Category Archives: Convenient Life

These are random posts about finding out what we really need in life and what we have forgotten about. Do we really need shampoo, toothpaste, doctors prescriptions, surgery and more….

Chat

Plastic Free July: Day 31

Who Really is Processing the Recyclables?

I frequently hear the words “we are good at recycling, it’s the other countries that are screwing it for the rest of the world!!!” …so there are no holes in my end of the boat!

My initial post on the broken recycling system  will be expanded here.

The EU and UK have a plan to make recycling a bigger part of their commitment to reduce landfill waste.

https://www.mrw.co.uk/latest/government-waste-strategy-to-make-the-uk-a-world-leader/10024329.article

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm

There are also pockets of cities in the US and Canada that are going zero waste by increasing recycling. Sadly it would appear none have the ability to completely process the “recyclables” in their own land and have to ship an increasing amount of disposable / single-use rubbish outside of their land. China wants better quality recyclables from countries hence countries reporting a “ban”. Thus countries have been shipping  their poor quality recyclables to other countries (like Vietnam, Indonesia, etc) who also have being found to be dumping the stuff: https://news.sky.com/story/thousands-of-tons-of-uk-plastic-dumped-across-world-11218595

Here is what Recology, the waste recovery company from San Francisco (San Francisco boasts an 80% recycle rate) says

Recycling San Fran

Source: Recology

On average in the EU, 31kg of plastic packaging waste is produced per person per year. This adds up to 15.8 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste generated in the EU in one year. Ref: EU Stats

US Stats are here  Note: approx 32 million tonnes of plastic waste generated in 2017, estimated 9.5% is recycled, 15% burned and the rest to landfill.  Of the 9.5% that was recycled a high percentage was being exported to China until the China ban earlier on this year: https://phys.org/news/2018-01-china-import-upends-global-recycling.html)

UK Stats are here Note: of the plastic recovered from recycling, 95% of this plastic waste was exported.

Singapore exports 100% of the 7% of plastic recovered and burns any plastic that has not been recovered (+ other items designated for landfill). Source: here

One day we will voyage into the stars into the unknown and leave all our rubbish on planet Earth….

The Sad Truth About Plastic Recycling

Zero Waste concepts needs to place a greater emphasis to improve household reduction of single-use/disposables + improve the reuse of more sustainable options (see post on BYOR) as they are already struggling to educate householders how to recycle.

However it would appear the easiest option would be to allow societies to continue to discard “stuff” and use developing countries to actually recycle the “stuff” into new products (as seen in the government stats above). The EU have stated they want to ensure all plastic is recyclable. Here’s what plastic recycling currently looks like:

Bottle Lifecycle

Source: Studylib

For those thinking burning disposable plastic is the best method for energy recovery like Sweden and Singapore, here’s what the BBC reports regarding burning or burying plastic waste: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43120041

So we now understand recycling plastic is a poor option and the picture is no prettier with regards to waste from electrical, clothes or food.

Supporting a Circular Economy

If we are to continue our consumerism and our disposable lifestyle is to be supported, perhaps the sustainable model would be for companies to use 100% recycled materials in their packaging + if made well enough, customers can return that packaging and be rewarded with some type of credit towards their next purchase to increase the return rate…… Win for the customer who gets to keep their convenience, win for the environment, win for the supermarket because they maintain a customer relationship and potentially win for the supplier with lower packaging production costs.  Here is my crude drawing for what supermarkets can do with regards to reducing packaging:

Circular Economy Supermarket Suggest

To show a simple proof of concept, Norway have had a bottle/can return scheme since 1999 and in 2006 the return rate for beverage containers was:

  • Metal cans:  92%
  • PET bottles: 82%

Ref: http://anker-andersen.dk/deposit-laws/norway.aspx

Of course the best would be for the customer/shopper to BYOR – bring their own containers / bags to pick up goods and zero waste shops will become more prevalent in all areas.

Too much effort? London is implementing a refill scheme across the capital, assuming BYOR of certain items (bottle/cup) will be a habit, like taking your keys & wallet before you leave the house. Here’s a link to the refill app.

Finally, here’s a 2015 BBC article on the consumption rate if we lived like…

Ecological Footprint

UK is 32nd on the list with 2.4 earths.

*GFN = Global Footprint Network: https://www.footprintnetwork.org/resources/footprint-calculator/

Day 31: Do Something About Reducing Rubbish

We may not completely understand Global Warming but we can at least reduce the rubbish we generate which will in turn reduce resources used and thus green house gases (my simple head says).   This calls for some ocean music whilst you read….

If you are motivated to do something in your own environment, town, organisation then let’s go to….

Level 4: Create Plastic Free / Zero Waste in your Own Organisation / Environment

Now that you’ve been on your plastic free diet, how about asking your organisation or your local shops to remove single-use / disposable plastic and maybe you can redirect them further to think zero waste. Hope the previous posts have provided enough alternatives. Here are some more:

  • Have donated my excess mugs & cutlery to companies to use in their kitchen where disposable cups were readily available.
  • Have got a couple of shops to accept my excess reusable bags so they can use it with customers
  • Have asked some take aways to accept my own containers (plus they are providing a token discount)
  • Have asked my local council to be a zero waste town and lead the nation. My local council have said “It’s not in the Local Planning Policy Framework”!….am still knocking.

Bake your own race snacks

And to end the day, bake your own race snacks. I create protein dough balls using a protein flour (anyone tried cricket flour?), coconut oil + seeds + cacao bits.

With that happy food thought – the 31 day challenge for Plastic Free July has now been completed….Back to pulling tyres in marathons and to encourage organisations to aim towards a zero waste event.

Advertisements
Chat

Plastic Free July: Day 30 – Laundry

The other day I helped someone put out their laundry, was over powered by the heavy fragrance, and broke out in rashes during the handling of their phthalate / plasticiser infested clothing….(yeah I am sensitive).

