UK parliament to eliminate single-use plastics

Ever since Sir David Attenborough aired Blue Planet II—and declared the oceans in crisis like never before—there’s been a slew of action in the UK from lawmakers, companies and private citizens alike to cut back on plastic use.

From talk of banning wet wipes to coffee shop chains disposing of disposable cups, and from 2 Minute Beach Cleans to a supermarket pledging to go plastic-free, each story—by itself—is heart warming. but when viewed collectively, it really does feel like a turning point in terms of how we think about plastics and, in particular, single-use plastics.

Now The Guardian reports that the UK parliament is taking another step in the right direction. Sadly, that’s not yet the much rumored nationwide ban on single-use plastics. Instead, lawmakers are getting their own house in order first by eliminating non-recyclable water bottles, disposable cups and other plastics from the Houses of Parliament:

Parliament will stop purchasing non-recyclable disposable cups and plastic water bottles. The coffee cups will be replaced by a compostable alternative and to encourage a long-term move away from single-use items, a 25p charge will be added to hot drinks served in the new compostable cups. Reusable coffee cups will be available to buy, and incentives will be offered to customers who refill them. Plastic bottles of water will no longer be on sale, with more water points installed. Condiment sachets and plastic cutlery and food packaging will be replaced by compostable alternatives.

Of course, Parliament’s own plastic use is a drop in the ocean (sorry!) compared to the nation as a whole, but given that a growing number of businesses and institutions ranging from the BBC to the Royal family are taking steps to clean up their own operations, we shouldn’t discount the cumulative impact of such initiatives. More importantly, however, the Houses of Parliament’s move has strong symbolic power, and sends a signal to broader society about which way this conversation is headed.

I look forward to more firmer legislative action in the near future too.

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Awareness Is Working: WHO To Eliminate Trans-Fatty Acids From The Global Food Supply

Trans fat often acts as a preservative in order to prolong the shelf life of foods that would otherwise go bad. Many countries have already taken action against this toxic additive and have measures in place to either ban it or drastically limit the amount that manufacturers are allowed to include. Don’t forget, the longer the shelf life, the shorter yours is. The majority of Western Europe has already been restricting the amount of trans fats that is being used in factory made foods. Denmark, like New York, has a complete ban on the substance. Canada has recently announced that manufacturers would have one year to completely phase out the use of trans fats in their products before a law restricting its use is passed in September of this year.

Because of the growing awareness to the potential health effects that come along with consuming a diet which includes trans fats, Big Food companies have been feeling the heat to find substitutes. Still, any substitute that is used will likely be used for the same purposes, to extend shelf life, and is likely to be another toxic substance. It’s as if these corporations know about it, wait for us to become aware of it, and then change happens… Perhaps this issue is bringing something more important to the light here, and that’s the fact that we shouldn’t really be eating anything, at least regularly, that needs some form of chemical or toxic preservative.

The WHO Calling All Governments, Worldwide To Take Action

Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the WHO, Dr. Francesco Branca says , in regards to the amount of dairy products we are eating that contain trans fats,

We are saying that trans fats contained in those products have the same effect as industrial trans fat – we are not able to tell the difference, but the amount contained in dairy products is much less.

So, we know that trans fats are found in dairy products, along with many other potential health effects, specifically with commercially produced cheese and butter, we would do well to avoid that too. According to Branca, however, to get 2.2g of trans fatty acids you would have to eat 150g of 30% saturated fat or butter.

How many people do you know that eat 50g of butter? You can have your cheese, your butter or your litre of milk, That is fine.

Maybe from a strictly trans fat perspective only. The main take away is that many processed foods are much more harmful and contain a lot more trans fats than you should be consuming for optimal health. These substances destroy our health!

Why Is This Important Anyways?

If you are thinking, “I don’t eat processed food, and always try to avoid trans fat whenever possible anyways, so this doesn’t pertain to me” than congratulations, you are one step ahead of the game and it’s because of people like you who are opting out of supporting companies that use this ingredient and raising awareness that everything is changing.

