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Plastic 101: Microplastics and Pollution

Plastic has become a constant element in our lives, with billions of plastic items being created and briefly used daily. Our reliance on plastic has started the course of mass pollution, leading to an array of planetary issues; but the path we are currently on isn’t irreversible. Small, simple changes in our lifestyle can make leaps toward righting the ship, cleaning our oceans, and saving our planet.

With an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic ending up in our oceans annually, it’s important to know the “what, why, and how” of plastics so we can help each other lessen the impact we make. In this blog, we’ll discuss how plastic is made, the problem with microplastics, and tips for those who want to use less plastic, along with casting a spotlight on plastic-free brands with excellent products to make going zero-waste easier than ever.

How is Plastic Made?

To make plastic, scientists must take base materials, such as crude oil, and transform them with additives, heat, manipulation, and time into a workable polymer. Though the main component of most of these plastics is crude oil, other materials, such as salt, cellulose, natural gas, and coal are also sometimes used.1

Process of Plastic from Crude Oil

Pictured: The processing of plastic from crude oil   Source: Plastic Collectors

The base ingredients are refined during the plastic-making process into ethane and propane, which are heated in a process known as “cracking” until they transform into the monomers ethylene and propylene. As monomers, ethylene and propylene can then be converted into subsequent polymers via a catalyst.2

Transforming ethylene and propylene into polymers can release toxic emissions into the air and may include potentially dangerous chemical compounds like benzene, ethylene oxide, ethylbenzene, and nickel.3 

Two primary plastics come out of the plastic-making process: thermoplastics, which can be melted, cooled, and molded until they harden, and thermosets, which are not meltable once they have been cooled. Examples of thermosets are epoxy, polyurethane, silicone, and phenolic, while common examples of thermoplastics include acrylic, polyester, polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon, and Teflon.4

Thermoplastics vs. Thermosets

Pictured: Thermoplastics vs. thermosets   Source: Buzzle 

Despite popular belief, not all plastics are recyclable. The bulk of plastic recycling is downcycling, meaning plastic degrades with each turn through the recycling process. During this process, though, most thermoplastics break down into microplastics, which can cause an abundance of planetary and health issues.

For a more in-depth look at the plastic-making process, click here

The Problem With Microplastics

Microplastics, as the name implies, are tiny plastic particles. Officially, they are defined as plastics less than 0.2 inches in diameter, which is smaller than a standard pearl. There are two categories of microplastics known as primary and secondary.

Primary microplastics are tiny particles designed for commercial use, such as microfibers shed from clothing and other textiles. Secondary microplastics are particles that result from the breakdown of larger plastic items like water bottles. This breakdown is caused by exposure to environmental factors like the sun’s radiation and ocean waves.6

Primary and Secondary Microplastics

Pictured: Primary and secondary microplastics    Source: The European Food Education Council

The problem with microplastics is that they don’t readily break down into harmless molecules. In fact, microplastics have been detected in marine organisms and our drinking water; standard water treatment facilities cannot remove all traces of microplastics. To further complicate matters, microplastics in the ocean can bind with other harmful chemicals before being ingested by marine organisms.7, 8

Many countries are taking action to reduce microplastics in the environment. A 2017 United Nations resolution discussed microplastics and the need for regulations to reduce this hazard.9 Additionally, going into 2022, the California Ocean Protection Council approved the first comprehensive microplastics strategy in the nation, which identifies early actions and research priorities to reduce microplastic pollution in California’s marine environment.

Plastic Stats and Facts

Undoubtedly, plastics have helped make a number of commodities more affordable, adding vitality to many economies, but the world’s plastic appreciation has turned into a reliance that’s damaging our planet. Here are a few interesting plastic stats and facts to take note of:

  • Nearly 380 million metric tons of plastic waste are produced yearly, which is equivalent to the weight of the human population.
  • Plastic waste is growing at an annual rate of 9%.
  • The US is the world’s top generator of plastic waste.
  • Around 70,000 microplastics are consumed by an average person each year.
  • One million marine animals die due to plastic pollution every year.
  • 75% of all plastic produced has become waste.
  • It takes around 500 to 1,000 years for plastics to decompose.
  • 73% of all litter on beaches worldwide is plastic.
  • About 91% of plastic is not recycled.10

Tips to Help You Use Less Plastic in Your Everyday Life

When we read about the scale of plastic waste in our landfills and oceans, it’s tempting to feel overwhelmed and question whether anything we can personally do would make a difference. However, the truth is that even the smallest changes of habit, accumulated over time, add up to a massive difference. Here are our top six tips for living with less plastic:

  • Try using a reusable produce bag, such as these from Purifyou, as a single plastic bag can take nearly 1,000 years to degrade. 
  • Try to avoid using plastic straws and instead purchase reusable stainless steel or bamboo ones. You can also try compostable straws like the EQUO Grass Straws.
  • Grab your own reusable water bottle, considering that plastic bottles are one of the most common sources of plastic pollution, and are frequently found on beach cleans globally. The Tree Tribe Stainless Steel Water Bottle, for example, is insulated, indestructible, and eco-friendly.
  • Composting is a great way to reduce your waste overall. When you throw away less food, you’ll use fewer plastic garbage bags and storage dishes. Check out this beginner’s guide to composting for tips, tricks, and an easy how-to.
  • You can reduce plastic waste by eliminating plastic bottles of body wash each month. Instead, try switching to soap bars wrapped in paper or cardboard, like these from ECO Amenities, for an easy zero-waste swap. 
  • Disposable plastic razors are not typically recyclable and therefore sit in landfills without ever completely decomposing. The good news is that there are plastic-free options, such as these from Preserve POPi.  

Plastic-Free Brands to Take Note Of

We all face slightly different obstacles when it comes to going zero-waste. Maybe you find it hard to kick the habit of getting your caffeine fix in a takeaway coffee cup? Or perhaps you tend to end up with excess food that finds its way into the trash? These plastic-free brands provide sustainable solutions to help you succeed on your zero-waste journey:

KeepCup

When siblings Abigail and Jamie Forsyth started a café business in Melbourne in 1998, disposable cups were being introduced into the public landscape; but as their business grew, so did their concerns about the volume of packaging being consumed, particularly disposable cups as they were lined with polyethylene and non-recyclable.

The first KeepCups were sold to in 2009 at an independent design market. People recognized KeepCup as the solution to single-use packaging and the volume of waste entering the environment. KeepCups are now used in more than 75 countries around the world and have been named a B-Corp company.

The KeepCup Reusable Tempered Glass Coffee Cup

The KeepCup Reusable Tempered Glass Coffee Cup

Made from durable tempered glass with a recovered corn band manufactured from agricultural waste in Portugal, the KeepCup Reusable Coffee Cup is designed to enjoy coffee’s craft and sensory pleasure on the go. It’s easy to pour with a press-fit sipper lid that can be removed.

To shop the KeepCup Reusable Tempered Glass Coffee Cup, click here

David’s 

After seeking out healthier alternatives for the everyday bathroom staple, Eric David Buss set out to create his line of premium, natural toothpaste made without fluoride, sulfates, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Instead, David’s toothpaste is formulated with locally-sourced, naturally-derived ingredients that safely and effectively keep your teeth healthy.

David’s, an EWG-Verified and Leaping Bunny Certified brand, is dedicated to sustainability and giving you an excellent toothbrushing experience. The brand’s toothpaste packaging comes in a recyclable metal tube that’s FSC certified. Additionally, its products are fluoride-free due to health concerns surrounding the ingredient.

David’s Natural Whitening Toothpaste

David's Natural Whitening ToothpasteDavid’s Toothpaste has eliminated many common toothpaste chemicals and replaced them with healthier high-performance ingredients to create a premium toothpaste that effectively removes plaque and naturally whitens and freshens breath. In addition, this product is formulated to restore a healthy PH balance and support your mouth’s natural oral microbiome.

To shop David’s Natural Whitening Toothpaste, click here

Pela Case

Pela Case began with Jeremy Lang, its founder, seeing firsthand the damage plastic was doing to our oceans while on a family vacation in Hawaii in 2008. Jeremy spent years experimenting with new materials to try and find an alternative to plastic that could be used in everyday products.

Pela Case has designed the world’s first 100% compostable phone case. Once they nailed down phone cases, they added AirPod cases, smartwatch bands, and other accessories. At the end of its life, no matter how short or long, you can toss your Pela accessory into the compost, and it will return to the earth. 

The Pela Phone Case for iPhone

Pela Phone CasePela cases are made from flax plants, which provide great protection from drops and scratches, as the flax creates a natural shock absorption. Additionally, when you no longer need your case, you can compost it or send it back to Pela, and the brand will turn it into a new Pela product. Pela also makes cases with cute designs to meet everything aesthetic.

To shop the Pela Phone Case for iPhone, click here

Suds & Co.

Suds & Co. carries all-natural shampoo and conditioner bars and accessories. A 3.5 oz Suds & Co.bar is equivalent to at least two plastic 16 oz shampoo bottles, and with several different types of scents and bars, you’ll be able to find one that works best for you.

Beautifully boxed with the minimalist in mind, each bar comes completely packaged in biodegradable and compostable materials. The brand has been featured in Buzzfeed, Going Zero Waste, Yahoo Lifestyle, and Health Magazine. 

Suds & Co. Solid Shampoo Bar

Suds & Co Solid Shampoo BarSuds & Co.’s shampoo bar hydrates all hair types with nutrient-rich ingredients, such as hemp seed oil and jojoba oil. The bars are always free from parabens, dyes, synthetic fragrance, SLS and GMOs; each bar delivers botanical nutrition to maximize hair’s growth, strength, and shine. 

To shop the Suds & Co. Solid Shampoo Bar, click herWe

Humanist Beauty Is Committed to Zero-Waste and Responsible, Plastic-Free Packaging

At Humanist Beauty, we believe that beauty should live forever – not its packaging, which is why we use the most environmentally conscientious packaging options we can. We’ve also committed to becoming a zero-waste brand through the help of TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box platform.

Most of Humanist Beauty’s packaging is made of glass and paperboard, which is recyclable. We only use post-consumer recycled paper-based packaging for our shipping materials with no plastic void fill or tape. Humanist Beauty also minimizes the use of virgin plastic while seeking to avoid virgin plastic componentry further as we grow.

To participate in our TerraCycle partnership, you can send us your bottles, tubes, and makeup palettes. The packaging doesn’t have to be from Humanist Beauty; it can be from any brand. We’ll even pay and provide your postage to make sending your empty packaging to us easy and seamless. Once we receive your packing, we’ll hand it to TerraCycle to be broken down, recycled, or repurposed.

