The Road in Iceland: Environmental disaster or economic progress?

Katie Wise and Ashley Moradipour need your help to make a documentary that tells the story of a group of dedicated Icelanders vs. a big road constuction project.

Iceland is a nation well-known for its breathtaking natural landscapes and formations, which Icelanders hold dear to their hearts. This is why a recent road construction project has caused people to fight back. This new road will run from the Alftanes peninsula, where the presidential office is, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer; the projected plan involves the road cutting directly through the largest lava field in the Reykjavik area. Icelanders of all walks of life, from artists to musicians to elf “seers" are protesting the construction of this road, arguing that the new road is unnecessarily destroying Iceland’s natural beauty. During the fall of 2013, dozens of “friends of lava" (an environmentalist group) gathered around the lava rocks every day, sitting and singing songs to peacefully protest the construction of this road. One day, the friends of lava were confronted with the “biggest bulldozer in Iceland" and over 50 police officers. After not backing down to the officers’ requests to leave the lava field, protesters were physically removed from the area and 9 were arrested and sent to jail. Since that day, the 9 arrested were sent to court for a hearing, but they continue to fight for the preservation of this lava field.

Our documentary will follow the story of this road construction project and the passionate protesters who are fighting to save the land. While the personal stories that will be shared through the film are specific to this cause, the broader issue to be explored is the constant struggle between preserving nature and the expansion of a nation. This documentary will take you into the lives of passionate Icelanders and give a whole new perspective on environment vs. economy.

Seaval’s sustainable bamboo sunglasses

Seaval, the sustainable surfwear brand, have just launched these stylish all-new bamboo sunglasses. They are the ultimate in ethical fashion and come in two ergonomic designs.

How the sunglasses are made

The bamboo is sourced from sustainable forests and bamboo scrap that would otherwise go to waste. In the manufacturing process, lots of long thin strands of bamboo are compressed into thin plates. These plates are compiled and shaped into the sunglasses, so there is very little room for waste, and no need for heavy energy-inefficient machinery to cut pieces out of thick blocks. The bamboo plates are coated with organic substances and they end up waterproof (and they float!) so perfect for swimming or surfing.

sustainable bamboo sunglasses from Seaval

Light original bamboo sunglasses

How you can own a pair of these stylish bamboo sunglasses

You can get your hands on a pair of these bamboo sunglasses and support some great marine wildlife projects at the same time…

Seaval are passionate about stopping the invasion of lionfish that are threatening the reef and local fish species in the Caribbean. They also need your help to protect dolphins from slaughter in Japan. So they will donate $5 to these causes for every pair of sunglasses sold.
Click here to visit the fundraising page to support these essential marine projects and get hold of your bamboo sunglasses.

sustainable bamboo sunglasses

Dark diver bamboo sunglasses

How sustainable farming techniques can help combat food scarcity

This is a guest post by Tim Sissons of William Morfoot, land drainage experts in the UK, who discusses how sustainable farming techniques are better for the environment and can help increase food security levels.

Sustainable Farming

From land drainage to crop rotation. How sustainable farming techniques can help combat food scarcity.

Food security levels

Increasing pressure is being placed on world food supplies as the world population rises. The global population is predicted to almost double in the next 37 years, growing to around 9.2 billion people in 2050.

In 2012 The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) found that one in eight people go to sleep hungry every day and this situation is only expected to become more serious as the population increases.

Other factors which are putting strain on food security levels are increasing energy costs, climate change, rising incomes, inefficient food distribution systems and restricted land availability.

Use of agricultural land is already at capacity – almost three quarters of the world’s possible land is currently used for agricultural production, the quarter that is not used is due to very low productivity or for conservation reasons. It is therefore essential that farmers use the land they have to the best of their ability in the most productive way.

Why sustainable farming?

Agriculture is at the start of the chain. If farmers change their techniques and take on more sustainable methods this gives consumers no choice but to purchase sustainable, environmentally friendly food. This could be as simple as adopting sustainable farming methods or the production of less meat. Meat production is very demanding of cereal and water, to produce 1 kilogram of grain-fed beef it takes on average 10kg of grain and 15000 litres of water. Simply farming less animals could feed more hungry mouths.

Increasing crop yields by using intensive agricultural farming methods such as GM foods, fertilisers and pesticides can harm the environment and also cause health issues. These techniques could also damage future food security by wasting the already limited freshwater supplies, causing soil erosion and polluting the environment with unnatural chemicals. Intense agricultural techniques are also responsible for around 13% of the total greenhouse gas emissions which is directly effecting climate change.

Adopting sustainable methods not only tends to be more accessible on a global level because it is simpler and can be cheaper but it is also an effective way to reliably produce well developed and healthy crops with minimum impact on the environment. Some of the below steps can also be used on a domestic level, ensuring that your garden is more sustainable too.

Seven simple sustainable methods and their benefits:

  1. Water management – effective land drainage and water managing techniques can vastly improve the quality of soil. Inefficient systems will actually harm soil, wildlife and deplete rivers. Land drainage is also essential for maintaining the quality of soils, as waterlogged crops cannot access the vital nutrients required to reach their full potential.Farmers should aim to grow crops that are native to the particular region as this helps their resilience to the local weather. UN findings show that agriculture uses almost 70% of withdrawn fresh water, so systems that collect and recycle rain water are a great way to help irrigate the land sustainably.
  1. Soil maintenance – More fertile soils produce better yields. Farmers can keep their soils healthy by using traditional methods such as ploughing and making sure the soil is aired and turned. Adding natural fertilisers like manure or cover crops, and other naturally occurring matter like meal, ash from wood and animal by-products can also improve the soil quality and therefore crop quality.
  1. Remove weeds by hand – For larger farms this is not always feasible, but not using chemicals to remove weeds can be better for the harvest and the environment. It is also important to mow and graze the soil before the weeds produce seeds- this stops weeds from reproducing and also creates mulch if the weeds are not removed.
  1. Plant variations – Farmers should aim to plant variations of the same species of crop. By using seeds sourced from many different growers farmers guarantee genetic differences which therefore strengthens the crops. For example, if a particular species of crop could be vulnerable to a certain pest but not the others meaning a good deal of crop will survive.
  1. Sell crops locally – A lot of pollution and unnecessary energy consumption is caused by the transportation, packaging and storage of crops. Selling locally not only helps reduce the carbon footprint but can also help enrich the community, show a faster turnover and also boost the local economy.
  1. Attract crop friendly animals – An effective way of deterring the harmful beasts that threaten the crops is welcoming their natural predators. Some farmers build shelters to house the nests of birds and bats and others even buy helpful insects like ladybirds, to feed on the pests.
  1. Crop rotation – A very old system that helps maintain the quality of the soil by replenishing the nutrients that the previous crops depleted. It can also stop the spread of disease and eradicate pests which were specific to the previous crop.

Photo credit: Scott Bauer, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Make Every Last Drop Count

Did you know it takes 20,000 litres of water to manufacture 1kg of cotton? Now think about how many items of cotton clothing you have in your wardrobe…

And the next time you sip on a cup of coffee, remember that’s used up about 130 litres of water before it ends up being savoured by you.

Every Last Drop is an informative and interactive website with a clear message: Save water!

In the UK we each use around 150 litres of water per day. But this is only part of the picture. When you consider the water required to produce all the stuff we consume, we actually guzzle a massive 4,645 litres every day.

And there are over 1,000,000,000 earthlings who still lack access to clean water.

Take a look at some other ways to save water:

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