Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

James Hoffman on disposable coffee cups and why we need a latte levy

March 3, 2018

Waste is a problem, and yet there is no reason why it should be, other than poor design.  We should have closed loops, the output of one process the input to the another, natural materials or man made which emulate these natural cycles.

In the natural world there is no such thing as waste, in ancient woodlands, we see not the accumulation of waste neither in time nor space.

Plastic is a modern day curse, unlike glass or steel or aluminium, it cannot be recycled, it is down-cycled, which at best delays its one way trip to landfill or incineration, or finds it way into the oceans.

We have beaches covered in plastic, we have ocean vortexes that concentrate plastic, one such being the Sargasso Sea.

Plastic eventually breaks down in the sea, the action of the sea and sunlight, to tiny bits of plastic the size of plankton. Small fish eat the plastic mistaking it for plankton, big fish eat the small fish, bigger fish eat the big fish, we eat the fish.

Toxic chemicals leach off the land, attach to the plastic. These too find their way into our diet.

The weight of plastic in the oceans now equals that of plankton.

Plastic is eaten by sea birds and sea turtles. They die with their stomach full of plastic.

By 2050 the weight of plastic in the sea will be equal to the weight of fish.

Domestic waste accounts for less than 5% of total waste. The majority of waste is generated by businesses and industry. We could eliminate domestic waste entirely we would still be left with in excess of 95% of waste. That is not an argument for not dealing with domestic waste, it is an argument for dealing with the other 95%.

Hypocrisy by councils who do nothing themselves to eliminate waste  whilst at the same time hectoring the rest of us.

Guildford runs a farmers market, Winchester a street food market. The standard on these markets abysmally low.

County Restaurant in Lincoln is the staff restaurant for employees of Lincolnshire County Council. Once again abysmally low environmental standards. Plastic cups for water, staff using disposable coffee cups,  food served in polystyrene burger-style boxes, plastic cutlery.

These councils, in areas which are their responsibility, should be setting high standards for everyone else to follow.

In the UK every year we throw away an estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups. The cups appear to be paper, they are not, they are plastic lined, and therein lies the problem, the complexity of construction means they are not recycled.

Yes, these cups can be segregated and aggregated and Chiltern Railways is running a pilot scheme, but all this does is legitimises a system that should not exist.  It also relies on the passengers segregating the coffee cups into three separate bins,  liquids, lids and cups. The recovered plastic will be down-cycled into branded pens for Chiltern Railways, the loop has not been closed, a delay in the one way trip has been introduced, nothing more.

These takeaway cups may be a tiny percentage of total waste, but it is plastic waste and plastic waste is harmful to the planet.

We should consider whole life cycle costs, which is energy, including embedded energy, material used, environmental damage.

Reusable cups, for example KeepCup, can be refilled, coupled with a substantial  discount, yes will be used. The best so far is 30% reuse, better than 1%, but nowhere near good enough.

KeepCup has become the industry standard, elegant and meets what can be described as barista friendly.  Downside expensive, heavy and a pain to carry around. The target demographic office workers popping out for a coffee.

Compostable cups, ok if I have been shopping, have fresh produce, pop in with my fresh produce, then drop off on a compost heap. But what if not, what then with the compostable cup, throw in the bushes, it is after all compostable?  And that assumes it actually composts when thrown on the compost heap, a moot point for the cups claimed to be compostable. At the very least we need honesty, compostable on a compostable heap within a reasonable time, otherwise coffee shops and their clientele trying to do the right thing are being conned, greenwash at best.

Paper composts on a compost heap, it improves the quality of the compost by adding fibre, it also helps to rot down quicker by opening up the compost heap to flow of air.

Reusable cups, compostable cups, address symptoms, not the underlying problems of grab it and go take away consumerist culture.

Which is part of a wider problem of society, the purchase of worthless consumer crap, from extraction, production, six months in our hands, then on to landfill or incineration.

Why do we disrespect coffee? How many hands does coffee pass through from the picker until it finds its way to Square Mile, to then be roasted, then on to a barista at Madame Waffle? We would not dream of pouring a good wine in a plastic cup, swigging it as we walk down the street, why therefore do we treat coffee in this way? Is it not to insult everyone from farm to cup?

