Are you not entertained?

Are you not entertained?

Are you not entertained?

two elephants at sunset
anastasiya stand news

16th July 2021

 

Ah the circus, a place for fun and games, where bears wear cute tutus and tigers jump through hoops, the smell of popcorn filling your nostrils and the stickiness of candy floss on your fingers. It brings us all back to our childhood filled with laughter and clowns, complete ignorance of what happens behind the scenes and the question of how wild animals become showmen. The truth is, most circus animals are treated poorly; beaten, starved, and kidnapped. They sit in tiny cages travelling from place to place for our entertainment. Have we ever thought about what the once big and mighty beasts feel when they are dressed in silly costumes and forced to perform tricks that are dangerous and downright unnecessary? They do not perform because they enjoy it, it’s because they are forced to. Why can’t they just stop and not perform then? That is a very simple answer, they are afraid. Afraid of what will happen if they do not perform.

 

Animals are trained and punished with whips, muzzles, tight collars, electric prods and metal rods. There are multiple videos and photographs showing animals being beaten and abused in cruel ways. Those fake smiles and cheers from the circus trainers and handlers are all for show, to trick you into thinking that the animals enjoy performing and that they are loved. Tigers and lions have a natural fear of fire, but due to the desires of their circus trainers, they are forced to jump through hoops which have resulted in many animals being injured. These mind tricks are precautions circus trainers take in order to avoid being reported, since the only real way a circus can get punished for mistreating their animals is by being reported by the public, and governments do not monitor what happens behind closed curtains.

 

Circus animals often have a lot of pent up anger and frustration from years of abuse. There have been multiple cases worldwide were circus animals have escaped and attacked people and their surroundings. The animals that go crazy are not sedated and given care, instead, they are killed.”

While travelling the circus, owners often keep animals in trailers or trucks. Big cats are crammed into tiny, dirty cages and elephants are chained down. Circuses travel all year round in various weather conditions meaning the animals are often exposed to the elements, forced to suffer through hours and days of travel without getting the chance to move around. Circus animals often have a lot of pent up anger and frustration from years of abuse. There have been multiple cases worldwide were circus animals have escaped and attacked people and their surroundings. The animals that go crazy are not sedated and given care, instead, they are killed. For example, take the 2014 Moolah Shrine Circus show in Missouri. During the performance, three elephants escaped from their handlers in the children area after being put under stress from the noise. They were loose for 45 minutes which resulted in multiple damaged vehicles. This was not the first time an elephant got loose, and it wouldn’t be the last.

 

Thankfully there have been circus bans in place in multiple cities and countries around the world which restrict the use of animals for entertainment. The Animal Welfare Act states that circus animals have the right to be protected and treated humanely, so circuses that disobey this act and mistreat their animals are breaking the law. Most circus cases focus on elephants, however, all animals should be protected from harsh treatment. The training of elephants begins when they are babies, they have all four of their legs chained up for 23 hours a day and while chained they are beaten and choked with electric rods to break their spirit. Most wounds are covered with make-up or blamed on the clumsiness of the animal.

 

An investigation by the Animal Defenders International found that dancing bears spend around 90% of their time inside a cage. ADI had also published a video showing a bear circling around a tiny steel cage measuring about 3½ feet wide and 8ft high, demonstrating the surreal life conditions these animals have to endure for our entertainment. It has been reported by the United States Animal Welfare, that most major circuses which used animals had been cited for violating the minimal standards of care set out by them. It has been documented that since 1990, 123 attacks on humans were made by large captive cats in the US, 13 of which were fatal.

 

There are three countries in the world that led the movement of banning the use of animals in circuses, the first being Bolivia, followed by China and Greece. The UK has banned the use of “wild” animals and the United States are currently fighting to ban the use of exotic animals. Ireland has banned the use of wild animals as of 2018 making it the 42nd state globally to do so. We can confront the use of animals in circuses by boycotting those circuses and supporting animal-free circuses like Cirque Du Soleil and Cirque Dreams, as well as the first ever circus using holographic animals, Roncalli, in Germany.

