Planned obsolescence

We could think that with all the problems waste is causing and the economic credo which tells u to use rare resources in the most efficient way, products should be designed to last as long as possible.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Planned obsolescence is the introduction of an artificial limitation on the life of a product in order to increase sales (simplicable, 2017).

There are different types of planned obsolescence (simplicable, 2017):

  • Razor & Blades: the main product is sold cheaply while supplies are very expensive so that the company makes more money the shorter the supplies last (example: printers)
  • Technology: updates slow down older devices to motivate consumers to upgrade to a newer version of the product (example: smartphones)
  • Fashion: trends are created which imply that last season products are unfashionable in order to increase sales
  • Regulations: regulations like mandatory vehicle inspections encourage customers to purchase new products instead of investing in expensive repairs

Moreover, my personal impression is that more and more products are built which can’t be repaired efficiently so that buying a new product is cheaper.

But this is not only due to the companies. The problem reflects the ravenous consumer culture we live in (BBC, 2016). Actually, this consumerism even benefits us,  even if it is only in the short run: on a macroeconomic level the fast turnover of goods creates jobs and supports growth (BBC, 2017). It also powers innovation and improves the overall quality of products available (BBC, 2017).

Now what could be the solutions to this problem?

There are also forces which encourage producers to extend the lifespan of products. For example people starting to compare the depreciation of cars over the years led to a markably increased average age of passenger vehicles on the road from 5.1 years in 1969 to 11.4 years in 2017 (BBC, 2017). Our intelligence as customers can therefore clearly make a difference!

Some companies are as well looking for more sustainable solutions. Tesla for example only rents its batteries to the car owners and resells them for home energy storage if they are no longer strong enough for the cars (BBC, 2017). Moreover, Google (cnet, 2016), LG (greenbottle, 2016) and Fairphone (fairphone, 2017) develop or already produce smartphones with exchangeable parts which can be repaired and updated to newer technologies without disposing the whole phone.

Image: Fairphone 2 (Source:

So let’s reduce waste by buying intelligently designed products which support new, sustainable business models!



Bitcoin – humanity´s great gift or earth´s doom?

To start off this short, but bumpy ride I would like to give a quick introduction to Bitcoin. Bitcoin is an information technology that promotes secure decentralized payments, working as a storage tool and verify information together with providing a digital value (Scholer, 2016). The first of January 2017 the cryptocurrency was traded at 997 USD per Bitcoin, and 16th of December 2017 it was traded a bit over 19 000 USD per Bitcoin (coindesk, 2017). However, Bitcoin does not only provide positive outcomes such as huge increased investments and useful disruptive technology. It has recently been found that by mining Bitcoins, a tremendous amount of electricity is needed and the bitcoin boom may therefore be a disaster for the environment (CNN, 2017). Measures has shown that Bitcoin currently uses 32 terawatts of energy every year which is enough to power three million U.S households (CNN, 2017). Most worryingly, forecasts show that in the middle of 2019 Bitcoin mining can be consuming enough electricity to power the whole U.S (CNN, 2017). CNN (2017), states that the electricity consumption of mining are increasing exponentially and after reaching the population of U.S, it will only take six more months until it reaches the level of the worlds electricity consumption. It can be argued that this information is enough to draw the conclusion that Bitcoin needs a more sustainable way of being mined. If there is no new, more innovative and energy-saving concept coming up soon, it may be the doom of Bitcoin. However, if there will come a more efficient way of mining, Bitcoin has the potential to be one of 21th century´s great gift to human kind.



CNN, 2017. Bitcoin boom may be a disaster for the environment. [Online] Available at: <> [Accessed at 7 December 2017]

Coindesk, 2017. Bitcoin (USD) Price. [Online] Available at: <> [Accessed at 25 December 2017]

Scholer, K., 2016. An Introduction to Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology. [pdf] Available at: <> [Accessed at 7 December 2017]

“Sea of plastic” – Europe’s largest greenhouse run by slaves

Source: (Horse 2015)

When thinking about Spain most people associate the country with beautiful beaches, summer or delicious food. But hidden from tourist’s eyes, Spain bears a cruel secret called the “sea of plastic”.

In Almería, an area in the south-east of Spain, vegetables and fruits are grown in ten thousands of plastic greenhouses covering 135 square miles, a plastic surface that is even visible from space (Tremlett 2005).

