Friday, April 27, 2012

Have a Nice Weekend!

I will leave you for a few days as a friend is visiting and it will be Valborg here in Sweden in few days. It's apparently a huge thing in Uppsala just as it is in Helsinki.

Here's a fun video you can enjoy during that time. We saw it in class related to rhetoric and we discussed why he is so good at speaking. Anyway, I think you should just sit back and enjoy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Collaborative Consumption

I learned about the term collaborative consumption from a classmate when he wrote a paper on it in a previous class. I knew already about the concepts that this term describes.

This is the description of collaborative consumption from Wikipedia:

"The term collaborative consumption is used to describe an economic model based on sharing, swapping, bartering, trading or renting access to products as opposed to ownership. (Wikipedia)"

This video I stumbled upon today, it also describes exactly this phenomena, they call their project "Cosume". 

Video found here. Project webpage.

I think both terms are great, creative and inspiring. There are numerous things going on around collaborative consumption, new companies based on this way of thinking, for example companies offering a way for you to rent out your car or hire your neightbours' car in case you don't have one or renting out your sofa for people travelling. On a smaller scale you can find people changing things on facebook or on their blogs. (Pssst, clothes-swap in Stockholm during the weekend) A vital part for collaborative consumption to work is that there needs to be trust between the parties but hopefully more of these sort of projects will give a stronger community feeling between consumers.

Collaborative consumption could definitely be a great alternative to our consumption culture since a lot of our consumption is unnecessary. Rachel Botsman gives a great example in this TED-talk, on collaborative consumption, on how a bought drill is usually not used more than 1-2 times, so why not rent it? What we need might not be a drill, but a hole in the wall.

However, as with all great ideas there are some problems as well. With collaborative consumption might arise some law problems on when you are just a bunch of friends sharing a car to when it becomes a business. In some of these cases cooperatives might be the solution, but we might be in a gray area on this for some time until new laws are established. (do check the link out, for videos and more info on the law problems)

Finally, will give you most of the answers you need on this subject.

Do you have any personal experience on collaborative consumption? Please share!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sorry for the technical misses!

It's been several times, in several posts I've had some problems with the videos I've wanted to post and I'm sorry for that! It seems thay are there when I write the post but when I schedule it for being posted later, they dissapear. Anyway, now the video in my last post is added and as well. Do check it out.

Monday, April 23, 2012

If you go for Fashion go for Quality and Classics

I'm not too much into fashion myself but like almost any girl of course I can appreciate a nice piece of clothes and I can also understand how difficult it can be to stand against the marketing campaigns and trends, been myself into the vicious circle of shopping as well. So I was happy to see that my friend Olesja took up this subject in her fashion blog. She compares cheap fashion to fast food, which in a sense describes the situation very well. Usually, things bought in cheap clothes stores are not designed to last longer than a few months and their purpose is only to serve us the trend as long as it lasts.

This is not very sustainable in any way. I think the argument I hear most often from people shopping "cheap" is that they cannot afford quality. However, I think shopping second hand or vintage, unfortunately, has an undeserved bad reputation. Just see what treasures Char (blog in Finnish and Swedish) found in second hand shops in Helsinki. Real classics and not cheap copies!

Her style in general is very much desirable if you want to have a style that lasts through trends. I prefer a bit more colour but bearing in mind what trends could lasts is always a good guideline and if you happen to stumble upon such a piece of course you'd prefer quality so that it actually lasts. See more posts on second hand by Char here. In case you live in Helsinki she gives away her favorite second hand stores here.

On classics, I stumbled upon this NK campaign video on Nina Åkestam's blog (in Swedish). Nice to see a marketing campaign with clothes & sustainability in mind!

All in all, with a few classics in your wardrobe you will manage with less clothes as classics usually works for different occasions and fits well with almost anything and if you buy good quality you will not need to shop as often as the garments will last.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Are you gonna celebrate Earth Day today? I, myself, will stay in and study as I have an exam coming up tomorrow but I wanted to share with you Jack Johnson's song Gone. It happened to come up in the Ipod yesterday when I walked the dog and I remembered how much I like it.

Look at all those fancy clothes,
But these could keep us warm just like those.
And what about your soul? Is it cold?
Is it straight from the mold, and ready to be sold?

