Monday Meditation: Cleaning Up the Neighbourhood

Last week, in my post Monday Meditation: My Walk Around the *Neigh*bourhood, I wrote about my walk up to the horses’ field and shared some happy memories of times past: spending time with them, taking treats and sharing precious moments. I wanted to keep the tone of that post positive, so I didn’t go into detail about the less pleasant aspect of the walk. This week, I shall elaborate on what made me so frustrated and angry.

This is what greeted me when I arrived at the field:

I was aghast at how much rubbish there was, just around the gate. I began to look up and down the grass verge along the busy road, and in the hedges.

So many plastic bottles, drinks cans, crisp packets and wrappers, whisky bottles, takeaway cartons. There was even a carrier bag full of takeaway cartons thrown into the hedge. My thought was: the clue is in the name, it’s called ‘takeaway’, ie you take it away! Some of it could have been blown there after a refuse collection: bits of cardboard, crips packets etc, but it was obvious much of it had either been thrown from passing cars or dropped by people congregating or walking past. (There is a waste bin a few yards away).

As I looked, I wished I had brought a bag with me, but then realised one bag wasn’t going to do it anyway and I couldn’t have picked up all the litter and carried it by myself.

I walked home, slowly, subdued, pondering on why people would have so little regard for their environment, and the amount of damage to wildlife.

39DF2B78-A987-4713-BBEC-A8B5823CDBC5This field and verge is the first thing you see when entering our small country town, and it doesn’t exactly make you want to stop and support local businesses or visit local tourist attractions. Our town has a long history and still has some Tudor buildings, a canal, a lake, lots of Blue Plaques detailing where famous people lived or visited, old pubs and so on.

B22E4613-CE66-44EB-9FF8-0DA7489D089DIt used to be on the route taken by the Royal Court on its way north, and provided fish for royal banquets. Charles Dickens stayed here, it’s rumoured he got his inspiration for Miss Haversham during that visit. Princess (later Queen) Victoria stayed at a local inn which was later renamed in her honour. We still have cobblestones, an annual carnival, Old Tyme Market, a nocturnal bike race.

On my way home, I began to notice all the litter under the hedgerows, and flattened cans and bottles in the gutter at the roadside. There was even a plastic wheel hub on the pavement.

This is a rural area, not an inner city. I couldn’t understand it. I realised as I walked, eyes down, how much litter we walk past every day, we have become innured to it. We live in an area surrounded by several schools, and a lot of the rubbish is from the school kids on their way home. Other things, takeaway cartons, beer cans, for instance, is what is discarded on the way home from a night out at the weekend. Some is discarded by parents parked outside schools waiting for their children, or dropped by the children getting into the cars: hairbands, hairslides, bits of paper, sweet wrappers, cigarette ends.

I told my husband when I got home, hoping but not daring to ask that he would say what he did: I’ll help you.

Next day, in cold but fine weather, we set off with large recycled charity bin-bags (the ones that regularly get pushed through our letterbox and collect in the cupboard of our utility room), disposable gloves and two grab sticks.

This was our haul:

We gathered all this from about a hundred and fifty yard stretch by the field and then another 2 bags on the way home, including the wheel hub that was still lying on the path. It was pretty hair-raising at times with traffic hurtling past as they came off the by-pass onto the residential area.

It took about 2 hours and at one point the first bag split, but some gardeners working on a new housing development nearby let us empty it into their skip. They told us, if we needed to do it again another day, just to go around the corner and use the builders’ skip. They appreciated what we were doing.

Just as we neared home and were pretty tired, a local authority highway maintenance truck driver nodded to me and gave me the thumbs up, which made me smile. I found myself humming Lonnie Donnegan’s ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ as we headed for home! (See video link below*)

It had been an exhausting – and cold! – couple of hours’ work, I hurt all over and wanted a hot shower, but I felt so much better about this day’s walk than the previous one, I was no longer angry.

I felt proud that I had actually been able to do something for the community.  We must have walked and driven past all this litter so many times, I don’t why it had such an effect on me this time, but I’m glad I noticed and that I was able – with my husband’s help – to take some action, and not just send off an irate email to the Refuse Department of the Local Authority!

