How to be more Sustainable in your daily routine

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I once wrote about to conserve energy. Today I would like to cite few steps that we can take in order to be more sustainable as an individuals. So here we go:

1) Drink more filtered water than from plastic bottle – Recently I have been reading a lot about drinking from tap water or drinking from filtered tap water. I am quite lucky that there is a filtered water facility near my home. It costs .05 cents per litre. Usually where I am living the tap water isn’t drinkable, too much limestone which isn’t healthy. Another point to be noted is not to drink from plastic bottle. Not all plastic in recycled and recently I came to know that if we drink water from plastic bottle, there is high Oestrogen ( We know how harmful it could be right?!)

2) Unplug the electronics when not in use – Well, when we go to sleep or when we leave for office, those electronics which we are not going to use, we might as well unplug it. It will be consume no energy so it is kind of win win situation for all of us.

3) Stop junk mail : I have seen here in Rimini that these supermarkets send you loads of junk mail because of their discounts offers. I agree that it is good to let people know about their offers but come on 10 page ad distributed to thousands of houses. Do we really need it? Cant they just inform us through email or one simple text. There should be a way to unsubscribe this continuous marathon of commercial ads we receive.

4) Reduce red meat : okay, I am asking you to completely stop eat it. I love bacon as much as some of you do but since last 6 months, I have reduced my consumption of meat. It is tough, i must say, however I feel more lighter, my conscious is clear thinking I might be helping the environment at least in a very small way but it is still something. By the way do you know about Meat Monday. Skip meat at least for one day and see how it helps the environment.

5) Save Water : Recently a friend of mine noticed that the way I was cleaning dishes, I was wasting loads of water. I had to agree with it. I have started using the water more smartly. I am still learning because of old habits In an era when our fresh water supply is diminishing due to pollution and drought, it’s important to conserve all the water we can, as well as learn about and put to use greywater recycling practices. Here are 110+ ways to save water.

6) Bike, walk, and use public transit – Not only it is healthy but also very sustainable towards the environment. I agree if you live in a big city you might need a car but try to use public transport maybe twice in a week or reduce it as per your requirements. Car pool is a great option too.

7) Support local food producers: I have recently started buying more food local farmers or local brands. Not only they are cheap but they have less expiration date which means they are more fresh and they have used less conservatives to last the food long.

I hope this article helps you and the environment is some way.

Energiewende Part II – a new eco era

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If you liked my article about the Energiewende two weeks ago, than you will definitely enjoy the second part about the energy transition that is going to happen in the next decades.

In the first part I introduced you to the argument, and today I would like to sum up a very nice article published on the SPIEGEL Online, the website of one of the most important german weekly magazines DER SPIEGEL (“the mirror” in german). What the article says is that there are also other countries that try to move from unsustainable energy production to a more sustainable one, and that there are some examples that can be taken as best practices.

The chinese town of Dezhou is one of those astonishing places, it is also called Chinas solar valley. They gather their energy from solar plants, and they have a lot of them: as many as there are in the whole EU! Or Vietnam, that uses more than 140.000 biogas power plants to produce energy.

Talkin about numbers the trend towards renewable resources gets even more clear. Investments in this sector grew unbelievably in the past 10 years. in 2014 over 250 billions of dollars were spent in new technologies, and for the first time there were build more renewable resource power stations than conventional ones.  A remarkable success. Solar and wind power are here the most notable sectors.

Take a look to this video. It is a informative TED speech by Rob Hopkins.

What is Fracking? It maybe more harmful that we think it is to be

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Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

The process is carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer. The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.

Recently I read in the news about Lancashire County Council’s planning committee has rejected Fracking proposal. There have been other cases too especially in US where one city inhabitants complained about the colour of their drinking water changed and got contaminated due the Fracking being done in that city.

Environmental campaigners say that fracking is simply distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Advantages of Fracking:

Fracking allows drilling firms to access difficult-to-reach resources of oil and gas. In the US it has significantly boosted domestic oil production and driven down gas prices. It is estimated to have offered gas security to the US and Canada for about 100 years, and has presented an opportunity to generate electricity at half the CO2 emissions of coal.

