It’s difficult to decipher the headlines these days, and generally we don’t absorb more of the news than that. We’re too busy and there’s too much “news” thrown out there. Can we piece together the truth from a string of headlines? It’s hard enough to find the truth even with a deeper analysis. What first appears true might be false, and many things are both true and false to some degree. This is clear with the word “renewable”. Renewable energy is considered the holy grail for the future and every time the word “renewable” appears in a headline, it brings with it the sense of being the perfect saviour of the world. However, this isn’t always true, renewable isn’t always good. This is something that has hit me full in the face over the past few months.[Read more…] about Renewable isn’t always good
A couple of years ago, I read an article about Fairphone in an edition of “The Big Issue” and I was fascinated. The first thing that caught my notice was that when Fairphone’s founder, Bas van Abel, first wanted to create a fair mobile phone, one of the first things he needed to do was pay a bribe in Africa to access a mine. I’d heard that the mines in Africa can be run in terrible ways for the local people (who are basically desperate for any money they can get) and this was, and still is, a major concern for me. Just because it’s in Africa and out of my sight, doesn’t mean I can just put this out of my mind and accept it.
Eventually Bas van Abel sourced ethical materials and the Fairphone dream was underway. This dream wasn’t just the sourcing of ethical materials, the bigger part of the dream was to create a phone that was modular and could be easily repaired by the owner using inexpensive spare parts. This is why the Fairphone is of interest here at use10percentless.com, it’s a phone that you’re intended to keep for much longer than the standard smart phones, hence less waste.
Obviously, I decided to buy a Fairphone. I wanted my usage of a phone to have less impact on the world. It wasn’t an easy choice because it also meant I’d be switching from an Apple iPhone to an Android based phone. I’d never used Android before. However, on the positive side, it worked out that I spent roughly half as much money on my new Fairphone compared to the iPhone I would have bought if I’d stayed with Apple. [Read more…] about Fairphone – a better phone option?
Remember those old movies where rich families would have exotic fruits from half way around the world that had to be transported on those old ships? In some parts of the world, exotic fruits could be just bananas and oranges. It seemed so decadent for these rich families to have such things. Well, today, we all have exactly these things available in our local supermarket, and we think nothing of it. It’s our right. But the ubiquitous availability of such things is one of the important reasons why our atmosphere is getting so polluted. It’s worth looking to buy local and to eliminate as many things as possible that are shipped great distances.
I’ve been worrying more and more about the energy used to move produce about the world and I’ve taken two steps recently to use 10 percent less, or more.
Farmdrop – buying local produce
I’ve started using the Farmdrop delivery service (I have no affiliation with them at all) because they build agreements with local producers and have a “Sourcing Policy” that starts with “Prioritise Local” and the intention to source within 150 miles where possible and to never use air freight. Their website makes it easy to see where every option comes from and I like that. I now buy only fruits and vegetables that come from nearby counties in the UK and that makes me feel better. We’re currently getting delicious plums, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cheese from local farms, among other things. [Read more…] about Buy local to reduce emissions
This is a mini celebration of all the ethical and more sustainable businesses that are popping up all over the world. It’s very refreshing to see companies with principles and a real desire to supply something better to the world rather than destroy it in the quest for the highest profits. In this post, I’d like to highlight a company in the UK called “Anything but Plastic” who have provided me good service and helped me reduce the amount of plastic I bring into my home. I have absolutely no affiliation with this company, I just enjoy their products and service.
Nothing is better
Before I move on, I’d like to reiterate one of the main principles behind Use 10 Percent Less, which is that the best thing we can possibly do is stop using things. Avoiding something and not using it is far better than buying recycled products, finding alternatives to plastic, looking for renewable options, and the like. Not using something that we don’t really need to use releases a little of the pressure on the world. But, when something is necessary, it’s important to find a product that creates the minimum impact on the natural world (of which we’re an integral part – Bee a Human). All of the plastic we briefly use and dispose of thoughtlessly is a terrible imposition on the world and that’s one of the reasons I turn to companies like anythingbutplastic.co.uk when I need to.
Anything but Plastic
I was led to “Anything but Plastic” when looking for a way to avoid standard dental floss that is made from plastic. It’s horrible to think that I use dental floss every day and these little bits of plastic have to go somewhere after I used them. Not only the floss is plastic, but the container is another small plastic thing that has to go somewhere and, wherever that “somewhere” is, this plastic will be there for hundreds of years (even if it’s incinerated, the releases CO2 will be in the atmosphere for a long time). [Read more…] about Anything but Plastic – it’s good to use less
The human race today, even in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, is addicted to convenience. It’s this addiction that is bringing us down and, with all likelihood, be the main cause of our extinction. Due to our desire for extreme convenience, we use the resources of the world with gay abandon and create enormous amounts of pollution everywhere. In response to this, the world’s environment has been changing rapidly in recent decades, as if the world is preparing for the extinction of convenience, which includes us. Our only hope is to create an “extinction of convenience” of our own, and eliminate our insatiable desire for endless convenience.
During the current coronavirus pandemic, I see a persistent desire to get back to the ways things were even though there are plenty of fantastic examples of how things could be better. The skies are clearer because there are not many planes flying, pollution from our cities has dropped dramatically, nature in many parts of the world is springing back into action and local communities are becoming stronger all over the world, just to name a few. Do we really want to go back to the way things were? People are worried about the “economy” but we really need to build a new economy rather than simply return to the old one. [Read more…] about Extinction of convenience
These are difficult days for humanity with most of us now housebound to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Quite rightly, this life-and-death issue has to take priority until the threat passes. However, unusual times like these have created an link between pollution and the coronavirus that offers us the opportunity to view things in a different way and make some interesting observations.
