Environment

Back to school, back to saving the environment

August is almost finished, and many of us is getting back into the routine of school, university and jobs. Here is a list of four tips for making your everyday life greener! For long term readers, you will remember the concept of how we can use habit building to incorporate more environmentally friendly habits in our daily routine. Basically what this means is; make it easier for yourself to follow up on the green choice you have already committed to doing. 

How to remember your reusable bag when grocery shopping: If one of your, like mine, green everyday choices is to use a reusable bag when you grocery shop - then always carry with you in your backpack or choice of carry on item a reusable bag. This way, you don't have to remember the action of finding it every singel time, and the amount of plastic you use will be drastically reduced.

Pick five peaces of plastic every day: Maybe you have seen the #5forhvalen on instagram? If you haven't the thought behind it is as simple as it is doable; if everyone pick up five items of plastic that they find in nature every day, it will have a massively positive impact on your everyday environment, and you stop it from reaching the ocean! Which makes you a climate hero! :D 

Plastic that me and my friends picked along the coast of Lofoten this summer to bring back to the mainland for recycling. 

Plastic that me and my friends picked along the coast of Lofoten this summer to bring back to the mainland for recycling. 

Cutting down on your disposable plastic consumption: After watching NRKs brilliant "Plant plast" this spring (if you haven't already, it is highly recommended) you probably don't want to contribute to plastic problem that we are currently facing. If your daily routine includes picking up a coffee to go, then remember to put your reusable cup in your backpack, making the decision so much easier for yourself when you are already in line (and remember "I do have one of those! Only problem is, it's in my cupboard at home...) Most coffee shops also give you a discount if you remember to bring your own cup, so there's economical incentives for remembering as well. I bought myself a cup (for hot drinks) right before the start of the hottest summer recorded, but as temperatures finally are cooling down in Norway, I will soon get a use of it. 

Start of a new season - new green habits! Most likely, if you do read this blog, you are already either quite concerned about the climate and environment, but do you get an every day outlet for your passion? I find that it's very important for me personally to contribute in the ongoing battle against climate change on many different levels, and one way that I've benefitted from in so many ways is by being part of an organisation that works on climate related matters. Being part of an organisation, you both support the good work they are doing, and if you support, either with your time spent volunteering or with financial aid, you are contributing in helping the environment. It is also one of the most meaningful ways you can contribute, by saving the planet for the future generations to come. August/September is a great time of year to start out with new activities, so you know you've always wanted or you have always intended to do it. Let this be the autumn where you take your green passion to the next level and start advocating for it louder. After the summer we have had, it's visible for all to see that we don't have any time to waste. I will include a list of Norwegian environmental organisations (but for my international readers, many of them, like WWF and Greenpeace will have international chapters as well) 

List of environmental organisations you should look into: 

- Greenpeace

- Spire

- Natur og Ungdom

- Fremtiden i våre hender

- Naturvernforbundet

- WWF

- Bellona

- Utviklingsfondet

There are lots more, but do some research, find out which one best resonate with you, and what are the options of getting involved in your local chapter where you live/work or go to university. Becoming an active member in one of these groups could be the best decision you make this autumn. Have a happy green back to work/school! 

 

Good green habits in the summer

We've recently experienced summer like temperatures where I'm studying. This blog post is therefore a quick reminder to us all that we don't forget our good green habits over the summer months. 

1. Reusable bag. Remember to bring your reusable bag when shopping. It saves the environment unnecessary plastic, and by refusing, you are stopping the demand for plastic bags. Remember we talked about 5 R's? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, RefuseThe trick is to leave the fabric bag in your bag/backpack so you don't need to make a conscious decision to bring it along each time, saving yourself the energy to remember.

2. Give away clothes you don't need. This blog has focused a lot on the clothing industry and for new readers; in 2017 I did a year of shop stop, here you can read my evaluation after one year had passed. By giving away clothes you dont need, you are both decluttering your own space, but more importantly, you are giving the clothes you don't need any longer to someone who will have real value of them. 

Translation of the text in the image "The dress that you give will give someone else an opportunity for a job", and "The trousers you are giving is saving the environment for 8 kg of CO2" and "The sweater you are giving will give warmth to someone who is freezing". 

Translation of the text in the image "The dress that you give will give someone else an opportunity for a job", and "The trousers you are giving is saving the environment for 8 kg of CO2" and "The sweater you are giving will give warmth to someone who is freezing". 

3. Reusable water bottle/cup for hot drinks. I bought myself a KeepCup in 2014, which I recently learned also makes glass cups. However, my plastic one started smelling and tasting like plastic, so I recently invested in a glass one from the brand JocoCups. Building on research from among others, the climate psychologist Per Espen Stoknes, who I reviewed the book of: 'What we think about when we try not to think about global warming' ; one important aspect when it comes to changing habits/making greener choices, is to base our desired new habit on something we already like or are predisposition to liking. In less academic terms: Choose a cup you find pretty/good looking, and you are more likely to use it! 

