Climate Action: Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron Are Taking on Climate Change Together #sdgs #globalgoals

cm

It was last June that the US, the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, announced it was leaving the Paris Climate Accord.

Now, the leaders of Canada and France are joining forces to combat climate change together.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Paris on Monday to confirm a partnership in the fight against climate change.

The countries agreed to work more closely on tackling targets laid out in the Paris Agreement, according to a press release  from the Prime Minister’s Office.

“France and Canada today pledge to redouble their efforts and increase their co-operation,” Trudeau said in French at a news conference with Macron. “This initiative will encourage and accelerate the achievement of the Paris Agreement targets through concrete measures to make this agreement in principle a reality.”

This partnership on climate and the environment will include pushing measures like securing global carbon pricing, encouraging energy efficiency and reducing emissions in transport sectors.

Canada is hosting the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, this June, and will hand over the G7 presidency to France in 2019.

Canadian officials hope that the other G7 countries will follow the Canada-France example and continue trying to reach the targets set out in the Paris agreement, according to the Canadian Press.

The Canadian government is also using this moment to prove that Canada is serious about tackling climate change.

France has voiced concerns around the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and its investor-protection clauses that could result in feebler environmental rules, according to the Canadian Press.

“Whether it’s environmental protection or freedom of expression or other things, Canada and France are well aligned. Canada and Europe are well aligned,” Trudeau said at the news conference. “And CETA is a progressive trade agreement that truly reflects those protected values and represents a new standard for all future trade agreements.”

Trudeau and Macron also announced a new cultural initiative between the two countries.

On Monday, Trudeau met with Isabelle Hudon, ambassador of Canada to France and Monaco, and Melinda Gates, the co-chairs of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council.

The group discussed ways to encourage economic growth that benefits everyone, which will be a key theme at the G7 summit in Charlevoix.

Environment, Pollution & Health: You’re Probably Breathing Polluted Air, Study Finds #sdgs #globalgoals #pollution

air

A new study found that more than 95% of the world’s population breathes dangerous air.

Dirty air is one of the world’s leading risk factors for death, and threatens the immediate health of billions globally.

In fact, a new interactive report by the Health Effects Institute found that 95% of the world’s population is breathing dangerously polluted air, with low and middle-income countries suffering the most.

Air pollution, which can negatively impact everything from the heart and lungs to the immune system, isn’t just caused by smog from factories. It is also created by cars, stoves, and other smaller-scale sources. And contaminants resulting from both large-scale industry and individual activities in the home can linger in the air both outdoors and indoors.
The report broke air pollution into three main categories: fine particulate matter, ozone, and household air pollution.
Fine particulate matter is what most people think of when they think of air pollution — the tiny particles in smoke, smog, and other by-products of large-scale fossil fuel-burning that can be inhaled into one’s lungs and cause health problems. The report estimates that 95% of people around the world live in areas where concentrations of fine particle matter exceed World Health Organization guidelines, and 60% live in areas where concentrations exceed the WHO’s “least stringent” targets.

Ozone is a greenhouse gas formed by pollutants in the atmosphere reacting with each other. It can irritate sensitive tissue in the airways and lungs, causing health issues. According to the report, ozone contributed to an estimated 234,000 deaths from chronic lung disease around the world in 2016.

Household air pollution arises from the burning of wood, dung, and other “biomass” in order to cook or heat homes without proper ventilation, a practice most common in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 2.6 million deaths worldwide in 2016 can be attributed to household air pollution, the report found.

The health risks of air pollution are not equally felt around the world.

Many developed countries are able to channel resources into limiting air pollution while developing countries often skip those efforts in favor of economic growth, according to Bob O’Keefe, vice president of the Health Effects Institute. O’Keefe told The Guardian that there is now an 11-fold gap between the most polluted and least polluted areas of the world. In 1990, the gap was just over half as wide.

According to the report’s interactive data, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, and the Central African Republic had the highest rates of death attributable to air pollution in 2016. Meanwhile, 1.61 million deaths in India and 1.58 million deaths in China were attributable to air pollution.

Despite massive global exposure to dirty air, there are reasons for optimism, O’Keefe told The Guardian, especially since governments in countries with the largest amounts of air pollution are taking big steps to mitigate it.

“China seems to be now moving pretty aggressively, for instance in cutting coal and on stronger controls. India has really begun to step up on indoor air pollution,” O’Keefe said.

