Is it just a matter of time before our oceans are free from plastic?

IMG_4268.JPGAnswers to our questions often lie within nature, it is often found that we can take aspects of even the deadliest attributes of nature to improve our livelihoods. As anthropogenic activity continues to damage the environment, it is the time that we should use these aspects to help save our planet. Microplastic pollution has received a lot of attention in the media in the past couple of years, leading to the banning of the production of microbeads in the United Kingdom by 2018.  However, even with this promise from the government to reduce their effects within our marine environment, there is still a magnificent presence of small plastic particles entering our waterways from the degrading of larger plastic pieces.

Small fragments of plastic have been discovered in waterways globally (microscope image shows microplastics found in the Charlton Brook Sheffield, UK). The UK Government proposed studies have shown that negative effects on species include: the filling of the stomach with plastic leading to potential starvation, desorption of toxic chemicals from the plastic into the organism, and the transfer of these issues up the trophic levels. As a response, scientists have been searching for ways to remove microplastics within water systems, however most of the ideas will cause significant harm to biodiversity (use of fine nets and dredging).

Micro-organisms have shown to effectively remove small plastic particles from water in a controlled environment, which was reported in 2016 by a team of scientists in Japan. It was discovered that the bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis could effectively break down small plastic particles of polyethylene terephthalate (commonly referred to as PET) at 30⁰c. With what seems to be a huge breakthrough in regard to tackling this global environmental issue, there has been little information emitted from scientists since then. Can this automatically be perceived as bad news?

Although it is clear that this is impossible to replicate within the marine environment – and work with different variations of microplastic – the idea of harnessing a (questionably) natural process, and the possibility of genetic engineering to modify the micro-organism is promising. On the other hand,  these manufactures tiny lifeforms have the potential to be just as lethal as they are to be beneficial. With researcher Dr Mincer stating the experiment as “carefully done” last year, this may suggest some more time is needed for another potential breakthrough.

Overall, although the wait may be long we must cling onto this hope for the eradication of microplastic pollution. The thought of a future with clean oceans and healthy ecosystems is amazing.

 

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Wanna new body? At what expense?

I was reading earlier in New Scientist magazine about the introduction of head/body replacements. Weird right? Apparently by the end of 2017 there will be such a thing as a head transplant!

Yes this will be very beneficial for paralysed people, enabling them to inhabit a fully functioning body. In the future in the organ donation we will probably be given an option to donate our whole body! Basically what it says for a head transplant to happen is that they need not just your head, but also your spine (apparently all spine injuries have been solved too).

I watch a lot if Sci-Fi, yeah I’m a nerd. But what the heck, I love it. In all the stuff that I’ve seen, barely any of it matches to the gruesomeness of a head transplant. This also makes me think; if this is ok for the media  to publish, then what else has been discovered that is too gruesome for the press?

I have always and will still believe that we are only told less than 10% of what actually is happening around us, plainly because sometimes the truth is too harsh (or expensive) for the public to handle. What if we cured all these diseases? How big will our population be? How much will we need to spend on infrastructure and food? Yes it is horrible to think about, but would it surprise you?

Also if head transplants happen then what next? “Designer bodies” will fit somewhere in the equation in the next 50 years, plus with the addition of Botox and face-lifts you will have cloned rich people running around the place, pushing their designer babies (by their nannys or course).

Is this progress? Or is this another breakthrough that will stop developed countries from receiving the help that they should?

Much love,

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Are we Adulting yet?

The term “adulting” now tends to pop up a lot in the dark dark world of the internet (possibly due to this tumblr/blog/book), it seems like all the social media savvy are around my age use this word. What scares me the most of all is that I’m certainly not adulting!…at least I don’t think I am… If you call watching Comedy Central re-runs of Friends on a Monday afternoon whist ignoring the existence of university being productive, I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

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I’ve just entered my final year of university, at the end of my final freshers week I couldn’t help but feel that all the university fun will soon be over. I’ll begin the trauma of writing a dissertation (once I think of a topic and a question) and working towards modules that will actually count towards my final mark! But the aspect that I am most concerned about is finishing and going into the real world…or not going into the real world and instead doing a masters.

What do I want to do a job in? Dunno

What do I want to do a masters in? Dunno

If I didn’t know any better then I would be shit*ing myself for the future. However, I know for a fact that most 20 something and 30 something year olds don’t have a clue what they’re doing either, and just winging it. In fact my uncle is 50 odd and he told me that he still doesn’t know wants to be when he grows up.

I know that I am perfectly capable of living on my own…because I have. I know how to cook and generally keep myself alive. What I do not know is how taxes work, how a mortgage or loan works, how to buy a house, and how to change a light bulb (amongst many other tasks). So I am proposing that someone who is business savvy and knows how to do adult things, starts an Adulting course – preferably online – and of course for free. Or the government could actually propose that schools teach life skills, rather than trig.

If you’re reading this then let me know, do you know what you want to be when you grow up?