Further notes: Phthalate exposure has been linked to an increased occurrence of atopic diseases including allergic rhinitis, wheezing, and eczema

FYI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4626318/

Day 30: Laundry

Music for your laundry…

So alternatives to liquid detergents that come in plastic bottles are normal soap bars or laundry soap bars for hand washing and powder in a box for washing machines.

Do your clothes really need to be washed?

Am the lady that drag tyres and also am the lady that washes her clothes only when they fail the sniff test. Many will have seen this dress whilst out speaking / campaigning and it has not been washed for a good while. No one complained & the smell check with everyone seemed to pass! (or Ngee Anne and the British Embassy were just being too polite)

At some point my clothes will be washed in a non-biological powder that comes in a cardboard box (there are a number of brands available). Am currently trying to create my own eco-enzyme solution to clean my clothes & to make it easier for others in my household to do the dishes. (Sometimes folk just want to be normal!!!).

Eco-Enzyme: Am making mine from oranges, lemons and some apple that were nearly dehydrated in the fruit basket (1 part brown sugar; 3 parts fruit peels; 9 parts water). Needs a plastic bottle (secured one dumped in a bin) as the bottle needs to expand with the fermentation process and it takes 3 months to complete – that’s what the web searches say Ref: Instructable Guide to Using Eco-Enzyme (across the pond they call it “Garbage Enzyme”)

So yah for the reduction in chemicals, reusing dead fruit and the delay in sending a plastic bottle to a landfill somewhere….here is my eco-enyzme…

eco-enzyme

Nearly 2 months….one more month to go and yeast has formed! The smaller bottle is my experiment with a one way valve that will automatically release the gas. The larger bottle keep lid on loosely. Needs to be kept in a darkened environment

Will let you know how this is in a month’s time. If you are concerned about pouring this down the toilet as a sanitiser or using it in the washing machine, here’s an academic study on eco-enzyme in waste water treatment and appears positive depending on the dilution: https://waset.org/publications/6989/a-study-of-the-garbage-enzyme-s-effects-in-domestic-wastewater

At this point, some of you are thinking this is too much faff. Here are some alternatives. I’ve not yet tried any of these.

Stain Remover

Have rubbed stains down with a normal soap bar and left overnight before putting in the laundry, as well as my favourite baking soda + vinegar. This has removed blood, tumeric stains and others.

Fabric Softener

A cap full of White Vinegar in my wash. Have found this pretty good and my clothes have not smelt of vinegar at the end of a wash cycle…… well so far no one has complained I smell like vinegar except after a sweaty run!

One more day to complete for 31 days of tips for reducing disposable / single-use plastic in Plastic Free July…..then back to tyre dragging marathons….

Chat

Plastic Free July: Days 28 to 29 – Clean Up

Yes thought about the Barney Clean Up song but it annoys me….

…at this point want to thank all the Fetchies for their suggestions on how to go plastic free and hopefully have now compiled all tips during this Plastic Free July series.

Fetcheveryone is an excellent site that can be used to find swimming, cycling and running events + log events you’ve completed + log training + a whole lot more to do with activities. Its a great site to learn about many things from improving your swimming/running/cycling technique to growing sunflowers to solving Excel problems and more….and forumers are friendly 😀

Day 28: Cleaning Detergents

To find a cleaning product in anything but plastic is hard as plastic is such a good container for containing the harsh chemicals which can be highly toxic in the air, water and to us, so much so that Breast Cancer UK recommends using more natural methods (ref end of this post).

When I was a kid, we used VIM to scrub everything (chemical powder in a cardboard/metal packaging). One of my other chores was cleaning the metal ornaments with Brasso (which still comes in a tin). Now a days you’d be hard pressed to find any household cleaning detergent in a non-plastic container.

Being an eczema sufferer am sensitive to fumes and fake smells, so here are my “woman’s weekly” natural cleaning tips…

  • Wipe down stove immediately after use with a damp cloth – so food doesn’t become baked onto surfaces (I even wipe down my tyre after use)
  • To scrub a surface like glass doors or my metal sink from food splatters or hard water – use a metal scrubber with water. If it is baked on then see next bullet.
    stainless steel scrubber
  • My favourite is baking soda (in a box) + vinegar (in a glass bottle) – which have used to degrease stuff (like to see the fizz), remove mould, clean burned pans; remove stains (has done a great job of removing tumeric stains) and use in a solution to clean my floors. For tea stains, add salt to the mixture and leave.
  • White vinegar (as its an acid) is great for degreasing glass, dishes and cleaning out the limescale from kettles (limescale is an issue in hard water areas).My mother recommends diluting washing up liquid with white vinegar.

What About the Bath Tub? Scrubber

Am using an old green scrubber that have had for over 10 years!!! Well its plastic so really has not degraded at all. It removes the suds + hard water marks with a bit of water. If you do this after every bath, it is fast to clean. Same with the shower.
green scrubber

Tip: To keep mould at bay in your bathroom if air circulation is poor, use a squeegee to remove excess water off the walls and push the tray / bath water down the plug hole.

As this is a plastic free series  – plastic free alternatives:

  • Natural Coconut Coir (credit to Carpathius)
  • Or crochet your own with any natural fabric you want (Fetchies do)

Have found making cleaning as part of completing cooking, bathing, etc, means the habit has formed and not a lot of deep cleaning has to be undertaken.

Day 29: Cleaning Dishes

Found this crazy song about washing dishes. Strange thoughts in the 50s.

