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.

EcoHouse Teens Interview & Collaboration

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have a social media interview with Mardet Mulugeta, an EcoHouse Teens executive. We are so excited to work with such a hard-working, current, and an on the rise team that is similar to Eco-Youth. EcoHouse Teens are educating and preparing teens all over the world to make ethical and environmentally consumer and lifestyle choices through their campaigns.

Briefly introduce yourself to the audience and tell us about your journey – where do you live, study, work, and what are you doing at the moment? 

Hi! My name is Mardet and I am currently a senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Some of my hobbies are photography, fashion, and dancing. Right now, I am in the middle of applying to college and managing my organization’s Food Campaign 🙂

What is EcoHouse Teens? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what is its main goal(s)?

EcoHouse Teens is an organization with a mission to make teens more informed about how they can be sustainable. We are basically a group of teens who want to spread awareness of what anyone, specifically other teens, can do to help limit their harm on the environment. My friend Zeinab and I came up with the idea to create this organization over the summer when we were both quarantined. We had different interests, I was concerned with the fashion industry while she was more interested in the food industry, but we decided that we could really do something together if we merge our ideas into one!

In your own words, define sustainability. What got you interested in sustainability and what is your relation to the topic? How do you believe sustainability and the topics of food, fashion, and lifestyle go hand in hand?

Sustainability is trying to maintain a lifestyle that benefits everything more than it harms anything. I personally got interested in sustainability in my Human Geography class, where we learned how awful the fashion industry is and how much waste it produces year to year. I decided then that I would stop buying clothes I don’t need, and I tried to limit shopping from brands known to be part of the problem. While I was more concerned with the clothes I buy/wear, I realized soon enough that everything around me can harm the environment one way or another. The toxins in my cleaning products, the foods I waste, the plastic bags I get from stores, everything around me could potentially cause more pollution. That was why when Zeinab and I decided to create an organization, we tried to look at the bigger picture and attack as many problems as we could instead of focusing just on the food/fashion industry.

What action do you believe everyone could/should be involved in to create a positive change and impact on climate change and the environment? What are you most excited about for the future?

I think a big part of causing change is being informed. If everyone knew what fast fashion is and how much waste comes from the food industry, more people would be willing to change their lifestyles. Sustainable living is unfortunately a privilege; it can get very expensive to buy organic products that produce less waste and sustainable clothes that last a while. However, even if you cannot be fully sustainable right now, you can still try your best in being as sustainable as you can. I do have hope in our future and I think that a lot of us are moving in the right direction. I am excited to see our future, as time goes on and our fight against climate change grows stronger. 

Do you have any advice for people who want to help the environment, particularly fight climate change, but don’t know where to start? What advice can you give for similar organizations like yours, such as Eco-Youth, that will help them to keep posting and growing their platform?

My advice would be to start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to cut out everything that is deemed unsustainable, because that is simply not realistic. Try to buy less clothes than you do right now. Join some sort of club or organization where you can talk with other people who want to help the environment. Do some research on your own, if that interests you. Just try to incorporate this idea of sustainability into your life little by little. As for other organizations, I would say try to reach out to people. If you know a local activist who is fighting the same fight as you, reach out and see if they would like to talk with your organization. Attend some webinars and connect with other organizations. We are still small at EcoHouse, and I still have lots to learn, but those are just a few things I picked up over the past few months.

How was your first campaign that attacked fast fashion? Tell us more about it.

Our first campaign was pretty successful. It was the first time we launched EcoHouse Teens, so we had to wait some time before people got to see our content. It was really fun to interview local sustainable shop owners, and we even got to create a fun video on how to use Depop! Overall, I think our campaign was great, especially considering it was our first time operating as an organization. Zeianb and I dedicated a lot of time into making sure it went by smoothly and we are more than happy with how it turned out.

What is the second campaign that is currently occurring? How is Eco-Youth collaborating with EcoHouse Teens to contribute to this campaign?

