Archive for November, 2011

Packaged Foods for Kids: Glass is Still the Safest

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

A new study from the US Breast Cancer Fund has found that some packaged foods targeted at children contain high levels of Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA has been found to have adverse affects on the development of children and may cause certain types of cancer. Unlike other packaging materials, glass contains no BPA.

The Breast Cancer Fund is urging parents to avoid packaging materials such as plastics and cans until legislation is implemented banning BPA in all food containers. The European Union and Canada have already banned the chemical in baby bottles.

One of the easiest ways for all of us to avoid ingesting BPA is to purchase our packaged foods in glass containers. Glass is still the only packaging material which is exempt from European Union rules on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). It is also the only packaging material to be Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration.

To be sure your children are only getting the healthiest food, why not try canning your own food in glass jars? It’s a very simple process and all you need is a large pot, glass jars with tight-fitting lids, and something to preserve. You can use fruit, vegetables, soup, meat and even fish. A good source of recipes is the Food in Jars blog. There are also great links to other canning sites, a reading list and loads of useful tips and tricks. For a quick overview of the process, take a look at this informative video.

Exposure to BPA May Affect Daughters

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Time Magazine is reporting the results of a new study which shows that a woman’s exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy may lead to behavioural problems in their daughters before they reach the age of three. The study, first published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that exposure to BPA, especially in developing foetuses, may be long-lasting.

Concerns over BPA have already prompted the European Union to enact legislation which bans the use of BPA in baby bottles within the EU. Now France is planning further legislation which would see BPA eliminated from all food packaging by 2014. The proposal, which is before the French parliament and has the support of the country’s Health Minister, would see warning labels applied immediately to any food packaging which contains BPA and that is targeted at pregnant women or children under three. If the law is passed, France will become the first country in the world to totally ban BPA from food packaging. Meanwhile the EU is monitoring the situation to see if more action is needed at the European level.

While this news is concerning, there are some simple ways that all of us can avoid ingesting BPA. One of the easiest is to choose fresh fruit and vegetables where possible, and frozen or glass-canned alternatives when it is not. Another tip is to stop consuming pre-prepared foods which are packaged in materials other than glass or cardboard.

Earlier this year, the US Breast Cancer Fund reported on a study in which three families reduced their BPA levels by an average of 60% in just three days. As well as following the advice above, the families switched to stainless steel or glass food and beverage storage containers and utilised ceramic and glass containers for microwaving.

While more work needs to be done to understand the long-term impact of BPA on our children, it is easy to minimise the risk thanks to glass.

The full study can be found in the November 2011 edition of Pediatrics. The article is titled: Impact of Early-Life Bisphenol A Exposure on Behavior and Executive Function.

Europe Champions Waste Reduction

Friday, November 25th, 2011

It’s the European Week for Waste Reduction and the EU and member states are using the occasion to promote a range of sustainable waste reduction initiatives. These include actions to reduce paper and food waste and encouraging the development of products that can be repaired or reused.

Another theme in 2011 focuses on reducing the amount of packaging which goes into the waste stream. This is an area where glass packaging shines as it’s clearly not garbage if it is recycled correctly. You can find lots of information about glass recycling on the Friends of Glass site and test your recycling skills with our bottle bank test!

With the Week for Waste Reduction, the EU aims to create a pan-European action community. To gauge whether the initiative is a success, the community will monitor the amount of garbage going to landfill. The goal is to develop actions that will change people’s behaviour and make a real reduction in garbage.

 

One of the easiest things we can all do to reduce our garbage is to take out the packaging material! Some people might think glass is heavy, but have you ever considered the fact that glass can make your dustbin lighter? ;-)  Instead of including glass in your rubbish and making your dust-bin heavy, take it to your local bottle bank. And if you don’t have a bottle bank in your area, why not request one through the Friends of Glass site?

Below is a cute video that the Week for Waste Reduction team prepared to remind us about the need to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill

Are craft brewers adding-up all the costs?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Craft breweries are popping up all over the place as beer connoisseurs seek tasty, locally produced alternatives to bland mass-market brews. For their part, brewers are seeking to craft a product from local organic ingredients that is more environmentally friendly and is better for you. Their aim is to create a sustainable local livelihood. However, increasing numbers of brewers are turning away from glass and choosing cans to package their brews.

One reason that is often cited is the light weight of cans. While weight is a consideration, the overall environmental impact of a packaging material should also be considered. And for brewers particularly, the effect of the packaging material on the taste and longevity of their products should be equally as important.