Responsible Consumption & production: Scientists Accidentally Created a Plastic Bottle-Eating Mutant Enzyme #plastic #sdgs #globalgoals #SayNoToPlastic #2030Now

plaa

From microwave and x-ray technologies to penicillin, many of the world’s greatest inventions were inspired by accidents in the lab. And now a team of scientists may be responsible for the world’s latest “happy accident” — mutant enzymes that eat plastic bottles.

According to the Guardian, scientists researching a bacterium discovered to be eating plastic at a waste dump in Japan in 2016 have successfully altered an enzyme, which the bacterium produces, to make it even better at breaking down plastic.

The accidental discovery of a plastic-eating enzyme seems like a storybook solution to the earth’s plastic problem, considering the material itself was discovered accidentally.

I #SayNoToPlastic. I commit to take ownership of the choices I make that affect our global environment. I pledge to stop using single-use plastics like drinking straws, bottles, grocery bags, and coffee cup lids. I will choose to reuse and recycle and ensure that Earth’s oceans and natural resources are not irreparably harmed. I call on others to join me in this pledge to change my behavior and protect our planet and every person living on Earth

Plastic, especially harder plastics like those used to make bottles, can take hundreds of years to break down on their own. But PETase, as the modified enzyme is called, can start breaking plastic down within a few days, the BBC reported.

While PETase can’t get rid of plastic altogether, it can break plastic bottles down to their original elements, which can then be used to make recycled plastic.

Doing this “means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment,” lead researcher, Professor John McGeehan from the University of Portsmouth, UK, told the Guardian.

The scientists hope to further improve the enzyme, making it more efficient at breaking down plastic, so that it can be used on a larger-scale to combat plastic waste and reduce environmental degradation caused by the extraction of resources to produce new plastic.

If they succeed, PETase could have a significant impact on plastic waste.

Since the world first began mass producing plastic about six decades ago, 8.3 billion metric tons have been created — 91% of which has not been recycled, according to one study. And much of that plastic ends up in the ocean. In fact, each year approximately 8 million tons of plastic finds its way into the ocean, entering the water at roughly the rate of one garbage truck-load per minute, the Ocean Conservancy estimated.

If the world’s plastic production and consumption habits do not drastically change, it’s estimated that humans will have generated 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste by 2050.

Good Health & Well-Being: Hunger Is Making the World Less Stable, New Report Shows #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now #hunger

hunge

You see it in the headlines: Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria – the world is experiencing a rise in conflict, instability and human suffering. More people are currently displaced from their homes because of violence, conflict and persecution than any other time since the World War II. One of the consequences is that we’ve seen an uptick in the number of hungry people on the planet for the first time in over a decade.

That war and conflict produce poverty and hunger is something that we’ve long understood – it has been proven in every major sustained violent confrontation in human history. By some accounts, more people died in World War II from starvation than from fighting. What we are learning in the context of modern crises is that hunger is not simply a byproduct of war, but can be the root cause of instability. From competition over land and water for food production to violent protest in urban centers from food prices spikes, food-related instability features in many modern conflicts.

Food security is a fundamental requirement of any stable society. Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas once said: “Show me a nation that can’t feed itself, and I’ll show you a nation in chaos.” More and more countries today face this precise challenge. Over 124 million people are in need of lifesaving humanitarian food assistance today, up from 80 million just two years ago.

Hunger produces profound desperation, the type that can cause a parent to put a child in a raft on a perilous journey to Europe; or that forces a young man with no income, limited opportunity and a hungry family to pick up arms for a cause he doesn’t even believe in. In a comprehensive review of the work on this topic, a new report from World Food Program USA shows that food insecurity has been empirically linked to at least nine separate types of instability, ranging from protest to interstate conflict, with terrorism and civil war in between.

When we think of food-related instability, food riots very often come to mind. Food riots have played a role in the French Revolution and have been captured in headlines worldwide for generations – pasta riots in Italy, tortilla riots in Mexico, bread riots in the Middle East. Americans spend only 10 percent of their income on food, while citizens in the world’s poorest countries spend closer to 60 percent. Global food price spikes can have major effects on political stability in these settings.

Food price spikes were responsible for social unrest in at least 40 developing and middle-income countries in 2008 in what has been termed the “silent tsunami.” These spikes and the resulting unrest are widely recognized as leading to regime change in Haiti during this period. A second wave of price spikes owing to agricultural commodity production shocks in China and Russia in 2011 has also been linked to the rise of the Arab Spring in the Middle East.

