I remember, about a year ago, opening a well known British newspaper to find a picture of an inviting molten volcano chocolate cake featuring in the title something along the lines of ‘scientist say chocolate is good for you’. Reading on you could be easily misled into thinking that eating a bar of chocolate could be guilt free, even a healthy choice. Out of curiosity, I went on to open the actual scientific article, published in plos one, to find out that actually what the scientists were talking about was the health benefit of cocoa and not chocolate in its fatty milky form, let alone the chocolate molten cake which contains plenty of other less than healthy ingredients...
But this is just an example that left me wondering - how much is science mis-cited? How many times is an article only half read, conclusions made and newspaper article written with ‘click bait’ titles to attract people on social media? And does it only happen to articles?
I have had fellow scientists friends being interviewed and their words twisted, or if not twisted, at least cut in a way that they were made to tell a story they didn’t mean to tell...
Am I saying that all journalists are evil people? Not at all!
All I am saying is a warning to all - next time you see a ‘scientific claim’ in the newspaper, one that might seem too good to be true, or maybe one that is a bit controversial (eg some recent statements about climate change) - please go read the real scientific article. Too difficult? Find a friend to explain it to you . And don’t stop at the abstract. Read the intro, try see what methodology was used, then go see the graph and eventually read the discussion - and take conclusion with a pinch of salt!
With all these, recent and not, talks on plastic pollution and reducing plastic, some of you dear readers may be convinced to start your zero waste journey.
While i want to assure you that it is a personal journey filled with daily discoveries, and not an overnight switch, I want to share with you part of my journey and a few key ‘ingredients’ of my daily attempts as a zero waster.
For some inspiration you can also find my Pinterest board, albeit not recently updated...
Step 1 - make your own
Whenever you can, make your own. Of what you ask? Of everything! From bringing a pack lunch, to making your own shampoo/deodorant/toothpaste.. basically everything that you would normally buy in a package - you can probably make a diy version
Step 2 - bring your own...
...mug/cup, cutlery, lunchbox, water bottle.. you get the gist!
Step 3 - use it till the end
Let’s say you slipped on point one and two, or maybe are just at the first arm with this zero waste thing, and you have packaged things in your house. Or maybe food that comes in containers. Whatever it is - use it until there is absolutely nothing left. This means opening up containers and rasping up the insides. You will be surprised! Do that with toothpaste for example and you will be surprised but you may get one or even two more days out of it. I do it often for yogurt which I get in big tetrapak containers, and I get a whole extra portion out of it! All left over on the sides and at the bottom..
Step 4 - find it another purpose
Jars can be reused to keep food over and over again, but can also be used for a nice candle or other decoration. Use your fantasy, and if you need inspiration head over to Pinterest or other similar sites and you will get plenty of ideas!
Step 5 - think twice about your scraps
Scrap parts, whether it is bones from your Sunday roast, the head of a fish or maybe that hard part of the cauliflower or the zest of the orange.. you can definitely use it in some alternative recipe! Make some broths, enhance flavour of jam..get creative in the kitchen!
Step 6 - ditch the use by date mentality
Lastly (at least for this post) use your sight and your smell instead of the sell by or use by date of your food. They tend to be way too conservative and more often than not the food will still be good! If you have been buying away from supermarkets and avoided buying in packages chances are your food doesn’t even have one of those dates printed so you will have to use those senses, but if you happen to have a carton of milk - just smell before throwing it away. Still good? Great! Seems a little off? Why not make some yogurt or cottage cheese?
Valentine’s day is this week, and whether you like celebrating it or not (no judgement for either parties there), it is quite an impossible thing to avoid (the pavement in my current town is covered in red plastic hearts -.-).
While I don’t believe in loving only for one day of the year, it is a good period to share campaigns related to love in all of his forms, including love for our awesome planet. So whatever your love-life situation is (perhaps you are recently single like yours truly here), you can share some love for our beautiful Mother Earth. And considering is made by more than 70% of water, you should consider paying some particular love to the oceans!
So here, this valentine week I am gonna share with you the #lovetheocean campaign. A collaboration between Davidoff perfumes and national geographic. Firstly, those of you who are fan of sexy men might particularly enjoy the ad, sporting an ever so beautiful paul walker ;)
Secondly, but also more important, you can find on the site a great array of good ideas for daily steps you can take that will contribute some love for the oceans..
Ways to get involved to the campaign are on their site, although are mostly directed at American residents...
With contributions from purchases, the perfume company supports the Pristine Seas initiative from national geographic.. Moreover, by buying their new perfume, your contribution will help protect 1 hectare of sea!
So.. this valentine week spare a thought for our oceans and consider giving it some love ❤️
Shellfish. Considered a delicacy by some, a necessity of life by others. Some societies are entirely reliant on shellfish farming, where simple animals such as mussels and oysters are st the base of the economy. And we have been told shellfish farming is a relatively sustainable activity and these simple animals are an optimal healthy source of proteins and essentials fats.
Yet there is an aspect nobody really think of when enjoying that pot of mussels alla marinara or slipping down that lemony oyster: what happens to their shells??
Shells are made by the animals as they grow and not only they need a great energetic investment to be made, energy that is taken away from other processes, but also take up resources such as minerals from the surrounding waters.
So... a waste product for us which is, well, a waste to throw away to landfills!
In a recent review paper (1) current shells usage are highlighted (although most shells still do end up in landfills so let’s not be fooled by the words ‘current uses’ - it is still fairly limited!)
Livestock feed supplement: okay, this to me personally seems a bit weird, but shells are a great source of calcium carbonate that can be added to poultry diets to enhance growth capacity and egg laying..
Agricultural liming agent: again, due to the high calcium carbonate, shells can be used as an alkalinising agent (reducing acidity) in agricultural soils. It is also allowed as part of organic agricultural practice in some countries.
Construction material (aggregates): of course, due to safety regulations, not all materials can be replaced by shell aggregates but can be incorporated in some simple concrete structures..
Biofilter medium: can be used to treat wastewaters as they can absorb heavy metals such as zinc, lead and cadmium.. although this is not yet used widely and research is still widely ongoing
The same review also proposes other uses that could be employed in the future such as:
Green roofing substrate
What about returning shells to the marine environment?
Not only oceans are becoming increasingly more acidic- thus shells return could contribute to alkalinisation by returning some of the lost calcium into the water as shells dissolve, but could serve another important function which I would like to discuss below
Provide hard substratum: in a world where we have been destroying (yes, really, destroying) seafloors everywhere with a significant loss of 3D complexity, shell addition could contribute important hard substratum to kickstart settlement and development of a diverse community.
Moreover, this hard substratum, providing some level of complexity, might be harvested back by the same aquaculture practitioners. For example mussels are known to use complex substratum for attachment which could protect them from hydrodynamic and biological stressors, and could be used as an advantage to relay initially lower densities or seeds on the sea floor (thus minimising initial costs) while obtaining high returns! And that is just using own waste.... talk about recycling eh!
Similarly it could be used for restoration projects of biogenic reefs, either in aggregates form or direct, depending on the species to be restored and requirements in term of substratum, bringing great savings to these expensive projects!!
So yes, all in all shellfish can be a sustainable font of proteins, but as always there is room for improvement of the practice!
1. Morris JP, Backeljau T, Chapelle G (2018). Shells from aquaculture: a valuable biomaterial, not a nuisance waste product. Reviews in aquaculture 0:1-16
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