Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

11 Green moments ….


Taking Just A Moment  … to make the right decision … to replace the bad habits that cause negative effects on the environment with new green habits …

Today is 11.11.2011 and we suggest 11 green moments:

  1.  Buy decorated glass or ceramic bottle for liquid soap. To cut down on plastic bottle waste from your home buy liquid soap in bulk and decant into your beautiful bottle.
  2. Use a water filter. Stop purchasing cases of bottled water and use a water filter. This can save you money and reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our landfills.
  3. Eat more fruit and vegetables. Eating vegetarian cuts down considerably on the effects of global warming, because meat and dairy production creates more carbon emissions than all those cars and trucks on the road.
  4. Use cloth grocery bags. Buy beautiful cloth grocery bag from natural materials (linen, jute, cotton) and keep it close when prepare to go on shopping. That will save your money and will reduce the amount of waste that you create every day.
  5. Cancel the subscription of “papers” that you do not need. If you have changed you interests or your “paper” could be find online, simply cancel the subscription. This will reduce the amount of paper that ends the daily landfill.
  6. Beware of heat. Set your hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees. When baking, do not preheat your oven for more than 10 minutes. If everyone reduced their oven time by an hour per year, we would save enough energy to bake a billion cookies.
  7. Watch your water consumption. The simple replacement of existing taps with new models with lower flow will reduce the amount of used water by 30%. You can also count on the amount of water collected from your air conditioner to use to clean the house or watering the flowers.
  8. Walk. For short realtions, rather than sit in a car, choose a walk – walking is free, saves fuel, does not contribute to expanding the ozone hole and helps you to stay in good condition.
  9. Help the environment. Plant local plants in your garden or balcony, get involved in the actions of planting trees, do not tear flowers, do not fracture the branches of trees, do not trample the grass – more green plants means bigger Earth filter .
  10. Dont be greedy. Use things completely, if possible, several times, before throw them away. Think before you buy any stuff, whether you can do without it. Otherwise you just add quantity to the existing waste.
  11. Holidays without waste. Wrapping paper is a key source of waste during the holidays (decorative papers, decorative bags, ribbons). Reuse old paper and old packagings, or buy recycled materials. Be creative and unique.

What green moments can you share with us?

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Building CSOs capacities on EU Nature related policies

From 24.10 to 28.10.2011  in Valjevo, Serbia, was held training entitled “Building CSOs capacities on EU Nature related policies” organized by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and it partners Ecologists’ Movement of Macedonia , Greens of Montenegro, Bird Protection and Study Society of Vojvodina (Serbia). It aim was to strengthen civil society organizations in Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in order to increase their role in the implementation of key EU enviromental policies and strategies.

This training is part of the EU funded project “EU Environmental Policies and Strategies in South Eastern Europe: Capacity Building for the Implementation of EU Environmental Policies and Strategies in Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia”.

Training participants had the opportunity to contribute on the topics:

• Ecological networks

• Green Infrastructure: development policy and practice implications

• Impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment of the environment

• NATURA 2000

• Policies for Rural Development

 The accession to EU is not a smooth process for Western Balkan countries, but a long journey with a number of challenges on the way. The process includes synchronization of the national legislation with the EU one, ensuring its implementation by introducing new acts at national level, genuine involvement of all stakeholders in the process of decision-making, improvement of regional cooperation etc. Additionally, raising awareness and capacity building for the implementation of the EU policies and strategies are of the utmost importance for a successful accession process.

CSOs are seen as the driving force for transformation of the society in the Western Balkans countries and establishing close cooperation and a functional network of skilled and knowledgeable CSOs is essential for achieving the above aim.

Green … It’s More Than A Color

Written by Kylie Walker, an active blogger who is passionate about the environment, healthy living, and innovative technology that will help create a cleaner world.

Follow him on Twitter – @WalkerKylie

 

Green. It is more than a color, name, or a term used to describe vegetables and foliage. It is also slang for paper currency. More important, it is a popular political movement. “Going green” is a phrase that society uses to describe a crusade to promote global environmental social responsibility, peace, bio-regionalism, and protection. Common words that are associated with the Going Green movement are “re-cycling,” “re-purposing” and “re-using.” However, we can do so much more than re-purpose, re-cycle, and re-use. Today’s technological advancement in green living has brought about opportunities to more efficiently manufacture vehicles, produce medical improvements and construct homes and buildings.

