The snows of Kilimanjaro

March 7, 2018

The story we have been told is that the indigenous people leave a much lighter footprint on the planet and there are many things we, Western consumerists, could learn from them. In tune with the nature, harmonious and sustainable, indigenous lifestyle has always been a fetish of the progressive, eco-minded left. The linked article injects a dose of reality into this romantic notion.

A couple of Kiwi adventurers spent two weeks living in the Maasai village in Kenya. Over that period they did enjoy some of the rewards expected to be delivered by indigenous lifestyle like beautiful views, closeness to wildlife and being able to cuddle a baby goat. But, on top of that, their daily reality included some shockers:

Most westerners can’t fathom living without internet for 14 days, let alone living without electricity, running water, and fresh food.

A shower for us consisted of using a drink bottle of water to wash, and as water was scarce we only showered every 2-3 days.

On our first full day, we went looking for a calf which had escaped from the group. Within half an hour of walking, we came across the calf or rather half of the calf. The other half of it had been eaten by lions.

We then started looking for firewood and putting the sticks into piles. Once a pile was big enough a strap was tied around the bundle, the bundle was hoisted on to the woman’s back and the strap was carried against the woman’s head. Both Oscar and I had a go at carrying the sticks for the half hour walk back home and it was extremely uncomfortable as the strap exerted a huge pressure on your head from the weight of the wood and the sticks struck into your back as you walked.

That same day we went to collect water, something we would do a few times over the course of the two weeks. Heavy jerry cans of water would be carried back to the village in the same way as the firewood, on your back with a scarf around your forehead. With a village of 200 people an immense amount of water had to be carried back.

One of the days we were invited to have some meat with the men (…) The crackling was really tasty when you could ignore the pieces of animal hair which were still attached.

And now some absolute beauties which should delight the feminist progressives:

What we quickly learnt was that Maasai live in a patriarchal society with extreme gender bias. Women do absolutely everything, including all of the hard physical labour. They look after the children, cook, clean, shop, fetch water, fetch firewood, herd cattle, build houses, and take down houses while the men sit under trees all day. I can almost guarantee that a man in that village has never once collected water or firewood.

While impressively small, the carbon footprint of the indigenous lifestyle does not buy a lot in term of the basic comforts we in the West consider prerequisite for a fulfilling life. Also, on closer examination, most indigenous groups exhibit some very unappealing characteristics like inequality, violence, misogyny and exploitation (Maasai are far from the worst in that regard). It does not mean that the West should not get smarter but using indigenous lifestyles as a template seems more retrograde than progressive to me.




Project Pluto

March 2, 2018

In the context of the recent scary public statements by Mr Putin it is worth noting that a hypersonic cruise missile with nuclear ramjet propulsion was being developed already in the 1960s. By the United States.

The work on this weapon was known as Project Pluto which started in 1957 and was cancelled in 1964. To give you an idea how insane the whole concept was let us run through some technical details.  Nuclear reactors produce a huge amount of heat which, in normal operation, is taken away by cooling water and used to spin the turbines. The cooling system and safety measures like radiation shielding are heavy, complex and expensive. Let us now imagine a nuclear reactor stripped off all the ancillaries and placed inside the combustion chamber of a jet engine. The cool air entering through the intake is heated by the reactor. As it expands rapidly it exits through the jet nozzle at the back, propelling the missile forward. Since nuclear fuel is very energy-dense the missile can fly for months without landing.

As it does, it first drops the payload of nuclear bombs over the enemy landmass. Then it keeps flying at treetop level and hypersonic speeds creating a shock wave strong enough to kill humans on the ground, emitting radiation from unshielded reactor and spewing nuclear material with the exhaust gasses. After months of wreaking death and destruction this way it crashes into a pre-selected high value target destroying it with kinetic energy and radioactive waste.

Pause to think about an unshielded nuclear reactor darting around for months at bullet speed and killing everything in its path. If you know of a more devious human invention (other than genetically engineered strains of pathogens) please let me know – I don’t.


The post-collusion media World

February 21, 2018

As the Mueller’s investigation – now in its tenth month – has failed to uncover any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia the mainstream media are adjusting to the new reality. One way would be to accept that the allegations were wrong and, having been unjustifiably smeared and denigrated, Trump now deserves a fresh start. But this is not how things work is the progressive circles and the media have been desperate to find another stick to hit him with.

