sustainable economy

How to live a sustainable life?

If you are a responsible consumer, you consume without damaging the environment, people and local economies. This can be done by, for instance, buying products that are qualified as sustainable by an institute. For people who are still struggling with how to live a more sustainable life, I will give you a couple of day-to-day tips.

Buying certified sustainable products

There are different ways to recognize a sustainable product. Usually, sustainable products can be divided into a quality mark, company logo, an umbrella name and protected names.

Quality mark

A product that gets rewarded with a quality mark is usually a product that includes all benefits of sustainability. The product and company keep in mind the environment, the people where the product is produced and an organic profit. This quality mark is always rewarded by a third, independent party. A couple of examples of quality marks are: Rainforest Alliance Certified, CSA Sustainability Mark, Fair trade and Forest Stewardship Council.

Company collection logo

Companies can come up with their own standards of sustainable processing. They can draw up certain requirements that their product or packaging must meet. They can also make specific demands on their suppliers. For example, it only runs with electric cars. Many companies work together on this type of logo. For instance, Cocao life is an initiative from the brands Milka, Cote d’Or and Toblerone to improve quality of life for cocoa farmers.

Umbrella logo

An umbrella logo is a logo that is always to be found in packaging with other marks. It doesn’t define much but often shows what process the product has been through. A good example of that is Fair Trade Original. A Fair Trade original product can be produced within Fair Trade territory, but for without it being controlled by Fair Trade. When a new product is launched on the Fair Trade territory, it is a Fair Trade Original Product and often be found with another mark such as ‘biological’ or organic’. After inspection, it will only obtain a Fair Trade logo.

Protected names

Protected names in terms of sustainability are based on national laws. This varies from country to country according to which requirements it has to do. Examples of this are the use of the names ‘free-range eggs’ and biological eggs. In some countries, free-range chickens are kept at a 5-meter space with 5 chickens, while in other countries they can be 10 chickens. In general, it is true that in most countries organic chickens always walk outside freely. These types of protected names should therefore not be used if they do not pursue the law.

Separating waste

Separating waste includes a lot of facts and fables. One way or another, materials like paper, glass, batteries and many forms of plastic can be reused to a large extent. This not only saves money, but also means you do not have to exhaust fossil fuels like energy and gas.

Why recycling and not burning

Recycling has 4 major advantages compared to burning:

  • It reduces the reproduction of single-use products. For example, paper is a single-use product that requires trees to be cut. Other examples are petroleum for plastic and rare metals for cans.
  • The less raw materials we use, the more space it creates for agriculture and cultivating food
  • Recycled products are cheaper because less energy is produced during the process compared to creating new materials or burning. One good example of that is, for instance, that it takes twenty times more energy to create new aluminum than to remelt the old aluminum. This is not only bad for the environment but also more expensive for companies.
  • Due to the fact that recycling costs less energy, it also releases fewer Greenhouse gasses.

Different types of plastic

When you start to recycle and divide your food waste, plastic waste and glass waste, be aware of the different types of plastics. They are five types of plastic and not all of them can be recycled. The type of plastic that can be recycled differs per country and often per municipality. 

Saving energy at homeworld climate top 2018

Saving energy at home is actually quite simple, you just need to know how. With little adjustments such as good isolation or solar panels, you not only save money upon your energy bill but also help the environment and reduce greenhouse gasses.

Isolate your house

A good, isolated house means that the heat that is produced inside the house, stays in the house and minimizes the chance of it being released outside the house. This ensures that less heating is needed or when it’s needed, it can be adjusted to a lower temperature. A lower temperature produces less energy. On the other hand, a good isolated house also ensures that when it’s summer, the house will be cooled well enough. This ensures that someone may not have to turn on the fan or air conditioning. This reduces energy consumption once again. 

Solar panels

The name ‘Solar Panels’ comes from the Spanish word ‘Sol’, which means sun. Nevertheless, solar panels don’t require sun to work. Even on a cloudy day, they deliver electricity. Solar panels convert light into heat that is used for electricity. Solar panels from the highest quality convert 14 to 18 percent of the sunlight that shines in a day into electricity. A great benefit of solar panels is that it’s not only sustainable and therefore good for the environment, as well you save on the energy bill. By placing solar panels, you become your own energy supplier. Another great asset is that in 2 to 3 years, solar panels save more CO2 emissions than it took to construct it. A final benefit of solar panels is that they usually work full power for 20 to 30 years. Therefore, you help to protect the environment for 20 to 30 years!