Individual people are becoming more conscious of the need to protect the environment, and whole neighborhoods are gathering to reduce their carbon footprint. Some communities are fortunate and have been given the opportunity to “go green” cost-free while others must pay for the experience and privilege of living energy efficient.

For example, British Gas recently initiated a part of the movement, “Green Streets”, and installed a ground source heat pump and placed a solar roof on the village hall at Tackle, Britain. Residents replaced appliances and received energy saving light bulbs to use. Because of the costly project — the gift of free energy saving equipment worth £150,000 — the community was able, overall, to produce their own power with these devices and save on energy costs.

Other neighborhoods are not as fortunate as the Tackley community, but are still benefitting from green homes. Build San Antonio Green (BSAG) has formed a partnership with a construction company, KB Homes, based in Los Angeles but working in San Antonio, Texas. They have agreed that the homes they build in San Antonio will be energy efficient. Even though BSAG is a non-profit organization, it demands superior standards even above the municipal code’s energy efficiency specifications. BSAG homes are, on average, about 15% more energy efficient than other homes. Indoor air quality, water and energy are all more efficient due to technology. HVAC systems have been revolutionized, insulation has been augmented, windows have been replaced with dual panes, and roof tops exhibit solar panels. The total elimination of monthly electricity bills is the objective of KB Homes as they build houses based on BSAG principles.

Greg Powell, owner of Powell Construction Services LLC, built Cottages at Harbor Shores Hideaway on the shores of Lake Michigan. Powell, like BSAG, is seeing an increase in green home purchases. He is building energy efficient homes with high performance levels that are also attractive and elegant. The Digital Journal reports that seven homes have been built and seven more are under construction. The homes are constructed to comply with the standards of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The homes that have been built and those under construction have and will receive a Gold Standard rating from Green Built Homes. The year round Michigan weather was taken into consideration as Powell made sure the homes would withstand the harsh weather conditions — the extremes of cold temperatures and the warm summers.

Furthermore, a bill currently in Congress would compel the three largest mortgage agencies – the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – to take energy costs into consideration in every loan they purchase, insure or guarantee. They would also be required to advise appraisers, when factual information is available on energy-efficiency savings, to adjust property valuations upward.

The bipartisan bill was introduced October 20, 2011, jointly sponsored by Republican Johnny Isakson from Georgia and Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado. The Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act will include the estimated energy-consumption costs for the house, in addition to the standard principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) computations as a compulsory new underwriting determinant.

Millions of dollars will be thrust in energy efficiency investment by the SAVE Act. No subsidy or new government decree is required, SAVE simply fixes the artificial barrier that recent banking rules have created. The bill will:

–          help home buyers pay the up-front cost of an energy efficient home

–          since a primary source of air pollution, oil consumption and high electricity demand, SAVE will help protect the environment

–          reduce foreclosures by more precise underwriting, thus helping lenders

–          help homeowners fund their home efficiency improvements and assist in reflecting those improvements when the home is resold

There are two things that people strive for and ultimately want to accomplish: saving money and living comfortably. Researchers are constantly working toward that conclusion while enabling people to dwell energy efficiently. Even more innovative technologies will soon be appearing in our homes because the biotechnology field is rapidly increasing. The biotechnology field is growing rapidly, and it will not be long until even newer technologies make it into our lives, outside of the home as well. Researchers like Winston Wong and Dr. Leroy Hood are pioneers in the biotech industry, creating the first Biofuel Ice Vehicle and an Automated DNA sequencer, respectively.  The increase in biotechnology is helping shape our lives in every aspect for a greener future.

* This post is written by guest author – represents the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Greener.

The black water …

Few days ago, I saw an article on the news about leackage of waste water from the landfill “Drisla” into river Markova Reka. The head of public enterprise “Drisla”, had a statement in which among other things, he said, “It looks frightful in principle, I think, when you see a black water, but it is black because passes through the waste. It certainly contains dangerous substances, definitely, as each sewer pipe contains, to say, certain concentrations are higher.” The full statement and article about can be found at the following link.

