06 September 2017

Is plastic recycling profitable?

Obviously, it's best not to recycle at all, and refuse or repurpose instead.
However for an average person, living on average salary and not having enough time to buy only entirely biodegradable, unpacked goods it's a bit of a Holy Grail crusade.

So if it's not possible to go completely zerowaste, why so many people find it hard to recycle?

There are many reasons that people, who avoid recycling, name as culprits:

  • It's hard to do
  • It doesn't make any difference
  • They should pay me to recycle
  • I have no space for recycling
  • It's inconvenient

To me all of these sound exactly like the last point:

Recycling is inconvenient

Just consider what "it's hard to do" means. It means that it's complicated either to the fact that you have to separate, clean, take to the recycling centre or make sure you use the right container or a mix of all of these.
That is a hassle. And why is that? Because recycling business want to push as much responsibility for the pre-processing onto consumer's shoulders, to cut costs.

How about "it doesn't make any difference"? On the surface, it looks like another issue, but in reality, the results aren't visible because so many people choose to not recycle for the rest of the reasons. Hence the main point is again: inconvenience.

"I have no space" reason is a no-brainer. Of course, recycling takes space. Especially if you have to separate, keep special bins and so on. Major inconvenience if you have a small house!

Should they pay me to recycle? That's a controversial one, but only if you don't look at it in depth. Imagine I've bought wine in a lovely crystal carafe. I drank it, but the carafe still has value, and I can sell it easily. Why not recyclables? Are there no companies who'd use these materials? As a matter of fact there are. Simple example are the bottle returning schemes that work in many countries. Usually glass bottles are exchanged for a small fee which makes the inconvenience a bit of a smaller burden.

It almost seems as if the "recyclable trash" is worth nothing or costs a lot more than raw resources.

And it has been that way, but not nowadays.

Recycling industry reports show that the plastic scrap recycling business has grown more profitable over the past decade. With the rising cost of petroleum, plastic scrap recycling saves natural resources and reduces production costs.

Recycling plastic business includes a broad base of scrap suppliers, a recycling plant, shipping facilities, and buyers of the end product. Recyclers of plastic prefer to purchase directly from major suppliers, such as retail stores and chain restaurants. Any successful recycling plastic business needs an uninterrupted supply of scrap plastic which means that there is a constant need for the product. In this case your trash.

The demand side of this business has shifted dramatically over the last decade or so also due to initiatives such as the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for buildings. Post-consumer recycled content garners extra points towards certification. So that has driven demand up, which makes it more profitable than before to deal in recycled plastics.

The fashion business also uses recycled polyester (and promotes as such on the price tags), which likely comes from recycled PET bottles, very hard to recycle otherwise. So there is a lot of healthy demand compared to in the past for these recycled resins.

Why then isn't the inconvenience taken of an average Joe to help recycling become a norm rather than some fancy-pants green fighter play?

It's profit. A lot of wealth comes from natural resources management and ownership and it makes no sense of these people to want the recycling to become the choice of the future. That'd make their valuable goods obsolete.
Of course, this kind of thinking is devastating, but let's not forget we're dealing with people who in majority care more about their wallets and less about the future of this planet.

I believe there is a lot we can do to put pressure on the governments to make them aware that we know these simple truths:

Recycling is profitable for companies 
Recycling is inconvenient for consumers

There has to be a shift in obligations towards recycling business if we want a better future.
And business leaders who understand this and support it should get more help from their governments so that they can help us, consumers, live a better, greener life.

05 September 2017

Paper Tissue Issue

Green People know that paper manufacturing is environmentally harsh.

Consumers like soft, plush tissue paper and that can only be achieved by cutting down forests. Recycled paper is slightly more rough and not as pleasant to those delicate body parts we want to touch.

Paper production uses a lot of timber destroying wildlife habitat. But the process of timber gathering is already a very devastating one. Heavy machinery is a source of physics destruction and sound pollution, making some parts of forests entirely uninhabitable.

It’s a major generator of water and air pollution including dioxins and other cancer-causing chemicals. The industry is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming gasses.

According to Wikipedia:

Discarded paper is a major component of many landfill sites, accounting for about 35 percent by weight of municipal solid waste (before recycling). Even paper recycling can be a source of pollution due to the sludge produced during de-inking.

Metsä Wood sawmill in Kyrö, Pöytyä, Finland

Yet everyone still thinks that because toilet paper is soft and spongy and breaks in hands, and facial tissues are thin and biodegrade in months rather than years the problem is minimal.

