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 :)

My Quora activity

My Quora activity
I love Quora.

in their own words:

Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge. A vast amount of the knowledge that would be valuable to many people is currently only available to a few — either locked in people’s heads, or only accessible to select groups. We want to connect the people who have knowledge to the people who need it, to bring together people with different perspectives so they can understand each other better, and to empower everyone to share their knowledge for the benefit of the rest of the world.
That's why I get involved in many conversations, and a lot of these come from people interests fall into the zerowaste or eco-conscious field.
I thought I'd share some of my answers.
Format: Question, followed by question details and my answer.

Obviously glass bottles are best but this is not an option for me for several reasons. I’m trying to get to zero waste a little bit at a time. I want to make the best choice for the time being.

As you’ve seen from many answers here it all depends on your local recycling.
However, where I live, and where we have excellent recycling offer the plastic bottle seems to be a better solution, because it is easier to wash.
Recycling facilities struggle with dirty, contaminated plastic.
Yes, after sorting, the plastic is pulverised, sterilised, melted and reformed into pellets, but it is plastic that’s most vulnerable when contaminated.
Now let me explain one thing, if you don’t wash the plastic it will still get recycled, but
  1. One dirty item can contaminate thousands of pounds of collected plastics,
  2. Plastic is so easily contaminated that even residue from a label can alter its chemistry and affect the quality of the recycled material,
  3. Contaminated recycled material has less market value, so the provider gets less money to spend on improvements.
Bottles and bags are usually PET or HDPE plastics. These need to be thoroughly washed given that they are very sensitive to contaminants.
From a personal point of view, it’s way easier to clean a bottle, than a bag.
I am a busy, working mum. I need a lot of milk, and I am very eco-conscious. But I understand the tough choices people are sometimes made to make, and even though I’m in a lucky situation where I get glass-bottled milk delivered to my door (not an option at your place?), if I had no other choice I would go for a plastic bottle rather than a bag. I’d just ensure they ARE recyclable and ideally sourced from recycled material.

I’m a keeper too.
And a collector on top of that, which is possibly the worst combination ever.
If I got two nice things of the same kind I would start a collection.
Until I had no time to sort it. There is no fun in having one if you can’t, every now and then, enjoy it. And I can’t because I’m a busy working mum now.
Did I throw it all away at once, upon realising?
No, I still kept it.
I’m not saying you should become a busy working mum, of course, even if it helps.
My problem was that I didn’t realise it’s all useless until I was snowed under. It became a burden. I had no space for more important things. Things I really needed in everyday life.
Do you have a life? Do you invite people over? Do. That way you will see if you have space to host a party without tripping over some old box full of memorabilia.
How you get rid of things is irrelevant, in my opinion, the end will be the same: they will be out of your life.
What is important, is getting the correct mindset. Stop the ADDICTION! Admit to yourself that you actually are addicted and you liked it. Probably still like it. And either deal with it yourself, if you know how to (lots of books to read out there) or get help. Family help, even.
Good luck.

I think that e-book readers are eco-friendly, as long as you use them for a long time and not replace every year with newer. I still have first generation Kindle, and it works well. Sure it doesn’t display colour, but standard books I used to read didn’t have images either.
Today I read mostly on my mobile, but when battery time might be an issue my good old Kindle is the way to go.
Now, why do I think it is eco-friendly if there're so many resources used to create it and energy needed to use it?
Please check my post for a long answer :)

If you have choice to purchase eco-friendly unique product or regular product. Which one will you buy?

If the regular would be cheaper and the price difference would not make any economic sense (situation, where you pay for a brand, but the quality is very close or the same), then obviously I’d chose the regular.
On the other hand, if the difference in quality was huge I’d go for the better, as long as it would make sense to my needs, regardless of the uniqueness of the product.
Now bear in mind that I am not your usual customer and I am not interested in showing off brands and such. I think for a lot of people status is much more important than to me, so they’d choose unique just to show off.
There is also aspect, which is very close to my heart and that’s the overall eco-friendliness of the sale.

If I knew that the unique product is more eco-friendly in itself but comes in square metres of bubble wrap, in a non-eco-friendly transport and its overall carbon footprint is huge compared to regular then quality and price would lose their appeal to me immediately.

There are many ideas that are already introduced at a smaller scale too, I'm thinking flats.
One is, of course, switching to less electricity consuming lights, but also making sure daylight is used to the maximum potential even through the introduction of fibreglass cables as a light source.
Waste water disposal and recycling is another idea. From reusing dirty dishwater to flush toilets to actually mounting a full recycling system.
And, of course, let's not forget my favourite green roofs. Not only local bees and insects will love them, but they are also providing a very good insulation without introducing harmful agents.

You’ve already had some brilliant answers on how tourism can raise awareness and improve the social and economic state of the local communities.
What nobody has mentioned yet is the missing education children from the major cities have no way of obtaining unless put in direct contact with nature.
And I’m not speaking of the aforementioned raising of the awareness about local birds and flowers.
I am talking about making it simple to understand and close to heart that whatever we do affects nature. Which only makes sense and can be absorbed if shown on real life examples. Children who can interact with live animals, plant their own trees in a new forest, observe wild ecosystems in their wholeness, have much higher chances of growing into eco-conscious adults.
It's one thing speaking of birds choking on plastic, or even seeing images of such on the internet. But if you understand that those birds were trying to feed their young, and if you can feel those young hearts flutter in your hand it's a much more powerful lesson. Lesson nobody can forget.
public domain image from Wikipedia Commons