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Slaying a new dragon: environmental ennui

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Is there too much concern about our blue and green planet? Simon Leadbetter and Rich Whitworth dig into the data.

St. George’s Day is (somewhat) celebrated on April 23 in England. We pay homage to dragon-slaying Roman soldier George who died on this day in 303, and offer ourselves the opportunity for a reserved amount of national pride.

April 22 was Earth Day 2012, when one billion souls, with a single united voice, called for the universal protection of our fragile earth.

Considering both of these themes, we wanted to investigate current green thinking in Britain (sorry Wales and Scotland, you can’t escape so easily; though we admit you are doing better from a renewable energy commitment perspective) by using statistics from Kantar Media and a single negative statement: “There is too much concern with the environment”.

Only weeks ago, we were offered an unsustainable budget at the hands of another, perhaps less popular, George. And despite the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (aka Rio+20) and worldwide admission that climate change is already encroaching on quality of life for many, the continuing economic crisis and concerns over wealth and growth are clearly overshadowing global problems.

Politicians will no doubt thrust themselves into the debate and wrangle for solutions at a higher level come Rio+20, but what do the Great British public think? Dredging through some six-year’s worth of data, we discovered a slightly disappointing trend.

The statistics are based on interviews with 25,000 people over 15 that are weighted to be representative of the British population as a whole. The data set runs from September to September and begins with the 12 months prior to Sep 2006.

Falling concern

While the majority still disagrees with the statement “There is too much concern with the environment”, there is a noticeable drift in how much we care or believe we should care.

The biggest drop in those disagreeing occurred in the 48 months of the economic crisis Oct 2006–Sep 2008 (for context, Northern Rock was Sep 2007, Lehman Brothers was Sep 2008)—an absolute drop of 11%. Meanwhile, the biggest increase for those in agreement was in the 24 months prior to Sep 2008—an absolute rise of 8%.

Over the six year period, there is rising agreement that “there is too much concern with the environment”—from 14% to 21%. Thankfully, this is still outweighed, albeit by a falling number, by those who disagree—which decreased from 62% to 43%.

No doubt there is a degree of “charity begins at home” syndrome extending out into wider opinion, more than likely caused by the financial strain of the last half-decade or so. But we wanted to find out more.

The breakdown

Breaking the data down by demographics helped answer some questions about the trend. In the 12 months leading up to September 2011, those who had the largest minorities of those who agreed with the statement—over 20%—were male, those under 25 and over 65, and those earning less than the average family wage of £40,000.

On the other hand, those who had the largest majorities who disagreed with the statement were women, those with children, those with above average family incomes and aged 25-54.

It is not surprising that those with children are more future facing—agonizing over the fate of our children brings many issues into sharp focus. What is surprising though is the lack of concern from the under 25s. That said, it does in part echo a study by The Carbon Trust that highlighted the apparent apathy (or skepticism) of youth in the USA and UK compared with China and Brazil.

Regionally, the South West and South East are most concerned—rising tides? While those of the North East, Wales and the West Midlands showed skepticism. Londoners also appear to be cynical, but that is likely to be the magnifying effect of living in a capital city, where it can very often feel like there is too much concern about everything.

The headlines

We could not resist digging a little deeper and discovering what correlations existed between the general trend and newspaper reporting; most people tend to read newspapers that reflect their own opinions.

We’ll leave the sweeping statements to you, but…

The Daily Express is the only newspaper whose readers agree more than disagree that there is too much with the environment. Enough said.

The Financial Times, Daily Mail and The Sun all suffer a 10% margin (a simple calculation of those that disagree with statement minus those that agree) and the Daily Mirror, Daily Star and Daily Telegraph slide under a 20% margin, meaning that all of the above fall below the British average.

The Times and Independent come in at a 32% margin but remain above the national average.

Interestingly, The Guardian has suffered a dramatic fall in margin from over 80% margin to just under 50% in only six years. The Guardian has a tremendous history of environmental reporting, so perhaps this drop is a blinkered “see no evil” reaction caused by over exposure to the real issues of the world.

Of the ten national titles we analysed, seven have readerships the fall below the national average in terms of concern over the environment. In 2007, there were only five titles in the same position.

Reality bites

Irrespective of public opinion, the global issues we faced six years ago are the same ones we face today. Indeed, a rapidly growing population and a manufacturing revolution in India and China—fuelled by the outsourcing of Western carbon emissions to less regulated nations—are compounding the problem.

One thing is certain: there is not too much concern about the welfare of our planet and its people. Quite the opposite. Burying our heads in the sand—especially tar sands or the sands of Iraq and Saudi Arabia—is not the solution, but may be good practice as climate change continues to increase the world’s deserts and increase water scarcity.

It is time to slay the dragon of skepticism, build national pride and enthusiasm for an emerging sustainable industrial revolution, embrace cleantech innovation, and reconstruct concern over our small blue and green planet for our generation and the next. Our economic woes are fleeting but the state of our environment is forever.

To quote Earth Day network: “The Earth won’t wait”.

Further reading:

OECD warning shot rips through business-as-usual brigade

Eastern promise

Mobilising an entire planet for Earth Day 2012

Guide to Sustainable Investment

An unsustainable budget

Environment

How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018

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Shutterstock / By KENG MERRY Paper Art | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kengmerrymikeymelody

Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.

Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:

1. Energy – produce it, save it

If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.

It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.

While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.

energy efficient

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By My Life Graphic

Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!

2. Don’t be just another tourist

Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.

3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly

eco-friendly

Shutterstock / By Khakimullin Aleksandr

We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t  mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.

To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.

It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.

4. Know thy recycling

People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.

People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.

5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool

Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.

All in all

The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.

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Energy

Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love? - Image from Shutterstock - https://www.shutterstock.com/g/thodonal88

In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.

Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.

Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.

Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar

The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.

It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.

The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.

Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.

It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.

Home Modifications

And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.

Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.

Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics

Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.

Recycle

One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?

Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.

Minimize Your Water Usage

Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.

Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?

These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.

From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!

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