Biophilia – Our Innate Connectedness to Nature

Blog picture Biophilia

E.O Wilson’s Biophilia hypothesis (1995) posits that, as a result of our extensive co-evolutionary histories with our planet’s myriad inhabitants, we possess an innate desire to interact with other species and ‘life-like processes’. Hypotheses surrounding the numerous benefits of communing with our natural evolutionary heritage are not new and are based on more than mere speculation or intuition. An ever-growing body of empirical evidence from disciplines ranging from environmental psychology to the health and biological sciences have shown that exposure to and prolonged contact with natural spaces and animals is strongly correlated with physiologically, psychologically, and socially restorative effects. Interacting with and sometimes even simply viewing nature through a window, for instance, has been found to reduce stress, quicken recovery time for patients who’ve undergone surgery, alleviate depression, confer cognitive benefits such as improved attention and memory, and reinforce social cohesion. A BBC study which sought to assess the effects of watching videos of wildlife on thousands of viewers from over six different countries found that, after watching the videos, viewers reported significant increases in joy, contentment, curiosity, awe, and wonder, and reduced stress and tiredness. It appears that exposure to and communion with the natural world and our co-evolutionary counterparts taps into a deep wellspring of human happiness, one forged by millions of years of evolution, that is more fundamental and enduring than that which one supposedly experiences via material pursuits.

Such findings are truly profound, for they lend legitimacy to something that many have felt for centuries yet weren’t able to articulate or prove concretely: that we are deeply connected to our natural support systems and coevolutionary counterparts on a multitude of levels- historically, culturally, and biologically- and that the grand delusion of human separateness from and superiority to the natural world has been among the greatest myths ever perpetuated. Yet, today during the Anthropocene, the era of disastrous human impacts on the natural world, we’re systematically eroding the very foundations of life and wellbeing. The 6th mass extinction is well under way, portending the loss of 67% of monitored vertebrate species by 2020. Anthropogenic climate change promises more frequent and intense storms, droughts, wildfires, further species decline, and rising seas. All of these crises are largely rooted in the wildly unsustainable production and consumption patterns of contemporary industrial-capitalist societies, predominantly in the Global North where the ecological footprint of its citizenry vastly exceeds that of the Global South, while collectively our species consumes the annual resource equivalent of 1.6 planet earths. By scaling back the human enterprise- namely, by reducing conspicuous consumption, reusing all we can, opting for public transport, vastly reducing highly polluting and resource-intensive activities such as meat and dairy consumption and production, and generally making more room for natural processes and other species to flourish – we can make great strides towards preserving the extraordinary world that makes ours and our fantastic co-evolutionary counterparts’ lives truly worth living.

tw#Biophilia

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-This blog post was written by Heather Alberro, a PhD Candidate/Associate Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at NTU

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What was the outcome of COP23 and what happens now?

There have been two busy weeks in Bonn, with negotiations covering everything from the precise wording of a Gender Action Plan to a “rulebook” for the Paris Agreement. In my first blog post, I mentioned three main areas to look out for; the process on making the Paris Agreement operational, the mechanisms developing to increasing action per every fifth year and the highlighting of vulnerable countries and communities.

The negotiations on the Paris Agreement started on Tuesday morning and have continued over the week. Transparency and inclusion of stakeholders have been a major part of the discussions, an important part for democratic Agreement. The work on the rulebook started at COP22 in Marrakesh last year, and the process has covered a broad range including

  • the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) framework
  • how to record work on adaptation
  • making sure members act in compliance with the Paris Agreement
  • ensure transparent reporting of progress in the Agreement

While the “deadline” of this rulebook is COP24 next year, which will be held in Poland, this year’s draft has revealed potential disagreements and the options for moving forward. Look at the COP23 key outcomes agreed at UN Climate Talks for a more detailed summary of the progress on the rulebook.

Another discussion, aka the Talanoa dialogue, has been the work on enhanced ambition, or the mechanisms for increasing action every five years. The outcome of the dialogue highlights three questions; Where are we?, Where do we want to go? and How do we get there?. The document can be found in the Annex of COP23’s outcome decision.

The final point I have followed is Fiji’s focus on vulnerable countries and communities. This focus can be seen in the progress in areas such as a Gender Action Plan, the Ocean Pathway Partnership and the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform.

