Tuesday, 16 October 2018

My Visit to an Abattoir

A Visit to an Abattoir - Introduction


As part of my job I was asked to come and have a look around an Abattoir. This was something I felt I desperately wanted to avoid, but as a consumer of meat I felt a obligation to go and see what was happening.

I should point out that I did not visit the killing area, as that was not required as part of my visit. I did express an interest in seeing this, but I was discouraged with no reason given.


A Visit to an Abattoir - The Good


Perhaps the one good thing which I saw on this trip was the use of cattle skins destined for leather production. These were carefully graded and salted and sent to Italy (I was told) for tanning. Tanning being the process of turning skin into leather.

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Staff


The thing that struck me the most was how unhappy everybody looked who worked at the abbatoir. This is not a job I would like to do.  This is a messy, unpleasant job and it showed in the faces of the people who worked there.

As you can imagine there is a high turnover of staff. The company does not have good employment records (I checked). How does this manifest itself on the treatment of the animals I wonder?

The employees I observed during the visits appear a mixed bunch, with some behaving in a highly ignorant manner.  Dealing with this type of work force requires a certain type of manager, and I can safely say that I did not enjoy talking the the manager in question.

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Waste


All animal caracasses are required to be inspected for blemishes or disease (I am not sure of the exact detail). Whilst I was there I saw 2 whole cattle disposed of. There was nothing visibly wrong with the carcasses, as far as I could see, and this seamed a massive waste.

The animals were separated into useful, and non-useful parts. There were tanks for blood, and bins for unwanted body parts such as hooves and heads.

Grass from the cattles stomachs was separated out and sent for recycling (Anaerobic Digestion)'


A Visit to an Abattoir - Trauma


I consider myself fairly thick skinned, but I will not lie. I found the visit traumatic.

Perhaps one of the most distressing parts of the trip was watching the recently severed head of a cow, which had been skinned with the tongue and eyes still moving. I think I will carry this image in my mind until I die.

There must be a big impact on the staff who work in these places, is it healthy to become desensitised to such activities?

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Smell


The smell on site was highly unpleasant, a mix of butcher's shop and farm yard. Blood and excrement.

A Visit to an Abattoir - The Animals


I saw only live animals (cattle) outside the Abattoir, they were herded up a steep ramp. Their treatment did not seem too forceful, but they did look frightened. I do not make this comment lightly as I have worked with cattle on and off for 15 years, and these animals were frightened. 

I can only imagine things got worse inside.

A Visit to an Abattoir - Conclusions


I did not see the killing area. In hindsight I am very glad, as I likely avoided some mental scarring. The whole place was like something out of a nightmare, and I would certainly think very carefully about repeating the experience, particularly if I was required to enter the killing area.

I still eat meat once a week but I did not enjoy it for months after this visit. It is easy to become disconnected between the meat on your plate and the squalor I witnessed at this place of death.

As with all things consumer, if this sort of thing disgusts you then vote with your pound / dollar and buy from sources value welfare. I have found Riverford Organic to be very transparent regarding their slaughter processes.





Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Palm Oil in Soaps and Shampoo - How to Avoid

The Emotive Messages


Greenpeace advertising campaigns certainly tug at the heart strings, habitat destruction is very very emotive topic. 

However, as per usual, when Greenpeace jump on a subject, there is hardly any useful information. They would see you writing strongly worded letters in Unilever and the likes, which we all know does not do a lot of good. 



The way to win here of course is DO NOT BUY SOAP AND SHAMPOO WITH PALM OIL IN THEM. So if it says Palm Oil on the label, then do not buy it. . . . . . . read on for other complications.

List of Chemicals with Palm Oil 


There are a lot of indirect soap and shampoo ingredients that can MADE FROM PALM OIL, and as such are not as easy to spot. I have included a list below which is sourced from official EU documentation, and as such should be a trusted source.


Chemical Derived From
Fatty acid Palm kernel oil
Methyl esters Palm oil
Fatty alcohols Blend of palm oil and palm kernel oil*
Tertiary fatty amines Palm kernel oil, reflecting their primary production from Fatty Alcohol C12- C14
Primary amines Shall be considered in line with Fatty Acids and Methyl esters
Glycerine Palm based glycerides (also available as non-palm based material)
Cocoamidopropyl betaine (fatty acid derivative) Palm Kernel Oil
Sodium laureth sulfate Palm Kernel Oil
Sodium laureth-1 sulfate
Sodium laureth-2 sulfate
Sodium laureth-3 sulfate
Palm Kernel Oil
Sodium stearate Palm oil
Sodium palm kernelate Palm Kernel Oil
Laureth-7 Palm Kernel Oil
Steareth-2 Palm Kernel Oil
Cocamide MEA (fatty acid derived Palm Kernel Oil
Cocamide DEA (fatty acid derived Palm Kernel Oil
Stearamidopropyldimethylamine Palm oil
Cetyltrimethylammonium chloride Palm Kernel Oil
Isopropylpalmitate Palm oil
Isopropylmyristate Palm Kernel Oil
Caprylic/capric triglyceride Palm Kernel Oil
Fatty Isethionates (SCI) Palm Kernel Oil
Alkylpolyglycoside (APG) Palm Kernel Oil
Laurylamine oxide Palm Kernel Oil

Other Tips

Labels such as RSPO and the EU Ecolabel are not really helpful. RSPO regularly takes flack for not providing an adequate solution, and rain forest destruction continues under its watch. 

