Every week, people throughout the UK dump 11 million items of clothing in landfill. Fast fashion and a culture that encourages disposable clothing is placing an ever increasing amount of pressure on both the planet and its people. This month there is something you can do to help. By joining Second Hand September and making the pledge not to purchase new clothing for thirty days you will be helping the planet take a respite from unsustainable consumer driven pollution.
If you want to participate on social media, post your second-hand clothing on Twitter and Instagram using #SecondHandSeptember, tag @Oxfam GB and become eligible for the weekly prize draw. Any post that is tagged and hashtagged will be automatically entered into a prize draw, where a winner is randomly selected every Friday during the month of September. The draw opened the first week of the month and ends at 10 AM on Friday 27 September.
You don’t just get a single chance to win the prize, multiple entries do count, so you should share any pre-owned purchase throughout the entire month and give yourself as many chances to win. Winners will be contacted on their preferred social media platform. By taking the 30-day pledge Oxfam will provide fashion facts and tips for second hand shopping which will make the challenge simple. By saying yes to pre-owned clothing taken from landfill you give them a longer life and by shopping at Oxfam, every purchase helps Oxfam to help people beat poverty.
WWF has accused the European Commission of “deliberately harming climate action”. The conservation group claims that the Commission deliberately avoided releasing a report that showed just how little EU farming policies were doing in the way of helping prevent climate breakdown. The report on the climate impact of the Common Agricultural Policy was completed more than a year ago but languished unpublished until WWF lodged a formal freedom of information request for its release.
The report was eventually quietly released the day following the EU elections and found that the European Commission was not acting in a strong enough manner to encourage the farming industry to reduce its emissions. A spokesperson for WWF says that the delayed release of the report may well be considered an act of deliberate climate harm. The spokesperson adds that the EU Commission has been talking about the urgent need to act on the climate whilst failing to release a damaging report showing its farming policy is harmful and how much more it can and should do.
Serious questions raised
The report asked some serious questions regarding the wisdom of farmers ploughing land which is a practice known to release massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Common Agricultural Policy is the main instrument used by the EU to manage the farming sector. A spokesperson for Greenpeace says the report clearly shows that European agricultural policy is failing the climate test and the EU must do something about the over-production and over-consumption of meat and dairy which are key drivers for carbon emissions.
Reversing the trend
The EU’s farming sector contributes as much as 10 per cent of the its greenhouse gas emissions but policy changes could result in a reversal and the sector could capture and store a significantly larger amount of carbon dioxide claims WWF. The organisation argues that the Common Agricultural Policy has done almost nothing to support low-carbon and nature-friendly farming. WWF adds that the policy continues to support a market driven set of farming practices that are high-input instead of incentivising environmental or climate commitments.
The WWF spokesperson concludes by arguing that it is possible for both the climate and farming sector to achieve victories by rapidly cutting emissions and adopting practices that would see more carbon going into the ground and landscapes. The EU has already drafted a strategy for long term action to deal with climate change which clearly shows that agriculture can and should do more to help Europe achieve net-zero emissions.
Category: Guide Dogs For The Blind, News
If you have a low tolerance for cuteness and need to aww, then your tolerance will regularly be exceeded as you watch this heart-warming documentary. “Pick of the Litter” features five Labrador puppies that receive training to become guide dogs for the blind. Guide Dogs delivers over 800 puppies every year but only 300 end up actually being paired with a visually impaired or blind individual. The others who do not make the cut during the 20-month training process end up with a “career change” as the trainers put it.
When you watch the documentary, you will notice that each of the five labs have their personalities highlighted thanks to the name-tag graphic that appears every time they appear on screen. For the first 16-months the puppies are placed with civilian volunteers to help them socialise and with whom they learn basic skills from. One of the puppies, Patriot seems to have a love for attacking any object that is unusual is paired with a college student that has no experience.
