Posts Tagged ‘rubbish’

Monday Moaning

This is a moan, but it’s more of awareness. An awareness that we landlubbers rarely see.

Here’s a glimpse.

Next time you buy a bottle of water, remember the baby albatross

Like finding rubbish on Everest, when I crossed the Atlantic I was dismayed to see so much plastic – and that kills seabirds

‘The particles of plastic, many of them ­minute, enter the food chain and do terrible damage to all forms of life.’ Photograph: Lucy Pemoni/AP

The picture of the baby albatross that starved to death after being fed nutritionally useless bits of plastic by its parents shows just what happens when we treat the world’s oceans as a handy system of waste disposal. A few years ago, I got a do-this-before-you-die chance to sail across the Atlantic, among the best things I’ve ever done.

One startling discovery was that the sea is actually a kind of desert. For most of the trip, we rarely saw a bird, we caught no fish, and the only living things apart from us were the Portuguese man-of-wars, evil-looking jelly fish that drifted by in ominous numbers on calm days. But, like discovering rubbish on Everest, there was always plastic. Big bits – weather buoys that had come adrift, fuel containers and suchlike – and small bits, and even smaller bits. There are 269,000 tonnes of these fragments, according to the newest estimate. They come mainly from single-use plastic containers like water bottles, but even so-called biodegradable plastic only degrades quickly in commercial composting systems.

The particles, many of them minute, enter the food chain and do terrible damage to all forms of life. And because they are not only on the surface but also suspended deep beneath, trying to remove them risks doing more environmental harm. So next time you buy bottled water, remember the baby albatross.

Source: TheGuardian

Change the World Wednesday – 26th Mar

Not cheap


I threw out some food and some wine.

What’s worse, it was my cooking and the wine wasn’t cheap.

Yesterday, I decided to use the last of the sole (halibut) fillets in my freezer. I have never heard of, but couldn’t see why not use fish in a lasagna. Problem was, I had no lasagna; shopping day today. But I did have some macaroni, so a base of white parsley sauce, peppered sole fillets and more white sauce macaroni on top.

I opened the wine, it looked more like iced-tea, and was definitely musky.

Musk = glandular secretions from animals such as the musk deer, not that I am in the habit of sniffing around musk deer butts. I am using my powers of imagination here.

It wasn’t pleasant on the palate at all.

The ‘lasagna’ I ate one plate for lunch, I wouldn’t make it again. The problem was that I made enough for three meals, and had only eaten one.

It had to go. The guilt trip lasted the rest of the afternoon.

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On with CTWW. I didn’t realise, this Saturday is that lights out thingy.

Yes, Earth Hour 60+.

I consider this to be symbolic rather than effective.

Earth Hour – March 29, 2014 at 8:30 pm (local time)

I have never been convinced that even if the whole world participated, the use of alternative light forms, candles, torches, etc does not offset the switching off of lights.

But it doesn’t hurt to have symbols to raise awareness.

This week, in honor of Earth Hour and to raise awareness, please take photos of what you, personally, are trying to protect. Perhaps it’s a beautiful spot in nature that you particularly love. Maybe you are protecting the clean water which comes out of your faucet. It could be a photo of a river, a favorite tree, an animal, or the sky. The idea is to share, visually, your reasons for living green. You can post the photo on your blog or, if you wish, send them to me (HERE) and I’ll include them in next week’s post (put “CTWW” in the subject line so that I’ll be sure to see the email).


OR …

If you’d rather not do the photos, please observe Earth Hour by turning off your lights for one hour beginning at 8:30 pm (your local time) on Saturday, March 29, 2014.

My photo is of the local praça (park) in front of my house. It’s not particularly obvious, but under the bushes there is a lot of rubbish.
Rubbish under the bushes that surround the praça

Rubbish under the bushes that surround the praça

Plastic water and soda bottles, beer cans, disposable cups, and those nasty things shopping bags. I am constantly picking up what I can, and trying to raise awareness of the locals on the issue.

Our green spaces need protecting, whether they are urban or rural it matters not.

I try my best to live a greenish lifestyle, I’m not always successful (as above with my ‘disaster’) and suffer a measure of angst when I do something that goes against the grain. It raises my hackles when I see people not even trying.

As for the lights out… I probably will  because at that time I will be watching the news, I can do that in the dark.

Satireday on Eco-Crap

This one’s from Brazil, a capivara’s point of view


…and after they create such a scandal when they step in our poo!

Satireday on Eco-Crap


Change the World Wednesday – 19th Jun

Guilt, angst, anguish this week. I had to break one of my rules; I threw three lots of food out.

Syrian bread makes great sandwiches, tacos and rollups

Syrian bread makes great sandwiches, tacos and rollups

I rarely do this, I try to use everything, although sometimes I throw one thing away, but three things in one week made me think seriously.

