Categories
Eco

Why is soil so important?

Why is soil so important?

Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about it?

Soil plays an essential role in the Earth’s ecosystem. Without soil, human life would be very difficult.

1. It provides plants with the nutrients they need to grow food, giving us food security.

Soil filters rainwater and regulates excess rainwater, preventing flooding. However, yield depends on the quality of the soil, and many current agricultural practices damage soils.

2. It can store large amounts of organic carbon (CO2), making it a strong ally in the fight against climate change!

Soils contain three times more carbon than the atmosphere or terrestrial vegetation!

3. It acts as a buffer against pollutants, protecting the quality of groundwater.

When rainwater infiltrates the soil, it is filtered during its journey by the different layers of it, sand and rock. Micro-organisms attack the bacteria and viruses in the water, changing its chemical and biological composition and purifying it.

In this way, the soil limits the transfer of pollutants between surface water and groundwater. The result is clean groundwater, which can be used as drinking water. As an added bonus, the water has picked up minerals that are good for our bodies during its journey through the soil. The argument is therefore self-evident: it is necessary to protect the soil in order to enjoy the benefits of the water and to keep the water clean.

4. It also presents a record of past environmental conditions.

Indeed sedimentary rocks are witnesses of past climatic conditions. The climates of very ancient times are reconstructed by studying the latitudinal distribution of certain sedimentary rocks that form under specific climatic conditions (coals, evaporites, bauxites).

The principle of actualism is thus applied: it is postulated that the conditions of formation of a given rock have remained the same over geological time.

It is also important to know that the fossils present in the soils also make it possible to reconstitute past environments; they are also climate indicators.

5. It is a habitat for millions of species.

Soil is a living environment in which many organisms evolve. Its quality depends to a large extent on the activity, diversity and balance between the various living organisms that make up the soil. From the largest to the smallest, each one fulfils functions that are essential to the life of the soil, and therefore to that of the plant.

What can we do to protect the soil?

✅ Eat organic: pesticides damage soil, living organisms and pollute water.

Ask around to find producers, farmers who grow without pesticides. Also pay attention to food packaging and try to find the keyword “pesticide free”.

✅ Reduce food waste: don’t throw away all those precious nutrients! Reduce the amount of food produced and eat it all!

However if you have any organic waste left over, think about composting. Give back to nature what it has given you. EasyEcoTips has a lots of articles on their website about composting, please check them out if you want to start composting but don’t know where to start.

✅ Eat diverse: diversity is great for the soil, there is no worse than monoculture.

The food you buy at the grocery shop also has an impact on the whole food supply system. Food guides now recommend varying your protein sources. By eating different types of food, you will help create a demand for a wide variety of agricultural products, which is better for the soil.

Categories
Eco

Amazon destroys millions of unsold items every year

A British ITV investigation recently revealed that Amazon destroys millions of unsold items every year.

Most of these products are new and unused. These are unsold or returned products.

What did the survey reveal?

An investigation by ITV News from 2021 reveals images from Amazon’s UK warehouses, where millions of unsold products are destroyed every year. Following the outcry over the video, Boris Johnson (Prime Minister at the time) promised an investigation into the practices.

The enquiry found that around 130,000 items were destroyed each week in a single fulfilment center at one of Amazon’s largest warehouses in the country, in Dunfermline, Scotland. Every year, “millions of perfectly good items are thrown away to be destroyed”, revealed ITV, which has obtained footage secretly filmed in the “destruction room”.

Destroyed products included smart TVs, laptops, drones, hairdryers, high-end headphones, computer disks, books galore, thousands of sealed face masks.

This is due to Amazon’s business model:

Amazon’s business model

With a large number of sellers selling the same products, there is very little differentiation in some categories and therefore the order in which products are listed on a page becomes an important driver of sales.

Amazon uses its algorithm to establish the ranking order in order to provide the most relevant and optimised listings to customers at the top.

There is a lot of competition between sellers, so it is imperative for them to make accurate demand forecasts and stock the right number of units in the distribution centres.