Latte levy will not add any extra costs onto coffee shops, apart from the actual cost of administering it. That is why it is called a levy not a tax.

It is avoidable. It is designed to change behaviour.

Starbucks has introduced a 5p levy at a handful of stores in London, and already its clientele are bleating about the cost, threatening to go to Costa. Happy to pay for overpriced undrinkable coffee, and yet bleat about a 5p levy which is avoidable.

Why does any coffee shop wish to have its logo on a something that is bad for the environment, a negative association? Is it not far better to have a branded KeepCup to send out a positive message?

Speciality coffee shops care about the environment, support local businesses, buy direct trade coffee to support the growers.

Apart from being avoidable, the latte levy is or can be cost neutral. Takeaway coffee should cost more than sitting in a coffee shop with a  speciality coffee served in glass or plastic.  Hike the price of the takeaway coffee by the cost of each takeaway cup, then discount by that amount if brought in a KeepCup or similar for a refill. And yes, should be barista friendly the correct size and clean.

Unless bought in bulk, takeaway coffee cups are not cheap, add the branding, 30p a cup, and that is not counting the environmental costs.

A very simple principle, the polluter shall pay.

Baristas and coffee shop owners need to engage in dialogue with their clientele on how to reduce waste, encourage to sit and relax with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic, discourage grab it and go takeaway consumerist culture.

A latte levy is to the benefit of speciality coffee shops as it matches their philosophy of serving the best coffee, an art and a craft to be appreciated. The losers will be the High Street chains which drain money out of the local economy, many dodge tax, serving undrinkable coffee, whose business model is built on grab it and go takeaway consumerist culture which is why they are lobbying hard behind the scenes to block the 25p latte levy.

And anyone who thinks business as usual, do nothing, is an option, it is they who will have to explain to future generations why they inherited a dead planet.

To have freedom to breathe, we must go fossil free

April 10, 2015

Freedom to Breathe

Freedom to Breathe has been set up by two asthmatic guys, both called Guy. (It’s a small world.)

Our message is simple. Burning fossil fuels worsens asthma and other respiratory diseases. To be able to breathe freely, we need to go fossil free.

There are millions of asthma sufferers in the UK, and millions more worldwide. Asthma has multiple causes, both genetic and environmental, and there are different treatments of varying effectiveness. But it’s clear that air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels worsens asthma attacks, and can contribute to the onset of asthma in the first place.

We can reduce air pollution with things like low-emission zones and tougher vehicle pollution standards. But whilst we still burn fossil fuels, we can never end air pollution. To get to the root of the problem, we have to ditch a transport system that’s hooked on oil and an energy system dependent on coal…

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Blood red rain

April 10, 2015
calima - haze caused by dust from Sahara

calima – haze caused by dust from Sahara

Blood red rain is possibly an exaggeration, but high pollution levels in England over the last few days, expected to peak today, with people warned to take care.

High pollution levels to hit southern England, add to the mix pollution from France and dust from the Sahara.

A major spike in air pollution across much of England poses a risk to those suffering from respiratory diseases, older people and children, health charities warned today.

The government pushed its smog alert levels to “very high” – its most extreme pollution warning – for some parts of south east England.

In Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings the official advice for all residents – regardless of their health – to reduce their physical exertion. Older people and children on Easter school holidays have been urged to avoid any strenuous activity at all.

In other areas of England, particularly the south east and Midlands, the smog levels will be high enough to cause problems for those with pre-existing problems.

When The Green Party puts forward someone to speak, it does help to have someone who actually knows what she is talking about.

On World at One (wato) on BBC Radio 4, transport spokesman Caroline Russell welcomed dust from the Sahara, as part of the pollution mix. She added because it made it visible.

An extremely crass comment to make. Any pollution mix is bad, worse than the constituents, a toxic cocktail. Dust from the Sahara is very bad.

Periodically, Tenerife is hit by sub-tropical storms, it turns very warm and what appears to be mist out to sea is dust, when it hits, extensive damage, dust is blown in from the Sahara, everywhere covered in fine yellow dust.

Within days, many people fall sick, coughing, flu-like symptoms, ache, groggy head, fever.

Speaking to a doctor, I asked was it an allegeric reaction, very fine dust penetrating deep into the lungs, or was it carrying in viruses. She said viruses.