To learn more about our pledge to go zero-waste, click here

Which tip mentioned above will you employ to reduce your plastic usage? Let us know in the comments!

 

References

https://plasticseurope.org/plastics-explained/how-plastics-are-made/#:~:text=Plastics%20are%20made%20from%20natural,%2C%20of%20course%2C%20crude%20oil. [1]

https://www.britannica.com/science/ethylene-propylene-copolymer [2]

https://www.aiche.org/resources/publications/cep/2015/september/making-plastics-monomer-polymer [3]

https://www.woodlandplastics.com/understanding-thermoset-plastics.html [4]

https://romeorim.com/thermoset-vs-thermoplastics/#:~:text=Common%20examples%20of%20thermoplastics%20include,to%20carpets%20and%20laboratory%20equipment. [5]

https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/discover/are-microplastics-a-big-problem#:~:text=Microplastics%20are%20of%20concern%20because,small%20invertebrates%20to%20large%20mammals. [6][7][8]

https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/02/552052-turn-tide-plastic-urges-un-microplastics-seas-now-outnumber-stars-our-galaxy [9]

https://seedscientific.com/plastic-waste-statistics/ [10]

Let’s Learn About Fair Trade

Now, more than ever, consumers care about the ethics behind the products they buy. And with 86% of millennials looking for responsibly-sourced products, it’s a good time to explore Fair Trade.1 You’ve probably seen the Fair Trade Certification label on chocolates, coffee, and fresh produce. Since October is National Fair Trade Month, it’s a good time to learn about Fair Trade practices to celebrate its impact on people and the environment.

What Is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a global movement advocating that manufacturers and producers promote fair prices, sustainable development, better wages, and a sustainable livelihood for workers and farmers in developing countries – particularly in Africa, Latin America, and other parts of the Global South.2

The movement started around the 1950s when Europeans and Americans traveling to different countries observed local farmers and artisans struggling to survive and cover the costs of their businesses. Many travelers would buy these local products to sell in their home country for a higher price. They would then send the profits back to the farmers and artisans, which resulted in better working conditions and wages.

However, there was no way to know if the profits were being sent back to the farmers and artisans or if it was being kept in the hands of the travelers. To address this, in the late 90s, organizations were founded to develop processes and offer certifications for Fair Trade goods. Their vetting seals provided confidence that money would end up in the hands of the right people.

Fair Trade Organizations To Support

Today, there are a multitude of organizations that manage the production of Free Trade goods on the consumer market. The qualities that separate Fair Trade organizations are their legal statuses, organizational structures, histories, values, priorities, and market shares.

Here are some of the major Fair Trade organizations and their respective labels to know about:

Fair Trade InternationalFairtrade International

Fairtrade International is one of the oldest and largest Fair Trade organizations in the world. In 2004, it split into 2 entities: Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) and FLOCERT, a certification body that helps companies implement and follow their Fairtrade Standards.

The organization has many member countries involved with labeling initiatives, spanning across many countries in every continent on Earth, except for Antarctica. Fairtrade International is recognized by ISEAL Alliance, which is a global association that sets sustainability standards and is also a part of the Fairtrade System.

Fairtrade International manages a wide range of products; everything from bananas and chocolate to gold and wine. In the United States, its chocolate-related work has been very impactful. Ben and Jerry’s, for example, work with Fairtrade International to source and certify the majority of its core ingredients.3

Fair Trade USAFair Trade USA

After more than a decade of working with fair trade farmers, Paul Rice launched Fair Trade USA in 1998. The organization was an affiliate of Fairtrade International but left the federation in 2012, leading to the establishment of Fair Trade USA.

Fair Trade USA’s leaders believed abandoning the cooperative structure was necessary to scale business and ultimately help farmers. The change was criticized by many but allowed Fair Trade USA to collaborate with larger farm owners and plantations.

Today, Fair Trade USA has its certification Standards and a trademarked “Fair Trade Certified” mark, which is now the most common Fair Trade label in America. While Fair Trade USA doesn’t cover as many categories as Fairtrade International, it does have a focus on the clothing market; something which most Fair Trade organizations do not focus on. Fair Trade USA’s brand partners include some large apparel companies such as Patagonia and REI.

World Fair Trade Organization World Fair Trade Organization

Founded in 1989, the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) describes itself as a global community of “Fair Trade Enterprises.” In collaboration with Fairtrade International, WFTO created the International Fair Trade Charter in 2018. Roughly 74% of the workers, artisans and farmers associated with WFTO are women, and the majority of its members are female.4

For companies to feature the WFTO label on their products, they must pass a “Guarantee System” that includes Fair Trade Accountability Watch (FTAW). The certified labels are “Guaranteed Fair Trade” and “Guaranteed Fair Trade Origin.” These labels are more common outside of the United States, with the organization being based in the Netherlands.

Getting Fair Trade Certified

While you can get certified for products through many different Fair Trade organizations, Fair Trade USA’s “Fair Trade Certified” is the most commonly seen label in the United States, and more than 35,000 products carry the “Fair Trade Certified” label worldwide. This label, which could take 6 to 9 months to acquire, shows that each product meets Fair Trade USA’s rigorous environmental, economic, and social standards, along with being audited by FLOCERT, an accredited third-party auditor.

There are 4 stages to the Fair Trade Certification process:

  1. Contact the Fair Trade Team: Fair Trade will work with you to better understand your business and your specific supply chain needs to help you create a game plan for getting certified.
  2. Submit Your Application: Your application will be submitted to FLOCERT, who will then review your information to determine if your supply chain meets Fair Trade Standards. At this stage, you’ll get a “Permission to Trade” so that you can use Fair Trade Certified goods.
  3. Label Your Products: This is when you can begin to add the Fair Trade mark to your packaging. You’ll receive a licensing contract and work with the Fair Trade team to register and launch your newly certified products.
  4. You’re Now A Fair Trade Partner: You are a part of the global community of brands that are changing the way trade works. You’ll have access to the Fair Trade marketing team, which will support you in celebrating your enhanced impact and commitment to ethical and sustainable sourcing.

You can explore all of Fair Trade USA’s brands here.

Why Fair Trade?

You may be asking yourself why you should buy Fair Trade products. What is the actual difference the mark has on the world and the people living in it? Evidence through many impact assessments has found that purchasing products with a Fair Trade mark can make a significant positive impact on farmers, workers, and communities.

Fair Trade USA promises to:

Fight Poverty

A decent standard of living is defined as one that covers basic needs and supports an existence worthy of human life. It’s a human right. Yet, many farmers and workers around the world live on less than $2 a day and depend on a single source of income from a cash crop to support their families. Additionally, farmers commonly only receive one check a year, which is during harvest season. This leaves little room for unexpected expenses like mitigating the effects of climate change.

Fair Trade USA breaks down the systems that trap farmers in cycles of poverty by changing the financial game. The foundation of the Fair Trade system has a unique 2-part pricing model:

  1. The Fair Trade Minimum Price is a floor price that Fair Trade USA sets (and consistently updates) that aims to cover the costs of sustainable production. It’s established through an intensive consultation process with workers, farmers, traders, and businesses.
  2. The Fair Trade Premium is an additional lump sum that Producer Organizations receive. Members democratically decide how to spend the money. The key to this process is being aware that local communities know what they need, so neither Fair Trade USA nor the companies they sell to can instruct the communities on how to spend their Premium.

Promote Workers’ Rights

People who work on large farms or in factories throughout the Global South often face incredible adversity. Most of these workers lack formal contracts, freedom of association, and basic health and safety precautions. This is compounded by earning low wages and being vulnerable to other abuses such as human trafficking and debt bondage.

Fair Trade USA is committed to fighting the root causes of labor abuses and exploitation. If forced labor is found or suspected in Fair Trade supply chains, it will immediately be addressed.

Fair Trade USA actively works to prevent forced labor through:

  • Local and international prevention policies
  • Monitoring and building knowledge of trafficking patterns
  • Training workers, farmers, and managers on human rights
  • Collaborating with governments, NGOs, and human rights organizations to continuously improve its approach

Combat Child Labor

Child labor prevents children from being children; they aren’t able to go to school, play with their friends, or get the nutrition and care they need. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of these children spend their childhood in dangerous or harmful conditions like hazardous environments, forced labor, or slavery and trafficking. With 160 million children involved in child labor globally, the issue is dire.

Fair Trade USA takes a youth-centered approach to end child labor. It collaborates with many different groups (workers, farmers, producer organizations, local governments, etc.) to fight against child labor.

Fair Trade USA’s Standards state that:

  • Children below the age of 15 are not to be employed by Fair Trade organizations.
  • Children below the age of 18 cannot undertake work that jeopardizes their education or development.
  • Children are only allowed to help on family farms under strict conditions.
  • In regions with a high likelihood of child labor, small producer organizations are encouraged to include a mitigation and elimination plan.

Promote Gender Equality

Around the world, women aren’t treated equally. 60-80% of food is grown by women but rarely do they see much, if any, of the profits. Women in the agriculture communities that Fair Trade USA is involved with:

  • Don’t have control of the money they earn
  • Don’t own land or crops
  • Are discriminated against when applying for credit
  • Don’t have access to training, supplies, or education

Fair Trade USA’s gender strategy supports farming organizations in tackling the unequal power relationships that hold women back in society and the workplace. It focuses on increasing women and girls’ human, social, financial, and physical capital to rebalance the power structure between people of different genders.

Help Beat Climate Change

Farmers and rural communities in the Global South have contributed the least to climate change, and yet, they’re often affected the most. They’re experiencing decreasing crop fields, soil erosion, pests, diseases, and changing weather patterns. This directly affects farmers and their communities in the form of:

  • Food insecurity
  • Income loss
  • The need to change their business models
  • Increased costs for adaptation and migration

Climate studies predict that by 2050 tea, coffee, cocoa, and cotton could potentially disappear due to climate change; and the issue isn’t as easy as withholding your morning coffee. Millions of farmers and workers depend on international trade and these products to live.

Fair Trade cannot solve the issue of climate change, but it does support farmers with tools, resources, and practices to become more resilient and sustainable.

Ways You Can Celebrate Fair Trade Month

October is known as Fair Trade Month. Throughout October, ethically-minded consumers, retailers, and brands will unite to celebrate and promote Fair Trade. A variety of educational events, in-store samplings, and online initiatives have been planned to help increase awareness of Fair Trade Certified products, which will ultimately benefit farmers and workers in developing countries.

