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Archive for August, 2012

Coconut oil is solid at 25°C. But what does it have to do with toothpaste?

You may be disappointed to hear that the conventional toothpastes that we all love and grew up with are owned by companies that test on animals. I have listed the toothpastes that test on animals below:

  • Aim
  • Aquafresh
  • Colgate
  • Crest
  • Listerine (I know it’s not toothpaste – it’s mouthwash)
  • Macleans
  • Oral-B
  • Sensodyne

For more info on toothpastes, please follow this link from EthicalConsumer. This website ranks products (e.g. toothpaste) according to how ethical they are in terms of environment, animals, people, politics and sustainability. EthicalConsumer have given the highest score to Green People toothpaste, which is one of my favourite toothpastes (apart from my homemade toothpaste of course!). Green People donate 10% of profits to green charities. You won’t find Green People toothpaste in supermarkets, but it can be bought online and from some health shops. I have also tried Kingfisher toothpaste and Weleda toothpaste, both of which I liked. Bear in mind that Weleda toothpaste doesn’t foam – not everyone likes that, but I personally don’t mind it (Kingfisher toothpaste and Green People toothpaste do foam). These toothpastes are more expensive than conventional ones e.g. Green People toothpaste costs £3.50 for 50ml.

Green People Toothpaste

However, I prefer my homemade toothpaste because:

🙂 It’s cheaper than ethical toothpastes, at about £1.30 for 100ml
🙂 It’s simpler than both conventional and ethical toothpastes (there are only two ingredients)
🙂 The containers that the ingredients for homemade toothpaste come in can be recycled, unlike conventional plastic toothpaste tubes

Homemade Toothpaste Recipe
1 tablespoon of raw virgin coconut oil (organic – I bought it on special offer from Planet Organic (near Goodge Street tube station, London) for £6.99 for 400ml)
1 tablespoon baking soda

Mix the two well and store in a container. Voila! Optional: you can also add a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil. The coconut oil dissolves the bacterial biofilm (a sticky substance that bacteria secrete so they can stick to your teeth), and the baking soda is slightly abrasive, which dislodges the bacteria. I also ensure to brush well, particularly the nooks and crannies that bacteria love so much. I really like the taste of my homemade toothpaste. However, it doesn’t foam, so it may take a while to get used to. I personally prefer non-foamy toothpastes. I get my teeth cleaned regularly (once every 6 months) at the dentist, who is pleased with my teeth so far.

My advice for an ethical toothpaste newbie is to experiment with different ethical toothpastes – they may cost more than conventional toothpastes, but at least you aren’t supporting a company that tests on animals, or uses ingredients that aren’t necessarily safe (I’d encourage people to google many of the ingredients in their toothpaste e.g. triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate). Alternatively, try making your own toothpaste with coconut oil. Coconut oil is a wise investment as it has lots of uses – I use it as a moisturiser, lip balm and as an ingredient for my homemade deodorant.

Would you try an ethical toothpaste? Would you try and make your own toothpaste? 

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  • Most plastics are made from petroleum, a polluting, non-renewable (i.e. fossil fuel) resource
  • Plastics can leach toxins that are harmful to human health, which is why I avoid plastic water bottles by using my Klean Kanteen, and avoid microwaving food in plastic containers.
  • Plastic litter blights the landscape, pollutes the environment and poses a threat to wildlife
  • Plastic cannot be recycled over and over (unlike glass); instead plastic is downcycled i.e. recycling plastic results in a lower quality product, which in turn cannot be recycled, and would end up in landfill
  • Single-use plastics are wasteful, demonstrating a willingness to throw away money and pollute the environment at the same time
  • In short, plastic isn’t sustainable, i.e. if we meet the plastic needs of present consumers, we will be compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

Plastic pollution may not be as great a threat as climate change, but it is an issue that we should all be concerned with, especially since reducing plastic consumption is within our control as consumers! I recommend this plastic-free guide , which I found incredibly inspirational.

