Barely bought, already broken?

We’ve all been in this situation – you buy a new mobile phone, you are excited about the great new features and , you proudly present the new achievement to your friends – but the joy about the new device usually doesn’t last long. After just a few months, your smartphone’s battery life is already declining massively: in the morning you disconnect your smartphone from the power supply, at noon you find yourself desperately looking for a power outlet, as the battery indicator is tending towards zero (Kluczniok 2016). Since repairing the battery or replacing it is mostly not possible at all or involves very high costs, it is usually more convenient for consumers to buy a new device instead of repairing the old one. Not really sustainable, is it?

This phenomenon does not only occur with smartphones – no, many other electronic devices are also affected. The phenomenon also has a name – planned obsolescence. Time and again there are rumors that manufacturers are incorporating weaknesses in products in order to boost the demand for new devices. But what is it about the planned obsolescence?

Planned obsolescence – conspiracy theory or fact?

Planned obsolescence, i.e. artificial product aging, is the term used when a device loses its function at an early stage, for example shortly after the warranty expires. Updates or other innovations can also mean that users are no longer satisfied with the functionality of the product and therefore want or must buy a new device. You, too, have certainly made experiences with planned obsolescence. There are different forms of this phenomenon:

  • Material obsolescence: Some small parts of the product are less efficient than others and therefore break faster. Example: The battery in smartphones or laptops.
  • Functional obsolescence: Requirements for a product change over time. Example: New software is too extensive for older mobile phones – they become unusable as a result.
  • Psychological obsolescence: Improved technology and fashion trends make consumers want to buy a new device even though the old one still works. Example: New smartphone models from major manufacturers every year.
  • Economic obsolescence: Often the repair of a defective device is not worthwhile because a new purchase is cheaper. Example: Permanently installed batteries or hard-to-replace graphics cards in laptops.

All these forms of planned obsolescence lead to consumers buying new products again and again and stimulating the economy with their consumer behaviour. Great for the economy – on the other hand really bad for mother nature. However, it must also be mentioned that the phenomenon of planned obsolescence has not been scientifically proven to this day. One major problem is that the burden of proof for a defect lies with the consumer. For this reason, manufacturers can usually pull their heads out of the noose and refer to age-related wear and tear (Materla 2018).

The way to a modern consumer and disposable society

With their behaviour, the manufacturers thus favour the path to a modern consumer and disposable society. But we can’t just put the blame on the manufacturer, since it is mainly the consumer behaviour that encourages producers to produce short-lived products. Our society is characterised by a disposable mentality – fast consumption, wasteful use of natural resources and environmental pollution are the order of the day. We are consuming without worrying about the consequences of our actions. We are constantly buying new things, replacing old equipment, throwing away tons of food – and the worst part is – it’s perfectly normal for us. This is also well illustrated by our purchasing behaviour towards televisions: In German households, CRT televisions ran for about ten to twelve years, with modern flat screens being replaced after five to six years. However, only a quarter of consumers buy a new device because the old one is broken. The remaining consumers replaced their device even though it was not necessary (Zühlke 2015). We should ask ourselves whether it is really necessary to buy a new smartphone every two years just because it has a new design or a slightly better camera. Do you really have to buy the new Playstation just because it has a new color? The answer is obvious – it’s definitely not necessary. Did you even think about the environment once? I admit it – I didn’t. So it’s not just the manufacturers who are responsible, but we consumers also need to change our behaviour in order to stop creating incentives for manufacturers to produce short-lived products (Schridde, Kreiss & Winzer o.J.).

Doing something good for the environment with durable products

We as consumers must therefore demand durable things and force companies to rethink. Resource efficiency only makes sense if durable products are also manufactured. The comparison between long-lived and short-lived notebooks illustrates this: Every year, a long-lived notebook produces around 25 kg less greenhouse gases than the short-lived version. The analysis shows comparable figures for televisions: A single long-life TV set produces almost 60 kg less greenhouse gases per year than a short-life TV set. Looking at the total sales figures, according to which just under 5.5 million notebooks and more than 8 million televisions were sold in Germany alone in 2014, the dimension of the total possible greenhouse gas savings with longer use becomes clear. It is therefore imperative to set minimum quality and durability requirements for the products, make them transparent and then check them. Manufacturers must change their minds and pursue other goals in view of the growing recycling society (Zühlke 2015).

Mountains full of electronic scrap and its consequences

Over 40 million tons of electronic scrap are generated worldwide every year. As already mentioned, most discarded appliances are not full defects, but damages that actually could have been repaired in just a few steps. Unfortunately, in Europe only 29.5% of e-waste is recycled. Especially alarming is the fact that 6% of electrical appliances end up in household waste. This corresponds to about 700,000 tons of waste per year. By proper disposal in 2014 about 300 tons of gold could have been recycled worldwide. The remainder (64.5%) of the electrical waste is exported and reused as second-hand goods in the recipient country. However, 15% of it is unusable and ends up in the garbage dump. Since most developing countries lack the necessary recycling machines, the products are dismantled and incinerated by hand. This leads to a large number of toxic chemicals, which are released into the respiratory tract via the air or into the groundwater via the soil. This is why the GreenCross organisation chose the Agbogbloshie waste dump in Ghana as the most contaminated site in the world in 2013. This means this place was even more contaminated than Chernobyl – a really disturbing fact (Schneider 2016).


Less is more!

Well, how can we counteract these mountains of electronic waste and our constant consumption? Actually, it’s quite simple:

  • Borrow instead of buy
  • Return devices – Dispose of electrical equipment correctly
  • Repair your devices instead of throwing them away
  • Buy sustainable products from recyclable materials
  • Become aware of the consequences of the consumer society
  • Only buy what you really need (Materla 2018)

Only if we change our consumer behaviour, we can counteract the planned obsolescence (Schridde, Kreiss & Winzer o.J.). It’s only a small step – but a step in the right direction (Buschenlange 2013)!


