How collective consciousness could sustain our lives

It was never as simple as now to be up to date. A short look on your smart phone, your laptop or other digital device and you know what is happening around the world. Do you know this feeling of being overwhelmed by a fact that you found in the internet and you have a desperate need to share this information with someone to be convinced of it? But how can you be sure of the truth of what you read? 

Even in YouTube are many videos and contents on climate topics that go against the scientific consensus on climate change. At least one out of five users will receive misinformation in this and many other disputed topics. Influencer and advertisers try to convince the audience that there is no relation between human activity and global warming, or they even do climate denialism. As YouTube’s algorithm “helps” you finding the next video with the “up next” feature it is more likely to be guided on a track full of misinformation. This is a very dangerous source, and harmful contents are spread instantly over the world wide web. There are claims against YouTube of profiting by spreading misinformation and intentionally placed ads alongside these videos. Public’s pressure let YouTube change their policy in December 2019 but as this giant of a concern structure is quite un-transparent of their doings it is still not clear how many harmful contents are spread. [1]

It is not only YouTube that influences our lives, there are so many more negative influences, fake news and conspiracy theories going around in the internet, in the media and even in the news. There is a huge danger in denying  climate change, especially as it takes a great part in political affairs which have a global impact. Two famous denialists of climate are the U.S. president Donald Trump and Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison. [1][2]

Ketan Joshi, Something else is out of control in Australia: climate disaster denialism

Australia’s latest summer heat broke every historical record, it has been the most intense bushfire season ever. Many animals died or lost their homes and hundreds of thousands of Australians experienced the largest mass evacuation in the history of their country. This tragedy changed the perspective of many Australians and they would probably vote in the next election for a prime minister who cares for the environment. [2]

Denialism is about not being insulted as denialist, Freud explained it as they have taken the private sickness of denial and turned it into public dogma. But denialism is very closely linked to what humans do on a large scale and it is rooted in what we do on  a small scale. [3]

Opting out!

As solution for scientifically inaccurate information spread by YouTube, advertisers, institutions, companies and individuals should put pressure on concerns like YouTube and online media to take more action on climate denial content. This success is depending on the company’s leadership and their political “will” to do so. In addition, YouTube has now strict ad policies where ads are allowed and also give the advertisers tools to opt out of unaligned content. Furthermore, there is an urgent need for “political consensus” in all countries about climate change. [1]

Denialists are excluded from scholarly journals and academic conferences. But as they are still there and denying the obvious climate change it is necessary to unmask them. Unfortunately, in a democratic society it cannot be beaten legally yet.

Collective Consciousness
Nudging for the truth

It seems that denialism is insuperable, and the awareness of global warming will never reach a consensus.
Therefore, YOU have to contribute your part: if you find any news be cautious and critical, check all the background information and do some further research. Be aware of your privacy and data policy by using YouTube or any social media. 
It is also advisable to be self-critic for not being denying our collective ability to understand the world. We should not wait for another catastrophe to happen, for realizing that we need to take care of our mother earth. If you have the chance, speak up! Educate your friends and family by nudging for the truth. Do not deny the humans dependency on earth.

The world is changing fast, so sustain on the right train. Porter already established a business model where social and community needs are more important than profit, it is about conscious enterprise emergence with shared value creation through expanded conscious awareness. [4] You can also become a member of a collective awareness platform for sustainability or social innovation projects. For more detail klick here:






Remove your makeup without harming the environment

A night routine many can relate to: after a long day of working, studying or just spending time with friends or family you get home and cannot wait to finally remove your makeup and let your skin breath. You get to the bathroom take one cotton pad put your makeup remover on it and clean your skin. The cotton pad lands in trash and sometimes you pick a few more to get rid of all makeup rests. A short and familiar activity which many do not question.

What if I told you that renouncing cotton pads could help safe our world?

Cotton fields. Source:

Cotton is used for diverse productions

Cotton counts as one of the most important no-food crops. It is known for its softness. The plant provides three main products: cotton lint, linters, and cottonseed. They are used for several means.

  • Cotton lint: clothing, pillowcases, denim, towels, and dollar bills.
  • Linters: cosmetics, plastics, and paper products
  • Cottonseed: broke down into oil, meal, and hulls

The countries with the biggest cotton productions are (in 1,000 metric tons) India with 5770, USA with 3999 and China with 3500. In general, over 100 countries produce cotton. India, the USA, China, and Pakistan own 70% of the overall production.

Aspects which make cotton unsustainable

The problem lays in the roots – the production.

