Easter: A rotten egg

Aimee. (2019, April 22). [Plastic Easter egg seed planter] [Photograph] The Crazy Craft Lady. https://thecrazycraftlady.com/not-just-for-easter-unexpected-uses-for-plastic-easter-eggs/

Each holiday brings a different celebration, Easter- a celebration of rebirth and revival- brings its challenges as well. There is no avoiding plastic pollution in today’s modern society, especially when a large number of people celebrate the holiday. An estimated 30% of people worldwide are Christians (embodying most or all denominations) and in the United States, roughly 71% (~236,000,000 people) of Americans affiliate with Christianity- a statistic taken from Pew Research Center.  With Easter being a Christian holiday, these statistics can help determine the number of people celebrating and therefore contributing to higher pollution rates. Pollution during Easter could be caused by a number of things, from buying plastic eggs to choosing appropriate candy to give out. Ultimately, certain decisions leading up to the faithful day end up damaging the environment; however, there are ways that can create an eco-friendly easter!

Common affiliates with Easter are plastic eggs that can be stuffed with little toys or plastic grass. The issue with plastic eggs being bought in large quantities and never used again is the high probability that single-used eggs end up in a landfill being decomposed hundreds of years later. In the early 200s, “a company called Peoria Plastics a subsidiary of Bleyer Industries, once completely dominated plastic egg manufacturing in the United States, producing as many as 250 million a year” (Leonard, 2010). The scary reality of this situation is that in just 10 years the population of the US grew about 100 million. The demand for these little eggs can only rise, creating more unnecessary pollution for the Earth. These colorful eggs do not need to be served as single-use, for just one egg hunt a year and reused the next year. Save them! The best way to reduce plastic waste during the holiday season is to not buy unnecessary items that may cause more waste. Save the plastic Easter eggs for the following years or try doing some DIY crafts that can help revamp the life of the eggs. Aimee from “The Crazy Craft Lady” shared some fun craft ideas to reuse the plastic eggs. A fun way to include egg hunting but without the plastic hassle is to use painted eggs that can later be used in meals. Every part of the egg is used and can still be composed to help plants grow. Truly a win-win! 

Clearfield, R. (2017). [Painted plastic easter egg DIY] [Photograph]. Rose Clearfield. https://www.roseclearfield.com/diy-pastel-painted-speckled-plastic-easter-eggs/

The stuffings of the eggs themselves can create a plastic frenzy. The plastic egg- a staple eggs stuffer- can be replaceable with more eco-friendly ideas. A quick and effective way of substituting the grass is shredding unused construction paper. Or, opt for eco grass that can be recycled. They come in different color variations that are suitable for every egg situation. One can also help grow some flowers using seed-infused paper, when used, can be planted and be used to grow various seeds. It is a quick and fun way to spice up the Easter season.

Candy during holiday seasons is always tricky because it can be difficult to find the best brand. The main issue with Easter and candy is the risk of environmental damage and exploitation of ecosystems in agricultural areas. The chocolate industry has not been kind to the environment because of the large amounts of plastic and minerals involved in its process of production, and the damage resulting to the environment. The cheap and fast production of chocolate can lead to “widespread poverty, deforestation, forced labor” (Fair Trade America). Deforestation is the main issue with cocoa production; hectares of land that are used for monoculture. These hectares of land could damage ecosystems that are needed for endangered animals and plants. In order to overcome this issue, organizations have been founded to make sure these ethical issues do not arise. FairTrade America has an affiliation with brands such as Chocolate Stella, Jelina Chocolatier, and other non-chocolate companies like Ben and Jerry’s. Their logo ensures that “you are standing up for the people and places involved in the cocoa industry”(FairTrade America).

Bloomin. (2020). [Seed paper] [Photograph]. Bloomin. https://www.bloomin.com/our-seed-paper/

Plastic packaging is an issue that cannot be avoided. Chocolate eggs and other candies come with them. Unfortunately, such packaging cannot be substituted, especially in our current tough times. It is important, however, to realize how such little packaging can have a big impact on the environment. In 2018, “The Sun”, a UK news source, claims that during Easter 3,000 tonnes of packaging is thrown out. Michael Gove and Jo Swinson “revealed 148 million hollow eggs are sold per year… content on average 22g of plastic… [amounting] to more than 3,000 tonnes per year” (Davidson, 2018). This number can only be estimated to be higher in the United States because of the larger population compared to the UK. 