Using less and treading lightly on the world
For quite a while now, we’ve known that the world is struggling under the weight of human consumption and human pollution. There have been great amounts of progress towards minimising unnecessary consumption and pollution, especially plastic pollution, even though much, much more needs to be done. However, with the coronavirus threat, many people have gone into super-consumption mode and are stock-piling. It’s understandable because people are afraid, but it’s interesting to observe.
Also, any concern about plastic pollution has dissipated temporarily. The amount of food being stockpiled with plastic packaging is astonishing. The protective equipment for health professionals (all very necessary of course) appears to be mostly plastic. The coronavirus testing kits being manufactured at pace contain lots of plastic. Hand-sanitiser dispensers are almost always plastic. The UK has (temporarily?) abolished the charge on plastic bags at supermarkets.
I agree that this can’t be helped at the moment and protecting people has to be our immediate priority; but we also have to remember that we’re protecting people so we can continue to have meaningful lives. If we choke the world with plastic, we might find it hard to live in such a place.
I keep thinking of Satish Kumar’s call to “tread lightly on the world” (see Elegant Simplicity – The Art of Living Well). It’s a good thing to keep in mind. There’s nothing wrong with treading lightly on the world with everything we do, but the human race doesn’t have a good track record of doing that. [Read more…] about Plastic, pollution and the coronavirus
The new high-speed rail link in England, HS2, has recently been given the go ahead by politicians. For some reason I feel deep concerns about HS2, and I thought I’d better investigate it properly. Even though trains are a less polluting way to travel than cars or airplanes, the new rail line will cut a new swathe through the English countryside and contribute even to more to the continuing destruction of natural environments that we can’t afford. When I have concerns about HS2, I keep hearing Satish Kumar’s call to “tread lightly” on the Earth and I believe this is a goal we must pursue with conviction.
In the spirit of “Use 10 Percent Less”, you could say that building new train links would be a good thing overall as these might lead to less road transport. But then we can also ask, do we really need a train that can move 1,100 people at a time between Manchester and London in 45 minutes? It would actually be better if we could devise ways that reduced the need for people to travel so much. We’ll also see below that the HS2 project does not stack up well on environmental grounds.
I’m concerned that HS2 is going ahead for two main reasons, (1) politicians need a highly visible project to demonstrate their commitment to people in the north of England (to help ensure being re-elected, even though the money could be well spent upgrading transport services along existing routes with little additional damage to the environment), and (2) pressure from the construction sector to keep a high value project alive with the threat of losing jobs (some companies are going to make a lot of money out of HS2).
In reality, of all the concerns about HS2, we should be first examining its effect on our environment. [Read more…] about Concerns about HS2
Disposable batteries obviously increase pollution and use up the Earth’s resources, but there’s really very little need for them. Rechargeable batteries are so good these days that it must actually be very close to the point where disposable batteries should be banned. I’ve been using rechargeable batteries for almost everything for 3+ years now, and they work well. There’s no need for disposable batteries.
First experience with rechargeable batteries
The first time I really looked at using rechargeable batteries was to power the external flash unit of a new Canon camera that I bought. The external flash unit took four AA batteries and I did a bit of research to see what professional photographers used for this purpose and I came across Eneloop batteries (note that I’m not deliberately promoting this type of battery – it’s just what I have experience with – there must be other good types of rechargeable battery as well). These worked great for the camera flash and, I learned over time, also seemed to work well on everything else. [Read more…] about Disposable Batteries – what a waste!
On Thursday, November 28th, the leaders of most of the political parties in the UK took part in a “Climate Debate” (unfortunately the leaders of the Conservative Party and the Brexit Party did not accept the invitation). If you haven’t seen the debate, you can see the whole thing right here below, as Channel 4 has released it on YouTube. I’ll make my comments further down in this post. For me, what the political parties are planning to do to make us rapidly reduce pollution and environmental destruction is the key issue in this election.
From my point of view, focussing on “climate” is not as good as focussing on “pollution” and “environmental destruction”. The real problem is the amount of pollution that humans are creating and that includes carbon dioxide, methane and lots of other gases, as well as plastics and discarded junk in land fills. The pollution also comes from our eating habits and our need to clear natural land to feed our habits. Once you talk about “climate” it’s easy for people to point out that the climate of the Earth has changed often during history, even before humans were around. It’s certainly true that the change now is more rapid than it has ever been before, but we still get stuck on the issue of whether it’s really humans causing the climate change. It’s easier to stick to the most obvious fact that humans are polluting the Earth really badly at the moment, as well as blatantly destroying the natural environment to create profits in our financial system.
If we’re really going to tackle pollution strongly, politicians need to take a strong stand on issues like additional runways at major airports, specifically Heathrow, and cheap flights. It’s not good to be promoting cheap flights because of the benefit to the economy while, at the same time, these flights are causing enormous pollution to our atmosphere. We have to begin reducing flights, especially short haul flights (so much pollution from take-off and landing for a short flight), right now and quickly. This issue came up in the debate but it wasn’t fully covered to my satisfaction, so I downloaded all the political parties manifestos and examined them for their policies in this direction. This is what I found. [Read more…] about UK Climate Debate and Pollution
As you’ll see below, I’ve written a letter to Greenpeace because I didn’t agree with their approach towards BP. I see this quite a bit at the moment where people concerned about the environment target companies that are significantly involved in oil and gas as the culprits who can be blamed. In particular, this attack of Greenpeace versus BP seems particularly vicious (see some example links at the bottom of this page).
However, as you’ll know from my intentions behind “Use 1o Percent Less”, the first point of blame should be directly with us consumers who are using exponentially more energy each year. It is our greed and disregard for the Earth’s resources that we need to tame, and the rest will follow.
See the letter I sent below (click on the images or read the full transcript further down); [Read more…] about Greenpeace versus BP