Shrimp Shells As Biodegradable Bags? Could Be Solution to Plastic Bag Pollution

The latest news from the University of Nottingham is that scientists have found a way to use shrimp shells to make biodegradable plastic bags. I recently reported for Biofuels Digest’s NUU publication how researchers in Portugal are using shrimp and crab shells for biomedical devices, which sounded like a neat biomaterial solution for the medical community. But what about shrimp shells to replace plastic bags? I’ve been thinking alot about whether this is really a better option and it’s a tough one. Here are my thoughts on this:

Pros:

  • This development in using shrimp shells is specifically for use in Egypt where plastic pollution is a huge problem, especially plastic bags which are contaminating the water ways. This directly impacts the health of the people in Egypt.
  • It can replace the fossil fuel, oil based plastic bags now used so that if bags do get into the water ways as they have been doing, then at least now they will biodegrade and not cause any harm to the aquatic life or humans living near those water ways and drink, bathe, irrigate crops, and use that water.

Cons:

  • It’s not providing a solution for the root of the problem which is 1) why are so many plastic bags being used in the first place and why can’t reusuable bags be an option? 2) how to prevent any trash, even biodegradable plastic bags from getting into the waterways?
  • There are some unknown questions that I can’t seem to gather the answers from based on the article. For example,
    • Where will they get the shrimp shells from? The article makes it sounds like the shrimp shells are coming from waste that otherwise would be thrown away. I am not sure how much shrimp is raised, caught or processed in Egypt but if they can take something that would otherwise be thrown away, then great. But I would hope they wouldn’t purposefully be growing shrimp for their shells to make the bags with.
    • What additives are they using to bind the shells and make the bags? I would hope they aren’t adding some chemicals or toxins to bind the material and create the bags.

So while I really love the idea of a biodegradable plastic bag that won’t pollute waterways and will biodegrade quickly, I would need more information on the actual way the bags are produced and how they get the shrimp shells, if they are really eliminating a waste by using the shrimp shells, etc.

I can’t wait to hear more about it and see what other new bio-innovations are created to help solve our huge worldwide plastics problem!

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Today, I Folded My Underwear…and How that Means I’m Back from My Hiatus

After 10 years of not folding my underwear and just stuffing them in a drawer, today I folded them.

It may not seem like a big deal to you. Maybe you always folded your underwear. Maybe you never did. But I used to fold my underwear in a very precise fashion ever since I was a little kid and it wasn’t something I learned, as even my Mom used to find it amusing.

Was I OCD? Maybe a little. But for me, folding my underwear was like being in a meditative state. I found the repetitive pattern and movement relaxing. I enjoyed the peace and quiet of my mind as I folded them. I didn’t dwell on what happened yesterday. I didn’t worry about what would happen tomorrow. I just focused on what was right in front of me and enjoyed the moment.

So why did I stop folding my underwear 10 years ago and why is it such a big deal that I started up again?

10 years ago I had my first child and several major health issues in our family. That’s why I stopped. I just didn’t have time to fold my underwear anymore. You may think it’s an unimportant thing, but it signified a big change for me.

I had my first baby, trouble breastfeeding, dealing with my baby’s health issues (hip dysplasia), and went back to work full time within 3 months. Many Moms have a hard time transitioning back to work, but I especially was having a hard time as my precious 3 month old just had hip surgery to try and fix her hip dysplasia and was in a full body cast (spica cast) with only her little head and arms free to move. It’s a time in our lives that I hate to think about and I often try to forget about.

One day during all this craziness, I woke up with my arms and legs totally numb and ended up in the hospital hearing the ER doctor say “I’ve never in my entire career seen thyroid levels like yours. If you weren’t so young and healthy, you’d be in a coma by now based on your thyroid levels.”  Yeah, that was scary.

I found out I had Hashimoto’s disease – an autoimmune disease that destroys your thyroid. If you know about thyroid levels, my TSH was over 1,500 which is such a high number that U.S. laboratories can’t even measure it above 1,500. Normal TSH levels should be around 1 to 3.

The ultimate betrayal.  My body was attacking itself.

I was destroying me.

It took me years to come to grips with this, years to get the right dosage of thyroid medication and years for my daughter’s hip surgeries and body casts to get her hips to a “good enough” place so she can walk, run, dance and play like the other kids.

