agriculture practices for the worst, resulting in a knock-on effect for socio-economic issues across the globe.
3) Unfortunately, some climate and ecological changes cannot be reversed. Coastlines will be lost. Biomes will disappear. Biodiversity will take a harsh knock. Millions of animals and people will lose both their homes and their lives. While some ecosystems are already lost, we still have a chance to mitigate and even halt other drastic impacts on parts of the planet.
4) The most important aspect of the report states that we still have a chance to protect the planet for future generations, but we need to start implementing dramatic sustainable solutions RIGHT NOW. Every little bit truly does count and can make a difference, on both an individual and governmental level.
Caption: One of the numerous effects of global warming is drastic and unparalleled drought.
Credit: Joshua Woroneic, Unsplash
The future truly is in our hands now.
As an individual, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help mitigate global warming. Here are a few things:
Breathe easy, hope is not lost. Taking the first step towards leading a sustainable lifestyle is a step in the right direction on the footpath to a brighter and healthier future.
Caption: Every little bit counts, as long as you start acting NOW.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
Read the full report here: Sixth Assessment Report (ipcc.ch)
By Charlotte Mostert
Car-free cities are something we believe to be either from fairy tales or the late 1800s. But with all the technological advancements today and the current surge in environmental awareness (thanks to the help of the Paris Agreement), would the cities of the future not be better off creating sustainable urbanisation?
Based on Our world in data, in 1960, 1.02 billion people lived in cities, and in 2017 that metric rose to 4.13 billion. In 2020, it was reported by the World Economic Forum that 56.2% of the global population lives in cities. This rise in urbanisation has increased the need for ease of transportation, where many cities had previously looked into private cars being the answer. Now, years of rising temperatures in cities has led to a demand for innovative solutions that will improve the quality of life for all citizens.
Graph, sourced from Our World in Data, showing the number of people living in urban and rural areas world-wide between 1960 and 2017.
There is a global move towards removing large highways and turning them into green spaces which collaborate with pedestrian walkways to combat traffic and congestion. The added benefit to this is the creation of a natural carbon ‘sink’ that cools down the temperatures in the cities. These new adaptations enable and encourage alternative transportation manners, such as walking or cycling. The World Cities Report 2020 stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has promoted health as being the new guiding principle in urban planning and governance, invoking innovations in cities to close streets for cars and, instead, opening them to people to allow more room to walk, cycle and dine.
Jane Jacobs, journalist, author, theorist, and activist who influenced urban studies, sociology, and economics said, “Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalks contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.”
Where most cities pay for their roads through tax payments there are countries, such as South Africa, where it is common practice to pay for a toll gate when driving on highways to pay for maintenance and upgrading of the roads. One could say that the citizen's need to pay for roads is a push towards discarding private transport.
Elon Musk said, “We always want our future to be better than our past.”
This is just the beginning of where our cities are heading. The reality is that most cities cannot jump into rapid change, and would have to follow in Copenhagen’s footsteps of incremental adaptation to safer and more frequent public transport. Research has reported that cities which partake in car-free days have had up to a 40% reduction in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels.
Amsterdam is another formidable city that is taking action on making a change from the traditional transportation methods. They are focusing on carefully and gradually reducing car traffic by removing 11,200 parking spots by 2025 replacing that space with sidewalks and bike lanes, as well as providing space for trees to be planted. Fast company stated that Amsterdam will ban gas and diesel vehicles by 2030, encouraging all car users to shift towards electric cars.
The introduction of private car-free cities is likely to have direct and indirect health benefits worldwide. With the myriad benefits that the removal of excess vehicles will have on the planet, we only hope that more cities follow suit and start the transition into accessible and sustainable modes of transport.
By Georgia Carter
Big brands have overtaken the market. Many of us happily spend our time and money on products and services from global corporations without thinking about the economic and environmental impacts our consumer habits inflict.
When we purchase goods from major names that have stores across the world, we’re hampering the planet and our local economy.
The fossil fuels used for production and transportation are hazardous enough, but add in the carbon emissions that result in increased air pollution and the plastic waste from packaging, and you have a natural disaster.
However, there is a simple yet effective sustainable solution to this dangerous practice - shopping local.
Personal Benefits of Shopping Local
We’re all looking for ways to improve our lives, and what if I was to tell you that keeping your consumerism more locally-based will aid in the betterment of your life as a whole?
As mentioned before, when we shift our shopping to become more locally-based, we’re essentially letting the local vendor know what we as a community want and need, and therefore helping them stock up on our local demands. This equates to a better selection of products and services that best suits the community, instead of global demands that take the whole world into consideration.
When purchasing food and produce from a local farmer, the food is often fresher. It’s brought straight from the farm, requires less to no chemicals to both grow and store, and it’s generally more organic and thus healthier for you. These crops also tend to come at a slightly more affordable rate, saving you money and time while improving your overall wellbeing.
Simply put, buying local produce and food is the paragon for a healthier life.
Caption: Purchasing produce from a local farmers market not only benefits the environment and economy, but also aids in a healthier lifestyle as fresher, organic crops increase in demand and therefore supply.
Credit: Megan Markham, Unsplash
The Environmental Benefits of Shopping Locally
While there are numerous economical and personal benefits to shopping locally, the environmental benefits are paramount.
Below is a list of ways shopping local positively impacts the Earth:
1. Starting from the farming lands, shopping local helps fund organic farmers. These farmers generally use less pesticides, a decreased amount of electricity used for storage and refrigeration, and aid in healthy soil regeneration. This, in turn, also protects the natural insect population required to properly pollinate the crops.
2. Supporting local farmers means that less land is sold off to large developers, helping maintain and preserve the natural surroundings and wildlife that reside in these ecosystems.
3. When purchasing products from major retailers, many modes of transportation are used to supply and provide said items. The fossil fuels emitted through transport are both unnecessary and hazardous to humans and the environment as a whole. But, when you buy local, you’re helping reduce an estimated 26% of fossil fuels emitted through transportation, further conserving fuel which the world is fast running out of.
4. As a result of the immense amount of fossil fuels emitted from large companies, air pollution has become another detrimental environmental issue. However, you can help decrease air pollution by shopping local as this reduces transportation, the use of electricity for refrigeration, and the reduced use of pesticides.
5. There is limited packaging when it comes to shopping locally. Because there are no warehouses involved, nor a wide range of products to be sold, and no shipping required, there is less packaging. This further reduces fossil fuels due to those needed to create the plastic packaging, and decreases the amount of plastic pollution made from single-use packaging.
Overall, shopping locally reduces carbon emissions, plastic and air pollution, aids in healthy soil regeneration, protects insects, conserves fuel and electricity, and preserves natural land and wildlife.
Caption: Supporting local farmers cultivates healthy agricultural practices and the regeneration of land.
Credit: Marcus Winkler, Unsplash
Shopping local is the way to go when it comes to easy and effective sustainable solutions. If we can all try our best to research, learn, understand, act, and share ways to protect the environment, we’ll be the trailblazers for a healthier future on this planet.
By Georgia Carter
Our Earth is not only holding the weight of the human world but also the hefty load of human waste we produce. Our environments are littered with plastic, our air is gassed with pollution, and our waterways are flooded with chemicals.
Caption: Cleaning product chemicals have been found in over 60% of America’s rivers, lakes, and dams.
Credit: Jeshoots, Unsplash
Trying to mitigate these harrowing facts can often feel like a hopeless mission. However, we as individuals hold the power of change within our palms. We can grasp certain habits and behaviours that can positively impact the planet and those who reside on it.
One of the ways to curb both plastic and water pollution is simple - do it yourself. Making your very own cleaning products is a simple yet extremely effective sustainable solution to decrease waste of all kinds.
In this post, we unearth the dangers of store-bought cleaning products, why making your own at home is better for the environment, and six recipes for different cleaning and hygiene products.
Easy, accessible, and affordable, this is your guide to homemade non-toxic products.
The dangers of cleaning products
Cleaning and hygiene products, such as all-purpose cleaners and toothpaste, generally contain harmful chemicals that pollute our waterways. Many of these products come in plastic packaging, often of the type that is seemingly impossible to recycle, not to mention the destructive process required to make the products themselves. These products can also have harmful impacts on humans as we indirectly ingest particles of these chemicals.
Most importantly, toxic cleaning and hygiene items lead to an increased amount of chemicals that seep into our waterways. These hazardous chemicals enter ecosystems and cause devastation, eating away at the foliage, polluting the water, and becoming a part of the food chain. In fact, over 60% of rivers and lakes in the United States of America have been found to contain chemicals that derive from disinfectants. The problem is clearly becoming more prevalent.
Eventually, the chemicals that fail to break down make their way into the systems of fish and other marine and water animals. This causes havoc with biodiversity, ecosystems, and the health and wellbeing of all life on Earth. Not only do humans consume the very fish that they poison, which then poisons them, but we are also drinking up the discarded toxins. More than 250 different types of chemicals are found in our drinking water that none of us even know is there.
Caption: Cleaning products cause harm in many ways, including to our waterways, marine animals, and air quality.
Credit: CDC, Unsplash
The benefits of homemade cleaning products
Making your own hygiene and cleaning products has numerous benefits for your health, the planet’s wellbeing, and your wallet.
Below are the top five reasons DIY products are better:
1. Control over ingredients: You never know what’s really added to products made elsewhere. However, when you make your own items, you have complete control over what goes in them. This can help alleviate allergies in the house and mitigate the leaking of harmful toxins into the environment. It also means you won’t be passively consuming particles of harmful toxins that store-bought cleaning products are composed of.
2. Healthier home air quality: As mentioned above, when you have control over your own ingredients, you can choose healthier options. This often results in cleaner air quality as you’re less likely to opt for hazardous ingredients.
3. Cost-effective: Supply and demand for cleaning products are in a constant loop, and prices, therefore, rise with the years. However, when you make your own cleaning and hygiene products, you will only need a small measurement of certain ingredients which you can use to create more of the product you’ve made. This ends up being cheaper in the long run. You’re also reducing the demand for cleaning products, hopefully contributing to an overall end to the production of harmful products altogether.
4. Safe for the environment: When you have control over what goes into your cleaning products, your air, and your waterways, you have a say in what seeps into the environment. By creating your own products, you have the freedom to choose items that are healthier and less toxic for the environment as opposed to choosing ignorance.
5. Reduces plastic pollution: Many to almost all cleaning and hygiene products come in non-recyclable plastic packaging. Most of this waste is tossed after usage and ends up in landfills or the ocean. But when you curate your own products, you will not be contributing to plastic pollution. You can recreate your items in reusable containers and no waste is necessary.
Caption: DIY and homemade cleaning products are substantially better for the environment and one’s health.
Credit: Good Soul Shop, Unsplash
The best five DIY cleaning product recipes
Below are some of the easiest, most affordable, and eco-friendly recipes for homemade cleaning and hygiene products:
1. Coffee Exfoliator
Instead of purchasing a body or face exfoliator from the store, which often contains harmful chemicals that negatively affect both you and the environment, why not make one yourself? If you’re a filter coffee lover or have a friend that is, this is the perfect recipe for you.
Mix all together and voila!
2. All purpose cleaner
This is for those grimy countertops, the discoloured bath, and the stained floors. You don’t need a fancy product with tons of harmful chemicals to wash away any of this dirt.
Caption: An effective all purpose cleaner can be made with just three affordable and accessible ingredients.
Credit: Creme Joe, Unplash
Mix together and now you have an effective yet unbelievably simple and cost-effective all purpose cleaner! Pour your mixture into a spray bottle and shake before use. Bonus tip: for those really grimey surfaces and tough-to-clean stovetops, add a sprinkle of baking soda before topping with your all-purpose cleaner.
This hygiene product is detrimental to our health as well as the environment. The packaging is unbearable while the chemicals that stick to our skin eventually make their way into our waters. However, there is an easy fix for this!
Smoosh all of these together in a glass jar and now you have an effective paste that forms the perfect zero-waste deodorant!
Caption: Make your own deodorant paste with your favourite essential oils and smell as fresh as a bouquet of flowers!
Credit: Jennifer Chen, Unsplash
4. Dish Soap
This harmful product directly runs into our waterways. It’s important to have clean dishes, but these toxic-paced products are not necessary.
Mix together and your dishes will be clean and fresh in no time!
One of the worst things about toothpaste is the plastic waste that is near impossible to recycle, often ending up in landfills or polluting the ocean. To lessen this plastic plague of which toothpaste waste is a contributor, make your own!