Here are a few simple actions you can take that will make a big difference during Fair Trade Month:

  • Buy Fair Trade: Try committing to buying at least 1 Fair Trade Certified product a month. By doing this, you’ll be showing your favorite stores that you support Fair Trade.
  • Make the Pledge: If you’ve read this far, then chances are you want to help improve the life of farmers and workers and you want to support the brands that are sourcing ethically and transparently. If you want to make your support known, check out this video to learn more about the Fair Trade pledge.
  • Join a Fair Trade Community: Fair Trade has over 2,100 groups across the world that are working to support the global movement for change. Chances are there is a Fair Trade community near you, and if there isn’t, why not start one with some friends?
  • Use Your Social Networks: If you use Twitter or Instagram, follow @FairTradeUSA for up-to-minute news from the Fair Trade community and have the opportunity to enter giveaways and participate in Twitter parties. During October, tweet using the #FairTradeMonth hashtag to show your support.

Fair Trade Certified Ingredients in the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom Facial Oil

Humanist Beauty supports the Fair Trade cause. We also firmly believe that giving back, mindfully sourcing ingredients, and respecting the environment are the building blocks that make a business one that is worth purchasing from. Additionally, we’ve taken extra care to ensure that a large portion of our ingredients is Fair Trade Certified.

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil contains an abundance of Fair Trade Certified ingredients that have undergone extensive research to match the Fair Trade Standards. These ingredients are:

Product Country of Origin
Organic Plukenetia Volubilis (Sacha Inchi) Seed Oil Peru
Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil Israel
Organic Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil Chile
Organic Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil Morocco
Organic Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil Israel
Organic Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil Spain
Organic Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Ethiopia
Organic Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil Canada
Organic Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil Egypt
Organic Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu) Seed Oil Vietnam
Tanacetum Annuum (Tansy) Essential Oil Morocco
Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Fruit Extract France
Citrus Aurantium Amara Leaf/Twig (Petitgrain) Oil France

 

What are some of your favorite Fair Trade products? Share with us in the comments below.

 

 

Resources:

https://www.conecomm.com/news-blog/new-cone-communications-research-confirms-millennials-as-americas-most-ardent-csr-supporters [1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade [2]

https://www.benjerry.com/values/issues-we-care-about/fairtrade [3]

https://wfto.com/what-we-do [4]

 

Top Sustainability Buzzwords To Know

Sustainability has become such an important topic, and along with it, many other eco-related terms and references have been popping up everywhere. As a result, it’s become increasingly difficult to know and understand what all the different words mean. By learning and familiarizing yourself with sustainability buzzwords, you’ll be able to select products and services from businesses that are actively supporting the sustainability movement for a healthier planet and a healthier you.

What is Sustainability?

To understand sustainability buzzwords, it’s important to know what exactly sustainability is. According to the United Nations (UN) World Commission on Environment and Development, environmental sustainability is about acting in a way that ensures future generations have the natural resources available to live an equal, if not better, way of life than current generations.1 Over the years, though, the definition of sustainability has expanded to include a perspective on human needs and well-being, along with non-economic variables such as education and health.

There are 3 pillars of sustainability, which are known and defined as:

  • Environmental Sustainability: Ecological integrity is maintained and all of Earth’s environmental systems are kept in balance while natural resources within them are consumed by humans at a rate where they can replenish themselves.
  • Economic Sustainability: Human communities across the globe can maintain their independence and have access to the resources needed. Economic systems are completely intact, and fair labor for living wages is available to anyone who wants it.
  • Social Sustainability: Universal human rights and basic necessities are attainable by everyone. Healthy communities have just leaders who ensure personal and cultural rights are respected and all people are treated equally.

The 3 Sustainability Pillars

Source: North Mist

 

Related blog post: What Does It Mean To Be Eco Sustainable?

Yeo Valley Organic’s Study on Sustainability Buzzwords

A study administered by Yeo Valley Organic among 2,000 adults sought to determine if sustainability buzzwords were confusing to the masses. Here are some of the findings:

  • 75% admitted that they didn’t know what terms such as “green” and “eco-friendly” meant.
  • 81% agreed that there’s a lot of jargon when it comes to sustainability and being environmentally friendly.
  • 73% agreed that there are too many eco-related words, making it difficult to differentiate the meanings.
  • 58% would like to be more educated on words and phrases associated with sustainability.
  • 74% agreed there should be more education about saving and caring for the planet.
  • 61% agreed that if we had more education around the jargon, it would lead to more people doing their best to save the planet.2

Getting Familiar With Sustainability Buzzwords

Sustainability vernacular can be seriously overwhelming sometimes. We’ve all heard and seen terms like “organic” and “zero waste,” but what do they actually mean? We’re here to help you understand the eco-friendly jargon. Here are 11 sustainability buzzwords to know:

1. Greenwashing

Greenwashing refers to marketing strategies (product labeling, ad claims, graphics, etc.) designed to make a company and/or its products appear “eco-friendly” or sustainable despite such claims being exaggerated, ambiguous, or fraudulent. If you’re worried about falling for greenwashing, check to see if the company has hard data to back up its claims. If the company hasn’t made this information available to customers, then you might have spotted a case of greenwashing.

2. Biodegradable

Biodegradable materials can be naturally broken down and returned to the Earth over time, without any processing. Ideally, but not always, these materials break down without leaving any toxins behind. The goal of supplementing biodegradable products into your everyday life is to recycle our natural resources and keep the Earth clean and free of growing landfills.

Examples of biodegradable materials and products include:

  • Bamboo
  • Cork
  • Paper
  • Beeswax
  • Cotton
  • Hemp

3. Organic

Organic farming refers to crops and animals cultivated without the use of human-made materials, such as synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Under the organic label, though, some synthetic materials are still allowed. Certified organic production methods reduce chemical runoff, decreasing pollution of the soil and watersheds due to not using any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

4. Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the measure of carbon emissions produced by an individual, product, company, activity, and more. Everything has a carbon footprint, including your home, your car, each food item you consume, and so on. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that reducing your carbon footprint is not only good for the planet’s health, but for your health as well. Ways we can lessen our carbon footprints include cycling, walking, using renewable energy to power our homes and vehicles, and reducing consumption of animal products.

Related blog post: Carbon Footprints and a Circular Economy: How You Can Contribute

5. Compostable

Compostable materials can be broken down over time, but they require specific composting conditions to do so. Composting conditions include green and brown plant materials (such as grass and leaves), moisture, and oxygen. The composting process essentially returns food scraps to the Earth where they can enrich the soil.

How to Compost

Source: EcoMena

 

Curious about how you can incorporate composting into your everyday life? Here’s how.

6. Circular Economy

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the lifecycle of products is extended, and it keeps waste to a minimum. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is a way for us to imitate the cycles of nature: make something, use it, and reintroduce it to nature as a nutrient, or reuse it for something else. The opposite of a circular economy is a linear economy (make something →  use it → discard it), the basis of our current economy which is leading to catastrophic natural resource depletion.

7. Upcycling

Upcycling is the use of wasted materials to make something different. An example of this would be using plastic bottles in shoes and clothing, which is actually being done by companies like Patagonia and Buffy. Upcycling prevents waste while also reducing the need for virgin materials to make new products.

Here are a few ways you can creatively upcycle items you have around your house.

8. Carbon-Neutral

If something is carbon neutral, it means that its carbon emissions and carbon absorption are equal, leading to net neutral emissions. Products, companies, and individuals can be considered carbon neutral by calculating an estimate of carbon emitting activities balanced against a calculation of carbon absorbing activities. Carbon absorbing activities include land restoration, planting trees, etc.

9. Carbon Offset

A carbon offset refers to an increase in carbon absorption or storage to compensate for carbon emissions. A carbon offset credit is an instrument certified by governments or independent agents to represent an emission reduction of one metric tonne of CO2. The purchaser of an offset credit can “retire” it to claim the underlying reduction towards climate benefit goals.

How Does Carbon Offsetting Work?

Source: Climate Active

 

10. Greenhouse Gas

Carbon emissions fall under the larger umbrella of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Often the terms “carbon emissions” and “GHGs” are used interchangeably, because the largest human pollutant and contributor to GHGs is carbon dioxide (CO2). However, there are many other problematic GHGs that are even more heat-trapping than CO2 pound-for-pound, including methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

11. Zero Waste

Zero waste is a lifestyle or set of principles that focus on the elimination of all waste so that none of it ends up in a landfill, incinerator, or ocean. Individuals and companies who pursue a zero waste lifestyle minimize consumption, reuse, recycle, upcycle, and compost.

5 Steps to Achieve Zero Waste

Source: Keep Mass Beautiful

Humanist Beauty Practices Sustainability

Humanist Beauty knows how important protecting the environment is to ensure a healthy future for all generations after ours. We incorporate sustainability into our daily operations and business practices, and we are always striving to make Humanist Beauty more climate conscious.

We Are Carbon-Neutral

We fully support the move towards a more circular economy by maintaining a carbon-neutral footprint. To do this, forecasted annual greenhouse gases are calculated, including office operating, manufacturing, and all shipping. Through our CarbonFund.org partnership, our company has ordered credits to support reforestry initiatives that completely offset our business emissions.

We Are Striving For Zero Waste

Additionally, at Humanist Beauty, we believe that beauty should live forever – not its packaging, which is why we are now committing to becoming a zero waste brand through the help of TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box platform.

You can send us your beauty boxes, bottles, jars, tubes, and makeup palettes. The packaging doesn’t even have to be from Humanist Beauty; it can be from any brand. We’ll even pay and provide your postage to make sending your empty packaging to us easy and seamless. Once we receive your packing, we’ll hand it over to TerraCycle to be broken down and recycled or repurposed.

Learn more about our Zero Waste Program here.

Were you familiar with all of the sustainability buzzwords covered? Test your knowledge on others with this quiz. Let us know your score in the comments.

References:

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-sustainability-3157876 [1]

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brits-using-sustainability-buzzwords-admit-24772194 [2]

 

Top 10 Environmental Charities to Support

If you’re reading this, chances are you care a lot about environmental charities, advocating for climate change, and upholding the planet we live on. There are numerous facets in the fight for climate justice, such as environmental health and justice, education, conservation, and advocacy. With that being said, there are also an abundant amount of nonprofit environmental charities looking for support. With so many out there, how on Earth are you supposed to choose?

Using Charity Navigator, which is a charity assessment organization that evaluates thousands of nonprofits, we’ve rounded up the top 10 environmental charities to support right now. Here are the most recommended environmental charities, as listed by Charity Navigator, to keep an eye on:

1.   Earthjustice

EarthJustice Logo

Earthjustice was founded in 1971 to challenge those who put profit and power before people and our planet. It’s comprised of 160 environmental lawyers who wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, preserve magnificent places and wildlife, advance clean energy, and combat climate change.1 Additionally, Earthjustice has over 500 clients, whom they represent free of charge, that consists of community organizations, Indigenous groups, Tribes, national nonprofits, and more.