 

 

Featured photo by Mylon Ollila

This article was supported by: STAND Environment Editor Anastasiya + Programme Assistant Alex

 

Interview with Sustainable Radio

Interview with Sustainable Radio

Interview with Sustainable Radio (Dublin South FM 93.9)

OutSTANDing Stories Episode 2

Laura Kelly – Sustainable Radio (Dublin South FM)

14th July 2021

 

 

Listen to our interview with Laura Kelly from Sustainable Radio on the following platforms:

Spotify

SoundCloud

In this episode Laura Kelly from Sustainable Radio (Dublin South FM 93.9) interviews two guests. The first is Ken from the source bulk foods in Rathmines. They talk about how buying in bulk will become the new norm, if the EU is doing enough to ensure we have a plastic-free future and their global donation of 45,000 to Support Shepard’s. Then, Laura interviews our Marketing Coordinator, Madeline, to discuss our organisation and our campaigns. We talk about the pressure young people have to be the catalyst of climate action, the #ConsciousConsumption campaign and how we can get involved to bring about change.

 
 
 
You can learn more about the Dublin South FM here.
To take the pledge and read up about our #ConsciousConsumption campaign visit 10000students.ie

 

 

 

This podcast was hosted by Laura Kelly from Sustainable Radio

 

 

Cuba’s green revolution: what to expect when you’re expecting

Cuba’s green revolution: what to expect when you’re expecting

Cuba’s green revolution: what to expect when you’re expecting

a bowl of tomatoes is shared in the hands of two people
Ciaran Boyle

8th July 2021

 

Ripe ‘n’ ready but never really ripe or ready avocados on supermarket shelves. New bougie Ethiopian-Bosnian-Plant-based-Fusion food truck parking down the road. The bewildering stroll through an Asian supermarket searching for the eight poxy ingredients needed for the ‘quick and easy’ recipe you saw on Instagram. The unlimited options Deliveroo throws at us when we’re lying in bed at 3pm on Sunday dying a slow death caused by the night before. One of the benefits of living in the neoliberal (a pro-capitalist belief system that favours a freer trade market) age is the excessive choices we can make about what to shove in our gobs on a daily basis.  With the sheer volume of food available to us, of course we feel secure in knowing that a Big Mac is only a languid mash of our phone screens away. 

 

With the oncoming climate catastrophe, we’re about to see how insecure we really are. We’re standing in a nice warm shower about to step out into the cold harsh light of a winter morning. And realising we forgot a towel. And realising we’re in our partner’s parents’ house. And realising the bathroom is on the bottom floor. And realising your partner’s room is on the third floor. And realising you’re going to have to waddle through the kitchen covering your bits with a hand towel past your partner’s ma making breakfast. And their dad who is about to be abruptly disturbed from reading the Sunday paper to see the flash of your bare arse darting past. 

 

Sounds like a bit of a recurring nightmare but this is the state we’re in. The old neoliberal model of food production, that is ‘export what you’re good at, import the rest,’ leaves us teetering on the edge of catastrophe. Neoliberal globalisation, agricultural intensification and the push for high-yielding crops in the Global South has left us with fragile supply chains and more complex bureaucracy than Stalin ever dreamed of. The fragility of this system is deeply embedded but almost counter-intuitively, it’s also pressing the fast-forward button on the inevitable collapse. Monocropping culture (growing the same crop on the same land every year) destroying biodiversity, the overuse of fertilisers and pesticides ruining fertile soil and local ecosystems, and not to repeat myself but our ever-growing demand for more choices leaves us with a house of cards that is ripe ‘n’ ready to collapse. There’s a reason why food security is an urgent priority for everyone involved in climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is all without even mentioning the exploitative and oppressive socio-political aspects of the global food production system – that’s a can of worms for another day.  