 

 

Let’s talk about taste first. Glass is the only packaging material that is exempt from the European Union’s regulations for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (known as REACH). REACH obliges industries to register any material or substance that might potentially be harmful for human health, and to duly inform citizens. Glass is also the only packaging material that has been rated Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration, a designation it has held since 1960.

Why? Because glass is the only packaging material that is completely safe for human beings over its entire lifecycle.

Unlike other packaging materials, glass has nothing to hide. Other materials require strip-mining to extract ores and need vast amounts of energy to process them. The main ingredient in glass is sand, a completely natural resource which is constantly being renewed by the action of the Earth’s oceans.

Most other packaging materials were only invented in the past 120 years. By contrast, the process for making glass has been around for more than 5,000 years, and it is relatively simple. And unlike other packaging materials, no toxic wastes are produced.

There is also a big difference at the end of the packaging material’s useful life. Most can be recycled, but their properties are compromised by the recycling process. This is known as downcycling, using a product to create a new product with reduced or inferior properties. However, glass can be recycled over and over again without losing its properties.

Almost every packaging material known to mankind is currently making the claim that it’s the greenest available. For consumers, those statements are sometimes difficult to verify. Thankfully regulators are starting to take note of these ‘greenwashing’ campaigns and are taking action against products that make claims which cannot be substantiated.There is no denying that other materials possess unique properties and they have a role to play in our world. But they often come at an enormous environmental and social cost. Is it really worth that cost to make beer lighter to carry?

Ayelet: Naturally in Glass

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Ayelet Naturals is a boutique range of organic aromatherapy, skincare, bath and body products. The brand’s line of scrubs recently underwent a redesign by specialist agency Oh Boutique from Argentina. The new packaging includes glass jars which allow the natural and organic qualities of the products to shine through. The glass truly intensifies the pureness of the natural scrubs.

So, what’s not to love?! :-) Pure from the in- and outside!  Glass has nothing to hide. Ayelet products are available from a number of online stores including Etsy.

 

Can You Live Without Plastic?

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

On 1 January 2010, Vancouver resident Taina Uitto made a pledge to live her life without plastic for the next year. Uitto documented her efforts on her Plastic Manners blog, even photographing the non-recyclable materials she acquired each month (here you can see her collection for February 2010).

Although it was not easy to give up plastics totally for a year, Uitto continues to refuse them. She also encourages others to make the effort, an initiative that the Friends of Glass wholeheartedly support. We know of at least five good reasons to choose glass any day!

To give people a taste of what is involved, Uitto started the Day Without Plastic blog – encouraging people to give up plastics for just one day on either World Ocean Day (8 June) or International Coastal Cleanup Day (19 September). Now environmental blogging site Re-Nest is challenge everyone to give up plastics for a month.

Re-Nest have published a list of three steps almost anyone can follow. One is a step that Uitto took at the beginning of her life without plastic: making an inventory of the plastics already in your home. The inventory helps you to understand where you can replace plastics with more sustainable materials such as glass.

So do you think that you could give up plastic for a day, a month, or even a year? Can you make a sustainable switch to glass or convince others to glass up their lives?

Why not make your pledge on the Friends of Glass Facebook page and share your tips! Because glass truly has nothing to hide!

Fresh Cake in a Jar: Muu!

Monday, November 21st, 2011

The inventors of ‘muu’ cakes have rediscovered an art that might sound a little strange at first – cakes in jars. Unlike other pre-prepared cakes, muu cakes contain no chemical preservatives, artificial flavourings or additives. They are only made with traditional baking ingredients and rely on glass jars to keep the product fresh and ready to eat for up to six months.

The modern twist-off lids on muu cake jars create the perfect sweet treat for people on the move. The re-sealable lid means you don’t have to consume the entire treat in one sitting – you can have your cake and eat it too, whenever the mood takes you. There are also a range of flavours available from chocolate to lemon, and even a red wine cake!

The jars are extremely practical and, once you have eaten the cake, you can rinse out the jar and re-use it as a container for your own home-canned foods.

Want to bake a cake in a jar yourself? Check out our photo album and get inspired by some yummy cakes in glass jars!

Musical Glass Transcends the Language Barrier

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Our Austrian and Swiss Friends of Glass have been busy creating a new game called Sounds of Glass. The game enables you to compose a tune for your very own glass bottle and jar orchestra. Although the site is in German, you don’t need to understand the language to make your own beats. There are four different types of sound available: Lead; Percussion; Bass; and Drum.

Select the type of sound first, then click on a bottle or jar to fill it with water. The filled containers are ‘played’ as the light passes over them. You can combine one or more of the four sound types to create your tune.

