Friday, August 31, 2007

No more pla-tic bags?

Some of my customers ask: what do I do when I run out of pl--tic bags to line my bins?

I've not run out yet. Here's why: we host visitors and 'open houses' often. People come with their p-astic bags and leave them with us.

Sometimes I collect a whole load of these from the other community groups I work with because these are choking up their storage space.

If we are really stuck, really, really stuck, some old newspaper folded into a 'cone' makes a good bin liner.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Becoming More Like Mother

Because we don't collect pl-st-c carrier bags any more (except for the rare occasion when we get 'caught out') I now find myself keeping bags from loaves of bread, potatoes, etc for re-use. I'm afraid some of the organic staples we buy come in pl-st-c because the supermarkets want to make sure we pay the premium for them

Our meat and fish also come in pl--tic trays. Sometimes these are recyclable, sometimes not.

Whichever way, if they are left in the kitchen bin, the kitchen would start ponging very soon. So we put these out in the bin as soon as possible. But I also do not like the meat/fish juices to run into the bin as that means a long-term pong problem, or water wastage to clean the bins.

So the bread and potato pl--tic bags are kept for such occasions.

And I see pictures of my mum carefully washing out pla-t-c bags and hanging them up to dry.

I'm getting to be more like her every day!!

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Thursday, August 16, 2007


We recently came across a TV documentary in which a British-born Indian actor/comedian went on a long trip to India and Pakistan to find out something of his own roots.

It is quite funny viewing.

I could not understand why he was surprised by the man who was shouting at the foot of the apartment block he was staying at for people to bring their rubbish down to him.

This is the rag-and-b0ne man. In Singapore the 'garang-guni' was also a familiar sight when I was growing up.

Mum saved every bit of newspaper and tin, etc, and whatever she could not use, she would sell to the garang-guni man. He came round with his little hand-held weighing scale and would pronounce how much paper or tin would cost, etc. Sometimes old electrical objects like broken irons, clocks, etc, were also sold for a much higher, specific price.

When life was not so 'cheap' and we paid real prices for real goods, especially when there were no government subsidies keeping prices artificially high for some producers, we always recycled our belongings. That was the common 'end-of-life' policy.

It was only when mass-manufactured goods have become so cheap because there is now plenty of cheap labourers to exploit that the disposable lifestyle has emerged.

So, we must turn back the clock to get ethical and ecological again.

Then this comedian visited the wedding of a UK girl. Most of the guests have flown in from different parts of the UK. The setting was spectacular with hundreds of guests in their finery.

My thoughts were: what a selfish young lady! To make people fly out all that way to attend her wedding. Why not hold the wedding in the UK where most of her guests are from. Imagine the expenditure incurred.

It wouldn't be very expensive, said husband, as there is so much competition amongst airlines flying to India.

That may be true, but still, the carbon emissions are totally unnecessary.

I suppose it is typical of most young women getting married. It is going to be her day. She'd do what she wants -- what she's always wanted to do since age 10 -- and who cares about the incovenience of the guests?

Then I thought: To the groom, all the best for marrying a woman who cannot think above her own little wants.

But let him who is without sin cast the first stone ... not.

We too needed to do some flying for our wedding. It was a cross-cultural, cross-border, cross-time zone event. We had the choice of flying five guests from the UK to Singapore, or 300 the other way around.

The problem was slightly compounded by mum-in-law not being fit to fly. In the end, we had to forfeit the presence of my parents-in-law-to-be at the wedding. I flew home to make the final preparations and husband flew out with his brother (and small family) as the sole representatives from the UK family.

We then had another celebration back in the UK, combined with the 40th wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law, for me to meet the extended family.

With hindsight I could have made the wedding even more eco-friendly -- with the materials used, the types of gifts given, etc. (We did hire two people-carrier taxis instead of a fleet of limousines to ferry the wedding party around.)

But I didn't know then as much about conserving this earth as I do now. I trust that I'd be forgiven.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sorry Cotton Story

I know the story of cotton in and out -- or so I thought -- until I came across this site which gives some really dire information on cotton being grown in Uzbekistan.

Or check out the film here.

If buying cheap cotton clothes does not yet make you cringe, take a look at some of the information here and see what your reaction is.

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