The Impact of Online Shopping

Hello, my name is Julie, I am 46 and I used to be on Amazon Prime……

We love convenience, don’t we? And what is better than going online, hunting for what you want, finding it AND getting it sent to your home/work? With user review to boot! Forget walking/commuting to not one but various shops and possibly not finding what you want or having to buy something which is not exactly what you want. Forget using up your precious time on evenings or weekends rushing to the shops with hundreds who have the same thought and having to queue and queue and queue…. Who wants that?

The pandemic has given a massive impetus to online shopping, monopolized by a few ( think Amazon, Alibaba, Ebay, Walmart). In 2021, retail e-commerce sales amounted to approx. US$5 trillion worldwide. This figure is forecast to grow by 50% over the next four years, reaching about US$7.4 trillion by 2025 (1).

But have you thought about the impact of online shopping?

Did you know that brick and mortar stores i.e. your local retailers are going out of business? In the US alone, more than 9300 stores have closed in 2019, and more are closing (2). More people are out of jobs and hey, that is not all. Online giants use third party contractors like package delivery personnel who are not employees of the company and have harsh working conditions. Importantly, online giants pay less tax while you also have to think that sending your money abroad means less tax dollars go into important services like hospitals, schools, infrastructure etc.

How about the impact of all this online shopping on the environment? You might think that online shopping is greener than in-store shopping. After all, an online store does not use the electricity that a traditional store might use and it doesn’t require the customer to drive anywhere. Home deliveries where several parcels are dropped also generate a smaller *CO2 footprint than a single shopping expedition to the store, right? Not right but not wrong either because the reality is slightly more complex than that. Many home deliveries fail the first time and the driver has to make repeated attempts to deliver the purchase. Customers who choose speedy delivery or those who buy single items from different places also contribute towards increasing the CO2 footprint. This footprint also goes up if the customer chooses to return the item. A study in Germany showed that as many as one in three online purchases are returned (3). According to another study, merchandise worth more than US$760 billion is returned each year in the USA (4). Optoro, an online returns processor estimated that returned inventory created 5.8bn lbs / 2.6bn kgs of landfill waste in 2020 and the shipping of returns alone emitted 16 million metric tons of CO2 (5) . This is unsustainable!

Products’ packaging contributes in large part to CO2 emissions from producing plastics, polluting ecosystems as well as adding enormous amounts of waste to our landfills. 3.2 billion trees are pulped yearly to produce 241 million tons of shipping cartons, the forest conservation group Canopy found (6). And of the 86 million tons of plastic packaging produced globally each year, less than 14% is recycled!

Shipping emission is another online shopping environmental impact to consider. The transport of goods across the world is responsible for a huge portion of CO2 emissions generated by e-commerce. In 2020, the shipping and return of products accounted for 37% of the total **GHG emissions. The major problem can be attributed, once again, to the consumers’ appetite for convenience (7)

There is little doubt that the e-commerce revolution has brought enormous advantages- at the touch of a button, we can access almost anything, anywhere and within a short period of time, have it sent to our designated destination. However, online shopping and its impact must not be ignored. We consumers are the ones that have the last word, and our behaviour and our decisions eventually determine the impact of this industry. So, let’s put some more thought before we look to buy that product online:

Do we really need it?

Can we maybe buy it locally?

Can we get it second hand?

Can we borrow it?

We should all think whether spending our time and money to go in-store/local is worth it not just for our environment, but also for our community, our neighbours and for our future! It will take a while to break the habit (dare I say “addiction”, in some cases?), but it can be done- I did it and survived!

*CO2: Carbon Dioxide

**GHG: Green House Gases









Hugely IMPORTANT Step: Switch to Renewable Electricity!

Been a while… in which the world has changed. But here we are, still wanting to make the world a better place and live as sustainably as possible to ensure that the only habitable planet for humans in the entire known universe doesn’t become a hellhole for future generations.

Check the below baby out! Kudos to the author behind this great chart which shows the breakdown of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 (the most recent available data till date) with the latest breakdown of global emissions by sector, published by Climate Watch and the World Resources Institute.

Why have I put this chart up?

