Excitement is in the air as I am getting ready (or not) to take part in this year #plasticchallenge organised by the Marine Conservation society.
First things first let's have a look at what is it and how you can take part:
Please register to take part on the marine conservation website: www.mcsuk.org
You will join a revolutionary movement and receive info!
So how am I preparing? (am I even preparing?)
- I am NOT buying plastic things in advance to avoid buying them in June (that would be cheating...)
- I am, on the other hand, planning to do my shopping at the market and researching where will I find everyday life items (hello yogurt for breakfast... ) in plastic-free containers (glass jar anyone?). The mcs has a useful tip page (click here).
- The MCS also has a shop for many plastic-free needs (although i haven't bought anything from it yet, so i cannot comment on delivery etc. But seems like a good place to start from if you have nothing in terms of eco shops nearby!)
- I am prepared to learn and open my eyes and I know it will be tough, very tough, and i might need to swap a few things. And I am already a pretty conscious shopper...
I believe that if as many people as possible will take the plastic challenge, not only overall plastic consumption over the month of June will be reduced but it will open our eyes and make us even more responsible in the following months!
So ARE YOU READY for the challenge?
T-1! Let's start tomorrow !
I will update you half way through to see how it going!
And more updates on my twitter as well!
Comment with any questions and ideas!
Brushing our teeth - we all do it (or should be) at least twice or three times daily, we are reminded by our parents to do so when we are young and further reminded by our dentists later in life.. and we do it, somewhat innately, a mechanic action.
We are supposed to keep the same toothbrush for a maximum of three months and then change it. This means the average person uses 4 toothbrushes per year, which multiplied by the average western human life spans makes it around 280 toothbrushes (Insert shocked face here). And apparently, since their invention in the 1930s, every single plastic toothbrush produced still exists somewhere on the planet! Not at all surprisingly considering plastic can have lifespan of thousands of years, and moreover we are not even sure whether it does biodegrade at all or just gets broken down into more and more microscopic pieces which can cause enormous damage to living organisms (including us humans!).
'What about recycling?", I hear you ask. For the answer, take a quick look at your toothbrush and notice how many different types of plastics are involved. So - unless you efficiently divide them all before throwing away (and even then I am not sure how many of the pieces would be currently recyclable material) it is impossible.
Faced with these facts, and embracing a low-plastic lifestyle, I have been converted to trying bamboo toothbrushes. The ones I bought are from F.E.T.E (From Earth to Earth) made with bamboo handles (that might be useful to use in arts and crafts at the end of their life due to their nice design) and recyclable nylon bristles (that can be pulled out)!
Today I am gonna talk to you about ghosts...
But.... just a different kind!
We are talking about ghost fishing nets.
Yes, such things exist hidden in the seas and oceans on this planet. Hundreds of kilometres of nets and lines are lost every year. It is estimated that 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is lost yearly, that 640 million Kilos (assuming you weight 64 Kg, that's 10 millions of you - every year! just to put into some perspective there...). What's most likely is that this is an underestimation, considering the vaste nature of seas and oceans, where many areas still remain unexplored.
Perhaps scarier than a spirit ghost appearance...
These nets continue to catch fish, dolphins, wales, birds, turtles.. with no commercial use! They also pose threats to navigation and to the seabed...
While you personally may feel like there isn't much you can do to stop this, there are some steps you can take.
I am going to talk to you now about an initiative to recycle some of this material....
...into fabric! Yes, pretty clothes!
Such as my new Fourth Element bikini top (which also arrived in a plastic-free package! YAY!).
The fabric is called EcoNyl and it's made from recycled fishing gear
So when preparing for summer, think about your products and see if you can make a difference by purchasing products made from this fabric rather than classical nylon!
And I can vouch for this particular product (I have to say the company doesn't sponsor me in any way) - It's comfy and doubles up as a running bra as well! :) 2 in 1 is my style...