Would have liked a deeper story
The only real criticism of the documentary is we wish that it didn’t focus on any compelling human narrative that would have told a deeper story about the relationship between human and animal. Eventually Patriot ends up being paired with a PTSD suffering army vet who insists his puppy is in fact a star, perhaps a reflection of his own needs. Apart from that all the volunteers appear to be anonymous which is a real shame.
Watching the puppies train
With so many puppies featured in the documentary there is little time for in depth familiarity with any of them before they eventually return to the shelter and embark on their formal training. This is where they learn the commands that that will be used during their working lives and must also learn how to be “intelligently disobedient”. This is where the guide dog must not comply with the command of its owner if the command were to endanger them. As some of the trainee guide dogs fail to make the cut, their career is montaged and then we are treated to a finale that is short on the stories of their new owners which we would have liked to have seen more of. Check out the trailer.
Category: Help For Heroes
Cotton Traders a clothing company headquartered in Cheshire has exceeded its target of raising £1 million for Help for Heroes after hosting a charity fold day and gala dinner. The event took place at Mere Resort and Spa and guests took part in a day of golfing and enjoyed a three-course meal accompanied by live music during the evening. Cotton Traders has supported Help for Heroes since 2011.
Golf Gala & Dinner
Following the event in Mere, the company has now raised a total of £1.2 million for Help for Heroes who in turn have used the money to deliver assistance to ex-servicemen, women and their families. Aside from the annual golf and dinner gala, Cotton Traders which is a retailer of leisurewear also organised a Three Peaks Challenge Coast to Coast bicycle ride.
Proceeds of bag sales also donated
The company also donates all the money it collects from its 5p plastic bag charge and also encourages its customers to donate online. The work the company has done in support of Help for Heroes saw it shortlisted as best long-term charity partnership for the Corporate Engagement Awards. As part of its continuing support, Cotton Traders also funds a Heroes Recovery Centre located in North Yorkshire.
Company thrilled to be involved
Nick Hamblin CEO of Cotton Traders said the event the company hosted this year was absolutely fantastic and the company was pleased to have the opportunity to raise more money for Help for Heroes. Mr Hamblin hopes to be able to raise even more money for Help for Heroes so it can continue to provide support for those that have been injured in the line of duty.
Help for Heroes humbled by the generosity
Pete Dunning who is an athlete that competes at the Invictus Games and serves an ambassador for Help for Heroes was the guest speaker at the event. Mr Dunning says that Cotton Traders has worked tirelessly to support Help for Heroes and the organisation felt truly humbled by their generous donations.
People have felt the impact
The company has donated proceeds from the sale of merchandise as well as raised money from fundraisers and are constantly looking for new ways to support the cause and provide help. Every donation the company has made has been used to help lives that have felt the impact of serving the country. Families of servicemen and woman have also been included and these people have been helped to live independent and fulfilling lives.
One out of every two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives. With those kinds of statistics, it can really feel like cancer is inevitable. Experts from Cancer Research UK have warned that diet has the same impact on cancer risk as alcohol with the latest research suggesting diets may be responsible for as many as 5 per cent of all cancer cases which is the same percentage of cancer cases associated with drinking alcohol.
Eat more carbs
The biggest dietary risk contributing towards cancer, is not eating enough whole grains aka carbohydrates. If you want to reduce the risk of cancer, then you should eat more whole grains, dairy, fruit & veg and reduce meat consumption, and eliminate sweetened drinks from your diet. Of the cancer cases related to diet 16 per cent were obese patients. 25 per cent of all people in the UK are obese and a third of all UK children are considered obese or overweight.
Half of the UK will be obese by 2030
If this trend continues, then estimates suggest by the year 2030, half of the UK population will be obese. Despite the significant improvements in cancer treatments obesity continues to fuel an increase in the number malignant tumour diagnoses. Researcher say the evidence that links low whole grain, low dairy and high processed or red meat to increases to the risk of bowel cancer.
Not enough fruit and veg
A lack of fruit and veg has a link to greater risk of mouth cancer whilst processed meat increases stomach cancer risk. Sugary drinks cause obesity that is associated with 13 types of cancer. Fizzy drinks, sports and energy drinks that have additional sweetening with sugar not only make use fatter but are thought to make us more prone to cancer the study determined.
