Tag Archives: Environment

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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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Sundown Marathon: On the Road to Zero Waste & 70th Marathon

Group Photo

Grateful for the adaptability of the Green Ambassadors who created a change in a mass event with respect to waste management at events. Awesome work! (youngest volunteer is 6 years old)

Charging Up Events to be Truly Clean & Green

After the Standard Charted Singapore Marathon 2017 (SCSM) awareness happened! Awareness that events can be responsible towards the waste generated in their events which can lead to cost savings.

After, small events of a couple of hundred, like the King of the Trails, went cup free; larger events like the Income Eco Run (about 5,000 runners) repurposed a lot of the waste generated and did a pretty good job of separating all the waste.

March 2018: The Public Hygiene Council reactivated the Green Ambassadors to get involved with the Sundown Marathon organisers, HiVelocity. Last year HiVelocity showed an eco-consciousness with plantable medals & tried to go cupless with their 5km event. This year, with less than 4 weeks to go, we would help HiVelocity & 25,000 runners onto Level 1 on their journey to designing a zero waste event. And HiVelocity would show they are an event company that would fearlessly go where other running events fear to tread.

Level 1: Understand the potential possibility that a large mass running event can be clean & can have a framework developed to become zero waste by simply adopting a circular economy vision.

A Circular Economy Vision

In simple terms a circular economy is ensuring waste from one company is a resource for another. By thinking in this manner, waste can be diverted from the landfill and events can define the type of waste they want to generate to ensure an onward purpose other than being dead waste (landfill waste).

In Singapore, general waste is burned and sent to a landfill island called Semakau which is rapidly filling up. Domestic recycling is low in Singapore due to much of the recycled waste being contaminated with food and hence good recyclables are sent to the incinerator and then to the landfill. In 2017, 7% of plastic generated in Singapore was recycled (source NEA)

For a list of what can be recycled in Singapore, see here: http://www.nea.gov.sg/docs/default-source/energy-waste/recycling/list-of-items-that-are-recyclable-and-not.xlsx

Sundown Marathon: How to Reduce Landfill Waste

Sundown will have an estimated 25,000 participants. This will generate enough waste to fill three to four x 40 cubic yard skips. A 40 cubic yard skip = 30.58m3 (Height = 2.6m; Length = 6.1m; Width = 2.4m)

Skip Size of rubbish

A 40 cubic yard skip, with a volunteer is standing next to one as she points at rubbish. In the background another 40 cubic yard skip can be seen beside the typical 240 litre bins

In Singapore, people will place their rubbish in a bin, regardless of the colour.

With Banana Marshals, Trash Directors & Trash Patrol green ambassador volunteers, the aim was to educate the public that the bin colour matters. Out on the run, we just wanted runners to simply bin their rubbish to keep the route clean and safe for all (including our animals). Photo journal dedicated to the Green Ambassadors.

The “Bin It Right” green ambassadors did an excellent job to keep much recyclables separated from food waste and to also remind participants to bin their trash and hence the event village was left amazingly with only some small pockets of litter. Here’s an estimate of what was salvaged at the event village.

Infographic

Note Banana Skins and Food waste are normally sent to the energy recovery incinerators

Of the estimated 900 kg clean recyclables:

  • 10,000 Plastic bottles went to City Development Limited and to Playeum for art and play
  • @25 large bags of cans were recycled (to be sold)

Spyder, the cleaning company, also set aside all the cardboard boxes for recycling. This meant that at least one 40 cubic yard skip of waste was repurposed.

Below is a representation of approximately 1/5 of the waste generated that was placed at the side of the full 40 cubic yard skip.

SomeTrash

Picture shows about a fifth of the rubbish generated by the event

Was the Marathon Route Clean?

Both Sundown and the Green Ambassadors did a little pre-campaigning to encourage runners to put their waste in the bin. See previous post.

YoRunnersWe also had Bin It Runners on the route and Bin It Fans (volunteers) to remind runners as they entered the Pens to bin their litter during their run.

Marathon #70 Tyre Run Report

4 days leading up to the event, I’d been coughing and phlegm was in the lungs. Everyone was warning me of the dangers of running with a chest infection. Exertion would have to be easy and thankfully Adrian (event organiser) let me start at the back of the 1/2 marathoners. This meant a one hour head start in front of the full marathoners, giving me 9 hours to complete the 42 km. Being a lady pulling a tyre, runners would hopefully also notice the “Bin It During Run” sign. I finished in 7 hrs 58 minutes at an easy pace. (Last long run was the 135 miler in January)

If a lady can drag a tyre, what is the effort to put your trash in the bin?

