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We can all do something simple to help fight against Climate Change

 This year COP 26 = ‘Conference of the Parties’ is taking place in Glasgow from 1st November to 12th November.

Delayed from last year, it is under the presidency of the UK Government in partnership with Italy. The theme is ‘Uniting the world to tackle Climate Change’ and the talks will bring together heads of state,
climate experts and campaigners to agree co-ordinated action to tackle climate change and inspire action. It is expected to be the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted and attended by countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – a treaty agreed in 1994.

What can we do?
1. You can use your voice.
It is humans that are destroying the world. By speaking up, especially to your MP or MSP. This is one of the most powerful things that you can do.
Ask your MP or MSP to commit to action to protect our world. Contact the companies you use. Use Social Media and tell them you want none, or, less plastic in the goods you buy. Then talk to your friends, neighbours and
colleagues..speak to everyone.. and ask them to make positive changes.  Stand up against Climate Change
2. Keep yourself Informed.
The more you know the better. Check out the facts and stay up to date with the news on what is happening in our natural world. Find out about those organisations who are working to make our planet a better place. Learn
3. Be Political.
Think about voting for someone who represents you and will also make the environment a top priority. (May 2021?) Make our politicians accountable. Stand up for Nature
4. Travel Responsibly.
Transport is one of the most polluting sectors in the UK. Soroptimists do like travelling and our conferences can be in difficult places to access efficiently when looking at our carbon footprint. Choose a more sustainable
way to get from A to B, whenever possible. Look at how you travel
5. EAT Sustainably.
Food production is a major driver of wildlife extinction. What we eat contributes around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for almost 60% of global biodiversity loss. Scotland has nearly
everything you might want to eat – buy as local as you can.  Find out more about your food.
6. Reduce Waste.
Every product we buy has an environmental footprint and could end up in landfill. The impact of plastic pollution on our oceans is very clear – it is having drastic impacts on marine life. Recycle what you can which reduces
making new materials. Up-cycling is also a creative way to updating old items to make them valuable again. Do you eat all the food you buy? It is estimated a third of all our food produced in the world is lost or wasted.
Make interesting meals out of your leftovers and any organic waste, compost it. Carry extra bags to buy vegetables and fruit – stop using all plastic bags.
7. Watch what you buy.
Buying less in 2021 will save you money, reduce waste and improve your environmental footprint. Try living a less consumerist lifestyle which will benefit not only you but our planet. Support eco-friendly products and
encourage companies to source and produce their products in a sustainable way.

Reducing Plastic

Retailers are making big claims when it comes to reducing plastic. We have seen reusable produce bags, unpacked goods and even reshaped Easter Eggs in an effort to slash single use plastic packaging. However, please
keep vigilant and speak up if you spot something that could be changed.  If you order online, those who choose loose veg and fruit often pay higher prices and find there is just as much plastic as if they had gone with the
packaged option! It is slowly changing and the pandemic has not helped.  Tesco has promised to get rid of all plastic produce bags. They are also removing extra material from its tinned multipack products and intend to
offer multibuy deals on individual tins equally the same price as the multipack.  Asda also promises that they are now plastic carrier bag free. Unfortunately, loose fruit and veg are put into smaller clear plastic bags. Buy loose veg from Asda and you will pay the same or less than the packaged option.. but loose fruit often costs shoppers more on 4 out of 5 products. One example is with Conference Pears which are almost double the price per loose pear!  Asda are also piloting refillable packing of their own brand coffee, rice and pasta, and have now partnered Kellogg’s and Unilever extending refill stations to CocoPops, Rice Krispies and PG Tips. They are also the first
supermarket to launch a 100% recyclable crisp tube.  Sainsburys had the lowest bag to product ratio this past year. In a trial, it was found they like combining produce into one bag although onions were packed in a single use carrier bag! Last summer, Sainsburys boasted it was the first UK supermarket to ditch plastic bags for loose fruit and veg in stores, offering 30p re-useable veg bags. A trial found that this had not happened with the online business where it was found that they are still using plenty of single use clear produce bags. Loose veg can save some money in this store, but no savings are to be made on loose fruit. They are removing hard to recycle plastic and polystyrene packing from their own brand ranges and some stores are piloting deposit return schemes where customers recycle bottles in exchange for 5p coupons. Waitrose have a good selection of loose fruit and veg and the trial found their bags are actually made with corn starch. Mushrooms are wrapped in paper. Prices – some loose veg are cheaper but not so with fruit which can be 9p more for a loose lemon and 4p more for a loose tomato. Last year they launched new packaging designs for more than 200 items. Their target was to reduce single use plastic by 15% by the end of 2020. Ocado does not offer any loose fruit or veg but has made a commitment to reduce plastic.  Morrisons after a ten month trial has 127 varieties of fruit and veg which will be available loose or in recyclable paper bags. Iceland is to trial paper packaging for fruit and veg in selected stores.
Lidl are shifting to compostable materials starting with their packaged potato products. They also boast that they will be the first UK supermarket to use 80% recycled plastic with a minimum of 30% of this packaging made
from ocean-bound plastic.  Aldi announced it would put its steak products into cardboard packaging.  They are also stepping up their efforts to reduce the amount of plastic packaging used across their business.
Spar are trialling refillable stations for detergents although first trials are in Austria!  Coop is the first retailer in the UK to introduce recyclable pizza packaging which will save 200 tonnes of waste going into landfill. This year this supermarket is only going to use 100% recyclable packaging in all its own brand food products.  Marks & Spencer is testing 44 packaging free products ranging from coffee to confectionery. So far it has been a success with 25 out of 44 fill your own products outselling the packaged alternative.  Packaging is the largest ‘end use’ market segment and accounts for just over 40% of total plastic usage. Despite public pressure UK supermarkets
produced more plastic packaging than ever in 2019. More than 1 million bags are used every minute and a plastic bag has an average working life of 15 minutes. Also, every minute one rubbish truck of plastic is dumped in the
ocean.  Recycling is not the only answer….cutting back on the plastic produced in the first place is the real solution.  So………….KEEP VIGILANT, SPEAK OUT and sign PETITIONS

