Plastic Flood: Another “Contribution” of COVID-19

A lot of people say that COVID has improved the environment. Sure, that is a fair argument, because with COVID roaming around the cities, people travel less, so there is a significant improvement in air quality. Plus, the noise pollution level has considerably died down. There is a lot of data and evidence that proves the statement about the positive effect COVID has on the environment. However, COVID might not be as friendly to the environment as it seems.


Quite a lot of people have the assumption that disposable masks are made of eco-friendly materials. This is a valid guess, since the inner layer of the mask is made of cotton. However, the reality is that disposable masks are mostly made of polymer.

Polymer refers to substances made of very large molecules. For example, protein is a kind of polymer. Polypropylene is especially suitable for making masks because it is considered to be safer than most polymers. Since the polymers used in masks are considered plastic, the masks are disguised plastic. Therefore, disposable masks are not as eco-friendly as you think they are. Because of COVID, disposable masks are very often required and discarded, which adds on to the plastic flood.

Marine plastic waste. Source: World Economic Forum


So is the plastic disaster only caused by the huge amounts of disposable masks? Of course not. We are going to look at what could affect the plastic flood specifically in COVID.

  1. The need for single-use plastic boosted during COVID. During quarantine, while everyone stays at home, a lot of people are going to use food delivery or take out services. There is absolutely no way that people would go out without masks. Also, because people would want cleaner services that haven’t been touched or used by others, the use of single-use plastic can increase in a lot of areas. The amount of single-use masks  used every minute in the world could almost cover a polo field. So, increased delivery services, the need for disposable masks and the need for using cleaner plastic could increase the amount of plastic used and discarded.
  2. Recycling systems stopped functioning normally during COVID. Due to the dramatic increase of discarded plastics, the recycling system is being overwhelmed. Strict social distancing measures impede recycling workers to work as effectively, however these workers are fatal to the recycling system. Moreover, every country needs more budget to fight the virus and prevent the spread, ergo, the budgets for recycling are naturally not as high as usual.
  3. Oil prices plummeted because of the drop in demand during the pandemic. People aren’t traveling that much during COVID, thus there are far fewer demands for oil than normal times. One of the main materials to make plastic is oil. Therefore, because of the drop in oil prices, plastic has become cheaper so that they are convenient and more affordable.


Of course, there is something that can be done to help minimize the impact, and that is that we solve this problem from the source. Do you ever wonder how plastic is made? That is the answer we need from all the companies and mask manufacturers. If we can make the manufacturing process transparent to the public, we could come up with more eco-friendly solutions to making plastic. We might even figure out an alternative to some of the materials. This also allows the government to eliminate unnecessary processes, improve the recycling system and take other measures to mitigate the impacts from the manufacturing process on pollution. Most importantly, we can also be part of the action.

“Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.” 

— Barbara Mikulski

An easier solution that doesn’t require official processes is to reduce plastic waste. When you call a delivery service, buy as much as you can in a single purchase instead of multiple ones and if you are ordering a meal, tell them that you do not need plastic forks or spoons or any tablewares if you can use your own. If you can, use reusable masks (they are effective too). If you go out shopping, bring your own reusable bag. Share your actions to inspire others and raise awareness via social media or other platforms. These are all simple actions yet if they are all implemented on a bigger scale, miracles could happen!


To wrap it all up — COVID is in some aspects improving the environment, but if we take the plastic flood into consideration, the environmental effects are much more alarming. This plastic crisis could be caused by the increase in needs, the malfunction of the recycling systems, and the decrease of oil prices. Making the manufacturing process more transparent can mitigate the effects, but simple actions to reduce plastic waste in our daily lives can make a huge difference as well.


Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on waste management. Retrieved from

From the barrel to the pump: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prices for petroleum products. Retrieved from

Face masks and the environment: Preventing the next plastic problem. Retrieved from 

How face masks, gloves and other coronavirus waste is polluting our ocean. Retrieved from

Coronavirus is causing a flurry of plastic waste. Campaigners fear it may be permanent. Retrieved from

Prioritizing Climate Change & Inequality in Agriculture


Sign Our Petition in Support of the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 to Cancel Pigford Debt. Acres of Ancestry Initiative/ Black Agraian Fund,

The Biden Administration has been taking executive actions to tackle and secure environmental justice. Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order for approaching the climate crisis at home and abroad, learning about climate-resilient food and agriculture and directing every federal agency to advance our country’s climate strategy. Moving forward, he plans to prioritize climate change and inequality in agriculture by making these two issues the main priorities of the Biden administration, evidently reversing and solving President Donald J. Trump’s unraveling of environmental regulations. 

To have agriculture as the foundation of this climate agenda, farmers are looking to take up farming methods that could keep carbon dioxide locked in the soil and out of the atmosphere. An idea proposed is the federal soil “carbon bank.” It offers credits to farmers for the carbon they sequester in the soil through sustainable farming methods. This plan would allocate $1 billion to purchase carbon credits from farmers at $20 per ton of carbon they trap in the soil and could reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 megatons.