Led lights

In the average household, lamps use about 12% of the total energy usage. However, it is relatively easy to save upon that by switching the type of lamp you use. Led lamps use 85% less energy than the standard light bulbs and another 75% less than halogen lamps. Therefore, again, this is not only a good measurement for more sustainable living, but as well to save money.

Do you want more tips? Read more about How to be sustainable?

The donut model

Sustainable living in The Donut Economy

The definition of sustainability is widely discussed, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition. The general idea of sustainability, however, is that the earth, humans and their economies are in balance with each other. Living sustainable therefore means that you take all three pillars into account in daily tasks and actions. Moreover, it’s important that future generations can keep living on this planet and therefore, we need to switch from a linear economy to The Donut Economy.

The Donut Economy

Economist Kate Raworth has come up with a theory called the Donut Economy. This economic theory redefines our 21st economy objective, taking into account the larger image of our environment. She did that by looking at human nature and the complex processes we are facing. She developed a new system-theoretical approach on redividing lifestyles and habits in a regenerative economy, whereas the most important aspect is that economic growth is not the main goal in society. Living in The Donut Economy equals living sustainable.

Most other economics believe that the inequality on our planet is caused by economic necessity. Certain parts of the market in certain countries are not working properly, whereas Raworth argues that it isn’t an economic necessity, but a design error. According to her, humans shouldn’t focus on receiving income, but redistribute and focus on wealth.

The Donut Model

Since the industrial revolution, we have consumed more than that’s good for our planet. More production caused more waste, oil leaks, contamination and many other things that harmed the environment and people. Kate Rawoth states that what we have been doing over the past few years is unnatural. According to her, everything in life should have a natural balance and rhythm. Like every new plant, it starts to grow and at someday it ends. The way Rawoth sees our current economy is the metaphor of that we lost track of how fast we grow and are using too many supplements to grow even more.

Rawoth created The Donut Model, based upon her Donut Economy theory. The donut exists out of three layers:

1) The donut holesustainable economy

The hole of the donut stands for the shortage of water, food, money, education, social equality, gender equality, health and the voice of inhabitants.

2) The inner ring of the donut

This ring represents the social medium. In this ring, all above-mentioned shortages are in balance. In the inner ring of the donut, people can live in harmony and peace.

3) The outer ring of the donut

The outer ring of the donut represents the exhaustion of our planet and limiting the economy that can lead to climate change, chemical pollution, the exhaustion of fresh water, the acidification of the ocean and air pollution and ultimately, loss of biodiversity.

The inner ring is protecting all the influences that come from the hole and from outside the donut. As well, the more developed and firmer the inner ring of the donut, the better it can fill the hole. Therefore, this ring is seen as a social foundation, ecological ceiling, a regenerative and distributive economy and a safe space for humanity. Moreover, here are some examples of how the Donut Economy would work.

Implementing The Donut Economy

In today’s economy, we let something fall from above, goes right through the hole and ends up in the garbage. The process of producing and using is mainly a linear model. The steps from ground material, a product and waste are small ones and only a small percentage of it is recycled.Therefore, the first step in implementing The Donut Economy is creating a circular model. Everything that is produced, is measured correctly in order to lose as less ground material as possible. In addition to that, more effort needs to be made by companies and consumer to recycle materials and products.

A circular economy

In a circular economy, consumers need to try to fix things instead of buying new things. For
instance, a broken laptop should be fixed in a specialty store instead of buying a new one. Another example is to sew a hole in a t-shirt instead of buying a new one. In fact, Rawoth based the circular economy on the natural circle of life. If a gazelle dies, it can’t be fixed. Instead, it becomes food for other animals and maintains in this way the circle of life.

The circular economy is an ecosystem where everything is interconnected, where the waste from one company is the raw material of the other, where heat is no longer moved through impressive chimneys in the air, but through a network of underground pipes from factory to the residential area and back again and where the ambition is not to ‘no longer pollute’, but to feed the land in which one is working, the air in which one works and to let it flourish.