We also see food-related instability playing out in conflicts between pastoralists and farmers over dwindling agriculture resources and territory. This is the modern story of the African Sahel. In the decades leading up to the 2003 outbreak of war in Sudan, for example, the Sahel region of northern Sudan had witnessed the Sahara Desert advance southward by almost a mile each year, forcing Arab herders into ethno-African farming communities and producing unrest.

Price spikes and resource competition are increasingly driven by the impacts of climate change. Climate change disproportionately impacts the agricultural sector –especially in the global south – and is the subject of a growing body of research on the climate-conflict nexus. It is estimated that 80 percent of agricultural production in developing countries does not employ any form of irrigation.

In the lead-up to the civil war in Syria, more than 1 million farmers were affected by crop loss from long-term drought. One author called this “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago.” As a result, the southwestern city of Daraa, situated in one of the traditionally fertile areas of Syria, saw a large influx of migrants and was one of the first sites of social unrest in the country in 2011.

Meanwhile, the rise of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria has been linked by some to prolonged drought conditions in the Lake Chad Basin of West Africa. In recent decades, the water surface of Lake Chad has shrunk by over 90 percent compared with its size in the 1960s, contributing to a loss of livelihoods and threatening food security in the region. Climate impacts are expected to worsen as the Earth faces a 3 degrees Celsius rise in mean temperature in the coming decades, forcing another 122 million people into poverty and hunger.

Modern crises are almost never driven by a single cause. But when food insecurity meets with poor governance, a lack of economic opportunity and existing societal grievances, the conditions for conflict to emerge – or re-emerge – can be met.

Legislation has also been introduced to encourage further collaboration between the traditional “instruments” of U.S. foreign power – defense, diplomacy and development – in order to tackle these same root causes.

Breaking the cycle of hunger and conflict is among the great challenges of our day. Doing so, however, begins with acknowledging the link between food insecurity and global instability. Surely, one of the best investments we can make in global stability is to help people who can’t feed themselves or their families.

With the rise in state fragility and a proliferation in conflicts involving non-state actors, the U.S. defense and intelligence communities are beginning to turn their eyes toward non-traditional security threats and root causes of instability like food insecurity. As a salient example, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, said in the AFRICOM 2018 posture statement to Congress, “None of Africa’s challenges can be resolved through the use of military force as the primary agent of change. Therefore, our first strategic theme is that AFRICOM activities directly support U.S. diplomatic and development efforts in Africa.”

This article originally appeared on Malnutrition Deeply. You can find the original here.

Responsible Production & Consumption: These Three Massive Companies Just Committed to Reduce Plastic Waste #reduce #reuse #recycle #sdgs #globalgoals #2030now #plastic #pollution

wr.jpg

Nestle, Waitrose, and KPMG have all pledged to reduce their plastic use to help save the planet.

LONDON, April 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – British supermarket Waitrose, food giant Nestle and accounting firm KPMG on Tuesday became the latest brands to announce plans to cut down on plastics wreaking havoc on the environment.

Waitrose, an upmarket grocer that treats loyal shoppers with free tea or coffee at its stores, said it will stop using disposable cups – which are very hard to recycle – this year.

Customers will continue to get their free coffee fix if they bring their own reusable cup, the company said in a statement.

“We believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do for our business and are confident the majority of customers will support the environmental benefits,” Tor Harris, the supermarket’s head of sustainability, said.

The shift by some of the biggest high-street names answers widespread consumer disquiet over pollution, accelerated after popular British naturalist David Attenborough urged consumers to stop using plastic bottles in his “Blue Planet II” TV series.

In January, privately-owned Iceland pledged to eliminate plastic packaging from its own-brand products by the end of 2023 – a first by a major British grocer.

KPMG said it would phase out the use of plastic water cups and cutlery at its 22 offices around Britain by the end of the year, after a successful trial in Manchester where employees were given metal water bottles to use instead.

The global accounting firm said it uses about 3 million plastic cups every year, costing 60,000 pounds ($85,000).

“Even with supplying each of our 15,000 employees with a free metal water bottle, the scheme is projected to pay for itself within 18 months,” KPMG’s environment manager Sarah Lindsay said in a statement.

Separately, Nestle, which owns more than 2,000 brands worldwide from chocolate snacks like KitKat and Smarties to Perrier bottled water, announced it aims to make all of its packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025.

“Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today,” Nestle chief executive Mark Schneider, said in a statement.

United Nations figures show 8 million tonnes of plastic – bottles, packaging and other waste – enter the ocean each year, degrading precious habitats, killing marine life and entering the human food chain.

Scientists have urged tougher restrictions on plastic waste. In December, almost 200 nations agreed to limit plastic pollution of the oceans, warning it could outweigh fish by 2030.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

Partnerships For the Goals: Gates, Jolie, the Obamas: These Are the Most Admired People of 2018 #sdgs #2030now #globalgoals

ad

Gates and Jolie beat out former presidents, royals and Oprah to claim the top spots.

YouGov recently released their annual study highlighting public figures people look up to the most. The list includes celebrities, activists as well as former and current world leaders.

The survey queried 37,000 people from more than 35 countries to determine who are the women and men our world hails as most admirable.

Entertainers rounded out most of the top 20 for women, while businessmen, politicians and athletes dominated the top 20 for men. Many of these men and women work to tackle global issues and have left a lasting impact on the world.

The World’s Most Admired Women

Angelina Jolie

Angelina-Jolie.jpgAngelina Jolie poses for photographers upon arrival at the BAFTA Film Awards, in London, Feb. 18, 2018.
Image: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

While famous for her work as an actress, Jolie has also committed her life to humanitarian efforts. As a Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, she focuses on preventing and punishing sexual violence.

Michelle Obama

michelle obama ap .jpgImage: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The former first lady’s transformative work includes the launch of Let Girls Learn , an initiative that helps educate girls around the world.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah-Golden-Globes-MeToo.jpgImage: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/AP

Aside from being a general beacon for empowerment of everyone, everywhere, Oprah stole the show at the Golden Globes with her powerful speech on the #MeToo movement.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen-Elizabeth-Social-Share.jpgBritain’s Queen Elizabeth II waves to the crowd in Ascot, England, June 22, 2017.
Image: Alastair Grant/AP

The Queen recently waged a war on plastic in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of royal households.

Hillary Clinton

clinton dnc victory ap.jpgImage: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

As a former secretary of state and presidential candidate, Clinton has spent her life breaking glass ceilings and advocating for the rights of women both domestically and abroad.

Emma Watson

emma watson UN Women malawi.jpgUN Women/Karin Schermbrucker
Image: UN Women/Karin Schermbrucker

Watson is a dedicated advocate for the UN’s HeforShe campaign working to promote gender equality.

Malala Yousafazi

2017-Women-Malala.jpgImage: Mark Garten/UN Photo

As the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala is staunch advocate of education as a basic human right and uses her own organization and voice to empower girls around the world.

Read More: 15 Times That Malala Nailed It

Priyanka Chopra

GCF17_PriyankaChopra_DanielDorsaForGlobalCitizen102.jpgImage: Daniel Dorsa 

Chopra advocates for girls’ causes and education as an ambassador for both Girls Up and Girls Rising and through her own foundation.

Madonna

madonna-woman-of-the-year (1).jpgImage: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

When not pushing musical boundaries, pop icon Madonna works to end extreme poverty among orphans in Malawi.

Gal Gadot

gal gadotImage: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Gal Gadot is a Wonder Woman both on and off screen: She uses her platform to raise funds to build schools and take a stance on the importance of education.

Angela Merkel

Angela MerkelImage: Michaela Rehle/Pool Photo via AP

Merkel made headlines with her open door refugee policy that took in millions fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

The World’s Most Admired Men

Bill Gates

AP_17128846109365_Bill_Gates_AP Photo_Nati Harnik.jpgImage: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

As the founder of both Microsoft and the world’s largest private charity, Gates promotes global development and tackles issues in health and education.

Barack Obama

Barack_Obama_Birthday_FINALS_011.jpgImage: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Having ranked first in 19 of the countries surveyed, the former president continues his legacy as a leader of global change

Jackie Chan

J-C-jackie-chan-18739719-1280-960.jpg

Considered one of Asia’s premier philanthropists, Chan has founded multiple charities focused on expanding educational opportunities for children.

Dalai Lama

DalaiLama WikiCommons.jpgImage: Yancho Sabev / Wikimedia Commons

The spiritual leader and activist is renowned for his peaceful approaches to global relations and attempts to end human rights violations.