Diet Coke not good either
The new study follows on the back of a report released earlier in the year that found that drinking diet coke every day increases the likelihood of early death from heart disease and cancer. In fact, sugary fizzy drinks were fond to increase the risk of early death by as much as 20 per cent and experts from Harvard think are also responsible for the increase in cancer cases.
Cancer risk increases
Whilst it is better to drink Diet Coke than the regular version, people who drink more than four a day still remain at risk of dying early. The study found that drinking just two fizzy drinks every day raised the risk of early death by 14 per cent and those who drank more than that increased their risk of early death by a fifth. They also have a 31 per cent higher change of dying early as a result of heart disease. Every additional drink consumed, raises the risk by an additional 10 per cent.
5 per cent of cancer cases are a result of obesity
According to Cancer Research UK more than one in 20 cancer cases are the result of obesity. For people seeking to reduce the risk of cancer, they should have a diet that consists of as much non processed whole food as possible. They should also try and consume fruit and veg about at least five times a day and keep their meat consumption to a minimum. Everything is about moderation though we cannot stress that one can never have enough veg. Also, it is worth noting that there are some cancers that cannot be avoided regardless of what you eat.
Approximately 90 per cent of the world’s wild plant species depend on animal pollination for reproduction and an astonishing 75 per cent of crops do as well. The species that pollinate include wasps, bees, moths, beetles, butterflies and ants. There are over 250 different bee species in the UK alone. The honey bee normally lives in hives typically managed by beekeepers. Other species such as bumblebees and solitary bees live out in the wild.
Bees worth hundreds of millions of pounds to UK
In the modern industrialised world, bees are facing a wide variety of complex and intersectional threats, the cumulative effects of which may well have a large impact on the abundance and diversity of bee species. According to the IUCN, as many as 24 per cent of all bumblebee species in Europe now face the threat of extinction. That, despite the fact that they are worth a whopping £690 million a year to the British economy. It is believed the driving factor behind decline in bee numbers is habitat fragmentation, but climate change is also thought to have an increasing role.
Third of all species declining
A recent study looked at 228 bee species throughout the East of England and assessed their populations in the region. The study found that a third of pollinator species experienced declining populations between 1980 and 2013 with only a tenth increasing. Bees are critical to British agriculture. One of every three mouthfuls we eat is because of pollinators. Bees pollinate a wide variety of crops and if we lose bees and other pollinators, it would become very challenging.
Loss of wild spaces
The study found that 17 species have become locally extinct, an additional 25 species are threatened and a further 31 are of conservation concern. The most vulnerable species include the Bilberry Mining Bee which collected pollen only from a couple of plant species that grow in only one location in England. The UK is one of the world’s most nature depleted countries and the loss of wild spaces means that bees lack the natural spaces they need to survive.
Loss of synchronicity
Many of the rarer species require between 10 to 20 square kilometres of habitable area in order to support a stable population, but that amount of precious natural habitat is being lost at an alarming rate. On top of habitat loss, climate change is also a key stressor because bees cannot cope with weather extremes. One effect of climate change is shifting seasons which are far less predictable plus freak weather such as droughts in the summer and extended flooding seasons. The rapid changing of season means that flowering plants that pollinators the feed on end up losing synchronicity.
WWF says we need to protect and manage bee friendly habitats as habitat fragmentation makes bee species more vulnerable who probably cannot expand their ranges in response to climate change. We need to prioritise the habitats in the East of England and coastal areas which are vitally important. WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report found that globally 60 per cent of wildlife populations have declined since 1970.
Westminster Environment Act
WWF says the Westminster Environment Act is a real opportunity for the UK to take a leading role in the restoration of nature. Politicians have the ability to reverse the catastrophic natural decline by enacting new environmental legislation to protect and restore nature across the UK. WWF wants the Act to be a global leader and include legally-binding targets to restore nature. There are lots of ways individuals can help bees near them. For those with access to green spaces or have gardens, create a bee friendly haven, plant wild flowers and leave grass to grow which will give bees space to thrive.