I still have bronchitis, a month on from a sub-tropical storm hitting Tenerife. The last few days feeling much worse, coughing, blocked up, tired and weak. I thought maybe high pollen levels. Now I realise, suffering from high pollution levels.

Caroline Russell talked of people walking and cycling and gave a figure of £30 per head. Where did this come from?

Why oh why, did she not talk about bringing railways back into public ownership? Though she did talk about better integrated public transport.

Why oh why did Green Party not put forward Tamsin Omond. Tamsin knows what she is talking about and she is a candidate in London.

A wonderful breath of fresh air, Caroline Lucas on BBC Radio 4 Any Questions. A glimpse of what could have been had the Green Party had the good sense to put Caroline forward for the Seven Party Election Debate last week.

Wato were also at fault. Three main parties on earlier, the usual pathetic drivel. Why were they not put on the spot on air pollution?

When there is a high pollution alert, why is there not a ban on cars entering cities? They do this in France. Public transport is free. Much easier to achieve when public transport is in public ownerhip.

Why are our towns and cities not car free? Follow the examples of Athens, Istanbul, Puerto de la Cruz, Bassano del Grappa, Cascais, Santiago de Compostela, in all of which the old parts of the cities are car free. In Istanbul, deliveries are in the morning or early evening, vehicles park on the outskirts and deliver by handcart.

Aldershot has the crass stupidity, of late afternoon, vehichles permitted to drive through pedestrianised streets. For the last three months, this has not been possible due to the laying of waterpipes. Now people have got out of the habit, make it permament. People have been able to enjoy the benefits over the last three months. There is also more people on the streets late afternoon. This one act, would achieve far more than the crass stupidity coming from the local council.

It is claimed 27,000 deaths a year from air pollution. Where does this figure come from? It sounds an exaggeration, but even if only 2,700, it would still be too high.

People need to exercise more, walk, cycle.

In Cascais along the promenade, and in Tauro Parque in Puerto de la Cruz, there are outdoor exercise machines for people to use, popular and fun to use. Why not install along the seafront in Brighton?

We need a better integrated public transport scheme, cheap, reliable, and in public ownership.

Alton Station is classic how not to. A bus stop marked bus-train interchange, the bus timed to leave as the train arrives.

We need far more information at bus stops (often not even a timetable), and on the buses.

At A Coruña, bus stops have live information, show the buses, where they are, estimated time of arrival.

Across Europe, next stop displayed on the bus and announced in English and the local language.

The HS2 gravy train should be scrapped. The money invested in improving the existing rail network.

Why are developments permitted that will only cause an increase in air pollution?

1720s Tumbledown Dick demolished for a 200+ seater Drive Thru McDonald’s.

Air pollution would rule out additional runways at Heathrow or Gatwick, or any airport expansion in the south of England. Mayor Boris has already vetoed expansion of London City Airport.

air pollution forecast Friday 10 April 2015

air pollution forecast Friday 10 April 2015

Malicious prosecution of Rushettes dropped

December 1, 2011
The Toxettes performing Britney Spears' Toxic at London City Airport

The Toxettes performing Britney Spears' Toxic at London City Airport

We’re so proud of the rushers who were wrongly arrested whilst dancing on a public footpath. Their dance was ‘Toxic’ because airports are. — Climate Rush

I wasn’t allowed to go to Climate Rush tonight, I didn’t even have a halloumi sandwich. Can I have my life back pls Essex police? I miss it. — AndrewTobert

Yet another malicious prosecution of peaceful protesters. It is difficult to see how trespass can be commited when crossing a site on a public footpath, even if the site to be crossed happened to be Southend Airport.

Luckily the case has been dropped.

The Rushettes (Climate Rush’s musical alter-ego) went to Southend Airport to protest against its expansion and to encourage Southend Council to invest in more green infrastructure to provide sustainable job opportunities and protect their residents’ quality of life. The Rushettes were (WRONGFULLY) arrested, released after 16 hours with bail conditions not to communicate with one another. One month later these charges were dropped.

This morning the Toxettes performed Britney Spears’ Toxic at London City Airport ahead of City Hall enquiry.

