Asthma and Air pollution – justice for Ella Kissi-Debrah

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I feel really honoured as well as deeply sadden to have been asked to help raise awareness of this particular issue. Some of you may have seen in the papers last week the news that the death of a nine year old girl could be linked to illegal levels of air pollution.

The guardian reported that legal documents have revealed that the spikes in air pollution in London could have been linked to Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death in 2013.

Asthma and Air Pollution

Ella’s family have set up a foundation, the Ella Roberta Family Foundation, as a way to remember her life and raise awareness about the dangers of Asthma and dangers of air pollution.

Her mother, my former school teacher and old friend was able to share some facts with me about Asthma and Ella’s condition.

  • In the UK, asthma is the number one childhood illness.
  • Currently in the UK three people die from asthma every day and at least two of those deaths are avoidable.
  • In London the picture is increasingly worrying not only does the capital record high levels of air pollution but 872 schools are in areas which breach the EU recommended levels.
  • Asthma in London continues to increase, in a class of 30 at least 3-4 children will have a diagnosis of asthma. The number of asthma deaths every year amongst children aged between 1 to 17 years in London is between 8-12 children.

Part of the difficulty with Ella’s asthma was it was increasingly difficult to control. Some of her known allergies were tree pollen, grass pollen and hayfever but others were Airborne and are still unknown.

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Various inhalers and steroids was unable to control Ella’s life threatening attacks, they even occurred in her sleep. Ella would say “Mummy, we don’t sleep anymore.”  After being woken by another severe attack. Living with severe asthma was incredibly stressful and very frightening at times.  Ella eventually lost her battle with asthma on 15 February 2013. She was 9.

The foundation campaigns for Clean Air in London and for better diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other respiratory illnesses and have been calling for an inquest to investigate whether Ella’s death was caused by air pollution.

Levels of Air Pollution have reached dangerous levels

Air pollution, labelled a health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), leads to the premature deaths of at least 40,000 people a year in the UK alone. It is known to be a major risk factor for childhood asthma.

The UN agency has previously warned that tiny particulates from cars, power plants and other sources are killing 3 million people worldwide each year. China is the world’s deadliest country for outdoor air pollution, according to analysis by the WHO.

For the first time the WHO has broken down that figure to a country-by-country level. It reveals that of the worst three nations, more than 1 million people died from dirty air in China in 2012, at least 600,000 in India and more than 140,000 in Russia.

At 25th out of 184 countries with data, the UK ranks worse than France, with 16,355 deaths in 2012 versus 10,954, but not as poorly as Germany at 26,160, which has more industry and 16 million more people. Australia had 94 deaths and 38,043 died in the US that year from particulate pollution.

London has the worst air quality of any city in the UK. In 2017, 95 per cent of Londoners lived in areas which exceeded World Health Organisation (WHO) standards by 50 per cent.

We need your support

Please support us in getting a fair inquest into the cause of Ella’s death. Last week the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan came out in support of the inquest writing to attorney general to also back the inquest.

The petition has reached over 96,000 signatures but we still need more. The link to the petition is https://chn.ge/2O4Ltl3.

This isn’t just about justice of Ella but for all of those suffering with respiratory diseases and illnesses in air quality that is severely below standards. We need change and we need it now.

 

It’s Earth Overshoot Day

1st August 2018 is Earth Overshoot Day―this is the earliest date yet since the world went into ecological overshoot in the 1970s.

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So what is Earth Overshoot Day?
This is the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. We are using 1.7 Earths. How? By using more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb.

If everyone committed to #MoveTheDate 5 days each year, we could get out of global overshoot by 2050. Take your first step today! And use the hashtag to spread the word.

How many earths do we need?
If everyone lived like the average American, we would need 5 Earths. The average Russian, 3.3 Earths. And the average Brazilian, 1.8 Earths.

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It would take 8.5 South Koreas to support South Koreans’ Ecological Footprint. It would take us in the UK,  4 times our nation to meet the demand for natural resources of UK residents. How does your country stack up?

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Here’s how Earth Overshoot Day has changed over the last 50 years. A true apples-to-apples comparison of Earth Overshoot Days can only be made using the same edition of the National Footprint Accounts. The precise Earth Overshoot Day date for each year is less significant than the sheer magnitude of ecological overshoot.

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What can we do? 

