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Hey curious.friends,

This week, huge wildfires have been raging across California, USA. 12 out of largest 15 wildfires in California have happened since 2000. No surprises that Trump has dismissed this as "non-climate related."

Elsewhere, UK frozen food store Iceland's Christmas advert, that hit out against the Palm Oil industry and its effect on the environment and Orangutans, was banned for being too political.  Want to know why Palm Oil is bad and what you can do to help? Click here.

Can we ask a small favour. Please can you share this email (or just www.curious.earth) with someone you know that doesn't care about the environment. If we are going to tackle the issues facing our planet head on, then everybody needs to be a bit more curious about planet earth.

Reading time is 3:47 minutes.

Enjoy!
Waste & Sanitation

Water industry poo-poos ‘flushable’ wet wipes

What's Going On Here?

New research has found that all wet wipes labelled as ‘flushable’ have failed the UK water industry disintegration tests.

Despite many wet wipes being marketed as flushable, when tested in line with industry standards they did not break down and can therefore cause serious issues in water treatment plants and for the environment.


What Does This Mean?

One problem is that manufacturers and Water UK (the representative of water companies) disagree on how to test wet wipes for flushability.
 
Manufacturers carry out their own tests to decide whether to label a wipe as ‘flushable’ or not - it just so happens that these tests are much more vigorous than tests done by the water industry, meaning the wipes break up much more quickly.

The Marine Conservation Society likens this to ‘a drinks manufacturer setting safe drinking limits’, and water industry experts say that the manufacturer tests don’t realistically reflect what happens in sewers.

Why Should We Care? 

They may not block your pipes at home, but it’s when wipes reach water treatment plants that they turn nasty.

The humble wet wipe is the cause of 93% of blockages in UK sewers. Remember the monstrous bus-sized fatberg clogging London’s sewers last year? Yep, wet wipes made that possible.

When blockages occur, untreated waste-water is diverted and sometimes has to be discharged, bypassing treatment altogether and entering the environment 🤢 

If that wasn’t bad enough, vast quantities of ‘flushable’ wipes escape the waste water filters and are released into rivers and oceans. They typically contain tiny plastic fibres that are released into marine habitats and ingested by fish and other marine life.

In the 2017 Great British Beach Clean, an average of 27 wet wipes were found per 100 meters of coastline and these washed up wipes can be mistaken for food by all sorts of animals. 

Be Curious!

If you use wipes, bin them. Or better still, stop buying them! They may be convenient for everything from removing makeup to cleaning the bathroom, but they’re essentially another form of single-use plastic that is littering the planet.

At the risk of teaching you how to wipe your ar*e - only the Three P’s should be going down your loo: pee, poo and paper. Simple!

Why not give Who Gives a Crap toilet paper a go. They produce 100% Recycled toilet paper and every roll helps to bring sanitation to someone in the world without it.

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Climate Change

Resource guzzling phones turn out to be not so smart

What's Going On Here?

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada have found that smartphones are on a path to wrecking the planet.

After analysing the carbon footprint of the entire IT industry, they estimate that industry emissions are expected to reach around 15% of total world emissions by 2040 from just 3% today.


What Does This Mean?

Every Facebook status, Instagram Story and tweet we send goes through a server somewhere. With more everyday items being connected to servers, via the Internet of Things, the amount of server-side emissions is expected to skyrocket
 
Currently server-side emissions and battery power account for 15% of the industry total (the rest of it coming from building the phones). These researchers expect server-side emissions to reach 46% by 2020. Which is why companies such as Microsoft, are looking for ways to save server energy (you may remember we covered Microsofts submerged servers).

Why Should We Care? 

How much do you consider the effect your smartphone has on your life and the environment?

Keep a lid on smartphone use and you’ll find it’ll save you money, could improve your well-being and will be good for the environment. A win-win-win situation. Keep your phone for longer and you’ll save money against a new model

Be Curious!

Your 3-step plan to smarter smartphone usage:

  1. Reduce charging - We can stop changing our smartphones so regularly. Think twice before upgrading. Maybe just buy a new battery instead if that’s the problem.
  2. Reuse an old phone - For the same CO2 emissions used in getting a fresh-built smartphone, you could use a smartphone you already own for around ten years.
  3. Use your phone less - IOS12 feature, Screen Time, can help you control your usage.
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Other news we found curious...

Keystone XL pipeline Judge halts construction and says Trump administration 'simply discarded' environmental impact - NY Times
California fires: what is happening and is climate change to blame? - Guardian
Heatwaves driven by climate change making insects infertile, new study suggests - The Independent
Poppy Gaunt
NEWS WRITER
Tom Brook
NEWS WRITER
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