What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? by Tony Juniper – Review

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us’ by Tony Juniper – a leading environmental campaigner and sustainability advisor – is a remarkable book which highlights the true value of the natural world, and the true economic cost of human ignorance in modern day development. 

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? by Tony Juniper (2012)

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? by Tony Juniper (2012)

After getting thoroughly engorged into the first few chapters, I was fortunate enough to attend a book club hosted by Friends of the Earth with my manager Dawn Newton, where we had the opportunity to meet Tony Juniper himself (and get my book signed – eeeek!) and learn first-hand about his motivations for writing ‘What Has Nature Ever Done For Us’. He passionately spoke how science is basically communicated to the general public in Swahili, with poor communication methods effectively building great walls and further separating environmentalists, and everyone else.

Juniper’s key aim therefore was to communicate the science to all audiences, which he fulfilled by explaining the complexity and interdependency of nature in a story-like fashion. He produced an engaging and highly readable account of how we as a population are literally liquidating the capital of the Earth.

Tony Juniper - Executive Director

Image provided by Friends of the Earth

To introduce the complex web of interactions and relationships occurring within the Earth’s system, the prologue tells the story of Biosphere 2, the first man-made version of the biosphere which incorporated a variety of the world’s ecosystems in individual biomes. This introduction outlines how a group of eight people embarked on a 2 year experiment in a microcosm of the Earth’s closed systems and the trials, tribulations and complexities they faced.

Juniper then continues to address the importance of the different components of the Earth’s system and their vital interactions. He explains to the reader the full importance of nature’s processes; constantly moving from a cold statistic to a vivid anecdote about the economic failures we have already faced as a consequence of our need to fund our exploding population and consumption habits.

A favourite example of mine concerned the Indian vultures – a scavenger which typically doesn’t pluck at the heart strings of conservationists – who suffered a population decline of 40 million birds following the introduction of a painkiller into cattle, the carcasses of which were a key source of food for the vultures. The original aim was to increase the farmer’s revenue by increasing the productivity of the cattle; however the painkiller proved poisonous to the vultures instigating a population crash and left mountains scattered with ‘putrefying fly-ridden corpses’. The consequence was more wild dogs, more dog bites, and a rabies epidemic which cost the Indian economy $30 billion.

Indian Vulture

Junipers key message is that we must put a price on nature if we are to ensure the long term preservation of our natural assets, and in turn maintain the long-term benefits the natural world provides. Nature’s services are not free and are not limitless. To capitalize on this goal we need to move away from our ‘green economy’ dominated by engineers and politicians, and move to a ‘bio economy’ where like during the construction of Biosphere 2, ecologists, climatologists, engineers, politicians, and businesses all work together to maximise our understanding and achieve our common goal.

Overall this book has provided the opportunity for readers from all walks of life to understand the difficulties faced by the natural world and our interwoven fate.

If you aren’t eager enough to buy the book already here are links to other reviews from the Guardian, by Designs On Earth, and by Friends of the Earth! 

And if your still not convinced visit Tony Juniper’s website…

Finally if any of you are interested in attending future Friends of the Earth book clubs visit their webpage with video of Tony (which also has the link to buy the book) contact: foebookclub@foe.co.uk

tumblr_m04d7lhXKL1qc6j5yo1_500Want to do something to help?

Healthy Planet’s Conservation Community allows you to directly impact the difficulties faced by the natural world. It is a fun and engaging way for anyone, anywhere to support real conservation projects that are helping make a healthier planet.

Visit the community and get on the map. www.conservationcommunity.org

Blog post written by Rhiannon Downer: Marketing & Communications intern at Healthy Planet

Waste not, want not

Stuff for Free event January 2012

Stuff for Free event January 2012

Each year the UK alone generates 290 million tonnes of waste, three-quarters of which could be recycled! Fortunately recycling has become a key element in today’s society and due to the thousands of households who live by the ‘Reduce Reuse and Recycle’  motto, 18 million tonnes of CO2 has been saved (that’s the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road!) But it’s not only reduce, reuse recycle that can reduce your carbon footprint! Upcycling is a new way of revitalizing unwanted clothes and other items that might otherwise end up in the bin.

Upcycling?

Upcycled Pringles can

Upcycled Pringles can

Upcycling is a way of creating a new or different product from an old one. For example, take an old piece of clothing and rejuvenate it with bits and pieces from your arts and crafts box, and give it a new identity! This is better for the environment; fewer perfectly usable items end up in landfill and as an added incentive… you are saving money!