Info about Plastic Labels

Have you noticed that plastic products often have these symbols embedded on them?

  • Number 1 and 2 plastics can usually be recycled
  • Read about the dangers of number 3 plastics (PVC) here. PVC is used for cling film, some squeezy plastic bottles, peanut butter jars, detergents and window cleaning bottles
  • BPA (Bisphenol-A) is a chemical in the plastic that is used to line the inside of canned food, metal jar lids, plastic blenders, food processors and juicers. BPA mimics oestrogen (a hormone), which may stimulate certain cancers. Read more about BPA and other food-related plastics here

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The Environmental Toothbrush

The Environmental Toothbrush is the most environmentally-friendly AND vegan toothbrush out there (there is a more environmentally friendly toothbrush that is completely plastic-free, but it isn’t vegan because the bristles are made of sterilised pig hair). I have been using the Environmental Toothbrush for over a year now. I bought it from a health shop in London (near Russel Square), but you can buy it online too. I’d recommend the soft bristles, because the medium bristles seemed harder than the conventional plastic toothbrushes that I was used to.

What I like about this toothbrush:

🙂 It’s compostable which means that you can put it in your compost, and it doesn’t have to go to landfill (the handle is made from bamboo, the bristles are made from compostable nylon, the cardboard box can be recycled)
🙂 It’s vegan
🙂 By buying it you support a small company rather than ethically dubious big ones such as Colgate (which tests on animals)

There is room for improvement however, because it is not 100% plastic free- the inner white sleeve that the toothbrush comes in is not recyclable or compostable and has to go to landfill 😦

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A stray dog my family adopted from the local shelter

Sterilisation is a surgical procedure that prevents pets from reproducing.
For a female pet, this means removing the uterus and ovaries.
For a male pet, this means removing the testicles.

What are the benefits of sterilization?

1.      Humanely addresses the overpopulation problem.

Healthy cats, kittens, dogs and puppies are euthanised every day in shelters in the UK. A commonly quoted statistic that is galloping around the internet is that a pair of breeding cats and all their offspring can potentially produce 420 000 cats in 7 years, and that a pair of breeding dogs and all their offspring can potentially produce 67 000 dogs in 6 years.  Overpopulation is a serious issue in Greece, where stray animals can be seen wandering the streets, but also in England, where the problem is less obvious, because it is ‘out of sight, out of mind’ in shelters up and down the country. These are the two countries I have had personal experience with, but most countries are struggling with this issue.

    2. Health benefits

Sterilising female animals:

  • Eliminates the possibility of developing uterine cancer
  • Eliminates the possibility of developing ovarian cancer
  • Eliminates the possibility of developing pyometra (a womb infection which can be life threatening)
  • Reduces the risk of mammary tumours

Sterilising male animals:

  • Eliminates the possibility of developing testicular cancer
  • Reduces the risk of prostate disease

3. Behavioural benefits 

Dogs

  • Sterilised dogs are calmer, and are less likely to bite, engage in destructive behaviour, attack or get into dog fights.
  • Sterilised dogs display less unwanted sexual behaviour such as mounting and humping of inanimate objects (toys, chair-legs and human legs etc.)
  • Sterilised dogs are less likely to displaying unwanted masculine territorial behaviours such as the guarding of resources (food, bones, territory, companion people) and the marking of territory with urine and faeces. Sterilisation can reduce some of these problematic testosterone-mediated behaviours

Both dogs and cats

  • Sterilised male and female dogs & cats are less likely to run away to find a mate. Roaming is a troublesome habit because it puts other animals (wildlife, livestock and other pets) and humans at risk of harm from your animal and it puts the roaming pet at risk from many dangers including: predation by other animals, cruelty by humans, poisoning and being hit by vehicles.