And that’s it! Now you have toothpaste that is both safe for the environment and effective for you.
ernearmedev. (2020, July 30). The Benefits of Homemade Cleaning Products | 2020. Ernearmetx.com. https://ernearmetx.com/blog/the-benefits-of-homemade-cleaning-products-in-2020/
Lederle, D. (2015, July 10). DIY Natural Deodorant...That Actually Works! The Healthy Maven. https://www.thehealthymaven.com/diy-natural-deodorant-that-actually-works/
Meredith, D. (2018, November 15). This DIY Body Scrub Is the Best Thing to Do with Leftover Coffee Grounds. Taste of Home. https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/coffee-scrub/
News-Medical. (2018, December 20). (How to) Make Your Own Toothpaste. News-Medical.net. https://www.news-medical.net/health/(How-to)-Make-Your-Own-Toothpaste.aspx
The Environmental Dangers of Using Cleaning Products | AspenClean. (2018). Aspenclean.com. https://www.aspenclean.com/blog/the-environmental-dangers-of-using-cleaning-products
By Georgia Carter
Clothing has become a necessity in society. Unclothed, we are deemed as highly inappropriate. But more than what is simply expected, dressing up is a form of one’s identity, a concept of expression, and certain items can become part of a widespread trend.
Different styles make their way into the public eye, gain popularity, and cause a spike in consumer demands. But then the trend is tossed, and while most of us forget about the existence of the faze, the products themselves continue on. In fact, the influx of clothing items thrown away means that 85% ends up in landfills, laying waste to the Earth and further polluting it with harmful dyes and chemicals.
Caption: The fast fashion industry contributes to 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions.
Credit: Becca Mchaffie, Unsplash
But even before our clothes make their way to the landfill, they cause tremendous harm. The resources required to produce an item of clothing can prove detrimental to the environment. To date, clothing and fast fashion contribute to 20% of the world’s wastewater and a whopping 10% of global carbon emissions.
While it’s important to understand how fashion is produced, transported, and disposed of, it’s equally as significant to start taking the relevant steps to mitigate the dangerous impacts clothing can have. One of these ways is to shop second-hand.
How Fast Fashion Pollutes
Let’s start from the very beginning. Clothes require a combination of different materials to create. These resources come from numerous places, either grown, shaved from an animal, or synthesised from other extractable materials. Harvesting any of these requires fuel, land, and water - all of which are precious, limited resources.
Moving on to the next phase, clothes then need energy and water to produce. Once the basic item has been created, harmful chemicals in the form of synthetic dyes are utilised for aesthetic purposes, which later seep back into our waterways. Then, when the clothing has reached its final form, it’s transported to many different locations before ending up on the shelves. Ships, trucks, and cars are often used for this job and the Earth pays an extremely heavy toll for this as carbon emissions are continuously released into the atmosphere.
Finally, once the clothing item is purchased, worn, and then discarded, it most likely ends up in a landfill. Here, it wastes valuable space and further pollutes the environment. It will remain here for years to come. In fact, most of all clothing ever made still exists today.
Caption: Fast fashion and the clothing produced from the industry pollutes the Earth and uses up vital resources at every step of the production line. More often than not, clothing is made in harmful work environments too.
Credit: Rio Lecatompessy, Unsplash
If you’d like to learn more about the effects of fast fashion, read our article here.
There are myriad benefits to vintage shopping, both for the planet and your wallet. Firstly, and most obviously, you are reducing waste. If there were no demand for already-used clothing items, all would end up in a landfill and take up a large area of space. In addition, when clothes slowly biodegrade, they release microplastics - and we all know how detrimental those are to the planet and animals who call it home. In the same breath, second-hand shopping preserves vital resources. It’s estimated that 600 kilograms of used clothes on the market equates to saving 220 kilograms of carbon emissions, nearly 150 trees, and over 3.5 billion litres of water. Now imagine what we could collectively save if we all made second-hand shopping a priority.
Secondly, when you decide to purchase clothing second-hand, you’re giving that item a new lease on life. Just because someone was finished with the product, doesn’t mean the product itself is just going to disappear. It could end up being your new favourite sweater, dress, or jacket. And this works both ways. If you no longer want an item of clothing, don’t throw it out! You can either sell it off to a second-hand clothing store to continue the cycle or donate it to those in need.
Finally, second-hand clothing is more affordable than brand-spanking-new clothing items. If you turn second-hand shopping into your own trend, you’re guaranteed to save some money. If we continue to purchase clothes that are byproducts of the fast fashion industry, we’re constantly contributing to the increased demand and supply chain, further spurring the rapid production of harmful clothing products. This, in turn, deeply costs both wallets, our planet, and the entire population.
Caption: Second-hand shopping is one of the most effective yet easiest ways to reduce the negative impacts of the fast fashion industry and reduce clothing pollution.
Credit: Samuel Ramos, Unsplash
Additional Ways to Reduce the Impact of Fast Fashion
As we can see, purchasing second-hand clothing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to mitigate the harmful effects of the fast fashion industry. But there are a few more healthy habits we can all adopt today that will aid in the battle to end this pollution:
- Buy Less: We really don’t need that much, and it will save more than you ever expected if you abstain from giving in to those consumer cravings.
- Support local and sustainable brands: Clothes will always be created and produced, so why not increase the demand for clothes made from sustainable only materials? This not only helps the local economy and the environment as a whole but also shifts the reliance from fast fashion to sustainable trends.
- Repair: Instead of tossing out that torn T-shirt, mend it! This will save money and the environment and you can still keep the clothing!
- Donate: With the global population continuously rising, so too is the unemployment and homeless rate. There will always be someone in need. The landfill does not need that item of clothing, but a person does. Don’t toss, DONATE.
- Recycle: Some materials and textiles can be recycled. While this should be a last resort, it’s important to consider recycling before ever throwing away your clothes.
Caption: One way to reduce the emissions and overuse of resources from the fast fashion industry is to simply consume less.
Credits: The Blowup, Unsplash
Eva. (2020, August 19). How Second-Hand Shopping Can Save The Planet. Green with Less. https://greenwithless.com/second-hand-shopping-planet/
How can we reduce our Fashion Environmental Impact — SustainYourStyle. (2014). SustainYourStyle. SustainYourStyle. https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/en/reducing-our-impact
Kellogg, A. K. (2016, April 5). Is it better to buy second hand or new and sustainable? Going Zero Waste. https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/is-it-better-to-buy-second-hand-or-new-and-sustainable/
Vincenti, P. (n.d.). Second-hand clothes are good for the environment and economy | SmartGreen Post | news from the environment. https://www.smartgreenpost.com/2019/10/19/second-hand-clothes-are-good-for-the-environment-and-economy/
Written by: Georgia Carter
The kitchen is one of the most important parts of a home. It’s where we spend hours leaning over the stove, waiting patiently in front of the heating oven, or peering out of the window while washing dishes.
There are many features of a kitchen that can harm the environment. But luckily, there are eco-friendly alternatives for all of these.
Here are some of the best swaps to transform your kitchen into a zero waste space:
1. Plastic Wrap: When we have leftovers, most of us just wrap it up for tomorrow. But what happens to that plastic wrap once it has served its purpose? Instead of contributing to the plastic pollution crisis, why not opt for more reusable options such as glass containers and long-lasting silicone tupperware? That way, you’ll be able to keep your food fresh while never needing to throw anything away.
2. Single Use Bottles: Ditch the store-bought bottled water or cooldrink and purchase a reusable and refillable bottle.
Caption: Opt for a reusable bottle instead of purchasing multiple single-use plastic bottles.
Credit: Bluewater globe, Unsplash
3. Sponges: Scrunchy, soft sponges can make cleaning the dishes easier, but they’re certainly not easy on the environment. In fact, sponges are designed to be tossed after a mere two weeks of use. Instead of creating more waste, switch to compostable or reusable dish scrubbers.
Caption: Dishwashing sponges are supposed to be thrown away every two weeks. To eliminate this waste, swap them out for compostable dish scrubbers.
Credit: Artem Makarov, Unsplash
4. Foil: Aluminium or tin foil can be hazardous to both the planet and the wildlife who call it home. Luckily, there are a few simple, nifty swaps for this item. Instead of foil, why not try beeswax paper? It’s accessible, affordable, and eco-friendly. Alternatively, foil can be recycled by scrunching it up into a tight ball - just make sure you clean it first! Learn about recycling and plastic here.
Caption: Aluminium foil is recyclable. Make sure you thoroughly wash your foil before recycling.
Credit: Teslariu Mihai, Unsplash
5. Paper Towels: While they may be easy and effective, paper towels and the waste they create is an unnecessary burden on the environment. Rather purchase some reusable and washable dish cloths that will perform the same purpose while mitigating the waste.
Caption: Purchase reusable and washable dishcloths and towels instead of paper towels.
Credit: Brain Patrick, Unsplash
6. Food Waste: Did you know that one-third of all food produced annually is thrown away, ending up in a landfill? However, there is an easy fix to this eco issue - composting! Composting is incredibly simple, effective, accessible, and affordable while remaining fun and packed with benefits. Learn how to start composting for beginners here.
Caption: Composting is one of the most effective ways to reduce food waste.
Credit: Gabriel Jimenez, Unsplash
7. Dishwashing: There are multiple disservices dishwashing does for the environment. From the products we use that often get tossed after only a few uses to the waste water we drain back into the environment, dishwashing can actually be detrimental without us even knowing. However, there are a few things we can do at home to mitigate the negative effects. Try swapping that plastic bottled dishwashing liquid for a bar of biodegradable and non-toxic soap. Opt for compostable or reusable dish scrubbers. Make sure you clean all food off your dishes before washing with water. Do not dispose of your oil down the drain - throw it in the rubbish instead. Remember to use as little water as possible. Dishwashers can prove more water efficient, but it’s important to ensure that they are packed to the brim before starting the wash.
8. Cooking: We all cook, and it can either be a joy or a chore. But when it comes to the health and wellbeing of the environment, there are a few thighs we can follow to ensure that our cooking process is as eco-friendly as possible. First, try shopping locally and purchase more organic produce. While cooking, remember to save electricity by turning the oven or stove off just before your food is ready - this saves energy while continuing to cook your food. Make more home cooked meals rather than eating out - this has myriad benefits on the planet and your own health.
9. General Cleaning: Cleaning products do anything but cleaning when it comes to the planet. Overflowing with toxic chemicals that seep back into the environment, they’re harmful, wasteful, and unnecessary. However, making your own cleaning products can be both incredibly easy and affordable. For example, you can create an effective all-purpose cleaning product by mixing together vinegar, baking soda, lemon, water, and even some orange essential oil for a fresher smell.
There are many ways to transform your kitchen into a space that embraces zero waste. While some of these hacks may take a little more time and energy, they’re all worth it in the end and support the wellbeing of the planet.
Zellgg, Kathryn. 10 Swaps for a Zero Waste Kitchen. Going Zero Waste.
Zellgg, Kathryn. Zero Waste Dishwashing. Going Zero Waste.
Zellgg, Kathryn. The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Cleaning. Going Zero Waste.
Written by: Georgia Carter
We may not spend all our time in our bathrooms, but they are certainly essential in our daily lives. However, the bathroom can actually be one of the most unsustainable areas in our households. From plastic dental floss and razors to a profusion of chemical products, this space can be extremely wasteful and toxic to the environment.
Therefore, it’s most important to clean up in the room where you do most of your cleaning, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to transform your bathroom into a zero waste space.
Caption: The bathroom may be where we clean ourselves, but it’s not always clean for the environment. We need to start inviting sustainable solutions into our bathrooms to curate a renewed zero waste space.
Credit: Phil Hearing, Unsplash
Below are the best 12 ways to curate a zero waste and sustainable bathroom:
1. Toothpaste: Starting with the smaller items, toothpaste is on the top of our list. We all use toothpaste, but some brands contain ingredients that are toxic to our waterways, not to mention the plastic waste that ends up in the landfill. Instead of purchasing toothpaste from the convenient store, peruse what else is on offer. I recommend purchasing toothpaste that comes in reusable and refillable glass jars, or getting creative and making your own by following guides you can find on the internet!
Caption: Bamboo toothbrushes are one of the most sustainable solutions to bathroom waste.
