21 June 2016

50 years of credit cards in the UK

50 years of credit cards in the UK
Apparently this year marks an anniversary of this vital financial tool.
There is a list of 50 fascinating facts about credit cards on Moneysupermarket.

I'd call this a list of sad state of the issue after half a century! And I'm not even referring to the sad state credit card utilisation mean to a lot of people.

Take a look at these points:
  1. There were around 60 million credit cards in circulation in Britain as of November last year.
  2. Placed end-to-end, they’d cover 3,125 miles.
  3. That’s roughly the distance from Dublin to New York.
  4. If the average card weighs 5-10g, their total weight would be somewhere between 300,000 and 600,000kg.
  5. That’s roughly equivalent to between 25 and 50 double decker buses.

Now translate that to the fact that these cards are replaced every year. True, some of us hold onto their card for three years or more, but some lose, misplace or damage theirs way more often. We also usually own more than one, sometimes more than 10! On top of gym cards, loyalty cards, and various different utility cards we get this easily will tally up to 1 million kilogrammes, or 1000 tonnes or over 2 million pounds!

Now some card providers apparently switch to more green card materials, but most are your good old PVCa (polyvinyl chloride acetate). It's a copolymer of two monomers, production none of which is exactly nice for the environment, nor is the end-effect good for it.

Apparently PVCa is better than PVC because it degrades quicker.
Except, that 90% of credit card issuers add extra additives to their cards, to make them more durable for example. Some do not even disclose what those additives are; hiding behind patents and such.
And even if they did, cards are built in a much more complicated matter than just a sheet of plastic. This affects recycling in a massive way.

And, of course, it is hard to recycle. Cards are designed to sustain a lot of stress. They have to be durable and that is an opposite of biodegradability.

What we end up with is 600,000 kilos of dangerous plastics which, if not today, then in a very short time will end up in a landfill near you.

Even though some suppliers switch to greener materials, I think it's time to do more!

It's time to go virtual.

That's why I like so much all those ideas some companies (I'm not going to advertise here) come up with.
Sadly most of them still rely on cards.
And if your concern is about security, then you have to be aware that paying with your phone isn't that much more dangerous than contactless really, yet people switch to the convenience of that payment method gladly.

Why should we not shift to the mobile then?

Nowadays almost everybody has a bank application on their mobile.

There is no reason not to use it as a payment tool.

I have written a letter to all major UK based payment card issuers and AmEx to ask about their view on it, alternatives they are proposing and issues they face.
Watch this space for their replies.

13 June 2016

Zero-waste cleansing routine for an acne prone skin

My skin has always been a problematic one.
It seemed like it stopped at a teenage stage and refused to mature! It is almost fine because even now at 40 I have no wrinkles, but the acne! I'd gladly trade some of it for fine crow's feet.
On top of that, I have a dry combination skin which makes it particularly hard to take care of it. And when I say dry I mean dry like sandpaper, not just slightly dry. While my T-zone can be dripping oil in hot weather. Cosmetic disaster.

I've tried creams, masques, dermatological treatments, some crazy expensive and the results were at best temporary. Until I've found the oil cleansing method (follow this link to read more from the source). 
The inventor of the method based her idea on one premise:

Keep in mind that oil dissolves oil. 

Which seems quite simple, so why have I not thought about it ages ago?

I have been using this method for a couple of months now, and I am astonished.
My skin hasn't miraculously renewed, nor does it look more youthful or better fed. None of the marketing BS major companies promise you happened here. Which, let's be honest rarely happen anyway. At least not to people with the kind of problems I had.

Yes had.

I have recognised that even though my T-zone is oily, my main problem areas were the dry ones, so I am using the recipe for dry skin:

3:1 ratio olive oil to jojoba oil plus a drop of tea tree essential oil per 6 spoons of olive oil.

This is different from the proposed suggestion on the page, but that's after some trial and error I went through.

this comes down to:

6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp jojoba oil
1 drop of tea tree essential oil

For makeup removal I don't add any essential oils!

REMEMBER that essential oils are very concentrated and may damage your skin, so before using any try on a small patch of skin in a covered area.

Tea tree works very well for me as it has many healing and antiseptic properties and my skin seems to like and tolerate it well.

That, as the creator suggests, is a good cleansing method in the evening.
There is no need for any night creams after it, which for me before I've found this method, was a must, because hard water from my taps always left my skin feeling rough and dried up.

In the morning, I follow another routine which is to simply wash your face with pure natural honey.
I cover my face with a thin layer of it, massage and rinse with warm water. Then just pat dry.
This leaves my face feeling clean and moisturised.

You can find really good value honey on Amazon, for example:

Other ingredients I use are:
Plus any organic olive oil.

Kitchen utensils

Kitchen utensils
What I really don't like is the plastic that touches my food. Just the thought of it makes me cringe, yet there are so many actually pretty plastic utensils it is amazing how easy it is to fall down that hole.

When we made the resolution to stop using stuff that harms our environment we noticed how much of our kitchen needs replacing:

Stunning and completely non-eco-friendly utensils (ABS plastic is not only not biodegradable but also made from non-renewable resources!)
What we use instead are stainless steel:

And since these are not suitable for surfaces that can get scratched we also have some bamboo ones:

Chopping boards are also to be replaced. We used these lovely, and quite useful:

Now we use bamboo ones: Not only are they more eco-friendly but also easier to clean and smoother than wooden ones:

Instead of a host of plastic containers we had:

Product Details Product DetailsProduct Details

We have moved to glass, steel and ceramics (I really love the garlic one!!!):

Product Details

Kitchen Craft Classic Collection Ceramic Garlic Jar

Product Details

Kilner Square Clip Top Jar 1.5ltr

Product Details

We also had this (I must say very useful dish drainer):
As pretty as it is, in my household supplied with mostly hard and very hard water it quickly changed into a hideous calcite covered piece of garbage, which I really wanted to replace!!! I don't like wooden ones because they don't dry quick enough, this is England...

So what we bought instead is your old but very useful steel one, which is so much easier to clean and because it is more open dishes dry quicker in it.
It also isn't very big, which promotes organised cleaning ;) You simply have to take those dishes of off it and put them away.

We are slowly replacing our strainer/bowl/measuring cups set:

With your good old metal and glass things. 
Three major points in favour of those are:
  1. Ease of cleaning (plastic gets scratched and starts collecting dirt easier)
  2. Heat resistance (some of the pieces of that set got damaged with heat and stopped stacking nicely, I'm not even thinking what they seeped into our food!)
  3. Dishwasher and oven safe glass bowls, make reheating and storage a bliss! Why did we ever start using plastics in the kitchen?! I like pyrex bowls especially because of that. They also come in a lot of sizes so you can stack them up nicely and save space.

Product Details
Pyrex Glass Bowl, 3.0L
Master Class Large Stainless Steel Fine-Mesh Sieve, 20.5 cm (8")

We all know plastic funnels, right? 

Product Details
I was extremely pleased to find that not only you can replace them with something eco, but also UPGRADE!
How? How about a funnel with removable filter :) I love it.
Again with this one you don't have to worry that the liquid is too hot.
Kitchen Craft 13cm Funnel With Removable Filter