A nice organic conversion

I would like to share with you my interest in nature. Especially in agriculture and its long-term perspectives. Moreover, it is a political topic, because Swiss people will have to vote on June 13th on the ban of synthetic pesticides.

On 20th May, I visited “Kalifourrage”, a 650-hectare successful organic cereal farm based in France

Kalifourrage, Asnières-en-Montagne in Cote d’Or (France)

This organic conversion was an ethical and a practical choice, firstly to protect the environment and secondly, over the years, they have not been able to continue growing conventional oil-seed rape, because of pests, that have become increasingly resistant to insecticides.

Since 2003, Kalifourrage has been pioneers in organic farming in the region. The Farmers have a new approach to the business. They do not cultivate anymore the classic assortment of barley, rape, and wheat, but they were replaced by alfalfa, milling wheat, organic barley, and buckwheat (high demand from bakers). This difficult conversion lasted 3 years until they found functional and efficient methods, as we can see some examples, below:

organic alfalfa harvest
  • Alfalfa is interesting from an ecological point of view, because it provides a lot of protein to animals. It improves water quality, releases nitrogen into the soil (a fertilizer to ensure plant growth), increases biodiversity, thanks to the crop flowers, which in turn attracts bees, insects, birds, etc.
organic alfalfa in Cote d’Or
  • Instead, consuming chemicals, they found other methods like using mechanical tools to kill slugs.

Their philosophy is to let the land express itself, sometimes you must deal with the vagaries of the climate, that is why they are constantly looking for diversification and innovation in order to increase performance at the agricultural level.

Some concrete examples that have been put in place:

At the diversification level: 

  • to building an organic egg farm (economic diversification)
  • or in investing in photovoltaic panels (energy diversification) 

They won an innovation award from the bank. A special shed was built to capture solar energy, whose warm air will circulate in the shed to dry the hay, so they are self-sufficient in energy. The inspiration came from the drying of hay in mountainous regions.

At the experimental stage, they develop aquaponic. It is a fish farming and cultivation of leafy vegetables such as salads and spinach – thanks to the defection of fish, the plant provides food and cleans the water, which contributes directly to the circular economy.

raising organic strawberries in aquaponic

Economically, they earn more than before, by selling their produce at 2.5 times the price than conventional agriculture, because conventional agriculture is still suffering from low sales prices and high purchase prices for synthetic products. Moreover, they export mainly to Switzerland, which allows them to be quality conscious. Farmers, who want to make an organic transition, could receive state support, or obtain an incentive label (“bas-carbone” – in France). From an environmental point of view, organic farming is a practice with an ecological long-term vision without soil pollution. As a societal perspective, organic farming generates more manual labour and innovation, resulting in more employment opportunities.

Long-term perspectives and new opportunities

In the future, farmers will diversify into energy production like in Jura. During my studies at the HEG, we interviewed in 2019 at Bure (Jura-CH) Claude Etique concerning the methanation and the production of 100% renewable Jura fuel. As a consequence to produce carbon-neutral fuel with agricultural waste and to contribute to the development of the circular economy in the region.

Finally, 100% organic agriculture for 9 billion inhabitants in 2050 could be possible if we reduce food waste and limit our consumption of animal products. It is not only farmers who need to change their way of working, but consumers their way of eating.

If you are more interested about new mecanisation methods in the organic field, I recommend you to watch this video taken in Jura – CH


Cortot,J-F. (2021, Mai). Interview title : “from conventional to organic farming”

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom 2004. “Commodity Fact Sheet Alfalfa” Available: https://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/-files/pdf/alfalfafactsheet.pdf

The AquaponicSource 2021 “WHAT IS AQUAPONICS?” Available: https://www.theaquaponicsource.com/what-is-aquaponics/

Ministrère de la transition écologique 2021 “Label bas-carbone : récompenser les acteurs de la lutte contre le changement climatique” Available: https://www.ecologie.gouv.fr/label-bas-carbone

Nature.com 2017. “Strategies for feeding the world more sustainably with organic agriculture” Available: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-01410-w

Vertical Farming: a new future for food production?

As the world’s population grows, so does the demand for food, which poses a challenge to agriculture.  It is predicted that by 2050, the world population will reach 9 billion. As people more frequently live in cities and existing cities expand, this could lead to a loss of farmland. As a result, new ways of food production are being researched, which intend to eliminate the problems mentioned in the beginning (Beacham, Vickers, & Monoghan, 2019)

What ist Vertical Farming?

Vertical farming deals with growing crops in controlled indoor environments. Lights are precisely installed, nutrients equally distributed and temperatures controlled. The plants are stacked in layers which reach several stories tall (Birkby, 2016). There are different approaches within vertical farming, but most use one of three soil-free methods as growing systems:


Hydroponic Graphic. Illustration: NCAT (Birkby, 2016)


Aeroponic Graphic. Illustration: NCAT (Birkby, 2016)


Aquaponic Graphic. Illustration: NCAT (Birkby, 2016)

10 Pro’s of Vertical Farming

  1. Space-saving
    As the name suggests, the edible plants are grown on top of each other in vertical farming. This saves space, of course, so that much more can be produced on 1 square metre of land than in conventional agriculture. Land consumption can therefore be significantly reduced. Experiments with vertical farms are also done in abandoned warehouses or derelict areas, which can be more economical for construction (Birkby, 2016)
  2. Water-saving
    In traditional agriculture it is estimated that in Europe only approximately 3000/litres/person/day is used for food production. Aeroponics and Hydroponics used together can  save water up to 95%. There ist also the opportunity to eliminate farming wastewater (Kalantari, Tahir, Joni, & Fatemi, 2018).
  3. Reduction of Fossil fuels
    Fossil fuels are reduced because the transportation from the production site to the consumer are avoided. By producing right where the consumer base is, there is no need to haul around the produce before getting into urban zone (Benke & Tomkins, 2017). Also, vertical farming does not need any farming machinery, which usually are powered by fossil fuels. Additionally, fossil fuel would be needed for harvesting, freezing, storage or transportation. With vertical farming, these tasks can be done by robotics which eliminates the fossil fuel part (Kalantari, Tahir, Joni, & Fatemi, 2018).
  4. Conservation of nutrients
    Foods rich in vitamin, proteins and minerals are in high demand nowadays. The nutrient profile is much better in locally produced foods which are really fresh when reaching the consumer (Kalantari, Tahir, Joni, & Fatemi, 2018).
  5. Growth under optimal conditions
    In vertical farming, all the ideal conditions required for optimum plant growth can be achieved indoors. Heating, lighting, water, humidity and amount of nutrients can all be controlled and managed for specific plants. Growing indoors means also no effect by changing seasons. This shows also an opportunity to harvest more than once a year. The controlled environments means also no pests, so the harvest is maximised due to lower losses compared to traditional farming. (Kalantari, Tahir, Joni, & Fatemi, 2018)
  6. Protection from natural disaster
    Change of weather has always influenced farming such as changes in temperature, water supply, and photo intensity. Because crops in a vertical farm are grown under a controlled environment, they are safe from extreme weather occurrences such as droughts, hail and floods (Birkby, 2016).
  7. Pesticide-free
    Because the growing conditions in a vertical farm are controlled, chemical pesticides can be eliminated. Some use ladybugs or other biological controls if there are infestatitions to deal with (Birkby, 2016).
  8. Recycling of Organic Waste
    Agricultural run-off is one of the major sources of contamination in the world today. It includes wastage of heat, gray water build up and many more. With the help of a closed loop system, organic waste can be recycled and reused in vertical farming (Kalantari, Tahir, Joni, & Fatemi, 2018).
  9. More Productivity per unit of area
    If a full year stability is reached during production, crop production can increase drastically. One of the main differences between vertical farming and traditional farming is, that there is a greater variety of products that can be produced in a given time. The problem of monocultures is eliminated, because in vertical farming multiple types of crops can be produced at the same time on different levels. The plants inside can also grow all the time leading to lesser loss of crops than in traditional farming(Kalantari, Tahir, Joni, & Fatemi, 2018).
  10. Reduction Carbon Footprint and the effect on air quality
    Because most of the world emission of carbon dioxide is accounted for by cities, the health risks associated with polluted food are rising. Either due to contaminated air or water sources, or through untreated wastewater. An advantage of vertical farming is that it can provide an access to greenery in cities. This can not only have an impact on the environment, but also a positive impact on the mental health of people. Not only that, in reiving the key functions of an ecosystem, there is a possibility to reverse negative effects of climate change. Maybe it can even lead to a clean and less contaminated future (Kalantari, Tahir, Joni, & Fatemi, 2018).


