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Environmental Benefits of Planting a Tree

Whilst we busy our minds with the complexities of climate change, reducing CO2 emissions and ridding our oceans of plastic, we sometimes miss the simplest of messages … the world needs more trees! 

According to the National Geographic, forests still cover 30% of the worlds land area, but this is disappearing with alarming rapidity. Between 1990 and 2016 the world reportedly lost 1.3m square kilometres of forest. To put that in to context … an area larger than the whole of South Africa! Now that’s a pretty scary thought! The environmental impact of this loss is unimaginable. Not to mention the millions of animals and human beings that will have lost their homes in the process.

Programmes to reduce deforestation are fighting hard to at least reduce the growth, but efforts must be redoubled if we are to have any hope of reversing or even just slowing down climate change. But we don’t have to watch from the sidelines, there are plenty of things we can do right here in the UK to help replenish our greenery and planet.

 

What can we do to help?

Simply finding a space in your garden to plant a tree can help to generate a more pleasant and sustainable environment. Simply pick a tree that is suitable for the space and soil you have available and get digging!  With over 27 million households in the UK, just think of the impact on the environment if just a small proportion of us agreed to plant a single tree! Every tree helps!  

 

 

 

There are lots of local schemes run by local councils and groups to encourage people to plant more trees.  Why not speak with others in your local area and get together to plan an event for your community?  Bringing people together to plant on a spare piece of land is a fantastic way of raising awareness and building sustainability.  Schools, colleges, local businesses can get involved by participating, promoting and sponsoring the event to broaden the impact.  Speak with local landowners and council representatives to find the perfect spot!

 

 

 

 

 

Why not give a gift that keeps on giving (or growing)! You can either send a gift of a tree to a friend or family member for them to plant in their garden, or take a look at the many organisations around the country where you can sponsor a tree in their name.  As a starter for ten, take a look at the National Forest Plant a Tree Scheme. They have already planted nearly 9 million trees and need our help to reach their target.

 

 

 

 

Many people don't realise the potential that trees provide. Let alone the immediate and future impact they can have on our environment.  Why not promote tree planting in your work, school or college? Provide resources on the best tree to choose, how to get started and some key facts on the benefits of trees. The Woodland Trust has lots of resource packs that can help.  You could also invite a representative from a local garden centre to give a talk on tree planting and ongoing care.  Knowledge is power!

 

 

 

 

 

Some key facts:

  • Deforestation

    Did you know ... if deforestation was a country it would rank third in carbon dioxide equivalent admissions (according to the World Resources Institute).

  • Fresh Air

    Did you know ... an average sized tree can produce enough oxygen in a single year to keep a family of four breathing. So just think what the trillions of trees on the planet are doing for us right now ...

  • Clever Trees

    Did you know ... Some trees emit chemicals that attract enemies of their enemies to keep them safe from harm. And did we mention that trees and plants can communicate to share food and even go to war!

  • Thirsty Trees

    Planting trees can help to control water levels in areas prone to floods. But did you know ... a large oak tree can drink up to 100 gallons per day? Thirsty things those trees.

  • Stress Management

    Did you know ... that trees can actually help to lower our stress levels? Just looking at them helps us to feel a little happier, but trees also emit chemicals (known as phytoncides) which help to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and increase our pain threshold.

  • Money Savers

    Did you know ... that planting trees near your home can actually help to lower your energy bills? Strategic planting can help to shade your home in the summer and protect it from cooling winds in the winter.

Why-plant-trees-QBamboo-sustainable-gifts-ecofriendly

Plastic-Free July! Take the Challenge!

Plastic Free July Challenge!

Plastic Free July is an international movement that helps people all around the world to reduce their plastic pollution!  Why? So that we can have cleaner streets, cleaner oceans, cleaner air and an all-round healthier planet.

Who is it for?

With over 120 million participants across more than 150 countries, Plastic Free July is one of the biggest and most influential movements in our drive for a better planet! And best of all … it’s so easy to take part.  With countless ways to reduce your use of plastic, you can treat July as a bit of practice before making sustainable changes for a lifetime! If you’re looking for some tips on how to reduce your use of plastic, have a look at our resources below! No matter how great or small, every little helps! Let’s get inspired!

#Plasticfreejuly2019-join-the-challenge stamp hi res

What Can You Do For Plastic Free July?

Here’s are some ideas of some small changes you can make at home to switch plastic for more eco-friendly alternatives!

 

Spread the word in school or the office with a few easy steps.  Raise awareness and get others engaged!

 

World Environment Day 2019

What is World Environment Day?