Overall, except for the mid-way hydration point, the course was kept relatively clear of cups, gels and bananas with litter at the side of the course after the hydration points from possibly 1,000 tossers amongst the 10,000 runners. At the half way hydration point, I had taken a banana and found a lack of bins after the hydration point. Sooo I held a banana skin + tyre + sign + my own bottle until I could put it in a bin which was about 1 km away.

Hydration Point - CUps

The last 3 hydration points (30.9km, 32.6km and 38.5km) were pretty similar – most cups in the bin and virtually no cups strewn across the path nor tossed to the side upstream. Could it have been the cleaners or more responsible runners?

 

There were definitely more people making an effort to put their litter in the bin. Certainly all the 5-8 hour runners that I saw, were putting their trash in the bin. Was it my sign? I theorised any litter tossed on the floor could only be from the 3-5 hour runners who felt their PB was more important than the environment.

In the East Coast Park, a squirrel has been observed eating a gel packet and in Machritchie Park a monkey was seen chewing on a plastic confectionery wrapper with perhaps chocolate melted inside.

Litter Kills

It is important to note that the gel packets are hard for the cleaners to see and pick up especially when they are in the grass or, worst, in the drains.

The Green Ambassadors at the end of the Singapore Marathon 2017 picked up 3.5kg of runners’ litter along a 5km stretch of the route after the professional cleaners had cleaned the route. The litter consisted mostly of gel packets and was in the grass or drains up to 2 m either side of the running path.

The event village was relatively clean. Single use containers and cups were left on the tables near the food stalls and some bottles and cans were left at the baggage locations. The biggest shock and disappointment was the volunteers’ ladies toilet….

Ladies Trash

There were plenty of bins outside the toilets. Pure laziness! (Photo by Lisa Jones)

A Champion Arises

It is always a dream to have someone take over what you are doing. Li Seng will continue the work of the Green Ambassadors under the social enterprise Green Nudge, to nudge events towards zero waste and we will be giving him as much support as possible.

Li Seng

Go Green Nudge – Make It Happen

 

Thank you to:

  • WasteMaster for their generous support throughout the event
  • Syntech Chemicals for their BYOB gift vouchers
  • Green Nudge for their support with high vis vests and tongs
  • HiVelocity for their enthusiastic support & creating the signs used around the event village
  • Public Hygiene Council for their support
  • Wanderlust for keeping the media focus on what we were trying to achieve
  • Spyder for their collaboration to help organise the waste
  • Special thanks to Chun Yeow and Li Seng for being my right and left hand collaborators & to MJ Mohammed for all the photo journalling the event.

Logo - WasteMaster   Logo - SynTech

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Sundown Marathon – The Green Ambassadors Are Back!

Background

Once upon a time there was a lady who in 2006 campaigned in Singapore for more responsibility towards waste generation. Some stuff was done: the formal introduction of recycling for each household in 2008……and not much more. So she decided to take matters into her own hand starting with the Singapore Marathon in 2017 and found a bunch of people who wanted the same thing.

https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/2017/12/05/a-glowing-feeling-of-change/

We Are Back

Through contact with the Public Hygiene Council, we are now collaborating with the Sundown Marathon four weeks before the event to do much more. The totally supportive organisers have been raising awareness a couple of weeks before the event:

SignUp

With a week to go, we went out to engage participants to agree to Bin It

Photo credits to MJ Photography

With one day to go, the Green Ambassadors are getting geared up to get out there to see if we can create a clean safe run with 25,000 participants being educated to look at the bin colour to understand what can be binned. #NoMoreRunningTossers #BinItRight #SafeRunsForAll

BinIt

Change is happening for safer, more sustainable runs that is part of the circular economy. So what the initiatives we’ve got going will ensure

  • 5000 of the 30000 Plastic bottles + bottle caps to repurposed by Playeum
  • Cans, rest of plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, paper cups to be sold by cleaning company for recycling
  • Wooden pallets will be picked up by another company who will reuse them
  • About 1.2 tonnes of Banana skins to community gardens for composting
  • Cooked food waste for bio-digesting
  • And hopefully a cleaner safer run for all without having to run through other runners’ trash and potentially slipping on cups/bottles as well as having gel wrappers stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

By using nudges to:

  • Remind runners to Bin it
  • Fun questions to encourage the participants to use their recycleables to vote
  • Volunteer runners with signage amongst the pack to remind runners to Bin It
  • Volunteer trash directors to direct participants to put their trash into the right bin

It’s gonna be a fun packed night at the Sundown Marathon.