There have been critics and concerns regarding vertical farming: limited range of crops suitable for this business model, expensive energy requirements and many more. But due to advances in technology, some of the concerns have become less relevant. Nevertheless, the challenges to vertical farming can be summarised as follows. Start-up costs can be high, especially if land is purchased in urban central business areas. Production volumes are not as large as with traditional farming. Scaling up is coupled with added cost and complexity. Other challenges are the need to manage disruption in the rural sector, raising and investing capital and training the workforce in new skills required to succeed in vertical farming (Benke & Tomkins, 2017).


The global megatrends are showing decreased water supply, increasing population and urbanization. The climate change also contributes to a decrease of stocks of arable land per person globally. Because traditional farming models no longer seem to be sustainable, new solutions are being searched for. Vertical farming is one of the approaches, which is based on controlled environment agriculture and greenhouse designs, suitable for urban areas. But vertical farming is a technically challenging and a costly approach for crop production. It is crucial that factors like lighting, growing system, nutrient distribution, energy efficiency, construction and site selection are considered and combined carefully to reach the optimal result. I personally think that there is a lot of potential in vertical farming. Within the industry, the number of companies trying out vertical farming is still relatively slow. This may be due to the initial high cost of start-up and production volume of food. Besides the economic factor, the social impact should also be considered. Growing for example fish in aquaponics resembles a laboratory setting. This can lead to images, that genetic engineering is taking place and the produce is grown in an unnatural setting. The problem that people perceive it as no longer natural can arise. I also think that maybe the soil less production technique can lead to people finding it hard to believe and returning to food produced on soil based crops.

Whilst vertical farming shows that it has potential for the production of a wide range of produce, the technical and economic aspects have to be optimised to achieve maximum results. The social dimensions of a new food production system should also be considered. Hopefully there will be more research done in this field to reach the goal of a novel food production system which is more sustainable.



Beacham, A., Vickers, L. H., & Monoghan, J. M. (2019). Vertical farming: a summary of approaches to growing skywards. The Journal of Horicultural Science and Biotechnology, 277-283.

Birkby, J. (2016). Vertical farming. ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture, 1-12.

Benke, K., & Tomkins, B. (2017). Future food-production systems: vertical farming and controlled-environment agriculture. Sustainabiliaty: Science, Practice and Policy, 13-26.

Kalantari, F., Tahir, O. M., Joni, R. A., & Fatemi, E. (2018). Opportunities and Challenges in Sustainability of Vertical Farming: A Review. Journal of Landscape Ecology, 35-60.

Sustainable products that I use to reduce plastic waste

By now everyone knows that there are tonnes of plastic waste entering the ocean and interfering with the life of sea animals. In 2010 it was up to 100,000 tonnes of plastic to be exact (Ritchie & Roser, 2018). That’s quite a bit, right? I guess by now everyone has seen a picture or video of a turtle with a straw stuck up his nose or a fish stuck in a plastic six pack ring. If you actually haven’t, here are some:

Source: Picture 1: Sea animals stuck in plastic 

Unfortunately, plastic isn’t only covering the sea animals, but is also inside them. According to a study of the Marine Pollution Bulletin (Rummel, et al., 2016), they found plastic particles in 5.5 % of the 290 fishes of different kind from the North and Baltic Sea they investigated. 74 % of those, had particles in the microplastic size range. Ingesting plastic might lead the animal to have a false feeling of satiation, internal blockage or lesion of the digestive trac. (Rummel, et al., 2016)

So, what can we as a consumer do, to reduce plastic waste in the ocean and of course also in general? 

The answer is quite obvious: Use and reuse sustainable products. In this blog I am going to show you two sustainable products that I use.

Reusable bag instead of plastic bag

First one sort of product that everyone should have: a reusable bag. Plastic bags are the fifth most removed litter item on California Coastal Cleanup Day from 1989 to 2014 (Ross, 2018). That makes a percentage of 7.9 of all garbage found on the coast. According to an investigation of ScienceDirect on composting different type of plastics, the conventional plastics still remained after 40 weeks (O’Brine & Thompson, 2010). 

Reusable bags made of cloths, jute or other natural fibres on the other hand are, according to an article from Ramaswamy and Sharma (Ramaswamy & Sharma, 2011), durable, have a long lifespan, biodegradable and of course environment friendly. 

Reusable bags can also be used to reduce packing material for vegetables and fruits which are often prepacked. This would be a further step towards less plastic waste. 

Beeswax wrap instead of plastic wrap

I think we all hate using plastic wraps. Not only is it very complicated to wrap anything with it, but also completely useless after the first and only use. There’s where the beeswax wrap comes in. It is much handier than a plastic wrap and does compost faster. The aim of a project from Current Developments in Nutrition (Sterrett, et al., 2020) was to determine if the ETEE compostable plastic wrap substitute compost in backyard-style compost pits. They found out, that the full composting degradation was seen by 15 days. Plastic on the other hand, like mentioned before, takes more than 40 weeks. 

It is also important to actually reuse those products and not to always buy new ones. That would completely destroy its purpose and not make sense at all. There are also other reusable products that one can use: Reusable bottles, coffee cups, straws, storage bags etc. It is up to you how you want to help the ocean and environment.



