What’s All The Fuss About Plastic?

Have you noticed how plastic is everywhere? It’s on the news, in various articles, advertisements say “BPA free”, that we shouldn’t use plastic and sometimes that plastic might be a better option. Well I, at least, was confused about all this and to understand the fuss about plastic I decided to research it. There is a lot of information and there is definitely room for more research under each sub-topic, but to keep you (and myself) interested I will share just the main issues with plastic.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

Non-biodegradable

Yes, you’ve heard it before, it is filling the landfills and littering the ocean. Firstly it clogs our waste facilities and storm drains. Plastic photo-degrades; it brakes into smaller and smaller pieces perhaps resulting in the microplastics. You also might’ve heard about the recent boycott on oxo-degradable plastics: the lightweight plastic that was supposed to be the solution for plastic pollution as it degrades faster than other more durable plastics. However, the problem is that there are no results to support that it degrades harmlessly, but rather now researchers believe that it might be the leading problem of microplastic pollution. Microplastics can also be found in our synthetic sports clothes which get into the waterways when we wash them, to which there is no great solution yet.

Our second problem with plastic pollution is harming our wildlife. The bigger pieces of plastic get tangled into wildlife (you’ve all seen the horrible pictures of turtles with straws in their noses) and the smaller pieces, as well as microplastics, get eaten by the wildlife when they mistake them for food. Animals either choke on the plastic or fill themselves on it, which means they eat less nutritious food, therefore producing less and weaker offspring. At the moment it affects the food chain. When an animal eats another one that is half-full of plastic, the plastic is then stuck in the predator, which might then be eaten by another predator… and you get the drift. It disrupts the ecosystem drastically, but it is hard to tell what the repercussions are. The microplastics are already found in our tap water and in the fish we eat.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

It might contain toxic chemicals

Plastics and the chemicals they’ve been made out of are not well researched. Our governments used to believe the small amounts of the toxic chemicals that are in the out everyday plastics are harmless, but who can say how much of it really is safe when plastics are everywhere; household appliances, technology, textiles, interiors, toys. Recently we learned that phthalates are very toxic and we have almost completely gotten rid of them from the production of items, but we will never completely be rid of them because they’ve washed out into the oceans where they keep degrading and being eaten by the marine life.

Now we also know that BPA is toxic and that is why there are so many water bottles and food boxes being marketed as BPA-free. But why is BPA still allowed in any products? And how do we know that the chemicals they replace the BPA with are safe for our use?

Many toxic plastics have been found to be able to imitate hormone such as estrogen, but as most plastics aren’t researched well enough it is still hard to tell which ones are really harmful to us.

……………

There is a lot of research on the plastic bottles and food packaging and how it affects our bodies. Yes, the chemicals do leak into our food and drink slowly. The chemicals affect the hormone balance and they are linked to nearly all health problems people have today; deformations in genitals, premature puberty, decreased sperm quality, increase in cancer, infertility, type 2 diabetes, allergies, neurological problems and ADHD to mention a few.

Recycling

The one good thing about plastic is that it is very durable and therefore it is used in many different items and can last for a long time. However, the problem is that as plastic is not designed originally for recycling it can’t be upcycled into new and better use, but rather has to be downcycled. It is often mixed with different chemicals which are difficult to extract from each other. After it’s use, to make plastic usable again some more chemicals need be added again. The other chemicals are added either for the durability or to make the plastic cheaper to produce and are often unnecessary. Many plastics are still not recyclable and burning them produces toxic dioxide. If these plastics were made without toxic chemicals with ingredients which would be easily upcycled then plastics could be a great option for some products.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

Plastic is considered maybe even more dangerous problem to our planet than the climate change. It has taken over our world; it can be found in places where people can’t even go. Writing this article also made me think about all the products where plastics can be found and I couldn’t think of an item where it couldn’t be found. Can you?

Things NOT to do with plastic:

  1. Don’t through it into nature
  2. Don’t through it into general waste where it will end up in the landfill
  3. Don’t burn it, as most plastic emits dioxide

What To Do:

  1. Reduce the amount of plastic and cans you are using or at least become aware of what type of plastics you are using. Prefer glass and ceramic products. There is a great explanation on this here.
  2. Opt out for natural with everything: clothes, homeware, toys. Or at least research it well.
  3. Use Guppyfriend washing bag. It is designed to reduce the number of microfibers leaking into our waterways.

 

What do you think about plastic?

With love,

Lii

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Favourite Insta Pics From October

This month as I have been so busy I didn’t have quite as much time to check up on Instagram pics or pics weren’t as good this month. I still managed to get a selection of very varied pics which I liked this month. Most of the pics are not very autumny, but they represent being in the moment and enjoying life!