Because I don’t want to remain indifferent to what happens to the environment I would like to point out what is actually found in that landfill leachate and why it not only looks frightful, but it is really frightful for the environment and human health.

The major potential environmental impacts related to landfill leachate are pollution of groundwater and surface waters. In a landfill that receives a mixture of municipal, commercial, and mixed industrial waste, but excludes significant amounts of concentrated specific chemical waste, landfill leachate may be characterized as a water-based solution of four groups of contaminants:

  • Dissolved organic matter – alcohols, acids, aldehydes, short chain sugars etc..
  • Inorganic macrocomponents – calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, ammonium, iron, manganese, aluminium, chloride, sulfate and hydrogen carbonate.
  • Heavy metals: cadmium, chromium, mercury, copper, lead, nickel and zinc.
  • Xenobiotic organic compounds (XOCs) such as halogenated organics (PCBs, dioxins) originating from household or industrial chemicals. These compounds include among others a variety of aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, chlorinated aliphatics, pesticides, and plastizers.

Other compounds may be found in leachate from landfills: for example, borate, sulfide, arsenate, selenate, barium, lithium and cobalt.

The tables below show the possible health effects of some chemicals that can be found in household waste and which are dumped into the landfill and if not properly controlled could leak out as leachate.

Table 1: Health effects caused by acute exposure

Chemical

Source

Health effects from acute exposure

Toluene/xylene

Glues and paints

Euphoria, excitement, tremor, CNS depression, convulsions, coma

Phenols and cresols

Paint

Burning pain in mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, pallor, sweating, shock, coma,

Benzene

Solvent, starting material in chemical manufacture

Single exposure unlikely to cause problem

Nickel

Manufacture of batteries, colouring ceramics and glass

Skin – irritation and dermatitis

Ingestion – stomatitis, gingivitis and possible diarrhoea

Cadmium compounds

Paint and batteries

Inhalation- delayed features 12-36 hrs, hypersalivation, metallic taste, cough, dysponea, chest pain.  Pneumonitis and pulmonary oedema develop within 1-4 days

Ingestion – small amounts ingested GI irritation, nausea and diarrhoea within 15-30 mins. Larger amounts affect calcium and zinc metabolism, cause facial and pulmonary oedema.

Skin – irritation

Lead

Lead paint (apply to older landfill sites), pottery, cosmetics and some ethnic remedies

Severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea with black stools, vomiting, hypotension, cramps, headache, confusion, drowsiness, coma and seizures secondary to cerebral oedema.

Mercury

Lamps, thermometers

Bloody diarrhoea, intestinal mucosal necrosis, dehydration, circulatory collapse, proteinuria and renal failure

 

Table 2: Health effects from chronic exposure to chemicals

Chemical Health effects from chronic exposure
Toluene/xylene Ventricular arrhythmias, hepatic and renal necrosis
Phenols and cresols Renal failure
Benzene Haematological abnormalities
Nickel  
Cadmium compounds Fumes – anaemia, kidney damage, possible prostate and lung cancer.
Lead Anorexia, abdominal pain and constipation. Toxic megacolon, headaches, fatigue, depression, dropped wrist, proximal renal tubular dysfunction, chronic nephropathy and hypertension.
Mercury CNS – irritability, tremour, memory loss, seizures, coma

Respiratory – necrotising bronchitis, pulmonary oedema, ARDS, pulmonary haemorrhage.

GI – metallic taste, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomatatis, blue-line along gum margin

Renal – proteuria, haematuria and acute renal failure

Eyes – grey or brown lens discolouration, band shaped corneal opacities

Haematological – thrombocytopenia, anaemia secondary to GI bleed.

 

Please note that the information presented in this post are not directly related to the composition of the leachate from the landfill Drisla, but gives general information about the most common pollution from landfills. It aim is to draw attention for taking measures to protect the environment, in order to protect our health. At the same time once again I’m emphasizing the need of proper and responsible waste management.

It remains to believe that the collector which will purify leachate from Drisla will be ready in two months and to hope that will never see this picture of black water again.

 

* Tables are taken from the following link.

