Plastic Free July? Challenge Accepted

This July I’m going to attempt the Plastic Free July challenge by refusing single-use plastic! The official website suggests choosing from two different levels of participation: Attempting to refuse all single-use plastic or refusing the top four — plastic bags, bottles, takeaway coffee cups, and straws. I already use reusable shopping bags, a stainless steel drink bottle and a reusable coffee cup, and straws are something I encounter about once a year on average, so I’ve signed up for the harder challenge.

Now I’ll have to admit upfront that going completely plastic-free would require some dietary changes that I’m not quite prepared to make just yet, in particular giving up milk and yoghurt. New Zealand’s last glass milk bottling plant closed down in 2005, which means the only options are plastic or tetrapak. While looking for alternatives, I did come across the suggestion to buy powdered milk from bulk bins. However, having recently learned that milk powder is made using coal-fired boilers, I’d rather buy it fresh! I will try to cut back on the amount of dairy I consume, but ultimately my July will be more in the spirit of “plastic a lot less” than “plastic free”.

I plan to post a tally of the plastic waste I generate each week — some of which will be recyclable (like those plastic milk bottles and yoghurt containers) — and talk about what is and isn’t working for me. I’ll also have a go at the extra challenge posed by The Non-Plastic Maori of picking up plastic from my local beach each week.

Wish me luck!

No escaping gravity: Why you should care about King Tides

This weekend Auckland will experience a King Tide — an unusually high tide that arises from the combination of gravitational factors.

All tides depend on changes in the moon’s gravitational pull as the moon revolves around the Earth. The sun also plays a role, so during a full moon or a new moon, when the sun and moon are lined up, higher than normal tides called “spring tides” occur. When a spring tide occurs while the moon is at its closest to the Earth, the extra strong gravitational pull results in a very high tide called a “king tide”.

This weekend’s king tide is expected to peak on Saturday morning, at 10:05 a.m. on the east coast and 12:12 p.m. on the west coast.

A king tide also occurred in February last year, and I headed down to my local beach with my camera to check it out. Plenty of people were had already enjoying the beautiful summer’s day at the beach, but there was precious little space for them to set up on the sand. In fact, I could only find about 1 square metre of sand on the entire beach that hadn’t been drenched by the incoming waves. One enterprising woman had built a moat and wall to protect her towel from the oncoming water.

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