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A Step Closer to No More Trashy Events

My vision is to see more effort and responsibility towards the amount of trash outdoor events generate by all parties (organisation, participants and volunteers); from the generation to the disposal and beyond. To see a clean, green attitude as a norm and not as an exception.

Earlier this year, I finally got a bite from the Singapore Marathon. Met with the organisers on the 20th October, who were open and agreed to many of the initiatives. This would mean about a month to make some changes in the way the organisation would normally operate, to the way the volunteers would encourage runners and finally the education the participants and public will receive.

At the same time, if this goes really well, other organisations will want help as they will need to raise their game! So the challenge would be to inspire as many as possible who will want to replicate the initiative in other organisations. To do this, I would need to stay away from Singapore as this would force everyone to be involved. It would also be a personal challenge to organise and build virtual relationships.

Thankfully, whilst in Singapore, this lone wolf found a buddy to collaborate with, in the form of Cuifen, an enthusiastic environmentalist who wanted to be part of the deal. Despite knowing very little about each other, we have complimented each other over and over again with being as upfront and as open as possible. It has been pure bliss to collaborate with someone who has similar goals, who wants to see a social “we” goal rather than a personal egotistical “I” goal and ideas are recognised between the two of us.

She has certainly been a huge resource, meeting various organisations on my behalf, helping me create and develop documentation. I have sat long days for a month behind a computer, tapping away on a keyboard as Singapore is 8 hours ahead of the UK. Between the two of us we have gathered a group of 28 enthusiastic volunteers who also want to see change in the way mass events are organised and allowed to operate.

And everyone has certainly played a role in progressing this forward.

Marinna conceived “Bin It” at the 2XU 50K marathon and we flew with it; Chun Yeow stepped in to make my clumsy logo look amazing; Hangzhong, Wayde, Sharon, and more recently Wai Sen have all taken action to progress the initiatives forward. I feel blessed to have this amazing, enthusiastic team as energy generates more energy.

The Initiatives

We thought that intermingling with runners to educate runners to simply “bin their trash” would help break the mentality of runners who simply follow what other running tossers do. So we got some runners sponsored and other runners came on board with their own registrations to be sign mules, as well as to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and to be an example to disposing of their running trash in the correct manner. These runners will be spread amongst the pack, having marathon completion times ranging from 2:45 to 6:30, to help remind runners to “Bin It” plus more. After all it is about the social responsibility message that each of these runners will spread to other runners.

GreenAmbassadorRunners

To help us reduce the amount of trash that will go to landfill, the Singapore Marathon organisation will provide recycle bins at the end point (Padang) as well as special bins for banana skins. To help facilitate our request for these bins, we have “Trash Directors” to ensure the public put their trash in the right bins correctly and responsibly. At the Padang, over 50,000 500ml plastic bottles and over 50,000 cans of isotonic will be made available to participants & volunteers. If we can ensure that as much as possible goes into the right bins, Veolia (the cleaning contractors) will recycle all that goes in the recycle bins (plastic bottles and cans). Our volunteers will BYOB to again reduce the amount of trash that is generated from our involvement.

GreenAmbassadorVols

Along the East Coast Park, close to the two banana points, we will have Banana Marshals to separate the banana skin waste from the rest of the trash, so that as much as possible can go towards composting. All banana skins will be sent to community gardens / made into a composting mix.

The Padang and East Coast Park banana points will have approximately, in total close to 50,000 finger bananas provided to the runners. Only one banana point is has been ignored as we could not get enough volunteers to be banana marshals.

To encourage the Singapore Marathon’s volunteers to be proactive and help change the behaviour of “Tossers”, we hope a video will be sufficient for them to view as well as hope they will get involved with us.

At all points the Green Ambassadors will be taking videos and photos to observe behaviour during and after the event to see if the campaign has worked. Finally after the cleaning contractors have been through, more Green Ambassadors will complete a cross check of a section that has in the past had run away trash. I hope they find nothing.

And by doing all of this, we the Green Ambassadors of the Singapore Marathon hope we set a precedent for other mass outdoor events in Singapore.

Thank you to Ironman Asia, who organise this event, for believing in us and allowing us the opportunity to deliver a stronger green initiative for everyone.

https://singaporemarathon.com/towards-green-marathon/

Bring on the 3rd December, the Green Ambassadors are ready! And note this day as a turning point for other outdoor urban events in Singapore and beyond to raise their game.

Other Supporters:

Kampong Sengang: http://kampungsenang.org/

Funatics: https://www.funantics.com.sg/

 

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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 😀