Herewith, this legacy of discrimination that has driven generations of Black Americans from their farms and left them at an economic disadvantage is being looked upon. There are estimated less than 50,000 remaining Black farmers in the United States, which compared to 1920, is a significant difference, as there were nearly 1 million Black farmers. This is setting the stage for new policies for greater change and steps to improve Black and other minority farmers’ access to land, loans, and other assistance, including “climate-smart” production. One includes Congressman David Scott of Georgia, who is the first black chairman. Another is the Justice for Black Farmers Act. 

Originally on (November 30th) 2020, U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced the legislation. Joining Booker as sponsors were Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York state, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. This comprehensive bill is announced to address this situation in federal agricultural policy and expand Black-owned farmland by up to 32 million acres through land grants over 10 years. “The Justice for Black Farmers Act will address and correct USDA discrimination and take bold steps to forgive debt and restore the land that has been lost in order to empower a new generation of Black farmers to succeed and thrive,” said Senator Booker.

In shorter terms, included in The Justice for Black Farmers Act are policies that provide debt relief, create a land grant program, restore land base, and implement systemic reforms. These policies will address and end discrimination within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in hopes of empowering a new generation of Black farms and supplying a successful future for them. 

Specifically, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will:

  • End Discrimination within USDA
  • Protect Remaining Black Farmers from Land Loss
  • Restore the Land Base Lost by Black Farmers
  • Create a Farm Conservation Corps 
  • Empower HBCUs and Advocates for Black Farmers
  • Assist All Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
  • Enact System Reforms to Help All Farmers and Ranchers


January 29, 2021 Allison Johnson Andrea Spacht Collins. “Biden Sets Stage for Climate Resilient Food & Agriculture.” NRDC, 29 Jan. 2021,

Rappeport, Alan, and Ana Swanson. “Biden Administration Ramps Up Debt Relief Program to Help Black Farmers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Mar. 2021,  

Tabuchi, Hiroko, and Nadja Popovich. “Two Biden Priorities, Climate and Inequality, Meet on Black-Owned Farms.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 Jan. 2021,  

“U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.” Home, 9 Feb. 2021,   

The Effect of Climate Change on Food Security

“Food Insecurity and Climate Change.” Climate Change – Hunger Risk Multiplier, World Food Programme (WFP),

To this day, more than 800 million people around the world do not get enough food to eat, some not even having any. In developing countries, nearly 75% of “poor” people live in rural areas, causing families to rely mainly on agriculture. On the other hand, food insecurity and malnutrition is still a growing urban issue. At this rate, the global population is set to reach 9 billion people by mid-century, and the global food demand is projected to increase by 70%, expressed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projects.

What is Food Security & Food Insecurity?

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life,” as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security. 

“Food insecurity is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food,” as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This problem is often rooted in poverty, having long-term effects on the abilities of not only families, but as well as communities and countries, to continue to develop and prosper. Hunger results from food insecurity and is an individual-level physiological condition.

Environmental issues that continue to threaten and provide uncertain impacts on food security include:

  • Climate change
  • Rising global population
  • Rising food prices
  • Rising temperatures
  • Unsustainable farming practices

How is Climate Change Specifically Threatening Food Security?

Andrew J. Challinor et al., Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (New York: IPCC, 2014),

Climate change is affecting all four dimensions of food security, which are food availability, food accessibility, food utilization, and food systems stability. Its impacts are both short term (more frequent and intense weather events) and long term (changing temperatures and precipitation patterns).

In order to identify the risks and adapt to climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded in 1988. By releasing their assessment reports, they are able to assess all aspects of climate change and form strategies to mitigate its effects. One report from the IPCC’s Working Group II focused on “Food security and food production systems (Chapter 7).” “The questions for this chapter are how far climate and its change affect current food production systems and food security and the extent to which they will do so in the future,” as stated by the chapter authors. It detailed that climate change will increase the risk of reduced crop productivity associated with heat and drought stress and that the negative effect will likely be visible by 2030.

Climate change is also a hunger risk multiplier. It is projected that 20% more people are at risk of hunger by 2050 due to extreme weather events. The world’s most food-insecure populations are those disproportionately harmed by climate-related events, which include increased heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, tsunamis, and flooding. With more frequent extreme weather events, there will be immediate impacts on food production, food distribution infrastructure, the incidence of food emergencies, and the livelihood assets in both rural and urban areas. In retrospect, climate change’s impacts on agriculture, which varies by geography, threatens food security.

How Do We Strengthen Food Security & Fight Hunger?