Buschenlange, H., 2013. Konsumgesellschaft und Wege zur Nachhaltigkeit: Perspektiven auf Konsum, geplante Obsoleszenz und Abfallproblematik, Norderstedt: Diplomica Verlag GmbH.

Kluczniok, J., 2016. Smartphone-Akku wird schnell leer: Das sind die Gründe. Netzwelt, 23.09.2016. Online: (15.12.2018)

Materla, V., 2018. Künstliche Produktealterung. Geplante Obsoleszenz: Das steckt dahinter. Focus, 18.01.2018. Online: (15.12.2018)

Schneider, R., 2016. E-Waste: Was passiert mit unserem Elektroschrott? Digitec, 13.09.2016. Online: (15.12.2018)

Schridde, S., Kreiss, Ch. & Winzer, J., o.J. Geplante Obsoleszenz. Berlin: ARGE REGION. Online: (15.12.2018)

Zühlke, K., 2015. Wir sind eine Wegwerfgesellschaft. Markt&Technik, 27.10.2015. Online: (15.12.2018)

Stop Wasting Water

Isn’t it shocking that we usually do things without being conscious that our acts may be negatively affecting the world we live in, our future or the future of the generation to come? It took a news headline from “The Economists” (Economist, 2016) for me to realise that I have been part of the problem involving the unsustainable use of water. According to the article, by 2040, about 33 countries will be water-stressed, hence, there is need to preserve the natural resource. However, an important question that may be asked is how do we conserve something that we do not even know that we are wasting? Water which is a clear liquid that falls from the sky (Cambrigde, 2018) is an important resource both for humans and plants. Its uses range from drinking, washing, bathing, as well as for health, agriculture and industrial purposes and as the world expands in terms of population, there will be an increase in the demand for water (International, 2011). Given the high vitality of water to man and the fact that it is a finite and irreplaceable resource (UNDESA, 2015), effective water management is part of sustainable development.

So how do we waste this scarce resource?

Regarding the improper use of water, it usually doesn’t take much for people to waste water. One of such ways is by leaving water running. This could be by leaving the tap running in the kitchen while doing something else, or not stopping the tap while brushing. We surely do not take note of such actions but they can lead to very high waste of water on a daily basis. Secondly, water can be wasted through long showers. While taking showers is good but the problem is how it is done. Some people tend to take very long showers, not necessarily because they feel dirty but perhaps because they derive some of pleasure from it. So, if you sometimes just leave the shower running unnecessarilly, then you are wasting water. Besides, if one were to reduce his shower times by 1 to 2 mins, then up to 700 gallons of water can be saved per month (District, n.d.).

Source: Truly- July

Moreover, one contributes to wasting water through excessive watering. Do you water your lawn several times in a week? Do you do so during hot weather? And do you do it because it is necessary or because it is a question of habits? The more frequently one tends to water his or her lawn, then the more likely that he wastes water especially when done unnecessarily and/or when not done between 9:00 AM and noon or after 8:00 PM, when the rate of evaporation is minimal. (District, n.d.). In addition, closely related to the fact above is gardening. This is in the sense that people who take pleasure in gardens and gardening tend to use more water externally (Syme, Shao, Po, & Campbell, 2004), as a result, such individuals are more likely to waste more water. Lastly, water waste can be explained by the number of people in the household. Households with a greater number of people will use up more water than households with fewer number of people (Fielding, Russell, Spinks, & Mankad, 2012). The former can be associated with high waste of water if the occupants engage in poor and unsustainable use of water. Also, the amount of water waste can be compounded by these households having water inefficient appliances like those related to pools gardens and washing machines (Fielding, Russell, Spinks, & Mankad, 2012)

It isn’t too late to change!

Despite how much water we must have already wasted knowingly or unknowingly, there is still some hope if we all decide to engage in the conservative use of water. We can start by developing a culture of water conservation in our respective households, because such households tend to engage in water-saving habits (Fielding, Russell, Spinks, & Mankad, 2012), for example, by changing such habits as leaving the tap running whether we are washing or brushing as well as the habits of frequently watering the lawn or gardening especially when it is perhaps not necessary. Moreover, we can use more water- efficient appliances that tend to use less water and so, contribute to saving it. Such appliances could be rainwater tanks, water efficient tanks, showerheads and water efficient dishwashers (Fielding, Russell, Spinks, & Mankad, 2012). This view ties with that of Arbon et al (2014), who stated that internally plumbed rainwater tanks lead to great water savings ( Arbon, Thyer, MacDonald,, Beverley, & Lambert , 2014, p. 76). We can also help impact the knowledge of water conservation and more sustainable use unto others, since some people may be wasting without being aware of their actions and the negative effects which such actions could bring. As such, water conservation campaigns can be organised, given that when more people perceive that others are conserving water, then they are more likely to result to the proper use of the scare resource. (Corral-Verdugo, Martha Frías Armenta, & Espinoza-Gallego, 2002)

Source: Love to know- Home and Garden

A Food for thought

Although we may be living in that area which has an abundance of water today, and so we may not feel the need to conservatively or sustainably use it, but because the future is uncertain, and it will cost us nothing to sustainably use water, and for the fact that it is not morally correct to waste what others cherish, yet have inadequate access to, then we all have an interest to educate others and ourselves on how to efficiently use and managed water.




Arbon, N., Thyer, M., MacDonald,, D. H., Beverley, K., & Lambert , M. (2014). Understanding and Predicting Household Water Use for Adelaide, Goyder Institute for Water Research.

Corral-Verdugo, V., Martha Frías Armenta, & Espinoza-Gallego, N. (2002). Residential Water Consumption, Motivation for Conserving Water and the Continuing Tragedy of the Commons. Environment Management, 30, 527-535.

Economist, T. (2016, Novemeber 5). The Economists. Retrieved from

Fielding, K. S., Russell, S., Spinks, A., & Mankad, A. (2012). Determinants of household water conservation: The role of demographic, infrastructure, behaviour and psychosocial variables. Retrieved from

Syme, G. J., Shao, Q., Po, M., & Campbell, E. (2004). “Predicting and understanding home garden water use”. Landscape and Urban Planning, 121-128.