  • The Gender Action Plan strengthens gender-responsive climate policy and highlights the need to mainstream gender into all activities. It also underlines the need to incorporate women into decision-making and implementation of climate policies.
  • The Ocean Pathway Partnership stresses the need for countries to include the ocean in their work on climate change. It aims to allow for projects working on ocean health and ocean ecosystems to receive UNFCCC funding.
  • The Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform provides a space for an exchange of best practice on mitigation and adaptation measures that respect and safeguard local community and indigenous people.

Undoubtedly, there has been a lot of work in these two weeks, and while we have seen progress, the negotiations have highlighted the need for speed. The increase of climate disasters shows that countries need to evaluate as well as act on their intended nationally determined contributions on reducing emissions and keep this ambition going for COP24 in Poland 2018. Work on climate change is an all-year-round effort, so until next year, have a look at some organisations work.

Help locally with the NTSU Conservation Society or contact the NTU Environment Team to see how you can get involved.

Or nationally at UKYCC, or at a global level with YOUNGO or 350.

Or if you just want to chat about climate change contact me.

Alex

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-This blog post was written by Alexandra Arntsen, associate lecturer in the Green Academy, on the UNFCCC negotiations at COP23 in Bonn. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

 

COP23 – Halftime

The second week of climate negotiations is just starting 384 miles away in Bonn, Germany.

One of my personal areas of interest has been the development of the Gender Action Plan. One can question, why does gender matter when debating climate change? Climate change isn’t fair, meaning, it does not have an even and equal impact in the world. So, for me, raising gender equality as an integral part of the negotiations is about making sure that climate change policies benefit, and not hurt, the most vulnerable. As written by CAN “this is a sprawling challenge, that must recognize human rights”. Mainstreaming gender into climate change policy-making broadens the spotlight to include areas of rights to education and development, rights of indigenous people and migrants, to the right to health, and food security. It allows for a focus on social development alongside technical developments. The latest news is that the delegates have agreed on the text for the Gender Action Plan and that the negotiations are now moving from a “backroom” discussion into the main plenary for approval. I will update you all on my final blog-post in one and a half week’s time!

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Another area which has been stressed by developed, as well as developing countries, since the start of the negotiations, is the “Talanoa Dialogue. UNFCCC explains Talanoa as “a traditional word used in Fiji and the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue”[1]. In reference to the climate change negotiations, this refers to the upcoming talks about what countries have done to reach their goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, as well as what has been done in the process towards keeping temperatures below 2°C below above pre-industrial levels. While the Talanoa Dialogue does not officially start until 2018, the groundwork for the rules and design of the process needs to be laid this year. Click here (http://unfccc.int/items/10265.php) if you want more information on the Talanoa Dialogue and its development.

The goal of keeping temperatures below 2°C below above pre-industrial levels is an important part of the Paris Agreement. The negotiations for rules and potential sanctions started on Tuesday morning and have continued over the week. Some main topics have been transparency and the inclusion of stakeholders in climate negotiations. This is important as this gives civil society the opportunity to provide input, lobby as well as hold policymakers accountable. Transparency and participation is a crucial part of making the Paris Agreement democratic. These negotiations are likely to increase in intensity in the last week.

A final note is the great news that Syria has signed up to the Paris Agreement. This currently makes the United States alone in the cold outside. However, despite Trump announcing the US intent to withdraw as soon as possible, this will not be actualised until earliest the 4 November 2020 – that is one day AFTER the next US presidential election. So, there is still hope!

[1] http://unfccc.int/items/10265.php

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-This blog post was written by Alexandra Arntsen, associate lecturer in the Green Academy, on the UNFCCC negotiations at COP23 in Bonn. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

 

What to expect from COP23 – Going into the First Week of the Negotiations

In the next two weeks, the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations are taking place in Bonn, Germany. I first began to follow these negotiations in 2009 when they were in Copenhagen, Denmark. I went there to participate, take part in manifestations, and report back to the organisation I was representing (this includes sleeping on the floor of a school as accommodation). The aim of this blog post is to introduce the negotiations and to highlight some of the main areas of importance of these two weeks.

