Mealworm Monday: First Pupae in the Hive by Livin Farms

This week’s Mealworm Monday features our first pupae from the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives…

This week’s Mealworm Monday features our first pupae from the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives. You can read more about the Hive in my past articles or on the Livin Farms website. Check out the video below!

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The Hypocrisy of Singapore’s Green Initiative 2018

Yes, the Gardens by the Bay are an amazing green initiative that uses waste from the city and turns it into energy to power the entire park. Then there’s the tap water, that is cleaned using reverse osmosis which turns sewage into safe drinking water. It’s absolutely genius and the epitome of zero-waste. But…

Our recent travel adventures took us to Singapore! A city known for its cleanliness, passion for sustainability and of course, the Super Tree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay. Although Singapore was beautiful and I could spend weeks exploring it, I was a little disappointed by its hypocrisy when it comes to protecting the environment.

If you’re having that strange dejavu sensation right now, then I’m sorry. You’re not going crazy, you did actually read this before if you’re a follower of The Travel Bug Bite. The video at the bottom of this blog post is different and I believe the topic is important enough to discuss again – so please bear with me.

Yes, the Gardens by the Bay are an amazing green initiative that uses waste from the city and turns it into energy to power the entire park. Then there’s the tap water, that is cleaned using reverse osmosis which turns sewage into safe drinking water. It’s absolutely genius and the epitome of zero-waste.

Although on a grand scale, Singapore is doing a lot when it comes to sustainability, they don’t focus enough on changing the habits of their people or businesses. Example: When you arrive extra early for your flight at the Changi airport because you want to see why it’s considered the world’s best airport, you may run into a cool wall displaying information about Singapore and local customs…

One of these is the “correct way to drink kopi (traditional Singaporean coffee)” where they tell you to do as the locals do and order it in a plastic bag and drink it with a plastic straw. Facepalming did not suffice, I wanted to head table when I read this…

During my visit to Singapore, I got to meet up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen for years. I told her all about my new zero-waste lifestyle and vegan diet, telling her how amazing it is that Singapore is doing so much to promote sustainability. She smiled and nodded but even she agreed that unfortunately, Singapore focuses too much on the details instead of the big picture.

Visiting the Gardens by the Bay was one of the highlights of my trip. But I was immediately disappointed by what I saw happening in the park. Restaurants, fast food places and other vendors selling food and items unnecessarily wrapped in plastic with no biodegradable or re-usable alternatives. I’m shocked at the slap in the face that these places are to all the efforts made to create this environmentally-friendly place.

Once I get the chance and find the right people to contact, I will issue a complaint to the Gardens of the Bay. They put so much effort into educating visitors and making a step forward but then you can’t even eat there without creating waste.

  • Is it really that hard to at least use paper instead of plastic?
  • Or how about creating a deposit system for nice re-usable containers to eat from?
  • Perhaps with a logo of the place, that can be bought as a souvenir or returned after use? If they can do this with beer cups at festivals in Europe, why not do it at a place that literally exists to promote sustainability and ways to save the planet?

Okay, rant over. Here’s one of the videos that you can watch at the Super Tree Grove about global warming and how we can still prevent the destruction of our beloved Earth.

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Creating a Zero-Waste Kit: It’s Easy and Cheap!

In the morning, you stop at Starbucks for an iced coffee. You like it sweet, so your stir in some sugar. You’re late, so you grab a quick bagel off the street for breakfast. Next, you stop at the local deli to grab a sandwich and a bottle of water to have later for lunch, plus a couple mustard packets to spice it up. By the time you get to work, you’ve inadvertently used a paper cup (lined with plastic), a plastic lid, a straw, a plastic stirrer, two sugar packets, a plastic bottle, a plastic bag and packaging for your bagel, plastic wrapping and a plastic bag for your sandwich, plus two plastic mustard packets. Statistically, 10% of that will end up in the ocean.

In the morning, you stop at Starbucks for an iced coffee. You like it sweet, so your stir in some sugar. You’re late, so you grab a quick bagel off the street for breakfast. Next, you stop at the local deli to grab a sandwich and a bottle of water to have later for lunch, plus a couple mustard packets to spice it up. By the time you get to work, you’ve inadvertently used a paper cup (lined with plastic), a plastic lid, a straw, a plastic stirrer, two sugar packets, a plastic bottle, a plastic bag and packaging for your bagel, plastic wrapping and a plastic bag for your sandwich, plus two plastic mustard packets. Statistically, 10% of that will end up in the ocean.

