Bright Green Enterprise

Archive: Jan 2019

Food Focus


I love this quote. Yes, nature, mother earth, and the abundance of our planet has allowed us humans to survive, thrive and flourish. But we have reached a critical moment in our history where we are using (and wasting) far more than can be provided at a sustainable rate. We, as humans, must learn to control our appetites, and consume only what is necessary to satiate our true needs.

Let’s have a look at some of our most harmful production and consumption practices.

Agriculture is the biggest user of water worldwide, with irrigation claiming close to 70% of freshwater appropriated for human use. We also know that agriculture and intensive farming practices cause the devastating loss of natural habitats and ecosystems, soil degradation, water pollution, and this industry is the largest contributor of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. Whew. Whilst food production is well and good for an ever-growing population, we really need to find ways in which to sustain ourselves, without destroying our only home.

Despite the huge amount of food produced, a staggering amount of it never even makes it into our homes, or our stomachs. One third of the food produced, the equivalent of 1.3 billion tonnes, is wasted every single year. This number makes me quite sick to my stomach. 1.3 billion tonnes of food rots away in bins of retailers and consumers, or is spoiled due to poor transportation methods and harvesting practices. This is something that needs to change, now.

 

Even though we clearly have an abundance of food at our fingertips, a vast proportion of the world’s population is not even consuming enough to meet their basic needs. There’s something in this equation that isn’t quite balancing out…

Some other areas of extreme consumption, plus unsustainable production practices, which don’t match up to the status of eco-friendly (not by half), are that of energy – specifically household energy use, and the fashion industry. Let’s light upon household energy for a second. According to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, “When it comes to consumers, households consume 29 per cent of global energy and contribute to 21 per cent of resultant CO2 emissions. However, if people worldwide switched to energy efficient light bulbs the world would save US$120 billion annually.” That doesn’t seem like it’s a particularly difficult switch to make, does it? But look at the possible impact we could all have!

So now, fashion. An industry which has faced backlash for more breaches of environmental and ethical practices than I could possibly go into here, so I will remain focused on just the waste, for today. It is the second largest polluter of clean water, after agriculture. Water pollution comes from the toxic chemicals and pesticides used in cotton farming, the dyeing of fabrics with synthetic dyes, the use (and breakdown) of plastic-based textiles (here’s looking at you, polyester!); all this destruction, for an item of clothing that is worn (on average) only seven times before it is thrown away! I hope this makes as little sense to you as it does to me…surely something so disposable isn’t worth so much harm to the environment?

So these are some of our most harmful consumer practices, and just a few of the reasons why ‘responsible production and consumption’ is goal number 12, for the Sustainable Development Goals. Read about the targets for this goal here.

Whilst I am fully aware that we can only work our way out of this crisis point with massive, industry-scale reform in production practices, I am also aware that industry leaders are not reading this blog. And so, I am directing this to you, our readers, and regular consumers, in the hope and faith that we can keep championing greener, more plant-friendly initiatives (even if only on a small scale).

Today, let’s focus on food.

Sums it up pretty well, no?

Good food. What does that mean? For many, that means unprocessed, responsibly sourced, locally grown, seasonal produce. (I’m not going to start offering dietary advice here). And remember, organic! If you need to remind yourself of why organic farming helps protect our soils, and indeed, why our soils are so important, be sure to pop back and read “Be the Solution to Soil Pollution”.


Community gardens are popping up all over the country, providing hubs of green-space for people to come together, learn new skills, and grow some fresh produce. Gardening also provides a multitude of physical and mental health benefits, so perhaps it’s time to…dig in.

Use websites such as NCVO Know How, for resources on how to set up a community garden, and Farm Garden, to find gardens near you.

School gardens or edible playgrounds are bringing the joys of homegrown to students, and teachers alike, in schools country-wide. Particularly beneficial for inner-city students, edible playgrounds have been studied and proven to bring a host of fantastic learning opportunities, for teaching moments outside of the classroom. Schools are catching on to the idea that gardening provides a safe, green-place, where the students can grow alongside their veggies.

Trees for Cities have a fantastic range of resources, and have worked with schools to create 75 edible playgrounds – benefiting 30,000 students in the UK.

Whilst I know that community gardens aren’t going to suddenly reverse the destructive impacts of current agricultural practices, I want to highlight the small, conscious actions that we can make and engage in. Even if these actions don’t have global consequences, it can mean the world of difference to your local environment. Let’s bring back these community schemes, support local, and encourage hands-on involvement. After all, protecting our planet really comes down to reconnecting with, and maybe re-planting, our roots.

 

 

Author: Rachel Calnan

New Year, New Commitment

Happy New Year to all our Bright Green readers, and most importantly, to this beautiful green planet of ours.