Celebrating holidays should be in no way limited but rather reinvented to fit the times. There are customs that need revamping. Plastic waste is unavoidable but can be restricted. During the next holiday season, make sure to follow eco-friendly advice and encourage others to do the same because simple actions can make a lasting impact on the environment and the earth that we all share. 

Works Cited

“Bittersweet: Chocolate’s Impact on the Environment.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, http://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/spring-2017/articles/bittersweet-chocolate-s-impact-on-the-environment.

“Chocolate.” Fairtrade America, 6 Apr. 2021, http://www.fairtradeamerica.org/shop-fairtrade/fairtrade-products/chocolate/.

Kristen. “How to Have an Eco-Friendly Easter.” Earth Friendly Tips, 21 Mar. 2021, earthfriendlytips.com/how-to-have-an-eco-friendly-easter/.

Lynn Davidson, Whitehall Correspondent. “Plastic Waste from Easter Egg Packaging Set to Reach 3,000 Tonnes This Year.” The Sun, The Sun, 31 Mar. 2018, http://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5942583/easter-egg-plastic-waste/.

“Not Just for Easter: Unexpected Uses for Plastic Easter Eggs.” The Crazy Craft Lady, 12 Mar. 2021, thecrazycraftlady.com/not-just-for-easter-unexpected-uses-for-plastic-easter-eggs/.

Person. “The Deplorable Rise of the Plastic Easter Egg.” Salon, Salon.com, 25 Sept. 2011, http://www.salon.com/2010/04/02/plastic_easter_eggs/.

“Population Pyramids of the World from 1950 to 2100.” PopulationPyramid.net, http://www.populationpyramid.net/united-states-of-america/2000/.“Religion in America: U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics.” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, 9 Sept. 2020, http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/.

Cemeteries Effect on the Environment

Cemeteries, as we know them today, first started to emerge in the 1830s. When they were first created there is little if any regard for how they would affect the environment. On the surface, cemeteries seem completely harmless, but in reality, cemeteries have long-term harmful effects especially on the environment.

  1. Seepage Waters

Seepage waters occur when liquid or gas leaks through tiny holes in a container or barrier. This can cause a lot of issues for people. Seepage can cause unstable ground and infrastructure damage. It can also cause environmental damage as seepage may mix with groundwater and become a risk for environmental pollutants.

2. Caskets Don’t Decompose Quickly

Old caskets were made completely from wood and decomposed in 5 to 20 years. While that is still a very long time, modern caskets take significantly more time. Lower quality modern caskets take at least 80 years to decompose while higher quality ones take up to 125 years to decompose.

3. Cemeteries Take Up a Lot of Land

While there is no exact amount of land that Cemeteries took up, we can estimate that it is about 140,000 acres of land in the United States alone. These acres of land have extremely few trees if any, and the only other plant there is grass which produces more CO2 than it takes in. Essentially taking away available land, and contributing to the extreme excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

4. Deforestation for More Cemeteries 

Graves are technically never supposed to be dug up and cemetery companies need to keep finding new land for new graves. The exact number is unknown, but every year land gets cleared just for cemeteries, directly contributing to deforestation.


Even though traditional burials and cemeteries are harmful to the environment, there are more eco-friendly alternatives.

  1. Green Burial

It looks very similar to a traditional burial but lacks the parts that harm the planet. There are no toxic chemicals used such as embalming fluids, the grave is dug by hand, there is no cement plot, and only biodegradable caskets are used.

2. Sea Burial

Mimicking the traditions of Vikings, naval officers, and even pirates, a sea burial gives a very eco-friendly option to people. Water-soluble urns and caskets are available, allowing the body to completely decompose in the water.

3. Aquamation

Aquamation, also known as water cremation or alkaline hydrolysis, is where the body is placed in a stainless steel vessel filled with a solution of 95 percent and 5 percent potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. The combination of the alkaline waters and 350 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures cause the body to dissolve, similarly to what happens if a body is left on earth or in a stream. 

4. Tree Burial

Tree burial is when an egg-shaped pod contains the person’s ashes or body, which then provides nutrients to the tree planted above you. When this tree is planted it can never be cut down, unless they fall on their own or they cause a threat to the surrounding area.