Am I asking you to give you your coffee and street food in the morning? No! Am I asking you not to get your favorite sandwich for lunch? Absolutely not! Can you enjoy all these things without single-use plastic? The answer is a resounding YES! You might even save some money. Here’s how to create a zero waste kit that’ll fit in any bag or purse.

  • Water Bottle: By far the most important thing to have on you at all times. Why pay money for a single-use bottle when you can bring your own? I tend to prefer drinking from glass bottles like these but you can carry a BPA-free plastic one if that’s too heavy for you.
  • Coffee Cup: Whether you like it hot or iced, it’s easy to carry a cup for your coffee. Some places, like Starbucks, even offer a discount! Try this one for iced or this one for hot.
  • Cutlery Kit: Instead of using plastic knives and forks, carry around a portable cutlery kit like this one. This kit is less than 150 grams, making it easy to carry around in any purse or bag!
  • Collapsible container: Fan of street food? Like to order take-out? Carry around one of these silicone collapsible containers. They’re BPA free, can withstand very hot and very cold temperatures and can be thrown in the dishwasher after use. They’re great to use at home too!
  • Aluminum straws: If you’re a fan of smoothies, juice, cola or iced coffee, you no doubt use a lot of plastic straws. Not anymore! Just grab a set of reusable aluminum straws! Just remember to remind your server that you brought your own!

Now, let’s go back to your morning commute:

You stop in at Starbucks and hand them your cup. You get a 10 cent discount on your coffee, which will add up to $20 a year in savings. You kindly ask the barista to add some sugar for you, which they do from a glass jar. You stir the iced coffee with a spoon from your cutlery kit and pop in your aluminum straw. Now you’re headed to the bagel shop, where you kindly ask them to hand it to you without any packaging. You eat your bagel on the way to the deli, where you order your sandwich for lunch. They know you by now, so they accept your reusable container with a smile and even offer to wash it for you. They know you like it spicy, so they add some mustard from the deli counter. You put your boxed sandwich in your bag or purse and head to work, having used ZERO single-uses products. No new waste will end up in the ocean, and at lunch, you’ll be a constant advocate for your new lifestyle as your friends and colleagues watch you take out your container for lunch and fill your water bottle from the tap.

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Mealworm Mondays: Intro to Entomophagy (Eating Insects)

I’ve referred to myself as a vegan for a long time now, mainly due to the fact that I not only avoid all animal products (with the exception of insects) but I also only use cruelty free products and I’m attempting to convert to a 100% zero-waste lifestyle. Yes, I’m one of those people, get over it. As you might understand, calling myself a vegetarian felt like an understatement so I chose to call myself a vegan until people asked more questions and I’d explain that I’m actually an entovegan…

Entomophagy is the practice of eating insects that I will be telling you about in the upcoming series of posts called *cue drumroll* Mealworm Mondays! If a picture says a thousand words then a video must speak millions, so whenever I’m not in the mood to write out long explanations or you’re too lazy to read my babbling, I’ll be sharing humorous information-packed videos about one of my favorite topics!

If you’ve been following The Travel Bug Bite for a while now you might be asking yourself. “Wait, what? Eating insects is NOT vegan.” And frankly, you’re right, it’s not.

I’ve referred to myself as a vegan for a long time now, mainly due to the fact that I not only avoid all animal products (with the exception of insects) but I also only use cruelty free products and I’m attempting to convert to a 100% zero-waste lifestyle. Yes, I’m one of those people, get over it. As you might understand, calling myself a vegetarian felt like an understatement so I chose to call myself a vegan until people asked more questions and I’d explain that I’m actually an entovegan.

I discovered the term entovegan after weeks of struggling to find a label for what I was (not am… was, keep reading). I finally found the website www.entovegan.com where someone living on the other side of the world was dealing with the same issues. Josh decided to raise awareness about this unique, yet slightly contradictory, diet.

So once I received my Hive from Livin Farms, I ran around telling the world all about entoveganism. I didn’t just get the Hive (the worlds first edible insect desktop farm) to eat insects, as I felt the need to explain to my purely vegan friends. I got it to find a solution for my food waste (Chinese apartments are tiny, I can’t even fit an apartment-sized compost in here…) and I strongly believe in spreading the world about entomophagy to encourage meat eaters to replace some of their meat meals with insect protein – even though as a vegan, I can reassure you that you can get all the protein you need from plants. You see? Even supporting entomophagy makes me a bad vegan 😉

Sure, it’s an honorable mission and many vegans supported my decision with one complaint. You can’t call yourself a vegan if you eat anything that doesn’t consent to being eaten, it’s a contradiction. Well, I’m no longer an ento-anything, except an aspiring entomologist perhaps, because the Hive changed the way I look at mealworms.