Internet sources

Cambrigde, D. (2018). Retrieved December 15, 2018, from

District, S. S. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2018, from

International, P. A. (2011). Why Population Matters to WATER RESOURCES. Retrieved December 14, 2018, from

Love to know Home and Garden- Retrived on December 16, 2018 from

Truly July- Retreived on December 16, 2018 from

UNDESA. (2015). International Decade for Action “Water For Life”2005-2015. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from




Neverending Story of Mass Migration

“Exactly 40 years ago, right after the end of the Vietnam War, I had to flee out of my home country to escape the new regime of Vietcong”, says my mum to me and she begins to remember the time of uncertainty and fear. She was one of hundred on a boat designed for 30, travelling 3 days and 3 nights on sea without food and water, until they finally reached the small Malaysian island Pulau Bidong, which became a refugee camp. She was not the only one with this story. Approximately 4 million people from Vietnam became known as the first boat people (Migration policy institute, 2015).

Picture by Education Services Australia Ltd and National Archives of Australia, 2007-10

Mass migration today

“It is unbelievable that today there are still people undergoing the same experience as she did 40 years ago”, says my mum.

The European migration crisis occurred in the years 2015 and 2016 where the number of refugees peaked (Destatitis, 2017). Even after so many years people are still fleeing from their countries and the reason is still the same; because there is war.

As a continuation of the Arab spring people in Syria started in 2011 to demonstrate against the dictator regime of the Al-Assad family (BBC news, 2018). This started a civil war which is still ongoing. Both parties are supported by Russia on the side of the government and USA for the rebels while the Islamic State (IS) as a third party also invaded Syria trying to take over the control (BBC, 2018). Upon deciding wether to migrate or not People usually consider various factors concerning the country of origin and the host country, the obstacles and personal factors (Lee, 1966). In the case of Syria the decision is not difficult. Daily violence, torture and chemical weapon are all factors to repel and encourage people to flee. Not to flee only to seek help, but to survive in the first place.

Picture by MOAS.EU/Jason Florio

Overwhelmed Europe

When my mum came to Europe there were only a few thousands of refugees. She was lucky that she could start a new life.

When looking at the two pictures I cannot see any differences. Yet, the situation in Europe has changed and no one was prepared for the biggest mass migration wave since World War 2. In 2016 there were 1.3 million refugees in Europe (Welt, 2018). Germany alone took in 745’545 immigrants (, 2018) and most of them were from Syria. Spain and Italy were flooded with refugees because they were the first destination to arrive over the sea. To get to Europe the route over the Mediterranean Sea is very popular but also one of the most dangerous one. People know about the danger but still they risked their life because they were being encouraged and convinced by smugglers. These smugglers are from well-organized criminal cartels and their activity pretty much are irregular which is why they are difficult to convict (Pastore, Monzini, & Sciortino, 2006). In 2015 3’771 people drowned while trying to pass the sea and the number of deaths is not decreasing. The infamous picture of the dead child lying on the shore went around the world. (Zeit Online, 2016).

Their suffering does not end once they reached Europe because not all countries are willing to keep the refugees. They get stuck in refugee camps, living under bad conditions and waiting forever for the decision on their asylum request. Their dreams get smashed because Europe is not offering what they were hoping for (npr, 2018). Nations try to deport them elsewhere. They are not welcomed. There is no better life awaiting them.

The change of migration policy

Nations invest millions and billions in surveillance to prevent refugees to arrive in Europe. The process for asylum request becomes more difficult and even Germany, after years of open borders, Angela Merkel, the German counsellor, is facing pressure from her people to change the policy. Is it right to not help these people in need by closing the border? Is it fair to ignore them by looking away and shutting them out? On the other hand, does it solve the problem by taking the refugees in while the civil wars are going on with no end in sight? People are losing their friends and families, their home and identity, future and hope. How egoistic are we to let children grow up with war and with fear? How cruel are we to watch children dying? Even after 40 years, how helpless are we to let this happen again and again?


Internet source:

Migration policy institute, 2015. From Humanitarian to Economic: The Changing Face of Vietnamese Migration. Online: (23.11.2018)

BBC news, 2018. Why is there a war in Syria? Online: (01.12.2018)

BBC, 2018. What’s happening in Syria? Online: (01.12.2018)

Welt, 2018. Die meisten Asylsuchenden kommen nach Deutschland. Online: (06.12.2018), 2018. Steht mit der Zuwanderung der soziale Wohlfahrtsstaat auf der Kippe? Online: (06.12.2018)

Zeit Online, 2016. So viele Flüchtlinge wie nie im Mittelmeer ertrunken. Online: (06.12.2018)

Destatitis, 2017. Migrationsstruktur und Demografie der Schutzsuchenden nach Berichtsjahren . Online: (12.12.2018)

npr, 2018. ‘Europe Does Not See Us As Human’: Stranded Refugees Struggle In Greece. Online: (12.12.2018)


Lee, E. S., 1966. A Theory of Migration. Springer on behalf of the Population Association of America

Pastore, F., Monzini P., & Sciortino G., 2006. Schengen’s Soft Underbelly? Irregular Migration and Human Smuggling across Land and Sea Borders to Italy


The Global Warming Hoax – or an attempt to proof the President of the US wrong

Global warming is a hoax – at least if you believe the 115 tweets of Donald Trump covering this topic. Trump even claims that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” @realDonaldTrump.

Evidence against Trump

According to the IPPC (2013) there is a “95 percent certainty that human activity is the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century”. From 1880 to 2012 the temperature shows a warming of 0.85 C on average.

Picture 1

This might sound like a little increase, but the effects are drastically. Glaciers are the most sensitive indicators for global warming. They play a crucial role in the regional weather balance and are one of the causes for rising sea levels due to climate change. (Seiz & Foppa, 2007) The melting of the glaciers affects in particular Switzerland where glaciers are important sources of water and stabilise the terrain. The picture below shows the reduction of the Rohne glaciers since 1850.