The Future of Food and Farming: 2030. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR),

To address the issue of food insecurity, the root causes of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition need to be addressed as well. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) continues to scale up and produce comprehensive approaches to tackle this, such as:

  • Leading America’s Feed the Future Initiative – In collaboration with U.S. Government agencies and departments, the private sector, researchers and universities, etc., this is a way to strengthen agriculture-led growth, nutrition, and resilience.
  • Providing Emergency Food Assistance – Allows vulnerable and malnourished populations to bounce back in times of crisis and have a higher rate of survival.
  • Research Investments – Helps farmers in the United States and abroad to protect their harvests from pests and disease, leading to better and more crops.

“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food security emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of adults and children,” said the UN secretary-general António Guterres. In 2016, the Global Food Security Act was enacted and in 2018, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act was passed, which both solidifies the United States government’s ongoing commitment to reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty around the world. 

In order to feed the expected population by 2050, the world would have to double its current food production. Therefore, passing acts is not enough and we have to be more efficient in our strategies to meet these demands given the scarcity of natural resources and other challenges. Countries need to rethink their food systems and need to incorporate more sustainable farming processes. If we are able to find a way to align the short-term with the long-term, countries can provide and ensure that people have sufficient food.


“Climate Change and Food Security: A Test of U.S. Leadership in a Fragile World.” Climate Change and Food Security: A Test of U.S. Leadership in a Fragile World | Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS Briefs, 15 Oct. 2019,

“Food Security.”, International Food Policy Research Institute,  

“Agriculture and Food Security.” U.S. Agency for International Development, 15 Apr. 2019,  

5 Sustainable Jewelry Shops

The fast-fashion industry has millions of consumers that buy poorly made trendy jewelry that will be thrown out after a few wears. Not only does this waste resources, but it exposes producers to toxic materials. New movements have increasingly focused on sustainability in many different industries. These new movements have raised questions about how the environment is impacted by fast fashion. 

1. Ana Luisa

Ana Luisa is a new company, founded in 2019. Their collections are released in small and limited batches each Friday to ensure the highest production standards and eliminate excess waste. Ana Luisa was founded to bring clarity to the jewelry industry. 

2. 31 Bits

31 Bits was founded in 2008 when a group of college students became aware of single mothers in Uganda. This company works with artisans in Uganda to make high-quality jewelry. 31 Bits employs women and cares for its workers by offering numerous amenities. Anything this jewelry brand does is funded by their product sales, which means any purchases impacts women in Uganda 

3. Aurate

Aurate was founded in 2015 in New York City. Its jewelry is inspired by everything from the Brooklyn Bridge to doorknobs. Sustainability and ethics play a major role in its philosophy. Aurate uses ethically sourced and sustainably made metals and gems.

4. Catbird

Catbird was founded in 2004, in New York City. Catbird has its own line of jewelry that’s made in Catbird’s Brooklyn studio with ethically sourced diamonds. It also became famous for its permanent jewelry, which became a trend.

5. Mejuri 

Mejuri was founded in 1953 and is one of the better-known jewelry companies. It has a focus on everyday jewelry, as opposed to the things you usually only wear on special occasions. Mejuri is also known for ditching traditional markups, and the brand uses ethically sourced diamonds and cultured pearls.

5 Sustainable Online Stores

Trying to shop sustainably online can be very difficult. It’s hard to tell if an online shop will have eco-friendly shipping procedures, if they are true to their word, or most importantly if they are a scam. These are our favorite sustainable shops where you can get almost all of your day-to-day needs. All the shops are dedicated to reducing the amount of excessive plastic in shipping and throughout their products. 

*It’s important to note that you should please use up all the products you have already at your home before purchasing sustainable products. If you throw away items that could still be used it actually creates more waste. 

1. Package Free

Package Free is a great option for anyone getting started on the journey towards sustainable living. They have premade zero-waste kits to help make your transition easier. The website is conveniently laid out and all of their products adhere to the “Package Free Standard”. This standard means that all their products ship plastic-free, are carbon-neutral, and give back to the environmental protection community. 

2. Public Goods

If you are looking for a very inexpensive option, look no further than Public Goods. With a membership price of $59, you have access to a wide variety of sustainable products. For every new member, Public Goods plant a tree and sell tree-free products. While they do sell products that are in plastic, the plastic is BioPlastic (which is made from sugarcane) and those same constraints are reusable and refillable. Not to mention, they donate extra inventory to different charities instead of throwing it all away. 

3. Eco Roots

Eco Roots is another great option for all of your household essentials. All of their products are plastic-free and completely recyclable. Their shipping is plastic-free and in 100% recyclable material. For every sale made, a portion of it is donated to the Ocean Conservancy Project which helps keep our oceans clean and healthy.

4. Earth Easy

For all of your gardening and composting needs, look no further than Earth Easy. They have a huge variety of gardening tools, as well as tons of other products. For each order made, Earth Easy plants a tree. In addition, they have their carbon emissions balanced by a company called TerraPass, and they have partnered with the EPA Watersense to promote water conservation. Even their office is eco-friendly, as it’s completely paper-free, energy-efficient has compost food leftovers, and reuses shipping boxes when possible. 

