Clean city air by public buses

It is a known fact that air pollution poses a major risk to our health and the environment. However, the level of air pollution in many world metropolises appears to be improving only marginally. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately seven million people die every year as a result of exposure to harmful substances in the air (WHO, 2018). In many countries, the levels of air pollution exceed the highest values defined by the WHO guidelines as the following figure shows.

According to the WHO definition, air pollution is a contamination of the outside air, that occurs when pollutants or mixtures of it are present in the air for long periods of time, which can be harmful to humans, animals, plants and materials. These pollutants are divided into “particulate matter”, “nitrogen oxides” and “ground-level ozone” (WHO, 2018).

Particulate matter is a complex mixture of tiny particles that can float for a long time in the atmosphere and is divided into 3 different sizes: PM10, PM2.5 and PM0.1. The fine dust is expressed in micrometers and the smaller they are, the deeper it can enter into organisms through inhalation (inVENTer, o.J.). The main causes are man-made emissions from combustion processes in motorized traffic (especially diesel), power generation from coal-fired power plants, abrasion from rail transport and emissions from stoves and heating in households (luftbewusst, n.y.). These particles can cause diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, increase mortality and cancer risk, plus damage the ground and plants (BAFU, 2018).

Nitrogen oxide is a gas that is generated as a product of unwanted side-effects of combustion processes. Furthermore, nitrogen oxide is an important precursor of ground-level ozone. The main sources of these pollutants are combustion engines and combustion plants for coal, oil, gas, wood and waste. This gas can cause a wide variety of damages to plants and sensitive ecosystems, irritation of the eyes, respiratory organs and skin, including respiratory diseases.

Ozone is a natural component of air, which at the height of the stratosphere, it protects against harmful UV radiation. Located near the ground, it forms an invisible aggressive irritant gas that is harmful to health and the environment. Ground-level, Ozone is formed in bright weather under the influence of sunlight from precursor pollutants such as nitrogen oxides or volatile organic compounds. This condition, mostly prevails in cities in high summer, which led to the term “summer smog” (Stähelin, 2014). Ground-level ozone can irritate the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, reduce the performance of the lungs and cause damage to plants. It also shares responsibility for the greenhouse effect (BAFU, 2015).

Another term that is very important in this context is the word “smog”, which refers to a phenomenon of extreme air pollution. It is caused by an excessively high concentration of air pollutants and a simultaneously acting weather situation, which prevents the dispersion of air pollutants and accumulates them in the form of a dense smoky fog in the surrounding area, mostly metropolis. A distinction is made here between winter and summer smog. Winter smog is mainly caused by inversion, this is when a warm layer of air lies above a cold layer of air. This acts like a lid that prevents the lower air layers from mixing with the upper air layers. Thereby, the pollutants accumulate under the inversion. The visible haze under the inversion consists primarily of fine dust. The dangerous aspect of this phenomenon is that it increases the toxic effects (Luftlabor, 2015).

The previous chart clearly illustrates that motorized traffic is one of the biggest sources of air pollution. In spite of more emission efficient cars, this problem seems to be increasing as transport network in many metropolises is on the verge of collapse. There are a number of measures that can be taken to achieve sustainable improvements in air quality. Particularly, the promising pilot project of the “air filtering bus” deserves a closer look.

This pioneer idea aimed to improving urban air quality, was recently launched in the city of Southampton, one of the most polluted cities in the UK. The transport company “Go Ahead” has equipped a prototype with a specially designed air filter attachment. This filter was created by the company “Pall Aerospace”, the world’s largest company for filtration in the field of aircraft, ships and defense. The idea behind it, the filter which is positioned on the bus roof absorbs the air out of the environment during the journey and filters out ultra-fine particles. At the same time, it releases filtered clean air. The following figure visualizes this procedure.
The filter is so efficient that it removes 99.5% of the fine particles. According to Go Ahead, the air can be cleaned 1.7 times a year at a height of 10 meters on the used route. Furthermore, the filter has no negative effects on passengers. If all Go Ahead buses were equipped with this technology, the air in Southampton could be cleaned 16 times a year (The Go-Ahead Group, 2018).

This concept can be the solution for combating air pollution in cities such as Beijing or Los Angeles, which are constantly affected by smog, especially in the short-term view as it is simple to implement. In order to make it as sustainable as possible, emission-free buses should be used. The aim is, to gradually equip the entire public transport system with such filters and to make it as emission-low as possible. In order to ensure the best possible long-term impact, the government should create incentives for citizens consciously refrain from using cars and to implement laws banning diesel cars as well as general car bans in city centers.