Sustainable growthsustainable economy

In the new Donut Economy, growth will come, when it comes. Nothing is forced and it can even feel superfluous and old-fashioned. Sustainable growth in the economy is green, inclusive, smart, balanced and irrelevant to fast economic growth.

The sustainable growth in The Donut Economy is all about respecting our planet and see it as our home. No one mistreated his own house? Everyone wants it to look good. We will need to cherish the ‘eco’ in economics. Meaning that if something isn’t growing anymore, we let that be because that’s ecological and natural. Growth is good as long as it needed. For instance, children stop growing otherwise there will be a point in life where they won’t fit on the dining table or will be crushing the roof of the house.

The system we have created of eternal growth and producing every year the same products, but just a little more adjusted is based upon a utopia. Growth is great, but at some point, there’s no function of growing more. Therefore, naturally, humans and animals stop growing. That’s what will need to happen in our future economy: The Donut Economy.

sustainability

How to be sustainable?

Being sustainable as a company, but also as an individual, seems to be irreplaceable in today’s world. But if everybody claims to be sustainable, what distinguishes sustainability from non-sustainability? Exactly that vagueness of this concept is the most interesting part and therefore it’s time to take a closer look at it.

Sustainable certification

While doing groceries, you’ll encounter many products with a certain type of certification that it is sustainable or organic. However, we often don’t really know what this includes. Therefore, one of the biggest airline alliances OneWorld has recently decided to stop using the word sustainable. According to their spokesmen, “sustainability has become more of a buzzword than something that defines a company. It is a popular word that has been used in multiple contexts that its actual meaning has been lost”.

Read more about the definition of sustainability in this blog.

Sustainability investigationresearch on sustainability

Because most companies use the word sustainability to promote their products, there’s a lot of confusion about the actual meaning of sustainability. Therefore, a researcher from the Utrecht University in The Netherlands conducted an investigation on this subject. She has researched the meaning of the word when it was used and in which context, by whom and for what reason.

As sustainability became more of an empty concept over the years, more and more people got annoyed by that word. There are so many definitions for the concept that it confuses many people. However, the research also has taken a look on the other side of it: the positive side of the vagueness of the concept. Thanks to that vagueness, it’s easier to keep debating, reforming and discussing the topic for activist, politicians and businesses. Because it’s so undefined, everybody can give their opinion about it, which can ensure new insights about sustainability.  

Different definitions of sustainability

Since the nineties, the amount of definitions of sustainability has been increasing and today there are over 70 definitions. Most likely, with new developments occurring every year within this topic, more definitions will be created. Some definitions focus more on nature, forest management and biodiversity. For instance, people talk every day about the development of the rainforest in Brazil. Other definitions focus more on economic growth such as companies like Shell. For instance, Shell is already debating many years with Greenpeace about sustainability and trying to find a way for both parties in that. As if that’s not enough, often we see definitions of sustainability that focus on social development, equality and human rights.

The origin of sustainability

The concept of sustainability was launched for the first time in a policy document on nature conservation in 1980. It’s an English-language concept that over the years, maintained his English identity. At that time, the concept was mainly associated with nature conservation and biodiversity, thanks to the policy document. Sustainability in this document didn’t even seem to matter that much since it only appeared in the subtitle of the document. Ecologists at that time started to use this word more and more in the context of sustainable development. They used it as a form of economic growth that didn’t harm the flora and fauna of mother nature.

Today’s sustainabilitysustainable today

Since the birth of sustainability in 1980, the concept has grown into a complex word. Nevertheless, in theory, it is a quite simple idea. Sustainability covers the balance between social equality, environmental protection and economic growth. This is called the three P’s in many communication-and marketing theories: people, planet, profit. This includes for businesses but also for individuals that when working on sustainability, you work on the three P’s. You need to reduce poverty by helping the local economy, make that economy grow without harming the natural or historical surroundings. Nevertheless, many scientists claim that sustainability and economic growth are a difficult combination. In the climate top in Katowice of 2018 countries didn’t seem to be eager to become more sustainable.

How to be sustainable

After above’s explanation, you can distinguish a sustainable product from a non-sustainable product. For instance, a jar of peanut butter should have been made by local farmers, that are growing the peanuts naturally without expending their fields that harm the local nature and by buying this jar, you improve the economic growth. It’s usually hard to see if the peanut butter you’re buying went to this whole process by just looking at the package.

