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How Can Natural Capital Be Valued By EdenTree

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Waste treatment

Natural capital can be described as both renewable and  non-renewable stocks of natural resources and the services they provide – basically it is everything nature offers for “free”. Markets do not take into account the ‘free’ services provided by nature, therefore a variety of initiatives have emerged to value natural capital.

Valuation is key element if better decision making and accounting are to begin to value our planet’s assets. Both ‘polluter pays’ and ‘beneficiary pays’ examples have appeared.

Payment for ecosystem services (PES)


Payments for ecosystems are voluntary payments made by the beneficiary of an ecosystem service to the steward of that service. The payment mostly aims to secure the future continuity of the ecosystem service or to enhance the quality of the service. Both countries and companies have used payment for ecosystem services to recognise the benefits of ecosystem services and protect them.

The Payment for Ecosystem Services Scheme used in Costa Rica is an example of the successful application of the beneficiary pays model. Costa Rica is one of the leading countries when it comes to nature conservation. It pioneered the payment of land owners to protect its forests and its different ecosystem services including wildlife habitat and carbon storage. Costa Rica’s PES has enabled the country’s forest cover to increase from as little as 20% in the 1980s to over 50% today.

A similar approach was used by Nestlé, which used PES to encourage farmers surrounding the Vittel water catchment to change their farming practices. Cash payments were made to reduce ground water pollution through changes in animal feeding, reducing stocking rates per hectare and lowering agrochemical use. The PES was used to ensure future continuity of the business in the area.

Biodiversity offsetting


Biodiversity offsetting aspires to compensate for biodiversity losses caused in development projects. The process aims to achieve conservation in order to keep the impact of a new project to a minimum whilst achieving zero net loss through the creation or enhancement of nature sites elsewhere.

Biodiversity offsetting can be achieved either through the payment of offsetting fees or the purchase of biodiversity credits. Both methods are used to counterbalance and compensate for the impact of a project on biodiversity when the initial loss cannot be avoided or mitigated. However, offsetting is controversial with some questioning whether the impact of the offset is positive, and if the initiative genuinely provides an alternative to no action at all. The question remains whether it is possible to ‘swap’ nature and whether potentially unique biodiversity destruction can ever be offset?

Taxes

The ‘polluter pays’ principle is another way to value natural capital and translates in taxes on environmental damage. Carbon taxes and the landfill tax are two examples.

In Europe, the Emissions Trading Scheme was implemented in 2005 as a cap and trade system, in which emission allowances were allocated to companies. It now covers 12,000 installations, representing approximately 45% of EU emissions. If emissions exceed authorisations to pollute, allowances can be traded. So far the initiative has not proven successful as carbon prices have plummeted and a tonne of CO2 trades at less than five euros17. In addition, some countries have set their own carbon taxes or carbon price floor. Sweden, which set a price back in 1991, has today the highest carbon price in the world amounting to approximately $160 per tonne. This has contributed to efficient decoupling of GDP growth from emissions. Between 1990 and 2014, GDP grew by 58% while CO2 equivalent emissions were reduced by 23%18.

The landfill tax is another initiative that makes the polluter pay for the negative impact on the environment. The landfill tax was introduced in the UK following the EU landfill directive. In the UK the current standard tax per tonne of waste diverted to landfill is £84.40/tonne. As a result, municipal waste diverted to landfill was reduced by 49% between 1995 and 2013.

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.


While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.


One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.


1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.


4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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