Is online shopping sustainable?

I personally considered Online shopping to be very sustainable. Saving a trip to the store and getting some serious discount was the highlight for online shoppers. I stopped buying online lately due bad experience with the quality of the product but I always thought that at least it saves you time via e-commerce.

But what about the emissions from fleets of delivery vehicles bringing orders to houses? Delivery trucks also contribute substantially to the burden of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, in the air, which is associated with many effects on human health. Especially when the product is returned (which happens in great number) there is likely to be more trips from the firm’s driver and not to mention, sometimes you are not at home and they have to return to your house again.

An increase in the number of home shopping purchases increases travel time, traffic delays, and vehicle emissions of the transportation network as a whole, the researchers say. While some previous studies suggest that e-commerce is associated with lower carbon emissions than traditional retail, other researchers have warned of a “rebound effect,” which occurs when gains in efficiency merely stimulate new consumption. Something similar may be going on in Newark, the results suggest.

But a recent study in Newark, Delaware suggests that the knock-on effects of online shopping may worsen traffic congestion and transport-related carbon emissions.Researchers at the University of Delaware conducted a survey of downtown Newark residents’ shopping habits and preferences and used the responses to calculate the quantity of goods purchased through home shopping.They also got information from delivery companies about the number of trucks on the road and the number of packages per truck, and used this to determine how many delivery trucks are required to distribute home shopping purchases.Finally, the researchers used transportation simulation software and data from local transportation authorities to determine the effect of delivery trucks on the transportation network, focusing on an area of downtown Newark that includes a portion of the university’s campus.They conducted similar analyses in 2001, at the dawn of the online shopping era, and again in 2008. They reported their results in a recent paper in the International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology.

Read this journal to know more about the ill effects of Online shopping.

 

Source: Laghaei J. et al. “Impacts of home shopping on vehicle operations and greenhouse gas emissions: multi-year regional study.” International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology

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.

Ever heard of: Carbon Conversations!

This is my second post of ‘Ever heard of’. The first one was based on Sustainable goals by UN. Today I would like to talk about Carbon Conversations.

We were suppose to have a small ‘talk’ on it by one professor from Hamburg today but it got cancelled for some reason. I hope the ‘seminar’ happens again. Anyway while I was in the class, I got curious and looked about them online.

This is the link. So it is kind of a group which The groups offer:

1) space for people to explore what climate change means for themselves, their families and their aspirations
2) permission to share their hopes, doubts and anxieties
3) time to work through the conflicts between intention, social pressure and identity
4) reliable, well-researched information and practical guidance on what will make a difference
5) support in creating a personal plan for change

They charge you for 6 to 8 sessions and they charge you for the handbook manuals. They say that they can cut your carbon footprint by half. Interesting.

Check out the site and find out more if the center exists near your area!

Ecomondo – The Green Technologies EXPO

Couple of days I went to check out this expo which is quite famous in Italy to showcase all the companies which are doing business in Sustainability. This was the fourth edition. I went there last year too but with less enthusiasm and knowledge, I could not enjoy to the best. This year was better. I could understand what the company was showing like Wind Turbine or Solar panel (thanks to our recent course topic – Renewable Energy Production) or companies working in waste/water management. I decided to attend this conference ‘Green Economy’. I liked the sound of it but now there goes my rant.

The main people who had to speak about it were late by 1 hour and they finished one hour later. Honestly I lost my interest in listening to them. Such unprofessional people here.

Anyway the discussion was good. One of the Italian journalist spoke about various harsh truth about the status of Italy in terms of Sustainability. Like Italians still use incarceration to burn waste or Italians still need to progress in terms of Waste management. Some of the states are really bad in collecting the waste. Around 40% is completely discarded. There was another representative from IMF so spoke about Co2 taxes and better taxes reform in Italy. You should check ‘Green New Deal for Italy’. Apparently there are focusing a lot recently on waste management. I liked the conference but honestly because of late arrival and late finish, I could not see the entire expo like I wanted. The expo was huge and was very nicely organized. I would like to go there again but conferences? No, Thanks!