We became even more determined to ditch as much plastic as we could from our regular shopping. I regularly support campaigns and sign petitions calling for a ban on single-use plastic items: straws, bottles, takeaway cutlery etc. but I realise, that’s not enough.

Sitting at a keyboard is easy, actions are what count.

Related posts:

Let’s Ditch the Plastic

Earth Day: Microbeads – What Are They Good For…?

* A fun video: My Old Man’s A Dustman by Lonnie Donnegan

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Monday Meditation : A Stroll Along Sustrans Bike Trail 55

29401840_UnknownIn my recent post, Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine – Paint a Rock & Give a Smile to Someone Who Needs It! I briefly mentioned our woodland walk along the Sustrans* bike track to the canal, where we found the painted rock that made me smile when I was in a lot of pain. I promised another post with the photos I took along the walk. As I always keep my promises, here it is!

First, though, let me explain to non-cycling enthusiasts and readers from outside the UK that Sustrans is a charity that has spent 40 years promoting cycling and walking, whilst constructing a national network of safe bike and walking trails. Recently, we got our own section which runs along the route of a disused railway line. It is easily accessible from several points and family-friendly. Whenever our families visit, they all toddle off on their bikes together, often the only way to separate the teenagers from their screens.

My husband, a serious bike rider, found it particularly useful after his accidents when he was trying to regain both his fitness and his confidence before rejoining club rides on the roads.

I have never seen it before as I don’t cycle (back injury), but one afternoon when my husband had spent most of the day repairing bikes and I was itching to go somewhere, he suggested we drive to one of the access points and walk a short part of the trail.

It was so quiet and peaceful. The tall trees, many of them silver birch, some oak and elm, shaded us from the sun that came out after we had wrapped ourselves up against the chilly breeze and possible showers forecast!

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We met a few people along the way: couples walking their (small) dogs (always on a lead), a couple of cyclists, but mostly we were on our own.

Here are some of the photos I took on our walk:

 

29401712_UnknownI amused myself spotting the wildflowers I used to tick off in my iSpy books as a child  – do you remember those? Rosebay willowherb, giant willowherb, cow parsley, red campion, elder berries… We don’t see as many now so it was especially surprising to come across a single red clover, I haven’t seen red clover in decades, the white variety seems to have taken over.

 

This though, remains a mystery:

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They reminded me of Muscari or Grape Hyacinth but I can’t identify them. The odd thing is, I’ve never seen them before and then a few days later on a completely separate walk, I saw another solitary group.

Eventually, we came to the towpath along the canal, where my back gave in and I found the smiley rock. The mature trees and all the vegetation alongside the sedately-moving barges made for a tranquil setting, with the sun streaming through the branches and reflecting on the still (if a tad murky) water.

I took a few photos of the boats and then slowly – very slowly! – inched my way to the pub nearby to rest, while my husband went to retrieve the car. Despite my over-enthusiasm leading to several days’ bedrest, I had a wonderful afternoon out, meditating on nature, childhood games and family outings.

 

This is how they used to do it in the olden days:

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And this is my favourite:

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Oh, and the smiley rock? Here’s where I hid it, good luck!

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 *Sustrans

Ps It’s my brother’s birthday today. I can’t imagine him as an aging hippy! It will be my dad’s birthday in a few days. He would have loved this walk, he loved boats too.  I thought of him alongside me, and all the walks we did together and wondered if he was still playing the pied piper leading groups of children in Follow My Leader, with his mischievous smile playing on his face as did a skip or a funny walk.

See: Sweetpeas For Dave

You Were So Much More Than Your Job: A Tribute to My Dad For Father’s Day

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Trump is Not a Tragedy: Sign Your Own Paris Accord

This is such a positive response to the news that Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, seen here as an opportunity to take personal responsibility for your carbon footprint and its effect on the environment. What can you do to help your planet? What goals can you set so that our children and grandchildren will have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, clean food to eat and a vibrant environment in which to live?

