BOOK REVIEW….Oil: A concise guide to the most important product on earth

Author: Matthew Yeomans

ISBN: 1-59558-028-X

This is Matthew Yeomans’ essential guide to a product that now rules every aspect of our lives. The book aims to highlight the enormous influence we have allowed oil to have on our standard of living. In so doing, we are provided with the knowledge of what the future holds if we can’t break free.

The book commences with a race through the last 150 years of oil growth and dependency in 30 short pages. The aim is to show that this timeframe is a blink-of-the-eye in terms of human Continue reading

Avoid consumption: How to reduce dairy consumption in 10 steps

Dairy products are high carbon. Cattle produce methane, plus cattle eat grain grown on land that should be growing rainforests. The main argument for eating dairy is as a source of calcium to reduce the risks of osteoporosis. Further guidance can be found here.)

We need to dramatically decrease our dairy consumption to allow others to share in this, but also to avoid dairy cows being bred in areas where there is no natural food source. For further info, I highly recommend reviewing this FAO Report.

The UK has good conditions for growing grass-fed cows, but they are also fed on imported soy and other protein-rich grains. I love cheese, and I really struggle reducing the amount I eat, so instead of going completely vegan immediately, try some of the simple ways to reduce the amount of dairy products you buy: Continue reading

Reduce waste: Get a ‘no junk mail’ sign

We live in the centre of town, and were receiving 2-3 pieces of junk mail a day. I never read them, they would just get binned. I felt guilty, as the local businesses were paying for this advertising for no reason.
In the UK, 2% of our waste going to landfill is mail. The paper and pulp industry is responsible for 5% of global industrial energy use, and is the fourth worst sector for releasing toxic chemicals to water and air. Recycling helps, but not using it in the first place would help more.

Assuming 17.9 g/letter received, the total carbon emissions reduced by stopping my junk mail is approximately 13 kg CO2/ year. Not a huge impact on my personal carbon emissions, but the volume of waste reduced is substantial, and it keeps my hall tidier, so I’d still highly recommend it, (particularly if you don’t read the adverts).

For further advice about reducing the volume of junk mail you are receiving, visit the Stop Junk Mail website, for some great advice and helpful links, including stopping the junk mail sent through Royal Mail, which will not be stopped by a sign.

See The Environmental Impact of Mail for further detailed calculations about the environmental impact the paper and pulp industry has.

Reduce Waste: Take your own Tupperware

For years, I have been going with a group of friends every week to eat at our favourite restaurant. The food was superb, but the volume of food was so huge, it was wasteful leaving it, so I ate till it hurt. To avoid this, I started taking half home each week, with the resultant foil boxes and cardboard lids and plastic bags going in the bin. After a few weeks deciding if food waste or packaging waste was worse, we all decided to take our own plastic boxes. The restaurants prefer not dealing with excessive food waste, I don’t overeat in the evening, I get a free lunch the next day, and there is no packaging waste.

You may think this is weird, but try it (just ask as you’re doing it). Restaurants would prefer you to enjoy your meal and come back than go out for food rarely.

As an alternative, if you know you are not going to eat it all and won’t take it home, ask for a smaller portion.

Reduce waste: Cardiff’s new Energy from Waste plant

Where waste goes does not appear to be a contentious issue, unless someone chooses your neighbourhood to locate it.

The UK exports over 1.5Mt of refuse-derived fuel to mainland Europe every year. When burned, this would be enough to power about half a million households. Energy from Waste uses materials that would otherwise have been sent to landfill, or transported for use in countries such as Sweden, Denmark or Latvia. The method links a waste management method with a non-fossil fuel energy source.

This month sees the commissioning of the new Viridor Energy-from-Waste plant, located in Splott. Residual waste from five counties will be transported here for burning. The process will still produce waste, in the form of ash, which will require disposal.

If we are truly aiming for a reduction in waste, then the plant will become redundant by 2050 at the latest.

I don’t know how I feel about the plant. But I know I still throw rubbish in my black bag, so I am responsible for the need for waste treatment and storage. By reducing black bin waste significantly and by considering the types of materials I will be throwing away, I will have an impact on the requirement to burn rubbish.

For further information, see Cardiff Against The Incinerator, and Viridor’s website.