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Just a brief background: the correct terminology for this meeting is COP23 or the 23rd Conference of the Parties. The COP is the main decision-making body of the UNFCCC, an acronym for the very catchy “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”. Basically, the COP is an annual meeting where officials and representatives from 196 countries and one economic union (the EU) meet to negotiate international action on climate change.
The first COP occurred in Berlin in 1995 and we are now 23 years in, hence COP23. During this time two treaties have been agreed; the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and most recently the Paris Agreement (2015). The main aim of these treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent human action from further damaging the climate.

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So back to this year. The 2017 negotiations are governed by Fiji and marks an important step for global climate action. The Paris Agreement was a vital step towards a global commitment to combating climate change. COP23 needs to hold on to this spirit in order to ensure global action before it is too late to avoid the most severe consequences of a changing climate. In order to meet the Paris goal of keeping global temperature below 2 degrees C° (or ideally below 1.5 degrees C°) compared to pre-industrial levels, we need global greenhouse gas emissions to start declining by 2020 and reach to zero by 2050. This means that one of the main themes to follow during the COP23 negotiations will be the on how to make the Paris Agreement operational.. This includes negotiations on a framework, guiding the implementation of the agreement. It also covers an agreement on transparency; e.g. public reporting and reviews of countries commitments to act and reduce their emissions. A third vital point is the development of the Paris Agreements mechanism to assess the progress of the commitments and a process for increasing action every fifth year.
Another important thing during this year’s negotiations is that Fiji, in its governing position, has chosen that these negotiations will have a specific focus on vulnerable countries and communities. One of the main principles of the UNFCCC is equity, or “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”. Some actors choose to focus on the word “responsibilities,” and specifically the historical responsibilities developed countries have, due to the greenhouse gases they emitted when growing their economies. Other actors focus on the word “capabilities,” meaning the capacity a country has to deal with climate change, including financial as well as technological resources to adapt their domestic emissions. With this, COP23’s emphasis being on vulnerable countries, such as developing Small Island states and the unique environmental challenges they encounter. The expectations going into these negotiations are on the adaptation fund, along with the $100 billion that needs to be collected by 2020 to finance it. One of the topics I personally will focus on is gender and climate change, but if there is any topic you wish I would cover in more detail, or have questions on the best way to follow a certain area – please send me an e-mail!

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-This blog post was written by Alexandra Arntsen, Associate Lecturer in the Green Academy Team at NTU. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

Bees in the City

Last week, on the 25th Aug, two honey bee hives have found a new home on the roof of Chaucer building in the heart of Nottingham. The aim is to add to the network of pollinators around the city at the time when their numbers are drastically falling. We are also planning flower beds for the roof to provide food for all local pollinators.

Placing the bees on Chaucer will give them good access to the Boots Library rooftop garden, the Arboretum, Dryden Corner and many other green spaces around the city – honey bees can easily fly for a couple of miles to find sources of food. As they collect food they will pollinate a wide variety of flowers, allowing the plants to set seed. It is estimated that 84% of EU crops and 80% of wildflowers rely on pollination so it is a hugely valuable process for people, plants, and wildlife. As the intensification of agriculture has made the countryside less hospitable, our urban environments have become increasingly important for insects. Our honeybees will be an important addition to Nottingham’s invertebrate community.

bees 1(Right: Chris Pryke-Hendy from NTU Environment team. Left: Nigel Smith NTU Resources Manager, setting up the bee hives on top of Chaucer)

As well as honeybees, there are a wide variety of native invertebrate pollinators in the UK, including bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, bugs, and beetles. In total, this accounts for at least 4000 wild species that pollinate our crops and wild flowers. However, more than 60% of pollinators are in decline in the UK so they need all the help they can get!

However, honeybees only make up a portion of insect pollination so we can all do our bit to help a variety of invertebrates. Some simple things to do are:

  • Plant pollinator friendly plants that will flower from spring to autumn
  • Let your garden get a little wild
  • Create a log pile
  • Make or buy homes for solitary bees
  • Avoid insecticides
  • If you don’t have a garden try a creating window box
  • If you see a tired looking bee on the ground, revive it with a spoon of sugar and water
  • Get involved in local projects such as community meadows and allotments
  • Contact the council if you think an area near you could benefit from less frequent maintenance
  • Record pollinators you see and submit your findings to national or local counts

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We will be placing cameras on the hives which will stream live to a dedicated web page so everyone can keep an eye them. A previous attempt at keeping hives on Newton building failed because it was too windy, but we are hoping these bees will find Chaucer to be a more suitable and sheltered place to live. Keep an eye out for bee updates on the website, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Further information:

Bug Life: pollination

Sustainable Pollination Services for UK Crops

What can you do to help bees at home?

