Plastic bag use has dropped in England, according to Defra

Large retailers in England, namely, Asda, Marks and Spencer’s, Sainsbury, Tesco, The Co-operative Group, Waitrose, and Morrisons, have been required by law to charge customers 5p for plastic bags, and now the outcome of that measure has finally been published. Overall, the seven retailers issued 83% fewer plastic bags in 2016 to 2017 than they did in 2014. Retailers have also shifted to using either paper bags or reusable bags.

So where did the 5p per bag go? The retailers donated the money to various causes, such as charities, research, education, arts, and sports, among many others. A summary of the findings and the full dataset are available on www.data.gov.uk.

Photo from Factory Direct Promos

Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool bag

Radiohead teams up with Millican to create an eco-friendly bag

Now here’s an interesting collaboration. Rock band Radiohead is working with Millican, a company that makes bags out of sustainable materials and promotes conscious traveling, to create a bag that features artwork from their latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool. Artist Stanley Donwood, the band’s designer, in particular worked with Millican to recreate the album cover on the 18 L roll pack. Millican describes the collaboration as an unexpected opportunity that they just had to explore, and it’s also notable that Thom Yorke is an environmental activist.

The bag is being sold for $110 on Millican’s website and on Radiohead’s online store.

Baltimore's Mr. Trash Wheel

Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel is keeping the river clean

A curious contraption has been keeping the river in Baltimore clean since 2014. Dubbed “Mr. Trash Wheel,” the machine is found in the city’s Inner Harbor, and it works just like a water wheel, using the current of the river to move and pick up trash from the water. The trash is then placed in a dumpster barge, which is replaced by a new one once it’s full. If the current isn’t strong enough, solar energy is used to power Mr. Trash Wheel.

Mr. Trash Wheel got a new colleague in December last year: Professor Trash Wheel, located at the end of Harris Creek.

Photo from the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore website.

Tomato skins and eggshells can be used to make tires, researchers find

Food waste is a major problem throughout the world, and people need to keep coming up with ways to reduce it or use it. At the same time, petroleum use continues to grow and keeps people dependent on foreign sources of oil. Fortunately, Dr. Katrina Cornish, an Ohio Research Scholar and Endowed Chair in Biomaterials at Ohio State, may have hit upon a way to solve both problems: make tires using eggshells and tomato peels as filler. Tires are currently made with 30 percent carbon black, which makes the tires appear black and also has to be sourced overseas. Making tires out of locally available fillers and materials not only reduces petroleum use, but also reduces emissions associated with shipping the material to US tire manufacturers.

According to Cornish, “The tire industry is growing very quickly, and we don’t just need more natural rubber, we need more filler, too,” she explained. “The number of tires being produced worldwide is going up all the time, so countries are using all the carbon black they can make. There’s no longer a surplus, so we can’t just buy some from Russia to make up the difference like we used to.”

Her team has found that eggshells don’t break down in landfills, and commercial tomatoes have thick skins, which are often discarded when the tomatoes are used to make tomato sauce and the like. Their various properties help rubber become more flexible as well.

The tires produced with eggshells and tomato skins tend to have a reddish brown color, but her team is continuing to explore ways to make the tires appear black.

Farmer Meg McDougall

An eco-friendly surfboard made out of lemongrass is being developed

Surfboard manufacturers these days are trying to find ways to make surfboard more eco-friendly. One of the latest efforts is made by Gold Coast farmer Meg McDougall, who is developing surfboards made from lemongrass. She has been growing lemongrass for the past five years at Rocky Point, north of the Gold Coast, and has been making small surfboards first for testing. She chose lemongrass because it has a foam-like structure that floats when processed and is waterproof. She is teaming up with a company called Currumbin to develop a full-size prototype, which is set to come out soon.

Anne Hathaway in vintage 2006 Armani

Anne Hathaway goes vintage on the press tour for “Colossal”

Emma Watson put the spotlight on eco-friendly fashion labels while she was on the road promoting Beauty and the Beast. Now, Anne Hathaway is donning vintage pieces as she goes on tour to promote Colossal.

What makes this an eco-friendly effort? The fact that Anne is wearing older fashion pieces instead of having new clothes made for every event. Reusing really does look good!

What the Health

Nothing beats a good food documentary to make you want to change your diet. Watching “What the Health” on Saturday night was very eye-opening and thought-provoking. Probably not a good idea to watch it while eating dinner though.
“What the Health” was directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and produced by AUM Films and First Spark Media.

Directors Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn

What’s it about?

What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film follows intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases – and investigates why the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time. With the help of medical doctors, researchers, and consumer advocates, What the Health exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.

Join Kip as he tracks down the leading and most trusted American health nonprofits to find out why these groups are staying silent, despite a growing body of evidence. Audiences will be shocked to learn the insidious roles played by pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, and processed animal food companies in the nation’s health, especially in the most vulnerable communities, and will cheer at the transformation and recovery of those who took their lives into their own hands.

What the Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.

Obesity rates are skyrocketing. So many people are sick, taking numerous medications daily or undergoing expensive medical operations. What’s happening to the state of public health in the U.S.?

Available on DVD ($19.95) and online ($9.99), “What the Health” will make you rethink about what you consume on a day-to-day basis. “What the Health” successfully manages to connect seemingly disparate dots linking big businesses like pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, and processed animal food companies to what’s happening. I kept shaking my head in disbelief and outrage while watching. It’s pretty repugnant when you think how profit keeps winning over public health. It’s so unfortunate that American consumers are thrown under the bus by the very institutions they trust.

Thankfully, the documentary presented a workable solution so hope is not lost.

Disclaimer: A representative for “What the Health” contacted me to watch this documentary online for free. All opinions are my own. This post also appeared in the blog SnapHappy Foodie.

La Casa Verde

Want to own an eco-friendly guesthouse in Ecuador?

Doug and Rebecca Greenshields began traveling in South America in 2005, and, thanks to the rich culture and the pace of life, found a new place they could call home: a half-finished construction a mile and a half away from Baños, Ecuador. This was where they raised their two kids and got started on a greener life, even opening their own eco-friendly guesthouse, La Casa Verde. Rebecca has even shared her thoughts and experiences as an expat in an interview with Stuff.

The time has come for the family to move on, however, with Doug about to explore a new career. Which is why La Casa Verde is currently up for sale for the low, low price of $29. All you need to do is buy Doug’s e-book, Back to Earth, and you’ll be entered into a raffle to win the guesthouse. They’re even throwing in $10,000 to help you get started on your new life.

Sounds like worth a shot, to be honest. And hey, even if you don’t win the guesthouse, at least you’ll have a good green living resource.

Photo from the La Casa Verde website