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World EXPO Milan 2015 on feeding the planet: sustainability or greenwashing?



The much-praised and expensive event kicked off on May 1st, but questions raised on whether arrests for corruption and some ambiguous players such as McDonalds are about to water down the ethical message of the 2015 EXPO in Italy.

The World Exposition, an occurrence that dates back to 1851 when the first EXPO was showcased in London’s Hyde Park, aims to gather a number of countries around a central theme. In Korea’s EXPO 2012, it was The Living Ocean and Coast, while this year the focus is on sustainable food and the future challenges to feeding the people of this planet.

Given the event is taking place in the nation of good food, you would probably expect the focus to be on small farmers, organic agriculture and reduction of waste. After all, we are (allegedly) talking sustainability. Instead, since its conception, the EXPO in Milan has started off in the worst way.

Not only did the construction of the venue trigger one scandal after the other, with many being arrested for corruption, fraud and organised crime links, with investigations still going on, but it also became the subject of controversy because of its cost and participants.

Organisers of the event, the mayor of Milan and Italy’s Prime Minister, have promoted the EXPO as an incredible opportunity to shed light on global challenges from hunger to access to resources.

During the opening ceremony, Milan Mayor, Giuliano Pisapia said, “Milan offers itself completely to welcome the world to our city. Expo Milano 2015 is designed to say to everyone on the planet that the hunger challenge can be beaten, that each of us can do something to stop the unsustainable exploitation of the planet.”

However, despite the clear ethical message, the EXPO has triggered protest among social movements, who have gathered on a committee called NO EXPO, arguing it would not be a good thing for the city of Milan, but instead it will result in an enormous waste of money – the event costs €14 billion (£10.3 bn) – that could instead be directed to solve other issues, such as the housing emergency and lack of funds for education.

For the Vatican City pavilion, the Holy See has spent €3 million (£2.2 bn), more than what had been destined to charitable work. This fact surely didn’t make Pope Francis happy.

Meanwhile, similarly to what happened with the 2012 London Olympics, the choice of certain sponsors has also been subject of intense debate.

Barilla, Nestlé, McDonalds and many other, will be among the sponsors and participants, with McDonalds being the main sponsor. But as many, from citizen groups to political forces, have noted: where do they stand when we talk about food sovereignty and global access to water and resources? Is the goal of the EXPO to feed the planet, or to feed the multinationals?

Some opponents in Milan have argued that while the event wants to focus on ‘good food’, large companies are hugely responsible for the many overweight or malnourished people in the world. In other words, in order for the food system to be sustainable, we have to talk about farmers rights, global access to water and land and so on. We need to discuss how to address waste, junk food, land grabbing and unsustainable farming. But the EXPO is not going to talk about this.

Instead, a member of the county council wrote to local schools to invite children to go to McDonalds for “free ice cream”, triggering outrage among politicians and teachers.

It seemed inevitable that such controversial event would have triggered a response. On May 1st thousands of people demonstrated in Milan against the EXPO – from social justice activists to vegan groups – not without incident.

The EXPO will last until October and it is still uncertain whether it will bring something good to discussions around food sustainability, but criticism is unlikely to calm down. As for other large events that took place over the past few years – London Olympics, Sochi Winter Games and Brazil’s World Cup – social and environmental problems are always going to emerge. The question is whether states are going to learn from previous mistakes in order for these to become really sustainable.

Photo: Matt Werner via Flickr

Further reading:

World needs to sustainably produce 70% more food by 2050

Campaign aims to end food waste from landfill by 2020

Food waste decreases – but Britons are still throwing away 24 meals a month

MPs launch first inquiry into food security since 2009

World Food Day focuses on creating a sustainable food system


How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018



Shutterstock / By KENG MERRY Paper Art |

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


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




reduce carbon footprint
Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love? - Image from Shutterstock -

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.


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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