While my husband is excited to munch on our mealworms once they mature, I’ve been watching them grow, feeding them and worrying about them from the minute they came to live with us. Although the reasons to eat insects are endless, I found it impossible to justify eating them myself. And that’s totally okay.

I’ll still keep calling myself a bug-biting blogger bitten by the travel bug because that’s incredibly catchy, but I won’t be doing any bug-biting personally. I’m still going to write about it and support the movement because I believe that it can literally change the world. So stay tuned for some crunchy (or should I say C-R-O-N-C-Hy) blog posts and videos!

Feel free to share any stories you have about trying edible insects or your opinions about the topic in the comments below!

*Disclaimer: If you are allergic to shellfish, please stay away from edible insects! There have been various cases of people who are allergic to shellfish to also react to edible insects. Read more about potential allergies here.

 

 

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Global Warming by Singapore’s Super Tree Grove

Our recent travel adventures took us to Singapore! A city known for it’s cleanliness, passion for sustainability and of course, the Super Tree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay. Although Singapore was beautiful and I could spend weeks exploring it, I was a little disappointed by it’s hypocrisy when it comes to protecting the environment.

Yes, the Gardens by the Bay are an amazing green initiative that uses waste from the city and turns it into energy to power the entire park. Then there’s the tap water, that is cleaned using reverse osmosis which turns sewage into safe drinking water. It’s absolutely genius and the epitome of zero-waste.

Although on a grand scale, Singapore is doing a lot when it comes to sustainability, they don’t focus enough on changing the habits of their people or businesses. Example: When you arrive extra early for your flight at the Changi airport because you want to see why it’s considered the world’s best airport, you may run into a cool wall displaying information about Singapore and local customs…

One of these is the “correct way to drink kopi (traditional Singaporean coffee) where they tell you to do as the locals do and order it in a plastic bag and drink it with a plastic straw. Facepalming did not suffice, I wanted to headtable when I read this…

During my visit to Singapore, I got to meet up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen for years. I told her all about my new zero-waste lifestyle and vegan diet, telling her how amazing it is that Singapore is doing so much to promote sustainability. She smiled and nodded but even she agreed that unfortunately, Singapore focuses too much on the details instead of the big picture.

Visiting the Gardens by the Bay was one of the highlights of my trip. But I was immediately disappointed by what I saw happening in the park. Restaurants, fast food places and other vendors selling food and items unnecessarily wrapped in plastic with no biodegradable or re-usable alternatives. I’m shocked at the slap in the face that these places are to all the efforts made to create this environmentally-friendly place.

Once I get the chance and find the right people to contact, I will issue a complaint to the Gardens of the Bay. They put so much effort into educating visitors and making a step forward but then you can’t even eat there without creating waste.

  • Is it really that hard to at least use paper instead of plastic?
  • Or how about creating a deposit system for nice re-usable containers to eat from?
  • Perhaps with a logo of the place, that can be bought as a souvenir or returned after use? If they can do this with beer cups at festivals in Europe, why not do it at a place that literally exists to promote sustainability and ways to save the planet?

Okay, rant over. Here’s one of the videos that you can watch at the Super Tree Grove about global warming and how we can still prevent the destruction of our beloved Earth.

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Inspiring Stories: David Roosa & the Beach Cleaning Dogs

David Roosa has lived on Block Island, Rhode Island for more than 40 years now. 10 years ago in 2008 he completed his first clean up of the entire island’s perimeter. Since then, he’s gone out every morning with his pack of dogs to clean the beach! His King Charles Spaniel helpers are Finnegan, Albie, Henley and last but not least Rosie, who died a few weeks after this was filmed.

You can read more about David Roosa’s cleanups on the Block Island Times:

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Battle Shanghai’s Pollution: How to Stay Healthy

It can be easy to make light of air pollution, especially after living in China for a long time. Many locals never wear masks and some families will let their children play outside when you can barely see across the street. But even if you’re not sensitive to it, pollution does have serious impacts on your health.

Coughing and sneezing, which I do non-stop if pollution levels are high, are not the only side effects. Short-term effects of air pollution include acne, dry skin, fatigue, eye irritations, chest pain, headaches and even nausea. Long-term effects can be as serious as chronic lung problems and heart complications. Before you pack your bags and book a one-way flight to leave China, take these simple steps to protect yourself.