Picture 2

Not only the glaciers but also the arctic sea ice is shrinking. Observations with satellites show that the Arctic sea ice area has been in decline for several decades. It is expected that during the 21stcentury, sea ice may be gone completely during summer. As the Arctic sea ice area is a globally unique habitat for a variety of species such as the polar bear, many of them will become extinct with the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice area. (Schliebe et al., 2008) Very recently the picture of a starving polar bear circulated the media and shows the present extend of the effect of the declining Arctic sea ice area.

Picture 3


Undoubtedly, global warming is caused by a human-made increase in greenhouse gases that increase the greenhouse effect that traps the heat and makes our planet warmer. (EPA, 2018) The concentration of CO2 and methane has increased by 36% and 148% respectively since 1750. (EPA, 2007) It is likely that the levels of CO2 have never been higher during the past 4.5 million years. (Clark, 2013)

At the top of the list of the CO2 emitters is China, responsible for 29.51% of the global CO2 emissions, followed by the United States with 14.34%, the EU with 9.62% and India with 6.81%. Since 2006, China has been emitting more CO2 than any other country. (Wikipedia, 2018)

What are the sources of CO2 emissions? According to the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency), nearly 28.5% of the greenhouse gas emissions are generated by transportation that comes from burning fossil fuel for cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes. Almost the same share goes to electricity production (28.4%), while industry is responsible for 22% of the greenhouse gas emissions. 11% comes from agriculture mainly livestock such as cows, agricultural soils and rice production.

What individuals can do to reduce their CO2 emissions

Of course global warming caused by CO2 emissions is a problem that needs to be solved on a global scale. However, every individual can contribute to reduce its CO2 emissions with a more sustainable behaviour.

Huffington Post published an article called “7 Instant Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint” (

1. Stop Eating (or Eat Less) Meat
2. Unplug Your Devices
3. Drive Less
4. Don’t Buy “Fast Fashion”
5. Plant a Garde
6. Eat Local (and Organic)
7. Line-Dry Your Clothes

I liked this article as everyone can easily make these simple changes. They are easy to implement and have an immediate effect of reducing the carbon footprint of an individuum.

After all scientific evidence given nowadays, it is safe to say that global warming is not a hoax but literally dead serious.


Clark, P. (2013). CO2 at highest level for millions of years. Financial Times.

EPA (2018). Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. United States Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change Science Program. Online:

EPA (2007). Recent Climate Change: Atmosphere Changes. United States Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change Science Program

IPCC, 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 pp.

Schliebe S., Rode KD., Gleason JS., Wilder J., Proffitt K., et al. (2008) Effects of sea ice extent and food availability on spatial and temporal distribution of polar bears during the fall open-water period in the Southern Beaufort Sea. Polar Biol 31: 999–1010

Seiz, G., Foppa, N., 2007. National Climate Observing System (GCOS Switzerland). Publication of the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss and ProClim, 92 p.

National Climate Assessment (2018). Extreme Weather. Online:

Wikipedia (2018). List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions. Online:


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What’s new today is old tomorrow. We live in an affluent society in which luxury has become a commodity. Each product is available in countless designs and different models. To do without, has become foreign to many – consume instead of save. The choice is limitless, and the whole world invites us to shop via the Internet. Growing up in this consumer world is a challenge. Everything is always available and, if in doubt, can also be financed with credit. But where does this lead to and why do we act like this? What are the dark sides of consumption and what does consuming really do to us?

(Held, 2011)

Why do we buy so much?

  • We humans find identity in the purchase of things. By buying we consciously distance ourselves from a certain group. Through the way I buy, I show who I am and who I want to be. You can also differentiate yourself when you buy certain things. Even if you buy sustainably, for example, you try to join a group and participate in values and become part of a community. We want to feel a part of it. (Kenter, 2017)
  • Consumption also offers variety. The unmanageable offer providesus with a multitude of alternatives to shape our everyday life, our privacy and our existence. We gratefully make use of this offer and live out our desire for variety intensively. A renunciation is inconceivable; we would rather interpret it as a step backwards.
  • And last but not least, consumption makes our everyday lives easier. The wide range of goods on offer makes it possible to make everyday life as pleasant as possible. (Delta21, 2015)

So we humans are not only seeking comfort, but we also find identity and variety in consumption.  But what are the downsides of consumption? Not only do we destroy the environment through our consumption mania, we also waste an enormous amount of resources. Did you know that 28% more luxury cars were sold in Switzerland in 2014 than in the previous year? Did you know that fish consumption per person has more than doubled in the last fifty years? That Swiss retail sale of electrical goods tripled between 2003 and 2014 and that a European buys an average of 65 to 70 new items of clothing per year? (Plüss, 2015). The high consumption of raw materials violates the prerequisites for sustainable development. For example, the intensive use of industrial goods such as cars or computers results in high water consumption and this often affects supplier countries where water is already scarce. Other resources are also being exploited. Every year, around 13 million hectares of forest is felled worldwide, which is more than the total forest area of Germany. Some industrial waste water is discharged untreated into surface waters and can pollute the groundwater. It is not only the environment that suffers as a result, but also the pressure on prices has increased enormously as a result of globalisation. Many companies relocate parts of their production to countries where wage costs are low. (Bundesministerium , 2013)

The workers there receive a minimum wage which makes survival difficult. That is why they are forced to work a lot of overtime and shifts. The workplaces are dangerous and whoever gets sick or has an accident falls into an emergency situation. Companies do not want to take responsibility for occupational illnesses. If illnesses are diagnosed by doctors due to toxic exposure and lack of protective clothing, these are sued by companies. (Greenpeace, 2013)

Here a small video excerpt, of working conditions in Bangladesh:

People are exploited and live on subsistence level wages. They work under miserable conditions, so that we in the West can live a life in surplus and that we can get our products at a cheaper price. We are destroying the environment, actually our only existence.

But what does consuming really do to us?

