Delhi bans disposable plastics

plastic bottles in India

India's capital city has taken a strong stand against plastic pollution, but now it needs to convince its residents.

India’s capital city, Delhi, has taken a courageous step toward fighting plastic pollution. In December 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) voted to pass a law banning the use of all disposable plastics throughout the national capital region. This came into effect on January 1, 2017.

The decision applies to all disposable plastics, including produce bags, chai cups, and cutlery. While the change is meant to reduce the staggering amount of plastic pollution generated by India, not everyone is supportive of the change. Many fruit and vegetable vendors are concerned they will lose business, as customers will go elsewhere if they cannot get a bag in which to carry their purchases. Other wish there had been more time to get used to the idea of such a ban.

In the eyes of environmentalists, however, there is no time left to waste. India and four other Asian nations are the top plastic polluters in the world. They are responsible for an estimated 60 percent of the 8.8 million tons of plastic that are added to the world’s oceans each year. If current rates continue, Asia will be dumping 80 percent of the world’s plastic at a rate of 200 million tons a year by 2025. That’s not very far off, which means action is needed now.

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IKEA Live Lagom

See how Live LAGOM is changing people's lives

Live LAGOM

Lagom: It’s a simple Swedish phil­­­osophy on everyday life that means ‘just the right amount’. An idea that we can strike a healthy balance with the world around us without having to make extreme changes, and without denying ourselves anything. With LAGOM in mind, we think you can live a more sustainable, healthy and cost-conscious life at home, without any dramatic upheaval. To learn how to make sustainability affordable and easy to achieve we created our Live LAGOM project, an active community to help save energy and water, reduce waste and promote a healthy lifestyle.

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Why Your Urine is Too Good to Waste

Almost all of the nitrogen and phosphorous we ingest comes out of our bodies—what if we could return it to the soil?

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Follow Kim Nace into her bathroom. Yes, it’s okay; many people visit here, headquarters of the country’s first community urine recycling program. Let her show you the odorless, waterless toilet: a wooden box inset with a conventional toilet seat and lid. Under the lid, a large, clean hole in the back lets solid waste drop to a container in the basement. In the front, a wide, plastic funnel channels urine to an underground tank.

What if we could keep urine out of wastewater and use it?

It’s the urine that captivates Nace, executive director of the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. For the past five years her organization has grown a movement of scientists, farmers, and volunteers seeking to answer the question: how can we intercept the nitrogen and phosphorous polluting our waterways, reroute it to farmers’ fields, and in the process, reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers?

The crux of their solution, it turns out, lies within each of us—and the choices we make in the bathroom.

What comes out of our bodies contains almost all of the nitrogen and phosphorous we ingest. Abe Noe-Hays, research director at the Rich Earth Institute, explains it this way: “When plants grow and produce food, that food is full of nitrogen and phosphorous. When we eat it, we rearrange the molecules, but the elements don’t go away; they come out dissolved in our urine. If we can return those elements to the soil, it really is giving back the very thing we took in the first place.”

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New Plastics Economy: Businesses support action plan to recycle 70% of global plastic packaging

A cross-sector coalition of multinational businesses have today (16 January) thrown their weight behind the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's new global action plan to recycle and re-use 70% of the world's plastic packaging.

The report estimates that $80-120bn of plastic packaging material value is lost to the economy due to a linear, take-make-dispose value chain

The New Plastics Economy initiative, which has released its latest report at this week’s World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, provides a roadmap of priority actions for businesses to move towards a circular global plastics system in 2017.

Supported by more than 40 major industry actors such as Unilever, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and the Coca-Cola Company, the report highlights that re-use provides an attractive economic opportunity for 20% of global plastics packaging, while a further 50% could be profitably recycled through concerted efforts on design and after-use.

The remaining 30% of plastic packaging must shift towards fundamental redesign and innovation, or face the reality of never being reused or recycled, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says.

