Author: Brian Brinks

Toxic Chemicals Lurking in Paper Straws (PFOA)

Yes, plastic straws are not good, I mean everyone can understand that single use plastics are just terrible for the planet. Think of this, every straw you have ever used still exists – unless you threw some of them in a fire and melted/burned them. It can take at least 200 years for a straw to “break down”. I put “break down” in quotes because they do not biodegrade. When plastic “breaks down” it just break down into smaller bits of plastic, turning into micro-plastic….ie it will never technically decompose.

The numbers are staggering — We are producing over 380 million tons of plastic every year, and some reports indicate that up to 50% of that is for single-use purposes – utilized for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. And of course a good chunk of the single use plastic humans use ends up in our waterways and oceans (estimated to be 10 million tons – greater than a full garbage truck full every minute of every day!) which reaping havoc.

Right. Plastic straws are bad. There is no doubt.

So with that in mind paper straws seem like the logical choice.

Unfortunately this is not the case.

Why you ask, well it is all due to a terrible forever chemical called PFAS. Learn more on PFAS here. Remember the movie Erin Brockovich with Julia Roberts, she was fighting for residents who were exposed to PFAS in their drinking water. The fight isn’t over, a recent study found that a good chuck of drinking water sources in the USA are contaminated with PFOA/PFOS.

A new study, recently published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants, found evidence of “forever chemical” PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the majority of both paper and bamboo straws tested.

I have stopped using them and you should too.

Try stainless steel straws for use at home – cheap and will last you a lifetime.

Photos of plastic pollution:

Forever Chemicals – PFAS / PFOA

These are bad chemicals and we need to try and avoid them, as much as possible.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of (over 4000) synthetic chemicals that have gained notoriety for their adverse effects on human health and the environment. Here’s why PFAS are so damaging:

  1. Health Risks: PFAS exposure is linked to a range of health problems, including cancer (especially kidney and testicular cancer), liver damage, immune system suppression, thyroid disorders, and developmental issues in children.
  2. Persistence: PFAS do not break down easily in the environment, leading to their accumulation in soil, water, and even in the bodies of living organisms, including humans. This persistence means long-term exposure, making the health risks more significant.
  3. Widespread Contamination: PFAS contamination is widespread, with numerous documented cases of polluted drinking water supplies and environmental contamination near industrial sites and military bases where PFAS were used in firefighting foam and other applications.
  4. Bioaccumulation: PFAS can bioaccumulate in the food chain, leading to higher concentrations in animals that humans consume, further increasing the risk of exposure.
  5. Lack of Regulation: Until recent years, there has been limited regulation of PFAS, allowing their widespread use and contamination without adequate oversight.

How are we being exposed?

  1. Waterproof Apparel: Outdoor clothing, raincoats, and footwear often use PFAS-based coatings to provide water and stain resistance.
  2. Non-Stick Cookware: Teflon-coated pans and bakeware contain PFAS to prevent food from sticking to the surface.
  3. Food Packaging: Microwave popcorn bags, fast-food wrappers, pizza boxes and now paper straws almost always contain PFAS to resist grease and moisture.
  4. Dental Floss: Certain types of dental floss have been found to contain PFAS coatings for smoother gliding.
  5. Cosmetics: Some cosmetics, particularly waterproof makeup, may contain PFAS for long-lasting wear.
  6. Stain-Resistant Fabrics: Carpets, upholstery, and textiles are treated with PFAS to repel stains and spills.
  7. Cleaning Products: Some household cleaning products, such as stain removers and carpet cleaners, may contain PFAS for their stain-resistant properties.
John does a good job explaining things…

A German City Has Banned Single-Serve Coffee Pods and Plastic Water Bottles

Coffee capsules have been taking hard hits in recent times, from a “Kill the K-Cup” video that went viral on Youtube last year to remarks by John Sylvan, one of the founders of Keurig’s K-Cup, expressing remorse at ever having invented the now ubiquitous coffee pod.

Yet the latest news on the coffee front is perhaps the most drastic: In January, the German city of Hamburg announced a ban on the purchase and use of coffee pods in all government-run buildings and institutions across the city.

“Capsule-coffee is expensive and the pods don’t have a good ecological balance sheet,” said Jan Dube, media spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment and Energy. “They have lots of packaging compared to the small amount of coffee and we just decided we don’t want to buy those products anymore with public money.”

According to Dube, total consumption in 2014 in Germany was roughly three billion coffee capsules, which is estimated to equate to about 64 million pods consumed by Hamburg’s 1.75 million inhabitants. The number is concerning, said Dube, because the capsules’ composition of plastic and aluminum is so hard to recycle. There is also a lot of packaging for just a little bit of coffee. Dube estimates that there are roughly three grams of packaging for every six grams of coffee.

For full article by Marie Doezema on VICE please click here.

The mercury doesn’t lie: We’ve hit a troubling climate change milestone

Record Low Sea Ice Cover

Record Low Sea Ice Cover

Thursday, while the nation debated the relative size of Republican genitalia, something truly awful happened. Across the northern hemisphere, the temperature, if only for a few hours, apparently crossed a line: it was more than two degrees Celsius above “normal” for the first time in recorded history and likely for the first time in the course of human civilization.

That’s important because the governments of the world have set two degrees Celsius as the must-not-cross red line that, theoretically, we’re doing all we can to avoid. And it’s important because most of the hemisphere has not really had a winter. They’ve been trucking snow into Anchorage for the start of the Iditarod; Arctic sea ice is at record low levels for the date; in New England doctors are already talking about the start of “allergy season.”

This bizarre glimpse of the future is only temporary. It will be years, one hopes, before we’re past the two degrees mark on a regular basis. But the future is clearly coming much faster than science had expected. February, taken as a whole, crushed all the old monthly temperature records, which had been set in … January. January crushed all the old monthly temperature records, which had been set in … December.

Read the full article by Bill McKibben on the website.

WOW, best alternative to plugin night light – SnapRays Guide Light is a unique plug-n-play LED (Video)

Snaprays Guide Light

Not a lot to here, just a few key points and a video. This is a no brainer really: They look like a regular outlet cover, but have double as an elegant night light. They install in seconds (watch the video below) They use literally pennies of electricity No wiring needed, they automatically ‘clip’ into power […]

The Tar Sands Bubble

Open Pit Strip Mining of Oil in Alberta Tar Sands

by Brian Palmer, originally published by Onearth  | OCT 7, 2014 The Canadian tar sands industry has seen better days. Energy giant Statoil announced last week that it would postpone a major mining project in Alberta for at least three years. It was just the latest in a string of major setbacks for tar sands […]

The Next Generation Asks: Why Not Act on Climate Change? (Video)

Young People Demanding Action

Young people worldwide are demanding answers on climate change. Watch their auditions and add your voice. Thousands heard the call from all over the planet and while it wasn’t easy, we’ve been able to select eight inspiring young people to attend the United Nations Climate Summit in New York on September 23 and ask “Why […]

What is the single best thing we can do for our health? (Video)

What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

Well, the answer really is very (very) simple and easy to do. A Doctor-Professor answers the old question “What is the single best thing we can do for our health” in a completely new way. Dr. Mike Evans is founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor […]