We get into a rut – we visit the same old sites and we rely on our juicy Facebook and Instagram feeds to entertain and inform us. But the thing is – these feeds are just giving us more of the same. How can we ever find out something new unless we branch out?
How to do this? The best way is to talk to people! Seriously. Yep, real human beings. Each one of them is a whole Universe of information – and no matter how good friends you are, they will have info and insights that you don’t have. Guaranteed. So will strangers. It may not sound like fun, but if you really want to broaden your knowledge and understand the world you live in, sometimes you will need to listen to things you don’t agree with. Debate is a vanishing skill that needs to be revived if we are ever all going to get along together.
The other way of finding out new things is to go to a library. Yes they still exist (just about!) When I was researching my 60,000-word books for Reader’s Digest (a quick plug for Earth’s Riches) I deliberately did not limit myself to Internet searches. I got off my bum and went to my local library and then I went to the British Library. I felt rather grown up going to the Reading Rooms and requesting rare volumes, or sitting at the microfiche machine until my eyes bled. But what happens when you do this is that you find things you were not looking for. Your research goes deeper, broader. You don’t know what you don’t know! So I would read through a chapter, say, on the cotton industry and discover more about water resource management (cotton growing uses a LOT of water).
Know all there is to know about plastic waste?
Here is a fact I found out recently – the humble teabag is the source of billions of particles of microplastic. Not all, but most teabags are coated with plastics so that they don’t fall apart when you dunk them. In 2019 Canadian researchers discovered that one teabag steeped in near boiling water released over 11 billion microplastics into the cup!!
I’m pretty sure that eating microplastics is not good for you. The rest will go to landfill and then the environment. I heard this from a friend who reads New Scientist and I was shocked!! Now we only use loose tea in our house. Not such an inconvenience when there are beautiful gadgets available from places like T2 (see pic).
Another grim fact is that most take-out coffee cups use plastic coatings too. Like the coatings on teabags, the lining degrades into microplastics that are virtually impossible to remove from the environment. Under growing consumer pressure, manufacturers are starting to make changes and you can now get take-out paper cups that are lined with polylactic acid. These are compostible and will degrade naturally in the environmen. But shops using these are few and far between – what can you do when you are out in the city and need your coffee buzz? Well, you can angelically bring out your re-usable cup. Perfect! But first make sure that the reusable cup is not made from bamboo. Why? Because the cups are made from powdered bamboo fibres held together by glue containing melamine and formaldehyde. Add boiling water and… yikes! I wouldn’t want to drink from it. It seems that being eco-friendly is complicated!
For those who want to read up on plastic pollution and how to help reduce it, here are some useful links:
The worst household plastics and howto live without them
Will you sign the Friends of the Earth pledge to be plastic free?
How worried should we be about microplastics?
You can also find out about plastics and much more in the fabulous new book from Dorling Kindersley The Ecology Book. You will find a few articles in there by yours truly! :o)
Feel free to contribute your thoughts on plastic waste, finding out new things, the art of debating, getting away from social media ‘feeds’ and… well anything else related 😀
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