Friday, 26 March 2021

A Talk on Single Use Plastics


I have to do a talk on single use plastics in two ten minute sessions, I was wondering if you could email me some info on the harm they do to the environment, what can be done to limit or stamp out their use?


We have recently published this website:

It is all about plastics in the environment. The sheer volume of plastic created to feed human’s demand for single use plastic is very problematic.

I am sure you have seen pictures of bottles and face masks washed up on beaches in tropical places, or polar regions, plastic gets everywhere. . . .

BUT my main concern is that as plastics break down in to tiny tiny bits, they get mixed in with water and soils, and will be almost impossible to remove.

It is bad enough that sea food, and vegetables now contain plastic, but the plastics theme selves also have nasty chemicals in them, that poison plants and animals.

If you are familiar with PCBs or DDT, then you will know that persistent chemicals (such as phthalates in plastic) in the environment, “bio-accumulate” up the food chain and cause all sorts of horrible problems.

The problem with stamping out single use plastic, is that quite often removal of their use has a knock on effect elsewhere.

Example 1 : If we swapped from plastic carrier bags, to paper ones, where would the wood pulp come from? Even if just 2% of wood pulp came from unsustainable sources, then owing to the amount of bags needed (millions per day) a lot of trees would need to be chopped down. Trees that are currently sucking up CO2, and help out with climate change.

Example 2: A cucumber goes rotten very quickly. To make them last longer they shrink wrap them. To grow a cucumber might take 100g CO2, and to wrap it a further 10g CO2. If you don’t wrap them and more than 10% goes rotten, then your avoidance of plastic is causing a climate change.

I think the demand for single use plastic is driven my human’s “I want everything right now” attitude. Perhaps not eat cucumbers in the winter. Perhaps wait until you get home to have a drink of water (not buy a bottle).

Single use plastic is also linked strongly to human’s desire for safety and hygiene. Why do we not drink from water fountains anymore? Why do we buy a bottle of water instead. Why do hospitals use single use surgical plastics, and not wash and reuse equipment like the olden days?

In the extreme: Perhaps let a few more people die from disease instead of making 100’s billions of single use plastic masks . . . . tough choices, that go against the very grain of ethics and consumer choice.

Friday, 16 October 2020

What are Urons?

I was reading a tech manual today, and came across the chemical group called "Urons".

What are Urons?

Urons is an abbreviations of Phenylurea herbicides: 

"Substituted phenylurea herbicides are a group of pesticides used for general weed control in agricultural and nonagricultural practices – for example, along railroads, utilities' rights-of-way, and in industrial areas."


Friday, 11 September 2020

Waste Plastic on Western Scottish Beaches

In 2002 my wife an I went to New Zealand, we walked all over those lovely islands, and really enjoyed the wilderness beaches in particular. 

We cant afford to fly our family to New Zealand, but we can drive the Scotland, which is quite a good proxy. 

The Western Isles regions is quite wild, and despite presence of fishing farms and land based farms, does feel quite wilderness. 

Out family hikes along the cost were somewhat blemished by the presence of plastic waste on beaches. 

From the look of it, a great deal of the waste comes from the fishing industry, with only a small percentage coming from domestic sources, and even that may come from boats!

Not pictured, were some very large sections of black plastic tubing with welded joints, perhaps used to form a floating ring at the top of salmon nets. 

Our walk took us South of Loch Beag, to Loch Fyne and then Eastward back to our pad. Please find below photos, and captions:

Lid from a pallet crate.

Tank of some sort, punctured as bracken growing through it. 

Small item plastic milk bottle. 

Tide Line - Ropes and Assorted Small Plastic Items 

Functional Buoy. 

Plastic Crates, Nylon Rope

25 Litre container.

Plastic Crates

Panorama Showing Various Detritus 

Many Small Items Mixed with Soil 

So all this junk, got me thinking about what sort of shape beaches in New Zealand must be in? Not this bad I hope. . . .

Ocean Plastic Gifts

Scientific Web Content

Flood Risk Assessment London

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Graffiti on Buildings - From Google Street View

Graffiti on Buildings - From Google Street View

Hi. Please click on blue links to visit site of graffiti / street art.

Turku, Southwest Finland 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Carbon Storage in Soils

Carbon Storage in Soils

Below table is taken from Carbon storage by habitat:Review of the evidence of theimpacts of managementdecisions and condition ofcarbon stores and sources. 

It shows the carbon storage potential for various soils (based on habitats). As you can see some grasslands hold more carbon in the SOILS than woodlands. However this table shows soil storage and plant storage. 

Table Text (For Google)

Habitats Carbon stock in soils (t Cha-1 ) Carbon stock in vegetation (t Cha-1 ) Dwarf shrub Heath 88 2 Acid grassland 87 1 Fen, mash and swamp 76 ? Bog 74 2 Coniferous woodland 70 70 Broad leaf, mixed & yew woodland 63 70 Neutral grassland 60 1 Improved grasslands 59 1 Arable and horticulture 43 1 Coastal margins (UK) 48 ? 

Woodpecker Damage - Electricity Pole or Telegraph Pole

Woodpecker Damage - Electricity Pole or Telegraph Pole

Woodpeckers can and do damage wooden transmission posts such as Electricity and Telegraph Poles.

There are over two hundred species of woodpecker and two species of wrynecks worldwide. Of these, three species of woodpecker and one species of wryneck are found in the UK.

These birds cause damage to Electricity and Telegraph Poles. Just as they would with a tree trunk they use their powerful beaks to make holes. 

A hole filler can be used to effect a repair. This solution repairs woodpecker damaged poles by using a filler. Used correctly it strengthens the damaged pole, avoids expensive replacements and reduces the chances of rot developing as a consequence of the holes. This solution can only be applied in certain scenarios based on the number, extent and distance between holes.

This method not only help reduce work in replacing poles, but also reduces contempt for the birds as their impact is lessened proportionally.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Rolling Apples GIF

Rolling Apples GIF

Badly done GIF of Apples rolling across table. I was trying to describe"upset the apple cart" in a picture. . . didn't work very well !

 Ah just found online convertor that did a better job. File size is larger though. . .

Life Cycle Assessment