WATER: Production of cotton demands high water input at all stages from growing to processing. It takes up to 2,6% of the world’s overall use of water. Producing one kilogram of cotton can require up to 10,000 liters.

Many countries in which the production takes place are water scarce and suffer from the production’s high demand. It is claimed that cotton is the agricultural good with highest water usage.

The global water footprint of cotton products has been calculated and lies by 233 billion cubic meters per year. It is divided in three parts: Blue water footprint, Green water footprint and Grey water footprint as explained below:

Water footprint of cotton by component Source:

POLLUTION: The Grey water footprint which defines the water polluted in cotton production is 13%. The pollution is caused by the use of diverse pesticides and fertilizers which run off from the fields to lakes and rivers nearby. It threatens the health of farmers as well as the quality of fresh water.

DEGRADATION: Cotton is mainly grown on established fields although heavy utilization forces the farmers to expansions which destroy living areas. Moreover, the quality of soil goes down and the biodiversity gets lost.

It is your choice now

Recently the beauty industry introduced several alternatives which replace the traditional cotton pads. They vary in textures and forms, but they all have the same in common: they are reusable, do not harm your skin and are cotton-free or contain organic cotton.

Reusable makeup wipes Source:

Although, it is not neccessary to buy them. You can also create own reusable make up remover pads. Use materials you have at home or get a design you wish for your individual make up pads. Watch the tutorial below and get started!


Mount Everest: The highest garbage in the world?

This mountain is the world’s highest peak and attracts hundreds of people year by year. It is situated in the Himalaya and is more than 29,000 feet above sea level at it is peak has been an elite climbing destination for decades and hundreds of climbers from over the world visit each year to attempt to summit the peak. In 2019 was exceed the record of 807 people who climb this magnificent Mount.

New Everest Rules Could Significantly Limit Who Gets to Climb ...
Row of people waiting to reach the top of Mount Everest – The New York Times / Nirmal Purja

Tourism and trekking in the valleys below Everest have grown significantly in the last 30 years now reaching over 35,000 visitors per year. The increased tourism has led to an increase in trash and plastics and landfills now dot the National Park. Consequently, Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) was created to manage waste in Khumbu region that includes the Everest trekking area. SPCC has been working to keep clean this park through development of appropriate waste management infrastructures, check climbing permits, monitor illegal climbing and implement waste management strategies at the base camps of the Khumbu area’s mountain.

Workers drag sacks of waste collected from Mount Everest for recycling, in Kathmandu, Nepal (Prakash Mathema/AFP)

According to the “Times of India” 11 tons of waste was be left in the mountain since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa crowned their summit for the first time 66 year ago. This generated that Nepal implemented a $4,000 rubbish deposit cost per team who want to climb Mount Everest and it is deposit will be refunded if each climber brings down at least 8 kg of waste.  As expressed by the South China Morning Post, only half of the climbers actually brought down the required amounts.

The popularity is generating problems not only in the overcrowding of the routes but also is affecting to the environmental side. As we know, the human impact is oftenly accompanied with climate change and this is what happened and is happening now. John All is a well-known environmental science professor who said the following sentence according to the environmental Everest effects: “Overall, the past 10 years have seen a lot of changes in the mountains, and they all have been for he negative environmentally terms of long term survivability of the glaciers” and he continued saying that “What that means is there a little pieces of pollution that the snow is forming around, so the snow is actually trapping the pollution and pulling it down”.

These human effects are generating many risk not only for climbers who are risking her lives walking on those glaciers that are changing their shape because the pollution but also are generating problems to the local people who live there near these mountains. Environmentalists are concerned the pollution is affecting water sources down in the valley that will generate several problems to these areas.

We cannot deny that Mount Everest is having a real and deep problems that is affecting the lives of local people in Nepal and the overcrowded routes is generating negative impact on the geography of this mountains. The local authorities are trying to solve these problems, putting restriction to climbers and cleaning the garbage that people are leaving on camps. Is important to say that many scientists are worried about this situation and they are trying to alert the population the several negative impacts that the region is suffering. Adding to these regulation, I suggest to implement stronger rules that restrict more the access to these camps and mountains, with the aim of reducing the number of climbers. It is also important to regulate the experience and health of the people who attend, since another issue not related to sustainability and more humane, is the life of each one of them.


Do vegans save the world?

General information:

  • 1944: Foundation of the Vegan Society by Donald Watson, consumption of eggs and dairy products did not correspond to his understanding of vegetarianism
  • 1962: The term “vegan” appears in the Oxford Illustrated Dictionary for the first time
  • 1995: Present definition of vegan
Donald Watson
Donald Watson

Definition: is a special form of vegetarianism in which no animal products are consumed.

