FROM THE EDITOR
Welcome back to Green News! In this edition we’ll see the amazing discoveries one can make in a cleanup, how to make your own toothpaste, and what the top ten most endangered animals on the planet are... Has Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste had any impact on the amount of rubbish Australia produces? Could wasted coffee grounds be the new London bus energy source? Dig your teeth into issue No.3!
Remember the guy with the plastic bag ball, worn-out trainers and an interest in banana farming? Well, Craig Reucassel is back. Although this is not the latest episode, it may be the most interesting, as it shows the changes people made after the first 3 episodes.
In this fourth episode, most people might assume he is going to merely reveal all the good things that have happened since episode one. However, we still have a lot of work to do, and Craig Reucassel is going to show us how, starting with coffee cups.
If you’re an adult reading this, you’re probably either thinking, yep, been there, done that, got my byo-cup, or, what? How can coffee cups be bad for the environment? Does this mean I have to stop drinking coffee??!! Happily, it means nothing of the sort. You can go on drinking as much coffee as you like - well, not too much - without contributing to landfill, by bringing a byo-cup. This can be an ordinary mug from home, or one that is especially made for the purpose, such as BioPak: https://www.biopak.com.au/products/reusable/reusable-coffee-cups. So, why are coffee cups such a problem? Well, you can read about that in the next article, ‘COFFEE WASTE INNOVATION’.
15 thousand drinks containers are thrown away every minute in Australia. That’s roughly 17 billion a year! And the bad news is, less than half of that is recycled. To give us an idea of the scale, Craig Reucassel said the number of bottles produced here in one day would stretch horizontally across Australia: 4,000 km! There is a simple way you can help to prevent too many of these drink containers ending up in the environment: a container deposit scheme. This basically means that you pay an extra 10c for every bottle or can you buy, which you get back if you return it. This way, consumers are motivated to bring back the bottles and only the tosser pays the extra price. In fact, if you pick up any random bottle or can on the street, you can bring it to a depot and get 10c for it! So, it’s also a motive to cleanup your local area. That’s all for now. You can find out more by watching it yourself!
COFFEE WASTE INNOVATION!
Every day, Londoners drink 20 million cups of coffee. Aside from all the disposable coffee cups, which cannot be recycled or composted, because of their thin plastic lining, there is the ‘small’ issue of all the old coffee grounds that go into landfill. Coffee grounds, like other food waste, produce methane in landfill. Methane is 25 times more polluting than car fumes. Imagine how much methane would be produced from 20 million cups of coffee! And that’s just in one day! Fortunately, there are several ways of preventing this. Old coffee grounds can be used as compost or fertiliser, as they contain just the right nutrients for helping plants grow. And there’s another solution, too. Biobean, Shell and Agent Energy have cooperated to create and put into use a new fuel for running the iconic red London buses. It’s 20% coffee grounds oil extract and called B20 biofuel. For the time being, 1/3 of the buses will be powered in this way. Now, only 20% extract oil may not seem like a lot, but that’s just the beginning. The Lord Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says that this year, (2018) all new buses will be powered with 100% coffee grounds extract oil. He also stated that their end goal will be to have the city of London zero-emissions by 2050!
Did you know?
London buses get 1.8 billion passengers a year
There are altogether 800 buses in the London bus network
Biobean’s recycling plant can process 50,000 tonnes of coffee grounds a year
The stuff that’s left after the oil has been extracted from coffee grounds can be condensed into little briquettes (only available in England)
Coffee grounds can also be used as a facial or body scrub, as an alternative to plastic micro-beads
Here I am cleaning up with mum and a nice woman called Jess (not pictured - that's a different woman below) who volunteered to help us at Mort Bay park in Balmain, last year. This was a huge job; granted it was a small beach, barely a little strip of sand below the steps, but somehow there was so much rubbish that, even with 3 people, it took most of the evening. Many people commented that it made them feel bad, but only one - Jess - actually helped.
In the end we got five bags of rubbish. Some of the most common finds were foam pellets (deadly to turtles because they look like fish eggs) coffee and milkshake cups, cigarette butts, chocolate wrappers, chuppa-chup sticks and straws. We even discovered a pair of shoes!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word CUFF, it stands for ‘Clean Up For Fun’. It is a concept that my mum and I came up with while doing a beach cleanup. What it means is that although saving the environment may sound boring, it actually gives you great satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment. All you need is a pair of gloves, a grabber, a bucket or a rubbish bag and a pair of gumboots, and you're ready to take part in a CUFF action!
We have all noticed the dramatic increase in unnecessary packaging on supermarket products, especially fruit and vegetables. Wrapping on supermarket items is convenient. It keeps the food clean and fresh and t’s an easy way to preserve food on the shelf. But it seems supermarkets are taking this too far when they put apples in plastic cylinders and shrink-wrap cucumbers and we often find ourselves obliged to buy more than we need.
