Category

sustainable living

Sustainable living

By sustainable living

How do we develop the habits and systems that preserve nature and reduce pollution? Most people would agree with the aim of living a sustainable life on Earth.  However, they do little in practice; compared with other pressures on their lives, creating an eco-friendly society seems much less important and far too difficult.

In Compete or Cooperate, Roger Heppleston argues that creating an eco-friendly society will only happen if the moral culture of society as a whole changes.  The wave of hot weather that has swept the world this summer has finally convinced most people that climate change is real. As the environment deteriorates further and the effects of climate change bite harder, people will gradually come to realise the importance of preserving the planet for our children.  When this happens, we will develop a practical set of moral imperatives that each of us can follow to preserve the environment.

The aim of the Eco-humanity website is to accelerate this process by drawing up a practical set of moral behaviours that support a life-fulfilling, eco-friendly society.  These should be capable of being adopted by people of all cultural backgrounds. A first suggestion is shown on the Sustainable Lifestyle web page. Please let us know your views.

Let’s stop buying black plastic containers

By sustainable living

Every week we dutifully wash out used plastic containers and put them in the recyclable waste bin for collection by the council. It now transpires this is largely wasted effort.

The Local Government Association says that two thirds of plastic is unrecyclable and being sent to landfill. This is a scandal. Even industry sources say that most packaging could be made to be recyclable. But yet again the government and industry leaders are letting us down. No one is looking at the big picture and ensuring that we do the right thing. Simple  inexpensive solutions that would drastically reduce plastic waste are not being applied.

What can we do as consumers? Well, for a start, we can stop buying anything in black plastic containers. The only reason black plastic is being used is that it makes the food look good.  However black is the only colour that can’t be easily scanned by recycling machines; as a result, all black plastics are being sent to landfill.

Stopping buying black plastic is just a first step, but we need to make a stand and take action to show we care about our environment.

The benefits of not eating lamb and beef

By sustainable living

The benefits of not eating lamb and beef extend beyond  the reduction in greenhouse gases to  preserving the environment.

According to the Rainforest Partnership https://rainforestpartnership.org/the-beef-industry-and-deforestation/  the production of beef is without question the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon. With millions of acres of land devoted to the cultivation of soya beans for animal feed as well as the animal pastures created by clearing the forest, Brazil has become the biggest exporter of beef in the world.

 

 

Hence cutting down your consumption of hamburgers can help save the rain forests.

 

As to sheep, according to George Monbiot

Sheep have reduced most of our uplands to bowling greens with contours. Only the merest remnants of life persist. Spend two hours sitting in a bushy suburban garden and you are likely to see more birds and of a greater range of species than in walking five miles across almost any part of the British uplands. The land has been sheepwrecked.

 

By cutting back on your lamb kebabs you can contribute to the spread of biodiversity and the return of the natural world

Dish the meat

By sustainable living

Our love of eating meat has long cultural traditions. The initial evolutionary success of the human species was based on our ability to catch and eat large mammals. We have since learnt to domesticate cattle, sheep, pigs, chicken and many other species purely so we can eat their flesh.  But the chickens are coming home to roost. Livestock farming now accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and according to the latest UN report, this number is set to increase 75% by 2050. This problem can’t be solved by just switching to green energy sources. Cattle and the other ruminants emit methane, a much more potent source of greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide; over a 5-year period methane traps up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere.

It is possible for humans to change their eating habits. For thousands of years Hindus have avoided eating beef. Brahmins are vegetarian.  Jews and Muslims have been taught to avoid pork. If we are to avoid the worst excesses of climate change we need a new moral initiative to dish the meat and become vegetarian.

The young will pick up the bill for climate change

By sustainable living

The BBC reports today how the UK is falling behind on meeting its carbon dioxide emission targets and how the young will pick up the bill for climate change ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44634122).

To reverse the trend many government sponsored initiatives have to be speeded up, but what can we do individually to make a change? In a telling comment at the end of the article it states that:

People committed to personally tackling climate change can avoid flying and eating meat – two of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases.

Becoming a vegetarian or a vegan is a very difficult decision for most of us. However, dietary based taboos are common amongst religious groups, many of which are based on ancient and obscure religious texts. It can’t be morally right for us to continue to pollute the environment and cause suffering to future generations. Wouldn’t it be good if religious groups modified their food related ideas of fasting and meat avoidance to make them more relevant to the modern world? The combination of religious impetus and climate change science might just be the spur needed to change our eating habits for the good of us all.

Drawdown- (2 Reduce food wastes)

By sustainable living

 

If the number one concern of Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever devised to reverse global warming was surprising, the number three issue is amazing. One third of the food that’s produced goes to waste. ‘Ranked with countries, food waste would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, just behind China and the United States’. The reasons are many: food is left rotting in the field because it is not worth harvesting, poor refrigeration causes food to rot in transit, misshapen fruit and vegetables are left unsold having been rejected by the supermarkets, best before dates mean that perfectly eatable food is taken from the shelves, bought food is left uncooked and finally cooked food is left uneaten.

How do you tackle such a vast problem? Part of the issue must be to do with failures in the capitalist system. Why isn’t there a market for misshapen vegetables or perfectly eatable food that is beyond its best before date? Surely this is a marketing opportunity for someone?

According to Drawdown ‘up to 35% [of] food in high-income countries is thrown out’. The one thing we all can do is eat the food we buy. ‘Eat up your food dear, someone in Africa is starving’, was the mantra I grew up by. Very little food was thrown out, then. Somehow, we have to get back to that principle.

Drawdown- (1 refrigeration)

By sustainable living

Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever devised to reverse global warming 

is a review not just of green energy sources but all the other human activities that effect our carbon footprint. This includes building design, transport efficiency, recycling, population control and food use. A total of 80 actions are analysed for their potential to reduce carbon emissions.

 

I found the number one concern surprising – refrigeration. The coolants that refrigerators use are hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs). Their capacity to warm the atmosphere is one to nine thousand times greater than carbon dioxide.  An international agreement (the Kigali accord) is in hand to phase out HFCs by 2028. However, in the meantime disposal of old refrigerator units represents a great threat to global warming and the process of safe disposal is expensive.

Surely this is one area where the polluter ought to pay. Refrigerator manufacturers should have to receive and recycle old fridges. Refrigerator costs will rise but we will all be better off.