World Environment Day is a global event led by the UN. It takes place every year on June 5 and is celebrated worldwide. Since its launch in 1972, it has become the single largest collaborative event to promote our environment. This year the World Environment Day is dedicated to reducing #airpollution.

Facts About Air Pollution 

Did you know that 9 out of 10 people are currently breathing polluted air? Poor air quality is reportedly one of the UK’s biggest killers. Evidence suggests that it can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease, worsen respiratory conditions such as asthma and can even contribute to an increase in incidences of lung cancer.

Globally, the cost of air pollution has been estimated at a staggering $225 billion annually. This includes the cost of treating health conditions, alongside the impact on both business and tourism. 

Air pollution also directly affects the climate and many causes of pollution.  Everything from carbon emissions from our transport system, to the toxins released from burning fossil fuels all contribute to climate change!

How much pollution we breathe in is dependent on many factors, such as access to clean energy for cooking and heating, the time of day and the weather. Rush hour is an obvious source of local pollution, but air pollution can travel long distances, sometimes across continents on international weather patterns. 

World Environment Day Beat Air Pollution

What Causes Air Pollution?

There are 5 main causes of air pollution, all creating directly at the hands of humans.  These sources emit a range of toxic substances including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide and lead.  All of which are harmful to our health and our environment. Learn more about the causes of air pollution here.

How Can We Support World Environment Day?

This year World Environment Day is promoting the ‘Mask Challenge’.  Face masks have become a symbol to represent air pollution and communities are being called upon to wear masks in protest to our government leaders.

Alongside the Mask Challenge, contributors are being encouraged to commit to a personal action to help #BeatAirPollution. Here are some ideas to get you started …

World Environment Day Beat Air Pollution The Mask Challenge

The first step is committing to make a change.  It doesn’t have to be a complete ‘game changer’, just something that will make a small contribution and will help to spread the word! Here are some examples:

Use public transport or car sharing, cycle or walk … even if just 1 day a week.

– Grow your own veg or buy local produce to reduce emissions from ‘food miles’.

– Go vegetarian or vegan for a day.  Even eliminating meat from just one meal can help to reduce overall methane emissions 

 – Commit to composting food items and recycling the rest of your rubbish

– Reduce your food waste and replace a single use item with an eco-friendly alternative. 

– Save energy by turning off the lights and other electronic goods when not in use.  Let’s lose the ‘stand-by’ glow!

And finally (perhaps most importantly) … share your pledge and encourage others to do the same! Take a photo of yourself fulfilling your commitment and post it on your social media pages. Use #WorldEnvironmentDay and #BeatAirPollution in your social media posts.

Useful Resources and Links for World Environment Day:

How to create a sustainable kitchen with Qbamboo

How to Create a Sustainable Kitchen

So here are our top tips on making small, sustainable changes to your kitchen-living to reduce your footprint on the planet. We know that making these changes can look a little costly on the face of it, but our experience tells us to look at the longer term value of these changes before making a decision. Yes they may involve an initial outlay, but when you compare the cost over a life-time (e.g. cost per use) the results can often be surprising. So we try to think about overall value rather than price!

Read More »
10 foods you can grow at home with Qbamboo

10 Foods You Can Grow At Home

We know that time is difficult to find in our busy diaries, and that we may not all have expansive gardens to sow next years crop … so here’s a few tips on getting started! And the added benefit is that gardening reportedly has a positive effect on our mental health! Everyone’s a winner!

Read More »
Qbamboo Top 5 Sustainability Habits

Top 5 Sustainability Habits!

So it seems that our days on this planet are seriously limited by the damage we have already done to our environment. Whilst most of this damage has been done in such a short space of time, regenerating our planet will not be quite as quick or simple!

Often our decisions about how to be more eco-friendly are seriously hampered by a lack of information and sometimes by lack of opportunity! There are some things that we do which just cannot be completely sustainable, no matter how hard we try.

Read More »

Top Causes of Air Pollution

This year’s World Environment Day (June 5th 2019) is dedicated to reducing air pollution.  The programme is a ‘call to action’ to combat one of the most significant environmental challenges of our generation.  Hosted by China, World Environment Day challenges us all to learn more about pollutants and to make changes in our daily lives to reduce the growth in pollution.

What Causes Air Pollution?

We believe that understanding the causes of pollution can help us to take action to improve the air around us.  Here are a few key facts about the causes of air pollution.

World Environment Day - Causes of Pollution

Households across the world make a significant contribution to air pollution, primarily through the use of fossil fuels.  A general increase in the amount of energy that it takes to cook, heat and light our homes has taken it’s toll on the environment.  