Vegans are people who do not consume animal products such as meat, fish, milk and eggs. Nor do they wear clothing or shoes made from animal materials such as leather, fur, down or wool. They only use cosmetics and cleaning products that do not contain animal ingredients and have not been tested on animals. In addition, vegans do not go to zoos, visit circuses with animals and do not ride horses in their free time.

In short, vegans avoid the use of animals or animal products in all areas of life. They do so mostly for ethical reasons, because they do not want animals to be tortured and killed for them. Also environmental protection and their own health are often reasons for a vegan lifestyle.

-Pity for animals
-Equality principle between humans and animals
-demand for social recognition of fundamental rights for animals
-moral: murder and exploitation unjustifiable

Types of vegans:
Health vegans,
Ethically motivated vegans,
Ecological vegans

1. Veganflower
2. V-Label
3. Vegan-Label

Vegan living people do not only abstain from meat and fish in their diet, but also from all other animal products such as milk, eggs or honey. Vegan to live, however, means still more than only vegan to eat. Vegan also includes not wearing clothes that are of animal origin. This means abstaining from substances like leather, silk or wool. The Vegan Flower was created by the Vegan Society England – and only the Vegan Society England is authorized to give the logo. The V-label is an internationally protected brand for labelling vegan and vegetarian food. The Vegan-Label is issued by the vegan society Germany e. V. The difference between the vegan flower and the V-label is that the product packaging must also be free of animal ingredients and additives. In addition the production, the processing and the packing may take place only in areas, in which exclusively vegan food is produced. Animal testing is not permitted for the product or its ingredients. Genetic engineering is also prohibited!

A very good film that I can recommend to you is the film HOME. With his unique pictures Arthus-Bertrand documents not only the beauty of the whole world, but also the vulnerability of the blue planet and shows the visible consequences of harmful environmental influences.
Some information has also been taken from the film.

Problems that could arise:

Greenhouse gases damage the climate:
–>18% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by livestock farming
Responsible for: 37% of all methane emissions, 65% of all nitrous oxide emissions, 68% of ammonia pollution (World Heritage Organization study 2006)
Natural greenhouse effect makes life on earth possible

Climate damage:
–>Has always existed, even when man did not exist
–>Man has influence = anthropogenic climate change

–> more fish are caught than can grow back
–>52.1 million tons
–>Consumable fish stock decreased by 90%
–>90 million fish are caught every year from the sea

Land use:
–> over 50% of the grain and maize harvest and 90% of the world soya harvest goes into animal feeding
IF: all would be vegan if there was no more hunger and the environment is less polluted
Water wastage and pollution
(for meat eaters: more than 20,000 litres)

Damage to soils

Air Pollution

Global warming:
–>early warning signs: change of season, insects (pathogens)
–>Global climate change is man-made

Factory farming:

  • Living beings reduced to production units for maximum profit
  • Even in organic farming – factory farming and other abuses
  • Animal is pumped full of drugs and antibiotics
  • 45 million chicks die in Germany every year


PEOPLE: Every human being is responsible for the environment, every single one can change something in the world through vegan nutrition, such as factory farming, environmental protection etc.
PLANET: Minimize resource consumption through vegan nutrition, allow more land for planting plant products
PROFIT: Veganism is increasing through various demonstrations and events, support among each other

Let’s get back to our question: Do vegans really save the world?

Health: Many ask themselves, whether the veganer nourish themselves then healthy, since they lack even important nutrients. On the one hand the healing of civilization diseases is better, one has a balanced and healthy nutrition. The physical and mental efficiency increases likewise and one can prevent diseases such as cancer and obesity. Vitamins such as B12, which can be obtained through meat gain, can also be taken by vegans through oysters, egg yolks and dairy products. Vitamin D3, for example, can also be obtained from milk and dairy products, butter, avocados and mushrooms. Vegans can also replace vitamin E with sunflower seeds, nuts, peppers and linseed.
The health of vegans is therefore not as bad as everyone thinks, for most people it is even better.

