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.

Buy products that are durable and can be repaired

(For the 9th of May)

Descent into a glacial crater, Greenland
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Manufactured products often require a degree of raw materials and energy from the environment out of proportion to the final weight. If wealthy countries maintain their present rates of consumption, each individual will consume an average of 100 tonnes of the earth's nonrenewable resources and more than half a million liters of fresh water each year (30 to 50 times the amount that is available for each person to the poorest countries). Buying durable, well-made goods that can be repaired will help reduce the impact of this consumption.

The next time you buy something, ask the seller about the length of its guarantee, how easily it can be repaired and whether spare parts are available.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Choose cruelty free cosmetics

(For the 8th of May)

Lake Natron, Tanzania
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
It is often difficult to distinguish between companies that do and so not test on animals. Many companies do not label their products clearly and others make confusing statements - for example, a label claiming 'this product has not been tested on animals' may mean that the final product may not have been animal tested, but the individual ingredients could have been. So even if the manufacturer claims to be cruelty-free, the ingredient supplier could have tested on animals.

If you want to buy genuinely cruelty-free cosmetics, look for products approved under the Humane Cosmetics Standard (HCS). The HCS is the world's only international criteria for cosmetic and toiletry products that are genuinely not tested on animals. By offering a single, internationally recognized set of cruelty-free criteria, the HCS helps ethical consumers avoid animal-tested cosmetics and toiletries. Check the labels on the cosmetics you buy.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Install a dual-flush toilet

Monument Valley National Monument, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
All our buildings are supplied with drinking water, yet only 1% of the water treated to those standards is actually drunk. A dual-flush toilet can reduce the use of potable water for non-potable actions. A dual-flush toilet has two buttons-use a full flush for solids or a reduced amount of water to flush liquids.

Look into replacing your toilets with dual-flush versions. Dual-flush fixtures can allow you to reduce your household water consumption by half.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Friday, May 6, 2011

Protect endangered habitats

Osprey Reef, Australia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Approximately 15,589 plant and animal species face extinction. In Europe, 1 in 6 species of mammals is in danger of disappearing, and 1 in 3 species of freshwater fish. As many as 50% of Europe's plant species are also threatened by global warming and the destruction of habitat by intensive agriculture and urbanization.

Threatened and endangered species can be found throughout the United Kingdom and Europe in all kinds of ecosystems. Learn the species that are listed in your area and commit to assisting in the preservation of their habitat.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Use concentrated dishwasher liquid

White sands National Monument, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Packaging has gone beyond the function of protecting a product and informing the consumer and has become a marketing tool. Over-packaged goods vie with each other to seduce potential buyers at first glance, so that a product that was not on the shopping list ends up in the shopping basket.

When buying dishwasher liquid, ignore boxes of individually packed tablets and instead choose less polluting and more easily carried alternatives, such as refillable packages, especially concentrated liquids. Dishwasher detergent in tablet form is also higher in phosphorous, which disrupts ecosystems when released into our waterways.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Invest in a new boiler

Ice floe, Antarctica
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Water heating accounts for around 80% of a home's energy use. The new generation of combination boilers can be up to 90% efficient, compared to older gas boilers that operate at around 50% efficiency. Given that heating takes such a large amount of energy, investing in a new boiler can save money and cut your carbon-dioxide emissions significantly.

Consider upgrading your boiler -  many energy companies give discounts if you buy through them. In the United Kingdom, look for SEDBUK - a rating which indicates the most efficient type - and make sure you get it serviced regularly to keep it operating at maximum efficiency.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Mulch your garden to protect it from evaporation and weed growth

(For the 3rd of May)

Acid Lake, Vanuatu
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
When weeds appear in the garden, there is a strong temptation to eliminate them using environmentally damaging chemicals. But you can prevent them from growing in the first place by using natural mulch cover that also helps to keep moisture in the soil. Protected from weeds as well as from drying out excessively, the garden will be healthier.

You can mulch the soil around the base of plants, trees and bushes using hay, dried grass cuttings, leaves, wood shavings, chippings and so forth. Mulching also protects soil from the action of sun and wind, and helps to keep it moist.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Order an organic vegetable box

(For the 2nd of May)

Erg (sand desert), Algeria
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
The average UK potato may travel as far as 1,287 kilometers from field to kitchen in a journey that leaves a trail of serious environmental and societal consequences. The food shipping industry relies heavily on cheap energy sources and air pollution from food transport contributes to our smog-choked atmosphere. Farmers see only a fraction of the price of the produce in the shops, while the rest is paid to various middlemen in the food production process. Unable to compete with large-scale farms, small farmers are forced to close up shop.