Here is a partial list of the kites the media have flown in the last few months:

  1. Trump in a fit of rage wanted to fire Mueller and was only stopped by his aides. The story comes from unnamed sources and both the White House and Trump himself rubbished it multiple times. The verifiable facts are that Mueller has not been fired.
  2. Trump had numerous clashes with Tillerson and was going to fire him. The story re-appeared intermittently over a few months, based on – you guessed it – unnamed sources. The verifiable facts are that Tillerson has not been fired.
  3. Jim Mattis cannot work with Trump. This media beat-up partly stems from the alleged Trump-Tillerson clash. The verifiable facts are that Mattis is still there. 
  4. Another victim of Trump’s anger was supposed be Jeff Sessions. The only question – according to the media – was whether he was going to be fired before or after Tillerson. The verifiable facts are that none has lost his job.
  5. John Kelly was frustrated and offered to resign. This story was based on the usual mix of reports from unnamed sources and pundit speculation. The verifiable facts are that Kelly has not resigned.
  6. Trump clashed with his daughter Ivanka over her statement on Roy Moore. This story was broken by NYT who based it on – cough, cough – unnamed sources in the White House. The verifiable facts are that Trump and Ivanka are both getting go with the job.
  7. Trumps’ marriage was on the rocks following the rumours of Donald’s alleged affairs. The story was based purely on the interpretation of the couple’s travel schedule and was repeatedly rubbished by both Donald and Melania. The verifiable facts are that the Trumps are still together.
  8. Trump was angry with Jarred Kushner, blaming him for the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel. This led to media speculations that Kushner’s days were numbered. The verifiable facts are that there are no public signs of strain in their relationship.
  9. Trump is losing it. This storyline included endless media analysis of Trump’s speech patterns, vocabulary, behaviour etc. One particularly hilarious angle was the possibility of Trump ordering a nuclear attack on North Korea in a fit of lunacy. The verifiable facts are that he aced the Montreal cognitive test and, in the words of his physician, “has absolutely no cognitive or mental issues whatsoever”

The Russian collusion story was a reliable milk cow, providing the likes of CNN and NYT with over a year’s worth of eye-grabbing headlines. When Mueller’s report is finally out they will need a new source of click-bait exposure so the dirt digging work continues.



Exciting times ahead (3)

February 7, 2018

As covered in the previous two posts of this series Donald Trump had a positive impact on the US economy and also has challenged the politically correct speech code, to the bewilderment and horror of the mainstream media. But of more importance for those of us living outside the US is how he conducted his foreign policy.

The US have a recent history of indecision and procrastination when it comes to approaching the contentious global issues. For example during the two terms of Barack Obama we saw absolutely no progress towards the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, reckless inaction in Syria, no effective engagement with North Korea and pussy-footed treatment of ISIS. Every presidential speech contained an assortment of empty phrases which, while sounding comforting, carried no weight and were not followed up by any meaningful action. We have come to accept that Obama’s statements consist of layers of oratorical indulgences devoid of any commitment to get things done. All global players have factored into their strategic scenarios the fact that the US fail to enforce its own red lines and shy away from confronting rouge states.

All this changed with Donald Trump. Here is a partial list of his decisive actions on the global scene, with my comments putting the events in historical perspective:

