#9 – packing a punch, oh oops, lunch. packing a lunch!

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Question: How do I go plastic-free with a kids lunchbox?

As more information becomes public on the damages that plastics can cause, I find that I am becoming more discerning on reusing some types of plastics.  David Suzuki Foundation has published a fact sheet informing us on which plastics are more suitable for reuse under the plastic by numbers table.  Numbers 1, 3, 6 & 7 should not be reused and therefore if we can, avoid at the point of sale.

Hopefully what we have already in the home (including those plastic containers that grow legs and separate – magically – from their lids that not even a cooee will help…) fit within the reusable plastic numbers (2, 4 & 5).   Even when we can’t find them when required.

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Plastic #2 – HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

  • Plastic #2 is typically opaque and picked up by most curbside recycling programs. This plastic is one of the 3 plastics considered to be safe, and has a lower risk of leaching.
  • It’s found mostly in milk jugs, household cleaner containers, juice bottles, shampoo bottles, cereal box liners, detergent bottles, motor oil bottles, yogurt tubs, and butter tubs.ilk jugs, detergent bottles, juice bottles, butter tubs, and toiletries bottles are made of this.  It is usually opaque. This plastic is considered safe and has low risk of leaching.
  • Plastic #2 is recycled into pens, recycling containers, picnic tables, lumber, benches, fencing, and detergent bottles, to name a few.

Plastic #4 – LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

  • Low density polyethylene is most found in squeezable bottles, shopping bags, clothing, carpet, frozen food, bread bags, and some food wraps. Curbside recycling programs haven’t been known to pick up this plastic, but more are starting to accept it. Plastic #4 rests among the recycling symbols considered to be safe.
  • This plastic is recycled into compost bins, paneling, trash can liners and cans, floor tiles, and shipping envelopes.

Plastic #5 – PP (Polypropylene)

  • Increasingly becoming accepted by curbside recycle programs, plastic #5 is also one of the safer plastics to look for.
  • It is typically found in yogurt containers, ketchup bottles, syrup bottles, and medicine bottles.
  • Polypropylene is recycled into brooms, auto battery cases, bins, pallets, signal lights, ice scrapers, and bycycle racks.

 

So what to do now with any non reusable items – from the leading picture – that have been acquired unknowingly;  and, how should we repurpose or dispose of these ‘single use’ avoidable types?  e.g. I could keep sewing items in one; soap flakes for the shower in another; bottles of condiments etc in the larder; reuse the ziplock bag; compost the raisin package.  As for the water bottle, it would sit at the back of the cupboard for the time being, especially not knowing if it contains BPA and I haven’t thought of a suitable reuse just yet.

Which leads us to replacing plastics, and what to replace with.

Recently I had a brief discussion about silicone and the point made to me was – in todays age, is it realistic to avoid all plastics and is silicone an acceptable alternative?  I don’t think so, but I can be very choosy as to what plastics, that sit outside of my control that are allowed into the house.  For example; medicines, sterilised products.

The following URL outlines some cons with silicone outlining why we should begin to be cautious about silicone.

Without turning this blog entry into a science review, I am keen on trialling the below food container products.  Currently I reuse yoghurt containers for my cold lunches as they do seal quite well for liquids; stainless steel drink bottle with bamboo lid; ceramic and glass containers, bees wax wrap, and paper wrap.

In closing, I am just that bit more resolved to remove as much synthetic product as possible from from my day to day life.

This narrative is not done yet …

 


 

Source:  https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/food-warnings-and-safety/plastic/articles/bpa-in-canned-foods

Source: http://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/store/is_silicone_a_plastic#.Vq2jhzb2N-U

source: http://naturalsociety.com/recycling-symbols-numbers-plastic-bottles-meaning/

source: http://www.healthychild.org/know-your-plastics/

source: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2010/plasticsbynumber.pdf

source: http://boomerangbags.org/shop/

 

 

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#8 – say no to the sticky tape

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During my (continuing) journey to reducing plastics and waste, I find that I am ever-increasingly overwhelmed with the variety of alternate products.  It is truly wonderful.  For example; the pictured soap is not bad.  It washes the clothes reasonably well, although I haven’t tried heavily soiled items.  But moreso, the soap is a surprisingly fabulous organic shampoo.

