THE WHOLESOME TRUTH – WELCOME TO MY BLOG

Proprietor Sally Hayes

Hello, I'm Sally Hayes and I run Tod Almighty.  I've started this blog because I want to offer some back-story on why we sell what we do, why we think some of our suppliers are brilliant, and ideas for living more sustainably.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  You can reply to any of the posts below (but replies are moderated to avoid spam) – I look forward to hearing from you!

Sally


Some of Tod Almighty's refills for household detergents, etc.
Some of Tod Almighty's refills for household detergents, etc.

Microplastics and Minimi

This month’s (July and August 2021) ‘Ethical Consumer Magazine’ was looking at refills of household detergents, etc., which of course we sell a lot of in the shop. We stock mostly ‘Miniml’ household detergents as they are environmentally friendly, vegan and kind to skin, and they are a local company with a ‘closed loop’ system whereby they collect the empty barrels and take them back to wash and refill, rather than recycle. 

I love ECM and always read it from cover to cover, as do a lot of our customers. However, this month I was horrified to read that not only was Miniml rated lower in ECM’s charts than expected, but that they said Miniml’s washing up liquid contained microplastics!! You can imagine I was straight on to Miniml to ask them if this was true. Scott from the company assured me that on this occasion ECM had made a mistake, their products DO NOT contain microplastics and ECM had changed their report on their online magazine, to which unfortunately you do need to subscribe to read in full. See https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/home-garden/shopping-guide/ethical-laundry-detergents




I’ve checked and they are right, ECM has changed the part about microplastics to… "As well as potential microplastics, there may be liquid polymers in your cleaners. Liquid polymers are not plastics, but they are also poorly biodegradable and remain for years in our ecosystem with unknown consequences…. Companies that got a best rating for [not using] microplastics and liquid polymers were: Bide, Bio-D, ecoleaf, Friendly Soap, Faith in Nature, Greenscents, Miniml, Planet Detox, SESI, Sodasan and Sonett.”

They also increased Miniml’s rating from 13 to 15, making them joint third best in the market, and above others like Ecoleaf. So, considering they are quite a bit cheaper than a lot of their competitors, and they refill rather than recycle their containers, I think that is much more acceptable. Phew! As we have been asked a few times about it by customers, I thought I would post to the blog to reassure people that Miniml is indeed pretty ethical and environmentally friendly.

 



Some of the plastic free items in the shop
Some of the plastic free items in the shop

Plastic Free July

Imagine! The world has been entirely plastic-free since whale-saviour Tim Minchin gave us all a musical aide memoire to sing before departing for the shops, and we now take the month of July to celebrate that fact and pay tribute to the dolphins who helped us to make it to our enlightened and entirely renewable times. Wouldn’t that be nice? But no, not yet, the world’s arteries remain clogged with the cellophane lids off meal deal pasta salads, and our arteries are becoming increasingly clogged with tiny particles of the same.

Plastic is one of those problems which seem so huge and unsurmountable it’s very difficult to look at them directly as it is just too depressing! But there are lots of new initiatives popping up that combined together can help us as consumers to really have an impact. You probably have heard of things like reusable coffee cups, bamboo toothbrushes, refills of washing up liquid and laundry liquid, wooden washing up brushes, jute shopping bags etc etc. We’ve been selling stuff like this for a while and we have never found so much passion and determination among our customers to use them to reduce their plastic waste. And running the shop I have been repeatedly delighted to find that suppliers are addressing the packaging issue as well, with stock items like little glass bottles of essential oil now arriving in shredded paper packaging rather than bubblewrap, and Optibac probiotics FINALLY arriving in little glass jars rather than plastic tubs (thank you thank you Optibac!). So although there are lots of feelings of despair and helplessness around the state of plastic pollution, especially in our oceans, there are also reasons for hope. And Plastic Free July exists to turn that hope into action – to be, as they put it “part of the solution” and join the many millions of others reducing their plastic waste.




Started in Australia in 2011, the Plastic Free Foundation wants people to commit to new plastic-reduction techniques throughout the month of July. No straws, bringing your own mug to the cafe, refillable porridge oat dispensers – that sort of thing. The movement survived the Coronavirus pandemic and is back this year with the message that even “when things were out of our control, we could have control on something, and it was our own behaviour.” And if nobody asks for or buys the alternative, there will be no alternative. Of course there is a long way to go, but as the Plastic Free July website says: “We don't need one person doing it perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.” For more inspiring stories look on their website, www.plasticfreejuly.org

It’s tempting to not want to open our eyes and look at the state of the world, it’s tempting to feel overburdened and keep the blinkers on. But if seeing what is really happening and feeling the pain and holding the problem in our brains for a moment longer than is comfortable leads to a tiny improvement in our own personal relationship with plastic waste, then we’ve done our bit for the day.

I know how depressing it can be at times, but there is a lot we can do as individuals, while we wait for the powers that be to get their fingers out. Tod Almighty is a “reduce plastic waste” shop (please note, NOT a “zero waste shop, as I don’t think that’s really possible) where we offer a wide range of refills both of wholefoods and detergents that you can fill your own containers with, thereby bypassing packaging altogether. You can refill that washing up liquid bottle dozens of times before it falls apart,and think of the reduction of plastic in the environment just from that one little thing. And it’s cheaper. Drop in and see what else we can offer.

(Thanks to Georges for his input in this)

Everyone loves a washing up brush!
Everyone loves a washing up brush!