Kershaw, P. et al., 2011. Plastic Debris in the Ocean. [Online] 
Available at: https://www.wur.nl/upload_mm/8/6/f/1b90e774-08eb-486e-8f0b-4f03230e6b9f_Plastic%20debris%20in%20the%20Ocean.pdf
[Zugriff am 30 Mai 2021].

O’Brine, T. & Thompson, R. C., 2010. Degradation of plastic carrier bags in the marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 01 December, pp. 2279-2283.

Available at: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
[Zugriff am 30 Mai 2021].

Ritchie, H. & Roser, M., 2018. Our World in Data. [Online] 
Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution?utm_source=newsletter#plastic-waste-per-person
[Zugriff am 22 Mai 2021].

Ross, W. L. J., 2018. Marine Debris Program. [Online] 
Available at: https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/publications-files/2018_California_Litter_Strategy.pdf
[Zugriff am 30 Mai 2021].

Rummel, C. D. et al., 2016. Plastic ingestion by pelagic and demersal fish from the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Issue 102, pp. 134-141.

Picture 1:

Yeoman, B., 2019. The National Wildlife Federation. [Online] 
Available at: https://www.nwf.org/Home/Magazines/National-Wildlife/2019/June-July/Conservation/Ocean-Plastic
[Zugriff am 22 Mai 2021].

What is bauxite?

It’s practically everywhere, but where does it actually come from?

Have you ever heard of bauxite, this reddish, earthy rock? It’s possible that the term means nothing to you, but it’s used to make something that is in everyday objects. It’s also possible that you’re even holding something in your hands right now that contains it in a processed way as you read this blog post.

Usage and origins

Let me fill you in. Bauxite is an aluminium ore from which aluminium oxide is extracted. Aluminium is used for many everyday items, such as cell phones, laptops and cars. Packaging made of aluminium is very light, lightproof and airtight. That is why the material is also used for cans and packaging of all kinds to keep food fresh. But aluminium is also used in aviation and in cosmetic products such as deodorants or toothpaste. Aluminium is very light, does not rust and is extremely robust, which makes it the most commonly used metal after iron and steel. In addition, the metal, marked Al in the periodic table, is found everywhere in the world, as it is the third most common occurring element in the earth’s crust. A particularly high aluminium content occurs mainly in tropical or subtropical regions around the equator.

Now that you know what bauxite is, we can also take a closer look at the process of producing aluminium. Bauxite is mined primarily in open-pit mines and extracted from the ground using big machines. This often involves removing the top layer of earth to expose the bauxite layer. The removed layer of earth is stored in this process so that it can be put back in its original place after bauxite mining (Donoghue A. M. et al., 2014) . This allows plants to grow there again and nature to take its course. If mining has taken place in forested areas, 80 percent of this ecosystem is restored. Through this approach, the aluminium industry is taking a leading role in environmental protection efforts (The Aluminium Association, 2021).

Picture: Mining at Hydro’s Paragominas bauxite mine
Source: AlCircle, 2019

After the bauxite rock is mined, it is taken to an alumina refinery where the aluminium is dissolved from the rock using the Bayer process. Roughly speaking, the bauxite rock is reduced in size and mixed with hot sodium hydroxide (NaOH), which dissolves the aluminium from remaining materials (The International Aluminium Institute, 2018). The remaining material is called red mud or residue mud. Since this material has been heavily heated and treated with chemicals, it is washed and processed that it can be laid out in nature again. However, this sludge is very salty and still contains some toxic residues, which makes vegetation impossible without additional fertilization and other measures. Therefore, this sludge is often buried under the collected topsoil to allow the chances of vegetation. However, what the long-term consequences of this approach are is unclear and needs further study (Jones B. E. H. et al., 2011).

Picture: Mining waste generated from aluminium production and major bauxite producers
Source: Research Gate, 2012

Aluminium is then filtered out of the sodium hydroxide-aluminium mixture. The result is a white powder called aluminium hydroxide (dried it is called aluminium oxide). This is later used to make aluminium or other products, for example as fire protection or as a polishing agent.

To obtain pure aluminium, however, a decisive step is still required. The transformation of the aluminium oxide into pure aluminium and oxygen with the help of electrolysis. In this process, the aluminium oxide particles are placed under a strong current, where they heat up and separate into aluminium and oxygen. The pure, liquid aluminium, which has a temperature of around 950 C°, collects at the bottom of the furnace, from where it can then be extracted.

The smelting process using electrolysis, as the name suggests, requires electrical energy. An extremely large amount of it. So much, in fact, that electric magnetic fields form near the furnaces. Approximately 17,000 kWh of electricity is required per ton of aluminium produced (Claisse P. A., 2016).

The molten aluminium can then be poured into molds or rolled out and coiled to make it transportable for further processing.

Many advantages, but also disadvantages; the challenge remains

The main problems with aluminium production are the waste product of bauxite, red mud, and the enormous amount of energy required to melt the aluminium oxide. Furthermore, the use of sodium hydroxide can lead to health problems and can cause serious damage to the environment, as it is exceedingly corrosive.

On the positive side, however, aluminium is virtually infinitely recyclable, lightweight and versatile. For example, today’s beverage cans may contain recycled aluminium that has been in circulation for decades. Nearly 75 percent of the aluminium ever produced is still in use today. Moreover, according to forecasts, the deposits around the world will last for centuries (The Aluminium Association, 2021).

It would be good if renewable energies were used to supply the aluminium smelters with electricity. This way, the electricity would not have to be obtained from nuclear power plants, for example, which would certainly have a positive effect on the environment. Also, since aluminium is infinitely recyclable, it is very important that people recycle their aluminium products when they are no longer needed. Combined with the use of renewable energy in smelting, the circle could be closed and less bauxite would have to be mined, since the same aluminium could be used again and again.

Let’s see what the future may bring us…


Donoghue, A. M. et al., 2014. Bauxite Mining and Alumina Refining, Process Description and Occupational Health Risks. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 56, Supplement 5S, p. S12 – S17

Jones, B. E. H., Haynes, R. J., 2011. Bauxite Processing Residue: A Critical Review of Its Formation, Properties, Storage, and Revegetation. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, Volume 41, Issue 3, p. 271-315

Claisse, P. A., 2016. Civil Engineering Materials. Aluminium, Oxford: Elsevier, p. 365

The Aluminium Association, 2021. Bauxite. Online: https://www.aluminum.org/industries/production/bauxite (30.05.2021)

The International Aluminium Institute, 2018. Refining Process. Online: https://bauxite.world-aluminium.org/refining/process/ (30.05.2021)


Source: Own illustration

Eating fish is a choice, not a necessity. At least that is the case for most people, except those who live in coastal communities. Global fish consumption exceeds natural production and poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems. Overfishing could have particularly harmful effects on the functioning of ecosystems. Commercially valuable fish species such as swordfish or tuna are fished in enormous quantities so that the populations of the species mentioned are alarmingly low. And there is more to it than that. 