Vulnerability to disease is on the decline…
Lower water consumption
Sense of smell gets better
Healing of diseases of civilization (Pro)
Weight Loss
Improvement of the intestinal flora
Increase of physical and mental performance
Malnutrition (B12) –> contributes to the function of the nervous system, formation of red blood cells, metabolism and a normal energy metabolism
Milk is important for bones and teeth (calcium)
Fewer jobs, butchers etc. Lose their jobs due to a decline in meat consumption
Not always environmentally friendly -> non-seasonal foods such as tomatoes and avocado

Other possible solutions:
Furthermore, there are other approaches to solving the problem, such as changing the diet for a healthy diet in the long term, which is not only good for the environment and living beings, but also for the health of the people themselves.
Seasonal shopping is not only cheap, but also tastes better.
Taking part in demonstrations is not only informative, but you also develop your social environment and meet new people who share the same interests.
Buying only organic products is not enough to be vegan active. There is more to it.
One should not only consider the problems of the opposite or the given situation. The mistake can be also because of you.
After the vegan nutrition successes will surely be seen, which should motivate you and your environment to do something good for yourself and your environment.

For animal welfare: agricultural animal husbandry produces large quantities of dust, fine dust and other harmful substances and gases, ammonia in stables takes away the air that animals can breathe and leads to air pollution

For health: changes in cancer, diabetes, obesity and other diseases.

For the fight against world hunger: only 18% of calories and 37% of proteins are produced the rest leads to waste Triggers world hunger and waste of resources

For the environment: More than 83% of the land is used for animal husbandry and animal feed and this contributes to climate change, world hunger and environmental destruction.


50 % of the world grain harvest and 90 % of the world soya harvest ends up in the stomachs of farm animals
This amount could feed 8.7 billion people.
Of course there are also plants that are greenhouse gas intensive, such as rice, which is transported halfway around the world. If we produce seasonal and organic fruit and vegetables, that is good. So it also depends on how you produce and how you transport it. Overall, vegan food has a better ecological balance. Vegans are also healthier.
With a vegan diet we can actively contribute to climate protection and prevent further extinction of species. Vegans do not save our world, but every single person contributes to it and every single person can change something.

The future of our planet is on your plate…


Coffee is good for you – but not for the planet

A fond childhood memory of mine is waking up in the morning to the smell of coffee. Coffee was always there, and I never questioned, how it is made or where it came from. Soon I myself swopped my morning coco for coffee.

But coffee isn’t just an excellent source for caffeine, coffee is a social habit. It’s the pioneer of a long list of food and beverage crazes, society has gone through. I even dare to say that there is a cult around this hot, bitter brew. We serve it on nearly every occasion and where I life, it is accustomed to serve it to guests at your home. we have huge coffee house chains, all around the globe, and you even get it to go, because apparently people can’t go a minute without their hug in a mug.

But back to the question about the origin of coffee. With awareness about sustainability rising, I wondered what impact my everyday behaviour has on the planet. I knew already that animal products shouldn’t be consumed daily, but I was shocked, when I found out about coffee. I always thought, because it is so plentiful and inexpensive, it can’t be that bad.

The further my research went the more I found out; how wrong my assumptions were.

After crude oil, coffee is the second most traded good on the world market [1].

Coffee harvest

Therefore, it must have an equally big impact on the environment, like crude oil does.  Even more surprising, Switzerland is a coffee nation and the biggest marketplace for coffee beans. Mostly thanks to Nestlé and it’s Nescafé and Nespresso brands. At least Nestlé implemented a programme for sustainable coffee, which has the goal to improve social, ecological and economical circumstances regarding coffee plantation [2]. Whether the programme has a significant impact or not has to be investigated, but this is another story. Switzerland has a long tradition of buying raw coffee, roasting, manufacturing and exporting it again. Currently the Swiss exports of coffee have a value of 2 billion Swiss francs [3].  

Water footprint of coffee

In 2016 the Swiss citizens themselves consumed on average three cups of coffee per day. This sums up to a consumption of annually 8 kg of coffee beans per capita. The European average lies at 5 kg coffee beans and only the Scandinavian countries surpass us when it comes to coffee consumption [4]. There are many opinions and debates around the topic of coffee consumption and studies have shown, that moderate coffee consumption has a rather positive than negative impacts on our health [5].

The water footprint of coffee is estimated to be up to 140L of water per cup of coffee [6][7]. The footprint itself contains the cultivation and processing of coffee beans.

Coffee only grows near the equator and needs to be shipped all around the world. This area is also home to the rainforest, which must make space for monocultures. The general issue with such plantations is, that they affect the climate and environment. Less rainforest has an impact on the climate, monocultures and fertilizers led to eroding grounds and contaminated groundwater.  The origin countries of coffee like Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia or India, are rather poor countries and at the same time they suffer directly form the environmental impact of coffee consumption.

On top of this, they don’t even get to drink their own coffee! The good quality coffee gets exported and what’s left for the locals is the bad quality coffee, nobody was willing to buy.