Dangers of Fracking:

water fracking

Contamination

During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater.Methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.

Drinking Water

Contaminated well water is used for drinking water for nearby cities and towns.There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.

The waste fluid is left in open air pits to evaporate, releasing harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain, and ground level ozone.

So there maybe one or two advantages like we might might be less dependant on fossil fuels or it’s creating employment in that particular area. However, we can not ignore the fact that it is causing us more harm and it is helping us.

Source: BBC, Carbon Brief

World’s most polluted cities – 13 out of top 20 cities are in India.

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Few months back I wrote on Delhi has become numero 1 as world’s most polluted city. However according to the lastest data by WHO not only Delhi tops the list but 12 other cities from India are on the top 20 most polluted cities in the world. Even for me that is really surprising. China is not even on the top 20 list which makes me little suspicious.

The report ranked almost 1600 cities in 91 countries for the quality of their air, which is measured for concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5, i.e. particles smaller than 10 or 2.5 microns. These harmful pollutants cling to the lungs and can cause disease.

In Delhi, the annual average is 153 ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air), which is six times the WHO’s recommended maximum. At various times of the year, this number spikes to much higher levels.

There are concerns of young kids having an early lung disease. The WHO found that India has the world’s highest rate of death from respiratory disease, with 159 per 100,000 in 2012, about 10 times that of Italy, five times that of the UK and twice that of China. One study found that half of Delhi’s 4.4 million schoolchildren would never recover full lung capacity.

This does not surprise me. When I was a kid, not only I but even few of friends had respiratory problems. Recently I met a friend of mine in Paris who currently lives in India and he told me “Sometimes I wonder why I am in Delhi” admiring not only the beautiful city called Paris but also because of really bad air in Delhi. Paris may not be the most clean in terms of air but it does not stand a chance if we compare bad air with Delhi.

Many expatriate workers have already left the city, with some major international companies now preferring to base executives in Dubai or Bangkok. Classes at international schools in the city have been cut as numbers dwindle.

Delhi saw significant improvement in its air quality a decade ago following a slew of measures including converting buses and autorickshaws to run on gas, moving small industries to zones on the outskirts of the city and raising emission standards. But benefits were swiftly lost.

Environmentalists say between 40% and 50% of the dangerous PM2.5 particulates in Delhi are caused by vehicles. The figures have been challenged by the car industry. One major problem, all admit, is the 70,000 trucks which drive through the city every night on long-distance journeys. A plan to build a bypass has been repeatedly delayed.

I would ask you to check this video which a little preview on how the kids are suffering from bad pollution.

Some of the facts were found to be –

♦ In lung tests conducted on 5,718 students, 43.5% suffered from “poor or restrictive lungs”.
♦ About 15% of the children surveyed complained of frequent eye irritation, 27.4% of frequent headache, 11.2% of nausea, 7.2% of palpitation and 12.9% of fatigue.
♦ Delhi’s numbers were far higher than that among the ‘control group’ of 4,536 students selected from 17 schools spread across the “much less polluted” rural areas of Uttaranchal and West Bengal.

I still long to see the clear blue sky in Delhi or to see the stars during the night. I guess I should forget about ever seeing this while I am alive.

Source: Businessinsider Theguardian

Are we eating Plastic for dinner?

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Yesterday when I wrote about the dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup Project, I also mentioned that around 8 Million tons of plastic is dumped into Ocean every year. I just couldn’t take this out of mind. 8 Million tons every year. Every year. That is just too much to handle. BY 2025 it will be 155 million tons. I said to myself we will be eating plastic too through the food and upon further research, it wasn’t difficult to find.

This video ‘Are you eating plastic for dinner?’ talks about how we are eating toxic through the fish. I really feel so bad about marine life. Even though the video’s duration is around 4 min, it still manages to leave a strong impression on me regarding how can we make a difference. How can we reduce it? I am still figuring this out.

The new study also identifies the major sources of plastic debris and names the top 20 countries generating the greatest amount of ocean-bound trash. China is first. The United States is 20th. The rest of the list includes 11 other Asian countries, Turkey, five African countries, and Brazil.

