The Ecologist


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A seal caught up in plastic pollution near Santa Monica, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Photo: Nels Israelson via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Five to 12 million tonnes of plastic are going into the ocean each year

Britta Denise Hardesty & Chris Wilcox

4th April 2015

An unimaginably large volume of plastic debris is reaching the world's oceans every year, write Britta Denise Hardesty & Chris Wilcox - and it's set for a ten-fold increase over the next decade, adding to the already terrible toll on marine life from turtles to seals, sea birds and fish. The solution must be to give waste plastic value - if we can find a way. more...
Spin Cycle Cafe & Laundromat, Newington, CT, USA. Photo: Brian Cook via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Recycling is not enough! Sharing is the way to achieve a circular economy

Mariale Moreno

13th March 20-14

How can we reduce our ever increasing throughput of raw materials? By breaking out the the 'iron cage of consumerism', writes Mariale Moreno: make things to last - whether clothes, houses, cars, or washing machines. Join a car club. Share domestic appliances with neighbors. And bring back the laundromat! more...
Plastic waste on the 'Mayan Riviera', Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo: John Schneider via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Fighting the plastic plague in our oceans

Dr Mae-Wan Ho

13th February 2015

On current trends the world will contain 33 billion tonnes of plastic by 20150, writes Mae Wan Ho, and much of it will litter the oceans, concentrating toxins and damaging marine life throughout the food chain. The alternative is to classify the most toxic plastics as 'hazardous waste', and for all plastics to be reused and recycled in 'closed loop' systems. more...
Yes, this new luxury apartment development really is built of straw bales - the new high-precision, pre-fabricated variety, made by Modcell in one of its 'flying factories'. Photo:

Straw homes are a cheap and green fix for the housing crisis

Pete Walker

10th February 2015

Straw is cheap, plentiful, eco-friendly and an excellent insulator, writes Pete Walker - and officially certified prefabricated straw bale building systems are challenging traditional brick construction. So why aren't straw bale houses mushrooming on building sites across the country? Maybe they are ... more...
Vultures pay their respects at a sky burial in Sichuan province, China. Photo: Lycopodium L (CC BY-NC-SA).

Live long, die green and recycle your discarded body

Robert John Young

8th February 2015

If you live a green life, you'll also want a green death, writes Robert John Young. Sadly pollution, energy use and methane emissions mean there's no completely green way to dispose of your body. The good news is that a new 'fast composting' technique ticks all the boxes - but it's still under development. more...
A rosier future for the high seas beckons. Photo: Moyan Brenn via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

UN talks begin on a new law to save our oceans

The Ecologist

30th January 2015

Countries at the UN have agreed to start formal negotiations on a new 'legally binding instrument' to conserve the biological riches of the high seas that cover 45% of planet Earth, and ensure their sustainable use for the benefit of all mankind. more...
The 'circular economy' package could have added billions to Europe's economy - but now it's on the scrapheap. Photo: Eddie McHugh via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Europe's 'circular economy' waste laws binned despite MEPs' fury

James Crisp / EurActiv

26th January 2015

The European Commission has confirmed that it will drop its 'circular economy' package, writes James Crisp, in the face of protest by MEPs and environment ministers. The EC's insistence that a future version would be 'improved' - but in in unspecified ways - only raised suspicions of a deregulatory coup by Europe's dirtiest businesses. more...
A child brushes his teeth in lead-contaminated water in Klity Creek, Thailand. Photo: Human Rights Watch.

Thai communities poisoned by illegal lead mine waste

The Ecologist

22nd January 2015

For 16 years the Thai government has ignored the plight of a community where toxic lead mine waste is causing severe chronic poisoning - defying both a 2013 court order, and its international obligations. It's just one of many toxic sites across Thailand that need to be cleaned up - but the government's main concern is to encourage further industrialisation. more...
The B30 pond showing a full loading with fuel rods. Photo: unknown.