It is estimated that the mass of vegetables and fruits grown in Almerìa are more than half of all the supplies of the European market. The harvesters who spend their days in the greenhouses where the temperature often rises up to 50 degrees in spring and summer are mainly male migrants. They live in self-made barracks made out of the old plastics and pallets without sanitary facilities. Some only earn 20 Euros per day, often working with pesticides without protection (Anonymous n.d.).

While others call it a one billion dollar miracle economy, some charities that work with the illegal workers say that the abuses of the workers meet the UN’s official definition of modern day slavery (Lawrence 2011).

Source: (Moran 2017, NASA 2011, Daily Mail 2013)

It seems that the situation in Almerìa is known since many years.
What can we do about it?
Not to buy vegetables and fruits from Spain seems not to be a solution, but what we can do is buying more responsible.
Buy seasonal vegetables. Talk to others about the problem in Almerìa.
If all consumers would put some pressure, it is likely that tings would change because demand is a powerful driver.

Watch this short movie for more information:

Anonymous, n.d. The Plastic sea in Almeria (Spain). NEPIM, s.p. Online: (December 26 2017)

Lawrence F., 2011. Spain’s salad growers are modern-day slaves, say charities. The Guardian, February 7 2011. Online: (December 26 2017)

Tremlett, G., 2005. Spain’s greenhouse effect: the shimmering sea of polythene consuming the land. The Guardian, September 21 2005. Online: (December 23 2017)

Moran M., 2017. Almerìa: Europe’s dirty little secret in southern Spain. Modern-day slavery. Huckmagazine, s.p. Online: (December 25 2017)

Horse, L., 2015. Spain’s Sea Of Plastic: A Migrants Nightmare (PHOTOS). Sick Chirpse, September 15 2015. Online: (December 27 2017)

NASA, 2011. Almeria, Spain, May 10 2011. Online: (December 26 2017)

Daily Mail, 2013. Britain’s vegetable garden: The sea of Spanish greenhouses as large as the Isle of Wight where the food UK eats is grown. Mail Online, April 4 2013. Online: (26 December 2017)

Bolchevique TV. Spain’s salad growers are modern-day slaves, say charities. Online: (December 26 2017)

How urban planning can help cities become more sustainable

Urban planning is often an aspect of a city that many people don’t reflect upon or choose to ignore completely. However, cities all around the world face a wealth of problems that could have been prevented by efficient planning. Cities in the Western world, especially in the U.S., face problems of pollution, mobility, and lack of adequate housing. And in the developing world, safety, urban slums, and poor access to basic social services are a major concern. What makes urban planning especially relevant nowadays is urbanization. Urbanization is defined by the OECD (2003)  as the “increase in the proportion of a population living in an urban area”. Urbanization is proving to be a rapid force, taking developing countries like India, by storm. In 2011, it was estimated that 65 million people lived in urban slums in India (World Bank, 2015). Essentially, all countries are the world are experiencing urbanization, but just at different rates. Much of the Western and developed countries already have high urbanization rates, while developing nations, particularly in Africa, are still majority rural. But it is here where planning can make a huge difference to the well-being and overall development of these countries.

Source: Smith, O., 2016. Mapped: the Worlds most urbanized countries. The Telegraph. Accessed (18.12.17) at:

So, how can urban planning actually help create a more sustainable city? Well, it turns out there are many factors that can help. Incorporating green areas throughout cities is important. Green roofs and rooftop gardens can help cool temperatures and capture rain water, lessening the strain put on drainage systems and the amount of electricity used for air-conditioning. Singapore, for example, made water a priority in the development of their city. They have a water catchment system that helps reclaim and manage water in the fresh-water-scarce island nation (Flemmich, 2012). In addition, more reliable public transport systems and the ability to ride bikes and walk throughout cities can help reduce pollution and promote healthy, active lifestyles for residents. There are many ways urban planning can help. But for it to work, ordinary citizens, as well as government and business leaders need to recognize the importance of urban planning. In the future, it would be incredible to see developing countries really prioritize urban planning in this crucial time of rapid urbanization.