If demand is underestimated, sellers lose potential sales and may also lose money by advertising on Amazon.

If demand is overpriced, the seller not only loses money on unsold inventory but also has to pay Amazon for storage and shipping costs for returning products.

Indeed, many sellers house their products in Amazon’s warehouses. But the longer the goods remain unsold, the more the seller has to pay to store them. In the end, it is cheaper to get rid of the goods than to continue storing them.

What can we do?

Avoid Amazon as much as possible and choose smaller, responsible companies.

Ask around and be sure that there are local artisans and small businesses that produce what you are looking for in an artisanal way.

If you are looking for a book, go to a bookstore and you will be advised by an enthusiast, and it is much more ecological.

Also think about second hand! For clothes, go to a thrift shop. If you are looking for toys for your children for example, go to flea markets or garage sales.

Don’t buy more than you need and say to yourself, “If it doesn’t fit or look good, I can return it”. Be aware that returns are often destroyed.

Source : ITV.

Categories
Eco

What is the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project?

What is the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project?

Every year the world loses 10 million hectares of forest, an area twice the size of Costa Rica.

As Pakistan hosted World Environment Day on 5 June 2021, the country led the way with its Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project.

What is the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project?

This ambitious project, supported by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), aims to plant ten billion trees by 2023.

It was launched in 2019, and one billion trees have already been planted!

The first phase aims to plant 3.25 billion trees in the country, at an estimated cost of about 105 billion Pakistani rupees (about 554 million euros).

The program also aims to preserve mangroves (an ecosystem of trees along the coastline), reforest cities and create more than 5,500 “green” jobs.

This reforestation project is similar to the Billion Tree Tsunami launched in 2014 by the previous government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which aimed to plant 1 billion trees throughout the country.

Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change

Severe water shortages, droughts, floods, loss of forests… Pakistan is experiencing the full range of consequences of global warming and ranks among the top five countries most affected by these upheavals.

This is because only five percent of the country is covered by forests, compared to a global average of 31 percent.

Pakistan is directly affected by the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, which is causing severe water shortages in much of the country, as well as the gradual disappearance of riparian forests.

The country is particularly vulnerable to increased monsoon variability, retreating Himalayan glaciers and extreme events such as floods and droughts.  The impact of these phenomena will result in increased food and water insecurity.

It is the fifth most populous country in the world, putting increasing pressure on the environment.

Pakistan’s population

70% of its population lives in rural areas, with 24-40% below the poverty line. At the same time, the government’s capacity to provide basic services and respect for human rights is being outstripped by the growth of the country’s major urban centres.

The evidence suggests that the gap between rich and poor is widening, while a complex set of structural, community and family factors keep millions of people, especially women, in extreme poverty. The conflict in Pakistan is adding to the instability of the country.

The country’s poverty makes it more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Source: OXFAM / UNEP.

Categories
Eco

The environmental impact of poor quality

The environmental impact of poor quality

The most ecological object is the one you don’t buy! (But you can rent it 😉 )

Nowadays, people prefer to buy cheap stuff more often, instead of buying more expensive and better-quality items and keeping them for longer.

Why do people prefer to buy cheap stuff often?

In times of crisis, with record inflation rates and constantly rising commodity prices, being close to the money is a necessity.

We think about the state of our wallet today and not necessarily about tomorrow. You think you’re getting a good deal on the spot without even thinking about sustainability.

This is even more true in the textile industry with “fast fashion”. Buying clothes online has become a form of hobby for some consumers. A study conducted in 2013 by the Urban Land Institute explains that 50% of men and 70% of women consider shopping as a form of entertainment.

We buy stuff we only need for a short time and will never use again, just because it’s cheap. Which brings us to the second part.

The environmental impact of poor quality

But cheap is also often poor quality, and has terrible environmental implications: low wages, poor working conditions, plastic waste, single use pollution.

There is an abuse of raw materials such as water. According to the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), more than 4% of water consumption worldwide is allocated to the textile industry for example.

