Archive | Mineral RSS for this section

New york and California pave the way to banning Micro-plastic

Even if you don’t know what micro-plastics are, if you have ever used a product branded as “ex-foliating”  from the supermarket you have probably come into contact with them. Micro plastics are found in a startling array of cosmetics and the long and the short of it is; like everything that washes down the plughole, it has to end up somewhere; generally the sea.

https://i0.wp.com/bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/dailyastorian.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/b6/6b6f33ec-0332-11e2-adcf-0019bb2963f4/505b2d0a08c8c.image.jpg

The problem is that as soon as these micro-plastics enter the sea, they get mistaken for food by small animals, which in turn are eaten by predators. These plastics build up in the gastrointestinal tracts of predators until finally they clog the system and the predator starves to death.

If you have seen the short film: “MIDWAY a message from the gyre” by Chris Jordan you will have seen the horrific images of bird carcases literally bursting with plastic debris. This is why we have to stop using them and a proposal from both New York and California might just be the beginning of the end for micro-plastics.

https://i1.wp.com/www.foam.org/media/525975/Jordan%20Chris%20Midaway%20Message%20from%20the%20Gyre%2001.jpg

California is proposing the ban of sale of any product containing plastics smaller than 5mm whilst New York is not only banning the sale of micro-plastic products, it is also proposing the ban of their manufacture in the New York state area. So let’s hear it for them! for taking such a progressive and wise step towards tackling this massive problem.

Why you should still vaccinate;

Over the past few days I have been having lengthy online debates with people about whether vaccinations are necessary, and quite frankly they are.

It all started with this delightfully misleading infographic, but after arguing with a number of individuals online I realised a more significant problem; ignorance of the basic principles of contamination and infection.

Most people will not be aware of the components within vaccines and when irresponsibly represented as in the above image it’s not hard to see why.

The main components are as follows:

  1. Active components
  2. Adjuvants
  3. Diluents
  4. Stabilisers
  5. Preservatives
  6. Trace components

Active components are the micro organisms as stated above, they are the dead biological material of the target disease, simply put, this is what makes the vaccine work.

Adjuvants are usually salts (Aluminium, ammonium Sulfate etc.) these are chemicals which promote a vigorous immune response making the overall vaccine more effective and the need for subsequent boosters or more vaccine unecesscary.

Stabilisers like Gelatin are used to avoid separation within the solution to make the vaccine more effective and give it a prolonged shelf-life.

Preservatives like Beta Propiolactone are used to avoid bacterial or fungal contamination of the vaccine making it safe to use.

Diluents are simply a liquid used to carry the main components of the vaccine usually Saline or Sterile water.

Typically the largest component by volume in a vaccine is water, all the other components are usually smaller than a millilitre, usually measured in the nano or picolitre scale. and herein lies the problem people don’t seem to realise that the amounts of toxins and carcinogens in vaccines are less than you would come into contact with in normal daily life.

Gelatin for example is found in most processed foods and confectionary, MSG is a known food additive extensively found in asian or oriental food, People will generally come into contact with aluminium at least daily generally from cooking utensils and components found within industrial food manufacture, not to mention the vast array of cosmetics which are packaged in aluminium alloy tubes. the toxins and carcinogens are a little more specific but every city dweller will come into contact with mercury from exhaust fumes from industry as well as CFL’s and other electrical components. In short you will come into contact with every one of the carcinogenic and toxic compounds in daily life and in far greater amounts than found in vaccines. Even if you add up all the vaccines you will have during your lifetime.

SO GET VACCINATED!! you are far more likely to die as a result of contracting a disease than you are from having regular vaccinations, also you won’t put children and those with compromised immune systems at risk.

Without vaccinations humans would generally live no more than 55 years as well as large-scale epidemics and pandemics killing thousands prematurely. So even if you eat organic, avoid chemicals and try and reduce your carbon footprint, as I do, GET VACCINATED.

And here is a far more helpful infographic:

https://i2.wp.com/blogs-images.forbes.com/thumbnails/blog_973/pt_973_7320_o.jpg

Why hasn’t the “tiny house movement” got big in the UK?

For those Brits who have never heard of the “Tiny house movement” (which is a surprisingly large number) here is a summary from the site thetinylife.com :

Simply put it is a social movement where people are downsizing the space that they live in. The typical American home is around 2600 square feet, while the typical small or tiny house is around 100-400 square feet. Tiny Houses come in all shapes, sizes and forms but they focus on smaller spaces and simplified living.

Downsizing here in Britain is common, but mainly the reserve of the over 50’s who are looking to move into a nice little cottage, now their kids have flown the nest but the movement in the US has a larger following amongst those with environmental concerns, who are looking to minimise their impact on the environment.