Credit: Toa Heftiba, Unsplash
3. Razor: Our shaving tools fall into the same category of the plastic toothbrush - they’re made from plastic, they’re not long-lasting, and they are disastrous to the environment. Next time you need a new razor, purchase a metal one. They last a lifetime and the material can be recycled in time. You will need to buy new blades, so be sure to research how to recycle blades in your country and follow the steps.
Caption: Dental floss may be seemingly invisible, but it’s this fact that makes it deadly. Rather opt for cotton dental floss.
Credit: Oana Cristina, Unsplash
5. Bottles: Shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, you name it - they all come in large plastic bottles. Recycling these containers is better than throwing them away, but we can do better than that. You can purchase every single one of these products in bar form! This eliminates plastic entirely and tends to last longer than gel or liquid form, as well as containing limited to no chemicals or toxins, making them healthier for both the environment and you!
Caption: Purchasing shampoo, conditioner, and face and body wash that come in bar form is one of the easiest ways to reduce bathroom waste.
Credit: Fitnish Media, Unsplash
6. Chemical Products: On that note, let’s talk about chemicals. Many ingredients found in hygiene products are toxic to the environment, and by supporting and using them, we're not only increasing demand for the items themselves but continuously emptying chemicals into our waterways. This water eventually seeps into the environment and infects wildlife, even destroying ecosystems. It’s therefore of the utmost importance that we all begin analysing the ingredients of our products and opt for more sustainable brands. Again, this is better both for the planet and for your own health and wellbeing.
7. Toilet Paper: Did you know that many toilet paper types contain microplastics? No, toilet paper isn't just paper. But some brands are making them better for the environment. Be sure to research sustainable toilet paper brands that are accessible to you and start supporting them instead.
8. Menstrual Hygiene: People with periods, this one's for you. Pads, liners, and tampons are all made up of microplastics, not to mention the hazardous and wasteful plastic packaging they all come in. Luckily, there are more and more sustainable products being introduced to the market. Before stocking up on supplies, research accessible menstrual products you can start purchasing instead, and more often than not, you’ll find that you’ll never need to purchase supplies again. These sustainable products include a reusable and washable pad and menstrual cup.
Caption: A menstrual cup is one of the best and most effective sustainable solutions when it comes to menstrual hygiene.
Credit: Oana Cristina, Unsplash
9. Washing pads: Whether you use cotton pads to wash your make-up off or apply cream, they can be extremely wasteful. Rather switch to reusable and washable make-up pads. This saves you money in the long run while protecting the environment.
10. Water: This is a well-known point but a significant one nonetheless - use less water! Take shorter showers, shallower baths, turn the tap off when washing hands, faces, or brushing teeth, and only flush when you have to. All of these actions seem small, but the impact is grand. Make it a habit and save our precious water resources!
11. Cleaning products: Bathrooms need cleaning, just like ourselves, but most cleaning products have hazardous ingredients. Instead of continuing this dangerous cycle, start purchasing non-toxic and non-chemical products. Another option is to make it yourself! There are many recipes for all natural and homemade cleaning products that are just as effective, cost-efficient, and safe for the environment - many of which contain ingredients you probably already have in the pantry.
12. Plastic Waste: As mentioned before, the bathroom is one of the most wasteful parts of our homes. If you have plastic bottles, razors, toothbrushes, and other plastic waste lying around, start recycling. Most of the plastic packaging that contains hygiene products are recyclable and widely accepted at centres.
If you’d like to learn more about recycling, read our ultimate recycling guide here.
By Georgia Carter
The plastic pollution crisis is a plague to our planet. Today, human waste litters almost every corner of the Earth. From the deepest spaces in the sea to the summits of Mount Everest, evidence of our carelessness is seen everywhere.
While the matter seems almost hopeless, hope is not lost entirely. Many actions can be undertaken to mitigate the harmful effects of our waste - one of which is recycling.
Caption: Human waste is becoming more noticeable - and even more toxic. It’s now of the utmost importance that we make proper waste management a priority.
Credit: Tim Mossholder, Unsplash
What is recycling?
Recycling is the system or process of taking already-used products, such as plastic bottles or containers, and stripping them down to their bare materials in order to reproduce new objects.
Recycling can be an extremely efficient way of managing both our domestic and commercial waste, but it’s important to remember that it is the last order in the familiar phrase, ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.’ Always follow through with the first two actions and turn to recycling as a last resort.
The benefits of recycling
There are myriad advantages to recycling, both on an individual and global level. Not only will you save space in your rubbish bag by reducing your waste, which in turn saves landfill space, but you will also feel better about your contribution to the wellbeing of the environment.
Below are a few of the key benefits of recycling:
Caption: Recycling has numerous benefits, both on an individual and global level.
Credit: James Lee, Unsplash
The recycling process
The system of recycling can be easy or extremely complex depending on the type of material being processed.
As mentioned before, there are two groups of recycling: domestic and commercial. Domestic is considered as common objects and waste materials we deal with in our daily lives, whereas commercial refers to large production companies such as mining and medical waste.
Once the recyclable waste items reach the centre, they are sorted into categories based on their plastic levels. In some cases, products are placed on a converter belt where a magnet attracts all metals and separates them from plastics. Once categorised, the product is stripped down to its bare and raw material form. The leftovers are melted down into remouldable structures, ready to be used again.
While this system seems simple and effective enough, it can prove complicated. Local waste management companies therefore charge high rates for the sorting, stripping, and melting process and, as a result, many of our ‘recycled’ items don’t end up going through the operation.
To shift this common occurrence, we as consumers hold much of the power. We firstly need to reduce our demand for newly-made packaged products and instead increase our global demand for items that come in only recycled packaging.
Caption: One of the most significant ways to encourage recycling is to increase the demand for products that only contain recycled materials. This, in turn, will decrease the recycling rates and bolster the need for recycling worldwide.
Credit: Marcell Viragh, Unsplash
What can be recycled?
You’d be surprised how many items can be recycled. However, the ease of recycling is determined by the materials that make up the product.
For example, plastics come in levels ranging from one to seven, with one being the easiest to recycle. More often than not, a level seven plastic is too complex to recycle or there is no demand for a level seven plastic material and it often gets dumped into a landfill. It’s therefore of the utmost importance that we understand the different levels and separate our recycling into similar labeled groups.
Below is a graphic outlining the various different plastic levels:
NOTE: You can determine the level of plastic an item is by searching for the indented sign, usually located on the base of the product.
If you’d like to learn more about plastic, read our post here.
There are some universally and generally accepted recycling items. However, some recycling centres only accept specific materials. It’s therefore important to check your local recycling deports guidelines before you begin.
Here is a list of generally accepted recyclables:
Rules for recycling at home
Now that we’ve been able to glean a deeper understanding of the recycling process, we can begin unearthing the recycling guidelines for home systems. There are some significant things to keep in mind to ensure your waste management doesn't go to waste itself.
Caption: Always separate your recyclables into categories of similar material. Don’t forget to clean then crush items to ensure your efforts don’t go to waste.
Credit: Nick Fewings, Unsplash
How to recycle at home
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot recycle your goods by tying them up in a plastic bag and trusting that the bag itself will be recycled too. That plastic bag will have to be re-sorted in the recycling port, and more often than not, will still end up in a landfill laying waste to the earth.
Rather, reduce your consumption of plastic bags by purchasing a reusable bag for your shopping. If you do buy a plastic bag, reuse this plastic bag as much as possible before disposing of it.
Pro Tip: Keep your reusable bag in your car or sitting next to your front door so you don’t forget to grab it on your way out.
Plastic bottles are one of the easiest recyclable goods. However, the lid of these bottles are not. Made from polypropylene, the caps melt increasingly faster than the bottles themselves, and when recycled together, often contaminates the plastic bottle and renders it useless for recycling.
Instead, remove the bottle cap and crush the bottle as much as possible. This will not only give you more space in your rubbish bin, saving an extra black bag, but will also aid in the recycling process when handed in.
You can, however, recycle the caps separately, which will be grouped together in the recycling port and managed separately and more efficiently.
Caption: Plastic lids are a different type and level of plastic to their bottle counterparts. ALWAYS remove the lid before recycling the bottle.
Credit: Jonathan Chng, Unsplash
Pro-Tip: Plastic bottles, especially the 1.5 litres and 5 litres, are great for making eco-bricks too. An eco-brick is a plastic bottle filled with clean and dry non-biodegradable waste, like plastic bags, and often waste that can’t be recycled, such as crisp packets and polystyrene. Eco-bricks are used as a building materials, putting the plastic to good use as well as being affordable and aiding in the lack of housing issues around the globe.
Luckily, glass is also one of those fabulous items that can be recycled and made into various other container goods. However, there’s still a certain way to recycle glass.
Always colour code your glass items when recycling. The greens stick with the greens while the clears get a whole separate box to themselves.
Unfortunately, glass derived from mirrors or crystals cannot be recycled, so take care of those items!
Cans, which are made up of aluminium, are 100 percent recyclable. Much like with plastic bottles, compress your cans when you prepare them for recycling.
Metals also include foil and trays – yes, these can be recycled! Just ensure that they’re as clean as possible without residue from oil as risks contaminating all the recycling items being sorted.
Purchasing coffee from a café is great, but the cups are not. Despite seeming to be made entirely of cardboard, these takeaway cups often contain a thin layer of plastic around their centre body to keep the cups waterproof.
While some may be recyclable, we must remember to always reduce before hitting that recycling button.
Another alternative comes in the form of a reusable cup. Many are made of bamboo and can be cleaned and made good as new even after a few uses. These are sold at many coffee shops and often these coffee shops will give you a discount on your coffee when bringing your own cup.
Pro Tip: Keep your reusable cup in your car at all times, in case you forget it at home and have to use a disposable cup when ordering your next drink.
Pro Tip: When ordering a coffee from a take-away cup, ditch the attachable lid. It’s made purely of plastic and you will be able to navigate to your next destination without spilling your entire coffee – trust me, if I can do this, so can you.
Styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene, comes in the form of chip packets and many disposable food containers that are made from multiple layers of polymer materials.
Styrofoam is extremely hard to recycle as the material is flammable and can be contaminated easily.
Some recycling stations have specific drop-off centres that accept styrofoam, but the best bet to save the environment from this devastating material would be to avoid buying products that come in styrofoam packaging altogether.
This may seem daunting, but there are alternative products that use eco-friendly packaging and may change your perspective on mindful consumerism. Examples include but are not limited to MicroGREEN and EarthAware packaging, who use plant-based material. But with more research conducted every day, many more alternatives are being discovered.
Ignitable, toxic, and reactive chemicals sit inside many of the items we use today. Paints, batteries, pesticides, and cleaning products just to name a few. These are incredibly harmful to the natural environment.
Luckily, many of these items can be recycled. It’s a long, complicated process, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
There are many drop-off centres and recycling ports that accept these hazardous leftovers, and the best thing to do is separate them by item. For example, keep only the batteries together while grouping the cleaning products separately.
The other option is - you guessed it - reduce. Try diluting your cleaning agent with water to make it last longer, using less and prolonging your next buy. Next time you need batteries, purchase rechargeable batteries so a one-off use is not even in the question.
Then, there’s always an alternative. Swap out your general cleaners for a more eco-friendly inclined brand.
Pro Tip: Look up online how to make your own cleaning agents! Some ingredients include baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, and your favourite essential oils.
Caption: Hazardous and toxic waste is extremely challenging to recycle, but not impossible. Remember to check if your local recycling centre accepts such products before dropping off your recycling load.
Credit: Roberto Sorin, Unsplash
Food Waste/ Organic Waste
Generally, households pack about 215 kilograms of food scrap and waste a year. That’s an incredible amount of edible products that are simply being thrown with the rest of the garbage. But there is so much you can do with your food waste that can not only help you but also aid in the betterment of the planet.
Sending your food waste off with your trash means it will end up in a landfill, taking up space and releasing the vile methane gas that contaminates the atmosphere. Instead, if you have space, why don’t you start a compost heap? It is one of the easiest, hands-free ways to help save the planet.
To start a compost heap, all you need is a large bin, bucket, or tub placed outside or stored away if kept indoors. This is what you can throw into your compost system:
Greens: Fruit, veg, and coffee grounds are ideal for composting as it enriches the soil.
Browns: Dead leaves and fireplace ash make suitable members of the compost heap.
Papers: Newspapers, cardboard, and regular pieces of paper can be added to the mix.