It isn't.

According to the environmental agencies across the world about 20% to 30% of all household waste is paper. Less than half of it gets recycled. The remaining bits often end up polluting natural animal habitats and beaches.

These problems get raised every now and then. Animals covered in dirty tissues get photographed and for a while public thinks before flushing a whole set of barely used tissues.

But there are truths nobody ever speaks of publically and I feel are very important.

Dabbing your eyes with paper tissues might be the worst idea ever.
Milled paper sheds micro fibres, which is you're unlucky might cause serious eye damage (especially if you're allergic) or a build-up which will irritate and dry your eyes.
Did you ever stop to think why so many people nowadays get eye problems? Sure, we do use more monitors and stare at various screens for hours. But we also use way more chemicals and our eyes are constantly exposed to physical irritants.

Tissue paper ads to those.

It's worse if a producer promises no fibres. That can only mean the papers is mixed with polymers or cotton fibres as binders and makes this type of paper practically non-biodegradable or non-recyclable.

Some facial tissues are also full of anti-bacterial agents or fragrances. Regardless of what the producers claim, none of these substances are natural and healthy for our skin. Some could irritate and cause skin inflammation.

Another problem is called: containers. People usually speak of tissues or paper, but rarely touch the issue of what they come in. Most of the time facial tissues come in foil or a paper box with foil window. Sometimes that foil doesn't even have information about recycling. Other times it isn't recyclable at all. Even if it is mechanical separation of the paper and foil makes this process very expensive. 
Toilet paper and wipes come in foils almost 100% of the times unless it's plastic boxes and even those rarely get recycled, because most people dispose of them in their sanitary bins.

Why not move to a more eco-friendly, healthier and cheaper solutions?

Yes, in the long run cloths are way cheaper than paper tissues, if only slightly more inconvenient.

Table Of The Wedding

Here's what I've found.

There are several types of products that tissue paper is used for:

  • napkins,
  • facial tissues,
  • paper towels, 
  • toilet paper.


It's easy to replace napkins with beautiful set of cloth ones.

And as much as everyone advises taking one instead of a bunch when you're eating out I would just say: Take a pretty handkerchief with you. It weighs nearly nothing. Will fit in your bag or trouser pocket and can be used to clean your mobile screen when unused too.

You don't need paper napkins at all. 

Facial Tissues

Replacing facial tissues with cloth is a no-brainer. Not only are cloth tissues safer as I've written above, but also depending on the actual need you can have a whole set exactly suited for purpose.
Flannel for when you need it soft and absorbent (yes these are the best for uncomfortable sinus infections), cotton (for anything else) and even coarse linen for when you want to defoliate, wipe your make-up or grease from garage work.

They are also way more classy and prettier than paper waste.

Paper Towels

There's no debate that paper towels are extremely convenient. Especially if you're in a hurry, or in sudden need, nothing comes close to a handy towel at hand.
Or does it?
I actually know that a batch of nicely folded cloth towels placed strategically around the house don't have to look bad and won't add to laundry. They're actually even better because cloth won't tear or leave smudges on cleaned surfaces.

I also use ecoegg reusable bamboo towels in the kitchen. They are even better than paper towels, because they are stronger, last longer, can we washed and will in the end biodegrade safely. We have put ours in the compost bin, when they've run thin.

Another product which is perfect for spillages and when that extra absorbency is key are ecoFORCE quilted cloths. They can be washed and reused as well.

 Ecoforce Recycled Super Absorbent Cloth

Toilet Tissue

When it comes to toilet tissue the problem becomes a touchy one, because nobody wants to really switch to cloths for this, other ways such as washing are simply time consuming on most occasions. Although a bidet at home solves most of such problems, but obviously isn't a solution for everyone.
I'm still working on this one. Just need to organise some space in my bathroom ;)

Jokes aside, my household operates on these rules:

  • We only buy recycled toilet paper,
  • We avoid major brands, especially super white, super soft, because that means nature devastation and chemical pollution,
  • We use an amount needed not more,
  • We NEVER use non-biodegradable wipes,
  • And we cut down wipes usage to zero by using toilet paper with water or a bit of baby oil for way better and heather results!

07 July 2017

Cute energy?

Cute energy?

It's summer, so I thought a lighter post would be nice.