Therefore, it might be smart to look for a Rainforest Alliance quality mark. Of course, there are several other important quality marks. However, the Rainforest Alliance quality mark focuses on all three of the P’s, while others usually focus on one. For instance, Fairtrade focuses on the ‘People’ out of the three P’s. However, with a Fairtrade logo, it can still be possible that they have used rainforest wood in order to produce their products by local farmers.

Sustainable commerce

Although that the word sustainable lost a bit of its meaning, it still provokes a positive reaction out of people. By buying anything sustainable, consumers have the idea that they are making better choices and therefore feel a sense of rewarding. To use the example of Shell again, they claim to consider sustainability as an important factor in their day-to-day business. Nevertheless, we all know that what Shell is actually doing is very unsustainable. However, most consumers feel less bad about using the product since Shell does work on sustainable development where they can. By using this word, Shell also becomes more vulnerable since many critic activists will say that this is not true. This can be another strategic move from Shell in order to prove them wrong.

Individual responsibility

As an individual or consumer, it is often hard to take sustainable actions. It is for instance simply nearly impossible to buy a bottle of shampoo without it being in a plastic bottle. Companies own the power to more sustainable, daily-life choices, and they choose in which way they deliver our products. Instead of talking about sustainability, Dutch company Aliter Networks talks about ‘making a difference’. They described 10 companies making a difference with IT. Still, taking no actions at all will for sure not help the world and therefore there are many things you can do to improve the 3 P’s. Try to eat less meat, choose public transportation over private one and use reusable bottles and bags. Little by little, we can all help the world and be more sustainable.

Interested? Read more about how to live a sustainable life.

tips sustainable traveling

Seven tips for sustainable travel

Traveling sustainable is not only an upcoming trend, but has also become a necessity. Over the past 100 years, humans started to travel more and longer distances. This has increased the number of airplanes that take off on a daily basis. It has ensured that more CO2 is released into the air. Aircrafts are the biggest polluters of the environment. But what if you need to make a long journey? Then you will definitely have to take the plane, but there are plenty of things you can do during your vacation to reduce CO2 emissions. With these seven tips, you can contribute to sustainable travel and protect our beautiful planet.

  1. Try to compensate for the CO2 emissions of your flights

Besides that aircraft are the biggest polluters of the environment, it also taxes the environment 5 up to 15 times more than other ways of transporting. However, if you are for instance planning on traveling to Australia, there’s not really another option than to take the plane. Nevertheless, there are a couple of things that you can do while booking your trip that can compensate the amount of CO2 emissions.

Book a direct flighttips sustainable traveling

If it’s possible, try to book a direct flight without stopovers. During takeoff and landing, aircraft releases the most CO2 emissions. Therefore, if you have one stop; it already releases twice as much CO2 as when you have a direct flight.

Buy compensations

Many airlines offer a payment for CO2 emissions compensation when you book your ticket. Airlines such as KLM work on different projects such as One Tree Planed. Other projects that many airline companies work on are building windmills or creating projects for sustainable agriculture in developing countries. Usually, you pay 1 to 5 dollars extra for your trip, but it will be well invested in these kinds of projects. There’s even a Flight Search engines that Compares Flights and uses part of its own revenue to offset your flight partially or completely.

Travel as light less luggage as possible

The more luggage you (and other passengers) take, the heavier the aircraft. A more heavy aircraft equals more fuel to be consumed by the aircraft and that causes more pollution. If possible, try to carry hand luggage only. This ensures that not only the aircraft will release less CO2 emissions, but is also cheaper for yourself as a traveler. Hand luggage is usually included in the ticket price, while you have to pay extra for a suitcase or backpack.

  1. travel with public transportMove around with public transportation

When it is possible to get from your own country to the destination country by public transport, do so! Think of the train, bus or metro. Especially if you’re traveling in Europe, it is easy to travel by public transport. Many countries are connected by the Interrail. Often the interrail uses night trains where you can lie in a bed. This saves you not only time but also money on an overnight stay. Also, make as much use as possible of public transport once at the destination.

Anyhow, traveling by foot or bike is the best option if you want to make sure that you have zero CO2 emissions.