Without awareness in regards to certain issues, we would never see them change. Regardless of your current dietary preferences, the fact that this has gained international attention to the point where it is being exposed as a toxin and petitioned to have banned completely, really just serves as a powerful example of how raising awareness and taking action can and will create change on the planet.

It’s just one of many examples that show how there are many positive events that are taking pace on our planet, and that people are changing. We are shifting towards less chemicals, not only in our food, but in our water, cleaning, cosmetic products, we are choosing organic, saying no to GMO’s, even banning pesticide use. We are heading in the right direction.

There is a growing concern for environmental welfare and because of this we are seeing so many sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives pop up and take the place of harmful products. We see devices that can clean the ocean and genius ways to put this plastic waste to good use. This is all happening because a growing level of awareness of ourselves and the environment we live in.

Kudos to all of you who are doing your part to literally BE the CHANGE you wish to see, your actions are making a difference, and this is merely one great example as to how that works.

Much Love

Read more about the dangers of trans fats here.

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Your house dust is full of chemicals – here’s how to eliminate the threat without resorting to more chemicals

 –Modern-day pollution is making dust a part of our lives. It’s in the air we breathe, and in the place where we spend the biggest part of our lives in — at home. That’s why it’s alarming to learn that indoor dust found in the typical U.S. household has around 45 harmful endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including flame retardants and phthalates, which are related to weight gain, obesity, thyroid issues, cognitive impairment, and even cancer.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), items inside your house ‘shed’ chemicals over time. These include shoes, food and chemicals released from cooking, plastics, stain-resistant furniture, electronics, and flooring materials. Also in the list are fragrances, cosmetics, cleaning products and any other household items that have chemicals.

Here’s why household dust and chemicals form a lethal combination.

  • They may cause thyroid dysfunction – The common household chemicalperfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) can enter our organs and tissues. Studies point to household dust as one of the main sources of PFOA. They also show that high PFOA levels in the blood may create thyroid problems and other hormonal imbalances. Worst, PFOA in the bloodstream may stay in the body for several years. PFOA is found in the carpet, flooring treated with wax, sealants, carpet stain remover, and non-stick cookware.
  • They’re linked to fertility issues  – Phthalates and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) are two harmful chemicals that lodge themselves in dust. These substances can reduce sperm count and create reproductive problems in women. Phthalates are present in car interiors, vinyl shower curtains, vinyl wallpaper, and cosmetics. PCBs are found in oil-based paint, electrical equipment, plastic, and floor finish. Older homes usually house PCBs, which was banned in late 1979. Like PFOA, phthalates and PCBs take a long time to break down, and can stay in your organs and tissues for years.
  • They can trigger skin flare-ups  – Bacteria and fungi in household dust can make their own type of chemicals. These chemicals cause allergies and have been been associated with skin problems like dermatitis and eczema.
  • They can prevent cognitive development – Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a flame retardant present in mattresses, computers, car stereos, and couch cushions, are associated with cognitive impairment and neurobehavioral issues in children. According to studies, a whopping 80 percent of our exposure to PBDE comes from household dust.

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Babies and toddlers are at greatest risk when it comes to household dust because they crawl on the floor, play with toys stored in bins and put their hands in their mouths. These make it easier for PBDEs in dust to enter their underdeveloped bodies.

Here’s how you can conquer perils of household dust:

  • Use organic and natural products at home –  Go organic when choosing cosmetics, personal care products, flammable materials, and household cleaning items. Try using coconut oil as moisturizer; essential oils instead of fragrances; and water, lemon juice, white vinegar, and antibacterial essential oils as household cleansers.
  •  Use HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter to vacuum – You can attach this filter to your vacuum cleaner to trap dust and other pollutants like mold, tobacco smoke, and pollen. HEPA filters are better than the regular vacuum variety because the former traps microscopic particles that the latter can’t get rid of.
  • Clean surfaces with damp cloth –  Feather dusters can spread the dust even more. So use damp cloth or a microfiber duster or electrostatic cloth instead.
  •  Wash hands with chemical-free soap and water before eating – This is one of the easiest ways to fight toxins you and your family are exposed to every day.

Household dust and chemicals are enemies to health that live with us every day. Beating these harmful substances a sign that we care for the loved ones who live with us at home. Read for more coverage of environmental toxins that directly impact your health.

