Sustainability at work : repair, reduce and reuse

Make do and mendMaking it do, making it last, mending it : this is something that our parents or grandparents were doing but that we don’t do it nowadays anymore. This is bad for our environment and our societies. Here is a reflection.

What do my wallet, my suitcase and my swimming goggles have in common ? They are all repaired items. Both suitcase and wallet were showing signs of age because of extensive use over the years.

Despite frantic protest from my parents stating quite rightly that I could afford new ones, I had them sewn by one of my dear aunts : Pascale is a real genius with either a needle or a sewing machine.

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Frightening food quantities frittering away

So much food, so much wasteTo the UNEP : “The waste of a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself. “

1.3 billion tonnes of food ! This has profound repercussions on our world as it emits up to 3.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year. If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest, just behind the United States and China.

This also amounts to a staggering loss of no less than $750 billion – around 550 billion euros – as a third of the food produced globally goes to the bin uneaten.

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Turning trash to gold : global waste market to double

A landfill signAccording to a leading American bank, the global waste industry could double to $2 trillion by 2020. This is due to as Business Green notes to ” the combination of urbanisation, looming resource shortages and environmental regulation “

This takes into account municipal and industrial waste management, recycling, waste-to-energy and sustainable packaging. Europe is seen as facing the “toughest strategic challenges ” while Asia and Latin America see the fastest growth.

Opportunities are due to abound in waste management, waste to energy (WtE), wastewater and sewage and recycling among others.

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Composting matters

Compost cycleWithin my current involvement with the local JCI, I have been collecting information about biodegradable waste and composting. This is a question of importance as more than 30 percent of French waste could be biodegradable.

Meanwhile, recyclable waste – paper, cartons, glasses – represent just one percent more and are sorted out and recycled. I thus believe food leftovers, fruits and vegetable peelings, coffee and tea waste belong to a special bin.

This would have a lot of advantages as we will see in today’s post and I hope this will be as common as sorting out recyclables in a decade.

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Tackling the methane from landfills

Sometimes, the simplest things work best. To Grist : ” Bill Clinton urged mayors at the Large Cities Climate Summit to go after a pollutant 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide: methane.” ” By capturing it from landfills, from which it leaches in prodigious amounts, cities could use it to generate power. Wrestling CO2 … Read more

How Germany recycles and reuses its waste

What struck me during my two stays in Germany is that recycling was already pretty important in everyday lives. Indeed, the country is already recycling or reusing 70 % of its waste. (the proportion in the United States is of only 33 %.) explains how the country achieved such a performance : “In 1996, … Read more

Urban mining, or why mining landfills is good

I knew it all along ! As rare earths are more and more expensive and critically needed for our technological thirst, it is becoming economically viable to mine landfills and to recycle old appliances. As the New York Times indeed noted : ” This town’s hopes for a mining comeback lie not underground, but in … Read more

Turning a landfill into a beautiful garden

Last weekend I visited a very nice garden in the Vosges, Les Jardins de Callunes [Fr]. It has the particularity to have been created where a landfill was previously.

It is impressive how Nature got back where previously stood waste of all kinds. Will we be able to turn all our landfills in such wonderful gardens?

This was also the opportunity for me to practice photography and I propose you a selection of the best pictures I took there.

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