Flemmich, W., 2012. Sustainable cities: Innovative urban planning in Singapore. The Guardian. Accessed (20.12.17) at:

OECD, 2003. Glossary of terms.Accessed (12.12.17) at:

 The World Bank, 2015. Indian Cities Can Take More Advantage of Urbanization for Economic Growth. Accessed (15.12.17) at:

Source: Smith, O., 2016. Mapped: the World’s most urbanized countries. The Telegraph. Accessed (18.12.17) at:

Sustainable Travel – enjoy the world of today for the people of tomorrow

Travelling is one of my big passions. To explore the world and to visit the most beautiful and most fascinating places on the globe is simply remarkable. Just like me, a lot of people think the same and thus travelling is a beloved activity for the people around the world. With the raising tourism, there occur problems regarding the environment and especially the local nature.  While sustainability is already often implanted in the business plan of bid companies, it is rather a new idea when talking about travelling.

Beside the depletion of local resources and the pollution that is caused by the tourism industry as well as every other industry, the physical impact of tourists itself is an issue. Tourists trample the vegetation and soil by the trails that are used over and over again by thousands of people. The damage can lead to a significant loss of biodiversity and of course the damage intensifies if the tourists stray off the regular paths. Also landmarks are affected by simply walking over them.

Not only is the landscape affected by the mass of tourists, but also marine areas. Corals, reefs, beaches and the water itself with its fragile ecosystem can be harmed. Anchoring in such areas, snorkelling/scuba diving and touching sea life while doing so are just a few activities that destabilize the local heritage. These aspects of travelling leads more and more to an implantation of sustainable aspects in the tourist and travelling sector.

The described problems have been detected by governments around the world. Some of them are taking or have already taken actual actions to preserve those valuable heritages. Peru implemented new visiting rules for the ancient site Machu Picchu. With the regulations on entry times and time limits for the visitors, the flow of tourists should be more controlled. Therefore the landmark is not strained and leads to a more sustainable management.

The government of Thailand has even gone a few steps further regarding sustainability. Thailand has banned tourists from visiting three popular islands near the coast. The tourists are one reason why the reefs around those islands have suffered. To ban the people from getting there should help the corals to recover and to release additional pressure.

In Southern Africa and Latin America eco-lodges are booming. The wish to experience the nature and the exotic wildlife while preserving it at the same time is growing.

The examples described above are one way to handle the problem with unsustainable tourism respectively unsustainable tourists. Even though the actions seem harsh, it is definitely a good solution to support the sustainable handling with nature or landmarks. To relinquish short time profit from tourists for a long time thinking might be worth it.

Those are just a few examples out of a long list. It should primarily sharpen the sustainable thinking and that sustainability does not stop in vacations or holydays. Stick to the rules that were given and help others to prevent damage. So please, take care of your actions and do not take the beautiful nature not as granted! But in the end sustainable travelling starts with every single one! So help to make sure that your travels don’t affect the travels of your children!


Sources: (21.12.2017) (21.12.2017) (21.12.2017) (21.12.2017) (21.12.2014)

Using your car leads to an increasing level of pollution

Did you ever go somewhere by car and after getting stuck in a traffic jam, you were wishing to be travelling by train? This solution would have not only helped you, but also the environment.

Nowadays, our world is more crowded than ever before, being filled with millions of cars. In order to have a clearer picture, it has to be mention that only in 2016 around 94 million new vehicles were sold (1). According to the same source, the car market will continue to grow in the following years.

This trend, which has direct negative effects on our environment, is observed also in Switzerland, where at the end of 2017, there were approximately 6 million vehicles, out of which 4.5 million were passenger cars (2). Statistics show that in Switzerland, for every 1000 citizens there are 543 passenger cars, meaning that more than half of its population owns a private vehicle (3).

Thus, traffic jams are now common in the country (4).

People prefer to commute alone by using their own car, reason for which commuting cars in Switzerland are in average filled with only 1.1 persons (5).

We should be more concerned about this whole situation and try to take advantage of the country’s public transportation which is not only safe and reliable, but also fast. However, if there are still people that decide to commute by car, at least they should try to share it with others, so that we can have in the end less cars on the streets, reducing in the same time the level of pollution.

Otherwise, the consequences in terms of pollution will become dangerous for our health.  In some rankings realized by the World Health Organization, based on their pollution index, there are already three Swiss cities, namely Geneva, ranking 58th, Basel 62nd and Zurich 76th, which shows once again that we have to change our behavior towards this global, but also national problem(6)!




