So, I was channel surfing last night and came across something very strange. Something that gave me that exact same feeling as the Canadian chipmunk.
Some of you may remember that I went insane on 1 January and made a huge list of resolutions for 2012. It came with a youtube clip.
How’s it going I don’t hear you ask? Well, I’m pretty sure you’re going to be surprised to hear that my non-drinking has received a little bit of media attention recently.
Yeah, me and Brad, we just like to hang sometimes. It’s cool, but, you know, whatever.
I haven’t donated to a foodbank because I haven’t been paid since 14 December. I got paid yesterday for the first time in two months. I’d just like to thank the crack team at PayServe for making my summer holiday a little more stressful than it needed to be. You guys rock my world.
I haven’t turned off the TV, but I think I’m watching more videos. More videos from 1981 to 1983. This is proving to be quite enjoyable. More on this later.
The Sunlight washing-up liquid has gone. Mainly it’s gone because I don’t like the fact they don’t say anything about what’s in their product on their product, that they claim brand identity with NZ but let’s face it this product is Australian and international, and they say their product is biodegradable. Of course it is, it’s a friggin liquid. What am I – a total idiot? We changed to the Ecostore brand. Unlike Pental they want you to go to their website and hear about their environmental record.
Actually, changing washing up brands was interesting (that should be ”interesting” – which suggests that it isn’t really interesting at all, which is closer to the truth). I washed one load of dishes with regular soap and it worked fine, right up to the point that I told Cathy. She wasn’t impressed. As you might recall, one of my clauses in my resolutions was not majorly pissing off my wife. I washed dishes in soap because I had been reading all these do-goody websites about how to make your own environmentally friendly dishwashing liquid, and it seemed really hard. Then I thought: “how did they wash dishes in the 19th century?” Soap. You see my train of thought now right?
The plastic bag thing drives me crazy. The number of times I forget to bring my bags to the supermarket is killing me. Actually Pak’n'Save works quite well on this front, because we have to wheel the trolley down to the boot of the car and unload there.
I have volunteered to work with refugees but all the council flats are being refurbished in Wellington at the moment (which is awesome) so there won’t be a Wellington intake until mid-year. I’m signed up for the mid-year training.
I walk to work. The second car is still here, but lives at Granny’s house. It will probably be sold later in the year. We usually get our fruit and vege at the local market. The main benefit of this is that I have a far greater sense of seasonality. Strawberries come first with asparagus, then we get stone fruit, blueberries much later. Who knew?
I have figured out who I need to work with in my Year 9 class, but my Year 10 class is less clear. I will talk to the group of Year 9 students this coming week and start meeting them once a week at lunch.
Not eating meat on Monday is ok. Changing to coffee beans has meant that my coffee intake overall has dropped hugely because I can’t be bothered grinding beans, and percolating. This is probably good. After a few days of headaches I seem to be ok, and boy do I enjoy coffee when I have it.
I had another unstated goal which was to make this blog regular (it’s on a bran diet), and funner. I also wanted to go and visit other like-minded blogs. I think that this is going alright. If you haven’t followed the link in the comments section yet you should definitely go and read Childhood Relived. It is the funniest blog I think I have ever read. Actually, scratch that, don’t go and read it, if you do you will never visit this blog again.
I also like The Last Song I Heard which seems to be less regular (too many bananas), and has a cool science fiction twist to it’s musical nostalgia. The video for the current song is hilarious, but I was pleased to discover that this dude likes The Riddle by Nik Kershaw. Who knew that Kim Wilde had a song about Bladerunner?
Finally, there is a very talented and cool dude called Moses. He writes great music and makes great films. I find him very inspiring.
It’s February. I need to add two more goals on top of not drinking and meatless Monday. February will see me switch to better washing up liquid and carrying on walking to work.
We use Sunlight to wash our dishes. I got the bottle out from under the sink and looked at the label.
What do you notice about this product’s labelling? What I notice is that it doesn’t tell you anything at all about what is in it. Which is a little unusual. Also, it says it is made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients. For some reason this strikes me as unbelievable.
Never mind, I looked up the Pental website which was nice and glossy (lots of white teeth).
There was nothing obvious on this website about product ingredients. Eventually I found this page:
Click on the name listed below?
Randomly I clicked on MSDS because it was the last one on the list and I had no idea what MSDS stood for. Naturally this is where you can find all the information about what is actually in the product. I think this is pretty obscure.
This is what is in my Sunlight.
Which makes for a very complicated read. The main ingredients are water (60%+) and anionic surfuctants (10-30%). Anionic surfuctants are things that make dirt slide off of stuff so they appear in detergents a lot (as you can imagine). They can be natural or manmade. Manmade ones are made of petroleum which is obviously not a good thing.
You will notice that the word proprietary appears a few times on the list above. What does this mean?
A trade secret is any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which is used in one’s business, and which gives him an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it. It may be a formula for a chemical compound, a process of manufacturing, treating or preserving materials, a pattern for a machine or other device, or even a list of customers. In other words, the trade secret is proprietary information, that which the holder of the secret does not wish to be known to others, particularly his competitors.
