An estimated 30 percent of the planet’s food supply is needlessly discarded. Here are some imaginative ideas to stop the rot. We humans have a puzzling attitude towards food — it’s one of the few things in life that we absolutely need to survive, yet we can be shockingly careless with it. From a shriveled up…
I think that these thoughts of an US-American, although triggered by recent political changes there, are absolutely true worldwide. Strategies for peaceful solutions of conflicts are more necessary than ever.
With our beloved democracy quickly descending into fear and clashing ideologies, I’ve begun to hunt for survival techniques. Instead of rocks and shouting matches, are there more effective ways to resolve our differences? Now would be a good time to get back to the basics, educate our hearts and minds and begin to integrate compassion, listening and creativity into our actions…
Ich denke, dass diese Überlegungen einer US-Amerikanerin, wenn auch angestoßen durch die kürzlichen politischen Veränderungen dort, durchaus weltweit gelten. Strategien zur friedlichen Lösung von Konflikten sind nötiger denn je.
Während unsere geliebte Demokratie rasch in Furcht und Ideologiekämpfe herabsinkt habe ich angefangen, nach Überlebensstrategien zu suchen. Gibt es effektivere Wege, anstelle von Steinen und lautstarken Auseinandersetzungen, um unsere Unterschiede zu überwinden? Jetzt wäre eine gute Zeit, um zu den Grundlagen zurückzukehren, unsere Herzen und unseren Verstand in die richtige Richtung zu formen und damit zu beginnen, mit Mitgefühl, Zuhören und Kreativität zu handeln…
Since in some of Greenpeace’s seafood guides the fishing method matters, here fishing method guides:
So you know what to avoid.
Weil in manchen Seafood guides von Greenpeace die Fischfangmethode eine Rolle spielt, hier Übersichten zu Fischfang-Methoden:
Damit Du weißt, was Du vermeiden musst.
Good news! Plastics bans across the world have been hitting the headlines lately.From the US to India and Morocco, governing bodies are taking control of the plastic pollution problem, bringing in either complete bans on plastic, or bans on specific forms like polystyrene.
In Europe, we try to reduce the plastic waste, too, to protect the ocean from waste pollution. Especially the colorful plastic shopping bags the cashier throws at you for free. Every European uses 200 of them each year, most of them only once. But since the EU leaves it to their members how to do it, Germany uses its standard methods: personal commitment of the firms (freiwillige Selbstverpflichtung, that means they make a non-binding promise of their own to prevent a law) and money. Instead of banning these bags, the customer can use them further but in some markets he has to buy them first. Many markets offer canvas shopping bags, too, but they are more expensive. Guess what will happen?
I’m afraid it will end like with plastic bottles: instead of banning single-serving water bottles Germany put a deposit on them, just like on reusable PET bottles. And what happened? The quota of reusable water bottles decreased, of course. Many customers don’t differentiate between the two and use the lightweight single-serving bottle rather that the heavier reusable bottle, since it is all the same anyway.
Take the pledge and use no plastic shopping bags anymore – with time it becomes second nature to take your own bag with you (even if you have to interrupt the cashier in its routine to prevent getting another bag). And be proud about yourself for every disposible bag you don’t have used.
Every step counts.
Did you know that microbeads are used in cosmetics not only to exfoliate (which I can comprehend, even if they should use other, natural particles), but also simply for color and texture? Manufacturers seem to think that customers like their liquid soap, shower gel or shampoo smooth and thick (viscid), even if it has got no cleaning benefit and only environmental drawbacks. We use a special, ph-neutral liquid soap together with a reusable foam soap dispenser and it works fabulously. Sadly, my daughter likes glitter in her pink shower gel (girls 😉 ), I don’t know how to make that myself.
Greenpeace addresses the problem of microplastic in cosmetics here more detailed than I did and also describes the loopholes manufacturers use to deceive us. Unfortunately, the mentioned guide to avoid cosmetics in question seems to work only in UK and Australia.