 

What pics did you like this month?

With love,

Lii

Sustainable News Of The Month – October 2017

Could Kelp Be The Future Of Sustainable Fashion – A group of scientists and textile designers have been developing a substitute for oil-based textiles (polyester and acrylic e.g.) using kelp. An absolutely amazing idea if it can be used in a similar way and if it is as durable!

Easyjet Could Soon Be Flying Fuel-Free – It is about time airlines start to think about changing their fuel-engines on something more eco-efficient. Although this doesn’t fix all the problems that aviation has on our planet, it is a start!

Sustainable New Of The Month - October 2017 - byLiiL

Chocolate Production Linked To Increased Deforestation in Poor Nations – Although, previously it was thought that the production of chocolate is not as damaging to the environment, the growing demand for chocolate with a reduced price has demanded change in the cultivation strategies, which are less sustainable for the environment.

Warming Sees Could Lead To 70 Percent Increase In Hurricane-Related Financial Loss – According to the researchers sponsored by the United Nations have issued a periodic report that believes the financial losses due to hurricanes will increase exponentially.

New Conservation Method Empowers Indigenous People – This very fascinating article discusses how we do not need to change the way indigenous people live, as “Indigenous communities have not only established a high quality of life, but have found ways to manage their natural resources sustainably through traditional hunting, fishing, and small-scale agriculture.”

What Soot-Covered, Hundred-Year-Old Birds Can Tell Us About Saving The Environment – Researchers have been investigating Horned Larks and their colouring to tell how much black carbon is still in the air.

Sustainable New Of The Month - October 2017 - byLiiL

Olive Mill Wastewater Transformed: From Pollutant To BioFertilizer, Biofuel – Making waste into something useful!!

HSBC Pledges $100 Billion To Tackle Climate Change – HSBC unveiled 5 point plan; from financing available sustainability projects, discontinuing financing of thermal-coal and planning to source all it’s electricity from renewable sources.

150 Companies, NGOs Call For Global Ban On Oxo-Degradable Plastic Packaging – Recent research has pinpointed that it is the oxo-degradable plastic that is contributing to the growing microplastic problem. Oxo-degradable plastic was previously believed to be the solution to the plastic waste problem.

Canopy Releases Viscose Producer Progress On Deforestation-Free Supply Chains – Canopy has been the go-to NGO to turn to when companies want to access information on viscose and rayon producers and their pledge to reduce deforestation.

Sustainable New Of The Month - October 2017 - byLiiL

Digitizing Leftover Garment Data Could Unlock Billions For Fashion Industry – Brands are spilling on average 25 percent of its resources when producing fashion because of the lack of adequate data input.

Can Upcycling Really Help The Oceans? – Although upcycling helps with the current plastic waste in the oceans, it is not the best solution and there is a need for saving the oceans in other ways. Excellent article explaining what actually happens to plastics when they enter waterways or how they can be upcycled.

Marimekko To Help Commercialise Spinnova’s Wood-Based Textiles – Finnish based textile company has developed new wood-based textile which doesn’t use chemicals processing the fibre and Marimekko is pledged to help the company to commercialise the fibre whilst acting on their pledge to produce their fashion more sustainably.

Recycling Mysteries: Brick – What is brick made off, why should it be recycled and how to recycle it.

What Happens To Airplanes No Longer Fit To Fly? – This article is excellent to understand what happens to airplanes after their useful life.

Sustainable New Of The Month - October 2017 - byLiiL

 

If you have read any other interesting articles on sustainability share them in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

 

What Was I Up To In October

October has been so busy I’ve barely had the time to read about anything relating to sustainability, but I catch-up with it as often as I can. Instead, last month I have been working with several different clients, which has been at the same time exciting and tiring. Running from one place to the next and not having a routine can be challenging and it’s taken a toll on my brain, but I am getting used to it and being able to focus on other stuff now as well!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Confidence - byLiiL

I didn’t write much on the blog last month, but I did manage to cover few sustainability topics. I discussed how we can support sustainability and what its causes can be, as well as introduced the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy book which I enjoyed immensely. In addition, I shared at the beginning of the month some sustainable news that I found interesting.

