If you love food, hate waste, live in London and want to improve the environment then this is the perfect app for you.
What is Olio?
Olio is a new app that can be downloaded on Apple or Android devices that involves connecting neighbours, local shops and cafes with one another so that any surplus food can be shared, rather than be thrown away. The app was created by Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One with the aim to cut food wastage over time and help the capital become healthier. It is being labelled as ‘the tinder for food’.
Why Should I Download Olio?
If you’re like most humans, you will waste A LOT of food over your lifetime. Think of all of the vegetables you get rid of, the milk that goes off and the meals you prepare and decide you don’t like or struggle to finish. All waste. And it’s certainly not helping the environment. If you choose to download Olio it means you can essentially ‘pass’ your unwanted food on to those who actually want it, such as a packet of chicken that goes off the next day but you have no intention of eating it or you’re about to go away on holiday and have lots of fresh food remaining in your fridge. You can make a difference to someone’s life and the environment.
However, the app is also great to pick up some food from nearby that YOU could use. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, parent, living on your own, elderly – anyone can pick up the advertised products, free of charge.
The only downside of Olio is that at the moment it is only operational in London, but over time it is likely to spread across the country.
How does the app actually work?
The app acquires your location and can then be used like other social media platforms, such as Instagram, allowing you to flick through the advertised food, where the food is located, what it is and who is giving it away. The app also includes other items – not just food! – such as furniture and pet products! You can then get in touch with the ‘seller’ and go pick up the food when is most convenient for you!
How does Olio help the environment?
Food wastage is one of the planet’s largest issues – the simplicity of it is that less economically developed countries have too little food, whilst the more economically developed countries waste far too much for their own good. In the UK a family can throw away up to £700 worth of food on average each year, having awful consequences. The amount of sheer water and waste land needed to produce the food that is thrown away is a massive issue, but when the waste is sat in landfills the greenhouse gas methane is released, contributing to global warming.
By wasting less food through Olio and being more mindful of the amount we throw away each day – the environment can be improved upon.
It is estimated that 8.5bn plastic straws are thrown away in the UK alone, every year. A few years ago we never saw straws as an issue, constantly using them in restaurants, bars, at parties and in our businesses. It’s time to change this. Here are some interesting facts you may not have been aware of, showing the impact that little plastic straws are having on our planet.
1. 6.3bn tonnes of plastic waste has been generated (2015)
Even in 2015 our plastic wastage has been at a ridiculously high number, which has only continued to grow throughout the years. This is due to the sheer lack of care for the environment, thinking that certain plastic materials, like straws, do not make much of an impact.
2. Companies are Banning Plastic Straws
One major company that are banning the use of straws is Mcdonald’s, reducing single-use plastics and instead trying paper straws form May, as well as moving straws behind the counter. Another company is All Bar One, who was one of the first to limit straws and incorporate the marketing campaign #strawssuck to help encourage the change. Wetherspoons is another large chain stopping plastic straws at the start of 2018, previously using 70 million plastic straws per year.
Many coffee companies, like Costa and Pret A Manger, are replacing plastics with alternatives this year but customers can still request them from behind the counter. Also, lots of major supermarkets are involved with the change, such as Waitrose choosing to remove all plastic straws from their stores by September 2018.
Other companies include: Pizza Express, Wagamama, Marriott International and London City Airport.
A recent survey finds that 9/10 people support a complete ban of plastic stars in bars and restaurants, which involved 1,700 respondents. The survey also found that four in five people thought straws were harmful to the environment (which they are indeed). We need to make it that 10/10 people are aware of the damage the plastic straws are doing, to slowly edge towards not using them at all.
There are multiple alternatives to plastic straws, that many are unaware of. Firstly, there are bamboo straws sold on Amazon, which are reusable, biodegradable and handmade in Bali from bamboo – a sustainable crop. These have no taste and can be used in any kind of drink. Another alternative is metal straws, which DO NOT come in plastic packaging, they are dishwasher proof and come with cleaning brushes. Glass straws are offered by ‘StrawGrace’ which come in packs of colourful fives and are eco-friendly, dishwasher safe and shatterproof with a year’s guarantee.
Paper straws, used by companies such as Wetherspoons, are a different alternative, making a cheap and planet-friendly option, as well as being biodegradable and coated in beeswax. Finally, silicone straws can be bought from ‘Buy Me Once’ that are colourful, reusable, BPA free, lead and phthalates free and can be used in the dishwasher.