RSPB: give nature a home in your garden

Grow a bee and butterfly garden

 

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-This blog post was written by Kate Divey-Matthews the Environmental Engagement Assistant in the Environment Team at NTU. Many thanks from the Green Academy! 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

Lessons from #PlasticFreeJuly

It seems impossible to escape our disposable plastic lives, whether it’s the mountain of plastic covering our food and cleaning items, to the micro plastic fibres in our clothes entering the water system every time we wash our clothes.

I can’t help but feel saddened by all the articles on social media showing plastic pollution in our oceans, this story really stuck with me, where a Cuvier’s beaked whale has been found off the coast of Norway with 30 non-biodegradable plastic bags in its stomach, and the wardens had to put it down. The extent of our plastic addiction and the suffering it is causing on a global scale is enormous, imagine if free Willy was found 6 months later washed up on beach filled with plastic…


(Plastic Oceans, 2017)

Since the 5p charge on plastic bags, I can help but think of what an amazing achievement it has been in preventing our plastic pollution entering the oceans, according to WRAP, Britain’s 7 mains retailers sold 83% less plastic bags in 2016 in comparison to 2014, along with raising £66 million for good causes. Hardly surprising the Marine Conservation Society Great British Beach Clean 2016 Report has seen almost a 50% reduction in plastic bags found on beaches last year! Tesco is also trailing phasing out 5p plastic bags in three of their stores.

So it seems we really have made head way in reducing plastic bag usage, but what about the rest: bottles, cups, straws, toothbrushes, lighters… the list goes on and on.

So what can you do?
I first initially wanted to rid myself of plastic altogether, but soon realised after looking at my bin liner, or my deodorant, that I probably just need to do all I can to reduce my plastic usage. So here are my lessons of plastic free July:

My first lesson: purchase a reusable coffee cup and water bottle, there really is no excuse! Top tip: fill your water bottle once you get to work, at least that way you’re not carrying extra weight on your morning commute. I’ve had my BRITA filter water bottle for just over a year, you can recycle the cartridges and it tastes so much better than other plastic bottles (as long as you clean it often).

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My second lesson: Avoid plastic food packaging, bring your own lunch in when you can, it will stop you buying that cheap sandwich and packet of crisps, it will save you no end of money and it didn’t even taste that good anyway. Top tip: cook extra in the evening and bring the leftovers in the next day, my partner and I saved £200 a month by doing this!

My third lesson: refuse plastic straws and get yourself some reusable cutlery, make a point to everyone around you that you don’t need that fork that snaps when you try to eat, you are much smarter than that!

And if you want to go a bit further, go for loose fruit and veg items, mushroom black plastic tubs are the bane of my existence since I found out you can’t recycle black plastic (in fact avoid coloured plastic when you can, two-thirds of plastic does not get recycled!).

Why not check out a local farm shop, I visited Trinity Farm Shop in Cosell, not only was I surprised by how little plastic they use, but I also signed up for their veg box to help support local farmers!

And finally, keep a reusable shopping bag in your backpack, handbag or car, it surprising how often you actually forget them. After I unpack mine I leave them on the front door step so I never leave home without them.

Want to know more:
Plastic adrift shows how plastic pollution moves across the ocean through an interactive map: http://plasticadrift.org/
Rethink plastic with Plastic Oceans: documentary endorsed by Noam Chomsky
https://www.plasticoceans.org/
Jack Johnson’s film exploring plastic pollution in the Sargasso Sea of the North Atlantic (he also had a sweet guitar made out of a pine tree killed by invasive bark beetles)
https://www.thesmogofthesea.com/watch-film

Want to do more:
Check out the marine conservation society, they have loads of information about ocean plastic, and if you sign up to help them protect the oceans you will receive a plastic free pack with a Brita water Fill & Go bottle, cotton bag and reusable coffee cup! (Click image below)mscReducing your plastic waste is simple and we really don’t want to see more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050!

tw#PlasticFreeJuly #oceanplastic

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-This blog post was written by Vanessa Odell, an ESD Coordinator in the Green Academy Team at NTU. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

 

A month without shampoo

On 1st January 2016, in a moment of madness,  I decided to take my new year’s resolutions to the extreme and made a commitment to give up 1 thing every month for a whole year. Any money I saved by not doing/using these things I donated to a different charity (that was related to whatever I was giving up that month). I documented my experiences in the form of monthly blog posts, one of which I will share with you below…

‘To say that ‘no poo’ month has been a roller coaster of emotions  for me would probably be an understatement.Before you think hold up, you’ve taken this whole giving up thing a bit far mate, I should probably explain that ‘no poo’ is actually what the blogosphere likes to call ‘not using shampoo’.