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

I shared with you how I got more confident with my work, which I still feel and will probably want to talk about it more in the future as well! I’ve been finally getting used to autumn and actually enjoying it. Surprisingly my autumn slump was much shorter this year than last and I see every day something that I enjoy about autumn. I’ve enjoyed some delicious meals from Pumpkin and I told you about my trip to Berlin, which I loved!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Enjoying the Moment - byLiiL

 

How was your October? I would love to hear, share in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

Happy Favourites of the Week – Enjoying the Moment

Enjoying Weekends – Lately, I have been working out of my house so much that I’ve been really enjoying the time I have at home with my cats and my fiance! Suddenly weekends feel like weekends and if I have a day free in the middle of the week I am definitely out having coffee with a friend!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Enjoying the Moment - byLiiL

Seeing Good Upbringing – Unfortunately, in the UK I see poor upbringing quite often; either it’s parents shouting at their children or children behaving poorly on their own. I always think how I would never have dared to behave in such a way! So it is always a pleasure to see children brought up in a positive way. This week I saw a mum, her hands full and pulling a trolley accompanying her was a three-year-old boy. The three-year-old listened to everything she told him to do, and no surprise she didn’t boss him around or shout, she kept telling him how great he was doing with helping her and listening to her. I was such a heart-warming sight!

Blue Planet 2 – The long-awaited documentary is finally here! We love watching nature documentaries on our weekend mornings and the Blue Planet 2 was a beautiful addition to it! It is wonderfully done and although it shows the mysterious and cute animals of the world it also discusses the dangers they face due to the climate change. It is a whole package and I’ll be enjoying watching the whole thing!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Enjoying the Moment - byLiiL

New Chocolate from Almighty Foods – This delicious liquorice and salt vegan chocolate is an absolutely delicious addition from Almighty Foods! The only problem is that it costs a LOT and I could eat it in seconds!

A Lovely Autumn Walk – Although I am not a fan of dark mornings and evenings and all the rain, I love the slightly crispy bright days that we occasionally have. We had one of them yesterday and accidentally planned a walk for the day. It was beautiful and refreshing!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Enjoying the Moment - byLiiL

Pumpkins – We’ve tried to make a meal out of pumpkin before, but unsuccessfully. However, whilst trying to eat more seasonally we wanted to give pumpkin another try and managed to find a recipe for these great pumpkin burgers and came up with a delicious pumpkin risotto! We are definitely going to try these during next pumpkin season as well!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Enjoying the Moment - byLiiL

Happy Favourites of the Week - Enjoying the Moment - byLiiL

How was your week?

With love,

Lii

Inspiration of the Month – Cradle to Cradle

This post is coming to you quite late, not because I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, I actually have been inspired by this book for a while now, but I found it quite hard to summarise everything that I found interesting in the book!

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Cradle to Cradle is a design philosophy as well as a book which I am basing my inspiration on. The book was written by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. It is a small book, only 186 pages, but it offers an immense amount of inspiration especially for design practitioners as well as consumers who want to be more sustainable and mindful of their lifestyle. It helps you understand what are the problems in the current design methods, what is being done about them and offers ideas what could be the better way to design.

In this book, I found that the main principle that McDonough and Braungart were saying is that almost all our products have been designed wrong as they end up being a waste and littering our planet and that we should learn from nature. In product design the common thing to think about is what is the product the consumers want or need, how can it be produced as economically as possible, so that the company can win the big profits from the product sales. It is completely ignoring the afterlife of the product or its ingredients where valuable ingredients often end up to the landfills or being downcycled, as the ingredients were not designed to be retrieved at the end of the products useful life. For example, we think that recycling is an amazing way of being sustainable. We might not realise that actually it is just being a bit less bad and trying to find an alternative to the landfills. Big amount of the waste is incinerated which can cause toxic dioxides. The rest are recycled, but as our products haven’t been designed so that the ingredients with which the products were made with could be retrieved, but they rather are mixed with chemicals or other ingredients that reduce the value and usability of the ingredient.

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Instead companies could be taking example out of nature of how to make their products profitable, good for the environment and the human beings, that could improve human life, be economical not only with making the product but potentially for the human who uses it, for the government or for the same company once again when they receive their ingredients and can build more products out of it again. The products could be designed with the whole lifecycle in mind rather than just the most useful one.

 

“We need to see the world as what we can learn from it, not as what we can take from it”

 

Many times while reading the book I felt that the whole humankind is doomed as it has designed everything wrong and how companies are still using toxic ingredients in various products that can be harmful to humans, how companies are eroding soil and destroying ecosystems only to find new materials for their products and get their profits. But the solutions the book offers are clever and doable if only enough people would go the extra mile. It offers various long-haul plans that would end up being economical to the company, the economy and the people as well if companies thought about their products as more than profit.

