Waste Management in SAARC Countries: Priorities and Cooperation

Waste management in the SAARC countries has occasionally been raised as an area for regional co-operation. It fits in with other more pressing regional concerns such as environmental degradation, food safety, power generation, poverty alleviation and trans-boundary technology transfer. The Dhaka Declaration on Waste Management of 2004, for example, recognises the environmental imperative to promote more effective waste management systems ‘with special attention to addressing the needs of the poor’.

Similarly, the SAARC action plan on Climate Change of 2008 listed waste management as an area for nationally appropriate mitigation actions where regional sharing of best practices could be useful. The 2010 convention on co-operation on the environment, also included waste management among a list of 19 areas for the exchange of best practices and knowledge, and transfer of eco-friendly technology. However, these commitments have rarely turned into concerted action.

waste management in south asia

Effectively tackling the growing waste management crisis has not proved easy for most municipalities. Their capacity to cope has not kept pace with the increasing quantities of waste generated, and yet waste management can be one of the biggest costs of municipal budgets. Often they are able to collect waste only from limited areas of their towns. For the South Asia region, waste collection rates are on average 65%, with wide variations between towns.

At the same time, there is often a very active recycling system through waste pickers and the informal sector, involving large numbers of poor people. Large schemes to recycle, separate and produce useful end-products such as compost have often run into problems if they relied too heavily on donor inputs. Once these were phased out they failed to generate sufficient income from sales to be sustainable.

solid waste management in south asia

A municipal drain choked by garbage in north Indian city of Aligarh

Two global agreements signed in 2015 may help to raise the profile and stimulate greater action on solid waste management. First, the Sustainable Development Goals which include a goal focused on cities and sustainable urban development. Within this, target 11.6 is to “by 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management”.

This is the first time a global agreement of this sort has included commitments on waste management. Second, the Paris Climate Agreement, with a number of South Asian countries including better management of urban waste as part of their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution.

Solid waste management is already a significant concern for municipal governments across the South Asian region. It constitutes one of their largest costs and the problem is growing year on year as urban populations swell. And yet it is an area that has not received the attention it deserves from policy-makers. There are signs this may change, with its inclusion in the SDGs and in many INDCs which are the basis of the Paris Climate Agreement.

How Farmers Are Using Water Conservation

There is a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” Water has always been the first and most precious resource for any community.

Mark Twain would have seen this along the Mississippi River and the towns and farms it supplied. Then he would observe the role water played in the West when he followed the pioneers out to California and Nevada in the 1860s.

In modern times, no one knows better how vital water is to all of us than farmers. They need to keep their crops alive and flourishing but also be sure they are protecting their water source for all the dry seasons to come.

Farms, both big and small, are becoming examples for harnessing and preserving this life-giving resource.

100 Years of Water Use in Northern California

Farmers have come a long way in their ability to use water wisely. Take a typical family in Northern California. Many from this region have been farming the same 100 acres of land on the Sacramento River for 105 years.

Through three generations, the family has had horses, grapes, apples, nectarines, and apricots on the property. But the main crop has only changed once: peaches until the 1950s, and prunes to the current day.

The current farmers have a particular interest in water conservation. They have educated themselves on the best irrigation methods for crops in this area of the country.

Flooding the Crop

In the beginning, like all the farms in the area, farmers would water their crops with flood irrigation when the ground was dry. A pump would deliver water from a well into one field at a time. Water would stay in the field inside boundaries of built-up earth, and seep down to the roots.

Flood irrigation is simple and requires minimal equipment, but for most crops, it is an inefficient use of water. Often, it used about four acre-feet of water per year.

Sprinklers

To use less water and gain a little more precision about where the water went, farmers switched to a system of pipes and sprinklers. Workers would move large metal pipes from one section of the orchard to the next. They hooked the pipes up to the pump and pointed the spray directly onto the trees.

The sprinkler method used about three acre-feet of water per year. A significant improvement, but still not as efficient as they would like to be in a place where water supply is always at risk.

Hose and Drip

Now, the orchards used drip irrigation. The farmers lay flexible black roll pipe directly along the rows of trees, lining up the holes with the tree roots. Water goes only to the trees and is no longer watering all the weeds in the spaces between the rows.

The drip irrigation system has reduced water use to one acre-foot of water per year on some California farms. Combine this simple but efficient system with modern sensors to measure real-time water output, and every single drop of water is put to work.

Using Modern Tools to Measure Water

Finding the right method of water delivery for the land is the first and most significant step to managing your water source wisely. But modern-day farmers don’t stop there.

Tracking Where the Water Is

Farmers across the country use tools installed on their property to understand what the water is doing precisely on their land.