To figure out how we can most effectively reduce emissions we need to first understand where our emissions come from. And I love this chart 🙂

So what can I/you/we do?

Today I want to focus on what is potentially an easy step for those of you who have access to renewable energy – switch your energy supplier to a renewable resource energy supplier today! We are so lucky in the west that as time has gone by, there are more and more suppliers to choose from. Did you know that fossil fuel power stations are a massive source of C02 emissions? In contrast, renewable energy from ever lasting sources like wind, water, sun, geothermal etc. produce minimal emissions. By choosing renewables, not only are you sending a powerful message to the industry but also to the government – you can help convince them to increase the support they offer to renewables.

As you can see from the chart, energy-related emissions are 73.2%. Of this, the bit I am focusing on today, 10.9% is from Residential buildings ie from the generation of electricity for lighting, appliances, cooking etc. and heating your home. This is where we can make a difference with a simple and small step – by switching supplier, we can bring these emissions down.

My tips:

  1. Choose a supplier who uses only renewable energy sources by searching online or getting a recommendation from a friend. Here is info on renewables in your national energy mix.
  2. Look at several companies and at a neutral review site.
  3. You may want to find out which kind/s of renewable energy your chosen company uses before you commit.
  4. Go a step further and ask about women in the Exec board too before deciding – gender equity is an important part of sustainability.

I was lucky enough that in Spain where I live, I came across a cooperative where every member gets to have a say in how it is run. I paid 100€ upfront to be part of this cooperative ( to be returned should I ever wish to leave) and since I joined, am paying half what I used to pay to my previous non renewable energy supplier!

Will you let me know when you have made this step? I’d love to hear from you!

And while you are at it, why not go all out and find out what type of energy is being used in your office/work space/school/university/place of worship/community too and push to get it switched to a renewable resource supplier?

Let’s talk about Mouth washing- Part 3

You’d think that with toothbrushes and toothpastes we would be done, right? Hah!

Dental Floss:

The American Dental Association started promoting flossing in 1908. A US dentist, Levi Spear Parmly invented flossing in the early 1800s. The first floss was patented in 1874 by which time dentists were recommending the practice.

plastic floss

Regular floss (item 1 in the photo) found in most supermarkets is basically made of waxed nylon, rolled up in a plastic box. Both these items are derived from crude oil and both are thrown in general rubbish and end up in nature or landfills. Alternatives like inter-dental brushes (item 2) or floss picks ( items 3) are made of pretty much the same sources. So, what can we do to mitigate this plastic hell?

Firstly, decide if you really need to floss your teeth. “WTF“, say you? Am I advising you to stop flossing?


This dentist advises against it and goes on to say, “How can you kill an infection with a piece of string, especially if it can’t reach the bottom of the pocket where the infection lives?” He strongly recommends an oral irrigator ( press here for some info on this) which is a machine which uses a stream of pressurized pulsating water to clean between teeth and below the gum line. Alas, all the water irrigators I saw are made from plastic etc, like most household small machines. But if you buy a good quality one, what stops it being a once in a lifetime buy which is worth it?

Apart from this dentist and others, I also read a scientific review of twelve trials with a total of 582 participants which concluded, “There is some evidence from twelve studies that flossing in addition to tooth brushing reduces gingivitis compared to tooth brushing alone. There is weak, very unreliable evidence from 10 studies that flossing plus tooth brushing may be associated with a small reduction in plaque at 1 and 3 months. No studies reported the effectiveness of flossing plus tooth brushing for preventing dental caries.”

Bear in mind that currently in the US, studies which evaluate the benefits of flossing can be funded and directed by flossing manufacturers.

