HERE’S TO 2022
The Committee, Volunteers and Members of Ballincollig Tidy Towns wish the people of Ballincollig a very Happy New Year.
It should be a very busy 2022 for BTT with several exciting projects in the pipeline.
WORKING TO SAVE OUR PLANET
If we hope to do everything we can in the coming years to save our planet, we need to educate ourselves about the damage our actions cause and ways in which we can stop the damage.
THE OZONE LAYER
As we all know human activity has damaged areas in the protective ozone layer. In The Montreal Protocol, a global reduction of manmade chemicals that reacted with ozone, was adopted by all countries in 1987. This is arguably the most successful international treaty. Although there was a sizeable reduction in ozone depletion, it is still a planetary issue as low-level ozone depletion is on the rise.
Several layers make up the atmosphere of the earth. Us humans reside in the troposphere, with an altitude reaching 6 miles. Through chemical reactions between local air pollutants such as nitrous oxides, volatile organic compounds and sunlight, ground level ozone can form in this layer. The stratosphere, reaching from 6 to 31 miles, holds the most atmospheric ozone; between 9-15 miles in altitude. The ozone layer in the stratosphere absorbs a portion of the radiation from the sun, thus preventing it from reaching the planet’s surface. Ozone in the stratosphere plays a very different role than in the layer below. The next layer is the ozone layer, which plays a crucial role in absorbing potentially dangerous ultraviolet UV-B radiation from the sun. The ozone layer typically absorbs 97-99% of incoming UV-B radiation, making this layer critical to protect.
The ozone “hole” discovered over Antarctica was over 11 million square miles.
The culprits in the 1980s were CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFCs (hydro-chlorofluorocarbons). These are greenhouse gases. CFCs were being used in refrigerants and cooling units, fire extinguishers and aerosols.
It takes decades to cleanse CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances from the atmosphere. Even after the Montreal Protocol went into effect, their concentrations did not peak until around 1998, and are still high today.
Although ozone concentrations are shown to be increasing in the upper stratosphere, they are still declining in the lower stratosphere.
Very short-lived gases produced from human activities can deplete the ozone layer, and also create a change in atmospheric circulation – causing climate change.
Global Ozone is expected to revert to its 1980 thickness in the next 55 years.
With further depletion of the ozone layer the Earth can be made barren.
Minimize driving as car fumes cause lower-level ozone depletion. Fewer cars on the road will reduce the amount of ozone in the air.
Avoid using cleaning products that are harmful to people and environment. Many contain corrosive solvents and substances. Replace these with non-toxic products such as vinegar and bicarbonate. This will help with low-level depletion.
Buy local as the more distance products travel, the more nitrous oxide is produced.
Avoid consuming gases dangerous to the ozone layer. CFCs and nitrous oxide are the most dangerous.
Malfunctioning air conditioners cause CFCs to escape into the atmosphere. Dispose of old units and fridges properly. Newer models should be CFC free but check before purchasing.
Buy methyl bromide free treated wood and wood products as they give off bromine gas. This then enters the stratosphere causing damage.
Composting is the process by which organic matter – egg shells, paper, leaves, fruit, vegetables and coffee, are broken down and used as a form of natural fertilizer. It is believed that plant matter decomposes quickly when placed in the waste. However, plant matter which is added to landfills actually creates an anaerobic environment – releasing methane and other harmful gases into the environment. The heat-trapping greenhouse gases that are released – particularly methane – are 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Composting has been used for centuries to help fertilize the soil and reduce the use of chemicals and pesticides. By keeping plant matter out of landfills, composting also helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released
A large percentage of all waste produced consists of plant material that can be composted. Soil quality can be dramatically improved when plant material is used.
It takes on average 25 years for a head of lettuce to decompose in a landfill.
Composting reduces the volume of materials that are disposed of in landfills thus reducing greenhouse emissions.
Composting improves the soil. One-third of the world’s arable land has been and continues to be lost to soil erosion. This reduces the ability of soil to store water and support plant growth.
Amending the soil with compost improves the quality of the soil, and assists in the retention of water.
Spreading composted materials on crops minimizes the use of chemical fertilizers.
Micro-organisms in composts can bind to heavy metals in soil – keeping them from leaching into water.
Composting encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
Learn what can and cannot be composted.
Use composting waste bags as they break down in landfills and prevent greenhouse gas emissions from forming.
Recycle grass clippings and outdoor plant matter in your green recycle bin.
Set up an outdoor compost bin that will supply you with nutrient dense soil.
Learn as much as you can about composting including how to incorporate coffee granules into your compost.
Make a worm bin as worms assist in breaking down organic matter more rapidly.