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WHAT CHANGES CAN WE DO TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT

Ideas on single use plastics

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The concept for this blog came from a very good friend our ours.

( Updated Feb 2021)

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If we could all just change a couple actions, that we do everyday, the impact on the environment would be massive.

You can’t watch a news channel ,without some reference to the state of our planet, its resources and the impact of pollution and plastic on animals and sea life. The importance of each of us doing our little bit. Even changing your plastic water bottles for a reusable one. Small steps, in saving energy and waste. The amount of food waste is incredible and really saddens me when you see other people starving.

She mentioned the use of single use plastics to me. Something she is trying to stop using, aware of the impact of these on our environment and the future lives of our children.

Can we just use some simple steps in our everyday lives, to make that change to our environment and that of our children.

It got me thinking of other things out there, things that we could make changes to.

SINGLE  USE PLASTICS

I think you would have to be an Emu now ,with your head stuck in a hole, not to have heard or been affected by the single use plastic debate.

One of the first places we noticed governments doing some kind of action was in the supermarket ,with the disappearance of free plastic carrier bags. I do think that this has had the desired effect, people are bringing their own bags now.

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This has been slowly happening country by country also in the UK, now in France we have the same thing.

I think it is great. What is the hardship of taking some bags with you?

On my Facebook feed, I recently saw this solution being promoted , a plastic bag that would dissolve in five minutes with water. Which sounds a great leap forward. Of course there are questions being asked , such as what happens to your shopping if you are in the rain?

This bag is made by two Chileans called Roberto Astete and Cristian Olivares the bag has been named Solubag They have also developed a reusable canvas bag that breaks down in hot water.

When I lived in the States, the brown paper sack was often given in supermarkets, it was quite a novelty for me at the time. I still love the idea of these, but often they were without handles, so were a little difficult to carry.

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REUSABLE BAGS 

I do love the bags that roll up to nothing like these 

Lots of the local shops, and even clothing shops now sell a multitude of reusable bags.

This video by SAILRITE show how you can make your own TOTE BAG if you would rather.

This a great video on reducing your use of things such as plastic one use products , with ideas on how to cut down on your waste.

COFFEE CAPSULES 

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I hadn’t given these capsules much of a thought, as we always grind our own coffee.

But these coffee machines are very popular now, they are quick and easy, but the capsules are another one use item.

In the website they mention that with the normal capsules, 200 millions capsules are thrown away each day! that is mind blowing.

I came across a product called EVERGREEN CAPSULE , they say that they last more than 10 years, they can be bought in a packet with a tamper, which is recommended for the first time. It seems a really great idea, they have a list of which machines they fit, with more models coming.

I have noticed recently that companies like Nescafe are saying that their pods are now recyclable. There must be more of a push from the public at last, for these companies to finally do something about the waste that they are producing. I just hope that more people think about recycling these things.

CLING FILM/ PLASTIC WRAP

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Whilst looking for more information on cling film, I came across an article on the TELEGRAPH NEWSPAPER on a BIODEGRADABLE CLING FILM from BACO 

They are suggesting this product could break down in the environment in two years.

I don’t know what chemicals are in this product ,in comparison to the normal stuff .I did look on Amazon and it is listed on there, but not available, also no idea when it could be back.

Then I came across a petition by 38 degrees asking for this product to be reintroduced. So I guess they have the technology for the environment , but not using it?

Since writing the initial blog, I have come across an article on the

Bio Plastics News that two companies- BASF and FABBRI GROUP Have also developed a bio degradable cling film. I believe it is called Nature Fresh Film . From the link-( After usage Nature Fresh can be composted together with any food waste in home compost or industrial compost according to national legislation. It thus enables organic recycling and helps closing the nutrient loop towards a Circular Economy.) The article mentions that in industrial composting this can break down in a couple of weeks. The product called ECOVIO can also be made into plastic carrier bags. It can also be used in other applications.

SUPERMARKETS 

Unfortunately, we still see huge amounts of our food wrapped up in this in the supermarkets.

We are lucky to have a network of local producers markets here in France, which is fantastic, they are without the plastic, thank goodness.

I have noticed some shops are popping up, offering a ‘choose your own,’ non covered vegetable and fruit isles.

Also some little independent ones, where you can fill up your own bags or containers, with not only fresh produce, but oils, and grains etc .

Even our local supermarket, now has this option in their organic section.

The stuff I hate, is the plastic wrapping not only on fresh produce, but on toys, and other items for sale.