My new glass Joco cup. 

My new glass Joco cup. 

4. Picking up plastic litter in nature. We know so much about the plastic problem by now, that we should all act on it whenever we see plastic laying in nature. Also, speak up against unnecessary usage of plastic, like in Norway helium balloons where recently banned on the 17th of May because enough people cared! Helium balloons are known for ending up in the ocean as marine litter.

17th of May plastic litter that can soon become marine litter. 

17th of May plastic litter that can soon become marine litter. 

5. Leave the nature as you found it. In Norwegian there is a term called "sporløs ferdsel" which essentially means to not leave a trace where you've traveled in nature. In practical terms this means for example to not leave your disposable grill on the ground (or worse - dumped in the ocean) after you've used it. The simplest way is asking yourself; should nature look like this? If no, pick it up. 

Thank you for caring about our joint environment <3 

Have yourself an environmentally friendly Christmas

December is here, and very soon, so is Christmas. So here, in this blog post, I will give you a few reccomendations on how to make your entire Christmas celebration more green. 

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1. Chose public transportation when you are traveling to get home. For a lot of us, Christmas means traveling back to where your family live. This can be a pleasant start to your holiday. Remember, you can still listen to "Driving home for Christmas" - from a train ;)  

2. When shopping for Christmas presents to your loved ones, consider these guiding questions:

- Is this something the recipient explicitly has said they want or need? If not, dont buy it. 

- Is it a possibility to buy the item used? Remember when we learnt about why circular economy is good for the environment? 

3. If your friend or family member says that they don't actually wish for any more material goods, a great gift that you could be giving is an experience! There are so many alternatives here, only your imagination sets the limits. It could be anything from a concert, trip to the cinema or possibly a journey you've both wanted to take. A study from 2010 in Norway showed that the majority of the people asked, actually wanted experiences over things

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4. A lot of the traditional Christmas foods tends to be meat based. This article explains how eating meat is actually more damaging than a long distance flight.  'A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York' .Those numbers are shocking, but true. Therefore, making more of your Christmas meals green is a good place to start. 

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There are numerous other things you could be doing to save the environment over Christmas, but these ones; letting your car stay at home, don't buy things you or others don't need, and choosing to eat green over meat, are the key ones to remember. 

With wishes that you will have a green (and white) Christmas! 

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Buy nothing - repair something

This week's Black Friday frenzy has luckily also brought out the Green Friday/Buy Nothing Day movement. My Facebook feed has been full of articles advocating that you rather go out in nature instead of to shopping mals, as this initiative that American national parks made to make their parks free this day.  

However, as I have become quite well aware of, seeing as my year of 2017 - ShopStop is soon coming to an end; materials break - and sometimes beyond repair. Massive sales as Black Friday is only constructive if you buy something you truly need, that can not be bought used or otherwise obtained. Most of the time, this is the case; that you are able to find the item you "need" somewhere else than in a shiny wrapping showcased with good lighting, and even better advertising. 

When you start asking questions to why you need to continue to follow this commercial order of things, you come to realise there are so many alternatives of how to save money, free up your own time and save the environment all at once. Did you for example know that it takes 10.000 litres of water to produce one single pair of jeans? Knowing this, in addition to some other water facts: Only 2.5% of the Earth’s water is freshwater and only 0.3% is accessible to humans. 

Underneath is a picture from the site Good On You that shows how the Aral Sea in Central Asia dried up due to the unsustainable cotton industry in the area. You dont want to be part of this. 

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That is why I chose to repair rather than buying a new pair of blue jeans when my current pair broke last week. These jeans are under 2 years old, so I am not ready to give them up. It only took a few stitches and then their life span was prolonged again. Another pair, some brown chinos type of trousers, that are actually 10 years old also broke this week (a bad week for trousers in my household). These however were worn thin by the fabric, but I went to a tailor and asked for some extra fabric to repair them. I brought with me my the trouser to show the tailor, and he ended up giving my the fabric I needed to mend it for free! It didnt take much fabric for him, but it was enough for me to be able to give my garment a longer life, and hence reducing my need to replace it. 

I hope this inspired you to repair something you have, that you know needs mending. It is not hard, and you feel better afterwards because you've done the sensible thing for yourself, your economy and the environment. 

 

Norway's first climate lawsuit!

Something historical will happen this following week. On Tuesday the 14th of November, in Oslo District Court, the climate article 112 will be tested for the first time ever. The article reads: 

'Every person has the right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. Natural resources shall be managed on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations which will safeguard this right for future generations as well. The authorities of the state shall take measures for the implementation of these principles'.

This is a brilliant article because it says that the state is responsible for a liveable environment, not just for us, but also for future generations. This means that the actions we make today must be morally just towards the environment because it will affect the environment of the future. 