Our second campaign is concerned with the food industry. We are trying to inform people on how the food industry contributes to pollution, workers’ abuse, and other serious issues. We try to post information that would allow people to take action and limit their contribution to an unsustainable industry. We are so excited to collaborate with Eco-Youth on this campaign because we are all for working with other youth organizations. Eco-Youth and EcoHouse both have a similar mission, and Eco-Youth is helping us by getting our campaign out there to their audience through these articles. We are so excited to see what can come from our collaboration!

What great things do EcoHouse Teens plan to do next? What is its future beyond the campaigns?

Our hope is to continue spreading awareness and engaging with other teens. In the future, we hope to have branches in different places that spread our mission. In order to cause real change, we need both the people who can demand for change and the people that can implement those changes. We hope that our voices will be heard by our elected officials, who can create laws that will cause the change we need. Our main goal will always be to spread awareness because being informed is step one of causing permanent change.

Where can people learn more about you and EcoHouse Teens?

You can find us on Instagram @ecohouseteens . We also have a Medium where we post some articles @ecohouseteens . We are currently working on a website, so make sure to follow our Instagram for more updates on us!

Check out EcoHouse Teens’s other socials at linktr.ee/ecohouseteenz.
Keep posted on our collaboration by checking out our website for the articles in the following weeks.

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.

Vaping: More than Lung Harm

Vaping seems to be an easier alternative for those trying to quit smoking. Several brands are nicotine-free and offer a better solution to quit or ease into the process of not smoking. However, throughout the past few years vaping, formally known as e-cigarettes, have become very popular for both adults and teenagers. Brands such as JUUL and Lava2  have risen in popularity. These brands contain nicotine and can be highly addictive, as well as degenerative for the health of young adults in particular. Vaping can also be linked to many environmental hazards.

CBS Denver. (2019). Vaping Trash: Litter Increasingly Gets Noticed Around Boulder [Photograph]. CBS Denver. https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/05/20/vaping-cartridges-litter-pods-boulder-high-school-vape/

Vapes are tiny devices that use a “battery to heat up a special liquid into an aerosol that users inhale” (American Lung Association, 2020). The devices are becoming a staple piece on the beach and starting to overpopulate the typical pollutant that might be expected to see such as plastic bottles and 6-pack rings. There are many factors that vapes contribute to polluting the earth; however,  the first problem with vapes is they are encased in a plastic that  is not biodegradable or even recyclable. The best action for recycling vape pens would be an electronic recycling facility where any electronic with a circuit board can be recycled. This accounts for computers, phones, printers, and even stereos. The brand JUUL runs into a problem with electronic recycling because they do not contain circuit boards. This makes them virtually impossible to recycle as a whole, leaving regular garbage cans the only option for disposing of a vape. The flavored pods that can be bought for vapes cause an even greater risk for the environment. Since the pods contain additives such as nicotine, they cannot be recycled like any other plastic product “because the nicotine is toxic, which means the pods are essentially hazardous waste” (Donnelly Tim, 2019). The pods themselves are very small pieces of plastic. In 2017, the company JUUL managed to sell 16.2 million devices along with 175 million refill kit pods. It can be estimated that “easily over a billion and as many as two billion little squares of plastic [go] into the trash each year” (Donnelly Tim, 2019). This can lead to sudden surges in increased plastic pollution in waterways along with landfills. 

Vapes are powered by batteries, and the  most commonly used are lithium-ion batteries (commonly found in smartphones). They are great batteries to use because they can supply lots of power with multiple charges. Compared to other batteries, they are more stable and supply higher energy than other rechargeable batteries. Problems arise with lithium-ion batteries when the lifetime of the battery ends. Most consumers will toss them in the regular garbage bin where it will be mixed with other trash and can possibly leak hazardous materials into the environment. The production of such batteries also isn’t the most eco-friendly either. Lithium extraction ends up changing the natural landscape such as the extraction of lithium in North America where traditional mining methods are used. However, in places in South America like Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile, where the metal is most abundant, the techniques used to extract the metal end up causing more harm than good. The process of lithium extraction starts with extracting brine from salt flats to leaving a mixture of “manganese, potassium, borax and lithium salts” to evaporate a year at a time. The evaporation can use up to “500,000 gallons [of water] per tonne of lithium” (Katwala Amit, 2018). If this mixture leaks into local waterways it can poison the wildlife and people in the area. In some cases, it left local waterways in Chile with “unnatural blue hue[s]” (Katwala Amit, 2018). With the battery created and set up for consumers to use, it can lead to damaging effects if used improperly. If damage is inflicted upon the battery, then a fire is inevitable. The gas released from the battery is a mix of different fluoride gases (hydrogen fluoride, phosphoryl fluoride). These gases can lead to long term health effects such as chronic lung disease, skin damage, and eye damage (if exposed to eyes).

