Challenging Habitat Blog

(No) Time to Waste! – Black Friday

Foteini Tziata has hit the nail on the head with her blog about consumerism, and especially her post on Black Friday. Read it here!

Halloween: number two trash festival in a calendar of many

From a pagan to a pre-Christian Celtic festival, to All Saints’ Eve, Halloween seem to have a long history associated with ancestor worship and remembering the dead including saints and martyrs. Small step from there to ghost stories and all things spooky…and an opportunity for a whole industry to profit from sprouting pumpkins and fabricating scary tat and costumes that soon will be a mountain of waste. Again and again, every year anew … not to speak of the resources wasted to make, transport, store and distribute all things Halloween, the living and working conditions in the factories somewhere overseas …

The gruesome facts: The Guardian reported recently that 8 million Halloween pumpkins will be binned in the UK alone, that’s 95 % of the UK’s annual pumpkin crop wasted. And while food waste slowly creeps on the nation’s radar and a number of websites appeal to the nation with pumpkin recipes, the full story is about more than edibles: Halloween is one of the UK’s biggest brands, second only to Christmas. According to the business analyst MINTEL, the amount spent annually on Halloween exceeded the £300 million in 2016 and is going up. And that’s just the UK – Halloween is spreading across the globe!

How come that we are, collectively, still so gullible and succumb to everything that is rammed down our throats by marketing?

Maybe I sound like a spoil-sport to you, but I like good stories, well told, just as much as the next person. I just don’t see the point of all the ready-to-wear plastic junk. It’s much more fun to get creative and make costumes and decorations out of things that lie around in the house.

And help is at hand in the era of heightened awareness around resource scarcity and climate change: an increasing number of voices from people who care provide their ideas. ‘Trash is for Tossers‘ is just one offering ideas for ‘Last-Minute Zero Waste Halloween Costumes’ – plenty of blogs and sites on the internet, if you search for it.

Think before you buy!


The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC spells it out very clearly: we have no time to waste in our efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 ºC above pre-industrial levels. Even if we achieve this, we need to be prepared for wide-ranging changes to ecosystems, biodiversity and pose high risk to human systems supported by ecosystem services (i.e. all of us).

Waiting for the global community to agree on the science, targest, mitigation measures, we’ve collectively wasted too much time already.

So, what can we do as individuals?

Well, each of us can start with questioning our personal addiction to STUFF and our gullability when it comes to marketing arousing our desire for STUFF.

My (no) Time to Waste! series of posts will be a diary of wastefulness: Our calendars are punctuated with celebrations that are essentially about love. Most of them have been hijacked by people who make a lot of money from producing, shipping, selling us STUFF we don’t need to celebrate, and in many cases deflect our attention. And a lot of this STUFF involved is of such poor quality and short-lived of appeal that it rapidly becomes waste, which opens up another can of worms: waste management – or lack thereof….


IPCC website: [accessed 03/11/2018]

Monetised Fear: Canned ‘Clean’ Air

I live in a valley blessed with such clear air and low levels of light pollution that I can gaze in wonder at the Milkyway on cloudless nights. But I understand air pollution as a scientist and intuitively: I have been in some of the places named in news stories of extreme air pollution that causes countless premature deaths: Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, London, Berlin. Read More

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