5 easy ways to be more environmentally friendly

When it comes to protecting the environment, the smallest of changes to the way we do things in our day-to-day lives can make a big difference, and the more of us who make these changes, the better. We have collected together five simple ideas of ways to be kinder to the environment below, so we can all start those changes today.

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Scientists develop plastic-free microbead alternative

Scientists at the University of Bath have developed a plastic-free microbead alternative that won’t pollute our oceans.

Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than 5mm in width, which are often found in beauty products such as body and facial scrubs, and toothpaste. These tiny plastic beads have met heavy criticism in recent years due to the fact that they slip through sewage filtration systems, ending up in our waterways and oceans, where they are innocently consumed by marine life and birds. In fact, a recent study estimated that nine in 10 of the world’s seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.

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Straws suck: UK pub chain clamps down on plastic straws

Peter Borg-Neal, the boss of UK pub chain Oakman Inns, was recently shown a YouTube video of a turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nostril, with the turtle in obvious pain and discomfort. This video had a huge impact on him personally and therefore on his business, too. Borg-Neal said:

“My response when I saw the video was the same as anyone else. It’s appalling and horribly unnecessary. Those straws simply should not be in the sea.”

In a direct reaction to the video he watched, Borg-Neal decided to restrict straw availability in his chain of 17 pubs, which had been collectively working their way through 100,000 plastic straws per month. He rolled out the campaign across the chain on 22nd April 2017, only giving out straws when they are requested; no longer giving them out automatically.

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Claim your free community litter pick kit

Please note: this was a time-limited offer for the Yorkshire area only, and has now finished. Thank you for your interest.

Street cleansing costs UK taxpayers almost £1 billion per year in England alone, and that is just the monetary cost of litter; it also impacts upon community wellbeing and mental health, wildlife, local business, tourism, wildlife, and the environment. Furthermore, it encourages other anti-social behaviour.

Despite the best efforts of local councils, there are still many spots around Yorkshire (and further afield) where litter builds up – after all, 62% of people in England drop litter, although only 28% admit to it, and councils have a budget to work within. However, 57% of people in England feel that litter is a problem in their area. Is it an issue in your area?

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90% of new power in Europe from renewable sources

In a clear sign of Europe’s recent shift away from fossil fuels, it has been found that nearly 90 per cent of the power added to the EU’s electricity grids in 2016 was from renewable sources. Wind farms accounted for more than half of this power (51 per cent), for the first time ever, with the other renewable sources being solar, biomass, and hydro.

Chart: Forge Recycling. Data source: WindEurope
Chart: Forge Recycling. Data source: WindEurope

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London breached its annual air pollution limit in five days

London broke its annual air pollution limit last Thursday, just five days into 2017. UK law states that hourly levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) must not exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) more than 18 times in a whole year, yet this limit was reached and broken on 5th January on Brixton Road in Lambeth. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise however, when you take a look at last year’s air pollution statistics for Brixton Road: in 2016 it broke the hourly limit 502 times.

It is expected that many other London hotspots will also frequently break the limit throughout the year. London’s Putney High Street broke the hourly limits 1,221 times last year, vastly exceeding the permitted 18 annual breaches, and many other busy areas such as Kings Road, Oxford Street and the Strand struggled with the limit, and will continue to do so this year.

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Dog mess: the nation’s most hated & dangerous litter

The Big Scoop campaign has kicked off this week; organised by Dog’s Trust and Keep Britain Tidy, this campaign aims to highlight how easy it is to scoop your dog’s poop, and appeals to dog owners to do just that. The Big Scoop will support local councils, and educate dog owners. A survey conducted recently in Cardiff showed that the general public dislike dog mess more than general litter or people smoking in public, making dog poo the nation’s biggest bugbear.

The UK is home to over 8 million canines, who produce over 1000 tonnes of waste between them every day – that weighs as much as 200 double-decker buses! Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if all of the mess was scooped up, but this is sadly far from the truth.

Alex Jackson, who is Head of Campaigns at Dogs Trust, says:

“Dog poo is still one of the biggest complaints received by local councils every year, with 81,000 complaints received from members of the public last year alone, so it’s important that everyone is aware of how simple disposing of dog mess can be.”

Owners who don’t scoop their dog’s poop are breaking the law, and face an £80 fine if caught. The problem is ‘if caught’; many irresponsible dog owners who don’t scoop, commit the act when nobody is about, or by cover of darkness, knowing they will get away with it.

But why do we dislike dog poo so much? And why should we clear it up straight away from our streets, paths, and parks? We explore the reasons below.

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How to set up a Community Fridge

Food waste is a huge problem in the UK. We throw away around 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every single year, and over half of that could have been consumed – if not by ourselves, then by someone else. Not only is this extremely wasteful, it is costing the average family with kids around £60 per month, and if you’re throwing your food waste in your general waste bin, it’ll be heading straight to landfill. Food waste is terrible for the environment and our pockets.

So, how do we tackle this food waste culture? In April this year, the first community fridge was set up in the UK – in Frome, Somerset. After just three months, over 1000 food items had been shared through the use of the fridge, and therefore saved from the bin and landfill. Local restaurants and cafes have been using it too. Whilst food banks handle non-perishables, a fridge means fresh goods are able to be shared also, which covers a much broader selection of consumables, and deals with items that can’t be donated anywhere else. And unlike food banks, the contents of the fridge are accessible to anyone and everyone.

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Biodegradable Plastic is just as bad for the Environment

As time goes on, there is increasing chatter about, and hope placed upon, biodegradable plastics. In theory, they sound like a good idea on comparison to ‘regular’ plastics; a strong material which is used for its purpose, and then naturally breaks down over time, leaving no trace – or so we assume. These newer plastics aren’t quite the angelic material they claim to be though, as you’ll discover in this article.

What are Biodegradable Plastics?

Biodegradable plastics are the supposedly more eco-friendly versions of regular plastics, which are celebrated for the speed in which they are able to biodegrade. However, depending on what they are made from, these plastics require specific environmental factors to trigger the degradation process – for example: a heat of 50C, plenty of oxygen, or exposure to water.

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