- Capture: This app helps you measure your carbon footprint
- RecycleCoach: Become a better recycler using this app!
- Buycott: Become a smarter and more conscious consumer using this app
- Waze: Use this app to find alternate routes and save money and gas, while reducing the environmental impact of your commute!
- PaperKarma: Track and cut paper waste by stopping junk mail using this app.
Hot take The Zero Waste movement is failing.
Some key talking points
1. Barrier to entry The environmental movement has struggled with inclusivity and accessibility since its inception. Geographic location can heavily impact one’s ability to practice zero waste.
Bulk food stores, farmers markets and zero-waste shops sprout up in trendy metropolitan cities like San Francisco, but are rarely sighted in rural towns.
2. Trendy products = more consumption Pressure on companies to be more sustainable is seemingly a victory for environmentalists. However, as consumer-centric businesses seize upon Zero Waste trends, the advertising has paradoxically become about consuming more, rather than less (there are exceptions).
Alternatives to Zero Waste
- Diet Reducing consumption is largely considered the single most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. Second to that is purchasing local foods and unprocessed foods.
- Transportation Reduce reliance on car and air travel. Use public transportation, or bike. Or, you can never leave your house again because... covid.
- Fast Fashion Avoid the incredible footprint of fast fashion. Buy second hand, stay informed. Unlearn the tendency to purchase quantity over quality.
- Activism The climate crisis was caused by individual consumers. To change what you can’t directly control, become involved in activism. Looking for a place to start? Try Fridays For Future or Sunrise Movement.
Proposal Instead of the Zero Waste movement, let’s call it the Low Impact movement. Names are powerful, and not only is this phrasing more attainable, it is less self-righteous and exclusionary.
This is a beautiful movement that has lost its authenticity. The more genuine we can make it, the more impactful and widespread it will become.
Dig deeper → 7 min
The problem with food waste
- 30% of all food in the US is thrown out (UN Environment)
- Food waste is often incinerated, which causes pollution... instead of feeding hungry mouths, or nourishing soil as compost.
- Food waste harms the environment, which is already stressed by food production’s demand for land, water, and the associated release of greenhouse gas emissions.
What you can do
- Plan meals ahead of time
- Use leftovers creatively, in multiple ways
- Shop responsibly, with a purpose
- Store food intelligently; don't let it go bad too soon
- Support local initiatives, there are good-neighbor ways to help
Bottom line As individuals, we can reduce the environmental consequences of food waste by making simple adjustments to our food habits. Cultivating awareness around food waste will help us work towards a more sustainable food system.
Dig deeper → 4 min
What is environmental racism? Environmental racism refers to the disproportionate burden on minority neighborhoods from air and water borne hazards that impact their quality of life and health outcomes.
Rooted in racial discrimination and a lack of political power and voice, environmental racism continues to drive the systemic segregation of minority communities.
Impact Overwhelmingly, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities bear the burden of environmental racism.
Limited by government and industrial policies, minority communities are compromised by poor environmental quality as well as a lack of opportunities for social mobility and jobs, thereby segregating minority groups from their white counterparts.
For example, irrespective of socioeconomic status, race continues to be the most pertinent predictor of the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities in America.
Bottom line People of color will continue to suffer from a disproportionate number of health-related issues due to environmental racism unless serious attention and action is brought to the environmental justice movement, which advocates for healthy, sustainable, and livable communities.
Now is the time for communities to demand state and federal accountability and mobilize to raise the political capital of neighboring minority communities.
Dig deeper → 8 min
How it stands
- An estimated 45-70% of clothing donated in Western countries (US, UK, Germany) enters the global used clothing trade.
- Clothing is sold to traders in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda) and ends up in used clothing markets in cities, towns and villages.
- Starting in 1980, economic liberalization (i.e. reforms to open their borders to international trade) in Sub-Saharan Africa caused domestic manufacturing to decline and increased demand for imported, cheap, used clothing to the region.
- The used clothing trade is a lucrative profession for those with limited job prospects. A used clothing trader in Nairobi can make up to 1000 shillings a day ($9 USD), 10 times the prevailing wage.
- In 2016, the East Africa Community (EAC) - an intergovernmental organization of six East African countries - decided to ban all imports of used clothing by 2019 to boost local manufacturing and create employment opportunities. The effects of this ban are unclear.
What can we do
- The problems plaguing the Sub-Saharan African textile industry are complicated to say the least. Limiting the used clothing trade is not enough to reinvigorate manufacturing.
- Dominant trends like fast fashion encourage consumers to buy new and improved products and discard the old ones at the expense of manufacturing economies in developing nations. Next time you go to donate those old T-shirts, carefully consider the downstream impacts. Out of sight does not mean out of mind.
