Although we missed reporting this story when it broke last year, it's still worth a mention today due to its implications for the future of the world's energy consumption.
Despite 40% of the country's electricity being generated by burning fossil fuels, Germany hit the headlines back in 2016 when it emerged that, for a short time, some consumers were actually PAID to use electricity.
Wind turbines can be a bit like Marmite - People either tend to love them or hate them. Whether you're in favour of more electricity being produced by them or not, one thing is clear; they're a clean source of renewable energy.
Back in December of last year, Scotland’s wind turbines generated more electricity than the entire country used for four consecutive days. Wind powered turbines provided a record amount of energy over the Christmas period between the 23rd of December and Boxing Day included. Not only that, the total amount of wind energy produced on Christmas Eve alone set a new record with more than 74,000MWh produced, which was enough to power over 6 million homes.
The UK produces around 7.3 millions tonnes of food waste each year.
What most of us are not aware of is that around 240 thousand tonnes of this is made up of banana skins - That's over 3% of all food waste in total.
This guest post has been submitted by Daniel Brooks who is currently in Bali whilst filming a fly on the wall documentary for UK Television. It highlights the huge problem of plastic waste not just in Bali, but throughout Indonesia.
Myself, my wife Deborah and our three children, Oliver 9, Hazel nearly 5, and Heather Blue nearly 2 have moved to Bali for an experimental six month period to see if we want to live in south east Asia. A UK TV crew are following our story and have given us a camera to film as we go for a new documentary series about families going to live more sustainable lives in the wild.
We arrived during a spell of the very worst weather Bali has seen in years. The most rain I have EVER experienced in all my worldly adventures! Torrential rain, gales, electrical storms, floods and landslides! What had we gotten ourselves into?! This was not what we had imagined.
Who'd have thought that you can help save the planet just by having a few beers? Well, as odd as that sounds, it's actually true.
A UK brewer is now producing a refreshing ale called Toast and, as the name implies, it's made from surplus bread that would otherwise have been thrown in the bin.
In the UK, bread is by far the most 'chucked-away' food. An astonishing 44% of all bread made never even reaches our mouths - That's not too far away from almost half of it that's baked every single day.
All round bright spark and entrepreneur Tristram Stuart decided to do something about this mountain of discarded bread by founding the first bread to beer ale. His aim is to reduce global food waste by turning as much bread as he can get his hands on into a tasty craft beer.
"We aim to put ourselves out of business. The day there’s no waste bread is the day Toast Pale Ale can no longer exist."
Many of today's younger generation have never heard the term 'rag-and-bone man' as these enigmatic figures have largely all but disappeared from our modern streets.
It was extremely common back in the 1970s to hear a rag and bone man calling to householders as he travelled slowly down our roads, shouting 'old lumber', 'rag-and-bone' or something similar. As some will also no doubt remember, the profession even spawned a hit TV show in the 1970s in the guise of Steptoe and Son.
What's a rag-and-bone man?
If you're new to the term, a rag and bone man (sometimes referred to as a 'totter') was a person who either travelled by horse (or pony) and cart or in a van at a snail's pace down every neighbourhood street, looking to collect a wide range of materials to sell for a profit.
On hearing their call, residents with items they thought the rag and bone man might want would go outside into the street and stop them. The rag and bone man would then tell them if he wanted to take their scrap or not.
History of the rag and bone man
Whilst scavenging for anything of value is by no means a new idea (we've been doing it since the dawn of time), the term - or variations of it, seems to have been commonly used in the early to mid-1800s.
Rag and bone men would travel through city streets on foot, usually carrying a large bag over their shoulder. They rarely had any form of transport and were generally very poor people trying to eek out a living from collecting anything that they thought might have a resale value such as old rags, cloth, bones and metal.
They were typically referred to by names such as bone grubbers, bone pickers or rag gatherers.
Improving quality of life and providing wildlife habitats in urban areas.
Green open spaces in cities help improve the quality of life for human residents and also provide habitats for many different species of wildlife. Trees and plants produce oxygen and remove pollutants from our atmosphere.
Unfortunately, space in modern cities is at a premium and while everyone agrees that it is more pleasant and healthy, both physically and mentally, to live amongst green spaces there is not much incentive to build urban parks and conservation areas as they are not profitable.
Italian architect Stefano Boeri is leading the way with an innovative solution: Vertical Forests.
As we're based very close to the beach in Seaford, we thought we'd post a brief article today to warn local dog walkers to keep an eye on their pets if they decide to take a stroll by the sea anywhere along the Sussex coastline.
Back in November of 2015, a white, waxy substance that was thought to be palm oil was found on the beach in Seaford.
A similar story has hit the papers again recently, but this time the same substance has been found along the coast between Newhaven and Brighton.
It has been widely reported that our oceans are becoming more polluted with plastic waste.
This discarded plastic causes the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands of marine animals each year. Animals become entangled in old beer can holders or plastic bags and smaller pieces of plastic are eaten by marine life who can't differentiate it from their natural food supply.
It's not only the solid waste that causes harm to marine life; plastic pollution does further damage as it degrades in the ocean releasing toxic chemicals causing contamination to the water.
Following our recent story accompanied by the saddening picture of a deer holding a plastic carrier bag in its mouth, this story is far more upbeat and has a happier ending.
Indian-born inventor and entrepreneur Ashwath Hegde has spent 4 years developing a new type of carrier bag that looks remarkably similar to the plastic bags commonly found in our supermarkets today. But....there's one major difference; the EnviGreen bag doesn't contain any plastic whatsoever.