Going into it, I had high hopes for this month. I’ve been intrigued by the concept for a long time, ever since I heard the urban legend in the playground about the girl in the year above who never washes her hair and now it somehow magically cleans itself. The theory is that your hair naturally produces oil called sebum, which, if left to its own devices will clean and condition your hair for you (sounds pretty handy ey?!) Modern shampoos strip away this oil and can even cause our hair to become greasier quicker.

I’ve always been a washes her hair every other day kinda gal so the idea of cutting down, or even cutting out washing my hair altogether, appeals to me for a number of reasons: a) because I am lazy, b) because I crave super healthy shiny hair, but also mostly for environmental reasons. I won’t bore you with the details but basically cutting out shampoo means less nasty chemicals, less plastic bottles and less water usage. By the way, whilst we are on the subject of the impact that the beauty industry has on the planet, if you haven’t heard of Microbeads then please read this http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/ and  maybe even sign this petition to get them banned in the UK like they are in the US  https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/ban-microbeads?source=wb&subsource=20160115ocwb02.

So come 1st April I was raring to go. I’d consulted my Neal’s Yard ‘Beauty Book’ and spent a fortune in Holland and Barrett gathering all the ingredients to make my natural shampoo alternatives.

Now here is where I made my first mistake. Any sensible person would probably have tried to leave their hair for at least a few days before attempting anything drastic. But I was so excited to try out the things that I had made, I went ahead and got stuck right in with a hair mask made out of avocado, banana and coconut milk.

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Here are 4 reasons not to put avocado and banana in your hair:

  1. You’re whole bathroom will become covered in avocado and banana (including your new bath matts that you splashed out on in M&S…not just any bath matts…M&S bath matts)
  2. Your drain will become blocked due to congealed banana avocadoness
  3. Without the use of shampoo afterwards it will prove nigh impossible to remove this concoction from your hair
  4. You will smell like you were in a food fight for around 2-3 days afterwards

To add insult to injury, it turns out that covering your hair in the stuff isn’t any more effective than back in the day when you used to shove food on your face because mizz magazine told you it would give you a flawless complexion (even though you’re about 10 and you don’t even know what a white head is yet).

So like the rational human being that I am,  during the next 48 hours or so I followed up the luxurious avo/banana treatment with a healthy dose of homemade apple cider vinegar rinse,  and egg and coconut oil conditioner. It’s safe to say by the end of it my hair was not the glorious hydrated mane that I had long dreamt of but more closely resembled an oil slick rivalling the BP spill of 2010.

But it doesn’t end there! After having a minor emotional breakdown on my birthday (I should probably point out that at this point I was only 4 days in), I caved and decided to strip my hair of all oiliness using my method hand soap (sorry if this counts as cheating, if it makes any difference I did feel very guilty about it). This worked surprisingly well and I managed to go a while without doing anything stupid to my hair. However, after about 4 or 5 days there was a noticeable build up of greasiness. It’s at this point that we meet the hero of our story…bicarbonate of soda. Turns out bicarb is a wizz at cleaning hair, who knew?! You just have to be comfortable with the odd little white fleck and the fact that it can be quite drying on your hair but otherwise it’s a massive winner.

The only other downside is that it can take a while to rinse the stuff out. One of the reasons for doing ‘no poo’ was because I wanted to cut down on the amount of time I was in the shower but instead my showers were becoming longer than before and I as a result I was actually using more water. On a side note, I had also planned on not having any baths this month (on average having a bath uses about 3 times more water than showering). This ended up not happening because I was given an amazing bath table for my birthday (pic below!), however I have cut down a lot on the number of baths I am taking and have made an effort to have shorter showers as well.