Dig deeper → 3 min
How environmental policy works
- Congress enacts laws that enable federal agencies to create environmental regulations
- Under the President’s guidance, the EPA Administrator sets national standards
- State and local governments create and implement the actual policies
- State-level policies can support investment in green energy.
- Local officials set water policy to provide residents access to clean water.
Why your vote matters
- By electing city council members, state congresspeople and representatives who champion environmental policies, voters can make their environmental concerns heard.
The bottom line
- If voters prioritize climate change, politicians will too.
- Though you may feel your vote doesn’t matter in elections, it does.
→ Dig deeper 4 min
If you’re a socially conscious adult, you may have experienced trouble navigating the jungle of brands and product offerings that is the eco-friendly space.
Big picture: Shopping dominates modern culture, yet it also advances many issues like messy supply chains or the abundance of plastic waste in the ocean.
Between the lines: Buying green or purchasing eco-friendly products creates a ‘warm glow’ in consumers. It generates satisfaction, like the feeling from helping others.
Purse vs. Purpose
- Buying less is better for the pocket book, but buying green isn’t often more expensive.
- Price often largest barrier for consumers
- Eco friendly items are often more expensive to less sustainable alternatives
For the people: Buy green or Buy less? Short answer — do both
- Limiting your consumption within reason
- On one ✋: you don’t need to stop buying things you need on a regular basis, but you might not need that fourth pair of sunglasses
- On the other ✋: you might deserve that new pair of sunglasses after your latest accomplishment, we get it. We encourage you to find a company that has limited environmental impact - Read how here.
Dig deeper → 3 min
The scoop The fashion industry faces criticism for not following environmental standards to produce cheaper closet updates. Once again. But at what cost?
At the expense of exploiting cheap labor and adding to the global problem of industrial pollution. Brands such as Zara have been at the center of this heated debate as they continue to follow their fast business models.
The invisible price tag
- Online fashion houses such as Zaful, Shein and Romwe make millions on their fashion lines by taking advantage of low-wage labor in sweatshops in China and other parts of Asia.
- Customers fall victim to the low prices of their goods but a rising number in the online consumer market have complained about the sub-standard quality of the items they purchase.
- Consumers of fast fashion tend to ignore the moral and environmental standards that companies disregard.
What are the consequences?
- Over 265 million children globally are enslaved by manufacturing houses found guilty of illegal labour practices.
- As of 2017, only 15% of old clothes were recycled.
- Companies such as Zaful make greenwashing claims about their sustainability programs but there is a shadow of doubt as to what their policies on environmental management actually are?
Eco-friendly goes beyond price
- There are strict sustainability guidelines which restrict organic cloth manufacturers from scaling their production.
- Sustainable fashion must enable the consumers to lead more minimalist lifestyles.
Choose slow fashion
- Consider quality over quantity. What is that you really need?
- Leverage your purse by purchasing from sustainable brands in order to facilitate the shift towards a sustainable industry.
- Upcycle by using old fabrics for other uses once you’re done using the fashion item, to create a circular consumption pattern for yourself.
Dig deeper → 4 min
How do we stop the single-use plastic craze during a pandemic? What does a post-pandemic world look like for plastic?
What to know More people are buying single-use plastic since the pandemic started.
Why it matters It took decades for sustainability to gain serious traction, and a matter of weeks to destroy some real progress on the way we live. People are buying delivery, shopping online, and throwing single-use items away more than ever before. That means a lot of waste to be managed in the coming years. We need to reconsider how we evaluate short term versus long term risk.
Big picture Yes, PPE is important. Yes, oil is cheap. And for now, it makes good business sense to produce plastic because it is cheaper. Yes, I know your business may be struggling and you need to save every dollar possible to make ends meet.
But, if you are in any way, shape or form invested in the long-term well-being of this planet and/or your business, you must take a deeper look at our business models, processes, and impacts to determine whether it is hurting or helping the big blue-green planet and its constituents.
Dig deeper → 5 min
The scoop In the world of factory farming, public health risks are completely ignored.
Could applying “social distancing” rules to animals really help us all live healthier and safer lives?
Why it matters Most animals (both wild or domestic) carry some type of virus. It’s easy enough to learn from the recent outbreak and stay away from wildlife. But what about domesticated animals in factory farms? Farm animals carry many diseases.
As the world population increases, so does the demand for meat products. More meat = more crowded spaces in factory farms.
Bottom line Removing factory farming, or significantly improving its operations, is a contributing factor in preventing another public health disaster.Dig deeper → 5 min