Antibacterial soaps

I’ve always been very suspicious of products labelled ‘antibacterial’, in a way that makes you think they might be in some way better. So I’ve always avoided them. Bacteria are ‘generally’ good, and certainly should not be over-destroyed. Mother always said a bit of dirt never did you any harm!

The simple truth is that plain soap is just as effective. The products added to give the ‘antibacterial’ label are pesticides which are potentially dangerous to the environment, our water systems and our health. See this US FDA post. or this comprehensive item from EcoWatch.

Although some such products are banned by the US FDA, I can still find them on the shelves in my local supermarkets, even the more upmarket Waitrose.

It seems we must always be on our guard against supposedly ‘new’ and more beneficial products that can actually put us in jeopardy. One could argue that this is because we do not correctly apply the ‘precautionary principle’ to the introduction of new technologies.

Thanks to this Magical Elements post on water for bringing this to my attention.

Seven Simple Actions for Birds

Most of you will be aware of much of the following from Cornell Lab of Ornithology: seven simple actions to help birds. But if you’re like me, you’ll realise that, although you are aware of them, you may not be doing enough. In the modern world, birds are absolutely dependent on the sum of the actions of all of us. With bird populations in decline, it’s vital that we each do all we can.

Here is a quick summary of the seven things – but do go read at the link above. Sorry it’s US-centric, but the principles apply everywhere.

1. Make windows safer – so many birds fly into them.

2. Keep cats indoors. They are frighteningly effective predators of small birds.

3. Reduce lawn, plant native species to provide food and habitat.

4. Avoid pesticides entirely. They kill natural things, all the way up the food chain.

5. Drink coffee that’s good for birds (shade grown).

6. Stop using throw-away plastics.

7. Watch birds and share what you see.

I’d add

8. feed local birds, and

9. provide nesting places and materials.

No doubt you can think of more… Go to it.

Featured image is from the Cornell article.

 

Insectageddon

With great eloquence, George Monbiot pursues the theme of loss of insects covered in my previous post) and puts it in context with other ongoing global disasters, such as depletion/ acidification of soil/ seas, and climate change. His piece in The Guardian is well worth reading.

Our natural world is under unprecedented attack by the huge number of people seeking a lifestyle it cannot support – unprecedented except for great natural disasters such as large meteorite hits. The situation cries out for action at all levels – personal, business, corporation, local, regional, national, super-regional, continental, global. Yet we seem to be stymied by current vested interests and our own boiling-frog-like inertia.

Brexit is in a sense totally irrelevant to these problems, although we could use it to drive rapid change in the right direction in the UK. But don’t hold your breath if you keep voting the Tories into power – their radical wing appear to have nothing to offer this situation.

Featured bee image by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab from Beltsville, Maryland, USA – Apis mellifera, via Wikimedia Commons

Disappearing Insects

In The Guardian Michael McCarthy reports that insect populations are disappearing at a catastrophic rate – 75% of all insects lost since 1989, which of course begins to explain the similar collapse of many species of birds. My own personal experience of the prevalence of insects in gardens, fields and on car windscreens correlates with this.

Our ecosystem is undergoing rapid and massive collapse, by historical standards. It is pretty clear that a major contributory cause is modern industrial farming and related so-called pesticides.

And yet the majority, look, shrug their shoulders and carry on as before. Politicians take the lead from either the status quo, industrial lobbying or their own dogmas about reversing changes done by ‘the other side’. Environmental leaders are tolerated but not really listened to.

Where is the massive programme needed to reverse this catastrophe before it is too late? Such as a massive increase in organic farming, reduction in intensity of cultivation, rewilding of low-productivity farming land, extension of nature reserves, end to unnecessary mowing of verges and fields, massive reduction in use of pesticides, and on and on?

We seem like frogs in a pan of water that is being slowly heated up. From minute to minute there seems little different and nothing to be really concerned about, so we don’t try to jump out. Of course, eventually the frog dies as the water boils.

Featured image of Ovipositor and sheath of Aulacid wasp
from Insects Unlocked [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Deadly Whites

I’m reading an outline in the excellent Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine, of the book The Seven Deadly Whites by Karl Eliot-Gough. It’s all been known for a long time actually, but good to see it restated.

The basic premise is that the modern diet full of refined and processed foods is responsible for the modern ‘diseases of civilisation’: diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, cancer, dementia,…

Refined flour, white rice, refined sugar essentially had their nutritious ingredients removed. Too many polyunsaturated fats, too much salt and milk products are also unhealthy. Processed foods are full of them all. The body is just not receiving the nutrition it needs. Hence the diseases of civilisation.

Easy processed foods were a great innovation and provide great convenience to modern living. But beware the cost of not intimately knowing what you eat.

Of course, there are many other factors – pollution and pesticides in much of the food, the depletion of intensively farmed soils, insufficient fresh vegetables,… So this is certainly not the only game in town.

Now, if we all had a healthy and unpolluted diet, what would then be the relative cost of our NHS? Rather less, methinks.

Oh, I think the seventh white is the white lies that it’s all healthy.