Monday, 19 November 2018

Bad Effects of Festivals on the Environment

Bad Effects of Festivals on the Environment - Introduction

There are many festivals each year, most encourage consumption of stuff we don't need. Buying extra things, toys, beer, suitcase. . .that we can do without.

Bad Effects of Festivals on the Environment - Guy Fawkes Night

An interesting fact is that on November the 5th in the UK (Fireworks & Bonfires) it takes around 1 minute to release the amount of air borne pollutants you would get coming out of an modern large scale incinerator during a whole year.

Bad Effects of Festivals on the Environment - Christmas

Any festival that involves dressing up or buying toys (halloween or christmas) has a massive impact on the environment. Additional meat eating, single use costumes, tacky (virtually) single use toys. Unwanted gifts, needlessly upgraded technology.

Bad Effects of Festivals on the Environment - What can you Do?

Just buy less stuff. If you have to buy try and stick to things that will actually get used. Overeating for example is part of christmas I suppose, but try to buy food that can be frozen so it does not go to waste if not eaten.

With regards to gifts try to buy low impact gifts, that will be used. The worst thing would be a large bulky plastic gift with no practical use. 

Flood Risk Assessments London

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Sewage Treatment Works Taunton

Sewage Treatment Works Taunton

A quick post to describe location of Taunton Sewage Treatment Works. Click on the link to open google maps.

The waste water treatment works for the county town of Taunton, lie to the east of the town, to the south of the Village of Ham. 

The STW (Sewage Treatment Works) discharges in to the River Tone.

Orange Circle Shows Location

Position Relative to Village of Ham

Environmental Consultants Exeter

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Why does organic milk have a higher carbon footprint?

Why does organic milk have a higher carbon footprint?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a carbon footprint as “the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).”

So why does organic milk have a higher carbon footprint?

Lower yields.

It takes 80% more land to produce one unit of milk than conventional production does. Whilst energy is saved by the avoidance of synthetic fertiliser applications, this is actually being offset by the significantly lower yields and greater mechanical field inputs. These low yields create a negative environmental knock-on effect because an organic dairy farm needs a larger area to produce less milk than a conventional farm.

Higher on-farm energy consumption.

The energy consumption per functional unit in the on-farm process is around 20% higher on an organic model than it is on a conventional one.
On-farm primary energy use in the organic system is 15.8% 5 higher than the conventional system, while organic milk required 33.9% 6 more fuel per thousand litres of milk.
Furthermore, the organic systems requires approximately a third more man hours than conventional systems. The longer man hours include machinery hours and therefore creating a greater consumption of fossil fuels, in the form of diesel and electricity, increasing organic milk’s carbon footprint.

Synthetic vs Organic Fertilizer.

The organic system can require the spreading of up to 20 tonnes/ha of manure, and the average conventional farm applies around 1100 kg/ha of synthetic fertiliser That is around 20 times the weight difference in transport and management every year. This figure is staggering when you consider the difference in power and machinery hours needed to load, transport and spread up to 20 t/ha of manure compared to a meagre 1.1 t/ha of synthetic fertiliser, having implications on fossil fuel consumption and the carbon footprint. Furthermore, in many cases when an organic farm has insufficient solid manure from its own cows it is actually forced to import organic manure from other organic farms.

Higher methane emissions.

Methane gas is twenty three times more potent than carbon dioxide. It is estimated that cows in the UK alone produce up to 500 litres, per cow, of methane every day, a figure so high that they account for 3% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Organic milk’s methane contribution is 18% higher than conventional milk. In the UK showed the figure to be 70% methane in the organic system, compared to 52% on the conventional system.
The reason for the higher production of Methane is that organic cows eat more roughage, this takes to longer to digest than the diet of an animal in an intensive system. Grass is rich in cellulose and other tough components; symbiotic bacteria living in her gut help break down this tough food. Unfortunately, these bacteria emit huge amount of methane while doing this job.  Since and organic cow needs more time to digest, she produces more methane than a conventional cow.

