Have the Supermarkets Slain the Plastic Bag?

Loved it or hated it, nobody could say that the Coles and Woolworth decision to remove the free plastic bags at checkout wasn’t controversial. There are a number of countries in the world who have implemented plastic bag reforms. Big businesses have had to move with these new regulations and adjust accordingly. But in Australia it was led by the Supermarkets. They chose this path and governments and bloggers alike have been keeping a keen eye to see its success.

It has been a resounding one. 1.5 billion fewer bags floating around in various crevices of our environment. The figures quoted from the National Retail Association (NRA) are undeniable. Customer behaviours are changing, peoples opinions are changing.

Supermarkets here in Australia admit that although there has been a reduction of 80% in consumption of plastic bags nationwide, the job is not done. Many environmentalists flag to big retail operators the importance of reducing packaging waste. Small and medium plastic bags are still a common site in Woolworths and Coles, espcially in the fruit and vegetable sections.

Mr Stout of the NRA has called on governments to continue to look into legislation of plastic to even the playing field and force through more bans on unnecessary plastic waste.

Target and Kmart have now also committed to stop providing single use bags. A fantastic example set by big Australian retailers.

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The Best Meditation Apps

We realise that at the very heart of meditation and mindfulness is stepping away from the Smartphone but apps can aid you get there.

Meditation is in a boom. It has been gathering support from really influential people around the world and as such has very little stigma issues as some related self development movements that have preceded it. It is true that meditation has been around for centuries but this current movement is taking it into people’s homes at a rate that early proponents could only have dreamed of.

Getting started is similar to how you would with anything. You dont know how to do it, go to someone who does. Books are fantastic, experts even better but smartphone apps are a worthy adversary in this instance.

For the beginnner, there are three fantastic applications available. Here is a little on each one:

Smiling Mind

A non for profit originally set up for children and teenagers, it has swept Australia. The application has over 3.6 million downloads and has reached 1.5 million students. But it is not just for children, the application fully lends itself to any user. It provides guided mediation to teach you along your journey. There are different programmes based off user profile which include workplace, sports and age-group sessions.

The application is free and is a wonderful place for beginners to start.

Headspace

Very similar application to Smiling Mind, as a paid service it has a lot more depth. Headspace prides itself on its Scentific research. They conduct many studies on the subject and have clinically validated research to back their claims.

The app itself is super easy to use, very accessible for anyone. The english voice who guides you through your meditation provides a wonderful level of comfort for a beginner. The application will explain how your mind works and how to avoid the pitfalls.

Calm

Focuses more on sleep and stress reduction. Therefore a small bit different to Headspace and Smiling Mind. While calm also has a very extensive range of beginnner and advanced guided meditation, it provides alternative services. Calm’s Sleep Stories section can really help users struggling to sleep. Calm also contains guided body relaxation sessions to unravel the body from stress. If your goal is to be more relaxed and sleep better, Calm is a fantastic offering. If you are looking to be more in charge of your thoughts, Headspace and Smiling Mind are better options.

For You and Earth, Cycle.

Cycling your rush hour journeys are a fantastic way to de-stress, boost heart health and do your bit for mother nature. For most people, journey times on public transport or driving are comparable. Are you a person who is constantly reflecting on how it would be great to have more time for yourself and to exercise, well cycling can be the answer.

Its not all bright lycra and aerodynamic sunglasses. It’s super achievable and phenomenally worthwhile. Getting into cycling to work or school seems daunting but it shouldn’t be. It can be fun, easy and satisfying. Here are some small tips to get your started on your Tour De Commute.

  1. Leave that bus alone!

    Australian cities are not the best suited to cycling. You will often hear cyclists bemoan the danger levels they face on a daily basis. Why not take the less stressful routes to work? Avoid busy roads even if it adds minutes to your commute.

    Same for busy areas. Trying to overtake buses, cars and cyclists will add stress and danger to your ride. You will be more inclined to cycle more if you take the easier option. Cycle like you are on holiday in the Caribbean.

  2. Buy 2nd Hand

    Cycling is big business in Australia. As such, the eager peloton you see on Sunday mornings are constantly looking for the lightest, flashiest bike on the market. This is great news for us newbies. Find a seller online who has looked after their bicycle and you will be walking out of there with a great deal. Size is very important when choosing a bicycle so research your sizing before buying.

    Then when you have some months under your belt and find yourself pumping up hills while fumbling in your back pockets for energy gels, then you have proven yourself to warrant a “new” bicycle purchase.