Sources:

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/108132/?sequence=1

https://www.sacredspacememorial.com/caskets-do-coffins-decompose

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/513564/7-eco-friendly-options-your-body-after-death

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/513564/7-eco-friendly-options-your-body-after-death

Christmas: A Revival

The holidays are here! Unfortunately, with it comes the chance to hurt the environment. This article shouldn’t be a slap on the wrist for all the mistakes done, but instead  an eye opener for all the things that can be done better for future holidays. With the majority of the population celebrating within the same 1-2 days, pollutants can quickly sneak up and rise to unhealthy amounts. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and have an environmentally-friendly mindset, it is important to see what can be done better to improve the quality of life. Christmas is a great holiday to reinvent to lessen the carbon footprint that is being given off during this time. 

Every holiday, and especially major holidays, food waste is a big concern. With a big holiday like Christmas, food waste can bring major CO2 into the atmosphere. A study that was done in England reported that roughly “270,000tonnes of food [is] wasted in the UK each year” (Westwater, 2018) during the holiday season. This statistic includes seventy-four million mince pies, two million turkeys, and five million Christmas puddings. There is a lot to unpack from just this singular statistic.  From Eco-Youth’s previous article about Thanksgiving, it can be estimated that a regular 16 pound turkey can weigh 32 pounds. With just England alone, the two million turkeys would produce 64 million pounds of CO2. The puddings in England would produce roughly 7 million pounds of CO2. In England alone, an estimated 71 million pounds of CO2 is emitted just from Christmas, a 1-2 day holiday. 

BBC News. (2020). Bristol Waste says vast amounts of food waste are generated at Christmas [Photograph]. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-55386848

In America, the winter season is brutal when it comes to food waste. During this time of year “30 and 40 percent of the food supply goes to waste each year” (Russaw, 2019). This can prove to be detrimental to the environment and the surrounding landscapes. Given the fact that the United States is 40 times bigger than Britain, the 71 millions pounds of CO2 can be expected to be up to 40 times greater. There could be many reasons for this large food waste problem. Supermarkets during this time offer discounts that cause people to buy unnecessary foods that they don’t need. Christmas dinner being the star of this time of year tends to sway people to also overbuy on items in fear that there would be no variety for the dinner plate. These two trends, which often repeear during major holidays, are a great contribution to food waste. 

There can be many solutions to avoid this problem, but the main solution would be to save the leftovers! Freezing and refrigerating food is a great way to combat this issue because it lengthens the longevity of the food making it still edible for future days. Another great solution would be to compost the leftover food! Composting is great; it nourishes the soil and adds nutrients for plants to grow. Making sure excessive food doesn’t hit the landfill ensures that unneeded methane gas doesn’t go up into the atmosphere. 

Another huge problem concerning the environment and climate change is deforestation. With less and less trees, the earth is able to absorb less and less carbon dioxide which causes a ride in greenhouse gases. So, the natural choice for some people would be to opt for a fake Christmas tree. The advantages seem bluntly clear: less wood is cut down, the tree stays up and less pollution is emitted during the process. Besides, fake Christmas trees can last much longer than just one holiday season.  The Independent did an interview with Anne Mari Cobb, a certification officer at Soil Association Forestry, and she had some opposing views. She stated “‘Real Christmas trees are a renewable resource that doesn’t result in pollution, if responsibly recycled or disposed of’” (Barr, 2020). There is in fact truth in her statement.  A tree that is six feet and is properly disposed of (“burning it on a bonfire, planting it or having it chipped” (Barr, 2020)) is 7 pounds of CO2. Compared to one that isn’t properly disposed of, the CO2 emissions can go up to 16 pounds. A fake Christmas tree can have a footprint of up to 88 pounds of CO2. In order to fulfill the life of a properly disposed Christmas tree, the fake tree would need to be used for 12 years, and 6 years for an improperly disposed tree. The problem with this is that most fake trees do not fulfill the 12 years mark because the “average usable lifespan is six years” (Mitchell. 2019), but most are kept up to 10 years. The best part of growing natural trees is that “the process of growing a Christmas tree to optimum heights takes around eight to ten years” (Barr, 2020), so need for a fake tree is no longer needed because a new tree ready to be used is grown within the lifespan of one fake tree. Natural trees also have benefits that most fake trees do not have like a natural CO2 cycle within the home. The tree takes in the CO2 produced and expels O2. 