For each sound type, there are four different ‘rooms’. Experiment by creating different tunes in each room and combining them together in your own unique sound combinations. You can save your song and share it with others on the Sounds of Glass site. While the results might not be as sophisticated as the Lernert & Sander glass harp we featured here earlier this year, it’s a lot more fun!

The game is incredibly simple but devilishly addictive. Cancel your meetings, take the telephone off the hook and put on your headphones now!

Does a paper bottle really benefit your health?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

We’re sure that when the first wheel was made, someone wondered out loud if it would work better if it was a hexagon shape. So it is with wine bottles. First we had plastic bottles, now someone has decided wine will be more environmentally friendly if it is delivered in paper bottles.

It’s a noble idea, but let’s just get one thing out of the way quickly – unlike glass and liquids, paper and liquids don’t mix well. That’s why the ‘paper bottle’ is actually lined with plastic. So your wine is not packaged in compostable paper, it’s really packaged in plastic which may contain Bisphenol-A (BPA) or other chemicals.

Glass is not a chemistry experiment

Glass wine bottles do not need plastic linings to keep their contents safe and drinkable. Unlike plastics, glass does not react with the contents of the bottle and no substances are leached into the wine. And in glass, the wine can stay fresh for many decades. A study by the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV) in Bordeaux, France, found that the flavour and chemical composition of white wine changed within six months of being packed into single- and multi-layer PET bottles, or a bag-in-a-box. In glass bottles, wine actually tastes like wine, not a chemistry experiment.

The paper bottle’s makers argue that their version is lighter than glass bottles and therefore it reduces emissions – particularly during transport. Paper is lighter than glass, even when it comes with a plastic lining. But weight is not the only issue consumers should consider. Research by UK-based resource efficiency experts WRAP (see Study Reveals Carbon Impact of Bottling Australian Wine in the UK in PET and Glass Bottles) showed that “… the higher CO2 emissions arising for PET from manufacture offset much of the savings obtained from its low weight.”

When talking about weight and comparing materials, a number of parameters must be taken into account in order to compare like with like. For example, is the packaging locally produced? Is it fully and effectively recycled locally or exported to third-party countries for processing? What is the recycled content of the packaging? The list of parameters goes on and on. Simply claiming your material is the most environmentally friendly doesn’t make it so.

Glass is the consumer’s choice

Unlike plastic, glass is made from sand and other naturally occurring raw materials. It is produced in local glass factories, near to where it will be filled. Glass is also 100% and infinitely recyclable in an effective local bottle-to-bottle system. And talking about weight, glass is now much lighter and stronger than it was 20 years ago. New glass bottles weigh about 300 g, a saving of 40% in just two decades, and the industry is working hard to make them even lighter and stronger than ever before.

There’s also the matter of style. Can you really see yourself ordering wine in a paper bottle at a restaurant? Perhaps you can start by asking for plastic glasses next time you go out to see how it will feel. Glass adds class!

Switching from glass to plastics in the name of the environment makes glass the scapegoat. But it doesn’t necessarily reduce waste or the impact of packaging on the environment. By using arguments such as weight or breakability to define a ‘greener choice’, packaging decision makers are neglecting the bigger picture, and the voices of their consumers.

A recent independent survey of more than 8,000 consumers across 17 European countries found that 74% prefer glass as their packaging material (InSites, 2010). A clear majority (65%) choose glass because it best preserves the taste of the food or beverage it contains. And for special occasion beverages, 79% of respondents choose glass. This is one of the main reasons why wine producers pack their vintages in glass bottles.

But what do you think about buying your wine in paper bottles? Are they all they are cut out to be? Vote for your preferred type of wine bottle on Facebook and let us know:

  • Plastic?
  • Wine Box?
  • Carton?
  • Glass?
  • Metal?

Family Donates Titanic Message in a Bottle

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Jeremiah Burke was just 19 in 1912 when he set out from his home in Cork, Ireland, to migrate to the United States. Just before he boarded his ship – the RMS Titanic – his mother handed him a glass bottle filled with holy water.

Late in the evening of 14 April 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg as it crossed the Atlantic Ocean on its voyage to New York. Sometime during that fateful evening, Jeremiah Burke wrote a note and placed it in the bottle given to him by his mother. Tying it with his shoelace, he cast the bottle overboard.

The note, which read “From Titanic, goodbye all, Burke of Glanmire, Cork”, washed ashore a year later just a few miles from Burke’s family home. The bottle and its message have survived for nearly a century, remaining in the family until his niece donated it to the Cobh Heritage Centre this year.

The Cobh Heritage Centre has placed the message on display as part of their Titanic memorabilia. The Centre is planning a number of events IN 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

This shows again that glass truly can stand the test of time ;-) It’s our past, our present and our future!