  3. Bring a Friend

    Your first rides should be relaxing. Take your bicycle down to the local park. Build some stamina into those jelly legs, over time. Getting back onto the road to commute is a daunting task. Get out with a friend over the weekend and enjoy your cycling. Then when you have that confidence built up, the ride to work will be a dawdle.

  4. Monday IS the day

    I have found there are two ways to really make the habit stick. First, is de-stressing the journey by going at 75% pace and enjoying it. Second, is to not allow yourself Monday off. Yes you are a little more tired after the weekend but its no excuse. Get that bum in gear for the week and your head-space coming later in the week will be a lot clearer.

The increase in people cycling is not a huge mystery. It is fantastic for your body, heart and mind. The more we all cycle, the less traffic will be on the road and in turn the more enjoyable the cycling will become.

European Union Vote to Ban The Plastic

Here at Smuggy HQ we are feeling pretty smug that the European Union (EU) have FINALLY followed our lead and joined the war on plastic.

Those smug fellows down in the European Parliament have overwhelmingly voted to ban single-use plastic. The vote result was 571 smug votes, 53 against and 34 abstentions. We can all speculate to which country the abstentions were from and that is a fun game.

The EUs executive arm proposed banning items that it said accounts for 70% of the waste in oceans and beaches. One Member of the European Parliament (MEP) was smugly quoted “"(without action) by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans". We would point out that this bullish statement was made after the landslide victory in favour of the new legislation.

The legislation coincidentally followed China’s decision to ban imports of foreign waste products for recycling. Whatever the stimulus for the decision, the EU are leading the world in trying to protect the oceans, we think that is pretty neat.

Some finer details of the legislation:

  • Targets single-use cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers, which were on the commission's original list of 10 items

  • MEPs added polystyrenes used to wrap fast-food and oxo-plastics, such as bags that have been touted as biodegradable but which break up into tiny particles

  • The legislation calls for plastic items where no alternatives are available to be reduced by at least 25 percent by 2025

  • Drinks bottles and other plastics will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 percent by 2025

  • Reducing waste from tobacco products, especially cigarette filters containing plastic, by 50 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2030

  • Ensures at least 50 percent of lost or abandoned fishing gear containing plastic is collected annually

To our friends over in the United States of Europe, we commend you from the bottom of our oceans. This legislation is what we have been hoping for. People will argue it is not enough but I don’t remember anyone winning a marathon in one leap. Let’s hope the rest of the world see how self-satisfied this makes the Europeans and in turn choose to embrace the smug and follow suit.

Trump's Got One Foot In The Grave

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The founders of Smuggy were huge fans of the BBC sitcom “One Foot in the Grave. So the irony of Donald Trump’s recent remarks on the Fourth National Climate Assessment did not go unnoticed.

“I don’t believe it”. The once synonymous catch phrase sprayed generously by the perpetually curmudgeon lead character Victor Meldrew brought canned laughter from a more elementary 1990s audience. Here in 2018, Trump’s remarks, in stark contrast, have brought trepidation and fear, even among his staunchest supporters.

The summary findings of the Climate Assessment re-opened the harsh reality of the Earth’s climate warming. The report engages a new element to the discussion, the cost to old Uncle Sam, the Smug God. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) stated “Under scenarios with high emissions and limited or no adaptation, annual losses in some sectors are estimated to grow to hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century” - https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

While we appreciate smug at any level, we had to disagree with Trump’s statements on Asia – ““Right now, we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been, and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean but every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good.”

This childish rhetoric of passing responsibility unfortunately does not stop with Donald Trump. It’s the theory brazenly adorned by governments, big business and, if we are truly honest, at the individual level.

So how do we make change to stop the climate change? We display the phenomenally stubborn attitude of old mate Victor Meldrew. We vote with our feet. We show governments and business owners that we won’t stand for the mindless consumption. And we do it one plastic bag, toothbrush, container, water bottle and coffee cup at a time.

Have you heard of this new island destination?

Halfway between Hawaii and California there lies a new island destination.

This island expands 1.6 square kilometers and enjoys sunshine all-year-round.

The destination is gaining increasing attention from visitors all around the world, including scuba divers and marine researchers.

The island began getting international attention in 1988 when written about by Alaskan-based researchers. In 2012, it was the subject of a Ted Talk which really got the world interested.

Before you start packing your bags and looking up flights, we should let you in on something. The island is made entirely of floating plastic waste. We know. Disgusting.