Even though a fake tree might seem like the logical approach, weighing out the pros and cons proves otherwise. Investing in a real tree can actually be more beneficial towards the planet than investing in a fake tree. With all things, try to locally source the tree so that the travel of the tree does not rack up any unneeded CO2. Buying a tree with roots rather than one that is cut from the stump can help reuse the tree annually (reducing the carbon emission even more!). People can also rent Christmas trees where trees are sourced locally from nurseries and return back to the nursery to live out the rest of its life. One company based in California called rentxmastree gives the citizens of California the option to rent a tree and return it back to its nursery after use. 

Flaccus, Gillian. (2018). In this November 2018 photo, Casey Grogan, owner of Silver Bells Tree Farm and president of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Assosication, trims noble fir at his 400-acre Christmas tree farm in Silverton, Ore. [Photograph]. AZCentral. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/fact-check/2018/12/19/real-fake-christmas-trees-better-environment/1892885002/

The Holidays also bring about another environmental issue: overuse and waste of wrapping paper. There is a lot of wrapping paper used in the wrapping of presents (226,800 miles). This much wrapping paper equates to roughly “2.3 million pounds of plastic wrapping paper that is reported to end up there every year” (Haraczek, 2020). This could be fine if ALL the wrapping paper was just paper and completely degradable. However,  there was all sort of wrapping paper you could find in the store. Some have glitter, extra decorations, grooves, and other decorations that taint the paper with unnecessary chemicals. When this paper is thrown out in the regular garbage, it ends up in landfills while discharging harmful chemicals into the soil. Wrapping paper doesn’t have to end up in landfills and slowly harm  our environment. To add onto the hazards of wrapping, an experiment was conducted using an air quality tracker, Awair which proved that when gifts were unwrapped, VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) were released into the air making the air quality poor. The goal of this experiment proves that wrapping paper sold in stores can end up harming the environment by releasing toxins that end  and oneself while just existing and spreading joy. 

The harsh truth about the recycling process and wrapping paper is that not every center will accept them. So the best option would be to contact your local recycling center and make sure they accept what you need to be recycled. A test by Popular Science can help determine if a given wrapping paper is recyclable or not. All that needs to be done is “crinkle the paper up into a ball—if it stays that way when you let go, it’s fine to put in the recycle bin” (Haraczek, 2020). To every problem, there is a solution!

There can be great substitutes to use instead of using wrapping paper. These can include using gift bags instead of boxes and wrapping paper. The boxes that gifts come in are often thrown out, but by using a gift bag, it can be recycled for other gifts and future holidays. It is a cheaper and less pollutant option to wrapping paper. Another option is using newspapers and twine. This option is recyclable and biodegradable. Just remember to use hemp twine as it is biodegradable! A fabric bag is great to use and can even be used later as a regular bag to carry with you. Overall, the tip is to get creative with wrapping gifts and trying to stray away from commercially produced wrapping paper. A home wrapped option opens the door for creativity and the option to lessen your carbon footprint. 

The Pioneer Women (2020). [DIY wrapping paper with twine and winter scene painted on presents] [Photograph]. The Pioneer Women. https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/holidays-celebrations/gifts/g32703477/christmas-gift-wrapping-ideas/

Christmas can be seen as a time of joy and celebration, and it should be. In a time like this, however, it is important to also pay attention to common pollutants and try to minimize what we use. Big holidays like Christmas give consumers the chance to splurge and buy unnecessary things like food and excessive wrapping paper that might end up being not composted or not recycled. If given the chance, minimize how much of a product is being bought and also always check to see if it is environment friendly. Try to drift away from mass produced things and if given the chance, do some DIYs to help lessen the carbon footprint. 

From Eco-Youth to your family – Happy Holidays!

Works Cited

“74 Million Mince Pies Thrown Away Every Christmas.” Unilever UK & Ireland, http://www.unilever.co.uk/news/press-releases/2012/74-million-mince-pies-thrown-away-every-christmas.html.