  1. Choose for sustainable accommodations

It’s hard to see from the outside if a hotel or hostel is an environmentally friendly accommodation. Therefore, when booking one, try to search for a GSTC or Green Key quality mark. These two are international en independent organizations that check accommodations according to different sustainable pillars. Think of waste recycling, measures against water waste and food waste.

  1. Choose Vega(n) food

Many people have become vegetarian or vegan over the past few years. Where it first started as a trend, it has now become more of a lifestyle for many people. In fact, many CO2 and methane substances are released when producing meat and fish. This also applies to the production of dairy. Therefore, when you travel, choose a vegetarian or vegan dish more often. Thanks to the increasing popularity of vegetarian or vegan food, there are plenty of restaurants around the world to offer this. Especially in hip cities such as New York or Sydney, this should not be a problem.

Do you feel like you need some inspiration for vega(n) food? Gurucast offers many podcasts about traveling and food. In one of the podcasts, she’s talking with Evanna Lynch. She played the role of Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter and is a vegan that’s traveling a lot.

  1. Try to choose one place to dive or go snorkeling during your travel

Diving in the Great Barrier Reef is absolutely stunning but also shakes up the natural habitat of many animals that are living there. The Great Barrier Reef and many others are in great danger and threaten to disappear altogether. Of course, you can still dive here but make conscious choices.

Make sure you do not dive every week in a month but choose one place that you really want to see. Keep in mind the times that you go diving so you do not disturb any mating or hunting times of animals. Also, make sure you do not apply sunblock before diving. Many sunblocks contain oxybenzone and octinoxate and that affects the ocean. Of course, you can choose to apply sunblock where these two substances are not processed.

  1. Go vintage

The pre-fun of holidays starts naturally when buying a backpack or suitcase. So probably every person has at least 1 suitcase or backpack. Ask your friends or acquaintances if you can borrow one instead of buying one yourself. In addition to that, you could take a look in the second-hand shop or eBay to see if you can buy one. A sustainable and inexpensive alternative to a brand-new suitcase.

  1. Reduce your plastic waste

Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans. Already, an island as big as Spain and Portugal together is created from plastic in our oceans. Therefore, it’s important to do whatever possible to not use plastic. For instance, buy a reusable water bottle (even better if it has a filter so you can drink tap water). This not only reduces plastic waste but it also cheaper since you don’t have to buy a new bottle of water all the time. Also, try to order a drink without a straw (unless it’s a recycled paper straw) and bring your own bag if you’re doing groceries.

world climate top 2018

Katowice Climate Top COP24 results: our climate is left aside

In the past couple of weeks, almost 200 countries met in Poland for the UN climate summit. This summit was the biggest and most important event since the climate summit in Paris in 2015. Although negotiators took two more days to discuss new plans and agreements, it hasn’t shown great results. No agreement has been made and that is bad news for our planet.

The earth can’t heat up more than 1.5 degrees

Last October, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a scientific report that stated that global warming can not rise anymore further than 1.5 degrees in total. Therefore, it was not entirely coincidental that a new climate summit was held shortly thereafter. The goal of The COP24 in Poland was to receive a worldwide agreement on how to slow down climate change to meet the ultimatum of 1.5 degrees.

More words, less action

Initially, world leaders would be debating for twelve days over the reduction of global warming. In the end, they have debated fourteen days. However, those two extra days seemed to be unnecessary because no actual solution has come up. The IPCC report has been used as a guide for the COP24 to create a new handbook with rules, but that didn’t work out. This means that for the next climate summit in Chile 2020, more drastic actions need to be made. Already the effects on climate change are notable. Especially on vulnerable islands like the Maldives and Marshall Islands. These islands are already facing life or death situations due to hurricanes and floods. If world leaders wait another two years to take action, this could mean that more islands and sensitive areas will be affected. Since climate change occurs faster than ever, a lot can happen in two years.

Countries that are slowing down the process of developmentclimate top and flying

Agreed at the previous climate summit was that global warming has to stop, but not upon the manner of how. Little hope was set on the climate summit this year in Katowice to change that. Nevertheless, countries like The United States, Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia were slowing the process down. Especially The United States is well-known for slowing the development by statements from Donald Trump such as “Global Warming doesn’t exist”. However, at the last mid-term elections in the U.S., it has shown that the majority of the citizens wants to take actions against climate change.