  1. Bombing of the Assad’s airfield in April 2017. Trump achieved what Obama did not have guts to do – punishing the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons against the rebels. The strike was proportional, well planned and competently executed. It was a notice to everyone that the US are not willing to play the game of issuing endless warnings anymore and will act if pushed.
  2. ISIS. It beggars belief that a coalition of Western countries could not bomb out of existence a bunch of murderous religious fanatics camping in the Iraq desert. What was lacking was not military hardware but political will to get things done. With Trump’s entry onto the scene ISIS days were numbered and the “Caliphate” no one else was willing to eliminate dispersed in six months.
  3. The NATO debacle. Obama urged the NATO members numerous times to up their military spending. I personally could never understand why the US are expected to pay for the security of its allies like Western Europe, Japan and South Korea so asking them to pull their weight was a no brainer. The problem is Obama never went beyond the empty phraseology. Trump has and good on him.
  4. Nuclear agreement with Iran. Obama never put the deal through the Congress but only used his side-door “waiver authority” to implement it. This means the agreement needs to be certified (extended) by the acting President every three months. Trump, along with most republicans and some Democrats, believes the deal is bad for the US and has decertified it so the Congress will finally get to scrutinise it.
  5. The clashes with the UN. The United Nations (and its satellites like UNESCO or UNHRC) have always been rabidly anti-Israel and it is about time someone pointed it out. One shocking example is the UN Commission on Rights of Women which in 2017 criticised Israel while making no mention of the Arab countries, with their appalling record of misogyny, honour killings etc. I could never work out why the US gave so much money to this bloated bureaucratic monster which became a propaganda vehicle for anti-American interests.
  6. The Arab-Israeli conflict. After more than a decade of zero progress Trump has signalled he is not prepared to play the waiting game anymore. He accepted Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel (something the US Congress did in 1995) and threatened to cut the funding for the Palestinian Authority unless they get serious about negotiations. Sending money to the political front for terrorists always stroke me as odd so the change is welcome.
  7. North Korea. Their idiot leaders have been handled with velvet gloves by the West over the last few decades. This strategy has failed spectacularly, with the rouge country now on the brink of possessing a deliverable nuclear weapon. Trump decided to confront the issue and out-bullied the Kim Jong-un bully in a series of well-publicised exchanges. Nothing else worked so good on him for trying this approach.
  8. Undocumented/illegal immigrants in the US. Although more of a domestic issue it demonstrates Trump’s willingness to confront seemingly unsolvable problems rather than looking the other way. The World’s greatest democracy has many millions of residents who do not have a legal status in the country. How Trump’s push to sort things out – using the vehicle of the democratically elected representatives of the people – is viewed as divisive is beyond me.

As you can see Trump’s approach to World’s problems has been a departure from the long-standing political convention of collectively putting the head in the sand. A good question to his critics would be “How else are you hoping to get the Israelis and Palestinians to talk, stop NK from developing deliverable nukes, end the legal limbo of undocumented immigrants in the US etc?”. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.



Exciting times ahead (2)

February 4, 2018

Before explaining what else – apart from his golden touch with the economy – impresses me in Donald Trump let me share some details about my youth.

I grew up in Poland before the Iron Curtain fell. One of the most unbearable aspects of living in a totalitarian society was the relentless, intrusive political propaganda. It is hard to explain to someone who only knows free societies how demoralising a daily diet of ever-present state-sponsored lies is. Critical minds like mine suffered an even more cruel torture by not being allowed to challenge the obvious nonsense peddled as the official version of reality.

Having moved to New Zealand I found myself witnessing a creeping imposition of the similar speech code known as political correctness. This time the gag came not from political demagogues but social engineers. It targets those holding opinions not long ago considered mainstream, like that successful societies are based on families, abortion is problematic ethically, western culture is in most ways superior to others etc.

It felt like social Marxists in the West have achieved the level of control over the media and education system which was similar to what I remembered from my youth. Almost all politicians and intellectuals play the PC game and whole fields of social ideas became inadmissible in public life. One knows something is seriously wrong if believing there are only two genders is an act of social disobedience.

Trump’s willingness to call a spade a spade was what won me over during his presidential campaign. At last there was someone willing to publicly say what many law-abiding, tax-paying citizens of the western democracies personally believed to be true. It is hard to describe my delight in seeing the self-important mainstream media go into tailspin, unable to process the succinct, common-sense statements made by a politician they despise.

The last post of this short series will cover the impact Trump is having on global politics.

59cd2288180000a007c9d59fExciting times ahead (3)


Exciting times ahead (1)

February 3, 2018

After a year of chaos Trump’s presidency is beginning to take a solid shape. While some of the finer details are still emerging I generally like what I am seeing. In fact I like it a lot.

I will not waste time on the non-event of the public release of Nunes’ memo and go straight to the stuff that matters. Trump has nailed it when it comes to the economy. The share market, jobs and growth figures are all looking great, buoyed by the positive business sentiment. The Left generally acknowledged it but pointed out that the success of the US economy has not led to wage growth. Well, now it has so it’s time even for Trump haters to celebrate.

Strong economic figures were underpinned by first a prospect and then the actuality of Trump’s tax cut. While the debate about its perceived unfairness was confusing my personal views are embarrassingly simple. Money should be spent by those who have earned it so tax cuts are always welcome – the bigger the better. Looks like the economy reacts more in line with my layman’s understanding than the concerns of experts and things hum along just fine. My prediction is for a prolonged period of strong growth accompanied by increasingly positive social sentiment in the US the likes of which have not been seen since Reagan. I also expect that, contrary to what most economists claim, the tax cuts will pay for themselves.