Leftovers: Teabags and eggshells can be composted with the rest of the ingredients to make up a healthy load of soil for repurposing. DON’T throw in your meat. It will attract pests and take longer to break down. Rather, keep it as organic as you can.
If you’d like to learn more about composting or are looking to begin your own compost heap, read our Ultimate Guide to Composting here.
Pro-Tip: If you don’t have enough room to incorporate a large compost dome, why don’t you take your food waste to a local farmer! They will be thrilled to receive the extra nutrients for their hard-working soil and you’ll be getting rid of your waste in the best possible way.
How to start recycling
You really don’t need much to begin your at-home recycling system. To begin, find a few containers like small bins or crates. Label each according to material, such as level one plastics or tin cans only. As you move through your day, clean your recyclable waste objects, separate them, and store them in the correct bin/container. Once you’ve gathered enough recyclables, take them all to your local and nearest recycling centre! It’s as easy as that!
Now that you’ve gained a deeper understanding on the recycling process and how to start your own system at home, here are the next actions to take:
Enviro Inc, Ultimate Guide to Recycling
By: Georgia Carter
Sustainability is becoming a trend - and it’s a bandwagon we can all easily hop onto. However, it’s not something to take lightly. Sustainability is not just a thought or an action. It’s a complete lifestyle change. It’s taking a little more time to be mindful, to educate ourselves, and to let go of harmful habits.
While this can be a big shift, its benefits are plentiful and guaranteed to help both you and the planet in every way.
With so much information circulating the interwebs, it can be difficult and overwhelming to find a starting point. But worry not, because we’re here to be your helping hand and guiding light in all things sustainable.
In this post, we’ll unearth the simple steps you can take today to live a more sustainable lifestyle tomorrow.
Caption: The first step to a sustainable lifestyle is shifting your mindset to one that makes decisions while considering the wellbeing of the Earth.
Credit: Edwards Howell, Unsplash
Step One: Switching to a sustainable mindset
The very first step to beginning anything starts with changing your mindset. While this seems like the easiest step, it can actually prove the most challenging to some. But if you’re here reading this, you’ve already taken a step in the right direction:the first foot forward on the path to a more sustainable future.
Start by asking yourself some questions. Why do you want to become more sustainable? What are your motivations, goals, and intentions? And finally, what would you like to achieve by implementing sustainable behaviours, actions, and habits into your daily life?
Once you’ve determined the ‘why’, the ‘how’ can almost effortlessly fall into place. It acts as the foundation, the motivation, and fuels the commitment.
Step Two: Analyse your waste
This is a big one. This is the part where you can actually see the waste of your consumer habits. This can be shocking, but it’s the shock factor that encourages and spurs action that turns into long-lasting efforts, effects, and differences.
Look around your house and observe your habits. Do you often purchase single-use plastic products, such as chocolate or coffee, and throw away the plastic and trash after using the product? How much plastic is in your bin at the end of the week? And what, out of all your waste, do you really need? What can you do without in the future?
Don’t feel guilty about anything you find. Detach emotions and simply observe. You’re not a bad person for purchasing anything, especially because the push towards buying things and consistently consuming is ingrained in us from an early age. But because you’re already making moves to change your ways, you’re on your way to a brighter, healthier future and planet.
Making a list of common waste items can help tremendously when it comes to reducing, as well as upcycling and avoiding certain items altogether.
Step Three: Find Alternatives
As I mentioned before, sustainability is becoming a trend. The significance of this is that more and more sustainable products are being released.
Take your list of waste and see if you can find a more sustainable alternative for some or most of those items. For example, I used to purchase any kind of shampoo and throw the bottle away once I’ve used up the product. Now, I only purchase shampoo bars that come in sustainable packaging from a recognised, local sustainability brand. Not only is it more affordable, but it’s better for my hair, our water systems, and the planet as a whole.
There are many such alternative options available out there. A quick search online could be the only thing you need to undertake to start making effective alternative product swaps.
Caption: One way to become more sustainable is to find alternative, more eco-friendly products to swap with your everyday items such as shampoo and conditioner. With sustainability becoming a trend, many more products designed with the environment in mind are making their way to the shelves.
Credit: Svitlana VF, Unsplash
Step Four: Upcycle
Once a week, or every two weeks, have a look at your waste items and see which materials you can turn into something else. A glass bottle can make for an elegant candle holder, and that empty tin can be a rustic plant pot.
This is your chance to get creative and even save some money while mitigating harm on the planet.
If you’d like to gain more inspiration and read more examples of repurposing common waste items, click here.
Caption: Upcycling is one of the best ways to become more
Caption: Upcycling is one of the best ways to become more sustainable. Turn your empty milk carton into a plant pot or change your old toothbrush into a shoe shiner!
Credit: Noah Eleazar, Unsplash
Step Five: Avoidance
Take another peek at your waste. What don’t you need and what can you stop consuming altogether?
I’m a coffee addict, and I used to purchase many coffees from my local cafe. But coffee-on-the-go means take-away cups and more plastic than meets the eye. Now, I either avoid buying coffee altogether and make my own at home, or take my reusable cup with me.
Some items are better avoided altogether to help decrease the supply and demand cycle and, eventually, helping stop the production of that item or use of that harmful material altogether.
Step Six: More Motivation
At this stage, many people can struggle with motivation. Are my efforts even doing anything? Am I wasting time and energy trying to be sustainable when others couldn’t care less and continue with unhealthy habits?
No matter what we do, we will always have doubts. It’s part of being human. But there are two sides to every coin and the beauty of the mind is that you can control it. What you think, you become. So, take a deep breath and remind yourself of the larger ‘why’ behind your choices.
Another action you can take is making a note of how much money you used to spend vs how much money you’re spending while consuming less. More often than not, you’ll find that you’re saving quite a bit - and that can be a huge motivational push.
Step Seven: Shop local and travel less
There are numerous benefits to shopping locally. It aids in the growth of the community, country economy, and gives the environment a chance to breathe easy.
Often, when you begin purchasing from local stores and sticking to local service, the harmful effects of transportation decrease. Not only will products have to be shipped and driven over large distances, but you yourself won’t have to travel far to collect your item.
And why stop there? Why not try to travel less, or switch to alternative modes of transport when you can? Maybe you’ve started working from home and need something from the shop. See if you can walk there, or even cycle. If you need to make a transmute into the city, try taking the bus or carpool with friends and family. Every little bit helps.
If you’d like to learn more about why shopping locally is more sustainable, click here .
Caption: Shopping locally is more sustainable for the planet than you can imagine, while travelling less or changing your mode of transportation from time to time gives the environment a chance to breathe easy.
Credit: Cherie Birkner, Unsplash
Step Eight: Make you own
Here's another incentive to connect to your creative side - see what you can make at home!
This can be anything from organic cleaning products and self hygiene items. For example, I use my coffee grounds to make a body scrub instead of buying an already-made product from the store. You can also make your own natural deodorant using some shea butter, bicarbonate of soda, and essential oils of your choice!
Step Nine: Purchase durable products
We often buy what's most convenient to us. A pack of five disposable razors? That’s easy, right? Well, it’s certainly not easy on the planet.
Instead of having to re-purchase certain items, we can shift our consumer habits and buy more sustainable products. A reusable razor, a metal straw, and a bamboo toothbrush not only last longer, some lasting lifetimes, but are also biodegradable when the time comes to dispose of them. And often, these products can be reused and repurposed once they’re outlived their original purposes.
Caption: Durable products, such as a metal razor or shaver, are incredibly beneficial to the environment. Instead of purchasing numerous plastic, few-time-use razors, opt for a more sustainable one that will last a lifetime.
Credit: Sandi Benedicta, Unsplash
Step Ten: Slowly start upgrading home items
Common household objects, such as taps and lightbulbs, harm the environment in numerous ways. However, in today’s day and age, we still require them to function. So why not make the shift to sustainability when it comes to your home?
Start changing your light bulbs to LED energy-saving bulbs, change your toilet flusher to a water-saving one, and/or purchase a compost bin instead of throwing your food items in the bin.
While some of these changes can prove expensive, they actually save you money in the long-run - not to mention the planet as a whole too!
Step Eleven: Introduce composting and recycling into your daily life
Composting and recycling can be strenuous, depending how neurotic you get, but the benefits are paramount, to both you and the Earth.
Composting is the sustainable disposal of organic waste. Fruit, vegetables, cardboard, coffee grind, and many more items such as these can be tossed into your compost heap. This dramatically decreases the amount of trash and rubbish you throw away, further increasing space in landfills and helping mitigate the emission of harmful methane into the atmosphere. It’s easy to start, super effective, and the end product is a nutrient dense concoction you can use as fertilizer to help your flora flourish!
Recycling is the act of stripping and remoulding plastic into reusable material. Due to the many types of plastics out there, this can be an easy or difficult process. There are therefore a few things you absolutely must do to ensure your plastic is being recycled properly. While this requires effort, it’s unbelievably beneficial to the environment and definitely worth doing
If you’d like to learn more about recycling, read our Ultimate Guide to Plastic and Recycling here, and if you’d like to dig deeper into composting read our Ultimate Guide to Composting here.
Caption: Composting and recycling aren’t only extremely beneficial for the environment, but also for us at home.
Credit: Sigmund, Unsplash
Step Twelve: Start repairing instead of replacing
This step can be challenging as many of us find it tedious to spend money replacing items instead of buying brand new. However, it’s one of the most effective tips.
Are those shoes starting to break at the sole? Are those pants ripping at the seams? Don’t toss them out and re-purchase - just get them repaired! This will not only aid in the upliftment of the local community and help a family, but will also help you save money, give that item another lease on life, and benefit the planet in the long run. It’s a win-win-win situation!
Caption: Download and save these graphics for a smooth and effortless transition into a more sustainable lifestyle.
Credit: Georgia Carter, Ecofoote.
Now that you have some steps to help you guide the way, we wish you luck in starting your new sustainable life and commemorate you on your decision. Everyone, from the animals, plants, planet, and people will thank you for your commitment.
It starts with you, and it starts now. Take control of your actions and reap the rewards in the form of a brighter future and healthier home planet that will continue to provide in abundance for generations to come.
By Georgia Carter
Water - the gift, cause, and fuel for life itself. While it makes up most of the Earth, only 3% of it is freshwater that’s safe enough for human consumption, and only one third of that percentage is accessible.
Today, a harrowing amount of more than one billion people lack access to clean and drinkable fresh water, while over two billion people suffer from a lack of hygiene and proper sanitation.
It’s now estimated that by 2025, two thirds of the world will suffer from lack of fresh, clean, and safe water. That’s right, two thirds. Since our population is rapidly rising, this is an issue we need to tend to immediately.
What is water scarcity?
Water scarcity is the lack of sufficient clean water, whereby people have little to no access to safe water supplies.
Water scarcity has an impact on everything: from the food we eat and the electricity we use to power our homes to the plant and animal life and the planet as a whole. Water is connected to the health and wellbeing of the entire world.
Why is water scarcity a problem?
Water forms the basis and foundation of all things, living and not.
We need water for food, from the very root of growing crops to the act of cooking. We also need water to produce electricity, which is further used to power almost all that we do.
Caption: Water is one of the most, if not the most, precious resource we have - we require water for almost everything we do, yet we don’t take proper care of it.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
We require water for our hygiene and sanitation, which protects us from numerous diseases. In the bigger picture, water creates jobs, helps circulate the economy, and bolsters the quality of life as a whole.
As you can see, everything relies on clean, healthy, accessible water.
But today, scarcity is an ongoing problem. Over 2.4 billion people have inadequate sanitation, and many more are exposed to a wide range of harmful and even fatal diseases, such as cholera or water-borne diarrhea.
An estimated two million people pass away every single year from such diseases, with the majority being children. In another perspective, that equates to a child dying every 2 minutes from a lack of clean, safe water.
A lack of clean water also hampers education, especially among girls. Menstrual cycles require water to be adequately managed, and where there is none, people suffer. One out of four girls miss school as a result of water scarcity, making the achievement of their full potential all the more difficult, and alleviating poverty nearly impossible as a result. That’s not to mention the devastation of hunger and starvation that a lack of water causes.
Without this understructure of water, everything collapses. The wheels of life break down, and the cycle of struggle keeps spinning.
Caption: Water scarcity harms every life form. We need to begin adopting sustainable solutions to lack of water and make water conservation a priority.
