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- Featured: Gülistan Akar, on Landscape Architecture and more
Gülistan Akar is a botanical illustrator and a landscape architect based in Turkey. Gülistan is experienced in botanical gardens and landscape design, and she has been awarded in the areas of scientific botanical illustration, sustainable management and landscape design and planning from various authorities, including the ones in Germany. As an artist and a landscape architect, Gülistan aims to create more sustainable landscape designs to tackle climate change and preserve endemic species from the hazardous effects of global warming. IG: @rosart_ Gülistan, we are so glad that you have agreed to be interviewed here with us. Could you please tell us more about yourself? Dear Deniz, first of all, thank you for inviting me. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture. I have worked on "art in public space", "dendrology (the scientific study of trees, including their taxonomy, morphology, physiology, ecology, and uses)" and "landscape ecology." Currently, I am pursuing my Master’s Degree in the Department of Ecological Landscape Planning at Yıldız Technical University. I have been trying to do work that will bring my love of nature and art together for as long as I can remember. Artivism desires to uniquely curate and design visual and performance artworks using multimedia art formats such as acrylic, charcoal, photography, videography and spoken word to promote social justice issues in today's changing dynamics. Nowadays, artivism is crucially important in raising awareness about the climate crisis’ adverse effects and taking action to save our future before it’s too late. As a botanical illustrator, could you please underline artivism’s importance to endemic species? Born out of the human tendency to recognise nature, botanical illustration has been used for centuries to document and study plant life. It remains an influential tool for botanists and scientists today. There are small details that distinguish endemic species from other genera of the same family. The main purpose of the botanical illustration is to reveal and record these characteristic and distinctive features. This purpose increases the importance of this art field in endemic species. For example, when you examine two plants you think are the same in nature, the difference that distinguishes these plants may be the leaf texture. This difference may not be seen at first glance or in a photograph, but in botanical illustration, all these details are scientifically examined and illustrated. On the other hand, artivism is a form of activism that uses art to raise awareness about social and political issues. As for how these two fields intersect, I think we can say that both botanical illustration and artivism share a common goal: To raise awareness about important issues and inspire change. By combining scientific accuracy with artistic creativity, these fields can create powerful messages that resonate with people and make a real impact. Climate change art can be defined as art that is inspired by the climate emergency and global warming. In this context, what are your thoughts on the position of ‘’Climate Change Art’’ worldwide? Do you think it is a big enough community? Or do you think there are still important authorities to be reached? I believe that climate change art is a very important and rapidly growing movement that has the potential to reach a wider audience and raise awareness of the consequences of climate change. The community constantly evolves, with new artists joining and established ones continuing to create impactful work. However, despite increasing awareness of the issue, many major authorities still need to be reached. The climate change art movement can play an essential role in giving voice to climate activists and encouraging action. Yet, effectively addressing the issue requires a collaborative effort from all areas and sectors of society. As more artists and communities become involved in this art movement with the power to inspire and motivate, I am sure that the impact of climate change art will grow and continue to influence public opinion and policy. Apart from being a designer, you are also a landscape architect. As a landscape architect, what are your thoughts on sustainable designs and sustainable urbanism? Do you think creating such living spaces will be a necessity rather than a preference in the near future? I think it will definitely turn into a necessity. We have entered an age of change in this regard. We are already living the scenarios that were expected in the future some time ago. As the world population continues to grow and urban areas become more densely populated, the need for sustainable living spaces will become increasingly important. Sustainable designs and urbanism can help reduce the negative impacts of urbanisation, such as air pollution, water pollution and biodiversity loss. In addition, sustainable living spaces can help promote healthier and more liveable communities, which can have a positive impact on people’s physical and mental well-being. In conclusion, sustainable designs and sustainable urbanism will become standard practices in the near future as more and more people realise the importance of creating a sustainable future for themselves and future generations. Which sustainable features should be placed in cities as regards landscape architecture? Can unplanned urbanisation be prevented with these features? Landscape architecture is a professional discipline that plays a crucial role in promoting ‘’sustainable urbanism’’. There are too many topics to mention under this area, but to put it simply, green spaces, parks and public spaces that support biodiversity, reduce heat island effects and improve air quality should be designed and planned. When we look at the situation as landscape architects, one of the things to be done in the name of sustainability is the measures that can be taken to repair landscapes. One of these is the efficient and minimum water usage in open green areas, and arid landscaping (Xeriscape) applications should be preferred. In such landscape designs, species requiring less maintenance and irrigation must be chosen in addition to natural species. There are several general sustainable features that can be incorporated into landscape architecture in cities to promote sustainability and prevent unplanned urbanisation. These features can be discussed as follows: Green Infrastructure (park gardens, green roofs and walls): These features can help reduce the urban heat island effect, improve air quality and provide habitat for wildlife. Rain gardens and rain harvesting: These measures can help manage stormwater runoff, reduce flooding and improve water quality. Pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure: By encouraging active transport, cities can reduce their carbon footprint and improve public health. Urban agriculture: By combining community gardens and urban farms, cities can promote local food production and reduce food miles. Renewable energy: Incorporating renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy independence. By incorporating these sustainable features into landscape architecture, cities can support sustainable development and prevent unplanned urbanisation. However, it is worth noting that these features alone may not be sufficient to prevent unplanned urbanisation. Other factors such as zoning regulations, land use policies and community participation are also critical in promoting sustainable development. You have been awarded the first prize in a seasonal garden competition based in Mainau Island, Germany. How was your experience concerning this? It is estimated that the area (including Mainau Island) of Lake Constance will experience extreme heat waves. Did you experience any negative consequences of climate change during your work there? Mainau Island is in Lake Constance (Bodensee) in southern