Commercial Fishing
One of the greatest threats to marine animals, such as dolphins and sharks, is commercial fishing. They are oftentimes killed as bycatch from commercial fishing fleets. There are methods of how fish are caught that are profoundly detrimental to the environment.  Every year twelve million tons of plastic end up in the ocean. That’s the same amount as emptying a garbage truck into the ocean every minute. That being said, there is one specific type of plastic trash that is particularly deadly because it is specifically designed to trap and kill marine wildlife: abandoned, dumped, or lost fishing gear including ropes, nets, and other equipment. Unfortunately, little is said about it in the media. People are primarily told that there are plastic straws and plastic bags floating around in the sea. But it’s not all bottles, bags, and straws. Sadly, there is much more.

Global trends
According to the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020, the Mediterranean and Black Sea has the highest proportion (62.5%) of stocks fished at an unsustainable level. As shown in the figure below, the percentage of fish stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels has decreased by 24.2% within 1974 to 2017. Conversely, the fraction of fish that are fished at unsustainable levels increased.

Source: FAO. 2020. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. Sustainability in action. Rome.

Today’s menu contains fish
For more than 60 years, the annual growth rate of global visible fish consumption grew faster than the annual population growth rate. Increasing global fish consumption also outpaced the consumption growth of meat except for poultry consumption, which grew even faster than fish consumption. There are differences in fish consumption between the regions of the world, which can be seen in the graph below. It is shown that Switzerland, despite its inland location, has an annual fish consumption of 10-20 kg per capita.

Source: FAO. 2020. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. Sustainability in action. Rome.

Is there such a thing as eating fish responsibly these days?
Please do not throw away the salmon that is still in your fridge right now.
We’re told not to eat so many things already. Sometimes it can get overwhelming, isn’t it? Humans are creatures of habit and changing a habit is not one of our favorite things to do. Some people find it goes too far and they deliberately swim against the tide. However, now is the time to think personally about your eating habits. Don’t feel overwhelmed and just try to process all the information.
If you are still buying fish, the quickest orientation guide is to look at the labels. For example, there is the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) label or the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label. Nevertheless, both labels are also criticized. WFF considers for example the MSC label currently as minimum standard and demands improvements but still recommends buying certified fish rather than non-certified. WWF also helps with the responsible choice of fish with its shopping guide for fish and other seafood in the form of an app which you can download here for iPhone or Android.

Source: 2021 Mensa GBWetzikon

Food for your eyes
SEASPIRACY is a documentary film about the impact of commercial fishing launched at the end of March 2021 that took the internet by storm. British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi talks to various scientists around the world and shows us the impacts on the environment, marine life as well as human rights injustices in the fishing industry. He also takes a closer look at labels of fish products, which should help us, consumers, to distinguish the good fish products from the bad ones. The solution provided by the film is that everyone should stop eating seafood.

In my opinion, eating fish should be a rare luxury or omitted completely, except in coastal communities that may have few choices about what they eat. All food production that is done irresponsibly has harmful impacts. Therefore, I think the film’s solution is a bit too simplistic. Because simply stop eating fish and then consume irresponsible amounts of other food will only shift the problem and not settle it sustainably. Fish should get a safe place to recover from what the human species has already done and to preserve what we might take in the future.

The film is shocking and horrifying to watch. I think it is brilliant that finally another side was shown than just the plastic straws and plastic bags in the oceans. However, I would prefer the documentary to be a little more scientific. Nevertheless, SEASPIRACY is absolutely worth watching. For those who are interested to watch the official trailer, here you go:

Source: Migros

If you are looking for a suitable snack to watch SEASPIRACY, here is my recommendation for you:
Kambly Goldfish.

For all those who are not from Switzerland: Those are crispy salty biscuits in the shape of goldfish. Containing 100% no fish.

Source: Migros

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The fisheries and aquaculture sector has much to contribute to securing all the SDGs but is at the core of SDG 14 – conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and SDG 12 that encourages more sustainable consumption and production.

We are never too old or too young to change our habits or to inform ourselves about important matters of our planet. In the end, it is everyone’s personal decision if you still want to consume fish or not. If you continue to do so, then think before you buy and inform yourself. Use the guides mentioned above. Don’t just eat responsibly for your health, but also the health of mother earth.

Source: Own illustration



FAO, 2020, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. Sustainability in action. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2020. Online:
https://doi.org/10.4060/ca9229en (Accessed: 24.05.2021)

FAO, 2017, Reasons why we need to act now to #SaveOurOcean. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017. Online: http://www.fao.org/zhc/detail-events/en/c/846698/ (Accessed: 25.05.2021)

McIntyre P.B., Jones L.E., Flecker S.A., Vanni M.J., 2007, Fish extinction alter nutrient recycling in tropical freshwaters. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in the United States of America, 12.07.2007. Online: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/73na2_en.pdf (Accessed: 24.05.2021)

Pooley E. , 2013, How Behavioral Economics Could Save Both the Fishing Industry and the Oceans. Harvard Business Review, 24.01.2013. Online: https://hbr.org/2013/01/how-behavioral-economics-could (Accessed: 24.05.2021).

Fujita R., 2012, FAO Reports 87% of the World’s Fisheries are Overexploited or Fully Exploited. Environmental Defense Fund, 11.07.2012. Online: http://blogs.edf.org/edfish/2012/07/11/fao-reports-87-of-the-worlds-fisheries-are-overexploited-or-fully-exploited/ (Accessed: 25.05.2021)

NOAA, 2021, Why should we care about the ocean? National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 2021. Online:
https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/why-care-about-ocean.html#:~:text=The%20air%20we%20breathe%3A%20The,our%20climate%20and%20weather%20patterns. (Accessed: 25.05.2021)

Parker L., 2018, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Isn’t What You Think it Is. National Geographic, 22.03.2018. Online: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/great-pacific-garbage-patch-plastics-environment (Accessed: 25.05.2021)

Greenpeace International, 2019, Ghost Gear: The Abandoned Fishing Nets Haunting Our Oceans. Greenpeace, 06.11.2019. Online: https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/25438/ghost-gear/(Accessed: 25.05.2021)

WWF Deutschland, 2018, Nachhaltige Fischerei. WWF, 17.09.2018. Online:
(Accessed: 27.05.2021)

Ulli C., 2019, Nachhaltige Fischerei. SRF, 11.09.2019. Online: https://www.srf.ch/sendungen/dok/das-geschaeft-mit-dem-fischsiegel-msc(Accessed: 27.05.2021)

Graphical elements

FAO, 2020, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. Sustainability in action. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2020. Online:
https://doi.org/10.4060/ca9229en (Accessed: 24.05.2021)

Sv Restaurant, 2021, Täglich frisch auf den Tisch. Mensa KZO Wetzikon, 2021. Online:
https://kzo.sv-restaurant.ch/de/frisch-gesund/ (Accessed: 28.05.2021)

Migros Online Shop, 2021, Kambly Goldfisch. Migros, 2021. Online: https://shop.migros.ch/de/search(smt:product/49687)?query=kambly (Accessed: 29.05.2021)


Netflix, 2021, Seaspiracy Official Trailer. Youtube, 03.03.2021. Online:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q5CXN7soQg (Accessed: 29.05.2021)

Is Bitcoin bad for the environment?

