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.