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Friday, March 30, 2012

Our plans for Earth Hour

I'm trying to think of what vegeterian goodies to cook for tomorrow, any tips on a dish that goes well with red wine and is not too complicated?

I'm tempted to go to the Eco Now exhibition in Stockholm this weekend  as well and perhaps try out the Herman's vegetarian restaurant. Everybody says it's great but I have still not tried it.

Perhaps we'll do that during the day and come back home for the Earth Hour and cook our own food to be enjoyed during the "dark hour". (hopefully in candle-light with some eco-wine). We've been drinking a wine called Gosa, lately and I think it's pretty good. (I'm no wine expert though)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Carbon Fast week 5

I've been trying to follow up on the Carbon Fast at Reduce footprints, it's only been a weekly thing here on my blog but do check Reduce Footprints blog out for a lot of inspiring ideas and updates.

Since last week I have bought a new showerhead for the shower since the old one broke, we were thinking of fixing it but it seemed the only way to do it was with glue and we were not sure it was really gonna hold. So I went and bought one that's supposed to save on the water it's using and it has a five year warranty. This one should therefore not broke immidietly I hope! Now I need to find out where to recycle the old one.
  • Day 29 - Have a truly "Green" lawn and garden

    No chemicals are used in our garden so this one is a defenite check. Talking about gardening, Treehuggers' 10 top list on gardening blogs is still on my to-be-checked-out list.
  • Day 30 - World Water Day

    For world water day I did a little poll on how often you wash your jeans. I thought it was quite interesting that Levis thought it was an exceptional thing to encourage theit employees to go a week without washing their jeans. I think they could do better! Like starting to look at how much water is used in the production of a pair of jeans and how we could reduce that?
    Seems so far that the people who have answered my poll only wash their jeans when dirty. Good!
  • Day 31 - Be conscious about water and energy use when washing dishes

    This I need to get better at! Stefan is a lot better than me, good thing he does the dishes more often-I get to do the cooking. (works for me!)
  • Day 32 - Take a shower instead of a bath

    We never take a bath at home, in fact we don't even have a bath-tube. In Finland I think it is more usual to have a Sauna than a bath-tube, not that the Sauna does not consume energy though, but that is something that for me would be difficult to give up. Ours is heated up by wood thoug and not electricity. In Sweden so far I haven't seen many bath-tubes either.
  • Day 33 - Save paper

    I should buy some cloth-napkins instead of using the paper-towels, especially for the dining, I'm so clumpsy I use way too much paper, I'm hoping to stumble upon some nice once second-hand ones.
  • Day 34 - Keep your highway driving speed between 55 and 60 mph

    I had to convert this to km/h...it's about 80-100 km/hour. I will think of this next time I drive!


  • Day 35 - Company travel and managing environmental footprint

    As I'm a student at the moment I don't have to travel and luckily Stefan does not either have to travel much for work. 1-2 times per year is usually how much he travels which is quite little for the job he does, but that is really convienient for us. Let's hope that we can continue like that in the future.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Save the fish

Found this video on Isabella Lövin's blog. She's a Member of the European Parliament since 2009 and works as a team leader (coordinator) on the Fisheries Committee. She has also written the book Silent Seas. Silent is what our seas will be if we will not be able to reform the fishery policy in a good manner.




Here you can read about the reform which should take form in 2012. The CPF reform watch will the latest news on the issue.

Equilibrium

One of my friend's from my Bachelor Degree is working and living in New York nowadays. Her job is awesome, she works for an all natural & organic food distributor, as a brand manager and account executive.

Unfortunately, we are not so much in contact any longer but just the other day she posted her blog link on facebook and I think some of you might find it quite interesting. Some of her posts are on healthy food since she is now studying in a health coach program and if you love NY it's worth a visit as well.

Find her blog here and follow her journey on finding equilibrium.