You may know it as Plastic Island, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, The Plastic Trash Vortex, The Eastern Garbage Patch… whatever you call it, we need to do something about it and fast.

Harm to marine life is, in some cases, direct. Of the 1.5 million albatrosses that inhabit the area, nearly all are likely to have plastic in their bellies. Approximately one-third of their chicks die, and many of those deaths are from plastic unwittingly fed to them by their parents.

On the microscopic level, debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, with toxic effects. These toxin-containing plastic pieces are also eaten by jellyfish, which are then eaten by fish and then by humans. 

Yep, many of us are consuming toxic plastic particles, every day, through the fish we eat.

Marine plastics facilitate the spread of invasive species that attach to floating plastic in one region and drift long distances to colonize other ecosystems. Debris affects at least 267 species worldwide.  

Step 1: Buy a Smuggy and make sure your coffee cup doesn’t end up on vacation in Plastic Island.

www.smuggy.com.au/the-cups

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Sign the Greenpeace Petition Here!

Greenpeace are lending their considerable weight to the fight against single-use plastic.

We here at Smuggy take pride, if not gratification, from doing our bit for the environment.

Our goal is to make it easy for our customers to get that little boost of self-satisfaction every time they use one of our products.

Now Greenpeace are making it even easier. All you have to do is fill out this short form to join the fight against the ridiculous plastic packaging we find on our every day groceries.

So buy a Smuggy for your coffee and sign the petition for your veggies!

www.smuggy.com.au/the-cups

https://act.greenpeace.org/page/23228/petition/1?locale=en-AU

 

Irish Choose Tax Over Ban

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Following other states initiatives to curb the number of disposable cups clogging up landfill, Ireland is considering a coffee cup tax. The “Latte Levy” being proposed will mean a 10-15c charge for the use of disposable single use cups.

The taxation will ultimately raise interest in glass reusable coffee cups which have been hugely successful alternatives in other jurisdictions.

Target Reusable Coffee Cups

The Republic of Ireland’s decision to tax cups is no surprise. Government agencies wanting to promote a culture of reusable BYO cups will take note of its country’s policy on plastic bags.

In 2002, Ireland became the first country to enforce a plastic bag tax. The 15c fee had dramatic effects on the Emerald Isle’s consumption of plastics. The use of plastic bags fell by 94%. Local parks and rivers were noticeably cleaner within months. Public opinion changed comprehensively to support the eradication of unnecessary plastic bags.

Unfortunately the net benefit was diminished by other factors. Although the use of plastic dramatically fell, the use of paper disposable bags skyrocketed. Paper bags require more energy to produce than plastic bags. It will be important the Irish government do not allow for unsustainable replacements in relation to coffee cups.

The Irish experiment would be far more environmentally sound if it fosters a movement to reusable, sustainable products. Along with the health benefits of utilising BPA free glass in our everyday lives, people will be doing their bit for the environment.

Smuggy - Glass Reusable Coffee Cups

Chile to Ban the Bag

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Chile’s president Michelle Bachelet signed a bill aiming to ban plastic bags in over 100 coastal areas. The move is seen as a phased approach to ultimately ban the use of plastic bags across the entire country.

Pacific Garbage Patch

It is no great surprise that the highest risk areas have been identified along the Chile coastline. Recently a plastic patch “bigger than the state of Texas” was uncovered in a remote area off the coast of Chile. Captain Charles Moore stated that “my initial impression is that our samples compared to what we were seeing in the North Pacific (Great Pacific Garbage Patch) in 2007”.

The Great Pacific Garbage patch located in North Pacific is located in international waters and therefore has no direct affiliation to any country. It has often be noted that it would “bankrupt any country” that tried to clean it up, due to its size and complexity.

As a hidden gem of the Chilean bill, it also allows non-coastal regions to join the project, empowering local municipals to say no to single use plastics.

What can we do?

Glass | Sustainable | Reusable Products

Most of the supermarket chains are now offering reusable bags at checkout. There are some really cool sustainable water drinking bottles on the market and of course, get yourself a glass, BPA free, reusable, coffee cup with Smuggy here :)

Smuggy - Glass Reusable Coffee Cups

Are Coffee Shops Doing Enough?

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When we hear baffling figures like only 1% of all disposable coffee cups are being recycled, it begs the question: “who is responsible?”

Coffee shop owners in the vast majority of cases are hugely personable people. We all know our local coffee shop baristas and owners. We chat to them when we grab our almond lattes or short blacks.

