1. ablorg:

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    It’s been a while since we reported on plans to turn the Blackfriars railway bridge in central London into a massive solar power station. That plan has now come to fruition, with the bridge officially opening for business earlier this month:

    The 4,400 photovoltaic panels cover the roof…

     
  2. It’s interesting that the majority of people cite health and taste as reasons behind purchasing organic food. The other benefits mentioned - avoiding chemical residues, reducing environmental impact, and improving animal welfare - are undisputable and scientifically accepted. However, I haven’t yet found a peer-reviewed paper that proves conclusively that organic food on the whole is either healthier or better-tasting than conventional food.

    Buying organic is important and has a lot of advantages, but it’s important that people understand what these actually are. We should encourage people to make informed purchasing decisions, not mislead their judgement.

    (Source: kalindiwellness, via ecosavvyrebel)

     
  3. unconsumption:

    Composting—like jam-making—is one of those activities I tend just to read about. Nice idea, but too much hassle to actually carry out.

    Until I somehow became one of those people who processes kitchen waste on her balcony, producing nutrient-rich soil and saving the environment one banana peel at a time.

    I am not an urban hippie or a even a DIY type, much less a person with any sort of practical skills. Instead, my worm-filled adventure started (as these things often do) with guilt. I read too many articles about how choking landfills with organic matter is terribly harmful for the environment.

    I finally caved and bought a cute composting crate (bag of worms sold separately). Composting doesn’t require worms, but vermicomposting sounded like less effort, as it does not require you to regularly aerate your pile of kitchen refuse. My modest goal was to collect just my food scraps and let them rot in a semi-responsible fashion.

    A charming essay: My Misadventures in Urban Composting - CityLab

     

  4. Singapore relies on imports for over 90% of its food. Having lived in the city, fruits and vegetables are expensive to buy and are often of mediocre quality. A plan by some forward-thinking startups is set to change all that, however, by making use of underutilised and abandoned structures to grow produce locally using a combination of vertical farming and more traditional rooftop gardens. Beyond fresher, cheaper, and more local food, the rise of farming in Singapore will provide increased food security and resistance to price spikes from supply issues in addition to boosting the local economy.

    I think it’s a terrific idea, and I’m excited to see this kind of innovative thinking in a nation where people have traditionally paid little attention to where their food is coming from. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rise of modern food production develops over the next short while, and hopefully I’ll have the chance to buy some local produce during my visit next summer!

     
  5. Stopped by the farmer’s market at the UBC Farm yesterday to grab some fresh, local produce. Luckily for me it’s just down the road from my new apartment!

     
  6. Over the past week I’ve been in the process of moving to an apartment  closer to UBC for the coming academic year. My new place isn’t actually that far from the old one - it’s just under 5km up a slight hill. This gave me the perfect opportunity to conduct a little experiment and see how much stuff I could move without the help of a car or moving truck.

    I rented a homemade bike trailer from the AMS Bike Co-Op at UBC for a couple of days (at a modest cost of $5/day) and packed it with as many bags and smaller objects as I could (I’d estimate the trailer weighed about 80-90kg fully loaded). The two round trips I did involved less effort than I had feared, although I wasn’t able to manage riding any faster than a slow jog up the hill. I was pretty pleased at how simple a solution it was though - just hook up a trailer to your bike, throw whatever you want in it and off you go.

    Is it a feasible or even realistic way to move an entire apartment or small house? No. Not with a single rider and trailer at least. In my case these two trips only represented about 20% of my possessions, and I still ended up having to throw everything else (including all my furniture) into a moving truck. But for someone with no furniture to worry about who only wants to move their personal possessions a short distance, moving by bike is not only totally feasible; it’s probably also one of the quickest and cheapest ways of moving I can think of.

    In my case this solution turned out not to be suitable for my needs, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work out for others. I’d be more than willing to try again next time given a few volunteers and more trailers. I’d just have to dig out those IKEA manuals and disassemble all my furniture first.

     
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  8. Dropped off 5 years worth of my family’s old / broken phones at the Nokia Care centre in Singapore last week. They’re a lot better off being recycled than sitting unloved at the bottom of desk drawers.

    According to Nokia, just 9% of phones are recycled worldwide. If you’ve got a few phones just sitting around, I’d encourage you to drop them off for recycling to turn them back into useful and valuable materials. :)

     
  9. vicenews:

    Indonesia is being deforested faster than any other country in the world, and it has everything to do with one product: palm oil.

    The ever-increasing demand for products containing palm oil is becoming a crippling problem with no simple or quick fixes. I was in Singapore in June last year when the air Pollutants Standard Index (PSI) reached its highest value ever recorded as a result of forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia. Burning is the cheapest way for farmers to clear rainforest for the planting of oil palm, but the peat soil present in the region means that these fires can burn uncontrolled for months. Aside from the obvious environmental consequences and habitat loss for orang-utans, the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia is rife with corruption and has a history of human rights abuse.

    A few weeks ago, my family decided to commit to not buying any foods containing palm oil for a month (we had to exclude soaps because it’s virtually impossible find any palm oil-free varieties). The penalty for buying a food product made from palm oil is S$5, which we collect and send off to a suitable charity at the end of the month. The goal is to continue our palm oil-free eating habits into the future - if we can all do it for a month, longer should be no problem.

    I’m not sure that boycotting palm oil entirely is a suitable long-term solution to the problem, however. Alternatives like soy, rapeseed, or sunflower oils have similar land, water, and pesticide demands - there’s no clear-cut substitute. The best solution is probably to reduce our consumption of vegetable oils altogether and ensure that products contain palm oil sourced from ‘sustainable’ sources (meaning that no virgin rainforest is destroyed for its cultivation). The issue isn’t with the plant itself but with the industry that exploits people, habitats, and land to cultivate it at the cheapest possible cost. If we can slowly change that, we can begin to fix the problem.

     
  10. I’ve always been a big fan of Nokia. They make solid, innovative products and have a proven track record of delivering on their ambitious sustainability goals - amongst others, Nokia is now the top collector of mobile phones for recycling in the world.

    Their colourful latest phablet, the Lumia 1520, is available in black, white, yellow, and red. In the next few weeks it’ll also be available in green. What’s so special about that? Well, the green shell is made from recycled DVDs, which Nokia has been collecting from consumers who don’t know what to do with their old films (due to the adoption of Blu-Ray and streaming services).

    I think that’s pretty cool not just because Nokia is actively recycling waste into useful products, but because it draws consumer attention to the growing issue of e-waste and the challenges we face in dealing with the problem. It remains to be seen how popular the green Lumia 1520 will be - I’d personally love the recycled covers to be available in the full range of colours for all phones.