So how to solve all these problems? Avoiding coffee is not necessarily the right answer, since many farmers and small businesses are dependent on trading their coffee. Moderation, awareness and cutting out the middleman are the keywords here.

Here is my suggestion on how to consume smart:

1. Inform and prepare yourself

Research takes time. Find and buy from a small coffee brand where the coffee farmer gets appropriately paid. Because the demand is rising, there are many small suppliers to choose from. Be careful when it comes to coffee labels and packaging, because they can be misleading [8].

2. Control the factors, which you can control

Get your own reusable cup and prepare your coffee at home. On the go you hardly ever have the time to research the coffees origin.


3. Consume mindfully

Do you really need that extra cup of coffee and why are you getting it? There are substitutes for caffeine and for holding something in your hand during a coffee break.







[5] A Comprehensive Overview of the Risks and Benefits of Coffee Consumption: Coffee consumption and human health… K. Pourshahidi, et al., 2016, DOI: 10.1111/1541-4337.12206

[6] The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products M. M. Mekonnen and A. Y. Hoekstra, 2011, DOI: 10.5194/hess-15-1577-2011


[8] Colour and shape of design elements of the packaging labels influence consumer expectatinos and hedonic judgments of specialty coffee M de Sousa, et al., 2020, DOI:10.1016/j.foodqual.2020.103902

Day Zero – The Day We Run Out of Water

The first time I drank water from the tap in Bern, I was shocked. It didn’t taste nearly as good as at my hometown Chur. Quickly I missed the cool and fine water from the mountains. A problem for which I would not find understanding in many other countries of the world.

For example in South Africa. Especially in Cape Town the situation is very tense. In 2018, the metropolis of millions was the first major city in the world to fear that it would run out of water. The so-called Day Zero was predicted. Other cities will also face this problem in the near future. Among them London, Tokyo, Beijing or Mexico City to name just a few.

Although the UN has defined a drinking water supply as a basic right, it will hardly be possible to guarantee this.

Blue Planet But No Water? How That?

If you take a look at our planet from space, you see a lot of blue. Water as far as the eye can see. So how can it be possible, that we are running out of water?

Our Blue Planet
Photo source:

In fact, there is a lot of water on earth. A huge amount of water actually. According to different calculations, there are around 1,386 trillion liters of water on our planet. We have always had and will always have this amount of water. It cannot leave the atmosphere. About 97% of the water is in the oceans and is therefore salty. So undrinkable. Another 2% are frozen or in other unusable conditions. What remains is exactly 1% drinkable water.

In addition, only a small part of this remaining percentage is accessible in rivers and lakes. The largest part is underground.
But even after all these deductions, the remaining water would still be sufficient to meet the UN demands and provide drinking water for all people. The real problem is our handling of water.

We Waste Water

The most water we use, we don’t even see. It is used in production for our consume. Drinking, washing and toilet flushing, account for just 8% of our daily water consumption. 70% is used for agriculture and another 22% for industry reasons.

How much litres of water some of the products from our everyday life use, can be seen on the graph below.

Water Footprint by Product
Photo source:

The big problem with water is that there are no substitutions. As a result of which there will be fewer and fewer, future prices could rise excessively. We would have to pay the price anyway. No water, no life!

But even a slight increase in water prices would make all products more expensive. On the one hand, this could perhaps reduce the consumption of meat for example. On the other hand, even basic foodstuffs would no longer be affordable for everyone. For some even not the water itself.

Fortunately the example of Cape Town shows that it can be done differently. They have managed to do the right actions. The whole city has started to rethink and reduce its own water consumption. With the simplest of measures, day zero could have been prevented. It has not arrived until today.

Street Sign to Remember Saving Water
Photo source:

What to Do!

Here in Switzerland we have enough drinking water (even if sometimes better or worse). However, we are to a large extent responsible that other countries dry up. Our consumption makes the whole system work.

In order to change this, we must be much more conscious in our purchasing. Especially when we buy clothes or meat, it is worth looking twice. We can reduce our consumption and if you still want to eat a piece of meat sometimes, regional products should be preferred. Also your neighborhood farmer will thank you.

Better we start yesterday than the day after tomorrow. Because water has just no value as long as it is available in abundance.

Side Note

Check out your own water footprint. So you can see where you have to improve your lifestyle! See the link below:


  • “Explained” – The World’s Water Crisis

LESS palm oil MORE lives

It would be nice if everything healthy was also cheap. Whether butter, ready meals as well as cosmetic articles like creams. In our time everything “healthy” or “good” has become too expensive. 

