Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

Food Rules

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Brilliant , much needed book by Michael Pollan. While he has written this book based on food habits of Americans it is (sadly) true and relevant for urban inhabitants in many parts of the world.

Besides the food wisdom in the book I love the design and style of the content . Simple , easy and quick to read . The style of writing may ensure that the book is widely read and many of the ideas are adopted by readers.

Some of the food rules…

- “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

- “Don’t eat anything* with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.” (* processed food)

- “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.”

-”Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself”

-”It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language (think Big Mac , Pringles..)”

It’s amazing to see the cocktail of ailments many folks bring upon themselves due to poor eating habits . There seems to be a generation of children who are being raised with irregular food habits and ‘industrial novelties’ aka processed foods. As my grandmom used to say ‘it’s better to pay money to the grocer than to the doctor’ (a point of view endorsed in the book as well).

Read the book . More importantly recreate your relationship with food .

Make air travel eco friendlier

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

The search for industries which use huge amounts of plastic yields a few answers 35,000 feet above sea level . Airlines !

Airlines are notorious users of single-use plastic and paper – cups , food containers , cutlery , tissues . Practices established decades / years ago continue unquestioned . Some years ago a security scare caused airlines to switch from metal cutlery to plastic cutlery (which is frankly pointless . Metal cutlery posed no security risk ). Some airlines pack the blankets in plastic . To use the blanket the plastic has to be ripped apart . Needless to say this trashed piece of plastic will be immortalized somewhere on the planet.

The usage of plastic has reached new heights with an airline packing the in-flight catalogue and entertainment guide in a plastic cover that needs to be ripped apart to read the magazines. Entirely pointless and wasteful.

Here are somethings airlines can IMMEDIATELY do -

- switch to metal cutlery

- switch to ceramic or paper cups and dishes

- ditch packing the blankets , magazines in plastic

- encourage passengers to carry a reusable bottle in which the steward can fill water from a jug or at least hand out a bottle per passenger and keep refilling their bottles instead of getting a plastic glass every time someone asks for water.

- shift to bio degradable alternatives to plastic

- ask passengers for ideas on how to be more environ friendly , share information with passengers on their initiatives so far

The plastic generated chokes our planet . Food heated in plastic containers poses health risks . This gets multiplied for frequent travellers.

The next time you take a flight pl take a few mins to fill out the feedback form to the airline asking them to move to zero/minimal plastic (listing some solutions as mentioned above). Since airlines are not making the shift of their own accord we can and should use our voice as the customers to ask them to be eco friendly.

Your feedback counts . Pl choose to make a difference.

Eco Biz @ Japan

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Japanese carry a lot of stuff . Most folks carry between 1-3 bags . Women on an average carry 1-2 bags (some 3 ) . Men carry at least 1 bag.

This is a country where bags are sold extensively . All kinds of bags – leather , cloth , nylon , polyester , faux leather . Yet , in my visits to retail stores I seldom see customers declining the retailer’s plastic bag and taking the product purchased in their own reusable bag . There must be folks who do so . I’ve not witnessed it yet whether in a dept store , convenience store , people buying lunch boxes from stalls or any retail format for that matter.

The Japanese are geniuses at making products that fold up into a compact size . The customers can easily carry a folding bag in one of their bags and use it to carry items purchased . Thereby reducing plastic  ( Japan is a HUGE consumer of plastic . More on that in another post ).

Japan has a very high literacy rate + bags are easily available in retail . It’s puzzling why using a reusable bag for purchases is not a widespread if not default behavior .

Until few years ago Japanese men wore suits to work . No exceptions . I suspect that the Wachowski brothers got their inspiration to dress the agents of Matrix in suits after a few rides in the Tokyo metro . Until Cool Biz came along it was unthinkable that a Japanese corporate male employee could turn up at work in any other attire . Cool Biz was almost like legalizing wearing just a shirt  and trousers to work. Possibly Japan needs an initiative similar to Cool Biz to make it acceptable / necessary / cool/eco friendly to take a reusable bag to stores and use it to carry products.

They can call it Eco Biz.

Calling all superheroes

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

The rate at which we are generating, consuming and disposing a non-bio degradable substance aka Plastic – it would spawn a new kind of fictional hero or at least add a new task to already created fictional superheroes.

Circa 1990 – Superman/ Spiderman rescues the world from the bad guy(s)

In the future the super hero would not only be fighting evil folks . He / she would be swooping in on the Pacific garbage patch and similar heaps of non-biodegradable , earth polluting material and flinging them into outer space. All the superheroes would need to team up to clear up the plastic choking the planet.

The superheroes like Superman/Spiderman are fictional . The plastic on the planet is real . We need billions of people to become eco heros by making sustainable , responsible choices. At this point in time there is no answer in terms of solutions to bio degrade the plastic that is choking land and sea. The least we can do is to reduce the rate of addition to the pile.

Plastic 101

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Plastic issues

Some of the facts about plastic in a succinct , graphic style . Pl read and share . Lack of awareness of issues pertaining to plastic is a part of the problem.

source :

Rethinking hydration..

Thursday, May 13th, 2010


How not to send a mailer

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Got this mailer yesterday from a credit card company . The envelope paper was thick and sturdy enough for it to survive a round-the-world trip . It was however covered in a plastic bag and stapled .The plastic would be discarded by the recipient. The mailer was sent by courier . Which means it got collected , transported and delivered in fairly safe condition.

Mailer in plastic bag x several thousand mailers = sheer , avoidable , pointless waste

And this equation pertains to one marketing initiative of one company . When extended to various companies and industries the resulting number would be mind boggling .