Ground sensors at one, two, three, and four feet deep in the soil track where the water level is below the surface. Ground sensors can be part of a tool such as a DTN ag weather station, which can send current moisture data and weather readings from each field.

A weather station can also tell the farmer what the soil temperature is, and how quickly the water is leaving their land and crops through evapotranspiration.

A pressure bomb can tell a farmer exactly how much water is available to a tree. Just before dawn, he takes a piece of plant and puts it inside the pressure bomb chamber. He then slowly adds pressurized gas until water comes out of the leaf or plant.

If it took too long for the pressure to extract water, the farmer knows his plants are not getting the supply they need. Taking a measurement predawn is usually the most indicative of how much moisture the plant has access to overall. However, farmers will often take a sample midday to learn about the stress level of the plant when the sun is the hottest.

Using Tools to Know the Weather

Every farmer knows the most valuable tool they have in conserving water is understanding the weather patterns in their area. The most efficient irrigation system is still wasting water if they spend one day saturating their crop, then watch the rain falling for free the next.

Organizations like the California Irrigation Management Information System will give access to weather data collected from a system of weather stations throughout a designated area. Farmers can learn things like:

  • How much water their kind of crop has used in their area
  • What the precipitation pattern has been in the past
  • What the weather is likely to do next.

Many farms see value in investing in weather stations directly on their property. Knowing precisely what the crop needs, and whether there will be rain soon, can save the farm thousands of dollars each day. And as more farmers become experts on what the water is doing on their land, they can work together to preserve the water in their area.

Taking Advantage of Water Education in Nebraska

The states of the Great Plains know how precious water can be. Eight states draw their water from the Ogallala Aquifer, stretching across 175,000 square miles. The U.S. Geological Survey states the aquifer level has dropped an average of 16 feet in the last several decades.

When the aquifer was being formed about 10 million years ago, it was fed by runoff into its western edge by the Rockies. That water source has since been closed off by erosion, and the water level depends solely on precipitation.

Farmers are Becoming Experts on Water Behavior

The farmers who depend on the Ogallala Aquifer know the urgency of using the water they have wisely. That’s why 1,500 farmers and cooperators have joined the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network (NAWMN).

The NAWMN is a knowledge-sharing group that tests out water-saving technologies. They share their experiences with types of irrigation, water sensors, erosion-reducing crops, and soil, among many other water-related topics. They are educating each other, and everyone who draws from the Ogallala aquifer will benefit.

Many farms in Nebraska use pivot irrigation to bring water to their crops. Long pipes on wheels suspended over that crop rotate around a center pivot, creating the circular fields easy to spot from an airplane.

Pivot irrigation has been around for 50 years, but low-pressure nozzles and water sensors in the ground are making them more efficient than ever before.

When the surface of the ground starts to look dry, it’s natural to think it’s time to begin supplementing the crop’s water supply. But if ground sensors are saying the roots are still drinking, the sprinklers can wait a few more days.

A farmer can save about $2,000 for every 2 inches of water he doesn’t use. And that water stays where it is, ready to use on an even drier day.

Backing up Instinct

Strong instinct has always been an indispensable trait of a successful farmer. Farmers who know their land, their crops and their weather will have a much better chance of success. Today’s farmers know that. They still rely on their gut, but thanks to modern technologies, they can make informed decisions better than ever before.

Top Technologies and Practices for Sustainable Forestry and Agriculture

Innovative technologies can help improve the resilience of different industries. Agriculture and forestry are no exception. In this piece, you will find out whether you can take care of the health of the fields, detect common tree diseases promptly and save resources without harming the environment.

Sustainability and Technologies

At first glance, digital technologies and environmental sustainability are mutually exclusive concepts since common development factors do not link them. Technological changes are aimed at increasing production efficiency using artificial intelligence, IoT, and robotics. Environmental sustainability is promoted by a combination of several factors associated with geopolitical instability, deteriorating climatic conditions, and the environment.

The business will not cover all the needs of a growing population for food and services by simply increasing production. Social and environmental problems of the modern world can be solved only with the help of innovative technologies. The combination of digital innovation and environmental sustainability can help address these challenges. In addition, this combination is an excellent way for a business to stand out and consolidate its viability among clients and related organizations. Indeed, sustainable practices and digital technologies may be an integral part of any business. This combination can provide the company with higher income at lower costs while providing a positive customer experience.

