Posts Tagged With: Earth

Why I’m Walking for Wildlife

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It’s a waste bin, it’s the Earth – go on, guess the symbolic meaning…

I promise this will be my almost probably last post about my sponsored walk! On 28th April 2018, I will walking from Aberaeron (in West Wales, UK) to Lampeter (er, still in West Wales, UK). I thought you should know why (apart from the obvious “because he’s totally bonkers” reason).

Wildlife worldwide is in crisis and it isn’t just cute furry animals, pretty flowers, or the other living things lucky enough to have come under Sir David Attenborough’s scrutiny. There is pretty much no order of life that hasn’t been negatively affected by human activities. One of the problems that humans appear to have is why the loss of an ape, a snail, a frog, a tiny water-borne flea or a mammoth elephant might matter.

When I say every living thing is connected to every other living thing, some of you will roll your eyes and zone out, probably thinking I am a lost hippy from the 60s. OK, feel free to do that. It doesn’t change the fact that every living thing is connected to every other living thing. So what you do to stuff affects everything else, and vice versa.

Places like Denmark Farm provide a sanctuary for wildlife, a place where nature happens, despite human activities. If it were to close, it wouldn’t be too long before another native habitat of a pile of British flora and fauna would disappear forever.

It seems no government ever really cares enough about the global environment to protect its native wildlife. It gives huge grants to companies to build infrastructure deemed “essential” whilst failing to see anything other than political and financial gain. Conservation Centres like Denmark Farm struggle on, feeding the rural economy and maintaining the precious ecosystem as best it can. Without that most unnatural of things, money, it simply cannot survive just like the short-tailed bumblebee (declared extinct in 2000).

Here’s the bottom line: destroy the flora and fauna and you cease to have a viable planet to live on. Unless there is some infrastructure company about to build us a new one (where are the Magratheans when you need them?*) then being able to travel from Leeds to London in an hour or so will be utterly, utterly pointless.

That is why I am Walking for Wildlife, for Denmark Farm and the Planet Earth.

Please give generously at: https://localgiving.org/fundraising/21miles4denmarkfarm/

THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH!

 

oOo

  • Legendary planet builders, according to Douglas Adams.
Categories: bees, birds, insect, Sustainable Stuff, Universe, wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Plastic not-really-Fantastic

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Quite possibly the dullest photograph of anything. Ever.

OK, I’ll try not to get all ranty. Above is a picture of a container used for vitamin tablets (for the dog, but that’s another story). I noticed the other day, as I put the last tablet into Max’s food, that the label helpfully informed me that whilst the body of the receptacle was “Plastic – widely recycled”, the lid was “Plastic – check local recycling facilities”. But, I thought, not caring that my English teacher taught me that starting sentences with conjunctions was a bad idea, but why are the two bits of this thing made from different plastics? In fact, they feel as if they are the SAME plastic. I checked using the zoom function my eyes are equipped with (I held both bits very close to my eyes).

Sure enough, the lid is made of type 5 plastic (polypropylene) and the body is made of type 2 (high density polyethylene). I looked up the difference on the website https://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/store/common_plastics_no_1_to_no_7#.WpgYpR3FL-s and this is what it said:

 High density polyethylene (HDPE)

Description:  Polyethylenes are the most widely used family of plastics in the world. The versatile polyethylene polymer has the simplest basic chemical structure of any plastic polymer (repeating units of CH2: one carbon and two hydrogen molecules) making it very easy to process and thus extremely popular for numerous low value applications – especially packaging. HDPE has long virtually unbranched polymer chains which align and pack easily making it dense and very crystalline (structurally ordered) and thus a stronger, thicker form of polyethylene.

Properties:  stiffness, strength, toughness, resistance to moisture, permeability to gas, ease of processing.

 Polypropylene (PP)

Description:  Polypropylene is used for similar applications as polyethylenes, but is generally stiffer and more heat resistant – so is often used for containers filled with hot food. It too has a simple chemical structure (many methyl groups of CH3 – one carbon and three hydrogen molecules) making it very versatile. It’s crystallinity (structural order affecting hardness & density) is quite high, somewhere between LDPE and HDPE.

Properties:  strength, toughness, resistance to heat, chemicals, grease & oil, barrier to moisture.

So one is a tougher form of the other. Does this matter? No, the body doesn’t need to be any tougher that the lid (the most force either will have to endure in their lifetimes is that of the weight of other boxes of tablets stacked on top, far outweighing the grip strength of an adult attempting to defeat the childproof lid). The problem with type 5 plastic is that it can be mixed with resins that make recycling difficult, so recyclers stay clear of it. I can’t tell if this lid contains any extra resins but the end result is a material that appears to be identical to the type 2 plastic used for the rest of the container.

I am pretty sure that non-plastic, planet-friendly alternatives for vitamin tablet containers exist (made from natural materials such as bamboo for example). Now this container is empty, I will probably use it for holding the many screws I seem to have left over after DIY, or build some exciting electronics project in it. But you know what? I would rather be able to put the whole thing in the compost to turn into food.

So, plastic-bottle-for-tablets-manufacturer – use some common sense here. Make all your packages from one type of plastic and make that the one that is easy to recycle!

oOo

Below are the full descriptions from the website in case you are interested. I’ll pretend you are.