With January, we hear the word ‘resolution’ flying around almost as if it had wings of its own. New diets are started, gym memberships are purchased, alcohol bottles are firmly stored away (for those of you taking part in Dry January – we salute you!). Whilst these new promises are fantastic, and we truly hope you manage to stick to whatever your resolution is throughout the year ahead, what if together, we looked further than who we see in the mirror? What if together, we made some commitments that we can all benefit from?

Like….saving the planet?

Maybe that sounds overly-ambitious. But really, if we did all combine our willpower and resources, we could start making more positive impacts on our natural home. After all, we’re the ones who have led us down this rocky road of climate crisis…

So, last year, 2018, gave us some pretty devastatingly scary headlines. We saw:

“Twelve years to reverse climate change” 
That’s right. According to the sixth report from the International Panel on Climate Change, we have just twelve years to drastically mitigate the current rate of climate change. Twelve years. That is no longer the responsibility of our grandchildren’s grandchildren. That is here and now. That is this generation finally standing up, and making the changes needed to ensure there is a planet left for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.


“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing faster than expected”
Well, yes. Unsurprisingly, if we don’t make any changes to our production and consumption habits, the problem of waste pollution doesn’t appear to change! Funny how that works. Thankfully, this island of trash is being tackled head-on by a brilliant young entrepreneur. We’ve already spoken about The Ocean Cleanup in a previous blog, so check it out if you haven’t yet. We’re also loving following the journey of the Cleanup team, are you keeping an eye on their progress too?

“Humanity have wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970”
This headline knocked me for six when I first read it. 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles lost to this world because of destructive (and selfish?) human activity. Wow. Let’s now save that remaining 40%, before we’re left on a planet completely devoid of… well, anything.


But, enough doom and gloom. I am not wishing to be simply a messenger of misery, but merely summarise the somewhat precarious situation we humans find ourselves (read: have put ourselves) in. Although, I do think it is important that we realise the gravity of our circumstance. For far too long we have simply brushed under the rug any signs of future demise, shrugged our shoulders, and claimed that we’ll be long gone before any serious consequences threaten us. We know now that is no longer the case, and as such, it is time to act accordingly.

Let’s now, for the sake of boosting morale, and firing up our changemaker drive, look at a couple of our favourite planet-savers, environment-champions, Bright Green heroes. (We haven’t decided on an exact name yet).

Ecosia is a search engine with a difference. I mean, a search engine that are making a difference. Instead of paid ads simply filling shareholders’ pockets, their money is helping turn our beautiful planet green, again. Searches conducted through Ecosia directly funds the planting of trees across the world – for the betterment of the environment, the empowerment of communities, and the protection of animals. It takes only 45 searches to plant one tree, and with your own search counter keeping track, it’s easy to see the direct impact you are having.

In 2018, Ecosia users helped them to plant 31 million trees, and in doing so, removed 1.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These are the kinds of numbers and figures we should be seeing, and celebrating.

Not only is Ecosia’s search partner carbon-neutral, but they also further spread consumer awareness by highlighting green options within your search results. So, why don’t you make your resolution work for the planet, and swap from Google to Ecosia. It’s easy peasy to change to Ecosia on your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone – just follow this link and read more about them here. 


Another earth-warrior, or group of warriors, are the amazing community who rescue and release orphaned elephants at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, northern Kenya. The first community owned elephant orphanage in Africa, the wildlife landscapes are now restoring themselves, thanks to the transparency of self-governing community conservancies, and the harmonious working of local people, with local wildlife. Elephants are listed as a vulnerable species, and in 2016 it was reported that elephant population had seen its worst decline in 25 years. Let’s not add elephants to the list of animals that we’ve already wiped out, please.

As of February 2018, Reteti had rescued 30 elephants. But not only is the impact directly on the protection of this giant species. Reteti is empowering local villagers to become the first female elephant keepers in Africa. Employment in the sanctuary means parents are able to send children to school. Humans are learning how they can live peacefully alongside elephants in these shared landscapes, and that the health of one does not depend on the demise of the other.

They are an organisation committed to the betterment of the local environment for all its inhabitants, and seem to understand that the building of relationships between species is crucial in ensuring ongoing, mutually beneficial conservation. Follow along with the work and successes of Reteti here, and for your fill of incredible elephant videos, check out their social media!


These examples are obviously just a drop in the big, blue ocean of positive people power, but hopefully highlight to you, readers, the change that is needed, and the change we can make happen, if only we put our mind to it.

I resolve in this new year, to keep sharing via this blog, and via our social media, the work of incredible people, communities, and businesses alike, so that their impact can be felt, and their positivity spread, across a wider audience. I resolve to follow in their footsteps, taking action where I can, and making changes for the greater benefit of all. Will you join me?

 

Author: Rachel Calnan

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