Sustainable Forestry

Humanity needs the resources that the forest provides. Sustainable forestry involves  forest management and caring for its health. It is vital to save the forest as a separate ecosystem and habitat for many animals and so that the essential resources remain for future generations.

sustainable forestry

1. Forest Health and Forest Management

Various sustainable forest management practices are tailored for each area. One of the basic methods is to check the regeneration. It means that you need to make sure you have enough tree sprouts, natural seeds and seedlings.  Excessive populations of certain species of animals can lead to the destruction of young trees as they eat them. In such cases, people can install a fence. If there is little sunlight in the forest, some trees can be removed, as can weeds, which grow and take up a significant portion of the nutrients or water.

Sustainable forestry practices also include caring for wet areas and forest streams. Do not allow much soil to enter the water, as it can harm aquatic organisms. Large pipes should control rain flow to prevent erosion of exposed soil in areas where trees have been felled.

Caring for the health of the forest is another challenge for sustainable forest management. The extinction of a large number of trees testifies to the health problems of the woods. They can be caused by insect pests, diseases, wildfires, or unfavorable weather conditions. Sustainable forestry is concerned with promoting health and reducing negative health factors.

2. Precision Forestry

Precision forestry relies on various innovative technologies, including drones, soil sensors, drones, and laser scanning. However, this concept is not limited only to the introduction of technologies. Still, it means a transition from an analog control system to a system with operational control and digital data collection.

The technologies of precision forestry are designed to improve management. With their help, you can optimize the decision-making process, relying on advanced analytics. Better data collection goes hand in hand with more control over various operations, automation of production, and better meeting the needs of the forest, for example, when it comes to nutrients or soil moisture.

Sustainable Agriculture

The agricultural sector, as well as the use of forest resources, is necessary for humanity. However, the use of harmful farming practices, including the release of agricultural waste, is detrimental to the environment. Sustainable agriculture exists to minimize the negative impact on the environment. It offers the use of environmentally friendly technologies and methods.

compost-organic-waste-farming

The concept of safe food using organic waste generated compost is getting traction.

1. Irrigation

Smart irrigation systems can go beyond just providing timely watering and reporting soil moisture levels and temperatures so growers can effectively care for their crops. Many plants have specific requirements for these parameters. Special sensors inform farmers about the need to change the growing environment depending on the temperature conditions while reducing water loss.

Another serious cause of the irrigation system is hard water. The high levels of salt of hard water can clog up your irrigation system. Moreover, it can make the soil hard and unsuitable for use. Choose a sustainable technology to treat hard water for your irrigation system is one thing everyone should really consider.

2. Biotechnology

Thanks to biotechnology, breeders can develop plants with specific traits using more precise methods with faster results. Scientists are also working on plants that use water more efficiently and can thrive even in drought conditions. Biotechnology also contributes to higher yields, as breeders by editing the genes of plants make them more resistant to various diseases. It also has great potential in animal husbandry.

sustainable agriculture

3. Data and Software

The Internet of Things has a significant impact on the sustainability of agriculture, and it is through this technology, farmers can use intelligent irrigation systems or livestock health trackers. Software and sensors transmit data to a central system, from where farmers receive information. You can make more effective decisions based on the obtained data regarding the health of the crops, and therefore save resources.

Why Energy Access to Refugees Matters?

There is a strong link between the serious humanitarian situation of refugees and lack of access to sustainable energy resources. According to a 2019 UNCHR report, there are more than 80 million displaced people around the world, the highest level of human displacement ever documented. Access to clean and affordable energy is a prerequisite for sustainable development of mankind, and refugees are no exception. Needless to say, almost all refugee camps are plagued by fuel poverty and urgent measure are required to make camps livable.

refugee-camp-energy

Usually the tragedy of displaced people doesn’t end at the refugee camp, rather it is a continuous exercise where securing clean, affordable and sustainable energy is a major concern. Although humanitarian agencies are providing food like grains, rice and wheat; yet food must be cooked before serving.

Severe lack of modern cook stoves and access to clean fuel is a daily struggle for displaced people around the world. This article will shed some light on the current situation of energy access challenges being faced by displaced people in refugee camps.

Why Energy Access Matters?

Energy is the lifeline of our modern society and an enabler for economic development and advancement. Without safe and reliable access to energy, it is really difficult to meet basic human needs.

Energy access is a challenge that touches every aspect of the lives of refugees and negatively impacts health, limits educational and economic opportunities, degrades the environment and promotes gender discrimination issues. Lack of energy access in refugee camps areas leads to energy poverty and worsen humanitarian conditions for vulnerable communities and groups.