Purchasing behaviour makes us less and less happy and in the worst case even more unhappy. The big problem is our habit of spending more and more money on things we could use, but which we rarely really use or need. Much is bought without ever consuming it. Today we only buy the option to use things. But we consume less and less, because unfortunately we have no more time – consumption is time consuming. In addition, there is always something more interesting to consume, so we no longer get to use what we have acquired. (Oberhuber, 2016)

The American psychologists Tim Kasser and Ricahrd M.Ryan have found in a large number of studies that people with very materialistic values have a lower psychological and physical well-being than people with less materialistic values. People for whom financial success is important also show less self-realization and vitalitythan people who place greater value on  good relationships or making a social contribution. In short, the more important materialistic values are to us, the lower our quality of life will be. I know that in today’s world, it is hard not to be materialistic and everyone has internalized a certain amount of materialistic values. But consumption influences our goals, the attitude we have towards certain people or objects and it changes our behaviour. And unfortunately, consumption is not the key to happiness and it even keeps us from leading a fulfilled and contented life. I have to ask myself too what my last purchase in the past has brought me. Did I achieve the result which I had hoped for? Did it really make me happy? I don’t think so. It is important to critically question consumption and ask yourself what kind of wish is really behind it and then try to achieve this goal, this wish in another way. (Glücksdetektiv , o.j)


Bundesministerium . (16. 05 2013). Umwelt-im-Unterricht. Retrieved on 01. 12 2018 by Menschen verbrauchen mehr, als sie brauchen:

Delta21. (17. 01 2015). delta21. Retrieved on 06. 12 2018 by Warum konsumieren wir:

Glücksdetektiv . (o.j). Gluecksdetektiv . Retrieved on 08. 12 2018 by Wie Konsum und Materialismus unglücklich machen:

Greenpeace. (23. 01 2013). Greenpeace. Retrieved on 01. 12 2018 by Arbeitsbedingungen:

Kenter, U. (17. 02 2017). SRF. Retrieved on 06. 12 2018 by Wir Shoppen, um zu leben:

Oberhuber, N. (12. 07 2016). Retrieved on 8. 12 2018 by Unser absurder Konsum:

Plüss, M. (21. 04 2015). Greenpeace. Retrieved on 10. 12 2018 by Konsum – Zahlen und Fakten:

Nuclear Fusion – The dream of unlimited energy


The issue of sustainable energy production has occupied mankind for some 20 years. The influence of coal, oil and gas on the climate can not be denied. Yet these resources account for around 70% of global energy production (Then 2018). As we look to the future, it quickly becomes clear that energy consumption will increase significantly. The growing world population, the trend towards electric cars and the increasing availability of electronic devices in all regions are just a few examples of this. More efficient use of energy alone is far from sufficient to do without fossil fuels. Replacing energy production from fossil fuels with wind turbines, solar panels and hydropower is also unrealistic. So there is only one solution: humanity needs a new, efficient and clean way to produce energy.

(Then 2018)

History of nuclear fusion

This section is for history interested people. If you are not particularly interested in the past, I recommend you to jump to the next section.
Fusion is the most dominant reaction in the universe we know. The energy emanating from our sun and from all other stars is created by nuclear fusion.
The idea of ​​energy production through this process is not new. The theoretical basis was already published by Arthur Eddington in 1926. In the 1950’s initial investigations began to replicate this process on Earth. In 1950 and 1951, the first plans for this project came out. Called Tokamak and Stellarator, they are still the most promising models of controlled nuclear fusion on Earth to date. In 1985, one of the most expensive research projects with international participation was finally decided. The project was named ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). According to today’s cost plan, the project will cost about 18 billion euros. However, the cost plan has already been adjusted several times and last increased by 4 billion. So it’s quite possible that the costs will increase even further. This project is no different from any other research. You do not know in advance if the time and money you spend will ultimately pay off. (EUROfusion 2018)

(The Economist 2015)

Principle of nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion is in principle the opposite of nuclear fusion. In nuclear fusion remains radioactive waste, which must be stowed with great effort to make it harmless. There is also the risk of a meltdown with an uncontrolled chain reaction. This results in a huge and irreparable harm to the environment. We know these catastrophes as ultimate MCA, as happened in Chernobyl or Fukushima. In turn, nuclear fusion can be accomplished without harmful waste products and with much less risk of uncontrolled reaction. The principle is simply explained, but the implementation is even more difficult. By nuclear fusion is meant the fusion of easier to heavier atomic nuclei. On the Sun, for example, two hydrogen nuclei merge continuously and in large numbers into one helium nucleus. In this process, the energy is released. To achieve this result, enormous temperatures and pressure are needed. Since the pressure that prevails in the sun can never be generated on earth, even higher temperatures are required. This fact makes the project so incredibly ambitious. (Lernhelfer 2010)

(Science Museum 2018)

Good news

In China, the EAST reactor has been able to produce a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius in November 2018. This is the heat it takes to initiate nuclear fusion on Earth. Although the conditions could only be held for 10 seconds, it shows us that the conditions for a merger can be created. So it’s a small breakthrough in nuclear fusion. (Stern 2018)

View on energy consumption

Now, one could say that saving energy and using more energy efficient appliances will not help much unless we can cover our consumption with clean sources anyway. This approach is pretty cynical in my opinion. It is clear that we need a new alternative for energy production. Nevertheless, with a conscious and frugal power consumption we can reduce the energy production through fossil fuels. As long as humanity can not use nuclear fusion for energy production, we are forced to extinguish the lights, to pay attention to energy efficiency when purchasing electronic equipment, to close the windows in winter and to save energy in all other aspects.
We only have one earth and we should not suffocate it just for convenience or laziness.


