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Season 2, Episode 16:
What does healthy soil and water have to do with regenerating life?


Marina Robb

Hosted by: Marina Robb

In Episode 16, Marina looks at:

  • Do it yourself carbon-filters to remove a range of contaminants in the water coming out of your tap!
  • The importance of soil and water in Climate Change.
  • How the global water cycle regulates the climate and drives 70% - 95% of the heat dynamics. Our planet is a biotic pump!
  • How rivers have the same architecture as the blood in our bodies
  • What we can do in our houses to have cleaner water
  • Biochar (activated charcoal) technology could be used to filter water on a small and large scale.
  • How wet woodlands capture the water and prevent flooding downstream!

Music by Geoff Robb: www.geoffrobb.com 


A community platform for Water Restoration: https://community.waterstories.com/landing?space_id=6781273

Water is Earth’s Blood – The old and new water paradigms to restore our planet’s health: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vik4vUN3SPI

The European Biochar Industry Consortium links: https://www.biochar-industry.com/

Save 50% on your water cost using a Waterblade & keep water in the natural systems: https://www.thewaterblade.com/

Laughton Greenwood Community Benefit Society: https://www.laughtongreenwood.co.uk/

Carbon Farmers - think of biochar as a life support system within your soil; one that never expires or wears out!

Do-it-yourself-water-filter kit:

  1. Make sure you have room under your sink for the water filter system – carbon filter (£34.99) – wall mounted (https://www.screwfix.com/p/bwt-high-capacity-water-filter-kit/16747)
  2. Plumber (if you are like me) – one hour’s work – he also brought an isolation tap for £20 so that we can turn off the water when we need to change the filter in a years time.
  3. The wall-mounted kit from Screwfix comes with a filter but it is disposable (not refillable) and needs to be thrown away after a year. We will then replace this with a refillable filter that fits inside the same housing, so I can then later source my own carbon and not use plastic carbon filters, and save money too!
  4. Refillable transparent housing - £7.69 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/231953673397)
  5. Activated (aquarium) carbon - £9.24 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/292284020237)

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(transcribed by AI so there maybe some small errors!)

We're looking always thinking about how we can reduce carbon, which is absolutely right. But what we don't really talk about is the place of water in this system and how important it is.

Hello, and welcome to The Wild Minds Podcast for people interested in health, nature-based therapy and learning. We explore cutting edge approaches that help us improve our relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world. My name is Marina Robb, I'm an author, entrepreneur, Forest School outdoor learning and nature-based trainer and consultant, and pioneer in developing green programmes for the health service in the UK.

You're listening to Episode 16. What does healthy soil and water have to do with regenerating life? Today, I'm sharing my new understanding, in particular about our planet's water cycle, and how we can begin to consider ways of cleaning our own water from our taps. My hope is that one day, we're able to put into practice old and new wisdom so that our rivers water tables, seas might be restored and be healthy. Again, this is the last episode of season two. I've added to the show notes, a do-it-yourself water filter kit, and some links to the life enhancing properties of biochar.

So I'm really grateful to all of our wild systems or our natural systems. And as I learn more, I'm even more amazed at how the living world the living systems living ecosystems have been doing what they've been doing so well for so long. And that's why we need to learn from the systems, some people are talking about biomimicry, and just how when we start to look at the way that life has evolved, it's evolved in such a way that everything is in balance, and everything enables life to live. So I'm super grateful for that. And I'm also grateful at the same time for the growing knowledge that there are loads and loads of people out there in the world who are working with natural living systems and know that there are real possible ways of doing things differently. And in so doing that we can restore these living systems and look after ourselves at the same time.

So this is the end of season two already. And I've really enjoyed talking to people on the podcast, and I'm learning so much. And this week, I really want to think about water. And the fact that this planet is often called the blue planet, and not actually the earth planet. Of course, we know that the elements exist in all parts of the world, you know, the water, the air, fire, and all these fundamental elements, but I'm really, really interested in water because for so many years, I've been involved in educating young people and now adults and some of that educating is around climate change. And we hear all the time in so many schools about how they're learning about climate change. But what we're told about all the time, is about the importance of carbon.