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Changes

The first week of cycle 16 has been spent settling in to our new life for the next 10 weeks. Adjusting to a new lifestyle is something most young people rarely experience, if at all. It is easy to go your whole life comfortably without introducing yourself to a new culture, and a new way of life. Before you have experienced this change you expect a difficult adjustment, and to miss how life was before. However in El Bramadero, Nicaragua this has not been the case. Ever since we stepped foot in our host community we felt welcomed from the start. Host families do their best to make sure you feel like you are part of the family, and they love you as if you were one of their own children. On our first full day of living in El Bramadero we were welcomed by the community in the local park, I have never witnessed celebrations with a piñata before but it is defiantly a memory that will stick in my mind, Nicaraguan children go crazy for it!

Something that is different in Nicaragua compared to the U.K (which is hard not to miss) is the sheer amount of animals wandering around the streets. You wake up in the early hours of the morning by cockerels – which have fast become a least favourite of mine – at usually around 3am. My host family has many animals aside from the chickens there are dogs (Rocky and Donkey), a cat (Mitsi) and a pig which has recently given birth to piglets. Also as an animal lover I was of course over-the-moon when I was told that there was a young puppy (Progressio) at the family’s house up the road, which is also another host family.  The difference in how Nicaraguan’s treat their animals is far different compared to the U.K, many of the animals are underweight, riddled with fleas and are not provided the appropriate nutrition for their species. This however does not stop Nicaraguans from loving their animals, and providing their pets with whatever scraps from food they have left; no food is wasted here.

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The topic of wastage is a good one in this instance. Nicaraguans waste nothing, they love to reuse whatever can be, which is why it is always a good idea to provide your host family with something which can also be used for something else (e.g a tin of biscuits as they will reuse the tin for storage). As previously mentioned, Nicas feed their pets and farm animals food leftovers and waste. I have now got into the routine of feeding my mango skin to a pig or horse, and my chicken bones to the dog or the cat.

Food wastage is a huge problem in the U.K, (Documentary gives a good insight into the scale) with people being so picky with food for themselves so that tonnes of food goes to waste before it even hits the shop floor, just because it isn’t up to aesthetic standards; where as in Nicaragua you literally just pull fruit off a tree and eat it, who cares what it looks like? We are told that there is a problem with the growing human population, why not just utilise all this food that is going to waste instead.

Therefore if there is anything that I have learnt from my first week in El Bramadero, it’s that we should all utilise everything for both economic and environmental reasons. Furthermore, even though we may judge countries less economically fortunate than ours for their environmental awareness, but each countries have their own positive and negative environmental management.

So what can you do from home to utilise products? I would recommend buying fruit and vegetables from farmers markets or your local fruit and veg’ shop, this way the products have not gone through the scrutiny which most chain supermarkets go through. If you have any food waste; why not start composting? Or better yet, feed it to your pet; as long as it isn’t poisonous for them of course!

To explore, to volunteer.

Hello everyone!

I have always been eager to explore the world, change it for the better, and learn about other cultures. The ICS organisation Progressio is making my dream start to turn into reality!

I will hopefully be volunteering for 3 months in Nicaragua, Central America for 3 months alongside national and British volunteers. I will be supporting environmental projects, supporting women and the LGBT+ community and generally improve the livelihood of the citizens. During my stay I will be living with a host family, so I will be experiencing the culture fully including it’s food, language, and many poisonous and venomous creatures…oh and freshwater sharks.

This will not be a holiday for me! I will be working on projects daily, and I am not looking forward to the heat and humidity (I’m a white Brit who’s used to the cold). But the end result will be so rewarding and worth the effort!

I am hoping to post updates to here about my volunteering journey, and also my fundraising. For my fundraising I need to get £800 before I depart, without these donations I cannot go, if anybody has money to spare please donate to my JustGiving page, it will be appreciated dearly! (info below). For my first fundraising torture event, I will be “Living Below the Line” which consists of living on £5 over 5 days, this is in order to show how poverty effects people and also how committed I am to the cause.

I am hoping to take my camera with me and share images of the beautiful country I may get to visit, so look forward to that! Also, if you have had any international volunteering experience/advice I would love to hear it.

ICS – http://www.volunteerics.org/

Progressio – http://www.progressio.org.uk/

JustGiving – https://www.justgiving.com/Bethan-Goodhead

Text Code (UK) – BUFN77 £(amount) to 70070

The Book is Always Better

A while ago I saw the promo for “Zoo” coming to Sky1, the advert looked like something I was interesting and when I saw that it was based on the novel I jumped at the chance to purchase it.

Written by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, I was really surprised that I’ve never heard of it, although I’m not “on the scene” when it comes to books, this genre is right up my street. Without giving too much away it’s about this guy called Jackson Oz who is crazy about animal behaviour and ecology (like me), and it’s about his story discovering what is causing this environmental disaster making animals all over the world – apart from humans – go absolutely crazy.

After reading about a quarter of the book I thought I would watch the first episode of the TV adaptation.

It was shite.

It was nothing like the book, they changed aspects that didn’t need to be changed! The main point that was changed is the general context of the characters, their past and present were totally re-vamped, the only thing which remained the same about Oz was his name.

I know that it is based on the novel but honestly it was ruined for me. I’m unsure of how the TV series concluded – or even whether it is still running – because I only got to episode 2 (so please correct me if it gets better).

After now finishing the book (it takes me months to read books because I only tend to read on public transport) I thoroughly recommend it, I love James Patterson books anyway but this was a refreshing change to his usual thriller.

Bethan

*images not my own, my book doesn’t look very photogenic