We don’t use the car much, I think when we changed cars recently, there were only 6000 miles on the clock after 3 years. My husband cycles a lot and we are fortunate to have everything we need literally around the corner, including dentist, doctor and optician. The only flight was when my hb went to his niece’s wedding a couple of summers ago. Plastic is a big deal in our house. We used to use miles of cling film and tons of bottled water (years ago now), but no more. We recycle everything we can in whatever way we can. He is vegetarian and I vegan. We use energy-saving lightbulbs, switch off lights and appliances at the plug when not in use, cook one-pot meals and use triple layer steamers for vegetables. We grow some of our own fruit and veg. There is always room for improvement, but we do what we can manage and taking small baby-steps is better than none at all.

The Great Unwashed

The United States has backed out of the Paris Accord. Not surprising given their president’s world views. Rather than calling this event an environmental tragedy, take the situation for what it is- an opportunity. This is a chance to open up a discussion about climate change, the environment and consumption with your family, friends and children, because ultimately, nothing has changed.

The people still hold all the power. With every product you purchase, with every watt, kilojoule or BTU of energy you use, you are voting. In buying shampoo, you’re saying “Hell Yeah!” to Proctor and Gamble, each time you drive your car, it’s a message to Exxon “Keep up the good work” and by charging your phone, depending on where you live, it’s like slapping a small invisible bumper sticker to your tush that says “What’s that lovely smell? It’s natural gas”.

Each person votes hundreds of times a…

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Veganuary – results

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For anyone who read my post, Veganuary , or who participated by trying to go vegan for a month, I thought you might be interested in seeing this results graphic. This was their most successful sign-up yet since its inception in 2014 when a mere 3,300 signed up.

The statistics make interesting reading: the vast majority of participants were in the 18-44 age group which is encouraging, but probably not surprising. Veganism is the fastest growing social movement among young people at this time. They are also tech-savvy and more likely to have seen the campaign on social media.  However, I was most struck by the percentage of women who took part: 88%! I was expecting them to be in the majority, but not by quite such a margin.

Women have the greatest influence on the family diet and consequently their health, and in the education of their children, especially in their early, formative years, so this is also an encouraging statistic.

Another surprising but encouraging statistic is the large number of omnivores willing to try out a vegan lifestyle, I expected that the vast majority of participants would be vegetarians.

If you took part, well done! How did you get on? 

Don’t forget, all the recipes on this site are vegan (and gluten-free). If you need more information on Becoming Vegan, look under that category in the Menu. Here are some links:

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Where to Get Nutritional Advice for Young Vegans and Newbies

Copyright: Chris McGowan

I swear I saw Spring creeping around the corner all cloaked in purple and gold …

Storm Doris seems to have abated at last. She blew in, shook things about a bit, knocked over a few fences and pieces of garden furniture, flattened the more delicate bulbs that were just opening up and then blew out again, but not before treating us to a deluge of rain and bone-chilling temperatures. But there was a spectacular double rainbow two days in the last week. Excuse the terrible photos, I had to take them through the window when it was pouring down and very, very dark.

The sun shone today and there are many more bulbs in bloom. It’s so uplifting to see some colour back in the garden.

There’s a bit of tidying up been done, paths weeded and repaired, trees pruned, lawns cut; husband’s busy painting new edging for the borders (he doesn’t like the colour, ‘Wild Thyme’ a light green, he wants ‘Somerset Green’ which is more like an army barracks, but he’s in bad books because he dug up much-nurtured plants along with the weeds, so he doesn’t get to choose!)

The garden isn’t in its full spring glory yet, but here are a few early snaps:

The delicate mauve crocuses on the left have been Doris-ed, as have some of the older and taller cousins of these dwarf narcissi, but there are more waiting to show off when it’s safe to come out.

PS After I wrote this, husband was pacing around constantly looking out the window pondering over what the weather was going to do and if he could go on a bike ride. I was trying to concentrate and in the end I said he should go, it was overcast but he’d be fine…

Oops…

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

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Vegans are often held to a higher standard when it comes to dietary ethics, be it the environmental impacts of their food choices, animal welfare or health benefits. We all have our own line in the sand, we do what we can given our circumstances and our resources.

Here are some of the ways a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle can be beneficial not just to our own health as individuals or in terms of animal husbandry but for our environment and the world’s populations too.

