What happened in GAP-mission related news in August

Climate change, biodiversity and globalisation

Censorship of climate language within USDA

Trump administration emails (1) that surfaced this month highlight a censorship of climate language within the USDA. Employees are encouraged to use “weather extremes” instead of “climate change”, plus other unrelated terms. 

The language of love (for the environment)

Let’s talk about our natural world in ways that reflect our true, emotional, active relationship with it, not in cold, scientific and economic terms, writes George Monbiot. Down with descriptions like ‘environment’, ‘reserve’, ‘extinction’, and ‘climate change’. Read here (2) for what he suggests as substitutes. 

Consumption, trends and buying behaviour

All that glitters is not good

A call for the end of glitter after its impact on marine life is revealed. (3) 

The benefits of buying time  

As incomes rise for people around the world, so has time scarcity. A new study suggests that people spending money to buy time (e.g. off chores) produces greater happiness and life satisfaction than a material purchase. Read the article 'Buying time promotes happiness (4). 

6 graphics show the apparel industry's environmental impact 

20 pieces of clothing per person are manufactured each year. Check out this engaging graphical representation of the impact of the apparel industry on the environment. Read the rest here. (5)

Do you wear everything in your wardrobe?

The average British woman has 22 unworn items in their wardrobe, and average man 19 unworn items. Mostly due to having bought something on sale, as an impulse, and then it not fitting. Or the item going out of fashion. Read more about findings from the research commisioned by QVC. (6)

Inequality and waste

The graph below, in which each country is sized according to its population, tracks levels of waste (the vertical axis) against levels of inequality (the horizontal one). Countries to the right are more unequal, while countries that are high up produce more waste. The tendency of the more unequal countries to produce more waste is striking (Denmark and Switzerland do a better job of collecting data on waste than other countries, which is why they are up there – not because they are the biggest wasters). In unequal cultures, the pressure to buy items to keep up with peers is felt much greater, so this might be why there is more consumption and thus more waste….

Facebook phone

Responding to reports that Facebook is to release a phone, they have this month patented a ‘lego smartphone’ – a modular device that makes it easier to replace the old parts with new ones.

Young People

The Long Read: Has the smartphone destroyed a generation of young Americans?

In this study of the iGen (7)  (born 1995-2012), author Twenge writes that:
symptoms of depression and unhappiness have increased exponentially as a result of electronic media use

  • feelings of exclusion and loneliness (particularly acute in girls) has increased
  • time spent at home using electronic media is time not spent socialising, being rebellious or chasing freedom by driving/dating/going out etc. like previous generations – see graph below 

British millennials have the second worst mental wellbeing in the world, only second to Japan

Results showed that 54% young Brits’ main cause of stress is money, and that Brits were among the least likely to emphasise the importance of making a wider contribution to society. This is according to a survey of 20,000 15-21 year olds in 20 countries (8). 

Plastics

Carrier bags

Tesco announced it is to scrap its single-use plastic carrier bags (9) (of which it sold 600 million last year) in favour of its 94% recycled plastic 'bags for life' that cost 10p. 

The make-up of marine plastics

Infographic on marine plastics shows what they are made up of and what to do to stop plastics becoming marine in the first place. Download the infographic in full here. (10)

 

Costa Rica plastics commitment

Costa Rica commits to phasing out all single-use plastics by 2021 (11), replacing them with biodegradable alternatives. This is great because, not only are they cutting their pollution and waste, they will also be reducing their greenhouse gas emissions considerably - plastic production accounts for 8% of global oil use. This follows from their ban of single use plastic bags (mirrored, enthusiastically (12), by Kenya this week).

Wellbeing  

New game to keep calm

Apparently, Champions of the Shengha (13) is a new game that improves mental wellbeing by making winning easier for players who stay calm during play. Have a go and let us know what you think!

Benefits of active travel to work

The health benefits of active travel to work are astonishing. Compared to driving or public transport, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that cycle commuters had a 52% lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. Walking to work reduced the risk of heart disease by 27% and dying from it by 36%. Read about it in this BMJ article (14), with more coverage in The Conversation (15).

Draft environmental strategy for London

Sadiq Khan has released a draft environment strategy for London (16), covering topics like air pollution and energy. Also, leading environmental think-tank Green Alliance have published their verdict on the strategy. (17)  

Sources

(1) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/07/usda-climate-change-language-censorship-emails

(2) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/09/forget-the-environment-new-words-lifes-wonders-language

(3) http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/how-glitter-impacts-marine-animals/

(4) http://www.pnas.org/content/114/32/8523.full (Whillans et al., 2017)

(5) http://www.wri.org/blog/2017/07/apparel-industrys-environmental-impact-6-graphics

(6) http://blogs.qvcuk.com/do-you-wear-everything-in-your-wardrobe-survey-says-no/

(7) https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/?utm_source=atlfb&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiospm&stream=top-stories

(8) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/millennials-uk-mental-health-depression-world-ranking-second-worst-study-anxiety-a7572026.html

(9) https://www.edie.net/news/5/Tesco-to-scrap-single-use-carrier-bags-in-favour-of-bag-for-life/

(10) http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/marine_plastics.php

(11) https://www.ecowatch.com/costa-rica-ban-single-use-plastics-2470233949.html

(12) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/world/africa/kenya-plastic-bags-ban.html?mcubz=0

(13) https://www.championsoftheshengha.com/

(14) http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1456

(15) https://theconversation.com/cycling-to-work-major-new-study-suggests-health-benefits-are-staggering-76292?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1501254014/

(16) https://www.london.gov.uk/WHAT-WE-DO/environment/environment-publications/draft-london-environment-strategy

(17) https://greenallianceblog.org.uk/2017/08/11/how-green-is-sadiq-khans-new-london-environment-strategy/