Locally delivered organic vegetable boxes mean that your food miles will be dramatically reduced and you will be supporting independent farmers to get a fair price for their goods. You will learn more about the seasonality of food and may discover new vegetables, as well as develop a relationship with your local food producers - and getting a box delivered will save you from driving to the shops.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Choose 'draft' quality when printing and recycle your toner cartridges

(For the 1st of May)

Weddell seals, Antarctica
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Printer cartridges contain pollutants such as aluminum, iron oxide and plastic but the cartridges are perfect for reuse and recycling. Whether damaged or empty, they can be dismantled and reassembled; defective parts may be recycled and refilled cartridges are of comparable quality to new ones. Toner powder, which is highly toxic, contains chemical pigments made from cyanide. If this finds its way to the dump, it will contaminate soil and water. During the recycling process, this powder is instead incinerated at 1,482 degree Centigrade

The best way to reduce the pollution produced by ink cartridges is to use less ink. Make 'draft' quality as your default setting and only print when necessary. Recycle your used cartridges, or use one of the many companies that collect, refill and return them to you to use again.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Personal note: A friend of mine who runs her own business writes this simple reminder at the end of her mails as a signature: 'Please consider the environment-do you really need to print this email? Participate in giving back';
Also to share, here is an article about Ruksana Hussain of Ideas Are Us LLC, where she talks about how she tries to make her business green by simple, small efforts.
A lot of places offer to recycle products like cartridges, phones, remote controls, batteries, etc. Do check in at your local 'Best Buy' if in America or contact the manufacturer of the product for further advice.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Demand organic products in your cafeterias and canteens

Piton de la Fournaise Volcano, Reunion
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Every year throughout the world about 3 million people are poisoned by, and 200,000 die from, pesticides. In fact, today these products are between 10 and 100 times more toxic than they were in the 1970s. A common way for pesticides to affect human health is for chemicals to seep into groundwater supplies, which provide the bulk of our drinking water. since it takes several centuries for these supplies to be replaced, this contamination poses a grave threat. Therefore, practicing less-polluting agricultural methods also safeguards the future of our drinking water supplies.

Organic food has a place in educational institutions and places of business: Help your child's school and cafeteria at your workplace to buy more organic and locally grown products.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Friday, April 29, 2011

Shop at the local market

Lake Turkana, Kenya
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Three quarters of the edible varieties of produce that were cultivated at the beginning of the twentieth century have disappeared. Today's fruits and vegetables, which have survived the race to increase productivity, are mostly hybrid varieties chosen for their ability to withstand the various demands of mechanized farming and product distribution. Picked prematurely and ripened artificially, once they are on the shelf. their appearance is almost perfect - and generally hides their lack of flavor and nutritional value. The produce in a supermarket is generally sourced from large, intensive factory farms that squeeze smaller farmers out of business.

Buy your fruit and vegetables in the market, from local producers. You will be supporting the local economy and your purchase will be environmentally friendly, because they involve less transport and packaging and therefore less waste and pollution. They will taste better, too.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller.

Use solar thermal collector panels to produce hot water for your home

(For the 28th of April)

Antarctic peninsula
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Solar energy is available everywhere. It is free and easily harnessed by fitting solar thermal collector panels to your roof. These panels use sunlight to heat hot water and can be easily fitted to your existing hot water system. They can produce all the domestic hot water you need, without producing noise, pollution or dangerous waste in the process.

Solar thermal collectors are efficient and one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy equipment. They can be installed on virtually any roof and government-funded grants and taxes are often available for such installations. Find a local installer today.
- from the book '365 Ways to save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Buy toilet paper made from recycled paper

Saguaro National Park, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Every year 25 million trees go into the production of toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, facial tissue and handkerchiefs for EU consumers. Europeans use about 22 billion rolls of toilet paper per year.

