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A Greener Festival Blog # 3


by Ben Challis | 18 May 2009

For every action - there is a reaction - I am sure I learnt that at school a long long time ago - but it still seems to hold true - especially in the world of green. Just two years ago we all got very excited about bio-diesel, only to find out that vast tracts of virgin rainforest were being chopped down to make way for the main ingredient - palm oil.

Recently we learned that Neste Oil had discovered a way of halving greenhouse gas emissions from diesel cars (which is great!) but again found out that the magic ingredient - at the moment - is Malaysian palm oil. Doh! In fact the plan is to replace palm oil with animal fat or even algae in the future but anything that threatens what is left of our rainforests is a real danger to all of us in the fight against ongoing climate change. The world’s tropical rainforests are the lungs of the planet, absorbing about a fifth of all carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and they act as long lasting carbon sinks (until cut down). But rainforests do more than that as they store water and they regulate rainfall. Cutting them down - even for a ‘good reason’ - is always going to be counter productive and the ‘reaction’ might be a crisis of unimaginable proportions.

Deforestation is a real issue and one we here at AGreenerfestival are thinking of doing something about. The economic and social cost of correcting current madness in the future is going to be huge - and it is surely better to protect what we have left and then begin to rebuild our forests and woodlands. Watch this space to see what you can do - we have a new idea we will be launching soon – for everyone! Also you might want to have a look at what the real ’carbon’ cost of things you buy and services you use really is. For example, organic unbleached cotton T-shirts sound great, green and environmentally friendly - but each one takes an estimated 2.500 litres of water to make - and the dyes used in designs can be distinctly unfriendly to then planet.

Producing a simple glass jar involves a significant energy cost (and therefore greenhouse gas emissions) and also involves the use of toxic chemicals - even where the jar is made from recycled glass. Industrial ecologists are now looking at the ‘life-cycle assessment’ of products (the “LCA”) to try and assess the true environmental cost of everyday items. If you want to know just how green your shopping basket is then there are a number of websites which try and cut through the swathe of sometimes frankly misleading ‘greenwash’ and get to the truth (even if inconvenient).

The first is www.goodguide.com, an American site that lays bare the social, environmental and health impacts of what we buy, offering shoppers an instant comparison of the ‘ecological’ footprint of everyday products. Another site, www.skindeep.com looks at the chemical composition of personal care products like shampoo, lipstick, baby oil and the like to see what potentially harmful chemicals might be in those products. Both these sites are new (Goodguide is just one month old) but they hopefully herald a future where ‘ecological transparency’ is used by the majority of businesses so we can all decide what to buy and how to live based in clear environmental information.

Click on the banner below for more green tips, advice and info:

A Greener Festival.com

 

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