Then, O. (2018). ELECTRICITY GENERATION 2018/2019. [online] Available at:

EUROfusion (2018). History of Fusion- EUROfusion. [online] Available at:

The Economist. (2015). Stellar work. [online] Available at:

Lernhelfer (2010). Kernfusion in Physik. [online] Available at:

Science Museum. (2018). How nuclear fusion could change our world. [online] Available at:

Stern (2018). Heißer als die Sonne – China-Reaktor erreicht Durchbruch in der Kernfusion. [online] Available at:—china-reaktor-erreicht-durchbruch-in-der-kernfusion–8458138.html


reCircle – saving waste and resources

The dangerous impact of disposable takeaway boxes on our environment

Nowadays, you find around every corner a takeaway store. For having a quick lunch or maybe not having time or inclination of cooking, many people chose the option to have takeaway food. In most stores, you receive your food in a disposable takeaway box. But many times, they are not disposed properly, resulting in unclean streets, polluted parks and even problems on pastures (reCircle, n.d.). Through the increasingly throw away culture, millions of tons of plastic are created and portrays a real concern for our environment, including the ocean. Apart from thermal recycling, there is no way of transferring these containers to a recycling process (Gwinnett, 2017).

The most recent data which could be found is from 2010. The chart below shows the annual costs in Switzerland for waste disposal by type of waste (in CHF).

(Luterbacher, 2018)

Next to cigarettes and beverage containers, takeaway packaging takes the third place when it comes to costs for waste disposal in Switzerland.

Take-away food is also possible without disposable dishes

reCIRCLE is a national returnable system for restaurants with on-the-go catering and was launched throughout Switzerland in 2016. The implementation of reusable systems significantly reduces waste and measurably reduces Co2 consumption. Experience shows that campus waste can be reduced by up to 30%. With a reBOX you can save more than 100 disposable containers (reCircle, n.d.).

Furthermore, did the Life Cycle Assessment show, that less than 10 washing cycles are required before the reBOX has less environmental impact than the compared disposable containers. Care was taken to ensure that containers were included in the comparison which are very common in the takeaways participating in the pilot project in Berne and whose functionality roughly corresponds to that of the reBOX (then Bring Back Box) (reCircle, n.d.).

It is striking that the reusable container contributes little to the environmental impact of the production process compared with disposable containers. This is due to the fact that the recycling cycles presented here are 10 and 80 times, respectively, in which the environmental impact of production can be divided by the number of recycling cycles(reCircle, n.d.).

How does reCircle work?

An increasingly number of takeaway stores take part of reCircle. As a guest you pay a one-time fee of 10 francs and take the food with you in the reBOX. After the meal the reBOX can be returned at any partner takeaway. The 10 francs will be paid out or exchanged for a clean box. The takeaway washes the reBOX and puts it back into circulation. Or you can keep your reBOX for yourself and use it again and again at home and on the road. Recently the reCUp is also available which comes handy for takeaways such as soup, salad, muesli, smoothies or other beverages (reCircle, n.d.).

They do not only offer the services to takeaways but also for companies and schools. The boxes and services underlie an annual subscription fee, which at the end is more favorable than the disposable boxes. The products and service are offered all over Switzerland and is already implemented in many cities of Switzerland, such as Zurich, Basel and Berne.

(reCircle, n.d.)



Gwinnett, C. (2017). Takeaway food boxes are destroying our environment.World Economic Forum. Retrieved from

Luterbacher, C. (2018). Was braucht es, um die Schweizer Strassen so sauber zu halten?SWI doi:Was braucht es, um die Schweizer Strassen so sauber zu halten?

reCircle. (n.d.).reCircle. Retrieved December 04, 2018, from



Sustainability in the financial sector

Sustainability is a megatrend which affects people all over the world unstoppablly (Staub-Bisang 2012, p. 8). Even in the financial sector, sustainable investments are incrementally becoming significant (SSF 2018, p. 5). Regarding institutional investors, more and more express interest and the need to invest in sustainable assets.

As can be seen in the above figure, there was a major increase in the sustainable investment volumes of institutional investors from 2016 to 2017. The institutional market players now represent a market share of 86 % (SSF 2018, p. 11).

When taking sustainable investment decisions, the most common approach is the integration of ESG criteria (SSF 2018, p. 12). This means that sustainable investments decisions are based on the three pillars of sustainability: Environmental, Social and Governance (Staub-Bisang 2018, p. 13). As an illustration, environmental can mean that an investor avoids stocks with a large ecological footprint when making investment decisions. If the focus is more on the social impact, an investor considers, for instance, microfinance investments, from which he expects good performance and a positive effect on the social situation. This could be by giving women access to small loans and thereby enabling them to set up a small business (Rothmund and Niedermann 2018, p. 70). In terms of governance, management remuneration or compliance with shareholders’ rights, for example, are at the forefront of the discussion. But these ESG definitions vary, and this is the highest barrier for investors to increase ESG investing (HSBC 2018, p. 17). Besides that, the lack of measurability of sustainability and the costs of sustainable products speak against sustainable investments (Rothmund and Niedermann 2018, p. 87). In addition, the cost of know-how is considered a further obstacle: supplementary expert knowledge is often required (Rothmund and Niedermann 2018, p. 73).

However, there are several reasons why a corporate adopts the ESG: A firm with a socially responsible corporate governance is rewarded by the markets; otherwise it is punished (Neal and Cochran 2008). Furthermore, if a firm still follows the traditional profit maximization approach, it may suffer from a decline in demand because because customers increasingly tend to take a company’s social and environmental behaviour into consideration (Fatemi and Fooladi 2013). From a regulatory point of view, no strict laws have been implemented in Switzerland to date. There are only two international agreements which led to a stronger focus in the development of sustainable investment. All UN member states must achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. To reach these goals, Switzerland has created a roadmap in its sustainability strategy and will extend it to the financial sector as well. Furthermore, there is the Paris Climate Agreement which claims for climate-friendly financial flows (SSF 2018, p. 3). However, many Swiss pension funds have voluntarily addressed this issue because their duty of care, which includes the consideration of the ESG criteria. Taking a look at our neighbours Europe, it can be stated that numerous European countries have already enacted regulations requiring pension funds to disclose the extent to which they take sustainability into account in their investment decisions. France, for example, has amended its legislation to require institutional investors to disclose climate-related information (Rothmund and Niedermann 2018, p. 74).