Germany, connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. Although there are many colourful areas renewed with seasonal flowers, what attracted me the most on this island was my encounter with large and old tree species, which I learned belonged to the 19th century and before. Among these, there were also exotic trees that were not suitable for the climate of the neighbourhood. Moreover, I saw many examples of rare plant species that I had never encountered anywhere else. I was awarded this prize together with two of my group mates in the annual competition called ‘’Seasonal Gardens’’. The year we participated, we designed a landscape design with a theme called ‘’Black&White’’. We were inspired by the contrast between African rainforests and desert ecosystems. It was delightful to work with landscape architecture students from different countries. Thus, I had the opportunity to observe and compare landscape architecture education in different countries. Although I was there in November, I remember that we had sunny and warm weather in that season, which we are not used to in Germany. I had the advantage of this, but the increase in temperatures and problems such as sea level rise and drought may reach dimensions that will affect the natural life and ecosystem of the island. What are your thoughts about eco-friendly and non-toxic fine art supplies to sustain the environment? Eco-friendly art materials are a good endeavour for artists to conserve natural resources and use products that do not affect the environment. Using such materials can be a step towards a more sustainable art industry. I hope it will become more widespread in the near future because, unfortunately, in the country I live in, it is very difficult to access these materials, which are more expensive than other materials. I know it's a very small step, but I use tiny sponges that I carry with me instead of the disposable napkins that are necessary for water colouring. When I was little, we used to crush leaves to create a green colour. Art has no boundaries and can lead us to more creative and eco-friendly ways. Environmental forestries purify the air, filter the water, prevent erosion and provide a home for numerous plants and animals. Without a doubt, they also fight as a warrior against climate change. Could you please share your experiences about current forest ecology and thoughts as someone who studies landscape planning and ecology? According to the climate projections stated in the 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) published in 2021, unless there are serious reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years, global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded in the 21st century. Furthermore, the same report states that the average global surface temperature is likely to be 3.3°C to 5.7°C in the period 2081-2100. Such rapid temperature changes in a short period of time will seriously affect forests. One of the most important measures to be taken here is the measures to be taken against forest fires. Considering the role and importance of forests in combating climate change, they should be identified as priority areas that need to be protected and increased, and strategies should be developed for forestry and forest management. Strengthening the capacities of existing species in the forest ecosystem, protecting/extending tree species resistant to temperature increase and carrying out rehabilitation works may be the first strategies that come to mind. Why botanical illustration still holds power in the art world? Botanical illustration should not only be seen as an artistic activity since it is also a scientific activity. As I mentioned while answering the other question, plant illustrations are important for properly identifying plants in botany and as a source for scientific studies to be carried out later. In other words, not only the world of art but also the world of science and is a noteworthy source for botanists can be shown as the reason why it is still effective. Which region would you like to study the most in terms of botanical illustration and why? I think I would prefer to work in regions with very diverse climates as the diversity of species would increase. I am especially interested in Indonesia as it harbours various islands. I am not very experienced in this field, but plant illustrator Işık Güner, who has worked in regions such as Nepal, Chile and China, always inspires me. Since trends in habitat destruction interact with climate change, there is concern that the Amazon could become entangled in a series of ‘’feedback loops’’ that could dramatically accelerate the forest loss and degradation rate, bringing the Amazon to the point of no return. At this point, please elaborate on the necessity of the botanical illustration of the area. The Amazon Rainforest is one of the richest areas in terms of biodiversity worldwide and serves as home to many species. For this reason, illustrations of the species living in this region are important for their identification, documentation and conservation. Moreover, botanical illustration can be an important tool for documenting these species and passing them on to future generations. Hence, the conservation and sustainable management of the Amazon rainforest is of great significance for the whole world. Lastly, please tell us your favourite plant-based milk. (It’s a tradition😊) Almond Milk 🙂.
- Feathers in the Wind: Dutch Set Global Precedent
In a groundbreaking move, the Dutch government halted operations at the Borssele and Egmond aan Zee offshore wind farms for four hours on 13 May to ensure the safe passage of migratory birds. This unprecedented measure, considered an international first, aligns with the government's and participating companies' commitment to prioritize ecological conservation and biodiversity within offshore wind farms. By limiting the turbine rotation speed to a maximum of two rotations per minute during the anticipated nighttime peak migration, the birds are afforded a secure pathway. This shutdown represents a pilot phase, with the possibility of becoming a standard practice starting this autumn. It will encompass both existing wind farms and those currently under construction or planned for the future. By adopting such an environmentally conscious approach, the Dutch government aims to minimize the impact of wind farms on natural ecosystems, thereby mitigating potential threats to avian species during their biannual migratory journeys. It is the first time anywhere in the world that wind turbines have been halted to allow birds safe passage, Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten said. “We want to keep the impact of wind farms on nature as small as possible and this is one measure to do this,” he said. As the renewable energy sector expands, concerns arise regarding the potential mortality risks faced by birds and bats due to direct contact with rotor blades and the pressure effects of vortices, alongside the associated risks of displacement from their natural habitats. Experts estimate that the turbine blades kill some 50,000 birds every year as offshore wind farms proliferate on their migratory routes. Leading offshore wind energy players are actively investing in technological advancements and conducting studies focused on bird protection. Vattenfall, for instance, recently released findings from a study that monitored seabird behavior near its Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm. Additionally, Ørsted and its partners have made investments in a "deep-tech" start-up called Spoor, which is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and track birdlife at offshore wind farms. Article sources: https://www.offshorewind.biz/2023/05/17/dutch-stop-offshore-wind-turbines-to-protect-migratory-birds-in-international-first/ https://www.dutchnews.nl/2023/05/offshore-wind-turbines-halted-to-help-migrating-birds/#:~:text=Experts%20estimate%20that%20the%20turbine,to%20turn%20off%20their%20turbines.