A strange smell, not nice, in the fridge and I discovered a big pork chop hidden by a bowl, it was well past being used. A pack of pre-made pancakes that I had bought on the advice of an assistant in the supermarket who recommended them instead of the Syrian bread that I wanted, they were nothing like bread, in fact they were ghastly. A half sachet of pizza paste, it had been unused for two weeks, and while it didn’t smell bad, and hadn’t started growing lurghies or a miniature rainforest, I didn’t trust it.

I am going to throw out another item this week. I am beefless this week, and yesterday I bought some chicken hamburger patties instead of my regular beef ones.


I had some last night. There is nothing good I can say about them. I made two double hamburgers, it was like eating tasteless cardboard; in fact cardboard would have been tastier. There is no fat in chicken patties, so they don’t cook like beef patties. I gave a raw one to Lixo, and even he wouldn’t eat it (he will eat the beef ones). So it is not only my opinion.

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On with this week’s CTWW.

This week go for a walk and pick up litter.


OR …

If your area is litter-free, join a group to help clean up a river or public space.

This is something I used to do regularly. Along with my Sunday morning coffee I would pick up all the rubbish in the part of the praça (park) in front of my house. I was a 20 minute exercise. But the bending down became too much for me and I haven’t done it for more than a year.

O peste, the pest from nextdorr

O peste, the pest from nextdoor

On Saturday, rubbish day, I did a clean up. People put their rubbish out during the day for collection at night.

My neighbour’s fox terrier has this habit of getting a bag (plastic supermarket bags) and taking it into the middle of the park to tear apart. On Saturday, it wasn’t one or two bags, it was four. He had made a terrible mess in the kids’ play area.

I cleaned it up. It was taxing, but I loved the result. I felt good.

I have now spoken to my neighbour about his dog’s habit, and he promises to keep better control… we’ll see.

Change the World Wednesday – 15th May

NZ even has a stamp to commemorate early in the morning

NZ even has a stamp to commemorate early in the morning, I’m sure that’s a photoshop job

I am normally up at ‘sparrow’s fart’, but this morning they haven’t even started yet.

I’m up early because I was listed MIA last week when I hadn’t posted by midday.







This week is a beef-week, but I am doing penance… I was invited to a BBQ on Saturday (beefless week) and I succumbed to temptation… Sometimes it is good to sin.

On Monday, I bought another shark, so Tuesday – Friday, I will pay for my sinning.

I know, I am a terrible person.

Another update.


My goiaba tree growing where it shouldn’t

When I first moved in here and made my little gardens along the fence, a stray goiaba (guava) seed sprouted. I love to watch things grow, so I didn’t yank it out even though it was growing in the wrong place. I let it grow.

It is now quite a healthy brute, and I suspect it will fruit for the first time this season. I am watching for flower buds to form.

Goiaba is a wonderful fruit, it can be eaten, skin and all, straight from the tree, or put in the blender to make a great natural juice that needs no sugar. You must use the filter in the blender because the rock-hard seeds get shattered and make the drink gritty. When you eat the fruit whole, you just swallow the seeds… you’ll only bite them once; it feels like you’ve broken your teeth.


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This week’s CTWW.

It’s a toughy!

Level 1 (The Green Grasshopper) – Eliminate plastic bags. Refuse them at the store and opt for reusable bags instead.


OR …
Level 2 (The Green Warrior) – Refuse plastic bags at the market, find alternates for lining trash bins and refuse any food packaged in plastic.


OR …
Level 3 (The Green Ninja, Amazing Eco-Superstar and Environmental Hero) – Refuse to bring ANY plastic into your home … no bags, no packaging, no plastic personal care items, no plastic furnishings, tools, etc. The exception will be items purchased for health (e.g. medicines).

I’m more like The Green Worm, some levels below a grasshopper. Plastic bags in the supermarket are unavoidable here in most of Brazil. São Paulo, biggest city, has made moves to ban them, it hasn’t reached Rio de Janeiro yet.

When I am doing a small shop, I take my reusable bag, which also gets used at the local shops. But a big shop, if the supermarket is busy they get annoyed when I asked for a carton/s, so I have to accept plastic bags.

The bags here are of dubious quality, sometimes they are strong, sometimes they bust open under load. This requires the bags being doubled up for security. I am constantly berating the baggers for doubling up unnecessarily, like two loaves of bread in a double bag, the bag is not likely to fail under that load; or using bags when other bags aren’t full, or worse, putting one item in a bag. I hate that.


Trash ready for collection

I do use the bags for my trash, our trash collection system doesn’t have an alternative. If I have an alternative, or a carton, I use it. But if you do have a trashcan, they chuck that in the truck too, nothing is sacred.

