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A World Of Plastic- Alternatives

Now that we have learned so much about plastic products and the risks they bring, we need to find alternatives. I know that I have stopped using many items in the kitchen and have been using others differently. I am getting used to finding solutions and have been completely eliminating one use convenience items. With change comes work. Let’s see if I can make it a bit easier for you.

We’ll start with straws because they are my biggest pet peeve right now. These single use items rack up amazing figures; ‘Americans use an estimated 500 million disposable straws every day, adding up to enough straws to fill more than 46,400 large school buses per year.’ Plus most of them are wrapped in plastic! I know it will take some time to chisel this number but Starbucks offers reusable straws as does ReUseIt.com and many other fine shops.

Another plastic item that is never going to go away is the plastic bottle. These are completely necessary in the modern world, we just have to be more careful with what we do with them. Most are recyclable and can become something really cool! (See bChill’s Facebook page for our latest posts) Some others really can be phased out like the water bottle. I love water and drink lots of it but have found a new way to include it in my day to day: Brita filter, real glass and/or a reusable bottle. There are all kinds of filters, drinking vessels and reusable bottles everywhere, these are just what I shamelessly plug. You can find any of these items at any home ware, department or even grocery store near you.

Now we must chat about school lunches, picnics and outdoor party events. One use plastic items are synonymous with out of the house eating and drinking. And can be found littering any playground, park or beach. These items, (i.e. plastic forks, spoons, bags, plates, cups) can now be found as a biodegradable or as a multi-use. Some of these products are easier than others to find but Biodegradable Store and the before mentioned ReUseIt.com seem to have quite the selection. Also Lunchskins has adorable sandwich and snack bags for everyday use. Just rethinking the use of these items can make an astounding difference in the environment and your pocket book. You pay for reusable items only once.

There are so many alternatives to these and other disposable and one use items. This ‘LifeWithoutPlastic’ website seems a little messed up but has some great ideas for changes that can be made. Toys, pet supplies, school supplies, home and body care, dining out and travel. And thankfully because of hard work done by the people at Surfrider Foundation and other impressive organizations, the one use plastic bag (and hopefully Styrofoam!) could be part of our past very soon. We can all do our part and bPartOfTheSolution! bPartOfTheFuture and save the future for our children.

(These links go to more information or stores that carry the items we are discussing)

 

 

A World Of Plastic-The Triangle

We are all programed pretty well to look for the triangle on plastic containers. We finish up with a beverage and see if it goes in the recycle bin or the trash. We empty out a premade meal and see if it hits the curb in the blue or green bin. Should I rinse it out? Should I take the lid off? And what do I do with ‘those’ containers? Or does the packaging from ‘that thing’ go in there? What do they all mean and what do I do with it now?

We know there are different kinds. They are numbered one through seven. They have names that make them sound mysterious and complicated; Polyethylene Terephthalate, Polyvinyl Chloride and Polystyrene. And to be hip they go by PET or PETE, PVC and PS. They also get into clicks and call themselves The Tough and Shatterproofs, The Vinyls and The Transparents. They are all way too cool for me. 

The other thing that is coming out in the rumor mill about these different numbered triangles is that they may be unsafe. Words like leach, toxic and risk are all over the medical blogs and news. There are all sorts of new guild lines being put into place. Do not reuse that water bottle. And do not leave it in your hot car. Do not store food in this kind. Do not put plastic in a microwave. Do not let your child chew on that toy! These are really scary warnings. It sounds to me like they are saying “Do not ingests the stuff we are packing your food in or making your stuff with.”

Over the next few weeks I plan to find out what all these numbers mean. Why are number one and two so acceptable? Why are number five and seven being shunned at the recycling center? Which ones are better for storing food? Which are safe for my children? Which ones are doing great things and which ones are messing us up. Hope you join me for my journey through the triangle.

A World Of Plastic-The Plastic Bag

It is definitely not a good time to be a plastic shopping bag. It seems everyone is out to get you. Well, you have done some pretty bad stuff. You have killed millions of marine animals in your lifetime. You have littered the landscapes of our communities and proclaimed yourself the standard ornament in our trees. You also pretend you are a free commodity but really you add millions more to our grocery bills every year. And another thing, the production of you accounts for some 20,000 metric tons of plastic polymer derived from non-renewable resources. While you can be recycled, only a very small proportion of you are collected and reprocessed. You are everywhere and we need to take a look at how you ever came into existence.