These alternatives may seem more of a faff, but in the long run they are helping to save the environment and look quite unique to be using, as opposed to plain plastic straws!
5. They Take 200 Years to Decompose
This fact is pretty shocking. It takes up to 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose and they cannot be recycled in most places. This is because they are made from type 5 plastic or polypropylene. Type 5 plastic can be recycled but is not accepted by the majority of recycling programs and when the straws are not recycled they fill landfills or pollute oceans. They do not biodegrade or fully degrade, meaning they cannot be naturally broken down and digested by micro-organisms or fully break down into smaller pieces and will never fully be off the Earth.
6. Loss of Wildlife
Each year 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from ingesting plastic, with plastic straws contributing to these huge statistics. They have a massive negative impact on the marine life, such as turtles swallowing straws and getting them stuck in their nostrils. Often the birds pick up the straws to try to swallow, then suffocating and choking the bird, resulting in 1 million seabirds dying each year from ingesting plastic. https://get-green-now.com/environmental-impact-plastic-straws/
7. Where Do Plastic Straws Rank?
Plastic straws are the 11th most found piece of ocean trash, in 2017. Hopefully, if everyone continues the way they are, this fact should decrease eventually. The Ocean Conservancy’s TIDES system shows that straws and stirrers are still ranked 11th, making up about 3% of recovered rubbish.
So how can you help?
Remember to try to refrain from using plastic straws at all costs; think about the impacts that it could have. If you have your own company try using the alternatives suggested or completely remove the use of plastic straws in the workplace. Together we can make a difference.
The Environment Agency – who is in charge of England’s environment – has recently released a report on the 23rd of May that climate change and the growing population are the largest pressures on the availability of water to this date. If no action is taken to increase supply, reduce demand and cut down on wastage, then lots of places within the UK will be facing supply deficits by the year 2050, especially in the South-East. This means we could be facing water shortages in years to come.
The Agency found that current levels of water abstraction are unsustainable in over a quarter of groundwaters and one-fifth of rivers. As a result of these reduced flows, they could damage local ecology and wildlife too. Therefore, action must be taken.
For example, wastage from leaking water pipes is estimated to be around three billion litres per day, which puts undue pressure on England’s water resources. The report also states that unsustainable levels of individual water use contributes greatly, estimated at being around 140 litres per day. One recommendation of the report is to set lower targets with the government and another is to improve water supply infrastructures.
However, only last year the government announced a plan for abstraction reform that will review existing licences and introduce further controls to protect water resources in England. The Environment Agency began work in four priority catchments to test out new licensing approaches to help to meet local demand. The government’s 25-year plan sets out an ambition to reduce individual water use – on average 140 litres per person per person each day – by working with industry to set a personal consumption target. The Agency will be working alongside the government to set the target and find the cost-effective measures to meet it.
Carbonbit can help you control and reduce your water usage and costs. If you would like to see how Carbonbit can help you reduce your water consumption, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01772 970 210.
When you’re at work there are a few small things you can do to try to help the environment. Although they are only small, if everyone were to ensure they did the following things, it would make a massive impact over time. It’s that simple.
The majority of companies now tend to recycle and have separate bins for plastic bottles and cans, paper and general waste. This is usually the first thing everyone suggests you to do to help save the environment. But, do we actually DO it? Yes, there are bins in place but it is very easy to forget to bin your paper in the correct bin and throw your empty bottle in the general waste bin. Even little things like this can make a difference; remember to recycle as best you can. Even if this means prompting your manager about providing more paper or plastic bins to help separate the rubbish, you’ll be making a huge difference, especially if your company is a large one.
2. Watch your Water-Usage
This is something aimed more towards your employer, to ensure there is no water being leaked anywhere, using automatic taps, harvesting rainwater, water-saving shower heads and low water-usage toilets can further reduce water usage.
Companies encourage staff to contribute to water saving ideas, discuss water efficiency at team meetings and provide regular reports on water use figures – if your company does not do this at all it might be worth putting it forward and it should not irritate management because all it will do is help save them money!