Credit: Matthew Feeny, Unsplash
Economic water scarcity is linked to the same issue - where there are not enough resources or funds to supply clean water. Universal access to water and sanitation would produce about $18.5 billion in benefits, most of this resulting from a prevention of water-related deaths.
Instead, as the problem persists, we lose around $260 billion globally from water scarcity.
But it’s not only humans who suffer - both animal and plant life are impacted by water scarcity too. Water is home to myriad plant and animal life forms, providing refuge, hydration, and nutrients for a wealth of species. Stressed water systems harm biodiversity, alter ideal living conditions for flora and fauna, and ultimately cause an increasing loss of life.
The higher the demand for water, the more supply is required. Coupled with inadequate water management, as well as unsustainable practices in many industries, this has caused the drying up of water resources and therefore the homes of millions of plant and animal populations. Today, 64% of the world's wetlands have disappeared, and this causes more problems than you can imagine.
Caption: Wetlands are among the richest and most diverse biomes on the planet, but since 1990, we’ve destroyed 64% of the global wetlands.
Credit: Usug, Unsplash
If you’d like to learn more about the importance of Wetlands, click here.
What causes water scarcity?
Pollution: This is one of the leading causes of unclean water. Water is polluted by toxic substances and harmful chemicals that derive from human trash. Another form is water waste - the sewage, pesticides and fertilizers that leak into precious water systems.
Agriculture: Unsustainable farming practices, which make up the bulk of our agricultural systems, use around 70% of the world’s fresh water to produce the high demand of crops.
Population Growth: As mentioned previously, when the human population grows, so does the demand for water, often that which cannot be met.
Climate Change: An increase in global temperature causes dramatic shifts in weather patterns, spurring natural disasters of all kinds which hamper water accessibility.
Caption: Agriculture is the leading industry in both water usage and water waste disposal. It’s of the utmost importance that we seek and implement more sustainable farming practices across the globe.
Credit: Red Zeppelin, Unsplash
Sustainable methods to combat water scarcity
While these actions and changes demand global and societal shifts, there are a few things we as individuals can do at home to combat the existing water scarcity issue and prevent further harm.
These actions include:
If you’d like to learn more ways to conserve water, read our blog post here.
Caption: Save our water - it’s the power and force behind all life on Earth.
Credit: Jack Anstey, Unsplash
By Georgia Carter
Water forms the basis for all life. Every single living organism requires it to exist. But it’s not just to replenish and nourish ourselves. Water performs myriad other benefits that are necessary for our existence today.
Caption: Water is essential to all life on Earth.
However, we’re wrecking our water. Currently, we have less than 1% of our fresh water reserves available, and our resource is fast becoming finite. Pollution, agricultural run-offs, wastewater, and an increase in infrastructure is ruining our precious, vital liquid material.
Source: The Conversation
But to be able to first mitigate the harm caused to our waters and the beings who both use it and inhabit it, we need to understand how our water systems actually work.
How global water systems work
Water networks have been around for millenia, with the earliest known form of controlling water flow dating back to 2500 BC in China. But the most famous water systems in the world are still those constructed and utilised in 312 BE by the Roman Empire, some of which are still in use today.
Caption: One of the aqueducts constructed in the Ancient Roman era.
Today, there are four stages to our waterways: Collection; Treatment; Storage; Distribution.
Collection: We receive most of our drinking and amenity water from groundwater, water entombed just below the Earth’s surface. To retrieve this water, specialised pumps charged by fossil fuels are needed which causes multiple harms on the environment.
Another form of water we use is surface water, such as rivers and lakes. While these are seemingly everflowing, we cannot solely rely on them. Humans have therefore created their own versions in the form of man made dams, reservoirs, and artificial lakes.
However, these human-made facilities can be destructive to the surrounding ecosystems due to deforestation to make space, reverting the flow of water which was once a home to a diversity of life, and pollution from humans who work in the area.
We still need to seek out sustainable solutions for collecting water.
Treatment: Natural water often contains materials that can be harmful for human consumption. These include dust and soil particles, microbes, and decaying matter. While there are various different forms of treatment, two are the most prominent.
Distribution: It’s a silent miracle that humans have crafted a way to deliver water all across the world. Each city, town, and living space has a network of waterways locked beneath the ground.
Pipelines snake through the depths of our homes, providing us with seemingly endless liquid to use as we please. Water travels through these pipelines with the help of pumps to power movement, transferring water from storage tanks to home taps.
Caption: Our water is pumped to our homes via a network of pipelines entombed below the ground.
Credit: Denny Muller, Unsplash
But this method, while remaining efficient and effective, can be damaging to the environment. The materials required to produce the piping rely on fossil fuels for their creation, the pumps needed to forcefully move the water depend on electricity and heavy machinery, and space is necessary to install the pipes themselves.
While there may not be viable sustainable solutions to tackle these problems at the moment, it’s important for us to appreciate the water we receive in our homes every single day, and even more vital to protect the source.
How do humans pollute water?
An estimated 80% of our waste water, water polluted with chemicals, toxins, and human waste, is dumped back into the environment. Unclean and unsafe water is killing us all - wild and marine, plant, and human life. In fact, in 2015, it’s believed that around 1.8 million people passed away due to contaminated water consumption.
Not only are we destroying our health and the wellbeing of other living organisms, but also entire ecosystems. Today, nearly half of the United States of America’s rivers and streams have been harvested, and one third of all lakes have rapidly decreased in size and water quantity as well as being too polluted for humans to even swim in.
Below are a few ways we pollute our invaluable water:
Caption: Agricultural practices are one of the leading water pollutants.
Credit: Ibadah Mimpi, Unsplash
There is a chain effect that occurs in the natural world, and by harming one of the significant cogs in the wheel of life harms them all.
For example, if new materials such as microplastics are introduced into an ecosystem, suffocation occurs. This is when algae consumes the new material and grows exponentially. Algae stores require large amounts of oxygen and receive their quantities from the water, lessening the total oxygen in the water for other species, who can then drown. This leads to the loss of food for more predator species, who also perish due to starvation. Soon, the entire body of water will hold little to no life.
Sustainable ways to meet the growing demand of water
We pollute our waterways at almost every stage of the system. While we can all do our part at home to protect and keep our water clean for its return to the Earth, we need to start thinking about sustainable solutions for the root of the process.
Rainwater collection is among the most eco-friendly ways to collect water. It’s both inexpensive and accessible, and helps communities manage their own water and therefore livelihoods. However, collecting rainwater can take an extended amount of time and is not always available.
Another method is to divert surface water, leading it rather into the ground to prevent evaporation. This also improves the overall quality of the water.
Finally, desalination is fast becoming a sustainable method. The process of transforming salty sea water into clean, drinking water is useful as it supplies an abundance of water, but still relies on fossil fuels to power. Hopefully in the future, we will be able to utilise this process in a more sustainable way.
Water is the very essence of life, and it powers most of what we do on a daily basis. We need to protect this precious life giving force - and we need to begin today.
Caption: A cascading oasis in South Africa. Less than 1% of the globe's water sources are fresh and fit for human consumption.
Credit: Georgia Carter, Mindful Meanderer
By Georgia Carter
In Vietnam, Thailand, and India, many local grocery stores have adopted a new form of affordable, accessible, and eco-friendly packaging all in one - banana leaves.
Caption: Local grocery stores in Vietnam have switched to banana leaves for eco-friendly packaging.
Source: Propak Vietnam
For over 50 years, we’ve become reliant on single-use plastic to contain and store our products. In grocery shops that pepper the entire globe, plastic is utilised as the main source of packaging. From styrofoam and silicone to thin plastic wrapping and thick plastic containers, this malleable material finds its way into and onto nearly everything we purchase and consume.
But now, more than ever, we need to reshape the way we sell products. There are many environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastic packaging. Some countries are already adopting more sustainable solutions. It’s time to highlight these necessary swaps and follow their lead.
Single-use plastic in the form of packaging makes up around 23% of all waste found in landfills, not to mention the enormous amount of litter and pollution that lays waste to our natural environments. This type of waste often goes straight in the bin, never given a second thought. But this mentality is what’s wreaking havoc. It’s not only negatively affecting our Earth but also our health as many forms of plastic containcontains harmful chemicals.
Caption: We rely heavily on plastic for food packaging.
Source: Mak, Unsplash
If you’d like to know how to manage your plastic waste properly, you can read our Ultimate Recycling Guide or peruse the 15 Ways to Reuse Common Waste Objects.
Sustainable Packaging Solutions
There are many eco-alternatives to plastic packaging that will benefit you as the consumer and the planet as a whole. Below are six examples of green packaging:
1. Mushrooms: Mushroom roots, called mycelium, are fused to create a moldable, cheap, and sustainable packaging alternative that can biodegrade once used.
Caption: Mushrooms make an effective and healthy eco-alternative for packaging.
Source: Presetbase, Unsplash
2. Seaweed: Agar, a gelatinous substance found in both seaweed and algae, can be used for both food packaging and as an eco-friendly alternative to gelatin.
Caption: Kelp and seaweed can be used as sustainable packaging.
Source: Ben Wicks, Unsplash
3. Recycled Cardboard and Paper: Why create new packaging when you can just reuse the old? It’s extremely affordable, efficient, and saves the environment.
4. Recycled Plastic: Some things, unfortunately, require extremely sturdy materials to make sufficient packaging. But instead of sculpting a whole new container of plastic, we can utilise what we already have by recycling and reusing plastic.
5. Organic Fibres: Hemp, recycled cotton, tapioca, and palm leaves make up organic fibres that can be harnessed and manipulated into sustainable packaging. All of these materials are compostable and will return to the Earth after use.
Caption: Hemp is one of the best eco-alternatives when it comes to packaging.
Source: Matthew Brodeur, Unsplash
6. Bamboo: Bamboo is cheap, easy to grow, and thrives in abundance. Using bamboo leaves as an alternative to plastic packaging is one of the best sustainable solutions around. It’s already being implemented in various countries with incredible results.
Caption: Bamboo can be used as a sustainable form of packaging and storage containers, among other things.
Source: Zoo Monkey, Unsplash
While sustainable solutions to single-use plastics and harmful packaging are on the rise, many still support and rely on plastic packaging. It’s time to release this dependency and start directing our consumerism habits towards companies that use sustainable packaging.
For the Earth and ourselves, making this simple switch could make an essential difference in saving lives and the planet as a whole.
EcoFoote's Sustainable Packaging Solution (Recycled corrugated cardboard)
Written By: Georgia Carter
Exploring the world is a dream many of us hold. We have the whole world practically at our fingertips, and we’re longing to reach the extended hand of adventure and welcome its embrace. But travelling can take a hefty toll on the environment.
From plane rides to single-use plastics, tourism can be littered in environmental damage. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. While we will still be taking planes to reach our desired destination, there are various habits and behaviours we can adopt to mitigate the dangerous impact travelling can have.
Caption: While travelling is a lifeforce for most of us, the negative effects of certain actions harms the very environment we seek to immerse ourselves in.
Credit: Niklas Weiss, Unsplash
What is sustainable travel and ecotourism?Sustainable travel can be simply defined as making simple choices to lessen your environmental impact. It's finding ways where travel and tourism can be maintained without harming natural and cultural environments.
Ecotourism is the encouragement of environmental preservation, where wanders and travel-related businesses and services aim to minimise the negative impacts of tourism and instead adopt healthier standards of sustainability within the tourism trade.
Modes of transport and their carbon emissionsUnfortunately, travelling requires various modes of transport - and transportation contributes to one fifth of the global carbon emission. While the world will continue to rely on transportation, and until we glean significant sustainable evolution in the field, we all need to do our best to travel mindfully.
Caption: Planes are among the worst forms of transportation in terms of carbon offset.
Credit: Ken Yam, Unsplash
Below are the different carbon offsets produced by each mode of transport:
How to lessen your carbon emissions when travellingWhen it comes to your personal carbon offset in terms of transportation, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your emissions.
Below is a list of 5 actions you can implement when travelling that will help decrease your carbon offset:
Caption: Riding a bike is one of the most eco-friendly modes of transport, and it helps you better witness, immerse, and understand the new destination.
Credit: Netbike, Unsplash
What is eco-accommodation?24% of all carbon dioxide generated from tourism comes from accommodation. This transpires through the overuse of water, electricity, and plastic.
Eco accommodation refers to a place holding a strong commitment to mitigate harmful practices on the environment. It’s an airbnb that runs off solar power, a bed and breakfast that uses homegrown, organic produce, and a hotel that encourages recycling.