To me this is a very attractive concept; it gives the opportunity to design and build a small efficient home with little negative environmental impact. It also has the benefit of smaller bills and less time spent on maintenance. Most of us here in the UK rent, for a multitude of reasons but the main one being the prohibitive cost of buying your own home. So why with all these benefits on the cards has this idea not caught on here in good old blighty?

I believe it is a combination of 2 things, over-regulation and stereotyping. On one hand it is very difficult to build your own home here in the UK, with planning permissions severely dished out by shortsighted councils only to those wishing to build traditional style homes. Also here in the UK even a tent is classed as a “residential development” if it stands in the same place for more than 28 days. Then there are the stereotypes which are dished out to those wanting a more mobile approach; People don’t want to be labelled as “hippies” or “trailer trash” to coin an American phrase.

I think we’re missing a trick here. Imagine not having to spend more than 50% of your monthly income on rent and bills, imagine being able to move at the drop of the hat, imagine not having to worry what impact you are having on the world at large.

There is a whole host of images and videos on the web showing these wonderfully ingenious homes and the people living happy live in them, so why don’t we go the same way?

I think the main reason here in the UK is the sociological one, people aren’t willing to fight the councils and the planning regulations in order to be labelled as a “scrounging hippy” or “travellers”. This is a shame because the UK is bursting with creative and ecologically minded individuals. And I think that if we stopped thinking that we are fighting a losing battle, the UK might have a tiny house movement of it’s own.

 

If you would like to read more about the tiny house movement please visit:

http://www.thetinylife.com/what-is-the-tiny-house-movement/

http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/life-10k-home-friends-backyard.html

http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/seventies-back-land-pioneer-explores-tiny-house-movement.html

http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/12-year-old-sicily-kolbeck-building-her-own-tiny-house.html

5 Reasons to leave the car at home…. Even in winter

There is quite a lot of coverage on this particular subject and that is a good thing, extolling the virtues of cycling is always worth it, what with rising CO2 emissions and an obesity epidemic raging through the developed world.

But I have found that most of the articles available have one flaw in common; they all seem to be preached by people who have never found themselves overweight, addicted to cigarettes or unable to gather the motivation to leave the sofa. So seeing as I have dealt with all of these criteria I thought I would do my version of this sage and healthy advice.

So here it goes….

  1. Everyone* is not as thin as they want to be and were not getting any younger….                                                                                                                                                                 All of us have looked at ourselves in the mirror and thought “where the F”£$ did all this flab come from??” and the reason is a fairly systemic one; in the past century our caloric intake hasn’t changed much, we eat for the most part a similar amount to our previous generations. However we do less than half the physical activity that they did, technology and time saving appliances have all helped to make our lives more sedentary and because of this we’re all piling on the pounds. So all of us need that extra exercise and cycling is a bloody good start. Even if we just go for a short ride every weekend we are at least making a start on re-addressing the activity/food intake balance. Cycling is good exercise because it’s low impact and pretty good fun. Also studies have proven that once the weight’s there it’s more difficult to get rid of once we reach 35 so there’s no time like the present ( if you are already over 35, don’t despair just do more!). (*Everyone apart from those irritating people who aren’t).
  2. It’s good for the air you breathe…              If you have ever had to walk down the side of a dual carriageway or a motorway or even taken a deep breath at a service station you will know that unpleasant, acrid feeling of car exhaust going down your throat. This should be a demonstration simple enough for any of us that we should reduce the amount of car journeys, especially short ones.  In fact most of our car journeys are unnecessary. Up to 98% of our car journeys could be done on foot or by bike. So if you’re going on a trip less than 10 miles think whether you could bike it or walk it, you’ll reduce the amount of crap your breathing in and lose weight at the same time.
  3. It’s safer than you think…
    One of the most common excuses I hear from people who Don’t cycle is: “it’s not safe, I might get run over” and this is a thing to avoid, however if you cycle properly, taking care and making sure to look where you’re going you no more likely to get hurt than whilst sitting in your own home. And for those who are still afraid to start pedaling; take it slow, do small journeys first, even take a cycling proficiency course before you set out. Once you’re confident on your bike you’ll be fine and you never know you might even enjoy it!
  4. It’s not always quicker by car….http://cropcircletrip.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/p1040730.jpgThe second excuse I usually hear is: “I haven’t got the time” which is frankly bulls£$%. Most of us spend more time staring at a TV screen than we do anything else. So you have the time and even if you think it’s going to be quicker to drive it’s not. Most of the time modern man spends in the car it’s stationary, usually in traffic, on a bike you can avoid the jams and often take more direct routes. For example my commute to work takes half an hour, my colleague Colin who lives a 3 minute walk from myself, takes the bus, his commute takes over an hour along the same route as my cycle ride. ’nuff said.
  5. It lets the inner child out….This is what it's all about!Lets face it, how many times have you thought “I wish my life was more fun”? Well the reason it’s probably not is because you don’t take the time to enjoy the little things. Cycling satisfies the inner child; just the excitement of freewheeling down a steep hill or racing against the clock makes the inner child go WEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! so start pedaling and have some more fun!!