Barn owl – important and endangered …

Today is World Animal Day. With this post we want to arise public awareness about ecological and environmental role of one special species and contribute in their protection.

Birds of prey are important in the ecological balance; they scavenge and dispose of carrion, control rodent populations, and eat various pests that are harmful to crops. Owls that feed in agricultural areas provide benefits to humans by killing large numbers of small rodents which might otherwise eat crops in the field or in storage.

Barn owl (Tyto alba)

Barn Owls are specialist birds and highly adapted to suit their ecological role as hunters of small mammals in open habitat and low light conditions. Although small mammals are taken by a wide range of predators including buzzards, kestrels, cats, stoats and weasels (as well as other owls), none of these hunt in the same way as Barn Owls. The barn owl has exceptionally keen hearing and eyesight, making it a very effective hunter. It is said that a Barn Owl can actually hear a mouse’s heartbeat in a 30ft sq room.

Barn Owls are birds of open countryside. They typically forage by flying low over grassland habitat with frequent “hovering intervals” or by perching on fence posts and trees along field edges Barn Owls are found in open country such as agricultural areas, old fields and orchards, yet have a preference for pasture, sedge marshes and meadows. Prior to European settlement, Barn Owl habitat likely consisted of oak savannah adjacent to tallgrass prairie.

The Barn Owl’s diet consists primarily of small mammals, with a distinct preference for voles (Microtus spp.), shrews, moles, young rats, various species of mice, and occasionally birds, or frogs and large insects only if necessary. Estimates of adult food intake range from about 50 to 150 g/day, which is equivalent to 1–3 voles per day. It is estimated that a typical family of two adult and four young Barn Owls consumes about 1000 rodents during the 10-week portion of the year when young are in the nest.

Every Barn Owl’s home range is likely to contain a variety of predators that eat small mammals but none of these have an identical diet or hunting method. Although there is a good deal of overlap between species, there’s little direct competition because the Barn Owl’s ecological role is so unique.

Be aware that …

These helpful birds are, unfortunately, especially susceptible to extinction, partly because of natural evolutionary selection and partly because of human interference. Owls are, however, threatened by other activities of humans. They are exposed to toxic chemicals in forestry and agriculture, and this has taken a toll on some species of owls. One example is poisoning by exposure to the insecticide carbofuran, which is used to control epidemic populations of grasshoppers in prairie agriculture.

More important, however, have been the effects of habitat loss on owls. Urban, industrial, and agricultural development all degrade the habitat of most species of owls and other native species, causing large reductions in their populations and even their disappearance from many areas.

Help …

We are happy that in Macedonia there is organization which is taking care for the owl’s survival in the nature, preservation of their nests, offspring and hunting grounds. The purpose of  organization Macedonian Owl Trust is to facilitate the enlargement of the number of owls in our country by organizing activities for: mounting birds houses for nesting, implementation of monitoring of all recorded nests, feeding and tending of young owls with aim having them leave the nest in larger numbers.

If you want to help, too, now is the right time. This organization is in preparation for construction of houses for nesting which will be placed at various locations in the environment and help at preserving and increasing the number of endangered owls. You can donate wood materials (wooden boards or plywood) and tools and contribute in this process. You can find more information on Macedonian Owl Trust page.

 

We are part of event Blog Action Day : World Animal Day 2011

CELEBRATE animal life in all its forms by blogging, tweeting and hosting events to celebrate their magnificance and wonder.

E-waste? What? How? (part two)

E-waste is not just a plain waste. The many different components that you can find in it are opening a completely new chapter, so instead simply disposed in landfills it can be re-used or recycled and re-join in the country’s economy. It contains useful elements that can be back into commerce, to create jobs and to bring about economic development.

Increasing the recycling rate of all electronic devices is not only imperative for protecting public health, but also for conserving natural resources. The challenge for the planet is educating consumers, developing a convenient infrastructure that recycles e-waste responsibly, and covering the costs.

This is how responsible e-waste recycling carries great benefits for the economy and for the environment:

  • Allows recovery of valuable precious metals.