Example of what the toxic fumes from a lithium-ion battery look like. Burn Hard Zen. (December 28,2014). Lithium Battery Causing Extreme Fumes When Cut [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLc74Qpvweg

Improper disposal of vapes, such as throwing into the ocean or the regular waterways, can have devastating effects on the environment. The toxic chemical inside of the vape liquid and the lithium-ion batteries can leak into the waterways and pollute the oceans and local drinking waters.

Example of a lithium mine in Atacama, Chile. Alvarado, I (2018). [ Lithium extraction on a lithium mine in Chile] [Photograph]. Reuters. https://widerimage.reuters.com/story/water-fight-raises-questions-over-chile-lithium-mining

However, there might still be hope for disposing of vape pens and their pods. If taken apart and each part is recycled on its own, then vapes such as JUUL’s can be disposed of properly and more safely. PEGEX, a hazardous waste disposal service, said to Guardian that in order to properly dispose of hazardous waste such as the vape pen it requires, “removing the filler material, rinsing it under running water until all nicotine residues are removed” (Paul Kira, 2019). The same procedure should be done for the pods,  with the only difference being  that the pods should be sealed with the original plug. The batteries for the vapes should be taken to a proper facility such as an electronic waste facility or even a battery recycling location. The acceptance of such items varies from locations, so contact to these locations is necessary in order for proper disposal. 

Works Cited

“About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Sept. 2020, http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html.

Beres, Damon. “The Unseen Consequences of Your Juul Habit.” Mashable, Mashable, 9 May 2018, mashable.com/2018/05/09/juul-e-waste-recycling/.

Bird, Sophie. “Waste from Vapes Is Polluting Environment.” Indiana Environmental Reporter, 29 Oct. 2019, http://www.indianaenvironmentalreporter.org/posts/waste-from-vapes-is-polluting-environment.

“CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Apr. 2018, emergency.cdc.gov/agent/hydrofluoricacid/basics/facts.asp.

Katwala, Amit. “The Spiralling Environmental Cost of Our Lithium Battery Addiction.” WIRED UK, WIRED UK, 3 Aug. 2018, http://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-environment-impact.

Larsson, Fredrik, et al. “Toxic Fluoride Gas Emissions from Lithium-Ion Battery Fires.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 30 Aug. 2017, http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-09784-z.

“Sales of JUUL e-Cigarettes Skyrocket, Posing Danger to Youth.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Oct. 2018, http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p1002-e-Cigarettes-sales-danger-youth.html.

Transcribers, Motley Fool. “Altria Group Inc (MO) Q1 2019 Earnings Call Transcript.” The Motley Fool, The Motley Fool, 25 Apr. 2019, http://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2019/04/25/altria-group-inc-mo-q1-2019-earnings-call-transcri.aspx.

“Vaping’s Other Problem: Are e-Cigarettes Creating a Recycling Disaster?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 27 Aug. 2019, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/aug/26/vapings-other-problem-are-e-cigarettes-creating-a-recycling-disaster.

“What’s in an E-Cigarette?” American Lung Association, http://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/e-cigarettes-vaping/whats-in-an-e-cigarette.

“Your Vape Litter Is Becoming an Environmental Disaster.” Earther, 24 Oct. 2019, earther.gizmodo.com/your-vape-litter-is-becoming-an-environmental-disaster-1839226689.

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/.

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 www.lonelywhale.org or following @LonelyWhale.

For more information on Ocean Heroes virtual Bootcamp, visit www.oceanheroeshq.com. 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.