- The environmental aftermath of COVID-19
The time period of the pandemic could be considered a dark era for the environment. On the one hand, the planet had a chance at relief when everyone was staying at home, while on the other hand, there was no choice but to use medical one-use products on a daily basis, including face masks, gloves and self-tests creating an unfathomable amount of waste, mainly of plastic. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic response has resulted in tens of thousands of tonnes of additional medical waste, which has severely strained healthcare waste management systems globally and endangered both human and environmental health, according to a new WHO report. We should keep in mind that apart from the personal use of medical products the main quantity of refuse is created by the healthcare system, making the urge for waste management an emergent crisis. According to this assessment, the issue is widespread but particularly severe in developing nations where a large amount of trash is simply burned in open pits and outdated incinerators with no pollution controls. Prior to COVID, medical waste was a significant issue. Before the epidemic spanned the globe, many healthcare facilities lacked the capacity to manage waste responsibly, and the pandemic's massive scale has only made an already bad situation much worse. To picture the problem more than 87,000 tonnes of personal protective equipment have been shipped by the UN as emergency support which indicates a preliminary sign of the COVID-19 waste problem size, that they have already ended up in the landfill. The study outlines a number of suggestions for incorporating better waste management procedures into the COVID-19 response that are also safer and more environmentally friendly. The use of environmentally friendly packaging and shipping, safe and reusable PPE (such as gloves and medical masks), recyclable or biodegradable materials, and investments in the recycling industry are all advised. These measures will ensure that materials, like plastics, can have a second life. But maybe now that the pandemic has almost come to an end, we came to the realisation that these measures have only been implemented on a small scale or even not at all. So the question is; What are we doing now? The problem still seems to loom large. Now that there is an amount of waste settled, it is necessary to develop sound policies, build up the necessary infrastructure, and promote the prudent use of medical equipment in order to dispose of healthcare waste in a sustainable way. The well-known 3R approach is one strategy to reduce medical waste that is not necessary. Utilise "just in time" inventory management to reduce packaging and shipping waste and expired product waste. Use reusable equipment like temperature probes and washable glass or ceramic mugs. To create biofuels or other chemicals with a marketable value, use organic components and recyclable resources where contamination is not a concern. The traditional waste treatment process is incineration requiring monitoring and treating flue gases to remove harmful and polluting materials. For that reason, there are advanced incinerator technologies available, including rotary kilns, fixed and fluidized bed incinerators, and incinerators that use biofuels instead of fossil fuels. However, developing nations frequently face limitations due to the greater expenses of upgrading incineration plants, whether to build, run, maintain, or oversee their operation, particularly in those with a large population and a large healthcare institution network. Therefore, it's critical to minimise from now on the production of medical waste. This will support the global effort to cut back on toxic waste emissions into the atmosphere. In addition to the landfill, there are other alternatives to incineration, such as microwave treatment, biological treatment, enhanced steam sterilisation, dry heat sterilisation, alkaline hydrolysis, and so on. It seems like there is the technology for a more sustainable treatment of the COVID-19 waste problem, but the will and funding are still needed to reassure a smooth healthcare waste management.
- Amalfi Lemons are in Danger due to Climate Change
The Amalfi Coast is one of the world’s most breathtaking and picturesque destinations, located on the southern coast of Italy, facing the Tyrrhenian Sea. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a 50-kilometre stretch of coastline encompassing charming towns, hidden beaches, towering cliffs, and stunning views. It is a location where the natural beauty of the Mediterranean landscape meets the architectural and cultural heritage of centuries-old settlements. It can be said that the Amalfi Coast offers something for everyone: Whether you want to soak up the sun on the beach, explore the region’s ancient history, or simply enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean landscape, the Amalfi Coast has it all. The region’s cuisine is also world-renowned, and visitors can savour the local specialities, such as fresh seafood, homemade pasta, local wines, and - the most significant - Amalfi lemons. Unfortunately, the Amalfi Coast region is affected by climate change, as are many other regions in Italy. Climate change is causing changes in temperature, precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events that can have significant impacts on local ecosystems and economies. Climate change is negatively impacting the local ecosystems in the region. Rising sea levels and more frequent and intense storms are causing erosion and damage to the coastline, impacting tourism and local economies. Changes in temperature, rainfall patterns and landslides also affect the region’s biodiversity, as species may be forced to adapt to new conditions or face extinction. In the Amalfi Coast region, specifically, climate change is affecting the production of Amalfi lemons. Rising temperatures and extreme weather changes alter the growing conditions for lemon trees. Additionally, the region is already facing water scarcity, and this problem is likely to worsen with climate change, which can further impact the production of Amalfi lemons. What is an "Amalfi Lemon"?’ Amalfi lemons, also known as sfusato amalfitano, are a type of lemon grown exclusively in Italy’s Amalfi Coast region. Amalfi lemons have a long history of cultivation in the Amalfi Coast region, dating back to the 10th century. The unique microclimate of the region, which is characterised by warm days and cool nights, along with the volcanic soil and the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, creates the ideal growing conditions for these lemons. One of the most notable characteristics of Amalfi lemons is their size. They are significantly larger than traditional lemons, with a length of up to 10 centimetres and a weight of up to 200 grams. Their elongated shape and bright yellow colour make them a distinctive sight in the Amalfi Coast region. Yet, it is not just their appearance that sets them apart. Amalfi lemons are prized for their sweet and tangy flavour, which is more complex and nuanced than other lemons. They are also incredibly fragrant, with a distinctive aroma used in perfumes and other fragrances. But despite their popularity, Amalfi lemons are still a relatively rare and expensive commodity. In addition, since they are grown only in a specific region of Italy, they are not as widely available as other types of lemons. They are also more difficult to cultivate, as they require a great deal of care and attention to grow properly. Why are Amalfi lemons so special? Amalfi lemons are a unique and important crop that has been grown in the Amalfi Coast region of Italy for centuries. Some reasons why they are special: Culinary uses: Amalfi lemons are prized by chefs and home cooks alike for their bright, zesty flavour and fragrant aroma. They are a key ingredient in many traditional Italian dishes, including limoncello, lemon marmalade, and lemon risotto. They are also used in a variety of desserts, such as lemon tarts and lemon sorbet. Economic importance: The cultivation of Amalfi lemons is an essential part of the local economy in the Amalfi Coast region. The lemons are a valuable export, and the production of limoncello and other lemon-based products provides employment for many people in the area. Cultural significance: Amalfi lemons are deeply embedded in the region’s cultural heritage. They have been grown in the area for centuries and are celebrated in festivals and traditions that date back generations. As a result, they are a source of pride for the local community and a symbol of the region’s unique identity. Health benefits: Amalfi lemons are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants and are believed to have several health benefits. They are said to aid digestion, boost the immune system, and promote healthy skin. Environmental importance: Lemon trees are a crucial component of the local ecosystem in the Amalfi Coast region. They provide a habitat for various insects and birds, and their cultivation helps to maintain the terraced landscapes that are characteristic of the region. How are Amalfi lemons being affected due to climate change? The Amalfi Coast region has already experienced changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which have considerably influenced the production of these lemons. One of the biggest