Could You Live Without Toilet Paper?

Once again the BBC have an interesting article on a family in New York trying to live without toilet paper, shampoo or other toiletries.

No Impact Man, or Colin Beavan as he’s known, is trying to reduce the amount of toiletries his family uses as part of the latest stage of his involvement in environmentally friendly or sustainable projects around the city.

Compost
Picture via BBC

The first stage of the one-year experiment was to reduce rubbish. The family buys only second-hand goods and takes a hamper to the market. Food is bought every other day from the nearby farmers’ market on Union Square, and put in the hamper without wrapping. The family then stopped using all carbon-producing transport, so they now walk or cycle. They then shut down electricity in the flat – no more dishwasher, fridge or washing machine.

Now they are trying to reduce the amount of water they use, from the 80-100 gallons (303-379 litres) a day used by the average American, down to seven!! The average European uses about 150 litres or water a day, not because they wash less(!) but due to having smaller gardens, small bathrooms, smaller washing machines and so on.

Not everyone wants to go to these extremes, but could you manage it? I’m not sure I could…

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How To Be A Green Student

It’s almost time to go back to school, college or university and it’s a great time to start environmentally practices which will last a life time. There are many things a student can do to be green, just check out our 100 Ways To Save The Planet, but here are some specific ways that you can do to be green:

Dorm Room
There are many little things you can do in your room to be green. Check the lightbulbs are energy saving, switch off computers and unplug chargers. But you can also be environmentally friendly in the bed linen you buy – organic sheets and pillow cases, as well as silk filled duvets can be found at So Organic for the UK and Gaiam in the US. A quick Goggle search will help. They’re not cheap but should last a long time.

Washing and Ironing
Don’t do it. Well okay you’re far removed from the typical image of unwashed, dishevelled student, but you can cut down on washing and ironing. Group together to do a joint wash and use eco-friendly washing powder and fabric condition like from Ecover or Seventh Generation.

Drinking
Water: don’t keep buying those plastic bottles. Get yourself a stainless steel water bottle that will last a lifetime and you can still fill it up with filtered water – why not use the water fountains on campus?
Alcohol: it’s tough to be green while drinking. But there are many organic beers out there, try the micro breweries or in the UK the Sam Smith chain of pubs does a range of organic drinks.

Writing
There’s one thing that studying involves, and that’s a lot of writing. You can now get pencils using wood from sustainable forests, notepads made from juice cartons, pens from plastic cups and car parts, pencil cases and mousemats from tyres (tires). They’re everywhere now, try So Organic again in the UK or Goodkind Pen in the US. Even if you pen isn’t recycled, get one that can be refilled, Staples sells refillable pens and Pilot make a range too.

Books
Buy used. As simple as that. Look on noticeboards for students selling theres if there isn’t a secondhand bookshop around. And if you have to buy new see what sort of paper it’s printed on, if it isn’t recycled or environmentally friendly, ask your course tutor why not?

Air Fresheners
For whatever you need a fresher (or different) smell in your room, steer clear of the spray type air fresheners. Use natural oils, lavenders or light a natural beeswax candle which has a nice smell.

Dress Green
Buy organic cotton clothes or ones made from hemp. If that’s beyond your budget, buy used or vintage clothes – not only is vintage trendy at the moment, it’s better for the environment to re-use.

Look Green
Buy a plant. It will make the room look nicer and is said to lead to fresher air. And you can never have enough of that.

Live Green
Try and been green in everything you do – take a bike or walk to your class. Don’t have a car. Try and change the attitude of others and start a behavioural pattern that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Where To Start – 3 Simple Steps To Going Green

There are three easy steps to making yourself green. These are not the only steps, you can read our 100 Ways To Save The Planet post for that, and not massive steps either, but these are the three ways to start you on the road to becoming a green person – reduce, reuse and recycle.

Step 1: Reduce

Reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ you use is the first and most important step to being green. As Life Goggles’ recycling expert said: “While it’s better to recycle than throw away, it’s best not to use something at all.”

But was does that mean in a practical sense? Simply it means not wasting things and deciding whether you actually need something in the first place.

So where to start? Wastage can be anything from putting too much water in the kettle using more energy and more water than you needed, leaving your phone plugged in when it’s fully charged, or leaving lights on. It’s also about walking to the shops rather than using petrol and damaging the environment in your car or carrying than newspaper and bottle of coke home in your hand rather than using another plastic bag.

These days it’s all about packaging that you end up throwing away. Even if your pears are packaged in biodegradable plastic and a cardboard tray – do you really need them? Just put them loose into your basket, not much harm will come to them. Fruit like bananas especially don’t need a bag to go in – they already have a protective skin on. Do you need the microwave plugged in all the time or can you do without a bath every night and take a shower.

If you don’t use it, then you don’t need to reuse it and then you don’t need to recycle it.

Step 2: Reuse

Obviously you do have to use some things, so reusing them is still better than recycling – that takes a lot of energy and effort. To use an example from above, most people can’t go without taking a shower every day. But that water doesn’t have to go to waste. If you use natural products to clean yourself you can fill up the watering can or the dishbowl while you’re in there. Sound ridiculous? People who have a water meter certainly notice the difference – cheaper bills.

Some people go by the mantra – everything can be used three times. A worn out bed sheet can be converted to pillow cases and then can be used a scrap cloths before they are finally thrown away.