While strong economy is the most tangible sign of Trump’s success I personally take even more delight in another aspect of his presidency. Anyone willing to take a guess which?

images (1)

Exciting times ahead (2)

Saving the planet with each shave

January 23, 2018

Most males blessed with facial hair have to live with the reality of buying disposable razors – to keep themselves tidy and kissable. But how many shaves are these razors expected to last? If, like in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you believe the answer is 42 you are not far from the truth!

A good while ago I came across an online forum where this very point was raised and debated. One contributor stood out from the crowd of men prepared to buy a new disposable razor after two or three shaves. He said something I considered outrageous. His razors apparently lasted at least six months – the trick being he only shaved after a shower. I treated the guy’s claims as internet noise but somehow convinced myself to buy a new razor and started shaving after showers, mainly to avoid cuts. That was seven months ago and I am still using the same blades.

My inner engineer is still in disbelief but softening the facial hair with a combination of hot water and steam in the shower is enough to change the shaving experience from borderline traumatic to effortless. After five minutes in the shower my seven months old razor still feels like brand new – no catching or snagging whatsoever, no cuts. There is also no rust on the blades. Something else I noticed before starting this experiment is that the cartridge which comes with original handle lasts a lot longer than the replacement ones available in packets of four or five. I guess the suppliers want to get you hooked on the quality product and then peddle a volume of disposables which blunt quickly.

Considering the environmental footprint of disposable razors (high grade alloyed steel, fancy plastic handles, packaging, handling, transport) it is important to make them last as long as possible. Since, for obvious reasons, the suppliers will not tell you how to do it, da-boss is keen to step in:

  • Buy a quality multi blade swivel head razor with a sturdy handle and single cartridge on
  • Shave only after proper showers – at least 3-5 minutes with hot water
  • For best results apply some shaving cream before getting in the shower
  • Rinse the razor during shaving so the blades do not clog up
  • Rinse and shake the razor head dry when finished
  • When the razor starts catching hair buy a new handle with a single cartridge on it – not a packet of replacement cartridges.

By following the above steps you should extend the life of your razor cartridge to at least six months. Not bad for a disposable product, eh?


You are what (and how) you eat

January 16, 2018

Considering we all spend a considerable part of our lives either preparing or consuming food it stands to reason we are influenced by the experience. Conversely, the way the food is cooked, presented and eaten is an expression of the mental tendencies we have. Through a combination of personal circumstances late in my life I became acquainted with the cooking and eating habits typical for the Indian culture. The fact they are unlike what I was used to may point to some deeper differences between the Eastern and Western lifestyles and mentalities.

European/Western meals will typically consist of three distinct groups of food – proteins (meat, fish, eggs), carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, pasta) and vegetables/salad. While a Western dish can be prepared from only two of these food group as ingredients there will normally be only one type of protein and one carb used. It would be rare for, for example, potatoes and rice or meat and fish to share a dinner plate. The ingredients of the dish will normally be presented as separate heaps on a dinner plate and consumed using cutlery – knife and fork in most cases. From the plate we should be able to tell if it is breakfast, lunch or dinner time as each of these meal has its own menu and left-over beef gravy will have to wait for next dinner before it is served.


A brief look at the Indian culinary culture reveals some major differences. For starters, the ingredients used in a dish do not follow the Western division into protein, carbohydrates and vegetables/salad. It is quite common to add potatoes to rice recipes and one of my personal favourites, kichoori, has rice, potatoes and split peas mixed together, with little protein and no salad. Many curry dishes will have potatoes added to the curry sauce, which is then consumed with white rice. It is also common when eating in Indian restaurants to order a few curries to share so you may end up with fish, prawns, chicken and lamb on your plate.

But it is what happens next that may shock some of my Western friends. Everything on your plate is mercilessly mashed up before being consumed and the process is manual. You will not see many people eating with their hands in upmarket restaurants but this is how most Indians eat at home. It mixes the meal ingredients on the plate and helps release the complex flavours of the aromatic spices. It also allows an almost intimate interaction with food, absent in the Western way of eating. Once cooked, the dish will be eaten at any time of the day until it runs out.