I once heard someone say, ‘plastic is amazing, because it’s durable, and plastic is terrible, because it’s durable,’ and that just about sums it up!
Many major supermarkets such as Coles, Woolworths and Harris Farm have agreed to reduce the number of plastic bags they use at the counter, and instead replace them with paper bags and cloth bags. Harris Farm is offering a non-packaged option for almost all fruit and vegetables, and has banned the bag already! Woolworths has bread without plastic wrapping. Aldi has no bags at all!
What you can do:
Buy in bulk to avoid packaging
Buy loose fruit and vegetables.
Bring cloth bags for smaller items like beans and mushrooms
If bread is packaged, buy it at a bakery instead and bring a cloth to wrap it in
Bring your own bag
Think before you buy in packaging
If you have a choice, choose the eco-friendly option
What does “Buying in Bulk” mean?
Def: Buying your food from a shop that sells food without packaging; everything is loose. They also have liquids in tanks where you bring your own bottle. Paper and cloth bags and bottles are provided or you can bring your own. It also means you can choose how much you want to buy, instead of having to buy too much, because of packaging. Some bulk shops are:
Whole Foods market
The Top Ten Most Endangered Animals on the Planet
No.1 The Vaquita
The Vaquita is a marine animal, a porpoise from the Gulf of California. It is the world’s smallest porpoise and there are only 30 left in the wild! They have round beaks and they are pale grey or blue.
No.2 Amur Leopard
Panthera pardus orientalis
Leopards are one of the big cats, related closely to panthers, cheetahs, tigers and lions. They have thick yellowy brown fur with black spots. The subspecies, the Amur Leopard, can be found in parts of Russia and China.
No.3 Javan Rhinoceros
The Javan Rhinoceros is found in Indonesia, now only in Urunga Kulong National Park. They are also known as the ‘Sunda Rhinoceros’ or ‘Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros’. They were hunted to extinction in Vietnam.
No.4 Northern Sportive Lemur
The Northern Sportive Lemur is one of the smallest of the lemurs. It is native to Madagascar and insanely cute! They have huge orange eyes and soft, fluffy fur.
No.5 Western Lowland Gorilla
Gorilla gorilla gorilla
(No, I’m not joking.)
The western lowland gorilla is a primate like us and lives in Africa. The WWF says, ‘…their populations are being threatened by poaching and disease.’
No.6 The Saola
The Saola is a bit like an antelope, brown with white markings around its face and a pair of long, slender black horns (in this photo it has not reached maturity so its horns aren't very long). It is sometimes called the Asian Bicorn.
No.7 Leatherback Sea Turtle
Leatherback Sea Turtles have a unique, rubbery shell and have an exclusive diet of jellyfish. This may help them in the long run because the warm waters created by Global Warming benefit jellyfish breeding. (But many other factors to do with Global Warming would probably kill them anyway.) They are threatened by plastic pollution and poaching.
Tigers are the largest of the big cats. Like the leopard, they are closely related to cheetahs, panthers, lions and, of course, leopards. They are being hunted for their fur and their bones.
No.9 Chinese Giant Salamander
Chinese giant salamanders are the largest amphibian in the world, sometimes reaching nearly 2 metres in length. They live in China and inhabit underwater caves. Their population is decreasing because they are a delicacy in China.
No.10 North Atlantic Right Whale
These whales are so rare, there are only 400 individuals remaining today. By the year 1750, their numbers had been reduced by commercial whaling so much, there were only 100 left. Luckily, the WWF said that their conservation efforts have been mostly successful.
People making a difference
Lauren Singer, a 26-year-old resident of New York City, has become a Facebook and YouTube star after she went 'zero waste' in 2012! In 6 years, most people would produce 12 tonnes of rubbish, but she only has a tiny jam-jar. Lauren defines ‘zero waste’ as not sending anything to landfill, so she obviously doesn’t count grey water, sewage, compost and recycling. She uses just about every green tip in the book! She even has a website, ‘Trash is for Tossers’, (see link below) where you can learn more about her and find out how you can take some simple steps to reduce the amount of rubbish your family produces. Lauren said, ‘... I decided that I needed not only to claim to love the environment, but to live like I love the environment’. Zero-waste girl is an inspirational figure and sets the perfect, though not always achievable, example.
Link to Lauren’s website:
Making your own toothpaste:
Toothpaste is an essential part of our lives. If we didn’t use it, we would need to go to the dentist far too often! Unfortunately, it comes in unavoidable tubes, which take a long time to break down. As you might have seen in the last issue, some toothpastes even have plastic micro-beads in them. But wait - there’s a solution!
Making your own toothpaste ensures that that no packaging is used and there are no plastic micro-beads in it. Once you have made it, you can put it in a little container and apply some to your compostable bamboo toothbrush! Here is the recipe:
1 cup of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of baking soda
15 drops of peppermint oil