There are loads more articles against flossing as it provides little benefit but hey, up to you. If you should indeed go for flossing, here is what I would use:

Silk floss in a refillable glass container. You can buy it with a refill so no plastic is used in the making of. There are quite a few brands in the market so check out the one you like best. It is also called dental lace.

no plastic floss

Mouthwash/ mouth rinse/ oral rinse:


Some ingredients used:
Benzydamine/Difflam (analgesics)
Cetylpyridinium chloride (antiseptic, antimalodor)
Chlorhexidine digluconate and Hexetidine (antiseptic)
Edible oils
Essential oils and phenols
Fluoride (anticavity)
Flavoring agents which include sweeteners such as sorbitol, sucralose, sodium saccharin, and Xylitol
Hydrogen peroxide
Lactoperoxidase (saliva substitute)
Methyl salicylate
Potassium oxalate
Sanguinarine which is a toxic alkaloid herbal extract, obtained from plants such as Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot), Argemone mexicana (Mexican Prickly Poppy) and others
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
Sodium chloride (salt)
Sodium lauryl sulfate (foaming agent) – see one of my previous posts on this
Tetracycline (antibiotic)
Tranexamic acid

You know my viewpoint on the chemical burden our bodies carry so frankly, unless your dentist recommends it, I would either dispense with this or make my own as per below

Recipe 1: Basic mouthwash


  • 1 cup distilled, boiled or filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil


Mix all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well. Swish in mouth, then spit out. Label and store on bathroom counter. Shake well prior to each use.

Recipe 2: Spicy mouthwash


  • 1 cup distilled, boiled or filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil


Bring the water to a boil, switch off the heat and add the cloves and cinnamon. Let the spices infuse.

Strain the mixture with a fine mesh strainer.

Once cool, add the peppermint essential oil

Pour into a glass jar, label and keep refrigerated. Shake well prior to each use.

Recipe 3: Essential oil mouthwash


  • 1 cup distilled, boiled or filtered water
  • 10 drops of cinnamon or clove or tea tree essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well prior to each use in order to distribute the essential oils. Will keep on the bathroom counter indefinitely.

(NB: Store homemade items with Essential oils in a dark jar or in a dark cupboard or medicine cabinet as sunlight causes essential oils to lose their potency)

Breath freshners:

If you have bad breath/halitosis – I’d go see my dentist. Or avoid foods like raw onion, garlic etc.

Other than that, how about you keep some whole cardamons or cloves or even some fennel to suck or chew. As far as chewing gum goes- UGHHHHH as commercial gum has no gum in it and is basically plastic, other chemicals and artificial sweeteners and colourants all overly and plastic wrapped.

Alternatively, press here on how to make a post-meal mouth freshener cum digestive aid, similar to ones you get in some Indian restaurants. If that looks way too complicated then I’d simply add some candy sugar to some fennel and have a teaspoon of that after meals.


Let’s talk Mouth washing- Part 2


Before we tackle toothpaste and the environment, how about a fascinating and brief history of this essential item:

CaptureSeems that about 5000 years ago, the Egyptians came up with the predecessor of toothpastes, a form of tooth powder which consisted of a mixture of, to us modern readers, odd items. In fact, the world’s oldest tooth powder recipe was found in a collection of papyrus documents from the 4th century AD at the National Library in Vienna, Austria. An ancient Egyptian scribe had carefully written down a recipe for “white and perfect teeth” –  one drachma (a measure equal to one hundredth of an ounce) of rock salt , two drachmas of mint, one drachma of dried iris flower and 20 grains of pepper, all of them crushed and mixed together. Sounds fresh though abrasive!

The Romans and Chinese fiddled about with the recipe.

In the 9th century, the polymath Iraqi singer, oud player, composer, poet, and teacher, Ziryab, added a pleasant taste to the functionality of the product. And now let’s rush through the ages to 1881, when Doctor Washington Sheffield of New London, CT manufactured toothpaste into a collapsible tube. Tooth pastes as we know them, were introduced in around the 1900s.


..And on to the toothpaste of the 21st century which comes in all sorts of tastes and shades, always in plastic tubes and with an ingredient list that could well be written in Aramaic for all that we understand it.

Shall we decode some of it? Here are some of the chemicals in your toothpaste:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is added to cause foaming (which is a cosmetic effect and does not clean at all) and can lead to canker sores. SLS can interfere with your taste buds by breaking up the phospholipids on your tongue. This is why after brushing, you can’t taste certain things.
  • Propylene Glycol: An active component in antifreeze, propylene glycol acts as a wetting agent and surfactant in toothpaste. The Material Safety Data Sheets for propylene glycol warns that the chemical can be rapidly absorbed through the skin, with prolonged contact leading to brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.
  • Aroma: A term encompassing a whole host of unknown chemicals brands are not obliged to publish. Remember what I wrote on Fragrance here?
  • Chemicals which are harmful to the environment like the synthetic dye Red 30 ( CI73360), Zinc Oxide, Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Zinc Citrate found  in Colgate Total, Pentasodium Triphospahte found in Sensodyne Rapid action, Zinc Lactate found in Oral B Pro Expert etc.
  • Bio-accumulation: Check out my post here.