 



Oato photo
Oato photo

Oato Floato

Another blog post from our young Georges:

It is suspicious, isn’t it, the recycling logo on a Tetra Pak carton. How does this bizarre assemblage of densely layered paper, plastic and aluminium, once smeared with some beverage, get cleaned and reassembled into a new version of itself? Well, it doesn’t. Tetra Paks are usually disassembled into pulp and additives for roofing tiles in a highly resource and water-intensive process. Better than nothing, but still not great given the quantities of milk substitute required by the tea-drinking public.

The alternative? Disregarding the highly muslin- and drudgery-intensive process of making your own, it seems that the solution has been staring us in the face the whole time: the humble milk float. Not only a pioneer of electric four-wheeled locomotion, milkmen also provided a sustainable system of collection and recycling of the glass bottles containing the milk. Fresh milk to your door, no need for UHT, not a mote of plastic in sight, and fully recyclable; it couldn’t last, it was too perfect for this new world of supermarkets and cars. And yet here are doorstep milk deliveries making a resurgence. Intermittent house arrest, coupled with an anxiety about the ever-expanding market power of supermarkets, seems to have people yearning for a familiar face bearing goods to the door once more.




And vegans aren’t excluded from the fun. Oato is a Lancashire company who take sustainable British grown oats and make into a really good creamy barrista milk that’s great in tea and coffee and is also enhanced with calcium and vitamins. Then they improve upon the inherent planetary benefits of plant-based milk alternatives by having them delivered to your door in a recyclable glass bottle. That they have signed a deal with a variety of regional dairies to have their oat milk delivered alongside cow’s milk by established, local family businesses is an impressively win-win situation. Milk delivery companies gain by future-proofing themselves against the potential shocks of a booming plant-based sector, and Oato gain by, as well as expanding delivery options, normalising their product by offering it alongside more traditional options, thereby enticing potentially reticent customers. Doorstep milk delivery carries with it a degree of cultural romanticism – familiarity for the old and retro-value for the young. For a bit of that normalising magic to rub off on oat milk can only be a good thing for vegan consumers seeking fresher, cheaper, greener, more convenient milk, as well as for cows hoping to give their teats a rest.

Oato-on-a-floato also represents an interesting development for the intergenerational environmental mudslinging which goes on in newspapers and local Facebook groups (potentially face-to-face conversations as well – I wouldn’t know as it’s been quite a while). You know how it goes, millennial blames older generation for the climate crisis, eliciting the rejoinder:

 “Well in my day we didn’t have all this plastic – we gave our glass bottles back to the milkman or took our pop bottles back to the shop for a penny but you can’t do that any more.”

How does the conversation change now that you can do that again? Hopefully it ends in people making a mental note (or phone note, for younger people who have outsourced their notetaking faculties) to get some revolutionary ethical fresh creamy goodness delivered by a harbinger of the old ways.

Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get the shops’ pop bottle recycling infrastructure back, too. It works pretty well in Germany. By the way, we sell Oato in the glass bottles from the chillers in the shop (for £1.25 per pint) – just bring us back your empties for reuse. Or you can get it straight from your own milkman.

 




Solar Foods – food from thin air

‘Food from thin air.’ Sounds very exciting doesn’t it? Like we’re living in some kind of Star Trek wonderland where everything’s powered by glowing blue cubes and public transport is functional. But here it is: Solar Foods’ Soylein. Originally invented by NASA and the Soviets to keep astronauts ticking along up there, and now brought to market by some clever Finns. Makes the whole ‘Spaceship Earth’ thing a whole lot more tangible. And it couldn’t have come at a better time: at the precise moment the mothership's air conditioning systems are being destroyed at record speed by loggers and cattle ranchers, some heroic scientists show up just in time to sever the sobering connection between population growth and land use. It's possible, guys! We can eat spaceman food and rewild the planet! Maybe?

Well, first of all: what is it? Soylein is a microbe found in nature, which can be fed on hydrogen, oxygen, CO2 and a few other chemical additives like ammonia to create a protein-rich, neutral-tasting foodstuff similar to soy. The great thing is that the hydrogen and oxygen particles can be created using electrolysis, leaving us with the power to effectively turn electricity into food. The environmental prospects look rosy. A recent study into the feasibility of creating Soylein using solar power found that its production uses a tenth of the land needed for the soy bean to provide the same amount of protein, and half the land needed by rice paddies to offer the same amount of calories. As these technologies improve, who knows how efficient food production could become?




But will people buy it? The fact that Soylein comes from a microbe rather than a plant might put some people off. Although people have been eating yoghurt cultures for a long time, kimchi and kombucha are gaining in popularity, and anyone who's had a bluish-green smoothie from a supermarket has probably ingested spirulina, so the normalisation of edible bacteria is well underway. And the taste? "Neutral, with a hint of umami." A blank canvas, then. And judging by the success of the Impossible Burger, This Isn't Bacon and Quorn Chicken Nuggets, the technology of turning miscellaneous protein mush into convincing meat substitutes is advancing rapidly and it probably won't be long until they can wrangle Soylein into something delicious and juicy. The only problems I can foretell are the reactionary forces of cultural meat-obsession (I can hear Jeremy Clarkson sneering at consumers of this newfangled space slime already) and the name (surely they could have picked something that doesn't sound like Soylent Green). Oh, and it won't fulfil our vitamin and micronutrient requirements, for which we'll have to keep around those boring old organic vegetable farms. Other than that... "Replicator, make me a ham sandwich!"

Of course, the law of unintended consequences is unavoidable. A lot of this cheap new protein might just be fed to more and more cows, leading to more methane production and hastening the antibiotic apocalypse. But that's where we come in, ethical consumers buying the innovative protein thing before it can find its way into a cow's mouth.

 



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