A group of 18 humanitarian organisations has warned that urgent action is necessary after a series of armed attacks in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. The civilians need help and are trapped in an area that lies between the Ugandan border and a part of the DRC currently being terrorized by armed militia and is close to the Ebola outbreak that has resulted in the deaths of more than 950 people.
The attacks took place in Beni territory North Kivu and according to local health officials more than 60,000 people have had to flee. Thousands have sought shelter at a primary school close to the border with Uganda. The only water they have available to drink comes from a river and the school has very few toilets which means the threat of disease is extremely high. Because no food is being provided for many people who sought shelter the only way to feed themselves is to return to their villages where they feel unsafe.
Oxfam very worried
An Oxfam spokesperson in the DRC says the agency is extremely worried by a situation where people afraid to return home are being forced to live in cramped unsanitary conditions and where the risk of contracting Ebola is high. The people need food and sanitation urgently as well as clean water and access to health services. The humanitarian agencies say that the continuing violence in the region makes reaching people very difficult so aid is not being delivered from within DRC and authorities in Uganda are preparing for a deluge of new refugees.
Refugees not being allowed to cross the border
In Uganda the refugees may have better access to basic services including healthcare plus they will also receive the protection they need. However, many have expressed their concerns about reports that suggest people are not being allowed to cross the border into Uganda at least sixteen official crossings. As a result, some of those that fled the violence are left with no choice but return back to their homes where they at risk of further attacks.
Ebola risk compounded
Some have chosen to cross illegally through the forests along the border. This is not good because it compounds the risk of Ebola being spread because people are not being screened as they would have done had they crossed at official border check posts. Aid workers say both governments need to partner with humanitarian agencies to ensure the protection of displaced people and deliver the help they so desperately need.
Prepare to cope with new influx
The government of Uganda and UNHCR are preparing to receive those that have been displaced and the 18 organisations are urging authorities in DRC are able to cross freely and safely into Uganda. The organisations also want the UNHCR, authorities in both DRC and Uganda and international donors to cooperate and pool resources to make sure people get the help they need as quickly as possible. All stakeholders need to ensure they are prepared to cope an influx of new refugees.
According to a recent report from WWF, more than 1,000 harbour porpoises die in British waters every year unnecessarily. The WWF study found that these small porpoises end up becoming accidentally trapped in the nets of fishermen resulting in them suffocating and dying. The report highlights three black spots, in the South-West and South-East of England as well as the Shetland waters and in the North East of Scotland.
Immediate action necessary
WWF is urging for immediate actions to address the crisis. WWF produced the report in collaboration with the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign. The report claims that gill nets which are a wall of netting that traps the fish by their gills are responsible for the death of porpoises. The report suggests that there should be other techniques introduced as well as improved monitoring techniques.
WWF fisheries programme manager Helen MacLachlan says that it is a national scandal that porpoises tragically die in the harbour and that this can no longer be ignored. Many people in the UK will be shocked to learn the scale of the problem and horrified that these amazing mammals may well be dying in the same nets used to catch the fish that sits on their dinner plates. It is critical that the UK takes immediate action to ensure that nature is restored and remains protected.
UK waters globally important
There are approximately 177,000 harbour porpoises that ply the waters of the United Kingdom and it is a globally important area for both breeding and feeding. The report cites a number of academic studies and estimates during 2017 anywhere between 587 and 2,615 porpoises were killed with the best guess being 1,098 or roughly three per day.
Real number of deaths must be much higher
The estimates are partly based on data recorded by observers on board a number fishing vessels and that has been extrapolated to estimate the total number of harbour porpoises inadvertently killed by the entire fleet. WWF however believes that the real number may be much higher since the estimate does not take into consideration the nets laid by smaller vessels and the number of dead porpoises that fall out of nets as they are drawn in.