A few of Earthjustice’s recent victories in the courtroom include:

  • The ban of brain-damaging Pesticide Chlorpyrifos in New York2
  • Protections of “America’s Climate Forest” from major old-growth logging3
  • The end of the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery4
  • Suspending a 49,000 hog farm in the Mayan Community of Mexico5
  • And many more.

Earthjustice promises to always move forward with taking on high-stakes cases for an enduring impact and continue crafting regulatory, legislative, and communications strategies to solidify the lasting impacts of their victories.

Check out its Action Tip Guide to find your way to speak out.

2.   The Climate Reality Project

The Climate Reality Project Logo

In 2006 former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore caught the attention of the entire world with his Academy Award-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth. Later that same year, he founded and formed what would soon be known as The Climate Reality Project, which focuses on making urgent action a necessity for a global solution to the climate crisis.

The Climate Reality Project actively recruits, trains, and mobilizes individuals to become powerful activists that can transform society. It teaches exceptional skills and provides campaigns and resources to push for climate action and policies that will accelerate the world’s transition to clean energy.

Currently, The Climate Reality Project has trained over 31,000 activists that fight for climate change in their 10 branches, which are located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, The Philippines, South Africa, China, and the United States.

To learn more about The Climate Reality Project’s training and how you can make a difference, click here.

3.   National Environmental Education Foundation

NEEF Logo

The National Environmental Education Foundation, or NEEF, was created in 1990 as a nonprofit to complement the work of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Today, however, the NEEF is dedicated to creating opportunities for people to experience and learn about the environment to improve their health and the planet. 

NEEF maintains that caring and supporting the planet shouldn’t be limited to one group of people, which is why it offers a variety of grants and awards to help organizations build diversity. Additionally, all of its programs and online courses are designed to reach audiences of all perspectives, backgrounds, and geographies, and identities.6

DE&I Goals

Source: NEEF

If you’re interested in learning more about NEEF’s online courses and how to further your knowledge of the environment, sign up for its newsletter to stay informed.

4.   350.org

350.org Logo

Founded in 2008, 350.org aims to build a global climate movement with ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.7

Here’s how 350.org plans to get there:

  • Support community-led energy solutions for a fast transition to 100% renewable energy for every single person.
  • Bring all oil, coal, and gas projects to a halt by utilizing local resolutions and community resistance.
  • End all financing and social licensing for fossil fuel companies.

The organization has done amazing things for the environment thus far, such as playing an instrumental role in bringing about the Paris Climate Agreement. Additionally, last year, 350.org organized the biggest climate mobilization in history, known as the Global Climate Strike, which saw over 7.6 million people taking to the streets to demand climate action.

To get involved and find a 350.org group near you or start your own, venture around this interactive map.

5.   1% for the Planet

Established in 2002, 1% for the Planet was created by B Corp Brand founders Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia and Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Files. The duo pledged to give 1% of sales back to the environment…even if they weren’t profitable. According to Yvon, the intent of 1% of the Planet is “to help fund these diverse environmental organizations so that collectively they can be a more powerful source in solving the world’s problems.”8

Currently, 1% of the Planet has more than 3,000 members who help spread the word and fight for their 1%. For example, Jack Johnson, a long-time member of the organization, showcases his 1% by leading missions to preserve the shores of Hawaii. Additionally, his 2005 album, Between Dreams, was the first to carry the 1% label, and his 2005 world tour promoted 1% of the Planet’s mission and helped to launch the organization.9

This charity has given hundreds of millions of dollars to environmental nonprofits around the world. The total giving by 1% of the Planet across its 6 core areas are:

  • Climate: 41%
  • Land: 21%
  • Water: 15%
  • Food: 10%
  • Wildlife: 7%
  • Pollution: 6%

You can view 1% of the Planet’s solutions regarding its 6 core areas here.

6.   The Sierra Club Foundation

Sierra Club Foundation Logo

The Sierra Club Foundation was founded in 1960 and relies on both individual and institutional donors to fund its campaigns for innovation, to help build capacity in the environmental movement, and to create partnerships between allied organizations. Its mission is to educate and empower the people to protect and improve the environment.

According to its website, The Sierra Club Foundation’s goals are:

  • Solve the climate crisis by transitioning to a resource-efficient, clean energy economy
  • Secure protection for public lands and water and promote healthy ecosystems
  • Expand opportunities for more individuals to enjoy, explore, and protect the planet
  • Build a diverse, inclusive environmental movement that reflects and represents today’s American public

The Sierra Club Foundation’s collaborations with various nonprofits associations and community groups have helped further its cause with successful campaigns such as Our Wild America, Beyond Coal, and Sierra Club Outdoors.

If you’re interested in becoming a member, fill out the form here to get more information.

7.   Friends of the Earth

Friends of Earth Logo

Friends of the Earth was established in 1969 in San Francisco by Donald Aitken, David Brower, and Gary Soucie. In 1971, it became an international network of organizations with a meeting of representatives from four countries: the United States, Sweden, the UK, and France. Today, though, Friends of the Earth operates in 71 countries.

Friends of the Earth pushes for reforms that are needed to make our planet more sustainable and healthier. The organization has three main principles that guide its work, which are being bold with a fearless voice, fighting for a systematic transformation, and organizing and building long-term power.

This international organization covers a wide array of environmental and social issues, such as:

  • Climate, Gender, and Economic Justice
  • Promoting Biodiversity
  • Defending Human Rights
  • School of Sustainability
  • Food Sovereignty

To take a deep dive into its current campaigns, such as the “We Can and Must Save Our Pollinators from Extinction” effort, take a look at its current list to see how you can make a difference.

8.   Union of Concerned Scientists

Union of Concerned Scientists Logo

Founded over 50 years ago by scientists and students of MIT, the Union of Concerned Scientists has now grown into a national movement. It is composed of 250 scientists, analysts, policy, and communication experts that aim to use rigorous, independent science to make change happen.

The experts and everyday members of the Union of Concerned Scientists work tirelessly to:

  • Combat climate change and alleviate the harm caused by the heat, sea level. risings, and other consequences of runaway emissions.
  • Create sustainable alternatives to feed, power, and transport ourselves.
  • Reduce the threat of nuclear war.
  • Fight back when large corporations mislead the public.
  • Ensure that solutions further racial and economic equity.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has an abundance of successful wins, but most recently, the charity achieved the enactment of California’s 100% Clean Energy Bill. This bill allows California to step front and center to lead with scientific innovations that will slow climate change.

You can engage in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ campaigns and missions, too. Click here to view its brochure to learn more.

9.   Nature and Culture International

Nature and Culture International Logo

Nature and Culture International (NCI) was founded in 1997 by San Diego businessman Ivan Gaylor after he witnessed the destruction of the Amazon while flying across South America. Ivan then met with Renzo Paladines, now the NCI Vice President and Director of Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador, and together they created an ecosystem conservation project, buying land that was threatened in southern Ecuador.10

Currently, 91% of NIC’s staff work in South America and Mexico, leading fights for the protection of the most biodiverse forests in the world and the natives who live in them. They’ve conserved 21 million acres of forest that holds 3.4 tons of carbon, which helps keep deforestation at bay. NIC has also worked with 32 indigenous communities that are committed to the protection of their land.

NIC’s reserves are huge. Here’s a way to visualize them in comparison to Oahu, the main island of the state of Hawaii which is 382,000 acres:

  • The Entre Rios Reserve in Bolivia is close to the size of Oahu.
  • The Maijuna Indigenous Reserve in Peru is 3 times the size of Oahu.
  • The Pastaza Reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon is 17 times the size of Oahu.

A Map of Oahu

Source: NIC Website

The NIC was featured on PBS with a small documentary detailing its mission and how even one person can make a difference. You can watch the episode here.

10.   As You Sow

As You Sow is the nation’s non-profit leader in shareholder advocacy. It was founded in 1992 to harness the power of shareholders to create lasting changes that benefit the planet, people, and profit. Its mission is to build a safe, just, and sustainable world where the protection of the environment and human rights is central to corporate decision-making.

As You Sow works directly with corporate CEOs, management, and institutional investors to discuss how changes can be made for more eco-friendly corporations. The charity further presses the importance of long-term decisions and how ignoring the impact of its policies and actions can cause negative implications down the line for the planet and people.

The organization actively publishes its resolutions with corporations on its website. A few of the most recent are:

  • Amazon was asked to reduce the use of plastic within their products
  • Automatic Data Processing (ADP) and AutoZone were asked to issue a report that discloses their plans to minimize greenhouse gas emissions that are aligned with the Paris Agreement goals
  • Booking Holdings was requested to allow shareholders the opportunity to vote on the global climate benchmarks they approve or disapprove of that are mentioned on the company’s publicly available climate policies and strategies webpage

As You Sow keeps an up-to-date blog where it discloses the campaigns it is currently working on. Additionally, if you own a company or invest, it has a voting page on its website that prompts on how to vote for shares.

Humanist Beauty Supports Carbon Fund

Humanist Beauty knows the importance of supporting environmental non-profits to stand tall against the climate crisis we are currently enduring. The brand maintains a carbon-neutral footprint by calculating annual greenhouse gas emissions, which includes office operations, manufacturing, and all shipping. Through Carbon Fund, Humanist Beauty has ordered credits to support reforestry initiatives that completely offset greenhouse gas emissions.

CarbonFund Partner 2021 seal

Carbon Fund is a leader in the fight against climate change by providing education, carbon offsets, and reductions, and reaching out to the public. Carbon Fund, along with Humanist Beauty, is always taking actions to move towards a sustainable future where our planet and people are healthy.

References:

https://earthjustice.org/about [1]

https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2021/new-york-bans-brain-damaging-pesticide-chlorpyrifos [2]

https://earthjustice.org/brief/2021/americas-climate-forest-now-safe-from-major-old-growth-logging [3]

https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2021/washington-climate-activists-celebrate-victory-over-massive-fracked-gas-refinery [4]

https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2021/mexican-supreme-court-ruled-in-favor-of-mayan-community-suspends-49-000-hog-farm [5]

https://www.neefusa.org/about-neef [6]

https://350.org/about/ [7]

https://www-onepercentfortheplanet-org.sandbox.hs-sites.com/en/about?__hstc=129216466.b5f82f8f6f031650bf46d7630076e39c.1627243523289.1627243523289.1627243523289.1&__hssc=129216466.1.1627243523290&__hsfp=1861548089 [8]

https://www.johnsonohana.org/about#:~:text=In%202004%2C%20Jack%20Johnson%20became,helped%20to%20launch%20the%20organization. [9]

https://www.worldlandtrust.org/who-we-are-2/partners/nature-and-culture-international/#:~:text=Nature%20and%20Culture%20International%20(NCI,while%20flying%20across%20South%20America. [10]

Single-Use Items Need to Go

The convenience of single-use items comes with a massive environmental cost. Unknowingly, your day is probably filled with single-use items that will eventually fill landfills and the ocean. The disposable coffee cups you grab in the morning from your local shop are made with hard-to-recycle materials such as styrofoam, polyethylene, or polypropylene. And the plastic straws? They’re just as dreadful for the environment.

