05 November 2018

How to convince your partner to be more environmentally concerned?

Partnerships broke apart due to smaller things than a fundamental disagreement over something that important to one side.

But like with any such issue, the solution doesn't start with just planning convincing strategy.

It comes down to finding the reason for not wanting to do something, in the first place.

In other words: Why isn't your partner convinced already?
The might be multiple reason for it, but the most generic ones are:
  1. They don’t believe there is a problem at all, a bit like people not believing in global warming,
  2. They believe there is a problem but don’t believe their actions are meaningful enough to make a difference,
  3. They think that convenience of living is more important than some far fetched gains for the humanity.

As much as it may seem counterintuitive, the last view is the easiest to fix!

If eco-friendliness is not inconvenient, or makes life cheaper your other half should have no problems embracing it.
So make them see that it actually is cheaper to use reusable containers than to get new ones every single time. Or that eco-friendly cleaning supplies can be as good as non-eco ones. And planning meals means less waste less smelly bins and less cleaning.
You get the idea.
A lot of people find recycling segregation extremely annoying. That's because they segregate straight into the collection bins. They have to go outside, sometimes in the evening, close to those smelly landfill bins and so on. Not nice at all. But if you get a recycling bin in your house that sorts all your problems. You segregate at home. That bin never smells because recycling materials should be clean. And it can stand anywhere.
In fact, what works best for me is a repurposed laundry bin. Looks good and is spacious enough for me to just empty it once in two weeks.

Beliefs are harder to fix. And not because there is not data to support the eco-conscious lifestyle, but mostly because people tend to stick to their own and fight for to the last drop of blood. It's important to challenge those beliefs in such a way that your partner doesn't feel ridiculed or attacked.

And if your partner doesn't feel powerful enough to make a difference just look for some examples of people who went out of their way and made a difference. Like Wayne and Koda or two small girls who changed the perception of many grownups.

Too much? No time. Just ask them this small question:


Do you think a piece of trash that someone dropped in the middle of a pavement makes a difference? That's how much it matters if just one person makes one action.

06 February 2018

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel
I like stainless steel items. They are durable, pretty and eco-friendly.

It seems I'm not the only one because that type of steel alloy is used all over the World and has many purposes.

From the architectural applications, where it's valued for durability,  corrosion resistance but also because it looks well and can be moulded to any shape imaginable and simply become a work of art.

Jin Mao Tower Shanghai China
JinMao tower is but one example of a building which facade is using stainless steel

Through various medical uses, where the fact that not only stainless steel items don't rust, but also they can be sterilised and re-used, thus cutting costs without endangering the patients.

To uses such as automotive and rail production.

And what's most important for an everyday user such as myself: kitchen utensils and tools.

There's no argument that not only stainless steel items are more durable than plastic or wood, but like in medicine, they are safer and easier to clean (boiling plastics anyone?).

Reusable Steel Water Bottle - BPA Free, 600ml


I asked myself recently: What is stainless steel actually and is it better for the environment in the long run?

And I've found this: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Stainless-Steel.html

There's no point in copying the whole article, it has brilliant information, and if you'd like to know more I strongly suggest to read it, but there are a couple of points where my eco-heart stopped for a bit.

Stainless steels are made of some of the basic elements found in the earth: iron ore, chromium, silicon, nickel, carbon, nitrogen, and manganese.

Whenever I hear about raping our planet for natural resources, I feel bad.
So how basic are those elements? And is mining them harmless?

Didn't have to search long and lo and behold the ugly face of mining raised its head. Not only iron mining is destructive to the land, but it produces quite a lot of pollution. (see Wikipedia). At least the resources aren't small. By no means does it mean they're sustainable, but they are there.

Chromium mining seems even worse if not controlled strictly. (source)

Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, after oxygen. It can be found in nearly every rock on Earth, especially in common sand. Mining is practically safe and low-cost energetically compared to the other elements. Phew.

Same goes for nitrogen. By volume, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen, which means that getting it is not a problem.