Singing stewardesses at London Southend Airport
Southend Airport runway protesters arrested
SAEN grateful to Plane Stupid protesters

Fares fair rail fares protest
Climate Rush Soho roadblock
Climate Rush’s Unfair Fare Dodge

Climate Rush Soho roadblock

July 18, 2011
pollution kills

pollution kills

have the Met got nothing better to do

have the Met got nothing better to do

CO2 kills

CO2 kills

let London breathe

let London breathe

“Boris’s policies are failing us. It’s a no-brainer – Boris needs to get the most polluting vehicles out of the most polluted places.” — Alice Haworth-Booth, spokesperson for Climate Rush

Last week Climate Rush mounted a roadblock in Soho to highlight London’s polluted air.

It is not only London, other towns and cities, for example Brighton, also have pollution hotspots.

London’s polluted air
Climate Rush stop London traffic during Pollution protest
It makes me sick
Move over climate change: air pollution is the new issue in town
Air pollution hot spots in Brighton and Hove revealed

London’s polluted air

July 12, 2011
Alice wants cean air for London

Alice wants cean air for London

public health warning

public health warning

dirty air causes 4267 deaths a year in London

dirty air causes 4267 deaths a year in London

I do not like visting London. It is noisy, dirty and polluted.

At least one group is calling for London to be made cycle friendly not car friendly.

Yesterday morning, Climate Rush visted two Mayoral candidates, Ken and Boris, to ask what they are doing about bad air quality. Wednesday, ie tomorrow, they will be mounting roadblocks to highlight the number of deaths from air pollution (Soho Square, 6-30pm Wednesday 13 July 2011). [see Roadblock – 13th July 2011]

Environmental activists give London Mayoral candidates a 7am wake-up call
Help us defend your right to breathe
GRIDLOCK: ‘DIE-IN’ protest to close major London junction

Human Cost – Tate Britain Performance, charcoal and sunflower oil

April 20, 2011
Tate Britain - oil performance art

Tate Britain - oil performance art

BP Oil Sculpture - Tate

BP Oil Sculpture - Tate

Human Cost, Tate Britain Performance (87 minutes), charcoal and sunflower oil 20 May 2011 — First anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Artists from art activist group Liberate Tate staged a performance by pouring an oil like substance over a naked man at the Tate Britain museum on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

On the same day, 166 people who work in the arts published a letter in the Guardian calling on Tate to end its sponsorship relationship with BP. “In the year since its catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has massively ramped up its investment in controversial tar sands extraction in Canada, has been shown to have been a key backer of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, and has attempted to commence drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean. While BP continues to jeopardise ecosystems communities and the climate by the reckless pursuit of “frontier” oil, cultural institutions like Tate damage their reputation by continuing to be associated with such a destructive corporation.

The massive cuts to public arts funding in the UK have left hundreds of culturally important arts organisations in a position of great financial vulnerability, which means that the debate about the appropriateness of particular potential corporate sponsors like BP and Shell is more relevant than ever. As people working in the arts, we believe that corporate sponsorship does not exist in an ethical vacuum. In light of the negative social and ecological impacts of BP around the world, we urge Tate to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable future by ending its sponsorship relationship with BP.”

Email : ‘End oil-sponsorship of the arts’ on Facebook @liberatetate on twitter

Produced by “You and I Films

Human Cost – a personal account
Tate should end its relationship with BP
Climate Rush activists protest at Tate Britain over BP sponsorship
The Great BP-Sponsored Tate Modern Sleep In
No Tarsands action at the BP AGM
– “5 Million Barrels of Oil Does Not Disappear”: Author, Activist Antonia Juhasz on the BP Spill, One Year Later
BP’s criminal negligence exposed
BP Imposter Crashes Oil Spill Summit

Climate Rush activists protest at Tate Britain over BP sponsorship

April 20, 2011
Climate Rush activists protest Tate Britain over BP sponsorship

Climate Rush activists protest Tate Britain over BP sponsorship

Climate Rush Tate Britain

Climate Rush Tate Britain

Today (20 April 2011) Climate Rush activists demonstrated outside the Tate Britain, which is sponsored by BP, to mourn those that lost lives, as well as environmental damage resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster which began on this day last year.