challenges facing Amalfi lemon growers is the increased risk of extreme weather events due to climate change. The region is experiencing more frequent and severe storms, which can damage the lemon trees and reduce the overall yield. Heavy rainfall can also cause soil erosion and landslides, further damaging the lemon trees and disrupting the growing process. In addition to the risk of extreme weather events, the changing climate dynamics also affect the quality and quantity of the lemons. The trees typically flower in late spring or early summer. Yet, warmer temperatures can cause them to bloom earlier or later than usual, resulting in fruit that is smaller and less flavourful than usual. This can disrupt the growing cycle and make it more difficult for growers to predict when the lemons will be ready for harvest. Higher temperatures can also lead to increased pest and disease pressure, which can further reduce the yield and quality of the crop. What can be done to prevent the consequences of climate change on Amalfi lemons? Preventing the negative consequences of climate change on Amalfi lemons will require a multi-faceted approach that includes both adaptation and mitigation strategies. Here are a few possible actions that can be taken: Adopting sustainable agriculture practices: Implementing sustainable agricultural practices, such as using cover crops, reducing tillage, and minimising chemical use, can help to maintain soil health and reduce the impact of climate change on lemon trees. Promoting water conservation: The Amalfi Coast region is already facing water scarcity, which will likely worsen with climate change. Promoting water conservation measures, such as drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting, can help to ensure that the lemon trees have access to the water they need to thrive. Developing heat-resistant varieties: Scientists are currently working on developing heat-resistant varieties of crops that can better withstand the warmer temperatures associated with climate change. By breeding these varieties and incorporating them into Amalfi lemon orchards, growers may be able to maintain their production even in the face of rising temperatures. Investing in green infrastructure: Investing in infrastructure, such as drainage systems and erosion control measures, can help to reduce the impact of extreme weather events on Amalfi lemon orchards. This can help to minimise damage to the trees and ensure that the orchards can continue to produce high-quality fruit. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to prevent the negative consequences of climate change on Amalfi lemons is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will require a coordinated effort at the local, national, and international levels to transition to renewable energy sources, reduce energy consumption, and promote sustainable practices in all sectors of the economy. Closing thoughts Climate change is posing a significant threat to the future of Amalfi lemons. As temperatures continue to rise and extreme weather events become more frequent, the production of these lemons will likely be further impacted. In order to adapt to these changes, growers may need to explore new growing techniques or varieties of lemon that are better suited to the changing climate. Therefore, preventing the negative consequences of climate change on Amalfi lemons will require a combination of adaptation and mitigation strategies. Regarding this, by adopting sustainable agriculture practices, promoting water conservation, developing heat-resistant varieties, investing in infrastructure, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we can help to ensure that this special fruit continues to thrive in the face of a changing climate. Without a doubt, Amalfi lemons are a notable crop with cultural, economic, and environmental significance. They are beloved by locals and visitors alike, and their continued cultivation is essential to preserving the unique character of the Amalfi Coast region. Read Deniz’s article on drought in Italy, available here.
- Coachtopia x Selfridges: An Experiential Pop Up | Part II
Last month, Coach released a new sub-brand that has made waves in the fashion industry through its circular craft to reduce its overall waste. Coachtopia takes on offcuts from mainline Coach factories that are normally thrown into landfill as starting material for its products. This is one of the luxury leather goods industry’s first times approaching circular production as this method reduces the use of virgin raw material. The reimagining of craftsmanship through the use of scraps helps the environment as there is currently a landfill pollution problem caused by the fashion industry. This fight against pollution has caused a demand for companies to do their part in creating more circular solutions. Coach has taken on the charge by implementing a Reloved Program that takes in old Coach bags to be reused or refurbished for a new product. Popular department store Selfridges is also taking the initiative through their renting scheme, HURR. The renting scheme is part of the Selfridges’ Project Earth initiative, which is their action plan to transition towards sustainability. Sustainability has been a core component of Selfridges values for the past 10 years. They aim to lead with purpose through the implementation of their sustainability strategy. Starting with Project Ocean, which aims to stop overfishing and plastic pollution in oceans, Selfridges has progressed its strategy to removing single-use plastics and removing plastic in its beauty products. Currently, Project Earth has taken on more drastic commitments within its materials, models, and mindsets. This has given its shoppers the opportunity to buy better and inspire change through offering planet-friendly and preloved selections. Due to Selfridges’ desire to better the planet, Coach asked for collaboration in the form of a pop-up for Coachtopia’s launch in the Wonder Room. The experiential pop-up invites customers to interact with each touchpoint offered and ask questions to the brand ambassadors. Each touchpoint allows the customer to immerse themselves into the process of circularity, with explanations scattered throughout as guidance if the customer wants to explore the space on their own. The first touchpoint is a production table in the center of the space. This circular table explains the production process of making a Coachtopia bag so the customer can visually see how exactly material scraps can turn into an Ergo or Wavy Dinky. It is separated into 5 sections which are topped with the physical tools, design sketches, and scrap fabric used in the production process along with placards that explain each section. Customers are able to touch what is on the table to increase interaction. The second touchpoint is the window display. This circular wooden structure displays the bags to those passing by outside. Hanging above is a light-up sign made of recycled neon in the form of Coachtopia’s main tagline: “Have Taste Love Waste”. This display has caught the eye of many passersby who often come inside to learn more about the brand. The third touchpoint is a large circular mirror with the same tagline as the window display lining the top. This rests under another recycled neon light-up Coachtopia sign. The customers can use this mirror to see how the bags look on their person and many have obliged to take mirror selfies in front of it. The fourth touchpoint is the pin-up wall where customers are asked to pin differently shaped leather scraps onto an outline of a purse. This lets customers experience being a part of the design process as using scraps is the main way of decorating the bag designs. It also references the Selfridges exclusive flower Ergo bag. The final touchpoint is a display wall that explains the design process of the black and white checkered Ergo bag. Encased in the wall are leather scraps that have then gotten sewn together to form the checkered pattern, which then shows the final product of the bag. The wall is separated into 3 sections of starting material, creation, and then final product with each section having a detailed explanation of its process. Circularity was considered in all aspects of the pop-up, not just in the explanations of the production process. This includes visual merchandising used to display the product on the sales floor. The whole set is able to be reused after its time in Selfridges Oxford Street. Each part can be easily disassembled compared to other VMs. Different parts of the set will be sent to other Selfridges stores nationwide for their own Coachtopia pop-ups once the one in Oxford Street ends. The VM itself is made of leather scraps that were pressed together to create building blocks for the structure. There is an Ergo bag made with a similar technique as the VM. The goal of the pop-up is to take the customer into an immersive experience; to literally circle them around the world of Coachtopia to understand just how much imagination goes into crafting circularity. Through the storytelling of the set and the brand ambassadors can the customers appreciate the multiple lives for these products. The pop up is a place for discussion to educate on how fashion can progress to help the planet. Connecting the customer in such an interactive way builds the community as they realize that they too can take part in the reduction of waste.
