Day 365: Reflecting on a Year of Green Goals

A year of being green is over and yet there is so much left to say, to write, to do!

On the one hand, trying for 365 days to think of distinct ways of engaging with the environment or being sustainable was tougher than I expected: turns out that after you’ve switched off the tap and unused lights, the next steps to sustainability can be quite big! Nonetheless, at the same time being sustainable is getting easier, as appliances use less electricity, as the national electricity grids are filled with more renewable energy, as people around us join in, and together we make bigger contributions to conserving the environment and being sustainable.

On that note, where I originally intended these 365 days to be filled purely with advice on how to be more sustainable, from daily things like giving organic food a go, using re-usable boxes to keep leftovers in, bringing your own mug to work and no longer using reusable cups, running clothes washes only as necessary, and buying goods made out of recycled materials. To bigger scale changes, such as developing skills for a career in support of sustainability or changing our diets away from fish and meat intensive choices to more plant-based choices.

However, I quickly became aware that for me, being “green” isn’t just about these practical lifestyle changes, but extends to embracing nature as a part of our lives; appreciating the trees, the parks, the small things and the big, being aware of the issues conservationists and the environment face, lending a helping hand or voice to try to reduce the damage humans often inflict upon natural environments. Thus I tried to share this passion through describing the many conservation groups out there, such as SPOTS for threatened species, the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation for rare species, or the inspirational new Save Vietnam’s Wildlife.

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But then, I think being green or sustainable differs (and can and should differ!) per person: for some it may mean incorporating nature and environmental philosophy into every aspect of their lives; for others it may mean following national regulations regarding recycling, buying green electricity, and supporting sustainable practices as to prevent climate change because of the threats it poses to human systems and stability.

In conclusion: There’s 365 days in a year (well, kind of), there’s definitely at least 365 ways to be green (definitely). There’s easy ways, and there’s tougher ways. For some, certain approaches to being green may be easier than others. But here we go, let’s try going from being green to being greener still!

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Day 364: Save the Birds!

Sometimes birds get along with human spaces just fine. Sparrows flourish in Australian cities. Pigeons are a common sight in many European towns, and various gulls now also happily call urban areas their home. Various smaller birds and even birds of prey (for example, red kites in the south-east of England) are equally comfortable flying across and living among our buildings and roads.

Other times, human infrastructure can be lethal to birds. Iceland’s roads, for example. Turns out the warmth of the road surface, in its usual dark colour, attracts Arctic turns to wander onto it. Especially young birds are attracted, as it also camouflages their dark brown feathers. So what have the Icelanders done about it?

Scientists, the BBC reports, have painted stretches of roads red to test whether that will put the birds off sitting there! Sometimes, to help nature, it turns out it’s best to chase it away from some of the sites we humans use.

 

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How to live alongside the Arctic Tern (image from Allan Hopkins, Flickr)

 


There’s 365 days in a year (well, kind of), there’s definitely at least 365 ways to be green (definitely). There’s easy ways, and there’s tougher ways. For some, certain approaches to being green may be easier than others. But here we go, let’s try going from being green to being greener still!

Day 363: Another Palm Oil Story

I am not a big fan of palm oil. Endless rows of palm oil trees now stand where previously, until very recently, there were swathes of rainforest, as well as local and smaller-scale agricultural practices within and alongside the forest. But I understand that butter as an alternative fat is far from ideal also: the dairy industry is also placing vast pressures on ecosystems far away from where the cattle actually stand, as increasingly the feed for the bovine comes from crops grown on land that was previously forested.

The short video below, from the Environmental Investigation Agency, captures the combined social and ecological costs of oil palm plantations. It’s worth a moment’s reflection on our purchasing choices, which oils we choose to use in cooking.

 

 

 


There’s 365 days in a year (well, kind of), there’s definitely at least 365 ways to be green (definitely). There’s easy ways, and there’s tougher ways. For some, certain approaches to being green may be easier than others. But here we go, let’s try going from being green to being greener still!

Day 362: The Rise of Renewables?