Wusstest Du, dass Mikroperlen in Kosmetik nicht nur zum Peelen benutzt werden (was ich nachvollziehen kann, auch wenn sie andere, natürliche Partikel benutzen sollten), sondern auch einfach für die Farbgebung und Textur? Die Hersteller scheinen zu denken, dass der Kunde seine Flüssigseife, Duschgel oder Shampoo glatt und zähflüssig mag, auch wenn das keinerlei Reinigungs-Nutzen sondern nur Umwelt-Nachteile hat. Wir nutzen eine spezielle, ph-neutrale Flüssigseife zusammen mit einem nachfüllbaren Schaum-Seifenspender und es geht wunderbar. Leider mag meine Tochter Glitter in ihrem pinken Duschgel (Mädchen 😉 ), Ich weiß nicht, wie ich das selbst machen kann.
Greenpeace spricht das Problem von Mikroplastik in Kosmetikprodukten hier detaillierter an als ich es getan habe, und beschreibt auch die Hintertürchen, die die Hersteller nutzen um uns zu täuschen. Hier auch etwas dazu auf Deutsch. Bedauerlicherweise scheint der erwähnte Leitfaden zum Vermeiden von fragwürdiger Kosmetik nur in Großbritannien und Australien zu gelten.
One great idea to prevent food waste, providing healthy food for all (not only for people who can effort it) and support local farmers – all at once. The mentioned numbers are alarming.
Eine großartige Idee, um Essensverschwendung zu vermeiden, alle Menschen mit gesundem Essen zu versorgen (und nicht nur die, die es sich leisten können) und die lokalen Bauern zu unterstützen – alles gleichzeitig. Die erwähnten Zahlen sind alarmierend.
If you are lucky to have access to clean water (as I believe many people in Europe and North America do), tap water should be the drink of choice. It is cheap and healthy both for humans (admittedly depending on water source and household plumbing system) and environment – despite propaganda campaigns proclaiming otherwise.
I’m happy we switched back to tap water (after the issue taste difference was solved by gradually diluting), I really do. But I have to confess, since water tastes only of water (the tap water in Germany is not chlorinated like in the U.S.), I don’t drink enough of it and we use other beverages, too (especially me and my husband).
More and more schools in our area install bottleless water dispensers lately. Sometimes they provide only a little water “for emergencies”, sometimes enough flat and carbonated water for all kids to use freely (by using donations for maintenance). I’m glad that my children don’t have to haul all their beverages to school anymore. My husband also drinks sparkling water at work (last summer more than 4 liters a day due to insane room temperatures), but sadly from a bottle (at least a reusable PET bottle from a no-name local firm) and not from such a water dispenser (he don’t dare to suggest such a device at work). They have got a coffee maker (not really helpful in the summer), that’s it.
We drink tea for breakfast and dinner (and in between, too). Lately, we use nearly 70 percent organic tea and buy only organic milk and organic (100% fruit) juice (one of my sons likes his unsweetened fruit tea only mixed with apple juice). I think that it tastes better, too, additional to avoiding pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
But if I want to do the right thing, both for the environment and the health of me and my family, I have to look at the bigger picture (like done here for ketchup) and try to consider all influences on the environment:
- transportation (regarding production, but especially trading),
- farming and storage efforts (like greenhouse or storage in a cool, carbon dioxide environment) and
Did you know that, in the off-season, local apples are not better than apples from overseas – for the environment? The storage in cool, carbon dioxide environment is more damaging than the transportation per ship. The same applies if you have to use a heated greenhouse to cultivate fruits or vegetables in the off-season (or non-native species like bananas, if you don’t live in Iceland and use geothermal energy for heating). Peaches, however, have to be transported by plane, which is worse. Regarding organic milk, you have to consider the feed for the cow, too – it makes a big difference if the cow is pasture feed or gets (organic) soy or grain (even worse from far away). But if you go by car to a special farmer to buy your own apples (or milk), all deliberations to reduce your product carbon footprint were for naught (A summary of all these issues and more is here to be found – sadly only in German).
For all organic teabags I found, every single teabag is additionally covered in paper. I think it is to protect the content from contamination, but it is a lot of waste. I at least re-use this slips of paper for notes and shopping lists. Maybe I switch to loose tea, but then I have to use more water for cleaning or additional filter paper.
