Non-organic fruit and veg

Which ones should you choose?

When out shopping it’s always a good idea to pick organic fruit and veg, best if produced locally and in season. But what about non-organic fruit and veg? Jon recently came across some interesting information that a student gave him. It was about ‘the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen’. Some fruit and veg contain more pesticides than others so they could have an adverse effect on your health. Therefore, if you are on a budget and can’t always buy organic then this can be a good guide.

Photo by John Lambeth from Pexels

So, with these lists you can see which fruit and veg are most affected by pesticides. The Environmental Working Group produce and regularly update them. It is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. The Clean Fifteen lists the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues. In addition, the dirty dozen are those fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.

The Clean Fifteen

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas – Frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Aubergine
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Melon
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines (imported)
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry Tomatoes
  11. Snap Peas (imported)
  12. Potatoes

Organic fruit and veg helps pollinators too. Pesticides often harm bees in particular, due to its toxicity and can kill them. So, this is another good reason to go organic. For example, around 75% of crop plants require some degree of animal pollination. This includes many of our everyday fruit and vegetables. However, you don’t have to just shop in supermarkets nowadays. There are plenty of alternatives that deliver to your door. For instance, Riverford, Abel&Cole and Farmdrop to name but a few.

Farmers’ markets are also great to visit as produce is locally produced. They enable farmers to sell their products direct to the consumer so that they get a fair price for their work. There are a number of London Farmers’ Markets too, so take a look.

An Ocean full of microplastics!

UN environment programme animation on how microplastics affect our health

The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated that between 15% and 31% of all plastic pollution comes from microplastics. So, we now have an ocean full of microplastics. Some research estimates that every week we eat the amount in weight of a credit card of microplastics. It is also raining down on us from the clouds even here in cities like London. How is this possible?

Microfibres and the food chain

An ocean full of microplastics. Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

Synthetic microfibres, which clothing releases during every wash, account for roughly a third of plastic in the ocean. They are so tiny that they can seem like food for zooplankton. These are microscopic living organisms which drift or float in water. One of them is called krill and is a tiny shrimp-like crustacean which lives in cold seas. Some of the zooplankton eat algae but due to the ingestion of microfibres they are no longer able to digest it. These animals are at the base of the food chain in the ocean, bigger zooplankton, fish and marine mammals like whales eat them. So, we shouldn’t be surprised if they might end up on our dinner plate.

An ocean full of microplastics. Photo by Silvana Palacios from Pexels

Photo by Silvana Palacios from Pexels

What can we do in order not to have an ocean full of microplastics?

Buy less, buy better

Buying fewer clothes and fewer new clothes is still a good aim for the environment as the fashion industry is a big polluter. Stop wearing man-made fibres is also better so check the label before buying any new item.

Some brands like Fjallraven and Patagonia are trying to reduce the number of microfibres in their products. Some other companies or small start-ups are now producing clothes made from recycled plastic. Patagonia actually started using recycled plastic bottles to make their garments back in 1993. Since 1985 they have pledged 1% of their sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment!

Also, manufacturers make many other items out of synthetic fibres like cushions, carpets, bags, dog beds or even sheets and covers. So, be mindful about what you buy and see if you can find items by manufacturers which make them more sustainably.

Washing machine

An ocean full of microplastics. Guppyfriend bag for your laundry

Guppyfriend bag for you laundry

Ludo bought a Guppyfriend bag to put her synthetic clothes in or you can get a filter to catch the microfibres in the washing machine. Hopefully, in the future, these filters will be compulsory for new machines. There is one which Mermaids developed, through a project funded by the EU. You can wash clothes less frequently and on shorter washes. Also, at lower temperatures and make sure your washing machine is full. Clothes in full machines get agitated less and therefore shed fewer fibres.

Microbeads

An ocean full of microplastics. MPCA Photos

MPCA Photos microbeads-plastic-particles

Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than one millimetre at their largest dimension. Tiny beads of plastics are contained in some toothpastes, sun cream, make-up, face and hand wash and body scrub. When you wash after using these products the small beads go down the drain and in the end, they reach rivers and waterways. The beads can absorb and concentrate pollutants like pesticides. Animals still eat them thinking they are food.

In some countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan they have banned their use and some brands have stopped using them in their products. The UK approved the ban in June 2018. So, if you still find a product which includes microbeads please report it to the owner of the shop so they can take them off the shelves.

[Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microbead and “How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time” by Will McCallum]