If every home used recycled rolls, it would save millions of trees. But don't grab any package emblazoned with '100% recycled'. Always look for the percentage of post-consumer content (these vary, but several brands use up to 80%). The presence of post-consumer waste asserts that a certain amount of raw materials came from recycled paper. In addition, look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, which means any virgin materials used were harvested sustainably and avoid products with fragrances, dyes, inks and chlorine bleach.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Personal note: One could try and substitute the use of paper towels as far ask possible. For instance by using a cloth instead of paper towel for kitchen and surface cleaning. Also, instead of using a disinfectant wipe for sanitizing ones hands, a paper-less option as a spray or lotion could be used.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Do not pour cooking oil down the drain

Iceberg, Greenland
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
A city of 100,000 people produce over 300,000 liters of wastewater everyday. Before returning to nature, this dirty water must first be cleaned in a treatment plat.

Avoid pouring food oils in the sink: vinaigrette, oil from tuna cans and oil used for frying as they form a film on water that interferes with the functioning of water treatment plants by suffocating the bacteria that remove pollution. It is better to put used cooking fat aside in a closed plastic container that, once full, can be discarded with other non-recyclable waste.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Monday, April 25, 2011

Give your home a 'spring green'

Guelta (water hole), Chad
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
A spring clean is a great way to clear out clutter, shake off winter doldrums and refresh our living spaces. Before you throw something out make sure it cannot be reused; DIY magazines and websites offer lots of fun and creative ways to repurpose common household items. Sort through all throwaways to make sure you're recycling or donating as many items as possible. Take the time to perform simple, resource-saving repairs like fixing leaks. As you take stock of your home, make a list of the things you want to improve upon: toxic or inefficient products that still need to be replaced and energy-conservation measures that you have yet to adopt.

Make your spring clean greener - prioritize recycling, reuse and repair. And make sure you buy eco-friendly cleaning products to do it with.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Earth Day, a little late

I wanted to share these on the 22nd, but wasn't able to. I look forward to seeing these movies with my toddler.

African Cats

Disney Nature will make a donation to the Savanna during the first week of the screening of African Cats.

Born to be Wild

and a video shared by a friend on facebook

Choose compost and natural fertilizers rather than chemical fertilizers

Palm tree, Malaysia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Overuse of chemical fertilizers containing nitrogen contributes to pollution of water by nitrates. Highly soluble, these chemicals are easily washed away by rain and carried into rivers and aquifers. Nitrates contribute to the eutrophication of rivers by causing them to become over-rich in nutrients, so that algae grow rapidly and deplete the oxygen supply, which suffocates all water life. Large amounts of nitrates in groundwater interfere with drinking-water supplies.

In your garden, use natural fertilizers (stone meal, bone meal or wood ash) and compost made from organic waste to improve soil structure and fertility naturally, effectively and sustainably.
- from the book '365 Ways to save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Apply Slow Food principles to the rest of your life

(For the 23rd of April)

Capitol Reef National Park, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
The credo of the Slow Food movement can be extended to many different arenas, from clothing design to architecture. The Slow movement asks us to slow down, engage with and reflect upon all the things we bring into our life, whether goods or experiences. 'Slow Design' artisans produce handmade goods of high quality in which materials are sourced locally (and are often recycled) and nothing is mass-produced. A 'slow home' is designed by an architect (instead of a developer) who takes time to tailor the property not only to the needs of the owner but also to that of its environment. 'Slow travel' may mean you spend all of your time in one place and really get to know it instead of moving restlessly from city to city or sight to sight.

A slow life focuses on quality, social and environmental responsibility, creativity and personal engagement - an antidote to conspicuous and hasty consumption of inferior, mass-produced goods and experiences.
 - from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Friday, March 4, 2011

Consider a career move

Volcanic lake, Kamchatka, Russia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Today universities offer many courses in environmental fields -  from policy to education to business administration. If your job is at odds with your concerns, consider moving in a different direction. You might not have to reinvent the wheel: You can offer your current skills to businesses who are trying to be greener - they all need consultants, marketing professionals, lawyers, accountants, assistants and so on.

Think about working in an environmental field, whether it be business, consultancy, conservation or recycling. Green business is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy and demand for green products, renewable energy and new technology is only going to grow as resources become more scarce.
- from the book '365 Ways to save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Introduce environmental education to schools

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Many local environmental charities or natural reserves offer free or low-cost education presentations or field trips for school-aged children - often it is simply a matter of asking. They usually focus on environmental problems facing your area, or tours of the natural features it has to offer. They often tailor their programs to the national curriculum, ensuring that children can easily make the link to their classroom education.