“Are Artificial or Real Christmas Trees Better for the Environment?” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 30 Nov. 2020, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/christmas/christmas-tree-real-living-artificial-plastic-environment-carbon-footprint-a9235551.html.

Awair. “Could Some Wrapping Paper Be Unhealthy for You?” Awair Blog, 14 Dec. 1970, blog.getawair.com/is-unwrapping-gifts-unhealthy.

“Calculating the Carbon Cost of Christmas – in Puddings!” University of York, http://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2007/carbon-christmas/.

Horaczek, Stan. “2020 Is the Perfect Year to Quit Wrapping Paper.” Popular Science, http://www.popsci.com/story/diy/quit-wrapping-paper/.

“How Much Food Goes to Waste During Christmas, and How Can We Prevent It? – Respect Food.” Grundig – Respect Food, http://www.respectfood.com/article/how-much-food-goes-to-waste-during-christmas-and-how-can-we-prevent-it/.

“How to Solve Britain’s Overstuffed Christmas Food Waste Epidemic.” The Big Issue, 18 Dec. 2018, http://www.bigissue.com/latest/how-to-solve-britains-overstuffed-christmas-food-waste-epidemic/.

“Pricing out a Real vs Artificial Christmas Tree.” Old World Christmas, oldworldchristmas.com/blogs/the-yule-blog/pricing-out-a-real-vs-artificial-christmas-tree.

“Rent a Living Christmas Tree.” RentXmasTree.com | Rent a Living Christmas Tree, rentxmastree.com/.

Russaw, Jeanine Marie. “5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste This Holiday Season, According to the Experts.” Newsweek, Newsweek, 13 Dec. 2019, http://www.newsweek.com/stop-holiday-food-waste-tips-bea-johnson-1477037.

Thanksgiving: A Celebration of Pollution

Lichtenstein, R. (1961). Turkey [Photograph]. Observer. https://observer.com/2017/11/best-thanksgiving-themed-works-of-art/

Thanksgiving this year is a little different from the rest. COVID-19 has forced many families to celebrate alone or with restrictions. This year, however, Thanksgiving should also be looked at from a different perspective: an environmental perspective. It might not seem like Thanksgiving, a once a year holiday, would have any environmental impact at all or even have a personal impact. It all has to do with how people gather their food and how they come together to celebrate this holiday. 

It is known that eating plant-based food will greatly reduce the CO2 level in the environment. A vegan diet, for example, will reduce many things such as “greenhouse gases, but also global acidification, eutrophication, and land and water use” (Vegconomist, 2019). A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of the staple turkey dish. The CO2 emission of cooking a 16 lb turkey will vary from state to state because of their means of preparation. States that use more socially friendly means of preparation like in Main or Vermont (relying on renewable energy) will have a much lower CO2 emission during this time than states such as Wyoming or Kentucky (relying on coal). To take into account the worst-case scenario, which would be using coal to prepare the dinner, Carnegie Mellon University researchers conducted a study to find out how much CO2 is actually emitted when cooking such a big bird. In the case of using coal, Wyoming, for example, “emits 32 pounds of carbon dioxide” (Rea, 2016).  Wyoming currently has 578,759 people living in it and there are 230,630 households in the state. (United State Census, 2019) If every household prepared a turkey on Thanksgiving that would equate to 7,380,160 pounds of CO2 emitted in one day. Using a CO2 calculator from the Guardian, a round trip from the LAX airport in Las Angeles to New York’s New York John F. Kennedy airport would produce roughly 1537 pounds of CO2. The people of Wyoming would be able to fly roughly 4801 round trips from LA to NY. This is just an example of the state with the lowest population using coal. This number would be substantially bigger in states with a higher population like Kentucky. To understand this emission on a smaller scale, the total emission of a one 16 pounds turkey is “equivalent to one dish of turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted Brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, rolled biscuits and apple pie combined” (Emanuelli, 2020). For future holidays, in order to lessen the CO2 emission during Thanksgiving dinner, it is recommended to obtain food from a plan-based source. This doesn’t imply to transform the entire dinner vegan, but to become conscious of what is being bought and if something can be substituted for something plant based- do it! There are many vegan meat substitutes called meat-analogue or “mock meat” that can help lower the carbon footprint. There are other things that can be done to ensure an eco-friendly Thanksgiving like staying local.