Many people want to do it, yet the excuse always is "it's too expensive".
But is it? Can you travel on the cheap? And what are the risk? How do you avoid falling in some of the low-cost holiday trap? And most importantly what are the differences between traveller and tourist?
This is my breakdown based on personal experience and I don't mean for my personal account to be universally meaningful or valid - just to be a starting point / inspiration to some of you.
Traveller vs tourist
I see these two words as something with two very different meanings.
I would call a tourist someone who takes the flight to destination, reads the travel guide in advance and has a list of "sightseeing" to do, goes straight to the hotel (rigorously a chain hotel, or something offering at least free breakfast) using the route provided by the travel guide of choice or buys ticket in advance from the seller on the flight or the typical tourist guide on arrival halls in airports, takes guided tours, goes to all the museums and the "tripadvisors" 10 must see places, takes selfies with the "important" landmarks (without appreciating them really) and by dinner time he/she goes to eat at expensive tourist-trap restaurants which promise "typical cuisine". Also I see a tourist as someone who rarely would go alone, tourists often travels in at least pairs (couples, two friends..) or larger groups.
A traveller, on the other hand, is someone who has read about the culture of the place in advance (perhaps, or maybe not - maybe he/she wants to discover it as he/she goes), travels to destination, arrives and takes time to get accustomed to the public transport, finding a cheap and local way to get from the airport to the city centre, and from there walks, looking carefully around (up and around, taking the new place in), to his/hers accommodation. Accommodation-wise a traveller would normally be found staying in hostels (sometimes) in AirBnBs or, even better, couchsurfing. This will allow the traveller to get accustomed to the life in the city (e.g. by cooking meals in the kitchen, meeting with people actually living in the city, seeing the local houses and how people live). During the day, the traveller may wander around - seeing the sights, perhaps, sometimes by "accident". Most of the times the traveller would take in the sight from the outside, appreciating its architecture. At times, depending on personal preference, he/she may go in (e.g. some particular museums etc... depending on traveller preference, but these would be selected on personal preference not on advice from guides or internet sources)
Travelling on the cheap
As you can see from my above description, travelling can come at a cheap cost. Yes you still rely on low-cost flights companies however once you reach your destination (provided you don't choose a super-expensive-to-live-in country) you can experience the city from the local perspective. In my opinion a trip on the subway during rush hour and shopping at supermarket can tell you a lot more about a place than a guided tour! Plus you get new experiences and you develop new ways to deal with stressful situations, as you learn to become skilful with ticket machines and decipher weird languages and become quick with new currencies! Mention this at your new job interview...
Often room in houses such as airbnb are cheap and you get to speak to locals, hostels often are great places to meet like-minded people, and if you like adventures then I totally recommend trying couchsurfing (and also hosting people at your place). Couchsurfing is basically a free-stay in someone's apartment/room/couch/floor, however it is a lot more - you meet people, share experiences, great conversation, great food (sometimes the host will cook, sometimes you will cook, sometimes you will order in, sometimes you go eat out...) and it's always a cultural experience. And you get to stay in a real house!
The societal/environmental benefits of travelling vs being a tourist?
It goes without saying that being a tourist can have a great impact. Yes, sure, you may argue some places rely on tourist monetary input, thus by not being a tourist you are "robbing" them. However, just by being there and spending (even the minimum) I believe that you still feed into society. If you are a classic tourist, you often feed in big companies that own the big business chains of hotels, so effectively you are NOT helping the local economy. As an anti-consumerism person I am a strong believer that travelling is a better option.
Moreover, you will come back refreshed and for sure with some new perspectives!
Spring is here and summer is around the corner (for us in the North hemisphere - sorry Southern readers!).
The sun is out and many of us have already taken advantage, lying in the local parks/beaches/ taking our arms and legs out of clothes prisons.. and I am personally getting excited over my summer holiday plans!
