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      DAMN PLASTIC BLOG

      GUEST ENTRY - TRUE WORDS BY VALERIE

      For 12 years, my work life was never stationary. I didn't own a house or apartment, I lived out of my backpack for ten out of the 12 months a year. It was the life I’d chosen. A life of the unknown, the restricted, the small things. I didn't know where I was gonna be in 6 months time. It could be in Europe, it could be in Antarctica? I chose to pack what would last, not what was fashionable. I chose a life at sea, I became a sailor, a tall ship sailor.

      I spent weeks and months on a ship, restricted to small spaces and the same faces every. single. day. We ate the food we had, we learned, baked, worked, evolved and grew as a community together. Because we are stronger together. And we hear that a lot today with the current pandemic. What I want to share with you today, are some insights on food and nourishments which I have learned at sea.

      Best before dates…. you know don't you? I shouldn't have to tell you, but I will anyways. This is a date required by law to be printed on the packaging. It doesn't mean that it goes off the day after. Most food is designed to last at least 2 weeks after this date. Let’s be frank here, have you ever seen salt go off? Or water? People! It has survived millions of years in rocks… it’s not gonna kill you. Just think about it.

      To save salad/lettuce longer in the fridge, wrap them in a damp towel. Believe me. Lettuce easily lasted 14 days if not longer. Tomatoes wrapped in newspaper will last, we still had fresh tomatoes after 30 days! Fruit and veggies will last, as long as they have air to breathe. Try to store them so that they don't overlap too much, and if they do, make sure to rotate them every few days a bit so they don't go soggy. Potatoes, buy them with soil still on, store dark and don't wash them. They need to breathe too.

      Garlic, Ginger and Herbs, portion them in ice cube trays and off into the freezer. Same goes for cheese, meats, butter, even milk - freeze them to conserve. Don’t forget to rotate your stocks, so if you buy new, place it in the back of the shelf. Eggs. Oh I love my eggs! And believe me, you smell a rotten egg! If you are scared that it might not last, turn them around every week. Towards the end of a 50 day trip we cracked every egg open to check for colour and smell before using it.

      It’s really not hard to prolong food to last us for longer periods of time. Nowadays, if you don't have an ingredient that you needed for a recipe google for alternatives. Be creative. You don't have to be a 5 Star chef to quench your hunger. Think about where you shop - try to shop local with short delivery journeys.

      I have seen beauty, I have seen sadness, I have seen animals and places that most people can only dream of. And I have seen a LOT OF TRASH, in the oceans and on land. Let’s keep this world clean, and clean it up one day at a time. Buy food without packaging.  Bring a bag while going for a walk and pick up trash along the way. Let our world heal itself. She is not the problem - we are.

      Valerie

      ALL ABOUT PLASTIC BAGS

      If you put a plastic bag over your head and tight it around your neck, you’ll soon be unable to breathe. Now imagine that there is a huge plastic bag around the earth. With every time your shop for groceries, clothes, etc. the opening of that bag gets smaller, smaller and smaller – until we suffocate in our trash.

      We’ll think: why the hell did I take that plastic bag the sales assistant offered? Why didn’t I just carry these light cloth bags? Or any other reusable bag? It would have been so easy! Nevertheless, most people refuse to take this kind of small sustainable choices. And that’s our mistake.

      To give you some numbers…

      The reason why plastic bags are so bad for the environment are the same as with bottles, straws and every other kind of plastic. I’ve talked about this in some other post, but let’s just review the facts:

      Plastic, no matter which kind, starts degrading after hundreds of years. Until it fully degrades, it can sometimes take 1000 of years. 1000 years ago, humans lived in the Middle Age. Kings and the church ruled the world. It was a dark time full of wars and crusades. That was 1000 years ago. What will happen in 3019? What will our plastic bags see, what maybe no human will ever see?

      Since their introduction on the world market 1977, plastic bags rule the trend boards. About 5 trillion of the are produced annually, or 160,000 per second – that’s enough for them to encircle the world 7 times! You see, we’re on our best way to actually suffocate the whole earth.

      And although I can’t repeat often enough that recycling isn’t the solution for all our problems, it’s still better than nothing. Unfortunately, even that task seems to hard for people to accomplish. Only 1-3% of plastic bags are actually recycled.

      What actions were already taken?

      After all that negative information and dark future predictions, it’s time for some positive stuff: we’re not completely doomed. Many states took already some actions – others plan to do that in the next few years. In many countries, single-use bags started to cost. Although their actually pretty cheap, it helped. Less people started buying plastic bags.

      Another action taken is even more effective: Countries such as Germany, Italy, England and even some African countries and states in Australia and the US banned single-use plastic bags.

