“M’illumino di meno” day

Today an article written by our fellow RESD student Ruggiero Rippo! Enjoy it as much as we do!

This year on the 19th of February all of us can make a big difference. On this day the

©RAI 2016

largest broadcasting initiative takes place, to raise awareness about energy consumption and sustainable mobility. The event, called “M’illumino di meno” (“I enlighten myself less”), is at its 12th edition and speaks to all of us: citizens, private associations and public institutions. The campaign is supported nation wide and on a European level by different public authorities, such as the Presidency of the Italian Republic, the Italian Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, and the European Parliament. Participating is very easy. Just take some simple actions that affect our daily routine: turn off all the unnecessary lights, ride the bike on your way to work or to the university, minimize the use of electric appliances. Basically, have a zero energy impact for one single day! The people involved in the project have achieved sensational goals through the years; for example: they organized concerts where the spectators cycle to produce electricity; they managed to “switch off” the main monuments in our cities like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Coliseum in Rome. Even Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament in 2008, declared that “the event has a symbolic value with a tangible effect”. In fact, even if the event has a short length, it achieved to drastically reduce the energy waste. In 2007 and 2008 the demand of energy, few minutes after the event has started, was respectively 300 MW and 400 MW lower than usual. This is a huge amount of energy saved! Therefore, the possibility to make a difference, even if just for one day, is concrete. As the slogan of the campaign recites: “Sol Omnia regit”, “Everything depends on the sun”, we are all summoned to a conscious use of our resources, starting with changing our habits.


For more information just follow the link : http://caterpillar.blog.rai.it/milluminodimeno

Thanks and big thumbs up to Ruggiero Rippo for your partecipation on SteamGreen!

Soil is a non-renewable resource!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO declared 2015 the international year of soils, and if you haven’t heard and thought about why healthy soils are necessary for a healthy life I will tell you now.

Way too often we forget about soil as a resource that provides food, feed, ecosystem services, fuels ecc… that ensure that humanity could survive on earth. Unfortunately it is a finite resource and its degradation implies that precious soil will be lost forever due to  unsustainable cropping, forestry and urbanization to satisfy the demand of growing population. Today one third of global soil is already moderately to highly degraded trough erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, chemical pollution and nutrient depletion, states the FAO. In fact, the key messages for the 2015 year of the soil are easily understandable but yet important to remember: without soils no food production, no fiber and fuel harvesting. Damage to the soil is also a damage to biodiversity, which is hosted to one quarter on healthy soils. Soils help to slow down climate change and play a key role in the carbon cycle, while they store and filter water. Its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future.



Here you can find some further information on the topic and a high res version of the info graphics you see above. Have fun and stay tuned.

Reduction in consumption of meat might be a good idea!

I know that the post image might tempt people to eat some meat right now. But as I have written few posts before about how the meat industry is kind of more responsible for the pollution around the world. Documentaries like ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘Food Inc’ are worth watching for some reason. Deforestation is done also because of meat industry. According to some assumption, the demand for meat is going to be higher in the future. If this happens, the 2 degree target is well of the table.

If you read this article on Carbon Brief, there is strong evidence that reduce in meat might really reduce the pollution. I really have reduced my consumption of meat since Jan 2015. I intended to completely quit it but I will be honest, I can’t quit it 100%. Ever since I have started eating more veggies, my cooking skills have improved as I can try to cook different types of vegetables ( going off the topic now).


These two images taken from the article shows how the current consumption is happening around the globe. If you do not wish to quite it, no need as long as you reduce a little.

Read the article for more details.


Source: Carbon Brief.

Highest number of premature deaths due to air pollution – Italy!

On ‘Corriere della sera’ (one Italian newspaper) few weeks ago, there was an article regarding the highest premature deaths in Italy. If the data is to be believed, more than 59k people died due the high level of air pollutants in Italy. I always mentioned my country to be highly polluted and I always consider to be really clean in terms of air ( I still do) but after reading the article and the European Union recently released data on air quality, it is clear that Germany and Italy leading in bad air quality index.