I believe, and so does the wonderful workplace that I am proud to call my job - Greenpeace, that drilling for more oil, and especially in the Arctic, is not in agreement with this article. We believe that it violates this article, and when the Norwegian government handed out new oil licences for oil drilling in the Arctic, against all environmental advices, that this would not be in the best interests of a liveable climate for the future. 

I first wrote about this lawsuit over a year ago, which you can read here, before I even worked in Greenpeace, because I as a global citizen care about and feel deeply committed to global climate justice and belive in the slogan that 'what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic' - meaning that the oil and gas that is extracted from the Norwegian continental shelf will, when burned somewhere else, further escalate global warming. 

In two days it is finally happening. At 09.00 in Oslo District Court we will meet the states representatives and lay forward our best arguments. I hope with all my heart that we are heard and understood. If we were to win this case, it would set a global precedence. Literally, the world is looking towards Oslo these next two weeks. Here, you can read about it in Al Jazeera. 

There will be a myriad of cultural and other events linked to the lawsuit, that you can attend here, if you are in Oslo. Otherwise, for the best coverage, if you want to follow the court case, I would encourage you to follow Greenpeace Norge on both Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat. Also, follow Klimasøksmål Arktis on Facebook. It will be press coverage in both Norwegian and English. For purely English content, I would recommend following Save The Arctic on Facebook and Greenpeace International. Also, I will do my best to update on social media as well, so find me at The Climate School on Instagram. 

I am so very exited about these two upcoming weeks and I know that there is massive global support to this case. Over 400 000 people have signed up at Save The Arctic to add their names as witness statements. At the same time as this historical lawsuit is taking place in Oslo, there is the COP happening in Bonn, where Norway advocates for ways for create a better climate for the future. By looking towards ourselves first, we could make a significant impact in bettering the climate conditions by being the example that the world so sorely needs. Thank you to everyone that helps bring this message forward in the coming two weeks. 

Circular economy - why it is good for the planet

You've might come across the term 'circular economy' while reading, but what does it really entail? And how is it helping the planet? I hope you will get some of these answers after reading this blog post. 

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a foundation founded to accelerate the transition to a more circular economy, defines it as 'Looking beyond the current "take, make and dispose” extractive industrial model, the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design. Relying on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimising negative impacts. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital' .

Put simply; todays economic model isn't sustainable - what can we do about it? In a circular economy we no longer think about a product linearly, hence the name circular. This is understood as a 'produce, use and throw away' linear model. In the circular model, the aim is for the product to stay within the economy for as long as possible. This longevity can even mean that the product no longer servers the use it was initially intended to. 

In the broadest understanding of the concept of circular economy, there will be no more waste. We have finite resources, and within this economic model, waste is actually seen as a resource. In the process of better waste management and recycling, this economic model also aims at upcycling (creatively reusing something), having stricter standards for product design and material usage, and find smarter ways to run a business. 

The overall aim for this economic model is to find smart alternatives. We know that resources are finite, sometimes even scarce, and we know that the Earth has its own limits to what it can handle. With this model, the aim is to play on the same team as Earth, in stead of against it. Luckily, as with many green alternatives, this can both be a financially good investment model, in addition to being good for the planet. Several major companies as H&M, Nike and Google are already partners to the aforementioned Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 

If this blog post sparked some interest for you to find out more, because there is a lot more to dive into with this concept, then I can recommend this page as a first point. 

As always, thank you for reading, for keep educating yourself towards a greener you and a greener future for our shared planet. 

 

On saving all the endangered species, not just the cute ones

In September, we got the great news that China has managed to reverse the trend of letting the panda become extinct. For more on how they did this, you can follow this link:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-37273337 . However, what is troublesome is that even though the panda has become the symbol of endangered species, we haven't grasped the full concept of why we need to save all the endangered species, not only the cute ones. 

There are many "invisible" species that plays a key role in ecosystems we depend on for our daily life. One recent example that the media has given a bit of attention is the disappearance and mass dying of bees. Without bees there will be no pollination, which in turn will affect all the fruit and vegetables that we eat. This is a fairly simplified cause and effect chain, but the same rules apply to other species. If we change the natural habitat too much for one key species, we might alter something entirely larger without having intended that to be the consequences. 

From a preservationist perspective, the solution would be to not make interferences that can not be undone. In order to keep the numbers of dying species under control, we have something called the Red List: http://support.iucnredlist.org and WWFs: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/directory?direction=desc&sort=extinction_status and many countries have their own specific, for example Norway has its own "rødliste": http://data.artsdatabanken.no/Rodliste . In Norway, we have lost over 125 species in the past 200 years. Last week, the new state budges was published in Norway, and there are no new budgetary savings set aside for the protection of new species. This is a bad sign for the environmental situation we are in. If we start protecting more nature and saving species, we will effectively stop the escalating effect that we for example have seen with the bees. There are many other, probably undiscovered, links that we need to take in consideration. A healthy biodiversity will bring us closer to solving the climate crisis. 

Thank you for reading and engaging.