And what about the tubes? Toothpaste tubes have traditionally been impossible to recycle because they are made from a mixture of plastic and aluminium. Consumers get through 20 billion packs of toothpaste every year with discarded tubes contributing to the plastic pollution crisis.

So, what can we do?

Buy solid toothpastes

CaptureYup, they exist. You can buy them on a stick, in a pot, in the form of pastilles….so many forms and very little packaging which tends to be biodegradable and or in re-usable containers.

For those hardy souls who want to, press here to find out how to make solid toothbrush. Personally, it is not as easy to make as the below one but hey ho!



Make your own toothpaste/ tooth powder


You’ll be amazed at how simple and fast it is to make your own toothpaste and in a re-usable jar.

Recipe 1: The coconut oil toothpaste:


  • 60 gm / 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 30 gm/ 1 tbsp sodium bicarbonate
  • 5-10 drops Stevia (depending on how sweet you like your toothpaste)
  • 10 drops Mint or Lemon Essential Oil
  • Optional: 5 drops Cinnamon EO to destroy cavity causing bacteria
  • Optional: 1 tsp activated charcoal for stain removal ( bear in mind your sink will need a bit more attention but your teeth will get more attention 🙂


Basically put everything in a jar and mix with a fork. Voilá.

  • Use within 3 months
  • In summer, keep in the fridge as it tends to melt and separate. Rake the solid mixture with a fork before usage
  • Wash the recipient thoroughly before refilling

Recipe 2: The Bentonite clay toothpaste:


  • 3 tbsp Bentonite clay
  • 1/4 cup filtered/boiled water or more, if needed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 15-20 drops of essential oils (as in above recipe


In a glass or ceramic container (do NOT use metal as the clay loses its effectiveness because it absorbs the metals that it comes in contact with it), mix together bentonite clay, melted coconut oil, and water with a non-metal spoon until well-mixed

Add baking soda and essential oils and mix again.

If the toothpaste is too thick, add a little bit of water at a time until it reaches the right consistency. Done!

Recipe 3: Bentonite tooth powder


  • 2 tbsp Bentonite Clay (removes toxins & alkalizes your mouth)
  • 1 tbsp Organic Cinnamon (fights bacteria & adds flavor)
  • 1 tbsp Baking Soda (helps remove stains, bacteria and plaque; reduces irritation; exfoliates & alkalizes your teeth)


Mix ingredients in a glass jar with a non-metal utensil (see above)). Store with a lid.

To use: wet your toothbrush slightly and apply a pea sized amount of tooth powder onto your brush or run your toothbrush through the powder and pour some water with your fingers on the brush- whichever suits you.

Any other suggestions? Please feel free to enlighten us all 🙂

Let’s Promote Environmentally Friendly Ways Of Working

Did you know that it is not just paper work but also computer work and the Internet which have a strong environmental impact? How? Mainly because of servers.


There are about 3 million data centers in the US alone and 8.4 million worldwide. Data centers and computers need huge amounts of power to send, filter, and read messages. The information communications and technology industry –internet and cloud services – produces more than 830 million tons of CO2 every year. That adds up to about 2% of all global CO2 emissions and about 7% of the world’s electricity.

These data centres also require huge amounts of water. In fact, most of the energy used  is to keep processors cool as these heat up from being in use 24/7, and increase water usage indirectly from water being used in the same way at the power plants they get their electricity from. In the US alone where most of these data centres are, these were responsible for consumption of 626 billion liters of water in 2014, which includes both water consumed directly at data center sites and water used to generate the electricity that powered them that year. The researchers expect this number to reach 660 billion liters in 2020” (Data Center Knowledge).

