Little Bits to Go Greener

As the themes of the Forum are water security and sustainability, we cannot talk emptily without taking actions from ourselves. We therefore woud like to invite you and everyone else at the Forum to join our initiative of "Little Bits to Go Greener". We took the liberty to encourage you to start from these little bits to help lower our footprints in carbon and water.


Photo credit: Markus Spiske

Over 90% of bottled water is contaminated by microplastics

Bring your own cup

People around the world purchase 1 million plastic bottles of water in every single minute, and the consumption is expected to increase by 20% by 2021 (Laville and Taylor, 2017). These plastic bottles, while consuming huge and unnecessary amount energy and resources in making and recycling them, are also threats to environment and human health. A study shows that over 90% of bottled water is contaminated by microplastics (Mason, Welch and Neratko, 2018), raising global concerns about adverse implications for human health (Karbalaei et al., 2018; Fang et al., 2019).

Therefore we kindly ask you to bring your own cup or use the cups we provide at the Forum instead of consuming bottled water or using disposable cups. We'll be providing you with jarred water for drinking while limiting the use of bottled water during the Forum.

Photo credit: NordWood Themes

Trains are cool

Fly or drive less

On a global scale, transport accounts for more than one fifth of total energy-related CO2 emissions. Moreover, emission from the sector is projected to double by 2050 if no action is to be taken. Among all means of transport, road transport for passengers is responsible for a major share of emission, followed by civil aviation. However, the latter has demonstrated a rapid trend of growth (Creutzig et al., 2015). A study shows that the active use of public ground transportation could reduce almost one fourth of the emission in a business-as-usual scenario by 2040 (Peng et al., 2015). Domestic flights make up to 91% of all flights departing from China, and they contribute to almost 70% of China's emission from commercial aviation (Graver, Zhang and Rutherford, 2019).

China takes proud of its highly developed railway network in which Nanjing is one of the biggest hubs. So why don't we take advantage of that? High-speed rail is believed to be very promising in decarbonisation of transport (IEA, 2017). Instead of taking taxies, we also encourage everyone of you to take our shuttle buses. For more details regarding ground transportation, you might find our Logistics page very helpful.

Photo credit: Zhimai Zhang

You can go paperless

Recycle after use

In China, the recycling inudstry is still far from maturity. In 2017, ten dominant types of recycled wastes reached 282 million tons, making a 11% increase than the previous year. The economic value of these wastes reached 755 billion Chinese Yuan (c. 108 billion US Dollars). Among the ten types, the most common ones include paper, plastics and metal. For these three types, despite of great progress, the ratios between recycled and annual production were 47.5%, 22.5% and 19.4% (MOC, 2018), which means there is still a great potential in recycling and re-using them. It would be a true waste to allow such valuable resources to go into single use without considering its environmental implications and consequences.

Although Nanjing has not been implimenting waste recycling rules at individual or household level, it does not take much pain to recycle these three types of wastes, right? During the forum, we would encourage everyone to recycle paper, plastics and metal after use. Please put these items after use into separate containers we provide at the venue. We would also encourage you to go even paperless. For example, you can obtain real-time information about the forum on your mobile device instead of getting a hard copy of our brochure. For how to use our website on your mobile device, you might find this page very helpful.

Photo credit: Brandi Redd

Use appliances wisely

Use less power

Energy consumption in residential spaces takes about 16-50% of total energy use around the globe (Saidur, Masjuki and Jamaluddin, 2007), and there is a growing trend in the demand for this use (Allouhi et al., 2015). For example, with the on-going of global warming, energey consumption for air conditioning, in particular for cooling, is projected to be increasing significantly (Zhou et al., 2016), while the reduced heating demand in cold days has barely any offseting effect (Davis and Gertler, 2015). Behaviourial changes in residential spaces have significant impact on the consumption of energy (Allouhi et al., 2015). Study shows that energy saving behaviours in the U.S. could reduce emissions by 7.4% while having almost zero impact on the household well-being (Dietz et al., 2009). Another China-based study finds that, by improving the way occupants use their domestic appliances, they could save up to 14% in energy consumption (Ouyang and Hokao, 2009).

