Trying to live plastic-free

In light of all the recent hype about plastic pollution, pushed forward by the recent adoption of the EU Plastics Strategy, my housemate and I recently decided to reduce our plastic consumption. As it turns out, it’s going to be more difficult than we expected. Plastic is quite literally hiding in almost everything you can think of, including – shock horror for me – teabags.

We’ve started out by buying non-disposable coffee mugs that are made of bamboo. She’s already used hers – at my first opportunity, unfortunately I had forgotten mine. It’s going to take a while to change our habits and start bringing them everywhere. Currently, mine looks really cute sitting on my shelf, where it is exactly useless.

Still, non-biodegradable coffee cups are amongst the top fifteen pieces of litter found on European beaches in the Black and Baltic Sea. Millions of people drink coffee every morning, or almost every morning, from a disposable take-away cup. Such single-use plastics are destroying our oceans and contaminating our water supplies.

Going forwards, the plan is to reduce plastic from our lives. It’s definitely going to be easier said than done, but we will give it a go, and update regularly.



How Green is the 2012 Election?

With the upcoming US presidential election, there’s no way I can’t focus on the climate change question this week. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, no one can refute that Romney has blatantly ignored the question. Take a look at this recent clip, where a protester at a Romney rally was booed out for suggesting he discuss climate change. The animosity of some Americans in this video is scary.

But despite the fact that Obama’s policies on climate change will clearly best Romney’s,  neither candidate brought up the climate change question in the 3 presidential debates. Why is this, we have to wonder?

As far as presidential candidates go, Obama has always been a champion for climate change. After being elected in 2008, Obama stated “Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear…Denial is no longer an acceptable response.” Compare this to Romney’s opinion: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

Obama’s record, so far, has been pretty good. He’s on track to invest the €150bn he promised to renewable sources of energy. The investment in the energy sector has been strong. Obama is also the first US President to issue a document stating that scientific findings will not be interfered with by the administration, called the Integrity Policy. This document deals with the concerns that scientists had under the Bush administration: that they were not being heard, that their work was being censored, that findings were remaining hidden and going unreported and unpublished.

His policies came under harsh criticism in 2011 when Al Gore attacked him for not leading the public sufficiently in on environmental issues. In Rolling Stone magazine, Gore claimed that Obama had never shown the American public “the magnitude of the climate crisis”. This may be true. Obama’s policies have also often focused on “clean coal” technologies, which have some doubt cast over them.

Obviously Al Gore is currently supporting Obama’s campaign. They are both Democrats, and Obama has been the best President with regards to climate change to date, a matter which Gore has based his career on campaigning for. But Gore is still saying that Obama needs to be stronger in the face of climate change. Superstorm Sandy can only showcase this more clearly.

If it hadn’t been for Superstorm Sandy,  would the issue of climate change have come up at all in this election? If the mayor of New York had not put his faith behind Obama, stating that it was expressly because of Obama’s stance on climate change, would the politicians be talking about this issue at all? Why did Obama steer so clear of one of the big features of his policies? One of the clearest differences between his campaign and Romney’s?

People who are concerned about climate change, which is recognised by the Pentagon as one of the major threats to US Security (, are definitely worried about the silence that Obama had been displaying in relation to this topic. But maybe, with Superstorm Sandy, that silence is over. Mother Nature has made herself heard. Whichever candidate wins the Presidential election, it is my hope that America finally and firmly tackles the reality of climate change.