 

The old neoliberal model of food production, that is ‘export what youre good at, import the rest, leaves us teetering on the edge of catastrophe.”

Our current response to this problem is based off of a conceptual framework called ‘ecological modernisation’ or the more commonplace waffle of ‘greening the economy.’ This basically amounts to let’s do everything in our power to keep the current economic and political systems intact while the tech bros plaster up the leaks as they spout.’ GMOs (genetically modified organisms), hydroponic farming (substituting soil with water) and plant-based meat alternatives are some of the solutions we’ve come up with under this self-deluding paradigm. We’re stuck in a rut of trying to tweak a system that creates the problem and leaves us more vulnerable to the consequences. It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are numerous examples of more stable and sustainable food production systems that can be replicated if we just took the time to look over the parapet.  

 

Right, so imagine if you can: overnight, Ireland is excommunicated from the EU. Facebook and all of the other Yank companies pack up and leave (ugh, the dream), all trade ties are cut and we’re left floating, lonely in the Atlantic and entirely dependent on ourselves. Pretty hard to picture. Well, this is a fairly similar scenario to the one that Cuba faced three decades ago. Cuba relied heavily on the USSR for subsidies and most of their imports, from oil to tomatoes, leaving them with a food system even more vulnerable than ours. With the collapse of the USSR, US embargoes and an economy over-dependent on sugar plantations, Cuba was left in the dystopic scenario that keeps people up at night thinking about climate change. According to the UNFAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), calorific consumption dropped by more than half of what it was from the late 1980s to 1993 while Cuba lost 80% of its international trade.  

 

During what was known as the Special Period, instead of crawling back to the US and asking for a handout, Cuba decided to look inwards. Without the oil needed for industrial agriculture and no way of importing fertilisers and pesticides, Cuba needed to be revolutionary for the second period in its short history as an independent nation. The focus of  its economy was shifted to maximise food production with the limited resources available. This shifted Cuba away from the exportation of mono-cropped agricultural goods, allowing it to focus on small organic and urban farms. Without degenerating into a click-bait article, you won’t believe what happened next… 

 

In the Cuban capital, Havana, 90% of the fruit and vegetables consumed are provided by these  ‘organopónicos.’ This provides income, employment and access to cheap, healthy and organic foods for the majority of the population in Havana.”

Cuba now boasts over 7,000  ‘organopónicos,’ small allotments in the centre of tower blocks, rooftops and gardens. In the Cuban capital, Havana, 90% of the fruit and vegetables consumed are provided by these  ‘organopónicos.’ This provides income, employment and access to cheap, healthy and organic foods for the majority of the population in Havana. Quotas are given to the government to make sure that the people of Cuba are well fed and the rest is allowed to be consumed by the farmers or sold in the markets for a small profit. The urban allotments were matched with the Programme for Local Agricultural Innovation that sought to push small scale organic farming and agroecology beyond the city walls. This has led to over 50,000 small farming cooperatives taking part in the programme where they can share knowledge, network and help tender a vision of the future of Cuban agriculture.  

 

The (very limited) international attention on Cuba’s green revolution has been portrayed with heady socialist idealism and the typical ‘we should go back to the good ol’ days of subsistence agriculture’ belief that is persistent in some sectors of the environmental movement. Romanticism aside, let’s be realistic. We’re not going to get your deeply cynical uncle Gerry to step away from his pint of Guinness on a Thursday evening to join the Ballywhatever Urban Farm Co-op. What we can do is look to Cuba as an example of a food production system that has built stability, provides cheap and healthy food, and is relatively invulnerable to external shocks, and say ‘’Hey, that might be a more straightforward solution than growing a steak in a Petri dish.” There are already examples which take this re-localised approach to the food economy such as, Transition Towns and Urban Farming Initiatives. We don’t have to go the full Castro but Cuba serves as an example of simple solutions to our ever-growing list of problems.  