If you would like environmental education to have a higher priority in your children's school, spend  some time investigating the organizations that offer educational resources. It is a good way to increase awareness among students, teachers and other parents.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Research the impacts of aquaculture before eating farmed fish

Cherry Blossoms, Japan
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
At present, fish farming accounts for 43% of the world's fish production. This is unlikely to change as the world's demand for fish grows along with its population, and many wild species continue to be in peril because of over-fishing. Aquaculture is often criticized for its negative environmental impacts: To produce 1 pound of farmed salmon, 3 pounds of wild-caught fish are needed to provide meal and oil. And, like all intensive farming, fish farming uses chemicals and antibiotics, which affect humans.

There is such a thing as sustainable aquacultures: Tilapia, catfish and many varieties of shellfish can often be farmed safely. Organizations like Seafood Watch and the Marine Stewardship Council have developed strict criteria for sustainable fish farming and offer advice to the public about how to choose the best fish. Look out for their logos on the fish you buy.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Boil only as much water as you need

Thunderstorm clouds, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Whether you use an electric kettle or a saucepan, heating water uses energy. There is no point in doubling the energy you use, for no purpose. Boil only what is necessary. A study found that if all British people did this on just one day, the energy saved could power all the country's streetlights through the following night.

When you boil water for tea or a hot drink, try to boil only what you need, or pour the surplus into a thermos flask to keep the water very hot until you need it.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Monday, February 28, 2011

Do not defrost in the microwave

Erg (Sand Desert), Mauritania
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Renewable energy - from the sun, wind, the heat under the earth's crust, waterfalls, tides, the growing of vegetables, or the recycling of waste - is infinite. Harnessing it produces little or no waste or pollution emissions. In countries like Germany, government officials have recognized the benefits of investing quickly and heavily in these technologies and already 12% of their national energy supply comes from renewable energy production, with future targets to triple this as well as cut down electricity use by 11%.

Rather than adding to your electricity bill by using the microwave to defrost your food, remember to take food out of the freezer earlier and let it defrost at room temperature.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Switch to paperless bills

(For the 27th of February)

Humpbacked whales, Polynesia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Paper and cardboard account for about one-fifth of household waste. This is equivalent to over 4 kg of paper waste per week.

Sign up for online banking and pay as many of your bills as possible electronically. Be sure you decline the  option to receive paper statements when you sign up for these programs. Don't print receipts when you withdraw cash at the machines as they are yet another source of litter and almost always unnecessary - all withdrawals and debit transactions show up on your online banking statement within 24 hours if not immediately.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Do not drop litter when travelling

(For the 26th of February)

Seashell, France
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
UK domestic waste now goes to different destinations, depending on where you live and the type of waste. London exports 70% of its municipal waste to other places for treatment or disposal and the majority of solid waste still goes to landfills. Across the country the average rate of recycling is 31%. However, this is not the case everywhere. Worldwide only 20% of household waste is treated in one of these ways. In some poor countries, rubbish bins are rare or altogether absent.

Do not drop your litter just anywhere - especially if you are on an excursion - even if the environment already appears to be dirty or strewn with dumped waste. Take your litter back to where you are staying and dispose it off properly.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Reuse water

(For the 25th of February)

Anaconda, Venezuela
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
One-third of the world's population is living in areas with moderate to severe water shortages. More than 2.7 billion people will face severe water shortages by 2025, according to the United Nations, if we keep increasing our use at the same rate. The United Kingdom actually has less water resources per person than Spain or Portugal, due to the density of its population

Look for ways to use leftover water. Water that has been used to wash vegetables can be left in the sink to clean dishes. You can water indoor and outdoor plants with water that has been used to cook pasta or vegetables.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Make compost with organic waste

(For the 24th of February)

Birch, Lassen Volcanic National Park, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
In nature, compostable waste, like the waste found on the forest floor, decomposes into soil through the action of microorganisms and returns energy and nutrients to the forest floor. Our rubbish contains large amount of organic waste, which, instead of being returned to the natural cycle, is cut off from the soil and added to our landfills.