 Polypropylene (PP)

Description:  Polypropylene is used for similar applications as polyethylenes, but is generally stiffer and more heat resistant – so is often used for containers filled with hot food. It too has a simple chemical structure (many methyl groups of CH3 – one carbon and three hydrogen molecules) making it very versatile. It’s crystallinity (structural order affecting hardness & density) is quite high, somewhere between LDPE and HDPE. Properties:  strength, toughness, resistance to heat, chemicals, grease & oil, barrier to moisture.

Typical Use:  Food containers (ketchup, yogurt, cottage cheese, margarine, syrup, take-out), medicine containers, straws, bottle caps, Britta filters, Rubbermaid and other opaque plastic containers, including baby bottles. Other uses include disposable diaper and sanitary pad liners, thermal vests, appliance parts and numerous car parts (bumpers, carpets, fixtures).

Toxicity:  Being relatively stable, it is generally considered a safer plastic for food and drink use, although it has been shown to leach plastic additives (such as the stabilizing agent oleamide) when PP labware was used in scientific experiments (PP1) and one older study has suggested heated PP may be linked to occupational asthma based on the exposure of a worker in a PP factory (PP2).

Recycling Rate:  Low, because often pigmented or mixed with other resins, therefore difficult to sort (PP3).  Recycled material made into brooms, brushes, bins pallets, auto battery cases, flower pots.

Alternatives:  Buy in glass and reuse those bottles/jars – mason jars are incredibly versatile. Use a glass or stainless steel reusable water bottle. Purchase margarine/butter in cubes.

Our Suggestion:  RELATIVELY SAFE. But has been shown to release additive chemicals when used as labware in scientific experiments.

 

 High density polyethylene (HDPE)

Description:  Polyethylenes are the most widely used family of plastics in the world. The versatile polyethylene polymer has the simplest basic chemical structure of any plastic polymer (repeating units of CH2: one carbon and two hydrogen molecules) making it very easy to process and thus extremely popular for numerous low value applications – especially packaging. HDPE has long virtually unbranched polymer chains which align and pack easily making it dense and very crystalline (structurally ordered) and thus a stronger, thicker form of of polyethylene. Properties:  stiffness, strength, toughness, resistance to moisture, permeability to gas, ease of processing.

Typical Use:  Plastic bags (grocery), opaque milk, water, and juice containers, bleach, detergent and shampoo bottles, garbage bags, dishes, yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, some medecine bottles. Also used in Tyvek insulation, PEX piping, plastic/wood composites.

Toxicity:  Being relatively stable, it is generally considered a safer plastic for food and drink use, although some studies have shown that it can leach the endocrine disruptor nonylphenol (added to HDPE as a stabilizer), especially when exposed to ultraviolet light – i.e., sunlight – and possibly other additive chemicals with estrogen-mimicking activity (HDPE1HDPE2HDPE3).

Recycling:  About 29% (HDPE4). Recycled material made into bottles for non-food items like shampoo, laundry detergent, motor oil; plastic lumber and furniture, piping, recycling bins, fencing, floor tiles, buckets, crates, flower pots, garden edging, film and sheeting.

Alternatives:  Use glass or stainless steel reusable bottles and food storage containers. Buy in glass and reuse those bottles/jars – mason jars are incredibly versatile. Use reusable bags made of natural fibres (cotton, hemp).

Our Suggestion:  RELATIVELY SAFE. But has been shown to release endocrine disrupting chemicals.

https://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/store/common_plastics_no_1_to_no_7#.WpgYpR3FL-s

Categories: Plastic, recycling, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A Small Blue thing

Pale blue dot image with a wider field of view to show more background

We are here… for now (Images courtesy of NASA, Public Domain)

“Today, I am

A Small Blue Thing.

Like a marble

Or an eye.”

Small Blue Thing by Suzanne Vega

When Suzanne Vega sang these words, I don’t think she had the picture in mind. I’m sure she didn’t, in fact, but somehow the words resonate both with the picture’s title and its subject.

Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a distance of 3.7 billion miles. The scientist Carl Sagan requested that NASA turn Voyager round to photograph Earth one last time, before this human-made object headed into the space between the space. It has now travelled the furthest from its origin than any human-crafted object has, and is currently still communicating with us at a distance of 13 billion miles.

We did that. As a species, we did that. In doing so, we have helped us all to understand our place, both physical and metaphysical, in the Universe.

“As we begin to comprehend that the earth itself is a kind of manned spaceship hurtling through the infinity of space — it will seem increasingly absurd that we have not better organized the life of the human family.”

— Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States, speech at San Fernando Valley State College, 26 September 1966.

“Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the Earth was, my god that little thing is so fragile out there.”

— Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut, interview for the 2007 movie In the Shadow of the Moon.

“If somebody’d said before the flight, “Are you going to get carried away looking at the Earth from the moon?” I would have say, “No, no way.” But yet when I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the moon, I cried.”

— Alan Shepard

Perhaps the first group of people on those much-hyped commercial space flights shouldn’t be a random collection of wealthy individuals. It should be the leaders of every nation on the planet. They should see what it is that they, collectively, represent.* Maybe they can stay up there until all of them can prove they understand what it is to affect the future of A Small Blue Thing.

***

As I started gathering quotes for this post, the so-called “Doomsday Clock” (not, as the BBC article was at pains to point out, a real timepiece) was advanced by 30 seconds, largely because of the expected problems caused by one individual, living on that pale blue dot.

For Humans, that dot disappearing would be apocalyptic. For the Universe, not so much. It really is time we all remembered that.

oOo

* Plus there could be a TV show public vote to decide who we allow back to terra firma.

Categories: News, Universe | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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