Dame Ellen MacArthur said: "The New Plastics Economy initiative has attracted widespread support, and across the industry we are seeing strong initial momentum and alignment on the direction to take. The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action provides a clear plan for redesigning the global plastics system, paving the way for concerted action."

“We look forward to following the progress of this singular and powerful initiative over the coming years as it stimulates the innovation, redesign and new thinking needed to pave the way towards creating a plastics system that works.”

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Over Two, Under One: Basket Weaving With Reeds

If you like working with your hands, basket weaving can provide you with beautiful objects for your home, to give as gifts, or to sell.

basket weaving fig 04 japanese weave 550p jpg

Everybody loves a basket! And whether you're using that woven container to tote vegetables from the garden, display fruit on your kitchen table, or just stash away an unfinished needlework project, you'll find that your satisfaction in the task is doubled if the basket is one you've made yourself.

Many types of material are suitable for basket weaving, but one of the best is reed. Strong, pliable, and light, reed comes from the core of the long shoots of the rattan palm, which grows in the tropical forests of many South Pacific islands. These shoots reach lengths of 200 to 600 feet as they trail over the floor of the jungle or hook onto other trees and plants. And once the thorny outer bark has been removed, the smooth, glossy underbark is stripped off in specific widths to be used for caning chair seats and such.

Beneath this layer is the actual reed — the core of the vine — which is harvested and machine-processed into round and flat strips of different diameters and widths. The sizes range in diameter from No. 0 at 1/64" (used for making miniatures) to No. 12 at 3/8" (used for sturdy handles). As a rule, the spokes — which are the ribs or framework — of a basket should be two numbers coarser than the weavers... which are the flexible strands that are woven over and under the spokes.

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A picture is worth.... how to avoid the flu

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Refurbishing an axe head

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

What is a hatchet and what is an axe?

hatchet1-1A hatchet is a small axe of up to about 2 pounds in weight while everything above 2 pounds in weight becomes an axe proper.

Hatchet and axe are important tools for the woodsman, coppice worker and greenwood carver and -worker, although the main tool for the coppice worker, more often than not, is the billhook.

Good hatchets and axes often can be very expensive to purchase new and thus refurbishment of good to high quality old ones that at times can be had at flea markets for little money are well worth the time and effort. At the same time while giving you a quality tool at a reasonable cost it also saves valuable resources.

The proper refurbishment of a hatchet or an axe head is not something to be hurried along by use of power tools, however. And it is amazing to see even so-called experts coming out with the most stupid things imaginable. You look at those articles and videos and wonder “what the heck?”.

Do NOT use angle grinder or bench grinder, especially not for regrinding the edge and never burn out the (remains of the) old handle in a fire. Both of it can and will affect the temper of the steel and could ruin the axe or hatchet head.

Time and again, and only recently in the Bushcraft magazine in the UK, when the talk (and advice) comes to refurbishment of axe heads the use of an angle grinder (and in some cases and incidents the use of a bench grinder) is talked about. This is as stupid as burning out the remains of a handle in a fire. Both will harm the temper of the steel. And I do not care about whatever supposed credentials the author who writes such an article has. The same goes for sharpening billhooks and also knives. A bench grinder or similar is an absolute no go here.

While it is fine to remove any burring over of the back of the axe head with an angle grinder, a belt grinder, or even a Dremmel tool – and even that very, very carefully – to use a high-speed grinder on the edge is a No-No. Even the slightest overheating will change the temper of the blade and make the edge soft and that is something we definitely do not want to happen. Unless, that is, you know how to and wish to re-temper the blade in the end.

The only way to resharpen the edge is by way of hand tools, that is to say by file and by sharpening stones, aka whetstones, or, if you have access to one, a sandstone wheel in a water bath, like the big old whetstone wheels that used to be found in village smithies and on many farms, that needed a second person to turn the handle. And the same, obviously, also goes for the sharpening the edge on a newly forged tool.

