Plastic Bags, ban them!

500 billion is the number of plastic bags consumed worldwide every year (1 million per minute), and 500 is the amount of years it takes for a plastic bag to decay in a landfill.

Spurred by a filmmaker’s documentary, the English town of Modbury became the first in Europe to ban plastic bags outright.

Turtle eating a plastic bag
Turtle eating a plastic bag


It was watching sea creatures choke on plastic bags in the Pacific Ocean that finally persuaded Rebecca Hosking that enough was enough. The British filmmaker had already recoiled in disgust at deserted Hawaiian beaches piled up with four feet of rubbish, the jetsam of Western consumerism washed up by an ocean teeming with plastic. Now, filming off the coast, she looked on aghast as sea turtles eagerly mistook bobbing translucent shapes in the water for jellyfish

A good reminder to bring my own bag when going shopping and to decline extra bags if I can carry the items (or stick them in the bag I got with something I bought earlier). When doing groceries without a bag, I like to use discarded product boxes (the ones they stock from) which later serve as “old paper” recycling storage boxes in my home.


Citarum river, a shocking display of abuse

Related: , , , , Posted in random posts on Jun 07, 2007 - comment 18 comments

The Citarum river near the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, displays the abuse that mankind has subjected it to.

Citarum river pollution (West Java, Indonesia)
Citarum river pollution (West Java, Indonesia)

From the Daily Mail:

More than 500 factories, many of them producing textiles which require chemical treatment, line the banks of the 200-mile river, the largest waterway in West Java, spewing waste into the water.

Where once fishermen cast their nets, now people are foraging for rubbish. Sad story…

Link via Kottke


What do cows eat anyway?

I’m not terribly involved in health or environmental issues, but reading this article on Gristmill did make me think a bit more about the food I eat.

I grew up in a rural area in the Netherlands so I’m quite used to seeing cows in pastures. If you’d ask me what cows eat, grass would be my first answer. I know there aren’t enough pastures to feed all the cows we need for the enormous amount of meat the market demands (if you need a reason to boycott places like McDonalds just remember they allow rainforest to be cut down to rear cows, which incidentally emit huge amounts of methane, being a major contribution to global warming etc.), but still my answer instinctively would be grass.

Cow (nose) by .eti
Image of a cow (nose) by .eti

My wife was a vegan for several years and her motives for doing so helped me understand a bit more about what we are doing to animals and the environment to satisfy our appetite for meat, dairy and other animal products. Her current job also shows me many issues with the way we produce all sorts of items with blatant disregard of public health and environmental issues (chemicals in children’s toys, food modification, air pollution etc.) causing a massive rise in various diseases like cancer, which is a huge financial burden on society. Money is a perfect motivator, so thanks to the insurance industry public awareness is increasing (just like with global warming, which causes more natural disasters, which cost a lot of money).

Meat at the grocery store (image by Diane Duane)

But still many people are unaware of what it is exactly they purchase. So when I buy beef, where does it come from?

Julia Olmstead was strolling by the meat counter at her regional mid-sized grocery chain and thought, “hey, I should ask for grass-fed beef, ’cause they’ll only carry it if they perceive demand”.

I can identify with this as my wife often wants to alert a lack of biological products in grocery shops or she simply wants to point out more environmental friendly ways to do things at various place we go.

Anyway, this is how the conversation between Julia and the butcher went:

Me: Hi, do you have any grass-fed beef?
Butcher: Hmm, grass-fed? I don’t think you can feed grass to cows.
Me: Well, they’re ruminant animals, so I think that’s what they’re supposed to eat.
Butcher: [sympathetic-but-authoritative head shake] I don’t think so. They need vitamins and minerals and stuff.
Me: Uh …
Butcher: Now this [points down at large, marbled slab in meat case], this is corn-fed beef.
Me: Yeah, well, um, thanks anyway.

Check Julia’s The Myth of Grass-fed Beef at Gristmill for more on this and many interesting comments following her post.