 

 

Featured photo by Elaine Casap

This article was supported by: STAND Environment Editor Anastasiya + Programme Assistant Alex

 

Our house is still on fire but where is our extinguisher?

Our house is still on fire but where is our extinguisher?

Our house is still on fire but where is our extinguisher?

people gathered at climate protest with globe on fire
Orla Leahy

11th June 2021

 

It’s been over two years since Greta Thunberg stood before the World Economic Forum and declared that our house is on fire. Over those two years we, the housemates, the world’s population, have begun to overcome several challenges, Covid-19 being one of them, Brexit another, but yet, our house fire still rages. Emissions may have decreased slightly, thanks to lockdown and improved environmental practices, but where is the true extinguisher that will quench the ever-threatening fire?

 

Scientists widely acknowledge that the continuation of current emissions will result in a crisis point of irreversible damage to our house by 2030. Consequently, it is imperative that we act, and that we extinguish the growing flames with haste.

 

“Accepting that our house is on fire is naturally the first course of action, but solutions are the next, most integral part of extinguishment, and current, viable solutions must not only be explored, but implemented by us citizens.”

The following five solutions are often overlooked but pose a strong starting point.

 

1. Eco-bricks

While Covid-19 has seen reduced transport emissions, landfill waste has increased dramatically. Rather than let our non-biodegradable, non-recyclable waste pile up and slowly decompose, a new innovative alternative is on the horizon. Irish indigenous business, Reuzi, have suggested filling unwanted bottles with such waste to create an “eco-brick.” Companies and groups are currently striving to create eco brick banks, where citizens can drop eco-bricks in Ireland. The bricks will then be used to develop contemporary furniture. In the meantime, why not start filling some bottles, in preparation for the launch of Irish eco brick banks? 

 

2. Improved Refrigeration

Have an open-door refrigerator at home or work? Did you know that “Project Drawdown” have identified open door refrigeration as the greatest cause of greenhouse gas emissions and that 105 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions were released from such refrigerators in 2017? Installing a door on a refrigerator is well worth the investment, both to your pocket, in terms of long-term energy bills saved and more importantly, to our planet. 

 

3. Join the Bike to Work Scheme

Though not feasible for everyone, if cycling to work is an option for you, why not check out Bike to Work and register today to avail of tax-free bikes to cycle to work? Transport emissions, which are classified as energy emissions under the SEAI, amount to almost 60% of all Irish emissions. Hence, not only is the Bike to Work Scheme kinder to your health and pocket but actively contributes to the reduction of our Irish emissions. 

 

4. Recycle Electronics

In 2018, the United Nations recorded 50 million tons of electronic waste accumulating in landfill on a global scale. The effects of electronics rotting in landfill can be detrimental to human health, as harmful toxins are released which are known to exacerbate tumours and cancers when leaked into water and soil. Around the country, WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) collection sites function, at both shops and local authority civic amenity sites to avoid an accumulation of WEEE at landfill and incineration. Apple offers a recycling service with free credit upon purchase of a new device, or charities such as Jack and Jill recycle mobile phones in order to offer free nursing hours to ill children. There is no reason for WEEE to be thrown away and added to our fire’s kindle anymore. Taking the extra step by recycling is rich in positive environmental consequences.  

 

5. Education

As with any fire, to effectively extinguish it, one must understand its composition. Effective education regarding climate change has the power to encourage more swift and impactful action by society. For example, the Cool Planet Experience based in Wicklow offers an interactive, enjoyable learning experience for all ages. Visitors have the opportunity to calculate their carbon footprint and receive tailored advice on how to actively reduce it. Alternatively, podcast series, such as Mary Robinson and Maeve Higgins’ “Mothers of Invention” make great listening, or publications like “Project Drawdown” make expert reading. There exists a multitude of fantastic resources that provide well researched, valuable information. 

 

Thunberg’s speech at the World Economic Forum gave us cause to pause and listen. We can no longer deny that our house is on fire, but will we take meaningful steps to release the extinguisher before the fire escalates beyond control?

