Monday, June 18, 2012

A planet of plastic


Image from: http://wildnewjersey.tv/2010/09/30/phillycom-where-did-all-the-plastic-go.aspx

I do not always write about stories and storytelling, and this is about recycling. I suppose this could be a story about the planet and how I live my life.  And this might help you save some money and will help reduce the amount of plastic that goes into landfills.

We all talk about the planet getting smaller, but our garbage rate in plastics is getting greater.  We stopped buying plastic bottled water and soda a few years ago because of this.  And we are trying to find other ways of reusing single use plastic items, or eliminating them altogether.  And we are saving money. Dasani bottled water had an ad that said "Treat Yourself Well Everyday." Dasani is tap water bottled for you, yet bottled water costs 2,000 mores times than tap water, which is also more regulated!  As it says on The Story of Bottled Water, would you pay 2,000 times more for a sandwich? How many tax dollars are spent cleaning up these water bottles - look in a trash can at the next outdoor concert you go to or at your kids next sports game.  Some plastic gets thrown in water ways and ends up in the ocean, or is shipped to India (we don't want it in our backyard) and it has been reported that some of these ships have sunk. There, it is down-cycled to lower grade plastic to be later put in a landfill with the rest of the 80% which is not recycled.

We have not bought a zip lock bag in over a year.  We realized that the bags we bought our tortilla shells in are zip lock.  We reuse them. A lot! (We also consume a lot of tortillas!)

We have started making our own deodorant so we re-use the deodorant container.  I have refilled mine up a good half dozen times and the container still works fine! And it is way cheaper and better than any commercial version out there that I have used. (See below for recipe!)

Image from: http://swilson37.wordpress.com/tag/recycle/
There is currently an island of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean.  According to Wikipedia: "Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,800,000 sq mi) (0.41% to 8.1% of the size of the Pacific Ocean), or, in some media reports, up to "twice the size of the continental United States".[10] Such estimates, however, are conjectural based on the complexities of sampling and the need to assess findings against other areas."
Image from: http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/events/department-news/619/marine-trash-islands/
I have read that this island has grown rapidly since the 1980's, due mainly from the increase in bottled water sales - something that was thought of once as a yuppy fad!  Most of the plastic actually arrives in the ocean via rivers and streams and causes untold damage to the environment and the creatures we share the planet with.

One last note on how ridiculous bottled water is.  On Wikipedia it states: "In 2009, the New South Wales town of Bundanoon voted to become the first town in the world to outlaw bottled water.[32] Its citizens voluntarily chose to ban bottled water in response to a bottling company's desire to sell water from the town's local aquifer.[33]
"In a community meeting of 356 of the town's 2,500 residents, all but one voted in favor of the ban,[30] prohibiting the selling or dispensing of bottled water within the town precinct.[34]
 "Bundanoon's six stores have removed bottled water from their stock. The town now offers public drinking fountains and filtered water dispensers where people can fill up reusable water bottles and canteens. The reusable empty bottles are sold in place of full bottles in the local stores. Bundanoon's bold stand against bottled water's damaging effects on the environment and on communities has thrust it into a global spotlight. Bundanoon has caught the attention of many other cities around the world who soon could have similar policies.[30][35]"

An interesting article on re-using plastic bottles can be found here: http://refillables.grrn.org/content/western-europes-experience-refillable-beverage-containers.

So, next time you reach for a bottle of water in the supermarket, think about buying a steel or glass bottle instead and fill it at the fountain.  It will pay for itself in a few weeks, if not days and you will be saving yourself money.  Don' throw away those bags that your consumer products come in, re-use them.  Don't buy things that come in blister packs, or wrapped in plastic unless you really have to.  And check out the recipe for homemade deodorant! There are four "R's".  Re-use, re-cycle, reduce and refuse!

Do you stink?


This stuff is great.  As part of my family’s desire to eliminate as much consumption of (single-use) plastic as we can, we searched for a recipe for home-made deodorant.  We looked at a few and now use this. 

Recipe
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Soda
  • 4 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil*
  • About 5-10 drops of essential oil of what you would like to smell like (lavender, tea tree, basil, ylang-ylang, clove etc) - optional.  This can mask the smell of the coconut oil if you do not like coconut!
  • 1 recycled empty, washed and dried deodorant container
Steps
1. Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 6 tablespoons of cornstarch in a bowl.
2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil to the bowl and mix well. The coconut oil we use is firm, so we heat it up a little to reduce it to liquid form.  Microwave it for just a few seconds.
3. Add about 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil, and mix well.  If you find that the smell of the essential oil is not strong enough, add more. 
4. Make sure your recycled deodorant container is clean, dry, and unwound (the ‘tray’ is at the bottom). Pour/pack the mixture into the container, pushing it down with your fingers if need to get remove air bubbles or gaps. Wipe off the edges and sides, place on the cap. 
5. Put the deodorant container in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes so that it sets/solidifies.

A few words about this deodorant:
*This is an all natural product. Because it is made of coconut oil it can and will liquefy if it gets too warm. We live in New Hampshire in a house with no A/C and it is fine, however on a trip to Costa Rica, we found in places where there was no A/C our deodorant turned to a more liquid state.  Fortunately we had packed a few zip lock bags (reused tortilla bags) and still used the deodorant by dipping our fingers in it and wiping it on!  It does leak from the container in hot climates, but very slowly.

**UPDATE**
 21st June - When the weather reached the upper 80's in our house (the nineties outside) the deodorant began to liquify!  I did not have my glasses on, so ended up wearing a lot down my torso!

It can mark your clothes if you put on too much and it is freshly applied and your clothes rub against it.  It contains oil, so apply lightly.

We were very active in Costa Rica where it was hot and humid. I found it works for me better and longer than any other commercial deodorant I have ever used, including the healthy options, and is a lot cheaper too.

The cost of buying a (recyclable) glass jar of coconut oil, (card box of) baking soda, cornstarch and essential oil comes to about $18.00, depending on brand, size, and which essential oil you buy.  You should get over 6 batches from a 12oz jar of coconut oil and many more batches from the baking soda, cornstarch and essential oils.  A six pack of Old Spice deodorant costs around $14.00, a six pack of Arm and Hammer costs about $18.00, the good healthy varieties cost about $25.00 - $30.00 for a six pack.  And then you have six plastic containers to dispose of!

**UPDATE**
 21st June - When the weather reached the upper 80's in our house (the nineties outside) the deodorant began to liquify!  I did not have my glasses on, so ended up wearing a lot down my torso!

Friday, June 08, 2012

My first audio book has it's first chapter. It comes from Jennifer Carson's Hapenny Magick, published by Pugalicious Press.
Go to: http://www.diamondscree.com/downloads.htm
for more information and to hear this snippet!
(C) 2011 P.A. Lewis

Friday, June 01, 2012

Here is a commencement speech by Neil Gaiman for the University of the Arts entitled "Make Glorious Mistakes, Make Good Art".  Gaiman is one of my favourite writers. Check it out.