I bet that when you think of photovoltaic cells otherwise called 'solar panels', you envision a field of grey, slightly reflective surfaces. Except for its positive impact on the environment a rather boring view.

Let's play the game of associations a bit longer. Think China.
What comes to your mind? Bamboo? Terracotta army? I'm sure Pandas are on your list. They're first on mine, and knowing how proud and protective of their national animal Chinese are it comes as no surprise that they've used two kinds of solar panels in a very inventive way.

It was November 20th, 2016 when the Panda Power Plant in Datong, Shanxi province has put an adorable face to renewable energy.

It was a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Photovoltaic Green Ecological Collaborative Organization (PGO).

The manufacturer has an installed capacity of 100MW (megawatt) of cells.

A 100MW Panda Solar Power Plant can provide 3.2 billion kWh green power in 25 years, which is equal to saving 1.056 million tonnes of coal, 2.74 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emission, 26,000 tons of sulphur dioxide emission, 24,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxide compounds emission, and 1,600 tonnes of dust emission.[1]

But being a cute source of clean energy isn't this plant's only job. The power plant will also house an activity centre for Chinese youth. The United Nations will cooperate with China Merchants New Energy Group Limited (CMNE) to promote the young generations’ awareness to the green energy.

Apparently, there are plans for these cute fields to be built across the globe!

1. Panda Green Energy Group Limited 

12 April 2017

Storing food part 2 - or how to deal with tricky food

Storing food part 2 - or how to deal with tricky food

My personal list of tricky foods that went to waste (OMG yes I said it) previously is quite short:

  • Raspberries and Strawberries
  • Mushrooms
  • Crispy vegetables such as lettuce or kale

Bowl Of RaspberriesMould - or what looks as if berries were growing fur is caused by fungal spores and bacteria.

The best way to kill those spores and germs is to give your berries a brief wash in vinegar, followed by water one then dry them throroughly (by spinning or placing on a towel for a couple of minutes) and store in a container in the fridge.

Container can't be airtight, as there will be some mistore left from washing and it needs to escape.

Fresh Mushrooms
Slimy - mushrooms need to breathe or they will become limp, slimy and spongy.

Never use plastic bags to store them.

Opt for paper or waxed bags instead.

You might want to use: If You Care - Paper Sandwich Bags

KaleLimp - this happens because stored in the fridge these vegetables are in constant humidity, and this isn't good for most of the vegetables (except celery)
To stop this from happening line the drawer in which you keep your veggies with something to absorb moisture you'll keep your leaves fresh and crisp for longer.

Try: ecoegg bamboo kitchen towels

08 February 2017

Children with a loud voice

Children with a loud voice
My name is Ella Meek and I am 11 years old. My sister (13) and I are running our own campaign called Kids Against Plastic against single-use plastic beverage items, mainly plastic bottles. Our website is www.clearplasticuk.net in case you are interested. 

This is how the Kids Against Platic initiative has been introduced to me. In an email. A bold, very sweet and enthusiastic email.
And of course, I was interested! After all, what I'm doing with this blog, and with my shop is done mostly for the future generations. For my daughter, her children and all these kids who are against plastic and care about our planet.

Grownups often get engrossed in everyday life small issues, burdened with daily routine and disillusioned by the mighty power of corporations who stroll across the Earth without any care for the wellbeing of its creatures.

Like the recent HSBC exposure. See more on Greenpeace UK.

So it is of paramount that children like Amy and Ella get our support, and never give up their enthusiasm!

They've started a petition to the largest UK supermarket chain: Tesco, to provide alternatives to bottled water, you can sign it here.

And they are touring around the UK running their Water Table; an interactive table explaining the issues with plastic.

The Water Table

02 February 2017

My Quora activity part 2

My Quora activity part 2
I'm an active beast, so here comes another part of my posts :)

What are the advantages of recycling waste materials?

A lot of everyday items are made from non-renewable sources such as oil or minerals. Recycling those puts less strain on the Earth natural resources.
Producing new materials costs a lot of energy, recycling usually is more energy efficient, and thanks to that doesn’t drain natural heating reserves (again). Making products from raw materials uses at the best 95% more energy than recycling! (numbers from the US: The Steel Recycling Institute has found that steel recycling saves enough energy to electrically power the equivalent of 18 million homes for a year.)
Landfill sites where non-recycled waste ends up are polluting the soil, water and air on a catastrophic scale, due to dangerous chemicals leakage.
A lot of countries are either already running out of spaces for landfills or are soon going to be in that situation, which pretty much means, that we either will start polluting our oceans on an even bigger scale (yes this is already happening) or start living on garbage heaps.
And there’s also an economic advantage: recycling creates more workplacesespecially a diverse local recycling manufacturing industry which in many cases might be a solution for places where there are no other businesses but costs less overall (making products from raw materials costs much more than if they were made from recycled products).