Clearly living in a big city or a rich country doesn’t assure you to breathe clean air. However, Italy has been working a lot on it. During the Ecomondo, they held a discussion on Green Economy where they spoke about various technologies to be used so to emit less pollution.

Waste management is still a huge issue in this country!

The Future of Transportation: The Port of Los Angeles

Right now I am following a very interesting course with the name of transport and regional economics. And the more I think about transportation, the more I realize how important it is to move people and goods from point A to point B. I wont annoy you with all the theoretical models that we use to describe transportation, instead I would like to tell you something about the Port of Los Angeles in California.

Why exactly this port? Because it will become one of the most environmentally responsible ports worldwide. To give you some numbers: The daily cargo shipped from there has  a value of 1 billion dollar, it has 70 km of waterfront and 30 km² of extension. The Port of LA is the 16th largest in the whole world. But what makes this port so special are the ways how the management of the port tries to reduce the impacts of the thousands of ship that visit LA every year. One way to do so is that ships that are inside the port get connected to a electricity power grid such that they don’t have  to use their own diesel engines for energy supply, reducing the air pollution doing so. The trucks that drive around the port area are all technologically up-to-date and work with electricity. All this changes made the water clean enough to swim in it (all tough, personally speaking, I wouldn’t).

The main problem that consist till today is the final transport, from the port to  the destination point, in fact engineers are planning an electric highway, called “eHigway” powered with catenary wires.

Check out the far more detailed article on gizmodo!



Sustainable Design

File:Krubsack chair.jpg
A chair grown out of a tree (1920)

Recently I was talkin with a friend of mine that studies Industrial Design in one of the most famous Universities in Europe in the field, the UDK in Berlin. And while we were talking he explaned to me a very interesting topic, the so clled sustainable or also environmental design. It is all about being environmentally conscious while building new physical obiects.

The theory of the environmental designers is to “eliminate negative environmental impact completely trough skillful, sensitive design” that means that for example only renewable resources are used and that the environmental impact gets minimized.

In the whole life cylcle of a product, the so called life clyle assessment they try to think further then the usual S curve we face traditionally according to the diminishing marginal utility (if you did an undergraduate economics course you know exactly what I mean „wink“-Emoticon. Sustainable design starts with waste prevention in the industry, but also in everyday products.

But environmental design is not only about physical sustainability. It gets even deeper in the work of some very famous Designers that try to create also Empathy and Emotion in a sustainable sense with their products.

When we had this conversation I realized that we really should try to think about our environment in every action we do. And this is even truer when it comes to business, if we sell products, than we should be aware of all the impacts it has. Sometimes very small changes in the production site or in the processing step can have immense impacts.

Thank you Johannes for your inputs, this was a eye-opening experience!
If you want to know more about environmental and sustainable design check out the English Wikipedia article about it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_design Howdy!

Current Environmental Problems

Even it is very clear from the image on how we all are getting effected by various environmental problems but let’s have a look together on some of those issues ( I can write long pages on that) but I will keep short and sweet in order for you to understand or at least give an overview on it.

1) Overpopulation: In my opinion, overpopulation is one of the causes for environmental problems. Because of higher demand for food, which is caused by higher population, farmers use dirty pesticides and fertilizers to grow vegetables or some firms give corn or antibiotics to animals in order to make them fat and grow quickly. Using fertilizers harm the earth, eating antibiotics laden food harm directly us.

2) Deforestation: We have come a long way since Industrial revolution started. Population grew, employment grew due to new technology and overall economics growth so people need more house and they needed more land to make houses. Not to mention, to have farms to keep chickens and cows and what not to feed us. This all came up with a higher environmental price which none of us kept in mind. Deforestation of Amazon is a prime example.

3) Water Pollution: It’s being said that the third world war will be fought for water. I don’t know it might be a reality one day but I do kind of agree that clean drinking water will become a rare commodity. One of the options could be desalinization process.