As our homes become full of gadgets to simplify life, the ‘stand-by’ lights are often lighting up our rooms 24 hours a day!  Not to mention the multi-room TVs, phone chargers and gizmos that switch your lights on and off for you! Progress at a cost!

Across the world around 3 billion people continue to utilise solid fuels to cook and heat their homes – causing increasing pollution and a rise in related illnesses. Whilst countries are increasing access to alternative fuels and equipment, the progress isn’t coming fast enough.

World Environment Day - Causes of Pollution

Not really a surprise here! Often when we think of pollution we jump to a picture of industrial giants pumping smoke out into the air don’t we?  And we’re not far off the mark!

Power generation is a leading source of air pollution, not to mention general industrial processes involving toxic chemicals, solvents and mining.  

Across the world only 82 (out of 193) countries have incentives in place to encourage investment into renewable energy, energy efficiency and cleaner production processes.  But time is running out and not all Governments are recognising the need to promote the environment over international business!

World Environment Day - Causes of Pollution

If you’ve ever blown your nose after wandering through a busy, car-filled city … then you kind of get the gist!  Global transport accounts for almost 25% of energy related emissions.  And this proportion is continuing to rise!

Air pollution from transport alone reportedly contributes to nearly 400k premature deaths, and those living close to major traffic routes can be up to 12% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.  Scary facts!

Contributors to transport emissions range from air travel to the everyday family car. Reducing the congestion (and pollution) on our roads means that we need to improve both the efficiency of vehicles and the overall number of vehicles in use! 

 

World Environment Day - Causes of Pollution

There’s no such thing as ‘throwing it out’.  Everything we dispose of has to go somewhere, and that means over-used landfills, air polluting disposal units and oceans littered with our cast offs!

Organic waste in landfills and open waste burning release dangerous dioxins, methane and black carbon into the air.  Scarily – over 40% of waste is openly burned in this way. A practice utilised in over 85% of countries!

The answer is not simply in having better recycling programmes – we must significantly reduce the waste we create, dispose of organic waste appropriately and use alternative materials that can be more easily repurposed/re-used!

 

World Environment Day - Causes of Pollution

Agriculture emissions come from a number of different sources.  everything from methane producing livestock to the burning of agricultural waste.  Worryingly, methane emissions create ‘ground-level ozone’ which is known to cause respiratory diseases amongst the population.  

Methane is also an even more potent contributor to global warming than carbon dioxide.  On fact it is estimated to be 34 times more destructive over the period of 100 years.

Solutions to agriculture emissions include reducing demand for food (through less waste, plant-based diets), optimised livestock feeding practices and improved land management.  All of this takes increased education and investment from institutions and governments around the world.  An increase in organic farming can also help to protect our environment and to create a healthier alternative at a more affordable price.

 

How to Create a Sustainable Kitchen

We all want to be more eco-friendly don’t we?  Sometimes the prospect of creating a sustainable household can be a little overwhelming so our advice is to start small and eco-charge just one room at a time! And what better place to start than the kitchen?

So here are our top tips on making small, sustainable changes to your kitchen-living to reduce your footprint on the planet.  We know that making these changes can look a little costly on the face of it, but our experience tells us to look at the longer term value of these changes before making a decision.  Yes they may involve an initial outlay, but when you compare the cost over a life-time (e.g. cost per use) the results can often be surprising. So we try to think about overall value rather than price!

Here are the top 7 tips on creating a sustainable kitchen:

1. Reduce Food Waste

As they say … a little bit of waste goes a long way! Whilst this hasn’t exactly become a household saying, what we mean is that not only is our food waste causing an increasing impact on the Earth … it is also hitting our pockets! And its impact is much greater than we think! Each bit of food we throw away has to disposed of in some way.  Unless we’re dedicated composters, that means throwing it in the bin and sending it off to landfill or some other waste management programme.  All of this uses extra time, energy and resources to process what we didn’t need in the first place!

Whilst we may not all have the time, keeping a brief diary of our food waste for a week can often highlight the scale of the problem and point to the areas we could most improve on.  Our diary showed that we often ‘over bought’ on staple foods like potatoes.  This was because multiple people in the household did the shopping and picked up what they thought we needed.  Our simple solution – we planned our meals each week and kept a shopping list on the fridge for any items we were running short on.  This meant that we didn’t ‘double buy’ any items.  Some bright spark suggested we used Alexa to keep the shopping list … but I haven’t quite figured that out yet!