Now, you know, the fact is that we're actually living in in an economic system that actually is totally dependent on fossil fuels. And when we burn fossil fuels, we release carbon into the atmosphere. And in doing so we increase the heating of the planet. So we're looking always thinking about how we can reduce carbon, which is absolutely right. But what we don't really talk about is the place of water in this system and how important it is.

And following on from the podcast last week of listening to Deborah and how important soil is I've been doing some research and it's been quite mind blowing to understand the impact of the water cycle on the heating of the planet. And at the same time, for the last few years I've been more and more aware of not actually wanting to drink the water out of my tap. I mean like for ages I was like well I'm you know, I'm going to drink water out of my tap. I'm not going to buy bottled water because in a way it felt like you know. The water should be clean. But increasingly, I've just felt it isn't that's coming out of my tap.

So I've been also looking into ways of filtering water, so that I'm drinking good water. And I don't want to buy one of these really expensive filter systems that are out there. But I want you to understand, is there anything I can do so I'm going to be talking a little bit about that as well that I've discovered, there is something I can do that actually didn't cost me that much money. In the end, I think it was around 100 pounds to fit my system in the house where I can just one tap in the kitchen, I can have drinking water that is, has been cleaned.

So I'll be telling you about that as well. But that, of course, you know, makes me think about, you know, how much pollution there is out in the world, in our rivers in our seas, this summer, just being told you can't swim in this sea, because the Water Board has pumped out sewage into the sea. And you know, it's not fit to swim in the sea. And it's coming up more and more in my in my awareness and really feel passionately about how, how we can do stuff about this, and how we need to be coming together to do stuff about this. And that idea that every little step that we make, makes a difference.

And that, of course, we can't do this alone. But we're changing, I have a feeling that awareness is growing out there and that most people out there want to live in a world that is more healthy and understand that we're entirely dependent on the living world. And that this is a system that we've inherited, that is, frankly, quite dysfunctional. So without going too far into that I want I want to think a little bit about this water cycle. And before I do that, just to really take this word that I've heard for many, many years is this sentence that water is blood. And, and I think the reason why I want to say that today is to kind of just drop into this, remembering that in our bodies, we have a whole water system where we have the lymphatic system, but we also have the blood system. And without that we can't live.

And again, this this kind of parallel between being a body and a human body and having all these systems within us. Well, it's true of the bigger body out there the earth body, and that actually the rivers are like our veins. And you know, when we look after the rivers, then it looks after the planet and the rivers are coming from the mountains or and flowing into the sea. And then through heat, water vapour is rising, and then landing back onto the earth. And I remember vaguely studying that as a, you know, oh levels back in the day in the UK, when you're 16. And we in biology, I studied the water cycle. And again, abstract didn't really experience or understand what it was about. And now I'm suddenly kind of like a bit of a light bulb moment is occurring where I'm realising that this is obviously a living system that's moving and flowing.

And at a global scale is happening every minute, every minute of the day. But more than that, that the water is really, really, really important when we think about climate change as well. So again, we're taught we hear about carbon, which is obviously important, but we don't really hear about the impact of water on climate. So some, like statistics is that basically the global water cycle regulates the climate and drive between 70 to 95% of the heat dynamics of this planet. Comparing that to the carbon dynamic, it's 5% of the heat dynamics.

So what does that mean? All sounds quite complicated. And the truth is, it is complex, and I am making it much, much more simplistic so that in my brain, I can start to understand before I hopefully spend a bit more time learning and I've got some links in the show notes if you want to go away and do your own learning, but what I'm beginning to realise is that the water cycle when the water is heated and water vapour goes up into the air and it follows this flow back onto the land. What's happening is it when it comes back on the land, at least one aspect of this is that this you need the soil.

You need the soil to absorb the water and it's in that absorption of the soil. Being able to like a sponge, take the water, that the water is retained in the landscape. And when you can retain the water in the landscape, then you can grow loads and loads of plants, which of course links to carbon. But not only that, it means that this cooling effect of the soil has a massive impact in the heating of our planet.