When we go camping we use nothing but sand and the river water to clean our cooking and eating stuff. Still alive and the groups that have come out with me have all been healthy and well 😀

If you have a dishwasher, there are a number of eco-friendly tablets that come in a cardboard box. As I don’t have a dishwasher, I use vinegar + some other natural alternatives:

  • Tea seed powder is a great natural option and can be used to create a detergent but can’t find a plastic free packaging option as there are no zero waste shops where I live https://monoandco.com/tag/tea-seed-powder-usage/
  • Make an eco-enzyme (see next post)
  • If you are an egg eater – consider using egg shells (See below) to clean cast iron.
Egg Shell hack

Source: Robin is a zero waster & has various hacks for completing tasks https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155375044860752&set=gm.403318123389171&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Info About Breast Cancer and Cleaning Products

This is not meant as scare-mongering and all this information is freely available on the web. After all our bodies are different and genetics can play a role in substances that can affect disorders.

AS well as Phthalates and Parabens, there have been concerns raised about a possible link between Breast Cancer and man-made Cleaning Products from a single study.

Here’s the NHS view on that study. It notes that the study does highlight there could have been a bias that may have skewed the results: https://www.nhs.uk/news/cancer/household-cleaners-and-cancer-risk/

Follow up studies do need to be made and maybe one day one of the Cancer Charities might divert some funds to do so. In the meantime, the Breast Cancer organisation have suggested to play safe:
https://www.breastcanceruk.org.uk/reduce-your-risk/safer-cleaning-products/

Two more days to go and writing my next post on laundry…..

Chat

Plastic Free July: Days 26 to 27 – Getting Soapy

Dunno about you all but my butt hurts and my eyes are blurring from writing all these posts…..so let’s get into the shops for some madness…

As one who aspires to be a zero waster, it would be fantastic if every supermarket would consider having one of these where you can BYOR.

Refill station

There are zero waste shops around the world that are popping up offering this service such as UnPackt, Singapore or direct from the manufacturer such as SynTech Chemicals, Singapore. And when you BYOR, the cost of product is way cheaper than the supermarket.

None of these are convenient for me so let’s tackle soap & cleaning products.

As we discussed in a previous post, cosmetics (like toothpaste) have man-made chemicals that have an insidious side to them:

Ref: US National Library of Medicine
The FDA’s think it’s safe https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/potentialcontaminants/ucm128250.htm

However the EU thinks differently on this and will be restricting the use of 4 types of phthalates: https://www.env-health.org/resources/press-releases/article/europe-finally-recognises-four

Day 26: Shampoo & Conditioner

Just hope she’s was using a natural soap ‘cos that fresh water she is enjoying will be going straight back into our water…

Once upon a time I used to spend soooo much time in the bathroom shampooing and conditioning my long hair. October 2014, on my 3rd attempt after many years, managed to successfully stop using either and now only wash with water. My showers are so fast which gives me more time to write long blog posts!

If you want to try going “poo” free I found going cold turkey the worst experience. My hair was greasy and terribly itchy for weeks. Found it easier to slowly come off the shampoo addiction by every 3-4 weeks lengthening the number of days I shampoo-ed my hair. So week 1 would be every other day; 3 weeks later spaced out to every 3rd day etc.

Since I stopped using both shampoo and conditioner, the dandruff / eczema in my scalp has disappeared. Also found my hair is falling out less. Have recommended this to two guys whose hair was falling out and they have had a similar result. More people need to test this method to see if it is true.

Not ready to go poo-less, here are some alternatives to plastic bottled shampoos:

  • Shampoo bars – a number of brands are available wrapped in a cardboard label.
  • Shampoo powder in a tin
  • Shampoo liquid in glass bottles!

Simply do a search on “Shampoo – no plastic” and remember to check the ingredients (see above). Seems more products are going plastic free every time I do a search.

Conditioner

I rub olive oil on my hair as it is easy for me to purchase a bottle of Olive Oil in a tin or glass bottle. I hear apple cider vinegar is great to make it shine though yet to try it.

If you want to purchase something, like shampoos these come in:

  • Glass bottles – liquid
  • Tins – powder
  • Conditioner bars (like shampoo bars).Will leave you to do a web search to locate something in your respective countries.

Alternative here’s a lass who can provide better brand recommendations on shampoos and conditioners than myself: https://treadingmyownpath.com/2017/07/27/plastic-free-shampoo-conditioner/

Day 27: Hand / Body Soap

So what kind of soap are you washing the kids with? Do check what chemicals those kids are having fun with.

Triclosan is used in many anti-bacterial liquid hand soaps (see previous posts for concerns about Triclosan creating antibiotic resistant bacteria)

Here is an interesting video on the evolution of bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant.

It would seem ordinary soap is just as good as anti-bacterial soap for our domestic users. How Stuff Works can tell you about this: https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/cleansing/myths/question692.htm

Alternatives to liquid soap:

  • I grew up with a soap bar wrapped in paper. Have noticed the soap bar appears to last longer than the liquid soap. A web search will show you plenty of soap bars. Are there kids safe soap bars? I can only tell ya I found loads doing a web search.My soap bar lasts me for ages (been 6 months & still got a good bar)…my mother would have told me if I smelt rank!
  • Make your own liquid soap and there are YouTube videos to show you how. If I deep dried my food and had residual oil, I would probably try to turn this into soap.

Have fun washing. Next post will be on Cleaning Detergents….

Chat

Plastic Free July: Days 19 to 24

On 28 May 2018, the EU announced there will be a ban on certain single-use plastic items where there are alternative packaging. Below is a screenshot of their page. Full report here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-3927_en.htm

Eu plastic ban

I do hope in a future legislation they will include polystyrene (here’s what my brother found on a beach in Phuket, Thailand: https://www.instagram.com/p/BlTdUhOFT3D/ and biros / disposable pens.

Day 19: Writing Tools

Biros

Common rubbish that you find on a beach are plastic cups, plastic bottles, plastic lids, plastic packaging, polystyrene and disposable plastic biros. Every conference, class that I’ve been to seems to give these things out as standard.