Ok, so Sunlight is not telling how it makes it’s product smell nice, and look nice, or what makes up 10-30% of its product.
This website lists the top five chemicals to avoid. Here is number one and number three:
1. “Fragrance” can be one or more of 200 chemicals. Companies don’t have to disclose the actual components of each fragrance, under the guise that their fragrances are trade secrets. Fragrance has been known to cause many side effects, including headaches and allergic reactions. Why put an unknown synthetic chemical on your skin when you don’t have to? The Environmental Working Group has an extensive database of cosmetic chemicals and their corresponding danger rankings. “Fragrance” recieves one of the highest rankings possible in their score system.
3. Tetrasodium EDTA is a preservative that’s made from the known carcinogen, formaldehyde and sodium cyanide. It is also a penetration enhancer, meaning it breaks down the skin’s protective barrier, going right into your bloodstream. Many companies trying to be “natural” will use Tetrasodium EDTA instead of parabens to preserve their products. In my opinion, Tetrasodium EDTA is just as bad.
But then, Sunlight is used by millions of people all the time and is clearly not killing us in droves, and it is illegal for a company to claim trade secret status on something that it actually dangerous to people’s health. So let’s dial down the paranoia a touch. I think that is enough science for this post, but I will continue to look into it.
As for the other thing that bothered me; the made in New Zealand with local and imported ingredients. I can’t find any Pental offices in New Zealand (Pental is a part of a massive conglomerate). Naturally I have emailed them to find out where they make Sunlight in New Zealand. Looking at the list of ingredients I’m picking that the water is the local ingredient and everything else is imported.
Which makes me wonder where the water I drain out of the sink every night actually goes.
See what I mean about complicated?
I have a lot more research to do.
The interesting thing about goals is the things you find out along the way, and the adjustments to the original goals that you have to make. You also learn stuff about yourself.
I have about ten goals, and the first thing I have discovered is that this is too many goals to make happen all at once. I have decided to tackle them two at a time. In January I have been focusing mainly on not drinking and Meatless Monday. Next month I will add two more goals.
Goal One: Not drinking for a year
18 days on I would like to be able to tell you that the desire to have a drink has left me. I would really, really like to tell you that, but if I did I would be lying. Friday nights are tough going. The other nights are actually not too bad now. 18 days without drinking is probably a record for me over the last decade or so. Still, no need to get too cocky, I have 348 days to go (but who’s counting), and I haven’t started work yet.
Goal Ten: Meatless Monday
The most surprising thing about this goal is that lunch is clearly going to be the problem. We quite often have a meat free dinner, and I always have toast for breakfast. Equally though I almost always have a sandwich for lunch with some ham in it. Three Mondays in I have to admit that I had baked beans one Monday for lunch and discovered it was a fancy can of baked beans with bits of bacon in it. So I need to watch the lunch thing.
Here’s something I have learnt from these two goals. People are confused and laugh at the idea of not drinking, but they hardly ever react to Meatless Monday. The acceptance of the idea of Vegetarianism has come along way in New Zealand in my life time, but our drinking culture is alive and well.
About one hour after I woke up on 1 January I wondered if setting ten goals for the year had been a really, really bad idea. Ten! What the hell had I been thinking?
Let’s talk about two of the goals in turn and see how I’ve gotten on over the first three days.
Goal One: the one where I said I would not be drinking this year.
So far I can report that this sucks. Drinking, on reflection, is pretty awesome. Not drinking, not so much. Here is a review of the first 72 hours.
Presumably this will become easier.
Either that or I will crack.
At this point I’d say there’s a fifty-fifty chance of the latter.
Goal Five: Don’t use plastic bags.
Here is a brief summary of the function of plastic bags in modern society.
Mostly people use plastic bags to:
*If you have a baby point two is often literal.
Remembering to take alternative bags when I go shopping is going to be the least of my problems (although I have bought an envirosak, Robyn). Point one is fairly easily dealt with.
Point two is a lot harder.
Take a disposable nappy (please). All by itself it is an object dear to the heart of many parents, and even though it is very bad for the planet please remember that part of my overall plan with these goals was not to piss off my wife so I’m just not going there (yet).
A “soiled” nappy smells pretty bad. Generally people put them in plastic bags. You can buy little perfumed plastic bags to put soiled nappies in. One day I think that rubbish tips around the world will detonate as a trillion little plastic nappy bags reach a critical point in their gassy build up under the earth. That’ll be a tough day for seagulls. And down wind residents.
Anyway, to avoid this extra plastic poo bag I now take soiled nappies directly from baby bottom to outside bin.
Next problem. Our general rubbish goes in a bin in the kitchen which has a plastic bin liner, and when that’s full it goes in the big council rubbish bag. (Didn’t we, a long time ago, used to have heavy duty paper council rubbish bags?) Anyway, how do I get rid of the plastic bin liner in my kitchen rubbish bin without (a) creating a big sloppy mess in my bin that has to be scooped out by me every few days, and (b) Cathy beating me up for creating (a)?
Is there such a thing as an environmentally friendly bin liner?
Such things are occupying my little mind.