Energy Access for Cooking

Refugee camps receive food aid from humanitarian agencies yet this food needs to be cooked before consumption. Thus, displaced people especially women and children take the responsibility of collecting firewood, biomass from areas around the camp. However, this expose women and minors to threats like sexual harassments, danger, death and children miss their opportunity for education. Moreover, depleting woods resources cause environmental degradation and spread deforestation which contributes to climate change. Moreover, cooking with wood affects the health of displaced people.

Access to efficient and modern cook stove is a primary solution to prevent health risks, save time and money, reduce human labour and combat climate change. However, humanitarian agencies and host countries can aid camp refugees in providing clean fuel for cooking because displaced people usually live below poverty level and often host countries can’t afford connecting the camp to the main grid.

So, the issue of energy access is a challenge that requires immediate and practical solutions. A transition to sustainable energy is an advantage that will help displaced people, host countries and the environment.

Energy Access for Lighting

Lighting is considered as a major concern among refugees in their temporary homes or camps. In the camps life almost stops completely after sunset which delays activities, work and studying only during day time hours.

Talking about two vulnerable groups in the refugees’ camps “women and children” for example, children’s right of education is reduced as they have fewer time to study and do homework. For women and girls, not having light means that they are subject to sexual violence and kidnapped especially when they go to public restrooms or collect fire woods away from their accommodations.

Rationale For Sustainable Solutions

Temporary solutions won’t yield results for displaced people as their reallocation, often described as “temporary”, often exceeds 20 years. Sustainable energy access for refugees is the answer to alleviate their dire humanitarian situation. It will have huge positive impacts on displaced people’s lives and well-being, preserve the environment and support host communities in saving fuel costs.

Also, humanitarian agencies should work away a way from business as usual approach in providing aid, to be more innovative and work for practical sustainable solutions when tackling energy access challenge for refugee camps.

UN SDG 7 – Energy Access

The new UN SDG7 aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. SDG 7 is a powerful tool to ensure that displaced people are not left behind when it comes to energy access rights. SDG7 implies on four dimensions: affordability, reliability, sustainability and modernity. They support and complete the aim of SDG7 to bring energy and lightening to empower all human around the world.

All the four dimensions of the SDG7 are the day to day challenges facing displaced people. The lack of modern fuels and heavy reliance on primitive sources, such as wood and animal dung leads to indoor air pollution.

Energy access touches every aspect of life in refugee camps

Energy access touches every aspect of life in refugee camps

For millions of people worldwide, life in refugee camps is a stark reality. Affordability is of concern for displaced people as most people flee their home countries with minimum possessions and belongings so they rely on host countries and international humanitarian agencies on providing subsidized fuel for cooking and lightening.

In some places, host countries are itself on a natural resources stress to provide electricity for people and refugees are left behind with no energy access resources. However, affordability is of no use if the energy provision is not reliable (means energy supply is intermittent).

Parting Shot

Displaced people need a steady supply of energy for their sustenance and economic development. As for the sustainability provision, energy should produce a consistent stream of power to satisfy basic needs of the displaced people.

The sustained power stream should be greater than the resulted waste and pollution which means that upgrading the primitive fuel sources used inside the camp area to the one of modern energy sources like solar energy, wind power, biogas and other off-grid technologies.

For more insights please also read this article Renewable Energy in Refugee Camps 

Renewable Energy in Refugee Camps

Access to clean, affordable and renewable energy is a prerequisite for sustainable development of mankind, and refugees are no exception. Refugee camps across the world house more than 65 million people, and almost all refugee camps are plagued by fuel poverty. Needless to say, urgent measure are required to make camps livable and sustainable.

dabaab-refugee-camp

Rapid advancements in renewable energy technologies have made it possible to deploy such systems on various scales.  The scalability potential of renewable energy systems makes them well-suited for refugee camps, especially in conflict-afflicted areas of the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Renewable energy in refugee camps can be made available in the form of solar energy, biomass energy and wind energy. Solar panels, solar cooking units, solar lanterns, biomass cookstoves and biogas plants are some of the popular renewable energy technologies that can improve living standards in refugee camps. It is important to focus on specific needs of refugees and customization of technology towards local conditions. For example, solar technologies are better understood than biogas systems in Jordan.

1. Solar Energy

Solar energy can provide long-term resilience to people living in refugee camps. With many camps effectively transformed into full-fledged towns and cities, it is essential to harness the power of sun to run these camps smoothly. Solar cookers, solar lanterns and solar water heaters are already being used in several refugee camps, and focus has now shifted to grid-connected solar power projects.

The 5MW Azraq solar project is the world’s first grid-connected renewable energy project to be established in a refugee camp. The project is being funded entirely by Ikea through the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign. The program, now in its third year, seeks to improve the lives of refugees around the world by providing access to sustainable energy supplies.