These are not the only natural resources being depleted by fashion. Deforestation is increasing daily to meet the need for plant-based textile fibres (linen, organic cotton, etc.). Cotton alone accounts for more than ¼ of the annual production of T-shirts, shirts and jeans.

Wildlife and animal resources (fur, leather, etc.) are not spared by this new fashion either. This new fashion has a huge impact on the planet and its biodiversity. Faced with the depletion of resources and global warming.

The poor quality also uses a lot of plastic which is known to be harmful to the environment and human health.

Not to mention the working conditions where the staff is often exploited on the assembly line, working very long hours and being very often underpaid. Not to mention the fact that some sectors also exploit children a lot.

How to remedy all this?

Renting is the solution 🙌

By renting, you can afford good quality items without breaking the bank!

1️. You can rent books from the good old library. You can even rent books from the internet as well as dvds, movies etc….

2️. You can rent clothes from online rental services and get great quality brands every month. For example instead of buying suits or special outfits that you will wear only once, think about renting!

3️. You can even rent caskets/coffins: did you know that this is often the most expensive thing at funerals? Hire coffins are a great alternative. The body is actually in a removable box inside, and can be buried or cremated after the funeral without ever actually touching the coffin.

4️. You can rent baby/children’s clothes: they grow up so fast: why buy tons of new clothes that you will throw away after only a few months?

5️. You can rent maternity clothes: usually, you need maternity clothes for 6 months maximum. Return them when the baby is born.

6️. You can rent toys: don’t go for the cheap plastic toy that will break in two days. Rent good quality wooden toys. If your child likes one of them, you can always buy it and keep it. If not, return it!

7️. You can rent tools: if you only use them once, why buy them? You’ll probably choose the cheapest, poor quality one and never use it again. Rent good tools instead!

Source : EARTH.ORG.

Categories
Eco

The International Coastal Clean-up Day

The International Coastal Clean-up Day.

Every year in September, the International Coastal Clean-up Day takes place.

Where does it come from?

In 1994, Vancouver Aquarium staff and volunteers decided to clean up the beach at Stanley Park to preserve the city’s coastline. From the first cleanup, the program spread throughout British Columbia and by 1997, 400 volunteers had participated in 20 BC beach cleanups.

From there, the program grew into a national conservation program in partnership with WWF Canada called the Great Canadian Coastal Cleanup. In 2002, all provinces and regions began cleanups. In 2003, over 20,000 volunteers participated. Public support has grown as Canadians become more aware of the harmful effects of litter on ecosystems, wildlife and people.

September 17th: today is International Coastal Cleanup Day:

Approximately 800,000 volunteers in more than 100 countries are collecting nearly 20.5 million pounds of trash and has goals of attracting 1,000,000 volunteers by 2026.

The most common items found on the coasts

An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enters our seas each year.This plastic waste affects marine life and ecosystems. So much so that turtles, for example, mistake plastic bags for jellyfish.

Plastic also never fully biodegrades; it just breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces turning into microplastics, that are now found in salt, water, rain, etc.

And so logically there will be a lot of plastic items in the top 10 items found on the coast:

  1. Cigarette butts
  2. food wrappers
  3. Plastic bottles
  4. Plastic bottle caps
  5. Plastic straws
  6. Plastic cups
  7. Plastic bags
  8. Takeaway containers
  9. Metal caps
  10. Lids
And yes, the most littered item on the coast is cigarette butts
Cigarette butts          

5.6 trillion cigarettes are manufactured worldwide each year and the majority come with filters that contain chemicals and are made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that can take a decade or more to decompose.

What can we do about it?

The easy answer is to stop smoking: it is good for your health, you will save money and help the environment. But it’s easier said than done.  So if you are a smoker, use a portable ashtray to collect your butts. It is the size of a key ring and is very handy. Never throw your cigarette butts on the floor, instead put them on the portable ashtray until you find a bin. Easy!

For the rest of the waste, what to do?

Again, it’s very simple, all the items on this list have a reusable alternative. Make the switch!

