Biology

How to create less waste

 

Become one of the heroes out there, who are fighting the evils of mass consumption, consumerism, and waste. Start by banning plastic bags from your house and by saying no to wasting water. Buy from fashion designers who are finding innovative and creative ways to turn waste into apparel.

These small things can add up and create a better world for you and your family. Here are a few more tips on how to kickstart your zero waste life journey, so maybe you can inspire others.

 

Take a good look at your trash

The first maybe awkward thing you have to do is examine your trash, take notes on that you throw and think about ways to stop this vicious cycle. For example, if you mainly waste food packaging, maybe stop buying from supermarkets and go to your local farmer’s market, where you can use the same bag as opposed to paying for food that is individually wrapped.

It is very helpful to get face-to-face with your trash. We consume unconsciously because it doesn’t seem out of place and because it is such a social norm. We as humans don’t realize our habits and we don’t pay attention to half of the trash we are making. That’s why we have to examine it.

 

Start to get rid of disposables.

When it comes to transitioning to a zero-waste life, this should be the easiest step. All you have to do is replace things you use once and then throw away, with a sustainable option. For example, change plastic toothbrushes with bamboo ones, which are eco-friendly and decompose fast. Go for tote bags made of textile instead of using plastic or paper ones.

Alternatively, you can say goodbye to plastic water bottles and invest in a Klean Kanteen or one of those glass bottles. The possibilities are much more diverse than you might think, and there are thousands of websites dedicated to eco-friendly alternatives.

Shop less and do it in bulk

If you can find a Food Co-op in your proximity, then you sir or lady are in luck. The brand is the ideal alternative because it makes grocery shopping comfortable, especially since everything you can find in its shops is in bulk! There, you can as well fill up your jars with quinoa, nuts, granola, liquid dish soap and another whole range of produce.

Whole Foods sometimes has bulk options too. And before you leave your house to stock up, maybe it is a good idea to make a list with the things you want as opposed to what catches your eye, as stores are built to wash your mind and to tempt you at every step.

 

Buy second hand

There’s no shame in wearing hand-me-downs. We have repeatedly been told by the fashion moguls to consume all of these clothing pieces we do not need or want. Fast fashion is known to be the second biggest polluter in the whole world, next to the oil industry.

If you like new items, maybe instead of buying from brands that pollute the earth and rely on illegal and immoral work-force from third-world countries, you should go for sustainable designer houses.

Biology

What’s so special about trees?

 

Trees are fantastic if you didn’t already know that. They are a tiny habitat by themselves, and more importantly, vital to a vast number of species, including humans. For example, the oak tree is home to more than 300 species of birds, mammals, and insects, all living amongst its branches and leaves.

And it is time you and the rest of the world learned more about them and about the ways trees shape our world.

 

Oxygen

Trees and photosynthetic algae are considered the lungs of the planet because they are the reason the air today is still breathable. Things like branches, twigs and their leaves spread out into the air and ground like the bronchi of our respiratory system, taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen in exchange.

More than ninety-eight percent of the Earth’s oxygen comes from this process called photosynthesis. Without trees and all the other plants basically “breathing”, life as we know it would cease to exist.

They also help combat climate change. Excess carbon dioxide or CO2 is building up fast in our sickened atmosphere, contributing irreversibly to climate change. Trees help us out by absorbing CO2 while releasing oxygen back into the air we breathe. In less than one year, an acre of healthy trees can consume the same amount of carbon dioxide produced by your car if you use it to drive 26,000 miles.

 

Food

Trees produce fruits such as apples, pears, plums and oranges and many more, making them a major source of food, which enables us to stay healthy and well fed. The fact that the green wonders grow so much of the food we eat also allows for our species to reproduce in such immense numbers. They undeniably provide us with many of the essential life-sustaining nutrients.

 

Medicine

Many natural and synthetic pharmaceutical drugs have their roots in natural compounds, which can be found in tree parts like bark, roots, and even flowers. Aspirin, one of the most widespread drugs, is based on a substance which can be found in the hardened bark of willow trees.

There’s proof that our stone age ancestors almost certainly chewed persistently on willow bark for pain relief. Many other studies have shown that surroundings, where trees are planted, are also beneficial for healing on a spiritual level. Psychiatric patients have been shown to recover faster when they have access to gardens and if trees surround them.