IRENA – The International Renewable Energy Agency

In today’s lecture about renewable energy production, our professor Chalvatzis Konstantinos showed us some very useful sources for data and information on renewable energy stuff that everybody that is into research about RE should know about. One of those is IRENA – the international Renewable Energy Agency.

You do may not know about this agency because it is still a very “young” organisation. Founded only in 2009 and headquartered in Abu Dhabi its main task is to sustain renewable energy policies; until today 138 countries take part of the agency (see pic above). Beside the IEA, the International Energy Agency, it is one of the biggest suppliers of data and gatherer of information on renewable energies. In fact, the main reasons for its foundation is that an increasing world population in the next decades and the industrialization process that goes within this estimation have to be based more and more on renewable energy sources, also because of the increasing risk of a shortage on fossil energy sources and rising prices.  But it doesn’t end here, also a decrease of greenhouse gases and a more sustainable use of classical energy sources is what the people behind IRENA try to achieve on an international, national and regional level.

I would suggest you to check out their Homepage, there you can find loads of useful information on what is going on in the field, but also how they are organised. And of course you can also apply for an Internship there, right now a position is open =)

Give it a try, and thank me later!

My two cents on Milan’s Expo 2015!

I know I should have written this post long time ago. Even though I went to Expo 10 days ago, I should have went there before (less people would have been there) and this review might have helped some people weather to go there or not. But it might help you right now. What do I think about Milan Expo? – ‘A Glorified Disaster’.

I must say I had high expectations from it. More on sustainability terms and less on food. The Capital expenditure has soaked up €1.3 billion (£930 million). Some 145 nations are taking part – 54 with their own pavilions, which is 12 more than Shanghai managed at the last Universal Expo in 2010. Between them, the nations have tipped in €1.1 billion (£785 million). Running costs will be more than €800 million (£570 million). More than 10 million have already visited this expo. In terms of organization, it wasn’t so bad. But where was sustainability?

Italy did manage to organize it well. I have to give it that. But India did not participate in this event, which was a huge disappointment for me. I was really looking forward to go to this pavilion but to my surprise it was not on the list. After further research, I got to know that because of diplomatic tensions, India pulled out of the at the last event.

Some 140 countries showcased their local food. Some used sustainability as a showcase in agriculture but that was it. It was all food. Some were selling their garments to people. It was kind of flea market expo. If you have patience to stand in queue for 3 hours to know that cuisine of Korea, be my guest. I took the brochure and read what kind of food they are planning to show inside. My suggestion would be (if you still want to attend this event) go there early. As early as 9am and stay there till 23hrs to catch up on as many things as you can. It is indeed to much to see. Over priced, less quantity food.

Top 10 Sustainable Cities!

Last time I wrote about documentaries on Sustainability. Today I am writing about which cities are considered to be more sustainable.

The three sub-indices each city was measured on can be further broken down into the following indicators:
1) Profit – business performance, transport infrastructure, ease of doing business, the city’s importance in global economic networks, property and living costs, GDP per capita and energy efficiency.

2) People – transport infrastructure, health, education, income inequality, work-life balance, the dependency ratio and green spaces.

3) Planet – energy consumption and renewable energy share, recycling rates, greenhouse gas emissions, natural catastrophe risk, drinking water, sanitation and air pollution.

Here it goes:

1) Frankfurt, Germany: Through continuous effort over the years, Frankfurt has truly deserved to be called a ‘Green City’. It has been cutting its carbon emissions by 10% for every five years and it is expected that it will show a 50% cut in its carbon emissions by 2030. Using green waste and waster timber, the Frankfurt-Fechenheim biomass power station delivers electricity for around 20,000 households along with heat for industry and commerce (source: frankfurt-greencity.de).

2) London, United Kingdom: London has been actively seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase green spaces for many years. Under the Climate Change Action Plan by Mayor Livingstone, the city will switch 25% of its power to locally-generated and better-efficient sources by 2025.

3) Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen is known for its environmental policies and planning. They intend to be carbon neutral by 2015. It also has the largest wind turbine industries in the world and generates a substantial amount of wind energy, out of which around 20% is used by the country itself.

4) Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 40% till 2025, as compared to the 1990 figure. Amsterdam is working towards a sustainable future by focusing on energy savings, increasing sustainability and efficient use of fossil energy, and maximizing the use of sustainable energy.

5) Rotterdam, Netherlands: At present, there exists a total of 200 MW installed wind turbine capacity in the port of Rotterdam. This represents around 10% of the overall wind energy produced in the country (source: portofrotterdam.com). Moreover, the city is showing strong efforts in the sector of bio and solar energy.

6) Berlin, Germany: Berlin’s Environmental Zone in the city’s core only allows vehicles that meet specific emission standards. Furthermore, the city and its surroundings boast the highest density of environmental technology companies, clean technology workers, and research institutions in the country (source: Berlin Business Location Center).

7) Seoul, South Korea: The private and public energy sectors in Seoul are actively participating in several projects to boost their energy production from renewable sources. To support the One Less Nuclear Power Initiative, the government in Seoul is encouraging private investment in solar PV generation by renting unused public facilities. In addition to this, the city government has also signed agreements with companies and civic firms to build additional solar PV power stations that will feature an output of 250 MW.

8) Hong Kong, China: Wind and solar energy, in particular show much growth potential in Hong Kong. In 2000, a study commissioned by the department of Electrical and Mechanical Services states that solar power, wind energy, and energy from waste have the potential for wider use in the city. Currently, there are projects that are moving towards the development of renewable energy use and enhancing its effectiveness.

9) Madrid, Spain: Even though with economic difficulties and decline of renewable energy, Madrid in still among top 10 sustainable cities.

10) Singapore, Singapore: In the first half of 2014, the total grid-installed capacity of PV systems in Singapore crossed the 14.6 MWac mark and spread over 468 installations across the island (source: ema.gov.sg). In March 2015, REC from Singapore, a leading global provider of solar power solutions along with PLE announced a strategic partnership to deliver a new hybrid solution that will encourage consumers to adopt solar power

I invite you to check this video:

The cities at the bottom are:

Rio de Janeiro
Doha
Moscow
Jeddah
Riyadh
Jakarta
Manila
Mumbai
Wuhan
New Delhi

Source: Nation Geographic, Altenergy Mag.

My Top 10 documentaries about Sustainability

In these summer holidays where I should be little bit focused on Maths ( I have one exam left in Sept.) all I do is watch Vikings. It is quite a show. Must watch.

Then I wondered that it’s been a while that I haven’t seen any documentary and to top that a friend of mine suggested to list top 10 documentaries which talk about Sustainability. Some of these I have seen it already, some I pledge to see soon.

The documentaries are not according to ranking. So the list goes like this

1) Food Inc.: Directed by an Emmy Robert Kenner, this documentary focuses on the condition of the American food system and industry. After watching this documentary, you might think twice what you eat. My personal favorite.

2) The 11th Hour – Produced and directed by actor Leonardo di Caprio. Global warming and human activity effects. Di Caprio tells us about those drastic solutions to restore ecosystems, and urges us to implement these measures as soon as possible. I need to see it.

3) Chasing Ice – Nearly 10 years ago, environmental photographer James Balog embarked on an arctic pilgrimage to gather real-time evidence of global warming in Iceland for National Geographic.

4) No Impact Man: Follow the Manhattan-based Beavan family as they abandon their high consumption 5th Avenue lifestyle and try to live a year while making no net environmental impact.

5) An Inconvenient truth: A documentary on Al Gore’s campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognized problem worldwide.

6) Cowspiracy : Another favorite of mine. I wrote a post on this documentary. Check it out.

7) Earthlings: Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, EARTHLINGS chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.

8) Plastic Planet: Werner Boote presents an up-close and personal view of the controversial and fascinating material that has found its way into every facet of our daily lives: plastic. He takes us on a journey around the globe, showing that plastics have become a threat for both environment and human health.

9) Waste Land: On the outskirts of Rio de Janiro is Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill, where men and women sift through garbage for a living. Artist Vik Muniz produces portraits of the workers and learns about their lives.

