What is the Real Break Down on Plastic

The Price Behind Plastic

People held out so much hope for plastic. It was seen as a solution to so many problems just a few generations ago. But now we know that the rampant use of plastics comes with a hefty price. It fills our dumps, litters our land, clogs our streams, and creates huge mats of debris in our oceans.

And it can last from several to hundreds of years before it a plastic item breaks down. It depends on the type of plastic and the conditions (Temperature? Sunlight? Oxygen present? Buried? In the ocean? etc.).

The Breakdown of the Plastic Break Down

When it breaks down, most plastics release toxic chemicals and further crumple or break into smaller pieces of plastic. Very little of the plastic littering our world breaks down into new, non-hazardous compounds. And these smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, along with breakdown chemicals, have now entered the food chain. Animals eat plastic, where it clogs digestive systems, disrupts endocrine and reproductive systems, and pollutes bodies with hazardous chemicals, like bisphenol A, which is a known carcinogen. It’s the very reason the use of plastic nanobeads is banned. And now, plastics, and their bi-products are showing up in humans.


Knowing all of this, people ask us, how we can wrap our soaps in plastic.

Benefit of Biolefin

It’s because not all plastics are equal when it comes to environmental problems. We have gone to great lengths to be as environmentally conscious as we can be, while at the same time balancing other demands placed on us. For example, some of the markets we participate in require that body products be packaged and labeled. We researched materials and settled on Biolefin shrink wrap, made by Wells Plastics using Reverte technology. It is an oxo-biodegradable polyolefin plastic film that breaks down to simple non-toxic compounds in a shortened time frame. It is food-grade and acid free. According to the manufacturer, the Reverte additive causes the plastic polymer chains in the film to break down into much shorter fragments, which can then be consumed by bacteria that is abundant in the environment.


When exposed to sunlight, heat, and air, the wrap we use begins to decompose within 1 year. When fully decomposed (1-3 years), only water, carbon dioxide, and biomass are left behind. The biomass is chemically different than plastic and is consumed by microorganisms in the environment. If left in the dark without oxygen, the biolefin breaks down to methane and biomass that can be consumed by microorganisms. This process takes longer, around 4 years according to the manufacturer.

More Bees Wrap

We like it because it keeps the soap dry, clean, and contained. It allows us to affix labels so the customer knows what they have purchased. It has the added benefits of allowing the soap to breathe, and allowing the customer to smell the soap. We even chose paper labels without a plastic coating. Are our choices perfect? Probably not, but we’re trying.

National Geographic article on marine plastic waste

Article about microplastics in human stool

Time for garbage to decompose

National Geographic on degradation of ocean plastics

Biolefin information page

Wells plastics Reverte oxo-biodegradable polyolefin page.

Reverteplastics page

Magic Mushrooms: A New Hope for Bees Plagued By Mites

Today, I read an article that I just had to share. It isn’t the longest, but it could turn out to be quite significant.

Tiny Mighty Terror

It was about varroa mites, honey bees, and a possible remedy to some of the problems plaguing the honey bees. Introduced to the US in the 1980’s, varroa destructor, a parasitic mite, has been wreaking havoc with beehives across the country. These mites sap the strength of the bees on which they feed.

But they do even more than that. You see, just like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can carry illnesses that infect humans, varroa mites can carry viruses that infect bees. As rodent fleas caused the Bubonic Plague, the varroa mites are contributing to the die off of a large percentage of honeybee hives in many parts of the world. It is estimated that in the US, 40% of hives were lost from April 2017-April 2018.

Plight of Flight

There is more than one virus that the mites can pass to honey bees, but the most significant seems to be deformed wing virus (DWV). It causes wing deformities in the bees, particularly those incubated with the mites. The wing deformities range from mild to severe. But any deformity is significant in a species that has to be able to fly to feed itself.