But the problem is not just water or energy usage per se but also the type of energy being used which is mainly fossil-fuel based. A 2016 Greenpeace report says the following: “The transition to the cloud could in fact increase the demand for coal and other fossil fuels despite significant gains in energy efficiency and adoption of a commitment to 100% renewable energy because of the dramatic growth in new data center construction by cloud and colocation companies such as AWS and Digital Realty in Virginia and other hot spots that have some of the lowest percentages of renewable electricity in the U.S.

Here is an interesting fact, ADEME (French environmental and energy management agency) cites that the average digital items (mail, download, video, web request) travels about 15,000 km before getting to your screen! Good grief!



Spam e-mail: .3 grams of CO2
Regular e-mail: 4 grams of CO2
E-mail with large attachment: 50 grams of CO2


  1. Be proactive about maintaining a small inbox. Remember that those e-mails from last year aren’t just sitting in your inbox, they’re requiring energy to store them on servers. Delete, delete, delete! (And unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters to lessen your work next time!)
  2. Stop sending unnecessary messages. When possible, avoid messaging and, communicate face-to-face. This avoids putting more strain on data centers as well as building up your work relationship.
  3. Support companies that use renewable energy to power their cloud. This is an article comparing Google, amazon and Microsoft re the greenest cloud. A rivetting read!
  4. Avoid vampire power. When your computer’s turned off but you’re still plugged in and charging, your device will draw .5 to 2 watts of energy per hour. Not a lot, but still… it all begins to add up. Make sure to unplug all electronic devices when not in use to conserve power.
  5. Can you try sending 5-10 less emails per day?

Good luck!

Let’s talk about Mouth washing- Part 1


We eat, drink, love and talk with our mouth. Some even pull trucks and do other varied and wonderful things….and we also put in and take out stuff from it, sometimes rather carelessly too.

Have you ever thought of ALL the products you use in your mouth and how ecological and or sustainable they are? Did you just shudder? Don’t worry, below are some ways you can achieve zen-ness, and remember, EVERY step counts:

Tooth brush:

This simple tool has been around in many forms including chew sticks, toothpicks etc. for about 5000 years or more though it is believed that the toothbrush in its most known form originated in China in 1498. Press here for some fascinating  toothbrush history. Handles over the ages have been made from natural materials like bamboo, bone, ivory or wood and the bristles were made from hogs’ hair etc. During the 1900s though, celluloid (a type of thermoplastic) replaced these natural handles gradually. Jump to the 21st century and we see that plastic has so fully infiltrated toothbrush design that it’s nearly impossible to clean our teeth without touching a polymer. In modern manual toothbrushes, the handle is made from polypropylene plastic, the rubber grips are made from styrene-based thermoplastic elastomers and the bristles are made from nylon, which are all sourced from non renewable fossil fuels. And because plastic is essentially indestructible, that means nearly every single toothbrush made since the 1930s is still out there in the world somewhere, living on as a piece of trash. How horrific is that? If everyone around the world replaced their toothbrush every 3-4 months, as recommended by the American Dental Associations, about 23 billion toothbrushes would get trashed annually.

So, what can we do?

Check out bamboo toothbrushes

toothbrushThey are cool and tend to come in unbleached cardboard packaging but bear in mind a few things:

Get your toothbrush from sustainable, local  (when possible) and ethical companies.

Make sure to dispose of them properly. This shows you in detail how you can do that.

Many companies claim that their bristles are 100% biodegradable but many are made from nylon so make sure to check the material of your bristle ( If they are made of nylon, they will melt) before you dispose off the brush.

Check out recyclable heads for your electric toothbrush

If you love your electric toothbrush but also love ecology, you could investigate the 2 options below:

oral bApart from the non biodegradable products in the brush head itself, it is disgusting how 4/5 of the brush head is wasted. So, you could look for recyclable heads but check what they mean by “recyclable” as this doesn’t mean biodegradable and that you can throw the head in your composter or the plastic bin but rather, that you have to send it to the manufacturers for them to recycle.




I saw these Bamboo replacement heads online but not sure about them as you have to buy in gross (5000 pieces) plus they come from China and I am not sure how ethical or ecological they are. But they sure look good!