Ink pen.JPG

A reusable fountain ink pen can be used but the downside is:

  • You have to allow the ink to dry
  • The ink can smudge if you accidentally rub on it before it has dried
  • Some fountain pens can require plastic ink cartridges

Personally the pencil is my mighty sword! It is so versatile -writes on most surfaces and upside down. Most builders use it to mark their materials for stuff like cutting. If I want a bit of colour….then I get to play with colouring pencils 🙂

Note in the UK and US, Terracycle will recycle your disposble pens, Singapore has a social enterprise called SaveThatPen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Eg6GMvQMYM

*******

CHALLENGE WITHIN THE CHALLENGE

If you’ve been following this post and you are already doing all parts so far here are two different challenges:

Day 20: Plastic-Free Packaged Snacks

Challenge 1: See if you can purchase different plastic wrapped free snacks a day for the next 7 days from a regular shop / supermarket. Here’s what I bought.

  • Fruit bought loose
  • Chickpeas that came in a can (nice with pepper)
  • Olives in a glass bottle. There was a plastic label
  • Chocolate bar wrapped in paper and silver foil
  • Cake from the bakery
  • Quiche in a plain cardboard box – there was no plastic window and was in the “Basics” range – so was also the cheapest. Tasted fine.
  • Ice Cream bars – these came wrapped in waxed paper in a cardboard box. Had to purchase a set of 8 (oh well) and shared with the office. This was also the cheapest product in the ice cream range (bonus) and tastes just as good as any other have eaten.

Add a comment and let me know what other food stuff you found that could be a snack.

Day 21: Find Shops that are supporting Plastic Free July

Having stocked up on plastic free items, then onwards to….

Challenge 2: Find and photograph at least three shops that are participating in Plastic Free July and tag with #PlasticFreeJuly #ReducePlasticUsage here are mine:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BlLFC8OFut9/?taken-by=tyrelady2016 and https://www.instagram.com/p/BlCVUAxFNvH/?taken-by=tyrelady2016

And if you can’t find any ask shops if they would give up a disposable plastic item and give them an alternative. Please do put them in the comments below. Here’s mine so far:

  • Got 2 take away shops in my local neighbourhood (ILoveSalads and Cups) to accept a customers’ container and to provide a small discount for the cost of the packaging.
  • Butcher’s to accept a container from customers for Plastic Free July

Level 3: Make Your Own

Sometimes it is difficult to purchase items that are plastic free. Have you thought about making your own?

Day 22: Life without Balloons

BalloonsThe frivolous fun of a balloon and watching it float in the sky, dropping into a lake, river or sea. The plastic attachment to balloons will be banned in the EU as this has caused problems. Balloons can be made from rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric.

You could light a candle for a paper sky lantern, but have heard of it causing fires…..certainly wouldn’t light one in California and again these can cause a litter.

paper lantern

So how about using eco-friendly bunting for those big events? Here is a blog site that shows you how to create bunting from by reusing something you’re going to throw away:

Whilst we’re in decoration mode, most Christmas decorations (thought I’d get in there before anyone else) are plastic based. So if you’re still to get some, look up craft sites on the web to make your own decorations using paper and/or plants and remember you can use compostable glitter.

Day 23: Toothpaste

Toothpaste comes in a plastic tube that cannot be recycled. Once upon a time you could swallow toothpaste, and then suddenly it became bad to do so. Toothpaste contains some surprisingly potential irritants and carcinogens

Dangers of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. … According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, SLS is a “moderate hazard” that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption.3 Oct 2017

Ref: https://www.livestrong.com/article/174367-dangers-of-sodium-lauryl-sulfate/

Most toothpastes contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is a chemical used intoothpaste to create the foaming action. SLS can cause or irritate existing allergies, canker sores and bad breath, which is why an SLS Free alternative is worth considering.

  • Diethanolamine (DEA): Potential carcinogen in humans: https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+924
  • Microbeads: Well some countries have already banned the use of this, but not all countries are the same. In toothpaste the microbeads are plastic beads to help remove plaque apparently. They are also polluting the ocean and is another reason why you should not swallow your toothpaste.

Anyhoo not meaning to do any scare mongering…..corporates are just trying to help you!!! Now I could give you an alternative to purchasing another type of toothpaste that doesn’t contain any of that potentially evil stuff and comes in a tin, but it is soooo easy to make your own toothpaste.  Some people use activated charcoal to brush with (it’s what you have in a water filter).

I made my own toothpaste, used it for 3 months before checking in with the dentist. Now my dentist normally tells me about gum disease on part of mouth, so I half expected him to tell me about how bad my entire gums were or that I had some holes that needed filling. Nada! To my delightful surprise, he praised my mouth hygiene!! So that’s sealed it for me.

Basic ingredients

Spoonful of sodium bicarbonate + 1/2 teaspoon of table salt + 1/2 a spoon of coconut oil. Mix together and that is it. Some folk want a sweet taste (as toothpastes contain sweetners), so could add stevia.

Note: Table salt was in a cardboard box and again just so happened to be the cheapest! Tried sea salt but it was too big and to dissolve it into a solution was too much work.

  • Sodium Bicarbonate: is good for cleaning (see day 6 of previous post)
  • Salt: anti-bacterial properties. I used salt water to wash my frostbitten finger to help avoid infection. Worked a treat. My mother also gargles with salt when she has a sore throat. She swears by it.
  • Coconut oil: This is optional. I used it to make my mix but you could equally have used a bit of water. I put it in to use as my mouthwash see Day 24.

Additionally I add a teaspoon of tumeric and a teaspoon of cinnamon for more anti-properties to fight what ever needs fighting in my mouth.

Those who want a “sweetened” version (as toothpaste contains sweetners), add stevia. For those who want a minty flavour, add a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil which can be found online or in small bottles at the health food shop (last time I looked in the US and UK).