Supplementary Organic Cattle Feed.

A commercial dairy cow cannot exist solely on a grass fed diet. The additional protein requirements for organic dairy cows create a large carbon footprint in themselves, as the produce cannot be grown in temperate/cool climates. The standards set by the UK’s organic bodies forbid the use of GMO feeds which would lower the amount of carbon used.  Something that is often overlooked is that Soya meal, a key protein rich ingredient is sourced from farms in Asia, South America and the US. These imports are fuelling slash and burn techniques and further deforestation in areas of South America. This shatters the food mile argument from much further down the supply chain, before the manufacturing process of feeds begins and even before feed is synthesised into milk. Whilst Soya meal is not present in all cattle feeds, the environmental impact of long distance goods importation must not be underestimated.


Does the carbon footprint of organic milk production negate its environmental benefits?
Henry J.W. Robertson Oxford Brookes University

What's the environmental impact of milk?

Is Organic Milk Better for the Environment ? Not Really …

Waste Transfer Station Permit

Google Maps Ranking

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

My Visit to an Abattoir

A Visit to an Abattoir - Introduction

As part of my job I was asked to come and have a look around an Abattoir. This was something I felt I desperately wanted to avoid, but as a consumer of meat I felt a obligation to go and see what was happening.

I should point out that I did not visit the killing area, as that was not required as part of my visit. I did express an interest in seeing this, but I was discouraged with no reason given.

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Good

Perhaps the one good thing which I saw on this trip was the use of cattle skins destined for leather production. These were carefully graded and salted and sent to Italy (I was told) for tanning. Tanning being the process of turning skin into leather.

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Staff

The thing that struck me the most was how unhappy everybody looked who worked at the abbatoir. This is not a job I would like to do.  This is a messy, unpleasant job and it showed in the faces of the people who worked there.

As you can imagine there is a high turnover of staff. The company does not have good employment records (I checked). How does this manifest itself on the treatment of the animals I wonder?

The employees I observed during the visits appear a mixed bunch, with some behaving in a highly ignorant manner.  Dealing with this type of work force requires a certain type of manager, and I can safely say that I did not enjoy talking the the manager in question.

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Waste

All animal caracasses are required to be inspected for blemishes or disease (I am not sure of the exact detail). Whilst I was there I saw 2 whole cattle disposed of. There was nothing visibly wrong with the carcasses, as far as I could see, and this seamed a massive waste.

The animals were separated into useful, and non-useful parts. There were tanks for blood, and bins for unwanted body parts such as hooves and heads.

Grass from the cattles stomachs was separated out and sent for recycling (Anaerobic Digestion)'

A Visit to an Abattoir - Trauma

I consider myself fairly thick skinned, but I will not lie. I found the visit traumatic.

Perhaps one of the most distressing parts of the trip was watching the recently severed head of a cow, which had been skinned with the tongue and eyes still moving. I think I will carry this image in my mind until I die.

There must be a big impact on the staff who work in these places, is it healthy to become desensitised to such activities?

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Smell

The smell on site was highly unpleasant, a mix of butcher's shop and farm yard. Blood and excrement.

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Animals

I saw only live animals (cattle) outside the Abattoir, they were herded up a steep ramp. Their treatment did not seem too forceful, but they did look frightened. I do not make this comment lightly as I have worked with cattle on and off for 15 years, and these animals were frightened. 

I can only imagine things got worse inside.

A Visit to an Abattoir - Conclusions

I did not see the killing area. In hindsight I am very glad, as I likely avoided some mental scarring. The whole place was like something out of a nightmare, and I would certainly think very carefully about repeating the experience, particularly if I was required to enter the killing area.

I still eat meat once a week but I did not enjoy it for months after this visit. It is easy to become disconnected between the meat on your plate and the squalor I witnessed at this place of death.

