October 5th, 2018

Sound effects: the problem of sonic litter

by Steve Watson

 

How is a drum and bass banger like a polystyrene takeaway container? Maybe you’re thinking that they’re both most likely encountered at 2am on a Friday night down the town centre. But I’m more concerned about their presence down residential streets during waking hours. In fact, I’m thinking both should be considered forms of environmental pollution.

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July 20th, 2018

How long should things last?

by Marcus Valentine and Steve Watson

 

This article began with an Xpelair extractor fan, made in England in 1972, and 46 years later removed from Marcus’s kitchen. Already installed when he moved in a decade ago, it had presumably provided continual service since soon after it was manufactured before he took interest in how something so thoroughly covered in grease could still be soldiering on.

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March 9th, 2018

Setting the record straight: is streaming greener than vinyl?

by Duncan Oswald and Steve Watson

 

In 2017, UK sales of new vinyl records were up by 26.8% on 2016, with 4.1 million LPs purchased. While the vinyl resurgence has been welcomed by music loving discophiles wary of the digitalisation of culture (like Steve), it is a source of worry for resource efficiency-minded environmentalists (like Duncan).

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July 7th, 2017

Wheels of fortune: the story of the wheeled bin

by Steve Watson

 

For a relative newcomer to our streets and homes, the wheeled bin has come to occupy an important place in both British civic and cultural life. They have  helped change how waste is managed, and – whether as the subject of the Daily Mail‘s ire or being ridden down a dale by the cast of Last of the Summer Wine – media appearances have been frequent.

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March 10th, 2017

Art of gold: Japanese ceramics and the circular economy

by Steve Watson

 

It’s a fundamental circular economy principle that we need to rethink how products are made so that they last longer and can be repaired or more easily recycled when their time is up. While the challenges this poses are significant enough, they are at least more tangible – in terms of design, engineering and policy – than the cultural task of, as consumers, reimaging what we want from our products.

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September 16th, 2016

Released without charge: inside England’s carrier bag data

by Steve Watson

 

Back in July, six months after England adopted a five pence charge on single use plastic bags (SUPBs), the government released the first data showing how the measure has affected consumption. The headline figure reported in the media was a reduction of 83%, which looks like a fantastic result – especially considering that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland reported smaller reductions of 76%, 80% and 71% in the first years of their respective bans.

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September 2nd, 2016

Beyond the grave: environmentalism and death

by Steve Watson

 

While we may never know for sure if there is life after death, we can be sure that there will be environmental impacts. If it weren’t bad enough that we spend our lives consuming natural resources and steadily accruing huge carbon footprints, thanatophobic environmentalists may add fears of ongoing emissions and land use to the other horrors of the grave.

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