Here’s a dentist who makes his own toothpaste and will tell you more about further disruptive ingredients in toothpaste: https://askthedentist.com/homemade-toothpaste/

Day 24: Mouthwash

Well yes it comes in a plastic bottle and anti-plaque versions contain Triclosan

It inhibits plaque accumulation, thus reducing the chance of getting gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). The active ingredients include Chlorhexidine Gluconate,Triclosan, Thymol, Cetylpyridinium Chloride (CPC), etc. However, long term use of mouthwash may stain the teeth and alter taste sensation.

Ref from Hong Kong government site: http://www.toothclub.gov.hk/en/en_adu_01_03_04.html

Try oil pulling. I put a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil that is sold in a glass bottle in my mouth and “pull” it through my teeth for about 15 minutes. Or otherwise I just add to my toothpaste (see Day 23). Note you can do oil pulling with other types of virgin oils. I prefer the taste of coconut oil to say Virgin Olive Oil.

The oral health practices of Ayurveda include crewing on sticks and eating herbs, as well as oil pulling. Original practitioners of oil pullingused sunflower and sesame oils as a way to prevent bleeding gums, decay, dryness of throat, oral malodor, cracked lips and for strengthening teeth, gums and the jaw.

Ref: https://www.livescience.com/50896-oil-pulling-facts.html

Note from my dentist for mouth hygiene: It is still important to floss / use toothpicks and scrap your tongue

FYI for more differences between European products and US products see below for the list banned of chemicals banned in the US and Europe.

Starting with the FDA, USA as it is a short read with 11 banned chemicals: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/guidanceregulation/lawsregulations/ucm127406.htm

In Europe there are over 1300 prohibited chemicals + several more restrictions on other chemicals (151 page document): https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:342:0059:0209:EN:PDF

Next post to look at more common products we purchase in plastic that we can make

Chat

Plastic Free July: Days 9 to 18

Hope you all have been successful in your first 8 days. Following on from the previous blog and tips pointed out to me:

  • Glitter: This is made out of plastic! There are biodegradable compostable versions. Just look up eco or bio glitter (thanks Silver Shadow)
  • Zero Waste Shop: These have popped up around Europe, Singapore, USA and probably other countries and require you to BYOR

Day 9: Milk

Milk tends to either come in a plastic bottle or in a cardboard carton that has a plastic liner.

Personally I don’t drink or eat diary but find I have to purchase the stuff for my visitors. In the UK, the milk man is making a come back as more people want milk in a glass bottle.

For those without milk in a glass bottle or need it infrequently, consider:

  • Making milk from powdered milk that comes in a tin or cardboard.
  • Making milk from evaporated milk (this is unsweetened compared to condensed milk)

Day 10: Cling Film / Saran Wrap / Plastic Wrap / Food Wrap

This is the stuff that you liberally throw over your left overs, or wrap a sandwich in…. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_wrap

Am uncertain why we need this except to generate more plastic waste.

Plate On top of bowl

A plate on top of a bowl is easy to stack

For left over food

  • Put a plate over a bowl. It makes it easy to stack
  • Use a glass or metal or plastic reusable container with a lid
  • A glass bottle works well. Have a collection from jams and sauces.

The NZ Ecochick has a great write up about plastic free food storage: http://www.nzecochick.com/plastic-free-food-storage/

Level 2 Challenge: BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable)

My bag is loaded with stuff for my day. So here are the contents:

Day 11: BYO Bag for Shopping.

My reusable bag is my backpack. For a small shop – a medium sized back pack. For a big shop (if doing a dinner party) it is my large trekking back pack

Going Shopping

Just going shopping

Tip: Additionally keep a handy spare foldable cloth bag in your bag in case you need to purchase more items. Have also put foldable bags in the car + a freezer bag.

Day 12: BYO Bag for fruits and veg + Refuse to purchase bagged items

If you’re like me – I normally throw mine loose into the basket, weigh it at the counter and then put them straight into my bag. Have also been known to bring packaging (from the cereal box, rice, pasta) to help me carry the fruit or plastic items.

However if you want to be more organised, you can purchase reusable netting bags or make your own (some of the Fetchies from a brilliant online running community have been making their own).  I remember seeing produce bags being sold in the US – San Francisco and Hudson, Wisconsin – in organic / health food type shops.

Produce Bags

Alternatively

  • Reuse the netting bags that items like oranges and brussels sprouts are often packaged.
  • Use a laundry netting bag that is typically used for smalls for your produce bag
  • See if you have any local produce markets in your area as they often sell produce loose.
  • Some companies in the UK deliver fruit and veg boxes. That is they deliver fruit and veg in cardboard or wooden boxes.
  • Grow your own. The fruit and veg tastes so much better and probably have more nutritional value than the mass produced supermarket produce.

Did you know a plastic bag in the water looks like a jellyfish to marine life. Plastic is being consumed by our marine life = junk food = zero nutritional value

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 13: BYO Containers for meat / fish / deli produce

You can avoid unnecessary packaging by using the meat/fish/deli counters. (Check with your local butchers or supermarket that they will accept your container).

Tescos in the UK has accepted my containers when purchasing food items from their deli counter. Recently Morrisons said they will be doing the same. Assume others will be following shortly.

NB: Tesco does not allow you to use your own containers at their salad bar.

Alternatively find a butcher, and / or fish monger or wet market (common in Asia)

Day 14: BYO Cup

I bring a metal thermal cup around with me everywhere. Every time anyone offers me a drink I hand them my cup. It has a nice lid so spills are minimised and keeps my drink hot when hot, cold when cold.

Many flight attendants accept them in Europe and Asia. The US flight attendants can be weird about the cross contamination even though you are happy to hold the cup whilst they pour the beverage in. They will provide a plastic cup of the beverage you want to pour into your cup!

I also bring my thermal cup to restaurants. Gordan Ramsey’s London restaurant did accept it when I requested hot water in my own cup 😉

Noted that the large chains, like Starbucks and Costa, offer some money back for bringing your own cup to be filled with coffee.

