In a previous Outofgreen posting I mentioned an impressive food waste management project involving the National Federation of Women's Institutes in the U.K. They had teamed up with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), the Government's packaging waste agency. I was intrigued by the Women's Institute's initiative and wanted to learn more about WRAP. I visited the WRAP website and found out the following:
WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change.
WRAP has 3 primary targets:
Sending less to landfill: WRAP's goal is to stop 8 million tonnes of waste materials from the household, industrial and commercial waste streams going to landfill.
Reducing carbon emissions: WRAP would like its programmes to help save 5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.
Increasing economic impact: WRAP would like to help create a £1.1 billion positive economic impact for business, local authorities and consumers through £850 million of cost savings and £280 million of increased turnover in recycling and related industries.
WRAP's approach is to help individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change. There are 4 specific focus areas:
Waste prevention: The avoidance of waste and its minimisation, targeting consumers and businesses alike.
Collecting and sorting: Increasing the collection of materials for recycling and reprocessing, encouraging participation across all audiences and improving collection and sorting mechanisms.
Recycling and reprocessing: Securing greater investment and efficiency in recycling and reprocessing industries and manufacturing products using greater levels of recycled content.
market development: Promoting markets for materials and products with increased recycled content, or which result in less waste, namely those made from materials which can be recycled, reused or composted.
WRAP has an extensive business plan and impact review that can be found on their website. The website also includes various research reports and studies conducted by WRAP.
WRAP seems to be yet another dedicated pro-active U.K. environmental group that we can learn much from.
I recently read a news story out of the U.K. about a group of women who were trying to shed the pounds from their waste, not their waist. They were apparently involved in an innovative scheme to help women cut their food waste and shopping bills in half. The idea was to use "simple, old-fashioned home economics".
The National Federation of Women's Institutes teamed up with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), the Government's packaging waste agency, to create 10"Love Food" groups. These groups teach women how to "waste less, be more efficient cooks and to cut shopping bills – with the aim of reducing the 6.7 million tons of food the UK wastes every year".
"We throw away a third of the food we buy in the UK, so to cut back that waste by 50 per cent is outstanding," said Julia Falcon, a campaign manager for Wrap. "We can see that groups who decide to share their experiences with each other, and tackle this problem together, work extremely well."
In this case, the women organised groups in 10 UK towns. With a grass-roots approach, they held monthly meetings where they discussed food storage, shopping, meal planning and preservation. It sounds much like a home-economics course, but the results were impressive. According to the article, "their households reduced waste from an average 4.7kg (10.4lbs) a week to 2.2kg (4.9lbs) a week".
The projects really highlights the environmental impact of food waste. According to Wrap's estimations, the UK's food waste generates "18 tons of carbon dioxide a year – the same as a fifth of the cars on the road. Much of the food thrown out ends up in landfill, where it emits methane, a damaging greenhouse gas".
I was intrigued by the results of the Women's Institute's initiative and wanted to learn more about WRAP's lovefoodhatewaste campaign. I found that the website is loaded with excellent tips on reducing your grocery bill, keeping your food fresh longer, time saving, recipes, food storage, measuring portions, and much more. It is well worth a bookmark!
Supporting sustainable standards when we shop is a SMART way to go. There is an increasing number of companies that are providing a green alternative by manufacturing their products according to sustainable standards. These standards start with the raw materials used and end with the disposal or re-use of the product. Make sure to look for verification of the product's sustainable standard when you are shopping. A manufacturer may make a claim that their product is "eco-friendly" or "green", but are these claims backed by an independent or nonprofit organization that has investigated the claim. There are a number of labels from these organizations that you should look for. By choosing products that have been certified to meet sustainable standards, you can make a difference in reducing climate change, reduce air and water pollution , save natural resources and rain forests. Shop SMART.
SMART Certified Sustainable Lighting, Furniture, Flooring, & Building Products
In a recent posting, we discussed concerns about the use of Tricolosan in personal care products and other household items. There are, however, many questionable chemicals used in personal care products. In one of the Green Guide videos the host suggests using the Green Guide Smart Shoppers card when shopping for personal care products. This card lists the "dirty dozen chemicals in cosmetics". You can download the Green Guide Smart Shoppers card and take it with you the next time you are out buying your soaps and creams.
If you prefer watching a video rather than reading your information, then here is a good video about the plastics we use everyday. It discusses the various plastics we use around the house and explains which plastics are safe and which are not.
The National Geographic Green Guide provides short video clips on all sorts of environmental issues. We have been enjoying many of the green home makeover videos from the Green Guide.
Love him or hate him, David Suzuki is without a doubt one of Canada's most outspoken environmentalists and activists. He rallies people across the country to get involved and make a difference in the direction our environment is taking.
If you haven't already done so, it is worth taking up the David Suzuki Nature Challenge. Find out how well you fare at reducing your negative impact on the environment, and what you can do to improve.
David Suzuki says that, "you can have a big impact on moving us all toward a greener future in the individual choices you make each day."
According to the science, it turns out you can make the biggest difference in:
Six months ago, Canada announced that the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) was a hazardous substance. This past Saturday, Ottawa officially listed bisphenol A on its list of toxic substances and said regulations prohibiting the importation, sale and advertising of baby bottles containing BPA would come into force in 2009. Measures will also be taken to reduce the amount of BPA that is released into the environment.
Tony Clement, Minister of Health, said, "In 2007, we issued a challenge to industry under our Chemicals Management Plan to provide information on how they manage bisphenol A. Today's announcement is a milestone for our government and for Canada as the first country in the world to take regulatory action."
The federal government has allocated an additional $1.7-million over the next three years to fund research into the effects of bisphenol A. The government says that this research funding is in addition to " major studies currently underway at Health Canada and Environment Canada". It is meant to help "address key knowledge gaps in both the Canadian and international scientific community, and inform Government decision-making should further actions be required".
Although current levels of bisphenol A found in baby bottles are believed to fall below the danger threshold, "due to the uncertainty raised in some studies relating to the potential affects of low levels of bisphenol A, the government of Canada is taking action to enhance the protection of infants and young children," Health Canada said in the statement.
There were also environmental concerns behind the ban. Environment Canada scientists are warning that, "bisphenol A is entering the environment through wastewaters, washing residues and leachate from landfills. It also breaks down slowly in the environment when there is a lack of oxygen. The combination of the slow break down of bisphenol A and its wide use in Canada means that over time, this chemical could build up in our waters and harm fish and other organisms".
Environment Minister John Baird said, "our government did the right thing in taking action to protect the health and environment for all Canadians".
Award winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster is hosting the Nature of Things season premiere tonight. Most of us know the Natures of Things and actually most of us grew up with the show. David Suzuki has won three Gemini Awards and an ACTRA Award as Best Host. Most importantly in relation to this website, OutofGreen.ca, is the fact that David Suzuki is a forceful environmentalist who is not afraid to say what is on his mind. David Suzuki was recently quoted as say that those scientists that don't believe in climate change are "shills" for big corporations. Furthermore he feels Canada should be consider international outlaws for opting out of the Kyoto agreement. In February of this year, David Suzuki spoke at McGill University and suggested that students find a way to get our leaders jailed who ignore science as it is a criminal act.
So, you may love him or you may hate him, but the simple fact is clear, David Suzuki is trying to help our planet and we can learn a lot from him.
Over the past couple of months we have jumped on the enviro train in the home. As we learn about recycling and what we can and cannot do, we figured others in communities like ours would go through the same things and ask the same questions. So we are going to share our discoveries with everyone, and we hope that everyone will share their discoveries with us.