As with all things consumer, if this sort of thing disgusts you then vote with your pound / dollar and buy from sources value welfare. I have found Riverford Organic to be very transparent regarding their slaughter processes.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Palm Oil in Soaps and Shampoo - How to Avoid

The Emotive Messages

Greenpeace advertising campaigns certainly tug at the heart strings, habitat destruction is very very emotive topic. 

However, as per usual, when Greenpeace jump on a subject, there is hardly any useful information. They would see you writing strongly worded letters in Unilever and the likes, which we all know does not do a lot of good. 

The way to win here of course is DO NOT BUY SOAP AND SHAMPOO WITH PALM OIL IN THEM. So if it says Palm Oil on the label, then do not buy it. . . . . . . read on for other complications.

List of Chemicals with Palm Oil 

There are a lot of indirect soap and shampoo ingredients that can MADE FROM PALM OIL, and as such are not as easy to spot. I have included a list below which is sourced from official EU documentation, and as such should be a trusted source.

Chemical Derived From
Fatty acid Palm kernel oil
Methyl esters Palm oil
Fatty alcohols Blend of palm oil and palm kernel oil*
Tertiary fatty amines Palm kernel oil, reflecting their primary production from Fatty Alcohol C12- C14
Primary amines Shall be considered in line with Fatty Acids and Methyl esters
Glycerine Palm based glycerides (also available as non-palm based material)
Cocoamidopropyl betaine (fatty acid derivative) Palm Kernel Oil
Sodium laureth sulfate Palm Kernel Oil
Sodium laureth-1 sulfate
Sodium laureth-2 sulfate
Sodium laureth-3 sulfate
Palm Kernel Oil
Sodium stearate Palm oil
Sodium palm kernelate Palm Kernel Oil
Laureth-7 Palm Kernel Oil
Steareth-2 Palm Kernel Oil
Cocamide MEA (fatty acid derived Palm Kernel Oil
Cocamide DEA (fatty acid derived Palm Kernel Oil
Stearamidopropyldimethylamine Palm oil
Cetyltrimethylammonium chloride Palm Kernel Oil
Isopropylpalmitate Palm oil
Isopropylmyristate Palm Kernel Oil
Caprylic/capric triglyceride Palm Kernel Oil
Fatty Isethionates (SCI) Palm Kernel Oil
Alkylpolyglycoside (APG) Palm Kernel Oil
Laurylamine oxide Palm Kernel Oil

Other Tips

Labels such as RSPO and the EU Ecolabel are not really helpful. RSPO regularly takes flack for not providing an adequate solution, and rain forest destruction continues under its watch. 

The EU Ecolabel does consider palm oil in it assessment of new products but, it relies on RSPO principals which are flawed. 

If you buy soaps and shampoos which advertise having other oils in them such as:
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Shea Butter
These will likely have less or no palm oil in them, so are a good place to start. Just remember what ever you buy, it comes from a plant or tree somewhere, so you will always have an impact when you shop. 

Also do not rule out animal based soaps including Tallow based compounds. If you can get past the yuck factor, even these may be a better choice. 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Lynx Research

Lynx Research

12th June 2018

There is more than one type of Lynx. Two types are the Iberian Lynx and the Eurasian. 

Figure 1 – Types of Lynx: Iberian Lynx (with a Little Beardy Bit)

The Iberian Lynx Comes from the Iberian Peninsula where it lives in Cork Oak Forest.

Figure 2 - Map Showing Cork Oak Forest

Humans Harvest Cork from the Cork Oaks. If we stop buying cork, they will likely chop down the forest because they need to change businesses. So every time we buy Cork we help save the Iberian Lynx.

Figure 3- A Worried Rabbit (Leporidae Anxius)

The Iberian lynx mostly depends on wild rabbits to feed, but it will also eat ducks, yo
ung deer and partridges if rabbit densities are low.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Gove's Green Post Brexit UK - Beware I Say!