However, after years of recklessness in the sun, playing on my 'mediterranean skin', i finally grew up and realised how dangerous the sun can be. Beauty and danger in a big yellow ball...
But how to protect yourself while enjoying your time out and avoid hiding?
Now. This topic is full of controversy and contradictions.
First of all, with many options out there - all promising to be the 'best'- how should you choose?
Many filters are available: in order for a filter to be effective it has to absorb both UV-A and UV-B rays, however it also has to be safe, thus non-toxic, photo-stable, resistant to high temperatures, remain "superficial" on the skin without going past the 'stratum corneum' of our skins...
It's easily understandable by reading this simple list that a single compound is unlikely to fulfil all the above requirements. Many (most) sunscreen available contain a mix of 'active compounds' (typically a mix of organic and inorganic/mineral filters) and additives to make them cosmetically pleasing (plus perfumes). Many organic compounds are often found in mixes, as often one compound can help 'stabilise' the others, however we need to be careful as these chemical compounds can act as 'endocrine disruptors'.
Moreover, efficacy and safety of the products depends grandly on where in the planet you are buying such products: different countries have different regulatory strategies - for example while in the EU they are considered 'cosmetics' and the priority is given to efficacy, in the US they are considered 'pharmaceutical' and the FDA thus gives priority to the safety of these products.
So what can you do?
There are creams out there made entirely of mineral compounds. A commonly used one is zinc oxide and you can find 'natural' sunscreens containing all natural ingredients and zinc oxide. This can be in nano or non-nano formula, and the non-nano formula is often recommended as there are some potential issues with nano particles entering your body.
I have mine from Badger - and so far love the face stick for surfing! (Still with a whole-body wetsuit here! so only face needs to be protected...). Only ingredients listed are Non-Nano, Uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5% and *Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E) (*from Organic sources!).
Added benefit is that the oils protect my skin from wind and salt! :) Will let you know how summer time goes.
Continuing on my 'fashion' series, today I want to talk to you about Recycled fibres clothing (The R in the title..what were you thinking ? ;-))
We all have heard at least once in our life about the three Rs.. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Following this scheme, in my opinion, is the only way to slow down plastic pollution which at this rate is leading to oceans containing more plastic than fish.
Recycling is often met with scepticism, and I often hear people say "it all goes in the same place anyway". I am aware that what can be recycled, particularly in terms of plastics, is often more limited than we think in terms of types of materials, conditions of the materials etc.. Recent debates on recycling of plastic bottles can be found here and here. I should mention that I am a great advocate of reducing and reusing FIRST and only recycling as the latest resource, after you reduced as max as you could and reused something as many times and in as many ways possible.
Most people, including an old me, are unaware of what can be done with recycled material. And one of the answers is : What you wear could be made of recycled material!
While I prefer natural fibres to plastic, sometimes, as in the case of waterproof clothing/bikini/board shorts, some artificial fibres are needed. But why buying "new" plastic when they can be made out of recycled fibres? I don't feel so bad buying my new Roxy recycled polyester board shorts now.
"Fourth Element" is, for example, using plastic from the oceans to create their OceanPositive line, made from ghost fish nets. I will soon get a bikini top from them, as I find this to be a genial idea to begin cleaning up our oceans!
Similar initiatives include H&M shoreline waste line, and I am sure there are and will be more. So keep an eye out for the recycled material label when shopping (remember to shop only for things you actually NEED), and start making a difference
Before you continue on, let me clarify that this is not gonna be a post about weight loss diets - so those looking to obtain a summer/bikini ready body may not find this useful, however whatever reason made you click on this link I encourage you to continue on and, hopefully, get some inspiration.
