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Local elections: pollution and waste infographic analysis



Tomorrow, just under half of the UK’s local councils will be holding elections. If you’re stuck for which party to vote for, Blue & Green Tomorrow is on hand to give you some eleventh hour statistics that might sway your opinion.

As Blue & Green Tomorrow founder and publisher Simon Leadbetter often declares: “The problem is pollution and waste”.

Underlying many of the debates around the environment is the often overlooked fact that these two issues form the basis of almost every single challenge we face as a planet.

And it has been proven that tackling this deadly duo of problems head on makes a whole lot of difference, which is why in this timely piece focusing on the UK local elections, we’re examining just how green each of the 405 constituencies are.

Local councils have the potential influence how much pollution comes from their area, and how much waste is produced or recycled, so these are the two aspects that we’ll be looking at in detail.

But before we do that, we’ve done an infographic to show the political control of each constituency. Please note, though, that not all have elections tomorrow. The ones that do are marked with a black ballot box at the bottom of the image.

Current control of council: Ben Willers. (Click to enlarge).

In terms of the environmental stances of each of the three main political parties – Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats – the BBC’s policy guide from the General Election in 2010 is a good place to start.

With regards to pollution, the Conservatives’ objective was an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Labour mirrored this target, but added a 34% reduction aim by 2020. The Lib Dems meanwhile, were the most ambitious of the three, with a 40% goal by 2020 and a 100% by 2050.

And if you really want to take a strong stance, there’s always the Green Party option…

Looking more locally, we’ve analysed the latest emissions data and produced an infographic to show the best and worst emitters, per capita, in the UK.

Local authority carbon emissions: Ben Willers. (Click to enlarge).

If it’s a bit too difficult locating your area, the list underneath the map shows the emissions per capita of all the constituencies, as well as a comparison against the regional average.

Still undecided as to which party you’ll vote for? Luckily, we’ve got one more piece of analysis to help you make that choice.

It concerns waste, and the amount that is recycled by each constituency in a year, though this time only in England.

This area in particular is something that local authorities have direct control over, so it’s arguably a better snippet of information ahead of a local election.

Local authority domestic recycling in England: Ben Willers. (Click to enlarge).

The top two maps show the authorities that recycled the most waste in 2011, as well as the ones that improved the most between 2010 and 2011. The larger map underneath, meanwhile, highlights whether each place was marked as green in one, two or none of the above maps.

If your area is one of the ones marked as brown, perhaps it’s time for a change of political control?

Regardless of how (and if) you vote tomorrow, B&GT believes that pollution and waste figures should be incorporated in some way into your decision, as they’re such important economic, environmental and social issues.

On a national basis, the Coalition Government has, from our perspective, significantly underwhelmed with regards to its green agenda. It was installed under the guise of the “greenest government ever”— something which it is still struggling to prove two years in.

But did the Labour Government before that fare any better with environmental issues? That’s quite possibly another infographic…

What is certain is that individuals, as well as local authorities, can make a massive difference to the UK’s pollution and waste numbers—continuing to read Blue & Green Tomorrow and keeping abreast of the issues will help.

Continue to use the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. And then there’s always 100% renewable energy to consider—visit Good Energy to find out more.

Finally, our Guide to Sustainable Investment lays out the reasons for more seriously considering what your money is supporting.  In everything that we do, we must balance the needs of the planet, its people and prosperity.

Happy voting!

Further reading:

Local and regional carbon emissions: infographic analysis

Local and regional carbon emissions: responses


How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By --

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House



home renovation and improvement
Shutterstock Licensed Image - By Stock-Asso

Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Poznyakov >

Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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