      The number of countries banning plastic bags or putting a tax on them increases each year – there’s a lot we still have to do but, in some areas, we’re about to get better.

      And now it’s YOUR turn

      Even if your country hasn’t banned plastic bags yet: it’s no excuse to take them. The opposite is the case: if plastic bags are offered to you at every single store, you should be even more aware of them and refuse them at all cost. Reusable bags don’t cost a lot and they’re light weighted. Putting them in your purse should therefore not be a problem. If you’re very motivated to refuse plastic bags at all cost (which is the best thing you can do) and you forget your reusable bag, don’t take it as an excuse to accept the plastic bag. Carry your stuff with your hands – even if you have to run to the car or home more often. I promise you: after such an experience you’ll never forget your reusable bag again! (I speak from experience – it takes so much time and strength to carry all your groceries without a bag, but at least you get a workout)

      The thing with paper bags

      Sometimes it seems to me, like paper bags are even more trendy than plastic bags. Although paper does break down a lot faster than plastic under ideal conditions (landfills don’t have ideal conditions, which means that there, paper bags do need a long time to degrade), paper bags in general aren’t a much better solutions to plastic bags.

      The biggest problem is the production. To manufacture a paper bag, you need 4 times more energy. Recycling paper bags uses more energy as well. Also, paper is made out of trees. So, to produce paper bags, we need to cut down forests, which by the way are natural carbon dioxide fighters and home of a variety of species.

      So, forget about plastic AND paper bags! Forget about that single-use stuff in general! Take small sustainable choices, go to the next store and buy yourself a reusable bag!

      ALL ABOUT THE TRASH WE THROW OUT OF OUR CAR

      “Highway to hell” is not just the title of a famous song by ACDC, it’s also a very true statement. Imagine you’re driving fast on a street. At the end of the street, you see a devil surrounded by fire and death but also trash. Imagine that on every street you drive on – then, you understand our current situation.

      Although it’s one of the biggest threats to humans, this highway to hell is not just about the carbon dioxide emissions which, amongst other things, causes an increase of the average temperature. Because we’re not just heating our planet up, causing hell on earth. We also seem to confuse our surrounding with a trash can. More than 15% of drivers admit to have thrown away their rubbish out of the car. I’m not just talking about biological waste like the rest of an apple, I’m talking about bottles, chewing gum, plastic bags, cups, etc. An apple will decompose quickly, a bottle needs by contrast 500 years. I still don’t understand why it’s so hard for so many people to just put their trash into a bag and wait until they drive by a trash can or until they return home. It’s not like your waste will turn into a monster and eat you alive. Not. Gonna. Happen.

      A short story about a bottle

      Ever thought about what will happen to this one bottle you just threw out of the window? It will first just lay there, for a long, long time. It will wait for someone to pick it up and recycle it or, at least, to throw it away – which probably won’t happen when it lays somewhere next to the highway.

      Then, it starts to rain. With time, toxic substances from the bottle can mix up with the water creating a harmful liquid called Leachate. This liquid can mix up with ground water, streams and soil. It poisons ecosystems.

      But that’s just about a part of the bottle. The whole bottle itself would either lie on the ground of hundreds of years or somehow end up in a stream, ending up in the ocean. There it probably breaks down into small pieces: microplastic. And if you think, that’s it, then wait for what follows:

      That microplastic is often confused with food by different water animals like fish. Plastic makes the animals feel full although they’re not, so they starve to death. And if that’s not bad enough, let’s have a short lecture about food chains: that microplastic is for example eaten by a fish larva. This fish larva is eaten by squid. This squid is eaten by a tuna. And this tuna is eaten by us. So, in the end, it’s us who are eating our own trash.

      To cut that long story short: by using plastic in general, and especially by throwing it away anywhere, we’re not just destroying our environment but ourselves as well. Our behavior is nothing else but suicide.

      What should I do?

      Easy! Don’t throw your trash (especially plastic) out of the window! Just keep it in your car and wait until you can throw it away into a recycling bin. I told it already before: your trash won’t turn into a human-eating monster when you’re driving. It will only turn into a dangerous monster, when you throw it out of the car. You say it’s not possible? Just look at Singapore, where they banned littering with high penalties between 300-1000$.

      So, just hold yourself back, take smart and sustainable choices and throw your trash into a bin.