It’s easy to see why varroa mite infestations are a concern for beekeepers. The varroa mites spread from bee to bee and larval cell to larval cell within a hive very easily. Mites can also be spread from hive to hive when hives are kept in very close proximity to each other, or when a infected bee comes into contact with other bees when foraging. They can even jump off one bee, hang out on a flower, and jump onto a bee from a different hive.

Scientists have know for a few years that the mites can spread diseases such as deformed wing virus (DWV). For that reason, beekeepers try to control levels of varroa mites. Most do this with with chemical miticides. While initial results seem good when hives are treated, some beekeepers have noticed the miticide resistant populations develop quickly within their hives. Since resistant varroa can thrive in a hive, and pass viruses on to the bees, some scientists are looking at treating the viruses that infect the bees.

Magic Mushrooms

Recently, it was discovered that a couple of different conk wood mushrooms, amadou and reishi, are effective against DWV. Conk wood mushroom extract, when mixed with sugar water, and delivered by feeder has proved effective at combating DWV. Not only have these mushroom extracts shown positive results against DWV, they have shown an even greater antiviral effect on Lake Sinai virus, which is also causing serious problems in some beehives.

Studies are just beginning on the effectiveness of these mushroom extracts. It will be interesting to see if the initial results carryover to real world beekeeping situations. This could turn out to be a new front for helping the bees. We all know they could use all the help that they can get. If you would like to read more in depth on the topics we covered above, feel free to follow the links below.


The article that started this blog post

Basic info on Varroa Destructor

Mushroom extract as medicine

Cool article on conk wood mushrooms


bee and elephant over words bees vs elephants

Saving the African and Asian Elephants, Who Could it Bee?

We were lied to!  Who remembers being told that elephants are scared of mice when they were little? Turns out, it was a lie!

Turns out that elephants are afraid of something much smaller than mice- Honey bees! I bet you’re wondering how that can be when the skin of an adult elephant is up to 2 ½ centimeters thick. That’s an inch thick to you and me.

But Why the Bees?

Africanized honey bees are very aggressive. If africanized bees even remotely sense a threat, they are prone to attacking en masse. African elephants are terrified of these bees. Even with their thick skin, elephants can be hurt by bees. Think eyes, mouth, and nose. These tissues are very vulnerable on elephants. And getting stung hurts. I can’t even begin to imagine being stung in the eye or inside the nose.


Add to that the fact that some specialists speculate that a very young calf, whose skin is much more easily penetrated, could be killed if it were to be attacked by a hive. Even an adult could be hurt if swarmed by enough bees. Knowing this, and coupled with the fact that elephants are very protective of each other, you know that’s not something elephants will let happen if they can help it. Even Asian elephants have a fear of bees. Their fear of bees is real, though not as profound as for African elephants. This difference is like due to the fact that Asian honey bees are relatively docile, and much less likely to attack than Africanized honey bees.

It turns out that elephants are so averse to bees, that they will go to great lengths to avoid them. They can hear a single buzzing bee almost 600 meters away, and African elephants have a specialized call to let other elephants know about the bee danger.

The Opportunity for Change

This fear of bees was noticed in 2002. People are beginning to use the elephant’s fear of bees to good use in an ingenious solution that benefits people, bees, and the elephants themselves. The first bee fence was put in place in 2012.


14 countries in Africa and Asia now encourage farmers to use bee fences to protect crops and property from elephants. Bee fencing entails placing beehives approximately 65 feet apart, around the perimeter of the property. The hives are interconnected, so that crossing the perimeter triggers the hives to sway, and the bees to buzz and fly. The initial cost of fencing a 1 acre farm is approximately $1,000. That’s only about one fifth the cost for electric fencing, and no onsite electricity is required.

The benefits of bee fencing for elephants, bees, and people are numerous, while the negative effects are few. They include, but are not limited to those listed below.