We are producing over 380 tons of plastic every year, and it’s estimated that 50% of that is for single-use purposes.1 However, other materials besides plastic, such as paper, cardboard, styrofoam, and more, are just as bad. It’s time to become more aware of these materials and the single-use items we use regularly. That way, we will help to create a more circular economy for a far more sustainable future.

The Truth Behind Single-Use Plastic Items

Around 40% of single-use plastics are consumed and then discarded.2 Additionally, between 5 and 13 million tons of plastic is estimated to end up in the ocean every year. Single-use plastics need hundreds of years to break down in landfills. Disposable plastic items, such as plastic straws, coffee stirrers, food packaging, bags, and water bottles, never break down completely.3 Instead, they degrade and become microplastics. Plastic has an abundance of negative effects on the environment:

Wildlife Is Suffering

Every year, animals are killed by plastic. Approximately 700 species, even some that are endangered, have been affected by the material.4 Also, more than 100 aquatic species have been found with microplastics inside them, which can lead to pierced organs or digestive tract issues that can potentially lead to death.

Many seabirds, turtles, fish, and marine mammals are found with plastic bags or fishing gear in their stomachs. Currently, marine litter is 60% to 80% plastic, leaving these animals to constantly be ingesting toxic seawater that is full of chemicals from plastic decomposition.5

Our Oceans Are Full of Trash

The oceans are filled with trash, especially single-use plastic items. Our throw-away lifestyle is negatively affecting almost all areas of our ecosystem, especially the ocean.

Every year, 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean, which is equivalent to one truckload dumped into the ocean every minute of the day. Currently, unless it’s burned, almost every piece of plastic that’s ever been created still exists today. When these plastics enter the ocean, their effects can be felt for centuries.6

The Pacific Trash Vortex, which is in the North Pacific Ocean, holds an exceptionally high concentration of single-use plastics that have been trapped by currents. It is estimated to be twice the size of Texas, and according to research, its contents are rapidly accumulating.

A map of the plastic trash vortex

The Span of the Pacific Trash Vortex. Source: Wikipedia

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are No Joke

When disposable plastics degrade in the environment, they emit greenhouse gasses. After the plastic is exposed to sunlight, it produces methane and ethylene. These two gasses are detrimental to the environment. It is reported that emissions from the life cycle of plastic accounts for 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.7 Once released, these gasses can be toxic and have adverse effects on the animal and plant habitat.

It is estimated that in 2050, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from plastic could grow to more than 2.75 billion tons. Additionally, this also means that plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total “carbon budget,” which is equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants.8 The plastic binge we’ve been on is threatening the Paris Agreement, which is a legally binding international treaty on climate change.

Source: WWF

Other Harmful Single-Use Materials

Single-use items aren’t always packaged in plastic. There is a multitude of other unsustainable materials that are also heavily used and just as detrimental to the environment. A few of these materials that you likely come across daily are:

  • Cardboard: Think about how many boxes you receive on your doorstep step every month. It’s probably more cardboard than you think. Cardboard comes from wood pulp, which contributes to methane emissions while breaking down.9 Plus, imagine all of the trees cut down to create cardboard. Additionally, those juice, milk, soup and other liquid-filled cardboard packages we buy are lined with plastic or wax. This helps them retain the liquid without breaking down, but unfortunately renders the packages unrecyclable.
  • Paper: A paper bag takes 4 times the amount of energy to produce than a plastic one. Also, the energy required for paper is significantly greater than that needed to recycle the same weight of plastic.
  • Styrofoam: Styrofoam is a trademarked brand name that has come to refer to the material made from expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) or plastic foam. Styrofoam doesn’t break down properly, as it takes around 500 years to decompose.10
  • Aluminum Foil: Many food products and face masks are packaged using aluminum foil. Clean aluminum foil can be recycled, however much of the foil packaging that is used for personal care tubes, wipes, sheet masks, frozen foods, snacks, and coffee is multilayered with plastic fused to the aluminum. Some packaging is made of up to seven layers of plastic and foil. Currently, there is no machinery to separate these layers, so it becomes completely unrecyclable.
  • Glass: While glass includes some natural materials, it also requires sand. Unfortunately, we are running out of sand around the world. When these elements are removed from wildlife habitats, ecosystems can be disrupted. Glass production also releases carbon into the atmosphere.11

A chart showing the top countries that consume single-use plastic. China is #1, the US is #2. Other countries are far below.

Source: Financial Times

What Are The Most Offending Single-Use Items?

Avoiding extra waste is key to reversing the environmental crisis we are currently facing. It is hard to avoid single-use items these days; however, many companies are creating innovative alternatives. By becoming aware of the negative impacts of single-use packaging and how commonly we succumb to them, the change can begin.

Here are a few of the worst offending single-use items and their alternatives:

Plastic Water Bottles

Did you know that around 25% of bottled water is actually just tap water?12 80% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills. And for each bottle, it takes 1,000 years to fully break down. As they decompose, they leak harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.

Alternatives: Opt for a reusable water bottle and invest in a tap filter at home or a filtering jug. Check out this reusable water bottle that is made out of 50% recycled material!

Paper Coffee Cups

Each paper cup, taking into account the paper, the sleeve, the production, and shipping, emits around 0.11 kilograms of CO2.13 Additionally, paper cup production results in ecosystem degradation, a reduction of the planet’s carbon absorption capacity, and the loss of trees. 4 billion gallons of water are wasted every year to produce single-use cups and enough energy to power 54,000 homes.14

Alternatives: Bring your own reusable travel mug to your favorite coffee shop in the mornings. Here’s one that is insulated and has a handle so the barista can pour your drink of choice with ease.

Disposable Utensils

It is estimated that in the United States alone, 40 billion plastic utensils are wasted every year. Plastic utensils, even when put in the recycling bin, don’t often get recycled because of food contamination and incompatibility with sorting equipment due to their small size and light weight.15

The #CutOutCutlery campaign is asking many businesses, such as Grubhub, Postmates, and UberEats, to include an option on apps for customers to decide if they want utensils included with their delivery. This would make opting out of disposable utensils the default choice.

Alternatives: There are lots of biodegradable utensils available, such as this set that’s made out of 100% untreated bamboo that’s cultivated without pesticides and fertilizers. The utensils are also BPA-free and recyclable.

Menstrual Products

Around 20 billion tampons and pads are dumped into the landfill every year. Conventional pads contain the equivalent of about four plastic bags! Additionally, the polyethylene plastic in pads can take hundreds of years to decompose.16

Alternatives: Invest in reusable pads. Try grabbing some from Rael, which is a great mission-driven brand. You can also try a menstrual cup from DivaCup if you aren’t a fan of pads.

Plastic Straws

You’ve probably seen the viral video of the sea turtle that had a plastic straw stuck in its nose. It was horrible to see, but it probably made you rethink using plastic straws. As it is, 500 million straws are used daily in the United States.17 Due to the chemicals that most straws are made of, they can’t be recycled. Additionally, the majority of plastic straws are not biodegradable and cannot be broken down naturally by bacteria and other decomposers into non-toxic materials.

Alternatives: FinalStraw created an innovative alternative to plastic straws by making a reusable silicone and stainless steel hybrid straw. It also collapses to make keeping it on hand easier.

Tips to Avoid Single-Use Items

Making simple swaps, like purchasing a reusable water bottle, coffee container, or straw, can spare the environment tons of unsustainable waste each year. Here are a few tips for ridding your life of single-use items for good:

  • Always have reusable bags on hand, especially for grocery shopping.
  • Cook at home more often to avoid plastic take-out containers.
  • Buy in bulk to keep away from individually packaged items.
  • Walk, bike, or take public transportation to buy items and avoid unnecessary packaging used during shipping.
  • Ask for non-plastic alternatives at restaurants.
  • Avoid plastic wrap by using reusable containers to keep your food fresh.
  • Speak out and let companies know that you care about packaging!

We’ve Signed the #StopSingleUse Petition

The Human Beauty Movement and Humanist Beauty have had the last straw. We’ve signed the #StopSingleUse petition and pledged to not sell or distribute any items that are used once and thrown away, such as sheet masks, pads, wipes, sample packets, and other single-use products. We are very aware of how single-use items negatively impact the environment and are actively striving for a cleaner, more sustainable planet.

Join us and Credo Beauty, the creator of the petition, to get rid of the items we use for minutes and then toss in the trash. Sign your name here to show your support.

https://www.google.com/search?q=how+many+plastics+are+used+yearly+for+products&rlz=1CAZLOS_enUS930&oq=how+many+plastics+are+used+yearly+for+products&aqs=chrome..69i57j33i160.10495j1j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 [1]

https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/10-worst-single-use-plastics-and-eco-friendly-alternatives#gs.3q5ser [2]

https://www.columbiatribune.com/news/20190107/ask-scientist-why-is-it-so-hard-to-decompose-plastic#:~:text=Most%20plastics%20in%20use%20today,bacteria%20cannot%20break%20them%20down. [3]

https://cbmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13021-018-0115-3 [3]

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/ [4]

https://plastic-pollution.org/ [5]

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/11/chart-of-the-day-this-is-how-long-everyday-plastic-items-last-in-the-ocean/ [6]

https://theconversation.com/plastic-warms-the-planet-twice-as-much-as-aviation-heres-how-to-make-it-climate-friendly-116376 [7]

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/15/single-use-plastics-a-serious-climate-change-hazard-study-warns [8]

https://cbmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13021-018-0115-3 [9]

https://sciencing.com/facts-about-landfill-styrofoam-5176735.html#:~:text=According%20to%20Washington%20University%2C%20Styrofoam,major%20ecological%20impact%20is%20great. [10]

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17583004.2018.1457929?journalCode=tcmt20#:~:text=Glass%20is%20one%20of%20the,large%20quantity%20of%20CO2%20emissions.&text=CO2%20emissions%20from%20fossil%20fuel,potential%20exists%20for%20emission%20reduction. [11]

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/truth-about-tap#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20an%20estimated%2025,be%20relatively%20clean%20and%20pure. [12]

https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/storm-in-a-paper-cup#:~:text=According%20to%20one%20study%20on,about%200.11%20kilograms%20of%20CO2. [13]

https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/storm-in-a-paper-cup#:~:text=According%20to%20one%20study%20on,about%200.11%20kilograms%20of%20CO2. [14]

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lauratenenbaum/2019/07/16/plastic-cutlery-is-terrible-for-the-environment-and-we-dont-need-to-have-it-delivered/#:~:text=Some%20estimates%20put%20the%20number,put%20it%20in%20the%20recycling. [15]

https://friendsoftheearth.uk/sustainable-living/plastic-periods-menstrual-products-and-plastic-pollution#:~:text=One%20estimate%20is%20that%20pads,)%20and%20polypropylene%20(PP)  [16]

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MGVXFWJ?tag=dotdashtreehu-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1&ascsubtag=5087056%7Cn057b7a156a374946b49aa4bf9af0226522 [17]

Beauty Waste and Eco Buzzwords

The beauty industry generates up to $532 billion in revenue every year, but this demand comes with a massive environmental impact. With more than 120 billion units of packaging produced globally, only 9% of those products produced are recycled, 12% are incinerated, and the remaining 79% end up in landfills.1 Additionally, many of the 120 billion units are not recyclable at all.