What is Bitcoin?

In the last decade there was a financial revolution in form of cryptocurrencies. The most prominent cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which was introduced in 2008 by an anonymous group working under the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto”. In their concept they stated that “a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution”(S. Nakamoto, 2008) . Bitcoin operates decentralized which means that there is no server where all information is stored. Combined with the fact that a Bitcoin can only be spent once by the owner makes it very secure. Bitcoins can be generated by a process called “mining”, which with the growing popularity has led to a significant rise in electricity usage. Therefore, the concerns about the environmental friendliness of mining Bitcoins as begun to rise.

Environmental Impact of Bitcoin

Energy-intensive electronic devices are used in modern Farming facilities. It is hard to say how much energy electricity these facilities really consume. But some studies from 2018 showed an electricity usage comparable to some developed countries such as Hong Kong or Ireland (A.D Vries, 2018). It is not quite clear which kind of methods of electricity production are used to power the Bitcoin network. There have been Mining centers using geothermal energy in Iceland (A.F, 2018) and facilities located in de Arctic Circle to profit from local hydropower and cold air temperatures to reduce energy usage for cooling. Cambridge University conducted a study showing that 58% of Bitcoin mining is done in China (S. DiLek & Y. Furuncu, 2019) most of which are powered by coal (.

Own illustration based on Hass McCook, 2021

Compared to gold Bitcoin produces less than half of the emissions, and less than 20% of
the banking sector. But one must consider that Bitcoin just started to get popular and is not yet an international accepted currency, which could lead to a more drastic incline in carbon emissions.


The sustainability of Bitcoin depends on a diverse variety of factors. On the one hand there are a lot of innovative ways to operate Mining facilities like in Iceland and the Arctic Circle previously mentioned. On the other hand, most of the energy used to run the Bitcoin network comes from non-renewable energy sources. Also, the carbon footprint that is generated is not regulated enough around the world. The Blockchain technology has an immense potential for improvement in an environmental standpoint. After all I think there is a tendency that the media and broad public exaggerate the impact Bitcoin has on the environment. Combined with regulations, which promote the usage of renewable energy the carbon emission can be reduced to a minimum.


A. D. Vries. (2018). “Bitcoin’s growing energy problem” Joule, vol.2, no. 5, pp. 801-805

A. F. (2018). Why are Venezuelans Mining so Much Bitcoin?, Accessed: May. 30, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2018/04/03/why-are-venezuelans-mining-so-much-bitcoin

Bloomberg (2017). Coal is Fueling Bitcoin’s Meteoric Rise, Accessed: May. 30, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-15/turning-coal-into-bitcoin-dirty-secret-of-2017-s-hottest-market

Hass, McCook. (2021). A comparison of Bitcoin’s environmental impact with that of Gold and Banking. Accessed: May. 30, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/a-comparison-of-bitcoins-environmental-impact-with-that-of-gold-and-banking-2021-05-04

Satoshi Nakamoto. (2008), Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System

S, DiLek. & Y, Furuncu. (2019). “Bitcoin mining and its environmental effects”

Ocean pollution by Microplastics – The world is just watching!

Initial situation

Ocean pollution is a global issue that affects us all.

The ocean is becoming more and more of the planet’s waste dump every day. From plastic bags to pesticides, most of the waste we produce on land eventually ends up in the ocean. Moreover, shipping and oil platforms also contribute to marine pollution.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are half a centimetre in size and not immediately visible to the naked eye. There are 2 types of microplastics:

  1. primary microplastics, which are used in cosmetic products and also by hygiene products.
  2. secondary microplastics, which are utsed in solar radiation, beverage bottles, and fishing nets.[1]

[1] Bundesamt Umwelt (2020)

How does waste get into the ocean?

Litter enters the ocean in many different ways. Litter enters the ocean through rivers and sewage. Litter also enters the ocean from coasts. Bathers also contribute by leaving litter on the beach, which is how litter gets absorbed in the ocean. Most litter consists of microplastics, which dissolves and collects in the water, so the amount of waste continues to increase.

The consequences of littering for humans

Beaches at seaside resorts are usually clean because they dispose of the waste. If this is not done, it becomes a problem. This also has an impact on tourism. Given that, many tourists prefer beachside amenties, if they are closed due to ocean litter, then this has economic consequences for tourism. In a study by British scientistis, the impact of ocean litter has risks on humans. For example, shards of glass or chemicals can cause injuries to humans.

Other risks include:

Due to the amount of microplastics, the amount of fish caught is reduced given contanimation concerns.

The farmland bordering coastal areas is also destroyed by the large amount of litter and can harm the animals when they comsume microplastics.

The consequences of littering for animals

Marine animals are also affected by ocean pollution. On one hand, when they cannot find food, they eat litter without knowing it, so that they do not “starve”. Even the young animals are also fed with rubbish. Eating rubbish drives marine animals to their death. Some animals drown while, in others body growth is stunted. Another danger is that the animals get entangled in the nets. As the rubbish is scattered throughout the sea, millions more aquatic life die. Therefore, plastic waste can also destroy the habitats of marine animals and lead to their eventual death.[2]

[2] «WOR 1 Mit den Meeren leben – ein Bericht über den Zustand der Weltmeere».2010.

It is not too late to react.

Studies show dire scenarios for the future of the oceans. WWF encourages companies to take action and discontinue  polluting the ocean with waste. The ocean should be clean. WWF also controls fishing in larger marine protected areas and wants to ban drilling for oil.

What you can do

To do something about ocean pollution, the whole world population could make donations. The motto: “Help us donate to the ocean”.

If companies would follow the WWF guidelines and stop dumping so much plastic into the ocean, then so many lives could be saved![3]

[3] WWF.«Verschmutzung der Erde».



Umwelt Bundesamt.2020.«Was ist Mikroplastik» (online) Available:

https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/service/uba-fragen/was-ist-mikroplastik (Accessed 09.05.2021)

«WOR 1 Mit den Meeren leben – ein Bericht über den Zustand der Weltmeere».2010.(online) Available:

https://worldoceanreview.com/de/wor-1/verschmutzung/muell/#:~:text=Der%20M%C3%BCll%20wird%20mit%20Abw%C3%A4ssern,zur%20Verm%C3%BCllung%20der%20Meere%20bei. (Accessed 09.05.2021)

WWF.«Verschmutzung der Erde».(online) Available:

https://www.wwf.ch/de/unsere-ziele/verschmutzung-der-meere (Accessed 10.05.2021)


Claudia.Zehrfeld.2018.Diese Folgen hat Plastik für die Umwelt.

https://www.t-online.de/leben/id_83921476/diese-folgen-hat-plastik-fuer-die-umwelt.html (Accessed 10.05.2021)

The Empty Mediterranean Sea

Fish has always been important in the Mediterranean. Aristotle (384-322 BC) already dealt with tuna. Tuna fishing was also an important economic sector in the Roman Empire. Today, about 4,600,000 jobs in the Mediterranean depend on fishing. 85,000 tonnes of fish were caught in 2016. Meanwhile, the Mediterranean is the most overfished sea in the world. About 80 % of stocks are already affected by overfishing (Hofrichter, 2020, pp. 903-904).

