Dear TrustWilliam, how does your packaging system make sense in your head? Seriously, I got this in the mail yesterday and I could easily fit a bulky academic book in that box that is in addition filled with heaps of styrofoam. Honestly, you can’t find a better way to pack a bottle the size of a thumb? Please back off with your goodness statements till you figure this one out.
Just as this happens and I spill my guts here, I read Amazon‘s latest Wrap Rage statement and feel even fuzzier at heart about their brand as a result.
All those moments of rage when you try to use anything from your teeth to scissors to a screwdriver to get through a piece of plastic to be gone forever and less crap to dispose of? Oh, how I wish.
‘Home‘ is a recent film by the French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand best known for his aerial photographs of the Earth. ‘Home’ was released on June 5, 2009 to coincide with the World Environment Day. The film is full of mind-blowing photography that shows images from around the world both to emphasize their beauty and to exhibit the brunt brought on by human civilisations. We have seen movies similar to ‘Home’ before, my favorites including ‘Baraka‘ by Ron Fricke and ‘Manufactured Landscapes‘ by Ed Burtynski, but ‘Home’ has its own different quality of information and story-telling.
The core of ‘Home’ apart from its visual imagery is its narration that takes you through a crash course on the Earth’s and human civilisations history discussing the development of agriculture, the industrial era, and lastly, renewable energies among other issues. The film has a strong environmental approach, but turns the distrubing images and information into a message that offers hope in new technologies, renewable energies and education. ‘It’s too late to be a pessimist’.
Umair Haque has published a manifesto calling for a new (though in some aspects already existing) range of business, financial, political and social organisation. I’m going to discuss a bit of it and add my own bits of opinion. You might want to read it before going on.
As said within the manifesto, the ‘generation’ word does not refer to the age range but rather to the mindset of those who are willing to participate or are already participating in this movement. The manifesto is a nice piece of political writing that can lead to a change, but that change has to be fed with actionable ideas for solutions in all ranges of social and commercial activity that it touches. I can see how policy can be implemented on a local or state level, but when we look at what goes on in some developing countries it seems like it might be a good idea to try and figure out how an implementation of the system’s correction can be taken to a global level. I’m not arguing for a global government, no no, but rather for a way of enforcing a system of corporate control around the globe. Setting the right standards at home is a great start, but it might just not be enough.
I think you can’t expect the big corporations to have values when it comes to social issues and the environment. The primary purpose for corporations is to make money and as such the only way to deal with them is by enforcing a system that creates carrots through tax breaks and sticks through greater tax schemes. It should not be possible for Western corporations to avoid this by creating huge outsourcing posts in developing countries. Corporations need to be monitored as far as their environmental and social responsibility and taxed fairly according to how much of an effort they make in those spheres.
I am neither a policital writer nor a liberalist ranter, but I want to continue this conversation and see what ideas might be out there. Feel free to shoot this idea or drip your own, both will be appreciated.
[Image courtesy of Andre Jordan]
Inspiring talk by Jane Poynter about a 2 year experiment of creating a new sealed biosphere that served as an environment for people to live in. The talk brings ideas about sustainablity on Earth today and other possible environments, because ultimately one day, we might just need to build new environments or move to other planets if the Earth becomes inhabitable. Enjoy!
Emily Cummins, a 21 year old student from Keighley, West Yorkshire has designed a food storing fridge that doesn’t require electricity.The fridge works by exploiting the process of cooling by evaporation. Made out of simple components and easily available materials, the fridge can maintain a temperature of 6 degrees centigrade. The fridge is made out of 2 cylinders, the inner dry one for storage of foods and the outer empty one to provide space for evaporation. The outer cylinder is submerged in sand, soil or wool that are soaked in water to enable the cooling process.
I wanted to keep it really simple and so I set about researching how we cooled things years ago. The simplest method of cooling something could be seen when you look at how we cool biologically - through sweating or evaporation.
That idea led me to the design and the fridge was born.
Emily is now preparing to work on another version of the fridge that would be used for carrying medication in Africa. The design is brilliant, but I would like to know more about how much water is needed to keep the device running. After all, water is not easily accessible across Africa. Design innovation seems like one of the most important ways of moving on in developing countries. Another interesting example of innovative design for use in the developing world is the biomass stove, by a nonprofit company called Envirofit.
Image courtesy of Daily Mail.
Yes, this is yet another post on the green issues, you’re not just seeing things! BBC has unleashed a site called BBC Green, which is not only a great source of information on green-related issues around the country and beyond, but also an excellent planner for individuals’ own changein their lifestyles. It’s also just fun – there’s clothes swapping events, how to shop organic without going bankrupt, a month-to-month guide on how you can grow your own produce in your backyard.
The concept here is ‘think big, start small’, which completely agrees with the structure of user interactions on the site. You can join and get serious or just try it out – it gives you 3 starting points depending on your level of awareness and activity and walks you through all small and large scale steps you can take to make a difference in your energy comsuption efficiency, resource usage or your carbon emissions. The ‘Action plan’ can get you an estimate on out how much each step will cost you, how much carbon emissions you’ll avoid, and so forth. I think part of the problem about people not making the effort to do things more efficiently and eco-conciously is that there is simply too little information about how to live the green way without spending too much extra time or money. Sources like this might well bring us all closer to where we should be.
I still vividly remember my first grade teacher Ms Czajkowska from my small primary school in Krakow. I must have been about 7 when thanks to her I first heard about the idea of doing things ‘the green way’. Not that I was cruel to animals or dumped things into rivers before meeting her, but apart from being a part-time mountain village girl while growing up, nothing gave me more motivation to be responsible in relation to the environment than her. I don’t know what this woman does these days and how aware she was of her impact in her teaching days, but at that age, it had changed me forever. She was what led me to exploring the ideas behind Greenpeace, and inappropriate at that age as it was to watch it, the TV program Animals, revealing all kinds of nasty things that were filmed in Polish industries exploiting animal experiments.
I recently came across as initiative called The GREENS stemming from Ed Burtynsky, the creator of Manufactured Landscapes, WGBH and TED that promotes green initiatives to kids. The site includes cartoons, avatars, things kids can download and share with their friends. It teaches about everything from recycling to carbon emissions through interactive and fun features that make learning about these things look like fun. I think starting kids on being aware of these things can never be too early. Until now except for documentary-style programs for kids, I haven’t really been an advocate on allowing kids to use the net, but heck, my mind might just change one of these days if more things like The GREENS come around.