This week: Reducing recycling, recommendations, and next week’s sustainability calendar

Welcome to the fourth Rethink Convenience weekly. Each week I summarise the latest articles in Rethink Convenience, highlight some interesting things I’ve encountered in the last week, and give a preview of what’s coming up.

I’ve not published anything new this week, so I’ll get straight to some tips and what I’ve read and watched:

Tips

It was Global Recycling Day yesterday (18th March). Recycling is, and should always be, a last resort because of the energy it consumes and the diminishing quality you get in recycled materials. Many of our recycling facilities across the globe are at — or over — capacity, and consequently a lot of what we put to recycling ends up incinerated or put to landfill.

So my tip this week is to consider one of the many other “re-” words before you recycle: Reuse, repair, refurbish, renew, repurpose, rethink, reimagine, redesign, reduce, return, refuse.

You don’t have to go zero-waste in an instant. My challenge to you is to pick just one item from your recycling this week and think about what changes you can make to avoid that item going into the recycling bin in the future. Use the “re-” words mentioned above. Then, next week, pick another item.

Remember that the problem of waste doesn’t begin when you dispose of a think, it begins when you buy it.

Image: Sarah Lazarovic

This is why I was glad to find this model, the Buyerarchy of Needs (Instagram), which shows the order in which we should think about things when we think we need something new. Work your way up the pyramid, and you should minimise the amount of new stuff you buy and the amount that you need to recycle.

What I’ve Consumed this Week

My favourite action from this list of Sensible things we can all do to live more sustainably (Medium) is the first, but they’re all realistic and actionable changes that we can all make. The first is about being open to learning new things. As Kitiara notes:

This area of science is constantly evolving and every day brings new revelations about what it means to protect the planet and reduce the impacts of pollution, exploitation, and degradation… By being open to learning, we can stay up-to-date with the science of sustainability and better focus our actions. (Kitiara Pascoe, UpHarvest Digest)

Special brew: eco-friendly Peruvian coffee leaves others in the shade: (the Guardian) An interesting article about shade-grown coffee. It produces a lower yield than regular coffee and is harder to grow, but crucially it doesn’t require clearance of native forest, so its environmental footprint is much reduced. I’m interested to try it.

Turning to news, first ‘British Wind’ — good news for two ports and electricity generation: (CMS) a response to the recent announcements in offshore wind, a critique of the term “British Wind”, and a sad comparison to how this makes the rest of the green economy look in Britain.

Flapper Skate egg nursery area given a year’s MPA designation: (CMS) great news and a positive sign that we can act to protect our marine ecosystems when we need to. The next challenge is for these Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to actually be protected, so organisations like Greenpeace don’t have to litter the seabeds with boulders.

Budget 2021: No ‘green revolution’ from Sunak: (BBC) This analysis of the latest UK budget from an environmental perspective is consistent with other write-ups I’ve read. Half-measures and an opportunity missed. As one commentator said:

Last month Boris Johnson told the UN Security Council that climate change is as big a threat to world peace as war. Yet today’s Budget shows a decided dip in both rhetoric and action (Fatima Ibrahim, Green New Deal UK)

Finally, we’re a week behind on Animal Einsteins (BBC, UK only), but episode 3 spoke to me. As an engineer, I loved this episode about animal builders. I’m fascinated with biomimicry, and this episode gave the topic some good coverage.

Next Week

Saturday, 20 March:

Sunday, 21 March:

Monday, 22 to Sunday, 28 March: Circular City Week — New York

Monday, 22 March:

Tuesday, 23 March:

Saturday, 27 March: Earth Hour


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