Nickel? The Philippines this year closed or suspended 17 nickel mines because of environmental concerns. Enough said.

Carbon - another product nearly everyone on earth is aware of. Mining is harmful to the environment, and carbon resources have been heavily abused in recent millennia.

Manganese is a key component of low-cost stainless steel. Manganese is an important element for human health, essential for development, metabolism, and the antioxidant system. Nevertheless, excessive exposure or intake may lead to a condition known as manganism, a disorder that causes symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.

All of this looks pretty grim. And on top of the energetic needs of the stainless steel production process, it can't be good, can it?

Actually, as I've found, it is.

Not only most stainless steel we use nowadays is in 60% made of recycled material, but also, steel is 100% recyclable. That's right! If you have an old razor blade, do not despair. It might get moulded into some beautiful building or hospital needle and save lives.

Don't forget also, that stainless steel products are designed for a long life - typically several decades.
Didn't we all see at some point this colander or spoon than went down generations in our family? Exactly! Once all these minerals are mined they stay with us for a very long time and are still usable.

The same can't be said about polymers.

Most plastics are quite easy to break (according to many theories by design, so that we buy more and more often). Plastic items are soft, so they get dirty quite easy, and majority aren't that good with high temperatures.
That's not all. When they aren't clean they're hard to sort. When, otherwise recyclable, polymers are mixed with specific additives, they might not be suitable for recycling anymore.

What do I mean?

A recent study shows that only 9% of the 8.3 billion metric tons that have been produced were recycled. Half of all steel produced, for example, is used in construction, with a decades-long lifespan. Half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year, the study found.

Post-consumer products may contain as many as 20 different types of plastic material; so one of the biggest challenges is sorting it all. Apparently recycling plastics uses only roughly 10% of the energy that it takes to make a pound of plastic from raw materials. Let's not be overly optimistic. US alone U.S. uses approximately 2 million barrels of crude oil a day to make plastics!

And that drilling and mining for oil is by no means less destructive to the environment than the materials used in steel making. Not only we deal with macro-devastation of land, but also explosive and toxic gases, fuel leaks, which pretty much were the news the last decade.
Oil mining literally stripes the land of vegetation, animal life and cause irreversible land changes, but also, that's the worst, the amount of gases leaking into atmosphere is casing climate change.

Reusing stainless steel uses around 25% of the energy used when creating from raw materials.
Global stainless steel production in 2016 was 45,778 mln metric tons. 60% of which comes from recycling. That's vastly less than the oil reserves devastation for polymer production only (let's not forget oil reserves are being depleted for other uses too)!

Recycling Economic Facts (source)

  • Between 2004 and 2014, the global production of plastics grew from 225 million tons to 311 million tons.
  • According to PlasticsEurope, 7.7 million tons of plastics were recycled globally in 2013, including greater than 3.5 million tons of post-industrial and post-consumer plastic scrap.in the U.S., according to ISRI estimates.
  • In 2013, ISRI estimates that 3.5 million tons of postindustrial and postconsumer plastic were recycled in the U.S.
  • The recycling rate for plastic bottles in the United States reached 31.0 percent in 2014, down slightly from 31.2 percent in 2013.
  • Only a very small percentage of recycled bottles are used to make new bottles.  Coca-Cola sources only 7% of its plastic from recycled material, while Nestle Waters North America uses just 6% recycled contact.


Conclusion

It is quite clear that a lot has to be done to make mining for materials safer and less destructive.
Ideally, we should not mine at all and reuse everything we can, and I hope such times will come sooner rather than later.
But the comparison of the environmental impact and usefulness of plastics versus stainless steel products is simple.
Oil drilling, by sheer volume of changes and hazards is way worse than any other mining on the Earth. Not even coal.

The amount of extremely hard to clean waste produced from plastic is catastrophic, while 100% of stainless steel and and most likely will be reused, and even if not it is dormant. It does not react with wildlife to the level plastics can.

That's why I've decided to stay with my metallic beauties :)

Decorating Spoon with Tapered Spout