Warren Buffet

Warren BuffettImage: Fortune Live Media / Flickr

While he donates billions to charity, philanthropist Warren Buffet also uses his status to advocate for ending global poverty.

David Beckham

david-beckham-coiffed-hairstyles-for-men.jpg

Michael Jordan

mj

Jordan actively contributes to charities that target and help at-risk youth.

Pope Francis

Pope-Francis.jpgPope Francis waves as he leaves the Shrine of Our Lord of the Miracles after a mid-morning prayer with contemplative nuns, in Lima, Peru, Jan. 21, 2018.
Image: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Pope Francis has brought ending poverty and eradicating injustices to the forefront of his mission as head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City.

Lionel Messi

lm.jpg

Messi’s charitable work includes building classrooms in Syria so more than 1,600 displaced children can return to school.

Imran Khan

The Pakistani politician’s foundation works to engage and mobilize local communities through better access to basic services.

Narendra Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at ratification of Paris Agreement on Climate Change with the UNImage: AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Modi has made humanitarian efforts central to his role as Prime Minister of India by making improvements to health and education a priority.

Life Below Water: This Whale Died From 64 Pounds of Plastic in Its Stomach #Plastic #BanPlastic #OceanLife #SeaLife #MarineLife #PlasticBan #Sdgs #GlobalGoals

whale-death-caused-by-eating-plastic-garbage

Globally, more than 8 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year.

Oil canisters, ropes, nets, and plastic bags — these were some of the pieces of plastic retrieved from the stomach of a dead sperm whale that recently washed up on a beach at Cabo de Palos in Murcia, Spain, according to a report.

A team of marine scientists from El Valle Wildlife Recovery Center performed an autopsy on the 30-foot animal and found 65 pounds of plastic in its gut, the Independent reported.

They determined that the plastic caused a blockage in the whale’s digestive system, which led to a fatal infection called peritonitis.

The grisly discovery is the latest sign that plastic is harming marine life and it spurred Spain’s regional ministry of culture, tourism and environment to launch a campaign to mitigate plastic pollution, according to the Daily Mail.

“The presence of plastics in seas and oceans is one of the greatest threats to the conservation of wildlife throughout the world, since many animals are trapped in the trash or ingest large amounts of plastics that end up causing their death,” Consuelo Rosauro, director-general of the natural environment in the Murcian government, told the Independent.

“The region of Murcia is no stranger to this problem, which we must tackle through clean-up actions and, above all, citizen awareness,” he added.

Globally, more than 8 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic being unloaded every minute.

All of this waste affects marine life in various ways.

Like the sperm whale, animals are prone to swallowing pieces of plastic floating in the water because they mistake it for food. Once ingested, plastic is nearly impossible to digest and can cause animals to get infections or starve to death.

The more than 51 trillion microplastics in the world’s oceans, meanwhile, are ingested in large volumes by animals up and down the food chain and leach toxic chemicals.

Plastic can get painfully stuck in animal orifices and can also entangle limbs, constricting movement or causing deformities.

It’s estimated that up to 300,000 small whales, dolphins, and porpoises get entangled and killed by predominantly plastic fishing materials each year. The single biggest threat to sea turtles, according to the World Wildlife Fund, is bycatch, when an animal is accidentally caught by massive fishing nets.

Plastic has also been shown to destroy marine ecosystems such as coral reefs by blanketing, piercing, and otherwise damaging plant life.

As shocking examples of plastic waste appear throughout the world, countries, cities, and companies are beginning to take action.

Countries including Taiwan, Scotland, and Kenya have enacted some version of a plastic ban in recent years, and cities such as Vancouver and New Delhi have drafted their own bans.

Even more sweeping proposals are underway.

The UN recently proposed a global ban on plastic pollution entering the oceans and Canada is planning to introduce a similar proposal at the G7 gathering later this year.

Some of these measures are beginning to pay off.

In the UK, a ban on plastic bags led to a decline in their prevalence on seafloors. And a massive beach clean-up campaign in Mumbai revitalized the local ecosystem.

None of these efforts were enough to save the sperm whale in Murcia, but they could save other whales from meeting a similar fate.

Responsible Production/Consumption: The British Government Just Pledged £61 Million to Fight Plastic in Our Oceans #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now

b

Prime Minister Theresa May is asking leaders from around the world to join her initiative.

More than 8 million tons of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans every year and there are nearly 500 times more plastic microparticles in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy.