And cars and phones and diamond rings,
Bling, bling, because those are only removable things.
And what about your mind? Does it shine?
Are there things that concern you, more than your time?

Gone, going.
Gone, everything.
Gone, give a damn.
Gone, be the birds, when they don't wanna sing.
Gone, people, all awkward with their things,

Look at you, out to make a deal.
You try to be appealing, but you lose your appeal.
And what about those shoes you're in today?
They'll do no good, on the bridges you burnt along the way.

And you're willing to sell, anything?
Gone, with your head.
Leave your footprints,
And we'll shame them with our words.
Gone, people, all careless and consumed, gone

Gone, going,
Gone, everything.
Gone, give a damn.
Gone, be the birds, if they don't wanna sing.
Gone, people, all awkward with their things, Gone.

The video with all the beautiful sunsets made me remember that had heard somewhere that there is no red sunsets without pollution, so I had to look it up.

Apparently it depends a bit on what sort of red the sunset is, an orange colour suggests that the light is reacting with nitrogen and oxygen, that scatters the light. However, a more red sky suggests that the light is reacting with aerosol. Natural aerosol can occur from forest fires, sandstorms, sea sprays and volcanoes, but in big cities the aerosol comes mostly from car and truck generate smog. (Source)

So if we will have a clear sky tonight I might go out and check the sunset.

Have a great Earth Day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Print less and more efficiently

As you might have noticed I have added a print friendly button to the blog. You can learn more about how this tool can help you with printing whatever page online more efficiently thanks to this video and by visiting their webpage.

Other pages and software for the same functions; Ecofont and PrintWhatYouLike.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Innovation in a Global Market - The Case of Bioenergy

On wednesday the University organized again a lunch seminar like the one in November last year. This time the seminar was about innovation and in particular innovation in bioenergy.

First we got some general informaton on bioenergy. If you do not know what bioenergy is you can check out for example wikipedia here.

Bioenergy stands for about 20%-30% of energy consumption in Sweden. 10% of the electricity produced comes from bioenergy and 5% of transportation use bioenergy.

85% of bioenergy comes from forest origin and in Sweden it is only produced from whatever sidewaste you have in wood logging. However, in at least US they acctually grow forest that is cut down only for making biomass. Bioenergy is referred to as a renewable energy but when we start growing forest just for this purpose and use agrable land for growing biofuel instead of food, it is not really sustainable any longer. For a sustainable bioenergy consumption it should be locally produced and prefereably come from waste or similar, and locally consumed, if transportation is needed we are always at a loss.

We also discussed the importance of long-term strong political policy measures for companies to invest in these technologies. A problem is that the political cycle is only about 4 years, whereas investments in renewable energies usually have a payback period of 20 years or so. Which means that it is difficult for companies to rely on that a favorable tax policy will last during the whole time frame of 20 years.

Some interesting figures from the Swedish Private Equity & Venture Capital Association:
In 2003 there were no venture capitalists putting money into cleantech.
In 2009 there was 18.
Now in 2012 there is 65.

So it does seem that the interest for cleantech is picking up. Lena Malmberg (co-founder of LM Broking AB, LMBgreen Cleantech, Consulting Small to Medium-Sized Enterprise and has herself acted as a business angel for cleantech businesses) brought up some of the most important factors on why an innovation is successful or not.
  • Pull or push effect
    Is the market ready for the new invention or does it need to be pushed onto the consumers? Obviously it does seem like the time for cleantech is better now than 2003.
  • Capital
    For innovation there needs to be sufficient capital for improvements etc.
  • Culture
    This relates to everything from supporting policy making, supporting infrastructure and in a sense it also relates to pull and push, is the culture amoung consumers openminded towards the new idea.
  • Timing
    Again, this has to do with how ready the market is and how developed the product is.
Lena's future vision is that there will never be one solution that will replace oil completely, but instead we will have to think of 100, maybe more solutions, that will work in different local contexts. Halophytes plants might be a solution in the desert, while something else might be the solution here in the Nordics. Lena had experienced, first hand, a bus in Stockholm run on human excrement, apparently it was not an unpleasent ride at all, quiet and smooth.We need more of these sort of ideas that run on energy found locally.