As for the plastic bottles, replace them with reusable metal bottles for example, it’s infinitely reusable, durable and it even keeps the drink cool on the beach under 40 degrees. This solves the plastic cap problem at the same time.

If you are interested in this topic, please read this article written by EasyEcoTips which discusses it in more detail.

As for straws, there are also reusable straws, which are much more durable and economical. This is also the case for plastic glasses, plastic bags, containers, etc. It’s just a matter of making a small effort and you can make all the items on this list disappear!

Source: Ocean.org

Categories
Eco

What are the alternatives to chewing gum?

What are the alternatives to chewing gum?

It is quite common to walk down the street and find chewing gum stuck to the ground, on benches, traffic lights or walls. This is not only an aesthetic problem, but also a hygienic and, above all, an environmental one.

What is chewing gum made of?

Chewing gum ingredients are divided into two categories: soluble and insoluble.

Insoluble ingredients: insoluble ingredients are the basis of the gum and other components that provide the flavour.

Soluble ingredients: include sweeteners, some flavours, polyols, sugar and glucose syrup.

The ingredient that interests us most for its environmental aspect is gum.

Gum is made up of several things:

– Antioxidants: are used to prevent the oxidation of the gum base and the components that provide the taste.

– Elastomers: contribute to the elasticity of the rubber.

– Resins: are used to soften and bind the compound.

– Fillers: help to obtain a better texture.

– Plasticizers: contribute to the homogeneity of the mixture obtained and to the flexibility of the elastomer.

– Polyisobutylene: a synthetic rubber derived from crude oil. (basically plastic)

Chewing gum takes a long time to break down (between 3 and 5 years). And it is also because of Polyisobutylene that chewing gum is harmful to health.

But chewing gum is not only a problem when it is eaten, it is also a problem when it is thrown away and that is the most important part!

The consequences of throwing chewing gum anywhere

Although it may seem that chewing gum has no impact on our environment, leaving it lying around (roads, metro stations, buses, walls…) has a visual impact, as well as being harmful to hygiene and the environment.

Chewing gum causes hygiene problems because it attracts large quantities of germs. According to some studies, a single piece of chewing gum can contain up to 50,000 germs.

Another important problem is that the longer the chewing gum is in the area where it was deposited, the more it degrades it. Therefore, if the situation occurs in a natural environment, within a short time, that piece of soil is destroyed. In addition, chewing gum poses a danger to animals, plants and oceans.

Where to throw away your chewing gum?

Chewing gum should be wrapped in paper and disposed of in the nearest waste bin. At least this does not damage nature directly.

However, chewing conventional chewing gum will never be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Since chewing gum is not recyclable, it will have to go to a waste disposal site.

If you really feel the need to chew, why not try one of these more sustainable alternatives?

Chicza gum is a certified 100% natural and organic gum from the Chicozapote tree in the Mayan forest.

For fresh breath, you can simply chew mint leaves, cloves or cardamom pods.

There are also cardamom pods and clove chewing gum. Or the more classic mints without plastic packaging of course!

Click here to have a look at our previous article!

Categories
Eco

What is France doing for animal welfare?

What is France doing for animal welfare?

 France recently announced a series of new animal welfare measures!

As part of these measures, wild animals will be gradually banned from travelling circuses.

France will also ban farming minks for fur and keeping dolphins and orcas in captivity in marine parks.

Bears, tigers, lions, elephants and other wild animals will no longer be allowed in travelling circuses under the ban. France’s three marine aquariums will no longer be able to breed or bring in new dolphins or orcas starting immediately.

But the government said the rules would not apply to zoos and other permanent attractions or shows.

The French government is considering creating a sanctuary of the wild animals currently in captivity.

France is not the only country with a ban on wild animals in circuses. These countries too: Austria, Bolivia, Bosnia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, El Salvador, England, Estonia, Greece, Guatemala, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia.

But that’s not all

New rules to stop impulsive pet purchases come into force in France.

They follow the revelation that, while pets are popular (50% of people in France own one) 100,000 animals are abandoned in the country each year.