For the elephants:

  • Reduced confrontations with people
  • Decrease in elephant deaths and injury
  • Reduction in animosity of people towards elephants
  • A slowing of sprawl and deforestation (since additional bee fencing costs money to put in) which means a slowing in loss of habitat


For the honey bees, which are seeing declines in many areas of the world:

  • An increase in the number of hives
  • A vested interest of humans to establish, tend, and protect beehives.


For the people:

  • Decrease in death or injury from confronting an elephant
  • Reduction in the loss of crops/increase in crop yields
  • Reduced property damage
  • An additional resource in the forms of crop pollination, and harvestable honey.


The biggest negative that we could find mentioned:

  • An additional cost to farmers in the maintenance of the beehives and fencing


The solution is not foolproof (about an 80% success rate if hives and fencing are maintained). And it isn’t free with the initial cost of fencing for an acre of farm being approximately $1,000, and maintaining the established hives costs some money. This has led some to look for other bee inspired solutions.

Where Else Could the Bee Fence Help?

In India, where elephants are killed or injured every year when they wonder onto train tracks, the most troublesome areas of some tracks have been fitted with speakers that transmit a buzzing sound. Called ‘Plan Bee’ by the Indian government, this program has been effective at reducing the number of train elephant collisions in India.

And in South Africa, research is being done to develop a bee pheromone based elephant repellent. Initial work has already been done, showing that pheromones that are released by bees when they become distressed are effective at keeping elephants away from watering holes that they normally frequent.


If you would like to help in the construction of more bee fences, click on this link for the Elephants & Bees Project. There are also links below for some pertinent articles on the use of bees to repel elephants.


New York Times article

National Geographic article

Smithsonian.com article detailing bee pheromone use as opposed to live hives


Murder Mystery Dinner

On February 15th, there was a murder.

It took place in Downtown Portland, at the Old Spaghetti Factory where my husband and I went to dine, with friends.  We were called upon to help solve the crime, and so were our friends.  One of them was even implicated as a suspect!  We had a blast! Mystery dinner theater is so much fun!


If you have never been, you should give it a try.  Most major cities, and many not so major ones, have dinner theater troupes.  Just look up “mystery dinner theater near me” on the internet to find your nearest options. Ticket prices may seem high, until you consider that you are getting dinner and a night of entertainment all rolled into one.


The experience varies a little by theater company, but some things are the same.  Your ticket usually gets you dinner and dessert, as well an interactive mystery performance.


Beyond that, things start to differ. Some shows are set in the here and now.  Others have a theme and you can dress up if you like. The one we attended, put on by The Murder Mystery Company, was set in the 1920’s, and the majority of the diners were dressed in some semblance of 1920’s dress. In some troupes, the performers are hidden amongst the other diners, in others a handful of clearly labeled actors help set the tone.  Either way, the paying diners are lead through the murder mystery to solve the questions of who committed the murder and why.  Who knows, it could even be you! Some troupes give prizes and/or certificates to the diners for solving the crime and/or for their performance and participation in the mystery theater.

Things to know:

  • Usually tickets must be purchased in advance, before the night of the show. Most shows sell out, so don’t wait too long to purchase tickets, or you may miss the show.
  • Some shows have a minimum age, so if you would like to take minors, make sure to check the minimum age, before purchasing tickets.
  • While your ticket gets you a 3-4 course dinner (exact number depends on the troupe), drinks are usually extra.
  • You usually get to choose between 3-4 entrees, and most troupes allow special requests for those with special dietary needs, but they need to be made in advance, when ordering tickets.
  • Some troupes prepay tips to the servers and/or the actors (two distinct, different sets of workers).  Check web sites to see if you will be encouraged to pay one, the other, or both gratuities, so you are not caught unawares.
  • Most have a bar available, but you will have to pay for your drinks. The bar is often cash only.
  • Most locations have an ATM on site, but not all. Check in advance, so you can plan accordingly.
  • Some theater companies have different levels of tickets, others have add-on packages, so read the web material provided before picking which tickets/add-ons are right for you.
  • Plan on being at the venue for about 3 hours.


