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Plastic everywhere: Plastic pollution is a global crisis. - Photo Credit: Chris Jordan / US Fish and Wildlife Service

Plastic everywhere: Plastic pollution is a global crisis. – Photo Credit: Chris Jordan / US Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Today is Earth Day.

The outlook is bleak. Our planet is dying and it’s our fault. Weltschmerz seeps in easily.

One of the major problems we all contribute to is plastic.

Yet, it is so easy to avoid using plastic bags.

The Earth Day movement has launched a Plastic Pollution Calculator: www.earthday.org/plastic-calculator.

Use this calculator to learn how much plastic you waste.

In addition you can pledge to reduce your plastic consumption.

Plastic pollution is a global crisis. Be the change. Stop using plastic!

 

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Oopsie, another bag full with used tea bags...

Oopsie, another bag full with used tea bags…

I drink at least 2 litres of tea a day. I use 3 teabags to brew 1 litre. That’s a minimum of 6 teabags per day.

So that 200 teabag bulk offer is probably what I go through per month.

Accordingly I have a lot of used teabags to do… well, what with? Read on for some useful tips.

 

What to do with used tea bags

 

Used tea bags belong in the garden.

A used tea bag is still full of nutrition. It is nitrogen rich and can be used like a fertiliser. Tear open the bag and sprinkle the tea into your pot plants or around your garden.

Line plant pots with old teabags, especially around the drainage holes, before filling them with soil. The tea bags retain water and nutrition.

Tea is a must-have for your compost, as it counter balances all the carbon-rich materials.

The caffeine in the tea is just as much a stimulant for your garden inhabitants as for you and has a great effect on earthworms: They will work and breed faster.

 

Used tea bags make great sponges.

Apparently adding used tea bags to your dishwashing water helps to break down grease and food stains.

You can use the tea bag itself to preclean dirty pans and trays. Be careful not to break the tea bag, as it works wonderfully to wipe up that grease, and simply throw it in the bin, instead of having to rinse your kitchen sponge with a lot of water. In addition, the tannins in the leaves will prevent the oxidising process, preventing rust.

Similarly, freshly brewed hot tea bags can be used to preclean windows. The tea’s tannic acid will leave the glass sparkling clean.

Scrub your dark leather shoes with a damp used teabag. Tanning leather involves tannin, the tea can add a new shine.

 

Used tea bags capture bad odour.

Place dried old teabags in the bottom of your kitchen bin to absorb liquids and odours.

Wash away odours from your hands: Rinse your hands with water and a brewed tea bag to remove odours of onions, garlic, fish and other foods.

If you’re a smoker or have an ashtray out for guests, put a wet tea bag or the leaves from a wet tea bag into the ashtray. When you or your guests ash in the tray, the wet leaves will hold the ash and absorb some of the smell from the smoke.

The antibacterial contents of tea bags will help neutralize the odour in your litter box as well. Just sprinkle the dried out contents of a brewed tea bag into the kitty / rattie litter.

 

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Plastic Bags: The Ocean's Deadliest Predator.

Plastic Bags: The Ocean’s Deadliest Predator.

 

I cannot remember ever buying a plastic bag.

 

But we started early with the whole environmentally friendly idea in Germany.
I was a teenager when we had the green revolution and I always used proper bags or at least reusable shopping bags.

 

Then I moved to the UK where they still gave away free plastic bags in the supermarkets.
We used them as our bin bags and still accumulated so many that I regularly brought a whole bunch of them back to the supermarket for recycling.

 

Then I moved to South Africa. Here plastic bags are flying around on the streets and get caught in barbwire on every other house where they form a grotesque flag waving our own waste at us.
The cashiers don’t even offer me a plastic bag anymore, they know by now that “we really shouldn’t use them, they’re so bad for the environment.”
Although plastic bags cost something, be it ‘only’ 50 cents, I see people buying them for one item, walk out, take the item out of the bag and throw the bag on the street.

 

It’s so easy to never buy a plastic bag ever again and save a fair share of money:

Simply use a reusable shopping bag. Any bag can do really, practical are a backpack or shoulder bag.