So taking care of this soil is so important. And that's what was the actual link between what Deborah Barker was talking about last week. And me thinking about this, about the importance of soil in climate change. And so this really kind of is so much it's, it's kind of opened my mind to understanding about soil and understanding about river systems and wetlands, and how it's all connected. And some of you won't know, but I'm part of a community benefits society woodland, in East Sussex, one of very few in the whole country, actually, its membership men, you know, by the community, it's owned, and run by the community.

And we, you know, for the last seven years, we've been kind of the stewards or caretakers of this place. And actually, we've done very little, but try to expand and give more light to some of the trees actually, but what I didn't appreciate was that the where the woodland is, is it sits between two rivers and actually acts as a kind of absorption of the waters that stops the flow of water from going really, really fast down to the sea. And that's super, super important, because what I'm learning is that if the land can retain the water, then then everything around that water, though, can actually really be supportive for growing more plants.

And of course, if you've got more plants, you've got more insects, you've got more birds, you've got a greater biodiversity. So I hadn't even appreciated around me the impact of looking after these kind of wetter woodlands and wetlands, in really supporting both heat, cooling of the land, but also the absolute possibility of the increase in biodiversity by looking after that land, let alone all the other mental health and psychological and physical benefits of just being outside and having that land. So soil is really, really, really important.

And again, I'm going to put some links in the show notes, so that any, anybody wants to look into this more they can. And it's just really, really opening my eyes as to the importance and of course, this links to rewilding the land. And going back to these Wilder systems, the system that already knows how to do what it's doing, of course, right, of course, the intelligence of the earth. It's been in the making for hundreds and hundreds of millions of years. And it looks after itself. I mean, I don't know the science exactly.

But what I've understood that there's a certain as the sun heats the Earth, the amount of heat that gets into the Earth is actually what's that word, I'm gonna say it wrong, like refracted. I know that's the wrong word back up into the atmosphere and beyond the same amount. That's how a natural harmonious system works. But of course, we're increasing the heat in the planet. But we can actually support this planet and ourselves by really starting to look at how we look after the water in our systems.

So I'm going to leave it there a little bit because I'm, I want to develop my thinking more around this aspect and bring it into the way that I support practitioners and teachers to think about water as well. And hopefully, this will inspire you as well to think about water and how we can support that and how we can increase the soil, the healthy soil around us. So it's the last in this series, and I really felt that I wanted to share what I've been up to, in terms of thinking about clean water in my own home.

And I've discovered through a good friend of mine was who's very involved in permaculture, which I really, really hope we're going to look at more in the future podcast is just the how carbon a carbon filter is absolutely incredible at removing contaminants, and it does this apparently through absorption, again, a bit of a miraculous thing from somebody that doesn't understand the detail of science or the chemical reactions that are going on. But basically, carbon filters have been known and do absorb, you know, chlorine pesticides how herbicides, nitrates, a whole range of pharmaceuticals, and micro plastics.

And I thought, well, this is going to be super, super expensive, isn't it, if I'm going to try and do that in my house, that's what I assumed. And then talking to these friends, and I'm going to put a link into one of this guy's inventions in terms of water blading, which is slightly different to this, but it's still really interesting is using less water. Yeah, because we also got to think about using less water, because then the water stays within the wider systems. So, so I did it. So basically, all I had to do was to buy for 34 pounds from in this case, it was Screwfix. And I don't have any affiliations. But basically, I had to buy a carbon filter, and I got a plumber, because I don't know how to do it, to fix it under my tap in my kitchen, underneath, so I had to check that it would fit under there.

And it did, because it actually is not that big. And I needed to buy an ice, I need to pay for the plumber, I needed to buy what's called an isolation tap. And that's the thing that basically means that if I want to change the filter in six months or a year, I just kind of close the tap, and then it stops the water kind of flooding my kitchen. And, and that's it. I mean, that is it.