People are stressed out and can hardly cook themselves, which is the reason for the preferred purchase of ready-made products. 

It is the same with make-up. Every woman has to look well-groomed at her work and the consumption of cosmetics every day becomes expensive in the long run with “good” products that are also “good” for the environment. But what exactly does this mean for our environment and our health? And why is it probably better to spend more money on soy or rapeseed oil than on the cheaper palm oil?

But firstly, why is palm oil so popular with consumers and producers, even though it only has disadvantages for the environment? 

For producers, palm oil production is more effective because, unlike other types of oil such as soya or rapeseed, it yields 3.4 tons of oil per hectare of land. 

Another reason is that nowadays people hardly ever cook for themselves but prefer ready-made meals. Because they are stressed by working and have hardly any time to cook. Also, in the field of cosmetics they choose the cheaper alternative, as it makes no difference to most people, but a big difference to the environment.

It is not that there are no products in the supermarket without palm oil.

You just have to read the contents of the products properly. It is easier with the seals. By buying palm oil-free products, every consumer in the various industries can show that unsustainably produced palm oil is no longer cool. In products from Dr. Hauschka, Alnatura, Lavera, etc. you can be sure there is NO palm oil in them.

When using products without palm oil, you will notice that they feel much better. Because the consumption of palm oil can cause stroke, heart disease and cancer. Palm oil is also a thickener! 100 grams of fat are contained in 100 grams alone.

For more information, watch these videos below 🙂

Palm oil – just as important for Switzerland

Palm oil is an important export product for Switzerland. How important this oil is for the country is also illustrated by the interest of tariff dismantling. This important product comes from the palm oil producers Indonesia and Malaysia, which account for almost 80% of palm oil production worldwide. 

Air traffic with its CO2 emissions has the greatest impact on the climate. This is a particular burden on the environment.

This video deals with the animals of Indonesia’s rainforest and the people who try to save them. Leuser is a rainforest in Indonesia and is one of the most biodiverse places on earth.
The populations of Sumatran tigers, Borneo pygmy elephants and orangutans are becoming increasingly extinct. The natural diversity of people and inhabitants is being destroyed.
Photo source:

Doing without palm oil for your own health and the environment

It has become part of everyday life to always reach for cheaper products in order to have a little money on the side. Although perhaps with the 2-5 CHF you can protect the environment and the animals affected by it, such as the orangutans. Because of the monocultures the soils are very eroded. Palm oil as well as corn and coffee are cultivated/planted anew at the same place every year, which leads to the eradication of the rainforest and the flight or even death of the animals. What good is a little more money if the environment is destroyed by our consumer behavior?

Here you will find a list of many products from different areas that contain palm oil. Of course there are also alternatives, or products WITHOUT palm oil. For this you could either use an app or just read through the ingredients.

I hope that the next time you go shopping, whether for cosmetics or food, you will pay attention to this and ask yourself: “is my health more important to me or just the few extra Franks I invest in rapeseed or soybean oil?


How sustainable is palm oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil, which is extracted out of the meat of the fruits of oil palms.

Nearly every product in the supermarket contains palm oil. Experts estimate that every second product in a supermarket contains palm oil – from pizza to cosmetic products, you can find it anywhere. It is the cheapest vegetable oil. Palm oil is also very heat resisted and is mixing up very well with other raw ingredients. Another big advantage is that it remains solid in room temperature, so that’s the main reason it is used in a lot of food and cosmetic products. Annually, 66 million tons are produced around the world and the product gets more popular every year. Experts predict that the demand doubles for next year! The biggest producing countries are Indonesia and Malaysia. They together deliver 85 % of the world demand of palm oil. It creates a lot of jobs in Malaysia and is the fourth largest industry. But besides of producing oil, there is another rising interest. Palm oil bio diesel, a renewable energy source. It pollutes less emissions than normal diesel. Palm oil bio diesel rises the demand for palm oil heavily. 

Photo source:

Why is palm oil a problem?

The plantation of palm trees uses a lot of space. To get this space, the farmers are simply burning down rainforest, which is crucial for the ecosystem. There is a big loss of biodiversity and the orangutan and other stands as the biggest looser due his territorial loss. There are also other endangered species suffering like elephants and rhinos. The rainforest is also essential for the oxygen production for the world. There is a daily loss of rainforest in the size of 4600 football fields in the world. Because the industry is so big and offers a lot of jobs, everyone wants to profit from it. There are a lot of safety hazards on the plantations and a lot of workers are working without allowance. The Malaysian government is now reacting on the bad reputation of the oil and are starting a sustainable attack. They want to rise the industry standards and only allow the production of sustainable palm oil without the deforestation. The biggest problem with palm oil is, that it is very cheap to produce and you don’t need much equipment! Everyone wants to produce it, because the palm trees are growing very easy and you don’t have to take a lot of care about them. Because it’s so easy money, the farmers don’t care about the negative consequences.