This year, despite being advised “nearly 7 million travelers have gone through TSA checkpoints” (Root, 2020) as of Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Even though this is much less than the previous years, it can still have a great toll on the Earth. This also doesn’t account for the food being imported  from different countries during this time. It would be a wise decision to also be conscious of where the food is being bought. For example, cheese from Europe would be more harmful  to the environment than cheese made in Wisconsin. In order to limit wasteful or non-needed carbon emissions, buying food from local farms or markets is better. By supporting local farms and markets the economy in that region is also being boosted. The food grown locally also helps in well being because the nutrients are fresh due to the fact that the crop is in season and just cultivated.

Holidays seem to be a secret killer when it comes to global carbon emissions. It seems to slip the minds of people that even the smallest of things can impact the Earth greatly.  For future holidays to come, it is best to keep the Earth in the back of our minds. By doing so and keeping a conscious mind of what is being bought, we can help reduce carbon emission everywhere. Ultimately, that is the goal, to better the state of the planet for habitable use for years to come. With the current state of the world, it is important to keep the Earth in mind for this exact reason.

Works Cited

Emanuelli, Alexandra. “The Environmental Impact Of Your Thanksgiving Dinner.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 26 Oct. 2020, http://www.huffpost.com/entry/thanksgiving-dinner-ecological-impact_l_5db07ef7e4b0d5b78944bc6e.

Jasinski, Nicholas. “Hedge Funds Are Finally Beating the Market in 2020. Here Are Their Top Holdings.” Barron’s, Barrons, 25 Nov. 2020, http://www.barrons.com/articles/hedge-funds-finally-beating-market-in-2020-here-are-top-holdings-51606258710.

Kommenda, Niko. “How Your Flight Emits as Much CO2 as Many People Do in a Year.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/jul/19/carbon-calculator-how-taking-one-flight-emits-as-much-as-many-people-do-in-a-year.

“New Study: Vegan Diet Reduces Carbon Footprint by 73% – Vegconomist – the Vegan Business Magazine.” Vegconomist, 19 July 2019, vegconomist.com/society/new-study-vegan-diet-reduces-carbon-footprint-by-73/.

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Wyoming.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/WY.

University, Carnegie Mellon. Thanksgiving Dinner’s Carbon Footprint: A State-by-State Comparison – Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences – Carnegie Mellon University, http://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/news/news-stories/2016/november/thanksgiving-carbon-footprint.html.

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 Carbonfund.org, annually donate 1% of their sales towards sustainability initiatives and organizations, and have offices that are completely zero waste.

Eco-Youth’s First Shoreline Cleanup!!!

On September 12th, 2020, Eco-Youth had the wonderful opportunity to hold our very first shoreline cleanup at 16th street park in Bayonne, NJ. With 24 dedicated volunteers in attendance, we were able to make one of our parks better. After a hard day’s work, we were able to collect nearly 30 bags of trash, two tires, a giant sheet of metal, and many more odd items that don’t belong in our parks. Our volunteers even separated the trash by recyclables and non-recyclables for proper disposal. 

Eco-Youth would like to thank Mayor Jimmy Davis for his help, Jacqueline McNulty for donating garage bags and arranging for a garage pick up, Entemans for donating Little Bites Snacks, and Terracycle for recycling the Little Bites Snack wrappers. Special thanks to everyone who donated and to all of our volunteers who came out on their Saturday to help the environment!

Amazon Aiming for Carbon-Neutrality

Amazon News. (February 4, 2020 ). Inventing Amazon’s electric delivery vehicle [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKpOE8eulXM

The two main threats that peril the existence of humankind are nuclear annihilation and climate change. Both of these crises can have a bad turnout for the worldwide population as neither are being controlled to the extent in which they should be. With the addition of the ever-growing change in climate, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have placed the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight. This clock, that measures the countdown to ultimate catastrophe or apocalypse, gives little wiggle worm for legislators and activists to revert the effects of both nuclear threats and climate change. Although the legislatures themselves should act more sturdily against these topics, it leaves major corporations in charge of changing their own companies for the better of the planet. One of the biggest corporations on the planet, Amazon, is making strides to help prevent further destruction of the planet. 