Overfishing occurs when fish stocks are unable to recover from catches and are reduced as a result. IUU-Fishing and bycatch aggravate the situation. I would now like to present examples of this. You will also get advice on how to make your fish consumption sustainable.

Overfished Atlantic Bluefine Tuna

As already mentioned, about 80 % of the fish species in the Mediterranean are overfished. Bluefine tuna is just one species of fish that is affected. Other species are certainly worth mentioning as well, but this fish has already experienced a lot in its overfishing history and is therefore worth noting.

Some basic facts about the Bluefine Tuna (WWF, 2021):

  • Grows up to 4 metres in lengths and weighs around 750 kg
  • Swims at a speed of about 70 km/h
  • Can dive down 500 meters looking for food
  • Is used for sushi because of its high meat quality

A brief history
In the 1990s, the bluefin tuna fishery reached its peak. In 1996, about 55,000 tonnes were fished in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Two years later, a catch quota of about 30,000 tonnes per year was set by ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) with 48 member states. It is assumed that this quota was not respected until 2008. More and more organisations started campaigns to stop the overfishing of bluefin tuna. In 2007, a 15-year stock recovery plan began. This included various measures to ensure the existence of the bluefin tuna (MSC, 2021a). Three years later, the Atlantic-wide Bluefin Tuna research programme was launched. The aims of the project are to expand data collections, increase knowledge of biological and ecological processes and improve stock assessment (Aquarium La Rochelle, 2021). In the Mediterranean Sea, WFF is involved in this project. In 2015, the status of the bluefin tuna was changed by the ICNU (International Union for Concervation of Nature) on the Red List from Endangered to Potentially Endangered (MSC, 2021a).

Information about Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (WWF, 2021)

Besides massive overfishing, there are other problems related to fishing. I will briefly introduce two of them.


One problem of overfishing is IUU – Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing. For sharks, the biggest enemy are humans. Shark fishing is not widely controlled. As a result, about ¼ of the shark species found in the Mediterranean Sea are in great danger of becoming extinct soon. According to WWF, it is not too late to save the sharks. Measures such as education, monitoring and control can help to stop IUU-Fishing and thus also save species (Niedermueller, 2020).

Sharks under threat in the Mediterranean (Niedermueller, 2020)


Definition from MSC (Marine Stewardship Council): “Bycatch is fish or other marine species caught unintentionally while trying to catch another type of fish. In some cases, bycatch cannot be avoided, and unwanted fish end up in the fishing net” (MSC, 2021b).

Not only fish are affected, but all animal species that live in or near the sea. The following animals are severely affected (FAO and GDCM, 2020):

  • Loggerhead sea turtle
  • Sandbar sharks
  • Smooth-hound shark
  • Blackchin guitarfish
  • Striped dolphin
  • Shearwaters
Example of bycatch (Green Matters, 2020)

Approximately 18 % of the fishery yield (around 230,000 t) is bycatch (Hofrichter, 2020, p. 912). Bycatch has an impact on biodiversity. The reduction of animal populations in turn puts the food chain of other species at risk. Bycatch is often dumped back into the sea dead or injured. In addition, it causes unnecessary additional costs for the fisheries without generating any revenue. Furthermore, fishermen suffer image damage and create new regulations and restrictions with their behaviour (Hall et al., 2000).

According to Hamer and Minton (2020), there are three ways to avoid bycatch.

  • Behaviour or practice change on fishing vessels
  • Fishing gear modification or augmentation
  • Spatial and temporal restrictions to fishing effort

In addition, appropriate training for the fishermen as well as the right equipment on board are crucial in order to handle the bycatch as well as possible and to release it as unharmed as possible (Hamer and Minton, 2020).

Of course, there are other aspects to consider in relation to overfishing. To mention them all here would be going too far.

Sustainable consumer habits

Finally, I would like to give you some tips on what you can do in the future to contribute against overfishing:

  • The WWF Fish Guide (http://www.wwf.ch/de/fischratgeber) shows which fish species can be consumed without hesitation and which are better avoided (WWF Schweiz, 2021)
  • Give preference to local fish from wild catches (Sellnow, 2020)
  • Enjoy fish infrequently (Sellnow, 2020)
  • Replace fish oils with omega-3 fatty acids with farmed algae oil, linseed oil, rapeseed oil and many types of nuts (OceanCare, 2021)
  • Consider labels such as ASC and MSC (Sellnow, 2020)


Overfishing is a serious problem. The Mediterranean holiday paradise is particularly affected by it. Banning fishing would not make sense because of the jobs that depend on it. However, we can all contribute to reducing overfishing through our behaviour. The example of the Bluefin Tuna shows that measures and conservation programmes can make a difference. It is desirable that fish stocks can recover sustainably and that the ecosystem of the ocean is not overstrained.


Aquarium La Rochelle. (2021). On the trail of the Atlantic bluefin tuna. https://www.aquarium-larochelle.com/en/news_scientific/on-the-trail-of-the-atlantic-bluefin-tuna/

FAO and GFCM. (2020). The State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries: at a glance.

Green Matters. (2020). Bycatch [Illustration]. greenmatter.com. https://www.greenmatters.com/p/what-is-bycatch

Hall, M. A., Alverson, D. L. y Metuzals, K. I. (2000). By-Catch: Problems and Solutions. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 41, 204–219.

Hamer, D. y Minton, G. (2020). Guidelines for the safe and humane handling and release of bycaught small cetaceans from fishing gear. CMS Technical Series Publication, 43.

Hofrichter, R. (2020). Das Mittelmeer: Geschichte und Zukunft eines ökologisch sensiblen Raums (2. Auflage). Springer-Verlag GmbH; Springer.

Niedermueller, S. (2020). Sharks and Rays: A deadly harvest: Widespread evidence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Mediterranean

MSC. (2021a). Ostatlantischer Blauflossenthunfisch. https://www.msc.org/de/fisch-nachhaltigkeit/fragen-und-antworten-zu-thunfisch/ostatlantischer-blauflossenthunfisch

MSC. (2021b). What is bycatch and how can it be managed. https://www.msc.org/en-au/what-we-are-doing/our-collective-impact/sustainable-fisheries/what-is-bycatch-and-how-can-it-be-managed

OceanCare. (2021). Fischkonsum. https://www.oceancare.org/de/unsere-arbeit/tierschutz/fische/fischkonsum/

Sellnow, B. (2020). Einkaufs-Ratgeber für Fisch und Meeresfrüchte. Nachhaltigleben.ch. https://www.nachhaltigleben.ch/food/nachhaltiger-fisch-19

WWF. (2021). The battle for the bluefin. http://mediterranean.panda.org.bluefintuna.shorthand.com/

WWF Schweiz. (2021). Fischratgeber. https://www.wwf.ch/de/fischratgeber

Why companies greenwash and how to avoid it!