At least reuse the plastic bags you already have. It’s surprising how long they last. Always keep one folded up in your pocket, you never know when you might need it.

 

Even without buying plastic bags ever, I still get them given at so many places that I never run out of bin bags.
Everything is packaged in plastic too, so I never run out of dog poop bags either.
I do a weekly MOOP Swoop and pick up so many clean and intact plastic bags that my dog poop bag pile never gets depleted.

 

It can take 100 years for a plastic bag to break down, but it never disappears: It only disintegrates into toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) and PS oligomer.

 

Please! Don’t buy plastic bags!

 

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Juice bottles: Cut the head off, drill some holes in the base - for some practical flower pots.

Juice bottles: Cut the head off, drill some holes in the base – for some practical flower pots.

 

The shape of these juice bottles is actually ideal for flower pots:

– The diameter of the bottle is about 10cm, a standard size for flower pots.

– The base is raised into a punt and gives the ideal points to drill drainage holes: As they are raised, it ensures there will always be a bit of water in the very bottom.

– The top bit can be used as a greenhouse roof to protect seedlings from weather and mice.

 

How to make flower pots from soft drink bottles:

With a pair of nail scissors, cut the top bit off.

You’ll have to cut round, that’s why it’s easier with nail scissors. Follow a line on the bottle, it’s hard not to cut skew.

Depending on the length of roots the plants will grow you can keep the bottom bit quite tall or cut it down to a standard size.
Because the plastic is see-through, you can leave a wide rim above the ground level which keeps in all the mess.

Drill drain holes in the base of the bottle.

Hold the drill steady, it’s easy to slip on the plastic. Drill about 5 holes around the centre point of the base.

Depending on the water consumption of the plant you can drill large holes so the earth will drain well or small holes to capture water.
If the plant likes wet feet, you can drill the holes higher up.

Drill ventilation holes in the top bit of the bottle.

Hold the drill even steadier, this is a slanted surface. Drill about 5 evenly spread holes in the shoulder of the bottle.

You can use the remaining  bottle tops as mini greenhouse roofs. They fit very tight into the flower pot and won’t easily come off.
Depending on the humidity preferences of the plant, you can drill large holes for good ventilation or small holes for capturing moisture and heat.

 

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These are old old cigarette butts we 'excavated' from our garden. They've been lingering beneath metres of soil and building rubble for years and are not even close to decomposing.

Old old cigarette butts we ‘excavated’ from our garden. They’ve been lingering beneath layers of soil and building rubble for decades and are not even close to decomposing.

 

Tossing cigarette butts is a crime

Did you know that you get fined for dumping cigarette butts?

Save yourself some bucks (up to 1.500 Rand in South Africa) and dispose of your stompies properly.

 

In addition, cigarette butts pose health and environmental risks

Cigarette butts are a potential fire hazard.

A devastating fire in 2007, allegedly caused by a cigarette butt thrown out of a car window by a tourist, which burnt tracts of Table Mountain and killed a British tourist, was the reason the City of Cape Town launched the stompie hotlineCape Town is the only city in South Africa with such a hotline.

Most cigarette butts are not biodegradable.

The picture above shows old cigarette butts ‘excavated’ from our garden. This is as far as it goes for stompies: They never really disappear. The fibres in the cigarette butt are not cotton or paper, they are most likely plastic that can persist in the environment as long as other forms of plastic.

– Cigarette butts are the most common man-made litter in the world.

Approximately 5.6 trillion cigarettes are smoked every year worldwide. Of those it is estimated that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts become litter every year. Cigarette butts discarded in parking lots, along sidewalks and in street gutters miles from the coast inevitably make their way through storm drains, creeks and rivers to the beach and the ocean and account for the single most commonly collected waste item found each year on beach clean-ups.

 

Please: #NoStompies!

Help combat the cigarette butt pollution problem and throw your stompies into the bin.

Report drivers who flick stompies out of their car window:
Call the stompie hotline control centre number on 021 424 7715.
Upload the incident on reportacrime.co.za.

 

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