According to Lena we will also more and more have to consider the embedded Co2 emissions and what affect the technology have on our resources. Like, where and how is our solar panels made? Can they be considered cleantech if they are made from material that are not "clean"? Wind power is a good example on that, some time ago there was an article (in Swedish) about the rare metals, like neodym, which are used in wind power turbines and how dirty the mining of these metals are.

So very much similar ideas was brought up as on the Sustainability Day. Let's hope companies keep up with the pressure to innovate and be creative.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sustainability Day 2012

On Tuesday I was at the Sustainability Day 2012 in Stockholm. It was thanks to Sustainenergies that I had the opportunity to join. Sustainenergies is an organization that helps students to become experts in sustainability issues and help companies to find the competence within young people trough cooperations. An example is the Sustainenergies Cup that they organize yearly.

It was all in all an interesting day, the moderators Mikael Salo and Stina Billinger both did a very good job and we heard many interesting presentations.

One of the presentations was from Kirsi Sormunen, vice president, Sustainability, at Nokia. I have to give her that she was a good speaker and it all sounded very great but I think some of us were missing some more concrete examples. I think she could also have said something on recycling of mobile phones and the packaging. She did speak about how mobiles can be used to help learning English in rural areas etc. but it might be difficult to grasp without examples. Here is a video that shows it in a more concrete way:

Kirsi on stage with the moderators:

We also heard some shorter inspiring talks on innovation and Eco-design. I do recommmend you to go and read about Martin Willer's talk on PeoplePeople's blog where you can also see a video of his presentation from the conference (Blog in English, video in Swedish).

Cecilia Johansson, Packaging Concept Manager at Ikea, was talking about how they recycle all of their packaging material, which is great, but I think many of us feel that Ikea's business in general is not very sustainable in the long run. They have approached their way of thinking about packaging material through the waste hierarchy model, introduced by EU.

Pic from Wikipedia

Futerra talked about the profiles of environmentally concious consumers. You can find their presentation on their website. (Köpfesten, in Swedish)

One of the most interesting talks was about corruption with Sussie Kvart from Transaparency International. She said that 5% of the GDP globally goes into corruption, which is a huge sum, one of her advices against corrpution was for companies to have a good whistle blower function. Here you can find a corruption perception index by country for 2011.

Some other interesting points that came up during the day was that it takes not only innovation for us to move towards a sustainable planet, but it it takes political will and changing of habits as well. Again we talked about that it would be a great time to change the BNP calculations to a greener version, but how difficult it is to measure non-economic values. Klas Ekelund from SEB wanted the sustainability managers to gain more higher positions to be able to make more change.

Johan Rockström talked shortly about the environmental challenges we will phase, his also done a TED-talk you can see here:

So all in all we have many challenges to take on but I think Johan shows that there is still hope, if we can take on a shifting mindset. For so many changes and such big changes to happen at once we need businesses that are transparent and willing to share their knowledge, businesses willing to collaborate with all stakeholders, businesses that have the courage to invest and try new things and last but not least businesses that are proud of their work in sustainability issues to inspire others to follow.

I'm all inspired to start straight away!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sustainability Day 2012 Coming up

I got a fantastic opportunity to join the Sustainability Day 2012 conference in Stockholm on Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to it! I will try to update you as soon as possible after the conference and during the conference I'll be tweeting with the hashtag #sday12.

Anyone else who's going? Hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Future of Farming

With the growing population on Earth comes the pressure on making more food. The fact that our agriculture system today is already using more critical resources than any other activity and that it stands for the largest carbon footprint is not a good sign because agriculture is a necessity for us to have food at all.

So what are the critical resources used in farming?
- Fresh Water
- Land
- Phosphorus

Fresh water is used in a ridiculous amount for planting for example salad or cotton in the desert. This have led to a completely dried up Aral Sea for example, which you can see from the video below.

So why are we planting in the desert in the first place? I think the only logical explanation is that there was no better alternative, unfortunately a lot of rainforest is also cut-down to be used as agriculture land.

