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Hi curious.friends!

We've seen some crazy weather conditions across Europe over the past week. In the UK Storm Dennis wreaked havoc across much of England and Wales. Meanwhile, warm temperatures in the French Pyrenees forced a ski resort to helicopter fresh snow from higher altitudes to prevent the resort from closing! 

This week we take a look at sustainable composting after death, and whether ambitious corporate climate action really means business!

Guestimated reading time is 3:57 minutes.
Climate Change

Ashes to Ashes or Body to Soil?

by Alexandra Genova

What's Going On Here?
We all know the benefits of food composting but have you ever considered composting yourself? Sounds morbid right? It is...but it could also be highly beneficial for the environment.

What Does This Mean?
You may remember we wrote about water cremation last summer, and it seems alternative burials are on the rise. A pilot project carried out by Seattle based company Recompose has shown the benefits of human composting as an environmentally friendly “deathcare” solution. 

So how does it work?

The body is placed in a reusable hexagonal steel container along with straw, alfalfa and wood chips. The humidity and ratio of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen is carefully controlled creating the ideal conditions for thermophilic microbes (ones that thrive at high temperatures) to accelerate the normal rate of decomposition. The process is known as “natural organic reduction” and can turn a corpse into two wheelbarrow’s worth of soil in just  six weeks.  

Data collected by Recompose has shown that the process saves more than a tonne of carbon, compared to a cremation or a traditional burial. They are pioneering the world’s first ‘human composting service’ in Washington D.C. in February 2021, after the US state approved it as a legal deathcare alternative.

Why Should We Care?

While we wouldn’t proclaim to tell you how to live your death, it is worth being aware of the impact more traditional burials have on the planet so you can make a conscious decision before you are unconscious for good. 

Did you know that...

  • The average cremation uses 285 kilowatt-hours of gas (cooking a chicken uses 4.4 kWh of energy) and 15 kilowatt-hours of electricity - (one kWh equals the amount of energy you would use by keeping a 1,000 watt appliance running for one hour). It also  sends significant amounts of mercury into the atmosphere, as well as up to 400kg of climate-warming CO2.
  • 89% Of coffins used in traditional burials are made from veneered chipboard rather than wood, which is bonded with a formaldehyde resin, a harmful chemical which can  then enter the soil and neighbour ecology. They also take up precious space in the ground.

Be Curious!

‘Natural organic reduction’ might be one greener way to go, but there are many other eco-friendly burials out there. We’ve picked a few alternatives: 
  • Water cremation, which we wrote about last summer
  • Natural/woodland burials, in which the body is allowed to decompose in the ground without added chemicals, concrete, or synthetic materials (these are already legal across the USA and UK). Read more at the Good Funeral Guide!  
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Pollution

Being a Better Business...is corporate climate action on the rise?

by Helen Steiger

What's Going On Here?

First BP, then Coca Cola, now Amazon - in the past week the corporates have been making the headlines as they announce new strategies to positively impact people and the planet!

What Does This Mean?

BP - aka the big fossil fuel giant that was not-so-long-ago found to have been funnelling millions of ££ into lobbying against climate policy - made headlines last week for a very different reason…the new CEO announcing their plans to have a Net Zero carbon footprint by 2050!

Following this, Coca Cola announced its own plans to ‘attach sustainability metrics to its performance indicators when calculating executive bonuses’…basically making environmentally friendly pay! 

AND THEN Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos announced the creation of a $10bn (yes TEN BILLION!!) fund that will issue grants for ideas and businesses that are tackling the climate crisis. 

With businesses that value people, planet and profit equally becoming increasingly mainstream, the rise in businesses certified as B Corporations, and existing businesses changing their business models so that they are compatible with a climate-friendly world - is this a positive sign  of change within the private sector?

Why Should We Care?

Businesses are a powerful force in society. Like it or not, they impact what we eat, where we go, what we own and use and how we spend our time…and therefore have an immense capability (and arguably responsibility) to positively impact the world both now and in the future.
 
Recent headlines show how business doesn’t have to mean evil corporations squeezing our planet for profit - business can be a force for good! 

However, in this era of transparency, a word of caution…greenwashing sadly continues to be employed amongst some corporations. Not all businesses are equal in their levels of climate action, and some action is tiny in comparison to the negative impact the company has overall. In this modern world, we at curious.earth encourage an element of curiosity when judging whether a company’s commitment to the planet is legit…

Be Curious!
  • Is it business, or BS? Be curious to learn more about what the big corps are up to, and assess for yourself whether this is true commitment to the climate cause, or just a load of hot air… 
  • Power-up your purchasing - Like what you read/see? Buy from companies whose values, purpose and products reflect what you care about! 
  • Sift out the greenies from the greenwash - Not sure who is really committed and who is just saying things for the crowds? We find these directories super useful to identify businesses, products and services that are committed to positively impacting people and planet:
    - B Corp Directory - list of businesses that are B Corp certified - aka balance people, planet and profit within their business purpose, strategy and impact.
    - Good on You - a comprehensive breakdown of fashion brands’ sustainability efforts.
    - Fairtrade/Organic/MSc certified businesses.
    - Ethical Consumer - a great resource for screening credentials of companies.
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From the curious.archive!

Top tips for being sustainable on the slopes - curious.earth

Other news we found curious...

The world is failing to ensure children have a liveable planet - Guardian
No putting meat on expenses, says property firm - BBC
U.K to spend $1.6 billion on world's best climate supercomputer - Bloomberg
FIFA vows to deliver carbon-neutral World Cup in 2022 - Edie
New green technology generates electricity 'out of thin air' - ScienceDaily
 
Alexandra Genova
NEWS WRITER
Helen Steiger
NEWS WRITER
THANKS FOR READING

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