Category Archives: Eco-conscious

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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.

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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….

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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.

 

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…..

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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…

Following on from my last post about Zero Waste, it would be fantastic if companies and supermarkets could consider having one of these where you can BYOR.

Soap Refill

These may not be available but there are companies offering to refill your bottles (SynTech Chemicals, Singapore) and cost of product is way cheaper than the supermarket. Alternatively refill or zero waste shops have popped up around the world offering basic refills.

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….

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Plastic Free July: Day 25 – Packaging

News 1: Recently a enterprise launched a Plastic Free label to help shoppers discern products that have plastic packaging. Iceland in the UK has taken this on, who are also working towards being the first major supermarket to have zero plastic packaging usage for their own brand by 2022.

News 2: Raglan, New Zealand is already on their journey to creating a landfill free town: http://greenribbonawards.org.nz/?q=raglan-zero-waste (Helegant – what if your council could do the same to reduce the waste and thus reduce the need for an incinerator to burn landfill waste?)

Waiuku, New Zealand is following behind and is in the early stages of idea generation to normalise people defining the rubbish they generate with the key emphasis on the words REDUCE & REUSE and any rubbish generated to be recycled within the country. Most likely there will still be some landfill items.

I was given the opportunity to provide some feedback in Waiuku’s initial idea generation. Want to share one of the solutions provided as shops need to ensure their fragile goods are protected without having to use expanded polystyrene or bubble wrap. So here is…..

Day 25: Packaging for Goods and Food

Fragile goods & electronic goods are packaged in polystyrene or bubble wrap as both are light weight and can absorb an amount of energy that comes from rough handling to circumvent damages. Food packaging comes in copious amounts of plastic packaging because apparently this gives the consumers a sense of safety and hygiene and keeps soft items intact.

So what can be used instead?

For an alternative to loose polystyrene peanuts / beads:

For an alternative to expanded polystyrene:

  • Seaweed Packaging has recently been announced and like mushrooms also has a lot of versatility and reduced carbon emissions in production.

Seaweed packaging 2

See Evoware

  • Hey – what about Pressed Hay?

What About The Tape?

Tape is typically made from polyurethane, acrylic or acetate. So what are the alternatives:

 

Packaging? What We Need is a Replicator

Out of all the packaging materials, think we all agree that plastic has the worst environmental impact due to the poor management of this material worldwide. However shifting from disposing of one material to another material is denying that we have a waste generation issue that is on a growing scale. The better solution would be to go Zero Waste and redefine our economies to support a circular economy which would reduce carbon emissions. Wonder what the energy requirements for the Replicator would be? (come on Manchester University – the world is waiting)…..No more packaging would be required!

 

 

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

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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.
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Plastic Free July

If you’ve been following my blog posts, consider reducing the amount of disposable / single-use / unnecessary plastic in July…..That’s right folk: Plastic Free July is coming up in four days time:
 
If you are looking for a beginners’ check list of plastic items to reduce, see my challenges here: https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/support-the-challenges/
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Cheltenham Challenge: Boldy Going Where Non-Ultra Running Events Are Scared To Go

What if every event in the world – whether it is a cycling, running, music, an outdoor festival never generated any rubbish and all it took was for organisers to stand their ground and enabled participants to raise their level of responsibility? And what would the effect be on participant’s times if they were forced to go cupless?

Imagine there’s no event rubbish
It’s easy if you try
No cups or gels to pick up
No rubbish on the ground

Imagine all the runners
Bringing their own bottle
Woo hoo hoo

Oh they say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
Yeah Cheltenham Challenge has gone cupless
And hope more events will do so

….Cheltenham Challenge knows that Zero Waste events are possible. Not repurposed or recycled waste, but ZERO WASTE.

Who knows what happens to the words we speak and the visions we share with others? Who would have thought a conversation in 2014 with the water sponsors and thereafter an email to the Cheltenham Challenge organisers once a year to encourage them to re-examine their waste would really have turned into anything…..4 years on:

Reuse Reduce Recycle

Reflections

Many ultra events have been going cupless for the last couple of years. On the otherhand, the non-ultra running events (such as 5K, 10K, half and full marathons) have been too scared about upsetting runners to ask them bring their own bottle (BYOB) to reduce the amount of single use plastic generated by the event. Additionally the water sponsors can provide water containers that are not single use!

