What happened in GAP-mission related news in September

Climate change, biodiversity and globalisation

Is the 1.5 degree Paris climate target still possible?

Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees may still be possible with a big shift in the way we consume energy and resources, in new analysis summarised by the Guardian.

Consumption, trends and buying behaviour

What happens to textiles after you give them to charity?

This article from Ethical Consumer’s Fashion issue goes into detail about what charities and high street stores do when they collect textiles, and there are some great stats in there, such as:

  • Since 2012, Brits have saved 700,000 tonnes of carbon (147,863 cars off the road for one year) by washing their laundry at lower temperatures/ironing less/tumble drying less – but lower temperatures prolongs the life of clothes. Especially useful when we wear clothes an average of 7 times before they go in the bin!

Rule of thumb – give to charity, however ‘end of life’ your textile is.

Anxiety and advertising

Prosperity Without Growth author and Director of CUSP, Tim Jackson writes about how anxiety is at the root of why we consume, and how advertisers target our sense of shame in order to sell an increasing array of goods.

The impact of 'upselling'

The buzzword in the food consumption world this month is: ‘upselling’. A study carried out by the Royal Society of Public Health and Slimming World has found that over the course of a week, “verbal pushes” mean a third of customers end up buying a larger coffee than requested or upgrade to meal deals, or add chocolate to their shop. Consumers face an average of 106 verbal pushes annually, which in led to an extra 17,000 calories a year. 18- 24 year olds are the age group most likely to receive verbal pushes.

Mining of cobalt by children to be phased out by 2025

In a positive but not sufficiently ambitious pledge, the Congolese Government wants to phase out child mining in the cobalt industry by 2025. An estimated 40,000 children as young as 7 dig out cobalt in dangerous mines to get the precious element into lithium-ion batteries for use in electronics and cars.

A Week in a Toxic Waste Dump

Reggie Yates presents a documentary on living near an e-waste dump called, ‘The Insider - A Week in a Toxic Waste Dump’. It’s available to watch on BBC iPlayer here.

Young People

Has the smartphone destroyed a generation of young Americans?

For anyone who didn’t get a chance to read Jean Twenge’s article in The Atlantic on the impact of smartphones on young people’s mental health (featured in August's round-up), here’s a short video of Twenge on the BBC. Eye-opening stats in there: from 2 hours a day or more of smartphone usage increases depression, loneliness and suicide risk factors. Twenge has also published a book called iGen: Why Today’s Super-connected Kids are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Means for the Rest of Us - available to buy here


How do you solve a problem like micro plastics?

With reports this week of sea salt in the UK and other European countries containing micro plastics, and two thirds of our drinking water carrying these toxic materials, too, plastics are making their way not just into our oceans but into our bodies.
If you’re worried about what you can do to prevent micro plastics entering the water cycle, try to buy natural clothes only, and avoid tumble drying your synthetic items. Have a watch of Eco Boost for some more plastic-free alternatives (one of many cool low impact living channels on YouTube).

Welcome to The Trash Isles

Lad Bible's new partnership with the Plastic Ocean Foundation draws attention to the problem of plastic waste and mounts pressure on international governments to tackle it. They’ve approached the UN to declare the mass of plastic in the North Pacific - reported to be between the size of France and Australia – its own country. They've created passports, and Al Gore has become its first citizen.

If the proposal to the UN goes through, The Trash Isles would be protected by the UN's environmental charter. Meaning that other countries are legally bound to maintain its environmental integrity. You can watch a summary video, presented by Ross Kemp:

Why is this important for GAP's mission? Plastic pollution is a major focus in the news, at international conferences, for charitable foundations and increasingly for the corporates perpetuating the problem. This collaboration is the most fun environmental campaign we’ve seen in a long time, a great example of how to engage young people on a pressing issue. 

No more straws for Wetherspoon's

Wetherspoon’s pubs will be doing away with plastic straws from January in an effort to stop the pesky non-recyclable items entering landfill/the sea.


A psychologist's-eye view of experiences vs. things

Oliver Burkeman’s column in The Guardian is a psychologist’s perspective on mental health and wellbeing. Last week’s, on experiences v.s. things, he argues that things make up a large part of our experiences (“a paperback novel is clearly an object, but you buy it in order to go on a journey of the imagination”). He explores the kind of experience you derive from objects, and compares the examples of a new car owner and a holiday-maker to this end. Conclusion: you can pursue “the wrong kind of experience” – so always question what experiences the possession of an object will bring you.


It feels like we could all do with more of it at present. Carnegie Trust has been exploring kindness and its place in our society and its impact on our wellbeing. Check out the executive summary from Carnegie’s report on kindness– some food for thought in there about the kinds of things that get in the way of kindness at an office or institutional-level.

Why is this important for GAP's mission? When we talk about strengthening intrinsic values (social equality, universalism) to weaken extrinsic ones (dominated by external rewards like wealth, power), going an extra mile to exercise kindness can be a way of promoting the intrinsic values in our daily life.

Fancy trialling a Happiness App?

Action for Happiness are piloting an app that reminds you to write down the three things that you are grateful for every day, and the reasons why you are grateful for them. Register to try it out here.

Air Quality

Audits for 50 London schools

50 schools in the most polluted hotspots of London will undergo air quality audits, the Mayor’s office announced this month. Measures to combat the pollution are likely to include:

  • moving school entrances away from busy roads
  • putting in ‘barrier bushes’ to filter toxic fumes
  • ‘no idling’ schemes to reduce harmful emissions during the school run
  • minimising emissions from boilers, kitchens and other sources
  • changes to local road systems and restrictions on the most polluting vehicles round schools