Sellafield - how the nuclear industry fleeced taxpayers

David Lowry

19th January 2015

Last week the consortium holding a £22bn contract to clean up the Sellafield nuclear site was sacked, writes David Lowry. But this is just the end of a long and scandalous tale of corporate profit at taxpayers' expense, and the active collusion of ministers and senior officials in fighting off Parliamentary scrutiny. more...
A new landfill site opens for business, Scotland. Photo: London Permaculture via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Toxic landfills, fracking and the lethal threat of Environment Agency neglect

Talk Fracking / The Ecologist

19th January 2015

Nearly a year ago at the height of the UK floods, tragedy struck an ordinary family in Surrey as toxic gas from a nearby landfill site killed a 7-year old boy, Zane. Now the authorities appear determined to exculpate the source of the poison - an old landfill site - even as they prepare for a massive increase in hazardous waste from fracking. more...
'We can repair it!' Photo: club125.greenbelt via Flickr (CC BY).

'Repair cafés' are about fixing things - including communities

Jade Herriman

7th April 2015

Some people like fixing things - others have things to fix. Repair cafés are a new global phenomenon that brings the two together, writes Jade Herriman - giving satisfaction to both, sharing skills, keeping stuff out of landfill, fighting 'designed obsolescence', and building communities sustained by mutual help. more...
Activists in Port Harcourt, Nigeria protest to demand that Shell pay reparations and clean up its oil spills. Photo: © Amnesty International.

Shell finally pays out £55 million over Nigeria oil spills

The Ecologist

7th January 2015

A massive oil spill in the oil-rich Niger Delta in 2008 has caused years of environmental and economic devastation. But only after legal action in London has Shell been forced to reveal the truth, admit liability, pay compensation, and begin the clean-up. more...

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Keep the Yuletide flames burning with Christmas pudding ice cream ... Photo:  Brian Uhreen via Flickr CC-BY.

Reducing food waste with taste-bud tickling recipes for Christmas leftovers

Gavin Ellis

29th December 2014

Freezing Christmas leftovers can save families money, help the environment by reducing food waste, and tickle our tastebuds with new and exciting flavours, writes Gavin Ellis - who shares delightful recipes to make the most of your Christmas sprouts, turkey and plum pudding ... more...
Contaminated land in West Yorkshire, England - the site of a former chemicals factory. Photo: Engineering at Cambridge via Flickr.

Death by landfill - cutting 'green tape' costs lives

Paul Mobbs

22nd December 2014

As Cameron 'cuts the green crap' Paul Mobbs remembers how the decisions of a Conservative government 20 years ago to go easy on the owners of contaminated land and old waste dumps have led to present day blight, ill-health and death. Now brow-beaten regulators and politicians in hock to party funders are doing it all over again. more...
EU drops plans to push up recycling rate to 70%. The back of an industrial estate in Romford, Essex. Photo: roadscum via Flickr.

Commission dumps eco-initiatives in 2015 work plan

Oliver Tickell

16th December 2014

The European Commission has dropped measures to improve air quality and reduce waste from its work plan for 2015 - instead 'cutting red tape' and prioritizing 'jobs, growth, investment' at all costs. more...
Coal fired power station at Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Photo: Guy Gorek via Flickr.

Leaked: EU Commission plot to ditch waste and air pollution laws


12th December 2014

An anti-environment plot by Junckers' Commission would abandon agreed 'green' laws for clean air, waste reduction and recycling. But the leak of key documents to EurActiv has stimulated fierce opposition by Green MEPs and environment groups, while eleven EU countries have called on Junckers to hold to the green laws and speed up their implementation. more...
The garbage that builds up incessantly on the Praia de Achados beach presents formidable obstacle to loggerhead turtles seeking nesting sites. Photo: Simon Ager / Sea Shepherd.

Over 268,000 tonnes of ocean plastic - neglect it at our peril

Magnus Johnson & Melanie Coull

11th December 2014

The oceans are awash with plastic, write Magnus Johnson & Melanie Coull, with dire effects on marine wildlife mistaking it for food. But it's not just big animals like basking sharks, turtles and albatrosses that suffer. The very worst damage may be caused by particles too small for the eye to see, and the toxic chemicals that cling to them. more...
The August 2013 petcoke storm over the southeast side of Chicago. Photo: Anthony Martinez.

