Friday, 26 August 2011

To bee or not to bee?

I have had a fear of bees since childhood. That buzzing sound could make me a clear a room in four seconds flat. On the 17th of August I ventured outside of my comfort zone, to visit a man about bees. No, not a psychologist or hypnotherapist, but an apiarist. A man so passionate about bees, that he calls them his pets.

Worker bees are disappearing around the globe, and no one knows why. The phenomenon is called colony collapse disorder (CCD), the cause of which remains a mystery to science. Some suggest that pesticides are causing it, while others go so far as to consider radio waves, radiation from cell phones, or electromagnetic fluctuations. But the truth is, no one knows why the little guys in black and yellow jerseys are dying at an alarming rate.

Spending time with an apiarist is not going to be possible for everyone, so here are some of the top tips he suggested. When thinking of bees, think of you’re ABC’s as well. A stands for apiary, where people make homes for bees on farms, allotments or in their back yards. B is for behaviour change, meaning that we should respect bees, and not kill them with insect repellent or a swatter. And lastly, Create a bee-friendly garden, by planting pollen-rich plants and not using insecticide.

We may consider bees to be insignificant bugs that frantically buzz around our gardens, but without them, humanity cannot survive! Bees are an integral part of our food system, pollinating almost every flowering crop known to man. So consider their plight the next time you’re thinking of squishing one that is banging against a window, and instead, let the little guy go to live another day.

Gregg Brill
Senior researcher & writer at green24

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Sustainability and population growth: A contradiction?

There are many global issues that need addressing, but because they are so closely interlinked, solving them is that much more difficult. One issue, however, stands out from the rest, and will act as a massive roadblock on the path to a sustainable future if not considered thoroughly. This is the issue of continued population growth. At the moment, the world’s population sits somewhere close to 7 billion, and it is estimated to rise to between 7.5 and 10.5 million by the year 2050.

Now, I’m not saying that population growth is the cause of our sustainability issues, although it is partially to blame for many of the measurable environmental impacts. Instead, it is merely a symptom with many deep rooted causes. Population growth is a huge hindering factor to sustainability, because it means we are constantly trying to find sustainable solutions to problems that are continuously growing in scale and complexity. But why then is it so often ignored? As Sir David Attenborough so eloquently puts it, “Why is population growth, which affects every department, no one's responsibility?”

There are many ways to integrate population growth concerns into the way we live and solve problems, but where do we begin this difficult transformation? Well firstly, we need to include the subject more actively in sustainability conversation. Once it is officially and publically considered as a major contributing factor and a serious concern, we can start laying the framework for future action.

There is a great global collaboration needed in order for this to happen, and it isn’t going to be easy to convince the world to stop, think and act on the fact that our species may be reaching a critical tipping point. But no matter how difficult it will be, one thing is for sure: We cannot hope to keep up with demand, consumption and resource requirements in a finite system if we are constantly increasing the percentage by which we require these resources every year. Change is coming whether we like it or not, so let’s become more resilient by embracing the change together. It all starts with a little education.

Nicholas Wiid
Junior researcher & writer at green24

Monday, 22 August 2011

Green holidays

Many of us are thinking about holidays right now. Holidays that we are looking forward to, holidays that we have recently enjoyed, or are currently enjoying!

There has been a noticeable increase in recent years in various forms of eco-tourism, responsible travel and green holidays. My son has just returned from seven weeks building elephant fences in Southern India as part of his gap year. But it’s not just students; many in employment are taking career breaks or just extended holidays to do something useful.

There are a wide range of short summer breaks on offer too, especially in developing countries, based on living with local communities or where the environmental footprint has been limited. Some of these are very exciting in their imagination and authenticity. You can really get to know or an area by veering off the beaten path, rather than just passing through and sticking to the tourist highlights. Holidays like this probably add more directly to the local economy than to the balance sheets of international tour companies. 

At the next level, there are many tour operators that offer green facilities or features such as offsetting your flights or recycling greywater in your hotel. Most will have seen the scheme for guests choosing to reduce their laundry burden by not asking for a daily change at towels and sheets. This in itself substantially reduces environmental impact in places where water is scarce.

If it’s just a nod towards green issues, such as offering fair trade tea and coffee in your room, or a more substantial contribution to sustainability, such as encouraging arrival by public transport, schemes seem to be enthusiastically supported by visitors. In our location, in the Lake District, many visitors are quite happy to contribute to a fix the fells fund to repair footpath damage through a small fee levied on their hotel bills. This year there is also a popular Fresh Air Is Free campaign to encourage visitors out of their cars and on to public transport.

So whether its big or small gesture, take a few minutes and see how you might be able to green your holiday this summer.

We can help you do it, why not visit our site,

David Jackman