For some upcycling ideas and inspiration head to our Pinterest Upcycling board http://pinterest.com/healthyplanetuk/reuse-repurpose-upcycle/

Introducing Stuff For Free

Stuff for Free 2012 Infographic

Stuff for Free 2012 Infographic

If you don’t fancy getting your glue gun and sewing kit out, you can also help reduce waste by donating your unwanted clothing and household items to a variety of environmental organisations. We at Healthy Planet have developed an innovative scheme known as Stuff for Free which collects unwanted household items and redistributes the goods into the community for free! This is a great way to declutter your home of items you don’t want anymore and give them a new life. Not everything you own needs to go in to the bin and head straight to landfill –remember one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure!

The Stuff for Free event in Leytonstone, North London was a great success, redistributing nearly 2 tonnes of perfectly good stuff to a new home. Over 350 members of the community came to give and get stuff for free including clothes, books, electronics and bric-a-brac. Attendees said “we enjoyed the friendly atmosphere” and “knowing the stuff I gave or received is finding a new use and a happy home is great!” One happy person took home a full leather motorcycle suit; another left with a never before used exercise machine and many more treasures were there for the taking. We ran 4 Stuff for Free events in it’s first year 2012, check out our infographic to see what happened.

The perfect reason to declutter

Check out this handy Top Tips from a Professional Declutterer produced for Healthy Planet by a professional declutterer – you might find you have a whole load of perfectly good items around your house just collecting dust that would be valued by a friend or neighbour. But you don’t have to bring anything to take stuff – anyone can come along – you never know what you might find.

Next events:

SFF who knows what you might find

Who knows what you might find?

Stuff for Free with West London Waste Authority – Acton event

Give Date: Friday 11th January 8am – 2pm

Take Date: Sunday 13th January 10am – 2pm

Venue: The Vision Warehouse, 15 Kendal Avenue, Acton, W3 0AF

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Give Dates: Saturday 23rd February & Sunday 24th February

Take Dates: Saturday 2nd March & Sunday 3rd March

Venue: Unit 1 City Forum, 250 City Road, London, EC1V 2PU http://goo.gl/maps/20QPa

Nearest tube: Old Street, Islington

You can find out more on the Stuff for Free webpage or signup to come or volunteer via eventbrite.

If you could help us to promote these events by tweeting / using facebook we would be most grateful.

Who Else Wants Your Unwanted items?

There are thousands of other environmental organisations who will also take your unwanted goods and donate them to a worthy cause. A few examples are listed below:

Traid is an organisation which reuses unwanted textiles and clothing and turns them into something new. Each piece of their upcycled clothing is a unique, one of a kind piece and cannot be replicated. www.traid.org.uk

Community RePaint collects leftover paint from homes and businesses. The paint is then redistributed to individuals, families and communities to improve the wellbeing of the people and the appearance of communities across the UK. www.communityrepaint.org.uk

Petit Miracle Interiors uses upcycling as a creative way to engage and assist people who have experienced homelessness or long term unemployment and vulnerable women. They run a series of workshops employing upcycling as a vehicle to improve the living environment, to build confidence, to reduce social exclusion and provide opportunities for further training and employment. www.petitmiracles.org.uk

Furniture Re-use Network are the national co-ordinating body for 400 furniture and appliance re-use and recycling organisations in the UK: theycollect a wide range of household items to pass onto people in need. http://www.frn.org.uk

More information about waste in the UK and recycling is available on the DEFRA website http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/

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I believe that the environmental movement is one of the most important priorities for the future;  Channelling the ‘throw away’ culture mindset into more creative and fun ways to save money and help the planet at the same time is the way forward.

Visit Healthy Planet to find out ways you can get involved and make some small changes that will create a positive difference to yourself, your community and the planet.

Written by Rupal Vaja, a Healthy Planet intern (and an aspiring environmental bud just waiting to flower!) – She is on Twitter

Turning food waste into a challenge!

There is nothing I enjoy more than hitting my local farmer’s market on Sunday afternoons. The variety and abundance of home-grown, fresh vegetables is a site to behold. All the market stalls and the crates of seasonal apples, potatoes, winter greens, squash and pumpkins have me dreaming up some new comfort food recipes that make me feel all warm inside – even when it is cold and dreary.

Sometimes, however, my excitement can have unintended consequences. I will bring home so much veg that my fridge is overflowing and I end up not getting through it all before it goes all wilty. Though I am sure the foxes in my neighbourhood would love to help me eat up all the surplus –  my neighbours have made it very clear I am not to leave food out for them.