Petcoke: the toxic black dust coming to a community near you

Ben Whitford

9th December 2014

It's the fossil fuel industry's latest stroke of genius - a coal substitute that's cheaper, dirtier and more toxic than coal itself, writes Ben Whitford. The waste product of refining heavy oil from Canada's tar sands, petcoke is stored in open mountains around Chicago's 'Slag Valley', sending plumes of sticky black dust over poor neighborhoods every time the wind blows. more...
Downtown East Liverpool. Photo: Caitlin Johnson.

Appalachia: a small city's fight against toxic waste incineration

Caitlin Johnson

5th December 2014

East Liverpool, a small city by the Ohio river, is a cancer-ridden dumping ground for the detritus of the global economy, writes Caitlin Johnson. With its filthy power station, coal ash lake, 1,300 fracking wells, silica sand mountains and a huge toxic waste incinerator, the city's people need your help in their fight for environmental justice. more...
One of many anti-fracking protest posters. Nieu Bethesda, Karoo. Photo: Jose Gil Paris, Stichting Schaliegasvrij.

'Fracking frenzy' - how the shale gas industry is threatening the planet

Friends of the Earth Europe

11th December 2014

The world is in the grip of a 'fracking frenzy that threatens us for centuries to come with polluted aquifers, runaway climate change, destruction of biodiversity and worthless 'sub-prime' investments. Just as the world must make the transition to a sustainable future, our 'leaders' are determined to make this last losing throw of the fossil fuel dice. more...
Sailing boat on Førdefjorden. Photo: Arild Nybø via Flickr.

'Acutely toxic' mine waste threatens the death of Norway's fjords

Tina Andersen Vågenes

28th November 2014

Two huge open pit mines in northern Norway are on the verge of approval, writes Tina Andersen Vågenes - even though they would dump hundreds of millions of tonnes of tailings in fjords where wild salmon spawn. Scientists are voicing serious concerns, and protests are growing, but government and mining companies appear determined to push the projects forward regardless. more...
Glowing pumpkins of the night, our to eat, not just to fright. Photo: Andrea Verganic via Flickr.

The great Hallowe'en pumpkin rescue

Gavin Ellis

31st October 2014

Every Hallowe'en the UK throws away enough pumpkin to make 360 million portions of pumpkin pie, soup, or cake, writes Gavin Ellis - a shocking waste in these hungry times. Hence a bold new initiative to rescue all those pumpkins from landfill, and turn them into delicious food we can all enjoy as part of our seasonal festivities. more...
Yucca Mountain, the site of the US's 'cancelled' repository for high level nuclear waste. Photo: White House via Wikimedia Commons.

Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump is all too 'undead'

John LaForge

1st November 2014

The Yucca Mountain radioactive dump may have been officially 'cancelled', writes John LaForge, and with very good reason. But like all those zombies out for Hallowe'en last night, it's not dead yet, as US nuclear regulators declare that the site perfectly meets nuclear waste storage requirements. more...
A loggerhead turtle lost among the garbage lies dead, baked under the midday sun. Photo: Simon Ager / Sea Shepherd.

Sea turtles run the deadly garbage gauntlet of Praia de Achados

Simon Ager / Sea Shepherd

6th October 2014

Out in the Atlantic off the coast of West Africa, the Cape Verde islands should be pristine, writes Simon Ager, a haven for sea turtles and other wildlife. But the beach where loggerhead turtles have nested for millions of years is buried under a deadly morass of plastic garbage. more...
The Edmonton waste-to-energy incinerator in North London is the largest in the UK, and produces up to 55MW of power. Photo: Fin Fahey via Flickr.

PFI waste incinerator contracts burn more money than rubbish

David Hall / The Conversation

22nd September 2014

A Parliamentary report reveals that £200 million has been wasted on failed 'public-private' PFI projects for waste management, writes David Hall. The obvious solution: to allow local authorities to build and operate their own, which is cheaper and more flexible. The only problem: under UK government rules, it's PFI or nothing. more...


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