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UK supermarket to eliminate all to-go coffee cups from stores

It would have been nice to know this when I lived in England, but British supermarket Waitrose has long been offering free in-store coffee for its loyalty card customers. While that makes for a nice gesture in terms of customer relations, however, it also generates a lot of unnecessary waste. So as activists urge Starbucks to hurry up with cup recycling, one might also expect brands like Waitrose to seek to get ahead of the game with their own recyclable cups.

Not so, however. Waitrose is going one better. By the Fall of 2018, Waitrose will eliminate all single use, disposable coffee cups from its stores. Here’s how they explain what’s going down:

We have committed to removing all takeaway disposable coffee cups from our shops by autumn 2018. As myWaitrose members you will continue to have the option to enjoy a free tea or coffee from your shop’s self-serve machine as a thank you for shopping with us. But in the coming weeks we will be asking you to bring in your own reusable cup, rather than being offered a disposable coffee cup when you go through the checkout.

The cups will initially be removed in nine test branches only, starting this month. But this appears not to be a trial run—the company has already committed to the removal—but rather an experiment to figure out how best to manage the process with minimal disruption to customers. It’s a pretty cool move. And given that this is a free perk, rather than a service that customers are directly paying for, I think it has the potential to reach a broader cross section of the public and start promoting reusability as a sensible lifestyle choice all round. After all, once a customer has a Waitrose coffee cup, who’s to say they won’t use it at Starbucks too.

Of course, the ultimate solution to single-use plastics is either to ban them, or tax them so punitively that the cost becomes prohibitive. After all, we’re all paying the cost in terms of environmental degradation, so why not shift that payment to the source of the problem?

But still, institutional moves like this are making a real difference—both in the amount of plastic being consumed, and in the broader cultural debate about what is and isn’t acceptable as a society.

And for that, I think we can thank Waitrose heartily.

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Biotech industry trying to eliminate all FDA regulation of genetically edited ranch animals by shifting authority to the USDA, which has totally sold out to Monsanto

Image: Biotech industry trying to eliminate all FDA regulation of genetically edited ranch animals by shifting authority to the USDA, which has totally sold out to Monsanto

(Natural News)
Biotech companies that can genetically engineer farm animals to have “designer” characteristics – like cows without horns (yes, cows really are supposed to have horns) – can make a whole lot of money selling these animals to farmers. Unfortunately for them, farm animals are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which subjects these types of modifications to the same scrutiny and safety trials that a new drug would be forced to undergo.

This protective mechanism could soon be a thing of the past, however, as the biotech industry pushes for the regulation of genetically engineered animals to be switched to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has already shown itself to be very favorable to the biotech industry by allowing genetically edited plants to be planted and sold freely, without any regulatory constraints.

Biotech companies like Recombinetics argue that the genetic changes they engineer – like those hornless cows – simply duplicate what would take place in nature, anyway, through crossbreeding. They also emphasize that these types of changes can eliminate a great deal of animal suffering.

There is some truth in what they are saying, as noted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):

Many people are surprised to learn that nearly all cows used for milk are born with tissue that will develop into horns. That’s because most farmers remove the sensitive horn tissue or the horns themselves from the cows’ skulls using searing-hot irons, caustic chemicals, blades, or handsaws.

Animals often struggle violently and are therefore held still manually or in a “head bail” (a metal apparatus for restraining a cow by the neck) during the painful dehorning process, which is frequently performed without painkillers and results in severe pain that lasts for hours and can become chronic.

Aren’t they missing the point though? Instead of genetically altering these animals to be hornless, why not just stop farmers from dehorning them in this inhumane and unnecessary way?

Nonetheless, lots of people can make lots of money through genetic engineering, and the biotech industry would much rather collude with what some have called the U.S. Department of Monsanto (a.k.a. the USDA) to achieve their agenda. (Related: USDA looks out only for self interests.)

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) and others have reported extensively on the unholy alliance between Big Biotech and the USDA. They noted:

[T]he USDA is also directly in the business of developing, patenting, and promoting biotechnology inventions. The difference is that the USDA slips the patents, developed from government research and paid for by US taxpayers, into the hands of private companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta.