It looks like the first one use plastic bags started in the late fifties by the dry cleaning industry. People really liked these light weight disposable bags until they seemed to be killing their children and pets. These light plastic bags easily suffocated small children and animals if not monitored closely by adults. But lucky for the whole world, a ban of these bags was not successful. Just a warning was put on these silent killers: CAUTION: Keep away from small children, the thin film may cling to nose and mouth.

In the sixties the plastic bag industry continued to shift the responsibility to the consumer and claims this product gives us the convenience of a throw-away lifestyle. Litter becomes a huge problem so campaigns such as “Keep America Beautiful”, “Litter Bugs” and “Give A Hoot” are put into action. These campaigns had fun characters like “Woodsy Owl” and “Susan Spotless” to make them more interesting. Obviously they were hugely effective.

In 1977 the war at the grocery store begins. “Paper or Plastic for you today?” The plastic bag had already taken over the produce section because it’s always better to have one bag inside another. Anyhow, this was a tough question. The clear cutting of trees is at an all time high so paper bags have to be bad. Plastic bags are a much better solution say the folks at Mobil Chemicals.

In the early eighties the plastic industry starts to get stronger forming the Grocery Sack Council among others. This Council is to promote the benefits of plastic over paper. They do excellent work and the growth of these amazing bags soar from 4% in 1981 to 50% in 1988. By 1988 these bags are starting to make a bad impression in Suffolk County New York and they want them out of here! But again the lucky world is saved by the plastic industry. The Plastic Bag Association, Society of Plastics Industry and Flexible Packaging Association fight Suffolk County in court over a proposed ban of plastic bags. They are victorious in 1990.

These battles continue into the 90’s. Maine bans plastic bags just to have it over turned again with the help of the Partnership for Plastics Progress. However this group responds to public concern by starting a $50 million annual campaign of public information, education and recycling programs at supermarkets. Now that these bags can be recycled they become 80% of the work force in grocery and retail shopping.

The true cost of these ‘free’ and ‘recyclable’ bags really makes its mark in 1997. Algalita Marine Research Foundation makes a discovery in the ocean. The first signs of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” are being documented. George A. Makrauer, President of the Plastic Bag Association has a reaction to this, “The public’s disdain for things ‘plastic’ — especially bags — is due to shameful and short-term industry ‘leadership’ without care or concern for any long-term and science-based support.” The plastic bag industry continues on it’s polluting way.

The new century brings us hope for the future of our planet. Taxes, bans, road blocks and law suits have gone wild. San Francisco leads a pack of cities throughout the nation to ban these bags. In 2008 the Save The Plastic Bag Coalition is founded to help fight this battle. Private citizens come up with ideas for reusable bags and companies like ChicoBags and bChill (shameless plug) make a move to quench the desire for the plastic bag. ChicoBags actually gets sued by the plastic industry for it’s revolutionary idea of a reusable bag you can fit in your pocket. The suit has been settled and ChicoBags helps defend small business and free enterprise.

Today we are so happy to announce that Los Angeles, the biggest city to date, joins an ever growing list of cities and states that are done with the spin. Toronto joined just this past week. Your city could be tomorrow. It’s hard to think that it has taken over 50 years to get these bags banned. They started their deadly road from the very beginning. Soon we will just be cleaning up their past.

 

(Disclaimer: This ‘report’ I put together is simplified for enjoyment and is not meant for any fact finding missions. If you are interested in getting into it deeper, please do!)

 

A World Of Plastic-Explosion Of The One Use

Every invention is meant for a greater good. They are to make life easier. They are to help with health, time and money. There are so many amazing inventions that we take for granted everyday. The wheel. Electricity. This keypad I’m tapping away at. They have all created a better life for everyone. The invention of plastic is no different. It has revolutionized so many things. The medical world. The motor driven vehicle world. The air and space world. The building industry. The food industry. Toys. Music. TV. Sports. Really, you name it, it has plastic all over it.

It is interesting to me to look back to the days when plastic was not something everyone could get. I often wonder what the corner market’s shelves looked like. Was everything in bottles and cans? How was it even possible to get mayonnaise out of a bottle that didn’t squeeze. How did they ever survive without a Ziploc baggie section? Would you buy an item in a box without a window? And what were toys made of? Wood? Metal? How could that be fun to play with? How did those poor people even live? I sure hope you can tell I’m just kidding around. But seriously, why did it all have to change to plastic?

This brings us to convenience. Which may be considered spoiled laziness. Who wants to wash a fork and plate when you could just throw it away? This container is stained, I should throw it out. Why would I want to take care of my things, they are cheap plastic. I can just go get another, anytime. As wonderful as plastic is in it’s many areas, the convenience area is not one of them. The one use item has hit an all time high and it is effecting the greater good.