The EU Ecolabel does consider palm oil in it assessment of new products but, it relies on RSPO principals which are flawed. 

If you buy soaps and shampoos which advertise having other oils in them such as:
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Shea Butter
These will likely have less or no palm oil in them, so are a good place to start. Just remember what ever you buy, it comes from a plant or tree somewhere, so you will always have an impact when you shop. 

Also do not rule out animal based soaps including Tallow based compounds. If you can get past the yuck factor, even these may be a better choice. 



Saturday, 11 August 2018

Lynx Research


Lynx Research

12th June 2018

There is more than one type of Lynx. Two types are the Iberian Lynx and the Eurasian. 


Figure 1 – Types of Lynx: Iberian Lynx (with a Little Beardy Bit)

The Iberian Lynx Comes from the Iberian Peninsula where it lives in Cork Oak Forest.


Figure 2 - Map Showing Cork Oak Forest

Humans Harvest Cork from the Cork Oaks. If we stop buying cork, they will likely chop down the forest because they need to change businesses. So every time we buy Cork we help save the Iberian Lynx.

Figure 3- A Worried Rabbit (Leporidae Anxius)

The Iberian lynx mostly depends on wild rabbits to feed, but it will also eat ducks, yo
ung deer and partridges if rabbit densities are low.


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Gove's Green Post Brexit UK - Beware I Say!

Gove's Green Post Brexit UK - Beware I Say!


The Environmental Secretary Micheal Gove has promised a  Green Post Brexit UK but beware I say! Things are happening under his watch that are not good, I aim to keep a list of things here:

Post Brexit Green Watchdog


At the moment if the UK step out of line with regards to the environment we get our wrists slapped by the EU. A recent example is the EU fining the UK for its air quality failures.

Post Brexit this will not happen, so we need a EU level equivalent independent body to make sure the government follows it own rules.

The house of lords have voted that details of this watchdog need to published, but the government has delayed publishing it until after the 3rd reading of the EU withdraw bill. This deferral means that there will less time to check proposed measures, and the danger it will become lost in the scrabble in to the run up to our ridiculous exit from the EU.



If you have any other ideas for inclusions please leave a comment and I will type them up.



Thursday, 18 January 2018

Weak UK Plastics Targets - Outshone by EU Equivalent

Weak UK Plastics Targets - Outshone by EU Equivalent?


Whilst the the UK government published its intend to phase out "avoidable"  plastic wastes within 25 years. This seeks to target single use plastics, which is laudable but as with most Conservative environmental policy, it is wooly and ill defined.

It is a pi$$ poor effort from Theresa May's government. Our reliance of cheap single use plastics is causing measurable suffering across the planet:


  • Whales Tangled in Ropes
  • Micro Plastics Contaminating Food Stocks (Even Sea Salt)
  • Birds feeding their young with plastics items (That are mistaken for fish)
  • Mounds of plastic film at waste dumps across developing countries.
  • UK Plastics exported to Africa where child labour is used for processing.
So despite all of this a 25 year target is deemed as acceptable. When it plainly is not. One start to believe that the Tories are afraid to mention anything that is not directly linked to making money. 

So step up the EU, the worlds number 1 club for enlightened nations. Who have pledged a far more stringent target of 65% re-use in 12 years, with interim targets set of 60% in just 7 years. So unlike the spineless targetless waffle proffered by the Tories, we have something to aim for at least.

Although we may soon have no say in how this EU Circular Economy is setup, we will almost certainly have abide by its rules. Unless we abandon the EU as a trading partner. The UK currently recycles 45% of waste.

To be clear the EU targets apply to all wastes, not just plastics, which are subject to further strategies based on recyclability, biodegradability and the presence of hazardous substances. 

So in summary the Uk will have to recycle 15% of all wastes by 2025. We will also have to change the nature of our plastics, to meet EU regulations. 

Theresa May's announcement really is just a reworded EU strategy that her government will have to follow anyway. 














Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Ibuprofen - Damages Male Fertility - Endocrine Disruptor

Ibuprofen - Damages Fertility - Endocrine Disruptor


A new study published on the 8th of October in the  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA presents evidence that Ibuprofen (a widely used anti-inflammatory) shows the “the broadest endocrine-disrupting properties identified so far in men”, with a “striking dual effect” on two types of testicular cells. This may be good news for the environment, population growth has risen over 5 births per second in 2017. In some respects it is s shame this has been discovered. . . .

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.

Ibuprofen disrupts the balance of hormones within the body, with the normal production of testosterone being altered, and sustained by increased activity of the pituitary gland which is not a good thing. 

This over activity of the pituitary gland was diagnosed via the measurement of the hormone luteinising, which was shown to be elevated in the clinical trail participants and in vitro cellular study. 

This imbalance is termed compensated hypogonadism. Hypogonadism means diminished functional activity of the gonads—the testes in males or the ovaries in females—that may result in diminished sex hormone biosynthesis.

Ibuprofen has also been observed to have other negative effects such as slowing healing. These findings are unsurprising as the bodies response to healing or cell production is often inflammatory in nature, and as an anti inflammatory, Ibuprofen is very likley to put a spanner in the works of many bodily processes, that we do not fully comprehend. 

In the UK 1.4 billion Ibuprofen Pills are taken each year.