2. Biomass Energy

Due to lack of land and resources, refugee camps puts tremendous pressure on natural vegetation, especially supply of fuel wood to camp-dwellers. Replacement of traditional stoves with efficient biomass-fired cook stoves can save as much as 80% of cooking fuel.

Instead of wood, it would be also be a good option to use agricultural wastes, like husk and straw. Another interesting proposition for refugee camps is to set up small-scale DIY biogas plants, based on human wastes and food residuals. The biogas produced can be used as a cooking medium as well as for power/heat generation.

3. Wind Energy

Small wind turbines can also play a key role in providing energy to dwellers of refugee camps. Such turbines are used for micro-generation and can provide power from 1kW to 300kW. Majority of small wind turbines are traditional horizontal axis wind turbines but vertical axis wind turbines are a growing type of wind turbine in the small wind market.

Small wind turbines are usually mounted on a tower to raise them above any nearby obstacles, and can sited in refugee camps experiencing wind speeds of 4m/s or more.

Solar lights in Azraq Refugee Camp (Jordan)

Solar lights in Azraq Refugee Camp (Jordan)

Conclusions

Renewable energy systems have the potential to improve living standards in refugee camps and ease the sufferings of displaced and impoverished communities. Solar panels, biogas system, biomass stoves and micro wind turbines are some of the renewable energy systems that can be customized for refugee camps and transform them into a less harsh place for displaced people.

Role of Biomass Energy in Rural Development

Biomass energy systems not only offer significant possibilities for clean energy production and agricultural waste management but also foster sustainable development in rural areas. The increased utilization of biomass energy will be instrumental in safeguarding the environment, generation of new job opportunities, sustainable development and health improvements in rural areas.

biomass-bales

Biomass energy has the potential to modernize the agricultural economy and catalyze rural development. The development of efficient biomass handling technology, improvement of agro-forestry systems and establishment of small, medium and large-scale biomass-based power plants can play a major role in rural development.

Sustainable harvesting practices remove only a small portion of branches and tops leaving sufficient biomass to conserve organic matter and nutrients. Moreover, the ash obtained after combustion of biomass compensates for nutrient losses by fertilizing the soil periodically in natural forests as well as fields.

Planting of energy crops on abandoned agricultural lands will lead to an increase in species diversity. The creation of structurally and species diverse forests helps in reducing the impacts of insects, diseases and weeds. Similarly the artificial creation of diversity is essential when genetically modified or genetically identical species are being planted.

Agricultural modernization promises to increased biomass yields, reductions in cultivation costs, and improved environmental quality. Extensive research in the fields of plant genetics, analytical techniques, remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) will immensely help in increasing the energy potential of biomass feedstock.

Rural areas are the preferred hunting ground for the development of biomass sector worldwide. By making use of various biological and thermal processes (anaerobic digestion, combustion, gasification, pyrolysis), agricultural wastes can be converted into biofuels, heat or electricity, and thus catalyzing sustainable development of rural areas economically, socially and environmentally.

Biomass energy can reduce 'fuel poverty' in remote and isolated communities

Biomass energy can reduce ‘fuel poverty’ in remote and isolated communities

A large amount of energy is utilized in the cultivation and processing of crops like sugarcane, wheat and rice which can met by utilizing energy-rich residues for electricity production. The integration of biomass-fueled gasifiers in coal-fired power stations would be advantageous in terms of improved flexibility in response to fluctuations in biomass availability and lower investment costs.

There are many areas in India where people still lack access to electricity and thus face enormous hardship in day-to-day lives. Biomass energy promises to reduce ‘fuel poverty’ commonly prevalent among remote and isolated communities.  Obviously, when a remote area is able to access reliable and cheap energy, it will lead to economic development and youth empowerment.

Waste Management Challenges in Developing Nations

Waste is the result of collective failure from public, legislative rules, lack of funds and technical support. Public awareness and proper knowledge of waste management and end use of different types of waste, health effects, environmental problems and economic issues that are related to waste management is very important for successful execution of any waste management related practices. Everyone needs to get better knowledge, proper understanding of waste management issues and their practices to curb it. Basic training needs to be initiated from governments in this regard, which can be very effective. Poor knowledge can make the best planned technique questionable.

The increasing cost of waste disposal is a cause of major concern in developing nations

In developing countries, participation level of most citizens in waste management is very low, with residents in urban areas are not actively involved in the process of waste management. Even though it’s low, but very beneficial for future prospect and for more meaningful involvement of majority of public in waste management practices.

People should be educated about sorting out waste based on their type e.g. recyclable waste, hazardous waste, green waste etc. Majority of people across the world are not aware of waste as recycling material, amazingly most of them think plastic is recyclable waste. Involving people who are unaware of waste management practice is extremely difficult.