I want to talk about our diets environmental impacts
If you watched the documentary "Cowspiracy" you are probably already somewhat aware of the environmental impacts of our diet
If you haven't, or are just in need of a refresher, here are some facts:
- With increases in "wealth" , refined sugars, fats, oils and meats are increasingly common in most diets
- This dietary shifts will lead to an estimated 80% increase in greenhouse gases by 2050, just around the corner (Tilman & Clark. 2014)
- Non-vegetarian meals are estimated to have 1.5-2 times environmental impact compared to vegetarian meals (Reijenders & Soret 2003)
- The environmental impact is due to land-use change. With an increase of demands for animal produces more land needs to be created, leading to deforestation efforts.
- Already around 75% of global agricultural land is used for livestock rearing and the production of crops to feed said livestock (Foley et al. 2011). We could use less land to feed humans on the same vegetarian sources of proteins (e.g. legumes, soybeans..)
- Deforestation and land-use changes are a major source of biodiversity loss, perhaps even more than climate change! (Tasser et al. 2017)
Todays post is a little challenge about your beauty regimen.
Go to your bathroom and count how many face creams/face washers/skin toners do you have on your shelfs.
Probably more than one of each - am I right?
How many of them came with promises which sounded a lot like magic and you fell trap of companies carefully designed advertisements to make you buy it? How many of them delivered on their promises? Probably none and you kept on buying new ones -yet your skin is still extremely dry, or the opposite extremely oily, or worse of all "combination" ?
Now let me ask you to go and read the labels on such bottles - what is the ratio of chemicals to natural ingredients? Unless you are already pretty conscious of what products you use, chances are these are 100% chemicals, even the most expensive brands. Even the "all natural" often contain only 80% natural ingredients with the remaining 20% being chemical components.
And do you really want to slather your face with chemicals everyday?
I am gonna tell you a "one step" secret, that works pretty well on my combination skin (a nightmare, right?) and not only washes but also moisturises! So you won't only save money and save your skin from chemical and save the environment from many empty (often un-recyclable) cream containers, but you will also save TIME! Score :)
Simple ingredients you need: some pure coconut oil (it lasts so long! If you get it from a foreign food shop it will be cheaper as well... and they use it for cooking so surely it's good on your skin) and some cotton pads. Pure essential oils are optional, but the coconut oil can smell a little. I like using the 'Bitter orange', not only it smells fantastic and relaxing but its properties are good for an oily skin... (But remember not to expose to the sun after using citrus based essential oils and always always check their properties before use, they may be contraindicated for skin or any conditions you may have).
How to use: slather some coconut oil on the cotton pad (and add essential oil at this stage) pass it on your skin, you will already see that the pad goes a bit brown with dirt (oil washes oil, dirt is more oil soluble than water - so you will remove all traces of the smog, dirt, make up or whatever is on your skin!), then with the other side of the pad (to be conservative! but you are allowed a new one..) you can take the leftover off. Your skin will be clean and moisturised... in one single step!
Enjoy and let me know how you get on, if it works for your skin types :)
Between the Easter break and being away from home and my usual routine, thus eating differently than normal I felt in need for a little detox time to kick start the healthy routine again!
I haven't actually done a juice cleanse before and I have always been quite skeptical of them, but after reading some more I decided that it would be a good way to go.
Now.. with many companies out there offering juice cleanses - how do you choose?
I wanted something as local as possible and with as little impact as possible.
So I came across "Skinny Malinkys" - made fresh in Northern Ireland (where I currently am).
As May sets in I am getting ready for the "Outrun May" challenge.
My goal is to run 40 miles (65 Km) this month raising funds for MacMillan cancer support.
I started my first run this morning with a 2.7 miles (4.4 Km ) completed in 23:45! Bring it on.
You can follow my updates on my strava profile.
Why do I believe is good to take part on this challenge:
- You set your own pace
- Makes you work towards a goal
- Supports a healthy lifestyle
- Running makes you happy (who needs alcohol and drugs when you have endorphins?)
- Raise money for a good cause
Would you join me?
Disclaimer: some posts may contain affiliate links. At no extra costs to you, buying through the link will help me in this blogging journey!