First, water.

img_6549(Graphic from Vegan Community)

This is quite a startling graphic given the water shortages in some parts of the world. And it doesn’t end there.

Chemical run-offs from farming and processing livestock also contaminate water supplies.

Climate:

Intensive livestock farming and its support infrastructure are a major contributor in the production of greenhouse gases, both from the production of methane but also from transportation, and at current rates this could rise by 50% by 2050. According to a Guardian Environment article which quotes a study from Oxford Martin School, ‘adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63% by 2050.’*

I have seen many articles like this from various sources advocating the reduction of meat and dairy consumption for environmental reasons and the knock-on beneficial effects on human health.

Deforestation:

According to the film Cowspiracy, beef production accounts for 90% the destruction of Amazon rainforest. Many activists have lost their lives or been injured in land disputes with meat producers and indigenous peoples removed from their land.

Growing Food to Feed Animals to Feed Us!

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One of the reasons I first became vegetarian many moons ago was because it didn’t seem right to me that so much land was given over to growing crops to feed animals to feed us when we could just cut out the middle ‘man’ and just eat the crops! When there are so many starving people, it seemed so inefficient and such a waste of resources.

Here’s another graphic to illustrate the point:

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Developing Countries Having to Grow Cash Crops for Animal Feed in Developed World:

Another reason I became vegetarian was that so many poor countries in the developing world have been forced to grow cash crops to sell cheaply to Western countries for animal feed in order to pay off unpayable loans when they should be using them to feed their own populations and earning appropriate prices.

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Overuse of Antibiotics and Bacterial Resistance:

A major concern for human health and that of livestock is the overuse of antibiotics. 

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This is a shocking statistic! This is bad for the animals, bad for the environment, bad for our health. There is widespread concern about resistance to antibiotics and this is the main reason, the antibiotics given to animals end up in our food and the bugs are getting wise to them.

Last but not least is the issue of genetically modified feed and hormones used in the meat and dairy industries. Wherever you stand on the use of GMOs in food, the widespread production of single crops and consequent depletion of the soil, there is great concern among the scientific community as well as environmentalists about how adding and removing genes to alter the behaviour of plants and crops will affect the behaviour of our own genes and dna, as well as that of the animals, birds and insects that feed on them and the consequent ecological ramifications.

Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone is banned in most industrialised countries but is widely used in the US dairy industry. Milk from such cows contains higher levels of a hormone linked to breast, prostrate, colon, lung and other cancers. *

Many other GMOs are banned in most other developed countries, being linked with various cancers and other inflammatory conditions, as well as environmental pollution and crop contamination, but deemed safe in the US. There is little to no regulation of their use and unlike European consumers who have food labelling, for the most part US consumers are not privy to the information. (For example, a US company is about to begin selling packaged GMO sliced apples that don’t go brown in some mid-Western stores but consumers will not be told which stores nor will they be labelled as such).

A series of programmes made about these issues were forced to be postponed and the makers threatened.

There is an informative post on this here by The Organic Consumers Association and another on Unregulated gene editing by Natural Health 365.

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Just after I published this post, I came across this quote on Instagram which starkly but neatly sums up all the issues:

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Finally, on a lighter note:

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https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/eat-less-meat-vegetarianism-dangerous-global-warming

https://ourgreennation.org/2017/01/02/gmos-in-dairy-institute-for-responsible-technology/

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Veganuary

January has been designated Veganuary and even has its own website! 

It was such a success last year that I think it is probably here to stay.

40,000 people have signed up to try being vegan for a month and the website is there to provide support, advice, product websites and tasty recipes for people wanting to increase the plant-based element of their diet and reduce meat and dairy. 

Cartoon by www.vegansidekick.comEveryone has their own food journey, we are all at differing stages and are there for different reasons, whether it be health, ethics or environmental impact.

I am not about to go through all the whys and wherefores, others have done a much better job than I can, but I have decided to provide a Vegan category to house the information about being vegan if people wish to look it up.