So our quick tips for reducing food waste are:

        • Keep a diary – look at which items you waste the most and why
        • Plan you weekly meals – so you know what to buy and when.  Look at the use-buy dates and check they will last until you will eat them.
        • Re-use leftovers – a bit of ‘bubble & squeak’ always goes down a treat.
        • Preserve food for longer by making sure it is stored correctly, i.e. in air tight containers, in/out of fridge (according to guidelines for each product).
        • Eat imperfectly – Wonky veg and mis-shapen fruit are just as tasty and usable as their more aesthetically pleasing counterparts.

2. Ditch the single-use

Take a look at all items that you use once and then bin.  Aluminium foil? Kitchen roll? cling film? straws? All items with perfectly re-usable and sustainable alternatives.  Straws are often in the news as we unite against the use of plastic, but if you like your milkshake with a straw then there’s no need to go without.  Simply swap the disposable straw for a glass or stainless steel one.

Instead of opting for aluminium foil or cling film to cover those leftovers or wrap the sandwiches – opt for one of our stainless steel food containers or reusable sandwich wraps.  Switching to either cotton or beeswax wraps is one of our favourite swaps.  Not only are they practical (and eco-friendly), they are also stylish and colourful!

And as for kitchen roll – why not give one of our ‘unpaper towels‘ a whirl?  Or look for a sustainable alternative such as our forest-friendly bamboo kitchen towels.

Reusable Produce Bags
100% Cotton Unpaper Towels
None Sponge (set of 2) Winter Leaf
Bonnie The Bunny Bamboo Tableware (set of 5)
Bio D Washing Powder

3. Use Reusable Grocery Bags

We are all trying to say ‘no to plastic’ but often we’re left a little unprepared at the local shops when we pop in for a pint of milk.  Opt for a foldable cotton bag as an alternative and pop it in your pocket so that you are always prepared.  They can be reused again and again.  Our favourite are our ‘Saree Bags‘ that are made (unsurprisingly) from recycled sarees.  A bit of international upcycling at its best! And if it’s food storage that you’re after, we use our organic cotton produce bags to transport and store all of our veggies in.  Not really the most difficult change to make in life now is it?

4. Buy Locally and Grow Your Own

Woah … grow our own?  I didn’t think that I had the time (or the interest to be honest) to grow my own food but it turns out I really didn’t know what I was talking about.  Not only are there some super-easy options to grow our own veg, we don’t need a huge garden to do it in either.  Just a window sill, window box or a little space on the patio, and hey presto … tasty, healthy food that is about as ‘local’ as you can get!

But if you can’t grow your own then opt for buying local produce.  Not only are you supporting your neighbouring communities, you’re also significantly reducing the ‘food miles’ that it takes to get your lovely veg on to your plate.  And don’t forget that looks aren’t everything … the wonky ones still taste great! Take a look at our tips on ‘10 Foods You Can Grow At Home‘.

5. Buy Sustainable Sponges and Tableware

Sometimes we don’t 100% understand the impact of our buying decisions so we opt for the cheapest version on the shelf.  That means we tend to have more items in our kitchen that are made from things such as plastic, sponge and non-recyclable materials.  But remember … the cost on the price tag doesn’t reflect the value of the item or indeed the cost to the planet!

We switched our sponge-based cleaning products for items such as the Eco-Coconut scourers and re-usable none sponges. That way our daily washing up and kitchen cleaning duties became a whole lot more sustainable with just a simple switch.  We also look for alternatives to plastic such as bamboo tableware for the youngsters in the family.  Not only are they more eco-friendly, they also add a bit of fun into our mealtimes!

6. Eco-Charge Your Cleaning

Traditional cleaning materials can often contain countless chemicals and abrasive substances that not only harm the environment, but also propose a risk to our health and well-being. Making a simple switch from your usual washing powder to an alternative ‘planet-friendly’ product such as the Ecozone Soapnuts or Emma’s Laundry Soap can make all the difference.

Companies such as Bio D, Ecos, Attitude and Ecover manufacture high quality cleaning products that ‘don’t cost the earth’. We use the Ecover Multi Surface Spray and Attitude Washing Up Liquid as alternatives to traditional cleaning products. Now when I say use … I have to admit that I’m not using them everyday. But that says more about the cleanliness of my kitchen than the usability of the products!

7. Buy Organic

At Qbamboo we are huge fans of buying organic food.  Not only is it better for our health (none of those nasty chemicals) it is also so much better for the environment.  Link to article about organic benefits. You don’t have to be perfect but make a few changes at a time.  Sometimes these products are less affordable but here’s why – the farming methods are less reliant on chemicals.  Can we afford the negative impact on the environment instead?  The more expensive the food the more it makes us think about whether we really need it i.e. reducing waste too!

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