In 2019, Amazon announced its new plan for going carbon neutral by the year 2030.  This plan, called “Shipment Zero,” aims to “ reach 50% of all Amazon shipments with net-zero carbon by 2030.” (Amazon Dave Clark, 2019). However, even before the announcement of this project, Amazon had already made headway towards a sustainable future. In 2018, Amazon announced to make 50 “fulfillment facility rooftops worldwide” (Amazon Day One Staff, 2018). This includes the 11,700 solar panels put in place in the Fulfillment center located in Tracy, California. Even earlier, in 2017, Amazon placed a wind farm in western Texas to help the local communities in which they are located. It is reported that these farms will generate “1,000,000 MWh [megawatt-hour] of clean energy” (Amazon Day One Staff, 2017) to the surrounding areas; furthermore, this will provide energy to power homes and provide more jobs to the communities in the wind farm areas. 

Amazon News. (October 24, 2017). A Texas oil town learns to love wind [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=137&v=78RAkM-Q73Q&feature=emb_title

In addition to all these steps, Amazon has partnered with Global Optimism (another climate change organization that aims to cut carbon emission completely by 2050) to form “The Climate Pledge”, which is a “commitment to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early” (Climate Pledge, 2019).  The major car manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz, has joined “The Climate Pledge” with Amazon by “adding more than 1,800 electric vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Vans to its delivery fleet in Europe” (Amazon Day One Staff, 2020). 1,200 of these vehicles will include the eSprinter, the newest commercial van added to the collection of electric vehicles at Mercedes-Benz. The remainder of the vans will be the smaller, mid-sized version of the eSprinter, called the eVito. Both of these options give access to all needs. The eSprinter will be used in larger more populated areas while the eVito will supply the needs of smaller areas that “require a smaller-format vehicle” (Amazon Day One Staff, 2020).

Also in 2020, Amazon’s “The Climate Pledge” partnered with We Mean Business to “reduce carbon emissions worldwide” (Amazon Day One Staff, 2020). We Mean Business aims to support this project by trying to commit other companies, both large and small, to “The Climate Pledge”. They will work with the companies and their supply chain “to encourage suppliers to ramp up their climate goals” (Amazon Day One Staff, 2020). The CEO of the We Mean Business coalition, Maria Mendiluce said that in order for companies to reach the goal of carbon-neutral processing a pressure on the supply chain is needed and more “Nature-Based Solutions” are needed. Both of the companies are committed to providing resources to help raise awareness and provide companies to search for possible solutions to reach this goal of carbon-neutrality. One of the resources includes supporting and pushing the idea of a decarbonized economy, which is one of the goals that the United Nations Climate Change Conferences outlined in its campaign Race to Zero. Other resources include pushing all of the signatories involved in “The Climate Pledge” to set goals in the Science-Based Targets initiative. This initiative supports the idea of setting scientific targets for corporations to undergo carbon-neutrality.

Sources:

Unfccc.int, unfccc.int/climate-action/race-to-zero-campaign.

Clark, Dave. “Delivering Shipment Zero, a Vision for Net Zero Carbon Shipments.” US Day One Blog, Amazon, 9 Jan. 2020, blog.aboutamazon.com/sustainability/what-is-shipment-zero.

The Climate Pledge, http://www.theclimatepledge.com/.

“Current Time.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 23 Jan. 2020, thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/current-time/.

Daimler. “‘Ambition2039’: Our Path to Sustainable Mobility.” Daimler, 13 May 2019, http://www.daimler.com/investors/reports-news/financial-news/20190513-ambition-2039.html.

“Our Team of Optimists: Global Optimism.” Global Optimism, 9 Sept. 2020, globaloptimism.com/about-us/.

Staff, Day One. “Amazon Launches Largest Wind Farm Yet.” US Day One Blog, Amazon, 9 May 2018, blog.aboutamazon.com/sustainability/amazon-launches-largest-wind-farm-yet.

Staff, Day One. “The Climate Pledge and We Mean Business Partner to Reduce Carbon Emissions Worldwide.” US Day One Blog, Amazon, 16 July 2020, blog.aboutamazon.com/sustainability/the-climate-pledge-and-we-mean-business-partner-to-reduce-carbon-emissions-worldwide.

Staff, Day One. “Mercedes-Benz Joins The Climate Pledge.” US Day One Blog, Amazon, 28 Aug. 2020, blog.aboutamazon.com/sustainability/mercedes-benz-joins-the-climate-pledge.