 

 

 

Featured photo by Simone Buzzoni on Unsplash

This article was supported by: STAND Environment Editor Anastasiya + Programme Assistant Rachel

 

Where does my waste go?

Where does my waste go?

ENVIRONMENT

Where does my waste go?

plastic container on beach
Sanghamitra C. Mukherjee

29th April 2021

 

Trash has always been a major problem in developing countries. Strangely enough, for residents of the developing world, litter can become such an accepted fact of life, that apart from perfecting the muscle memory involved in sidestepping any litter that bars someone’s progress to their destination, little thought goes into where it came from, let alone coming up with a solution.

 

 

I have long been acquainted with litter whilst growing up in India. Our school required every student to stay behind after school to clean their classrooms before leaving the premises, and organized random litter picking days when students’ cleaning efforts left the campus spotless. And yet, beyond the school boundaries was a different world. In the neighborhood was one of the city’s biggest slums that was eyed with suspicion and where children from more ‘respectable’ families were never allowed in. A sense of ‘othering’ permeated many levels of society, and when it came to litter, there was a belief that one’s trash was another’s problem.

 

 

People in developing countries typically consume far fewer products and with less packaging than consumers in more industrialized countries do, and yet waste is so much more visible in these countries. Part of this problem may be attributed to their inadequate waste management system and policies, improper trash collection systems, and insufficient recycling facilities (SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure). Also, although per capita waste generation is very low, the facilities that exist are frequently overwhelmed due to the sheer population of these countries. Untreated waste ends up cluttering land and waterways, and the rapid urbanization process means that big cities are the worst affected (SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities). Premature deaths are high from fumes and toxins, and regulation to prevent these is poor (SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being, SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation).

 

“It is accepted that pollution is inextricable from economic growth, and there will be winners and losers in this game. A misplaced notion of economic progress is traded for a massive public health and environmental concern.” (SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth)
 
 

Indeed, the many dumps strewn around urban areas provideeconomic opportunitiesfor the poor, mostly women, who scavenge through no doubt many dangerous items laboring for countless hours to find something of value that could then be exchanged for money or food with traders who inevitably drive a hard bargain (SDG 5: Gender Equality,SDG 2: Zero Hunger). Children often drop out of school to help their families with this income generating opportunity (SDG 4: Quality Education,SDG 1: No Poverty). With few other economic opportunities, the poor remain poor and caught up in such vicious cycles that barely sustain them.

 

 

I moved to the UK about a decade ago, and ironically, I first began thinking more deeply about litter only a few years afterwards when I was volunteering with a charity as a retail assistant for a period. I wondered where the second-hand clothes that were not sold eventually landed. What I learnt shocked me at the time. These items of clothing wereshipped to a developing countryin Asia or Africa, and afterwards ended up intheirlandfills and incineration units if they failed to sell in countries that werealreadystruggling with their own waste management problems (SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities).

 

 

More recently, I learnt the astounding fact that many industrialized countries have been exporting their plastic waste to poor countries since the 1970s, seemingly ignorant of the fact that much of this waste is either contaminated or unsuitable for recycling, ending up therefore as an additional environmental and economic burden in countries that received these exports, with the majority of these countries’ inhabitants oblivious to where it originated but suffering from its health and wellbeing consequences, and yet looking for economic opportunities amidst it all, the latter often being put forward as a justification for perpetuating such injustices into the future (SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities). Yet another instance of what has been dubbed“waste imperialism”.

 

 

Litter is therefore inherently anenvironmental justice issuefor three main reasons (SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities). Firstly, waste, especially plastics, is regularly dumped into countries that are not prepared to manage it. Secondly, when waste is not managed effectively, it typically ends up in more vulnerable communities even within the boundaries of the most industrialized nations. Finally, on the one hand, corporations choose to keep profiting from single-use plastics and syntheticsknowingthat no number of recycling facilities can ever tackle the sheer amount of waste the world’s population generates as a result. On the other hand, people living around and handling waste are regularly exposed to toxic fumes when plastic is burnt, forced to consume crops that have been poisoned by toxic wastewater, and compelled to make an uncertain living sifting through the likes of broken glass earning an inconsequential fraction of what the CEOs of such corporations make.

