Tag Archive | environment

Is recycling really difficult?

Alright, today I need to let some steam go off in this blog post. For the past 3 month we (my girlfriend and I) have a big blue wheely bin outside our house for all our recycling and additionally, a small brown bin for all the food waste. Something I am used to since I am a small child. Apparently, not os for many of my house mates. But this is not the actual problem, the problem seems to be the ignorance and misinformation about recycling. When be first started to separate our glass, plastic and paper from the general waste, most of our flatmates did not join at all and just continued throwing everything into the general waste. When we talked to them about the issue they willingly listened and explained that they do not know how to recycle and what can be recycled. Therefore, we made some pictures and explained it all to them and put some instructions next to the bin. It was working maybe for a few days and then everything went back to normal and all rubbish was landing in the general waste bin. One comment we received was if we really believe that recycling will help the environment at all and that it all is just a big scam or hoax. Really????? I could not believe what I was hearing…!

Recycling by Nour El Refai (nourelrefai)) on 500px.com
Recycling by Nour El Refai

Anyway, we continue to get our hands dirty by getting plastic, paper, cans and other recyclable stuff out of our general waste bin. We will also continue reminding everybody in our house share what proper recycling looks like and why it is important.

Do you have similar stories? Please share them!

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We need better food labelling…

This morning, we (my girlfriend and I) were going shopping at the big Tesco Extra supermarket at Canada Water. This was actually the first time that it was really quiet and not many people were around. Shopping between 9am and 10am seems to be the way to go if you like space, take your time and actually do not have to wait at the tills. I will definitely do that more often.

As we were in a great shopping mood and had the space in front of these never ending product shelves, we decided to take a look at what we buy comes from and if we can find products that are produced locally or at least are not imported from some country ont he other side of the world. This is a really great thing to do as you will discover where the product actually comes from and you will be surprised! We are not just trying to reduce our environmental impact with this little change in buying behaviour, but I think it will also help the UK economy and your shopping basket a little bit healthier as you are more likely to buy seasonal products and reduce the carbon footprint enormously. Additionally, I really do believe that the consumer – meaning all of us – has the power to change things for the better.

speed shopping by {foto obscura}  (foto-obscura)) on 500px.com
speed shopping by {foto obscura}

But back to food labelling and the difficult task with some products to find out where they were produced. For example, we were looking for some lentils  and you can imagine that there was an amazing diversity of colours, shapes and labels to buy from. However, all of them did not mention on the packaging the country of origin. We could find out that there were packaged in the UK, but that was all. And this not the only product where you will have difficulties finding the actual source. It looks a bit better in the meat and fruit & vegetable section as most fresh produce will have a label that at least shows the country of origin.

Another thing that makes it difficult for buyers is that most products coming from different markets and are packaged in various countries. Therefore, you will have all sorts of labels claiming different things. If you just think of the organic food labelling. There are a few bodies that can certify in the UK, some more in Europe and everybody has their own label. This is very confusing and you never know what think of if you don’t know the label. This has lead us to do a bit more research on some of the labels, but this again time consuming and if you have a busy lifestyle it is hard to do. However, I do argue if we would all inform ourselves a bit more about food labelling and start changing our buying habits, I am convinced that we can change it for the better.

Please share your thoughts.

PS: If you like to read more about where your food, cloth and other things in your life come from, read: Confessions of an eco sinner by Fred Pearce. A really good read! For more information on the environmental impact of food production, watch: HOME on youtube for free. Pictures you will not forget.

Finding glass bottled water in super markets

Here we go! After an absence of about 9 days from blogging due to life happening, I finally managed to write my next blog post. I am really behind with my 365 project, but I will catch up during my holidays in October when I will be off to Germany for 2 weeks and can spend all the time I want for blogging and other things that sometimes don’t fit into a busy schedule.

Street view down to Covent Garden Market.

Image via Wikipedia

But back the actual issue of me trying to find glass bottled water in a Marks & Spencer on Sunday last week while having a little walk through London in the Covent Garden area.

It was a great day and it was just great to be out with my baby and discover some new areas that I did not manage to see in the past 6 years in London. After some extensive shop hopping we were looking to get a bottle of water as a refreshment and went into Marks & Spencer. In my opinion, Marks & Spencer stands for the more environmental kind of super market with a lot of good ideas to minimise the impact on the environment. However, it was very difficult to find some glass bottled water. We found all kinds of plastic bottled water from all different brands, but nothing really bottled in glass. We asked a very friendly customer service agent who gave us a really astonishing look when we were asking for water in glass bottles. But he managed to find us the only water in a glass bottle that was in the lower corner of the last row on the bottom shelve, which was San Pellegrino.

