Detritus from modern life seems to line every walkway and roadside that I travel down, it has seeped into the countryside too, the filthy, mangled remains flapping in the breeze, stuck in hedgerows and trees.  It is in our seas and rivers too, a semi-see through slithering mass slipping by on the current.

However you describe it, its there, and its ugly.  It is rubbish, mostly from fast food of some description or other, cans, crisp packets, burger wrappers, straws, cups…and its everywhere, you don’t even need to look hard to find it.

How does it get there?  Some of it is dropped, whether accidental or on purpose, some of it is left behind, some of it has just not made it to the bin or fallen out again, however it got there isn’t the problem, the problem is that it is there, and while we consume these items, places will still continue to manufacture these packaging goods, and while these goods are still being manufactured they are still going to end up on the streets and in fields, causing problems for the environment and the animals that live in them.

How we can make a difference.  I believe that in order to make a difference we need to be more mindful of our consumption of these goods.  If we really put our mind to it, and ask questions about what we are buying, like “do I need a straw?”, “Is there a better way to package this?”, then we are on the right path.  Can we, for instance, do without the straw in our drink, purchase (and use more than once) a re-usable cup/travel mug for coffee, have our takeaway sandwich/burger/meal placed in reusable containers, can we carry our own cutlery instead of using throw away knives and forks?  If we start thinking, and doing this then we are on our way to reducing the amount of rubbish in our environment.

You can buy re-usable mugs in many places now, Starbucks and Costa both carry their own lines but you can purchase re-usable cups and flasks in most supermarkets ad other stores now.

If you really like using a straw, why not purchase a stainless steel one?  I really like the range on eco-straws (UK based) .  Not only will this reduce waste (and things like this (WARNING -Graphic Video) happening, it will look cool when you use it.

And finally, how about carrying these around with you to whip out when you need them?  The cutlery will come in handy next time you buy something you want to eat straight away but doesn’t come with any eating implements and, again, will slow down the waste ending up where it shouldn’t.

These are only ideas, in an ideal world we would all make our own snacks and sandwiches, pastas and salads and not rely on buying and consuming from shops and food places but if we can make a start in slowing down the production of rubbish then we are on the right tracks.  Even if we keep consuming then looking for ways to re-cycle and reuse (if possible) is a small step in the right direction instead of just dropping or leaving our waste behind once we have finished with it.

It all boils down to being more mindful and thinking about our actions.


Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

I am including this as a new series as I wanted to cover some historical points of interest in the walks that I take.  The first walk that I am looking at is the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal walk that can be started in Brecon and will lead you down through the valleys to Pontymoile and further along to Cwmbran where it breaks down and has been built over in places. So, without further ado…

I’m really lucky to live not far from part of the canal that makes up Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Taken from the website Canal River Trust the history can be explained as ”

What is nowadays popularly referred to as the Mon & Brec started life as two separate canals: the Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal, and the Monmouthshire Canal. The 35-mile navigable section seen today is mostly the former. In the 1790s, the Monmouthshire Canal Company received its Act of Parliament at the same time that the Brecknock & Abergavenny was being planned. Following discussions, it was decided to link the two at Pontymoile.

The Monmouthshire Canal, including a branch from Malpas to Crumlin, was opened in 1799 with the Brecknock & Abergavenny extending from Brecon to Gilwern by 1800, finally reaching Pontymoile by 1812.

Both canals were supported by horsedrawn tramroads that were mainly used to bring coal, limestone and iron ore from the hillsides. The canal played a significant part in our industrial heritage, connecting Hill’s tramroads to the iron works in Blaenavon and the forges at Garnddyrys.

Though originally constructed to transport coal, lime and agricultural products the canal was used extensively by ironmasters and industrialists as their main transport network, bringing the raw iron ore up the canal from Newport to Llanfoist Wharf and thence by tramroads to the iron works and returning with trams loaded with iron, the finished product. Remains of this heritage can still be viewed along the canal today these include wharfs and lime kilns.

The Blaenavon area and a section of the canal were granted World Heritage status in 2000 in recognition of its historical significance.
In 1880 the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals were taken over by the Great Western Railway. Within 35 years, commercial carrying had all but ceased.”

I live not far from the Pontymoile part of the canal and this is where I usually join the canal.  You can see lots of different things along the canal including wildlife (different types of birds, fish and insects).  It’s a fab walk for many different energy fitness levels and is flat, tarmacked in many places and easy to navigate!  This walk is best to go on in daylight as much of the canal isn’t lit and can become hard to navigate once evening sets in but weather wise you can do this walk in any weather really, just make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear!!!

Here’s some photos that I have taken in the past of the canal walk!

The Environment – Micro Beads

This series will look at the environment we live in and how we can look after it and protect it for years to come.  This series came about from spending so much time outdoors and seeing the effects that man has had on where we live, what impact we have had on nature and starting my own quest on helping lessen the impact we have.  This series will cover things like pollution in the air, water and terrain, rubbish, recycling, erosion, acid rain and a whole host of other environmental concerns.

Today’s post looks at our water pollution, specifically plastics in our seas and oceans, rivers and lakes.  Plastics get into our water in many ways, from being dumped at sea to being left behind on beaches by tourists.  Whatever the way the plastics are getting there doesn’t matter, they are there and they are causing hazards and environmental damage to our Eco-systems.  What we should be doing is becoming more aware of products we use and by becoming aware, changing our habits to slow the plastics entering the water in the first place.

One of the ways that the plastics are getting into our waters is through the beauty industry adding polyethylene to face and body washes, this is a manufactured micro-plastic and these are teeny, tiny bits of plastic added to all manner of body care products to give a “scrub” effect.  I have found micro beads in hand washes, body washes, face scrubs and all manner of foot care products, products manufactured to remove hard/dead skin or marketed as complexion brighteners.  I have heard that micro-beads can be contained in toothpaste too which is worrying.  These plastics are suspended in the product and once used, get washed down the drain and float off into oceans and rivers.  They are so small that normal removal of plastics from the water is useless, the size of these particles is so small, and they just slip through.  Once in the rivers and oceans, they get consumed by unsuspecting fish that then end up in our food cycle.  This means that we then consume the plastics ourselves and it ends up inside us.

There are 2 main problems with this micro-beads usage, 1) once it gets back into the food chain and we consume it, it can stay in our systems, our natural acids can break it down and the chemicals released can cause a whole myriad of health problems, or these beads can adhere to our insides and cause cancer to form.  2) The micro-beads are left in the oceans and waterways are causing pollution and affecting sea life (both in the water and out – fish, birds, water mammals like seals and otters), it gets into their systems and can cause them to die.

That is not the end of it though, there are things we can do to change the micro beads usage and manufacture.  The biggest change we can make is to switch to scrubs that contain more natural ingredients like pumice, salt, sugar or ground nut shells.  When you want to purchase these scrubs, check the back of the pot or tube or packet and check the ingredients – look for words that end in ethane (polyethylene, polypropylene are good examples of micro beads used) and choose not to buy them.  Look for other brands that use natural scrub ingredients and use those instead, or step away from scrubs and make your own instead (there are lots of recipes on line, use search terms as “DIY natural face scrub” or “Make your own natural scrub for body/face”).  If we don’t buy into the companies that make these products then they cant make money from these products and will have to change, until then we are just going to be washing plastics down our drains, into the sewers and out into the wide world.  If we can stop this practice, one person at a time, then we will be stopping an untold amount of damage being caused further down the line.

Further reading – (added to this post on 7th February 2017)