Source picture:

Clean Air, Healthy Future

Air pollution is a severe problem –something that we always ignore at the risk of our health and society. The World Health Organization reported that in 2012 around 7 million people died – which means one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. An interactive air-pollution map shows the air pollution worsens on a global scale.

The problems of air pollution

The air pollution we breathe in impacts not only people’s health but also our climate’s health. Air pollution has long-term impacts on people’s health such as weakened immunity. It also has been linked to increased incidences of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses. The statistics from WHO shows that 36% of lung cancer deaths, 35% of COPD (pulmonary disease)  deaths, 34% of stroke deaths and 27% of heart disease deaths are caused by air pollution. Many air pollutants are heavy emitters of CO2, which threaten climate as well such as global climate warming, crop damage and ice melting.

What air are you breathing?

In the map above shows that China suffers from some of the worst air pollution worldwide caused by coal-fired power plants, factories, and vehicles. Millions of people in China are breathing a hazardous cocktail of chemicals every day. However, air pollution problems are hardly exclusive to China. Over 80% of all cities exceed WHO limits for safe air. To raise your awareness of air pollution, here is the link to check the air quality in your city!                                                                                

What you can do about air pollution

Air pollution affects millions of people all over the world. It is crucial that you raise the consciousness of air pollution’s impact on health and society as well as know the causes and impacts of air pollution. What can you do about air pollution?Click the video below to find some actions you can take to help improve air quality.

So, take a deep breath now and let us start taking actions to fight for clean air!


Greenpeace: The problems of Air Pollution.Online:  (15.12.2017)

Breathelife: The issues- health and climate impacts. Online: (15.12.2017)

WHO: 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution. Online:   (16.12.2017)

Global sisters report: Air pollution a global problem. Dawn Araujo-Hawkins,
Jul. 9, 2014. Online:  (17.12.2017)

Video:    (15.12.2017)

Pictures:  (15.12.2017)




How Brazil destroys the Amazon rainforest

Brazil spans over 8.5 million square kilometres which makes it the fifth-largest country in the world, bigger than Australia. This country has a large diversity in landscapes – from the Amazon rainforest, to wetlands and the coast line, to name a few. Brazil generates 80% of its energy in hydropower plants and this is done by building dams, mainly in the Amazon rainforest. With this blog entry, I would like to raise awareness of the exploitation of the Amazon to generate “green” energy.

The Amazon rain forest is the biggest eco system in the world, home to the largest number of animal species and the area with the most water running through it!

Despite the decline in Brazilian Amazon deforestation since its peak in 2004, the political strive for economic growth is an enormous fall-back for the protection of the Amazon. Political reforms such as the opening of protected land for mining, road and dam building are supported by large investments from the government.

The Belo Monte dam is one of the most controversial dam projects in the world. Supporters of the 10 billion $ dam argue that through the hydroelectric energy produced it’s a “green” renewable energy project. However, the impacts on the Amazon rainforest are devastating. Areas of forest are lost due to the construction sites and infrastructure. When the land is flooded, it causes even more loss of forest and indigenous peoples lose their homes. Moreover, fish migrations are blocked which leads to troubles for commercial fisheries and locals who depend on fishing. Also, mercury levels are rising in blocked waterways which means that fish from these waters cannot be eaten anymore.

This is only one example of how energy production can be “greenwashed”. With Brazil’s vast coastline, an implementation of solar and wind power generation could be a solution to the loss of the Amazon rainforest.

What can we do about it? Be aware of what’s happening to the Amazon and spread the word – and support renewable energy generation such as solar and wind also in Europe.


Save paper and support the environment

It is the end of the month and once again I need to  pay all my bills. Unfortunately, I am not sure if I will find all the bills or if some of them got lost in the huge pile of paper in my office. Isn’t that a question we all ask ourselves sometimes? Furthermore, we receive many other papers from our bank like the statements or a confirmation of a deposit. We arrange everything properly in a folder and it takes more and more space in our office.

Have you ever heard something about paperless billing?

How paperless billing works: Instead of a paper bill, you will receive an email with your bill amount and the due date. Then you have a link where you can read the detailed bill, often as a PDF file that you can download, save or print. Depending on your bank, you may have the possibility to see the electronic bills directly in your digital banking account. Therefore, you can set a reminder via text message or an alert via email.