Technology Review recently reported that leaders of the biotech industry are hoping that President Trump will enact legislation that will change the regulation of their industry from the FDA to the USDA permanently:

There seems to be little chance the US Congress will revise the patchwork of regulations covering biotechnology through legislation. That’s why Recombinetics, with the help of industry lobbyists, is now hoping the Trump administration will take oversight of the animals away from the FDA.

The biotech industry believes that President Trump will be sympathetic to their cause because he has shown himself to be “business friendly,” eliminating net neutrality, exiting the Paris climate accord and repealing the Clean Power Plan.

Members of President Trump’s administration have also dropped hints that they might be on board with biotech’s plans. In a January speech in Tennessee, the president himself spoke about “streamlining regulations that have blocked cutting-edge biotechnology, setting free our farmers to innovate, thrive, and grow.”

It remains to be seen what action President Trump will take in this regard.

Irrespective, as Technology Review noted, his decision will have international implications because U.S. meat and poultry are traded across the globe. And while few of us would object to hornless cows, many are concerned about where all this will end and what ethical boundaries will be breached in Big Biotech’s pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Sources for this article include:



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The Cost of Trump’s Military Parade Could Eliminate Hunger Among Homeless Veterans—For Weeks


President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand parade of the U.S. armed forces in Washington this year to celebrate military strength and flex the US empire. This display of militarism will proceed in spite of the very people Trump claims to be honoring being vehemently opposed to it. In fact, an unofficial poll conducted by the military times found the 90% of people do not want a parade. Nevertheless, it will happen.

While many of Trump’s supporters favor the parade, for those who’ve actually served in the military, the idea of being forced to practice day in and day out for a march through Washington D.C. so civilians can pump out their chests with nationalist pride is terrible. There are far better ways to “support the troops” than forcing them to parade around in front of you.

Here’s an idea, end all the wars. If you really want to support the troops, stop using them as pawns in the spread of empire and the expansion of the military-industrial complex. If you really want to support the troops and veterans, how about we address the fact that tens of thousands of them sleep on the streets every single night in the country they offered up their lives for.

To show how much of an insult this parade is to troops and veterans, according to a recent report, the cost of this parade could directly benefit the 40,000 homeless veterans—by feeding them. Instead, it will go to fuel, logistics, drills, and flyovers.

Conservative estimates of the cost of the parade are around $10 million with the higher end budget coming in at $30 million. Even if we divide the lower end number by the total number of homeless veterans, that would be around $250 each.

As Newsweek reports, Feeding America, a non-profit organization and the nation’s largest hunger-relief and food rescue group, found the average cost-per-meal in the U.S. was $2.94 in 2015, the latest data available. The organization culled data from several organizations and agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and found the cost-per-meal ranged from a low of  $2.04 in Maverick County, Texas to a high of $5.61 in Crook County, Oregon.

What this means is that the cost of the parade could eliminate hunger among homeless veterans by providing all of them with three meals a day, for at least 14 days and that is using the highest estimate of $5.61.

If we use the average cost of a meal, homeless veterans could get three squares a day for nearly an entire month. While we didn’t ask all 40,000 homeless veterans if they prefer a parade or eating for a month, we are betting the prefer the latter.

Last month, Trump said that if the cost of the parade was exorbitant, he would choose not to have it.

“We’ll see if we can do it at a reasonable cost, and if we can’t, we won’t do it, but the generals would love to do it, I can tell you, and so would I,” he said.

However, this week, the Pentagon released a memo noting that the parade will go on as scheduled.

Although the president assured Americans that there won’t be tanks rolling down the streets, the display of military might will be a logistical nightmare for whatever poor units get stuck with doing it. And, all of it will be for Trump—not the troops.

Instead of chest pumping and back patting, if Trump wants to support the troops and veterans, he should start by addressing the problems plaguing them right now. Sadly, none of this has happened.

When 307,000 veterans die waiting for care they were promised by this country while the president gloats over military equipment, something is seriously wrong.

When the entire country looks the other way while there over 40,000 veterans living on the streets with no home as the president forces active duty military members to put on a show for him, something is seriously wrong.

