Wow. In the past few weeks, I have read so much about the impact we are having on the environment. And I have also realised that we in the modern world have often fallen prey to the power of advertising. And then every day, disrespect shown to the environment is accepted as the norm. Most people don’t even realise that they are doing this. I know I certainly didn’t. I feel like I’ve been brain washed. And a bit ripped-off actually. Like we haven’t been given all the information and that the government and general society has turned a blind eye.
The world has gone plastic mad. More plastic has been created in the last 10 years than in the last 100. And it’s worse than I realised. I’ve been reading about ecologist, Mark Browne’s research into micro-plastics in this article by The Guardian. Washing polyester clothes in washing detergents filled with micro plastics go into our waterways every day. The tiny plastic fibres from the clothes filter down into our waterways and are eaten by tiny marine life which are then eaten by slightly bigger marine life and eventually those teeny tiny plastics are ingested by bigger fish which are then eaten by humans… I thought I would try and make conscious decisions to limit the amount of new polyester clothes in my wardrobe but it turns out that wearing polyester clothes can be harmful to the marine environment too. Not to mention all the polyester modern cloth nappies I have recently purchased.
We had a big debate about nappies on New Year’s Eve. Whether washing the nappies (water, electricity, detergents) is any better for the environment than buying disposables. I still think it is despite the arguments. There is a lot of energy that goes into making a single-use disposable nappy. We spoke about whether the disposable nappy decomposes and one of the blokes reckons he put a disposable nappy in his backyard and it broke down within 6 months (the plastic strips took longer (18 months)). This was in a harsh, dry Northern Australia environment. It led to quite a few questions and I’d like to try this experiment myself. Does plastic ever really fully break-down? Or does it just break into tiny minuscule pieces. It is a completely man-made material after all. Also, I don’t like the idea of sending human waste to the rubbish dumps (but when I had a newborn, I sent a lot of waste to the landfills. It was easier and convenient and my life had just changed in a huge way so it was a completely selfish choice). I am disappointed that the modern cloth nappies I purchased are all polyester. Even the bamboo inserts that I bought have got a polyester, waterproof cover. Wool is apparently the best 100% natural, waterproof cover for nappies. I found a company that makes them – Woollykins. I love that it’s an Australian company too (using merino wool). I’m even considering using the old-school cotton cloth nappies. I’m sure you can buy them made from bamboo now or organic cotton (because cotton is grown with a lot of water and pesticides). Cotton/Bamboo would be cooler for the bubs too. Those nappies are little sweat balls. I recently read about cultures who don’t even put their babies in nappies. They teach them to wee on demand. Sounds fascinating! My other argument is that I wash the nappies with other clothes so there are not as many extra loads (using extra water and electricity). There was a raucous response to my argument. The men were outraged that they would have shit in their pockets!!! (Don’t worry I always flush that down the toilet! Which brings us to another environmental topic…. toilets and toilet paper.. I’ll save that for another time!)
Microbeads in cosmetics. Obama has just signed a bill to ban the use of microbeads in cosmetic products in the US. You can read more about that here.
Cleaning products. When my daughter was first born, I was reading the Essence magazine that the Australian Breastfeeding Association produces and there was an article about how we grew up in an era where there was a different cleaning product marketed for each part of the house. Windex for windows, Spray & Wipe for benches, Shower Power for bathrooms. And we grew to believe that we needed all these different toxic cleaning products. It turns out that bicarb of soda, vinegar and lemon work just as well! It’s true, I just tried bicarb and vinegar on the bath tub. Magic! Just like all the ads about shower power. Only 100 times better! It doesn’t smell bad and it’s chemical free!
Kids’ toys. Wow so much plastic. I’ll leave this rant for another time. We do have some wooden toys and a couple of my husband’s environmentally minded colleagues gave us some 100% recycled plastic toys which is a step in the right direction. Much better to give the plastic an extended life than to sit, not rotting or decomposing, at the rubbish dump. Or even worse, slowly breaking into tiny minuscule micro plastics that pollute the waterways.