Everyone seems to be banging on about plastic bags and quite rightly. If you can refuse to have one, great, but if you have to have one, use one from the last shop you did or use a organic cotton bag or even using one of the many ‘bags for life’ is better than nothing.

However, reusing is about more than plastic bags. It’s reusing everything and anything – you can even ‘reuse’ food waste by composting it.

But sometimes you won’t even think of reusing certain things – what do you do with old half tins of paint, useless spectacles or old cassette tapes? Even if you can’t reuse something, someone else can. There are ways to reuse a lot of things, especially environmentally unfriendly items that are hard to dispose of. Take a look around Life Goggles for more ideas.

Reusing is the ultimate, pain free recycling.

Step 3: Recycle

When you’ve cut back all you can, reused everything possible and are finally still left with something to go in the bin, it might be able to be recycled. While recycling takes a lot of energy, it’s a lot less than to produce another one of the things you’re about to throw away. An aluminium can for example takes 80% less energy to recycle than to make a brand new one.

The obvious things that can be recycled are glass, aluminium and paper/card – if you do it at home and the office it can make a difference. Plastic can also be recycled, you’ll just need to check which types your council can do.

And even more awkward things can be recycled. For example Tetra-Paks – such as those orange juice cartons that are cardboard with aluminium inside and a plastic lid- can be recycled now, check here for details.

It can take a little effort, but it’s possible to get your rubbish bin to miss you as you throw less and less away. But what’s next?

Step 4: …

Yep, there’s a step 4 and 5 and 6 and so on. Once you’ve got the green bug, there’s no stopping you. You’ll find you start spreading the word to others, ringing up the council, organising collections and getting kids involved. In fact it’s they’re future you’re trying to help, maybe they’ll be getting you involved!

So make a start, have a look around Life Goggles and if you can’t find what you want, ask us, we’re nice people. Honest. You could read our very popular 100 quick and easy ways to save the planet. If you have less time, try our top 10 tips to reduce your carbon footprint.

Organ and Blood Donation Awareness

Of course, it’s a personal choice if you wish to donate your organs, but if you decide to you could be helping some of the 1,700 people in Australia, 50,000 people in Latin America, more that 170,000 people in Europe and the United States, and over 2 million people in China who are in need of an organ transplant. Without one, these people will probably die, and at the very least have a better standard of life.

In the UK it’s easy to become a donor and join some of the people who have enabled 3,000 people to have a new lease of life. Go here if you’re in the US, else try these worldwide links.

Donor card

Giving blood is also a way of providing help to others. Again, in the UK it’s easy, just visit the blood donation website and sign up, and in the US go here.

Give Blood

How To Trace The Origin Of What You Buy

There are a few websites out there that provide ways to trace the origin of the food products you buy. Nature & More is a company that evaluates the quality of organic food to any company that signs up. Each product gets a code that you can then enter on their website to get the full history of the product.

Wheresyoursfrom and MyFreshEgg are sites that provide the traceability of eggs, whilst Lloyd Maunder provides it for their lamb, Borges for their olive oil and Dole for their organic fruit.

[Via: Trendwatching]

Find Yourself An Eco-friendly Dentist

Transcendentist is the USA’s first official eco-friendly dentist.

To achieve becoming the first dentist to receive green business certification from the Bay Area Green Business Program they have an impressive list of eco-friendly measures:

  • The wallpapers are made of reclaimed paper pulp and bark.
  • The floors were refinished with water-based polyurethane, the carpets are made of untreated wool, and the flooring is Marmoleum®, a natural alternative to vinyl which is made of flax, wood flour and rosins.
  • Much of the furniture is made of recycled woods, and is covered in cottons, silks and wool and stuffed with kapok, which comes from a silk-cotton tree.
  • Use only steam-based instrument sterilization, which contains no harmful chemicals.
  • There is a special filtration system to allow environmentally sound disposal of old mercury fillings, to prevent pollution of the water system.
  • All of the paper in the office is recycled, and they use digital patient charting to reduce paper use.
  • They wrap instruments in surgical-grade cloth, not disposable plastic or paper.
  • They use digital imaging (not traditional x-rays), which apparently means 75-90% less radiation for you and no toxic x-ray development chemicals.
  • Instead of paper head rest covers and patient “bibs”, they are made of pure cotton terry cloth, washed on-site in an energy efficient washer and dryer using natural detergents and disinfectants.
  • The office is cleaned only with environmentally safe cleaning methods.

Very nice.

[Via Springwise]

Why Don’t We Queue in the Pub?

The Home Office Guide “Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship” talks about pubs. It says:

“It is sometimes difficult to get served when pubs are busy: people do not queue, but the bar staff will try and serve those who have been waiting longest at the bar first.”

Whilst true, it doesn’t explain why. Why don’t we queue in pubs? We queue pretty much everywhere else, and you would think a place where people have consumed a large amount of alcohol is the ideal place for a bit of order and queuing. You don’t get a scrum at the front of the Post Office or HMV, each shouting at the counter staff in order to get served first. Starbucks would be a nightmare, with the caffeine deprived hoardes fighting out for their grande double mocha-hoca-choca-machino.

There are a couple of pubs that I know of that actually have queue barriers in place, I don’t know why it hasn’t caught on. You can even buy a pub queue management system with buttons on the bar that the bar staff can clear once serve in order, a bit like Argos. Until these do catch on, here’s some advice below.