- Severe Droughts are Affecting Agriculture in Italy
Italy is currently experiencing a severe drought, causing concern across the country. The drought has been caused by a combination of factors, including a lack of rainfall, high temperatures, and low water reserves. As a result, farmers are struggling to grow crops, and many communities are facing water shortages. According to the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, the drought has affected around major hectares of agricultural land in Italy, roughly one-third of the country’s total agricultural land. As a result, this has had a considerable consequence on the country’s agricultural sector, which is a prominent contributor to the economy. The drought has also had a devastating outcome on Italy’s water supply. Many of the country’s reservoirs and rivers are running dry, and some areas are experiencing water shortages. This has led to restrictions on water use in some regions, including restrictions on watering lawns and washing cars. How is drought affecting the agricultural lands in Italy? Drought is having a significant impact on agricultural lands in Italy, which is one of the country’s most important economic sectors - without a doubt. The lack of rainfall and high temperatures are causing crops to wither, reducing yields and quality. This has led to decreased revenues for farmers and food price increases for consumers. In addition to reduced crop yields, drought can lead to other problems in agriculture, such as soil erosion and reduced soil fertility. Soil erosion can be caused by dry and windy conditions, which can lead to the loss of topsoil and reduce the ability of the land to support crops. Reduced soil fertility can occur when there is not enough water to carry nutrients to the roots of plants, causing stunted growth and yield reduction. Drought can also affect livestock production. Lack of water and food can cause animals to become malnourished, leading to reduced productivity and increased mortality rates. Furthermore, farmers may be forced to sell their livestock at lower prices due to reduced demand and increased supply. Overall, the impact of drought on agricultural lands in Italy is significant and has both short and long-term effects. It reduces food production and causes economic losses for farmers, which can have ripple effects throughout the economy. Accordingly, addressing the issue of drought and increasing the resilience of agricultural lands to its effects will be crucial to ensure food security and maintaining the livelihoods of farmers in Italy. What can be done to prevent the terrifying results of drought in Italy? Undoubtedly, preventing drought in Italy requires a concerted effort from individuals, businesses, and the government. While it may not be possible to eliminate the risk of drought completely, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the impact of drought and increase the resilience of communities and ecosystems. Here are some of them: Addressing climate change: Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of droughts in Italy and other regions worldwide. Addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energy can help mitigate the risk of drought and other climate-related hazards. Implementing water conservation measures: One of the most effective ways to prevent drought is to conserve water. This can be done by reducing water usage in homes, businesses, and agriculture. Implementing water-saving technologies and practices, such as low-flow showerheads, drip irrigation systems, and xeriscaping, can help reduce water usage. Promoting sustainable land use practices: Land use practices such as deforestation, overgrazing, and intensive agriculture can contribute to soil erosion and reduce the amount of water that is available for plant growth. Promoting sustainable land use practices, such as reforestation, soil conservation, organic farming, agroecology and regenerative agriculture, can help preserve soil health and increase water availability. Investing in water infrastructure: Italy has a complex system of dams, aqueducts, and irrigation systems essential for managing water resources. Investing in the maintenance and improvement of this infrastructure can help ensure that water is available when needed. Increasing public awareness: Educating the public about the importance of water conservation and sustainable land use practices can help promote behaviour change and encourage individuals to take action to prevent drought. What are the procedures of the Italian Government to fight against drought? The Italian Government has taken several steps to mitigate its impact on the country’s population, economy, and environment. In 2022, the government declared a state of emergency in several regions, including Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria. This allowed additional resources to be allocated to address the drought, including financial support for farmers, supporting affected communities and sectors, improving water management and funding for water conservation projects. The Italian Government is taking a comprehensive approach to fight against the consequences of drought, including measures to improve water management, promote sustainable land use practices, and support affected communities and sectors. By implementing these plans and strategies, the government aims to increase the resilience of the country to the effects of drought and other climate-related hazards. The Italian Government has also implemented measures to reduce water usage, including the installation of water metres in homes and businesses and restrictions on the use of irrigation systems. Additionally, the government has encouraged the use of drought-resistant crops and promoted water-saving technologies. Moreover, the Italian Government is participating in international initiatives and partnerships to promote water management and conservation, such as the European Union’s Water Framework Directive and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Despite these efforts, unfortunately, the drought in Italy is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. As regards, the country is likely to experience more frequent and severe droughts in the coming years due to climate change, which is causing higher temperatures and lower rainfall in many regions. Therefore, since drought is a global problem, it requires international cooperation to find solutions. This can include sharing knowledge and resources, developing joint programs for water management, and promoting sustainable development practices. In this way, the adverse outcomes can be decreased. Closing thoughts The drought in Italy is a serious issue affecting the country’s agricultural sector and water supply. While the government has addressed the problem, the country will likely face ongoing drought-related challenges. Therefore, individuals and businesses need to take action to reduce water usage and promote water conservation to help mitigate the impact of drought in Italy and around the world. Needless to say, preventing drought in Italy will require a comprehensive approach that includes water conservation measures, sustainable land use practices, investment in water infrastructure, addressing climate change, and increasing public awareness. By taking action to prevent drought along with the help of international cooperation, Italy can help ensure the availability of water resources for future generations and increase the resilience of communities and ecosystems. Read Deniz's article on banning pesticide usage in Italy, available here.
