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Friday, September 30, 2011

27th September

...was the day this year when we had overused our "natural budget" which is, basically, the yearly resources earth can produce according to a report that the footprint network does every year (read more here).

At the same time we are about to reach 7 billion humans on earth, expected to happen in November.



For me it seems to be quite an unsolvable mathematical equation. I remember when we reached 6 billion, apperently that was 1999. That's insane, we've grown by a billion in a just a bit more than 10 years! It doesn't sound very sustainable to me and I hope that number will not keep on growing in the same rate.

It seems that the most child-births happens in less developed countries. Is the solution to help these countries develop? Is it also an education matter? A lack of contraceptives? Religious influence? Whatever the cause, our current resource-use/population-growth is not in balance. And while we are - hopefully - trying to improve are resource efficiency, it is also crucial to control population growth.
Also, the more countries develop, the more their population will eventually reach middle class and people will naturally want the same life-style as people in developed countries. And this will use even more resources... So, not that I don't think it is good to help them develop, I am simply concerned about the outcome.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Clean Right

I thought this website was quite cute. Perhaps not too much for grown-ups, or perhaps we can also learn something new in the house. The cleanright webpage is promoting an EU standard and logo on cleaning products. I can't remember seeing it ever, have you? It's good though that on the webpage you can find the requirements for the products to get such a logo. Basically, it requires cleaner products, better use of resources and easy to understand information for the customer, but some chemicals seems to still be allowed.

Pic from the website


Our coursebook keeps returning to the company Method and how come it has been so successful as a green business. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to find them in the Nordic's but some of their cleaning products I have seen and bought. And why have they been so successful? They have set up the company from the start with the environmental and social values for example, that no products are tested in animals, all ingredients are natural but at the same time they perform as well as a normal cleaning product and obviously the bottles are recycable or reusable. On top of that they have done an excellent job working with social media and getting people involved.



Pic from their homepage.


There is also a range of household cleaning tips out there using vineagar, baking powder and oliveoil etc. Any tip you wanna share?

Businesses with a cause

This is an interesting website with companies that donate at least 1% of their sales to environmental organizations. There is probably more companies donating than what is listed but the ones that sign up to the website are allowed to use the 1% for the planet logo in their marketing. I think the website is intended for smaller businesses that might not have the resources to market their good deed in other ways.

Tom's shoes and glasses donates a pair of shoes or glasses when you buy a pair.

Other examples?

Better act sooner than later

I have been a couple of times in an American Apparel store, once in NY and once in Stockholm. American Apparel stores are not yet found in Finland but at least in Stockholm you can find them. I didn't really find the clothing appealing to me though, the quality didn't really seem to be great and I assumed it was another H&M kind of chain. However, just learned that this company acctually works quite a lot on sustainability.

You can read more on their sustainability work on their website here.

I like that fact that they have kept their production in California. It is quite ironical that for example H&M has moved their production to Asia for cheaper labour but as they have been pressured by media and consumers on everything from child labour to the work conditions I wonder if it was worth all the resources they have had to put in for working on those issues there and the bad publicity.

Once again H&M takes a step, to take harmful chemicals away from their production as they are being pressured, but would they have done anything unless the publicity?

It's of course good they are working on the issues now but sometimes the sooner the better.

Do you know any other clothing company that works on sustainability or environmental issues?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Print & Refill

Nadja wrote about how she found an application on her computer that shows how much environmental impact her printing had made. So far she had made it to a third of a tree.

That reminded me of this company in Helsinki that refills old inkjet cartridges and resell them. I bought from them a couple of times when I was still a student in Helsinki and I was just as happy as with a new cartridge-even happier as it was cheaper. Had completely forgotten about them as our old printer broke down and we didn't need a new one until now. Might have to pass by when I am in Helsinki or check if I can buy from them online once we are out of ink in the new one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Be Critical

Especially since I am doing the master now and constantly get reminded of how you need to be critical when you read articles and such I couldn't resist posting on the subject.

I am not sure what to think of the person who believed this and this was "news" to be brought up,. The articles are in Finnish stating that researcher Jussi Tammisola has said that eco-food is not healthier than normal food.

