Food Part 4: Organic Farming

Organic farming recognises the direct connection between our health and how the food we eat is produced. Organic farming does: Reduce soil erosion and loss of soil fertility Preserve the habitat of local wildlife Develop fertile soil by rotating crops and using compost, manure and clover Encourage wildlife to help control pests and disease Provide […]

Welsh ministers succumb to pressures of marine zone protests

The year of 2012 saw vast developments in the cohesion of political and environmental conservation relations, exemplified by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s widely publicised “Fish Fight” campaign to reduce fish waste (discards) by introducing more marine conservation zones (MCZS). Protecting sea beds and habitats are the pivotal focus of MCZs, ultimately mitigating the damage caused by fishing […]

Food Part 3: Sustainable Agriculture

  Here’s part three in our series on sustainable food production.   Sustainable agriculture, in contrast to conventional farming, looks to the long-term fertility of the soil, and to crop varieties that suit local conditions. Some key principles of more sustainable agriculture include:   Conservation and preservation: What is taken out of the environment is […]

Indonesia and Singapore clouds plant seeds of hope

Governments of Indonesia and Singapore are employing controversial cloud seeding technologies in a bid to increase rainfall and subsequently limit forest fire desolation.   Forest fires engulfing peatland hotspots in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are a common sight during the dry season, resulting in an immeasurable harsh haze with costly consequences. The ongoing devastation to […]

Is the future lit by the Moser lamp?

In 2002, Brazilian mechanic Alfredo Moser had a ‘light-bulb moment’ which has since illuminated homes and businesses across the world. Moser’s simple but brilliant invention was sparked during a blackout in Brazil. Like multiple ingenious ideas, its simplicity is such that one wonders how no one had thought of it previously. After drilling holes into […]

Food Part 2: Chemicals in Farming

This post is part two of a series on the sustainability issues affecting food and food production.   Research has found that many chemicals used in conventional farming practices can have harmful effects on human health – including on farm workers themselves. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated around 20,000 farm chemical-related illnesses each year […]

Delicacy or disgust: consuming insects for a healthier body and environment

It may be of great surprise to many that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation is advocating a rise in the consumption of insects, targeting the “cultural bias” of the Western world. With obesity levels doubling to 500 million people since the 1980s, health concerns alone are a motivational force to implement these nutritious […]

Sustainability at home: Audit your energy

Each day, energy and money silently leaks from your home via the walls, windows and sockets. Auditing energy is a useful way to understand where such losses are occurring. This can be undertaken by a professional or carried out as a DIY job. DIY is a cost-effective approach, using the last 12 months’ utility bills […]

Food Part 1: Conventional Agriculture

  This post marks the first in a series on food production, and what we can do to eat and buy sustainably.   Conventional agriculture Conventional agriculture aims to get high yields for minimum direct costs. Practices include using industrial fertilisers and pesticides, and rearing animals intensively indoors. Food production has hugely increased over the […]

Climate change poses threat of extinction to Australian possums

The mountain pygmy possum has journeyed across Australia for over 25 million years. Today, the survival of the species is threatened by climate change. Only 2000-2600 possums remain in Australia. Their extinction could be determined by a relatively small increase in temperature; from only a rise of 1C, the continent could see its first climate […]

Cleaner water, flawless home

The use of toxic cleaners is causing UK water quality to plummet as the nitrogen-rich mixtures flow into water bodies, proving problematic for aquatic life and water itself. To lessen further reduction in water quality, use items in your cupboard: white vinegar kills bacteria on mirrors and windows; deodorise fridges and freezers with baking soda; […]

The Benefits of Buying Local

A whopping 13% of the UK’s fossil fuel consumption goes on packaging and transporting food. To transport one calorie of carrot into the UK takes 68 calories of air fuel, a fact made more depressing when taking into account all the gardens and allotments of Britain that blossom with carrots every year. As we all […]

Fish Fingerprinting

  In line with the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act, wild salmon caught out at sea must be returned to waters unharmed; this ensures the salmon population remains at a sustainable number. However, the illegal selling of wild salmon has proved hard to trace due to a lack of quantitative information differentiating between wild and […]

Food and Oil

In this week’s Knowledge Centre post, we take a look at the relationship between food and oil. Agriculture depends on fossil fuels. This may seem obvious – of course the global exchanges of foodstuffs today require products to travel petrol-gulping distances in planes, lorries and trucks – but less transparent is the fact that modern […]

A bill worth sustaining?

The highly anticipated Energy Bill has been announced, to the relief of environmental bodies and the anguish of the taxpayer. To achieve the 2020 Climate Change Act targets, energy companies are to invest £7.6bn in low-carbon power, the knock-on effect being an additional £110 to the average household bill by 2020. The Bill has won […]

Re-thinking mechanised time

  There are many sustainable design theories focusing on the use of ‘happy’ individuals and societies to create a sustainable world.  I agree it is an element we need to consider. Once a person is content with their own space they have the opportunity to look elsewhere and consider the consequences of their actions on […]

The Largest Climate Rally Ever

Obama is considering giving the ‘go ahead’ to the Keystone XL pipeline, despite huge contest. Just under a fortnight ago, environmental groups built a wall against the approval– morally and literally. In what is described as the ‘largest climate rally ever’, environmentalist groups unified in their thousands at the National Mall – a rare occurrence […]

The ‘Bolt Chair’ Project – if you can’t throw it away you won’t

  Over the coming weeks, 3D Design and Sustainable Design graduate Lenya Paikkou will be sharing her past university projects with us.   The ‘Bolt Chair’ project was the true beginning of physically showing my confusion and my sustainable thinking in design. As you probably know, some manufacturers deliberately design products with a limited working […]

Book Review: Collapse

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed By Jared M. Diamond (2005)     Professor of Physiology, Geography and Environmental Health Sciences, Jared M. Diamond is famous for his prize-winning popular science books. Throughout Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed Diamond uses a five point framework to examine why past civilisations have […]

Divisive oil: Keystone XL oil pipeline route

US President Barack Obama faces an unenviable ultimatum: actively encourage the contemporary ideologies surrounding climate change, or preserve and expand the oil industry and US employment opportunities. The expansion of the oil industry results in further dependency on a non-renewable and fossil intensive energy source – catalysing the greenhouse effect. The topical issue of climate […]

What is Sustainability? Part 4: Economic Sustainability

The final pillar of sustainability, economic sustainability, is the ability to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely. This involves the effective production, use and management of resources. Within a business context, economic sustainability requires the effective and efficient use of company assets to allow profitability over the long term.   By Katherine Dalton, […]

The Green Capital

Dominating Scotland’s tackle with climate change is their investment in wind farms – controversial by nature. Wind farms are both visibly and audibly noticeable, with business magnate Donald Trump claiming their presence across Scotland’s landscape is ‘financial suicide’ for the tourism industry. Scotland’s geomorphology and climate arguably provide optimal conditions for wind energy, and so […]

The ‘Living-Room Allotment’

                        Over the coming weeks, 3D Design and Sustainable Design graduate Lenya Paikkou will be sharing her past University projects with us.   The aptly named ‘Living-Room Allotment’ started out with an image of a garden hanging from the living room ceiling- how more […]

What is Sustainability? Part 3: Social Sustainability

‘Social Sustainability’ is the idea that individuals in both current and future generations have the right to healthy and habitable social groups and communities. This pillar encompasses a number of key ‘quality of life’ requirements; protection of mental wellbeing, protection of physical health, encouragement of community, equality of individuals, and provision of essential services.   […]