Our ocean is becoming a sea of trash with plastic bottles, grocery bags, lipstick tubes, and powder compacts floating within the waves. Data has proven that by the middle of this century, the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.2 However, many organizations within the beauty industry are becoming more conscious in terms of product packaging, sustainability, and misleading buzzwords, such as Allure and yours truly, Humanist Beauty. By becoming aware of beauty waste’s impact on the environment, you’ll see why joining the packaging revolution is necessary.

Beauty Waste Isn’t Pretty

Since 1960, plastic packaging is now used 20 times more often. 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were used for beauty and personal care products in the United States in 2018.3 According to National Geographic, there are over five trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans. These are astounding numbers, proving that we aren’t recycling beauty products as much as we think.

In the past, many beauty and personal care products weren’t made with plastic. Soaps came as a bar, perfume was packaged in luxurious glass bottles, and hair care products were usually a pomade or powder in a tin. So why does the beauty industry rely so heavily on plastic today? The answer is simple: the plastic explosion of the mid-20th century.

During this time, the beauty industry switched its packaging methods to plastic. This is due to plastic being cheaper and easily moldable, while also being light and sturdy. Additionally, many products had to be created for different conditions. For example, soap and hair-care products began being sold in bottles so they would float to the surface of the water in bathtubs or rivers. 4

Microplastics

Microplastics, which are tiny globules, are used to add grit to beauty and self-care products, like exfoliators, toothpaste, and even glitter for extra shine. Essentially, microplastics are made of many plastic particles that are smaller than five millimeters in diameter.

Water filters are not designed to sift elements that are smaller than five millimeters. This is why microplastic particles are contaminating our oceans and being consumed by birds and marine wildlife. Humans are no exception to the microplastics issue, though, since particles have been found in water bottles. Consuming microplastics can eventually lead to cancer.5

The United States banned microbeads with the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. However, many manufacturers have found loopholes in the ruling by changing their plastic particles to biodegradable plastic. While biodegradable plastic is more environmentally friendly because of its faster natural breakdown, the particles still end up getting consumed by animals.

Here are a few natural alternatives to microplastics:

  • Ground Fruit Kernels
  • Nuts
  • Honey
  • Sand
  • Beeswax
  • Seeds
  • Sugar
  • Oatmeal
  • Ground Coffee
  • Salt

Excess Packaging

Packaging is the number one contributor to plastic production in the world and offender for plastic waste pollution.6 Additionally, research has found that packaging accounted for 146 million tons of plastic every year.

Plastic is not the only waste that’s created by the beauty industry. Cellophane, cardboard, and paper waste are also problematic. For example, paper boxes used as outer packages for toothpaste and large cream jars – items that have space for legal copy and don’t require another layer of protective material – contribute to deforestation, increased water consumption, and CO2 emissions.7

While many beauty and self-care products come in glitzy and luxurious boxes, the fact of the matter is that it’s just not necessary. Cutting out waste pollution is crucial, and the extra packaging needs to go.

Recycling Plastic Products

Plastic packaging that is necessary should always be reusable, recyclable, and compostable. Necessary plastics are containers that could potentially be dangerous to our health and safety. For example, plastic is used in shower packaging because glass bottles (with their tendency to break when dropped) are not practical.

By making sure packaging can be recycled responsibly, our environment will move towards a more circular economy, which is a way for us to imitate the cycles of nature by making something, using it, and reintroducing it into nature as a nutrient or something else. The loop of a circular economy entails the elimination of waste, regeneration of natural systems, and keeping materials and products in use.

TerraCycle, an American recycling company that recycles products like coffee pods, contact lenses, and other types of waste, is tackling the recycling issue from many angles. The company recognizes that almost everything can be recycled. TerraCycle collects typically hard-to-recycle items through natural, first-of-their-kind programs. Many beauty brands, such as Garnier, Colgate, Weleda, and now, Humanist Beauty, have worked with TerraCycle to offer a free recycling program for beauty waste.

How You Can Help Cut Down Waste Pollution

Cutting down the beauty industry’s waste production will take time, but there are a few things you can do to aid in the quest for a healthier environment:

  • Avoid buying or using single-use items, and consider the life cycle of your purchase.
  • Choose products that have reusable and recyclable packaging. Also, take advantage of refill and recycling initiatives.
  • Read ingredient labels to see if they contain any enviro-damaging material in the form of microbeads or glitter (look for polyethylene or polyurethane). If they do, don’t buy them.
  • Replace short life cycle items, such as plastic shower sponges, for more natural options like plant-based loofahs.
  • Use all of a product before buying more.
  • Download the Beat the Microbead app to check your products at home.

Allure’s Sustainability Pledge

On Earth Day, Allure affirmed their commitment to choosing their words with clarity and certainty when reporting on “sustainable” packaging. Allure addressed that many significant strides are being made to eliminate beauty waste; however, there is more that needs to be done to fully understand the realities and impacts of beauty waste on the planet.

Allure will now be more conscious when it comes to sustainability buzzwords that they’ll no longer employ, or will only use with careful consideration of qualifications. Here is its pledge further in-depth:

  • Allure will no longer mention the word “recyclable” when it comes to any type of plastic. Considering that only 9% of plastic waste has ever been turned into something that can be used again, it’s obvious that the term “recycling” isn’t being utilized correctly. Using less plastic is the only way to solve the problem.
  • What does “green” mean? Who knows. Allure won’t use the word “green” unless it’s describing something verdant in color.
  • Allure will only use the word “biodegradable” with vast specifics. The word is defined as “of a substance or object that’s capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms. However, most plastics are stable in landfills, due to petroleum being processed into plastic thus making them no longer biodegradable. Additionally, most landfills don’t have enough oxygen to break down the plastics.
  • The word “compostable” will only be used by Allure when describing a product that can be broken down by a residential composter. Additionally, the product must be broken down in around 90 days with zero soil toxicity. Many composting programs divert organic material into valuable products, but only 4% of Americans have access to curbside pickup to transport their compost. According to TerraCycle, only 10% of industrial facilities accept compostable plastics.
  • Allure recognizes the term “zero-waste” as being undefined, so they will no longer use the word. Instead, they will consult with the brand to explain exactly what “zero-waste” means.
  • Unless a product doesn’t exist, Allure promises to never describe a product as being “Earth-friendly.” This also goes for the terms “eco-friendly” and “planet-friendly.”

Humanist Beauty applauds Allure’s buzzword revolution. Allure’s pledge is clear, concise, and adequately evaluates all the problems with wrongful descriptors that are severely overused and lack truth.

Humanist Beauty’s Circular Movement and Zero Waste Program

At Humanist Beauty, we believe that beauty should live endlessly, but not its packaging. While we don’t call our product or packaging zero-waste, we do strive to use the most environmentally conscientious packaging options possible:

  • The majority of Humanist Beauty’s packaging is made from glass and paperboard, which is recyclable.
  • We use post-consumer recycled paper-based packaging for our shipping materials with no plastic void fill or tape.
  • Humanist Beauty minimizes the use of virgin plastic while seeking to further avoid virgin plastic componentry as we grow.

Humanist Beauty praises Allure’s assurances and will also spread the knowledge with our own Zero Waste Program that is in conjunction with the TerraCycle Zero Waste Box.

Send us your beauty boxes, bottles, jars, tubes and makeup palettes. The packaging doesn’t even have to be from Humanist Beauty, it can be from any beauty brand. We’ll even pay and provide your postage to make sending your empty beauty packaging to us easy and seamless. Once we receive your packaging, we’ll hand it over to TerraCycle to be broken down and recycled or repurposed.

Here are a few notes about the Zero Waste Program, because we promise to always be transparent:

  • As of right now, our Zero Waste Program is only accepting packages from 48 contiguous states.
  • Humanist Beauty is a small company, so right now we can only accommodate funding for a 1-pound package per customer per month.
  • If you’d like to pay for your postage if you have more than one pound of packaging, feel free to send it all to: Humanist Beauty x TerraCycle, 9400 Corbin Ave. #1065 Northridge, CA 91324.
  • We will keep this page updated with any further enhancements to our Zero Waste Program.

If you’re interested in sending us your packaging, you can fill out the form here to receive your prepaid return label. We are excited to take this step with you to help conserve our precious planet and its resources.

References:

https://www.beatthemicrobead.org/plastic-free-beauty-the-new-normal/ [1]

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/01/20/by-2050-there-will-be-more-plastic-than-fish-in-the-worlds-oceans-study-says/ [2]

https://www.allure.com/story/beauty-industry-packaging-waste [3]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11059363/ [4]

https://www.treehugger.com/plastic-particles-are-raining-down-remote-areas-4855410 [5]

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/30/us-and-uk-citizens-are-worlds-biggest-sources-of-plastic-waste-study#:~:text=The%20US%20and%20UK%20produce,plastic%20pollution%20in%20the%20oceans. [6]

http://www.gittemary.com/2020/03/how-sustainable-is-paper-cardboard.html [7]

Behind the Curtain of the Fast Fashion Industry

Fashion designers used to present seasonal collections to introduce new merchandise. But over time, the desire for newness caused the frequency of introductions to compress down dramatically. New drops started to occur monthly, then weekly, then in some cases even daily. Prices got cheaper. Fads became fleeting. Clothing became disposable. Enter the world of fast fashion.

