Saturday, March 22, 2008

the drycleaning dilemma

I took some clothes for drycleaning yesterday. I don't do this often (maybe a couple of items a month), but the convenience factor is high - which is to say I don't want to be washing/ironing silk shirts or trying to clean work suits etc. Partly because I am a crap ironer in the first instance (with absolutely no interest in getting better) and I don't know what else to do in the second instance.

I had a bit of an epiphany in the shop to do with really 'seeing' the kilometres of plastic that encased every single item of clothing and the huge number of wire coathangers for which there seems to be no provision for recycling. And then there is the cleaning fluids. A quick google revealed that Perchloroethylene (known as perc) is the most commonly used solvent in dry cleaning. It is hazardous to both health and to the environment. So, obviously the answer is not to do it.

So now I want to know is there an alternative?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

death to the plastic bag

Ok, be warned, this is a bit of a spleen vent.

Plastic bags are everywhere. I try very hard not to end up with them - I use carry bags or stuff things into whatever bag I am carrying at the time. And gee, sometimes I even use my hands and just carry things home in them. But they are still in my life
(plastic bags that is). Even bread comes in plastic bags - it seems like everything comes in bloody plastic.

I don't get it - given the damn stuff doesn't break down for a very long time - and when it does it isn't exactly benign - why is it allowed? Why are approximately six billion plastic bags churned out and used every year in Australia alone?

I heard an interview with Ian Kiernan (Mr Clean Up Australia) on the ABC the other day that made me quite sick - and this is why: "In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii, lies a floating garbage patch twice the size of Britain. It is a place where the water is filled with six times as much plastic as plankton. This plastic-plankton soup is entering the food chain and heading for our dinner plates. Plastic bags are mistaken as food and consumed by a wide range of marine species, especially those that consume jellyfish or squid, which resemble plastic bags when floating in the water column."

So these crappy plastic bags are not only choking marine life, they are breaking down at sea and entering the food chain - with unknown (but gee, let me guess, toxic) results. After all the damned things are a petroleum by-product. And those of us who eat sea food will sooner or later end up with some of those broken down molecules in our food. At the risk of sounding bitter and twisted, it seems no more than we deserve. A not very nice example of what goes round comes round.

Let's say no to plastic and other crappy packaging. We don't need it, it is energy intensive to make and it doesn't go away once we're finished with it. And it does not add to our quality of life. Just say no.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

how time flies

I have just rather belatedly realised I have been at this gig for over 12 months now. And although I ain't perfect, I'm pretty pleased with the progress that's been made. Have bought some stuff, but only a fraction of what I would have normally. Have also got rid of a lot of stuff that is now being used by other people, rather than stagnating at my house. Have used up a lot of stuff that was hanging about in the bathroom and laundry cupboards. I now buy virtually all of my books and CDs second hand - and am even managing to give some books away (believe me, this is a seriously significant step from the last of the great book hoarders). I shop at second hand clothes shops. And perhaps most importantly of all I am actively thinking of what I buy - transport miles, packaging, do I really need it, all that sort of thing.

However, perfection eludes me. I still have a few things to work on. The move to organics has not worked as I would have liked - due mainly to convenience and the obstruction of the object of my affections (he's pretty good, but gets obstinate on some things. Most irritating). I still have too much stuff in my life, and every now and again I do buy something new. But hardly ever. Like most things, a work in progress ...