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Monday, 29 June 2015

In a new law passed in March this year, the French are set to join Germany and Australia in yet another environmental advancement: green rooftops.
Passed by French government officials, the law rules that buildings in commercial zones of France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels. The law has less scope than the original plan put forward by environmental activists to completely cover rooftops, and was made less onerous for businesses by ruling that only part of the roof be covered in greenery, and giving people the choice of installing solar panels to generate electricity instead.
The green rooftops have an isolating effect, meaning that they help reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a house in the winter and keep it cool in the summer. The panels and greenery also retains rainwater, and - according to ecologists - aids biodiversity, as well as giving birds a place to nest.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

After months of planning and construction, the chicken coop and run has finally been installed into BBHS Eco's ecological garden! There are five chickens currently in the coop, two of which are rare breeds. The coop is painted in pastel green and blue and acts as a home and nesting box to the chickens. We hope to sell the eggs produced to members of staff, the kitchen and eventually other students in the school!
Following this, the group aim to work on the other gardening projects like the vertical wall and the ecotech project which involves the erecting of a solar panel stand in the garden. Check back soon for more information surrounding these projects!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Here at BBHS Eco Group, mobile phone recycling is something we hope to encourage throughout both the school and local community. We wish to do this by asking ask you to donate your old mobile phones to us. Although most wouldn't think to recycle old mobile phones, research has shown that metals we use in everyday life are not disposed of correctly and therefore put to waste which obviously has a detrimental effect on the environment. For perspective on how much we use nowadays; one hundred years ago barely 12 materials were widely used, these mainly being wood and clay. Nowadays, however, over 60 elements are found in the common computer chip.
An example of a rare element sitting in your unused smart phones is Indium. The Indium industry is expanding constantly to keep up with demand, however it is rare. You will find Indium in your touch-screen devices as well as many other electronic devices. The BBC, as well as many other sources say that Indium will have been exhausted as early as 2017 and therefore new phones and tablets may be getting very expensive or even non-existent. This isn't the whole truth however. Although Indium is running out, trace amounts can be found in soils and by-products of other refining processes. Furthermore, others reporting say that Indium won’t run out in 2017, but it will run out very soon. 2025 for instance is another estimation of when Indium could run out. Although that seems a long time away, it is sooner than you think and if Indium were to run out and research into substitutes for Indium with carbon nanotubes, etc. turned out to be rubbish, we may have to revert back to big clunky, non-touch phones and TVs and I doubt many will be joyed to hear this! This shows how big a need for phone recycling is as we could re-use ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) used in mobile phones for the production of newer phones whilst we find a viable replacement.
Indium isn't the only rare element in your phones, however. Another extremely rare metal is primarily found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is called Coltan. Saying Coltan is important in phones is a huge understatement for it is used in a much larger spectrum of electronic devices. However, phones use Coltan after refining into Tantalum to make small Tantalum capacitors, which are a crucial component to make our handhelds smaller and holing more power. The average phone contains about 40 milligrams of this stuff in it, and it is used so widely due to its natural corrosion protection and high capacity in small volumes. Furthermore, Tantalum can also be used to help improve sound quality in mobile phones and Tantalum capacitors also have an extremely small failure rate. It's not that rare there can be complications when trying to obtain it, however. Much of the extraction and obtaining financed a civil war and wars between Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo because of the high usage and dependence of this material in the modern world. Lots of mining operations were carried out illegally by rebels and militias to be sold on the black market as its ability to hold and move electrical signals and its conductive ability in extreme temperatures make it ideal for smart bomb guidance controls. (read about these conflicts here and here).  There’s not much to be done about this, however. Governments have looked at geo-tagging the Coltan in order to control conflicts. This would be no use however if the governments in China and India did not comply. As mentioned previously, the reason for recycling phones to obtain this material is not purely based on amount, but also to help properly develop the Democratic Republic of Congo to prevent more civil wars.
Other materials to think about when thinking about recycling your old phones include Lithium. The battery in your phone almost certainly contains Lithium however there aren't currently huge concerns regarding availability, especially considering Tesla’s plans to make more Lithium-Ion batteries annually in one factory than were made worldwide in 2013. Research into smaller and more efficient batteries is constantly being carried out, but who knows when we might need an abundance of Lithium in the future?
Once again we do urge you to recycle old unused phones, as this could really make a difference, not only in the technology industry but also to lessen terrible conflicts and improve life for all.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Recently, we received a cheque from easyfundraising.org.uk with a value of £20. This may not seem like a lot but with your help we can still raise more. The best thing, it technically doesn't even cost you a penny!
We interviewed our top donor about why and how she donated and when asked why she donated, she said:-
“Once I’d installed, it asks if you want to donate every time you make a purchase, and I thought why not donate?” 
Simply put, if you buy something online the browser extension will ask if you wish to donate to the charity of your choice. It doesn't cost you a penny extra though! Instead, some of the money you pay for your purchase is donated in your name. Although it doesn't donate huge amounts, if you were to use this every time you shopped it would certainly increase!
Our interviewee told us it worked with most of the sites she used, such as:
  • Amazon
  • Marks & Spencers
  • John Lewis
  • Argos
  • Ebay
  • Tesco Direct
So why are we talking about this website? Well as we mentioned before we received a small cheque recently however we want people to help us raise funds by using this site. You can read more by clicking here and follow the below guide to help raise money for BBHS Eco.

How to get started with Easyfundraising.org.uk

Step One

Click here and type "Benjamin Britten" into the input box for the cause you wish to support. This will cause a box to appear below with suggested causes, ours should be at the top of the box and is called "Benjamin Britten Solar School Project - Lowestoft", click this.

Step Two

You will now be prompted to fill in some basic information about yourself, such as your name and email address. 

Step Three

You will now be asked if you would like to install the donation reminder if you're using a web browser which supports add-ons. (Most modern browsers do). If you install this then you'll be reminded to donate whenever you buy something from a supported retailer online. For more information about the extension, click here.