Resources

There are so many things that we find indispensable and which are made of wood, that it is almost a wonder there are any left at all. Our houses are built of wood, our beds and even some of our everyday items such as furniture and shoes. Also, trees increase the value of your property by at least 15 percent, especially if they are old and if they have character and history.

Biology

Interesting facts about plastic

 

Plastic is moldable yet durable, and this versatility allows it to be everywhere and in everything, from medical devices to toothbrushes and pillows. Its benefits and role in the rapid transformation of our society are impossible to deny, but our relationship to the marvelous plastic can be an unhealthy one because we tend to overuse it and dispose of it in our oceans.

And to understand this relationship more, I’ve decided to create an article with some of the most interesting facts about plastic, good and bad, so each one of you can come to an unbiased conclusion.

The hard truth

Around the globe, more than one million plastic bottles are bought from shops and sold every fifty seconds, on average. The impressive figure will rise by 20 percent by the time the next decade is over. In 2017, at least 480 billion plastic bottles were consumed and thrown in the garbage around the world, a number large enough to scare even a skeptical person. To put this feature into perspective, the produced waste would reach more than halfway to our sun.

Plastic is so common that it has even made its vicious way into the food we consume and in our drinking water reserves. Scientists at a university in Belgium estimated that the average European citizen consumes up 6,400 microplastic particles per year from seafood. Similarly, more than 83 percent of tap water samples were found to contain microplastics, things that can get us sick.

 

The interesting part

On average, it takes about four hundred years for one soda bottle to break down in the ground because there are no bacteria that like to eat this material. Although now there’s some proof of a microorganism which feeds off of it, so maybe there’s hope for the future.

Another interesting fact is that 11% of all household waste is plastic and related materials, and 40% of that waste is comprised of plastic bottles. Moreover, the plastic bags and the other trash thrown by humans in the ocean kill one million sea creatures every year.

The good news is that recycling plastic saves more than twice as much energy than melting it in an incinerator. And recycling one ton of plastic bottles can save 5,774 kWh of energy and 30 cubic yards in a landfill.

The quirky

There’s a Florida-based company named Saltwater Brewery that crafts beer, and it created entirely edible six-pack rings from brewing by-products like wheat and barley. The rings have the same strength as the plastic variety, but they can be eaten as snacks.

And the last cool fact is that there’s a type of plastic which can be created from milk. The resulting innovative product is odorless, insoluble in water, antiallergenic, biodegradable, antistatic and, as if that wasn’t enough, virtually non-flammable. The only real problem is that it is expensive to make and that it cannot be molded once set.

 

Lifestyle

3 documentaries about the environment

 

 

I recently became a vegetarian. A close friend of mine has been a vegetarian for over a decade now, and he seems to be doing just fine. I’ve been considering veganism for quite a while, but I’m afraid that I might not handle it and get back to eating meat again. I’ve tried several times already, but it just seems too hard to do it. However, vegetarianism is a far nicer and easier way to protect the environment, although I do have to admit that it’s not as eco-friendly as veganism.

I wanted to write this post because there are several reasons that I ended up eating what I eat and living how I live. I first discovered Hot for Food, a YouTube channel about eating well even when you’re a vegan. Then I got to watch Lauren Toyota’s videos, who is one of the video creators for Hot for Food. As I became more and more aware of the impact that we have on our environment, I started asking around, and I wanted to become more informed about the topic.

I’m going to tackle three documentaries that have left a mark on me, and I hope they do the same for you, too. Perhaps it might not be a nice thing to say, but I want them to impress you and make you understand that we only have one life and one planet.

 

Cowspiracy

This is the first documentary that I heard about while watching Lauren Toyota’s videos. While it wasn’t as shocking as Earthlings, it certainly made me think about going vegan. Basically, what I found out from watching this production was that, while many drivers and climate change deniers say that cows produce more methane and carbon dioxide than all cars in the world, it’s anything but true.

The problem is not that these animals produce such gasses, but the fact that humans practice deforestation to create pastures for cows. The latter aren’t to blame for anything, even for the fact that they exist or that they’re more than they used to be. We simply eat too much meat and have been doing so for the past decades.