In developing countries, practices of waste management are usually carried by poor, for their survival. It has been estimated that 2% of population in Asia, Latin America and Africa are dependent on waste for their livelihood. Family organized, or individual manual scavengers are often involved with waste management practices with very limited supportive network and facilities with increased risk of health effects. Also, this practice prevents their children from further education.

iraq-wastes

Despite the bad consequences, it should be kept in mind that this practice keeps them employed and provide livelihood in countries with high unemployed population. But measure need to be taken to provide their better lifestyles, social behaviour towards people involved in waste management practices, provide them with facilities to reduce their health-related risk and increase their working efficiency.

In developing countries, where government support for waste management is scarce, people need to come strongly against their local municipal office or government if they see things are not changing and stacks of waste are piling up. They should protest to protect their environment, health and keep living secure and healthy for their children.

How to Incorporate Sustainability into Your Business?

Since catapulting to the frontlines of news headlines and global consciousness, climate change is one of the most talked about and concerning topics of the modern age. Fortunately with this shift in cognition, manufacturers all across the globe have banded together to create green products in hopes of a more eco-friendly future. It’s these very products that can transform any business from a wasteful guzzler to a green success. With this guide, we’ll walk you through how you can incorporate sustainability into your daily business practice.

1. LED bulbs

Switch out the incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs for a longer-lasting and more energy-efficient brilliance. Compact-fluorescent (CFL) and LED light bulbs tend to carry higher price tags than the average fluorescent bulb, however they offer a far more attractive projected lifespan than typical fluorescent bulbs which tend to offer 1,200 hours of  light.

LED bulbs, on average, cost around $5 and offer 25,000 hours of light, while CFL light bulbs cost about $2 and offer 10,000 hours of projected lifespan. Not only are CFL and LED lights more practical from a sustainability standpoint, but they will also save you thousands on your business’s electric bill.

2. Biodegradable Kitchen Supplies

Using biodegradable kitchen supplies to save on plastic waste. Unless your office is the type of place where employees keep personal dishes in the kitchen cupboard, you will likely need to keep a stash of utensils, cups, and plates on deck for any catered lunches or work parties.

Instead of giving into the cheap prices of eco-unfriendly plastic ware, invest in biodegradable kitchen packaging for a greener feast. With fewer resource requirements, these biodegradable forks, spoons, and knives will leave your business with a reduced carbon footprint.

Green SMEs

3. Ink cartridge recycling

Recycling ink cartridges is a great practice to put in place for businesses equipped with a number of printers. Believe it or not, the vast majority of discarded ink cartridges end up in harmful, toxic landfills that eventually end up in our oceans. Ink cartridge recycling is the most eco-friendly solution to this preventable problem. There are a number of simple ways to take those empty cartridges off your hands and into the hands of a trusted recycler:

  • Find a local recycling facility: You may not even know where your local recycle center is located. Luckily Earth911 can guide you to the nearest location for easy cartridge recycling.
  • Find a local office supply store: Did you know most office supply stores offer recycle programs? Check online or call in to see if they accept ink cartridges.
  • Consider refilling original cartridges: Do a bit of research on the brand of your empty ink cartridge. You may find that they are able to refill your cartridge and you won’t ever have to worry about tossing them!

4. Opening windows

Opening up windows is an easy solution to a stuffy, warm office. When people are packed like sardines into their tiny cubicles, the air can quickly become stale and stifling. Instead of wasting money and energy on air conditioning, open a few windows to let fresh air flow in.

Air conditioners put hydrofluorocarbons, a type of greenhouse gas emission, into the environment—so while you may feel refreshed, the earth is further harmed. Reduce your business’ contribution by saving the AC for the more-unbearable summer days.

5. Adopt renewable energy

Invest in renewable energy sources for a long-term, energy-efficient, and eco-friendly power solution. Every year, we see more and more solar panels sitting atop rooftops, which means the time to invest in solar panels is now. By converting sunlight into a sustainable power source, solar panels are the greenest source of energy on the planet today. Solar energy can be used heat buildings and provide energy to power lights on.

what-is-community-solar

6. Make use of post-consumer waste

Turning to post-consumer waste (PCW) to escape the cycle of high-volume paper waste is an exceptional solution for any company that uses a lot of paper. PCW paper is paper re-made at recycling facilities. According to the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator, PCW paper saves on

  • 5,610 gallons of water
  • 5,000,000 BTU of energy
  • 376 pounds of solid waste
  • 1,035 pounds of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions

Bottom Line

In 2021, there are no more excuses for why a business is stuck in the past. The future can be a bright one if we all put our best foot forward and make the effort to make our spaces greener!