Another method could be appointing a ‘water champion’ to check metres and monitor water usage and you could establish a baseline for water use and set achievable targets for saving water. Although this can be time-consuming it can save time, as well as the environment. For you personally, you should do simple things like waiting until there is a full load in the dishwasher before washing and scrape food instead of rinsing dishes prior to washing. It sounds ridiculously simple but we often overlook tasks such as this and by being more aware can change everyone’s behaviour in the workplace.
This is quite a simple one to follow. Try not to leave unneeded appliances plugged in and charging when they are fully charged – which many of us are guilty of. Even leaving them plugged in and not switched on can use energy. Just try to remember to unplug your phone and laptop when you don’t need them. This way you are not wasting energy (or costing your company money). Also, overcharging your devices can damage electronics over time, such as your phone, with many iPhones having issues with people charging them overnight and noticeably degrading the batteries.
4. Walk, Cycle or Carpool to Work
This can be difficult depending on how far away you live from work and how many things you need to take with you to work, as well as often meaning getting up earlier. However, cycling or walking to work (if possible) even just once or twice a week can help the environment as it is one less car releasing fumes and can help to keep you fit too. If this is not possible you could try carpooling with a colleague or lives nearby by offering to take them a few days a week and they do the same in return. So why not reduce the number of emissions released and walk, cycle or share a ride?
Even doing these little things every day can help contribute to saving the environment.
Remember to do your CarbonBitfor the environment. #CarbonBit
The clean growth strategy has set the challenging target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 when compared to 1990 figures. This coupled to their assessment that the low carbon economy has the potential to grow by 11% year on year through to 2030.
We have however already made improvements and although it is difficult to accurately measure performance against other nations, it is widely accepted that the UK is amongst the leaders in this regard.
The question that faces us now, is how emission reduction can fuel the carbon economy growth.
Breaking down emissions by sector, it can be seen that business and industry account for 25% of total, while heating in buildings across both commercial and domestic sectors reportedly accounting for 32% of the total. This equates to between 124 and 159Mt.
While many businesses have connected the reduction in emissions with their sustainable future, many others are yet to see the future in this way or are not in a position to invest in green technologies. Interestingly, it is reported that the majority of emissions are the result of the activities of around 7,000 companies (defined as 250+ employees).
The opportunity in the sector is calculated to be a carbon reduction of 46Mt overall, broken as;
Energy Efficiency – 6Mt
Fuel Switching – 12Mt
CCUS – 23Mt
Others – 5Mt
The breakdown above gives us the best indication of why the government have adopted the aggressive growth figures within the carbon sector. CCUS (carbon capture, use and storage) accounts for 50% of the opportunity, eclipsing benefit predicted to be achieved through energy efficiency measures.
With £130m already invested in CCUS and a further £162m expected to be invested across all solutions between now and 2021, the governments intent is clear in encouraging UK companies to at least become involved in R&D of carbon reducing technologies.
CCUS currently remains firmly in the development stage with only a reported 21 schemes in operation. As with any technology, significantly more development will be required to move from a technology which works, to one which is more widely commercially viable.
Effectively CCUS is waste management and shouldn’t be allowed to become the only focus of a clean growth strategy. It is essential that reduction in emissions becomes and/or remains the primary action of all businesses, forming an integral part of an overall sustainability strategy.
Tony Whittaker Nov 2017
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Credit where credit is due, trying to reduce the carbon impact of transport is no mean feat when considering car ownership. Vehicle ownership is up over 20% since 1990 figures and now constitutes a whopping 24% of the UKs emissions. Yet, despite these concerning figures, total transport emissions were down 2%.
This decrease is largely due to tighter EU regulation, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), significant government grants supporting the purchase of Ultra Low emission vehicles, and an additional £37 billion investment into public transport infrastructure. But where do we go from here?
The Clean Growth Strategy is ambitious; one scenario suggests we could see a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2032 (from 1990 levels) which seems an enormous leap considering the meagre 2% over the last 17 years. Of course though – now we have electric vehicles.
In order to reach the 2050 targets the government has announced that almost every car and van in the UK will need to be zero emission by then and are aiming for between 30%-70% by 2030, although, typically, this is a very wide governmental goalpost.