Half the time ,it is impossible to get the item out of the plastic! I have no idea how someone with arthritis manages to open anything.

I was watching a quiz type show the other evening, and was shocked that they suggested it was better for the environment ,if foods were covered in plastic, as it made certain vegetables last sometimes twice as long.

This saving food from being put into landfill.

I came across information for this argument again on a site called The Conversation.com-Why Some Plastic Packaging is Necessary to Prevent Food Waste” More information to make your own mind up.

BEESWAX WRAPS 

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These are great , you can purchase them , they come in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes , or you can have a go at making your own.

I saw some of these in a sheet form as well, by NAVEGA  , so that you can cut it to size.

I have again ,added the video from SIMPLY KLAIRE she has a wonderful easy going voice to listen to, and is very clear to understand.

I have seen other videos where you can use a block of beeswax to refresh the sheets as they wear down. I feel this is even more important now, the information on forever chemicals being found in tin foil and greaseproof papers.

TOILET PAPER

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I have been looking into all manner of things in the past year or so, why I had never even contemplated toilet paper I don’t know!

I guess it was at the back of my mind, I have bought recycled paper before, but I see less of that paper here in France. Then if you think about how many colors that the paper comes in today , the chemicals have to be flushed somewhere ( no pun intended!) the bleaching that must be needed to make snowy white paper and where does all that paper come from?

I hadn’t really thought about the chemicals used in these processes , the effect that these could be having on our bodies, or the huge impact on our environment.

You do see programs on the TV , talking about the effect on our sewerage systems, and the problems they have of clearing these pipes out. The amount of stuff they need to do to clear them to allow the pipes to flow properly.

Most of the sewage in the UK is from the Victorian era. Everything gets chucked down the loo! The impact of thicker softer tissue paper must compound the problem. We are on a septic tank here and have to be very wary of the thickness of the paper and anything else that could be thrown down the toilet.

I was reading a really interesting article on VOX.COM that explains just what types of trees that they use for different papers with the sustainability of these trees.

Also the different companies out there trying to get in with something new, such as Bamboo paper which needs less water to grow, it will grow back after being cut, but most of which is found growing in China.

There are some new brands out there such as NO2 and Who Gives a Crap ( love that branding)

They also offer a subscription service, so you are never caught short!

I also came across Bippy which has toilet paper made from Bamboo , plus they are selling an alternative to wipes. An Instant wipe spray that you can use with the toilet paper to give a moist wipe, paraben free.

PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES 

It is totally incredible to me just how much plastic we accumulate in just one week. There is only three of us in the house, most of the time.

I actually don’t like the thought of drinking out of these now.

I am really careful, if I have to take one in the car in the heat.

I have heard, that this can leach some chemicals into your drinking water. The worry on that, is that you have no idea ,how the bottle was transported or stored in the store, it could have been in a warm place.

There is also an article written very recently by VERY WELL HEALTH.COM  with a differing opinion on freezing bottles ( or other plastic containers), or leaving bottles in the heat.

It is hard to find the truth in it all ,with differing opinions out there.

The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC has more on this problem.

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The alternatives are to take your own chemical free container with you.

These stainless steel ones are a great idea, and the added benefit of keeping your water cool as well. I have seen Aluminium bottles, but these can again leach into your water.

Or maybe a glass bottle that you have recycled . I have seen some sites , showing even a glass jar being used. The old methods are sometimes the best!

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There are glass drinking bottles available too, some have a silicone cover to stop slippage, others I have seen also have a bamboo lid.

SOME INCENTIVES TO RECYCLE 

One thing I am happy to see in our local shop, is the option of being able to recycle your plastic bottle and gain a little money for doing so.

I remember in the States years ago, when you were encouraged to recycle cans and bottles for a bit of change.

I remember seeing homeless people collecting these to earn some money.

Our daughter was very keen , she thought she could make a lot of money, adding to her spending money!

It is a start, but here it is just the clear plastic bottles, there is a need to increase this to glass and cans.

( our daughter was quite put out when it refused the green plastic.)

TIN CANS 

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Of course a lot of the tins ,are for soft drinks, or beer . These seem to be left everywhere.

Using canned foods is a convenient quick way of storing foods, I have to admit not restricting these as much I can.

I am not happy with any chemicals invading our food.

One of the hardest things I have had trouble finding, was some tomato puree, which seems to come either in a tin or a metal tube, which is no better.

ORGANIC AUTHORITY have a list of the best 5 purees in a jar. Also advice on making your own.

If I can find the same product in a glass jar , that is what I tend to buy.