You really don’t even think about it and it is happening to you everyday. How many one use plastic items do I use every single day? Some of these items don’t even seem like they are plastic. Flossing your teeth in the morning. Shaving. Changing the baby. Getting that cup of coffee at you favorite shop. Having a smoke. Taking a little sip at the water cooler with a co-worker. That handy wipe you used to tap the sweat from your brow after that meeting with your boss. We haven’t even made it to lunch break and we have a pile of garbage behind us. And it’s the kind of garbage that will last forever.

The explosion of the one use plastic item is around us every minute of everyday. It is overflowing our landfills. It is blowing in the wind. It is polluting our water and food. It is being burned and destroying our air quality. It really doesn’t sound very convenient to me. We need to find out which ones are truly for the greater good and which ones are just plain bad.

 

A World Of Plastic-History

The last thing I wanted was to feel like I was doing a paper for school but with all these ‘monos’, ‘mers’ and ‘polys’, I want to cut class. I knew getting into this it was not going to be a walk in the park but science was never my best subject. But, of course, my goal is to be able to make my anti-plastic comments and not sound like an idiot. So, let us dive into the history of plastic so we can fix why we are literally diving into plastic now. I’ll try to make it entertaining… And correct…

The first plastics started in the late 1850’s. They were made with the modification of cellulose fibers with nitric acid. (Note: these fibers are plant based!) This first product had many flaws and it’s inventor, Alexander Parkes lost lots of loot. Mr. Parkes finally showed off his “Parkesine” in 1862 in the form of knife handles, ornaments and flexible products. This was the great thing about his invention, you could make it into anything you wanted. These new molecules were large and composed a repetitive structure leaving them moldable, ‘ploymers’. This was also great for any ‘horned or shelled’ species. Their horns and shells were natural ploymers and these plastics did the same types of things, better.

The big break for this nitrate cellulose product was billiards, yes, billiards. This was also a big break for elephants, the walrus, pig, hippo and sperm whale. The Hyatt Brothers, I found no relation to the hotel guys, redeveloped and patented it as ‘celluloid’ in 1870 and started making billiard balls, piano keys and false teeth. In the UK another dude named Daniel Spill came up with the same idea but called it ‘Xylonite’. This also was a great beginning of law suits. In the end, Mr. Parkes was the true inventor and everyone went on their plastic making way.

Things really started getting crazy in the 1900’s. A gent named Leo Baekeland got started solving the problem that this amazing ‘celluloid’ didn’t like to get hot. ‘Bakelite’ was introduced in 1907, the first truly synthetic plastic to be patented. This new product was great for making items such as hair dryers, cameras and radio cabinets. It also could look like wood so it saved tons of trees from becoming dashboards and knobs. It was also used to impregnate paper and fabric to make them stronger. Saved a few more trees and plants.

As with all products, over the next years everyone had an idea to make it bigger and better. In 1922 a German chemist, Hermann Staudinger, figured out that these ‘ploymers’ could be ‘superploymers’ and changed up the whole deal. All sorts of new products emerged! And by adding colored powders you could make it look like marble or stone and add design! It also helped in the development of varnishes, laminates and adhesives.

I know this is getting long so I’ll try and roll it along. The 30’s is when things really started to get nuts. This is when they learned how to produce plastics from petroleum and made huge advances in injection molding. This made plastics cheaper and available to everyone. All sorts of new items came about from safer aircraft cockpits to molded egg cups and picnic sets.

World War II put plastics to great use. It was instrumental in the importing of materials needed by the troops and design technology. Production of such plastics as polyethylene, polystyrene, polyester, PET and silicones were started during this time. Polyethylene is more commonly known as “Tupperware” and polystyrene is styrofoam but we’ll get to that later.

The 50’s and 60’s all had their own great breakthroughs; Polyester, Lycra, soft and hard foams, inflatable chairs, combs, bottled mineral water, space ships and computers. Things got a little touchy for plastics during the energy crisis of the 70’s, this would be the first and only decline in availability.

I think this gives us a great window into the world of plastic. We can see why it is such a wonderful and needed invention. We can also get an idea of how it became so out of control. Over the next weeks we will get into the different types of plastics and the many uses. Then we can all make our own decisions what types we want in our worlds.

(Disclaimer: This ‘report’ I put together is simplified for enjoyment and is not meant for any fact finding missions. If you are interested in getting into it deeper, please do!)