5. Earth Hero

Earth Hero has a wider variety than some non-sustainable stores. Options range from cleaning supplies to pet supplies, and even tech products. They are B CORP certified, meaning that they have met the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. They are completely carbon neutral through, annually donate 1% of their sales towards sustainability initiatives and organizations, and have offices that are completely zero waste.

Fact Checking The Presidential Debate, Topic: Climate Change

On September 29, at 9 p.m. EST the first presidential debate of the year started. This debate will go down in the history books for a multitude of reasons. One them being that it was the first debate in 12 years that had the moderator ask a question about climate change. But the responses and statements made in correlation were not all factual. Here’s a fact-check of some statements made about climate change.

“I was able to bring down the cost of renewable energy to cheaper than or cheap as coal and gas and oil.” -Joe Biden

Mostly True

The 2009 economic stimulus bill from the Obama administration included $50 billion to promote renewable energy, which is the largest single investment in renewable energy in the nation’s history. While it did have some failures, including the bankruptcy of Solyndra (a solar power company), overall there was a boost in growth and drove down the cost of win and solar power. In some places in the country where it is particularly windy and sunny, wind and solar energy is cheaper than coal or gas, but in other parts of the country coal and gas is still cheaper. 

“It was driving energy prices through the sky.” -Donald Trump


Chris Wallace (the moderator) asked Trump why he rolled back Obama’s Clean Power Plan that was designed to curb planet-warming from coal fired power plants, by insisting the plan was causing coal and gas prices to skyrocket. However, the Clean Power Plan was never implemented and was halted by a 2016 Supreme Court Order, and was never reinstated before the Trump administration finally rolled it back last year. 

“Every year, I get the call. California is burning. California is burning. If that was cleaned, if you had forest management, you wouldn’t be getting those calls.” -Trump


This was Trump’s response to Mr. Wallace’s question, “Do you believe that human pollution, gas, and greenhouse gases contribute to global warming?” The California wildfires have been a reoccurring issue for years now and are  known to be caused because of climate change. Trump refuses to acknowledge this and has attributed the wildfires to the state government(even though most of the land with the wildfires is on federal, not state property) not picking up the leaves and sticks being left on the floor. 

“They want to take out the cows.” – Trump


Trump was referring to the Green New Deal when he made this statement (The Green New Deal is a plan to combat climate change made by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). It’s important to note that this is not Joe Biden’s plan to fight climate change. While the Green New Deal would alter transportation and agriculture sectors, it does not eliminate all cows or the consumption of meat. 

“I’m OK with electric cars too. I’m all for electric cars. I have given big incentives for electric cars.” -Trump


Trump stated  this when trying to prove that he cares about reducing carbon emissions. Cars are not the only cause of rising carbon emissions, and switching to electric cars will not eliminate carbon emissions. Additionally, Trump never actually provided “big incentives,” he actually tried to take away tax incentives for consumers who buy electric cars. 

“I want crystal clean water, and air. I want beautiful clean air. We have the lowest carbon. Look at our numbers now. We are doing phenomenal.” -Trump


Over 100 environmental laws and rules have been rolled back and weakened by Trump’s administration, including clean-water regulations that were designed to reduce pollution in the nation’s river, lakes, and wetlands. He also rolled back multiple Clean Air Act regulations that were designed to reduce pollution for planet-warming greenhouse gases. 

While carbon emissions are the lowest they have been in years, it is not because of Trump’s plans. It’s actually due to the Covid-19 outbreak that had everyone stay home. People weren’t taking planes, driving, or littering as much since they were all inside. 

“You know we’re planting a billion trees, the billion tree project.” -Trump

Mostly False

In January, Trump announced that the U.S. would officially join the 1 Trillion Trees Initiative, whose goal is to plant 1 trillion trees not a billion. However, there is no evidence that the U.S. hasn’t planted a single tree as a part of this initiative. Planting trees also would not solve climate change.

Davenport, Coral. “Fact-Checking the First 2020 Presidential Debate.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 

Gross, Paul. “Fact-Checking Climate Change Comments in First Presidential Debate.” WDIV, WDIV ClickOnDetroit, 30 Sept. 2020, 

Osaka, Shannon. “We Fact-Checked Trump’s Climate Responses from the First Presidential Debate.” Grist, 30 Sept. 2020, 

Lonely Whale Interview

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have an email interview with Mindy Ramaker, the Creative Producer at Lonely Whale. We are so honored to work with such a hard working and determined organization. Lonely Whale has made outstanding strides in helping improve the conditions of the oceans and the environment.

