Ecopedia

Ecomedia Letter: w

Waste

Anything that people deem to be unneeded or unwanted after use or a process. Trying to look at why we have waste and ways to prevent it should be the first step to reduce waste, then looking at ways to reuse and recycle waste should reduce the impact of waste on the environment.

Waste to Fuel

The idea that a lot of our wastes can in one way or another be turned into fuel. Burning of waste in electricity-producing incinerators is one way of using waste as a fuel. In developing nations, animal waste is often used as a cooking and heating fuel. Biogas, when rotting landfill generates burnable gas, is another example.

Wastewater

Water that has been used by people and contains waste. Waste water may be able to be recycled depending on what it contains. Also see Black Water and Grey Water.

Water

A resource essential to humans and life on earth! Water is vital for us to live. We drink it, fish in it for food, use it for power, washing and for many other uses. Water conservation and water quality is essential for the environment and our best interests too.

Water Conservation

Using less water is the first step in water conservation. Recycling water that doesn't have dangerous waste in it (grey water) can reduce the need for fresh clean water. At the end of the pipe, water treatment is good for the environment and to prevent the spread of disease. Water conservation also covers the conservation and health of waterways from small streams to huge rivers that run between countries.

Water Pollution

Water pollution is a global problem and encompasses all types of pollution including chemical, biological, physical and thermal. Water pollution can be measured in properties such as pH, temperature, oxygen concentration, sediment, biological activity and indicator species.

Water Purification

Making water suitable for human use, which usually is consumption. Making water suitable to drink is something large populations have to do on a daily basis, so don't take the water that comes out of your tap for granted, as for many that would be a luxury!

Weather & Climate

Weather is what it is like outside at a particular time in a particular place, and varies hourly, daily and seasonally. Climate is the long term weather trends over many years.

Wetland

Areas normally covered in water, such as mangroves, swamps and marshes. They provide many valuable services to people such as filtering of water, flood protection and mitigation, and habitat for many endangered animals.

Whaling

The practice of hunting whales. Whaling was done for whale meat and whale fat that was used in products from heating oil to margarine. Whaling is a world famous example of an industry that became highly unsustainable. Through the 1960s and 1970s, whale catch dropped dramatically to a point where most commercial whalers were out of business for economic reasons. In 1986, the international whaling commission banned commercial whaling so that stocks may recover. Whaling is still allowed to some indigenous peoples who argue that whaling is vital to their way of life, and to some countries for 'scientific' purposes. Whale spotting is now a major tourism draw and it really is an experience of a lifetime to see these oceanic giants!

White Roof

White reflects heat and light, rather than absorbing it and heating up. Therefore having your roof and other outside surfaces white will cool the building, surrounding area and even help in the battle against a rising global climate.

Whole Food

Food that is basically unaltered from the time that they are harvested. Foods that have nothing added to them and are not processed. Whole foods are often better for health of people and the environment as they involve minimal inputs before arriving in your kitchen.

Wild Harvested

Crops harvested from wild areas. They are usually very sustainable as they are not actively cultivated in an intense manner, and are grown in a wild naturally functioning ecosystem. Examples may include berries, herbs, rice and other plants.

Wilderness

An area of nature that has been undisturbed by human activity and is uninhabited by people. Wilderness is rapidly being turned into agriculture and swallowed up by urban and industrial sprawl, and once destroyed would sometimes take centuries to re-establish. Conserving wilderness is a good step toward global sustainability.

Wildfire

A fire that is in a countryside area that spreads quickly. Wildfires occur both because of humans and from natural causes. Wildfires have become an increasing threat to human life and property in areas that have changed in land use and have become more arid. Fire management is often used to manage the possibility of a wildfire occurring. Also See Fire Management.

Wildlife

Living animals and plants that are not domesticated by people. Wildlife is under threat all over the world, so help out our wild distant cousins in the animal world and find out what lives in your area and the problems they face. Being informed is the first step in long term conservation.

Wildlife Corridor

Large connected areas of land that wildlife can move between for feeding, migration and breeding. They can be as big as in-between countries.

Wind Farm

A concentration of wind turbines placed to generate electricity. Wind farms are a form of renewable energy; however, they have been controversial in some locations due to concerns about bird strikes and "ruining the view". Wind farms themselves also need to be maintained in the long term to make sure they are not abandoned after the life of the turbine runs out.

Wind Power

Power from the wind. It usually refers to electricity generated by wind turbines, but could equally describe how sailboats all over the world are powered. Wind is a constant feature of some locations and if those locations happen to be near large populations of people, electrical wind generation is a great renewable resource to take advantage of. Small scale wind turbines on individual houses are already in use in Japan to supplement electricity supplies.

Window Glazing

Finding out how much your windows reflect sunlight means you're finding out how efficient your windows are helping your house stay cool in the summer and keep heat in the winter.

Wool

Wool is fiber from animals, usually sheep, but could also include goats, camels and even rabbits! Wool is natural fiber and can be environmentally friendly depending on how sustainably the animals are raised. It is a traditional industry in many countries. Un-dyed wool is also a great option as using no chemical dyes is great for the environment and produces some great natural hues.

World Heritage Site

A group of over 900 sites globally that are deemed to have great natural or cultural heritage of importance to the people of the world. The sites are preserved by participating governments for this and future generations to enjoy and learn from. They are also some of the most spectacular sites in the world so if your have an opportunity to visit one, don't miss it!

WWF

A global non governmental organization that works to protect the diversity of life on Earth and protect the environment. It has over 1300 projects around the world and has been operating since 1961. It works with governments, the public and businesses, and aims to educate and involve local communities in its work.

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