Companies try to look environmentally friendly but are actually greenwashing

Source: Envirofluid, s.a.

Companies frequently make promises that seem ecological, but are really unclear and, at times, fraudulent in order to attract a green audience. As a result, greenwashing has become prevalent in our market. Greenwashing is the practice of an organization disseminating incorrect or incomplete information in order to project an image of environmental stewardship to the public (Furlow, s.a.). It is the phenomenon of misleading customers about a company’s environmental policies or the environmental advantages of a good or service (Delmas & Burbano, 2011).

The reason why companies greenwash is simply out of economic interests, rather than actually wanting to behave sustainably. Businesses expect to increase their profitability through greenwashing. Companies use a variety of different greenwashing techniques to achieve an advantage. For example, if a company sells a green product, it produces a better image. In return, people who buy this product have a good conscience. In addition, an organically produced product can be sold at a higher price, which can lead to a higher profit (Thorge, 2009). But companies are not fully aware of their levels of sustainability and are not attempting to stop or decrease the production or use of unsustainable products (Kopnina 2015, p. 39). The problem with greenwashing is that the companies, which do it, still have a huge impact on our climate (Lee, 2020).

Source: Huttel F., 2020.

Which companies are greenwashing?

There are many companies that greenwash. Two well-known international examples are Nestlé and McDonalds.

Nestlé is the largest food and beverage company in the world and has its headquarters in Switzerland. According to Zenger, Nestlé’s statement on plastic packaging is nothing more than greenwashing. The reason for this is that, despite the fact that Nestlé has committed to making its plastic packaging fully recyclable or reusable by 2025 and to increase the proportion of recycled plastic, the single-use plastic packaging contributes massively to the pollution of the oceans worldwide (Zenger, 2018). As it is known, plastic waste is one of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges today. According to Greenpeace International (2017), Nestlé was one of the top three contributors of plastic waste discovered in the Philippines in 2017.

Furthermore, Nestlé also uses large quantities of palm oil to produce their products. To be concrete 455’00 tons of palm oil were used in 2019 by Nestlé. Palm oil is a major driver of deforestation. The production of tropical oil impacts the biodiversity of rainforests negatively and contributes to climate change. Furthermore, it forces landowners, or more specifically smallholders, to leave, creates miserable working conditions for plantation workers and occasionally uses child labor (Rainforest Rescue, s.a.).

McDonald’s is one of the biggest fast-food chains, according to Dreissig (2020), and as such, they push industrial animal husbandry, which is one of the most significant drivers of the climate crisis. Even though they try to use their resources as efficiently as possible, animal husbandry uses enormous quantities of feed and converts it mostly to manure. Just a small portion of the feed is converted into the intended animal commodity. This leads to a loss in resources and the required feed is often grown by using petrochemical fertilizer. By using such fertilizers an extremely harmful nitrous oxide is released, which is 300 times more harmful for the climate than CO2 (Dreissig, 2020).

Source: Sanchez R., 2021. If it looks green, it’s not necessarily green!

What are possible solutions to avoid greenwashing?

Despite the fact that eco-efficient measures can minimize a company’s environmental effects and costs in the short term, they cannot achieve ecological sustainability in the long run because the measures undertaken still affect the environment negatively (Pogutz et al. 2011, p. 5 & 10).

Once companies understand the underlying mechanisms of unsustainable practices, then a change towards sustainability can be made (Kopnina 2015, p. 39). As a company you therefore need to consider some points:

  • Avoide exaggerating good aspects. True environmental sensitivity does not necessitate exaggeration.
  • Do not let your products and website appear more natural and green than they actually are.
  • Do not leave out important information. Even if it is not always positive, transparency must be kept.

The marketing messages of a company must always be relevant and above all it must be verifiable. In this way, greenwashing can be effectively avoided and the goal of actual environmental protection can be pursued (PackVerde, 2020).

We as consumers can also do something against greenwashing. For example, we can make sure that vegetables and fruits come from surrounding regions and not from far away, so that the transport distance is not long. It is also important to avoid buying fruits and vegetables out of season, as this too leads to long transport ways and promotes the fact that the sustainability of the products has to be cheated (Thorge, 2009). In addition, there are some search engines, such as Project Cece and STAIY which help you check if your product is truly green or not (De Ferrer, 2020). Moreover, according to the Rainforest Rescue(s.a.), avoiding products which contain palm oil can also help avoid greenwashing and therefore deforestation.

Source: Bloomberg Quicktake: Now. 2019.



Zenger, Y., 2018. Nestlés neue Plastikstrategie ist Greenwashing. [Online] Available: https://www.greenpeace.ch/de/medienmitteilung/7980/nestles-neue-plastikstrategie-ist-greenwashing/  (Accessed: 16 May 2021)

Kilian Dreissig, 26.02.2020. Absurd; McDonalds wirbt mit “Klimaschutz”-Aktion. [Online] Available: https://www.vegpool.de/news/mcdonalds-wirbt-mit-klimaschutz-greenwashing.html?newsid=1999 (Accessed: 15 May 2021)

De Ferrer, M., 2020. What is greenwashing and why is it a problem. Euronews. [Online] Available: https://www.euronews.com/green/amp/2020/09/09/what-is-greenwashing-and-why-is-it-a-problem (Accessed: 17 May 2021)

Pogutz, S., Micale, V., Winn, M. 2011. Corporate Environmental Sustainability Beyond Organizational Boundaries: Market Growth, Ecosystems Complexity and Supply Chain Structure as Co-Determinants of Environmental Impact. Journal of Environmental Sustainability. 1(1), 1-22. [Online] Available: https://doi.org/10.14448/jes.01.0004 (Accessed: 20 May 2021)

Kopnina, H., 2015. Sustainability: new strategy thinking for businesses. Environment, Development and Sustainability. 19(1), 27-43. [Online] Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-015-9723-1 (Accessed: 19 May 2021)

Delmas, Magali A. Burbano, Vanessa C., 2011. The Drivers of Greenwashing. California Management Review. 54(1), 64-87. [Online] Available: https://doi.org/10.1525/cmr.2011.54.1.64 (Accessed: 20 May 2021)

Nancy E. Furlow, s.a. Greenwashing in the New Millenium. Journal of Applied Business and Economics. [Online] Available: http://www.m.www.na-businesspress.com/JABE/jabe106/FurlowWeb.pdf (Accessed: 18 May 2021)

Sammanthan Dean Lee, 2020. We Must Fight against Greenwashing. [Online] Available:
https://journal.businesstoday.org/bt-online/2020/we-must-fight-against-greenwashing (Accessed: 13 May 2021)

Rainforest Rescue, s.a. Palm oil – deforestation for everyday products. [Online] Available: https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil/nestle#start
(Accessed: 16 May 2021)