- Advocating for stronger legal protection of rivers in Europe
Why up to 60% of European water bodies are highly polluted? Rivers – anywhere you are in Europe, there must be a river not far from you. Ancient Greeks would marvel at rivers like Gods. How have we now come to a point in which up to 60% of European water bodies (including rivers) are highly polluted? River Health The health of water bodies constitutes a major determinant for human food and water quality, which demonstrates how human health is inextricably tied to healthy water body habitats. Rivers, in particular, constitute mobile water bodies which cross vast swathes of Europe while exchanging water, materials, energy and nutrients with their surroundings. Therefore, even though they make up a small percentage of surface freshwater, they have a significant influence on European habitats and their conservation status. Pollution Like other surface water bodies, rivers are affected by multiple sources. Point source pollution for example is any identifiable source of pollution, such as wastewater. Its disposal in rivers leads to a high concentration of toxic chemicals, such as cyanide, zinc, lead and copper. Then, diffuse source pollution results from the collective run-off of water used by human activities, particularly in agriculture. It increases the concentration of nitrogen and phosphate in water bodies, which are likely to trigger eutrophication, a situation which adversely threatens biodiversity due to an increased load of nutrients present in the water. Lastly, there are hydromorphological pressures, such as barriers, which may result in habitat alterations which have a series of cascading consequences ranging from higher water temperatures to reduced species’ migration. Water pollution can have grave consequences for the environment. The safety of drinking water can be jeopardised, entire food chains can be disturbed and there is a likelihood of disease spread (e.g. typhoid, cholera, etc…). The Water Framework Directive The European Union, in response to the unfavourable status of water bodies, introduced Directive 2000/60/EC – the Water Framework Directive (WFD) – in 2000. The purpose of the WFD is “to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater” (Article 1). Through the Directive, the EU, therefore, wishes to promote sustainable water use, enhance the protection of aquatic ecosystems, and ensure the progressive reduction of pollution. Member states are required under Article 4 to issue River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) every 6 years, detailing how they will achieve a good water status. A deadline for publishing RBMPs was originally set for 2015; nevertheless, Article 4(4) provided for the possible extension of the deadline to 2027, which includes two more cycles of RBMPs. For surface waters – like rivers – good status is dependent on a good ecological and good chemical status. The WFD also specifies that when natural circumstances do not allow a good status to be reached (Article 4(4)), or if the restoration is unfeasible or disproportionately expensive (Article 4(6)), an exception can apply to achieve a good water status. Nevertheless, no deterioration of the status is legally acceptable. As of 2023, most MS have had difficulty realising the ecological ambitions of the WFD. Furthermore, according to countries’ RBMPs covering the period up to 2015, good or better ecological status has been achieved for only around 40% of surface waters. The following section will examine the progress (or regress) of the WFD in more detail. Challenges to the Water Framework Directive With only four years left to meet the – extended – WFD deadline, the good status targets seem unlikely to be achieved. A study by the Living Waters Europe Coalition revealed that 90% of river basins studied around the EU will fail to reach the criteria specified in the WFD by 2027. In the same vein, a news headline by WWF revealed that “Europe’s rivers [are] nowhere near healthy by [the] 2027 deadline”. It is also noteworthy that a great deal of the water bodies which presented a good water status in 2015, already had the status before the adoption of the WFD. Moreover, in September 2021, at least nine MS had still not presented their draft plans for all river basins, and RBMPs studied by WWF and the Living Rivers Europe demonstrated that there has been insufficient funding by MS for the Directive’s implementation. Giakoumis and Voulvoulis (2018) reveal that although the plan is fit for purpose, socioeconomic contexts and the MS’ institutional settings have restricted the opportunities the WFD has brought to the table. This means that these countries will fail to fulfil legally binding requirements. In collaboration with Youth and Environment Europe (YEE). You can read the original article published in their website here.
- Coachtopia by Coach: Building a World of Circular Craft
Fast fashion is subject to various criticisms as of late due to the amount of pollution it produces. The overproduction of clothing has contributed to numerous instances such as there being more weight in plastic than fish in the ocean, needing 2700 liters of water to produce a single t-shirt, and 70% of UK cast off are sent off to different countries overseas. Because of these horrifying statistics, there has been a push for companies to do better in their production lines. Many consumers have started to care a lot more about the environment and companies have started to take notice and change their current methods. Popular initiatives include introducing recycled clothing lines and switching out plastic packaging to a more biodegradable material or reducing overall packaging. Fast fashion has been taking action in its environmental efforts, but what about the luxury fashion sector? Luxury fashion are the trendsetters for the fashion industry so it would be no surprise if they are the ones going above and beyond compared to regular fast fashion brands. One recent example of a brand going above and beyond is Coach with the launch of its very first sub-brand, Coachtopia. Coach is a leather goods company that was founded in 1941. It is known for the quality and craftsmanship of its various goods. While Coach has a long history, it was not until 2021 that it buckled down on establishing sustainable action through the introduction of the Coach Reloved Program. This program allows customers to bring in their old used Coach bags and trade them in for credit. From there, Coach can either restore it and sell it as a vintage item or remake and upcycle it to an entirely new product. This reduces the amount of waste in the landfill as the old preloved bags are being used for something new. This program came about from a viral video of a woman dumpster diving who found slashed-up Coach bags. This sparked public outrage as many found it wasteful that these products were purposefully slashed by Coach employees as a protocol for unsalable bags. The directors at Coach saw this feedback and wanted to do better by launching the Reloved Program. This program was just the start of the company’s sustainability initiatives. On Thursday, April 20th, Coach launched a Coachtopia pop-up at Selfridges as part of their zero waste strategy. Coachtopia is similar to the Reloved program in which that it uses used materials to create new products. These used materials come from the manufacturing companies that make the Coach products. Coach wanted to close its linear production loop and transition itself to become involved in circular fashion. By using materials like leather offcuts that would have otherwise been sent to landfill, the overall production of waste would lessen as it would go back into the production stage and avoid raw materials. One important feature on all Coachtopia products is the NFC chip, which is a digital passport that informs those who scan it of the product details and each life the product has lived. By tracking the product lifecycles, the community can see how the used material is transformed into something new instead of seeing it in a landfill, therefore further promoting circularity. The name comes from “Coach” and “utopia” as the brand envisioned its sub-brand to help progress the world into a better place through circular fashion. This is a revolutionary process as no other luxury leather goods brand has attempted this type of circular production before. Luxury fashion in general has the power to influence. By being the first in the sphere, it can influence and pressure other luxury brands to follow suit based on its initial success. Once other luxury brands have their own version of circular production, there can be a top down chain reaction in more accessible retail brands like those in fast fashion. Coach understands its position and power to be able to change the industry as it can afford to take the risk of introducing a completely new process to produce products. Taking a risk for what it believes in is one of its values as a company so it is no surprise that they “have the courage to be real” and change the industry for the better. The Coachtopia pop-up in Selfridges runs until the weekend of May 20th. For those in London, take this opportunity to visit and learn more about the story and see if the community is worth joining.