As I am learning and my behaviour changes, I am naturally tending to question more when looking to purchase any product, like; its packaging, and if the item is really needed, and, at what quantity.

Take the the soaps’ packaging for instance; it is waxy, and I do not know if the waxy paper is made from soybean wax or paraffin; and, is the paraffin derived from vegetable oil or petroleum?  Either way, I am not sure the worms will care for it, and not that I am any expect on worm gastronomy, except to categorically state that they [worms] are not very favourable to onions!

Then, there is the dilemma of staples and the sticky tape that was used to seal the soap and to adhere the label respectively.  The staple – being the natural enemy to the photocopier – recently became mine on the recycle front.  How many staples to you need to make staple recycling viable.

Because such a dilemma required my immediate attention I found the stapleless stapler and the very clever fold the paper without a stapler method.

Happy shopping and please feel free to leave a comment on any ideas / products you have used / found / endorse.

 

#Plastic #Junk #Litters our #Oceans, Killing Sea Life — And it’s Getting Worse

source: http://billmoyers.com/content/plastic-junk-destroying-oceans/

garbagepatchNatGeo

The ocean may conjure up images of coral islands, gray whales and deep blue seas, but plastic junk?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a collection of debris in the North Pacific ocean – is one of five major garbage patches drifting in the oceans.

Captain Charles J. Moore recently returned from a six-week research trip to the patch and was “utterly shocked” by how the quantity of plastic debris – everything from hard hats to fishing nets to tires to tooth brushes — had grown since his last trip there in 2009.

“It has gotten so thick with trash that where we could formerly tow our trawl net for hours, now our collection tows have to be limited to one hour,” Moore, founder of Algalita Marine Research and Education, told BillMoyers.com

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch actually has two parts — the Western Garbage Patch, near Japan and the Eastern Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. It is actually two distinct collections of debris bounded by the massive North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. (Image: National Geographic)

“It is the concentration of debris that is growing,” says Moore, who has been studying the patch for 15 years. Moore used aerial drones on his latest expedition to assess the amount of garbage in the eastern patch – which he said is about twice the size of Texas – and found that there is 100 times more plastic by weight than previously measured.

While you might think of a garbage patch as some large congealed mass whose borders are easily definable, it doesn’t quite work like that. Most of the garbage patch is made up of tiny fragments of plastic – notorious for being exceptionally slow to break down – and virtually invisible to the eye.

Scooping up trash at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch https://vimeo.com/108923352 (video)

 

Much of the debris, about 80%, comes from land-based activities in Asia and North America, according to National Geographic, the remainder comes from debris that has been dumped or lost at sea. It takes about six years for the trash from the coast of North America to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and about one year from Japan.

“The larger objects come mostly from Asia because they arrive there sooner before they can become embrittled and break into bits, which is what happens to North American debris,” Moore says.

These plastics can make the water look like a giant murky soup, intermixed with larger items such as fishing nets and buoys. On his latest trip, Moore said he came upon a floating island of such debris used in oyster aquaculture that had solid areas you could walk on.

Sea creatures get trapped in the larger pieces of debris and die. They also eat the smaller plastic bits, which is problematic because “plastic releases estrogenic compounds to everything it comes in contact with,” Moore says. As he wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed: “Hundreds of species mistake plastics for their natural food, ingesting toxicants that cause liver and stomach abnormalities in fish and birds, often chocking them to death.”

(Photo: Algalita)

Scientists have collected up to 750,000 bits of microplastic in a square kilometer (or 1.9 million bits per square mile) of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Most of the debris comes from plastic bags, caps, water bottles and Styrofoam cups.

Many in the scientific community agree that the best way to deal with these patches is to limit or eliminate our use of disposable plastics entirely. Moore encourages consumers to “refuse plastics whenever possible,” adding: “Until we shut off the flow of plastics to the sea, the newest global threat to our Antrhopocene age will only get worse.”

Australian environmental groups push for bag bans

 

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt and his eight state and territory counterparts meet in Melbourne on Dec. 15 to discuss a range of environmental….