“We live in a lonely, plastic world. But together we can change that.” -Lonely Whale

1. What is Lonely Whale? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what is its main goal(s)?

Actor-Activist Adrian Grenier and producer Lucy Sumner founded Lonely Whale in 2015 with the intent of bringing the ocean closer to everyone. The ocean – which covers 71% of the earth’s surface, containing 97% of the earth’s water and 99% of the planet’s living space – is at the heart of everything that we do. Today, Lonely Whale is a nonprofit that develops digital campaigns that reconnect us to each other by encouraging behavior change away from single-use plastic and toward a healthy, thriving ocean.

2. What is the story of “Blue 52”?

In 1992, off the coast of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, the Navy picked up an unusual sound. It pulsed onto the graph pages at the frequency of 52 hertz. On paper, the vocalizations looked like they belonged to a blue whale. Except a blue whale’s call usually registers between 15 and 20 hertz. At 52 hertz, this call was off the charts! So far off that no other whale was known to communicate at that pitch. Because male whales often sing for companionship and this song was the only of its kind, it was theorized that 52 Blue was the world’s loneliest whale, calling out and never receiving a reply.

​The legend of 52 Blue inspired us to answer that call, to work on behalf of the ocean, and empower others to do the same.

3. Recently Lonely Whale has created their new podcast 52 Hertz: The Lonely Whale Podcast. What’s the goal of this podcast? What typically happens during this podcast? Is there a specific audience you wish to target?

​During a time of social distancing, ​social unrest, and increased eco-anxiety, the need for positive, solution-based stories that represent diverse topics and voices is greater than ever. ​We launched 52 Hertz to create community and connection during ​this time, and to give people an uplifting ​take on environmentalism.

Inspired by our namesake Lonely Whale, the podcast allows us to go back to our roots and listen to what our community has to say. Eco-activist and actor Petrice Jones hosts Season One, titled Against the Current. The 12-episode season focuses on the people, topics, and current events that are challenging the status quo. Against The Current showcases a diverse set of individuals​ from youth activists to industry professionals—all redefining what it means to be an “environmentalist.” 

​Some recent episodes include: 

Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru, an environmental justice advocate calling for the movement to center the experience and expertise of frontline people of color

Youth activist Dyson Chee, an 18-year-old youth environmental policy activist from Oahu, Hawaii

Adrian Grenier, Lonely Whale’s co-founder, discussing eco-anxiety, the plastic crisis overwhelming our ocean, and how building community is the first step to healing ourselves and our Earth

4. As Eco-Youth primarily fights climate change, how does Lonely Whale target this topic? In your words, how does cleaning and caring for the ocean contribute to fighting climate change?

Covering about 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean has an intricately linked relationship with the climate crisis. 

In addition to generating the majority of the oxygen we breathe, ​the ocean ​also captures ​excess carbon dioxide and help​s​ regulate ​global ​temperature​s​.

Because of the increasing greenhouse gas emissions and resulting carbon dioxide, our ocean is not only becoming warmer and more acidic, but it is also de-oxygenating. Climate change weakens the ocean’s ability to provide food, store carbon, generate oxygen, regulate extreme weather, and serve as a nature-based solution to climate change.

B​y taking care of the ocean we help combat climate change.​

5. With what degree of seriousness should people be approaching topics such as climate change, and how can people start changing their mindset towards this topic?

The issue of climate change is incredibly serious, but that doesn’t mean we have to approach it that way. At Lonely Whale we take information that may be overwhelming and dark, and come up with ways to make it understandable and empowering.

Our goal is to change the narrative and mindset towards the topic of climate change. We want people, especially young people, to understand there are things they can do every day to make a positive change for our planet and their futures.

A tip Steff McDermott, one of our young podcast guests, shares that speaks to changing mindsets is to “connect your passion to the environment.” You don’t have to work for an environmental organization to make a difference. You don’t have to become something you’re not, or go into a field you’re not interested in. Take what you are already good at, what you’re already interested in, and connect that to the environment. There are infinite fun, creative ways to help protect our ocean and our planet.

6. Should schools start instilling classes that cover topics like climate change, so that the youth can get a better grasp as to what is happening out in the world?

Absolutely! The next generation will be most impacted by the plastic pollution crisis. In fact, many young people will graduate or start their first jobs in 2025, the same year the ocean is expected to contain more plastic than fish! Our education system could help equip the next generation with the knowledge and language to craft solutions. ​

That knowledge should be available to everyone ​because climate change affects everyone. And as we champion environmental literacy in general education, it’s important to remember what Wawa Gatheru, talks about on the podcast: Environmental education needs to center BIPOC voices, especially frontline people of color who are impacted first and worst by climate change. 

​I also encourage young people to seek opportunities to learn about environmental issues outside of the classroom, such as the annual Ocean Heroes Bootcamp organized by Captain Planet Foundation, Lonely Whale and Point Break Foundation​. ​The bootcamp​ empower​s​ existing and emerging youth leaders, ages 11 to 18, to create their own campaigns to take action against ocean plastic pollution.