  • If we reduce driving by 50% around the world and assume one-third of car miles are replaced by public transportation and the rest by biking and walking, Earth Overshoot Day would move back 12 days.
  • Mingle with the carpooling folks, or even the cyclists or public transit riders who you meet on the way to or from work every day.
  • If we reduced global meat consumption by 50% and replaced these calories with a vegetarian diet, we would move the date of Overshoot Day 5 days
  • If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we would move the date of Overshoot Day 11 days.
  • Clothing makes up 3% of the global Ecological Footprint. You can move the date by being intentional about clothing purchases and streamlining your wardrobe.

Thank you  http://www.overshootday.org please visit their website to find out more.

 

 

Times Up

‘She was powerful, not because she wasn’t scared but because she went on so strongly, despite the fear.’

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Many of you will have seen i’m raising much needed funds for 3 great causes. One of these is the Times Up UK Justice and Equality campaign.

This is a cause very close to my heart. I am so proud of all the women that have come forward and shared their pain so boldly. Thank you. Your bravery has given something which was not widely talked about, a platform. A platform so we can start to put an end to the suffering that goes on behind closed doors. The incidents which we are made to feel responsible for because of the way we walk, dress, talk, behave, our mere existence damnit!

We have been conditioned to ignore the actions of others which impact us so deeply but are brushed off as insignificant, because ‘you are an attractive woman, what did you expect?’ You amazing women have given strength to us all over the world, that have for long been silenced, and hope to all others that they will never be silenced.

I also stand with those that may be like myself and choose not to share our #metoo . Not because of shame or fear but because we have found peace in some other way, but still want to stand with all the women out there, that do.

Remember, no one has rights over your body not in the work place not anywhere. Harassment is not only physical, if it makes you feel uncomfortable it’s not right. No matter what situation. You have a right to say no and demand it stop!

It doesn’t only happen to women we can all be subject to it and it is our responsibility as a collective to be respectful to one another.

The Times Up campaign rooted from Hollywood and has grabbed world-wide attention since. The UK has also set up a campaign which I am fundraising for. You can donate via the link.

We come in peace but we mean business. And to those that would dare try and silence us we offer you two words #timesup ~ @janellemonae

As always thanks for reading 🖤

 

The only thing we’ll be ditching is Micro-Plastics!

The movement towards putting an end to unnecessary plastic use is certainly gaining momentum. The wave of optimism comes in July whereby masses of people all over the world have taken a pledge to go plastic free for the month! See below for a graphic which I poached of Instagram @scriberian (and circulated amongst friends, family and co-workers) to provide tips on what actions can be taken by us all. I know we are 10 days into July but it’s still not to late join in the action.  Next time you’re about to use any single-use items ask yourself do I actually need this? Because the ocean and environment definitely doesn’t need what’s left behind!

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Today marked a great day in terms of encouraging mass movement on the issue. I’m sure many of you that follow the news will have seen that Starbucks has committed to stop using plastic straws globally by 2020 The announcement comes a week after Seattle banned plastic drinking straws and utensils. Seattle is home to the first ever Starbucks opened.

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

The move will see the company switching to using straws made from biodegradable materials like paper and specially designed lids. The company already offers alternative straws in Seattle.

With this move the company becomes the largest food and beverage company to ditch plastic straws and is a marker of the growing push for businesses to be more environmentally friendly. Changes across the United States are expected to commence in autumn whilst global phase out is said to begin in Europe next year.

McDonald’s also recently said it would switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland by 2019. The chain also said it would use only recycled or other environmentally friendly materials for its soft drink cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025.

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That’s the first bit of news! The other is that the European Union today backed plans to ban micro-plastics under it’s plastics strategy.

The European Commissions Environment Committee called for a number of measures that go beyond the Commission’s original proposals, including:

  • A ban on microplastics in cosmetics, personal care, detergents and cleaning products by 2020 and minimum requirements to tackle other sources of microplastics
  • A complete ban on oxo-degradable plastics – a source of microplastic pollution – by 2020
  • A recognition that biodegradable and compostable plastics do not prevent plastic waste in our oceans and should not be an excuse to keep using single-use plastics
  • Any financial contribution from taxing plastics should go towards preventing plastic waste generation
  • The reduction of hazardous substances in plastics to ensure that what is recycled is free from dangerous chemicals.

However, the Environment Committee failed to back measures to tackle pollution from industrially produced plastic pellets, which are melted down to make every day plastic items. It also failed to support stronger economic incentives to reduce plastic production and consumption.

The full European Parliament will vote in September on the Committee’s response to the Commission’s proposal.