But, as said, again and again we see people, even those claiming to be experts, using dry high-speed bench grinders with their harsh abrasive “dry” wheels and then comments such as that one needs to keep quenching the tool in water to prevent overheating. Hello! You heat that steel to such an extent that it requires quenching you have already done damage. So, don't do it.

Most billbooks, hatchets and axes are, in fact, soft enough in the cutting edge to be sharpened by use of a mill bastard file, a fine cut file, and those that are not will have to be done with “stones”, by hand. The only safe and precise way that will ensure the integrity of the steel is maintained. It is not difficult but may take a little while.

I must say that there are times when I cringe as regards to the advice that is being given by people claiming to be expert on the subject as to how to refurbish an axe, a billhook or a knife and of the sharpening of same. It is worrying in the extreme, at times.

© 2017

Cabin fever: how Scotland is back in love with the joys of ‘hutting’

Bothies once offered a bolthole for urban workers. A legal change has revived them

Dylan Thomas had one. So did Roald Dahl, Arthur Miller and Norman MacCaig. Virginia Woolf wrote her last words in one and Gabriel Oak had one in Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd.

Fishermen and shepherds have long recognised their value and between the wars they were promoted as boltholes, a means for the working classes to escape toxic cities for the good of their health. In Scotland, the hut, whether a mountain bothy or forest retreat, has long been part of both the scenery and the cultural landscape, immortalised in the “but an’ ben” of the Broons cartoon strip – a tiny two-room, one-storey holiday cottage.

But a toughening up of land access rights, a change in attitudes by landowners and tighter planning regulations led to the tradition of the rustic getaway almost disappearing, leaving just sheds for those with gardens, and holiday lets for those who could afford them.

Now a ‘hutting’ revival is predicted after the Scottish government signalled that later this month it will change legislation to exempt huts from building and planning rules, allowing people to put up these most simple of second homes in the countryside wherever they can rent or buy a plot of suitable land.

Read more here.

Neighbors feed neighbors with Little Free Pantries

Little Free Pantry

These ingenious kitchen cupboards are mounted outdoors, and food and toiletries free to the public.

A new type of food pantry is sprouting on American lawns. Called a ‘Little Free Pantry,’ this outdoor cupboard is mounted above the ground, with a see-through, unlocked door that allows people to give and take food items at their leisure. The idea is to have a constantly-accessible, public source of food for anyone who may need it, and to enable generous-minded neighbors to share their bounty in a direct way. The name, of course, is inspired by the Little Free Libraries which operate on the same concept of "give what you can, take what you need," only with books.

The Little Free Pantry, which only came into existence in May 2016, eliminates the need for a ‘middleman’ or additional paperwork, which can be deterrents for some people when visiting public food banks. It’s entirely anonymous and available 24/7, which is attractive to those people who do not want to be seen accepting donated food.

Read more here.

Message in a Bottle: Permaculture & Disruptive Innovation

At this critical time in human civilisation, what are the next steps for permaculture? How can it become widely recognised as a vital tool for regenerative agriculture? Here are five ideas to help us explore this questions.

In 1974, two pioneers, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, gave birth to permaculture during the heyday of industrial agriculture. Permaculture has been quietly developing at its own pace ever since, like a message in a bottle. It is time for humanity to read this message: permaculture can feed our hungry planet in a way that does not poison the land and water, reduce biodiversity or remove topsoil. If this is true, why has it taken so long for permaculture to become widely practiced?

The answer to this question can be found in the patterns of human evolution. By understanding how consciousness evolves, we can trace the development of permaculture and even predict what will come next as we endeavour to design a viable nutritional ecosystem that is beneficial for all life.

Permaculture was born out of crisis in Australia in the 1970s. Environmental degradation had reached crisis levels in Tasmania in the 1950s, and had stopped Mollison dead in his tracks:

It wasn’t until the 1950s that I noticed that large parts of the system were disappearing. First fish stocks became extinct. Then the seaweed around the shorelines went. Large patches of forest began to die.
I hadn’t realised until those things had gone that I’d become very fond of them; that I was in love with my country.

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