Day 15: BYO Take Away containers

Polystyrene is all over our beaches and along with the plastic packaging, become junk food for our marine life.

I do carry a reusable plastic container as a take away container. Alternatively if am going to order take away in a restaurant, have a 3 tier Tingkat.

Tingkat

Recently I went requested from my local restaurants if they would accept my containers and if they would provide a discount if folk brought their own containers. 2 out of 7 said they would discount the meal.

In Singapore, some stall holders in the hawker centres charge if they have to provide a container for you to take away.

A study in Winchester University found that charging for something was a better incentive for customers to BYOR rather than providing a discount!

Day 16: BYO Cutlery & Plate

I bring my own metal cutlery / chopsticks + reusable tin plate every where. In the past at the pre-pasta events, the volunteers have been a little bewildered about me handing them a plate to fill up with pasta.

Have to tell them am on a plastic free diet.

Day 17: BYO Hydration Device

BYOB

Metal Bottles

My metal bottles

On ultras I have:

  • A water bladder in a back pack
  • A bottle for energy drinks
  • A cup for a hot drink or soup that might be offered. If you’re worried about weight there are collapsible racing cups as well as titanium cups.

On road trips I do have a lovely metal bottle that was a gift as well as one I had bought for about 3GBP

I use my lighter water bottle for general use when am out and about.

Day 18: BYO Towel

Wet wipes are a mixture of fibres that includes plastic (polyester or polypropylene). So they are slow to break down and will obviously release micro-plastic into the environment. They have been in the news as part of the problem to creating fatbergs and thus blocking sewage pipes.

Images and article can be found from ABC news

This is a world issue, yet the governments continue to allow flushable wet wipes! If they can ban climbing frames and monkey bars due to health and safety, surely wet wipes should be banned as well! A fatberg stinks because it is rotting stuff that people have flushed down the toilet or down the kitchen sink! 😦

Wet wipes are also traditionally used to wipe your hands & face. I bring a small hand towel around where ever I go, that I can wet, as well as use to dry my hands after washing them in the sink! The zero waster in me prefers a reusable towel rather than a single-use disposable paper towel…….think they used to call this a handkerchief 😉

….and so there you have the contents of my bag.

For those who like wet wipes for children, make up, etc you might try Cheeky Wipes (credit to Wine Legs). The fabric is natural and is reusable.

Cheeky Wipes.JPG

The Next Post will include making your own to further avoid plastic packaging.

 

Chat

Plastic Free July: Days 1 to 8

Have been challenged by a buddy to suggest one item a day that people can give up on their journey to giving up single-use / disposable plastic items. Here it goes….

Finding Alternatives To Single Use / Disposable

Firstly if you already have disposable items, finish using them and dispose of them correctly with the facilities that are available in your country. The ideas for the alternatives is that the items can be used for potentially your entire life and be properly reused as a resource for something else.

Day 1: Plastic Straw

Since the turtle with the straw in its nose, plastic straws have had a bad name.

turtle straw.JPG

Personally I don’t use them and am irritated to see soooooo many plastic straws on the  beach when doing a beach clean. However I do understand if you are very young or elderly or special needs a straw is an invaluable tool to help you drink.

Reusable and requires cleaning after use:

  • Bamboo straws
  • Metal straws
  • Glass straws

If you do require disposable:

Bucatini Pasta

Bucatini Pasta could be used as straws

  • Cardboard straws
  • Pasta straws (takes me back to when we were young and used to try to drink our soup with large macroni pasta – Bucatini Pasta)

Consider reusing your plastic straws multiple times and maybe you can turn it into art or something (search web)

Day 2: Disposable Razor

Being of an Oriental disposition have not required to use a razor. One of my brothers uses a pair of tweezers to keep his facial hair at bay. But I have heard about:

  • Reusable Razors where you just change the blade and there are devices to sharpen the blade if it does become blunt.
  • Electric shavers
  • Waxing

Put a comment and tell me your best form of hair removal…..cos at the moment all I need to do is cut the hair off my head every so often (thanks mum).

Day 3: Disposable Toothbrush

Alternative at the moment I use a bamboo toothbrush. FYI: https://urbanvegan.net/bamboo-toothbrush/#natural-bristles

But since then have learned about:

  • Other biodegradable cellulose materials that are being now used.
  • Toothbrushes where just the head can be changed to compostable head. Yes you keep the handle, so its like a razor where you just change the blade.
  • Chewing on a neem twig or miswak twig (also know as the toothbrush tree)
  • If you have an electric toothbrush, the heads apparently only need to be replaced once a year!

Tree Hugger has further information on this: https://www.treehugger.com/green-home/6-toothbrushes-keep-your-teeth-clean-and-green.html

Day 4: Cotton Buds with Plastic Handles

They say you should not use a cotton bud (q-tip) to clean your ear. It will do it naturally. I suffer from eczema and unfortunately some is in my ear. So creaming it helps to reduce the itch.

Alternative are paper based handles. It is noted countries are also banning plastic handled cotton buds since Justin Hoffman’s sea horse.

seahorse

So assume plastic handled cotton buds will be phased out.

Day 5: Bottles In The Car / Travel Bottles

Depending on the type of plastic used to create the bottle, some types of plastic can leach out chemicals when they are warmed. There was an interesting Taiwanese children’s show I watched where they got the children to measure the amount of BPA (and another chemical which I cannot remember) leaching out of different types of plastic. Heat certainly did cause greater amounts of these chemicals to leach out of the plastic into the liquids that it was in contact with.

The BBC has a page to describe the numbers and then you can do a search on which of those leaches chemicals into the contacting food when heated.

Plastic Numbers.JPG

For the full table see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7516859.stm

Anyhow so alternatives to single-use plastic bottles are:

  • Glass bottles
  • Metal bottles
Metal Bottles

Aluminium Bottle on the left, Stainless Steel on the right

I suspect the best would be the glass bottle, but if you are one of those that drops things…..then…. I do like the stainless steel thermal bottle to keep hot and cold stuff but equally you can get insulating sleeves for your bottles to improve the insulating qualities of any bottle.