The black spots where the number of porpoise deaths are especially high include Cornwall, Kent, Sussex and the coastal waters of the West of Shetland. WWF says the areas that are particularly abundant in marine life tend to attract both large numbers of gill-net fisheries and porpoises. WWF says the UK does comply EU regulations regarding gill net by-catch of harbour porpoises. However, the NGO says there should be alternatives such as hooks and hand lines for catching certain species.
The Big Garden Birdwatch just celebrated its 40th anniversary and is an opportunity for people from every walk of life and age to count the number of birds that visit their gardens, helping the RSPB develop some kind of understanding of exactly how the birds are doing. This year, nearly 500,000 people throughout the UK participated and an astonishing 7.5 million birds were counted.
Last weekend of January
The Big Garden Birdwatch takes place every year on the last weekend in January and the results found that the number one species of bird in the UK continues to be the house sparrow. There were some decreases in sightings of long-tailed tits and wrens, both of which experienced double digit percentage drops after a large number of sightings in 2018. Their populations may have been affected by the cold weather last year known as the Beast from the East, and at this stage it is still to early to say whether this is a single blip or the start of a broad trend.
Working out the winners and losers
Over forty years the Big Garden Birdwatch has told us who the winners and losers are in the world of garden birds. The survey alerted the RSPB to the fact that thrush numbers were falling. The species used to be regularly ranked in the top ten during the seventies but by 2009 their numbers were half those recorded by 1979.
The rankings remain the same
The survey has recorded the good fortunes of some species such as the wood pigeon and goldfinch, whilst also demonstrating the alarming decline of house sparrows and starling. The news for these two species though does seem to be good. The house sparrow continues to remain the number one most commonly seen garden bird with over 1.2 million sightings of the species over the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch. Starling came in at second and the blue tit moved into third position.
School children took part
The country’s schoolchildren participated in RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch during the first half of Spring term. 60,000 school children participated in a UK-wide survey of birds on school grounds. Blackbirds ended up being the species of bird that most frequently seen with an average of eight per school and was seen in 89 per cent of the schools that participated.
Highlighting the crisis
Over the last half century there has been a crisis with the loss of over 40 million wild birds from the UK. In order to bring the crisis to the public attention RSPB released a special track of birdsong titled ‘Let Nature Sing’. The single contains some of the most recognisable birdsongs that could well disappear forever. It is a complication of beautiful sound recordings of bird songs plus some particularly resonant conservation stories. RSPB wants the public to download, stream and share the single to help it get it in the charts for the first time.
Most people seem to think that wildlife is the enemy of fruit of and vegetable patches. Some species are even considered to be pests. It is however possible and perhaps beneficial to welcome wildlife into your vegetable patch according to WWF. Unfortunately, the UK is one of the world’s most nature depleted countries but harmonious gardening with nature can give species particular to gardens a large helping hand as well as creating wild habitats that not only help endangered species but humans as well.
Connecting with nature
You should leave areas for long grass to grow as well as wild flowers and nettles around the edge of your garden which will serve as shelter and food for insects that benefit the patch like ladybirds, hoverflies and wasps. The wasp is the true friend to the gardener because they eat a wide range of invertebrates that feed on vegetables such as ants, caterpillars and ants.
You could also create a pond that will attract toads and frogs or construct a log pile that hedgehogs will be enticed by. This will encourage them to feed on slugs that may devour young plants. They also feed on beetles, worms and insect pests. Fruit bearing trees and shrubs can serve as both shelter for birds that feed on caterpillars, aphids and other insect that chow down on your greens. A single baby blue tit can consume up to 100 caterpillars every day getting rid of the daily requirement to put plastic nets over brassicas.
Grow different species
A more wildlife-friendly vegetable patch obviously means more habitat for wildlife and less work for you. Plus, it acts as a regular food supply putting natural food on the plate without incurring the carbon emissions associated with buying from the supermarket. There are a number of things you can do to get started. Bush tomatoes are easier for example than other tomatoes. There are varieties of salad leave can be sown easily in the ground or pots and harvested if kept well-watered. Courgettes are the easiest crop to grow and purple sprouting broccoli takes a while to harvest but worth the effort.