Eco Tips

Best Alternatives to Plastic Bags

This week for #juneocean I wanted to talk about the all famous topic of plastic bags. As you have noticed, ever week a new country or state announces a ban for plastic bags. When I first moved to Australia, I was astounded that they still provided plastic bags in supermarkets in the year 2012! In France, for as long as I remember, my mother had been bringing big heavy duty bags to do our shopping. Indeed, when I look at the information, France ruled out using plastic bags in 2015 and is pioneering the way for future countries with this years single use takeaway containers, utensils and straws. France’s law for plastic straws, utensils and cutlery coes into affect in 2020.

While the governments, organisations and big dogs are slowly shifting their way to respond to the tsumani of plastic awaiting us in the oceans, we as individuals have enormous power by ourselves. If you were to stop using plastic bags, that could amount to as decreasing (lets say you go shopping twice a week, each week you get 4 bags, multiply that by the amount of weeks in a year, and you’re hovering around 500 single use bags just for you) Now consider that we are all shaped by the people we spend the most time with, invariably by eliminating your use of plastic bags you will inspire your mother, brother, sister, friend, uncle, colleague, daughter, son to do the same.

The beauty of this is, they might not even realize that they’re doing in the first place, but soon enough you have set off a chain reaction of positive change through your surroundings.

A quick over view of the plastic bag statistics :

  • Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year.
  • If you lined them up, they would circumvent the globe 4,200 times.
  • It costs US$4,000 to recycle 1 tonne of plastic bags and you get a product that can be sold on the commodities market for US$32. – Meaning it is not financially viable to recycle them, making them disposable.
  • Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic.

More terrifying plastic ocean facts can be found here.

Get A Shirt | Clean The Ocean
Get A Shirt & Help Clean The Ocean

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Eco Tips, reviews

Best Reusable Filter Water Bottles

Welcome to week 1 of the JuneOcean Challenge, 30 days with 30 ways to help save our oceans! Each week I am taking one of the ways and going into an indepth article right here on Ocean Pancake. However, for daily updates and information join the Ocean Pancake facebook group where you can share your ideas and eco knowledge!

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Before departing on my grand adventure to the Comoros, which you can read about here, one of the top things on my to do list was to purchase a sturdy waterbottle which would survive travel to the distant, middle of nowhere location my new job was in.  Moheli Island, is the smallest of the three Comoros Islands with some 35,000 inhabitants and 24h power exclusively at Laka Lodge thanks to the beauty of solar energy. I chose to get myself a pretty, blue, insulated hydroflask. Highly recommended if you do not need a filter. Here at Laka Lodge, the eco resort I work as a Scuba Diving Instructor at, depends on UV filter technology to ensure all our customers have clean drinking water.. Plastic Free!

Oh also, in case you are new here, plastic is my nemesis and I try and encourage everyone and anyone to decrease their use of plastic. Why? Just a quick overview

  • 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfill every year
  • That one bottle can take over 400 years to degrade
  • Just about every marine animal is in danger from injesting or becoming entangled in plastic

I have written up many posts about plastic waste management, quick and easy alternatives to plastic, how to travel plastic free, how to upcycle tshirts into bags, my favourite plastic free beauty products and how I helped rescue turtles from plastic and a full free guide to living plastic free!

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Eco Tips

30 Ways To Help Our Ocean

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Our Oceans Are Dying

If the Oceans die, we die. 70% of all of our oxygen comes with the algal blooms in the ocean, billions of individuals depend on the ocean for their livelihood, income and food and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, is worth $56 AUD Billion.

I am sure you have read by now the reports, that the biggest coral bleaching event ever recorded just occurred worldwide in 2016, that there will be more plastic than fish by kg by the year 2050 and that just last year we surpassed the carbon parts per million forewarned by the scientists.

Get the FREE INFOGRAPHIC HERE!

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conservation, Travel Comoros

Saving Baby Turtle Hatchlings

After conducting a discover scuba dive from Laka Lodge, I offered my students whether or not they would like to have a walk on the beach. Completely unknown to me, this small decision would lead me to one of the best days of my life. Today, I would like to share with you how I helped 19 tiny turtles, to make their way across their first obstacle in life and enter the oceans.