Caption: Eco accommodation is defined as a space that’s dedicated to maintaining the health of the environment.
Credit: Jared Rice, Unsplash
Here are a few ways you can check if your chosen accommodation is an eco-friendly option:
An estimated 40% of all carbon emissions by 2050 will be caused by tourism. While travelling is almost essential to many of us, it’s important to remain mindful of your actions and shift your focus on maintaining a sustainable lifestyle even while abroad.
12 tips for environmentally friendly travel
Caption: Camping is by far one of the best and most thrilling ways to experience a new destination. It’s also the most affordable and healthiest form of accommodation for the environment.
Credit: Pars Sahin, Unsplash
By Georgia Carter
The concrete jungle is where most of us dwell. In the confines of cities, between the margins of towering buildings and congested streets, many of us find ourselves exploring the man-made and inorganic realms of life.
Over half of the world’s human population lives in cities. While society deems this a normality, it’s almost against our natural ways to be so disconnected from the natural environments that surround us.
Caption: Over half of the entire globe’s human population inhabits cities.
Connecting, immersing, and simply being around nature has myriad benefits. From physical and health aspects to mental and spiritual impacts, nature not only nurtures us but helps us thrive.
In fact, nature is ESSENTIAL to our existence.
The basic and bare necessities we require to simply survive all come from nature. We retrieve food from the Earth, water from the streams, and oxygen from the trees. Without these three vital components, life would not exist. Nature curates the trifecta of survival.
Caption: The Earth provides us with a seemingly unlimited supply of food and soil from which we can grow our own.
Source: Tania Malrechauf, Unsplash
Nature forms the foundation of our society. Agriculture, consumerism, materials, energy - everything we need for our machine of societal existence to continue turning its cogs heavily relies on the natural environments surrounding us and what these verdant landscapes provide in abundance.
We need soil to grow our crops, we need bees to pollinate plants and create a haven of diversity, and we need water to nourish not only the land but our very cells that craft the essence of our physical being.
Caption: A bee seeks hungrily for some sweet nectar. Bees are among the world’s most significant pollinators.
Source: Georgia Carter, Mindful Meanderer
Venturing into nature, whether on an extended hike, taking a day trip to the park, or simply rooting your feet into your garden ground, is vital in creating a healthier lifestyle.
In young children, nature is another parent. It teaches without words, revives and encourages curiosity, and embraces each and every unique quality found within oneself. Children who spend time in nature tend to experience a healthier development, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and mentally.
Caption: The developmental growth of children is accelerated when they spend time outdoors, connecting with and learning from nature.
Source: Crema Joe, Unsplash
In terms of the chemical impacts nature has on our bodies, the benefits are paramount. Nature improves all five senses, reduces blood pressure, eases the pains of long-term illnesses, and improves one’s memory span. A connection to the Earth and spending time outdoors vastly improves one’s quality of life, provides cleaner air, reduces obesity, and alleviates mental fatigue.
While physical health allows us to flourish in the physical realm, mental health is just as important in helping us shine throughout our human experience. And, of course, nature bolsters our mental health in a number of ways too.
Wandering in a forest or taking a leisurely stroll on the beach reduces stress levels and invites peace, calm, clarity, and tranquility. Nature acts as a vehicle of inspiration, further influencing our actions, behaviour, and cognitive pathways for the better.
Caption: Wandering through the woods helps alleviate stress and improves mental health.
Source: Lukasz Szmigiel, Unsplash
In fact, nature is the greatest motivator, helping sculpt cultures, identities, and ways of being. It increases productivity, acts as a muse for all art forms, and connects people to the essence of their existence.
Nature has a profound effect on one’s mental state - so much so that hospital patients who have a view of nature heal 30% faster than those who don’t. Simply witnessing nature first hand has exponential positive effects on one’s mental disposition, paving the paths of success in every field of life.
Belonging - that is what a connection with nature is all about. We are all from the Earth, we all call this planet our sole home and lifegiver. We are actually just the universe experiencing itself. And since we are all one, all connected on the most basic of levels and existence, we feel right at home when we’re in the welcoming grasp of nature.
A connection with nature is a reconnection with our core. When immersing ourselves into a natural environment, we invite the intention of not only going within, but zooming out. We’re able to reflect on our lives and life as a whole, just like peering into a river and seeing not only our reflections, but what lies beneath the surface - a powerful force of something unknown but innate.
We as humans are constantly searching for the answers to questions we might not even be able to formulate. What are we doing here? What is reality? What is my purpose? While we don’t have these answers, and while we may never retrieve them, nature is the unspoken truth, the starting and ending point, the cycle of life incarnate.
However, nature is free and we, therefore, overexploit it. It gives to us because we are nature’s children - an extension of itself. It’s time we learned to appreciate it and help it thrive alongside our human evolution and progress.
Caption: Spending quality time in and exploring nature helps develop a healthy relationship to the world and existence itself.
Source: Source: Georgia Carter, Mindful Meanderer
Piling Up the Proper Way to Compost: What Composting is, Why it’s Important, and How to Compost Properly
Food waste harms everything. From the resources discarded in the production stage and the transportation used to move the produce to the unnecessary area taken up in landfills and the hungry people on the street wishing they had a tiny morsel, the disregard of edible items is causing damage to both the planet and humans - and it’s only getting worse.
But there are many sustainable solutions to this wasteful plight, one being composting. This simple yet effective practice can be done by almost anyone and requires little effort. In fact, it’s so beneficial in myriad ways that the process is enjoyable.
Caption: An autumn compost heap consists of many leaves.
Source: Annie Spratt, Unsplash
What is composting?
Composting is the process of decomposing organic materials that create simple organic compounds filled with nutrients once broken down. The result is a rich, healthy fertiliser that can be used on your plants.
The benefits of composting
Food scraps make up 30% of the garbage we throw away. Most of this ends up in landfills, not only taking up space but emitting harmful methane.
Composting tackles this problem in many ways while also creating additional benefits such as:
- The encouragement of healthy bacteria and fungi.
- Lowers carbon footprints.
- Enriches soil.
- Suppresses plant disease.
- Makes a natural fertiliser that saves you money.
- Reduces methane emissions.
Caption: A compost heap is made up of brown and green organic materials.
Compostable vs Biodegradable
Not all things are compostable, and what can go into your compost must not be mistaken as a biodegradable object.
Compostable means that the item breaks down into non-toxic components, whereas biodegradable refers to breaking down something into smaller pieces.
Eventually, compostable items will completely disappear and return to the Earth within a matter of weeks. Biodegradable objects may take decades or even centuries to vanish.
The Basics: What you need to start composting
Honestly, you don’t need much at all to start your compost heap.
Here are the bare basics and essentials:
1) Some space. This can either be outside in your garden, balcony, or even a little corner in your kitchen.
2) A tub, bucket, or bin. If you’re composting outdoors, make sure your container does not have a bottom or has drilled holes in the bottom. (If you’re opting for the indoor small compost bin, I recommend using a clay bowl)
3) Some organic, compostable produce made up of green and brown material (this is explained later in the article.)
Caption: All you need is some space and a container to start your compost heap.
Source: Edward Howell, Unsplash
What can you compost?
A healthy compost consists of one part carbon, referred to as dry brown materials such as cardboard; and one part nitrogen, which is called the green materials. These are your coffee grounds and organic matter. Finally, the last ingredient to the nutrient-rich soup is moisture, which can be provided with some water. You’ll need to assess your compost heap regularly to make sure it doesn’t have too much liquid but isn’t too dry either.
So, all in all, you have your browns, your greens, and your moisture.
Below is a list of things you can chuck into your compost heap:
- Fruits and vegetables (raw, uncooked)
- Coffee grounds (extremely healthy, but don’t throw in too much as you don’t want your heap to be nitrogen focused)
- Teabags (with any staples removed)
- Newspaper (remember to shred it first)
- Cardboard/paper (again, cut it up into bite-sized bits)
- Woodchips/ sticks
- Hair/ fur
Caption: Make sure your compost heap has equal parts of brown and green ingredients.
How to make a compost heap
First, seek out a shady spot in your garden or a cosy corner in your kitchen. Then start your heap by adding in equal parts of brown and green materials. Always cut up your larger chunks of produce - it will accelerate the process.
Moisten your dry materials with some water as you proceed. Once a pile is established, mix the green waste into the bottom half of the pile. Remember to stir your compost every one-two weeks.
When the bottom half of your compost heap is a rich, dark brown, it’s ready! Apply the compost to your plants and, if you don’t have many plants, head on over to your local park or communal garden and help out the foliage by applying your own compost - teamwork!
It can take anything from two months to two years for your compost heap to be ready, as it all depends on your size, components, and how you take care of it during the process.
Caption: Your compost is ready when it’s a rich, dark colour. This can take two months or more to reach.
Source: Heather Ford, Unsplash
What not to do when composting: Mistakes to avoid
There are a few common things people do when attending to their compost heap that will destroy it. Here are a few things to avoid in order to maintain the health of your compost heap:
- No meat as it attracts pests and creates a terrible smell. It also messes with the pH of the heap itself.
- No cooked ingredients.
- No dairy
- No diseased plants as the disease might survive and be carried onto your other plants when applying the compost.
- No coal. It’s toxic.
- No fat/ grease/ oil/ lard.
Frequently asked questions and answers.
Do I need a bin to make compost?
Caption: Compost is highly nutritious for your plants!
Source: Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash
By: Georgia Carter
By: Georgia Carter
It’s estimated that 1.3 billions tons of food are wasted worldwide - every single year. Not only is that one-third of all the food produced annually, but it’s also enough to feed 815 million hungry people four times over.
Food waste is a global problem. Behind the illuminated shelves of products displayed in grocery shops, the environment suffers in innumerable ways. From the agricultural practices and transportation of produce to consumer habits and unreliable labels, desperately required food is thrown out without a second thought.
Caption: Edible fruit and vegetables are thrown out purely because of their looks, maintaining the incredibly high standards of grocery shops and consumers.
Credit: Ja Ma, Unsplash
What is food waste?
Food waste is food fit for human consumption that has been discarded. This is due to numerous factors, from farm to table, and abuses important resources along the way.
The process of food waste
Produce is lost even before it leaves the farm. Due to the incredible high aesthetic standards both retailers and consumers have, many perfectly safe, healthy, and edible products are tossed simply because of their looks.
Caption: Farmers harvesting crops. Most edible produce doesn’t even leave the farm due to numerous factors.
Credit: Tim Mossholder, Unsplash
An immense amount of farming land and water is used to grow these foods, not to mention the fossil-fuel technology it takes to harvest and process crops. In developing countries, farms lack the required infrastructure to procure and store food, such as reliable refrigerating. This leads to more tossed food that could have been perfectly fit for consumption.
Caption: Farming trucks and tractors are required to harvest crops, but use an immense amount of fossil fuels to work.
Credit: Richard Bell, Unsplash
Fast forward to the grocery stores. Decades of customer demands and habits have sculpted an unhealthy way of looking at food. Supermarkets, therefore, refuse to stock produce that appears ‘old’, even if the food item is perfectly safe for consumption.
Caption: Grocery stores have unbelievably high aesthetic standards of food, which consumers have adopted and now expect.
Credit: Thomas Le, Unsplash
Customers also expect their local shops to be stocked to the brim and spoiled for choice. To supply this demand, stores stuff their shelves, leaving the background stock to slowly expire while never receiving a second glance.
Labels also play a big part in food waste. ‘Best Before’ and ‘sell by’ dates are not accurate - they’re a farmer’s assumption. But because we’re prone to handing over our unyielding trust to these labels, we tend to throw away an abundance of edible produce simply because the label doesn’t permit it so.
Finally, enter the restaurant. Many restaurants abide by a high standard, which is understandable, but many also follow this as a ‘no leftovers allowed’ policy. Tons of edible food is discarded just because it’s seen as unwanted when these items could go to feeding the hungry.
Caption: One-third of all produced food is wasted every year.
Credit: Joshua Hoehne, Unsplash
The environmental impact of food waste
When food is abandoned, it’s never just the product itself that’s discarded. It’s also the litres of water required to make that item, the land it needs to grow, and the fuel it took to both harvest and transport. All are generally highly unsustainable practices and cost the earth as much as it does the farmer.