Photo source:

Land grabbing

Palm oil is recently linked with land grabbing due the production expansion. Land grabbing means, that foreign companies buy or rent space from local communities who depend on the land for their livelihoods. The land grabbing can be legal or illegal. In the most cases, the companies are paying a price which is too low. This often leads to conflicts in the region. 

Why can’t we just use other vegetable oil?

The production of palm oil is very efficient. The oil is supplying 35 % of the oil demand in the world and uses only 10 % of the land space. If we would switch to alternative vegetable oil, the problem would get worse. If we would want to get the same amount of oil, we would need much more plantation space with other vegetables than oil palms. The best alternative is if the palm oil is to produce it much more sustainable. But this would raise the price. There are also other alternatives like soy oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil. But these plants aren’t as efficient as palm oil. The only option would be to continue to produce palm oil but rise the standard much higher. The production must be more sustainable, without burning down rain forest.

Photo source:


Rösemeier-Buhmann, J., 2020. Online Available at:

RadioSRF4news, 2019. Malaysisches Palmöl – der zähe Kampf um Nachhaltigkeit, Show from 16.11.2019. Online available at: (14.04.2020)

Aliaga, M., 2020. Online available at:

Beyer, R., Duran, A., Rademacher, T., Martin, P., Tayleur, C., Brooks, S., Donald, P., Sanderson, F., 2019. The environmental impact of palm oil and its alternatives. Doi: 10.1101/2020.02.16.951301

Lamba, J., Gupta, B., Dzever, S., 2019. Industrialization and global warming (a brief case analysis of palm oil production: Indonesia). Asian and European Corporate Strategies in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis, Barsac. Hal-02265821.

Rulli, M., Casirati, S., Dell’ Angelo, J., Davis, K., Passera, C., D’Odorico, P., 2019. Interdependencies and telecoupling of oil palm expansion at the expense of Indonesian rainforest. In Foley, A., et al. (Hrsg.), Renewable and sustainable Energy Reviews. Golden: Elsevier.

Brink, H., Kusumaningtyas, R., Riemersma, M. and Warmerdam, W., 2017. Deforestation and land grabbing in the palm oil sector – A Fair Insurance Guide case study, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Profundo. 

When wanderlust is damaging the planet

There’s an inherent quality among human beings that we cannot deny. We are born to explore. Even during the primitive times, as indigenous peoples, we have been accustomed to a nomadic lifestyle— filled with long journeys, discoveries, and total amusement to every new encounter. If you think about it, we didn’t populate the earth for no reason. One can argue that it was the necessity to hunt for food, or difficult climate conditions, but even when cities were established, there were a good number of people who continued to travel far. This text doesn’t mean to generalize, because it’s possible that there are people who prefer being in familiar surroundings; who have absolutely no interest in venturing farther than the gates of their village. However, recent developments suggest that indeed, humans are natural wanderers. According to ATAG (Air Transport Action Group): In 2019 alone, there were a total of 4.5 billion passengers carried by the world’s airlines. There is no doubt that it signifies economic progress, and a huge boost in the tourism and airline sectors, but as we all know– it’s damaging our planet.

Photo Source:

The following are additional statistics from ATAG (Air Transport Action Group):

  • Worldwide, flights produced 915 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019. Globally, humans produced over 43 billion tonnes of CO2.
  • The global aviation industry produces around 2% of all human-induced carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Around 80% of aviation CO2 emissions are emitted from flights of over 1,500 kilometers, for which there is no practical alternative mode of transport.

The statistics are staggering. The ‘true greens’ might be even inclined to stop traveling altogether. But what about those who are not merely holidaying? In Switzerland alone, there are 2.1 Million foreigners (The Local, 2017). All over the world are immigrants, and overseas workers. If airline travel should not be supported in the future, how are they going to see their families and loved ones? For evaluation purposes, the author decided to calculate the carbon emission from a roundtrip flight (CH to PH), using According to the results, flight alone is 4.1 t CO2. If we are to stop climate change, a single person should generate a minimum of  0.600 t CO2. That leaves no room for any air travel at all.