Today’s vote is a step in the right direction. It is great progress as previously (much to the frustration and anger of campaigners) attempts to try to present bio-based and biodegradable plastics as a silver bullet have been put forward.  Whereby the real solutions of reduction and reuse is what needs to be the focus.  It is hugely positive that the Parliament has acknowledged this and not taken it forward as a viable solution.

 

 

Ride the Wave NOT Waste – Another look into the eco-friendly fashion industry.

Waste. Not the first thing that comes to mind when you’re about to head into the ocean to catch a few waves. I can say for certain that is not came to my friend’s mind as he was heading into the sea in Venice beach California (beautifully captured in the image below).

California is said to have some of the worlds most beautiful beaches residing on the golden coast. However, it is heart-breaking that these beaches are now amongst those in the world that are most polluted.

Anyway I digress slightly but there is a link here albeit a tenuous one.  In my last post I talked about sustainable high fashion. So sticking to the theme of fashion today I want to introduce you to a small sustainable fashion brand I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with. They use recycled plastic bottles to make clothes! They are called ‘Making Waves Clothing.’

 

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Making Waves Clothing

Making waves clothing is a clothing brand head quartered in England. The brands ethos is to help with the aim to reduce plastic in our seas and oceans, by using recycled plastic bottles in their clothing.

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For every item of clothing sold the company donates a £1 towards a charity helping to reduce plastic within our oceans. You can see me pictured wearing a t-shirt from the brand.

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What fascinates me most about Making Waves Clothing is that the garments are made from 40% plastic bottles and 60% recycled organic cotton offcuts. For anyone that didn’t know our dumped waste can be recycled into clothing.

All clothing is manufactured and certified under the Global Recycled Standard by the Control Union Certifications licence CU828402 and is also audited by the Fair Wear Foundation an international initiative working to improve workplace conditions in the textile and garment industry.​ Both of these ensure the high levels of sustainability amongst the eco-friendly fashion industry.

The company is not only there to sell products this is so much more than that. It is a movement. By producing products with recycled content the aim is to reach out the hearts and minds of people like us, to become conscious of the issues of plastics in our oceans and reduce this global issue. A simple decision of where to buy your next t-shirt could make an impact.

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It’s an honour to be working with the brand on my Miss Earth Journey. As a brand ambassador my friends, family and followers can get 10% of orders using the code 4mishapxMW10.

Please do check them out! ​

​Not only will you be getting high quality clothing products, but you’ll be supporting the oceans whilst you wear it.

 

High fashion can be sustainable fashion – An insight into Stella McCartney.

I like to think that long gone are the days when wearing real fur was seen as the done thing. It was associated with class a high status even. I guess in some places it still is but what is great that in a lot of places it so isn’t the done thing. Today I want to talk about a love of mine. That is fashion especially high fashion. I am a big fan of the runway, I love seeing what’s on trend and what my favourite celebrities are wearing.

IMG_3653[1]On Saturday I had the absolute honour of spending time with the team at eco-friendly high fashion designer Stella McCartney’s new boutique located 23 Old Bond Street. Stella has finally made her mark after many years of hard work and is now located amongst other top designers, in this iconic street in London one of the world’s fashion capitals.
The experience was like a dream for anyone whose love for fashion is coupled with a love for protecting the environment.

Alexandro (Alex) a member of Stella’s team gave me an in depth tour of all four floors as well as a sneak-peak inside the special members only room and a lot inside info!

Stella work’s is driven by eco-friendly values and this shows all throughout her new shop which has been designed with unique and multi-sensory ways to engage with the brand’s world. The idea is to engage each of the customer’s five senses (sound, sight, smell, touch and taste). As you walk in your sound is stimulated by a message of love. A message to reinforce a feeling of love for your environment and all other living beings (no coincidence then that the store has seen a proposal already). You instantly feel relaxed.

The store is the first indoor commercial space in London to feature Airlabs that clean the air using nano carbon technology making the air the cleanest in city, up to 95% pollution free. I could honestly feel this during my four hours there.

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In addition, Stella McCartney has made every effort to use more handmade, organic and sustainably sourced elements in its new store design, in line with the brand’s commitment to sustainability. Hand selected pieces of pine wood transported with her shipments as well as rocks, moss and flowers from both Stella and her famous fathers’ gardens are also featured in the stores’ display to promote the values of recycling and reuse. She basically has a version of her garden in her store.