7. Your campaign #Stop[ped]Sucking was a huge success! What great things does Lonely Whale plan to do next?

Thank you so much! Lonely Whale spearheaded the global movement to eliminate the use of plastic straws after “Strawless in Seattle,” which resulted in the permanent removal of more than 2.5 million plastic straws in Seattle in just one month while ushering in policy change in cities across the U.S. “Strawless” is on track to remove an estimated 15 billion single-use straws from circulation.

Right now, we’re focused on our “Question How You Hydrate” campaign which includes the #HydrateLike social challenge and Museum of Plastic. This campaign has served as a catalyst for Facebook, the United Nations Headquarters, 2019 Global Citizen Festival and the San Francisco International Airport to ban single-use plastic water bottles. The campaign caught the attention of Pepsi and Coca-Cola to announce plans to switch from plastic bottles to aluminum cans for leading brands Aquafina and Dasani.

We’re also working with multinational corporations through NextWave Plastics, which brings together companies to develop the first global network of ocean-bound plastics supply chains. These companies, some of which are competitors, work together to turn off the tap on plastic pollution – keeping plastic in the economy and out of the ocean.

As the plastic pollution crisis continues to grow and evolve and the world continues to adapt to COVID-19, we are active participants in conversations and strategies that ensure the plastic industry doesn’t exploit the pandemic to increase plastic production.

8. Do you have any advice to people who want to fight climate change but don’t know where to start? What advice can you give for newer organizations, like Eco-Youth, that will help grow their platform and gain a bigger audience?

Have optimism. Even the smallest gestures can have a big impact, so we’d encourage you to start small and work on changing little things you do every day and make them more sustainable. 

We also encourage youth to get involved in Ocean Heroes Bootcamp by joining the Ocean Heroes Network, a global community of youth working year-round towards clean seas and against plastic pollution. Ocean Heroes Bootcamp has trained more than 1,000 global youth how to develop and execute their campaigns with the ultimate goal of supporting 10,000 campaigns by the end of 2025. The unique campaigns created by Ocean Heroes support the achievement of UN SDG 14.1 by 2025.

We are a very small team at Lonely Whale, so for organizations looking to grow their impact, we really think partnering with creatives, scientists, brands, influencers and other organizations like yours are some the best way to create change around the world. 

9. How can people help and support Lonely Whale from home without monetary donations? Where can people learn more about Lonely Whale?

You can support us by visiting or following @LonelyWhale.

For more information on Ocean Heroes virtual Bootcamp, visit You can also connect with Ocean Heroes HQ on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Listeners interested in tuning out plastic and tuning in to Lonely Whale’s 52 Hertz podcast can check out the trailer, Season One and future episodes here.

The Effect PPE Has On the Environment


Gull stuck in face mask
BBC. (2020). The elastic straps on the face covering had become increasingly tight around the gull’s legs [Photograph]. BBC.

The modern world has turned to PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) as a way to protect from the Coronavirus. PPE is any piece of equipment that helps protect not only the wearer but also any other person around the wearer. Examples of PPE include basic medical equipment such as gloves, masks, and eye protection. Although wearing basic PPE, against deadly diseases, isn’t a novel concept, the sudden increase in demand and removal of PPE may have detrimental effects on the environment around us. 

The PPE that will be mostly studied in this article is  masks. Within the past few months, masks can be sold almost anywhere; however, the mask that is most commonly found within the public is the surgical masks. They are approved by the FDA and the CDC. Surgical masks protect from hazardous fluids and respiratory emissions. They are mainly constructed from non-woven fabric, which according to are, “broadly defined as sheet or web structures bonded together by entangling fiber or filaments,” and “flat, porous sheets that are made directly from separate fibers or from molten plastic or plastic film.”  Examples of these materials include polystyrene, polyester, polycarbonate, and polyethylene. These are great materials to use in protective equipment because of the properties it is able to supply the wearers. Some of the properties include, liquid repellency, bacterial barrier, sterility, filtering, and cushioning (INDA, 2019). 

In these situations, it is equally as important to look at both sides of the argument. Mask wearing does stop the spread of the Coronavirus. As an environmental organization, Eco-Youth must raise awareness of  how this simple act could harm the planet. Ever since the start of the pandemic, researchers have been finding masks everywhere, including uninhabited islands of Soko in Hong Kong.  This is not good for the wildlife and the environment as a whole. Since the masks are primarily made of plastic fabrics, animals can end up eating the sing-use mask or other PPE. Even worse, the increasing flow of masks and other single-use PPE, which can have a lifespan up to 450 years, can lead to “impaired mobility, infection, limb amputation, starvation, suffocation, and death,” (Ocean Asia, 2020)  in marine life. This not only happens in countries like China, but the same effect has been studied in France where conservationists from the non-profit Opération Mer Propre have studied the French coastline and found the aftermath of the single-use PPE in the waters of the Mediterranean . Laurent Lombard, one of the people on Opération Mer Propre, warned the public on his Facebook by saying, “there is likely to be more masks than jellyfish in Mediterranean waters…!” 