Plastic in the oceans is a huge — and growing — problem. Thankfully, some governments are stepping up to do something about it.

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the British government is earmarking £61.4 million (nearly $88 million) for a program dedicated to tackling the ever-increasing amount of plastic in the earth’s oceans. She also called on other leaders within the British Commonwealth to join her in taking on this pressing environmental issue.

The fund will be split into three categories, according to The Independent.

About £25 million will help fund research into the causes and effects of marine plastic, while another £20 million will be designated to preventing pollution from manufacturing in developing countries from entering oceans. “Two billion people around the world lack access to effective waste collection, so much of the plastic they use ends up in our oceans,” Tanya Steele, chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund, said at the program’s announcement. The remaining £16.4 million will be dedicated to improving waste management in the United Kingdom.

“As one of the most significant environmental challenges facing the world today, it is vital that we tackle this issue, so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it,” May said at the announcement.

“The UK public has shown passion and energy in the fight against plastic waste, and I believe the Commonwealth is uniquely placed to further this transformative action.”

Four Commonwealth countries — New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, and Ghana — have already signed up for the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance. May’s announcement comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London next week, where she is expected to asked all 52 nations to join the pact.

Plastic waste has been a cause of public outcry in the UK, particularly after the airing of the BBC series Blue Planet II highlighted the problem, according to The Guardian and The Independent.

In January, May vowed to eliminate plastic waste in the UK by 2042 — a target environmental groups criticized as not ambitious enough — and British supermarket chain Iceland has led the way on the issue in the private sector by promising to be plastic free by 2023.

Clean Water & Sanitation: 5 Ways You’re Wasting Water Without Even Knowing It #sdgs #globalgoals

These are really common activities.

waste water.jpg

Most of us perform several simple water-saving tasks every single day.

We turn off the faucet when we brush our teeth. We take daily showers instead of luxurious bubble baths. We even keep water cool in the refrigerator instead of running the tap until the water gets cold.

Most of us learned about these water conservation techniques way back in elementary school. And while we may consider ourselves responsible water consumers, there are still many hidden ways we waste or misuse water every day. Often without realizing it.

Water waste and misuse contribute to water scarcity and unequal access for millions of people worldwide, particularly those living in regions affected by poverty, conflict, and climate change-related catastrophes. Around the world, roughly 2.1 billion people lack reliable access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization

You can also consider five common ways we indirectly consume water through our purchases, energy use, and complacence.

1// Buying Bottled Water

When it comes to bottled water, the plastic containers’ impact on the environment tends to garner the most attention.

But the origin of the water itself is a massive problem that affects some of the most drought-plagued regions of the US and the world.

At least 45% of bottled water in the US is just filtered tap water — often the very same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home. And while communities throughout Michigan contend with municipal water crises fuelled by government cost-cutting and neglect, bottlers have tried to set up shop in the state in order to sell water back to residents.

As Cape Town careens toward a complete water shutdown, advocacy organizations like the Water Crisis Coalition, have railed against the impact of bottling. Coca Cola and other conglomerates have slurped much-needed water from the city’s reservoir during a devastating drought.

“That amounts to abuse of the crisis rather than positively contributing to measures that will make the water last a little longer,” Shaheed Mohamed, a member of the Water Crisis Coalition told Quartz Africa. “The water they have access to should be made available to the communities where water has been limited unfairly.”

2// Leaving the Lights On

Turning on the lights or raising the thermostat may seem like surprising ways to waste water. But if your heat or electricity come from natural gas then you indirectly contribute to water waste and misuse.

That’s because natural gas fracking uses nearly 10 million gallons of water per well and depletes agriculture and drinking water sources in drought-stricken regions like Texas and other parts of the Southwest, according to research by the US Geological Survey.

Fracking — the common term for the process of hydraulic fracturing — blasts huge amounts of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground to release methane gas, which is then captured and used as a fossil fuel.

Though a fraction of the fracking water does get recycled, the vast majority is removed from the water cycle and often plunged deep underground because it’s so heavily contaminated with the toxic substances used to frack, Scientific American reports.

3// Ignoring Our Faulty Faucets

It may seem like just a teeny puddle pooling in the cabinet under your kitchen sink or on the floor of your shower, but all that water adds up.

In fact, the amount of water drip-drip-dripping from leaky taps and pipes could fill 40 million swimming pools. Or 24 billion bathtubs. Or the entire expanse of Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest body of water.