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The store’s interpretation of luxury is a little different to its neighbours. Where other fashion houses have used showy swathes of rare stone or glossy metals to clad walls, Stella’s outpost is lined with humble but elegant pebble-dash,  squeezable recycled foam and textured card. Handmade papier-mâché, made using waste paper taken from the brand’s London offices has been transformed into bespoke decorative panels which decorate the wall of the women’s wear first floor. 

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Moving on to some of Stella’s signature designs her handbags move away from the traditional use of leather and use viscose from sustainably certified forests in Sweden. And the inside of her iconic Falabella bags are lined with recycled content from plastic bottles cleaned up from Oceans. She is now working to develop silk-free silk.

Stella also encourages the reuse of her own products through the RealReal online platform.

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I could go on and on and on about the intricacies and the way sustainable values are woven not only into the store design but also the designs and the values of customer service adopted by the staff. It just goes to show that traditional perceptions of high fashion are/can be challenged. Sustainable is sexy and you can rock the catwalk and wider fashion industry and protect the environment as well as raise awareness whilst you are at it!

I really enjoyed learning about it all and the cherry on the top was being styled in some of Stella’s designs!

Thank you Alex for making this possible and giving up your time so generously and Jennifer for the styling (pictured below).

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Mermaids have their say on the need to protect their homes!

As a child I grew up watching Disney with my favourite princess being Ariel from the ‘The Little Mermaid’. The story is as magical as it gets, but I like to think that mermaids (in some form or another!).

Back in the summer of 2016 I had the good fortune of participating in campaign aimed at raising awareness about ocean conservation. And what did this involve? (see below)

7F2A3917Me dressed up as a mermaid for Project Mermaids (Sept 2016).

Project Mermaids, is a ‘photographical art project’, the project’s premise is transforming people into mermaids / Mermen and taking beautiful photographs all over the world in a bid to spread the message of the need to protect our oceans.

‘The goal of Project Mermaids is to bring awareness to how precious the ocean and beaches are and to keep this beautiful environment healthy and clean.’

The stunning project was co-founded by ocean conservationist and underwater photographer, Chiara Salomoni, and fashion photographer, Angelina Venturella who are based in California.

IMG_4574Me with the Project mermaids team Angelina Venturella (left) and Sophie Rose (right)

The shoots last about an hour or so, either underwater or on the land, but the tails weigh about 30lbs (13 kilograms) so no one can last much longer than about that in the shoot!

7F2A4022Me struggling with the 30lbs tail!

Mermaids are styled for around 30 mins and then given up to an hour for the photoshoot. Each participant is given 100 images to keep and one fully retouched image. 50% of the proceeds are donated to the save our beach foundation.

It was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had bringing my childhood fantasy and a cause I am passionate about together. Do check out the website if you want to get involved. The team is due back in London later this summer.

The team hope to continue to ‘use the imagery to create awareness of our world’s most precious gift, the oceans, and to inspire people to protect them.’

Oceans have many uses – offshore wind is one of them

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Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

This week I’ve been at the Global Offshore Wind Conference 2018 in Manchester. For those of you that don’t know me I have been working in the sustainable energy sector for some time now, with my specialism being the deployment of renewable energy.

Our oceans have many uses! In a bid to reduce our carbon emissions the UK has a commitment to reduce producing electricity from fossil fuels and increase generation from cleaner sources and technologies. Offshore wind technology is one of these.

For those of you outside of the sector offshore wind is a renewable energy source. Offshore wind farms are constructed in the ocean to generate electricity with wind.

Basically when wind blows past a turbine, the blades of the turbine capture the energy and rotate. This rotation triggers an internal shaft to spin, causing the internal generator to produce electricity. This is then transported to the grid via some very clever cable technology (again pioneered from the UK) and then to our homes.

In the UK the Crown Estate handle the allocation of seabed’s to developers of the offshore wind farm projects. Before being consented the project developers are required to prove as a part of the planning application process that the project is safe for the environment, for example projects have been denied due to the potential impact on sea-life and birds.

As well as being bankable, the projects also have to bring broader benefits to the communities surrounding the developments i.e. supply chain development and the creation of jobs.

Cost reduction is also key globally we have seen the costs of offshore wind come down and in the UK we have already surpassed our aspiration to reach £100 per MWh by 2020. In fact last year we smashed this target with projects coming in at £57.50 per MWh. Costs coming down mean less impact on our energy bills making this a truly sustainable energy source.

As I mentioned the UK being the only country with a legally binding carbon reduction target (80% by 2050 compared with levels in 1990), brings with it an equally ambitious (attainable) renewables target. And the deployment of offshore wind is a big part of helping us meet these targets.