PM2.5 MASK

Most masks are ugly, make your face sweat, fog up your glasses, make you sound like Darth Vader, leave marks on your face when you take them off and worst of all, they interfere with selfies. There are few things less sexy than a pollution masks… except maybe chronic wheezing.

Many people, myself included, struggle to find a mask that fits properly. If your mask is too loose or the nose clip doesn’t stay closed, you’re probably still inhaling millions of pollutant particles with every breath you take.

Take the time to try different styles of masks and experiment with sizes. I guarantee that that there is a mask out there that’s perfect for your face. Invest your time and money, nothing is too expensive when it comes to health. For 300 RMB you can get a great mask with exchangeable filters that will last you years. Buying cheap single-use masks will end up costing a lot anyway, not to mention the unnecessary waste they create.

Fun fact: fashionable face masks do exist.
Less fashionable ones can be bought on Taobao:

mask 1mask 2mask 3mask 4mask 6mask 7

To be extra safe, keep your mask on in the metro. Many stops are partially outdoors or have terrible insulation. Wearing a mask on the metro will not only protect you from pollution but also viral infections. Have you noticed how right after the first Shanghai school gets shut down with chicken pox, the rest follow within the week? 25 million people riding the metro is a breeding ground for disease.

Fun fact: in Japan, many people wear masks only during their ride on the metro. It is rumored that a company in Beijing is working on a new super mask that won’t make your face sweat. It’s advertised as a sports mask because you can wear it to the gym and even run in it! But I’ll believe it when I see it.

AIR PURIFIER

I mentioned earlier that metro stops aren’t well insulated. Well, neither is my apartment. If you live in a place that doesn’t retain heat then it’s probably not insulated against pollutants either. An air purifier won’t come cheap, but it will keep the air in your home clean. Xiaomi seems to be the most popular brand and the purifiers they make are small, easily portable and come in stylish designs. Get one. Or five…

The newest Xiaomi air purifiers can supposedly purify your home in just 12 minutes by cleaning 406 square meters of air per hour and effectively covering up to 48 square meters. Although most wall heaters already have a flimsy filter in them to keep some of the nasty stuff out of your apartment (provided you actually clean/change them regularly), you should really have a purifier at home.

Other than PM 2.5, an air purifier will also get allergens, formaldehyde, animal fur, dust, pollen, smoke odors, benzene, 0.3 μm particles as well as other harmful chemicals out of the air. It can be a great device to have in any home, even if you don’t live in a polluted area.

When I said that you should consider getting five purifiers for your home, I wasn’t kidding. Our purifier is on all winter and gets moved to whichever room we are in. Ideally, we’d have one in each room and maybe two in our large 50 meter squared living room.

When you turn an air purifier on, it will automatically adjust its settings based on air quality. This past week, with the AQI over 250, it’s taken over an hour for ours to switch to a lower setting when it normally takes less than 15 minutes. At least the pollution in Shanghai doesn’t get nearly as bad as it does in Beijing, you can read about that here.

Just like with a mask, you need to regularly clean and/or change the filter for it to be effective. Like most things in China, air purifiers are smart and come with apps. If you sync your purifier to the app, it will automatically alert you when it’s time to replace your filter. The replacement process is easy, so there’s no excuse not to do it. Carbon filters lose effectiveness over time, even if you do your best to clean them. So it’s recommended that you buy a new one every six months.

GOOD INSULATION

I could complain about the bad insulation in my apartment all day and sometimes I do. But there are many simple ways to actually do something about it that don’t involve moving to a new place. Tape up or use the glass glue on cracks or just to reinforce the glass in your windows. There should not be a strong draft coming from your windows. Ever.

If you have two layered windows, stuff some foam in between the two layers around the frame. We used to do this in the “good old” days when I was little. It doesn’t look that great but it works wonders, trust me. It won’t just stop pollution from getting in, but it’ll help with heat retention and you’ll immediately notice the difference in your electricity bill.

Another solution is to get thick and heavy curtains. Just make sure to get a professional to come and install them. We have heavy curtains in the bedroom that are great insulators, but the flimsy hooks that keep it up are sagging and slowly destroying the wall. I’m just glad my husband’s the one who sleeps in their range of fall 😉

POLLUTION APP/WEBSITE

Finally, no matter how fancy your mask or air purifier is, they’re not effective if you don’t know when to use them. There are foggy days when pollution is at its lowest but people still wear masks because they don’t know better. There are also super sunny days that hide the pollution that is creeping in and killing you slowly – no exaggeration. Get an app on your phone that will show you the weather and pollution on your home screen. Or one that will alert you when pollution is high.