- The Space Between Us: Waste Colonialsm and the UK
Nonbiodegradable waste is a planetary issue as there is a finite amount of space to put it on the planet. Many governments and organizations have brainstormed solutions to manage excessive pollution; from burning the landfill to switching over to reusable products. Some have even considered sending it to space, which is not feasible. Within the space we have, we can only use certain amounts for landfills. Waste cannot be placed in “civilized” places where it is visible as it would inconvenience the people living. Rich countries such as many in the EU produce a lot of waste but do not have the space to hold it. What is one of their solution to this lack of landfill space? They ship it off instead. The final destination of this waste ends up being space in poorer countries. European countries may brag about decreasing plastic within their landfills. However, that is only because they discovered that exporting to poorer countries without effective waste management systems can solve their statistics issues instead. These countries are participants in waste colonialism. Waste colonialism is the domination of a group of people through waste and pollution. There are many instances of a rich first-world country that would send its waste to a poor third-world country. The most prominent example is within the fashion industry. Fast fashion has often been criticized for producing and releasing excessive amounts of clothing that is cheaply made. In order to keep up with each new release, consumers and fashion companies get rid of past stock to accommodate the new. Fashion textiles are common wastes that are being sent to African countries like Ghana. Another example is plastic pollution. Single-use plastics such as water bottles do not degrade and have recently been banned in many institutions. However regardless of the ban, there are still single-use plastics on the market and once they reach a landfill, they are shipped off to Asian countries like Malaysia. Colonialism may seem like an issue of the past but many of its effects are felt today. These countries must now deal with a problem that was forced upon them. There are often misconceptions about poorer countries being dirty and having waste. They often do not have the wealth and resources to look after their cities like in major first-world countries. They become targeted as being a large part of the problem of pollution due to this disparity. However, rich countries are actually a cause of pollution in poorer countries along with being a contributor to overall pollution. They have a larger population that has the privilege to consume more and therefore produce more waste. Many people in poorer countries cannot afford to consume in excess and as a result, take care of their belongings as it would be difficult to obtain more. It is easy for these rich countries to give others their garbage and waste because it is difficult for poorer countries to rally against it. These rich countries have power over the poor countries, therefore continuing the dominating structure caused by colonialism. The UK is one of the European countries that take part in waste colonialism. Prior to Brexit, they followed the recycling targets set forth by the EU and were way above the target by 60%. This would be a breakthrough worth congratulating if it were not for the method used to reach this state. It was revealed these targets were met by exporting the waste to poorer countries. It was thanks to China for banning the imports of foreign waste that revealed the loophole in the waste management system in the UK. There is a history of colonialism in the UK’s past it may be no surprise that its old habits resurface in the form of waste. The UK was so focused on reaching these targets that it ignored the fact that they were harming both these countries and the planet but shipping off its landfill waste. It is unproductive to seem sustainable in the form of statistics if it is reached through these loopholes. Genuine sustainability comes when countries work together to solve these issues. To unjustly harm another country environmentally just to sound better in numbers for a sustainability goal is hypocritical. One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals focuses on fostering partnerships among countries and organizations. It is through working together and supporting those who need help that we can really solve the issue of pollution. Imagine how much could have been achieved in terms of waste management if these rich countries collated with one another to get rid of the waste in their own countries' space.
- Sustainability in Art: Dr Alexandra
Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is an artist who examines the fraught relationship between humans, nature, and technology. Her work is rooted in science, exploring subjects such as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, conservation, biodiversity, and evolution with the exploration of the human desire to better the world underpinning her artistic investigations. Ginsberg’s experimental practice combines the design of objects, writing and curatorial projects. Ginsberg’s work bridges the gap between art and science through her engagement of human emotion and human empathy for the planet, giving meaning to the scary statistics of climate change and making complex scientific data digestible. Her works Pollinator Pathmaker, Resurrecting the Sublime and Designing for the Sixth Extinction all critically engage with the human capacity for empathy for the environment. Pollinator Pathmaker was originally commissioned by the Eden Project and is an interspecies work that aims to transform how we see gardens. The artwork is a direct response to the ecological damage humans have created and encourages a consideration of nature with empathy at its heart. The work inspires the creation of gardens with pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, in mind, rather than creating gardens for purely aesthetic reasons. Through habitat loss and the use of pesticides, pollinators have massively declined all over the world. The Royal Horticultural Society state that the main problem affecting most pollinators is the loss of suitable habitat with climate change also affecting the geographical ranges which are suitable for many species. Pollinator Pathmaker aims to redress this decline by encouraging the creation of suitable habitats within our own gardens. The work is propelled by agency and explores what we can do to feel less powerless within the climate crisis. The agency and empathy that this artwork encourages is a hopeful engagement with nature and the climate crisis, offering an important, if not small solution to the crisis. With every garden that is planted, from the Eden Project and Kensington Gardens in London, the connected artwork encourages a tenderness and empathy for the living world. There is also an algorithmic tool where you can design and plant gardens for the endangered pollinators. Resurrecting the Sublime asks the question, could we smell flowers again that have been driven to extinction by humans? The collaborative artwork uses genetic engineering to resurrect the smell of extinct flowers, giving an experience of something that humans have destroyed. The engagement of the powerful and emotive sense of smell asks the viewer to contemplate and reflect on our destructive, harmful actions and hopefully change them for the future, preventing other flowers and wildlife to become extinct. The work is an ongoing collaboration between Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas and an interdisciplinary team of researchers and engineers from Ginkgo Bioworks a biotechnology company. Designing for the Sixth Extinction investigates how synthetic biology can impact biodiversity and conservation asking the question can we preserve nature by looking forward. This work is engaging with the phenomenon of the sixth extinction which is driven by human activity primarily due to the unsustainable use of land, water, and climate change. Synthetic biology is a field of science that involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities, harnessing the power of nature to solve problems in medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing. Within this artistic experiment new species are designed to support endangered natural species and ecosystems. This work is fuelled by the optimism of synthetic biology and is an aesthetic exploration of this technology. Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s work brings together science and art, drawing from the past and looking to the future to create greater empathy for our natural environment. Designing for the Sixth Extinction, Resurrecting the Sublime and Pollinator Pathmaker draws out the human desire to better the world and heightens an awareness for nature and what we can do to feel less helpless in the face of the climate crisis.