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Another important point raised in the book was how everything is designed for everybody without understanding that everybody and every place has different needs. I read several lovely and maybe slightly disgusting stories about how people in rural areas used to get rid of their waste or use various things to their advantage whilst keeping their ecosystems thriving until the modern technology and infrastructure was introduced and their ecosystems paid for it. Whilst upgrading and improving areas we should think about ways how it can be done to support humans as well as the ecosystem in which it is done. So there wasn’t bare pieces of land where nothing grows anymore because of pesticides or a wrong way of doing agriculture for that area. Companies should be more respectful of the knowledge local people have of their ecosystems!

 

“What would have happened, we sometimes wonder, if the industrial revolution had taken place in societies that emphasize the community over the individual, and where people believed not in cradle-to-grave life cycle but in reincarnation?”

 

We often forget what effect our actions can do, but on this planet, every action can affect multiple things from other people to other organisms, to the ecosystems, so we should strive to make better choices and be less selfish about them. I got really inspired by this book and still while reading it started to be more mindful about the products that I am using or buying and what I should be looking at instead. Sometimes there is no best option and we just have to work with the “least bad” whilst letting our actions speak for themselves. I do hope there will be more designers who are adopting this design philosophy. I can see how the world could be a much more beautiful and healthy place.

 

“Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Negligence is described as doing the same thing over and over again even though you know it is dangerous or wrong.”

 

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Here you can see just how much I was inspired by the book. All the folded pages are something that I want to keep coming back to!

Have you read Cradle to cradle?

With love,

Lii

The Beautiful and Free Berlin

I’ve been to Berlin before, although only for a one day trip and was really excited to finally go and visit it again last month. My memory didn’t do it justice and spending 4 days there with my fiance we both agreed that it was one of the best trips we’d had together.

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

Our trip didn’t start in the best way. The Schoenefeld airport is changing its name to Brandenburgh, which made us very confused when we arrived at the airport. We had to set location on, on our phones to check whether we were in the right airport! Then we hadn’t got the exact address for our Airbnb and our host wasn’t answering her phone which made things a bit more difficult. We scared few of her neighbours but eventually found the adorably quirky flat in a great location with a little cat to keep us company. We were absolutely enchanted with the cat who obviously liked company and being pet and were sad to leave him when we left the flat. I was inspired by the collection of art books that our host had in her flat and odd but interesting decor.

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

We had the pleasure of having the best tourist guide ever, as my friend lives in Berlin and was happy to escort us into places where we wouldn’t have found by ourselves, such as rooftop bar, a Turkish market or where to find what in Friedrichshain, she pointed out all the sustainable and eco shops, which there were many! On our four day trip, we only spend one day going through the different tourist spots from Holocaust memorial to Brandenburg gate and spend the rest getting to know Friedrichshain and visiting odd places here and there. Luckily, Berlin has a great metro network, which is easy to use and get’s you almost anywhere, and which I would recommend! Berlin is a very big city with wide and slightly eerie streets, which makes all the distances longer than you might imagine from the map.

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

It does have a sense of freedom though. We didn’t feel overcrowded anywhere except for the airport. In addition, the whole culture is so different with openness about sexuality, drinking on the streets but not being drunk and the very international vibe.  For example, on the first day, I saw a massive advert for a dildo in the middle of the day on a busy street next to a small shopping centre which was filled with children. At first, I felt a bit weird about it, but I realised it was only because I wasn’t used to it.

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

Berlin is great for food offering dishes from German to Italian, Asian and even African cuisines. It was my first time trying Korean buns, which were absolutely delicious and one of our favourite meals was having African style Halloumi pitas on the last day for lunch.

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

Berlin was interesting culturally and historically, and it has lots to do. We managed to squeeze in a fashion show, watching an ice hockey game and even go clubbing which we never do, but in Berlin, it definitely was an experience.

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

What I would recommend:

  • Go to Friedrichshain for food and shopping from small independent brands.
  • Turkish market is great for buying souvenirs that are locally made (there is a lot of crap and foreign stuff as well, but you can find gems in the midst of it all).
  • There is a big selection of Airbnb places where you can stay for a reasonable price.
  • Berlin is great for just going for a walk in the Mitte or Kreuzberg (Friedrichshain as well).
  • Don’t spend all your money on the tourist spots, there are many free places as well such as Reichstag building.
  • Use the public transport and if you are going to travel a lot take a day card, which can be used on any public transport around Berlin.
  • Restaurants and cafe’s I would recommend: Neue Bahnhof st. and Sonntag st. are great for good in general, Marafina on Wüchlisch st., 1990 vegan living on Krossener st. and Aunt Benny on Jessner st.

We loved Berlin and I am already planning my trip back there again to walk along the beautifully colourful streets and seeing the crazy buildings with all the greenery, or having coffee at a local cafe!

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

The Beautiful and Free Berlin - byLiiL

Have you been to Berlin? Do you have any additional recommendations?

With love,

Lii