Take a calm deep breath, because as we see, there exists already good implementable solutions for this problem. It may well be that we will soon see such buses passing by.



BAFU, 2015. Bundesamt für Umwelt (BAFU). [Online]
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BAFU, 2018. Bundesamt für Umwelt (BAFU). [Online]
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Luftlabor, 2015. Luftlabor. [Online]
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Stähelin, J., 2014. ETH Zurich. [Online]
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What fish did you eat lately?

Overfishing is a vast and extremely growing risk for our highly sensitive eco-system. The world faces the enormous challenge of having to provide food to a population well in excess of 9 billion people by the middle of the twenty-first-century. The growing population explains the all-time high resulted in 2016 of 171 million tonnes of fish taken out of our oceans, of which 88 percent was utilized for direct human consumption (FAO, 2018).

Overfishing our oceans. Leviathanproject. Online:

Overfishing is evolving to be a major detriment for our environment. One big issue of overfishing arises with fishing of non-targeted species like sharks, turtles and not commonly well known species. This occurs with the trawl fishing method, where the net is so huge that it touches the floor. There is no way that with this method only the needed fish will be taken out of the water. Using this cruel method everything will be fished out within meters and the aqua-eco-system will be destroyed by the net and the huge amount of sea life taken out at one time (OECD, 2008).

Bycatch of non-targeted species, blogs@NTU, 2014.  Online:

Additionally other reasons are the poisonous fishing particles arising from the countless fish-farms. Although this is a way of sustainable fishing there is a negative side that comes with this method. Chemicals and antibiotics are used to gain as much fish as possible and to keep them “healthy”. This is where the particles come into the aqua life and destroy the living space of millions and millions of fishes and plants living next to the fish farms. Nevertheless the waste thrown back in the ocean including fishing net, plastic, and general waste completes the hazards of ruining our aqua-eco-system (OECD 2018).

Modern Farming, 2013. Online:
Plastic Pollution in the South Pacific – new study into plastic found in commonly eaten fish, Alice Forrest, 2018. Online:

However there is also a meteorological aspect which is growing to be a bigger problem. Every few years the pattern of air circulation of the equatorial Pacific changes in a way that affects oceanic upwelling (a current of cold, nutrient-rich water rising to the surface). This weather condition is known as El Niño and said to happen more and more as a result of the climate change. Basically during El Ninõ, upwelling brings up warm water instead of cold water with only few nutrients. So the missing nutrients will change the whole eco-system. Because sea life which needs the cold water suddenly cannot live there anymore (Department of Oceanography Texas A&M University, 2018).

What is el Niño?,  Wonderopolis, 2018. Online:

Nonetheless there must be a way to change those numbers and find a solution to a sustainable way of fishing. Due to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations more than 60 percent of our worldwide fishes are on their maximum level of utilization. Salmon, tuna, white fish like pangasius or cod are the world’s favourites to be fished and consumed. This leads to a first suggestion: Try to eat different fish, ask for another similar fish, which might be even local, at the counter from your grocery store. Secondly, only eat fish which comes from a sustainable fishery. In reference to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, they only certify responsible aquaculture. They allow fisheries to use their logo to move the aquaculture industry toward sustainability. So keep an eye on the logo when you buy fish and ask at your grocery store for certified fish (ASC, 2018).

It is not too late for our marine life to get better – we only need to change our behaviour. If we do so, everyone in the industry might realises that they need to change their methods and ways of fishing to become sustainable. It’s up to us – start with something today!

The World’s fish: growing demand and shrinking supply, Bloomberg. Online:


Aquaculture Stewardship Council, 2018. What’s our approach. Online:  (20.10.2018) 

Department of Oceanography Texas A&M University, 2018. Peruvian Fisheries and El Niño. Online: (23.10.2018)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018. The State of world fisheries and aquaculture – meeting the sustainable development goals, Rome: Online: (13.10.2018)

OECD, 2008. Umweltausblick bis 2030, S. 328

OECD/FAO (2018), OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2018-2027, OECD Publishing, Paris/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. Online: (20.10.2018)



How many times have you told yourself that exact exclamation in front of a jam-packed closet? Low quality t-shirts, tight jeans, and itchy sweaters all from promotions at low-end retailers just sadly stare at you, while you pick out the exact same pants and exact same t-shirt to go out. (Not to mention the amount of clothes in the very back of the shelve waiting to be thrown away, which existence you simply ignore.)