A World Of Plastic-Intro

Over the next few weeks I am going to learn all there is to know about plastic. If I am going to rant and rave about how awful it is all the time I better know what I’m talking about.

There are great things about plastic. There are horrible things about plastic. There are some that should continue to help our world. There are some that should be done away with forever. There are some that should be used on a daily basis. There are some that should not.

As I type on my plastic keys I will hopefully find the right answer for myself to my never ending question; “Why is everything plastic?!” I hope that you will come with me on this adventure and we can both learn and decide which plastics we can live with and without.

We Will Not Ignore!

This is a post I borrowed from Facebook by a man named Jay Go. A fighter of plastic. Thank You Jay Go.

 

This is the usual plastic on Kamilo Beach, on the southern most tip of the Big Island, Hawaii. (Below)

And this is the definition of ignorance by wikipedia:

Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge). The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used as an insult to describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts. Ignoramus is commonly used in the US, the UK, and Ireland as a term for someone who is willfully ignorant.
Ignorance is distinguished from stupidity, although both can lead to “unwise” acts.

Matters which are obvious are sometimes ignored, not taken into consideration. This phenomenon is not limited to ordinary persons without native ability but extends to the highest level of human governance resulting in nightmarish scenarios that could, with more wisdom, have been avoided.

Consequences of Ignorance
Individuals with superficial knowledge of a topic or subject may be worse off than people who know absolutely nothing. As Charles Darwin observed, “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.

Ignorance can stifle learning, in that a person who falsely believes he or she is knowledgeable will not seek out clarification of his or her beliefs, but rather rely on his or her ignorant position. He or she may also reject valid but contrary information, neither realizing its importance nor understanding it. This concept is elucidated in Justin Kruger’s and David Dunning’s work, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” otherwise known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.

Kamilo Beach, Southern most tip of The Big Island

Kamilo Beach, Southern most tip of The Big Island

We’re 3!

Early bChill. Not even a logo!

Early bChill. Not even a logo!

We celebrated our third birthday this weekend. It has flown by in an instant. Seems like I was just putting up stupid designs on a website days ago.

With just a little vision and a lot of mistakes we feel so proud of our new designs and campaigns.

And we are so honored to have artists displaying their work on our site.

We are excited to see what comes up next. Hope you stay tuned to find out. bWatching and bChill.

Karen Athens

Karen Athens

Love our 'Fish Don't Smoke' campaign.

Love our ‘Fish Don’t Smoke’ campaign.

'Heartwork City'

‘Heartwork City’

Composting 101-What Do I Put In There?

I feel like I have done my research and have my method of composting planned to a T. I have decided against the worm compost, it is just too much work for my little area. I have gone over the other options and the means of keeping my carbon to nitrogen ratio. And except for finding a bin on this island I am ready to go. Now, what can I put in it and what should I leave out?

Compost is nothing more than decayed organic matter. This matter can be leaves, grass clippings, yard trimmings, vegetable peelings, fruit scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, old flowers, cardboard, shredded papers. These are some of the things I will be using. I can incorporate the cardboards and shredded paper since I won’t have the grass clippings, leaves and such. All these items above are the “browns” and “greens” we talked about before, and with the proper ratio I should have a high functioning ecosystem.

So now that I know what to put in, I need to know what to keep out. This is pretty basic, no inorganic materials. Sure, no foil, glass, plastics. But also, no pressure treated woods or coal ashes. Colored papers and diseased plants should not be throw in the mix either. The toxins can ruin your whole system. Grass and plants that have been treated with pesticides should not join your bin as is so with pet dropping. The one I was a little surprised about was cooked vegetables. But with a little digging I found that this is true only when there is a sauce on them. Some other items I was a bit surprised about were meat, bones and dairy products. I thought cheese always made everything better.

So if everything goes to plan and proper mix, we should be looking at some pretty amazing compost in about 9 to 12 months. This rich black compost adds nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil. Besides all the benefits it will give to our gardens, this compost recycles kitchen and yard waste, reduces landfill waste and introduces beneficial organisms to the soil. It’s a wonderful part of the solution that can be easy for you to do and have great rewards. Good for you, good for the environment. It’s a win/win.

Composting 101- To Worm Or Not To Worm

You know what, I could pretend that I wrote a great little blog on how to do worm composting. I would take a look around the internet and try to explain the things I have read. But in all honesty, I have read one great article and it says it all. Instead of tons of quotes and silly little jokes from me, your best bet is to just read this. It says is all. Hope you enjoy and bChill.

http://www.composting101.com/worm-composting.html

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