Monday, March 26, 2012

DIY

I have no problem admitting that I am not very good at doing practical things like sewing or painting or such and that's usually where my DIY-projects fall on. I try to learn but a talent for handycraft is not something you learn.

Here is however a tip on how to make your own garden apron from an old pair of jeans that even I could do! Just a pair of scissors required and it looks good! I'm not working that much in the garden but this would work perfectly for dog treats as well when training agility.

If you are good at doing things yourself check out the beatiful mess blog, Kanelstrand and Hannas virrvarr. (last one in Swedish)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

Earth Hour is coming up Saturday 30th March from 20:30-21:30, this is the time for you and everybody to turn off the electricity for one hour.

This year WWF are challenging you to make an extra effort for the environment and make your own additional challenge. The organization for animal's right in Sweden has made a special challenge, that you can join. If 10,000 people promise to turn off the light and eat vego for the whole day they will lend their facebok site to WWF for a day.

Here is the link to the challenge on FB if you are interested in joining. (In Swedish though)

Additonally here are some inspiration for your vegetarian cooking:

http://chooseveg.com/


http://www.101cookbooks.com/vegetarian_recipes/

http://reducefootprints.blogspot.se/p/vegan-recipes.html

http://vegomatsedel.se/ (in Swedish)

I will join, will you?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Anti-Scampi Day

Today is the Environmental Friendly Day (miljövänliga dagen) in Sweden. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation has decided to focus on their Anti-Scampi campaign.

Here is once again a link to my post on their campaign last year. Spread the word about the un-environmentally friendly Tiger shrimp.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tech Detox 23-24th March

Join the challenge and be 24 hours gadget-free.

Here's the rules(from here):

1. Avoiding technology
2. Connecting with loved ones
3. Nurturing your health
4. Getting outside
5. Avoiding commerce
6. Lighting candles
7. Drinking wine (I'm sold.)
8. Eating bread (perhaps homemade?)
9. Finding silence
10. Giving back

I have a scheduled skype call with my friend in 10 min :-) After the call my 24 hours begin officially.

Until then, be good!

Carbon Fast week 4

  • Day 22 - War affects the environment

    I just went to google and put search word "war and environmental damage" and found heaps of links. I guess it kind of goes without saying that destruction will also cause environmental desctruction
  • Day 23 - Weather and climate change

    I joined 350.org on twitter (US) and350.org internationally on twitter for day 23
  • Day 24 - Environmental justice

    Here is the link to wikipedia on environmental justice. I know that in Sweden environmental law is gathered under a common name called miljöbalken (link in Swedish)
  • Day 25 - Children and climate change

    Read report on how climate change effects children
  • Day 26 - Climate change and world hunger

    Learn more here.
  • Day 27 - Reuse, recycle and compost

    Trying our best on these. The recycling is probably going a but worst this week because I've been in a flu and lazy, but now we'll try with new strenght, we're changing to summertime on the weekend and it sure is nice weather outdoors right now!
  • Day 28 - Reduce water usage

    Our showerhead broke so this is on our to-do list right now. Not so good for water usage when half of the water is going in all directions except for on you.

How dirty is your laundry?

As this video touched the subject of my previous post I couldn't resist posting it here, basically it is just a video showing that our laundry pollutes the water. Found the video here.




To lessen the pollution from your laundry you can firstly avoid buying clothes from material that contains chemicals from colouring etc. Secondly, buy an eco-friendly detergent or use soap nuts. I haven't tried soap nuts myself yet, but I'm curious to try. Soap nuts come from trees in India and Nepal and naturally will produce a soap-like content when rubbed in water. So you just put a few of them into the washing machine with your laundry and no need to use softener eihter. They are completly frangrance free so if you want your clothes to have a a nice smell you can add for example a few drops of lavender oil.

There have been some tests though showing that the nuts don't really work (link in Swedish) and that the clothes were even cleaner after just washing them in water. So perhaps there is acctually no need for any detergent unless the clothes have stains? (link in Swedish again) However, I think that there are so many people happy with the use of these soap nuts that I don't think it really matters, it's not like the nuts will make your clothes dirtier at least.