These articles make me annoyed for so many different reasons.

no 1. There is no link or reference in the news to any reseach on the statement he makes.

no 2. They don't state anywhere in the news what he means with "eco-food". Is it eco-food that is self-labelled by the seller? Is it eco-food that is certified? The term eco-food can entitle quite a lot of different things. In some cases it means acctually just that the producer has gotten a fair amount of money (fair trade-label) or that the chicken has lived a happier life before slaughter. That might of course not affect the health of the product - not that it was never intended - but the social and etical aspect of the trade was the more important one.

no 3. This guy seems to work with research in the GMO field (GMO=genetical manipulated organism). GMO crops and GMO-maipulated food, are not, as far as I have understood, allowed to be certified as eco-food.

no 4. He stated apparently that if you eat eco-food you might not get enough selenium. Selenium has been added in the fertilizer in Finland in the normal food industry. However, selenium you can get also from eggs, seafood and paranuts.

If you can read Finnish you can read more on the subject here. Noora Schingler explains in her blog that eco-food is not synonymous with healthy (sugar is still sugar etc), but that for the most part eco-food tastes better. She also links to the source on the selenium in fertilizer and brings up that you get selenium from paranuts. In the comments on the blog post there is some intereting links on Jussi Tammisola's work in GMO. Noora concludes that it is the same organization in Finland that keeps an eye on conventional food and eco-food in Finland ( Evira ) and that they would raise the subject if there was any health-risks in either. So obvioulsy, there isn't and, if there would be any risk, I don't think it would be with the eco-food...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Focus on Solutions

It seems to me that economy and resources are almost walking hand in hand. I found this video on this Swedish blog called "reflecting over growth". The video is a summary of Richard Heinberg's book "End of Growth". I haven't read it yet but it seems to be quite interesting.



Somehow I think we are all tired of hearing the apocalypse message on how our energy sources are running out and the economy is going down and, unfortunately, they don't focus that much on the solution part in the video.
They do talk about "local economies" though: remember that if you buy local there is no need for shipping and transporting long distances - saving energy costs and impact. Also buying local means you contribute to your community. However, defining local is also a bit tricky - is local your town or is it your whole country? Or does it depend on what you buy? (apples can be found in Finland but probably not lemons). Or perhaps growing what you can and need in your backgarden? Because, do I really need to buy lemons if living in Finland or should I eat another fruit more easily available?
Back to the video, I also think they also want to send a message that we should re-think our values, what is really important in life, and therefore consume less resources. I mean, do we need what we buy or do we buy what we need?

Regarding the crisis, not all responsibility can be on the consumers though. It is difficult enough for a consumer just going grocery shopping knowing what is the best choice. Especially as we are now, when we have a range of different options of the same product. Some consumers probably just buys the cheapest instead of using also other parameters to decide - local, ecological, etc. Additionally, some are just doing bad choices not only when buying, but other choices that also affect economy and use of resources. Because what consumers can do shouldn't either be looked down on: a car produces most emissions in use, a washing machine uses most energy when used. So, not only buying matters but also how we use our goods.

However, we're gonna need someone to take on the bigger decisions that will steer communities in the right direction. And unfortunately politicians, bankers and people with power seem to react too slow at the moment: instead if re-thinking economical models they are pumping-in money where there are already holes. This blogg explains the economic bubble very well.

Perhaps we are a step behind in the discussion: shouldn't we be talking even more about what can be done, on both topics - economy and resources - instead of the harm already done? Perhaps Heinberg's book goes more into that topic but the video is not too positive in general.

Surely, we're gonna have to cut on resources, but will we die from that? Not likely! But hopefully it will instead stimulate our creativity, that will hopefully stimulate our economy to a curve that is natural and in balance what we have, need and consume.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sustainability Shopping Guide

I like this, a professor at University of California at Berkeley started goodguide.com. Basically a guide that rates different products on how environmentally friendly, healthy and socially responsible they are.

Unfortunately as they are based in US there is a lot of products that we have that are not listed, but I think it is still interesting to take a look if you can find your favorite shampoo, bread or dish washing liquid, for example, to see the scores.

What is most important to you? The environment, health or the social factor?

A Greener Search-Engine

Ecosia is a new search engine that donates 80% percent of it's revenue to rainforest protection.

I'd like to be more excited than what I am about it but it's a bit like climate compensating (link in Swedish) for your flights: we buy ourselves a clean conscience instead of avoiding making an ecological footprint in the first place. However, I guess it is better than nothing, but also their video ad. is a bit too simplified. Is the search-engine only meant to be used by 5-years-olds?



Not sure yet either how good the search engine is but I'll give it a try.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Controversial Energy vs Alternative Energy

Reading the news today about the explosion on the French atomic power plant (Swedish link but contain links to English and French news) reminded me on how I felt when I heard about the problems on Japanese power plants after the tsunami.