Filomena Marino. That is my grandmother’s name. She came to Switzerland in 1964 from a beautiful little town in southern Italy to work in a linen weaving mill in the countryside of the Canton of Bern where high-quality fabric was being manufactured and transported all over the world (Worb Online, 2018). To this day, she shows me garments, sheets, and table cloths she wove herself over forty years ago and the thought of throwing away only one of them would never cross her mind.

See the difference? Without a doubt, in the last few decades there has been a shift in mentality in how we deal with our clothes. How did it happen?

One factor is Globalization. The woldwide development drove the fashion industry to grow rapidly, due to lower transportation cost, lower prices in production, and manufacturing possibilities overseas (McKinsey, 2016) and the peak has not yet been reached. According to a study conducted by The Business of Fashion and McKinsey, the forecasted economic business conditions in emerging economies are going to improve, which in fact leads more people to afford more clothes (The Business of Fashion and McKinsey, 2018). This increased economic wealth, makes clothes relatively cheaper for the middle-class population, causing more clothes being demanded and sold, shown by the following graph:

Clothes’ prices rise slower than other consumer goods’ prices, which makes them more affordable. McKinsey, 2016. Online:

Due to the ability to provide new clothes rapidly and at lower cost, customer’s demand for that kind of fashion (also called fast fashion) increases, not only because fast fashion gets in their reach, but because clothes are a communicator, which is a second factor causing a shift in mentality.
McNeill and Moore argue that clothing is used to send a message about the wearer, and often the desire to be fashionable prevails over the desire to care about the environment (McNeill and Moore, 2015). Moreover, McNeill and Moore find that the attitude towards sustainability in fashion can be influenced by one’s peer-group and the customer’s knowledge about sustainability topics. Some big fashion retailers, like H&M, are trying to change the latter.
According to H&M’s sustainability report, through their garment collection initiative (the collection of clothes through bins situated in their stores) almost 18,000 tons of textiles have been collected only during 2017 (H&M Group, 2017). That sounds great, but there is a problem. When you recycle clothes at H&M you get a coupon for your next purchase. Is that not neutralizing all efforts as it incentivizes consumption?

H&M Garment Collection Box. Online:–it-is-the-last-resort-

Now an important question comes up: What are the consequences of globalization, our choices, and the fast fashion industry on the environment?

We could fill books over books about the consequences of the fast fashion industry: Poor working conditions, air pollution, and overflowing landfills just to name a few. There is the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, here is a picture:

Women walk past polluted wastewater that is being pumped from a factory directly into the street in Cairo. Independent, 2018. Online:

Just one comment: It has been estimated that 20% of water pollution is caused by the hazardous dying processes of fabric (WWF, 2017), and in that way, the right of access to pure water for people living in the affected areas is being constraint. Do you think this consequence is sustainable? I think the answer is obvious.

Now, you may be sitting in front of your computer, or looking at your phone thinking: What can I do to change the situation?

Honestly, at this point I do not want to reinvent the wheel. During her TedTalk, Maxime Bédat, co-founder of an ethical clothing platform, explains some easy measures everybody can take to make a difference in favor of sustainability in the fashion Industry (watch from 16:00).

I would like to stress the importance of the last tip she talks about: “Think and ask questions”.

If there is something I will remember from attending Business School, is not how to solve Math equations or how to book a certain entry in Accounting, but to think. Logical thinking and the ability to ask questions is what makes us who we are. So, what I invite you to do, is not to boycott a certain fashion chain or never to buy new clothes again, because let’s face it, it is not realistic. Instead, what we should do, is to think.

Think about the past: Where do the materials come from and how were the clothes transported to the very store you are shopping in? Think about the present: Why does a certain store offer so many promotions and how come a garment can be so cheap? Also think about the future: What can we do to change our mindset and why is it so difficult do it?
In that way, we can tackle the problem from the root and by acknowledging that everybody’s decisions collectively make a difference, it is in our hand to make the earth a better or worse place.

Past, Present, Future. Online:

Henry Ford said: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” (Goodreads, 2018)

We are not few, we can make a difference. Let’s work. Let’s think!