We have all heard about peak oil, but soon we might have an even more concerning peak coming up, which is the phosphorus peak. Phosphorus is used as a fertilizer in agriculture today as we cannot afford letting the soil rest. However, there are estimates that there is only 50 years left of phosphorus rock in the current mines. Phosphorus does exists around us as well, in plants and in animals but it can't be synthesized. (Source)

So for having enough food for everybody in the future we're gonna have to think and act smart. I found the following video with Jonathan Foley here. His vision is that we need to collaborate, organic farming alone might not be the answer, neither GMO nor local and seasonal food, we need a smart combination.

I think that food will be a bigger daily concern for everybody in the future and for example urban farming will probably be one of the solutions, but let's hope we can find other sustainable solutions that will not destroy the environment and that the phosphorous problem will be solved. Phosphorous could also be distributed more equally, at the moment it is distributed even more unequally than oil.

If we could find a way of not throwing away as much food as we do now in the western countries we might not need to produce so much more food either.

People are probably also, like it or not, gonna have to eat less meat as the meat production both uses more resources and produces more methane gas.

Then, of course if we could control the population growth, that should maybe have been thought about already before we reached 6 billion.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lentil Tomato Soup

It was so good I almost forgot to take a picture of it! How was you lentils?

It doesn't look that pretty but it was great, made by my friend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lentils Day 12th April

I found out on Karin's blog that it is lentil's day tomorrow, something that Lotta Brink started last year because it is Liv's namesday. (links in Swedish)

So we're all cooking lentil's tomorrow right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reduce and avoid excess packaging

Recently there has been some nice posts on excess packaging and unnecessary plastic in particular. Beth started a campaign against Trader Joe's in US, Tanja started #plastriot on twitter against unnecessary plastic in our everyday life (link in Swedish) and the Rubbish Diet had a nice post on Nestlé's redesigned Easter packaging.

The fact that we haven't come up with any better way to pack for example fruit in the store is disheartening, especially since most of the plastic will just go straight to the rubbish bin! Even if the plastic is recyclable in some cases how many of us have the knowledge and interest to actually do it?

Our last fruit shopping unfortunately brought home more plastic as well.

This doesn't go only for plastic and fruit, but for all product packaging and all material. If businesses would manage to lessen the material used for packaging it would not only be good for the planet but it would be a cost reduction as well. For necessary packaging I am sure there is materials that would be compostable or organic that we could replace the plastic with, so I wonder why is there still so much plastic around?

I try to consider the packaging when I buy something but sometimes it is hard to predict (for example when buying from the Internet) and other times it is unavoidable, like when buying vegetables and fruit (because I need my greens and I am not gonna drive another extra 50 km just to get them without plastic). I also wonder if packaging is sometimes forgotten when designing an Eco-friendly product? For example the apples on my picture, they were Eco-apples but were still wrapped in plastic, such a shame! Let's hope that more companies are awakening to this problem as the campaigns against plastic get going.

Remember the song about not forgetting your canvas bag at home? Here you have another song to inspire you in your search for plastic free alternatives.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Carbon Fast week 6 part 2

The Carbon Fast ended yesterday, so here is a last update, hope you've all had a great Easter holiday.

  • Buy food that's being grown or produced locally
    I find it hard though to find both locally AND organic food, if I need to choose I usually choose organic.
    I can't wait until we will actually spend a whole spring and summer in the same place with our own garden so we can start growing some stuff ourselves.
  • Learn about how much freshwater are used on power plantsReport here.
  • Justice and care for the earth are inseparable.
    Learn about the Earth Charter initiative for a sustainable development, find activities around the world here.
  • Replace the light bulb you removed on Day 6 with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), which can save 150 lbs. of carbon dioxide a year - unless you've decided you don't need it at all.I hope that any new lamps we have in this house are all low energy ones, but I might have to check with Stefan to be sure. 
So how did the whole fast go all in all? I think I learned a few new things during the fast, which is always great. Also I think it's good to be reminded about the small things continuously like, turning off lights, electricity appliances and be careful with water use. I hope that these things will be in the backbone of the younger generations bit for me some things still require learning a new habit. Luckily turning off the lamps when I leave a room is becoming a habit but for sure I can still get better when it comes to other things.

I've followed the Carbon Fast through Reduce Footprints who has an interesting week coming up, teaming up with SB-Knight for a book release.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Carbon Fast week 6

Last week ongoing in the Carbon Fast challenge.