What’s a girl to do? Until I can get a kitchen composter going, I sometimes find myself stuck and in the terrible position of wasting some lovely, nutritious veg.

Enter, ReCycle London’s Food Waste Challenge! Having signed up this week I pledge to find ways to use up all this great food and leave nothing for the bin! Getting creative in the kitchen, I’ll use that extra courgette to bake a cake for my co-workers and all the root veg can be blended up into a yummy sauce for pasta.

The challenge has set me on a mission and really made me think about how I can be less wasteful in this era of scarce resources and over-consumption. I feel lucky to be able to take part in this inspirational campaign and hope I can inspire others to challenge themselves as well.

For more information: http://www.recycleforlondon.com/content/love-food-hate-waste-food-waste-challenge

Facebook: www.facebook.com/recycleforlondon  Twitter: @Recycle_London

Check out this recipe and see what ideas it may inspire in you!

Courgette Bread Recipe

Serves: 2 loaves

Courgette bread

Courgette bread

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • ½ c warm water
  • 2 c turbinado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • ½ c oil
  • ½ c applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 to 2½ c grated courgette (~3 medium-sized ones)
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c chocolate chips or raisins, optional

Instructions

  1. Grease two loaf pans.
  2. Mix together flax seeds and warm water.
  3. Add sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla; beat well.
  4. Add grated courgette; stir till combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients.
  6. Add dry mixture to wet and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened and everything is incorporated evenly; some lumps are fine. If adding additional mix-ins, fold them in now. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  7. Bake at 175 for 50-55 minutes, or until knife inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Let cool a few minutes before slicing.

Check out Rubies in the Rubble a great social enterprise which trades at Borough Market & others and rescues food from being wasted and transforms it into tasty chutneys and jams.  http://www.futerra.co.uk/blog/rubies-in-the-rubble

About the Author: Camen Gupta is the Operations Manager and Head Gardener at Healthy Planet, a conservation charity headquartered in Hammersmith, London.

Stallholders at Healthy Planet’s Stuff for Free event

We’re are proud to be working in partnership with several organisations to create a small fair at our Leytonstone event on Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of November 2012. www.healthyplanet.org/stuffforfree

Stuff for free stallholders


(Sat & Sun)

Community RePaint

Stored in homes and garages across the UK, there is approximately 50 million litres of unused, reusable paint – enough to fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools! The Community Repaint scheme collects this leftover paint from homes and businesses. The paint is then redistributed to individuals, families and communities to improve the wellbeing of people and the appearance of communities across the UK. http://www.frponline.org.uk/

(Sat only)

Petit Miracles

Petit miracles are a registered charity who works with people who have experienced homelessness and long term unemployment, and with vulnerable women. The charity is a provider of accredited interior design training, DIY workshops and upcycling courses, to help participants improve their living environment, build confidence and provide opportunities for further training and employment. www.petitmiracles.org.uk

(Sat only) Green Peas

Green Peas provides classes for children aged 15 months – 4 years, where children can get involved in messy and creative play with natural objects. The classes are a unique opportunity for children to actively engage with nature in an urban environment, allowing them to create art out of ordinary objects like leaves and acorns which can boost children’s creativity and problem solving skills. www.greenpeasevents.co.uk

(Sat only)

Juliet Landau-Pope

Juliet Landau-Pope is a certified coach and professional de-clutterer who aims to ‘liberate your space, your schedule and your story’, through decluttering your home. The service empowers you to decide what to reduce, reuse, recycle, donate or discard, and find positive ways to part from items you no longer need. www.jlpcoach.com | Twitter: @jlpcoach

 

(Sat & Sun)

Love Food Hate Waste

Love Food Hate Waste is an NFP organisation which works with community organisations, UK businesses, trade bodies and local authorities to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and help us take action. Love Food Hate Waste also provides practical information to homeowners on how to reduce the amount of household waste through food shopping and recipe ideas, portion size planning and how to maximise the shelf life of your shopping. http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

 (Sun only)

DHL Envirosolutions

DHL Envirosolutions is one of the largest collectors of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), and helps to promote recycling within the local community. http://www.dhl.co.uk/en/logistics/supply_chain_solutions/

(Sun only)

 

EcoACTIVE

EcoACTIVE is an environmental education charity who, through eye-opening experiences, helps explore the complex issues of sustainability and develop the knowledge of both children and adults in schools and the wide community. Projects include: waste and recycling, composting, energy and climate change, and water conservation.  http://ecoactive.org.uk/