Save Our Ailing Planet

Save Our Ailing Planet

Soap can change the world and I found out just why soap can be so important.

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On the right side of Campbell headed towards downtown Springfield, there is a shop that nearly blends in with the rest. I found it while riding the bus to my art class and boy I am so glad that I did.

The sign said, "SOAP Refill Shop" and that made me a bit curious which is what started my investigation. Upon an Instagram search, I found out that it is just what it said, a soap refill shop. There was more to it though.

Not only was it a place to just refill your soaps but it is also a place that you can go to get a few essential green products. I had stalked this shop for a few weeks before I got the courage to actually go.

What made me go was not my own accord. I actually wound up going because of a school project; my management class needed an interview with a local manager.

I decided to go there because I figured that a small shop would be easier to contact than trying to interview a manager from Target... I also thought it would give me an excuse to go. I wound up going one afternoon after my art class which made for a pretty cool day.


Morgan George

Upon walking in, the luscious smells of Lord knows what hit me and I would have been content being there for the rest of the day. The atmosphere was amazing, close to that of my favorite coffee shop but without all the espresso.

When I arrived, the manager Anne was helping a customer so I was so graciously entertained by the customers three kids. It was so funny to see these kids running around this shop and talking to me like they had known me forever.

The littlest girl even grabbed my phone and walked around with it while she looked through my pictures. I waited for about an hour to get to the interview because the shop was pretty buzzing. I did like that I had to wait though. It gave me a chance to see Anne at work.

The shop was filled with so many containers of soaps, lotions, and various other things. In the far back right corner, there is an essential oils bar where Anne was able to mix up lotions and face scrubs.

It was so cool to see that not only did she supply the items needed to refill but also the supplies so that she could mix her own items and add so many scents to make everything your very own.

At SOAP there were so many different containers that you could not only buy from there but also containers that the public cleans and brings in to use as well. This shop had a table of additional green products that I had to use my greatest restraint to not buy one of each. I was able to bear witness to the wool dryer balls that had made me want to go in the first place.

These dryers balls are used as an alternative to dryer sheets because they are more eco-friendly. There were also bamboo toothbrushes which are biodegradable, bath bombs, loofahs, and so that you can buy by the slice.

Once I got to speak with Anne I got to learn why she decided to create this awesome shop. I found out that this was a business model that she took from her previous job at a similar shop in California.

I also found out that part of the reason that she started this as well was because she was allergic to some ingredients that were found in the more mainstream products.

All of the items in her shop are natural and green so they are safe for people with allergies. Something else that was interesting which was that everything was pretty cheap. It did not cost a lot to buy anything in there which made me even more inclined to come back.

Anne shared with me that someone buying a bottle of laundry detergent is not the end of the world but that plastic will be around a very long time which is not good.

On the other hand, if you go to a soap refill place, you would be able to get detergent that is green and not in a container that will go straight into the ground when you're done. Long story short, I encourage you all to go find a local refill shop and get something.

Not only will you be supporting local businesses but you will also be helping the planet. I know that just one thing is not going to change the world but that will be one thing that will not be polluting the planet. Also, did you notice what "Save Our Ailing Planet" stood for? It is the name of the shop in California that Anne worked in and it is also an acronym for SOAP.


The shop kitten named Pizza.Morgan George

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

Cover Image Credit:


Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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The Flint Water Crisis Is Affecting More People Than We Know, Including The Unborn

Flint is not the only city with water pipes contaminated with lead. At 40 weeks pregnant, I have to worry about the lead in my home’s water.

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Many Americans are familiar with the atrocities in Flint, Michigan. Flint received nationwide coverage when it was revealed that residents were being restricted access to clean water and were exposed to water contaminated with lead for many years. After the state discovered the lead, the residents were left with the contaminated water and still have it years later.

I have watched many documentaries on Flint like "Here's to Flint" and "Fahrenheit 11/9." The scenes from the documentaries are haunting and much resemble a war-torn, third world country. I was especially surprised when I received a letter in the mail from Chicago's Department of Water Management. The letter looked like nothing special and had been placed in a pile of junk mail that none of my roommate's wanted to read. I eventually went through the mail and was shocked at what I read. The letter casually says that my home uses a water meter and water meters activate lead in pipes.

It continued to say that most homes in Chicago test under the U.S. EPA's benchmark level for lead in drinking, however, 17.2% percent exceed it.

As a pregnant woman, this is horrifying news. I had been pregnant for months drinking and cooking with contaminated water before reading this letter. Drinking water contaminated with lead has long term effects for the whole family. For example, it affects the brain and nervous system development in children and increases the risks of things like kidney damage and high blood pressure in adults. The CDC itself says that there is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood.

I especially remember a scene in "Fahrenheit 11/9" where they talk about the effects lead has on the babies born to pregnant women who consumed it. It can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. There are pregnancy complications like low birth weight, premature delivery, preeclampsia.

Babies whose mother consumed lead water have been reported to have behavioral problems, lower IQs, and learning disabilities.

My own home soon resembled that of a developing country. I had stacks and stacks of water bottles. I have to use these bottles for everything. Just like residents of Flint, I have to brush my teeth with water bottles. I have to go through about five water bottles to boil water to cook. If I am out of water bottles, I just have to wait it out because the alternative is not worth it.

Having to worry about lead in the water is very stressful. Along with all the other stresses of pregnancy, I have to stress about accidentally poisoning my baby. I know that I have to take precautions in my own home, but am unsure where else is contaminated. I don't know where is safe. I don't know who else received the same letter I did, but ignored it as junk mail.

I recently had a house guest stay from another state. He asked why our water had an odd smell. I had to casually tell him not to mind that, it's just the lead in our water. I find it very disheartening that the city, state, and country don't prioritize the health and safety of its pregnant women, babies, or children. It is sincerely unfortunate how things like access to clean drinking water in America are just a luxury.

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