Angel said: “Plastic pollution is a major threat to wildlife. Globally it is estimated 1 million sea birds and [more than] 100,000 mammals die every year [from] plastic ingestion or entanglement. Of great concern are secondary microplastics derived from broken up bags and bottles.”

Source: http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20151130/NEWS/151139986/australian-environmental-groups-push-for-bag-bans

An alliance of 48 environmental groups has written to all environment ministers around Australia asking them to ban plastic bags when they meet next month.

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt and his eight state and territory counterparts meet in Melbourne on Dec. 15 to discuss a range of environmental issues, including research work conducted by the office of Mark Speakman, environment minister for the state of New South Wales (NSW), into initiatives to reduce the amount of plastic waste, including potential bans on plastic shopping bags.

Hunt’s spokesman said the environment ministers, at their last meeting in February, agreed to NSW investigating “practical solutions for the phase-down of lightweight plastic bags.”

The Boomerang Alliance, led by Jeff Angel, director of the Sydney-based Total Environment Centre, has asked the ministers to ban all bags up to 70 microns and introduce policies aimed at maximum adoption of reusable bags for shopping.

Angel estimates Australian plastic bag use will exceed 9 billion this year, including more than 4 billion single-use supermarket carry bags.

Boomerang Alliance has asked the ministers to implement a range of actions, including banning single-use high density polyethylene carry bags and not automatically excluding low density PE carry bags from any ban.

Angel said LDPE bags should be included in bans but case-by-case exemptions allowed if retailers can demonstrate effective management and/or minimal risk of the bags reaching the marine environment.

The alliance is skeptical about oxo-biodegradable and bioplastic bags. The letter to ministers said: “While they offer some limited environmental resource benefit, using an oxo-degradable bag is as bad as a traditional HDPE bag in terms of litter and marine impacts. Until these options can provide proven benefit, they should be treated like any other plastic.”

The alliance acknowledged banning single-use “non-carry” bags, for example, ice bags and sandwich, storage and freezer bags, is “more complex than eliminating plastic carry bags”, but its letter asks for “appropriate regulatory action.”

The alliance also wants bags to be clear or dark colored only and unbranded. “Coloring plastic film integrates more toxic additives and makes the bags more likely to be ingested,” its letter said.

It cited a 2014 study by the University of Tasmania of necropsies of 171 shearwater sea birds that found of 1,032 pieces of plastic in their gullets, just 0.87 percent was clear plastic, compared to 62 percent light-colored plastic, 22 percent medium colors and 14 percent dark colors.

Angel said: “Plastic pollution is a major threat to wildlife. Globally it is estimated 1 million sea birds and [more than] 100,000 mammals die every year [from] plastic ingestion or entanglement. Of great concern are secondary microplastics derived from broken up bags and bottles.”

Hunt’s spokesman would not elaborate on the agenda for the ministers’ meeting, but said: “Minister Hunt is supportive of the work being led by NSW and encourages businesses and members of the community to engage in any of the processes being run by NSW to ensure a suitable solution can be found for all parties. The states and territories have shown a willingness to work together to have approaches in place that are complementary.”

Boomerang Alliance acknowledged that two states, South Australia and Tasmania, and two territories, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, have taken some ban actions against plastic bags, but said voluntary programs are “incapable of resolving the issue and a levy is too complex and administratively inefficient.”

Biodegradable plastics – not so great for our ocean, says UN

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#reduce #reuse #recycle #rethink using #plastic

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/ocean-conservation/biodegradable-plastics-not-so-great-oceans-says-un.html

… biodegradable plastics rarely actually degrade because they require long-term exposure to high-temperatures (around 122F, or 50C), like those found in large municipal composters, to actually break-down. Those conditions are not found very often in nature, and especially not in the oceans.