From floating face masks to recycling cutbacks: how the pandemic has hit  the war on plastic
Laurent Lombard/Operation Mer Propr. (2020). Gloves and protective face masks seen in the Mediterranean in May, held by a volunteer clean-up diver [Photograph]. The Telegraph.

The world must take environmental precautions to prevent further damage to the environment. Countries like France have taken strides to prevent further contamination because not long after Mr. Lombard posted his concerns, a French politician, Eric Pauget expressed his concerns to the President of France, calling forth an effort to collect, recycle, decontaminate or sort the single-use masks to lessen the “environmental footprint in [French] societies.” (Eric Puaget, 2020). 

As a consumer, there are many options to choose from that can help from stopping the transmission of the Coronavirus and still be eco-friendly. It is important to know that some reusable face masks do not have the same medical-grade standards as some single-use masks. They might fit looser, so might not block all the small particles. Please still wear a mask to minimize contact with contaminated areas. If you are still using the single-use please cut off the straps because they can end up entrapping wildlife and end up posing a threat to their life.  Here are some eco-friendly options to choose from:

Masks from the Old Navy are equipped with three layers of cloth. They are made of 100% cotton, and are machine washed, and tumble dried. The Old Navy offers many patterns; however, most are on backorder. 

O2 Canada is a little more expensive than the rest of the other brands; however, it does have the highest protection. The masks come with filters (which will have to be bought if used up). The company provides different colored shells to customize the mask. Also, the mask is equipped with medical-grade silicone to provide a snug fit. 

Hyper Good upcycles waste to prevent waste coming into landfills. This company uses leftover materials to create their masks. Hyper Goos has a movement called BETTER PPE in which they donate a mask to an essential workers for every mask that is sold. 

Selva Negra is a LA-based company. They used eco-friendly materials such as cotton, silk, and linen. Most of the designs are plaid. They are also machine washable, but must be hung out to dry. 

Made Trade masks offer a two-layer face mask and are made of recycled materials  (hemp and organic cotton). They follow CDC and Kaiser Permanente’s guidelines for cloth face coverings. The masks come in adult and kids sizing, with an option for a filter (not included). Made Trade offers four colors to choose from. 


What is Eco-Anxiety and How Does One Manage it?

Check out KaurSpace’s article on eco-anxiety

A lot of young people today are affected by eco-anxiety, but don’t know it. Simply put, eco-anxiety is the anxiety to or extreme fear of humans’ relationship with the environment and climate change. While it is not an official mental disorder, it is still very real.

How does Eco-Anxiety manifest?

Constant media coverage of environmental destruction and evidence of just how bad climate change really is can be extremely overwhelming. Even being affected by extreme weather such as hurricanes, flooding, drought, and more can cause eco-anxiety. According to  Medical News Today, “For some people, the increase in environmental crises is not only frustrating, frightening, and shocking, but also a source of constant or debilitating anxiety. People may also feel guilty or anxious about the impact that their or their generation’s behavior may have on the environment and that of future generations.”

Who is affected?

Eco-Anxiety does not affect all people equally. It tends to affect people who are younger (such as Gen Z and Millenials) and will have to deal with the permanent repercussions. It also affects indigenous communities and people who are currently losing resources and having their homes destroyed by natural disasters. 

How to Know if You Have Eco-Anxiety

There is no medical definition of eco-anxiety. But if you feel sad, angry, frustrated, helpless, and overall stressed about climate change you likely have eco-anxiety. 

How Do You Manage Eco-Anxiety?

  1. Take Action: Taking some form of action can reduce feelings of anxiety. An example of taking action could be protesting, signing petitions, and going to clean-ups.
  2. Getting Educated on Climate Change: A lot of news and media will overdramatize headlines to get people to click on their article. Educating yourself beyond the headline can help to reduce eco-anxiety.
  3. Connecting With Nature: If you foster a stronger connection with the environment, you can gain a greater appreciation for how it is now.
  4. Being More Active: Hiking, canoeing, simply going for a walk not only connects you with nature but helps your mental health in general.
  5. Try to Prevent Water/Energy Being Wasted: Simply turning off lights or turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth can have a huge effect on the amount of waste produced from your home.

Climate change is very real and dangerous,but unfortunately, not one person alone can  stop it. Keep that mind when feeling stressed about climate change: that as long as you try your best you are doing amazing! Please do not let eco-anxiety consume life with fear, rather use it as fuel in this ongoing fight against climate change. 