Brazil appeared to be the real challenge

Another reason why the process of the COP24 in Katowice was so slow, is that the general idea was to make an agreement for new rules on international emission rights. However, somehow Brazil seemed to forget this general idea and goal and was putting a lot of pressure on the other 198 countries. Because of Brazil’s pressure, many rules were significantly eroded. Therefore, world leaders didn’t come to an agreement and decided to delete the chapter on emission allowances altogether. This topic will be addressed at the next climate summit, hopefully with more flexibility coming from Brazil.

Rules that succeeded after the COP24

Luckily, the COP24 wasn’t all for nothing. Negotiators have succeeded in producing a new handbook according to the rules for the Paris Agreement. This agreement has been made in 2015 after the COP23. This agreement stated that the earth can’t heat up more than 2 degrees. However, as shown, climate change is occurring rapidly and already in 3 years that needed to be adjusted to 0.5 degrees lower. 

Minimum new rules have been made, but definitely, some changes are notable. A general, global goal has been set-up as the following:

“Climate-proof development pathways (CRDPs): Pathways that reinforce sustainable development at multiple scale levels and efforts to eliminate poverty through reasonable social and system transitions and transformations, while reducing the increase of climate change through ambitious mitigation, adaptation and climate resilience. “

In Katowice, countries have tried to find a system to implement new agreements. These agreements are beside the stated above one; reducing carbon dioxide emissions and first helping the poor countries that suffer the most from climate change. But again, no actual manners or actions have been set-up for that.

Protest at the COP24protests katowice

Besides 200 hundred representatives of various countries, also many social organizations and activists joined the COP24. They came to bring a message to Katowice: it’s time for a change and climate action, with or without a political decision. Many protests have started around the world and even a protest right after the COP24 conference. In Sweden, a teenager motivated her school to start a protest claiming that world leaders “aren’t mature enough”. There was also a growing attention on the possible future extinction of the bee. Another 65.000 people protested in the city of Brussels and Greenpeace also speaks out loud with an unsalted opinion. Thousands of organizations rang the Emergency Clock for our climate.

Greenpeace speaks

Greenpeace, one of the most notable worldwide, environmental development organization stated that it’s disappointed in the outcome of the climate summit. The spokesman of Greenpeace stated on many media-channels that “negotiators didn’t meet the goals of the purpose of this climate summit. Neither they took enough effort to find solutions to stop global warming at 1.5 degrees”. “The decisions that are made are not only ignoring science but are also ruining vulnerable islands and places, little by little. In addition to that, the world leaders led people down to ask for changes on climate action”, Greenpeace said.

Petitions

Protest and sustainable movements have been around for many years. Getting solar panels or seeing a new windmill being placed is nothing new. However, after the COP24 the sustainable movement seems to be bigger than ever. Many petitions have started in order to make climate change stop and draw attention from world leaders.

Read more about sustainability in this blog.

Climate conference in New York

Despite the fail attempt of world leaders to come to an agreement this year, they soon get a second chance at the climate conference in New York in September 2019. At this conference, all the heads of the governments of different countries come together. Hopefully, they will succeed better than the world leaders in finding a solution against global warming.

Bees extinct through pesticides

If the bee is going to be extinct, so are we?

Since 1945, the amount of beehives has been reduced twice in today’s Western World. This is caused by changes in agriculture. Over the years, farmers have chosen to use manure over lucerne or clover. Especially clover is an important source of food for bees. In addition to that, farmers have been using weed killers more and more since 1945. These weedkillers not only kill weed, but also flowering plants. Another important factor why bees are struggling to survive in the world of today is because farmers started to cultivate monocultures that cover a huge amount of agriculture area. Back in the days, bees had many options to feed and pollinate, but now it seems more like a desert on earth to them.

The use of pesticides pesticides and agriculture

After the change in fertilizing the ground, using weedkillers and monocultures, the battle for bees is still not over. After World War II, farmers started to use pesticides on a large scale. They started to do this to minimize the damage to monocultures. After all, monocultures like lettuce or crops are a paradise on earth for many other insects.

Types of pesticides

Researches from the Penn State University in the United States have discovered that every time a bee flies from flower to the bees hive to pollinate, it takes an average of six detectable pesticides with it. One of the most common types of pesticide is Neonicotinoids. This type spreads itself all over the plant. However, in most cases, only the seed of the plant is sprayed with the pesticide. This causes a lower level of nectar and pollen in a plant. Because most bees don’t get in direct contact with the seed, they don’t receive a high dose of insecticide. However, a low dose can cause a disorienting effect and that causes that bees sometimes don’t find their way back to the hive.