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report as part of Fix A Leak Week that detailed the 1 trillion gallons of household water trickling through faulty faucets, punctured pipes, or perpetually running toilets every year in the US.

The solution? Grab a wrench and tighten the tap. Or call a plumber.

4// Logging In to Facebook

Seriously.

In the process of preserving and powering internet technology, massive data centers generate a tremendous amount of heat. So to keep the facility cool and stop the servers from frying, data centers depend on water — lots of it.

Just one data center operated by the National Security Administration in Utah uses 1.7 million gallons of water a day to stay cool.

In 2016, Facebook consumed about 315 million gallons of water, with about three-quarters of that total diverted to its data centers. Meanwhile, vast cryptocurrency mining operations for Bitcoin and imitators constitute the next frontier for data center cooling and threaten to drain water supplies.

Companies have begun implementing less water-intensive cooling solutions, but they are a long way from becoming the norm.

5// Buying New Clothes

The dye used to color our clothing requires a vast amount of water, which means every new t-shirt we purchase takes a toll on the water supply.

According to The Guardian, dying facilities in India and China burden local water supplies in two ways. First, they suck a large amount of water from rivers, lakes, and streams and then they dump contaminated wastewater back into those water sources.

Just one pair of jeans can take up to 8,000 gallons of water to produce, from the cotton field through the dying process.

Some companies, like Patagonia, have begun switching to non water-based dyes. Patagonia uses half the average water consumption at its dye houses and has even experimented with bug poop as a source of environmentally friendly dye.

“The textile industry is one of the most chemically intensive industries on earth, second only to agriculture, and the world’s largest polluter of increasingly scarce freshwater,” wrote Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard in his book  The Responsible Company. “The World Bank estimates nearly 20 percent of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment.”

Responsible Production And Consumption: People Are Getting Paid to Reuse Plastic Bags in Malaysia #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now #recycle

pl.jpg

Tesco gives Kuala Lumpur customers discounts every time they reuse their bags.

By Michael Taylor

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – British supermarket group Tesco has launched a scheme in Malaysia based on bags with barcodes, giving customers discounts on their shopping every time they reuse the bags.

The “unforgettable bag” was launched in 11 Tesco stores in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur and the southern state of Johor on Tuesday in an effort to shift away from single-use plastic bags and reduce waste.

Azliza Baizura Azmel, a director at Tesco Malaysia, said 70 percent of customers have their own carrier bags but leave them in the car rather than bringing them into the store.

“That’s why we thought of the idea of the unforgettable bag – it’s a bit of a push for them,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The new bags will be sold for 0.50 ringgit ($0.13) each, and customers will get a free replacement if the bag is torn or damaged. Tesco will offer customers a cash rebate of 0.20 ringgit ($0.05) for every bag reused.

Each year between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used globally, according to industry estimates, with fewer than 10 percent recycled. Many end up in the world’s oceans or dumped in landfill.

More than 8 million tonnes of plastics enter the ocean each year, and marine experts fear there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, measured by weight.

Plastic degrades over time into tiny particles which are ingested by marine life, harming the food chain and environment.

In an attempt to cut down on waste and single-use plastic, many supermarkets around the world charge customers for plastic bags, promote reusable bags, and offer free recycling services.

Meanwhile, more than 40 countries have banned, partly banned or taxed single-use plastic bags, including parts of Malaysia and India, China, France, Rwanda, Italy and Kenya.

The “unforgettable bag” is made from a recyclable plastic that is more durable than conventional plastic bags, Tesco said, and sports a turtle, fish or whale design to highlight the risks plastic waste poses to sea creatures.

The Tesco trial – the first of its kind by a major hypermarket in Malaysia – limits the bag discounts to two per transaction.

The scheme will be extended to all Tesco’s 56 stores in Malaysia from June 1. If a success, the retailer hopes it will be adopted by other Tesco stores across Asia.

The barcoded bags are a starting point towards phasing out all plastic bags from Tesco shops in Malaysia, said Azmel

Every Malaysian on average throws away 300 plastic bags a year, according to the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association.

Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement in Manila, welcomed the Tesco initiative but said governments and business in Asia needed to do more.

“We’ve seen governments – whether at city or national level – take action to restrict the use of single-use plastics,” said Hernandez. “That has to be matched by the corporate sector.”

“There is increasing momentum for similar restrictions in many parts of the world because this crisis is growing.”

($1 = 3.8610 ringgit)