Blue & Green Tomorrow is pleased to announce the publication of its latest in-depth report, The Guide to Sustainable Tourism.
It answers the question, “How can I reduce my impact and ensure my holiday actually benefits others?” through the words of some of the UK leaders in sustainable tourism.
Its objective is to open your eyes to a new way of experiencing the many wonders of the world. As American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Stay tuned for many more Blue & Green Tomorrow guides, including ones on renewable energy and banking.
Recent B> reports include:
7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption
Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.
This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?
Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.
New Technologies to Watch
These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:
- Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
- Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
- New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
- Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
- Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
- The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
- Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.
Making the Investment
All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.
Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living
Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.
However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.
They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.
What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??
Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded.
Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.
In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.
Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.
Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.
How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?
Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.
For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.
Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.
Their influence in the UK
The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.
Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.
In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.
I sit and write this introduction on a beautiful sunny day in England ahead of a long weekend in honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with the London 2012 Olympics looming, and I’m left wondering: “why leave the UK for a holiday?”
But no doubt, come the weekend, the sun will take his hat off again, clouds will descend, the temperature will drop, and I will be planning my next break to more clement climes. Such is the British way of life.
Having pulled together content for Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2012, what I will now be asking myself is: how can I reduce my impact and ensure my holiday actually benefits others?
It is totally unacceptable that the time we enjoy so much should be to the detriment of the environment and the people in the places we visit. And I believe that most of us would not enjoy our holiday if we realised that was the case.
Sustainable tourism is on the right pathway to becoming the only kind of tourism. It is starting to feature in the mainstream media and I feel confident that the excellent work being done by so many in the industry will continue to ripple outwards.
I truly hope you enjoy reading The Guide and that it opens your eyes to a new way of experiencing the many wonders of the world.
Introducing our 7th Guide to Sustainable Investment
Tomorrow Blue & Green celebrates its 6th birthday – remember, remember the 5th of November – and to mark the occasion we are delighted to launch our latest and seventh Guide to Sustainable Investment.
The Guide has contributions from UKSIF’s Simon Howard, 3D Investing’s John Fleetwood and Pennine Wealth Solutions George Critchley alongside wise insights from our friends at ATI, Columbia Threadneedle, Foresight, Impax, Triodos and WHEB.
Click here to download the guide to find out the best sustainable funds available in the UK.
Guide to Sustainable Energy 2016
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
We found the quote at the end of a great article on the New York Times Magazine website in its Current Thinking column, that was current thinking from 2007! It’s still worth a read.
You hold in your hand (on your smartphone, tablet or desktop) the fourth edition of our Guide and the current thinking remains we’d put our money on solar energy, but also wind, tidal, wave and geothermal. And nuclear?
Recently the UK government decided it would put our money on nuclear with the Hinkley Point C after months of dithering, perfectly illustrating everything that is wrong with government strategic thinking and energy policy. The wrong technology, with the wrong partners at the wrong price.
Which is why we’re delighted to have contributions from Tidal Lagoon Power, Abundance Energy, Bristol Energy Cooperative and the excellent investment organisations (Alliance Trust, Foresight, Impax, Triodos and WHEB) that are putting money into distributed clean energy and storage – the right technology, with the right partners at the right price.
And we also have an article about nuclear fusion – a technology which divides the environmentally minded. We don’t have a strong opinion on nuclear fusion and wanted to just present the technology. We believe you are more than capable of forming your own judgment.
We hope you enjoy the guide.
Click here to read it as a single page spread
Click here to read it as a double page spread
You can download pdf of the guide using the links above and clicking on the cloud icon in the bottom right of the screen, if however you are having any issues with that, you can also download a pdf version here (4mb version) and here (12mb version)