Our ancestors used to consume meat just once a week or even more rarely. In short, this was a documentary that I appreciated because it was based on science and facts, and it made me think that becoming a vegan or a vegetarian was a logical choice.

Earthlings

While it is not a pleasant sight, Earthlings manages to transmit a message that is both powerful and true. In our trips to the supermarket, we seldom think about what animals had to go through in order to become that piece of meat or steak that’s on display for us to buy and enjoy. Animals suffer for food, fashion, entertainment, and even companionship. While it might not be for the faint-hearted, Earthlings is a strong documentary that needs to be seen at least once, so that we get our act together for once and for all.

 

Racing Extinction

This last documentary that I want to recommend is not about food, in particular, but more about mass species extinctions and the way we impact the environment and the living and breathing organisms around us. Whether it’s illegal wildlife trade, habitat destruction, or just plain old climate change, Racing Extinction offers a comprehensive message about our footprint on all of these fields.

 

 

Biology

Why antimicrobial resistance is on the rise

 

 

Antimicrobial resistance or AMR continues to threaten the effective treatment and prevention of steadily increasing numbers of infections that are caused by fungi, viruses, parasites and bacteria. A genuinely serious threat to global public health, AMR compromises on the success of cancer chemotherapy and major surgery because of a deficit of effective antibiotics.

There is also a rising cost of health care for those with resistant infections compared to individuals having non-resistant infections. This is primarily due to more required tests, longer illness duration and the utilization of costlier medicines. The battle against malaria and HIV has become more complicated due to drug resistance, and this is alongside the huge number of people developing multi-resistant tuberculosis each year on a global scale.

Occurring when microbes including parasites, viruses, fungi and bacteria change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs, antimicrobial resistance is exhibited by microorganisms that are sometimes designated as ‘superbugs.’ The presence of these ‘superbugs’ renders medicines ineffective, making infections persist in the body and increasing the likelihood of spreading to other people.

The continued rise and spread of antimicrobial resistance naturally occur over time. It is attributed to genetic alterations. That said, it is hastened due to the misuse and overuse of antimicrobial drugs both in people and animals and which are administered without professional supervision.

Incorrectly prescribed antimicrobials also encourage the growth of resistant bacteria, with studies showing that the duration of antimicrobial therapy, choice of agent and even treatment indication are incorrect in roughly 30 percent to half of the cases. Wrong antibiotic prescriptions result in dubious therapeutic benefit while also putting the patient at risk of potential antibiotic therapy complications.

Because of the extensive use of antibiotics as growth supplements in livestock, the drugs are ingested in food for human consumption. This transfers resistant bacteria to humans from farm animals, contributing to AMR.

Another contributing factor to AMR is the many regulatory and economic obstacles to the availability of more antibiotics. Add to this the regulatory barriers that make it more challenging for companies to get approval for their antimicrobials. These include the absence of clarity, bureaucracy, changes in licensing and regulatory rules, differences in clinical trial requirements from one country to another, and the ineffective communication routes all over the world.

Besides, the comparatively low cost of antibiotics also leads to the low-value perception of those products among consumers and payors.

Antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms are to be found in the environment to the same degree as they are found in people, animals, and the environment. The spread of infection is from person to person or between animals and individuals. What also promote AMR are improper food handling, inadequate sanitary conditions and poor control or containment of infection.

AMR is a problem that all countries of the world now face. This puts AMR patients at ever-increasing risk of worsening clinical outcomes or even death. There is an immense need for coordinated action if AMR is to be efficiently and effectively battled on all fronts, with all countries pitching in with greater investment and innovation in the development and research of new diagnostic tools, vaccines, and antimicrobial medicines.

Biology

Small things that you can do to protect the environment

 

Climate change is real. Pollution rates are staggering all over the world. Extinction is more real than what the film Inferno has managed to drive home to its viewers, and it should not only be the World Health Organization that should take concrete action. If you are a citizen of this planet and you plan to live long on it, you had better go about doing small things that help in protecting the environment.

No matter how hard scientists study the effects of climate change or how hoarse media people become in reporting about extinction, pollution and the various ways we are all slowly killing the earth, everything is useless if we don’t take heed of the warning signs. We need to accept our responsibilities as inhabitants of this one single planet.

