Technology is an environmental disaster in education, but good for turtles.

I am a technophobe.

So much that is vaunted as huge technological advance is just an excuse for us all having to buy and use yet more machines.

This is especially the case in education.

A simple class quiz on the whiteboard, or even blackboard, that children needed a pen and paper to take part in, now requires every child to have a smart phone or tablet, the teacher to be able to project the quiz onto a very expensive smart board and the results to be generated and stored on an electricity guzzling cloud .

We are told this is environmentally better because no paper is used and we are supposed to be stupid enough not to recognise the enormous environmental impact of requiring every child/teacher/classroom to have a computer and to be using google or any of the thousands of other platforms/ browsers that store and send information, at real cost from cloud to heat belching super computer, across the whole globe.

This does not make children smarter or happier. It just makes money for the technology giants and we have all been suckered in. It is the ultimate emperor’s new clothes and teachers have been too afraid to point out the pitiful nakedness of the emperor for fear of being called old fashioned and ultimately of losing their jobs.

I am soon to leave the teaching profession after a very long time teaching English literature and language and there is nothing at all that electronic technology has added to the teaching of my subject.

It is however useful for protecting turtle eggs on tropical beaches.

I watched huge leatherback turtles deposit tiny translucent ping pong ball eggs in the sand in the wonderful dark of a Costa Rican beach years ago and I was delighted to read that technology is helping track those who steal and eat the eggs today.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/05/decoy-turtle-eggs-put-in-nests-to-track-trade-in-costa-rica

We may have been colossally duped into swelling the coffers of computer companies on a global scale, but at least a few more turtles might make it to the sea.

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Better than plastic!

On the dry woodland path, a plastic children’s toy.  Matt green with a single band of yellow to say snake and then it moved.

As if pulled by an invisible thread it was moving over the soil and stones.

It was tiny, but every minute vertebrae articulated like mercury flowing across the earth. I wondered if I should pick it up to save it from the metal hooves of the passing horses, but it didn’t need me.

This acrobat’s ribbon of improbable life zig zagged, wiggled and shivered into the grass .

It was safe and I wasn’t even sure if I had seen something so light and so alive on the dry path in the woods.

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Africa leads the way – again!

Producing less polluting rubbish in the world is one of the few things we can personally do to make things better. I have always used synthetic sponges from the supermarket to clean tea cups and sinks, but feel increasingly bad about throwing them away when they are used up, as they are not recyclable.

Turns out you can use cut up loofahs to do the same job and then put the used up sections in the compost bin. Better still, you can even grow the loofah in your own garden from  seed! No transport, manufacture or disposal pollution at all!

I crossed the Luwangwa river into Mozambique  from Zambia some years ago. It was just a river bank above the big muddy river, but we all got out of the little boat, just to say we had landed in Mozambique .  A vine was scrambling over the low bushes and the vine was loaded in long fruit. I was intrigued, pulled a few off and realised that this was a real loofah plant. The centre of the fruit is the light, slightly abrasive skeleton that we know from bathrooms and the once the peel is removed I had two perfect loofahs that I used in my own bathroom for years.

This is how I know what a loofah plant looks like, but I only just found out that you don’t have to be in Africa to grow them. They are easy to grow from seed even in Britain and the National Trust now only uses its home grown loofahs to wash up all those tea cups.  My next task is to buy some loofah seeds and to plant them this spring.

I promise to tell you how they grow!!

https://www.seaspringseeds.co.uk/shop/exotic-seed/luffa-detail

 

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While the house is burning.

 

 

I wish it wasn’t so, but our beautiful home is under profound attack from pollution of so many types.

Many problems need to be tackled by governments and governments are elected by the people who vote for them in democracies.  Governments are slow moving and frustrating at the best of times, so while we try to get them to even consider the environment in their plans, we have to do what we can to improve matters ourselves.

I am painfully aware of how small the things we can do are, but to paraphrase:  better to light a candle than to just curse the darkness, so here is what I personally do.

If you have more ideas please share them on the blog.

We can all learn from each other (whatever our age!)

This list is in order of the newest things I have learnt on the top.

1. Use toothpaste tablets. You just chew one and brush and rinse as normal.  They work as well as tooth paste and produce zero plastic waste.  These come from Germany, but I am sure you can find them everywhere.
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2. Use rock salt underarm deodorant.  It works 100 percent and has zero plastic waste.  This pretty pink egg of salt can in a wrap of paper from funky soaps, but there are lots of others.
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3. Wrap your sandwiches from home in a cotton bees wax wrap every day for lunch.  Zero plastic waste, moist bread!
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4. Use bamboo toothbrushes.  The handle can be used as a fire lighter or composted as it is wood.  Some bristles are still plastic unfortunately, but at least the great big handle isn’t.
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5. Buy wooden toilet brushes.  Zero plastic waste – burnable.
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6. Use wooden headed washing up sink brushes.  The handle is metal and the head
can be replaced when worn out and composted or burnt. Zero plastic waste.
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7. Use solid bar shampoo.  It is just as good as liquid shampoo and produces……ZERO PLASTIC WASTE!
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8. Use real soap in the shower, not shower gel in a plastic container.  Zero plastic waste.
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9. Learn to use an old fashioned razor with replaceable metal blades.  Zero Plastic waste.
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10. Buy vegetables loose, not in plastic packages.  You buy much less and so don’t waste food.  Use a cotton bag to put the veg and fruit in to weigh individually.  Stick all the individual labels on the outside of the same cotton bag to take to the check out and show the cashier.  Zero plastic waste.
11. Compost all your vegetable matter – obviously!

I am still producing way too much plastic waste with:

1. Cat food
2. Meat packaging
3. Snack packages
4. Virtually all processed food packages.

I know that there are solutions to all these things, but I dont live near a city where I can buy loose packaging free alternatives.

One day I will have time to make cat food, buy cuts of meat and get the butcher to put them in glass tubs and make all myfood from scratch, but not yet.

 

In the face of so much plastic pollution it is easy to give up and give in, but I am optimistic enough to think that the small changes made by ordinary people will make a difference and while  we wait for the politicians to make the big changes, we should make as many changes to our own lives as we can before we all drown in plastic!

 

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