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.

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!

A Guide to Veganism: How Your Diet is Contributing to the Environment

You may know from previous articles that there are a lot of things that you as an individual can do to help reduce climate change and help the environment as a whole. Going vegan can definitely be added to this list! By reading the rest of this article, you can learn about how eating meat is actually contributing to global warming and negatively impacting the environment, and what you can do to individually change this. This article is not meant to shame anyone for eating meat or make anyone feel bad, it is simply written as a guide to anyone who might want to start going vegan for whatever reason. 

Negative Impacts of Animal Agriculture 

The number and amount of resources that go into meat production and general domestication are enormous. For starters, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has stated that nearly half of all the water in America is used in raising animals for food. More specifically, it takes nearly 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat whereas growing one pound of wheat only takes 25 gallons of water. The list continues: one pound of beef takes about 1,800 gallons whereas corn only needs 108 gallons, etc. Therefore, stopping the consumption of animal products fundamentally reduces your water footprint on the planet and allows you to help save thousands of gallons of freshwater. 

Not only is meat consumption causing an excess of water to be wasted, but it is also one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions as it is responsible for nearly 18% of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Thousands of gallons of water that go towards bulking up the animals to slaughter them and the impact of this is the immeasurable amount of CO2 and methane that is released from the animals and their waste. Researchers calculated that if every single American stopped eating meat, the environmental impact would be the equivalent of removing 60 million cars off the road. This suggests that the emissions of greenhouse gasses due to meat production is much larger than most believe, and by individually choosing to stop eating meat, you could drastically reduce your carbon footprint on the planet. 

While meat production and consumption are the most damaging to the environment, all animal products are harmful and contribute to climate change. The dairy industry, for example, is not only inhumane but also globally emits about 4% of all human-caused emissions alone. Studies have also shown that “in the U.S., every gallon of milk consumed results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 17.6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.” Numbers such as this align with all animal products, including fish and eggs. Although they aren’t as significant as the numbers associated with meat production, cutting all these foods out of your diet can cause a significant environmental change in the long run. 

cows, agriculture, rural life, lowland shoe, black and white, heifers, milk,  dairy | Pikist

Why Should I Go Vegan? 

It may seem like one person choosing to go vegan wouldn’t make much of a difference, but this mindset can be dangerous. As previously stated, just a single pound of meat requires about 2,400 gallons of water and can emit nearly 14.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. By choosing to cut out all animal products, you can contribute to reducing this number and generally reducing your carbon and water footprint. Not only can you help save the environment, but you can also help save the animals. The way that domesticated animals are treated in order to become our food is more horrific than people may think. The dairy industry, for example, causes the cows that end up in this industry to suffer their entire lives. You can learn more about the cruelty and horror within this industry by looking at the list below. 

Tips for Going Vegan

  1. Educate yourself. Watch and read more about the cruelty of animal agriculture, the horrific impacts that it has on our planet, and how a vegan diet can impact your health. We have composed a list to get your research started: 
  • Well-known documentary Forks Over Knives:
https://www.forksoverknives.com/
  • Podcasts:

Main Street Vegan:

Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living with Compassion and Purpose: 

The Bearded Vegans:

  1. Start slow. Cutting out all animal products from your diet after being so used to eating them will be extremely difficult and might cause you to lose determination and go back to these foods. Starting by cutting out one thing at a time for some time can cause your body to adjust to the changes and will give you a better chance of staying vegan. 
  2. Find someone who inspires you. Finding a vegan blogger or nutritionist who inspires you can help motivate you to get started on your journey. Several bloggers also have vegan guides and recipes to help make your journey even easier. Here are a few vegan vloggers you might be interested in:
    1. Pick Up Limes – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq2E1mIwUKMWzCA4liA_XGQ
    2. SweetPotatoSoul – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbmUfoOfNW04K9U7moSDDcw
    3. NikkiVegan – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXc8sao7QK8pm3g4vJpb5kg
    4. Simnett Nutrition – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpyhJZhJQWKDdJCR07jPY-Q

If you don’t find someone who inspires you, it might help to know that some of your favorite celebrities are actually vegan! Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Kate Mara, Venus Williams, Ellen Pompeo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zac Efron, Madonna, Ellen Page, Liam Hemsworth, and Joaquin Phoenix are just a few popular celebrities who helping fight climate change by going vegan. Now it’s your turn! 

Works Cited

Finke, Photograph by Brian. “Eating Meat Has ‘Dire’ Consequences for the Planet, Says Report.” National Geographic, 16 Jan. 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/commission-report-great-food-transformation-plant-diet-climate-change/

Gustin, Georgina, et al. “Cows vs. Nuts: Who Gets to Be Called Milk, and Are They Climate Friendly?” InsideClimate News, 8 Nov. 2018, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24012018/almond-soy-milk-non-dairy-climate-change-impact#:~:text=The%20dairy%20industry%20has%2C%20for,greenhouse%20gases%20equivalent%20to%2017.

“How Much Water Does It Take to Make One Steak?” PETA, 2 Apr. 2015, www.peta.org/videos/meat-wastes-water/

“Meat and the Environment.” PETA, 8 Jan. 2019, www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-environment/

National Geographic Freshwater 101: Food, 18 June 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/food/

Nierenberg, Danielle, et al. “Meat’s Large Water Footprint: Why Raising Livestock and Poultry for Meat Is so Resource-Intensive.” Food Tank, 28 Nov. 2016, https://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources/#:~:text=Shock%20is%20reasonable%20after%20discovering,gallons%3B%20corn%20is%20108%20gallons.