If we refuse to be the custodians of the Earth, there may not even be a planet to sustain life for us. Unless the Moon or some other planet becomes habitable real soon, we may find ourselves without a living planet to speak of. However, we can do small things such as doing our daily routine differently or being more conscientious of how we do things, in general, to help our planet breathe and live longer for the future generations after us.

The most substantial of these things include reducing our water consumption and conserving energy. To a less significant but still essential degree, we can decide to use our cars less and use the power of our legs through walking, cycling and taking public transport more often. This is not only a great way to get fit or save money, but also reduces the amount of emitted greenhouse gasses into the environment.

Trade in that gas guzzling vehicle with a more eco-friendly model. We can give up the comfort of the car seat to make an enormous contribution to the health of Mother Earth, can’t we? Carpooling is also fun and makes car rides more enjoyable compared to sitting in the car alone. Avoid making separate car trips for every errand; combine errands when using the car so you can cut down on gas emissions.

Online shopping uses no gas on your part, as against visiting a brick-and-mortar store. Telecommuting and co-working space can also be better alternatives to driving to work every day. Making a record of your trips also enables you to consolidate your car trips into more eco-friendly journeys to save on gasoline and reduce gas emissions.

Plan meals a week in advance, so you buy only the things you will eat and thus reduce food waste. You can tweak your shopping habits by keeping track of the items that only end up in the trash. Recycle leftovers by making new dishes out of them. A compost pile allows you to recycle compostable items back to the ecosystem. Take home what you can’t eat at restaurants to save on at least one meal at home. At buffets, use smaller plates to avoid loading up on items that are likely to end up uneaten anyway.

Buy in bulk to reduce trash. Reduce, reuse and recycle as often as possible. Eat local to support local farmers and food producers. Get into gardening or eat only foods in season.

Biology

My favorite biology books for beginning learners

 

 

Biology is the natural science involving the study of life and living organisms. This includes the study of the structure, evolution, growth, function, identification, distribution and taxonomy of those living organisms. A broad and eclectic discipline, biology comprises numerous sub-disciplines and branches based on the general class of organism that is studied.

 

 

Although I was never given a chance to go to college, I love watching documentaries and reading. This has enabled me to get as much knowledge as possible about biology, natural sciences and the environment. My fascination for biology has led me to some books that should be in any biology enthusiast’s collection of must reads.

 

Written by Steven Daniel Garber, Ph. D., Biology: A Self-Teaching Guide, 2nd edition offers explanations on all the major biological terms and concepts. This newly revised edition is where I learned about the origin of life, cell biology, evolution, botany and physiology. It offers answers and explanations on photosynthesis or how it occurs, whether cloning is a type of sexual or asexual reproduction, what Anton van Leeuwenhoek is known for, and more.

 

The book comes with a clearly structured format to enable full access to various student levels. It also provides a comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the science of life in an easy-to-understand work. There are self-tests and questions that reinforce the information in each chapter. This allows the reader to make a decision on whether to focus on a topic or move ahead and skip it.

 

Biology for Beginners in paperback was released on Amazon on September 7, 2010. Written by Truman Jesse Moon, this is a reproduction of a book that came out before 1923. A culturally important piece of work, the book admissibly has occasional lapses such as blurred or missing pages, errant marks or poor pictures and other similar elements that could be attributed to the original artifact or had gotten introduced during the scanning process but it holds true to the objective of preserving printed works worldwide.

 

 

Biology For Dummies 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition, by Donna Rae Siegfried and Rene Fester Kratz, is an updated edition of an earlier work, The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Biology. It aims to tell us how living things work, answering all our questions in plain and simple English. This books satisfies the curiosity of people like me who wonder how the human body works, by providing a quick answer to those questions.
Packed with plenty of illustrations, this provides a quick reference with helpful tables and diagrams, cheat sheets, as well as easily understandable explanations of the various life processes that all organisms share. This book features more than 20 percent new and updated content including a significant re-organization of topics to make it a classroom-friendly supplement.

I am sure there are plenty more biology books for beginners out there, so if you can point me in the right direction, I would gladly go there and study them on my own. Let’s try to find out how much more we can learn about the science of life through books, shall we?.