      ALL ABOUT PLASTIC CUPS

      When was the last time you bought a coffee, tea, etc. to go? Was it at Starbucks last weekend after an exhausting but fun shopping day? Or was it at your local bakery, which you visit every morning to get your daily caffeine? Or at a festival? A party? Fact is, there are countless places where you can get some to go drinks. And that’s fine, I’m not telling you to stop drinking coffee in the morning or to skip all the parties. Do it, enjoy your life, have fun. But let me ask you one question: The last time you bought a to go drink, did you take your own cup with you? If yes, congrats, you’re doing a great job! If not, you really should read that post. It’s time to change! And no, I’m not talking about some super-hard-to-achieve habits you won’t stick to anyways. It’s all about small, sustainable choices. Small changes, that will make a huge impact.

      Some facts about disposable cups

      Going back to my first question… When the last time was you bought something in a single-use cup. Let’s change that question a bit: How often per year to you buy disposable cups?

      Worldwide, about 500 billion disposable cups are used per year. Isn’t that insane? And exactly these cups need 20-500 years to decompose, depending on the actual material.

      The problem with paper cups

      Now you might think: “Great, what a good thing that my coffee is in a paper cup, at least I’m not harming the environment!” Cute thought, really. There has been a time when I actually believed in that. But then again, you just have to remind yourself of what happens to paper when you make it wet. The water soaks through it.  Ever noticed that this rule doesn’t apply to paper cups? That’s because the inside of these cups is covered with a layer of plastic. Although it is way less plastic than in other cups, at some points, paper cups might be even worse than the ones made entirely out of plastic.

      So, let’s just recycle it?! Or not…

      Recycling cups has always been an issue. They can be made out of recycled materials, however it’s very difficult to recycle them again. Especially paper cups are creating a huge problem in the recycling industry. To be able to recycle paper cups, you need to separate the paper from the plastic coverage first, which is very tricky. Usually, special technologies are needed for that process.

      Even if your cup is labeled “biodegradable”, that doesn’t mean you can throw it on your compost or out of the window and wait until it decomposes. Even for biodegradable cups, a special heat is needed to make them break down. For that, a specific process is needed, which regular recycling facilities often can’t handle. You’d have to look for some special bins for biodegradable cups which often aren’t easy to find

      The change you can make

      That one habit you have to have is so easy, yet so few people are actually doing it: carry your own, reusable cup with you. It’s a one-time investment, a small change which, if enough people stick to it, will have a huge impact on our environment and our health.

      At the beginning, it can be hard to remember that. Don’t give up when you forget your cup at home once. Prepare the cup the night before or set yourself an alarm clock. If you’re very committed, promise yourself to not buy any coffee or other to go drink, unless you have your own reusable cup with you. It takes about 21 days to develop a habit. Stick to it and I promise, you will feel better, just by thinking about the huge amount of waste you’re saving per year. And there is even a bonus: more and more coffee shops and bakeries are giving keepcup-discounts, which can range from 10 cents to 1$.

      You can find reusable cups everywhere. Almost every single coffee shop is selling some. Or you check out pages like solcups, stojo (their cups can be folded, so you even save some space in your bag), frankgreen, jococups,…

      You could also try to convince your local coffee shop to “rent out” reusable cups. That means, when buying a coffee, you leave a certain deposit for the cup, which you get back as soon as you return it.

      You see, it’s all pretty simple. Just dare to take the first step! Take small, sustainable choices!

      ALL ABOUT PLASTIC STRAWS

      Does anyone of you use plastic straws? I’m pretty sure most of you. And why not? They´re pretty useful, cheap and fancy. Who doesn’t like to sip on a cocktail, preferably nicely decorated with a straw? Or taking pictures of their Starbucks Frappuccino? Or just drink water with a straw, so the ice cubes don’t annoy you while drinking?

      I think you get my point; straws are everywhere. I mean, they’re actually pretty useful and can ma

      Does anyone of you use plastic straws? I’m pretty sure most of you. And why not? They´re pretty useful, cheap and fancy. Who doesn’t like to sip on a cocktail, preferably nicely decorated with a straw? Or taking pictures of their Starbucks Frappuccino? Or just drink water with a straw, so the ice cubes don’t annoy you while drinking?

      I think you get my point; straws are everywhere. I mean, they’re actually pretty useful and can make your Frappuccino or cocktail look way prettier. So, why shouldn’t we use them? They’re fancy, aren’t they? Well, of course they are, if you like huge plastic islands in the ocean or colorful waste instead of sand on the beaches.

      It’s no secret, that this is exactly what’s happening right now. Ironically, most of the plastic used ends up in the sea, no matter where you threw it away. That’s why there are beaches with more plastic than actually sand or rocks. Those huge plastic islands I talked about before: they actually exist. The biggest one is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it has the size of about 1 600 000 km². That’s about 3.7 times the size of California.