In order to implement sustainable approaches, a systematic analysis of the company’s sustainability goals is of paramount importance. First of all, a common understanding of sustainability must be created in the company. Then the main motives and the motivation for implementing sustainable investments must be defined. Only with this understanding a sustainable investment strategy can be defined (Rothmund and Niedermann 2018, p. 87).

Regarding these developments in Switzerland and on a global level, it is of major importance for companies to have an investment strategy which includes sustainable investments.



Fatemi A. and Fooladi I., 2013. Sustainable Finance: A New Paradigm. Global Finance Journal, 2013 (24), 101-113. Online: (20.10.2018).

HSBC Bank plc, 2018. Sustainable Financing and ESG Investing report. Online: (20.10.2018).

Neal, R. and Cochran, P. L., 2008. Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Governance, And Financial Performance: Lessons From Finance. Business Horizons, 2008 (51), 535-540. Online: (20.10.2018).

Rothmund, J. and Niedermann, A., 2018. Zur aktuellen Lage schweizerischer Pensionskassen. Auswertung zum Complementa Risiko Check-up 2018. St. Gallen/Zürich: Complementa AG.

Staub-Bisang, M., 2012. Sustainable Investing for Institutional Investors. Risk, Regulations and Strategies, Singapore: John Wiley & Sons Singapore Pte. Ltd.

Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF), 2018. Swiss Sustainable Investment Market Study 2018, Zürich: Swiss Sustainable Finance.

The memobottle – a way to reduce plastic waste

Whether you’re going to work or school, surely you know the space problem in your bag. Your bag is already filled with a laptop, notepad and valuables and now you have as well a water bottle filled with water, but no more space left? Memobottle is the solution! Memobottle is practical and good for the environment. It is a reusable flat-water bottle and fits perfectly into your bag. Additionally, you contribute to the reduction of plastic waste.

What is memobottle?

Memobottle consists of two words “memo” and “bottle”. Memo stands for notice and bottle you know what it means. It is a robust reusable plastic bottle. Due to its flat design it can easily be placed between laptop, notepad and valuables. Have you ever seen a water bottle in the common paper formats DIN A5, DIN A6 and DIN A7? I didn’t until I came across memobottle.

Memobottle was invented by two Australians. They saw at first hand the devastating effect single-use plastic water bottles have on our oceans and environment. With memobottle they try to change the public perception of reusable water bottles and persuade society to use the stylish and practical reusable solution (memobottle o.J.).

Memobottle Format DIN A5. Source: (memobottle o.J.)

Here, you can watch the video about the memobottle story:

Own experience with memobottle

My family bought a memobottle in A6 format half a year ago. You can only buy it on internet. The memobottle has the following advantages: leakproof, saves space and easy to clean. Through the use of memobottle, we could reduce the purchase of 5dl disposable plastic bottles. Thus, we could reduce the plastic waste from disposable bottles. Thanks to the good drinking-water quality in Switzerland, we can drink water from the tap every day and use reusable bottles.

The problem of plastic bottles

Many plastic bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic. PET requires crude oil to produce it. The extraction of crude oil in turn releases greenhouse gases, which damages the environment. Bioplastics, on the other hand, are free of oil, biodegradable and seem at first glance to be a good alternative to PET. However, bioplastics consist of plant materials such as maize or cane sugar and require large amounts of water and farmland to produce them.

Every year, around 60 million plastic bottles are recycled in Europe, which is just over half of all bottles in circulation. The rest ends up on rubbish tips or in water. The decomposition of plastic bottles takes hundreds of years. Plastic waste in the seas is a major environmental issue because it pollutes the water and endangers marine animals and birds (Wright 2014).

Plastic in the sea

Due to salt water and solar radiation, the plastic decomposes very slowly, so it takes at least 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose. But then the plastic is not gone, it has dissolved into many small individual microplastic components and is eaten daily by fish and other marine animals (Schulz 2018a).

The visible plastic in the oceans is just 1%. The rest is so-called microplastic and floats invisibly in the oceans, but also in Swiss waters and even in the air. Today, around 140 million tons of plastic float in the oceans. Researchers even found microplastics in the Arctic and plastics in the Mariana Trench – the lowest point on earth (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) 2018).

Garbage strudel

According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), about 18,000 plastic parts of various sizes float on every square kilometre of the sea surface. The plastic waste vortices are particularly worthy of being mentioned here. Experts have analysed the ocean currents and identified special conurbations of plastic waste in the ocean. There are five such waste strudels in our seas (Schulz 2018a). The largest garbage vortex in the sea is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which reaches the size of Central Europe (Schulz 2018b).

Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Source: (omeopatiasimoh 2018)

In this picture you can see all five garbage strudels. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is number 1 (the Ocean Clean Up o.J.).Garbage strudels. Source: (the ocean cleanup o.J.)


The following video shows the approximate origin of the garbage strudel since 1980:

Effects on animals

Turtle with plastic around his body. Source: (Schulz 2018a)

From my point of view a terrible picture of the effects on the marine animals is that of the turtle. This turtle must have been in this plastic ring since the youngest age. Its body could not compete with the plastic, so this development took place. Since plastic does not rot, the turtle carried the plastic around with it for many years (Schulz 2018a).

“We deal with this world as if we had a second one in the trunk.” (1000 Zitate o.J.)

This quote from Jane Fonda, actress, hits the nail on the head. I find it extremely important that we become aware of the plastic problem and try to live more sustainably. Like for example with the memobottle or it can also be another reusable bottle.