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(Photo from The Vegan Community)

Recently, I published Hanna’s post Plant Powered New Year which was her response to a specific question about whether a diet containing meat would have an effect on psoriasis. Hanna suffered with appalling psoriasis and is now mostly vegan after ridding herself of the misery of itchy, inflamed skin through juicing and a plant-based diet. Hanna was quite forthright in her language, which may not appeal to some, but she has had a rough journey to where she stands now as a beautifully healthy, energetic young woman and has just had her first book published called ‘Radiant’. It includes her story along with beautiful photography and tasty recipes to help achieve the same results.

Today, I have decided to provide links not only to her post but also 3 others which take a more softly-softly approach and give a guiding hand to those just beginning to look into the subject of ‘going vegan’.

The first is Rachel at Healthy and Psyched5 Tips For Transitioning To Veganism where she is at pains to reduce the guilt element so often present in such articles. Rachel says basically that you are not a bad person because you unwittingly – or even wittingly – eat something that has dairy in it at a family party for instance, and my favourite is not to throw away all your make-up, which is expensive to replace and such a waste, and which is exactly what I did!

The second post is from Feminine Boutique BlogHow To Go Vegan in 4 Steps This post gives links to sites, YouTubers and books where you can find the information you crave and the support. It is short and there is nothing to scare the horses (pun intended!) It too is written in an easy-going style and isn’t at all ‘preachy’.

Another interesting post is from Our Green Nation2016’s Top 10 Vegan Moments which lists interesting topics such as the American government, scientists and doctors giving vegetarian and vegan diets the thumbs up as being healthy and suitable for any stage in life, while the latest American Nutritional Guidelines are the most vegetarian-friendly ever; they feature the Sainsbury’s ‘Gary’ vegan cheese furore and the members of the USA Olympic team who have plantbased diets including a weightlifter.

Finally, there is even a website for teenage vegetarians and vegans: http://www.teenvgn.com It is a great site, describing iteslf as a social network for teen vegetarians and vegans, providing a safe place for 12-19 year olds to obtain information, recipes and exchange ideas. They even run a summer camp every year full of activities for 11 a 17 year olds. They encourage volunteering and put together care boxes for homeless people in local areas. They are sponsored by several reputable companies and supported by The Raw Chocolate Company.

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Going vegan doesn’t mean going boring! There are many websites and Instagram accounts with colourful, balanced vegan recipes. You can also check out the vegan recipes in my menu.

The Vegan Society will provide answers to most of your questions.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Last Day of our Grip and Go Competition!

Today is the last day of our Earth Day Competition!

You can win 3 Grip and Go leakproof, dishwasher-safe glass bottles plus a fabulous double-insulated glass travel mug in whatever colours you choose.

They are great for storing juices and nut milks or carrying water around, much better for you and the environment than single-use plastic water bottles which inevitably end up in landfill and in our oceans.

All you have to do is Like and Follow Grip and Go on Twitter and/or Facebook and use #earthdaycomp.

That’s it!

Here are the links:

@gripandgouk on Twitter

Grip and Go on Facebook

Hurry!

The competition ends midnight tonight, Friday, 29th April, 2016.

Ditch the plastic!

Good luck!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Earth Day Comp: Win Stylish Grip & Go Glass Bottles & Let’s Ditch the Plastic!

[ Thank you for visiting, this competition is now closed, but please do read the post anyway…]

Today is Earth Day and to celebrate our amazing planet, I am holding a competition to win a generous giveaway of 2 prizes of not one, not two, but THREE Grip and Go glass bottles! And that’s not all…

Many of you have admired my Grip and Go bottles that I use for storing nut milk and now you have a chance to win your own, thanks to their kind donation of some fabulously stylish bottles – plus an added extra…

But first, there’s a condition:

You have to Read ‘The Science Bit’!

We have all seen the warnings in the media about the piles of plastic clogging up our oceans, littering our hedgerows and harming wildlife. We read the articles and watch the news heralding predictions that there will be more plastic than fish in our seas by 2050 – whilst sipping from our plastic water bottles, popping the plastic takeaway box in the microwave and wrapping leftovers in clingfilm.

It is hard to contemplate a world without plastic, we have grown so used to it in every aspect of our daily lives.

But its production and disposal is choking our planet and harming our health, with chemicals leaching into our food and water, potentially causing cancer, hormone disruption and asthma in children.