4) Loss of Biodiversity: Human activity is leading to the extinction of species and habitats and and loss of bio-diversity. Eco systems, which took millions of years to perfect, are in danger when any species population is decimating. Balance of natural processes like pollination is crucial to the survival of the eco-system and human activity threatens the same. Another example is the destruction of coral reefs in the various oceans, which support the rich marine life.

Maybe going back to simple harming, living a simple life with controlled population might turn out to be a solution. We need to wait and see how it goes.

Calculate your own ecological footprint!

Have you ever asked yourself how big your own ecological footprint is? Here you get a useful tool

CoolClimate Calculator

This calculator has been developed by the famous Berkely University from California. The aim of this calculator is to estimate the yearly co2 emissions of your household. In the first step you have to enter some basic information in the program like the country you live in, the amount of people in your household and your gross annual household income.
The next step is to sign how many vehicles are used in your family and how many miles you drive, of course it is crucial to enter also the MpG amount of the cars. Also public transit and air travel are considered in this category. When it comes to housing in a regular analysis you put electricity, natural gas, heating oil, and water consumption. Also important for co2 measurement is food consumption, in fact you have to show how your diet is composed. Last but not least are details on your shopping habits,

After filling out all the fields the calculator shows you the result in tons of co2/year, but it doesn’t finish there. Below the numeric calculations one can find some super useful tips on how to take action to reduce the personal impact on the climate.
From Carpooling to work to eat a low carbon diet  there is a list with the tons of co2 saved and also dollars saved. Take 3 minutes of your life time and check out this site!

What is Fracking? It maybe more harmful that we think it is to be

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

The process is carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer. The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.

Recently I read in the news about Lancashire County Council’s planning committee has rejected Fracking proposal. There have been other cases too especially in US where one city inhabitants complained about the colour of their drinking water changed and got contaminated due the Fracking being done in that city.

Environmental campaigners say that fracking is simply distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Advantages of Fracking:

Fracking allows drilling firms to access difficult-to-reach resources of oil and gas. In the US it has significantly boosted domestic oil production and driven down gas prices. It is estimated to have offered gas security to the US and Canada for about 100 years, and has presented an opportunity to generate electricity at half the CO2 emissions of coal.

Dangers of Fracking:

water fracking


During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater.Methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.

Drinking Water

Contaminated well water is used for drinking water for nearby cities and towns.There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.

The waste fluid is left in open air pits to evaporate, releasing harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain, and ground level ozone.

So there maybe one or two advantages like we might might be less dependant on fossil fuels or it’s creating employment in that particular area. However, we can not ignore the fact that it is causing us more harm and it is helping us.

Source: BBC, Carbon Brief

Is Zero Waste a possibility?

Few weeks back I read an article.

Here it talks about the zero waste in four different cities in different countries. These four cities include San Francisco, Sweden ( every city in it apparently), Buenos Aires and Capannori.

Even though their effort should be appreciated and worth talking about, however, it concerns when when I read that they are actually burning all the waste. So at one side, these cities are not going to have any waste left ( Sweden actually imports trash annually from neighboring countries to feed its incineration plants) One way could be that the products they produce from now on should be 100% recycled or could be easily disposed without harming the environment. Sweden is without a doubt doing a great job of recycling or towards environment. When I went there for few days not only the air was super clean and so was the city. 99% of the Sweden’s waste is recycled. Fantastic right?!

But by burning this trash, they are emitting some harmful gases into the environment. Right?

Well not at least Sweden. They burn this trash and convert it into energy to hear their house during the winters.

So in Zero Waste a possibility? Yes, we are on our way.
Zero waste is a full-fledged movement today, one that is spreading from cities to states to countries as well as the corporate world. The cities above show just a fraction of the work that is happening, but represent a spectrum of approaches to the problem of waste. The biggest barrier is the shift that needs to happen in the mindsets of everyone who produces waste, which, of course, is all of us.