Main point is not to use any detergent with strong chemicals, try to fill up the whole machine when you do laundry and use a program that uses as little energy as possible.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Water Day

The post on Treehugger about how Levis has encouraged their employees to go a week without washing their jeans for world water day got me a bit surprised. Is that really a challange? I wash my jeans really seldomly and mostly only when they have gotten dirty and have stains or something. Then again I don't wear them every day, at least not the same pair. But just putting them out in the fresh air is sometimes enough if they smell of tobacco or something after a night out.

But I also got a bit curious. How often do you wash your jeans? I made a little poll on the blogg up in the right hand corner. Feel free to vote their or comment here on your jeans-washing habits and have a good world water day!

The poll will be open until April 1st.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rurbanism

Yesterday while reading my classmate's project work on Urban Farming, as I'm gonna be her opponent, I learned a new word: Rurbanism. The term comes from Rural and Urban and describes a lifestyle where both overlap.
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Read more on rurbanism.com.

It seems Urban Farming is getting more and more popular. People grow herbs and tomatoes on their balconies or window sills and there are companies like Plantagon offering city planning solutions for more greener cities. I think it is an interesting subject and look forward to hear her presentation tomorrow!

Do you grow any food for yourself?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

End Animal Cosmetic Tests

Ricky Gervais is not only funny he has also joined the cause of ending animal tests in the cosmetics industry.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Carbon Fast week 3

  • Day 15 - Consider setting your hot water thermostat to 120°F

    I checked that this is 48.8 degrees Celcius. I think our thermostat is now on 60-70 degrees Celcius if I checked it right. I guess we could try lowering and see how the shower would feel
  • Day 16 - Dry your clothes on a clothes line

    This we always do. We've used the tumble dryer maybe 3-4 times since we moved in, it is handy for blancets that are stuffed with dog hairs and dust though.
  • Day 17 - Clean or replace air filters

    I'm not sure we have any air filters...
  • Day 18 - Reduce your use of household cleaning products, soaps, shampoos, hair care products and other items which contain chemicals

    Little by little we're getting there!
  • Day 19 - Fireplaces - we love them and we want to use them but ...

    ...the fireplace accounts for 14 percent of air lost out of a home - more than the windows.

    Where we live now we have no fireplace though.
  • Day 20 - Find out who your elected representatives are and tell them what you're doing through the Carbon Fast
  • Day 21 - Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

    As I'm not really familiar with this I'm gonna read up on it here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wine Cork and Wine "Cork"

I just learned that some of the wine bottles corks are plastic! Now I'm not talking about the screw caps that some wines has but a cork that looks like a real cork but is more "rubbery", those ones are plastic.


If you want to check up your favorite wine you can go to corkwatch webpage. Not all wines are listed yet but hopefully people will add more as they discover what corks are in the bottle they just bought.

I also just learned that normal corks are sustainable since it is only the bark from the cork oak used when producing cork and the trees are left to grow new bark.

I remember reading somewhere that wine corks should not go into the compost bin. It must have been because of the plastic cork, I don't see why a normal cork could not be composted, or does anyone else know more on this?
Many people are under the assumption that cork trees must be cut down to make cork products, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Cork is the bark of the cork oak, which is harvested manually and grows back to produce new cork for generation after generation.  The cork industry supports the existence of cork forests, which are home to several endangered species, and which could otherwise be cut down to make way for less sustainable products if the cork market did not exist.  I think anything that promotes the existence of old growth forests is a good thing.
Many people are under the assumption that cork trees must be cut down to make cork products, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Cork is the bark of the cork oak, which is harvested manually and grows back to produce new cork for generation after generation.  The cork industry supports the existence of cork forests, which are home to several endangered species, and which could otherwise be cut down to make way for less sustainable products if the cork market did not exist.  I think anything that promotes the existence of old growth forests is a good thing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On Economy

I was asked to write more about alternative economies.