Let me know if you find a better option!

Check out less plastic in your toothbrush head


Look for companies like where after a small initial investment in buying the tip holder, all you buy is the tip and save up not just on plastic but also on money. They send you an envelope where you collect the tips and once you have a reasonable amount, you send it back for them to recycle responsibly plus they credit your account. How cool is that.

Write to your toothbrush manufacturer asking for green and sustainable solutions

I am an eco nut but even I make some concessions. One of my few concessions is using an electric toothbrush because I always end up hurting my gums with a manual one. Worried about my own trash, I recently wrote to Oral-B Spain seeking solutions. I was disheartened as what they basically said was that they cared more for the hygiene and security of their products than the end of life of their own products. They had no solutions for the customer who ends up with tons of packaging and a non biodegradable product which adds to a landfill or mars nature- their solution was to basically put the problem on to othes. Weirdly enough, the UK site has an address where you can send your brush head for recycling. I guess the Brits care more about this topic than the Spanish, the French or the Americans ( Oral-B sites sites I checked). But you can be sure that if more of us write, they will start taking more and more care and look for sustainable alternatives to make their products from.



Dear Julie,
We thank you for taking the time to share your opinions and suggestions regarding the packaging and manufacturing of our products and we regret that you do not want to continue to use our heads.
Our first priority is to offer a hygienic and safe product to our consumers. We package each brush head individually because people normally use only one at a time. If several brush heads are packaged together, and that packaging remains open, they may be exposed to dust, bacteria or other potentially harmful substances that could affect users.
We strive to minimize the impact of packaging on the environment using mainly two components: PET plastic blisters and cardboard supports, both being recyclable materials.
Our current brushes and heads consist of multiple components and the options for processing these materials can be reported at your local recycling plant. We are working to increase the use of recycled materials and committed to launch recycling programs in as many countries as we can.
We continue working continuously to improve our products and in this sense, comments like yours are welcome. It means a lot to know how our users feel about the evolution of our products and packaging and I will be in charge of transmitting their comments to the corresponding Departments.



What are E-Numbers? Are they good or bad for me?


E numbers with the “E” standing for “Europe” are codes for substances used as food additives for use within the European Union and European Free Trade Association ( a trade organization consisting of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland).

These codes relate to a set of EU rules about which foods can contain them and how much you should be able to consume in a day. Below is a quick guide to these numbers while in this link you have more detailed info.


E numbers have had a lot of negative publicity but despite what you might think, when you research them in detail you find that not all E-numbers are harmful. Some examples:

  • Sulfite in wine:  Sulphur dioxide has been used in wine-making for thousands of years, ever since the ancient Romans discovered that it would keep their wine from turning into vinegar. In modern times, it is sometimes added during the fermentation process to prevent acidification (and preserve flavor), enhance color, and remove fermentation by-products such as acetaldehyde (which many scientists think cause hangovers—although, unfortunately, adding sulfites won’t make you hangover-immune either). Sulfites are common not only in wine, but in some ciders, dried fruits, and dried potatoes. E-numbers: 220-228
  • Nitrates and nitrites in cured meats: Curing red meats also includes adding sodium nitrate and potassium nitrite to the meat in order to preserve its color, prevent fats from becoming rancid, and killing harmful bacteria. You have these ingredients to thank for keeping you safe from illnesses—such as botulism poisoning—that are caused by food spoilage. E-numbers: 249-252
  • Antioxidants in pre-sliced fruits: Antioxidants are often added to pre-sliced fruits you buy in the store to remove oxygen and prevent browning. These and other fruits may be treated with ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, which has natural antioxidant characteristics. E-numbers: 170, 300, 302, 330
  • Preservatives in caviar: For those of you who can afford it or like it, guess how the shelf life and taste of caviar is preserved while avoiding bacterial activity? E-numbers: 284-285
  • Essential nutrients and vitamins: Many of these additives are actually essential nutrients and vitamins and are important for good nutrition. A few E-numbers essential for the human body are: E-numbers: 101 (vitamin B2), 300 (vitamin C), 306-9 (vitamin E) , 948 (oxygen!).