After years of stalling, of continuing to invest in every fossil fuel to be found on the planet, of getting embroiled in oil spills and humans rights issue -have the big oil companies finally caught on and are they really investing in renewables? Or is it too soon to tell whether this is genuine interest and investment, or just a bit of a marketing ploy?

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Terry Macalister asks how genuine the investment of big oil companies in renewables is, in this article.

 


There’s 365 days in a year (well, kind of), there’s definitely at least 365 ways to be green (definitely). There’s easy ways, and there’s tougher ways. For some, certain approaches to being green may be easier than others. But here we go, let’s try going from being green to being greener still!

Day 361: Is this the way to deal with invasives?

Invasive species, many times originally introduced by humans, are often seen by conservationists as something in high need of management. Invasive species are those which dominate an ecosystem, often causing damage to other plant or animal inhabitants of the space. While not all invasives are necessarily non-native or introduced, the most destructive tend to be: rabbits and cane toads in Australia, kudzu and zebra mussels in the United States, or grey squirrels and harlequin ladybirds in the United Kingdom.

The island of Anglesey, Wales, decided to tackle its invasive grey squirrel population through culling: a procedure that lasted 18 years. Last year they finally declared themselves grey squirrel free, and the absence of the greys has come with a resurgence of red squirrels. But not everyone is a big fan of culling thousands of one species to protect others. As some of the protestors point out, grey squirrels are sentient beings also, and who are we to judge animals on their species and kill them when they’re not from quite the right one?

Time to cut the culling, or time to cull the invasives?

 

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The grey squirrel in England: friend or foe? (Image author’s own)

 


There’s 365 days in a year (well, kind of), there’s definitely at least 365 ways to be green (definitely). There’s easy ways, and there’s tougher ways. For some, certain approaches to being green may be easier than others. But here we go, let’s try going from being green to being greener still!

Day 360: Greyhound Racing

Animals in sport. I recently wrote about horse racing and my inner turmoil there. But in the past months the disagreement between animal welfarists and the greyhound industry in New South Wales, Australia, came to a face-to-face showdown. Greyhound racing has been in the news of late in New South Wales, Australia, and it’s because the state has decided to ban the animal sport from 1 July 2017. Why? Because, as the ABC reports, an inquiry into greyhound racing found “overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting.”

While the industry screams out about the economic losses of the move and the compensation the NSW government may have to pay out, in Brisbane and around Australia silent marches have been held in memory of the many dogs who died in the industry.

On the battle ground for animal welfare and rights, it often seems to be money versus morals, and the winner of the war is yet to be settled. These retired race dogs will be needing homes and love, and there’s still a long way to go before all animals used in sport are either treated right, or the sport banned. But this development shows the extreme concern the public and government do have for animals, and beckons forth hope for future demonstrations of true commitment to animal protection.

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The greyhound: a noble creature and a cuddly pet. But until recently, also the central figure of a major racing industry in NSW, Australia. (Image from Flickr)

 


There’s 365 days in a year (well, kind of), there’s definitely at least 365 ways to be green (definitely). There’s easy ways, and there’s tougher ways. For some, certain approaches to being green may be easier than others. But here we go, let’s try going from being green to being greener still!

Day 359: Magical Tandem Moonlight

Want to do something outdoorsy, but without the guzzling gas requirements of a motorboat or a car? Not in the mood for a walk or a swim, but for something just that little bit different?

Why not ride a tandem for the day? These days you can hire them all over the place! For example, from St Kilda Cycles in Melbourne (Australia), from Rent A Bike Damstraat in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), or New Forest Cycle Hire in the New Forest, England. Tandem cycling – an activity that can be done with family or friends, for a few hours or all day long!

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We’re off on an adventure! (Image from Flickr)

 

 


There’s 365 days in a year (well, kind of), there’s definitely at least 365 ways to be green (definitely). There’s easy ways, and there’s tougher ways. For some, certain approaches to being green may be easier than others. But here we go, let’s try going from being green to being greener still!