At present the UK leads globally with the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world. Our expertise is sought by other markets who are starting to enter the market. This is helped us export to other nations and has also attracted much needed investment into the UK.

image1 (2)Picture of me at the Department of International Trade’s Green is Great Britain backdrop at the GOW event in Manchester 2018.

As report earlier this week the UK still holds the top spot globally with around a total of 35GW of capacity either in operation, development or planning. The aim for the industry now is to deliver 30GW of operational capacity by 2030, providing enough power to meet demands from 30% of British homes.

As ever donation to my three great causes welcome via the link!

 

The Ocean CleanUp

In my last couple of posts I’ve talked about how and to what extent our oceans have and continue to be polluted.  Whilst the damage is occurring there are several initiatives out there that are trying clear the mess up or limit the damage at the very least.

One of causes I have chosen to support as a Miss Earth UK finalist is ‘The Ocean CleanUp’. Relatively young the not-for-profit was founded in 2013. Headquartered in the Netherlands with facilities in California the charities reach and ambition is global. With the aim to develop technologies aimed at clearing up the world’s oceans of plastics.

‘For society to progress, we should not only move forward but also clean up after ourselves.’ Boyan Slat CEO & Founder – The Ocean CleanUp

The Ocean Cleanup is designing and developing the first feasible method to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

The Ocean CleanupBoyan Slat and the 120 meter tow test unit of the first cleanup system in April 2018 (Image courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup)

Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter the ocean. A significant percentage of this plastic drifts into large systems of circulating ocean currents, also known as gyres. Once trapped in a gyre, the plastic will break down into microplastics and become increasingly easier to mistake for food by sea life. I recently read that microplastic pollution on beaches could be affecting the sex of baby turtles. Almost a quarter of the fish consumed contain plastics a study found this through analysing fish sold in markets in Indonesia and California.

Going after the pollutant with vessels and nets would be costly, time-consuming, labour-intensive and lead to vast amounts of carbon emissions and by-catch. That is why The Ocean Cleanup is developing a passive system, moving with the currents – just like the plastic – to catch it. More information about the technology can be found on the website.

To help this one of three worthy causes I’m supporting please donate here.

 

We don’t need plastic and neither do our oceans!

Did I mention in my last post that we have only produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics since the 1950! Ok so let me put this into context  it has been reported that the UK’s supermarkets alone (in the present day) produce 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging a year.

The issue with plastic is that we have come to rely on it where we don’t even need it. It’s just not necessary. Take any supermarket using packaging for fruit or veg which we end up removing as soon as we get home.

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Whatever your age, gender, profession, religion or political persuasion, one thing we can all agree on is that plastic in the ocean is a bad thing. And sadly this is where masses of it is now ending up.

We’ve heard encouraging things from the government on efforts in trying to make changes but with every minute that passes another rubbish trucks worth of plastic is entering our oceans, so time really isn’t on our side.

The upside is that we can makes changes that will have a positive impact from now.

Here are some things that we can do about it!

1.       Refuse – say no to plastic. You can change your behaviours for example by saying no to using plastic straws. Or do we really need to use plastic cutlery?

2.       Reduce –  by carrying a reusable bag with you when you go shopping.

3.       Reuse – by carrying a reusable bottle, coffee mug, container.

4.       Repurpose – my mother uses plastic bottles and milk gallons to water the plants in the garden. And my neighbour has caught on! Here’s an opportunity to get creative people!

5.       Recycle – if all the above is not possible there are recycling facilities everywhere! Ensure that your waste is separated first.

Note that RECYLE is last on the list of possible actions. In order to protect our Oceans we need to substantially reduce the amount of plastic being produced in the first place. The simplest solution is to not give people the opportunity to dispose of the plastic to begin with right? In theory yes, in practice no…

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Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

It is really promising that recent polls have suggested that consumers are warming to the idea of refillable and reusable packaging – which would result in a serious reduction in plastic packaging production.

But more needs doing by the source of production. Environmental NGO’s such as Greenpeace have been campaigning for the government to hold businesses to accountable for the rubbish that they produce. Businesses and retailers seriously need to cut down on the plastic they’re producing.

The bottom line is, that as it stands plastic is everywhere. Whilst it’s almost impossible to avoid, the matter of fact is that there is action you can take to reduce the throwaway plastic you use in your daily life.

Please help me help our oceans to donate click here

#EndOceanPlastics.