Plautz, Jason. “Eco-Anxiety Is Overwhelming Kids. Where’s the Line between Education and Alarmism?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 3 Feb. 2020,

“Eco-Anxiety: What It Is and How to Manage It.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International,

Watson, Stephanie. “How Eco-Anxiety Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 22 June 2020,

Trump V. Environment

With the Trump administration in office, it seems like there is a constant battle to save our environment. President Donald Trump’s actions make it extremely difficult  to keep a stable and healthy environment for us to live in. From an outsider’s point of view, it might be difficult to see how he deliberately destroys the environment; however, with a bigger looking glass, the initiatives taken by both him and his administration become very clear. Since the very beginning of his administration, extraordinarily public and transparent decisions have been made to stall progressive decisions towards fighting climate change. In an on-going list that National Geographic has made, they have detailed events that stretch towards the beginning of President Donald Trump’s presidency; moreover, on January 25. 2017 the “Trump administration had removed all references to climate change from the White House’s website” (National Geographic, 2020). The extensive list covers every decision that President Donald Trump and his administration have made to fight against climate change and it’s activists. 

  1. Trump Administration Removes Remarks Regarding Climate Change on the White House Website 

From the very beginning of Trump’s presidency, combating the changing climate clearly wasn’t on his agenda. Since his inauguration, there seemed to be no “ reference to combating climate change”, which contrasted that of the previous POTUS Barack Obama as this was a “topic that had been featured prominently on the White House site” (The Washington Post, 2017). Replacing this was an effort to “eliminate ‘harmful and unnecessary policies’ such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule”. (The Washington Post, 2017).  In place of this would be Trump’s “The American First Energy Plan”. The entire plan states how President Trump will enhance “ domestic oil and gas production”, along with  “reviving America’s coal industry”. With this, the Plan writes about the loosening “restrictions on polluting waterways with coal mining waste”. (Atlantic Council, 2017).

  1. Lifting Bans Placed on Lead Ammunition 

A common trend within the Trump Administration is rolling-back  “Obama-era” policies. In March of 2017 U.S Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke repeal a ban on the usage of “lead ammunition and fishing tackle used on federal lands and waters’ ‘ (Reuters, 2017). Although this is common practice within the hunting community, the effects of using ammunition that contain ingredients such as lead can lead to devastating health consequences. Not including the effects that lead has on humans, there have been monitored effects of using lead in fishing waterways. In a study done in 14 countries, it was proven that almost 10,000 swans have “died from poisoning caused by lead that originated from ingestion of fishing weights, shotgun pellets (shot)” (USGS). The study was conducted in 1994 by Lawrence.J. Blus. The initial ban, which was placed on January 19 2017 was put in place to protect the natural wildlife from lead poison. Another action placed by Secretary Zinke was to “ identify areas where recreation and fishing can be expanded” (Reuters, 2017), and by doing so, it places more animals at risk of succumbing to lead poisoning. 


In President Trump’s Budget Blueprint for the year 2018, he applied great emphasis on the “ rebuilding of our Nation’s military without adding to our Federal deficit” (White House, 2018); however, at the cost of adding to the Federal deficit, signifying  that cuts would have to be made to other aspects of America’s budgets. Consequential, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is meant to protect both the environment in human health got a cut or a “savings of $2.6 billion, or 31 percent, from the 2017 annualized CR level” (White House, 2018). The reasoning behind this saving is the defunding for the Clean Power Plan that was put in place to limit carbon emissions. Carbon emissions are by far the “largest source of the pollution in the country that’s driving dangerous climate change” (NRDC, 2017). This also defunds regional efforts for climate preservation such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The new budgets also cut 50 EPA programs. However, the defense budget, which is a major priority for the Trump Administration, enjoyed a $52 billions increase to $639 billion. 


In January of 2018, the EPA redefined what is classified as a “major source” and “open source” of hazardous air pollutants (HAP). The Clinton Administration put in place a “once in, always in” policy where a major source pollutant would remain in major source restriction even if the HAP drops to open source levels. However, with the new regulations created by the Trump administration, if a major source pollutant drops to an open-source level then it would no longer be restricted to major source restrictions. This, as a result, defeats the purpose of the Clinton Administration’s efforts to reduce HAP’s in the environment. National Geographic said this” backsliding” is what the OIAI police sought to stop. 


In April of 2018, the Department of the Interior had a proposition to remove a Section 4D rule. This policy allowed for many threatened species to receive the same protections as endangered species. Some of these rights include protections from poaching, to protections that prevent people from coming too close to a given animal in the wild. The removal of this policy is concerning, predominantly because it no longer grants protection to animals in need. Even though an animal doesn’t need complete and full convergence from the ESA, shouldn’t qualify them for complete removal from danger, Threatened animals are still in need of help and safety. In the fall of the same year, there was a final action decision for the complete removal of the Section 4D rule

There are a countless number of offenses that President Trump made against the environment. To read more about, check out National Geographic’s Running List and an updated list from the New York Times of environmental rules that are being reversed by the Trump administration.


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Popovich, N., Albeck-ripka, L., & Pierre-louis, K. (2019, June 02). The Trump Administration Is Reversing 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List. Retrieved from

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