To my shock it was the only glass bottles water. I was really under the impression that are more companies that still fill their beverages into glass bottles. Having been glad to find at least one brand of mineral water in a glass bottle, we enjoyed the healthy refreshing water and continued our walk.

However, the next challenge was coming up on the horizon. Recycling. It took us several streets to find a recycling bin that would take glass bottles. We did not really want to use any available bin. Anyway, there are not many bins around in London when you compare it some other major metropolis in Europe, but there is a relatively small amount of recycling bins in London as well. Still much to do when we really want to make a difference.

I really hope that in future we will have more people asking for glass bottles water and make retailers change their product offer, because at the end we as customers have a great power with our buying decisions.

I will also have a look in a German supermarket when I am back home and will try the same thing, os watch this space for a comparison!

Friends of glass

Here we go it is 20 minutes to midnight and I still have not started my post. I was thinking for the past hour about what I can share with you from today  and I has an interesting little story that I wanted to share with you, but then I got hooked on that little facebook game from friendsofglass.

During my time studying at Oxford Brookes University I had a little part-time job helping out to promote friendsofglass and their campaign. During this time, I learned a lot about the power of social media and about glass. Additionally, I met a lot of really interesting people online and offline.

Some of my friends on facebook and some followers on twitter might have already seen the game as I posted already about it. However, I thought it definitely is worth a blog post as well.

First of all, I like share a few things about friendsofglass. It is a non-profit organisation and initiative from FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation, and should raise awareness about glass a packaging material. As you might have noticed, plastic, tetrapak and other packaging materials have taken over from glass for many products. However, glass has some amazing benefits that should bring it back to fashion. One of the main reasons glass should be used more often is that is can be 100% recycled and over and over again without loosing any its characteristics. Check out a list of some more reasons why you should use glass wherever you can. Additionally, you might have read in my recent post about plastic bottled water that there is some serious health risks from drinking out of plastic bottles as chemicals can leak into the water.

But back to friendsofglass and their creative stuff they come up with. Check out the amazing facebook game that they have on their facebook page. The aim it to  recycle 5000 virtual bottles by inviting 4 of your friends to join you in drinking some water out of a bottle, then passing it to your chosen friend and create a cycle that will allow you to finish the bottle and recycle it. It is cute and has very cool graphics. Just love it! So, please join to cause, drink and recycle.

Another great stuff is Hank – The singing bottle. Check out the video here:

Leere Flaschen/empty bottles

Image via Wikipedia

All in all, I think it is great stuff for a really good and important reason. If you have a twitter account please join #tweetrecycle, just let the world know how much you recycle in the real world and have fun tweeting to other people who like to do their bit in reducing out impact on the environment, bottle by bottle by bottle. Have fun and next time you are in the supermarket shopping think twice and look for glass packaging as an alternative.

This cause or campaign shows what can be done with social media to get people interested. Make it fun, interesting and use all the tools that are available (video, platforms, games, interactive maps and so on). Do you already use social media to that extend for your business? Do you have a cause that you are supporting? Or do you just like to share your insights about the use of social media in your area of interest, please let me know!

Are you still drinking plastic bottled water?

Over the past month, I developed an interest for the challenges that are surrounding the big subject of water. Inspired by the documentary movie Tapped that not only shows some very astonishing facts about tap water, but also gives you an inside into the industry that stands behind plastic bottled water and their practises in the US.

Images of bottled water

Image via Wikipedia

Tapped is a movie that really made me think, especially when they show you that some of the plastic containers used to store water can leak chemicals into the water that we are drinking. Most of the research until 2009, the year the movie was shot, only focused on plastics containing the chemical bisphenol-a (BPA). These were found to leak substances into the drinking water and the water industry would not even take these plastic containers off the market.

However, PET bottles that are most commonly used for bottled water seemed to be safe and no health concern. This might have changed as a recent study at the University Frankfurt in Germany shows:

They discovered estrogen active substances in most plastic bottled waters, but not in glass bottled waters. These substances might have a negative impact on sperm quality and quantity, interruption of fat metabolism, increased appearance of diabetes 1 and 2 as well as increased risk of cancer. However, more research will be needed to establish which compounds in the plastic are leaking. Unfortunately, the manufacturers are not contributing at the moment and the compounds of the plastic bottles are still an industry secret.

This all adds up to the already bad press about plastic bottles and their carbon footprint. Here are some sites you might want to check out about it:

Overall, this was quiet an eye opener for me and I will certainly try to avoid plastic bottled water, change to glass bottled water if on the road or just use reusable bottles and fill up from the tap. Please check out friendsofglass for more info why glass is a great alternative to plastic. Additionally, you can find some interesting examples of reusable bottles here:

Simply Stainless Bottle

Image by lululemon athletica via Flickr

I am sure you can find an alternative that suits your needs. Watch this space for info on tap water….coming soon!

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