For now let me pass you forward to an interesting post today by Sami Groover on what environmentalism is. I thought he nailed it very well:

....This new concept of economics is not capitalism. It's not communism. And it most definitely is not consumerism. So what is it? I'm thinking "creativism" would be a pretty attractive term, if it didn't bring up connotations of a whole other controversy...


I've also linked forward to Elsa and Me before on her post about the need for a new formula to calculate growth (or at least wellfare) and I agree with her. I don't think there is any sense in keeping on calculating economic growth only in monetary values if that does not increase our well-being and happiness and additionally destroys our planet and uses up unnecessary resources. I think there is other ones with the same idea as well of adding social, environmental and other values to GNP.

There has been some tries to include environmental accounting in the business world but at the moment it is mostly businesses themselves who are sweating with the problem as there are almost no guidelines. Environmental accounting is usually based on adding "costs" for using up resources or polluting. The problem though is usually what value to give nature? How much should it cost to destroy rainforest? There is a huge challenge in trying to integrate environmental values into a monetary economy and making some sort of international standards.

Carbon Fast week two

We're on to week two in the Carbon Fast.

Last week I was in such a hurry I forgot two add the links for Day 7- Learn about current scientific thinking on how extreme weather events are caused by climate change: here and here.

We still have to remove one lightbulb from our home as well for Day 6.

  • Day 8 - Reduce the number of plastic bags you use

    Our latest dilemma at home is: if we don't put the trash in plastic bags, were do we put it? Any tips on this? We're not yet that good that we wouldn't create any trash and somehow we both have a feelind that we're suppose to put the trash for being burnt into sealed bags, but I better try to check up on that.
  • Day 9 - Think about greening your "final arrangements"

    Whoooa! I'm not really into thinking about my own funeral yet but I sign up for organ donation just recently so that we'll do for now. Here are some good tips though from Reduce Footprints blog by Elizabeth Fournier.

    SIX WAYS TO HAVE A GREEN BURIAL
    1. Choose a locally sourced, all-wood casket without metal hardware, finished in natural oil and with a natural, biodegradable interior and bedding. A biodegradable shroud inside a cardboard coffin is an alternative.
    2. Ask for non-toxic, organic embalming fluid, or insist on none at all (this may limit the viewing period because embalming slows decomposition).
    3. Donate your organs.
    4. Insist on no concrete vault or grave liner. Ask about using an indigenous rock or planting a shrub as a marker.
    5. For cremation, ask that your dental fillings be removed to prevent mercury from entering the atmosphere.
    6. Request a donation to a land conservation organization instead of flowers.
  • Day 10 - Host a party with friends and neighbors to watch and discuss a film on the environment

    Will try to think of some movie to watch soon!
  • Day 11 - Plant a tree

    Unfortunately, there is still snow on the ground but I could perhaps try to plant something indoors that I can move out once spring is here.
  • Day 12 - Don't eat any meat

    Not sure I followed this on the day I was supposed to but today I've had porridge, yoghurt, mushroom risotto and bread with cheese. I'm pretty boring when I have to eat alone.
  • Day 13 - Put on a sweater and turn down your thermostat

    Double check!
  • Day 14 - Ask your electricity and gas suppliers if they have a green or renewable energy plan

    Unfortunately, at the moment we're just paying the electricity to the landlord so it's up to him what enery plan he has.

KONY 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Case study no 4

The last case we discussed was about Gibson Guitars.

There was a big scandal that showed that the Rainforest Alliance, that had audited Gibson Guitars actually had received between 315,000-390,000 dollars each year from them.

In August they were raided by the US Federal Fish and Wildlife officials for suspected violations of the Lacey Act - which forbids US companies from importing wood obtained from illegal sources. This was not the first time they were raided but the company CEO is very clever in how he answers for them and make it sound like the government is actually gonna push the jobs abroad by doing this. However, I do not see what the US government would gain by pushing jobs abroad?