      The role of plastic straws…

      Straws are the 7th most common item found in trash mountains and plastic islands. In numbers: we use about 3Mrd plastic straws worldwide. Per day. Just in Germany, they use over 28.000 tons of plastic straws per year. Very interesting when considering, that one straw has the weight of about 1 gram. Most people will throw them away after a one-time use. They’re cheap anyways, so what should we worry about? Hmm… maybe the environment? Our health? Our future?

      I want you to think about it: do you really need those straws? Is it so important to drink your water or cocktail or coffee through one? Are they really so useful, cheap and fancy, to neglect your own health and future for them? Believe me, its not. And even if there are some people whose life may depend on straws, the brought majority doesn’t actually need them at all.

      What can we do?

      I really feel like I’m repeating this on every blog post, but we’re at a point, where recycling isn’t a solutions anymore. We’re at a point, where we should start caring for our environment. So why don’t start with the small things in life?

      Actually, some states and countries already banned the usage of plastic straws, like for example Seattle since 2018. Also, many states in the EU plan on banning disposable plastic, including straws, during the upcoming years. They are great examples to follow. And even if your state didn’t ban disposable plastic yet: you can still stop using it.

      Many of you will probably ask themselves now: but what with all the soda and cocktails? How should we drink them without a straw? Well, there are actually many environment-friendly alternatives. If you think colorful plastic straws are sexy, wait until you see the ones made out of glass or steel! Or one of our favorites: noodles! Yes, noodles aka Stroodles. Can it get even better? Of course! How about a collapsible straw you can take everywhere with you and impress your friends? Alternatives are endless! Explore them, choose your favorite and join the movement!

       

      ke your Frappuccino or cocktail look way prettier. So, why shouldn’t we use them? They’re fancy, aren’t they? Well, of course they are, if you like huge plastic islands in the ocean or colorful waste instead of sand on the beaches.

      It’s no secret, that this is exactly what’s happening right now. Ironically, most of the plastic used ends up in the sea, no matter where you threw it away. That’s why there are beaches with more plastic than actually sand or rocks. Those huge plastic islands I talked about before: they actually exist. The biggest one is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it has the size of about 1 600 000 km². That’s about 3.7 times the size of California.

      The role of plastic straws…

      Straws are the 7th most common item found in trash mountains and plastic islands. In numbers: we use about 3Mrd plastic straws worldwide. Per day. Just in Germany, they use over 28.000 tons of plastic straws per year. Very interesting when considering, that one straw has the weight of about 1 gram. Most people will throw them away after a one-time use. They’re cheap anyways, so what should we worry about? Hmm… maybe the environment? Our health? Our future?

      I want you to think about it: do you really need those straws? Is it so important to drink your water or cocktail or coffee through one? Are they really so useful, cheap and fancy, to neglect your own health and future for them? Believe me, its not. And even if there are some people whose life may depend on straws, the brought majority doesn’t actually need them at all.

      What can we do?

      We’re at a point, where recycling isn’t enough anymore. We’re at a point, where we should start caring for our environment. So why don’t start with the small things in life?

      Actually, some states and countries already banned the usage of plastic straws, like for example Seattle since 2018. Also, many states in the EU plan on banning disposable plastic, including straws, during the upcoming years. They are great examples to follow. And even if your state didn’t ban disposable plastic yet: you can still stop using it.

      Many of you will probably ask themselves now: but what with all the soda and cocktails? How should we drink them without a straw? Well, there are actually many environment-friendly alternatives. Straws made out of glass or stainless steel for example are not just reusable but look also pretty. Straws made out of paper are a good alternative as well, although most of the time they can be used only once. All of these options are great, however, the best alternative to plastic straws might be a bamboo straw, as it is reusable and biodegradable. Another unique and ecofriendly straw is “strawgetti”, a straw made out of uncooked noodles (and if you want, you can cook them after using them as straws). You see? There are many alternatives to which you can switch. It all depends on your preference. And although most of them are slightly more expensive than a plastic straw, they are reusable. That means that in a long term, there isn’t a huge difference in pricing. If you want, you can check out some nice plastic-free online stores, like kappi, solocups, pandapackaging and many, many more.

      It’s time to make the first step and get rid of all your plastic straws. Make a positive impact on our world and start with it today!