Centenary ‘Plant Trees for a Brilliant Future’ Webinars.
The SIGBI Centenary working party will be hosting a series of webinars to highlight the benefits of tree planting and to hear from experts in their field giving advice on all things environmental.
WEBINAR: 23rd January 2021 at 2.30pm. With John Tucker MICFor, Director Woodland Outreach, The Woodland Trust. He is a Chartered Forester with 40 years experience of multi-purpose
forestry. He has worked for the Woodland Trust since 1994 in a variety of forest management roles, with a strong focus on woodland creation since 2010.  TOPIC: Are Trees the answer to all our climate problems?
Please join this second Webinar from you computer, tablet or smartphone. https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/359081429

MANGROVE SWAMPS
An unusual topic..but when looking at environment problems like the destruction of virgin forests, they do not spring to mind as tree – hugging material.
However, in the last two decades about half the world’s population of mangroves have already been lost. That amounts to 80 million acres. World organisations are beginning to sound the alarm because they believe one in six mangrove species are in danger of becoming extinct. Why is this important? Mangroves are crucial in our fight to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
Let’s begin with:

What is a Mangrove Swamp?
They are coastal wetlands found in subtropical and tropical regions and found in areas where salt water and fresh water mix and where conditions are not suitable for the average tree. Mangroves survive and thrive in both salty and fresh water. They are hardy and resilient and worldwide there are 70 species of mangroves which are now becoming endangered.
Benefits of Mangroves:
Mangroves provide a valuable ecosystem protecting the coastline and providing habitats for marine wildlife. Their strong densely intertwined roots make natural storm barriers. They are nursery magnets for fish and shellfish and provide livelihoods and food for nearby communities. Also Mangroves could be part of the solution to Climate Change by helping to offset ocean acidification and also protecting the waters from heating up which in turn helps coral reefs to flourish. Today, all over the world, mangroves are being cut down not only to give way to mega resorts but also to make way for fish pens for large corporations. Indonesia, India, the Philippines and Vietnam have lost nearly 50% – clearing to make room for agricultural land, human settlements, infrastructure, palm oil production and tourist developments. Also,
pollution from fertilizers, pesticides and other man made chemicals are having even more disastrous impacts for the inhabiting wildlife. With the ability to store vast amounts of carbon, mangrove forests are key
weapons to fight against Climate Change. By protecting mangroves, we can help to protect the future of our planet. The Global Mangrove Alliance have an ambitious aim to increase global mangrove habitats by 20% by 2030.
What can we do?
Plant Mangroves as part of our Centenary Tree Project. Sea Trees will plant mangrove trees which will:
Provide employment for two villages on Biak Island, Indonesia.
Help protect Biak Island from storm surges and sea level rise.
Create a habitat for threatened species.
Sequester CO² .
50 sea trees cost £38. (sea-trees.org)
Or, Tree Sisters (Bristol group) will plant 125 trees in Madagascar for £50. Or, Contact one of our Soroptimist Clubs in India.
Approximately 50p per Mangrove plant.

A Woman is a force of nature.  The only thing stronger is a Group of Women, who have decided to do something together.
Remember, as Women, we have incredible power to create change.  One of the ways to do this is through the influence and impact we can have not only in our local communities but around the world.

Janice Wilson
Programme Action Chair
Soroptimist International
Scotland North.