On top of this many musicians claim that there is no such good guitar as one made of these woods but they might not be aware of that mahogany, rosewood and ebony are more and more difficult to find. The following is quoted from this article:

Any guitar lover knows that quality wood is a vital component to a great instrument. But not all are aware that the wood used to make most guitars comes from rare, ancient, and disappearing forests. To address this concern, a handful of guitar manufacturers and musicians have partnered with the environmental group Greenpeace to promote sustainable logging practices in forests that provide wood for the instruments. “This is both a public relations effort and an effort to do the right thing for our kids,” Henry E. Juszkiewicz, chief executive of Gibson Guitar in Memphis, Tennessee, told the New York Times

It might be so that the law is too bureaucratic in this case, but the focus should be on the endangered wood species. Here you can find a FAQ on Gibson's website about the woods being used. As a consumer I can understand it is very confusing to know what is a responsible choice. Quote from here:

"While everyone might be pointing the finger at Gibson as the dodgy guys, the question is why is everyone buying this stuff?" said Poynton of the Tropical Forest Trust. "We all bear responsibility. Musicians bear responsibility."

I'm hoping that Gibson will start working on finding alternatives, in class we were also discussing the possibility for them to perhaps do some restoring or recycling of old guitars.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Case study no 3


The third case was about the Fray Bentos mill in Uruguay, close to the border with Argentina. It involved already a long history of dispute on the subject of how much the mill will pollute the Uruguay river and should it be built or not. In the end it was built and is now owned by UPM, even if it was built by two other companies. The mill employs several thousand people. It's interesting to go to google maps and see that the UPM area is almost as big as the town Fray Bentos itself. UPM area is the gray part on the right of Fray Bentos.


View Larger Map


I think that the most concern about this pulp mill was the water use and the pollution of the river. UPM is actually saying that water is one of their key resources in their operations and it seems they are trying to account for their water footprint. However, it is quite bad presented in this video. When they are saying that 99% of water comes from their supply chain and only 1% from their direct operations it sounds like they try to push the blame on the supply chain. Of course they should be responsible for their suppliers as well! Moreover, the mill in Frentos Bay is a pulp mill and "wood pulp" goes under the 99%, so how is that not under their "direct operations"?




You can read more about their water footprint accounting here. Again, it looks good but how easy it is really for stakeholders to obtain any relevant information from the report?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Case study no 2

The second case was about the Šumava National Park in Czeck Republic on the border to Germany and their fight against the bark beetle that attacks the trees, but was the best solution really to cut down the trees or was there other interests involved in doing so? 




Friday, March 2, 2012

Case Study No 1

I thought I'd share with you some of the cases we have discussed in class during the risk management course for the next days. By mistake I published already two of them so it might be that you read them already, haha! Sorry about that! The scheduling is not so easy always. I thought they were all interesting including lots of stakeholders, so we had to keep a lot of different stakeholder's interests in mind when discussing them.

The first case was about Stora Enso's project in Laos Vietnam.



It seems like a win-win situation for all but it would be interesting to know more about the land they are growing on, who previously owned it and how much Stora Enso have paid for it. Also, what impact their project has on wildlife and of course if they farm in a sustainable way (do they use pesticides and fertilizers? and if so what do they use, etc.)

Stora Enso have to also keep in mind the safety of the workers that move the mines.

A risk for the farmers could maybe be in case this big corporation suddenly decides to not keep going with this project.

It seems a couple of my classmates might do Minor Field study on this. Cool!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Waste Less Water & the Benefits of Buying locally

@eLocalVisuals was kind enough to show me this infographic on saving water by installing low flow fixtures and appliances in your home. Quite concerning that from all water on the planet only 1% is available for human use.

Home Water Conservation Infographic
Source: eLocal.com

On their website I also found this interesting and ambitious infographic on why buying locally is better.