- From Buzzword to Best Practice: Integrating ESG Factors in Equity Investing
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important subject for investors. Many investors used to think that sustainability was just a buzzword used by environmentalists and activists. But as the world becomes increasingly aware of the impact of climate change and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, more and more investors are starting to take notice. In particular, there is a growing interest in comprehending the relationship between sustainability and equity investing. But why does sustainability matter to equity investing, and do strong sustainability stocks translate into better performance for sustainability-minded investors? While there is no strong evidence linking sustainability with investment performance, the truth is, sustainability and equity investing go hand in hand, and investors who ignore this fact risk failing in the long run. Firstly, some investors assume that strong sustainability stocks will translate into more profitable performance for sustainability-minded investors. However, there's no definitive proof to back this theory yet. But don't let that discourage you! As mandatory and standardized ESG information becomes more widespread, it's becoming easier to price sustainability into investments. For instance, firms with strong environmental footprint and greenhouse gas disclosure are performing better than their peers, according to studies by Derwall et al. and Leisen et al. Social issues also matter, with research showing a positive relationship between high employee satisfaction and stock returns. Governance is another vital element for investors to consider, as strong governance is associated with firm value and high sales growth, profitability, and low CAPEX. Firms with high governance also tend to have heightened environmental and social performance. The big question for investors is, how can sustainability be integrated into their equity investments? There are a few different approaches, including exclusionary screening (i.e. avoiding companies with poor ESG records), best-in-class (i.e. picking companies with the best ESG practices), active ownership (i.e. engaging with firms to enhance their ESG performance), and thematic investing (i.e. investing in companies that profit from or provide solutions for particular ESG trends). It all depends on your investment goals and the level of impact you want to make. But don't just take our word for it - ESG integration is becoming the "need of the hour," according to some experts. As PRI (an investor initiative in partnership with UNEP Finance Initiative and UN Global Compact) explains, "more guidance from regulators" is driving investors to consider ESG factors, and "growing interest from investors and other stakeholders" is probing how investment decisions affect real-world outcomes. So how do investors integrate ESG into their investment process? It starts with analysis- considering ESG megatrends alongside economic and geopolitical conditions. While considering ESG elements it is necessary to consider materiality and how significant they are for the company in question. Resources such as the financial materiality map from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board can be utilised as a starting point. ESG factors are then taken into consideration during the process of analysis and forecasting a company's key financial metrics (earnings, cash flow). The estimated intrinsic or fair value of the stock is then adjusted to reflect ESG factors. After which, one needs to consider the impact of the buy, sell or hold decision upon the overall makeup of their portfolios. For example, check that a given buy or sell decision does not breach a set limit on the level of CO2 emissions associated with stocks in the portfolio. Portfolio construction considers the impact of ESG factors on the overall makeup of a portfolio. But what about passive investors? Can they still consider ESG factors? Yes! It's not just about making a profit anymore; it's about creating societal value and avoiding future costs. So, even passive investors can consider ESG factors by choosing a fund that mimics an index or customizing their indices to exclude companies with poor ESG ratings. ESG can also be incorporated into active quantitative strategies as factors of stocks. As ESG data availability improves, investors can explore ESG factors further in their investment decisions. While there is no strong evidence linking sustainability and investment performance, integrating ESG factors into equity investing is becoming a necessary step to avoid future costs and ensure long-term profitability. Whether investors decide to adopt exclusionary screening, best-in-class (positive screening), active ownership (ESG engagement), thematic investing, impact investing, or ESG integration, there is a growing recognition that ESG factors should be a critical element of investors' due diligence method. So, what are you waiting for? Let us embrace sustainability and make the world a better place, one investment at a time!
- Featured: Composty, on Composting
Composting is the process of converting organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertiliser that may be used to enhance soil and plants. This natural process accelerates decomposition by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing creatures (such as worms, sowbugs, and nematodes) to operate. Compost is made out of decomposing materials that resemble rich garden soil. This new type of soil has a lot of nutrients and may be used in gardening, horticulture, and agriculture. “Can we make cleaning tools that are just recyclable and zero waste?” Matt Guest, co-founder of Composty, a sustainable composting company in the UK, that sells eco-friendly and fully compostable cleaning products. They sell multi-use sponges and dishcloths that are compostable and wrapped in compostable packaging. He started his business with his wife to preserve the planet for his children and after multiple occurrences where eco-friendly products were not as eco-friendly as they seemed. “We're getting frustrated. We're buying sponges that said they're compostable but ignoring the plastic packaging, the glue used in the sponges had plastic in them that was harmful to compost. So we thought, well, we're gonna put this right. And so we made a range of tools, a range of sponges and cloths where we make sure that they were 100% compostable because there's nothing better than taking from nature but also then giving back to nature.” Composting can lead to less food and garden waste disposal at landfill sites while producing healthier crops. As a result, it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by creating healthier carbon storage. Composty is a business that sells compostable cleaning tools to be used for different purposes and once it is no longer usable, it can be used for compost rather than being thrown away. Guest explains why he and his wife started their business: “We wanted to have something that is different to what everyone else does but does the best for the planet that it can. And trying to make a range of compostable products entirely compostable isn't easy. We want to do what's best. We don't want to produce products for another family or other families that people look at products that claim to be compostable but had plastic or polyester. That's not what we're about. So we wanted to make it sort of 100% ethical company that allowed us to make products that were the best for the planet.” Composting is one method that can be used to combat climate change by reducing plastic waste. Composty's mission is to minimise plastic waste across the UK by providing homeowners with a greener and more economical alternative to the market's environmentally friendly cleaning solutions. Greenpeace and Everyday Plastics surveyed UK households in 2022 where they found that over one week under 6.5 million pieces of plastic packaging waste were thrown away. The danger with so much plastic waste is that it can disrupt habitats and natural processes, limiting ecosystems' ability to adapt to climate change and directly hurting the livelihoods, food production capacities, and social well-being of millions of people. It is why Guest thinks that composting should be, “more widespread in the UK, we’re doing ourselves a good service moving forward and having local compost bins, of course- it sort of reduces the carbon footprint of the waste that we’re throwing away.” The UK has a variety of initiatives in place but is not as strict as Guest would like. “In the UK, of course, we've got food waste collections and I think it's hit and miss, with local authorities. I’m actually in the Dudley local authority and there is no food waste collection, whereas if you just go down the road to some other local authorities, they do food waste collection. So it is hit and miss in terms of what service you get here and it does depend on what local authority you're in within the UK, but it is certainly a start.” For it to become widespread in the UK, Guest believes that a better starting point should be education. “Composting should be taught from a young age. It’s one of those things as a kid. Certainly, when I was at school, you were aware of it, but you never learned how to do it or what you can put into it. It's so beneficial. I think they learn a lot about recycling at school and I think that's good. Recycling is beneficial and important, but there's no better way of disposing of a product than to leave it back to nature. I think there should be a lot more done in schools to learn about that. ” You can get a 10% discount using the code: SUSTAINABLESTUDENT until the end of May!