If you are a marketer or your company sends such mailers – pl STOP . There are more effective , intelligent , earth friendly ways to reach out to your customers and prospects.

If you receive such mailers from companies – pl take a few mins to send an email asking them to stop using plastic pointlessly like this.

I’ll sign off now…to send an email to the credit card company.

Garbage Island

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

It appears that the planet’s landfill is not on land . It’s the oceans.

The Great Pacific Garbage patch stretches for hundreds of miles across the North Pacific Ocean, forming a nebulous, floating junk yard on the high seas. It’s the poster child for a worldwide problem: plastic that begins in human hands yet ends up in the ocean, often inside animals’ stomachs or around their necks. It is outrageous that other species suffer the consequences of human choices.

Phenomena like the Garbage Patch cannot be the fate of the Pacific alone . Possibly the Pacific Ocean is studied more intensively and frequently resulting in ‘sea’ of information.

World over plastic is used widely . Very little of it is recycled . No one is holding on to plastic objects like heirlooms . It’s therefore ending up on land fills or in water.

The planet is a closed system . What we do stays on the planet and it’s atmosphere .The plastic in the land fills and in circulation is going to hang around for hundreds of years . Our best bet at not turning the entire planet into a junk yard is to radically increase creation and usage of biodegradable objects.

The problem is global and local . The solutions have to be local and consistent for it to cascade to a global level.

Pl choose to make a difference.

Why use a cloth bag ?

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Why use a cloth bag when retailers recklessly and generously hand out plastic bags of varying sizes considering -

- Plastic Bags save you the effort of carrying a cloth / reusable bag with you.

- Plastic Bags can be used as bin liners

- Plastic bags can be used to store veggies in the refrigerator

- If the plastic bag is that of a fancy brand – you get to let your friends , colleagues , neighbors and all in visual range know that you are able to afford the fancy brand in question. Carrying it again and again establishes beyond doubt that you are a person that frequently buys that brand = you have taste + the financial resources to do so.

-Carrying multiple bags shows you’ve been shopping = you can afford it.

Why use a cloth bag ?

- There are innumerable everyday objects for which we don’t have easily available / alternatives to plastic – toothpaste , toothbrush , razor , primary food packaging (e.g oil , pulses , bread , biscuits), plastic water bottles , kitchen containers . These few items alone are enough for an average urban resident to be responsible for a hillock (if not mountain ) of plastic in his/her lifetime. At this point in time we don’t have easily alternatives (or even answers) for some of these everyday items that come in plastic. With a bag at least you have a CHOICE.

- Plastic does not bio-degrade . At least we won’t be alive to witness it . The plastic bag you use is going to hang around on the planet long after we are gone.

- Lives of birds , animals, marine life are threatened by the plastic remnants . They die due to ingestion of plastic . Those that survive undergo mutation . Would you like it if consequences of the thoughtless actions of another species affected your health and the duration of your life ?

- The plastic we throw away enters the food chain of human beings through animals , birds and marine life.

- We already have the challenge of dealing with depleting natural resources , pollution,  consequences of climate change, terrorism, poverty . From being stuck in the problem end of the equation we need to move to being part of the solution. Governments alone are not responsible for the state of the planet . All of mankind is . No government forces us to use plastic , to leave the tap open , to drive around pointlessly burning fuel , to not reach out to someone whose life we can impact .

The changes needed to make this a sustainable planet need us to participate . Not just by clicking answers on some internet poll. Participate by making tangible , consistent changes.

Your actions matter. Every action matters.

Plastic free magazines

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

It’s almost di rigueur these days for magazines (in Indian retail ) to be wrapped in plastic .

An alarmingly increasing number of magazines are choosing plastic…plastic that will remain on the face of the earth long after the magazine issue has been read and recycled. Ironically several of the magazines carry (from time to time ) articles on ‘how to save the planet’ urge readers to be ‘more eco-friendly’.

Not satisfied with 1 plastic bag some magazines have 2 bags per issue . One for the main magazine , one for the supplement. We’re guessing it’s to maximize revenue from the advertisers of the back cover of the magazine as well as the supplement.

It’s a case of short term gains entirely obliterating the larger issue of needless damage to the environment . The magazine industry is by no means the lone ranger in this regard. A whole host of companies and industries keep them ‘company’.

As readers and citizens of the earth – we should exercise the responsibility to write to magazines to eschew plastic . It’ll take a few minutes to send an email . Repeated messages from readers will eventually necessitate magazines to find alternative , earth friendly ways to transport the copies to retail.

Here’s a draft that you can adapt to write to your fav magazines that currently use plastic covers :

To Team ABC Magazine

I would feel a lot better about buying your magazine if you eliminate the plastic cover . As you possibly know the plastic is going to hang around on the planet long after you and me have moved on. It does not bother me if the copy in retail looks less than pristine. It bothers me immensely that it comes enclosed in a material that chokes our planet and poses risk to all species.

Let’s save the only place we call home – Planet Earth. I believe that while no one can do everything . Everyone can do something.

Regards ,

Eco-warrior (your name here )

p.s – I hope your magazine supports tree plantation in a systemic way to compensate for the paper used to print the issues.

Pl share the draft with your friends via email , Facebook , twitter . Take a few mins to email the message to your fav magazines that use plastic bags to pack every copy. Do so every month till you see plastic free copies in retail.

* The magazines in the pic are representative of the category . The problem is by no means limited to these specific magazines.