Biodegradable plastic sounds like a wonderful idea when you first hear about it. Most plastics are notorious for how long they stick around and how hard it is to break them down naturally, so to think that all those bits of plastics that end up scattered to the four winds could just melt away harmlessly sounds almost too good to be true. And well, once you read the fine print, it kind of is…

A new report by the United Nations looks at these so-called biodegradable plastics and their impact on oceans, and compared to the theory, reality is a lot less rosy. The biodegradable plastics rarely actually degrade because they require long-term exposure to high-temperatures (around 122F, or 50C), like those found in large municipal composters, to actually break-down. Those conditions are not found very often in nature, and especially not in the oceans.

To add insult to injury, once those biodegradable plastics are in the oceans, the water reduces UV and oxygen exposure, so they degrade even slower than they would otherwise… Basically, biodegradable label or not, those plastics will be there for a very long time. And even when they do break down, after years, the small pieces still pose a threat and just add to the existing microplastics problem that we’ve written about in the past.

Plastic in oceanLindsay Robinson/University of Georgia/Promo image

On top of all this, biodegradable plastics are less recyclable than regular plastics, and they can contaminate the feed of recycling plants:

“If you’re recycling plastic you don’t want to have anything to do with biodegradable plastics,” says Peter Kershaw, one of the authors of the UNEP study. “Because if you mix biodegradable with standard plastics you can compromise the properties of the original plastic.”

So unless we can somehow make biodegradable plastics that actually degrade under regular conditions fairly rapidly without causing problems, and that can also be easily recycled, or at least kept out of recycling plants, maybe these aren’t the best idea. It might make people feel good when they see the label, but if they don’t work as intended, then it’s just greenwashing.

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/ocean-conservation/biodegradable-plastics-not-so-great-oceans-says-un.html

#5 – compounding plastic

There is so much plastic in the world.

I am still genuinely surprised at how much plastic there is in my everyday life. So much so that plastic has become part of the packaging for items such as tea and flour and I have been oblivious to its [plastic] insidious creep into the everyday and everywhere. In fact, I could not even purchase new bracelets without them being composed of the toxic not ever going to degrade anytime soon and out survive many human lifetimes plastic compound.

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Bracelets made from non-recycled plastics.  The dish was made from recycling and compressing magazines.  The earrings have been made from old disused skateboards.

My other genuine (happy) surprise is the zero waste online global culture. The supportiveness and how freely information is shared without expectation is inspiring. Inge from Zero Waste Bloggers Network put me onto bees wax wrap – after post #4, with an idea to replace the clingwrap / gladwrap / cling foil, and I have finally made an online purchase, with the bees wax wrap in the post.  Naturally, all good things come at a price and I hope the wax wrap has reasonable longevity before it breaks down. As they say, you get what you pay for.  And no doubt I am showing my lack of knowledge, but what’s a journey and knowing how it ends … that would be rather dull.

The bees wax wrap was purchased online at Bee Eco Wrap (Noosa Heads Hinterland, Sunshine Coast Qld, Au)

#04 – conscientious cheese. ooh! i mean consequential change

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Trial and learning.

It has became apparent that quite possibly, I was the last person to realise that by reducing plastic bags that I would need a plan for various other types of rubbish and associated disposal.

Some others say that they use (single use) plastic bags in their bins with the view that its recycling – I don’t agree as – it still ends up as land fill or worse, or animals incorrectly consume plastic as a food source. That said, I hypocritically and embarrassingly bought a roll of plastic bin bags. Oh no – sigh – followed by a few recriminating thoughts.

Disclaimer:- purchase does not equal use.  My validation comes by way of having a few wardrobe items, that if they could talk, would collaborate to never being used/worn!

I digress; it was like that the process of thinking, and plastics, became diametrically opposed. (Arguably a bit like the correct use of commas, maybe). And therefore, there would be nothing flawed with an excuse to suggest that I am accustomed to relying on plastics as a convenience.   So not conscientious, and so carrying above my plastic bag weight. Bring back the paper bag, as less must be best, ‘cause for sure, my wardrobe would have no complaint.

The rubbish point is; how to dispose of differing types of waste.

My thoughts wonder to the baby boomers and if they remember, or practice how they managed their rubbish back in the 1980’s.

Currently my real dilemma is how to the cover the cheese now that its opened, if not with cling wrap or a sandwich bag? Maybe it should be consumed immediately with crackers.