To avoid hasty purchases and ensure that prospective owners understand the responsibilities that pet ownership entails, they now need to sign a certificate of commitment and awareness.

This will apply to the purchase or acquisition of a horse (for non-professional reasons), a dog or a cat, whether money is exchanged or not.

The certificate details animal needs and obligations that their owner should respect as well as the logistical and financial implications of the purchase.

The new rules are part of the animal mistreatment law, which aims to fight against animal abuse and strengthen the bond between animals and humans.

If you want good news about animals,  click here to read the article written by EasyEcoTips about all the animals that are not endangered anymore.

The sanctions for animal abuse have also evolved

The text reinforces sanctions against those found guilty of mistreating animals, up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros if the act results in the animal’s death, as opposed to the previous two years and 30,000 euros, in addition to setting guidelines concerning the pet trade, particularly by prohibiting the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops.

Why did France take these measures?

It is necessary to know that a lot of animals are abandoned, mistreated in France and in the world.

In fact, the Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis showed that more than 100,000 pets are abandoned each year in France.

At the time, Reha Hutin, president of the charity told The Connexion: “The hard truth is that 100,000 animals in France are dumped because people are unwilling to spend some time finding someone to look after their pet.

“It gets worse in summer, when 60,000 pets are dumped, just so people can head off on holiday.”

In July 2021, the government launched a €20m action plan to combat animal abandonment, which rose significantly last year in part due to the Covid lockdown, the government said.

Source: TheConnexion / BBC / LeMonde.

Categories
Eco

How much water it takes to make a pair of blue jeans?

How much water it takes to make a pair of blue jeans?

It takes an incredible amount of water (up to 10, 000L / 2600 gallons) to produce a single pair of blue jeans.

That includes growing the cotton and the manufacturing, but it doesn’t include the water that you’ll use to wash your jeans over time.

One third of the 10,000 liters needed to make a pair of jeans is used to grow the plants (e.g. cotton). The rest is used to produce the fabric.

What are blue jeans made of?

Most blue jeans are made of cotton. The jeans are prepared, washed and bleached. They receive many treatments. All these steps require hundreds of liters of water.

Blue jeans are not the only clothes that have such an impact. The entire textile industry is the second largest polluter of clean water globally, after agriculture. And cotton is not the only problem. Polyester is the most popular fabric used for fashion. It is synthetic, and is made from plastic fibers. But when washed in domestic washing machines, polyester clothes shed microfibres that end up in our oceans.

But these are not the only problems

Pesticides and fertilizers used to make the plants grow quickly pollute the soils and the long journeys (by boat or plane) between the countries where the crops are harvested and those where the manufacturing takes place, located in Africa and Asia, produce a lot of CO2.

What can we do?

Fast fashion encourages people to buy more and more, and produces 92 million tons of solid waste dumped in landfills each year.

Slow down! Choose better quality clothes, keep them longer, mend them when needed, and recycle or upcycle them. Visit second hand shops first and have a look at their collection: it is easy to find cool stuff, often cheaper!

Think about reusing! Ask your parents or grandparents if they have clothes they don’t wear anymore, you might be surprised ;).

If not, think about thrift stores, second hand.

If you really want to buy new we recommend materials like linen or nettle which consume less water than cotton. However it will be more expensive than cotton.

Source : Vogue.

Categories
Eco

What is light pollution?

What is light pollution? After reading this article you will know everything about the subject…

What is light pollution?

Light pollution is the excess of artificial light emitted from urban centres. This includes indoor and outdoor lights in homes and buildings, aerial and maritime signalling, and street lighting.

What are the different types of light pollution?

Glare

Glare occurs when excessive light is not properly shielded and shines horizontally. It then reduces visibility, causing visual discomfort and even momentary blindness. For example, when you catch a camera flash in your eyes, or the full headlights of a car you pass at night.

Light trespass

This occurs when lighting invades a space that it is not supposed to illuminate. For example, when light from a street lamp or a neighbour’s house invades your bedroom, preventing your environment from becoming dark at night and disrupting your sleep.