 

 

The current coronavirus pandemic has further ushered in anew single-use plastic pollution crisisas masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are being used and disposed of at unanticipated volumes. Waste management systems are already frail and clueless about the fate of this new toxic waste. Our oceans, coastal and marine life are already bearing the brunt of this (SDG 14: Life Below Water,SDG 15: Life on Land). The full impact of sinking even deeper into the already precarious plastic waste problem is yet unknown.

 

 

When it comes to climate change, there is a key question that inhibits people from taking climate action — is there enough evidence yet that we must act (SDG 13: Climate Action)? Granted, summers are warmer but not yet unbearably so in the West, and stories of occasional typhoons and droughts reach us from distant lands, their effect seemingly muted by the time and effort taken to cover the distance. Litter is undoubtedly a more visible issue, a fact of life in any developing country and familiar to Western tourists who have visited some of the world’s most famous (and dirtiest) beaches, a few in their own countries making the list in recent years. Even on the coasts of Dublin, eco warriors regularly collect tons of plastic waste washed up on its shores. It is thus less likely to be confusing as to why we must act now to stop it getting any worse.

 

“In a planet connected by one ocean and with strong ocean currents, waste generated in one part of the world could end up on the shores of remote lands thousands of miles away due to poor management and pollute and jeopardize nations that could in fact have the best policies surrounding their own plastic use and disposal.”

Solutions exist, and as with tackling the pandemic, these must be enacted cooperatively between governments and corporations to have any major impact (SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals). key step in the right direction would be for industrialized nations to invest heavily in their own recycling capabilities and introduce airtight bans on waste exports as for instance in the EU where less than a third of its plastic waste was recycled and 1.5 million tons exported in 2019. In addition, plastic waste that cannot be recycled can be turned into alternative fuel(SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy).

 

 

Several governments have also recently implemented a single-use plastic ban in some form, including plastic bag bans in Bangladesh since 2002, Kenya since 2017, Tanzania since 2019, and New Zealand since 2019, and a planned ban on single-use plastic straws, cutlery and other disposable items in the EU in 2021, a move that has been significantly delayed, most notably in the developed world. In contrast, plastic bag levies and gradual phase-out programs have been more popular in the industrialized West. However, for a measurable impact on pollution, a ban or a levy is not enough. Restrictions on retail distribution must be paired with moving to a circular economy framework that regulates throughout the lifecycle of plastic bags restricting manufacturing, production, and imports as well (SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production).

 

 

A crucial piece of the puzzle remains fuzzy — to figure out how to incline human behaviour towards reducing consumption where restrictions are not in effect. Fast fashion, with its artificially low prices and impressive variety, has for instance made it incredibly easy and tempting for consumers in the West to consume beyond their needs, whilst being next in line to the oil industry as the leading contributor to global pollution. Such exploitation must end. We need systems where products are priced at levels that compensate producers fairly and in turn provide the right price signals to consumers making purchasing decisions. We also need to embrace and scale up innovative solutions that promote reuse and longevity without compromising convenience or quality and thereby provide a myriad of alternatives to single-use plastic and other harmful synthetic materials. Some recent initiatives include reusing plastic bottles to make PPE, using PPE waste to make beds, converting vegetable matter to create compostable shopping bags, and using origami designs to extend the life and use of traditional clothing. However, to create sustainable change, we also need more accountability. We need people at all levels who are fully aware of the issues and take responsibility for their actions (SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). We need to create cultural shifts in societies everywhere where one person’s waste is not considered another person’s problem. We need more people asking, “Where does my waste go?” and feel a sense of discomfort at the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Beth Jnr on Unsplash