Gove's Green Post Brexit UK - Beware I Say!

The Environmental Secretary Micheal Gove has promised a  Green Post Brexit UK but beware I say! Things are happening under his watch that are not good, I aim to keep a list of things here:

Post Brexit Green Watchdog

At the moment if the UK step out of line with regards to the environment we get our wrists slapped by the EU. A recent example is the EU fining the UK for its air quality failures.

Post Brexit this will not happen, so we need a EU level equivalent independent body to make sure the government follows it own rules.

The house of lords have voted that details of this watchdog need to published, but the government has delayed publishing it until after the 3rd reading of the EU withdraw bill. This deferral means that there will less time to check proposed measures, and the danger it will become lost in the scrabble in to the run up to our ridiculous exit from the EU.

If you have any other ideas for inclusions please leave a comment and I will type them up.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Weak UK Plastics Targets - Outshone by EU Equivalent

Weak UK Plastics Targets - Outshone by EU Equivalent?

Whilst the the UK government published its intend to phase out "avoidable"  plastic wastes within 25 years. This seeks to target single use plastics, which is laudable but as with most Conservative environmental policy, it is wooly and ill defined.

It is a pi$$ poor effort from Theresa May's government. Our reliance of cheap single use plastics is causing measurable suffering across the planet:

  • Whales Tangled in Ropes
  • Micro Plastics Contaminating Food Stocks (Even Sea Salt)
  • Birds feeding their young with plastics items (That are mistaken for fish)
  • Mounds of plastic film at waste dumps across developing countries.
  • UK Plastics exported to Africa where child labour is used for processing.
So despite all of this a 25 year target is deemed as acceptable. When it plainly is not. One start to believe that the Tories are afraid to mention anything that is not directly linked to making money. 

So step up the EU, the worlds number 1 club for enlightened nations. Who have pledged a far more stringent target of 65% re-use in 12 years, with interim targets set of 60% in just 7 years. So unlike the spineless targetless waffle proffered by the Tories, we have something to aim for at least.

Although we may soon have no say in how this EU Circular Economy is setup, we will almost certainly have abide by its rules. Unless we abandon the EU as a trading partner. The UK currently recycles 45% of waste.

To be clear the EU targets apply to all wastes, not just plastics, which are subject to further strategies based on recyclability, biodegradability and the presence of hazardous substances. 

So in summary the Uk will have to recycle 15% of all wastes by 2025. We will also have to change the nature of our plastics, to meet EU regulations. 

Theresa May's announcement really is just a reworded EU strategy that her government will have to follow anyway. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Ibuprofen - Damages Male Fertility - Endocrine Disruptor

Ibuprofen - Damages Fertility - Endocrine Disruptor

A new study published on the 8th of October in the  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA presents evidence that Ibuprofen (a widely used anti-inflammatory) shows the “the broadest endocrine-disrupting properties identified so far in men”, with a “striking dual effect” on two types of testicular cells. This may be good news for the environment, population growth has risen over 5 births per second in 2017. In some respects it is s shame this has been discovered. . . .

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.

Ibuprofen disrupts the balance of hormones within the body, with the normal production of testosterone being altered, and sustained by increased activity of the pituitary gland which is not a good thing. 

This over activity of the pituitary gland was diagnosed via the measurement of the hormone luteinising, which was shown to be elevated in the clinical trail participants and in vitro cellular study. 

This imbalance is termed compensated hypogonadism. Hypogonadism means diminished functional activity of the gonads—the testes in males or the ovaries in females—that may result in diminished sex hormone biosynthesis.

Ibuprofen has also been observed to have other negative effects such as slowing healing. These findings are unsurprising as the bodies response to healing or cell production is often inflammatory in nature, and as an anti inflammatory, Ibuprofen is very likley to put a spanner in the works of many bodily processes, that we do not fully comprehend. 

In the UK 1.4 billion Ibuprofen Pills are taken each year.