Three main materials being recovered from e-waste are metals, glass and plastics. It is believed that the e-waste has about 50% non-colored metal, about 5% colored metals and 20-25% plastics. Printed Wiring Boards (PWB) contain the highest value metals as well as some of the most toxic metals found in electronics scrap.There are 10 to 100 times more precious metals in PWBs than in an equal weight of ore taken from a mine. For example: in traditional gold-mining operations, a company would need to move an entire ton of ore to extract 1 gram of gold. But, through the far simpler and cheaper process of recycling, it is possible to extract the same amount of gold from 41 discarded mobile phones.

While some of these mined metals eventually end up as pieces of jewelry or other valuables, more often than not they are used to create common household electronics.

The majority of electronic devices are currently being recovered for precious metals (gold, silver and platinum) and copper.

  • Protects environment and public health.

Recycling disables long e-waste disposal in the landfills. That means that e-waste toxins can’t be released into the atmosphere or seep in through the land and have negative health and environmental effects.

About 50% of the WEEE mass consists of colored metals, mainly steel. Collection and recycling of this material is usually achieved savings of 74% energy, 76% of water pollution and 86% air pollution in relation to primary production of steel.

  • Creating jobs

Recycling e-waste creates jobs for professional recyclers and refurbishers and creates new markets for the valuable components that are dismantled.

Materials recycling from waste generate 5-7 times more jobs than required for combustion, and 10 times more jobs than it takes to remove the landfill. The EU thematic strategy on prevention and recycling is considering that waste management and recycling sector in the EU27 are provided from 1.2 to 1.5 million jobs.

For better explanation, these means that on every 1,000 tons of waste electronics:

– Landfilled less than 1 job is created

– Recycled 15 jobs are created

– Repaired 200 jobs are created (on the other hand this activity is providing the opportunity for low income students and families to obtain low-cost working computers)

  • Saves landfill space.

Recycling e-waste will help conserve landfill space. While the weight represented by used electronics is not dramatic, the volume that these items represent in landfills is proportionally more significant because of the bulk and rigidity of these materials. Recycling eliminates the need to build the equivalent of one new large landfill each year, either at a remote, rural location or near a residential neighborhood, thus avoiding environmental concerns, such as air and water pollution and truck traffic.

Conclusion:

Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem. Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products. It simply makes good sense and is efficient to recycle and to do our part to keep the environment green.

To be continued …

“E-waste – problem we must find solution for” in support of Clean Up the World

Environment is everyone’s business

European Mobility Week is being held for nine years and it is a huge campaign attended by over 220 million people (almost half ofEurope) so that the various ways an alternative mobility and the need of using various modes of movement and travel are represented with the goal – a healthy and productive life for all citizens. This year’s campaign is from 16 to 22 September. In celebration of the European mobility week direct participation have the Institute Razum from Sofia and 4x4x4 Balkan Bridges from Skopje with the support of the Balkan Fund for Democracy, through the project “Environment is everyone’s business” and the action which was built last few months in Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Besides the two leading organizations, by the Macedonian side significant participants in this action and representatives of civic organizations take a part – ORT Skopje, GREENER Skopje, FLOROZON Skopje, ISIGORIA Skopje, GO GREEN Skopje, Metamorphosis Skopje, LIPA Kumanovo, NATURA Lipkovo, OSOGOVO Kriva Palanka, Information Center Kriva Palanka, MAKMONATANA – National Office of UNEP in Macedonia, Balkan Foundation for Sustainable Development – BFSD, invited representatives from almost all political parties participating in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, and most of the emphasis during this initiative will be put on the City of Skopje, the mayors of the municipalities of Kumanovo and Kriva Palanka, and local authorities from Kustendil, Pernik and Sofia.

One of the main goals of this campaign is calling citizens and local authorities for help in promotion, intensification and support of measures of local eco-initiatives with general interest for healthy and productive life of the citizens. The intensification and deepening of regional and cross-border cooperation between different participants from societies, especially the young and municipal institutions is part of the campaign too. Action which is entitled “Road Show” began in Skopje on September 19-th at the city square of Skopje and continues on September 20-th in Kumanovo and Kriva Palanka, September 21-st Pernik and Kustendil and ends on September 22-nd with the Regional Forum which will be held in the headquarters city of Sofia.

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