The fact is that I have grown up in a town with a nuclear power plant close upon it, so I have heard arguments for and against it. People for it are claiming that it is the best source of energy, at least in the nordics where we have so little sunlight or other options of energy. Additionally it is clean - from a gaz emission point of view - and surely it is safe - at least here where we have no natural disasters and the storing of nuclear waste is no problem, especially storing it in the solid bedrock that has lasted millions of years.

BTW, there is a great Finnish documentary on this dilemma of storing the nuclear waste, called Into eternity. Trailer here:



However, I can't help feeling a little chill down my spine when thinking of the nuclear waste, becasue if there is an accident there is no way to really guard ourselves against it. Is it really worth taking the risks? Not for me to decide at this moment but I would surely hope there was a better alternative.

Wind energy is, I think, a good alternative. Unfortunately, the wind mills kills birds and bats but it seems they acctually kills less than, for example, windows or oilspills. At least according to this source (in Swedish). That information was new for me.

I was also quite excited about tidal energy but since I read about how tidal energy might affect sealife I am not sure that is a great idea. The oceans already has quite a battle to deal with the overfishing and all the crap we dump in the ocean. Tidal energy does of course require that there is a tide to be used, in the baltic sea this is not gonna work.

Good news though is that there seems to be progress on solar energy all the time. It is becoming cheaper to produce than nuclear energy and it seems a Spanish company, Torresols energys, might have come up with a way to store solar energy.

So let's hope that soon we can rely on an energy that is truly clean and when people come with the lame argument "what will all the people work with that is now working on the nuclear power plant, and how will our town survive economically?". Well, be a little bit more creative, please!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Check this out

If you have the opportunity to check the climate reality program on 14th September, it might be interesting.

Basically they will live stream from around the world (starting at 7 pm in every time zone) with people telling about how the climate change has affected the climate around them. Personally, I feel the presentation from Al Gore is a bit too "Americanized" for my liking. I mean, it is difficult to take him seriously when it is too flashy, but let's hope the live streaming will bring more flesh to the bones:



However I am childish enough to love this video:



Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Animal testing-Not ok

Do I have to explain why I feel animal testing is not ok?

Read the article here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Remember we are also part of Nature

PhD Carin Bondar has written a book on how animals have similar behaviours as humans-or the other way around acctually, because we are just part of nature as well, aren't we? In her blog you can find some posts on the subject, I am not sure how much the text differs from the book but I like the illustrations and I like the way she explain things. Also she posts some pretty cool jobs there every week!



Sorry, for the short post this time but I have to get back to assignments.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sustainability Marketing

I have now finished my first week as a master student and my first course is about environmental and social responsibilty marketing. Our course book is funnily enough called "The New Rules of Green Marketing", by Jaquelyn A. Ottoman. The fact that it has a similar name as this blog is completely coincidental but I take it as a good sign.

So far I've only read through the first chapter but it seems to be easily enough read so if you are interested in the subject it is a good book to start with, I guess. You can read more about the author and book at www.greenmarketing.com

I like at least some points she has made so far, like:
-Nobody is perfect but companies need to be honest and communicate the process they are making on environmental and social responsibilty matters (because you are working on it, right?).
-Companies are percieved in the eyes of their consumer on what they stand for, not what they sell.
-There needs to be a dialogue with the consumers. The way to market green is not to throw it in someone's face on a big billboard with some plants and flowers - use social media, websites etc. that can engage and envolve.

Here is another article on sustainability marketing in case you wanna read more.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Use the Better Bulbs

I'm a day or two late on this subject as it was from yesterday onwards forbidden in EU to produce any more of the traditional incandescent light bulbs - or import them for that matter.

I myself have been a bit confused on the bulb subject as I understood quite early on that the new energysaving lamps contains quicksilver and when the word quicksilver appears there is some small alarm ringing in my head. Luckily for me though the subject has been hot again and I got some very good information on the P1 radio station news couple of days ago. Also the subject has been brought up in a couple of blogs so now I feel I have a pretty good understanding of the other alternatives.

This is how I've understood it, to keep it simple:

So there is the halogen lamp, which is not a great low-energy alternative since it might even take energy when it is turned off.

Then there are the energy efficent lamps (lågenergilampor in Swedish) which is a better alternative since they use much less energy but you need to keep in mind that they contain quicksilver.

Then there are the LED-lamps or light-emitting diode lamps that are, as I see it, the winning concept because they are energy efficient and do not contain quicksilver.

Easy peasy once somebody just present it to you and perhaps it was only me who was not so educated on this but it sure feels good now when I got the lamp bulbs under control. More information in Swedish here.