Why not treat yourself, loved ones, and/or friends. We had a blast with great food and wonderfully engaging entertainment. We are sure you will too. Find all your fellow mystery lovers and see if you can crack the case as we did; even tell us about your experience. You can post your story below, let us know on facebook, or use the hashtag #MoreBees to share your night or murder and mystery.

The River That Burned

In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. Again. It has happened at least a dozen times since the late 1800’s. But this time it was different than all the times before, because Time Magazine did a feature on the fire and the state of the Cuyahoga River. It made some people ask. “How does a river burn?”

fire, lake, dark, trees, black sky, dark, pollution, Cuyahoga, river, East, US, United States, America, North America,

The sad truth is that companies along the Cuyahoga river were dumping their waste directly into the river. They always had. Just like countless other factories and plants along America’s waterways did. It wasn’t illegal. And, some of that waste dumped into the Cuyahoga river was highly flammable. And so occasionally, the Cuyahoga caught on fire. The 1969 fire, and the Time Magazine story on it, helped spur a flurry of environmental activity that resulted in the Clean Water Act, and the creation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), which was tasked with helping to create and also enforce environmental laws that would protect people and the environment.

The 60’s saw an increased environmental awareness that gave birth of the environmental movement of the 60’s and 70’s. People began to realize that the air they breath and the water they drank was being polluted at alarming rates, with chemicals that were dangerous for the environment, plants, animals, and for them. Pressure from the movement convinced the government to enact laws to protect air and water, and aided in the creation of the EPA. The EPA’s mission is “to protect human health and the environment.”

Look at some of the things that environmental regulations have accomplished:

Red Rvier, cleaned up, polluted, Nashua, trees, forestry, forest, blue sky, buildings
Nashua River pollution before (left) and after (Right).






New Jersey, illegal waste dumping, turnpike, NJ, US, America, corporate, cleaned, 1973, 2012







Blatimore, Patapsco River, river, illegal waste, water, tires,


It all looks great. But don’t think we’re done. There are more things that could be addressed, if the current administration cared to. Instead, they have chosen to take us backwards. Right now, the current administration is trying to cut funding to the EPA by 35%, and is reversing environmental protections put in place over the last decade. They are trying to discredit and deny scientific findings, so that they can ignore them. They want us to ignore them too.

But in whose best interests are these things being done? Ask yourself “Who benefits?” Ask yourself if you, and your children will benefit if we go back to letting businesses decide how to self regulate. Look at the pictures and decide. Do you want to go back?

While it is true that regulations cost businesses money, it is also true that if the administration made the development, sale, and employment of technologies that lower emissions a national priority, it could very well be an economic boon for our country. For all of those trying to make our country great again, I would say slipping backwards into antiquated ways that ruin our environment will never make us as great as surging forward to become a world leader in the technologies that will save it.

5 Days Untill Valentine’s Day… 4 Until Lupercalia?

Valentine’s day is almost here and for most of us it is time to get something that represents how much we care about that special person in our life. As you are going out shopping and you look at the flowers, chocolate hearts, and/or helium balloons. Did you ever question why we celebrate Valentine’s Day? We know it’s origins did not come from the St Valentine’s day massacre. Actually, it is an old pagan holiday called the celebration of Lupercalia. This was a holiday celebrated in the Roman Empire to purify the city and keep it safe from. A priest would go to the cave where Romulus and Remous were nurtured by the she-wolf Rome, who was greatly exalted. This priest would sacrifice a goat for fertility and a dog for purification. Think of the scene from the movie Dragnet where they go to the pagan festival. If you have not seen this movie go check it out.

Then the goat is skinned and the skin is cut into strips. The strips are dipped in the sacrifice’s blood and taken through the town. They would whip the woman they came across and drag it over the crops. It was said that this would bring fertility to the woman in the next year. At the end of the celebration all of the single women would put their name in the jar and the single men would draw names. These people would be paired for the duration of the festival, but it was common for this to lead to long lasting relationships and marriage.

