So why is toilet paper white anyway?

By | Wisdom | One Comment
Toilet paper (photography by Jordi Gallego)

Toilet paper (photography by Jordi Gallego)

I recently wrote an email to Kimberly Clark (famous for their paper products including Kleenex, Scott, Viva and Cottonelle) and asked why they bleach their toilet paper white. Their customer support explained that bleaching is not only for aesthetic purposes – it also removes the lignin or glue from the wood. The removal of lignin helps improve the strength, feel and shelf life of their tissue and paper.

Unfortunately, most paper mills and companies like Kimberly Clark use chlorine to bleach their toilet paper. The chlorine bleaching process creates many incredibly toxic by-products including dioxins which end up in our water systems and soils.

Humans are most often exposed to these chemicals by eating contaminated food (e.g. fish), drinking contaminated water, or by working at companies that produce dioxins (e.g. paper mills). It is believe that populations exposed to high levels of dioxins have increased risks of birth defects, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. You can learn more about studies on dioxins at the Nation Institute of Health.

I also wrote an email to Seventh Generation and asked why they whiten their toilet paper and why they, in contrast to Kimberly Clark, bleach without chlorine. Here’s Seventh Generation’s response from the Director of Contract Manufacturing:

“Our tissue products are whitened using processes that are chlorine free. Hydrogen peroxide and/or sodium hydrosulfate are typically used to whiten. Because our tissue products are made from 100% recycled feedstock, this lignin (glue) is not an issue for us. It has already been removed. The whitening process helps provide a tissue with consistent look and feel.

Although I tend to agree directionally with the statement about the lignin and its potential undesired impacts on tissue characteristics, I don’t necessarily agree that chlorine containing substances are the best overall methods for bleaching wood pulp when considering the potential adverse impact on the environment in which we live. Furthermore, I am not necessarily agreeing so readily that bleaching is absolutely necessary in order to make a tissue product that can meet consumer’s expectations. As a matter of fact, we offer an unbleached version of paper towels and napkins which tend to be well accepted by the Seventh generation customer. So, I am suggesting that even if bleaching result in somewhat better tissue characteristics, the value added may not be worth it if all aspects of the situation are being considered.”

As Seventh Generation mentions, there are alternatives to the chlorine bleaching processes. Here are your more eco-friendly options when it comes to toilet paper:

  • Unbleached: Completely natural – no bleach added. May not be a winner on softness or comfort.
  • Processed Chlorine Free (PCF): Recycled paper bleached with oxygen, ozone, or hydrogen peroxide. Examples brands of PCF toilet paper: Seventh Generation, Green Forest, Planet, 365 Whole Foods, Earth First. See the NRDC’s toilet paper comparison chart.
  • Totally Chlorine Free (TCF): Non-recycled paper bleached with oxygen, ozone, or hydrogen.

That was the good, now here’s the bad (and the ugly):

  • Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF): Paper bleached with chlorine dioxide. This process releases fewer dioxins than bleaching with chlorine gas, but it is still is harmful to the environment. Examples brands of ECF toilet paper: Charmin, Quilted Northern, Cottonelle, Angle Soft, Kleenex, Safeway Select
  • Chlorine Gas: Dioxins galore!

So the next time you’re purchasing toilet paper, try out paper that is chlorine free. It’s better for the environment and still white and soft.

[source: http://thegreentoilet.blogspot.com/2008/02/so-why-is-toilet-paper-white-anyway.html]
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Blood donation at Mahkota Parade, 22rd and 23th January 2011

By | Involvement, Photography | One Comment
"You are my hero, dad"

"You are my hero, dad"

We don’t need a special reason to give blood. We know that a family member or a friend might need blood some day and it’s the right thing we do. Donating blood is simple and is a safe process:

A tiny drop of blood is taken from your fingertip. This allows the staff of hospital to check your haemoglobin levels and ensure that giving blood won’t make you anaemic. If all is well, you will be able to donate blood. You will donate about 350ml or 450ml of blood – this amount of blood is quickly replaced by your body. Once you have given blood, you should have a short rest before being given some refreshments usually a drink and biscuits. All in all giving blood shouldn’t take more than an hour.

There was a blood donation event held in Mahkota Parade of Melaka last Saturday and Sunday. The event was organized by University of Malaya, Fifth Residential College of UM, Lions Club and Mahkota Parade. While we had some free time to shop for Chinese New Year goods in Mahkota Parade during the weekend, Wee-Peng and I dropped by the venue and I took some shots over there. Sharing some shots here:

crowd registering

crowd registering

Wee-Peng was waiting

Wee-Peng was waiting

blood grouping tiles

blood grouping tiles

accompany

accompany

donating blood

donating blood

busy medical assistants

busy medical assistants

Give HOPE! Save LIVES!