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The Village of Itsamia

In the Comoros, there are two commonly seen types of sea turtles : The Green Sea Turtle and the Hawksbill sea turtle. These two are not only prevelant in the oceans, but the beaches here have become some of their most common nesting sites. Itsamia is the second largest nesting site for Green Turtles in the Indian Ocean. They lay their eggs year round and the 600 occupant village has been a driver in their protection in the last 40 years. Long before the first Marine Park was established in Moheli (in the year 2001), Itsamia inhabitants protected the turtles from being hunted and eaten.

Long before this was an environmental choice, they simply could not stand the stench of turtle and egg carcasses left behind by the hoard of hunters coming from other islands and villages. Since then environmental factors such as gaining a better understanding of the importance of healthy ecosystems, (since primarily all the villages on Moheli depend on fishing) and the benefits of tourism as renewed their vigour for protecting the nesting sites. All year round it is possible to go visit Itsamia and both see an adult female testing, and hundreds of tiny hatchlings emerging from the sand.

Green Turtles

Green turtles are one of the largest sea turtles and the only herbivore out of the 7 different species of sea turtle. The name has been given to them due to the green colouring of the cartilage, rather than the common beleif of being named after their shell. They reside mainly in tropical and subtropical waters world wide.

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Travel Comoros

Moheli Laka Lodge Eco Resort

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A welcoming sight of green, trees, paved paths and thatched huts in the distance greeted us. We were told that this is really indeed paradise, and I managed to process that this is where I am going to be living for the next nine months. The car rove up the cobbled path to the biggest building, which had a roof made out of pleated bamboo leaves. Inside I could see a couple of people sitting, my boss and supposedly the managers of the resort, waiting for me to arrive. I felt an enormous relief as I stepped out of the van. The luggage was whisked away to its various destinations, my backpack was taken from my sweating and aching shoulders and a cold coconut was placed in my hands. Is it possible that paradise does exist?

Of course, as soon as I was settled at the bar making the first introductions and drinking my coconut, a raincloud with pouring rain came over. I waited in the main restaurant until the main rains have passed, and then set out of a tour of the property. The restaurant is a 15x15m square structure, with white cement beems supporting wooden poles. The roof itself is made out of their traditionally braided palm leaves, giving the entire room a jungle vibe. Big white orbs hang gently in the breeze, which will light the restaurant with a calming yellowish light in the evenings.

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Once the rain had stopped, I was lead to my little beach front bungalow room. The first in a row of bungalows, it has a little porch with some comfortable chairs, a double bed with an overhanging mosquito net, a set of cupboards and a bathroom tucked away in the back. Luckily, my luggage is 70% dive gear, so I do not need much space for my belongings.

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Travel Comoros

Flying Ethiopia, Moroni to Moheli, Comoros

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Skip forward a few days and I am sitting on the ground, in the restaurant room in Laka Lodge. I have been on another two planes, in a van and even underwater. It feels as if I have not had a moment to think ; let alone sit down and write about the experience. Last time we left off checking whether I had lined up for the correct flight at the airport in Addis. Turns out, yes I was, and despite not having the sign, the plane was flying to Nosobi with a stopover in Moroni. Turns out, it was good I asked since when we landed in Moroni, an Italian couple disembarked thinking they had reached Madagascar. (Signage and explanations were noticeably absent at both the airports and flight itself.

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When in doubt, ask someone, people will be able to give you the correct information about your flight.

When we were finally on route, a basic vegan meal placed in front of me, I was getting ancy to touch down. The Island of Grand Comoros loomed out from beneath the clouds, and from a bumpy plane, I managed to see a snippet of the overpoweringly green shape against a rainbow of blues.

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Travel Comoros

Moving To a Tiny Island in the Indian Ocean

Since the middle of March, when I first took this job, I have heard many words describe the journey I am about to embark on.

Crazy” “Lonely” “Incredible” “Once in a Lifetime” “isolated” “Experience”  and so on.

Sitting on the floor of a packed Ethiopian airport, all these words are repeating themselves in my head and creating one of those world cloud representations of data.

The truth is, I nor no one I know, has ever been to the Comoros and despite being friends with many well travelled people, no one has quite managed to describe the experiences they have had in isolated islands or parts of the world. The feeling I have now, is not as if I am about to get onto a plane, but on the contrary : I feel as If I am entering a time machine. A machine that will transport me so far beyond the world I know, where I will merely glimpse snippets of ‘normalcy’ on this 9 month journey.

I’m going to a place with no shops, cinemas, cafes, crowded streets, crosswalks, ice cream trucks, Happy Cow reviews or just about everything I have become accustomed to by living in Australia and Europe.

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