Maybe it is time for customers to demand a little more than a morning brew and a chin wag. Maybe we should be questioning our coffees shop’s waste management decisions.

I am lucky, I work in Barangaroo and live in Bondi, two places quite progressive in promotion of the reusable coffee cup. Barangaroo as an area is especially innovative, forcing businesses to have compostable cup lids and fully recyclable paper cups (most disposable coffee cups have plastic linings which deems them virtually un-recyclable).

Is that enough? We at Smuggy aren’t totally convinced. Recycling is fantastic but reusing is even better. Seeing people walk around with one of our glass reusable coffee cups is a pretty nice feeling. To be honest I support any of the reusable glass coffee cup makers. We all got here for the same reason, to change the tide away from plastics destroying our oceans and landscapes.

When our children look back at our generation and ask what the hell we were thinking, make sure you have some photographic evidence that you were one of the sustainable pioneers of your time. Saying no to single use products. Reusing wherever you can. Minimising your waste.

Be on the right side of this.

Smuggy - Glass Reusable Coffee Cups

Costa Rica Free From Single Use Plastics By 2021

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Costa Rica, a country known for its stunning rainforests and picturesque coastlines. A strip of land pinned between the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans where tourists flock to drink from freshly fallen coconuts and enjoy the feeling of sand between their toes. A country not known for their environmental innovation, well until now!

Costa Rica’s government has taken the bold and commendable step of claiming to the world they will be rid of single use plastics by 2021. The joint statement from environment and energy minister Edgar Gutiérrez, health minister María Esther Anchía, and resident representative for UNDP Costa Rica Alice Shackelford, read:

“Being a country free of single use plastics is our mantra and our mission.

It’s not going to be easy, and the government can’t do it alone. To promote these changes, we need all sectors—public and private—to commit to actions to replace single-use plastic through five strategic actions: municipal incentives, policies and institutional guidelines for suppliers; replacement of single-use plastic products; research and development—and investment in strategic initiatives.

We also need the leadership and participation of all: women, men, boys and girls.”

This message resonates deeply with the envirocup movement. From a study conducted by the World Economic Forum, every minute one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans. This has to stop.

This small country is leading the change in governmental policy to try protect our oceans and wider planet. A big thank you from the Smuggy community.

Reusable Sustainable Products

Don’t forget that you can do your bit. Governments are responsible but so are individuals. Get out there and change your habits. Buy sustainable drinking bottles, do your grocery shopping with a bag for life, brush your teeth with a bamboo toothbrush and get yourself a Smuggy.

Smuggy - Glass Reusable Coffee Cups

The Hong Kong Clean Up

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Amazingly now in its 17th year, the Hong Kong Clean Up is launching again on 1st December 2017. The community clean-up project is the largest of its kind in the world, engaging over 350,000 participants.

Locals sign up to join other environmental warriors and tackle beaches, parks and streets to fight against the overwhelming tide of plastics destroying our oceans and landscapes.

What an incredible community initiative. When we heard about this fantastic movement, we wanted to celebrate it and maybe get some of our own readers interested in doing something similar in their own communities.

We desperately need to change our thinking away from a throwaway culture. Did you know that over 5 billion disposable cups are manufactured each year? Listen, we get it, disposable cups are very handy but the damage they are bringing our planet majorly outweighs the convenience.

Join us in saying no to single use products, starting with grabbing a stylish BYO cup from us at envirocup. They are made from glass and are BPA free.

Don’t stop there though, reuse anything that comes into your possession. We at Smuggy want to encourage reusing over recycling.

Smuggy - Glass Reusable Coffee Cups

The City of Vancouver Being Absolute Babes

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As people are starting to realise, disposable cups are very, very bad for our environment. The majority have plastic linings that deem them fundamentally unrecyclable.

Another absolute atrocity on our ecosystem is styrofoam.

Where individuals can be forgiven for not realising how detrimental disposable coffee cups are, we have no excuses when it comes to Styrofoam. We have always known how bad it was.

Well Vancouver have said “no more”. In line with their 2040 Zero-Waste goal, they are looking to ban plastic bags, styrofoam containers and disposable coffee cups.

So what is the answer? Well there are heaps. Don’t wait for your local governments to do it for you. Make a change for life. Say no to single use products and get out there and get yourself some sustainable products.

Our little earth will thank you!

Smuggy - Glass Reusable Coffee Cups