Cats

  • Non- sterilised female cats in heat can cry incessantly and attract unwanted male cats into your garden or house
  • Sterilised male cats have reduced urine odours (non-sterilized male cats produce very pungent urine due to pheromones)
  • Sterilised male cats have reduced urine spraying behaviour (used by non-sterilised cats to mark their territory)
  • Sterilized cats do not have the drive to protect their territory and therefore will not fight other cats. Cat fights can be particularly nasty, resulting in deep wounds, abscesses, lacerated eyes and the transmission of infectious diseases such as FIV.

FAQs

Does sterilization hurt my pet?
No, the procedure is done under general anaesthetic. Your vet will give your pet post-surgery pain medication and the worst your pet will experience is some discomfort for a short time after the operation.

My pet is a kitten or puppy. Do they still need to be sterilized?
Yes! They can have kittens/puppies of their own at 5 or 6 months old. To prevent your pet contributing to the overpopulation problem, have your cat sterilized at 5.5 months, and your dog at 6.5 months.

Isn’t it healthier for a female to have one litter first?
There aren’t any psychological or health benefits to having one litter. However, there are health risks associated with pregnancy and giving birth which are eliminated with sterilisation.

If I sterilize a dog or cat, will he feel less of a male/female? Will their personalities change?
No. Animals do not think of themselves as male or female; they do not have a sexual identity like humans do. Behaviours such as playfulness, friendliness, and socialization with humans will not change.

Will my pet become fat and lazy once sterilized?
Sterilized animals tend to have a lower metabolic rate than non-sterilized animals. As a consequence you may need to decrease the amount you are feeding your pet.

I am considering allowing my pet to become pregnant. I’ve asked my friends and they are willing to adopt in my pet’s kittens/puppies, can’t I let them?
There are so many kittens and puppies in shelters who are in desperate need of a home, couldn’t you give them a chance instead? Additionally, you may not know how committed your friends might be to the animal e.g. is the home environment right, how do you know they wont abandon it if they have to change accommodation? Could you guarantee that they would sterilize your kittens/puppies at an appropriate age? What if they don’t, and their animal gets pregnant, and they aren’t as responsible as you are in trying to find the offspring homes? If your friends want kittens or puppies, please direct them to the nearest animal shelter.

My cat is kept indoors, do I still have to sterilize them?
Sterilization prevents cats from becoming frustrated; it is a very simple way to make your cat calmer and happier. Your cat may be displaying unwanted behaviour, such as urine spraying which could be reduced/eliminated with sterilization. Also, you never know, they might escape !

Is sterilisation natural?
Sterilisation isn’t natural, but neither is keeping a dog/cat in a domestic set-up. Sterilization prevents our pets from reproducing or becoming frustrated; it is a very simple way to make them calmer and happier.

I’ve heard that my pet dog won’t be as good of a protector of my home and family if neutered.
Dogs have a natural instinct to protect their home and loved ones. They are also much more inclined to stay home and happy when sterilized. It is true that non-sterilized dogs are often more aggressive and territorial (urine marking, fighting), but these traits should not be confused with loyalty and protection of their home and family. Sterilized animals are not sexually frustrated because they are not driven by sexual hormones, and are more likely to focus their attention on their human family rather than on reproduction.

Do sterilized male working dogs lose their drive to herd, hunt and work?

Behaviours such as herding, driving, guarding and predatory-type behaviours, are not mediated by testosterone. They are instead instinctive drives that have been built into the various breeds by genetic selection over centuries and which can be enhanced through the correct training of the animal. Removing the animal’s testicles and therefore its testosterone should not really have any bearing on the animal’s drive to do these instinctive, non-testosterone-fueled activities.

Female dogs hunt and herd and drive and guard as well as male dogs do and yet they have no testicles and nowhere near as much testosterone as a male. However, they have less strength and stamina than a male animal does, and therefore they may not be as physically adept at certain tasks as a male animal. Their drive to fulfill these tasks, however, is just the same. You could argue that such a dog might work better if it does not have male hormonal urges distracting it from the task at hand.

Much of this info came from: http://www.pet-informed-veterinary-advice-online.com/

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