As if all these difficulties a bee has to face aren’t enough, it also has to face their biggest enemy; Varroa Destructor. This is a blood-sucking parasite that lives on many plants and flowers. It harms the immune system of the bee when attached and spreads diseases.

The Beekeeperbeekeeper to protect bees

Although we as humans find ourselves superior, we are actually not. Bees have never needed us and therefore, humans are more a problem to them than helpful. The Beekeeper is the final threat that a bee has to face, but this one can be changed easily. The Beekeeper should work as the ‘guardian’ of the bees, not the master. This is luckily the way many organic farms work. 

What if the bee is to be extinct?

Various media have been saying that humans will also die if the bee dies, inspired by the theory of Albert Einstein. He stated this many years ago, but wasn’t taken too seriously because as a physicist he talked outside his field of knowledge. Nevertheless, the number of bees is decreasing in many European countries. Although exact numbers are hard to find, according to Wageningen University, the amount of bees is as low as it can be in order to survive. The further decrease will have problematic effects. The pollination of food crops is in danger, as this is done by bees.

Economic crisis

Over the past few years, mainly bees received a lot of attention in the media. If the bee will disappear, so will seventy percent of the trade in vegetables and plants. This will cause an enormous worldwide economic crisis.

Less food

Research by the German scientist Alexandra-Maria Klein has shown that of the 115 most important food crops, 87 are pollinated by insects and 28 are not. Some crops, such as corn, rye, oats and spinach are pollinated by the wind and do not require insects other animals (e.g. birds).

If bees won’t longer provide for pollination, the first type of food that will disappear will be most likely strawberries. Although they get pollinated by bumblebees as well as other wild bees or hoverflies, the number of strawberries will decrease tremendously. As humans of today have found many smart technological solutions for almost everything, there will be most likely something to replace this problem as well. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take away that the variation of food will decrease.

According to Wageningen University, ten percent of our world food production will be lost if bees are going to be extinct. Also, the amount of variation in our food will decrease. Another problematic factor is that insects like bees help spread vitamins and minerals in our food, so if they extinct we as humans will lack many vitamins and minerals.

Food that doesn’t need pollinationbees are important

Although 76 percent of the crops in the world are pollination by insects like the bee, it is not so much if you put it into perspective. Sixty percent of our food comes from crops that do not depend on pollinators. Think of rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, and wheat. In addition to that, only thirteen percent of crops fully depend on animal pollinators.

Another important factor in our food production is that many greenhouse vegetables do not depend on pollination by honeybees. Most of the time, bumblebees are also doing the job. Nevertheless, also bumblebees are in the threat of extinction. The threats that bees are facing will affect all types of bees and other animals that cause pollination.

Conclusion

The answer to the question ‘if the bee goes extinct, are we also to be extinct?’, would be no. Would this be a complete world disaster? Yes. If the bee is to extinct and worldwide food production will be reduced by ten percent, it will cause even more scarcity in places where there is already limited food access. Also in rich countries, it will cause poverty and financial issues. Moreover, food that doesn’t depend on pollination, like rice and grain will be still produced. However, this might be the only option to eat in the long term, since the variation of food will decrease immensely if the bee is to be extinct.

what is aquaponics

Why Aquaponics is the future

Aquaponics makes it possible to grow your own fresh vegetables and fish. The combination of fish and plants creates a smart, sustainable cycle. The plants are fed by the poop of the fish while the plants purify the water for the fish. A win-win situation it seems.

What exactly is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a combination of two words: aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture means ‘to grow organisms in water’. Hydroponics is growing plants without using soil or earth. Aquaponics is used in agriculture by the combination of both aquaculture and hydroponics in order to grow fish and feed plants at the same time in water basins.

How does Aquaponics work?

The poop of fish serves as manure for the plants in the water basin. It contains several minerals such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and ammonia. These minerals convert into nitrate that the plant will take up. The manure gets distributed through a pump that goes from one basin to the other. Apart from the manure from the fish, sometimes plants receive extra nutrition supplements like iron, calcium of magnesium. This process also serves for purifying the water.