McNeill and Moore, 2015. Sustainable fashion consumption and the fast fashion conundrum: fashionable consumers and attitudes to sustainability in clothing choice. Online: (01.10.2018)

Goodreads, 2018. Quote by Henry Ford. Online: (12.10.2018)

H&M Group, 2017. H&M Group Sustainability Report. Online: (20.10.2018)

McKinsey, 2016. Style-that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula. Online: (20.10.2018)

The Business of Fashion and McKinsey, 2018. The State of Fashion. Online: (17.10.2018)

YouTube, 2016. The high cost of cheap fashion. Online: (10.10.2018)

Worb Online, 2018. Historische Objekte, Leinenweberei. Online: (12.10.2018)

WWF, 2017. Changing fashion, The clothing and textile industry at the brink of radical transformation. Online: (23.10.2018)


Is plant-based milk really environmentally-friendly?

The trend of switching from animal products to plant-based products is also emerging in Switzerland – although still slower than in other countries. Plant-based products such as milk alternatives are getting more and more popular and consumers are having a better choice than couple of years ago. Nowadays you can find milk alternatives in the shelves made of soy, almonds, oats, coconuts, rice, cashews and many more. Due to my curious nature, I started to ask myself if drinking milk alternatives which are not produced in Switzerland are really better for my carbon footprint? And if so, which plant-based milk has the lowest environmental impact? Having a look at the swiss water footprint, agricultural products account for 81% of the total water footprint. Of those agricultural products, milk consumption is representing 10% of it – right behind meat, crop and sugar.

A study conducted in 2017 by ESU-services Ltd., a company which is doing research in the fields of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), shows that whole milk is connected to a larger environmental impact than plant-based alternatives. The production of raw milk and its livestock farming is the main reason for the higher damage to our planet compared to vegan alternatives. Additionally, chilling is unavoidable compared to plant-based milk and that implies an additional impact on the environment.

Environmental impact of plant-based milk alternatives compared to cow’s milk. Source: ESU-services Ltd (2017).

Among plant-based options, almond drink is the environmental looser. The huge amount of water needed for the cultivation of the plants is a major factor – around 6’098 litres of water is needed to produce 1 litre of almond milk. More than 80% of the world’s almonds are produced in California which was fighting droughts for the last decade. The transport is – also in the case of rice drink – a second factor of the higher overall impact.

Concerning soy milk, it is important to differentiate where the soy comes from. People who consume soy are often accused of harming the environment due to the soy-linked deforestation in the amazon. Whether soy consumption harms the environment depends on the location of its cultivation. It goes without saying that the huge monocultures in South America – mainly cultivated as animal feed – is an ecological disaster. In fact, most of the soy milk we consume here has its roots in Europe. Alpro, the European market leader and its organic subsidiary company Provamel have reintroduced soy bean cultivation in France to source non-GMO soy beans and building shorter supply chains towards a more sustainable agriculture. As shown in the graph, the production of 1 litre soy milk consumes less water, less land and less CO2 compared to cow’s milk.

Soy milk compared to cow’s milk Source: Alpro, Sustainability Report (2018).

What about oat milk? “The future is oats” is written in the sustainability report 2017 of Oatly, a Swedish company producing oat milk. The greenhouse gas emissions of oat milk production is 80% lower than cow’s milk. Over 95% of the oats are cultivated, manufactured and most of the products even packaged in Sweden.

Oat Milk vs. Cow’s Milk Source: Oatly, Sustainability Report (2017)

In Switzerland, oat drinks are usually produced in Germany (Alnatura) or France (Coop Karma) – and if you want it from oats cultivated in Switzerland to save the packaging, you can easily make it at home. If I made you curious, go to  and check the recipe – it’s quite simple!

Generally speaking, it can be said that consuming plant-based milk instead of cow’s milk has a much lower environmental impact – especially in the case of oat milk. If we want to go a step further, we can also think of alternatives cultivated, processed and packaged in Switzerland. An article about food scientists in Sweden who started to produce milk made of potatoes recently caught my attention (if you are interested go to After some investigation about this, I found out that this was recently discussed on “Schweizer Bauer” – a platform for swiss agriculture. Who knows, maybe we are soon able to drink locally cultivated potato milk to lower our environmental impact even more.. until then, we continue producing oat milk with swiss cultivated oats ourselves!