With such a large amount of pressure on the role of EV’s to meet the targets the government is rolling out a number of plan schemes:
Improving the charging infrastructure with an increased focus on vehicle to grid applications – an interesting and important application to help support network flexibility and system balancing
More investment into the role of Hydrogen. Although this is a very small amount relatively, hydrogen vehicles are in their infancy and so could increase
Zero emission public sector vehicles
Complete ban on petrol and diesel purchases by 2040
Additionally the Government is looking at further investment in HGV efficiencies, advanced fuels, public transport infrastructure and importantly behaviour change. Behaviour change will be an important barrier to overcome, encouraging people to switch to electric vehicles and use public transport as a viable form of getting from A to B will need to be engaging and convincing.
Surprisingly, other than a short paragraph at the end, there is no real mention of autonomous vehicles. If the future really is autonomous then the future is likely to see a reduction in the number of cars on the road as the increased efficiency and lower cost of ride hailing and sharing will mitigate the requirement for ownership. Taking cars off the road should have an enormous effect on emissions, but perhaps the Government doesn’t predict they will have made a serious dent on the market by 2050.
Also a bit more on aviation would have been welcome, as one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions the aviation industry needs investment and encouragement from government.
In summary this is a promising piece that sets out ambitious but not altogether unrealistic targets for reduced carbon emissions from transport. There is a massive focus on electric vehicles which is probably unsurprising to most, but it is not without its challenges – changing human behaviour and attitudes towards electric vehicles is going to be very difficult. It seems initially the Government is taking a soft approach to change, focussing on incentives, infrastructure improvement and investment and leaving the hard ban until 2040, but will this be too late? Fortunately the market seems to shifting, albeit slower than I anticipated, in the direction of EVs. With the market forces supporting Government will – perhaps we will reach that 70% target after all!
As a side note, I think it is important to address the life cycle of electric vehicles. Whilst I am an avid supporter of electric vehicles, they are carbon intensive to make. Looking at efficient manufacture and sourcing of goods will further support the carbon reduction benefit of EVs.
Thanks for reading – if you want to discuss anything in the post please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Introducing Tony Whittaker, our new Operations Director! Tony has been working with us on a contracting basis for the last 9 months, but we liked him so much we had to bring him on full time! We’ve asked Tony a few questions so everyone can get to know him a bit better!
1) Tell us about yourself Tony!
I’m a lover of Rugby and as an Ulster fan, clearly a glutton for punishment, enjoying a visit to Ravenhill whenever the opportunity presents. Cricket is my other sporting love either listening to TMS, watching on TV or having the occasional day out to see Ireland play. Finally, like most amateur chefs my enthusiasm often outweighs ability, however treating friends to a home-cooked meal and a drop of decent wine is one of life’s pleasures.
2) What is your career story?
I’m lucky to have had a varied career in two industries that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Starting out in the foundry industry, which at the time somewhat old fashioned and a tough place to find your feet, I progressed from being a craft apprentice on leaving school, to works manager in my mid-twenties. I finally left the industry after a spell in Nigeria.
I joined the building services industry thereafter, initially selling boilers, pumps and the like, before getting involved with a heating/air-conditioning system called Unico. To supplement my knowledge I also embarked on a part-time Renewable Energy & Energy Management MSc at The University of Ulster.
Since then I have worked with small scale off grid wind and solar PV power solutions for clients such as Unicef. Also worked with on-grid solar PV and recently completed a project valued circa £25m of medium wind turbine installation for a private equity company.
3) What are your highlights working in the sustainability industry?
The biggest highlight has definitely been the number of good people I have had the honour and pleasure of working with. Often the small-medium renewables market is not seen as cutting edge, however in my experience, people in it are more resourceful and creative than elsewhere.
4) Why did you decide to join CarbonBit?
For me CarbonBit is an opportunity to encompass both technology and philosophy to provide a truly commercial solution to the sustainability issues facing many businesses.
5) What role will you be performing and what does this entail?
With any small business, ‘a bit of everything’ is effectively my job description although I managed to have ‘tea making’ removed. I’m lucky to be joining a talented group and my real job will be to create the environment in which they can best serve our customer base.
6) Which areas of the business are you most excited about?
An opportunity in Sri Lanka was once mentioned. I’ve obviously thrown my hat in the ring for any site surveys, as long as they coincide with the odd cricket match.
7) What future do you see for CarbonBit?
With the group of people involved and the collective approach to providing a high quality service, it’s hard to see anything other than sustained growth, both in stature and financially.
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Tony a bit better – if you have any questions for him please don’t hesitate to give him a call using the contacts above.