Becos We always done it

There are a number of facts that are constantly being waved in front of organisations that many events refuse to acknowledge:

  • The inadequate recycling of single-use plastic in any country (29% of plastic is recycled in the UK with some portion of that going outside of the UK to process).
  • Not all runners’ rubbish is actually picked up such as wrappers and gel packets tossed into the grass, drain and bushes.  No running event can guarantee all the litter is picked up even when employing professional cleaners due to the irresponsible tossing of rubbish by runners.
  • There is a huge issue with plastic in our oceans. Many major marathons are close to waterways and rivers. It has been observed that “running tossers” have chucked their rubbish into the water ways, or the winds have blown their rubbish into the water ways.

The World Wildlife Fund released that 1 million birds + 100,000 marine life die a year from plastic consumption. There has not been an account for land based animals, but it has been noted the deer in Richmond Park have been consuming the gel packets from cyclist. See report here: http://www.frp.org.uk/pdf/news/1397_Press_release_Ride_London_2016_monitoring_v5.pdf. Similarly cows & sheep (for trail runs), squirrels and other animals can consume gel packets tossed into the grass by runners.

  • A good proportion of “serious” runners are irresponsible and will continue to be so as they feel it is their right to toss their rubbish on the course, regardless of where it lands as the pursuit of a PB (Personal Best Time) is far more important  because that’s what events are all about…..They do not care about the safety of the runners behind them.

We always done it this way

Setting The Benchmark

This year I had the privilege to be involved and see Cheltenham Challenge develop a cupless event. Of course a small portion of “serious runners” were disgruntled but the organisers stood their ground, working hard to ensure the first cupless event for 1,600 participants would be a success.

Environmental Statement

 

The team at Cheltenham Challenge delivered what has to be the cleanest and safest event, I have seen so far that is not an ultra marathon. A very well executed event that hosted 1,600 participants running 5K, 10K and 21km events.

Normally an event village is a trash festival with rubbish left by participants. On this occasion the event village at the end had about 10 disposable cups left around, mainly on tables that came from a coffee stall, + presumably two accidentally dropped gel packets…….and that was it! The area was surprisingly clean!

It’s All About the Trash

As the event’s Waste Reduction Ambassador, thought I’d do a bit of plogging in the 5K event to observe how the hydration points operated. The event had provided some emergency paper cups in case there were still unprepared runners.  I picked up some general public plastic trash along the route + 2 paper cups after the last check point. The hydration points I saw were extremely well run.

Following the 1/2 marathoners, the tail runners picked up 1 small carrier bag of runners’ rubbish.

Last year, 2 large black bin bags of rubbish was picked up by the tail runner + 2 white transit vans of rubbish was collected by the end of the event. Noticeably  the event village was littered with trash in 2017.

What Was in the Bins?

At the end of the event, the large water containers will be refilled by the sponsors of the water and the rest of the waste will be sorted by PrintWaste and recycled. Any waste that cannot be recycled will be sent to the energy recovery furnace. If the cardboard boxes were removed, the waste generated from this event would fill less than one 660 litre bin. The majority of the waste came from the stall that sold coffee, tea and cakes. Next year, hope to see them using reusable cups and separating their coffee grounds / non-plastic tea bags into an organics container that someone can take away to use in their compost!

Some comments from 1/2 marathoners I spoke with

  • I thought it might be uncomfortable to carry a bottle, but it was all fine. In fact I didn’t even notice it (runner who carried his water bottle on a belt)
  • We always carry bottles in events
  • It was really easy, and the marshals were on hand to help fill my bottle
  • It’s a no brainer
  • I could drink when I wanted to, great initiative

Speed Comparison: 2016 vs 2017 vs 2018

The final part is did stopping to fill water cause the 1/2 Marathoners to have a worst time than previous? (Check previous results here). So here participants raised their game, took responsibility for carrying their own hydration device for water and produced the fastest set of times since 2013!

So whoop whoop and a brilliant start to Cheltenham Challenge’s journey to developing a zero waste event where the fastest set of times were generated and everyone still had fun and sufficient hydration!

Cheltenham Challenge would be happy to help other organised events go cupless to move events away from using the traditional old fashion waste generating methods!

…And if you’re looking for a PB, perhaps you should consider BYOB

Becos We always done it- caveman