So in the European/Western culinary culture we have meals prepared from rigidly selected ingredients, presented as separate food groups on the plate and consumed one-at-a-time using cutlery. Breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are normally different – serving scrambled eggs for dinner would raise an eyebrow or two. To me this attitude to eating expresses the West’s formality, tendency to separate rather than unite and rigid adherence to rules. The Indian way on the other hand allows any combination of compatible dish ingredients, mixes multiple flavours on the plate and encourages eating with hands. The same dish can be served at any time of the day. This approach emphasises a flexible, relaxed view of life in which food is meant to be simply enjoyed with few rules to follow.

Bon appetite and kripyā bhojan kā ānnaṅd lijīyai!


December 11, 2017

Predictably, Trump’s decision to accept Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel has attracted condemnation by the mainstream media. Dramatic headlines predicted outbreaks of violence in the Middle East and the end of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Here is a brief explanation of the language used by Trump’s team to comment on the Jerusalem declaration.

The historical background of the Jerusalem dispute depends on how far back we are prepared to go in time. Palestinians prefer to look at it from the centennial perspective because prior to the emergence of modern Zionism in late 1800s Jerusalem was governed by the Ottomans and inhabited mainly by the Arabs. Jews on the other hand adopt a millennial timeframe claiming that Jerusalem was their spiritual capital for about a thousand years before the birth of Christ. But, pragmatically, what matters even more than ancient history is that Jerusalem was captured by Israel after the Six-day War in 1967 and has been under its military and administrative control since. This is what Donald Trump meant when he said that his declaration is a “recognition of reality”.

What is also worth noting is that the US Congress and Senate recognised Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel in 1995 and instructed the President to relocate the US embassy there no later than 1999. The three recent US presidents have since been signing waivers twice a year to delay the move – effectively ignoring the Congress direction. When Nikki Haley said that Trump’s decision represents the “will of the American people” this is what she meant.

It is also commonly accepted that, following the failure of the Oslo negotiations, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has gone nowhere. Since 2000 we have seen escalating bellicose rhetoric on both sides, punctuated by the periodic eruptions of violence – the worst ones being the 2000-2005 Second Intifada and 2014 Gaza War. All of this happened while the US Presidents were stalling the implementation of the Congress’ directive to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, ostensibly in order not to jeopardise the peace negotiations. This is what a senior Trump’s official meant when he said “It seems clear now that the physical location of the embassy is not material to a peace deal”.

As a result of wars and political processes, the negotiating position of Israel includes control over Jerusalem. It does not mean that the arguments of the Palestinians should be dismissed. What it does mean though is that the Palestinian negotiators have to recognise this fact and factor it into their strategy. This is what the former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, meant when he described Trump’s declarations as “Just a dose of reality”.


Not so close, please! (2)

December 5, 2017

Mauled by Buakaw Pramuk in the title fight of the 2004 K-1 World  MAX kick-boxing tournament, Masato had to wait three years for his revenge. When both fighters met again in 2007 Masato was expected to benefit from the rule change which allowed only one knee per clinch. Cynics would say that the organisers of the event did all they could to help the local boy but it was up to Masato to take advantage of it. That he stepped into the ring focused, confident and positive is a mark of a great warrior.

As with the 2004 title bout please bear in mind that both fighters are trying to play to their strengths – Buakaw’s kicking and kneeing and Masoto’s mid-range punches. So, this is what the spectators at the quarter finals of the 2007 K-1 World MAX kick-boxing tournament were treated to:


This is one of the most memorable kick-boxing bouts ever in that Masato, after being humiliated by Buakaw the previous time they met, managed to adopt the fight plan which gave him a decisive win. He stayed at mid-range most of the time where his superior punching skills were the difference. Except in parts of the second round, Buakaw failed to take advantage of the roundhouse and push kicks which had given him victory over Masato in 2004. With the changed rules (only one knee allowed) clinch was not a factor in 2007.

The last minute of this fight is a master-class in combination punching by Masato. After 2007 both fighters continued their careers, then retired and came back from the retirement but for me nothing matches the intensity of their 2004/2007 K-1 rivalry.

Not so close, please! (1)

December 5, 2017

The martial arts of kick-boxing and Muay Thai (Thai boxing) both allow punching and kicking. Fighters can also use the knees although the exact rules vary between the codes. Thai boxers are trained to strike with their elbows and throw their opponents on the deck in clinch but both techniques are banned in Western style kick-boxing. Kicks are typically delivered at range, punches from close-up and knees to the ribs in clinch.

The way the above two martial arts evolved kick-boxers tend to be good punchers and Thai boxers usually rely on kicks and knees. Each fighter tries to keep the distance at which his favoured techniques are most effective – Thai boxers will kick and then go to clinch, kick-boxers will try to throw punches at mid-range. The result of the fight will often hinge on which competitor manages to stay at an optimal range to maximise his/her advantages.

The 2004 finals of the K-1 World MAX tournament were held in the kick-boxing crazy Japan. The local hero – Masato Kobayashi – was heavily favoured to win. In the title fight he faced a little known opponent from Thailand, Buakaw Pramuk. Buakaw had had mixed fortunes in his home country where he never won any national titles and this was his first attempt to make a name for himself on the World stage.

When watching the linked video clip of the 2004 title fight bear in mind that Masato, trained as a kick-boxer, was at his best punching at mid-range, whereas Buakaw’s strengths were in kicking and kneeing.


Well, Buakaw absolutely destroyed Masato by doing what Thai boxers do best – roundhouse kicks and knees to the ribs in clinch. He nullified Masato’s superior punching skills by going straight to clinch after each sequence of kicks. The fight was so one sided it is a travesty the judges sent it to the fourth, deciding round. In fact after the fight Masato ended up in hospital with broken ribs and coughing blood.

After the drubbing he took at the hands (feet and knees, actually) of Buakaw you would not expect Masato to look forward to a re-match? Stay tuned…

Not so close, please! (2)

My eco confession

December 4, 2017

Through a combination of laziness and contrarianism I have delayed transitioning to the eco-friendly alternatives of the plastic supermarket bags. Despite the very bad press they have been getting I somehow could not bring myself to ditch them. I knew all along that both the disposable paper bags and reusable cotton bags are better but chose to do nothing.

My complacency was partly due to the fact that plastic bags feel a lot lighter than the alternatives – it is amazing how thin a wade of 100 or 200 of them is at the supermarket checkout. Paper bags on the other hand are a lot more substantial and appear heavier. The problem with the multi-use cotton bags is that I tend to either lose them or forget to take them with me. Also, if something like meat juices spill in them, cotton bags are very unhygienic but to stop the leaks meat must be double bagged which means more plastic. To ease the burden on my conscience I always tried to re-use the plastic bags – as rubbish bin liners, to collect kitchen or garden waste etc. I know – excuses, excuses but at least I have come out clean which must count as a mitigating circumstance?

With a guilt-laden conscience I read the article on Stuff which compared the environmental footprint of the plastic, paper and cotton bags and immediately felt better. Surprisingly, the study conducted in 2011 by UK Environment Agency concluded that low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic shopping bags may in fact be the most eco-friendly solution, especially if re-used. Some enlightening quotes for your consideration:

Paper bags are often seen as more environmentally friendly because paper is recyclable. But paper bags could be the worst of the lot because of the difficulty in reusing them (…) the process of making paper bags takes almost four times as much water, and releases more than three times as many greenhouse gas emissions than conventional plastic bags. In 2007, San Francisco banned non-compostable plastic bags but the policy led to an increase in the use of single-use recyclable paper bags. Only 38 per cent of paper bags were recycled, the rest went to landfill where they take up five times more space than plastic bags. Paper bags usually do not biodegrade in landfill because there is no oxygen. The UK study found paper bags need to be reused three times if they are to have less of an environmental impact than a conventional plastic bag used once, but the study found “no significant reuse of paper bags,” not even as bin liners.

Ok so, unless you re-use them (does anyone do that?), paper bags are much worse for the environment than even single-use LDPE plastic. What about cotton though?

The study found cotton bags need to be used at least 173 times if they are to do less environmental damage than a plastic bag that is used once. If a plastic bag is reused three times, for example being used twice in the supermarket and then as a bin liner, the cotton bag has to be used almost 400 times to have lower global warming potential than plastic. This is because of the amount of energy and use of non-renewable resources it takes to extract cotton, make the bags and then ship them.

Again, unless used every second day for a year (does anyone do that??), the cotton bags are less eco-friendly than single-use LDPE. And if you put them through a wash once in a while the equation looks even worse.

It is interesting that the intuitive preference we tend to have for “natural” (paper, cotton) materials is not always the best thing for the environment.