Plastic water bottles are a huge contributor to these problems.

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Warm Weather and Plastic Water Bottles

How many of us carry plastic water bottles in the car and leave them there in the sun, often for several days?

Chemicals from the plastic are slowly leaching into the water as the plastic warms up:

  • Antimony (causes chronic health conditions, including diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach ulcers)
  • Bromine (causes irritation to skin and mucous membranes)
  • Endocrine Disrupters affecting hormones, thyroid function etc.
  • Cancer-causing agents 
  • Phthalates used as plastic softeners, associated with asthma in children.

Those plastic bottles will already be old by the time you buy them, having travelled halfway around the globe before you put them in your supermarket trolley, transport them in your warm car and store them in your warm home.

Some well-documented statistics about plastic bottles:

  • In the US, 50 Billion plastic bottles are bought every year and 80% of them end up in landfill.
  • More than 60 Million plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the US alone.
  • Just 1 plastic bottle takes 450 years to completely break down – that’s 25 generations!
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used every year in their production.
  • Bottled water costs 1,000 times more than tap water.

  • In the UK, as of 2007, an estimated 13 Billion plastic bottles of water were sold of which only 3 Billion were recycled.
  • The UK consumes 3 Billion litres of bottled water per year.
  • Despite the UK bottled water industry using increasing amounts of recycled plastic, it still creates a huge waste problem from discarded bottles which litter our hedgerows, streets and streams and often end up in the sea via our rivers.

  • 1 refuse truck worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute and it is getting worse.
  • The Eastern Garbage Patch is an area of ocean 6 times the size of England and is the world’s largest refuse dump.

  • Last year, a report by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced that by 2050 there will likely be more plastic than fish in the sea.
  • Their research found more than 5 Trillion pieces of plastic floating in the seas, many just 5 mm across making it easy for sea life to ingest.
  • Toxic chemicals leached from the plastic when it breaks down may be ingested by sea life and end up in the human food chain.

Here’s one solution:

Reuseable Glass Bottles!

Grip and Go have very generously supplied 6 of their stylish, leakproof, dishwasher-safe glass bottles as prizes in our competition.

350 mls.                    500 mls.                        1 Litre.

There will be two prizes of three bottles each, one prize to be won on Facebook, one on Twitter. You can even choose the colours!

But that’s not all!

In addition to the bottles, there will also be two Double-walled Insulated Travel Mugs, one to go with each prize.

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This is a fantastic prize.

All you have to do is Like and Follow Grip & Go on Facebook and/or Twitter (@gripandgouk) for a chance to win these gorgeous bottles.

The competition will run from Mid-day Friday, 22nd April, 2016 and end at Midnight on Friday, 29th April, 2016.

Winners will be chosen at random.

(NB Apologies to all non-UK residents: due to the nature and weight of the prize, unfortunately this competition is only open to UK-based followers).

Just click on the link below to go to their web site, have a look at the bottles and travel mugs, decide which colours you’d like, click on their Twitter and Facebook links, Like And Follow using #earthdaycomp.

Like and Follow. #earthdaycomp. Easy-Peasy!

Good Luck!

Grip and Go

Twitter: @gripandgouk

Grip and Go Facebook link

Sources:

 Treehugger

Ban the Bottle

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Guardian

Io9 We Come From The Future

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Water: They Can’t Get Enough, But We Can Help!

Recently, while I was thinking of writing a post on hydration, there was a sudden deluge (pardon the pun) of articles and tweets on the subject. Everywhere I looked, someone was urging that I drink more water. I thought to myself, If I drink any more, I’ll float away! But as I sipped my regular morning hot water and lemon and then had a shower and washed my hair, cleaned my teeth and flushed the loo, I started musing on how much we take our clean water supply for granted and how much we complain about the incessant rain.

Have you ever experienced a drought, even temporarily? I have.

Have you ever had to use a stand pipe down the street in one of the hottest summers on record and queue up for a restricted amount of water, carry heavy containers home, ration it out, use the same washing water for all the family, then use it to flush the toilet that has had to be used several times without? I have.