On the other hand, research into possible links between food colours and hyperactivity in children has found that consuming certain artificial food colours could cause increased hyperactivity in some children. These are called the Southampton Six and are:


  1. E110: Sunset yellow FCF
  2. E104: Quinoline yellow
  3. E122: Carmoisine
  4. E129: Allura red
  5. E102: Tartrazine
  6. E124: Ponceau 4R

Food and drink containing any of these six colours must carry a warning on the packaging. This will say ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’.

And then, of course, there is all the debate about:

  • E621: the flavour enhancer, Monosodium Glutamate:
  • E250: the preservatives, Sodium nitrite and E251 or sodium nitrate
  • E211: the preservative, sodium benzoate
  • E282: the mould inhibitor, Calcium propionate
  • E951: the artifical sweetners aspartame and E952 or cyclamate
  • E320: the anti-oxidant, BHA –butylated hydroxyanisole. Etc……

UntitledSo, what is the take-away from all this? Well, that E-numbers are not all bad. And you really must educate yourself on food labels. However, as said in my last post on bio-accumulation, the less we expose ourselves to man-made chemicals, the better it is for our holistic selves. Ergo, always buy organic when possible and make most if not all your food at home. Avoid as much processed/ packaged food as possible so Be Happy and Stay Happy!


Bio-accumulation & Bio-magnification

Picture Creator:Bridger


WHAT?  As said in my previous post, Bio-accumulation is the gradual accumulation of harmful substances, such as pesticides, or other chemicals in an organism.

HOW? One way is by an amount of the chemical coming into the living organism faster than the organism can break it down and use it. To put it simply, there is more input than output, therefore causing the chemical to accumulate in the organism.

The other main way is by the chemical coming into the living organism and the organism not being able to break it down or excrete it in any way whatsoever. Ergo, the chemical continues to accumulate until it eventually becomes deadly to the living organism.

Here are some examples of how this would occur: Let’s take car emissions – they are a huge contributory factor as they release chemicals into the air. Now picture these building up in trees and birds. Upon raining, these chemicals would then get washed out of the air and seep into the ground where they would certainly enter plants and the animals which eat these plants.

Another example is illustrated below and in water:

Bio accumulatiom

As humans, we sit at the top of the food chain, and those droplets of toxins in plankton/krill can be quite substantial by the time we ingest they get to us through the links in the food chain.


WHAT? Also known as bio-amplification/biological magnification, Bio-magnification is a cumulative increase in the concentrations of a persistent substance (e.g. pesticides, metals, etc.) as it moves up the food chain.

The below drawing nicely illustrates what this is, with mercury being the heavy metal


HOW? Bio-accumulation occurs at the base of a food web, usually within primary producers like phytoplankton. These microscopic organisms absorb POPs or Persistent Organic Pollutants like DDT ( an insecticide) or PCBs (flame retardants) directly from the seawater and accumulate them in their bodies over time. The toxins build up in their tissues because they are absorbed from the water at a rate faster than they can be metabolized. Bio-magnification then occurs when slightly larger organisms called zooplankton feed upon the contaminated phytoplankton and in turn absorb POPs into their own tissues at a higher concentration. The POPs can be passed from producer to consumer (to consumer, to consumer, and so on…) Bio-magnification can continue all the way up the food web or chain. Because the amounts of POPs become more and more concentrated at each link in the food chain, some of the ocean’s apex predators are at risk of gaining potentially fatal levels of POPs within their bodies, like orcas for example.


Now consider this: All the toxins we ingest through our foods bio accumulate in our bodies and as apex predators, these toxins are bio-magnified through the food chain. To top it, we live in increasingly polluted cities and use products with known and unknown chemicals on our bodies ( soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, toothpastes, perfumes, makeup etc, in our homes ( detergents, air fresheners, anti-dust sprays, sprays to polish and clean furniture etc), in our offices ( sprays to clean surfaces, floor cleaners, air fresheners etc) far from nature in concrete jungles …is it any surprise that we are increasingly sick, depressed and unhappy? 

So, I feel one should reasonably avoid as many chemicals as possible and try to simplify life by making careful, sustainable choices which work out not just for us as individuals but us as a society. And in the long run, it will work out for your pocket too!