Climate Rush’s Unfair Fare Dodge
Human Cost – Tate Britain Performance, charcoal and sunflower oil
The Great BP-Sponsored Tate Modern Sleep In
No Tarsands action at the BP AGM
– “5 Million Barrels of Oil Does Not Disappear”: Author, Activist Antonia Juhasz on the BP Spill, One Year Later
BP’s criminal negligence exposed
BP Imposter Crashes Oil Spill Summit

BP Imposter Crashes Oil Spill Summit

April 20, 2011

New Orleans, LA. – Attendees of the “Gulf Coast Leadership Summit” received a pleasant surprise this morning upon hearing a representative from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announce a ban on toxic dispersants — as well as a new free health care plan for spill and cleanup victims. Even more surprising: a BP co-presenter expressed regret for his company’s past actions, and said the oil giant would foot the bill for the new health care plan.

But the news was too good to be true. Surprise turned to confusion when an irate BP representative entered the room and interrupted the press conference. Comedy ensued as the two reps pointed fingers at each other, each claiming to be the real BP employee. Members of the press, confused, attempted to discover who was real and who wasn’t.

The answer was: except for the audience, everyone was a fake. The impostors Dr. Dean Winkeldom and Steve Wistwil, both Gulf Coast residents, collaborated with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an organization whose goal is to create sustainable communities free from industrial pollution. The organization decided to create a hoax to publicize what should be happening in response to the emerging health crisis. It was a last resort, since straightforward approaches were not working.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade action was supported by the Yes Lab, a project of The Yes Men that helps activist groups carry out media-getting creative actions on their own. Four years ago in New Orleans, The Yes Men impersonated an official from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to announce, among other things, that HUD would re-open public housing and make oil companies pay up for wetlands destruction.

BP Imposter Addresses Oil Spill Summit
GE Returns Billions to Public… NOT
– “5 Million Barrels of Oil Does Not Disappear”: Author, Activist Antonia Juhasz on the BP Spill, One Year Later
BP’s criminal negligence exposed
The Great BP-Sponsored Tate Modern Sleep In
No Tarsands action at the BP AGM
Power Shift 2011 Flashmob Shuts Down BP
Climate Rush activists protest at Tate Britain over BP sponsorship

The Great BP-Sponsored Tate Modern Sleep In

April 19, 2011

Protesters angry at BP’s failures over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill descend on Tate Modern on Sunday in protest at the gallery’s links with the beleaguered oil giant.

Next Wednesday will see the anniversary of the Gulf spill, and direct action groups London Rising Tide and Art Not Oil are planning a flashmob at Tate Modern to commemorate the disaster.

The group is using Facebook and Twitter to mobilise followers to attend the highly visual protest. Hundreds of people took part in a ‘BP-sponsored sleep-in’ among the art works and visitors of the gallery.

At 2:15PM exactly the participants spontaneously broke from the crowds to don BP branding and fall asleep on the gallery floor.

The protest was to remind Tate members and visitors that the gallery is sponsored by BP, and express a wider concern that sponsorship of the arts helps to distract public attention from the environmental damage the oil
company causes, including the Gulf spill.

The event was aimed at damaging BP’s brand, and comes as the company has mounted a major PR campaign in an effort to deflect criticism around the anniversary of the oil spill. At its annual general meeting, the
company faced an angry coalition of shareholders, campaigners and residents from the Gulf of Mexico and the Canadian tar sands.

Tony Cottee of Rising Tide said: “Sponsorship of galleries such as Tate is one of the most important ways BP tries to buy the public’s acceptance and make people forget about disasters such as the Gulf of Mexico spill. We are here to make sure they don’t get away with it, and to warn Tate that their own reputation is at risk through their association with such a damaged and damaging company.”

He continued: “It’s clear that BP has learnt nothing over the last year. The time has now come for Tate to say, ‘enough is enough’, and break off their relationship with BP once and for all.”

The protest is part of a week of direct action against BP-sponsored cultural institutions, coordinated by groups including London Rising Tide, Art Not Oil, London Climate Camp, Climate Rush and Liberate Tate.

Produced by You and I Films.

Top story What a Disaster (Tuesday 19 April 2011).

No Tarsands action at the BP AGM
Power Shift 2011 Flashmob Shuts Down BP

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