For many, buying new clothes and switching up styles is an obsession. But at what price?

The Problem with Fast Fashion

It is reported that the fashion industry puts out 150 billion clothing items a year. According to The Business of Fashion’s Sustainability Index 2021 Report, most clothes in the world are made using fossil fuels. Oil-based polyester is the most used fabric in the world with nearly 60 million tons produced in 2019. Fashion’s second-favorite fiber is cotton, a product with a complicated environmental footprint with past and current links to modern slavery.

Research administered by McKinsey and Company found that the fast fashion industry is responsible for around 8% of the world’s total greenhouse gases. According to the United Nations, the fashion industry is also one of the largest contributors to the micro-plastic pollution that is impacting our oceans and marine life.1  60% of all garments end up in landfills or incinerators within the year that they are bought, which proves how often consumers are utilizing the low prices and on-trend looks of fast fashion.2

The negatives of the fast fashion industry are vast, and they cover more than just pollution. The factory workers who create the clothing work in subpar conditions. Even with the threat of contracting COVID-19, the garment workers are continuously working in crowded factories that lack protective necessities.

Gender rights are also an issue, with 80% of the 40-60 million fast fashion employees being women.3  The owners of these companies are usually males who believe that women are more likely to work longer hours for smaller amounts of pay.

Fashionably Aware

Thankfully, there are organizations and nonprofits that are raising awareness for the negative effects of the fast fashion industry. Sustainability has become more than a fleeting headline; instead, millions of people are now beginning to take social and environmental issues seriously.

Here are some organizations that are making an effort to analyze, report, and spread conscientiousness about the fashion industry’s environmental and social impact:

Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)

Originating in San Francisco, the SAC envisions an apparel, footwear, and textile industry that produces no environmental harm and has a positive impact on people and the communities around them. The SAC was born out of a partnership between Walmart and Patagonia in 2009 where the two companies sought to create an index that would measure the environmental impact of their products. As a result, they devised the Higg Brand and Retail Module (Higg BMR).

The Higg BMR allows companies to monitor their sustainability journey by identifying opportunities for advancement along their global value chain. From the beginning of the creation of a material to the end of its use, the Higg BMR identifies the entire life cycle of a product, while determining the sustainability risks and impacts. For example, the Higg BMR analyzes the management system, supply chain, packaging, use and end of use, retail stores, offices, transportation, and distribution centers.

Today, consumers are becoming increasingly more curious about the origin of their clothes. Businesses using the Higg BMR can now be more transparent about the life cycle of their garments, which helps support how they value their customers’ opinions. The assessment that the Higg BMR administers also helps brands connect by promoting social responsibility strategies and practices that advocate for the well-being of workers and the planet.

Additionally, the Higg BMR evaluates 11 environmental impacts:

  • Animal Welfare
  • Biodiversity
  • Deforestation
  • Energy/Fuel Use
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)
  • Air Emissions (non-GHG)
  • Solid Waste
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Chemical Hazard
  • Water Use
  • Waste Water/Water Pollution

More than 250 global organizations are part of SAC. You can download its brochure and become a member by filling out a simple survey on its website.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC)

Since 1989, the CCC has dedicated its time to ensuring that workers in the garment industry have safe working conditions and that their fundamental rights are respected. They seek to educate consumers, businesses, and even governments.

The CCC is a global network that brings together nearly 230 trade unions and NGOs that cover a multitude of perspectives and interests, including women’s rights, poverty reduction, and consumer advocacy. It also coexists with many similar labor rights campaigns.

Several regional coalitions have become aware of pressing issues within their territories and are actively seeking support from the CCC. Currently, these regions are The European Coalition, The South Asian Coalition, The South East Asian Coalition, The East African Coalition, and other groups and organizations in North America, Central America, and Australia.

You can show your support of the CCC’s mission by visiting its website, where it invites guests to take action by posting on social media to spread awareness.

Cleaning Up Your Closet

Aside from supporting well-vetted impact organizations, it is important to reevaluate your clothes shopping patterns and usage behaviors. Here are a few tips that can help you move toward a more sustainable closet:

  1. Buy Less
    Most fast fashion pieces aren’t meant to last, which is why the majority of garments are thrown away after a few uses. Instead of buying a ton of pieces that you’ll barely wear from a fast fashion company, purchase fewer pieces from a brand that is transparent and makes excellent quality goods.
  2. Upcycle
    Instead of tossing a garment to the side because you wore it once for the Gram, upcycle it into something completely new and highly usable such as a quilt, dish towels, or drink koozie.
  3. Resell
    Post the items you no longer use on websites like Poshmark where you can make a few dollars for your unwanted clothing.
  4. Donate
    Donate used clothing to your local charity. Charity shops use and recycle around 90% of clothing received.

Giving Back is Always in Style

Humanist Beauty is committed to the highest standards of social and environmental impact. Learn about founder Jennifer Norman’s From My Closet campaign which gifted the community over $20,000 worth of merchandise from her closet to help raise funds for charity. Check out more about Humanist Beauty’s mission and commitments here.

References:

https://www.thewellessentials.com/blog/what-is-fast-fashion-how-your-clothes-are-hurting-the-planet#:~:text=When%20Did%20Fast%20Fashion%20Start%3F%20Fast%20fashion%20can,from%20design%20to%20stores%20within%20two%20weeks%20time. [1] [2]

https://cleanclothes.org/fashions-problems [3]

Carbon Footprints and a Circular Economy: How You Can Contribute

Humans have thrived on Earth for millennia; from the beginning, we have always been a part of nature. However, since the Industrial Revolution, we have increasingly polluted the precious planet we call home. During this time, machinery was introduced such as the power loom and cotton gin to increase quality and efficiency over human labor. Reliance on fossil fuels for energy overshadowed the use of renewable energy sources like wood, water, and wind. These changes have caused domino effects that are now becoming crippling to our planet and our health.

Awareness of our global environmental crisis has sparked the urgent call to move away from a linear economy toward a circular economy. In contrast to the linear economic model, where we take, make, use, and waste, the principle of a circular economic model is regenerative, not extractive. It is where we take, make, use, recycle, reuse, repair, return, and strive to minimize waste as much as possible.

Diagram comparing a linear economy to a recycling economy to a circular economy

To reduce our carbon footprints, we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, minimize our urge to buy brand new items, and reuse/repair/recycle with rigorous habit.

Why are Carbon Footprints Important?

On average, each American citizen has a carbon footprint of 16 tons, which is the highest in the world.1  In other countries, the per capita average is around 4 tons.2  According to various studies, the ideal carbon footprint is closer to 2 tons.

If our carbon footprints continue to skyrocket due to fossil fuel extraction, pollution and waste, climate impact will become even more dangerous in the form of global temperature risings, severe weather, higher ocean temperatures, a decline in Arctic sea life, and decreased snow cover. These occurrences are all linked; warming oceans fuel horrific hurricanes. Higher, drier temperatures lead to melting ice caps and increases in wildfires. Our consumptive behavior has a long-term effect on our entire planet.

If you’re interested in calculating your own carbon footprint, you can do so here. It’s a free evaluation that will indicate the areas of your life that you can alter to achieve a smaller carbon footprint.

A Circular Economy Will Greatly Impact the World’s Carbon Footprint

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is a way for us to imitate the cycles of nature: make something, use it, and reintroduce it to nature as a nutrient, or reuse it for something else. The loop entails the elimination of waste, regeneration of natural systems, and keeping products and materials in use. Today, we have the technology to change manufacturing processes to support a circular economy, but systemic change is never easy. To make the global impact necessary for the health and longevity of our planet, major changes will be needed from most of the world’s businesses, governments, and consumers.

We will all need to do our part to preserve Earth’s resources and dramatically minimize pollution. There are small changes that you can make to help propel the transition to a circular economy while shrinking your own carbon footprint. Here are a few ideas:

Your Transportation Methods Have an Effect on Your Carbon Footprint

Electric cars are a wonderful step towards minimizing your carbon footprint, considering they use almost zero fossil fuels. Hybrid cars are also a good option. They don’t eliminate the use of fossil fuels, but they do reduce them greatly.

It is also important to be aware of the way you drive. According to a study administered by Columbia University, you should avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking which can result in 40% more fuel consumption.3  Not only does that mean spending more money at the gas pump, but it’s dreadful for your carbon footprint, too. Listening to calm music may help you drive more serenely.

Air travel is also a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries around the world produces in a whole year. The pandemic has curbed air travel significantly, which has had a positive impact on pollution, however travel is forecasted to increase as COVID19 herd immunity increases. If your air travel starts back up, you can offset emissions from your flights by donating to sustainable projects. For your next big trip, you can do this by visiting Native.

Ways to Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

If you spend a lot of time in your home, optimizing your household energy is an important step towards shrinking your carbon footprint. Getting a home energy audit is helpful for calculating the energy you use. To reduce your energy consumption, you can:

  • Turn down your water heater
  • Use LED lightbulbs
  • Turn off lights in rooms that aren’t being used
  • Switch to energy-efficient appliances
  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth

Renting or purchasing solar panels as an alternative source of energy can have dramatic benefits. Proper insulation can help avoid unnecessary energy expenditure to heat and cool your home.

The Groceries You Buy Have an Impact on Your Carbon Footprint

Going vegan is not for everyone though it is better for the environment to cut red meat out of even a few meals throughout the month. Cow farming transmits a substantial amount of emissions into the atmosphere, and it’s even been proven that these emissions are more dangerous than CO2 from cars.4  Next time you’re eyeing the red meat section, try grabbing ground turkey or tofu instead.

Avoid allowing rotten food to collect in your fridge. Strive to always use the ingredients that you pick up from the grocery store, as food waste is very damaging to the atmosphere and your carbon footprint. Americans discard around 40 million tons of various foods every year.5  Endeavor to purchase only the food that you’ll consume during the week to overbuying perishables that will go uneaten.

Strive to eat all your leftovers. Take the extra piece of chicken breast you made last night for lunch and use it the next day in chicken tacos. Or mix your random veggies for a salad so they don’t spoil. Small changes can make a big impact in the long run.

Humanist Beauty is Carbon-Neutral

Humanist Beauty supports the move toward a more circular economy. The brand maintains a carbon-neutral footprint. To do this, forecasted annual greenhouse gas emissions were calculated, including office operations, manufacturing, and all shipping. Through Carbon Fund, Humanist Beauty has ordered credits to support reforestry initiatives that completely offset emissions. Additionally, Humanist Beauty products are formulated with 100% naturally derived ingredients and packaged in recyclable componentry.

You can learn more about Humanist Beauty’s mission, values, and environmental commitments here.

