Eco News

Eco News

Ten Things – 3rd February 2019

winter blog reading

Hello! Are you keeping cosy in this cold weather? We’ve had snow and ice and all sorts, so I’ve been spending some time in front of the fire this week researching my family tree.

It’s been so fascinating. I knew that some of my family were miners, but it turns out I’m from a really long line of coal miners, which is somewhat funny given that I’m an advocate for keeping the stuff in the ground! I wonder what all of these many mining ancestors would make of the world today.

1.The EU is proposing a ban on 90% of micro-plastic pollutants. It is “unknown for now” whether the measure would apply in the UK after Brexit.

The draft law targets microplastics that are not necessary but have been added to products by manufacturers for convenience or profit, and would target cosmetics, detergents, paints, polish and coatings, as well as products in the construction, agriculture and fossil fuels sectors.

2. Did you know there are over 400 free Ivy League University short courses that anyone, anywhere in the world, regardless of educational background, can study online for free, most of them at your own pace?

I’ve had a scan through the full list and the ones most aligned with sustainability are: The Ethics of Eating (Cornell University); The Age of Sustainable Development (Columbia University); The Health Effects of Climate Change (Harvard University); Backyard Meteorology: The Science of Weather (Harvard University); Shark Conservation (Cornell and Queensland Universities); The Climate-Energy Challenge (Harvard); Introduction to Environmental Science (Dartmouth University); and Feeding the World (Pennsylvania University).

All fascinating stuff! I’m thinking about the shark one, or the ethics of eating. If you study a course, do let me know – I’d love to hear your experiences.

3. We need a new lexicon.

In an epic feat of brand mismanagement, the climatologists who first began ringing the alarm that Earth was on a crash course for inhospitality called the situation “global warming.” That remains accurate, on a planetary scale: 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, based on global annual temperatures… But that term, “global warming,” is too easily misconstrued, too easily manipulated by bad-faith actors like US president Donald Trump,
who point to cold weather events or rainstorms and say “how could Earth be turning hot and dry when it’s colder and raining more than ever?

4. Plastic or paper – which type of bag is greener?

5. What happened when an entire village went almost waste-free. It really shows you what can happen when a community comes together to work towards a shared goal.

6. Beyonce encourages her fans to go vegan by offering free concert tickets for life in return for committing to eating more vegan meals.

7. The biggest climate victories of 2018.

8. This is American based but it’s a great example of what happens when you campaign on climate action and win.

9. Carbon capture to fight climate change is dividing environmentalists.

10. Finally, this was a good read from Grist on where to move to in order to escape climate change.

Spoiler: “the future isn’t for sure, but running away from the problem ensures that it will be“.

That’s it for this week’s Ten Things. Whatever you do today, keep warm!


ps: catch up with 27th January’s post here, if you missed it.

Eco News

Ten Things – 27th January 2019

plastic free swaps

Hello!  How’s it going?  I’ve decided that this year I’m going to try and make one plastic-free swap a month.  You can join me using the hashtag #plasticfreeswapamonth on Instagram if you’re looking for moral support and ideas. 

This month I swapped individual shampoo bottles for a 5-litre bottle of shampoo* and a glass bottle with a pump* (affiliate links) to decant it into.  My partner and I have been using shampoo bars for a year now, but my kids’ hair and scalp took badly to the swap – from really itchy scalps to really greasy hair.  In the absence of refill stores in our area, we made the switch back to bottled shampoo for them, sticking with the shampoo bars for us, and focusing on other areas we could make a difference. 

This month I decided that even if there are no bulk shampoo refill shops within 15 miles of our house I could bring the refill shop to us.  Now I have a year’s supply of shampoo for my kids for just £20.  I’ve also decanted some into a small glass jar and am using the shampoo as a bubble bath too. 

Admittedly the 5-litre bottle may be plastic, but a lot of bulk stores dispense shampoo from 5-litre plastic bottles anyway, so the only difference is that I’m recycling the plastic rather than the shop, and it moves us away from using lots of smaller plastic bottles.  I’m calling it a win!  Do join in on Instagram if you can!  

1. In what is possibly the most exciting news I’ve read in ages, Tesco is set to trial refillable packaging later this year.  Customers will pay a small deposit for a reusable container alongside its contents, which they will then get back when they return the container. The container is then cleaned and refilled for the next person.

The system means we’ll see products in very different packaging than we’re used to. The use of plastic should be far less common than it is with disposable/recyclable packaging, and we might see some more premium materials, too – think handwash in glass dispensers. We’ll also see toothpaste tablets and aluminium ice cream tubs“.

It’s really exciting seeing the big supermarkets stepping up to help reduce waste.  

2.  In other similar news, Nestle, the planet’s largest packaged food company is ditching single-use plastic, by 2025.  Nestle also aims to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, phasing out any non-recyclable or hard to recycle packaging.  

Plastic bottles, in particular, will represent a major challenge for Nestlé–which makes billions by running 100 different water bottling operations in 34 countries across the world.  As a result, Nestlé seems to admit that it needs to think beyond typical plastic altogether. “While we are committed to pursuing recycling options where feasible, we know that 100% recyclability is not enough to successfully tackle the plastics waste crisis,” said Nestlé CEO Ulf Mark Schneider in a press release.  

3.  This was a fantastic read about the power of naming and shaming the big brands that contribute to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that enter the oceans every year.  Although there’s no neat conclusion, I feel the story is only just beginning on this one and it will interesting to hear what happens next.

4.  Cigarette filters are the number one most littered plastic in the world.  The filters were introduced in the 1950s in response to lung cancer fears, but now it’s been proven they don’t even help prevent cancer.

5.  Would you pay $10 USD (£7.50) a month to help combat climate change?  70% of Americans say they wouldn’t, despite the fact that more Americans than ever are worried about climate change.  I’d imagine it would be a similar figure here, to be honest.  

6.  How social media is inspiring children to save the natural world – a refreshing change from the “social media is the ill of the world” articles.    

7.  Iceland (the supermarket) slips up – the supermarket has told the BBC that – in a bid to meet a pledge to remove palm oil from all its own-brand products – it removed its branding from some items, rather than the ingredient, showing just how hard it is to go palm oil-free.  

8.  Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are in the bad books for new reasons – they sponsored a conference that promoted climate change denial.  Thanks guys.

9.  Has big business hijacked veganism – and sold it back to us?

Dickinson points to products such as Flora’s ‘Freedom Dairy-Free Spread’ – and the fact that margarine has always been dairy-free. “Margarine has existed forever, it’s hilarious – they just put it in a new package”. 

10. And finally, a great post from Lindsay on the 5 things you need to go zero waste, no purchase required.

Have a great Sunday!  We watched this programme about a nomadic Sumatran tribe last night and it’s well worth a watch.  I love Chris Packham, and this compelling programme was some serious food for thought. 


ps: catch up with my 20th January post here.