When Americans remain silent as a veteran kills himself or herself every 65 minutes, every single day, every single month, of every single year as troops and humvees parade down Pennsylvania Avenue celebrating the war that caused these deaths, it’s time to seriously consider a national conversation about what “support the troops” really means. And no parade will ever do that.

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South Korea is building a $35 billion city designed to eliminate the need for cars

The International Business District (IBD) in Songdo, South Korea.

Gale International

When residents of the International Business District (IBD) in Songdo, South Korea go to work, pick up their kids from school, or shop for groceries, driving is optional.

That’s because the $35 billion district — currently a work-in-progress about the size of downtown Boston — was designed to eliminate the need for cars.

A project that began in 2002, the area prioritizes mass transit, like buses, subways, and bikes, instead of road traffic, according to Stan Gale, the chairman of Gale International, the developer behind the IBD.

When completed by 2020, the district will span 100 million square feet. It’s located on the northwest side of South Korea (the opposite coast of Pyeongchang, the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics).

Take a look at the IBD’s plan below.

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Dunkin’ Donuts To Eliminate Styrofoam Cups In Stores Worldwide By 2020

By  Amanda Froelich Truth Theory

Good news for the environment, wildlife, and future generations. By 2020, Dunkin’ Donuts will phase out the use of polystyrene (also known as “styrofoam”) cups in favor of paper alternatives. The change will be implemented in all 12,500 of the pastry restaurant chain’s stores.

The company’s international stores already use double-walled paper coffee cups. Within two years, the remaining Dunkin’ Donut establishments will do the same. As GoodNewsNetwork reports, the move is expected to save over 1 billion foam cups from entering the environment every year.

This isn’t the first time Dunkin’ Donuts has taken progressive action for consumers and the environment. All of the restaurants’ cardboard sleeves, carrying trays, napkins, and bags are made out of recycled papers and other materials. The restaurant chain also serves Fair Trade certified espresso beans in certain stores, and has worked to eliminate artificial dyes and flavors from its menus.

Said Karen Raskopf, the Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer of the company: “We have a responsibility to improve our packaging, making it better for the planet while still meeting the needs of our guests. Transitioning away from foam has been a critical goal for Dunkin’ Donuts U.S., and with the double-walled cup, we will be able to offer a replacement that meets the needs and expectations of both our customers and the communities we serve.”

Hopefully, other companies will follow in Dunkin’ Donuts’ footsteps and eliminate polystyrene from their menus entirely. Watch the video below to learn more about the dangers styrofoam poses to people’s health and the environment:

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

Source: GoodNewsNetwork

Image Featured/Credit: Flickr

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Huge food company to eliminate food waste, halve plastic use

Obviously, cutting food waste is both a moral and environmental imperative. Still, when I read Paul Hawken’s Drawdown, I was surprised to see reducing food waste listed as the #3 solution to climate change, right after greener refrigerants and scaled up wind energy. Yet it continues to get considerably less attention than renewable energy or fancy electric trucks.

Things, however, might be changing. And just like the recent flurry of corporate commitments on single use plastics, we’re beginning to see similar efforts to cut back on wasted food too. The latest comes from Cranswick, one of the largest food companies in the UK and a specialist in fresh, frozen and deli meats as well as pastry products. According to Business Green, the company is promising to become a “zero food waste” company by 2030 at the latest.

But that’s not all, as part of a plan that Cranswick is calling “Second Nature”, the company is also promising to purchase 100% renewable energy starting next month, to halve its plastic use by 2025, and to also achieve 100% recyclable packaging by the same date. This is good stuff, and builds on energy efficiency efforts which have already seen a 20% reduction in energy consumption per tonne of product manufactured since 2008.

Specifically, it’s worth noting, a plan like this will have an out-sized impact because much of Cranswick’s products are meat- or animal-products based. And as Derek previously noted, meat waste is the worst waste because its production is so much more energy and resource intensive in the first place.

Now, I wonder if Cranswick is also down with efforts to promote more plant-centered diets too. They wouldn’t be the first meat-centric company to start looking at that possibility.

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