Skyglow

Skyglow is the accumulated brightness that artificial lights emit, which can be seen from space. This phenomenon is more important in areas with high concentrations of air pollution. For example, the brightness of the city of Los Angeles is visible from more than 300 kilometres away.

Over-illumination

This is bright or excessive light sources that can cause confusion, distraction and even accidents. This light clutter is visible in cities, or on roads where lights are poorly positioned, distracting or annoying drivers and can cause accidents. The city of Las Vegas in the United States, with its multiple night lights on casinos and hotels, is an example of light clutter.

France has adopted an illumination ban

Since 2013, France has adopted an illumination ban. Offices, shops and non-residential buildings have to turn off their lights after 1am.

Some iconic buildings are exempt, like the Eiffel Tower and other cultural buildings during celebrations.

The illumination ban is expected to save 200 million euros (more than $260 million) and 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, according to the Ministry of Ecology.

What are the consequences of light pollution?

The impacts caused by light pollution are numerous. It affects the migratory cycles of birds, disorienting them and causing them to crash into lit buildings, for example. It affects the offspring of some sea turtles, who mistake the moon for city lights and head in the wrong direction.

Light pollution at night also attracts insect pests, such as mosquitoes. Finally, it spoils the sky and its stars for all of us who live close to a big city.

Light pollution can also cause changes in the metabolism of our cells by decreasing the production of melatonin. In humans, these metabolic changes can affect our digestive cycle, leading to diseases such as obesity, diabetes and certain cardiovascular diseases.

How can light pollution be reduced?

Unlike other types of pollution, light pollution can easily be avoided or reduced. Some measures have already been taken. Since 2013 in Paris, for example, between 1am and 7am, all lights in shops, offices and on city facades must be switched off. Only the lights of tourist monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower, are then maintained.

In addition, for public lighting, it is possible to optimise lighting by shining light downwards rather than upwards or horizontally. This allows for more power and less energy consumption.

Stop Wasting Energy: Things We Can All Do

More people are taking action to reduce light pollution and bring back the natural night sky. Many states have adopted legislation to control outdoor lighting, and manufacturers have designed and produced high-efficiency light sources that save energy and reduce light pollution.

Individuals are urged to use outdoor lighting only when and where it is needed, to make sure outdoor lights are properly shielded and directing light down instead of up into the sky, and to close window blinds, shades, and curtains at night to keep light inside.

If you want to know more about how to reduce waste at home, please read the article written by our friends at EasyEcoTips “4 Ways to Reduce Waste at Home“.

The reduction in illuminations is expected to save 200 million euros (more than $260 million) and 250 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, according to the Ministry of Ecology.

Source: NationalGeographic.

Categories
Eco

How to make your own deodorant?

How to make your own deodorant?

Are you looking for a super simple natural deodorant recipe?

Use lemon or lime as deodorant! It is 100% natural and incredibly effective 😉

Lemon juice contains citric acid, which kills bacteria and odor. It will last easily for 12h to 24h.

You can reuse the same lemon for a whole week, and it will keep the odours away!

Oh and by the way, this 100% natural alternative will save packaging waste, plastic waste, and unwanted chemicals in your body!

Remember, lemon and lime juice is a great deodorant alternative, but is not an antiperspirant. It will not block sweat, just remove bad odours.

If you are looking to protect your skin, avoid antiperspirants as they contain ingredients like aluminium, that block the pores of our skin to prevent us from sweating. However, sweating is one of our main body’s functions to release toxins from our system.

Other harmful ingredients that can be found in antiperspirants and some deodorants are triclosan, propylene glycol, parabens or synthetic fragrances.

Switch to a natural deodorant, there are a lot of brands out there especially for very sensitive skins! But an easy solution is still to simply rub a lemon or lime in your armit!

Downsides: if you just shaved or have a small cut in your armpit, it will sting! Also, if you intend to spend the day in the sun, make sure you don´t put lemon juice on your skin as it will leave marks and welts.

Finally, don´t try it with other citrus sources like oranges, they contain more sugar and will stick.