One very particular thing to mention here is deforestation which leads straight to Green House Gas emission, and all issues connected. Recycling paper is taking the strain off of our forests and plays an important role in kerbing the greenhouse effect.

When I first started on the road to zerowaste (my house creates close to no landfill waste), I have found that it is extremely hard to fit the rules that’d help me on this way in my busy life.
Most influential zerowasters are either singles or families where at least one parent either works from home or takes care of the children full time.
I’m a working mum. I wish I had more time to go and do the shopping with all my local farmers, and choose only those products in supermarket which are 100% zerowaste.
But it is impossible. So instead of giving up I’ve created an online shop: https://0waste.market.
It is still in its infancy, but I believe that it is very needed. With it we take the burden of searching for products, checking if they are indeed recyclable/compostable/reusable off the customer. We offer reused packaging, we print on recycled paper and we use carbon neutral delivery where possible. We only offer recyclable plastics, but even those we try to minimalise, as I believe most are harmful not only for the environment but also for our bodies.
We believe that enabling and making environmentalism easier for busy people is exactly what’s needed to make that change, and that’s what we try to do.
We deliver in the UK which regardless of the big words is very much behind environmental policies of Germany or France for example.
This is my idea. You could help us spread the word :) You could start your own shop in some other country, you could make people aware that there is such a movement as zerowaste.

Are there eco-friendly methods of making plastics?

The problem with plastics is not only where they come from, as @Addison Manning has mentioned, but also what are they combined with.
Most plastics do not get sold as clear polymers or resins but usually have a lot of extra agents added in order to change their characteristics. These usually make them if not outright harmful then at least less friendly or non-recyclable.
Ideally we should not use plastics at all. That's the most eco-friendly way.
But if we have to then opt for recyclables. That way you will ensure that more and more plastics are made from recycled materials.

And recycling is second best.

What makes them good?
What are they made out of?
By “scourers” I mean this (but they don’t have to look like these… just be as effective):

We offer these:
These are made from leftover foam supposed to go to landfill. The ecoFORCE stuff is all made off recycled materials, so in terms of eco-friendliness it is very good.
Of course it still is made of plastic, but plastic that can be recycled again (maybe not everywhere), so it doesn’t have to go straight to landfill.
Another option, much better, but not always good for everyone is getting a scourer made of unbleached coconut fibres, bamboo fibres or maybe burlap. These however, due to the fact that they are 100% natural may not be suitable for someone who needs consistent texture.

Depending on what your business model might be, the best options these days are reusable bottles.
Either metal or glass, or offering your customers a way to re-fill their bottles from bulk containers or vending machines.
Vending machines are popular for coffee and fizzy drinks, and are becoming more and popular for soups or other hot drinks, so I see no problem in adapting these to smoothies :)
None of these of course are cheap in the short term, but long term might be quite a viable option.

Several ideas here to be honest.
Depending on what you need them for.
Starting from your old-fashioned candles when wind is no issue, and ending with led illuminated sticks. That’s something I use.
They’re not 100% eco-friendly, but way more than normal ones. And it’s not about the trash they become (LED lights last much longer, even the batteries they use, than regular glowsticks), but mostly because the processes during which they are created ar far less damaging to our planet.
You can also look for environment safe glo-paints, there several brands of those. And you’re problem may be sorted.

I am super fascinated by the zero waste lifestyle, and how it’s the attempt to create less trash by using reusable, sustainable items. What are some zero waste stores in your area? Do any of y’all have a zero waste home? Share your story with me! Thanks in advance.

I agree with Brian Fey in many respects.
I also know that majority of us simply have no time, means or will to go full out zerowaste.
Many people wish they could, but in reality they can’t deal with it. They have houses already, and they can’t easily switch to no heating, no driving, non consumerist style of life.
We want to change it at 0waste.market, for these people, offering them products which are already vetted for sustainability, compostability, recycling, animal-friendliness, dietary needs and many, many more.
Our store is online only, however in Europe there are many great shops offering bulk products for example.
My personal favourite is this:
Pretty amazing idea, don’t you think :)