Inspired by a ban on the manufacture and sale of plastic bags in his hometown of Mangalore, he says: “The Mangalore City Corporation implemented a ban on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of plastic bags in the year 2012. But the decision was taken without preparations for alternatives.
People were concerned about how they would carry products from the market now. Everyone cannot afford a bag worth 5 rupees or 15 rupees to carry a kilogram of sugar. I decided to come up with alternatives after hearing about these problems in my hometown.”
This saddening story has appeared recently in a New Delhi newspaper highlighting (once again) the blasé attitude many of us have concerning our use of plastic products.
The deer in question is a resident at Deer Park, a wildlife enclosure located in South Delhi. According to the article, the bag in its mouth contained food that was thrown by a well meaning visitor into the enclosure.
Rather than taking the food out of the bag and throwing the contents to the deer, they simply threw the whole lot in.
Now, none of us at Expert Skip Hire are rocket scientists, but we do know that deer can't get any nutritional value from plastic bags!
The supermarket giant has recently announced a new food redistribution programme across all of their stores in England, Scotland and Wales.
It's estimated that the new food surplus initiative could provide the equivalent of 2 million meals for those that really need it the most.
Despite only being the 8th biggest supermarket chain in the UK, this move raises the bar for how the nation's supermarkets deal with unsold food. Unlike France, there is no legal requirement for British supermarkets to donate waste food to charity, although a growing number of politicians are calling for the UK to adopt a similar law.
Many environmental groups are calling for the return of Deposit Return Schemes which have been shown to increase levels of recycling and to decrease littering and use of landfills.
Deposit return schemes are not a new concept, a small cost is added to the price a customer pays for a product which is then refunded to the customer when the empty container is returned to the shop from which it was purchased or to specific return facilities.
Many of us will remember returning used fizzy pop bottles to the corner shop.
Years ago children would search their local area for discarded old bottles which they could then exchange for cash at their local corner shop.
The good news is that Britain has been crowned the top of a particular league.
The bad news is... the league is for the amount of food wasted by countries in Europe.
According to a new international food ranking system we throw away around 130kg of food each year per person, slightly less than twice the weight of the average British adult (which is approx. 76kg according to 2010 stats).
Some slightly better news is that we don't fare quite as bad (although still badly) when the statistics are applied globally. Out of a total of 25 countries, we were the 6th worst offender.
If you live in East Sussex, the RSPB wants your help.
It'll only take an hour of your time and will provide valuable data for the RSPB's nationwide study.
The Big Garden Birdwatch first took place back in 1979 and since then, the RSPB have been conducting the survey every year to see what birds are becoming more common in our gardens, and which ones are on the decline.
Sara Humphrey from the RSPB says:
“The 2016 results for East Sussex showed a significant rise in smaller birds such as great tits and goldfinches using our gardens to find food. Despite this boost in numbers many other of our garden favourites are struggling”.
Although Sweden is often known for its quirky IKEA furniture, a lesser known fact concerns a rather odd problem the country has faced recently - It's run out of trash.
The woefully high levels of waste we in the UK send to landfill puts us to shame compared to the Swedes; only 1% of their waste is sent to landfill whereas in the UK, the figure is somewhere in the region of 45%.
We can't be entirely certain of the exact figure as, unlike Sweden, the UK doesn't have a coherent nationwide policy when it comes to recycling.
Each local authority is left to their own devices as to what their recycling policy is.
Every spring, the Reykjavik Design Festival in Iceland is awash with catchy new designs and ideas.
The festival presents ideas and innovations from a broad range of industries including architecture, food design, fashion and furniture.
Project are submitted by both local designers and globally known international designers alike.
A local student submitted one particular project this year that could sow the seeds for future developments in plastic water bottle production techniques.
Ari Jonsson, a student at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, says he read about the huge amounts of disposable plastic being thrown away each day, and felt compelled to try and develop a replacement that was far more environmentally sound.
A Dutch company is at the cutting edge of a project that could see roads of the future made entirely from plastic.
The idea of using plastic in the construction of roads isn't new. Earlier this year, we wrote about how India had adopted the idea of mixing recycled plastic with traditional road building materials to make more durable highways, whilst dramatically cutting down on the amount of plastic sent to landfill at the same time.
KWS, the Netherlands based company behind the concept, claims that there are several key advantages to using plastic instead of tarmac for the roads of our future.
1. One of the more obvious benefits from a recycling point of view is that the roads could in theory be made entirely from recycled plastic. Considering the amount of plastic bottles and containers thrown away each day around the world, that's a real biggy as far as benefits go!
As we head into the final week before Christmas, it's important to let our customers know whether we'll be open for business as usual or whether our offices will be closed whilst we're all at home stuffing our faces with mince pies (probably washed down with a glass of something festive)!
It'll be business as usual (7.30am to 5pm weekdays and 7.30am to midday on Saturday)
EXCEPT FOR THE DATES BELOW:
Saturday 24th December - 7.30am to midday.
Christmas Day - Closed
Boxing Day - Closed
Tuesday 27th December - Closed
Wednesday 28th December - 7.30am to 5pm
Thursday 29th December - 7.30am to 5pm
Friday 30th December - 7.30am to 5pm
Saturday 31st December - 7.30am to midday
Once you've decided to have a Christmas tree, the first thing you must decide is whether to buy a natural tree or an artificial one.
In purely environmental terms, natural is by far the most responsible choice - The CarbonTrust has this to say:
"A real pine or fir tree naturally absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen. The Carbon Trust estimates that a 2 metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint around 40kg CO2e: more than ten times that of real trees that are burnt".