These apps can also show you the pollution forecast. So, check that too before you open all your windows and leave the house. One time I decided to air out my apartment because it was sunny and AQI was 80. I came home 6 hours later and choked in my 250 PM 2.5 apartment… It only takes a second to check the app and your lungs will thank you for it in the long run.

If you have any tips or stories to share related to pollution, don’t hesitate to post in the comments below!

Enjoy this video that shows you what an AQI of 250 really looks like!

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Precious Plastic: DIY Recycling

Plastic pollution has been making the headlines a lot recently and for good reason. According to the Guardian, about one truckload of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean every minute. That adds up to at least 8 million tons of plastics in our oceans annually!

While annual plastic production is increasing from 15 million tons 50 years ago to a predicted 1,124 million tons by 2050, only 5% of it is actually recycled. Not only is this incredibly devastating to the environment, but it is also ridiculous to throw away so much useful material after just one use! So, put down that bottle of water that you’re sipping on and DON’T recycle it. At least not in the way you were taught to at school.

Precious Plastic is a project that started in 2013 with a single mission: to transform plastic waste into reusable material on a local scale. Well, it also aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution, empower communities to take plastic waste into their own hands and ultimately save the world. Here’s how it works.

Dutch designer Dave Hakkens invented a series of machines capable of breaking plastic into smaller pieces in order to compress it, melt it and transform it into something new. He put these designs online and provided blueprints as well as a YouTube tutorial that anyone can follow for free! His idea spread all over the world as communities of passionate recyclers came together to make a difference. Hence, Precious Plastic Shanghai was born.

Precious Plastic Shanghai is a social enterprise highly committed to preserving the environment by creating awareness about plastic waste in China. Since 2016, they have been providing team building, hands-on activities and consultancy services for corporate, educational institutions as well as technological and exhibition centers. Their goal is to encourage teams and individuals to take ownership of their waste and get responsible. I attended their hard-plastic workshop last Sunday to see what all the fuss was about.

The workshop started with a lesson in distinguishing between different forms of plastic. Each type can be recognized by its identification number or, if it doesn’t have one, you can guess based on the way it looks, how it bends, or even the sound it makes. But in most cases, you can identify it based on its purpose.

After becoming slightly more educated in plastic, we got some HDPE (high-density polyethylene) bottles and the fun began. We cut the gigantic bottle into smaller pieces, put on goggles and started placing the pieces into the shredding machine. If nothing else sells you on this workshop, at least come to watch plastic getting ground up in a mesmerizing and surprisingly satisfying way. It’s absolutely magical.

Once shredded, the bits of plastic are sorted by color to provide a wide selection for when you create your recycled item. The rarest of all colors are pink and purple. Fun fact: black is the hardest color to recycle because the machines that do it cannot recognize it automatically.

Precious Plastic Shanghai offers a variety of workshops, but for this specific workshop we worked with boards of plastic slightly larger than an A4 piece of paper. We chose our preferred thickness and weighed the correct amount of plastic before filling the metal forms. My group’s plastic rainbow was heavy on blue while some of the others had every color imaginable!

Since it takes a while to compress, melt and then cool, we couldn’t actually work with the boards we prepared. Instead, we got to see the process of making them and then selected from previously made boards.

These boards can be made into anything from clipboards and clocks to artful designs or even jewelry. You just draw your design and use a powerful plastic cutting tool to carve out the desired shape. The possibilities are endless!

Although we only had flat boards to work with, you can use a variety of forms to create bowls, lamp shades and furniture! Once it cools, the plastic is hard and sturdy: a great material for pretty much anything. That’s what makes plastic so precious!

You don’t have to be rich to buy the materials to crate these amazing machines. They were specifically designed to be made with basic parts that can be purchased at most hardware stores anywhere in the world. The simple instructions allow anyone to buy the parts and follow the instructions to successfully create these plastic-transforming tools. But if you’re not an engineer or simply don’t have the time and patience to figure out how to do it, there might be an easier way for you to participate.

Precious Plastic Shanghai partners with XinCheJian, the first hacker space in China. This garage/studio/creative space offers membership for anyone who wishes to come in and get inspired. There are special workshops for people who want to learn to use these specific tools. Once you’re a member and have learned to use everything on your own, you can reserve a time to use the workshop and let your creativity flow.

Learn more about Precious Plastic on their website. To join XinCheJian or to learn more about Precious Plastic Shanghai, scan the QR code to follow them on WeChat.

PPS

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