Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sign petitions

Wayana Indians, French Guiana
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
The size of a budget allocated to a certain activity gives an indication of its economic importance or humanitarian value. Worldwide defense spending is over 500 billion pounds, wheras international development aid does not even amount to 30 billion pounds. Yet public pressure is hugely effective in changing the way our governments spend their money - and it is easier than ever to sign up, thanks to a host of online tools.

What sort of world do we want? Support public campaigns - sign petitions. By keeping quiet, we become the architects of global catastrophe.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Find alternatives to cling film

(for the 18th of May)

Paesine, metamorphic limestone, Italy
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Most cling film or plastic wrap cannot be recycled and some contain PVC or phthalates - not something you want covering your food. Aluminum foil is a friendlier option because it can be recycled and 100% - recycled versions are readily available; however, foil can react with some foods and leach aluminum. Better 'plastic' wraps are available, too. Look for corn - or starch - based bioplastics that are biodegradable and recyclable.

In the kitchen, cut down on the need for cling film or foil by covering dishes with other dishes or pot lids, or by using reusable plastic containers or old takeaway boxes. In packed lunches, pack foods in reusable containers.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Check into alternatives before sending old or unwanted carpet to the landfill

Tiger Shark, Australia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
In Western Europe, over 1.6 million tonnes of carpet is thrown away each year and most of it was replaced for reasons other than wear. Replacing a carpet is not only economically expensive, but also environmentally costly. Much modern carpet is made of plastics and is not biodegradable, so finding ways to prolong the lifespan of carpet is an important part of reducing the toxic waste we create.

If you're just tired of the color, find out a service that will re-dye your carpet rather than replacing it. These companies can also restore an old carpet to its original quality. Several companies now also offer carpet recycling services, or your local authority may collect carpet to be recycled. If you have a garden, carpet can be used as mulch to suppress weeds.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Personal Note: Here is a link of an interesting article about Interface Inc., one of the biggest carpet Industries, which has resolved to become a sustainable company by 2020. Mission Zero is their active website about ideas and recent news articles relating to this cause. 

When you go for a walk, respect the environment

(For the 16th of May)

Dallol Volcano, Ethopia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Nature constantly provides us with a multitude of free goods and services: clean air to breathe, a favorable climate, food (including a considerable reserve of biodiversity), fresh water (that is naturally purified), medical treatments (many of which remain undiscovered), energy resources, natural plant pollination by wild species (notably of a third of the plants we use for food) and more. Our dependence on the natural world should encourage greater respect in us, since the future of our species depends on it.

Walking or hiking is a very environmentally friendly way of seeing the countryside. However, when on a walk, always keep to the footpaths. Stay out of sensitive areas such as meadows and wetlands unless there are designated paths. And if you are visiting very sensitive areas, minimize the risk of spreading invasive species or disease by making sure you're not transporting insects, pollen or seeds.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Do not print out your e-mail

(For the 15th of May)

Stream, Greenland
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Paper and cardboard, which are both recyclable, make up 80% of office waste. Despite the concept of the paperless office, workplaces continue on an upward trend in paper use. To reduce this wasteful consumption, do not automatically print out the e-mails you receive.

Organize your computer to file your e-mail electronically and only print out e-mail when it is essential. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year - don't be part of the statistic.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Freshen the air naturally

Lake Magadi, Kenya
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Plug-in or aerosol air fresheners not only create non-recyclable waste, they pollute the indoor air we spend more than 50% of our time in with phthalates and chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde. Plug-in room deodorizers also constantly drain energy.

To freshen the air without polluting your home, try burning beeswax candles (make sure that any scent added is not from chemicals), hanging bundles of dried herbs or lavender, filling a bowl with pinecones, or drying rose petals in a baskets.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Get on your bike

Sandbars, The Bahamas
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Preserving the quality of the air around us is indispensable to life. Air pollution kills 3 times as many people as road accidents. It causes respiratory diseases (chronic bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis) and is responsible for 310,000 premature deaths in Europe each year.

Get on your bicycle, rather than using your car and not only will you help make the air cleaner, but you will be fitter and healthier too. And with congestion so bad in our cities, your journey will probably take less time as well.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Personal Note: Sometimes public transport can be the faster way to travel (like in Mumbai) while avoiding road traffic congestion. Some cities have very efficient public transport systems which can be explored. Also, taking a house closer to work (if possible) not only reduces the time spent traveling but also brings down the pollution caused by the vehicle.