       

      ALL ABOUT PLASTIC BOTTLES

      Whether it’s coke, water or juice, you get your drink mostly in just one specific kind of bottle. Pay close attention to the beverage area in your supermarket. You will see, that almost every single bottle is made out of plastic. It’s no surprise that an average American consumes around 167 plastic water bottles per year. Keep in mind, that other kinds of beverages like coke and juice aren’t included in that number. Sounds like a lot? Then read that: Worldwide, 1 Million plastic bottles are produced per minute. Not per year, not per month, PER MINUTE. If you put every plastic bottle produced annua

      Drink your plastic! - not

      Whether it’s coke, water or juice, you get your drink mostly in just one specific kind of bottle. Pay close attention to the beverage area in your supermarket. You will see, that almost every single bottle is made out of plastic. It’s no surprise that an average American consumes around 167 plastic water bottles per year. Keep in mind, that other kinds of beverages like coke and juice aren’t included in that number. Sounds like a lot? Then read that: Worldwide, 1 Million plastic bottles are produced per minute. Not per year, not per month, PER MINUTE. If you put every plastic bottle produced annually next to each other, you would reach the planet Merkur, which is about 75 Million kilometers (48 Million miles) away. Considering the fact, that plastic bottles need up to 700 years to dissolve, their number on earth will increase. Maybe we’ll be even able to reach the sun soon.

      But because we don’t want to build bridges between planets made out of plastic bottles, we should consider to drastically reduce our consumption.

      Why refusing is so much better than recycling

      “Let’s keep consuming plastic – just recycle it!”

       Please, don’t listen to people saying that. Recycling is a really cute idea and when it comes to plastic waste, it’s probably your best option. The only thing, that would be even better, is to take small, sustainable choices and completely refuse buying beverages in plastic bottles. Because the problem with recycling is, that “you’re turning a dirty product into another dirty product” (- Sheila Hanney)

      The reason why recycling might not be the solution for all our problems is the fact, that it’s often not possible to recycle all of the bottle. There will always be a part that won’t transform into a new object, whether it’s a new bottle or clothes.

      The other reason why you should refuse plastic bottles completely has less to do with recycling but more with the actual consumption. With every plastic bottle you consume, you consume a part of the substances contained. Chemicals like Bisphenol A enter your body and can cause various diseases including cancer.

      Lastly, recycling a bottle won’t hold the microplastic back from entering the ocean. Let’s say, your plastic bottles get recycled into a T-Shirt. When you then wash that T-Shirt, microplastic separates from it and enters directly the water. Fishes than confuse it with food and eat it. And then there are two options: either, that fish consumes so much microplastic, that it dies or, the fish gets caught and lands on our plate. Yummy.

      What alternatives do we have?

      After a bunch of paragraphs of me chattering about all these problems, it’s time to tell you, that it’s pretty easy to avoid eating your own trash. Just use your own reusable bottle. That’s how easy it is! Brands like 24bottles, BeBottle, Carrybottles and Kappi produce such bottles with a pretty and unique design. Just fill them up with filtered water, infuse it with fruits if you want to and enjoy your drink!

      lly next to each other, you would reach the planet Merkur, which is about 75 Million kilometers (48 Million miles) away. Considering the fact, that plastic bottles need up to 700 years to dissolve, their number on earth will increase. Maybe we’ll be even able to reach the sun soon.

      But because we don’t want to build bridges between planets made out of plastic bottles, we should consider to drastically reduce our consumption.

      Why refusing is so much better than recycling

      “Let’s keep consuming plastic – just recycle it!”

       Please, don’t listen to people saying that. Recycling is a really cute idea and when it comes to plastic waste, it’s probably your best option. The only thing, that would be even better, is to take small, sustainable choices and completely refuse buying beverages in plastic bottles. Because the problem with recycling is, that “you’re turning a dirty product into another dirty product” (- Sheila Hanney)

      The reason why recycling might not be the solution for all our problems is the fact, that it’s often not possible to recycle all of the bottle. There will always be a part that won’t transform into a new object, whether it’s a new bottle or clothes.

      The other reason why you should refuse plastic bottles completely has less to do with recycling but more with the actual consumption. With every plastic bottle you consume, you consume a part of the substances contained. Chemicals like Bisphenol A enter your body and can cause various diseases including cancer.

      Lastly, recycling a bottle won’t hold the microplastic back from entering the ocean. Let’s say, your plastic bottles get recycled into a T-Shirt. When you then wash that T-Shirt, microplastic separates from it and enters directly the water. Fishes than confuse it with food and eat it. And then there are two options: either, that fish consumes so much microplastic, that it dies or, the fish gets caught and lands on our plate. And we end up to consume our trash, again.

      What alternatives do we have?

      After a bunch of paragraphs of me telling you to stop buying and using plastic bottles, it’s time to tell you what you can do instead. This alternative is super easy: use your own reusable bottle. Brands like 24bottles, BeBottle, Carrybottles and Kappi produce such bottles with a pretty and unique design. Just fill them up with filtered water, infuse it with fruits if you want to and enjoy your drink!