Leaves, branches and grass from the garden, eggshells, fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags and bread from  our tables can all join the compost heap. If mixed well, turned regularly and kept sufficiently moist, in a few weeks this will yield compost, a natural fertilizer that is good for the soil. Whether you make a compost heap or use a bin, there is certainly a composting option suitable for the amount of space you have available.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Have your heating checked and maintained regularly

(For the 23rd of February)

White Desert, Egypt
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Air pollution is always more obvious in the middle of a traffic jam than when you are back at home. However, even indoors, you are not immune from harmful emissions, especially carbon monoxide. This gas is produced by incomplete combustion of coal, wood, gas, or fuel oil, which may be caused by a blocked flue, the use of old or badly maintained stoves, boilers or oil heaters, or clogged ventilation ducts that prevent air circulation. Carbon-monoxide poisoning creates many incidents per year in the United Kingdom and in Europe some leading to fatalities. Poorly functioning boilers use more fuel, meaning more pollution and higher bills.

Keep your air clean: Have your home and water-heating equipment checked and maintained by professionals - and don't forget the ventilation ducts.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Donate your leftover medicine so that they can be distributed for reuse

(For the 22nd of February)

Bacteria, Kamchatka, Russia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
In developing countries, every day 30,000 people die for lack of medicines or the money to buy them, while we throw our unused medicines in the dustbin. But there are humanitarian organizations that collect these unused medications and redistribute them to the poorest people around the world. One organization, Aid for AIDS annually redistributes nearly 2.5 million pounds of medicine to people in developing countries who are HIV-positive or living with AIDS.

Find a charity near you that accepts unused medicine donations. This is also a safer choice for your household, because it will reduce the amount of medicine that could fall into a young child's hands. Forty percent of poisonings involving children are a result of ingesting medicines.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Use a low flow shower-head

(For the 21st of February)

Stream, Ireland
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
To attempt to meet our escalating need for energy, humans have built dams and diverted rivers: 60% of the planet's rivers have been tamed in this way, and more than 45,000 large dams produce 20% of the world's water. Building these dams, however, has displaced between 40 and 80 million people - few of whom were consulted beforehand - and has caused extensive deforestation and species loss. Showers account for 12% of household water use, adding more than 6,600 liters per year.

You can reduce water consumption by replacing your shower-head with one that aerates and increases the flow of the water to produce a finer spray. A low-flow shower-head can use around 8 liters per minute, depending on the model (much less than a conventional shower-head); Many have 'pause buttons' as well, so you can stop the water flow while you soap up.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Make your next car a hybrid

Hybrid cars combine an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. They run on electricity in town and use petrol at motorway speed at which point, ingeniously, the batteries are recharged by the movement of the car. Thanks to this optimized use of energy, hybrid cars offer excellent performance and are much cleaner in town; they produce 75% less pollution than standard vehicles.

Hybrids are still more costly than comparable cars., but prices continue to drop as more models are produced and the demand for fuel-efficient cars grows. If you have to buy a car, make sure it is the most efficient model you can find.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Become a liftsharer

Arches National Park, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Lift-sharing websites are an easy way to find 'buddies' to share your car, immediately making your transportation at least twice as energy efficient. Or if you don't have a car or don't want to use yours, you can find someone who travels to the same location as you every day and share a ride to work. It is easy and safe and will not only halve your use of petrol but also halve the costs of driving to work.

Sharing your car with one other person immediately takes a car off the road and thus reduces your carbon emissions by half. Sign up today with your local lifts-sharing network - you'll be amazed how easy it is to make new friends.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Friday, February 18, 2011

Do not use aerosol air fresheners

Acacia tree, Mali
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
The CFC's (cholofluorocarbons) in aerosols are now illegal in the European Union, but artificial air fresheners are still an energy-intensive and toxic way to produce a 'nice' smell. Each year the United Kingdom uses around 600 million aerosol cans, yet aerosol propellants contain flammable and nerve-damaging ingredients as well as tiny particles that can lodge in your lungs. Fragrances of all kinds can provoke allergic and asthmatic reactions.

Replace artificial air fresheners with potpourris, essential oil diffusers, candles, incense, fragrant plants (for example, citronella and honeysuckle), citrus fruit peels, or oranges studded with cloves. And remember that aerosol cans can now be safely recycled, so include them in your metals for collection.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Insulate your home

Mountain goat, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Even if you do not drive a car, you can take action to reduce climate change. Through its consumption of energy (for hot water, heating, electricity and lighting), an average dwelling produces 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year - more than a car does. In Europe about a quarter of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for change, comes from homes.