Water Conservation: 8 Easy Ways to Save Water at Your Home

The importance of saving water cannot be understated, especially as many countries around the world are facing drought conditions. Of course, there is an endless list of small changes you can make as a homeowner to improve the water-saving efficiency of your home, and they add up to a potentially significant difference in the long-term.

1. Repurpose Water

A staggering amount of water literally goes down the drain each day, when there are plenty of smart, safe ways to conserve as much of it as possible. Your bathroom is a key contributor to single-use wastage, and by keeping a container on the floor of your shower you can collect liters with each use. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, even seemingly small things like using a container to catch the water used in washing fresh produce can make a difference over time.

2. Get Smart About Lawn Care

It’s a common misconception that maintaining a healthy lawn requires a plentiful supply of water. Even during water-restricted periods, keeping your grass green is possible – you just have to get clever about your lawn care practices. Depending on the severity of restrictions, you may only be allowed to water your garden and lawn on certain days and at set times of day, and this will probably be enough, as long as you follow a few guidelines.

If possible, it’s best to water your plants and grass in the evening so that the water has plenty of time to soak into the soil and roots without the threat of evaporation. In case you’re unsure whether to water or not, feeling the topsoil for dryness will give you the best indication. Another interesting option for a smart and healthy lawn is to go for artificial grass or drought-tolerant landscape.

3. Use the Half-flush

The second button on the toilet is more than just an aesthetic feature. In fact, the half-flush button can save as much as 70% of the water used in a full flush, owing to the difference in flushing design. A wash-down design and a large trap way make it easier for waste to flow down the drain, meaning less water is required. If you can afford to replace an old, inefficient system, you stand to save a lot of water (and by extension, money) in the long-term.

4. Use Dual Sinks

Washing dishes by hand gets a bad rap in terms of water efficiency, and it often uses more water than a dishwasher, but it’s possible to prevent a great deal of wastage by using your sink effectively. If you have a double-barreled sink, using one side for washing and the other for rinsing will allow you to wash an unlimited load without needing to refresh the water.

5. Check the Ratings

Every water-using device has an efficiency rating, and choosing a well-rated model will help you prevent unnecessary wastage at the source. In some countries, large devices like dishwashers and washing machines come with a star rating to give an indication of their efficiency, and even if they don’t, you can still do your own comparative checks.

In the US, the toilet is typically the biggest source of water wastage, followed by the shower and faucets, but with modern water-efficient designs like water-saving vacuum toilets and low-flow showerheads, much of that water could be preserved.

6. Install Water-Saving Faucets

The only thing more efficient than collecting and re-using run-off from the shower is using less water at the source, and the right faucet can help with that. You can use touchless faucets in your kitchen as well as it can save a lot of water. According to myhomeneedz, a touchless kitchen faucet can save up to 20% water compared to normal faucets.

Just like dishwashers and washing machines, faucets often come with a water-efficiency rating, but they can also be made more eco-friendly through simple add-ons like aerators. An aerator installation is a perfect project for eco-conscious lovers of DIY – once it’s done, the difference will be practically undetectable, and you’ll be saving liters without even trying.

7. Buy Smaller Machines

Devices like dishwashers and washing machines are becoming more water-efficient with each passing year, but the fact remains that large machines tend to use much more water than their smaller counterparts. A smaller device will also make it easier to commit to only running full loads, since it will take less time to fill.

You might even consider investing in a double-gallon dishwashers, designed to run smaller loads with half the amount of water – there’s plenty of technology available to help in your quest to use less.

8. Install a Water Tank

If you have the money and the space available on your property, a water tank is one of the best long-term water-saving investments you can make. Even the average backyard water tank allows for the collection of several hundred liters, which is more than enough to keep your yard in good condition or fill your bathtub many times over. Tanks can be expensive to buy, but the savings you stand to make on your water bills will make it all worthwhile.

Fresh drinking water is a precious resource, and developing efficient usage habits and adopting eco-friendly plumbing has never been more important. The bottom line is that saving water isn’t difficult, and with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you’re fully-equipped to start doing your bit for the environment and the world as a whole.

Role of Environmental Human Rights and Our Responsibilities

There is a broad consensus that human beings have the right to enjoy an environment suitable for personal development. In reality, this right is also a duty since it requires for its viability that human activity itself does not impede the enjoyment of this right. It is moving from mere enforceability to the sphere of responsibility and duties.

But to enter into the logic of responsibility implies for those of us who are culturally conditioned to advance towards a cultural change.