In Germany, milk and juices are traded in glass or PET bottles or cartons (milch bags aren’t available anymore). What to choose?
Glass bottles are easy to clean (with heat and without much chemicals) and are universally reusable (but sometimes the bottle is specifically formed and has to go back to a certain supplier). They would last one million years in the ocean, but collected separately they are invaluable to make new glass (true re-cycling). But they are heavy, thus making transportation (both empty and full) not really eco-friendly. I read that in Great Britain they are collecting too much green glass bottles to re-cycle them. To protect milk from UV light, the milk glass bottle has to be thicker or opaque. There are reusable or single-use glass bottles.
PET bottles can be cleaned (with intense chemicals since they don’t tolerate much heat) and refilled, but not as often as glass bottles. They need chemicals (DMDC) to be filled aseptic (instead of heat), too. When collected (and not increasing the ocean waste), they are shredded to PET flakes oder burnt. These flakes can be used as additives for new PET bottles (only a small amount), or they are sold to China to make into fibers for polyester sheets, fleece clothing or carpets. In 2009, 48,4 % of all European PET bottles were collected and re-cycled. Thereof, 40 % became fibers, 27 % plastic sheets, 22 % new bottles and 7 % plastic belts for parcels (Source). PET bottles aren’t gas tight. Most juice and milk PET bottles I found were only single-use. Reusable PET-bottles for both flat and carbonated water, however, are available.
Cartons are composite packaging, containing paper (only not recycled paper fibers are used), plastic and often aluminium (to protect the content from light and oxygen). There are technologies to recycle the cardboard-part, but the plastic and aluminium parts can only by down-cycled to Zement or burnt. Cartons are easy to storage and transport (especially empty), due to their shape and weight. There is no possible way to clean and refill a juice or milk box.
We are fortunate to live in an area with many apple orchards, vineyards and dairy farms. Some of them are organic, and around our village there are many Streuobstwiesen – that is an extensive meadow orchard with scattered fruit trees (normally tall-growing, traditional varieties of apples). In the next village there is even a small firm using these apples to make filtered and unfiltered (but pasteurized) organic apple juice (and other juices, partially made from concentrates from further away).
Therefore I walk to our local shop and buy those organic apple (and sometimes orange and grape) juices in reusable glass bottles. We like the unfiltered variety more. Sometimes my husband drives by car on his way home from work directly to that firm and buys an entire crate or takes the empty bottles back. But since I don’t know how far the milk in our shop had to travel, I decided to buy organic fresh milk in cartons instead of glass bottles. I read that cartons for short shelf life dairy products didn’t contain aluminium, thus my compromise. But if I could find organic milk from a nearby dairy farm (ideally only from pasture feed cows), I would buy their milk in glass bottles in our shop – not drive by car to buy them directly at the farm.
If you don’t go vegetarian, you have to choose what meat to eat.
B) What about game meat?
Around this time of the year, many German supermarkets offer deer ham or wild boar and waterfowl meat. Whereas I realize that domesticated duck and geese often live like factory hens (that’s why I ordered -for the first time- from our local organic food supplier one half of an organic, free range goose for the holidays – and used it even up to goose fat), I thought that deer or wild boar cannot be farmed (and their meat is therefore as organic as can be). But then I read about deer farming 😦 At last it is free range (in pastures), and I hope their food remains mostly natural.
But what about wild game? Since humans meddled gravely with woodland food nets (wolves were the apex predators in European and American forests, after all), we have to manage the now man-made forests ourselves (a much more complex system than anticipated – did you know that plants can communicate by gaseous chemicals and fungal networks?). Responsible gamekeepers have to kill excess deer to protect the deer from epidemic diseases or starvation and to protect the environment (especially in the case of introduced deer in New Zealand, but also in European forests) and excess wild boar to protect farmland and humans. Should all this meat go to waste (or to scavengers)?
Dive.in made amazing illustrations to summarize the topic, but also clues about what to do – every step counts
Tolle Illustrationen von Dive.in, die das Thema zusammenfassen, aber auch Hinweise, was man tun kann – jeder Schritt zählt
How ocean pollution affects humans – Graphic by the team at DIVE.in