This article in the GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER has a good insight into this.

I do make most of meals from scratch, although I know this isn’t for everyone, or you may simply not have the time.

At least they can be recycled in most peoples areas.

DISPOSABLE CUPS AND STRAWS

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Disposable drinking cups, often from a coffee shop or fast food outlet, the numbers for these are huge, and I think it is getting worse.

I have heard there is a movement to changing the cups,as they take about 30 years for them to break down.

This quote taken from this article on MIND FOOD.COM is staggering!

“According to EU-based One Planet Zero, 500 billion single-use coffee cups are used and disposed of around the world every year. Only one per 400 cups get recycled and a single-use coffee cup will outlast your time on earth.”

One of the problems is the plastic that is contained in the cups, this is bound to have a knock on effect in our environment, and the future of our children. I wonder if the big coffee outlets could also sell reusable cups. then you could take your cup to be refilled.

SINGLE USE STRAWS are no better .At last big companies are starting to listen. They are starting to ban the use of these.

This article on the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC high lights this issue.

Our family were watching a Dragons Den T.V. program not too long ago, a guy was offering up his business plan to make “pasta straws” which was a novel concept. He didn’t get his funding though.

Metal reusable straws, these are available , they often come with a cleaner too, to get into those hard to reach areas. Great idea if you are missing using these.

Bamboo reusable straws , if you do want to have the metal type.

DISPOSABLE CUTLERY AND FOOD CONTAINERS

How do we change what we are doing with these? It is hard especially with things like Take Out food, your local burger joint or Chinese or Indian take out. It is going to come down to the Food outlet themselves to make changes, then us asking for them to make those changes. Which when you consider the profits made by some of these huge companies, should be pushed by us the public to do more.

I found an article on the National Geographic which showed the innovation in making Food Packaging also edible! How about being able to recycle all the food container and the fork or spoon it comes with. The ideas can be found, will the food companies listen? Well ,maybe when people are using their buying power to change things.

These are made in Poland

If you are not quite into eating your plate or cutlery , they do compost down in 30 days. Then how about a more environmentally friendly products, like bamboo plates or compostable plates? Some here

EDIBLE PRO also stock these to buy.

How about edible cutlery made with millet , they even make them in different flavours. Amazing story of a family in India.

USING RECYCLABLE GLASS BOTTLES

I love this idea, something which most people would just put into the recycling or throw away, being used to make something which is practicable and gives people somewhere to live for a huge reduction in cost.

NAPPIES OR DIAPERS

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If you have a baby ,these are a necessary item. I agree it is much easier to just pop on a disposable and just get rid of it quickly. Without thinking of the long term effect.

With my last daughter, we made the conscious decision to use a cloth nappy/ diaper.

It was more work of course. The washing and the carrying around of more items.

They did feel really lovely on her skin, and the designs on the covers were really attractive.

REUSABLE NAPPIES/DIAPERS 

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Some these on this link are so cute, great looking products.

BIODEGRADABLE DISPOSABLE NAPPIES/DIAPERS

I have seen the ones with Biodegradable on the label too.

Do these work?

As the estimate for a normal disposable nappy to degrade is about 200-500 years!

MADE FOR MUMS have a really interesting look on how these Biodegradable nappies work , some of the brands available and how long they are suppose to take to break down.

Hint it isn’t as great as you think!

The BBC have information on the cost of disposable nappies to the environment, it makes an interesting read.

Alongside the Nappies, is the wet wipes.

WET WIPES 

What is in them? what are they made of? Again a single use item.

WHOLESOME CHILDREN.COM have a recent list of some of the wet wipes to avoid , also with lists of some of the chemicals found in them.

HELLO NATURAL LIVING.COM have reviewed the best 40 wet wipes to use.

NATRACARE give a list of ingredients to avoid when buying wet wipes. 

REFINERY29.COM

This site gives information on the banning of wet wipes in the UK . The fact that wet wipes could take up to 100 years to biodegrade. When you think how many you can use just to wipe one little bottom!

If you fancy making your own this video is by MAMA JOY’S

USING OLD  PLASTIC FROM PADDLING POOLS, POOL TOYS AND BOUNCY CASTLES TO MAKE NEW BAGS

Another great idea I saw the other day on Facebook, was a company offering to take all your old plastic paddling pools and pool toys to remake bags and other items to sell. This type of plastic is really hard to recycle, and if the item can’t be repaired, what do you do with it?

The company name is WYATTANDJACK , it is worth looking on their website for some great ideas. Of course the colours are really bright and cheerful too.