Green Your Life

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Make a Difference

MaD1The Other Half  and I were having a heated discussion the other day about whether corporations will take action on something that they know to be damaging, dangerous or environmentally destructive without public pressure.

My opinion, if they know the thing that they are selling causes human suffering, environmental pollution or damage or health problems (or anything else), then they should stop selling it or change what they are doing so that such damage and destruction doesn’t happen.  Why should they?  Well, because the knowledge is there.  They know that the actions of the business are causing human suffering and/or environmental damage.

His view – they won’t unless someone makes them!  Their only obligation is to their shareholders and customers.

Oh, and if the government puts laws in place then they (mostly?) follow those, unless they can find a loophole! (my view!!)

Sadly (though please don’t tell him), he is probably right.

So who will make the bosses/owners of a major international corporation change their behaviour, change what they sell, change how they make their products, change so that they truly do minimise that corporations impact on the natural, human and social environment?

Is this the future? Will you change it?

Is this the future? Will you change it?

Well, in a nutshell – us.

Yup, you and me.  Well we need a lot of you to help.

Who buys and uses the products these corporations make? – People, like you and me.

Who invests in them and buys their shares? – People, like you and me.  Through our savings, investments and pensions.

So, how can we make them change?

If we know of the problem(s) caused we can write directly to that corporation and ask them to change or tell them we will not buy their product(s).  We can ensure any savings, investments and pensions we have are not supporting that corporation and others like it.  We can lobby our governments to put laws in place to stop corporations doing these things.

It is slow.

But it does work, slowly.

A bee or no to bee?

A bee or no to bee?

To make it work faster, more people need to be active.

Here are some instances that I know of where corporations know/have known of the damage that they are causing and yet use their own scientists to try and disprove the damage.  Please share any that you know of in the comments.

Neonicotinoids – the scientific evidence has been mounting for at least a decade that these pesticides (some of the most widely used around the world) are killing bees (and other insects).  However the producing companies – Bayer and Syngenta have produced their own reports to confuse the independent science and continue to lobby hard to ensure that governments and multi-government bodies such as the EU don’t ban them completely.  Independent research by the Environmental Protection Agency in the US is finally starting to show that these chemicals are a key cause of bee decline in the US.  In the EU, the 2 year ban is due to end… Take action here .  The best direct action you can take is not to use any pesticides in your garden or home and if you do, use ones that are compatible with organic farming only.

Microbeads – very few people will argue that these are not a problem.  They are tiny bits of plastic used in a large variety of cosmetic products from facial scrubs to toothpaste and even sunscreen.  Unfortunately, they wash off our bodies/teeth and down the drains and into our rivers, lakes and oceans.  Here, they are eaten by all members of the food chain that eat plankton or filter water to get their food.  These animals are eaten by larger fish and they do end up in our food too (and probably our water!).  Yet, they are still being made and put into products right now!  I know, hard to believe.  The corporations that use them want to keep using them because they are cheap, do the job and are easy to make and use.

At least in the US Obama has taken action to ban microbeads, but this will be 2 years away.  Here in the UK and Europe… they are working on a voluntary code of practice!!!!  You can take action by signing a Petition to the UK Government and supporting the work of the Marine Conservation Society too.   Of course, you should also ensure that you do not buy products with micro-beads.  If you want help in knowing what to look for, read this.

time-to-rethink-874670__180Climate Change – the big one!  Increasingly we are hearing about how the large oil companies have blocked and confused the scientific information about climate change and funded research to show that human made climate change does not exist.  You can read some of the stories here, here, here and here.   Despite statements that they offer qualified support for the Paris Agreement, most environmentalists are skeptical.

So what can you do – well, it is hard for most of us to not buy fuel as we rely on a fuel based economy.  However, supporting lobby groups such as worldchange7Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth through their online campaigns is a good start.  If you want to go a step further, then look at your pension, savings and investments and ensure that they are not supporting the oil business.  To find out more about ethical investments and ethical consumerism, then The Ethical Consumer is a great source of information.

 

These are just 3 current issues.  There are many more and please do share the ones you support with me.

Please also share this on.

The only people who are going to make a difference are You and Me.  Please make sure that there are lots of Us!

Thank you

Philippa x


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Microbeads:- What to look for in personal products

A handful of microbeads, photo courtesy of Beat The Microbead.

A handful of microbeads, photo courtesy of Beat The Microbead.

Microbeads are a top issue at the moment.  The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is calling for them to be banned, they have been identified as a serious pollutant in our seas and oceans and were a focus of World Environment Day 2015.

But what are microbeads?                 What products are they in and why?         Why should you care? 

What Are Microbeads?

Microbeads are small pieces of plastic that are put into cosmetics, skin care products, shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste and more to aid with things like exfoliation, bulking up, forming a film, providing a base for the active ingredients, a binding agent, sparkly bits and more.

They have been used for about 50 years and are very widespread in products around the world.

Different products have different amounts – some only 1%, others 90% or more.  The size of these plastic particles varies too – some you can see and feel and others are so minuscule that you don’t know they are there.

Why are they a Problem?

Many of the products microbeads are found in are ones that you put on your skin/hair/teeth and then wash off.  The tiny bits of plastic get washed down the drains and into sewers.

They are far too small for sewage works to collect (and recycle), so they end up in the rivers and then the seas.

Many marine animals such as molluscs, fish, basking sharks and even baleen whales feed by filtering the sea water through their various feeding apparatus before expelling it out.  Usually they trap plankton and krill.  However, they also trap and eat microbeads.

They cannot digest the microbeads.  The marine creatures suffer as the amount of microbeads (and other pieces of micro-plastics which have broken down from larger plastics floating in our oceans) builds up in their bodies.  Even worse is that microbeads are known to attract and absorb persistant organic pollutants such as PCP’s and DDT from the marine environment.  Though these chemicals are banned in the UK, they are still used in other countries and are still found in our oceans.  (more details here)

This impacts on us too – we eat some of those marine animals, possibly including the pollutants that are now part of their bodies.

So What Can YOU Do?

MicrobeadAppWell, the main thing is to not purchase products that have these chemicals in them.  If you really need a scrub then there are many great alternatives available – Dead Sea Salts work well or even a loofah or sisal soap bag.  Other products use natural abraisives such as crushed apricot seed shells or similar.  Our Faith In Nature and PHB ranges have some great alternatives too.

Luckily for us, the lovely people at the North Sea Foundation and the Plastic Soup Foundation have created an app so you can scan the barcode of a product with your phone and see if it has any microbeads in.  You can download the app at Beatthemicrobead.

Otherwise the most common microbeads to look for in the ingredients list are:-

  • Polyethylene/Polythene (PE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
  • Nylon

Some companies have announced their intent to stop using microbeads including Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and the Body Shop, many others have not.  So putting pressure on companies to stop using these plastics in their products is also a great step.

For further information and updates, please do look at Beat The Microbead and the Marine Conservation Society.

I have gone Microbead free – will you?

UPDATE: 24th August 2016:  In the UK the Environmental Audit Committee of MP’s has recommended a total ban on microbeads.  Please help keep the pressure on the government to ensure that microbeads are banned and soon!

Thanks!