I am amazed that India is not on the top list. The sea in the west coast and also on eat coast is so bad. The beach at Rimini looks like a Greek beach if I compare it to Indian beaches.

Even though the United States has a highly developed garbage collection system, it nevertheless made the top 20 for two reasons: It has a large, dense coastal population and, as a wealthy nation, is a large consumer of products.

team combined population and economic data from 192 coastal countries bordering the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans in addition to the Black and Mediterranean Seas. They found that these countries created 275 million tons of garbage annually, of which 4.8 to 12.7 million tons of plastic flowed into the oceans. That’s only 2 to 5 percent of the total waste created in those countries.

The use of plastics for consumer products has become increasingly dominant, and production has steadily increased since the material was first put into wide use a half century ago. In 2012, for example, 288 million tons of plastic were manufactured globally.

Ocean plastic has turned up literally everywhere. It has been found in the deep sea and buried in Arctic ice. It has been ingested with dire consequences by some 700 species of marine wildlife.

You can read more about it here.

The Ocean Clean up Project!

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When we started our Environmental Economics course, we had a seminar over waste management. The person who was conducting this seminar mentioned about a young guy from Holland who is trying to clean up the ocean. Soon after that this young guy named Boyan Slat was in the new for generating over 2 million dollars in crowd funding. It was because of his one Tedtalk shows, where he presented this idea.

2 million dollars, not a bad start for a start up company right?!

However, it is because of this brilliant idea that everyone is talking about it. On my flight to Sweden, on a magazine, entire two pages was given towards Boyan Slat’s project and his interview.

8 million tonnes of plastic dumped in Ocean every year. 8 million tonnes? I am speechless. I am not being emotional and all but we need more people like Boyan Slat. At the age 19 he can do this, why cant we?

His plan is to place enormous floating barriers in rotating tidal locations around the globe (called gyres), and let the plastic waste naturally flow into capture. These barriers aren’t nets—sea life gets tangled in those. They’re big, V-shaped buffers anchored by floating booms.

Slat’s nonprofit, the Ocean Cleanup, says the current will flow underneath those booms, where animals will be carried through safely. The buoyant plastic is funneled above and concentrates at the water’s surface along the barriers for easy gathering and disposal.

Last month, it was announced that this ocean-cleaning system—which the company says is the world’s first—will be deployed in 2016. They’re planning to station it near the Japanese island of Tsushima, situated in between Japan’s Nagasaki prefecture and South Korea. The detritus-catching apparatus will be 6,500 feet wide and is being called the longest floating structure ever placed in the ocean.

I really hope it works. Apart from this if we can educate people to recycle properly. In fact, wait, I rather say if people can learn to recycle then I believe we might have a solution which will effect positively to everyone.

Really looking forward how this project shapes up!

Technology and Innovation as sustainability promoter

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In the past decades we explored a fascinating trend regarding innovation and technology. In fact, technologic innovations changed our planet from the very beginning of humankind, and accelerated with an unbelievable speed in the last 100 years. In some cases technology helped to solve some critical environmental problems (e.g. substitutes for damaging CFC). In the next paragraphs I introduce to you some interesting inventions that could change the world in a quite impactful way.

Transparent solar cells

Ubiquitous Energy is the name of a young startup in California, and what they do sounds like science fiction. They invented “solar glass”, a mix between glass and solar cells, that are transparent but yet energy producing. Its application seems immediate, entire buildings could produce their own clean energy.

Biodegradable batteries

The main problem with batteries is that they are very difficult to recycle. But researchers from Sweden and the US found the solution: batteries made out of wood. Unfortunately mass production is still too expensive, but they plan to be on the market in 5 years with this new innovative product.

Electric cars charged with induction

One of my favourite future technologies are electric cars. But there are still some problems with it, for example the long charging times. But the UK Transport Research Laboratory found the solution for this problem, and it seems to good to be true. They plan to build streets where cars get their energy just while driving.  This sounds crazy but it could be the solution for urban traffic.

Hydrogen fuel cells

It is years that hydrogen fuel cells have been invented, but there are still no cars that work with this technology on the market. This will change in the very near future. Toyota and Hyundai, both are releasing their innovative hydrogen cars.

Source: The Guardian