Then I had a second child, who luckily didn’t have hip dysplasia but was born with congenital vascular issues on her left hip, buttocks and leg making her left leg and foot smaller and shorter than her right. So, no surgeries as a baby for her, just expensive shoe lifts to try and even out her leg lengths, and possible surgeries if the length difference increases, which I don’t like to think about.

So the point is, with everything going on over the last 10 years with full time work, a growing family, and health issues, I haven’t had time to fold my underwear. I haven’t made quieting my mind a priority. I haven’t taken the time to enjoy the now.

But today is a new day.

Today, I quieted my mind.

Today, I enjoyed the moment.

Today, I folded my underwear.

And maybe it’s this time of year full of New Year’s Resolutions talk, or the renewal I feel in my heart, but during today’s quiet moment, I came up with some fun ideas and plans for this blog. Today I am committing publicly to posting more Living Green tips on here and sharing our journey to protect our health and our environment.

So join me on this journey, subscribe to my newsletter to get weekly green tips and news, and fold your underwear so you can enjoy a moment of peace and stillness in your mind today.

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Prince William County Annual Recycling Day!

For those of you in Prince William County, check out their Annual Recycling Day!  Our kids loved it last year, especially the landfill tours and recycling games at the booths.  Educational yet fun!

Download their flyer with more information here.

Recycle Day 2014 Flyer image

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A Fierce Green Fire

If you have nothing on your agenda for this Earth Day, check this out:

American Masters presents A Fierce Green Fire, the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement, premiering nationally Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 9-10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/schedule/) in honor of Earth Day.

The one-hour documentary chronicles one of the largest movements of the 20th century, and one of the keys to the 21st.

Written, directed and produced by Academy Award-nominee Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties), American Masters: A Fierce Green Fire spans 50 years of grassroots and global activism from the 1960s-2009 and connects the major causes of environmentalism, from conservation to climate change. Narrated by Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Van Jones and Isabel Allende, the film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has won acclaim worldwide.

Inspired by the book of the same name by environmental journalist and film interviewee Philip Shabecoff, and informed by advisors like conservation biologist E.O. Wilson, A Fierce Green Fire unfolds in five acts, each with a central story and character, featuring vivid archival footage and new interviews that shed light on the battle for a living planet. The first four acts include success stories of people fighting for causes against enormous odds, and the fifth concludes with climate change.

 

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20 Recycle, Reuse and Repurpose Activities for Kids

20140418_152357Especially with Earth Day coming up this week, I wanted to share this neat list of 20 activities for kids that involve Recycling, Reusing and Repurposing! Enjoy!

I am spending my lunch break on Tuesday (April 22) Earth Day at my daughter’s school representing a local environmental organization I’m on the Board of called Keep Prince William Beautiful.  I’m so honored to have been asked by her teacher to come in and share some “Three R’s” information in a fun way with them! She knows of my environmental background so it’s neat to be able to integrate my work and my passion into young children’s education!

What will you be doing for Earth Day?

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Fig Sugar Scrub Sold Out

Thank you for your order, but unfortunately, we are all sold out of the Fig Sugar Scrub!  Please contact me at hkennedy@livinggreendaybyday.com if you’d like to place an order for when it does come back in stock.  I will be able to give you a date when they will be in stock again.

Thank you!

Sugar scrup label photo

 

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Fig Sugar Body Scrub

Sugar scrup label photoAs you all know by now, I have a plethora of figs in the fall.  We can’t eat them fast enough or give them away enough!  And there is only so much fig jam I can eat, so I experimented with a variety of basic sugar scrubs adding in figs and came up with what I like to think is the perfect recipe!  I won’t give the secret recipe away but it only has three ingredients.  Figs, sugar and vanilla extract.  Yep, that’s it!  It’s the ratios and amounts that make all the difference and turn it into the perfect texture of a sugar scrub that smells amazing.

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Advent Calendar Activities – Simple, Easy and Fun!

 

Christmas Advent Calendar - Finished calendar side view

 

Some of you have asked what our advent calendar activities are that we wrote on slips of paper and included in our homemade recycled advent calendar.  So here is our list, though we had to reorder some of them because of snow storms, etc.  The nice thing is the kids don’t mind opening a different day if needed as they know they eventually will get to open all of them! Continue reading

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Free Advent Calendar!

Christmas Advent Calendar - Finished calendarAre you looking for a personalized, fun and free Advent Calendar to count down the days until Christmas?  I started seeing chocolate advent calendars in the stores right after Halloween and have been thinking ever since then how we can make our own from things we already have around the house. Continue reading

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