Give HOPE! Save LIVES!

adorable blood cell

adorable blood cell

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缅甸人诚实让人难忘

By | Wisdom | No Comments

缅甸人 (image from www.samaritanspurse.org)

缅甸人 (image from www.samaritanspurse.org)

今天读到了一篇刊登于《星洲日报》副刊的报道,觉得很有意义。凡事要求平和,对人要诚实和真心,自己和周围的人都会快乐。和大家分享:

跟缅甸华人接触后,我和同事交了很多朋友,喜欢他们的纯朴、诚实。

大部份缅甸人从呱呱落地开始,就受到佛理的影响,爱好和平,态度谦卑,为人温和,也很诚实。不只当地华人,缅甸人亦如此。

星洲媒体集团总编辑萧依钊2008年第一次到仰光赈灾时,曾到某间店买东西,由于语言不通,店员多算了钱,可是她根本不知道。一年后再到该店时,店员认出了她,找出当时的账簿,把之前多收的钱还了给她。她起先以为那是个别人士的诚实,后来她到另一家店买东西,付了钱取了商品就走出店门,谁料店员追到路口把零钱还给她。这两位店员的诚实给她留下深刻印象。

灾民守秩序排队领救济品

《星洲日报》的同事还有一个经验。“纳吉斯”风灾后,张晓卿社长率领星洲媒体爱心赈灾队深入灾区,带了许多干粮给灾民,当载满粮食的大卡车抵达灾区时,站在村口观望的灾民突然不见了。《星洲日报》同事以为这些灾民怕见陌生人而躲开,后来方知他们是跑进村里通知其他乡亲来领取救济品。

走进村里,灾民们自动自发排队,非常有秩序,等候《星洲日报》同事派发干粮,当天每人可分得一小袋米和一包干粮。当派到最后一人时,剩下两包干粮,于是,《星洲日报》同事就全给了他,怎知那位灾民只拿了一包,把另一包还给我们的同事。

从这几个真实的例子,让我们看到缅甸人的淳朴,即使他们一贫如洗,也不贪心,决不取不属于自己之物。

[文:摘自《星洲日报》副刊的“深入缅甸—缅甸华人渴望振翅高飞”]
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Cranes

By | Life Journal, Photography | No Comments
paper cranes

paper cranes

how are you?
tell me that you arEE fine
spreading your wings freely
we were pair
singing in the autumn wind
dancing with the falling leaves
snowfall touched our feathers
nothing but the sign of change
it was time to depart
to the paradise of south
you took wing on the journey
while i was remained still
staying on the freezing ground
sorry i was lost
let you flying by yourself
even you were strong
on the passage without me
my flimsiness let you down
you were far
from seeing the tears of icy chill
and solitude of the winter moon
you brought me a message
in the night of silence
through the cloud from the south
to be as strong as you
now i spread my wings
heading to the direction
where the southern cross is
the trail i could hear your whisper
flying fast but low
under the cloud beneath you
as your shadow in white
whenever you fall
as always
i will be there
never again
i let you alone

cj

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“祈祷”的医学效果

By | Photography, Wisdom | No Comments
birth of Christ

birth of Christ

信念能产生力量,进而启动人体免疫力。

我曾经访过一位卓越的外科医师,他对我说:“我开刀之前一定要先祷告。”手术前必须祷告这件事,课堂上没有教过,课本也没提到,他却一个人默默地祈祷着——请赐与我力量,让我有力量治愈患者。

医学领域里有祈祷这件事,着实让我感动。一些先进国家,例如美国,现在也开始认真地探讨祈祷一事。长久以来,一半以上的研究数据都仰赖西方医学,但现在他们也鼓励将汉方、针灸、冥想、音乐、信仰等带进医疗体系中,使医疗活泼化,甚至由国家提拔预算进行研究。哈佛大学及哥伦比亚大学等这些权威大学,对“祈祷”的研究尤其深入,他们称为“精神神经免疫学”,并列入最先进的研究领域。

医学及祈祷,实际上是可以共存的

如此“不可靠”的事情,竟然还编列国家预算,从科学的角度来看简直荒谬;而从宗教面来看,将“祈祷”这样神圣的事情放到科学里,也是宗教界所不乐见的。

但是回想一下,人类从以前就是用医学来维护身体健康、以祈祷来得到心灵安定,医学及祈祷,实际上是可以共存的。医师宣布放弃治疗的重症患者,靠着祈祷而使得症状改善的事情,也时有所闻。以祈祷或念力来达到医疗的行为,效果等同安慰剂(Placebo)。“安慰剂”是指将完全没有药效的“假药”给病患者吃,告诉患者“这是非常有效的新药”,最后真的出现了疗效。我认为安慰剂之所以有效,在于患者认为自己“已经服用了好的药,症状应该改善”,并以“一定会有很好的医疗效果”来强烈地自我暗示——这样积极的想法,可能活化免疫力的基因。

“深信不疑”的信念,让安慰剂产生效果;如果“思想”确实能产生功效,那么,将思想凝聚成更虔诚的祈祷,效果自然可能更好。这绝非一件不可思议的事。

我是一位科学研究者,并不是医师,所以不再深论,但思想及祈祷这类精神活动对身体康复有不小的影响,在医学上是确实存在的事。

[文:村上和雄,刊登于星洲日报副刊]
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