To reduce the need for heating, you can prevent heat from escaping: Insulate the roof, floors and walls with fiberglass wool, rock wool, mineral wool, cork, cellulose (from recycled newspapers) or hemp. This will save 20% on your heating bills and will pay for itself within 5 years at most.
- from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rent a green car

Dune, Mauritania
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Most of the major car rental agencies now have some hybrids in their fleets; specialized local agencies have more alternatives like electric cars. Nationwide car-sharing programs like Streetcar are now found in most cities and large towns - a low yearly membership fee allows you to reserve cars (many of which are compact and fuel efficient) for a few hours or by the day from any of the companies pick-up points - generally conveniently located in residential areas. By becoming a member, you help these car-sharing ventures to grow further.

The next time you rent a car, rent green. The bigger the demand for hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles, the greater the investment in these programs by big agencies.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Save energy when you cook

(For the 15th of February)

Coral Islands, Australia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
In March 2002, an iceberg 85 kilometers long and 64 kilometers wide broke off the Antarctic shelf. The same year, the inhabitants of the Tuvalu archipelago, in Micronesia, were forced to evacuate their islands as  sea levels rose. In order to slow the warming of the seas and rise of the sea level, we must reduce world emissions of greenhouse gases quickly and drastically. This is all the more urgent because the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will continue to have an effect for about 10 years. Global warming will therefore happen no matter what we do.

Small things really make a difference. Be sure always to put a lid on your cooking pots; in this way you can reduce the energy used for cooking by between 20% and 30%. And you will save time too.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Arrange a better bouquet

(For the 14th of February)

Cactus flower, Mexico
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
A lovely bunch of flowers bought from the florist or the supermarket may have been grown in a greenhouse thousands of miles away (Kenya is the largest supplier of cut flowers to the European Union). Apart from the environmental issue of transport over long distances, the boom in horticulture in some developing countries has a high social and environmental cost. In Columbia, the flower industry uses enormous amounts of polluting pesticides and exposes poorly paid garden workers to chemicals that may be carcinogenic or toxic. In drier regions, such a Kenya, horticulture requires substantial amounts of water and, as a result, overuses local water resources.

If you want a traditional bouquet, seek out organic and fair-trade flowers. Organic flowers are grown without toxic pesticides; fair-trade flowers are harvested on farms that provide better health and safety standards and higher wages for their workers. Look for the Fair Trade or VeriFlora labels, which ensure that your flowers come from farms with high environmental and labor standards. And consider giving a potted plant from a local nursery as a gift rather than a bunch of flowers. It will last far longer.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Personal Note: I think the idea of giving a potted plant is great. I remember when we were young the plants were usually kept in the balcony, but whenever we had someone special visiting for dinner, my mother would have them organized around the house. It made a remarkable difference to the interiors.

Also, my grandmum was a very religious/spiritual person and prayed twice a day. She would decorate her 'pooja' (shrine) with fresh flowers everyday. The speciality of these flowers were that none were plucked from the plant. She would set out with a little basket and fill it with the pretty flowers fallen on the ground every morning.

There are many pretty forms in nature which bring delight. From picking flowers from the ground I once remembered picking some pretty seeds. Some of these have such interesting aero-dynamic qualities because of their form. I thought they would make an interesting toy/wonder for a young girl and presented them to her in a little box. Also shells, or interesting objects you find at the beach.

Suggest compositing at your children's school

(For the 13th of February)

Islets, Galapagos Islands
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
School canteens create an enormous amount of organic waste that could be turned into compost. Many schools already compost their waste and do so in ways that allow students to participate in the process - whether through work in science lessons, by growing vegetables in on-site gardens or by simply making the students responsible for sorting their recyclables and organic materials at every meal. This can not only reduce waste but also teaches young people about the importance of reducing waste and how composting works.

For your children's canteen, or your workplace cafeteria, take the initiative by explaining the economic and ecological advantages of composting. If there isn't space to compost on site, you can arrange for organic waste to be collected for composting elsewhere.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Plant native vegetation in your garden

(For the 12th of February)

Dallol Volcano, Ethiopia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
If you plant greenery that only thrives in a specific climate, you could expend huge amounts of water, fertilizers and other growing aids just trying to keep it alive. Indigenous plants are already accustomed to the demands of their environment and they often require much effort to keep healthy - that means less wasted water, less fertilizer and less need for pest control. Planting native species also encourages natural biodiversity and lessens the risks associated with introducing non-native plants that could spread and change natural habitats, thereby affecting local wildlife.