The human population is expected to explode up to 9.8 billion people by 2050. If we don’t change the way we think about food, there will be tons more food waste that have used an immeasurable amount of finite resources to create. And there will still be starving people peppering the world.
Caption: Food waste also relates to the land, water, and energy resources that have been misspent.
Credit: Tomas Hertogh, Unsplash
Our relationship with food needs to change. Our agricultural practices need to shift to a more sustainable way. And this needs to happen now.
Sustainable solutions to food waste
Globally, there are a few things that need to be done. First, developing countries need to receive better training and education on the matter, as well as improved technology to help them better reap the rewards and fruits of their labour - literally.
Secondly, the technology required to plant, grow, sustain, harvest, and process crops need to shift from a dependency on fossil fuels to a reliance on renewable energy.
Thirdly, it’s vital that we as consumers transform both the way we perceive products and how we shop.
Finally, all produce that is essentially on its way to waste needs to change its directory and be donated instead of tossed. Simple as that!
Food waste is a rising and persistent issue across the globe. But even you as an individual have the power to change the trajectory of this issue. Be mindful, consume with awareness, and donate your unwanted food.
By Georgia Carter
Technology is always evolving. With increased awareness of the environment and the wellbeing of the planet, innovation is taking the lead in green.
Revisiting and reimagining existing everyday products is happening as we speak - one such invention is the car. Our humble vehicles take us from point A to point B, and while some of us don’t give much thought to the fuel and emissions our motors emit, they still come at a cost to our Earth. Luckily, more eco-friendly transport options are joining the fast lane.
Caption: Millions of cars shroud the city streets, emitting tons of harmful chemicals and contributing to air pollution.
Credits: Conor Williams, Unsplash
Electric cars are already here, and they’re only getting better as we evolve. But first, what exactly are electric cars, how do they work, and are they considered green transportation?
What electric cars are and how they work?
Electric cars are vehicles powered by electricity rather than diesel or gasoline. Some special cars are even fuelled by hydrogen from fuel cells that transform the chemical into electricity. Generally, electric cars are cleaner in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution as they harbour no exhaust.
Caption: A painted sign signalling a charging port for electric cars.
Credit: Michael Marais, Unsplash
The electric car was first conceived in 1830 when inventor Robert Anderson attempted to build one with non-rechargeable cells. While that model never took off, novel designs and feats in engineering ensure the potential future of eco-friendly transport today.
There are two types of electric cars. The first relies on plug-ins or charging ports to fuel them up, while the second is an auto-charge, requiring fuel that automatically charges the battery when not being used - these are Hybrid vehicles.
Examples of these cars include the Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Prius, and, of course, the renowned Tesla additions.
Caption: A sleek Tesla electric car design.
Credit: Tech Nick, Unsplash
Statistics of fuel-dependent cars
Steel, glass, plastic, rubber, battery acid - these are a few of the many materials it takes to make a car. Each item has already forgone the production phases that each cost the earth. Now, a profusion of already-harming products crafts your motor. Even before hitting the road, cars cause chaos to the Earth’s wellbeing.
Caption: A car workstation is filled to the brim with harmful waste products that often end in landfills.
Credits: Egor Vikhrev, Unsplash.
However, it’s the driving of the car that creates the most damage. Greenhouse gasses are constantly emitted while the car uses litres of petrol and gasoline to manoeuvre. The very extraction of petroleum from the Earth is already devastating enough, both short and long-term - and the demand is only increasing.
Fortunately, our society is slowly shifting to a more sustainable future.
Energy sources and environmental impact
Electric cars are paving the highways to the future, but how eco-friendly are they right now?
An already produced and purchased electric car is currently less dependent on fossil fuels as it requires no petrol. Since there is no exhaust, between 17 and 30% fewer emissions are being released into an already hampered atmosphere.
Electric cars are manufactured using more recyclable and reusable materials, ensuring not every piece is simply thrown away after one life span. Furthermore, electric cars need lower maintenance, saving more resources and money.
In essence, an electric car is better for the environment in terms of air pollution, more recyclable, and relies less on fossil fuels. That sounds like the perfect option, right? While they’re more eco-friendly than your average car, there are still some vital setbacks that need to be addressed before labelling these cars as the ultimate solution to transportation.
An electric car requires between 9 and 13 hours to charge, and they need electricity to power up. This electricity often comes from the city’s electric grid, which utilises...fossil fuels. This creates yet another closed circuit of resources that harm the environment further. Hybrids rely on petrol to charge the battery anyway, so while they’re more fuel-efficient, they still depend on it.
Caption: An electric car charging station.
Credits: Ernest Ojeh, Unsplash
But even before they need charging, the actual production of electric cars creates huge amounts of waste. These cars rely on Lithium-ion batteries to operate, which often have a short lifespan. Once dead, it’s extremely difficult to reuse these batteries, and the disposal of such batteries often isn’t performed with caution.
In addition, electric cars use more emissions to create than a normal car. In fact, more than one-third of the car’s lifetime-emitted CO2 is made during the production phases.
There are two sides to every coin, and there’s no difference when it comes to electric cars. They’re far superior and more eco-friendly than their fossil-fueled counterparts but more harmful in other aspects. Luckily, this is fast improving with time and the scientific and technological advancements it brings. These innovative changes to transportation are already at our doorstep, or shall I say garage.
We’ve all heard of Elon Musk's brainchild, Tesla. This company is at the zenith of innovation and engineering. And now, they’re summiting the peak of electric cars.
Caption: The Tesla Logo.
Credits: Presilla Du Preeze, Unsplash
The design and technology harnessed for Tesla cars are unparalleled. Each motor uses significantly fewer parts than any other car, resulting in decreased production levels and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the company is incredibly switched on when it comes to saving the environment. Tesla’s mission statement is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesla cars have their unique charging ports independent of the electrical grid, relying on and charging solely off solar power. This method has saved over 75 million gallons of gasoline. “We are focused on creating a complete power and transportation ecosystem from solar generation and energy storage to all-electric vehicles,” their impact report says.
Caption: A Tesla charging station. Each charging station is off the grid and supplied with solar energy.
Credits: Torbjorn Sandbak, Unsplash
Tesla tracks their emissions at every stage, from manufacturing and warehouse use to retail and charging; they’ve thought about it all. Their concern for a sustainable future is even apparent in small details, such as the lights in the car being LED and the paint used is eco-friendly. Tesla’s ultimate goal is to power all transportation using 100% renewable energy, and it looks like their dream will soon become our reality.
Cars will always be around. Their invention has saved time and become one of the world’s largest dependencies. Now more than ever, we need to rethink the transportation world to mitigate the harm we’ve already created.
Electric cars are driving sustainable solutions. But - although we’re not quite there yet - with the rise of Tesla a light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, and the rugged road we’ve been following can take a sharp turn for the better.
There are many questions that still lack efficient answers, like how will developing countries receive charging ports and how will we tackle the grand challenge of waste management. Still, we can conclude - the future is electric.
By Georgia Carter
Electricity pulsates through the veins of our city, entombed below our streets and electrifying our planet’s health.
Electricity made from fossil fuels like coal is among the most harmful means of pollution and one of the leading causes of climate change. To shift this harrowing direction, we need to be more mindful of how we use electricity - or, more importantly, how we can use less.
Electricity pillars line the landscape as they pump power into homes from miles away.
Matthew Henry, Unsplash
What is electricity?
The most common source of electricity is made using coal. Coal is mined, a destructive activity to both the earth and animals, and then ground down into a fine powder. It is then boiled down and burned at a high temperature, producing tons of air pollution. The heat and gasses derived from this process are further turned into steam that passes through a turbine with thousands of blades. A generator connected to one of these turbines contains a coil that manifests a strong magnetic field when rotated, giving us electricity.
A power station pollutes the air and natural surroundings while producing electricity.
Roya Ann Miller, Unsplash
The final product is sent on a long journey through electrical circuits, ending up in our homes.
However, the burning of these fossil fuels released an incomprehensible amount of carbon dioxide into an already fragile atmosphere. Every. Single. Day. In fact, in 2019, the human world used over 13.9 billion tons of oil to generate electricity. And it’s only getting worse as the population continues to increase.
Watching the world light up from space - the amount of electricity we use is incomprehensible.
Other forms of electricity production - The sustainable solutions
Solar is the most commonly understood and used form of sustainable energy. Through photovoltaic solar panels, the sun rays are converted into energy and emit readily usable electricity. The power supply comes from an inexhaustible energy source - the sun. While this is far better than the notorious fossil fuel coal, crafting and installing solar panels is still harmful to the environment.
Solar panels soak up the sun’s rays and convert them into usable energy.
Thomas Coker, Unsplash
Harnessing wind for power is a centuries-old technique. However, with the rise of technology and science, we’re now able to better collect and utilise the wind for electricity. Mammoth, triple-bladed turbines face the wind, capture it, and turn the kinetic energy into electrical power. Today, wind power is the fastest-growing source of energy in the world. But in the same breath, the turbines are still turbulent to the planet while also hampering many birds’ migratory paths. Sometimes, it’s simply a choice between the lesser evil if we want to produce a more sustainable future.
Wind turbines pepper the planet to produce wind-powered electricity.
Jason Blackeye, Unsplash
Finally, there is hydroelectric power which relies on water. When flowing and cascading water moves through turbines connected to an electric generator, the turbines’ acceleration produces energy. Water used for this form of energy can be found either from artificial dams or natural rivers and ocean waves. But everything has its setbacks, and for hydropower, the use of dam infrastructure can cause harm to the surrounding fauna and flora.
One of the most sustainable forms of energy is hydropower - the use of free-flowing water.
Edward Koorey, Unsplash
15 ways to save electricity and money at home
As we’ve read, electricity has become essential to our daily lives but detrimental to the environment. While changing the source of energy is the main way we can mitigate the negative effects, there are some small changes we can all make that will help us save electricity - and money.
Anthony Indrus, Unsplash
1) Set your electric geyser to 55 ° C to 60 ° C.
2) Switch off all lights when not needed. Assess what lighting you need for the action you are performing.
3) Switch out your high-voltage light bulbs for eco-friendly and energy-efficient bulbs. For example, one 100 watt bulb produces the same light as two 60 watt bulbs, so it’s more sustainable to go for the 100 watts light bulb.
4) If you have an oil heater, why not change it for an infrared heater? It saves more energy, time, and money. Or, better yet, bring out a warm and comfy blanket and opt away from using a heater altogether.
5) Dishwashers save more water than hand washing but use electricity. When using your dishwasher, only turn it on when it’s jam-packed with dishes. Try turning the dishwasher off before it attempts to dry the dishes - you can leave them to drip dry or dry them manually.
6) When using an electric stove, match your pots to the stove plates. For example, a small pot only needs a small plate to heat up.
7) Switch off your stove and oven before you’re finished cooking. The remaining heat should continue cooking your food while saving electricity.
8) If you need to defrost food, leave it in the fridge overnight rather than defrosting it in the microwave.
9) Always opt for a hand-operated appliance rather than an electrical-operated one.
10) Do not fill your kettle to the brim when only requiring a cup or two of hot water.
11) Take shorter showers and fewer baths.
12) Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or washing your face and hands.
13) Unplug all unused electronics. It’s not enough to simply turn off the switch. Having your appliances still physically plugged in means there is still electricity pulsating through.
14) Hang your dry laundry instead of using a tumble dryer.
15) Open your window instead of using a fan. While the wind may not be blowing in your favour, you won’t suffer due to not having your fan on.
By Georgia Carter
The very first Earth Day occurred in 1970, exactly 51 years ago. Back in the day, no one was conscious of the negative environmental impacts our booming and ever-growing society was creating. Automobiles began lining the streets, industries were filling the skies with fumes, and plastic was seen as a miracle material and adopted worldwide.
Caption: The industrial revolution began in the 1700s. Today, our world is fueled by coal, gas, and oil, polluting our already fragile atmosphere.
Credit: NASA, Unsplash
However, some early earth activists started opening their eyes and noticing the drastic change in the planet’s health. In 1962, author Rachel Carson published her novel Silent Spring, which shed light on the link between pollution and health. It increased awareness of living beings and nature, sparking an enthusiasm to protect our planet and all those who call it home.
Caption: Our Earth is of the utmost importance to protect. Earth Day aims to uplift environmental efforts across the world.