In today’s entry, we will carefully analyze our responsibilities towards our environment and nature itself. To do so, we will analyze the different aspects of environmental law and our responsibilities to respect it. Here are the four most vital components of that law.

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Human Responsibility in the Natural Environment

An ecological cultural change is nourished by our modern-day behaviors. Like in many cultures, welcoming the gift of creation invites us to continue to show the love that orients and promotes all lives. However, this gift allows and also demands respect for the equilibrium of the environment itself.

This balance is not only the fruit of a simple random and fortuitous evolutionary course but must be recognized as a gift that makes human life as a whole possible. A rupture of this dynamic is what scientists are warning about, the abuse of the environment. Introducing changes that break its balance, such as the current climate change process resulting from human activity and a cultural model that allows the abuse of resources. Thus, disrupting the natural balance.

Responding to this imbalance implies recognizing and practicing some duties that are marginalized in the present culture.

Our Responsibility of Conservation

The first responsibility is the conservation of creation. Today, witnessing the signs of the globalized ecological crisis throughout the planet, it is clear that the appropriate framework for “cultivation” is guardianship or conservation.

Without conservation, there can be no responsible and fair human cultivation. From this understanding, nature’s cultivation cannot lead to its “exploitation” because it cannot be abused, breaking its balance. A current concretization of this responsibility implies fighting against climate change and the various ecological disorders.

The signs of a development that has not always known how to protect nature’s delicate balances are evident when talking about air pollution. Before it is too late, severe measures must be taken, not only when writing an air pollution essay or article, but in real-life, to re-establish a strong alliance between man and the earth.

Therefore, we need a decisive “yes” to the protection of creation and a strong commitment to reverse the trends that could lead to situations of irreversible degradation.

The Responsibility not to Alienate Nature

The second responsibility that lies in our hands is to “respect the grammar of nature”. Nature is not an “untouchable taboo.” The natural environment is not only matter subjectively available to human beings, but an admirable work of nature itself that carries within itself a “grammar” that indicates purpose and criteria for intelligent, non-instrumental, and arbitrary use.

Today, many harms to development come from these distorted ways of thinking. Completely reducing nature to a set of simple factual data ends up being a source of violence towards the environment, provoking behaviors that do not respect the nature of man himself.

The latter, insofar as it is composed not only of matter but also of the spirit, and therefore rich in meanings and transcendent ends, has a normative character even for our culture.

Integration of Justice

Third, the need to integrate ecological justice and social justice. This need implies using resources that are respectful of nature and equitable with present and future human rights. Thus, the responsibilities we have towards the environment are related to those we have towards the person and his relationship with others. We cannot demand some and violate others. This is a severe antinomy of today’s mentality and praxis, which debases the person, disrupts the environment, and damages society.

For example, the desertification and productive impoverishment of some agricultural areas is also the fruit of the impoverishment of their inhabitants who suffer resource consumption damages. These have been crucial topics that show up regularly in a water pollution essay by environmental protection advocates due to the impact it causes in our occidental society. This impoverishment includes energy, air, and water pollution, which damage their natural environment (the effects of climate change on their lands, for example) and the inequitable consumption in its enjoyment and hoarding by influential minorities of humanity. The fruit of social justice must be held at peace among our societies and also with nature.

Social injustice is the occasion for social war and natural destruction. Many natural resources are devastated by wars. Peace among peoples and between peoples would also make it possible to safeguard nature more effectively. The hoarding of resources, especially water, can lead to serious conflicts between the populations concerned. Thus, a peaceful agreement on the use of resources can safeguard nature and, at the same time, the well-being of the societies concerned.

Pursuing Sustainability

The fourth responsibility is to improve efficiency and sustainability when dealing with nature. Responsible governance of creation implies, among other things, improving energy efficiency and the search for alternative energies to reduce their harmfulness to the environment and the harm to humanity itself. But it has to be framed in a global project of relationship with nature in the key of “alliance between human being and a healthy environment,” which adequately weighs the path to the future. That considers the approach to be followed in each aspect.

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This is a global responsibility: The international community and each government must know how to counteract effectively those ways of using the environment that is harmful to it. And the competent authorities must also make the necessary efforts to ensure that the economic and social costs arising from the use of common environmental rights and resources are recognized transparently and borne entirely by those who benefit, not by others or by future generations.

The protection of the environment, resources, and the climate require that all international decision-makers act together and demonstrate a readiness to act in good faith, respect for the law and solidarity with the weaker regions of the planet.

Responsibilities that can help us to assume our responsibility towards ourselves. Towards the present and future of humanity, and towards the whole of creation.