Thorge, J., 2009. Greenwashing – Die Dunkle Seite der CSR. Business Today Online Journal. [Online] Available: https://reset.org/knowledge/greenwashing-%E2%80%93-die-dunkle-seite-der-csr (Accessed: 15 May 2021)

PackVerde., 2020. Greenwashing – was steckt hinter dem Phänomen. [Online] Available:
https://www.pack-verde.com/blog/de/allgemein/greenwashing-was-steckt-hinter-dem-phaenomen/ (Accessed: 14 May 2021)

Greenpeace International, 2017. Nestlé, Unilever, P&G among worst offenders for plastic pollution in Philippines in beach audit. [Online] Available: https://www.greenpeace.org/international/press-release/7621/nestle-unilever-pg-among-worst-offenders-for-plastic-pollution-in-philippines-in-beach-audit/#:~:text=The%20Greenpeace%20Philippines%20and%20%23breakfreefromplastic,million%20metric%20tonnes%20of%20mismanaged (Accessed: 15 May 2021)


Huttel F., 2020. Nachhaltig investieren und das Problem des «Greenwashing». [Online] Available: https://www.vividam.de/index.php/nachhaltigkeit-das-problem-greenwashing/ (Accessed: 23 May 2021)

Sanchez R., 2021. Hello I’m A Paper Bottle Turns Out To Have a Plastic Surprise Inside. [Online] Available: https://thedieline.com/blog/2021/4/12/hello-im-a-paper-bottle-turns-out-to-have-a-plastic-surprise-inside (Accessed: 23 May 2021)

Envirofluid, s.a. Genuine Green Cleaning being Abused by Greenwashing. [Online] Available: https://www.envirofluid.com/genuine-green-cleaning-being-abused-by-greenwashing/ (Accessed : 22 May 2021)


Bloomberg Quicktake: Now. 2019. Are you Falling for Corporate Greenwashing? [Online] Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcGwX2Pp_JU (Accessed : 18 May 2021)

Are electric cars really better for the environment than cars with a petrol engine?

Source: AUDI AG (2021)


In the last few years, the more and more people are driving a car with an electric engine. The trends are showing that the number of people who will drive an e- car will increase in the future.

For an example, in 2020 19’765 cars with a completely electric engine were registered in Switzerland. That is an increase of 49.8 % in comparison to the previous Year 2019. (BFS & ASTRA, 2021)

E-cars compared to petrol cars, who produces more CO2?

The Paul Scherrer Institute and the Touring Club Schweiz did a research and that was presented on “Kassensturz”, a TV show of the Swiss television. According to the research, a mid-range car for example emits 16.2 tonnes CO2 before it gets on the road. The mid-range electric car emits 20.8 tonnes of CO2 during the production. After 26’851 kilometres the e-car produces less CO2 than the petrol car, despite the higher amount of CO2 emissions at the beginning. After 200’000 kilometres the petrol car emits 57.2 tonnes of CO2, the e-car emits 31.3 tonnes of CO2. That is a difference of 25.9 tonnes of CO2. (PSI & TCS, SRF Kassensturz, 2021)

Source: SRF Kassensturz, PSI, TCS (2021)

The result of the research shows that a lot of CO2 emissions could be saved if we would drive an electric car instead of a car with a petrol engine.

Problematic batteries of e-cars

One of the most criticized topics when it comes to e-cars are the batteries. The problems are the mining of the raw materials and the recycling of the batteries. Especially the mining of cobalt and lithium. The working conditions on the mining fields are very difficult, often children are involved in the mining process of cobalt. The workers take high risks to get the cobalt. The problem of mining lithium is the high water usage to get the lithium that is needed. This caused a lot of problems for the people around the lithium mining fields. The people suffer from water shortages because of mining lithium. (SRF Einstein, 2021)

The recycling of the batteries is another discussed subject. The car manufacturers are struggling to find a way to divide all the parts of the batteries. There are methods to recycling the batteries, but the method is very complex and expensive as well. The positive aspect is that there are a lot of research projects in Europe. The goals of the projects are to find ways to recycle the batteries and to reduce the number of raw materials to produce batteries. At the same time, the researchers think of using the old batteries for other things. For example, to save the electricity from the solar panels with old batteries of e-cars. One point that we must think of is that the batteries are getting more efficient than a few years ago. Nowadays, the batteries have a longer range. As a result, it is possible to drive the e-car for a longer period without to load the batteries (SRF Einstein, 2021)

Where comes the energy from to load the batteries of the e-cars?

The CO2 emissions that are caused to load the e-cars are playing an important role. That means to know where and how the electricity is getting produced to load the batteries of the e-cars. In Switzerland, the rate of renewable energy is very high. That is because of the hydroelectric power plants. In other words, a lot of electricity in Switzerland is produced with the help of water. The other parts of the electricity, comes from nuclear power plants and renewable energy sources. A very few amounts of electricity in Switzerland is imported from neighbour countries. (SRF Einstein, 2021) (BFE, 2020)

The situation in Switzerland in case of energy is not that bad but for other countries it can be completely different and that must be considered.

How to find out which car is more environment friendly? – “Carculator-PSI “

A very interesting tool to find out about the CO2 emissions of a car is the “Carculator” of the Paul Scherrer Institute. This tool is very helpful to find a car that emits not much CO2. To find out about the CO2 emissions of a car, the user has to select a car brand, the model and the sub model of the car. Afterwards the user has to click on the button called “Klimabilanz”. Then the “Carculator” will show the amount of the CO2 emissions of the car. The tool can be found on the website of the TCS.

This tool shows how much CO2 a specific car emits form the production till the disposal. That means the calculation includes for example the CO2 emissions to produce the fuel of the car. (PSI, TCS, SRF, 2021)


At the end of the day, it is better to drive an e-car instead of a car with a petrol engine. Despite the high co2 emissions for the production, from a long-term perspective the pollution of e-car is much lower than a car with a petrol engine. The technologies are improving fast and that means the e-cars are getting more efficient. The driving range is getting longer and there are more charging availabilities that makes the life of an e-car driver much easier. Driving a electric car is definitely better for the environment than using a car with a petrol engine.

For me, it is clear, I will look for an e-car, when I think of to buy a new car. I hope you will do that as well.

Source: BBC NEWS, YouTube (2019)


Bundesamt für Statistik BFS, Bundesamt für Strassen ASTRA. (2021). Strassenfahrzeuge – neue Inverkehrsetzungen. [Online] Available: https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/de/home/statistiken/mobilitaet-verkehr/verkehrsinfrastruktur-fahrzeuge/fahrzeuge/strassen-neu-inverkehrsetzungen.html [ Accessed 20.05.2021].

Müller, D., Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRF. (2021). Klimabilanz von Autos – Elektroautos lassen Hybride und Verbrenner locker stehen. [Online] Available: https://www.srf.ch/news/panorama/klimabilanz-von-autos-elektroautos-lassen-hybride-und-verbrenner-locker-stehen [Accessed 20.05.2021].

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