The fish in the water cause contamination, mainly through poop. However, that contamination is collected around the roots of the plants. The roots automatically convert the bacteria that causes the contamination and the waste products in the water into nitrates. As said, nitrates are one of the minerals that feed plants. Therefore, the plants create a perfect self-purifying circle.

Benefits of Aquaponics

Aquaponics represents a sustainable and vicious cycle. It has a lot of benefits for farming. These are, among others;

  • 100% reuse of manure and raw materials.
  • 100% organic farming.
  • Control of the temperature; basins are usually inside and can be easily controlled with a temperature controller.
  • Control of water; the basins are usually located inside and therefore will not be affected by (heavily) rainfall like in normal agriculture.
  • Water consumption is controlled; the basin has always a solid amount of water that it needs. Whereas in normal agriculture a lot of water is used for irritation, depending on weather conditions.
  • No disturbance or holdbacks caused by weeds; everything grows without soil.
  • It’s a flexible system with different kind of sizes to grow plants and fish; has great adaption and can be set-up in almost any space.
  • It’s a fast system; plants grow fast because of the constant nutrition they receive.
  • Aquaponics requires less physical work and creates more profit than normal agriculture since it’s relatively cheap to have.
  • It can be used not only by companies but also by individuals. The system can be placed in any kind of space and therefore creates a self-sufficient living.

Aquaponics for individualsaquaponics for individuals

Aquaponics makes it possible to be self-sufficient, even if you are just living in an apartment with a balcony. However, the only thing you need to do is buy a basin with a couple of fishes and a (small) container or a second basin with plants. Between the basin and the plants, you need to place a pump so that both benefit of each other’s nutrition. This principle is pretty simple and although this kind of agriculture is more intensively used over the past few years, the base of has been around for centuries. For instance, Japanese people are using Koi Carp already for many years in their rice fields.

The fish

You can’t just place any fish in a pool for aquaponics. Tropical fishes, for instance, won’t work for aquaponics because the temperature of the water needs to stay below 30 degrees Celsius. Also, the exact temperature of the basin depends on the type of fish. Here are some examples of fish that can be used for Aquaponics;

  • Tilapia (11-17 °C basin)
  • Catfish (20-24 °C basin)
  • Goldfish (16-22 °C basin)
  • Trout (1-22 °C basin)
  • Barramundi (26-30 °C basin)

If you’d like to use the fish not only for aquaponics but also for food, try tilapia, or even shrimp or crayfish.

Where to create an Aquaponic space?

Whether you live on a farm or in the city, you will only need a small area for an Aquaponic space. Aquaponic doesn’t depend on sunlight or rainfall and therefore can be put on a balcony or in any room inside the house.

With Aquaponics, almost any vegetable can grow but there are some that grow better than others. Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and kale grow very well in Aquaponics. Also, peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes are known to grow very fast. Among the fruits, strawberries grow the best in an Aquaponic space. Among the herbs, basil is the most suitable. Whenever you start growing vegetables, fruits or herbs you need to make sure there multiple mature plants inside the container so that the water can be purified any time.

DIY Aquaponics space

If you are planning on building an Aquaponic space inside your house, you can easily build it yourself. The only things you need are a ready-to-use storage rack and waste material made out of PVC. If you are planning on building a bigger space in for example the garden, you could take a look at buying an IBC (industrial packaging for liquids). This is a one-cubic-meter, watertight block that’s useful for growing much fish. You could build another block on top or next to the container with plants. Add a pump to create a passage for nutrition. You’ll be almost ready to use your aquaponic space. Make sure everything is tightened correctly and create the perfect water temperature according to the fish you’re going to use. Luckily, there are many short videos to be found on the internet. These guide you step by step how to create your own aquaponics space.

Apart from short videos, there are many articles and books about Aquaponics. One of those is ‘Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to raising vegetables and fish together’ by Sylvia Bernstein.

Aquaponics is the future from back in the days

Aquaponics is a very organic and environmentally friendly way to grow vegetables and fish. Despite the fact that Aquaponics has only been used for a couple of years now, it has an old characteristic. Thanks to Aquaponics, one can be self-sufficient, just like people were before the industrial revolution. This creates less mass-consumption, another factor why Aquaponics is so sustainable.