Have you had to do this with a toddler still in nappies – cloth ones that needed sterilising? Or with a baby using feeding bottles? I have. Have you ever been heavily pregnant during a hot summer and had the water go off because of a burst pipe, making it necessary to walk a couple of streets away to the nearest public toilet for a day and a night? I have. During that hottest summer, I was also coping with a slipped disc.

It was indescribably difficult.

Yet our difficulties and inconveniences (pun intended) were nothing compared to those endured week in week out, by millions of families in developing countries where mainly wives, mothers, sisters and daughters spend hours every day walking miles to collect water that is often contaminated with bacteria, parasites and disease, for example E. Coli, Cholera and Hepatitis A.

Between 600 and 700 million people have no clean drinking water, while over 2 billion do not have access to toilet facilities.

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Image from Jerry Bottles

While I was contemplating this, tweets began appearing on my timeline about Matt Damon and Gary White’s charity Water.org and the British organisation, Water Aid UK. Then purely by chance, someone called @jerrybottles liked one of my tweets. I looked them up. While I did so, two other companies showed up: Conscious Step and Three Avocados.

These companies have one thing in common: they are non-profit businesses that sell unique products to raise money for clean water projects around the world.

100% of their net profits go to these projects.

This all seemed serendipitous and I decided to promote their organisations via my blog. If one person buys one item after reading this, then I will feel like I’ve done something worthwhile.

These companies sell very different quality products and I want to point out that I haven’t been given any to promote, nor have I purchased or used any of them. Purely and simply, I looked at their web sites and products, read their missions and wanted to help in this small way.

First up is Jerry Bottles

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Leicester-based businessman, Harun Master, set up his charity in 2011 to help fund and co-ordinate clean water schemes in India and Africa. Their stainless steel bottles – named after the large jerry cans used by women to collect their water – are stylish, dishwasher safe and sustainably produced. Along with Tobias Gould and Taj Bharma, he built a company whose mission is to educate about pollution caused by plastic bottles, encourage the use of refillable steel bottles and use the profits to provide safe, clean water – starting in Tanzania. As a bonus, the co-ordinates of each project will be printed on the base of the bottles so you can see where the proceeds from your purchase have been put to use. They keep costs and staffing low to maximise the funds available for the schemes.

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They are also working with local shops and businesses to build a scheme whereby you can refill your Jerry water bottle for free when out and about. They aim to add to their range by working with designers to create additional quality bottles and accessories. The web site is informing and fun, as are their tweets!

Three Avocados is the fascinating name of a coffee company in St Louis, Missouri, founded by Joe Koenig in 2010 after a trip to Uganda. The poverty surrounding him inspired him to set up a company which sells 100% Arabica coffee – produced by small farmers in Uganda and Nicaragua for fair prices – and donates all its net profits to clean water projects worldwide. One of their partners is a women’s co-op which uses the money earned from growing coffee to send their children to school.

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In Uganda alone, without clean water, 63 children die every day. Since the company started, over 20,000 people have benefited.

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Women and girls are usually the ones who walk miles every day to collect large jerry cans of contaminated water. They are unable to work or attend school. They are at risk of assault. Providing clean water allows them to gain an education and employment as well supporting a healthier community.

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Oh, and why is a coffee company called Three Avocados? Well, visit the web site and read their story – just have some tissues handy when you do.

Conscious Step is the brainchild of 3 like-minded men: Hassan Ahmad, Adam Long and Prashant Mehta, left their respective careers at the World Health Organisation, Engineers Without Borders and in Microfinance, and came up with the quirky idea of selling uniquely designed and manufactured Socks for Causes,  to combat Hunger and HIV/Aids, promote Education and provide Clean Water.

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In partnership with Water.org net profits from these blue Argyle socks provide clean water for one person for 18 months!

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(Images from Conscious Step)

The socks are certified Fair Trade and are made from organic cotton using non-toxic dyes.

I asked in my previous post ‘ What Colour’s Your Wee?! Water: Part 1 – Are You Getting Enough? Well, for some, this question is moot. They can’t get enough. What they can get is more often than not a long trek away and unsafe to drink.

You can help change that.

Copyright: Chris McGowan