Memobottle, o.J. The memobottle story. Online: (15.10.2018)

Omeopatiasimoh, 2018. Plactica-oceano. Online: (20.10.2018)

Schulz, Ch., 2018a. Wie der Plastikmüll Umwelt & Natur zerstört. CareElite. 20.05.2018. Online: (20.10.2018)

Schulz, Ch., 2018b. Die 5 grossen Müllstrudel im Meer. CareElite. 25.08.2018. Online: (20.10.2018)

Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF), 2018. Wie wir unsere Welt plastifizieren, Sendung vom 28.06.2018. Online: (20.10.2018)

The Ocean Clean Up, o.J. Ocean garbage patches are vast and dispersed. Online: (20.10.2018)

The Watchers, 2015. Garbage patches – driftersOnly originalTiming (1). Online: (20.10.2018)

Wright, L., 2014. Der Lebensweg einer Plastikflasche. Online: (20.10.2018)

1000 Zitate, o.J. Zitate von Jane Fonda. Online: (20.10.2018)
















Can Blockchain save the world?


Bitcoin is probably the first thing that comes to the mind of many people when talking about blockchain. However, cryptocurrencies are just one of many application fields of the blockchain technology. We all know that today we’re facing huge environmental problems on our planet but only a few people know that the blockchain technology could actually solve some of the major problems.

So, in order to show you the huge potential behind the blockchain I will not get around explaining you briefly how this technology works. But how to explain such a vast and complex technology briefly and in a way, that everyone understands it? For this I would like to make a comparable link to a technology, that almost everyone uses: WhatsApp. Then a WhatsApp-Group chat has several features in common with the blockchain technology:

Transparency: A WhatsApp-Group chat is a distributed and shared database. That means everyone in the group sees all the messages that are sent within the group, including the source and the time when the message was sent. As the messages are public and stored on every device, they can be verified and tracked by every participant. Information in the chat history cannot be changed without the other group member’s approval. This means: In order to change for example a fixed appointment with your friends, you will have to propose a new appointment and you’ll need everyone’s consensus to change the date.

Blockchain almost works the same way. Instead of messages, blockchain tracks transaction and saves them in a public ledger. This ledger is then stored  on every data processor and accessible for everyone. The ledgers cannot be manipulated or changed without the consensus of every group member.

Efficiency: WhatsApp is efficient. You can send messages, pictures and videos within seconds to the recipient. No need for bureaucratic processes or transfer costs (at least when you have free WIFI). So, there is no middleman (central authority) where your message goes through.

Similarly to this, the blockchain wants to get rid of central authorities, that cause huge transaction costs, a lot of bureaucracy, take a lot of time and are not accessible to everyone.

Inclusivity: If you have a smartphone you will be able to download and access WhatsApp.

For the use of the blockchain technology it is enough to have a smartphone.

 Security: All messages within the group are encrypted and prevent no-group members to access the data of the WhatsApp-Group chat.

Blockchain is called the most secure technology when it comes to data storage. In order to manipulate the blocks in a blockchain, it would be necessary to decrypt the blocks within seconds and on every computer in the network.

To sum it up: Blockchain is a distributed and tamper-proof ledger for every transaction ever happened in a decentralized network. As it is consent-driven, there is no need for intermediary authorities and is therefore an efficient and easily accessible technology for almost everyone (Thomassey & Zeng, 2018).

If you want to know more details about the technology, you’ll find everything in this interesting TED-Talkof Dan Tapscott.

To come back to my starting question: How can this technology safe the world? Let’s look into some application fields, where the blockchain could be applicated:

Supply Chain Management

More and more people are looking for products that are produced in a sustainable way. But how do we actually know that those products are produced sustainably? It’s often difficult to find any information about it, then products go through many different hands, before they are sold to consumer. So, in order to solve this problem, we should be able to track down the complete history of an article in order to make a sustainable decision when buying a product. In order to make this complete cycle transparent and traceable, it is important to have some kind of a system which authenticates the traceability information such as logs of all transactions and events of the life for each individual item in the whole supply chain. (Thomassey & Zeng, 2018).

Transparent? Trackable? That sounds pretty much like blockchain. So, imagine: With this technology you would therefore see every single transaction made for the production of this product. You could track the product and you would have all information needed to make a sustainable decision. Unethical practices, fraud and inefficiencies would be unattractive and could be reduced drastically or even eliminated completely.


Carbon tax

When you’re at a store and you want to buy a product, it’s difficult to see the real environmental impact of it. Its carbon footprint is not trusted and is not calculated into the price. So therefore, there are only few or even no incentives for the consumers to buy a product with a low carbon footprint. For companies it isn’t attractive to sell such products neither.

Now imagine a world where carbon emissions can be tracked transparently and reliably. Using the blockchain technology this would protect the data from fraud and tampering and the amount of carbon produced would be charged at the point of sale and not in form of carbon taxes . This would mean that products with a large carbon footprint are more expensive and would encourage buyer to buy products that are more sustainable. This would lead to companies restructuring their supply chain to meet the demand of the consumers (World economic forum, 2017).

(Source: Global coin report)

Reducing Poverty

There are almost 2 Billion of people who haven’t access to a bank. They are cut off from the modern world and can therefore not develop economically. Not only because there are no banks in their country, but because the costs and the level of corruption are too high. And if there are natural catastrophes, they usually lose everything including the money.

What opportunities would be revealed to these people only if they could transfer money without any central authorities like banks – and on an international level just by having a Smartphone. And what if they could participate in the global financial system? And this at reasonable costs. They would be able to make money with these possibilities. Like the rest of the world. There are many poor countries, that are full of hard-working people trying to move forward and to do business. They are unable to do so only because of their fatal situation. (Rosenberger, 2018).


As I mentioned, the possibilities behind this technology are huge. There are already different companies that invest in blockchain solutions. Although all those characteristics are promising, the technology is still in its child shoes and has some critical issues and limitations that have to be solved. But every possible solution should be taken into consideration when it come to face the problems of today and tomorrow. And I’m sure it will be a solution. So, you’d better be prepared and well informed to safe the world with the blockchain technology. 🙂


Rosenberger, P. (2018). Bitcoin und Blockchain.Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland.

Thomassey, S., & Zeng, X. (2018). Blockchain-Based Secured Traceability System for Textile and Clothing Supply Chain.France: Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

World economic forum. (19. September 2017). World economic forum. Von abgerufen