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I ended up perseveringFullSizeRender (1) with the bicarb, washing my hair every 4 or 5 days and rinsing with apple cider vinegar afterwards has stopped it from drying out too much. So, this what my hair looks like today (day 29 of no poo), all in all not too shabs I reckon.

One of the main things I’ve noticed is that my hair has become a lot straighter (potentially from the weight of the grease). To combat this I invested in one of those ‘Aurora’ headband things that are being  incessantly advertised on Facebook (yes I was definitely drawn in by the marketing, but when the demonstrator had such immaculate curls and it looks so easy to use, how could i resist!?) To my surprise the thing actually worked!

I can’t deny that I am ridiculously excited to wash my hair on Sunday. I feel a little disappointed that I won’t be adopting the ‘no poo’ life style permanently – perhaps I’m just not hard core enough. In my heart I remain optimistic that the ‘no poo’ method is not just some pipe dream and can actually work if you are committed enough. I will definitely  be washing my hair less now (I’m going to aim for once or twice a week) and maybe I’ll give it a go properly in the future (minus the elaborate alternatives) . My plan is to use up the shampoo I have left and then give this guy a go: http://www.drbronner.co.uk/. It’s a soap made out of hemp that has 18 uses in 1! By the way if you’re a sucker for fancy ‘eco-labelled’ beauty products like I am then TK Maxx is definitely your friend!

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This month I’ve donated £31 to ‘Just a Drop’ (£1 for every day of the month as I’m afraid I don’t think I’ve actually saved any money this month). If you want to find out more about how the charity help to provide clean and safe water to people all over the world then this is their website: http://www.justadrop.org/ Every 20 seconds a child will die because of unsafe water (that’s probably at least 10 since you started reading this blog) …kinda puts the whole having slightly dirty hair thing into perspective.’

Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in finding out about the rest of my year of givingupness you can check out https://giveitup2016.wordpress.com/ 

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-This blog post was written by Jess Willats, an ESD Officer in the Green Academy Team at NTU. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

 

Fashion Revolution Week 2017

On 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,138 garment workers making clothes for a number of fast fashion retailers on the high street. The building was dangerous but factory owners ignored warnings and the consequences were devastating. Fashion Revolution Week was created in response to this industrial disaster, to raise awareness of the ‘true cost’ of our cheap fashion purchases. Reminding consumers they can love fashion but need to remember to consider where their clothes came from.

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Fashion Revolution have ran a campaign through social media, where you show the label of your clothes and ask ‘Who made my clothes?’ and tagging the retailer in the post. This awareness through the power of social media means brands and fashionistas can join forces and tackle fast fashion. Last week some students from NTU organised and ran a stall in our Bonington Building to inform other students and also kept social media updated on the movement. Head to @sustainablediaries on Instagram just to see the great response from our own students.

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As a fashion design student, I am also familiar with the excitement and buzz of a shopping trip, a new purchase and the thrill of a bargain. It’s no secret to any of us the damaging costs of cheap clothing. However, we must question whether it is okay for us to turn a blind eye to this situation. The Rana Plaza was catastrophic but not unfamiliar. I watched the film, The True Cost, by Fashion Revolution and it was a difficult watch. As a fashion student, you cannot help but feel some responsibility for the horrors which are behind our clothes. The film covers all aspects of a garment’s life cycle, from cotton farming, to cheap labour and the effects of clothes waste. The film also talks about the impact of consumerism at a personal level: having more stuff is a false sense of happiness, that maybe fast fashion is a loss of true values, creativity and individuality – the one thing most ‘fashionistas’ strive for. Second hand, vintage and charity shopping can offer a good sustainable and creative alternative.

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It may seem overwhelming as a student, but if there is one thing you can take away from the film it’s that there are changes you can make. Think about your clothes and your buying habits. Is there room for change? Maybe next time you go into Topshop just think: do I need this? For shopping alternatives, fashion brand, The People Tree offer great inspiration and hope to designers that there is a possible sustainable future. CEO Safia Minney created the Fair Trade fashion label in response to how disgusted she felt for the fashion industry.
I think the work of Fashion Revolution Week as a designer is inspirational. It is time we all faced the consequences of consumerism because, in the words of Safia Minney, ‘It’s cool to care!’.

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Thank you to Molly, a Fashion Design student at NTU for writing this blog post! 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!’ 