Pro paperless billing:

  • The elimination of billing statements means you have less paper in your home. You can save time and be more efficient handling other daily things. Furthermore, you can save the statements and look at them every time.
  • You can save money with paperless billing. Many banks or credit card issuer charge a fee to send the paper statement.
  • Safety: If you don’t get the statement with the post nobody has a view in your account statements for instance. Therefore, you can prevent identity theft.


Con paperless billing:

  • One of the disadvantages with electronic bills is that it is easier to forget that you must pay the bill because you don’t have the physical bill as a reminder. Of course, you can print the bill whenever you want but that’s not the idea with paperless billing. Moreover, you have to check that the mail alarm is not caught by the spam filter.
  • You have to remember a new password and username for entering your webpage and edit the bills.
  • If you get everything electronic maybe you forget to check your statement and thus its critical to catch a fraud.


Finally, paperless statements are good for the environment. If we get our bills in an electronic way we can save a lot of paper and if the demand of paper decreases the air pollution of the paper production is also decreasing. Millions of papers can be saved during the year and printer costs can be diminished. For instance, the paper bills who are sent just by Swisscom every year are similar to an eight-kilometer queue. Due to this fact, there is a huge potential to protect the environment. Hence, do not hesitate and start with paperless billing.

Towards Sustainable Mobility

According to Prillwitz and Barr (2011) sustainability has become more accepted all over the world and humans are more aware of their ecological footprint. Human societies are recycling more, governments and municipalities trying to implement better means of public transportation, improving recycling methods to minimize our ecological footprint but according to Prillwitz and Barr (2011), humans still have not changed their way of behavior to adapt to all implementations to act in a more sustainable way of living. Many people are getting better to switch to energy-saving light bulbs, and they are better at recycling, but there are still many people that are not using public transports or cycle to their job even though there exist electric bikes. People are getting better at using carpools and car sharing but many people are still taking their car to work even if it is a short distance to get there. Most likely because it is very convenient, time saving and you are very weather resistant. People are lazy and want to be very comfortable when they get to work.

Me myself is flying a lot and you see many business people on airplanes talking to each other. When you are leaving the aircraft and heading to trains or buses, you can see the same business people again which you saw in the aircraft. They are taking a taxi or cab to almost the same destination, but they do not use the same cab or taxi even though they have been talking during the whole flight. Probably because they want some time for themselves or that it is complicated to split the bill or they need to get to their destination fast.

Über, the taxi company, recently launched a slightly cool new service called ÜberPOOL that is handling this issue. Über is an app where the User can request a taxi. Some benefits are that the driver knows exactly where to go, the customer does not need to pay/show his or her credit card, the price is already negotiated (or usually lower than using a cab on the street) which creates a safe environment for both the rider and the driver. It is very convenient. The difference between a regular Über and ÜberPOOL is that the driver is allowed to pick up other passengers heading the same way or direction.

What are the benefits of this?

  1. It is cheaper for the rider.
  2. The driver does not have long waiting times between the rides which means that he earns more money per trip.
  3. It is more environmentally friendly since it works almost like a carpool/car sharing service.
  4. You can meet more people/create contacts.
  5. Less car on the roads.


What are the disadvantages?

  1. It may take a longer time to get to your destination.
  2. It is not suitable for more than two people or people with a lot of luggage.
  3. If you want some time for yourself or do not want to be disturbed by the driver or other passengers it may not be suitable.

Despite the disadvantages, it is very convenient. I, myself have been using ÜberPOOL in the United States, and it works very well. It only takes a couple of minutes longer, and it is normally much cheaper than the regular ÜberX, and in fact that it is more environmentally friendly it makes you feel better. Therefore, if more business people at the airports would start using ÜberPOOL or similar services or that people going to work would start using similar services the environmental footprint would be much smaller.  (, 2017a) & (, 2017b)


Below are videos on how Über and ÜberPOOL works;

How to use Über: 

Source: (Über Québec, 2015)

How ÜberPOOL works:

Source: (Über, 2016)

Prillwitz, J. and Barr, S. (2011). Moving towards sustainability? Mobility styles, attitudes and individual travel behaviour. Journal of Transport Geography, 19(6), pp.1590-1600.

Über (2016). This is uberPOOL | Uber.  Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2017].

Über Québec (2015). How to use Uber?.  Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2017]. (2017a). Sign Up to Drive or Tap and Ride. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2017]. (2017b). What Is uberPOOL? Carpool And Save Money. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2017].