Staff, Day One. “Sustainability by the Numbers.” US Day One Blog, Amazon, 18 Apr. 2018, blog.aboutamazon.com/sustainability/sustainability-by-the-numbers.“What Is a Science-Based Target?” Science Based Targets, sciencebasedtargets.org/what-is-a-science-based-target/.

The Effect PPE Has On the Environment

** DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ANTI-MASK. IT SUPPORTS MASK WEARING AND OTHER PPE**

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. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-53474772

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 INDA.org 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. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/floating-face-masks-recycling-cutbacks-pandemic-has-hit-war/

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. 

PLEASE CONTINUE FOLLOWING CDC GUIDELINES TO LIMIT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19!

Organizations and Brands that Fight to Help the Environment

Finding trustworthy organizations/brands to support when it comes to the environment can tend to be difficult at times. Knowing which organizations to donate to and whether or not their intentions are pure are important things to factor in. Therefore, this article has composed a list of trustworthy organizations you can support and start using to ensure that your money can go toward helping the environment. 

White Sided Dolphin Beaded and Braided Bracelet 2-Pound Pack on a wrist
  1. 4Ocean

4ocean is a legitimate organization that is dedicated to ocean cleanups. These cleanups are completely funded by the profits made from the products they sell. They give a “One Pound Promise” in which they state that every product being purchased from their site goes into one pound of trash being clean from the oceans. Their products vary from adorable bracelets to environmental-friendly products such as reusable water bottles and straws. You can learn more about them and purchase a few items on their site

Zero Waste Face Masks - 2 Pack

2. Sand Cloud

Sand Cloud is an organization dedicated to turning recycled plastic into great-quality products. They take single-use plastic and are able to make incredible items such as towels, shirts, reusable water bottles, and so much more! Their goal is to reduce plastic pollution and save marine life. Not only are they creating high-quality sustainable items from recycled plastic, but a percentage of their profits also go into Marine Conservation. Learn more about their goal and shop their products on their website!

Picture taken from https://www.bustle.com/p/lushs-shark-fin-soap-is-back-100-of-the-proceeds-go-to-protect-the-species-17994689. Article is about the Lush’s shark campaign and what they have done to help save the sharks.

3. Lush

Lush is one of the more mainstream sustainable brands. However, their environmental involvement is usually overlooked due to their popularity. They focus on being as plastic-free as possible and tend to package most of their products in reusable materials. Not only that, but they often focus on specific issues, such as saving sharks, and have articles educating people about issues happening all around the world. Learn more about their #savethesharks campaign here.

Click the link to learn more about their website and switch to supporting their cruelty-free, vegan, environmentally-friendly products! https://www.lushusa.com/plastic-free-july-2020.html

Photo from the Coral Gardeners Website: https://www.coralgardeners.org/.

4. Coral Gardeners

Although this isn’t necessarily a brand that you can support, this organization’s motive is so important and deserves to be shared. A prominent issue in the environment is the global death of coral reefs, which are extremely important to the environment. This organization is dedicated to educating others about the importance of coral reefs as well as trying to save them. You can get involved by actually adopting one! Click the link to adopt your own coral reef and the organization will be dedicated to taking care and saving it. 

5. The Dolphin Project

The Dolphin Project is an organization dedicated to saving the dolphins. They have articles educating others about what’s happening to dolphins all around the world and are dedicated to saving as many dolphins as they can. They have a shop in which all proceeds go back to the organization and its goals. Click the link to shop their store and contribute to their project, and visit their site to learn more about them!

6. Ecosia

Ecosia is a free, legit, and safe search engine that uses its profits to focus on deforestation. It isn’t necessary somewhere to spend your money to support the environment, but by switching to this search engine rather than using Google, Bing, etc., you could contribute to the important focus on deforestation. Ecosia has already helped plant over 70 million trees since its founding in 2009. Click the link to learn more about Ecosia and switch to using them as your main search engine. 

7. Eco-Youth

Donating is one of the easiest things that some of us can do to make an impact on the environment, and even a small donation can go a long way. While there are endless places to donate to, we are one of the most trustworthy! Click the link to join the fight and donate to our gofundme where the money will directly be located into making our communities more eco-friendly!