As our climate changes to become drier in summer, choose native, drought-resistant species such as beautiful grasses or succulent plants that do not require watering.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't idle your car engine

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, United States
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Since 1900, emissions of carbon dioxide have risen dramatically as a result of growing consumption of coal, oil and gas, and its concentration in the atmosphere is the highest it has been in the last 20 million years. An average passenger car in the United Kingdom produces nearly 4.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

When you start your car engine, you don't need to run it while remaining stationary in order to 'warm it up'. Instead just drive gently for a few miles: The engine will warm up while avoiding needless pollution, carbon-dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiler

Personal Note: Isn't this a gorgeous photograph with amazing colors?
These days electric cars are also getting popular. My husband informs me that with gas getting more expensive electric cars are a good choice. Also because there are greener means of generating electricity and certainly because the cars are less polluting. What do you think?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recycle actively and effectively

Close-up of coral, Thailand
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Take part in your local recycling program: Note the collection times and learn how to sort from your local council. Proper sorting is vital to making your recycling efforts meaningful - contamination in a recycling container can mean that it can't be recycled and will be diverted to a landfill. Be sure to consult the guidelines for your local recycling scheme to find out what you can include in your recycling collection. Recycling is important, but it is essential to do it properly.

If you are uncertain about what to do with a particular item of waste, call the council or your nearest recycling facility - don't just throw it in with your recyclables or other rubbish.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Check that others obey the law

(for the 9th of February)

Piton de la Fournaise Volcano, Reunion
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
National environmental agencies, burdened with protecting and restoring your country's environment, may fail to do so, at times out of negligence but sometimes due to lack of funding. Do not let your local authority put environmental concerns last on the list of budgetary priorities - human health and safety are at stake. Pay attention to your local council's policy decisions, and monitor the trend in funding for environmental programs.

Do not hesitate to approach a lobbying group, or to alert watchdogs or the media about a government body or a company if they do not comply with environmental legislation.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth', by Philippe Bourseiller

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Collect Rainwater

Sossusvlei dunes, Namibia
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Nature gives us water for free. Like solar and wind energy, collecting rainwater is a means of protecting the environment in a sustainable way. The rain that falls on the roofs of our houses could cover as much as 80% of our current annual domestic-water consumption. In addition collecting rainwater prevents it from flowing along the street, picking up pollutants, and depositing them into storm drains and eventually into our waterways. Rainwater collection systems do double-duty, conserving water and protecting our environment from pollutants.

Have a rainwater collection system fitted into your house to meet your outdoor water needs, like watering the garden and washing the car. At the very least, put a plastic dustbin between your rain-gutter to collect water.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Monday, February 7, 2011

Don't pre-rinse dishes

Air bubbles trapped in ice, Canada
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
Your dishwasher will use the same amount of water and energy whether or not you pre-rinse your dishes. In most cased, simply scraping off food scraps should be enough for your dishwasher to do its job, especially if it is an updated model. Pre-rinsing can waste up to 20 gallons of water.

If certain types of dishes or foods prove problematic for your dishwasher, set aside a small amount of dishes to wash by hand - fill up the sink basin rather than let the tap run while you wash. Otherwise, let the dishwasher do all the work.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Turn the tap off while you wash dishes by hand

Dunes, Algeria
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller
When a tap is turned on, over 6 litres of pure drinking water flows out every minute. We are easily fooled by the generosity of our taps. Each time we use them, a large part of the water goes down the drain without even being dirtied.

When you wash the dishes by hand, fill the sink or washing-up bowl, rather than washing each plate under a running tap. Hand-washing dishes typically uses about 63 litres per session. Better yet, invest in a water-efficient dishwasher - if you use a machine wisely, it can use as little as 10 litres of water, much less than even careful hand-washing practices.
-from the book '365 Ways to Save the Earth' by Philippe Bourseiller

Personal Note: To be honest, I find this one to be a toughie. I can't get myself to rinse dishes in a water filled sink. I try to turn on the tap at a lesser flow instead.