So is flying a necessary evil? Are there no better alternatives? Should we think of the current grounding of flights as a silver lining in the COVID-19 crisis? Perhaps, in a ‘wicked problem’ like this, one can only do what’s best to lessen ecological damage as a whole. Or in other words, take a holistic approach to offset carbon. For example, taking trains/buses whenever possible, eating less meat (or going full vegan), living zero-waste, avoiding plastics, buying seasonal fruits and vegetables, supporting sustainable local businesses, and having one less child. Apparently, going child-free is most ecological thing you can do (Sullivan, 2020).  

Nobody knows yet how things would develop once borders are open, and flights are taking off after the global health crisis. People might travel less, but they will surely travel again.


Air Transport Action Group (2020). Facts and Figures. Retrieved May 6, 2020, from

Stiftung. (2020). Climate protection as a gift! Retrieved May 6, 2020, from

Sullivan, A. (2020). To fly or not to fly? The environmental cost of air travel: DW: 24.01.2020. Retrieved May 6, 2020, from

The Local (2017). There are now 2.1 million foreigners in Switzerland. (2017). Retrieved May 6, 2020, from

Environmental issues caused by face masks and their possible solutions

Masks picked up on the island. Source:

With the recent COVID-19 becoming the focus news, disposable surgical masks have also become a more valuable existence than gold and have become a daily necessity for everyone. Accompanying this is the problem of mask disposal. Why is there a problem? Let us first take a look at the composition of a mask’s material structure —

Material composition of face masks
According to thomasnet (1), surgical masks have three layers, the outermost layer that contacts the air and the innermost layer that contacts our skin are made with non-woven fabrics which have better bacteria filtration and air permeability; the layer in between is made of melt-blown polymer, most commonly polypropylene, which acts as the filter that stops microbes from entering or exiting the mask, and plays the most important role in a mask. It can also be replaced with polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, or polyester. Due to components’ cheapness, cleanness and their disposable nature, surgical masks are widely used in the pandemic.
Material composition of face masks. Source:

Disposal of face masks
According to an article published by the Hunan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Practical Preventive Medicine Magazine (2) in China, disposable masks used by medical personnel should be treated as medical infectious waste; masks used after close contact with new or suspected COVID-19 cases should be soaked and disinfected with disinfectant containing available chlorine 10000 ~ 2000 m/L for 20 ~ 30 min, then discard in hazardous trash; masks used by ordinary people are placed in hazardous trash in the classification of household garbage. Despite the official guideline, masks have been still lying in the streets, on the beach, and in the ocean like the issue of plastic bottle.
On the one hand, when masks land in the ocean, it poses a threat to marine life because marine animals will mistakenly have it for food. On the other hand, masks being thrown away improperly will increase the risk of spreading bacteria.
Moreover, being the most essential component in masks, polypropylene and other poly-family are not easily biodegradable due to their stable chemical properties (3). This further increases the difficulty of disposing masks.

Reasonable sustainable solutions

– The demand for masks will not be reduced for a while, but the total amount of medical waste can be reduced. This can be achieved by developing sustainable alternatives. Just when Switzerland was in a predicament of COVID-19, a Swiss company Lanz-Anliker that specializes in technical textiles, has produced reusable masks that are recyclable for up to 20 days. It consists of a basic structure made of cotton and an insert made of fleece (4). The mask must be washed out in boiling water to destroy the germs. Besides, the wearer must change the insert twice a day. Nevertheless, it is only an alternative during the shortage of surgical masks because it does not resist the virus.
Environmentally friendly alternatives like this should be developed and produced so that they can be put on the market as soon as possible.
– The government should increase public awareness of the proper disposal of surgical masks through publicity. Additionally, improving the disposal method of masks for the private user as early as possible, such as setting up a mask disposal box separately.
– Relevant organizations can organize paid activities to collect masks scattered around since no one is willing to do so for free. Meanwhile, adequate protection measures for service personnel need to be provided.


(1) Henneberry, B., How surgical masks are made. The TomasNet Blog. Online: (03.05.2020)

(2) Yin, J., Song, J.N., Gao, Q., Dai, J.B. & Chen, G.Q., 2020. Precise protection: effective use and treatment of masks and respirators. Practical Preventive Medicine Magazine, 1006-3110(2020)04-0403-03. Online:  DOI: 10.3969/j.issn.1006-3110.2020.04.006

(3) Yang, J.H., Biodegradable plastic, degradation in case of water. Scientific American. Online:

(4) Wirth, D., 2020.
Berner Unternehmen startet aus Not mit Masken-Produktion – und landet damit prompt einen Hit. Aargauer Zeitung. Online: (03.05.2020)