Credit: Matthew Smith, Unsplash
Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was one of the people who witnessed the horrific oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, that occurred in January 1962. During that time, anti-war movements were pushing through and gaining awareness. The energy of the protestors inspired the Senator, and he wished to harness the passion and shift it towards a consciousness for the environment. He decided to gather forces with a collective day where people around the world all take a moment and think about the planet’s wellbeing. He called this Earth Day.
Caption: Earth Day was the beginning of mass environmental activism and awareness.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
Senator Nelson’s idea was announced on college campuses through teach-ins, where students would gain knowledge about sustainability, the effects of pollution, and how to be more mindful of environmental impacts. Denis Hayes, a youth earth activist recruited to organise the teach-ins, recognised the potential global influence of Earth Day and sculpted a community of 85 members to promote the ideal. Soon, myriad organisations jumped on the environmental bandwagon.
Caption: Since 1970, America has been protesting for the health and wellbeing of the planet.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
Earth Day started gaining traction. The media began exploring and publishing information on Earth day, which fuelled a reaction from the entire country. Over 20 million American citizens were soon taking to the streets, giving a voice to the degradation caused by years of industrial pollution. Finally, Earth Day became a symbol, a chance to illuminate the effects humans have on the planet’s ecosystems.
Environmental organisations weren’t the only ones to join the cause. On Earth Day in 1970, Republicans and Democrats started to support the notion. By the end of the year and for the following ten years, the initial Earth Day inspired and led to various environmental laws adopted across the United States of America.
Caption: Earth activists worldwide are still protesting for the planet, following the start of Earth Day in 1970.
Credit: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
In 1990, Denis Hayes was asked to organise yet another earth campaign - and it went global. Over 200 million people from 141 countries worldwide supported and participated in Earth Day, uplifting recycling efforts and inspiring the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Today, Earth Day is celebrated as a cherished emblem of activism for the environment. It continues to spread its legacy and gain traction as the ever-looming climate crisis pushes forward. It initiates global conversations and stirs the growth of environmental action, efforts, and organisations worldwide.
But Earth Day isn't just a day - it’s a way of life. Every day is Earth Day, and every day, we can do our bit to aid in the planet’s wellbeing.
Caption: There’s only one planet like ours. We need to protect and preserve its splendour, abundance, and power.
Credit: Landon Parentea, Unsplash
By: Georgia Carter
The latest environmental documentary, Seaspiracy, is hitting home. Highlighting the horrific effects of overfishing, the film directed and presented by British filmmaker and activist Ali Tabrizi sheds light on the corrupt fishing industry, shares the unimaginable devastation of bycatch, and unearths the implications of fishing as a whole.
Caption: Fishing nets and crates waiting to imprison marine life.
Credit: JP Valery, Pixabay
Packed with statistics and facts, Seaspiracy is a poignant reminder of the unjust and inhumane activities worldwide, on both land and in the ocean waters. However harsh it is to witness, sometimes a true shock is all we need to be jolted into action.
Here are the main points the film brought to the foreground:
- 46% of all ocean plastic is made up of discarded fishing nets.
- More than 300 000 dolphins and whales are killed every year due to bycatch, accidental catching when using mammoth fishing nets.
- More than 30 000 sharks are killed every hour as a result of bycatch. The illegal shark fin trade also fuels this devastation.
- Labels such as ‘Dolphin Safe’ that exist to ensure tuna products don’t contain any other marine animal species, were called out for being corrupt. Apparently, workers within the company accept bribes in return for their approved label. A former employee admitted that they cannot guarantee there are no dolphin parts within tuna products.
- It’s not only the by-products of fishing that harms the ocean. Bottom trawling - the use of extremely large nets the size of 13 jumbo jet planes dragged across the ocean floor - destroys natural ocean plant life, marine life habitats, and entire ecosystems. The foliage that flourishes on the sea bed sequesters 93% of the world’s carbon dioxide. By eliminating these vital plants, CO2 is released in huge quantities. Bottom trawling deforests around 3.9 billion acres of ocean floor every year, an area far greater than that of the entire Amazon Rainforest.
- Many plastic awareness environmental organisations are on par with the fishing industry, accepting business and money in return for not disclosing the destruction of the fishing industry and the real issues the ocean is facing. While plastic is still a major problem, the consumption of fish and ongoing overfishing causes greater harm but is not brought to the forefront due to corrupt officials.
- The labour found on fishing boats is often from a cycle of slavery. Many workers are held against their will and forced to work at gunpoint or threatened to be thrown overboard. Those who object are murdered.
- There is no such thing as sustainable fishing. The only real solution is to give the ocean a break and halt the consumption of fish altogether.
Caption: Fishing gear makes up 46% of all ocean plastic pollution and acts as the main cause of death to whales and dolphins.
Credit: Barry Savage, Pexels
This intense and incredibly raw documentary is not for the faint-hearted. It piles horror onto horror to create a jigsaw puzzle of human problems, each as shocking as the last. It shakes your beliefs, values, and morals and makes you question the very essence of society and the world we live in today. But that is where the true and long-lasting motivation for change comes from.
When it comes to protecting the ocean, the next step is crystal clear - stop eating fish, stop supporting the fishing trade, and start doing your part to preserve and protect our precious ocean and the marine life it harbours.
By: Georgia Carter
Reduce, reuse, recycle - we’ve all heard this phrase many times before. But while reducing is self-explanatory, not many of us know how to reuse items that have become destined for the bin.
Below are 15 different ways you can upcycle and repurpose your waste products. From toothbrushes and plastic bags to CDs and rubber bands, there’s always something you can do instead of opting for the bin.
Tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, sweet corn, and more - some of our favourite foods are stored in tins. But while the nourishing substance entombed inside is easy to get rid of, the object that holds it is not. Instead of chucking your tins, why not turn them into little flower pots? Just give them a clean, replace the contents with soil, and you have a perfectly good pot at no cost at all. Cover them with material or patterned paper to give your new pot character and style.
Credit: Juliette Watson, Unsplash
It’s always exciting to read the current affairs on paper, but once read, where does the newspaper go? Don’t throw it away; give it a second chance by using it as a replacement for paper towels or dish rags to wash your windows. Alternatively, you can place the paper under your tablecloth to ensure the cloth doesn’t shuffle.
Credit: Absolute Vision, Unsplash
Glass bottles can become so much more than just beverage holders. Turn your bottles into rustic candle holders, slim flower vases, or add a few attachments to make a bird feeder! That way, you’re helping both the planet, its animals, and yourself.
Credit: Loli Clement, Unsplash
These unavoidable tools for hygiene are notoriously hazardous in the wild. Don’t throw away your old toothbrush. Instead, use it as a scrubbing brush for those hard-to-reach spaces like titles and vents. They also make great shoe-shiners with a bit of polish in place of toothpaste!
Credit: Amirhosen Esma Eili, Unsplash
You may not need that shirt or pair of pants anymore - but someone does. Always donate your clothes before resorting to the garbage. This not only helps save the planet but may even save a life. Furthermore, you can cut up unwearables and use them as cleaning rags for months on end.
These small little indented spaces create the perfect nooks for seedlings! If you love plants and want more without breaking the bank at the gardening centre, take some cuttings or seeds and begin their growing stages in a repurposed egg carton. Alternatively, if you’re an art enthusiast, turn your egg carton into a paint pallet!
Credit: Jade Ashton, Unsplash
These little critters are dangerous when they reach the wild. Instead of letting them get that far, why not use your empty pill bottles as little storage spaces. Turn them into impromptu sewing kits, nail boxes, or band-aid storage units.
Credit: Hayley Lawrence, Unsplash
Silica Get Packages
These tiny waste items are found sealed in with many consumer goods, with the purpose to keep them fresh. But they won’t keep your bin in good condition if thrown away, neither will they be useful in a landfill. Keep your packets and store them between important documents or between photos.
One of the world’s worst villains - the plastic bag. While reducing your consumption of this object is by far the more significant action to take, there are ways to reuse it. Save your bags for future shopping or use them as a plant moisture trap. When going on holiday, placing a paper bag beneath your plant’s pot will help the soil remain moist, thereby preventing your plant from drying up.
In this modern age, we barely use CDs anymore. But what to do with your spare CDs that you no longer have use for? Get creative, paint them up, and transform them into quirky coasters, protecting not only the environment but your countertops and table too.
These items can be used in myriad ways, and because they’re so easy to clean, they can be reused multiple times. Turn your glass jars into outside candle holders, a small plant pot, a paintbrush holder, a water cup, or simply use for storage.
Credit: Denise Johnson, Unsplash
Toilet Paper Rolls
We all have tons of toilet paper rolls that we simply throw away. Why not reuse them as organisers? If you have Christmas or fairy lights, you know they always get tangled when put away. Folder them neatly into your toilet paper roll to keep them tidy and organised.
Credit: Munro Studio, Unsplash
Rubber bands have the nasty ability to choke animals in the wild. Instead of throwing them away, use them to secure your clothes on the hanger or as a spoon stopper when using bowls to prevent your spoon from slipping into the bowl itself.
Credit: Michael Walter, Unsplash
Foil is almost impossible to recycle and does immense damage when let loose. Try washing your foil and use it again when cooking your next meal.
Credit: Elena Mozhvilo, Unsplash
We all know that plastic is one of the more significant problems our world faces. When you’re stuck with plastic you don’t know how to get rid of, cut it up into small pieces and stuff it in a milk bottle to make an eco brick. Once the bottle is filled to the brim with plastic to make a complete eco brick, it can be donated and used as cheap and effective housing material.
Credits: Harassed Mom, Pinterest
Now that you’re equipped with more ways to reuse and repurpose your everyday waste items, challenge yourself to get creative and innovative. By reducing and then reusing our rubbish, we’re not only saving money and giving these items a second chance, but we’re also giving the Earth space to breath, grow, and flourish.
Valentina Jovanovski, Ten of the best ways to reuse rubbish, The Ecologist, 2011
Melissa Breyer, 50 Ways to Reuse Your Garbage, Treehugger, 2017
Ashley, How To Reuse 13 Things You Would Normally Throw Away, My Heart Beets, 2014
Fungi are one of the most fascinating organisms on Earth, and with new discoveries constantly being made about the incredible things that fungi can achieve, it’s easy to believe that they could be the secret to correcting much of the catastrophes that human beings have caused. With an estimated 10% of fungi nestled under the scientific category of ‘discovered’, we’ve really only scratched the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg.
Besides the newly discovered plastic-eating fungi, the incredibly medicinal ones, and those that can be used to make sustainable packaging – fungi as a whole have been achieving remarkable feats for millennia.
Mycelium (fungal ‘roots’) requires rain to fruit – producing what we know as mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of the fungus and are also what produce the spores (fungal ‘seeds’) that continue the fungal life cycle. The spores are shaped in such a way that the displacement of tiny water droplets shifts them along the ‘gills’ of the mushroom and allows them to be released as ‘aerosols’ which are picked up by the wind and taken to new spaces. Some mushrooms require the dropping of water onto their surface to ‘puff’ the spores out in large plumes. This process, requiring perfectly shaped spores, is extremely intelligent in itself - however, the intelligence of mushrooms knows no bounds!
To ensure that the spores are carried far enough away from the mushroom, the fruiting body will also create tiny convection currents (micro-scale wind) by releasing water vapour that cools the air around it. This lifts the spores up and allows them to catch higher wind currents.
The mushroom spores take it a step further when they’re in the air: the same intelligent shape attracts water to form around them, adding weight to both airborne moisture and spores. The added weight allows airborne moisture to condense and fall as rain, further facilitating more spore-release from mushrooms on the ground.
With a single mushroom able to produce 30 billion spores a day, and about 50 million tonnes of spores entering the Earth’s atmosphere each year, it’s easy to see that mushrooms have a profound effect on the hydrological cycle. Without mushrooms, the entire hydrological cycle would shift, which would result in significantly more droughts across the planet.
Fungi are one of the many organisms that are already being dramatically affected by climate change. From old growth mushrooms like the Amadou, declining due to the eradication of old growth forests, to the mushroom fruiting season doubling in England due to warming temperatures and changes in rainfall. The climate change effects seen on fungi, and the knock on effects caused by them (like faster decomposition of forest matter) are extremely diverse and difficult to predict. This is worrying because it points out that mushrooms could help save us, or they could reach a tipping point before they begin exasperating the decline in the Earth’s health, and our own chances of survival.
Fungi are undoubtedly important in all ecosystems and it is up to us to ensure that their health is supported. We can do this by:
By Kelly Steenhuisen