For cycling proficiency and tips visit: http://www.dft.gov.uk/bikeability/the-three-levels/cycling-skills-for-adults/

 

 

 

 

 

One man’s rubbish…

In the not so distant past, the concept of waste was entirely different; there was no “away”, there was no sweeping things under the carpet. This was because everything had a value:

“One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure”

This seems , to most of us, a fairly Utopian concept and to some it may be complete nonsense, but there is still a grain of truth in it, even in our disposable society.

With the rising popularity of “recycle, re-use and re-purpose” there has been a decrease in what many believed to be an unstoppable growth in non-recycleable rubbish, but it is still far from the days of the rag and bone man and the time when everything had a value no matter how trivial.

I believe herein lies the problem: value, or rather, perceived value. In today’s mass market disposable society, we use and then we throw away, to make room for the next trend, technology or fashion and this constant creation of new trends, technology and fads further feeds our creation of waste.

Although we now realise that there is a problem, there is no “away”, under the carpet is full. as are the landfills and the oceans for that matter. Thankfully it seems that we have reached a turning point, the mass market is losing its appeal, to quote leading business writer and speaker Joe Pine:

“Customers don’t want choice, they want exactly what they want”.

This is very important, especially coming from a man who has made his career on big business, but has now chosen to become the so called “guru of mass customisation”. This means consumers are wanting custom goods as opposed to the “one size fits all”, “pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap” products that we have become used to.

This turning point has manifested itself in the form of 3D printing, and when you think about it, it really has the edge. custom products in hours, with no waste. Utopian creation if there ever was but even with this Utopian answer starting to turn the corner. we still have to deal with our past sins.

In the past 70 years we have created more waste than the human race has ever created before and the likely hood that we will have found a conclusive solution to this mountain of accumulated waste in our lifetime is unfortunately pretty slim. but we can make a start.

The Ellen Macarthur  foundation has written extensively about the possibility of a “circular economy” breaking the trend of “take, make and dispose” (linear model) and replacing it with the circular. This is not by any means a new idea, it is only in the last 40 years that society has somehow forgotten the value of materials and this is the value that we have to learn again.

Most of us recycle, many of us re-use and even re-purpose obsolete items and we need to do more. Somehow we need to address our past indiscretions, so until we are all saved by the “zero waste, 100% efficient” manufacture that technology may one day provide for us.

Above: 3D printed object made from wood fibre by Emerging Objects. http://www.emergingobjects.com/

For more info on the circular economy model by the Ellen Macarthur foundation visit: http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy

A very interesting article that goes into the changes being currently felt in the business world:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23990211

Video about the Japanese inventor of a machine that turns plastic waste back into oil:         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGGabrorRS8

 

 

 

 

 

Oceans in trouble…

Most of us will be aware of the problems faced in and around our land; pollution, littering, land-fill and fracking to name a few. However a far greater number of people will not even realise that those problems exist at sea, if you happen to live in a seaside town or city you may have an inkling of an idea; what with tonnes of rubbish washing up on our beaches, but not many of us would have realised to what extent.

A new report, published this week by IPSO (International Programme on the State of the Ocean) has outlined that that the decline of the oceans is not only devastating, but the rate with which it is declining is increasing rapidly.

This is very bad news, but to many will not come as a surprise. Last month it was announced that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) had reported that they are certain that humans are responsible for the changes in climate and habitat disruption.  In the reports behind the statement they went on to describe how the ocean will suffer the most; acidification, increased temperatures and overfishing being the primary causes of further decline.

A few of you will remember my earlier posts about the problems with water pollution. The fact that chemicals which are regarded as harmless to us can be extremely hazardous to aquatic life, so if you you come away from this article with anything it should be that we all need to change our ways in order to repair the damage done by us and our forebears.

And for those of you who wish to make that extra effort:

  • Only use natural soaps and make sure nothing nasty goes down the plughole.
  • Reduce your carbon emissions, swap the car for a bike or walk.
  • Stop buying products packaged in plastic, 75% of the rubbish in the sea is plastic.
  • stop eating Tuna (or any other industrially fished species for that matter) and only eat line caught fish, squid and crab. if possible only buy from the people who catch them. the MCS website has a great guide on alternatives to vulnerable species; http://www.goodfishguide.co.uk/search-results

Please take the time to read through the IPSO website and take action!

http://www.stateoftheocean.org/

http://www.ipcc.ch/