  • Day 36 - Bicycle sharing

    Learn about bicycle sharing.

    A bicycle sharing system is a service in which bicycles are made available for shared use to individuals who do not own them. (by Wikipedia)

    There seems to be a lot of bike sharing systems in bigger cities, I know Helsinki used to have one as well but if I remember correctly they stopped it as it was too expensive to maintain the bikes.

  • Day 37 - Address your "standby" habits

    Try to redce "standby" electricity appliances by turning them off.

    We have become good at turning of the TV and the Playstation, on occasion the phone chargers are still left plugged though when not charging so we still need to get better.
  • Day 38 - Read about climate change

    Reduce Footprints give you the link to Huff Post about climate change.
  • Day 39 - Celebrate Earth Hour

    I saved my posts about our Earth Hour under earth hour label.
  • Day 40 - Walk, bike, take public transportation or carpool

    Will do! More so now when spring is coming...Even if they are still showing we will have more snow tomorrow, I hope not! I really would like to take my bike out already!
  • Day 41 - Eco Justice

    Katharina at Neosolidaritet posted just the other day a fantastic picture about the difference between rich and poor.

    Also Global Rich list is a fantastic page where you really start thinking about how rich you are....I think the result is gonna suprise you! Try!
  • Day 42 - End junk mail

    We managed to reduce our junk mail quite a bit just by putting a "no advertisement" sign on our mailbox. Since then I also learned that in Sweden you can join a list on a site called Reklamfritt to reduce junk mail, however, it turned out not to be so useful for me as I've been living so short time still in Sweden and companies have not got hold of my adress yet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Right now I'm in love with Weleda's products. Before I thought they were a bit too thick and greasy but now I love it, and the skin loves it too! I think it just takes a bit getting used too, perhaps not the best to start with when switching to eco-products.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The most Astounding Fact..

...according to Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

We're all stardust! This is what we discussed duiring Earth Hour.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reduce Flights

Yey! Today I can say that I have not flown in a year (unless I'm forgetting something). I flew last time because we won a trip by EasyJet to Manchester, the trip was half a disaster though so not sure I ever want to "win" a trip again.

Probably I will still fly in the future but it feels nice have avoided at least some carbon footprint for a year. Next time I fly I don't know if I will be able to do it with a clear conscience without carbon compensating though. I know it won't make it up but at least it will be something.

If you want to calculate your flights' carbon footprint next time you travel you can for example use this one.

Here is a nice video showing the air traffic worldwide for 24 hours. Interesting!

Video found here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Our Earth Hour Day

In the end we couldn't make it to the restaurant yesterday so we settled for the Barista Fairtrade cafe.

They have always fresh sandwiches that are mostly made of Eco ingredients.

The Eco Now exhibition was nice but unfortunately (for the exhibitors) there was not so much people. It was good for us though because we had time to stop and talk with people and enjoy everything from cosmetics to Eco-wine.

In the evening we turned of the lights and enjoyed a nice dinner according to plan.

I had to use flash for this photo, therefore the brightness. In the end I did a chickpea stew with inspiration from here. (recipe in Swedish) I did some small adjustments though because we didn't have paprika nor nuts at home and we were too late home from Stockholm to make it to the store.

300 g chickpeas
1 onion
 1 clove of garlic
1 spoon of sambal oelek
 2 fresh tomatoes
1 jar crossed tomatoes
1 green chili
1 spoon vegetable broth
chili pepper

I fried the onion for a bit before I added the rest of ingredients and then let it simmer for a while and served with fresh bread. It was really good, a bit spicy for sure but I like it hot!

Earth Day 22nd April

Just when we have passed the Earth Hour, Earth Day is approaching.(22nd April)

Already starting tomorrow there is an auction event globally online for Earth Day at EcoEtsy. The auction will run until Earth Day and the profits will go to National Park foundation.

Earth Day is striving for a billion acts of green this year, a bit similar to the challenge of Earth Hour? Join with your own pledge here and find events near you.

I hope to find some interesting event to join for Earth Day because I'm a bit tired of the challenges, at least for now and would just like to get out there and meet interesting people with a similar mindset.

How about you? Are you still up for the challenges?