So with this filter. So now when I when I, you know, use the water from my tap in my kitchen, is tastes totally different. And it's removing all these contaminants. And it's amazing. And I'm looking in the future. And I guess I'll let you know about it just literally you can because he's that you buy these carbon filters which are full of carbon. So that's the miraculous thing is carbon, which is activated carbon. And you can people make that kind of biochar activated biochar as I understand it. And, you know, that's all you need to do.

But in the future, I will be, I can get one that actually refillable myself so I can make my own charcoal if you like. And put that in myself. But that's a future project that I'm looking into. But when I started to, when I started to look into this, as often happens synchronicities start to happen, that I was at a conference this week, and I met a family who are actually bringing in systems that can create your own biochar in countries around the world so that they can filter their water themselves so they can drink clean water, really, really cheap system and effective system of enabling people around the world to have clean water.

But then we started talking, it's like, hang on a second. So you're saying to me that you can take this simple idea and, you know, take create carbon, there's biochar carbon, and it could be used in theory by water companies, before they actually discharge their stuff into the system, they could be using this to filter their water. Now, those of us out there that are know much more than I do about this might be going Yeah, okay.

But there's this problem, that problem, absolutely fair enough. We want to hear about it, we want to hear about solutions, and ways in which we as a community can drink clean water and, you know, start making sure as soon as we can, that we're not putting all this stuff into our river and water systems, which we know we're doing. And we know it's killing, you know, the fish and we know it's allowing for just microplastics to exist in, in the water system that we have, it's everywhere, we know that there's more by 2050 there's going to be more plastic in the ocean than fish. And we know that freshwater species have declined by at least 83% since 1970.

So these are big issues, aren't they? And I know that you all care and I understand also that we get extremely overwhelmed when we think well what can we do? But I think starting to think well how can I drink clean water and that that matters that I'm not putting into my body?

My river system contaminants. Is a really nice place to start Isn't it because I'm looking after myself but at the same time thinking Hang on a second. If this if this is this as a technology very this is a natural technology. It is really about carbonating the wood that we have, and this incredible ability of this carbon to absorb all these contaminants we can do, we can do this, we can do this.

So, as I end this podcast in this season, I really encourage you to look on the show notes to say, Yeah, this is what I can do and have a go, I said, Where can it didn't even well, with the plumber, erecting it was about 100 quid in total. And it becomes even cheaper if you were to just by your own little filter, that you've that you buy activated carbon from a fish shop, for example. But it's all on the show notes. So please have a look. And also have a look on the show notes to see a little bit more about really how this system is working in terms of climate change, and how we can really start thinking about soil and the importance of soil.

And, you know, as a as an educator, as a practitioner, that's, that's out there. Doing work with groups and teachers and health service and things like that, we need to have an experience of this. So we can actually feel the firsthand impacts of, let's say, water on soil, for example. So even going out into a field or into a park with a group and starting to notice how the rain reacts to the land that it's on, does it get absorbed? does it sit on top? What's going on with the rivers? Where are the rivers around us? And how are they drained?

It's an important step forward in thinking in a systems thinking way. The way that the Earth thinks and behaves is in a system way. And we're really, really part of that. So I wish you well, my friends, as we finish this episode, and I look forward to restarting on the 27th of November for another set of episodes, it will be season three, where I've invited lots of interesting people to talk to me about adventure play about different cultural perspectives and how the importance of hospitality and a deep dive into new ways of thinking which thinks to system thinking as well. So join me then and take care. Drink well.

All the best. This is the end of season two. Thank you so much for listening to me and my guests. We will be back on November 27 as we continue to dive into wild thinking and hopeful ways forward. Thank you for listening to this episode of The Wild Minds Podcast. If you enjoyed it and want to help support this podcast.

Please subscribe, share and leave a rating and review wherever you get your podcasts. Your review will help others find the show. To stay updated with the wild minds podcast and get all the behind-the-scenes content. You can visit theoutdoorteacher.com or follow me on Facebook at theoutdoorteacherUK and LinkedIn. Marina Robb, the music was written and performed by Geoff Robb