Day 6: Baking Soda / Powder also known as Sodium Bicarbonate

I love using this as a cleaning agent! With a bit of salt + a bit of vinegar it has cleaned a whole host of items such as burnt pots. However our local supermarkets tend to sell this in a plastic container. I don’t like advertising any brand but on this occasion have found only found Arm and Hammer sell the stuff in a box:

arm and hammer baking powder

Day 7: Women’s Stuff (blokes miss this section)

Yup many of the things we are using are plastic items even the tampons are a mixture of plastic fibres when having to handle that time of the month.

Consider purchasing a menstrual cup or there are natural menstrual pads. There are reusable menstrual pads and will require you to wash them. Of course I have favoured the menstrual cup as it means that on expeditions I am free of the burden of carrying stuff to deal with it and they are easy to clean + personally I find them way nicer to handle than a soggy……

Day 8: Your Plastic Groceries

Coffee strainerLook at your own shopping list and see if there are alternatives to the ones in plastic packaging. Also there are sneaky ones like tea bags that have plastic fibres mixed in…..so look for one that does not contain plastic. I use loose tea and put in a coffee decanter to separate the tea leaves from the liquid 😀

Or perhaps you can BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable) to a zero waste shop that are popping up around the world.

Do feel free to share an alternative that you have purchased to a commonly used disposable item.

Next post:

  • Days 9-15 – will be discussing what’s in me bag that I bring to the office and to outdoor events so I can REFUSE to use single use plastic.
Chat

What About Trash?: Part 1: The Broken System

Out of the 3 Rs, which one should take priority? Is there a preference to this? Does it matter?

3Rs

Images from doing a web search

Recently I spoke at the British Embassy (government agency), Syntech Chemicals (private company), Ngee Ann Polytechnic (higher education establishment) & St Joseph International (13 year olds) on changing their organisation. I asked them the same question and got different responses which is perfectly fine as there is confusion on the web and images we see.

It is interesting to hear from people at the many marathons I’ve spoken at that they practice the 3Rs because they recycle. When I tell them that process is broken, many do not believe this (or perhaps do not want to hear this).  Obviously Recycle is like being able to feel “guilt-free” for generating trash and throwing it away.  Reduce and Reuse is more effort.

Here’s a teaching aid I found whilst conducting my web search. What is odd is where Recycle is placed and how it is treated in the text. Can you see what I see?

Teacher 3Rs

The Broken System

Plastic is the baddie but is the issue single use plastic or is it just our poor handling of trash that is the issue?

In 2017, National Geographic reported that 91% of the world’s plastic has not been recycled. Here is an extraction about plastic from that article:

Of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled. The vast majority—79 percent—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter. Meaning: at some point, much of it ends up in the oceans, the final sink.

You just have to look at the Municipal Solid Waste stats around the world to know it is pretty clear that Nat Geo’s headlines “A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn’t Recycled” is real.  No society recycles plastic well. Around the world plastic recycling averages to pretty low in comparison to glass, paper and cans. Plastic recycling in Europe @30%, USA & Asia @8%, and even then Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand and some Asian countries send a size-able chunk of their “recyclables” to mainly 5 developing nations to process. In 2015, these same countries were reported to being the top 5 nations to dump plastic into the ocean: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ref: 2015 EcoWatch and recently 2018 Forbes

Worldwide has been made aware of the plastic issue and at the end of 2017, a UN agreement was signed by nearly 200 nations to reduce the amount of plastic that enters the ocean (currently standing at an estimated 8 million tonnes)

Recycling and passing the buck onto other countries certainly is not going to reduce plastic entering the ocean and is probably why bioplastics is set to become popular in our need to have convenience.

Have a look at the “recyclables” over a month and identify which one is the most common between plastic, glass, cans and paper/cardboard.

So are you still sticking with the R(s) you chose?

Next post: Changing Behaviour

Chat

The 2 Degree Challenge

MyTemperatureWhen I announced I was going to turn off my fridge, someone (Jess) suggested that my heating temperature should also be turned down. I decided to do it by 2 degrees.
Now you might think that perhaps I turned down my house temperature because apparently this year our carbon emissions rose by 2% and we have seen a wrath of climate issues round the world related to global warming (hurricanes, tornadoes, bush fires, massive flooding)
Source is here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2152929-bad-news-carbon-emissions-have-suddenly-started-rising-again/
And our carbon emissions are set to continue to rise. The amount of energy we burn at this time of the year for heating or cooling is pretty substantial and so wondered, what if we all tried a 2 degree challenge for at least for 1 year how much difference would that make?

No I thought 2 degrees C was a better challenge than 1 degrees C…. But now it’s been mentioned….

2DegreeChallenge

If you’re in a cold country, reduce your heating thermostat by 2 degrees C.
If you’re in a hot country, and use an air conditioner, increase the thermostat by 2 degrees C.
Currently am living in the UK and my house heating is normally at 17 degs C. I wear 3 layers on top. Have now turned it down to 15 degs C and a fourth layer has gone on when am sitting still doing nothing but looking at me compewtor. All was good on day 1, as the cooler temperature forced me to move more.
….And then I had to have a shower. As I stood in the cold bathroom on the cold floor, my brain refused to allow me to undress myself and forced me to put the heating back up to 17 degs C…..Day 1 was a definite DNF
Day 2 has worked out better when I went for a hard run. The cold bathroom felt refreshing. I’ll print myself a certificate later!
Day 3 – have actually gone back to 3 layers on top, but 2 layers on the bottom. Will do some core strength work before I try a shower later.