Our trash is left on the street. In my block, we have a collection point at either corner. We used to have two wheeliebins, but through rough handling by the collectors, two became one, which became none. This is pretty much standard practice throughout the country. So the plastic bags do get reused, but ultimately end up in the landfill, which is the problem.

The other recycle use, is I give them to Raimundo at the botequim (neighbourhood bar) for people to takeaway bottle purchases.

So at least my bags get double use. Which I know is not ideal, but as Brazil is third world, we don’t have the facilities of the first and true ‘greenery’ is made difficult.

Last week I bought a hammer. I was offered one encased in plastic, I refused it and asked for the one hanging on the display without plastic. They appeared to be the same quality tool, the one in the plastic was double the price of the other. Pay for annoying unwanted plastic… é ruim (like hell).

My new shelves

In a rare fit of madness this week, I bought a new set of shelves for the living room.

I don’t usually buy new furniture, I do with secondhand or makeshift stuff. But I took a fancy to this one and have a corner of just the right dimensions to accommodate it. I love the rusticky finish to it.

It will arrive on Friday as a package, almost guaranteed to be wrapped in plastic with each piece separated by bits of polystyrene.

The assemblers will come on Saturday to put it together.

In Brazil you can’t buy ready-assembled furniture, it all comes in kit-set form and assembled at home, so you have no choice. If the furniture is not wrapped in plastic and polystyrene, the chances are high (given the lack of work ethics of the average Brazilian labourer), that your goods will arrive damaged.

So, I can’t claim Grasshopper, Warrior or Ninja status, I am destined to remain a lowly ‘worm’.

Change the World Wednesday – 15th Aug

I got dobbed twice last week for the same award. Cool, I am now a double Sunshine Award winner, that’s even better than an Olympic Gold. That’s something that I’ll never win, not unless they introduce leap-frogging supreme with walking sticks as an event.

Water was the theme last week. I didn’t have that much to say, as I am already pretty careful with my water.

The weather has become sunny, but not hot, so still having every-second -day showers. The neighbours haven’t complained yet and my students haven’t noticed, so there seems to be no harm done.

This week’s CTWW challenge is an important one because it’s about education. Educating the kids to do their bit.

This week, if you have kids, think of something which involves your children, which also creates waste or is environmentally unfriendly, and commit to changing it. For example, consider how your baby is diapered and whether or not there is a more Eco-friendly method. What types of materials does your youngster use when creating those artistic masterpieces? Does your teenager drive or walk to school … and what about school supplies? This week is all about greening our kids.


Or …

If you don’t have children, your challenge is to be an observer and then offer recommendations. Take a look at the families around you and talk about what you see working … and what doesn’t. Offer recommendations and helpful tips to assist parents in greening their children.

I have stewed over this challenge all day. You’d think it would be easy after raising 12; you’d think I had all the answers, but it doesn’t work like that.

Instead of offering advice, I am going to show you a situation near my home as an observer in the second part of the challenge.

Just behind where I live is the Rio Cabuçu. It’s close, about a three minute walk. It doesn’t look like a river; no rivers in Rio do, they’re concrete canals. Not at all like the city rivers where I grew up.

I am used to beautiful rivers, clean rivers, rivers with grassy bank, rivers where you can play, fish and scoop out a handful of water and drink it.

The Avon River, Christchurch

But, let me go back to the Rio Cabuçu in contrast.

Rio Cabuçu

You can neither play in, fish from, nor drink this ‘water.’ This photo was taken about a year ago; the river is currently wall to wall at the bend where the water flow is impeded by the rubbish.

The people from the small slum area (r) beside the river and those from the suburb to the left just throw their rubbish into the canal. The kids do the same; the kids are told to do the same. They have the same trice-weekly rubbish collections that we have, but they have no conscience. They are passing this lack of conscience on to their kids.

If you challenge them, they get indignant. The river floods with every rain storm and becomes a raging torrent that fills the canal washing all before it. And the cycle starts again. Household rubbish, tree trimmings, old furniture, dead animals, they even throw concrete rubble and bricks from building projects into the canal.

These families are poorly educated. The parents don’t know how to teach their children, and so the children don’t have any respect for their surroundings.

This is not just a case of advising the parents, it is a case that the whole community needs to be taken to task by officialdom and educated. Anyone like myself would be just considered a busybody.

I walk across this river daily and lament at the artlessness, hold my breath on hot days to avoid the stench, and wonder how can people do this to their own backyard.

This is why it’s so important to educate the kids.


Change the World Wednesday – 18th July

Tornadoes in Poland

The US is having scorcher weather, England, Russia, Japan and China devastating floods, Poland had tornadoes and in Brazil we’re shivering our butts off.

Now tell the climate doubters that there aren’t climatic changes afoot…

We’re in the poo!

Brazil, even in winter, we wear shorts and a T-shirt at this time of the year. I’m sitting here with track pants on and three T-shirts. I have never seen a car heater going in Brazil before; this morning the van home had one going full blast.