Vegetarian Month Challenge!

Did you know it’s national Vegetarian Week is 15th – 22nd May? The Environment Team at NTU are challenging ourselves to go Vegetarian for the whole month of May to show our support!

Vegetarian week

Not only is a balanced vegetarian diet a healthy choice as it is low in fat, high in complex carbohydrates and packed with a variety of fruits and vegetables but it is also much more environmentally friendly than the diet of a meat lover.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon rainforest destruction and is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.

To put that into perspective 13% of greenhouse gas emissions are from transport vehicles (e.g. cars, trains, planes) and 51% of greenhouse gas emissions are from livestock and their by-products.

Therefore, having a plant-based diet can cut your carbon footprint by 50%!

carbon footprint

 

Around 12% of the UK have already taken the plunge and become vegetarian or vegan, that is around 1 in 8 people! Think you can do it? Take the challenge with us and keep us updated on your progress by tagging us in social media or emailing us on environment.team@ntu.ac.uk. Need some help? Get in touch with the NTU Vegetarian Society on Vegetarian.society@su.ntu.ac.uk.

 

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We will be documenting our journey through vegetarian month on our Instagram (ntu_sustainability), Twitter (@NTUEnvironment) and Facebook (@NTUSustainability) pages. Keep a look out for our recipes and meals as well as promotion for our vegetarian themed market on the 16th with lots of free tasters!

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-Thank you to Robyn, an Environmental Engagement Assistant from the NTU Environment Team for writing this blog post! 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!’ 

Project Re:fab and Sustainability Diaries

Have you ever considered how your clothes are made? How a small plant or even crude oil can be transformed into a piece of clothing that you are wearing at this very moment? Although there are different construction methods, one of the most known and common ways is called Cut, Make & Trim. A design will be sketched, a pattern will be made in paper form and transformed onto the fabric, the pieces will be cut out and assembled et voilà, done is your piece of clothing.

Laying the pattern pieces out on your fabric is like a jigsaw puzzle, except the pieces are not made to fit each other. And just like jigsaw puzzles come in different levels of difficulty, the same applies to fabrics: for instance, is the fabric striped, the pattern pieces have to be laid accordingly to match. Is the fabric woven, the pieces might have to be cut in a bias – a 45° angle – to allow additional stretch.

The problem behind all of this? Waste. And that is how Re:fab and Sustainability Diaries were born – we wanted to create change through our Green Leaders project.

Green Leaders

The Problems:

  • On average, 15% of the fabric is wasted when a garment is made. Worldwide, about 400 billion m2 of fabric is produced annually, translating into a wastage of 60 billion m2 per year.
  • All the textiles waste at NTU is currently not recycled and goes straight into the bin alongside the general waste.
  • An unawareness of sustainability within the fashion industry is present, not only regarding the general public but also across fashion students.

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Our Solutions:

Re:fab – Upcycling scheme
The obvious tangible problem here is all the waste that is created as a by-product of every collection. To combat this, we decided to look into opportunities to upcycle and thus, re-purposing the surpluses. With this idea in mind, we got in touch with Debbie Bryan, a lovely NTU alumni who started a local business here in Nottingham. Next to an enchanting little tearoom, she is not only selling handmade crafts and gifts but is also organising ‘crafternoons’, which are creative workshops working with all kinds of material. And from now on, this is where all the fabric scraps are going to go; Becoming a little part of something new, re-purposed and brought back to life instead of ending in the bin.

Sustainability Diaries
To create more awareness around this important topic, we’ve created an Instagram account dedicated to sustainability and our upcycling project. We are encouraging as much engagement as possible and would be grateful for any support!

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Fashion Revolution Week
It’s been exactly 4 years now since the tragic collapse in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh has happened, causing the death of thousands of garment workers. This year, we have set up a pop-up stand in Bonington to raise more awareness. We will be here the whole week, so stop by, take a picture and ask the brands #whomademyclothes! Because fashion is not just about shopping and pretty dresses. Fashion starts and ends with the environment. Fashion starts and ends with people’s lives. Fashion should be fun and it should not leave you feeling guilty, no matter if you are a consumer, a fashion student or a designer.

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-Thank you to Jenny, a Fashion Management Student, for writing this blog post! Make sure to check out @sustainabilitydiaries on Instagram! 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!’