Benefits Of Doing the 2 Degree Challenge:

– Less carbon emissions
– Reduced energy bill
– Your body learns to adapt better (see Wim Hof and Runner Dad links below) and thus will make you stronger in your health

So how about it? Will you take on the 2 degree challenge? Tell me how it goes…The harder core folk can try a 5 degree challenge.
For the sake of our perceived comfort, what’s 2 degrees C if it shows that reducing carbon emissions can reduce global warming and in turn reduce the number of natural disasters we have seen?

And For The Extra bonus challenge: The Cold Shower

Another buddy (Gerrard) has suggested trying the Wim Hof method  http://www.icemanwimhof.com/wim-hof-exercises
Yes I will be taking the extra bonus to see if I can do a cold shower in a cold bathroom.

Other notes:

Human Biology taught me that our bodies can thermo-adapt to remain in homeostasis. When I was in -40 degs C, I felt warm returning back into -20 degs C and wore a thin shirt. 
Same in the tropics in Singapore. In the heat, am fine when it is 35 degrees C and wore a jumper when when it went down to 25 degrees. In the UK, 25 degrees C is positively shorts and t-shirt weather.
And finally for those who think am just being extreme, here is a final read of cold adaptation: https://therunnerdad.com/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-adapt-to-the-cold/
“Try something old” to allow our natural states to adapt.
Look forward to hearing your stories or seeing your vlogs 😀
Chat

Timeline So Far….

Am reflecting and reminding myself on what we really need to survive in this “living journey”. Am finding out that our reliance on conveniences means we begin to lose ways of doing things that once was done in generations nearly gone. And so am unlocking what we really need in my own convenient life and “trying something old”.

So what can I give up?

13 November 2017: Giving up the Fridge & Turning Down the Heat

Today I turned off my fridge for a 2 week trial period as I don’t eat diary and only eat meat when visiting my relatives. My fridge contains condiments and vegetables. Someone suggested I turn down the house heating, so it is now on 15 degrees. Yep – dressing warm.

Fridge1

Veggies and condiments are left. So time to turn off the fridge for a 2 week trial

Can’t believe we have 6 jars of mustard partly opened.

Aug 2017: Toothpaste Does It Really Help?

Made my own toothpaste

Toothpaste

Went to my dentist end of September. He told me I don’t have gum disease! Should be noted, every time I’d see him previously, he would warn me about some gum disease. Think it’s the tumeric in the mix which is supposed to be a natural antiseptic.

 October 2014: Shampoo – It’s Just Poo For Hair

Stopped using shampoo. In 2017, my scalp is in far better shape – no more dry itchy scalp. It should be noted, suddenly stopping usage made my scalp intolerably itchy and greasy.

Third attempt – decreased the frequency of shampooing my hair over 1.5 months. So instead of every day, every other day. Once the scalp seemed used to that, then every 2 days, etc.

Feb – May 2014: Surgery to Remove a Frostbitten Finger: No Way

Showed a hand surgeon at St. George’s Hospital, London, my grade 2-3 frostbitten finger. He’s eyes could not contain his excitement of wanting a black necrotic finger to add to his collection of pickled digits. It healed in 12 weeks by applying aloe vera and salt water. A one week course of anti-biotics was taken due to paranoia that the finger might have become infected but in fact was all good.

2012: Packaged Items: Tried Going Plastic Packaging Free

Kept the packaging from groceries such as the empty packaging for pasta. Found there was too much ^&*( plastic packaging. So tried to go plastic free for a couple of weeks. It is hard when everywhere sells everything in plastic…..unless I eat veggies…..hmmm

2011-2012: Surgery for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome? Saved going under the knife by a holistic masseur

Yes I was skeptical at first when a friend told me she was a “holistic masseur”.

At the end of 2010, I had a swollen hand that continued to tingle and feel numb for the whole year. The GP prescribed anti-inflammatories. They kind of worked, but not really. After a year and a 1/2, was sent to the neurologist who told me had to have an operation. This would happen in 3 months.

In that time, a friend intervened and conducted massage therapy. After one session, the swelling already began to subside. After one week, my hand was normal.

When I returned to the neurologist was told I no longer had carpel tunnel syndrome. My hand is still normal in 2017.

2010: Soap and Toiletries from Hotels: BYOR to hotels

I travel a lot in my job, and stay in hotels. The small bottles of stuff were cute but then realised a lot was chucked even if it was 1/2 empty. So now BYOR a bar of soap & my own toiletries.

2008-2010: Could Prescribed Medicines Be Making Eczema Worst?

Before going to the Arctic, I was suffering badly from head to toe eczema. In fact I’d been suffering for many years since a teenager. The doctor prescribed hydro cortisone & emollients. This used to relieve the itching and then it would come back more aggressive and spread until I was covered in dry scaly itchy skin.

April, 2008 I finally went on the war path with the dermatitis I’d been suffering from. By the end of 2008 gave up steroid creams. In 2009 gave up the doctor’s prescribed emollients. After using normal commercial creams, the itching was still there but less intense.

In 2010 my skin was “miraculously” clear. Finally I could enjoy feeling smooth patches on my body! Now in 2017, I suffer from small patches but no way as bad as when I was using the GPs prescribed steroid creams and emollients. Decided that the pharmaceuticals produce stuff that only temporarily relieves the itch and in fact exacerbates the condition. The temporary relief psychologically makes us think it is making us better. I wondered whether pharmaceuticals like this kind of condition as it is not life threatening and thus can make money on repeat prescriptions.

Note: Still occasionally take a 1/4 of an antihistamine at night to relieve any eczema itching that might flare up.

2007: Do We Really Need Disposable Plastic:  BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable) to places

End of 2006, beginning of 2007, I discovered how bad our municipal waste treatment centres really were at recycling. Horrified at the less than 10% figures for plastic.

It is now habit to carry these items when I go out

  • Thermal cup
  • Melamine plate + cutlery to the workplace (the canteen used plastic everything)
  • Take away containers
  • Reusable bag