10) The Age of Stupid : A future archivist looks at old footage from the year 2008 to understand why humankind failed to address climate change.

There are thousand’s of documentaries on Sustainability. I wish I could see all of them and talk about it with my friends or write it here. It would be so cool and nerdy!

How to finance SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

With all the Grexit and Iranian atom discussions you may missed some important news when it comes to sustainable development.

This days the third international conference on financing for development is happening in Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia. The people that meet there are ministers for foreign affairs and finances from all over the world, and they discuss on how to spend more than 172.000 billion dollars over the next 15 years. The main goal for them is to fulfill the so called new sustainable development goals SDGS that will replace the old millennium development goals MDGS that have been criticised by a lot of experts working in the field and will expire this year.

The goals that have to be reached in the SDGS are somewhat the same as the ones of the previous years: the reduction of poverty and hunger, the incentivation of a sustainable economic growth, to preserve the environment, and to protect the human rights and the empowerment of woman rights. 

This agenda post 2015 tries to reduce all kinds of inequality. This is also true for all kinds of economic inequality in terms of trade, no country should be left behind alone while facing all the challenges that await in the next 15 years. Therefore the 130 countries that are represented at the conference have to act now!

Here is the link to the live stream of the conference. Right now the main committee is convened. Check it out!

LIVE STREAM

(image: UN Headquarter Addis Abeba)

Thoughts on EuroEnviro by Maxsim Dimitrov

I am going to be honest, I had no major expectations about EuroEnviro. After all if the world-renown experts have not solved the problem, how can a group of 60ish students (even some workers and Ph.D. candidates) is going to unravel the Gordian knot?
Turns out I have been looking on the issue from the wrong perspective.
Turns out that the elusive “global” drive for sustainability starts from the most basic unit – you. Rather than inspiring illusions of grandeur, the symposium focused on building a better you.
60ish people of different ideas, backgrounds, cultures, countries and continents arrived in Gothenburg to be a part of an event. And what an event it was!
All the participants were divided into 3 routes:
Politics – for those who wanted to affect things on global scale, idealists in my mind;
Business – the group I chose, focusing more on individual enterprises, start-ups and interested in the practical grip on things;
University – the other idealistic group, more focused on sharing the teaching of sustainability.
This was the most important choice in the whole event, since it dictated the vector of approach on the project that we were supposed to present in front of a jury and the people I had to team up with.
The days of workshops were intertwined with various sport and cultural activities, which the organizing team had cleverly prepared for us. Everything went buttery-smooth, without any obvious problems from a participant’s view point. Can’t really judge if this was because I was in one of the most orderly countries, or the receiving team had coordinated everything to perfection. I would like to think both were true.
This in the end led to a grand event where every team “pitched” their project to the jury. I cannot speak for others, but I was genuinely excited and slightly scared and nervous to let my team’s finished idea out into the wild (“Don’t waste it, SOIL IT”).
One of the most influential points was the process of designing our idea – as I mentioned to the other participants it went “from zero to hero”. Even if my team didn’t win in our category I felt that I understood the required process of driving a product, or in not-so-capitalist-words, an idea forward and promoting it. This for me is what the sustainability movement needs, proper promotion of its merits and benefits.
Moreover, this was my first visit to Sweden. I felt completely overwhelmed by the country – the vast green nature, the people and the culture. All of it felt different from what I knew – and in the good way.
I could write pages upon pages of daily and overall experiences, but I like to be efficient and to the point.
This even really improved my perspective on how sustainability should be tackled. The event boasted that we should be the actors and catalysts of change, and after having participated in this event I feel like one. I want to spread my experiences of this event to other people, to share what I have been part of. I deem myself lucky having taken part in this happening.

If you would like to get to know what my team worked on, you can find it here:
http://soilit.wix.com/soil-it or on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/soilitorganisation

I hope this left you without any further doubts about participation in the future event. Go out there and improve yourselves.

Written by : Maxsim Dimitrov
RESD Student (UNIBO)