Upbeat Bulletin – December 2021

Upbeat Bulletin – December 2021

It’s time for our final buoyant bulletin of the year. What stories are keeping us warm at night as the winter solstice approaches? Try digesting the following hot takes with a heated mince pie or a steaming glass of mulled wine. 

Wrestling with pigs 

One of the perennial problems faced by pig farmers - those upstanding pillars of the global community - is what to do with the copious quantities of porcine excrement produced by their animals. It’s a porky pickle that farmers have wrestled with unsuccessfully for generations.

For many years, one of the foulest smelling natural substances known to man was simply dumped into effluence ponds. However, whereas others turned their noses up at the problem, pig farmer Jock Charles smelt an opportunity...

The aspiring Aussie farmer built a bio-digester that transformed pig poo into non-toxic manure using bacteria, a process that produces masses of methane. He then converted this gas into heat using a turbine, which now generates 90% of his farm’s electricity. He’s even able to export power to the national grid in the evenings. His pigs’ bottoms are therefore improving his bottom line. 

Another piggy positive is that Jock’s farm is suddenly a much more pleasant place to work. His pigs, you see, produce an astonishing 80,000 litres of liquid waste per day. Getting rid of the egregious excreta quickly, rather than letting it fester in ponds, has improved the air quality of his farm enormously. 

“70% of odour from piggeries comes from lagoons or ponds” he said, “so if you eliminate the ponds, you’re only dealing with 30% of the smell”. 

This story is enough to tickle anyone pink, especially as Jock’s idea is catching on across the country. In fact, as many as 16% of Australian piggeries now operate bio-digesters for manure management and green energy generation. As a result, pig farming now produces the second lowest amount of greenhouse gases in Australian agriculture. 

Community over cars

Now this story could be a real driver for change. Sweden is turning parking spaces into pop-up community areas, with picnic tables, cycle racks, eating areas, and social hubs replacing the all-too-familiar tarmac rectangles with white lines. The idea is to make more space for people over traffic and to let city cultures flourish.

These pop-up public spaces are an urban experiment based on the one-minute city concept seen elsewhere in Europe, most notably in Paris. Swedish planners want to make everything modern life requires – gyms, urban gardens, playgrounds and more – accessible within a short walk of people’s homes. And they’ve identified cars, and the wide roads and parking spaces they require, as the main obstacle.  

This initiative, which has been christened ‘Street Moves’, makes a lot of sense. After all, humans have planned their cities around cars for far too long. Sweden’s national centre for sustainable architecture and design, which created the concept, wants to prioritise clean air, greenery, and socialising instead. Their goal? To make Sweden a more healthy, sustainable, and vibrant place by 2030. 

The pop-up spaces themselves work a bit like Lego. They consist of expandable wooden platforms, which serve as bases, with modular parts placed on top. These parts can then be customised for various uses, depending on what suits the area. For example, local people might want additional seating for cafes or play areas for children. 

Because these areas can be constructed in as little as five hours, it’s easy for communities to change them as they work out what’s needed. The possibilities are therefore endless. And when you think that Sweden has about 40,000km of street space, the results could be truly transformative. 

Green gifts

Christmas is all about giving. But what if you’re an eco-friendly soul who worries about the materialism and consumer culture of Chrimbo? Fear not. We’ve got some sustainable gift ideas that will help you love thy neighbour and the planet at the same time.

Just take a look at these suggestions here. There’s everything from biodegradable phone cases and kids socks made from offcuts to handmade organic festive mulled wine jelly. However, the following stocking fillers really caught our eye…

First up, there are some great gifts from Dear Green Coffee, who are a fellow B Corp. The Glasgow-based company was crowned as a green champion last year and they’re big supporters of the Race To Zero campaign. They’re committed to eco-friendly packaging, ethical supply chains, and donate 2% of their turnover to charity. Oh, and did we mention that their coffee is absolutely delicious? It’s bound to perk you up throughout your festive frolics.  

Next we’d like to point you in the direction of Sea Change wines. Not only do they share our passion for protecting our oceans; they also fund conservation projects that protect wildlife from the eight million tonnes of plastic thrown into our oceans every year. Buy a bottle or two of their vibrant vinos and you’ll help them ‘turn the tide’ in this vital eco-battle. Fancy a cheeky chardonnay, splendid sauvignon, or a perfect pino? Nothing’s stopping you.   

Finally, we have the perfect gift idea for sustainability aficionados: a gift with a carbon footprint so negative that we’re absolutely positive Greta Thunberg would approve. We’re talking about the gift of carbon dioxide removal.

Now, we appreciate that a voucher for Co2 removal isn’t exactly sexy. It’s not particularly festive, either. But think of it this way: nothing would be less festive than Lapland without snow – which is exactly what could happen if global warming continues unchecked. Where would all the reindeer live? 

So give Climeworks a visit here and buy your loved one the most sustainable present in existence. You can buy a voucher to remove anything from 5 to 2000 kilogrammes of carbon from the atmosphere. It will then be returned to earth and stored safely underground. Rudolf and Co will love you for it. 

Happy Christmas, y’all. 

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