Alnatura, 2018. Produktinformation Haferdrink ungesüsst. Online: (10.10.2018)

Alpro, 2018. Sustainability Summary. Online: (02.10.2018)

Coop at home, 2018. Bio Hafer Drink. Online: (11.10.2018)

Naylor, T., 2018. Ditch the almond milk: why everything you know about sustainable eating is probably wrong. The Guardian, 05.09.2018. Online:

Oatly, 2017. Sustainability Report. Online: (03.10.2018)

Schweizer Bauer, 2017. Milchalternative aus Kartoffeln. Online: (01.10.2018)

ScienceNordic, 2017. Scientists are making Smoothies with potato milk. Online: (01.10.2018)

Wenzel, P. & Jungbluth, N., 2017. The environmental Impact of vegan drinks compared to whole milk, Schaffhausen: ESU-Services. Online: (09.10.2018)

WWF Schweiz, 2012. Der Wasser-Fussabdruck Schweiz, Zürich. Online: (10.10.2018)

The tall, blonde and beautiful (Swedish) Oatly


(warning: a serious message is following)

In such a digitized world that is the reality of today, information has never been so easily accessed. Hand in hand with increased technology and public awareness, we’ve never been so aware of climate changes and how the changes are about to impact our planet and our way of living, because I think most of us know it’s not anymore a question about ‘if’ but rather about ‘how much’.

Okay, let’s throw ourselves into the blistering north of this world, to a rural(well not really) country called Sweden. I’m sure some of you have heard about Sweden, especially because of the global confusion with Switzerland (not even gonna mention the World Cup).

(, 2018) http://Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].

Oatly was founded back in the 1990’s at the University of Lund, in the southern parts of Sweden. What they do in a nutshell, is creating sustainable oat drinks. Such as oat-milk, oatgurt, cold on the go drinks, ice cream and some cuisine alternatives ( 2018).

The reason why I wanted to spread the word about this Swedish company is quite simple: The way that they do their marketing as a sustainable alternative to milk. It’s not a secret to anyone that green thinking is something that’s taking up more and more space in the average individual mind. Their green nudging efforts are part of what made them so successful. Green nudging is explained as; “…nudges that aim at promoting environmentally benign behaviour”. (Schubert, C. 2016).

(Oatly billboard in Rotterdam, 2018.) http://Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].

To further break down the concept, green nudges aims for consumers to preserve their self-image. Restructuring the message communicated to be more informal should incline pro-environmental behaviour (Schubert, 2016). This aligns well with the concept of societal marketing. A brand’s personality is influenced by its marketing efforts, the way a brand communicates its message and to what degree of sincerity, could affect consumers perception of those behind the brand, in the aspect of how genuine they are with their messages (Hoeffler, S. and Keller, K. 2002). This is what makes Oatly a popular company. Perez (2015) found that over 60% of all the millennials feel a personal responsibility for the welfare of this planet and that around 2/3’s would like to be employed by a green employer.

It’s safe to say that Oatly is a company who wants to have a brand image which aligns with all of these concepts, and in my opinion, they’re doing pretty good.  Here are three extracts from their self-declaration:

  • We are not a perfect company, not even close, but our intentions are true. We would like to be judged by the good we do and not just the pretty words we say.
  • We promise to be a good company which means that our drive to help people upgrade their lives always comes before the reckless pursuit of profit.
  • Our goal is to always deliver products that have maximum nutritional value and minimal environmental impact.

To wrap up this blog post I just wanna declare to you, that my intentions were never to talk someone into quitting cow’s milk. That’s entirely up to each and every individual. But I’m completely sure that most people who are reading this at some point felt like they wanted to have a positive impact on the environment. Although something that I hear often (which is mostly from the older generation) is;  “but if I change my habits as an individual, it won’t have an impact on the bigger picture”.

But that’s where people are mistaken. Every little step toward a more sustainable living is, in fact, one step closer, however crazy that may sound. We’re all creatures of habitat, which might be the main reason why we are reluctant to change. That doesn’t mean we’re not capable of changing.


(Perfect example of innovative marketing)

Source list: 

Hoeffler, S. and Keller, K. (2002). Building Brand Equity Through Corporate Societal Marketing. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 21(1), pp.78-89. (2018). Oatly. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].

Perez, E. (2013). College students’ attitudes towards green hotel practices. Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

Pointing, C. (2018). Giant Vegan Milk Billboard in Europe Reminds Consumers that Dairy is Not for Humans. [online] LIVEKINDLY. Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].

Schubert, C. (2016). Green Nudges: Do They Work? Are They Ethical?. SSRN Electronic. Available at: Journal.[Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].