Friday 21 September 2018


When I opted to go to Higher Options for The Institute, I was told to collect my exhibitor's wristband from D531 but ditzy-me barrelled into D551 asking for the wristband liaison officer WLO. It caused a mild stir of consternation, as you can imagine. Perhaps more so because there was a packing case full of wristbands in D551. And that is how I acquired, a few days before the official launch, a handful of multicolored, 'debossed' silicon wristbands to celebrate / assert Diversity [see R]. I also got a neat glossy A5 160gsm flyer explaining all the diversity terms. They gave me a few wristbands, not to make it look like the sleeve of a parti-coloured shirt, but to distribute these symbols of right-on-ness among the Rads of my department. debossing is the opposite of embossing: messages are gouged out of the band.

I've found out a bit about wristband culture, which I will share with you and the historical books after this fad has gone the way of Beanie Babies, pet rocks and cuff-links. First off is that they cost money: from about €1.50 [for 100@] down to €0.25 [for '000s@]. The next point is that the untearable 'paper' wristbands at events are made from Tyvek. Tyvek is another Dupont product [prevs Kevlar  - PET] invented 50 years ago and consisting of HDPE [high density polyethylene] fibres. It has amazing properties: apart from its resistance to tearing, it is impervious to wet water but permeable to water vapour. This finds utility in the construction industry: we have Tyvek roofing 'felt' in the 2016 woodshed and another outbuilding that we got re-roofed in 2007: vapour going out + rain not coming in = less condensation and fewer internal drips.

An interesting property of silicon is that it absorbs chemicals, especially hydrophobic examples, from the local environment and stores them in a way rather similar to the behaviour of human cells. Wrist-bands have, for example, been used to monitor exposure to dozens of toxic chemicals including PAH [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons], nicotine, caffeine, fire retardants, solvents, plasticisers and insecticides. That paper elicited a scientific comment noting that epidemiologists could use silicon breast implants to generate a back-story of adverse internal chemical exposure.

It is damnably difficult to recycle silicone wristbands, so you'll have to try re-use instead. They are exactly the right size to put on the lid of an un-openable jam jar to give you a bit more traction. And for gawd's sake give the bands a snip before you throw them in the bin. They must be as bad as six-pack rings for strangling turtles, albatrosses and baby dolphins. And if you care about these things switch to Carlsberg which has replaced their six-rings with little dobs of glue which serve the same purpose and save the company, and the oceans, 1,000 tonnes of plastic every year

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