Therefore, it would be greatly appreciated if you could use electrical appliances wisely. You can help save energy by, for example, setting your air conditioner to a higher temperature (for example, 26°C), turning off lights when you leave your room, using stairs instead of lifts if you can, and unpluging your devices from the sockets after use (Ouyang and Hokao, 2009).

Photo credit: Robert Haverly

Do we really need that extra piece?

Say NO to fast fashion

The fashion industry is the second largest polluting sector (Brenot et al., 2019). It produces 20% of world's total wastewater and 10% of carbon emission (UNEP, 2018). As one of China's economic pillars, the textile industry has polluted 70% of the water resources in Southeast China (Brenot et al., 2019). The production of a T-shirt would requires the use of 2,700 litres of water, while the water footprint of a pair of jeans reaches a staggering 3,700 litres (Aivazidou and Tsolakis, 2019). The labour-intensity of the fashion supply industry also makes it susceptible to low welfare of workers and exploitation of child labour, raising global concerns and debates (Perry and Towers, 2013).

Thus we would like to call for everyone's attention to the high water and carbon footprints of fast fashion. Do we really need that extra piece of garment? How many dresses, or jackets, or pants that we have bought were never worn for a third or even second time? If we shop for quality and durability instead of quantity, we could save not only natural resources but also our hard-earned wage.

Photo credit: Charisse Kenion

Stay hydrated not caffeinated

Replace drinks with water

Our lives are dependant on water because our bodies need to stay hydrated in order to properly function. We take different drinks for that purpose. But do you know how much water it takes to make a cup of tea or coffee? The answers might be astonishing. For each cup of tea or coffee, it requires 27 or 130 litres of water to produce (Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2011). If we decide to enjoy ourselves a little bit more with some beer or wine, we need to spend 300 or 870 tons of water for each ton of beer or wine we consume (ibid).

We therefore would like to encourage everyone to replace some of your drinks with water, as in a strict sense, the human body asks for H2O, not C8H10N4O2, nor C2H5OH. For survival, what we need is to stay hydrated, not caffeinated, nor drunk. Of course this is not meant to stop people from enjoying their life, but replacing one cup of our daily or weekly drinks with water doesn't take away much fun of life, does it?

Photo credit: Mae Mu

Take more vegetable

Eat less meat

Meat-based dietary provides important energy and nutrient for us, but excessive intake of meat brings higher risk of human health and greater impact on the environmental well-being (Godfray et al., 2018). The majority of green-house gas emission in food industry comes from the production of animal based food (ibid). A life cycle assessment of plant and animal based food in China shows that carbon footprint of the former significantly higher, with the highest (mutton) being around 600 times more than the lowest (reddish) (Xu and Lan, 2016). Another study based on global models stuggests that dietary changes towards more plant-based food, while still staying in lline with health guidelines, could reduce global mortality by 6-10% and greenhouse gas emissions by 29-70% in food production (Springmann et al., 2016).

From farm to fork, the most important contributors to the footprint of animal-based food are feed production and husbandry, but a life cycle assessment would also have to look at other indirect sources such as tranportation and storage (Nijdam, Rood and Westhoek, 2012). Therefore, to lower our dietary carbon footprint, we would like to encourage everyone not only eating less meat, but also try to consume more local and seasonal food.

Photo credit: Monika Grabkowska

Constant dripping wears away a stone, and little strokes fell down great oaks

Bring more people onboard

We might be only able to do little, but every single bit helps, just as the ancient wisdom tells us, constant dripping wears away a stone, and little strokes fell down great oaks. Share to other people when you leave us, and let's be each other's companion on our way to be more sustainable. The road ahead might be very long, but we will not be alone.

Photo credit: Cameron Venti


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Author: David Zhou,