Change the World Wednesday this week is a week long affair with rubbish. So, no results until next week.

This week:

This week do a ‘waste audit’ or ask a super green person you know to do one and help you see where you can do better in creating less waste. For guidelines on how to do an audit, read How to Reduce Your Household Waste.

Or … Since we all produce waste and can always do better, we don’t have a second level this week.

Until the results are due, I bid you adieu…

LOL, how poetic 🙂

Change the World Wednesday – 18th April

Time Flies - I found this on a photoshop contest, I've probably broken every copyright rule in the book, but you see more hre.

Wow, the week has gone fast… again.

I find that as I get older times flies. It does, much faster than it used to. It seems only a short time ago that I used to comment on how fast the years went. Now I’m measuring the lightning speed of each week.

This week is weird. Monday, was normal, until the moment I put my foot out the door. Tue – Fri I have split days; yes, almost a week where I go to work twice in the same day. That’s incredibly tedious. I have already been to work, 7am start, and I have been back home for three hours. It has taken me that long to get back into my routine. If you do happen to flip back and read the Monday post, you’ll find that I have a very clever cat.

I have fish thawing for lunch. I am going to try a new idea. I have some Alaskan pollack, that I am going to poach in homemade tomato sauce with capers.

My big surprise last week. I won a prize.

Prizes just don’t normally enter my life. I have won very few and then of little value or consequence, so I was rather chuffed to win a copy of Born to Blood during the promotion week on Reduce Footprints guest post by SB Knight. Rather made my day.

I began reading it on reception. As I don’t have an eReader or a Kindle, Brian was kind enough to organise and send me a .pdf copy.

It’s the first novel that I have attempted to read via ‘the screen’ and it’s rather hard going. As an avid reader in the past, I do enjoy that ‘papery’ feel.

However, the book is worth the extra effort to concentrate. I’m a little more than half the way through, and getting to the interesting bit. I’ll keep you posted.

On with this week’s CTWW challenge:

This week take a walk and pick up trash. Then, come back here and tell us what you found (photos of what you collected would be great)!

Hmmm, great. This is something that I do as a matter of course. Especially around our local little praça (park). I hate seeing trash littering up the kids playground and the pathways. I used to make the effort on Sunday mornings, but since I have been confined to the walking stick, it’s not so frequent. I still do it occasionally. I pick up the roadside litter in front of my part of the street and wander along until I have filled a plastic shopping bag. No, not from my house, I find one somewhere in the park and use it; thereby recycling as well.

Some of the local kids in front of the praça

My camera is still having an identity crisis. Sometimes it decides it wants to be a camera, and sometimes not. At the moment it’s having an apoplectic fit and the battery cover is held in place by a rubber band. I have to get a new SD card as well, the one I have has decided it wants to be ‘read only’ and won’t let me erase images to make some room. Isn’t technology fun?

So there won’t be any pictures of me, or the rubbish. But I will give you a glimpse of the praça. The kids actually walked off and left the bottle and disposable cups on the ground, but threw them in the rubbish mumbling “velho caduco” (grumpy old man) after I drew their attention to the fact. A grumpy old man I maybe, but the praça is better for it. The photo is the view out my gate. Notice the old paralelopipado (paving stones) that make the roadway. Unfortunately they are being replaced by ashphalt as the road requires mending.

There you have it.

Unmitigated Disaster!

Today is Wednesday.

Carnaval can be distracting

I remembered when I was washing the dishes. I have been disorientated since last Thursday because of carnaval here in Rio. Carnaval does that to some.

I opened Reduce Footprints… A regular Wednesday thing.

Whaaaaaaaaaaa! No CTWW!

*checks calendar*

*runs cursor over pc clock*

Both confirm that it is indeed Wednesday…

*reloads Reduce Footprints* Obviously there is something amiss…

Still no CTWW.

*Stares at screen blankly*

…………. *blinks*

I know, not enough coffee, I’ll go and make some and the world will have returned to normal.

You browse around here, while I make the coffee.

The above images are all taken in the new renovated Sambódromo this year.

Below is the other side of carnaval.

Disaster Area - all that remains after the blocos (street parades)

But the garis are quick on the job to clear hundreds of kilos of rubbish

Carnaval is a colourful time in Rio de Janeiro, but it does generated tons of rubbish. It doesn’t hang around long, the garis (council road sweepers) are quick on the job to return the route back to normal. This year, for the first time, efforts were made by cooperatives of catadores to separate the rubbish into recyclables.

The blocos are the street parades, to give you an idea of their size, Cordão de Bola Preta in Cinelândia and downtown Rio attracted a record crowd of 2,2 million followers. That’s one big party and a hell of a lot of rubbish.

“We’ll return you to the regular CTWW programme soon…”

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