References:
https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-footprint-calculator/ [1] [2]
https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2018/12/27/35-ways-reduce-carbon-footprint/ [3]
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/cow-emissions-more-damaging-to-planet-than-co2-from-cars-427843.html [4]
https://www.rts.com/resources/guides/food-waste-america/#:~:text=Just%20how%20much%20food%20do%20Americans%20waste%3F%20Here%E2%80%99s,30-40%20percent%204%20of%20the%20US%20food%20supply. [5]

What Does It Mean To Be Eco Sustainable?

Clearing up myths to provide practical ways we can all help save our planet.

Sustainability is such a buzzword these days, often overused and misused. So what does it really mean to be eco sustainable? According to Wikipedia, sustainability refers to the “capacity for the biosphere and human civilization to perpetually and harmoniously co-exist. It is the process by which humans act to reduce their impact on the environment to maintain healthy ecosystems.” Sustainability is achieved when there is balance, or homeostasis, of species and the resources within a given habitat, therefore, the goal is to maintain equilibrium so that available resources are not be depleted faster than they are naturally generated.

How can we, in our everyday lives, become more environmental sustainable? First, we can set our sights on the ideal vision of the planet we will leave for future generations: a clean planet where humans and creatures can coexist in optimal health; a safe planet where waste does not toxify the water, soil or air; a lush planet where abundance reigns and scarcity becomes scarce itself. When we envision a planet overflowing endlessly with natural richness, we tap into a power that extends far beyond mere manufactured wealth. We are then able to move intentionally towards a more prosperous, regenerative mindset and away from a harmful, extractive one.

A Planet In Danger: Dire Warnings

Scientists have been warning the world about self-inflicted annihilation for at least 30 years. The first World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity was written in 1992, describing severe damage to the atmosphere, oceans, ecosystems and soil. It warned that earth could become inhabitable if humans continued the same consumption patterns of natural resources and fossil fuels. It rang alarm bells if humans didn’t get a better handle on its own population and poverty increases. Scientists wrote a second warning to humanity  in 2017 which noted some positive trends like slowing deforestation and reversed ozone depletion but emphasized that the other problems mentioned in the first warning letter went unheeded. More recently, in November 2019, over 11,000 scientists from around the world published a third letter declaring a climate emergency. It warned about serious threats to sustainability due to climate change. It urged policy changes to stop overconsumption, lower fossil fuel extraction, reduce meat eating, and stabilize the population.

Moving To A Circular Economy

For the most part, modern industry operates in a linear economy – one that moves natural resources from the ground, to production, to use, then to the landfill. This operating behavior is extractive, because the landfill is a dead end. It does not propagate the planet with anything useful. The goal is to migrate modern industry to a circular economy – one that enables us to continuously reuse and recreate goods derived from materials that have previously been manufacturered. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a circular economy takes three important steps into consideration: 1. designing out waste and pollution, 2. keeping products and materials in use, and 3. regenerating natural systems.

In order to move to a circular economy, industry needs to embrace the unpopular idea of producing less and encouraging prolonged product use. Unpopular, because it flies in the face of today’s pace of economic growth. However, in order for humans to have a chance at long term survival, we must course-correct our trajectory and be willing to shift the collective mindset towards sustainable conservation and consumption circularity.

Sustainable Corporate Trends

Fortunately, many large companies have adjusted their operations and product offerings, and many have made future commitments in an effort to operate more sustainably:

  • Mattel pledged to use 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastics in products and packaging by 2030.
  • Microsoft made a historic announcement to go carbon negative by 2030, remove historical carbon emissions by 2050, and invest $1 billion in a climate innovation fund. It plans to achieve this by shifting to 100% renewable energy, electrifying global campus operations vehicles, attaining LEED Platinum Certification, and more.
  • Starbucks announced a new sustainability commitment to become “resource positive” by giving more than it takes: by storing more carbon than it emits, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than it uses. To achieve this, it plans to expand its plant-based options, shift to reusable packaging from single-use, invest in regenerative agriculture practices, invest in waste management, and innovate to create eco-friendly stores.
  • Mastercard, CitiBank, and partners including Saks Fifth Avenue, American Airlines, L.L. Bean, and more, announced the Priceless Planet Coalition, a platform to unite corporate sustainability efforts, and pledging to join to plant 100 million trees in 5 years.
  • The Chinese government has announced a plan to crack down on plastic pollution by 2025. The commitment includes phasing out single-use plastics items, plastic bags and straws, and even single-use hotel items and eliminating plastic packaging in the postal service. China is one of the largest manufacturers of plastic in the world, accounting for more than 29% of the world’s plastic products.
  • AstraZeneca committed to investing $1 billion to reach zero carbon emissions across its global operations by 2025, putting its decarbonization plan ahead of schedule by over 10 years. It plans to move to 100% renewable energy, reduce total energy consumption by 10%, and switch to an electric fleet.
  • Governments from the U.K. to California announced plans to ban sales of new gasoline-powered cars in the next 10-15 years.

Sustainable Consumer Trends

Additionally, eco-conscious consumers are also helping turn the tide by shifting consumption and waste management behaviors to support the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ conservation principles:

  • Trading single-use plastic shopping bags, beverage cups and drinking straws for reusable ones.
  • Boycotting fast fashion, upcycling and reselling used clothing and accessories.
  • Reducing reliance on fossil fuels by bicycling, ridesharing, working from home, purchasing electric vehicles, and transitioning to renewable energy such as solar and wind power.
  • Voting with their dollars to support companies that have well-documented sustainable operations and commitments.

Problems with Recycling

Consumers generally believe that recycling is helpful, but they aren’t always compliant. First, recycling isn’t always convenient. Not every township has a curbside recycling program, not all companies mandate in-office recycling, and not all residential or commercial properties offer recycling receptacles for their communities. The Pacific Northwest has been perhaps the most progressive region in the United States for green living practices, but it’s not the case in various parts of the Midwest. It takes considerable effort on the part of consumers to reduce landfill waste in these areas and instances.

Second, in many cases, consumers don’t know what items and materials are recyclable. Oftentimes, items will be thrown in the recycling bin, only to be received by the recycling center and deemed unrecyclable. Those items must go through the extra effort of being sorted out and then sent to the landfill. Third, with ever increasing focus on the pandemic and the resulting physical-mental human health crisis, consumers may be inclined to deprioritize recycling behaviors as a method of streamlining daily effort. It stands to reason that even small changes make quite the difference when the human psyche feels overtaxed and is striving to survive today, let alone tomorrow.

Recycling Tips

When it comes to proper recycling, there are some general rules of thumb, and then there are details that will vary depending on your township. It is important to remember that recycling is a commodity business. Therefore, it must be economically viable for a recycling center to go through the effort of recycling any given material. A major issue that consumers do not realize is the detrimental effect of material contamination. Grease or food residue that is placed into a recycling bin may render a whole batch of recycling useless. Furthermore, items that are too small to be sorted properly or too difficult to separate serve to slow down the process of recycling and ultimately end up in the landfill. It is always important to check with your township to see what items are in fact recyclable and how you should properly prepare items for sustainable recycling.

Here are some general guidelines to recycle items most efficiently:

  • Clean Glass (soda bottles, wine bottles, beer bottles, spaghetti sauce jars, cosmetic bottles, etc.) is widely recyclable.
    • Check with your township on any restrictions regarding colored glass or decorated glass.
    • Most recycling centers do not accept standard light bulbs, window pane glass, auto glass, crystal, ceramics, or mirror glass.
  • Clean Paper (newspaper, office paper, shopping bags, magazines, brochures, junk mail, gift wrap, greeting cards, etc.) is widely recyclable.
    • Check with your township on any restrictions regarding shredded paper.
    • Mixed material paper such as foil or glittery wrapping paper, or paper cups that are wax or plastic coated (poly-lined) are typically not recyclable.
    • Soiled napkins and paper towels are typically not recyclable.
  • Clean Cardboard (boxes, cartons, etc.) are best recycled when they are flattened. Paper tubes such as inside paper towels, toilet paper and gift wrap are recyclable.
    • Do not recycle cardboard that is contaminated with food waste, such as greasy pizza boxes.
    • Mixed material cartons such as cardboard beverage or broth cartons lined with plastic or foil (poly-lined) are not recyclable.
  • Clean Metal Cans (aluminum and tin cans for soda, vegetables, pet food, tuna, etc.) are widely recyclable.
    • Be sure to rinse and dry cans out before tossing into the recycling bin.
    • Package components mixing metal with other materials (such as personal care pumps and overcaps with metal and plastic affixed parts) are not recyclable.
    • Metal crimpled tubes (such as toothpaste or hand cream tubes) may not be recyclable because (a) they are typically not clean inside or (b) they are fused with another material, often plastic (polylayered).
    • Flexible bags, pouches, packets, wrappers, and sachets (such as those for snack foods, coffee bags, cosmetics samples, single-use face masks, pill packages, chewing gum, etc.) are not recyclable because they are fused with another material, often plastic (polylayered).
    • Aluminum bottles that are lined with plastic to avoid rust or metal corrosion are not recyclable (polylayered).
    • Check with your township to see if clean aluminum foil is recyclable. Some centers may accept aluminum foil if it is scrunched into a large ball.
  • Plastic made of monolayer polyethylene terephthalate, PETE or PET #1 (such as soda bottles, water bottles, prepared food trays, etc.) is widely recyclable. Plastic made of high-density polyethylene HDPE #2 (such as milk jugs, water bottles, shampoo bottles, yogurt tubs, etc.) is widely recyclable.
    • Check with your township to see if these other plastic materials are recyclable:
      • Plasticized polyvinyl chloride or polyvinyl chloride, or PVC #3
      • Low-density polyethylene, or LDPE #4
      • Polypropylene, or PP #5
      • Polystyrene, or PS #6
      • Other plastics #7
    • Check with your township to see if small items such as plastic bottle caps, monolayer sample sachets, or clean cling wrap is recyclable.
    • Check with your township or local supermarket to see if single-use plastic grocery bags are recyclable.
  • EWaste – Check with specialized collection centers for accepting batteries, printer cartridges, computers, smart phones and other e-waste for recycling.

Zero Waste

In truth, the goal of a circular economy is to encourage the population to consume in such a way as to avoid the need for recycling altogether. This would mean refusing acceptance of wasteful items, eradicating single use disposables, buying in bulk, buying used goods, bringing one’s own packaging to stores, reusing containers, and composting carbon-based waste matter. By training ourselves to use less, we will then throw less into the trash and recycling bins, and move our planet toward a more sustainable, zero waste economy.

For more information on Humanist Beauty’s sustainability efforts visit the About Us page.