Later this Holiday was converted by the church to St Valentine’s day. There were at least three people that were identified as Saint Valentine. This was in a time when Christians were imprisoned for spreading their teaching. But this interesting event that unfolded in history is what lead to the sweet method of giving your beloved a Valentine’s Day card. An imprison man was giving letters to who some believe was the jailer’s own daughter that were signed; Your Valentine.

The good news is that you don’t have to go to jail to send your valentine card or whip someone with a bloody strip of hide! We can enjoy the much more tame and sweet form of Valentine’s Day where we give each other cards, teddy bears, and delicious treats to show our love. So if you ever wondered about the origins of Valentine’s Day while you are out shopping… you now know. So lavish your sweetheart with sweets and gifts and enjoy a nice evening.

All Snowed Out?

What a winter, right? We were snowed in for so long but all that has changed. We don’t know about you but we know something all that snow we got is good for…



These 3 amazing photos are by Micah Breshsears; see more of his work by clicking this link: Micah Breshears‘s Photos

Follow him to see more of his awesome photos.






Skiing, snowboarding, and sledding/tubing! This is a great time to hit the slopes and make the powder fly. There are affordable options and everyone can enjoy the snow regardless of their income range. If the cost is not an issue, you can plan a stay at the mountain, like Timberline Lodge, Government Camp, or Zigzag. You have the option of renting or buying your equipment. A private lesson can be good for any level skiers. Often this will come as a package; with lift tickets and ski/board rental. To entice new people to the mountains you can find beginner packages. With lift tickets, equipment rental and group lessons. Often packages can be a good way to save money. To save more money you can get your equipment off the mountain. You can rent,  buy used, or borrow equipment. You can look for discount tickets, you can go during the week or look at night skiing. The nice thing is that the mountain is so close you can just drive up for the day or you can catch a shuttle. You can go cross country skiing, snowbaording, tubing, or just go play in the snow. I hope you all have a great time at the mountains!

Will the Mangroves be Destroyed in 5 Years?

We told you we would go more in depth about the palm oil situation and we are. Last time we told you that palm oil was such a prominent thing in our lives and has been for decades. We told you that they said that this process would benefit so many people, but the truth was clear as day. The ugly marring of the forest, the death, and deforestation that this oil palm farm caused. Palm oil is more destructive than it is beneficial and we really urge you to read more and consider finding ways to reduce the destruction that palm oil production causes.


Did you know 90% of the palm oil produced comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. It is predicted that if current rates of deforestation continue, Malaysia will have no rain forests by 2022. Indonesia is one of the worlds largest emitters of carbon dioxide due to the process of deforestation. The remaining 10% comes from Sumatra and Borneo where elephants, tigers, rhinos, and orangutans are endangered largely due to loss of habitat.

Some of you are thinking, but what about legislation to protect the environment? Or the Round table on Sustainable Palm Oil (The RSPO also developed the Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and Palm Kernel Oil (CSPKO)). They exist, but their standards aren’t always followed. They have established certification and membership programs to help put a stop to deforestation of critical forests. While supporting certification and membership programs is a step in the right direction, there’s no way to ensure that the palm oil we buy is not causing mass habitat destruction, nor is there a guarantee that no more rain forests are being logged. For more on this topic, take a look at the article published by The Economist, The Other Oil Spill. The sad truth is that during its extensive investigation, The Economist discovered that participation in RSPO certification and membership programs does not guarantee compliance with set sustainability standards or local laws.


So what can you as a consumer do to help?

  • Educate yourself about the issue

  • Curtail consumption of products containing palm oil

  • Confront businesses/companies that use palm oil, or that cannot prove the sustainability of their palm oil sources. (Greenpeace video about palm oil controversy and dove soap https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odI7pQFyjso)

  • Educate others, and ask them to help (either in person or on social media)



Aren’t these forests too beautiful to destroy?