Canned fresh-air on sale!

2 02 2013

What strange news yesterday! A Chinese millionaire handed out cans of “Fresh Air” in China.

Chen Guangbiao, who made his fortune in the recycling business, is worried about the bad quality of air in China.

He said: “I want to tell mayors, county chiefs and heads of big companies: don’t just chase GDP growth, don’t chase the biggest profits at the expense of our children and grandchildren and at the cost of sacrificing our ecological environment”.Fresh canned air - China

Air pollution is measured in terms of PM2.5, or particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which are absorbed by the lungs. The World Health Organisation located in Switzerland recommends a daily PM2.5 level of 20 and says that levels greater than 300 are serious health hazards.

It is known that air pollution can cause several types of heart and lung diseases. The quality of Beijing’s air is very often higher than 500 and on the 12th of January 2013 it hit the highest ever 755!

The handed out soda pop-sized cans of air were free on the 30th of January, but are usually for sale to people trying desperately to escape the smog.

I found this news very sad and disturbing. Is this what we want to leave for our children? I really wish that people would understand that we cannot keep using natural resources forever. Like everything in life, if you keep using without replacing you will get to the point that it will be over.

Before getting to the point where we will have to buy fresh air to stay alive, we should think about our way of living and see what we can change in our daily routine that would make a difference. If everyone does a little bit everyday, at the end this little bit will make a huge difference!





Top 10 eco-friendly countries

14 07 2012

The EPI (Environmental Performance Index) had listed the greenest countries in the world and released it at the annual World Economic Forum. Just for info, this environmental measurement system was developed by Yale and Columbia Universities for the World Economic Forum.

The 2012 EPI ranks 132 countries on 22 performance indicators in the following ten policy categories:

  • Environmental Health
  • Water (effects on human health)
  • Air Pollution (effects on human health)
  • Air Pollution (ecosystem effects)
  • Water Resources (ecosystem effects)
  • Biodiversity and Habitat
  • Forests
  • Fisheries
  • Agriculture
  • Climate Change

I have listed below the top 10 EPI Ranking 2012, but the full list is available on the World Economic Forum website. You can also download the full report at the Yale University website: http://epi.yale.edu/

  1. Switzerland
  2. Latvia
  3. Norway
  4. Luxembourg
  5. Costa Rica
  6. France
  7. Austria
  8. Italy
  9. United Kingdom
  10. Sweden

After checking the full list I was astonished to not see Denmark, Germany or Canada listed in the top ten. However, Germany is not far away, listed 11th in the EPI ranking. Australia is far behind in 48th position. Some countries are known for their environmentally friendly practices like Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. Ok, they are small countries. Indeed it seems to be much easier for small countries to promote recycling, invest in renewable energy and educate people with the aim to change their behaviour.

I lived for 16 years in Geneva and I can tell you that Switzerland is very advanced in environmentally friendly practices. Busses and trams are electric or biogas powered and a huge part of the urban waste is recycled.

The Poly Recycling factory located in Weinfelden, Switzerland transforms PET bottles in to synthetic fabrics, sleeping bags, chocolate packaging and shampoo bottles. The SwissWorld website showcases what is recycled in Switzerland, from which company and what they produce with the recycled materials. In my view it is an interesting idea for many other countries and organisations.

People also sort out their recyclable materials before they place them in specific containers. When I first arrived in Australia I remember looking for where to separate my recyclable materials and I was told to put all recyclables together in a yellow bin. I admit I was confused to see that glass, PET, cans, paper were mixed together in one bin. I was accustomed to separating them in Switzerland where it is standard practice for people to separate paper, PET, cans, glass, batteries, oil, compost, coffee caps, clothes and then bring all this to a community container.

The method can differ from country to country, but the final objective is the same: RECYCLE! So let’s do it!

In the pictures below you can see examples of a community recycle containers located on a neighbourhood street in Geneva.

Photograph: Gregoire Z.








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