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Plastic Free July: Days 19 to 25

Hope you’ve all been having a bit of fun with the challenge. 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: Buying 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
  • Ice Cream bars – these came wrapped in waxed paper in a cardboard box. Had to purchase a set of 8 (oh well). This was also the cheapest product in the ice cream range (bonus)!

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. For those who want their minty flavour, you can 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 and scrap your tongue

More stuff to make in the next post.

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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.

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 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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#71 – Glorious Gargrave: Lost and Found

Glorious GargraveTyre: Freeus-Blod
Event Type:
 Multi-terrain marathon that goes along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal that can be quite exposed to the sun. This is a small friendly event with a couple of hundred doing 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon and Ultra distances. It is a beautiful area and you can watch the way the amazing locks work.

Start Time: 10:15am
Weather: @25-28 degs C by mid-day
During: Checkpoints every 3.5 miles stocked with fruit, jelly babies + water + squash to refill
At the End: Medal + water + food to eat
Website: http://www.itsgrimupnorthrunning.co.uk/grim-up-north-running-events/event/glorious-gargrave-2018/id/14/do/details

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Gargrave Start Point

Earlier on this year, I contemplated only supporting events that were cupless and using zero single-use plastic like the LWDA events and the many ultra events. However, with Cheltenham Challenge going cupless and using zero single use bottles (I grinned the whole day), that event indicated that every event needs a voice to redirect how they (and participants) manage their waste. So decided to be that voice to observe events and provide feedback about how they can enrich their event with waste reduction measures.

Thursday 21 June: Calf Strain

Calf StrainThere I was racing round the field in a game of rounders as a fun social with my local running club, reveling the freedom of the sprint. Two of us were left batting on the team, sprinting round the field like lunatics and then it happened. Just as it happened last year as I sprinted in a touch rugby match, the calf muscle sprung its spring. Pain slowed me down, but I continued to limp to the last base and make a final round as Paul blasted the ball into space.

Last year when I tried to continue with the Touch Rugby match, it was nearly 2 months before I could run again. Lesson learned, I played back stop instead….no running.

NoticeDoctor Me

The leg refused to support me properly and the calf was in pain. Iced the area then the next day used a heating pack, followed by another ice pack +  Gentle Massage therapy + Arnica + whatever heat cream I could find. I wanted to be able to do the marathon on Sunday.  Saturday, the calf still felt tight but I could do a poodle run (small steps).

So compression tight + poles came along for extra insurance on Sunday so that I could restart my mission to encourage events to go cupless and plastic free, and find out how good runners were at disposing their rubbish.

After all if a lady pulling a tyre, can carry her own bottle and refill at hydration points, am sure everyone else can as well. Cheltenham Challenge has shown that a 1/2 marathon distance can actually improve the overall running times if participants would be willing to take on the challenge of BYOB and/or BYOC (cup).

In this event I did notice an obvious good number of runners had their own bottles & hydration back packs, so this event should be able to commit to being cupless with very little grumblings.

Lost and Found

This event used plastic cups, had reusable water dispensers + provided sweets, crisps and fruit. Thankfully those runners that did use cups respectfully threw them in the bins at the checkpoinnts (so no grouse there).

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Scenes of Skipton by the Canal

Being the last runner, meant I could do a final review of the course and runners’ litter behaviour. Thankfully very little runners’ litter was found, however there was a noticeable consistent dropping of gel tabs found: 4 tabs on the 10 miles out and 4 tabs on the 10 miles back to Gargrave; on the second loop 3 tabs on the 6 miles out and back. Some sweetie wrappers + Eat Natural bar wrapper were also picked up over the 10 mile out and back. Though this could be general public litter as well as the canal tow path is a public path.

If you recognise any of the tabs that you could have lost from your packets of gels, or if you dropped any gel packets on the path + sweetie wrappers, grateful if you can gift your cleaning fee here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/tyrelady Your monies will be used to help EarthWatch continue their research on impact reduction measures we can take to work with our environment.

Lost and found 2

To runners who use “sucky gels”, those annoying plastic tabs are missed out by even the professional cleaners. Please pay extra attention to ensuring they are put in your litter bag as am sure there are a lot of them in our waterways as many marathon routes run close to waterways.

Personally I find the gel “prescriptions” are really a load of marketing BS. I’ll write a post on this later.

As for the calf, with careful poodle running steps and taking note of proprio-perception, the calf held up throughout. Now proceeding with calf raises on the step to improve the calf resilience.

Thank Yous

  • The event organiser for letting me join the event, who trusted that I would carry my tyre when the path was narrow
  • Naomi’s place is in a great location in Skipton. The marathon passes her house! Stayed with her via AirBnB. https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/13834105
  • To the Leeds twins – you are awesome and thank you Twin 2 for your donation. Get well soon.
  • Biscuit Man – Craig – lovely 20 minute chat to you along the canal (towards mile 10) and thank you for your donation.
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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

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What About Trash?: Part 1: The Broken System

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

3Rs

Images from doing a web search

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

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

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

Teacher 3Rs

The Broken System

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

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

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

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

Ref: 2015 EcoWatch and recently 2018 Forbes

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

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

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

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

Next post: Changing Behaviour

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The Abnormality of Being Normal

The term “strange” & “abnormal” are common words that have been frequently apportioned to my actions and thoughts. I struggle with society’s proclamation of “we have always done it this way” and “this is normal”.  It would seem the word “normal” is interchangeable with the word “irresponsible” (and can also be exchanged with the word “stupid”). Check out the following phrases and see if you agree.

  • It is normal to do a big shop once a week and throw out the food that is rotting in your fridge from your last shop because you didn’t feel like eating it / don’t like eating stale food.
  • It is normal to buy “stuff” in packaging & put the packaging in the bin, knowing that it will end up in a landfill.
  • It is normal to try to recycle everything, knowing that we have too much waste and thus our councils need to ship it off to other countries to process on our behalf. And if you’ve been watching my blog you will know that our plastic recycling rates are pathetically low in every country.

Also being “normal” seems to mean you can apportion blame to another entity:

  • It is normal to create lots of waste. It is the government’s responsibility to process our rubbish.
  • It is normal to throw our trash on the floor in running events. It is the organisation’s responsibility to clean it up after. It doesn’t matter that people slip on cups, have gel packets stuck to the bottom of their shoe, have to run through the trash runners drop on the floor.

Last one to try: of the three images below which is normal?

Circular Economy

So today’s understanding of the term “normal” just seems to be a way to masquerade our inability to be responsible and a disconnect to care about the environment that provides us life. So in today’s world, the next time someone calls you strange or abnormal, take it as a compliment 🙂 and let’s look forward to making abnormal, normal because today’s normal is certainly irresponsible.

 

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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.