Schiermeier, Quirin. “Eat Less Meat: UN Climate-Change Report Calls for Change to Human Diet.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 8 Aug. 2019, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02409-7

Woodward, Aylin. “Researchers Calculated What Would Happen If the Entire US Stopped Eating Meat. It’d Be like Taking 60 Million Cars off the Road.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 11 Aug. 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/switch-from-meat-to-meatless-diet-environmental-benefits-2019-8#:~:text=The%20researchers%20calculated%20that%20if,of%20carbon%20dioxide%20every%20year. 

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

Check out KaurSpace’s article on eco-anxiety

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

How does Eco-Anxiety manifest?

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

Who is affected?

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

How to Know if You Have Eco-Anxiety

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

How Do You Manage Eco-Anxiety?

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

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

Sources:

Plautz, Jason. “Eco-Anxiety Is Overwhelming Kids. Where’s the Line between Education and Alarmism?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 3 Feb. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/02/03/eco-anxiety-is-overwhelming-kids-wheres-line-between-education-alarmism/?arc404=true

“Eco-Anxiety: What It Is and How to Manage It.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327354#summary

Watson, Stephanie. “How Eco-Anxiety Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 22 June 2020, science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/eco-anxiety.htm.

Easy Ways to Help Fight Climate Change

Climate change is a ginormous issue, so it’s easy to get discouraged when it comes to fighting it. However, there are countless things you can do at home to help. Some of these things not only help fight climate change, but can also save you time and money. 

  1. Turn Off Your Lights

According to NSTAR,”29% of energy use in non-residential buildings is used for lighting. If you turn off the lights whenever you leave a room, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.15 pounds per hour.” Instead of turning lights on during the day, consider letting natural light in by opening the window. In the long run, you’ll be saving light bulbs, money, and the planet.

  1. Save water

Only 2% of the earth’s water is safe for human consumption, and that same water is being polluted. To prevent people from getting sick, this water is pumped and filtered 24/7 to meet the needs of everyone. On average, 2 gallons of water flow through a faucet each minute. Simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth can save up to 4 gallons of water per person a day. This would eventually add up to over 1,000 gallons of water a year. Not wasting water saves you money and helps fight climate change.

  1. Consider Purchasing Solar Panels

Solar power is a 100% clean, renewable energy source. As long as the sun is out, your home will be powered, without releasing any greenhouse gases. The average savings for a New Jersey resident over 20 years is $23,000.

  1. Ride a Bike or Walk More

Walking and/or riding a bike releases no greenhouse gases, reduces noise pollution, and reduces congestion. It provides a great workout for your whole body. Not to mention, it’s fun!

  1. Vote

One of the easiest ways to help the environment is to vote for candidates who will actively help fight climate change. Especially this year with the upcoming presidential election, it has never been more important to get out there and vote!

Sources:

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! 

Composting 101

Over 22% of discarded solid waste sent to landfills is food. You may think that it is a good thing because now the food has a chance to decompose into the earth. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When food waste is properly composted, it will produce carbon dioxide, fertilizer for new plants, and a good home for worms. Landfills are extremely toxic places with plastic or clay lining on the bottom. So when food is sent to the landfill it will end up generating tons of methane gas and doesn’t provide any benefits. If everyone in the U.S. alone composted their wasted food, it would have the same environmental impact as removing 7.8 million cars off the road according to the Composting Council. When you compost you not only gain fertilizer for you plants, but you help lower your carbon footprint!

How to Set Up a Garden Compost Bin According to the EPA

  1. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
  2. Add brown* and green* materials as they are collected. Make sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded.
  3. Moisten dry materials as they are added.
  4. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
  5. Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist.

When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.

*Browns (carbon-based materials like dead leaves, branches, twigs, brown paper, newspaper)

*Greens (nitrogen-based materials like grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, coffee grounds)

Waste For Composting

  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Flowers – stems should be chopped up; however, don’t use diseased plants.
  • Nettles act as good natural activators.
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings
  • Vegetable crop residue, such as potato and tomato plants.
  • Young weeds, but avoid perennials.
  • Herbivore manure, such as from horses, cows, and rabbits.
  • Tea leaves, but tea bags will take longer to break down.
  • Dead or fallen leaves – use only small amounts
  • Shredded paper
  • Coffee grounds and filter – use only paper filters
  • Cardboard torn into small pieces
  • Woody hedge clippings and twigs ideally put through a shredder
  • Sawdust mixed well with more aerated material
  • Herbivore bedding, such as hay and straw
  • Eggshells washed and crushed up
  • Hair – either human or animal hair since both are high in nitrogen
  • 100 percent wool or cotton cut into small pieces or tumble-dryer lint
  • Vacuum-bag contents, but use common sense as to what has been picked up
  • Wood ash in small quantities

What Not to Compost

  • Meat and fish (cooked and raw) can harbor disease and attract vermin.
  • Dog and cat feces can harbor disease.
  • Cat litter will normally contain feces.
  • Glossy magazines contain too many inorganic chemicals.
  • Barbecue coals and coal ash contain harmful sulfur oxides.

Sources:

“Composting At Home.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Nov. 2019, www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home.

Lauren. “How to Set Up a Kitchen Compost the Easy Way: Zero Waste Memoirs.” The Zero Waste Memoirs, 27 Apr. 2020, zerowastememoirs.com/baby-step-5-kitchen-compost/ 

Organicsociety. “Composting Tips – How to Setup Your Own Compost.” The Organic Society, 29 Mar. 2018, www.organicsociety.co/composting-tips-how-to-setup-your-own-compost/ 

“Sustainable Management of Food Basics.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 19 June 2020, www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/sustainable-management-food-basics. “What Happens To Food Scraps That Are Thrown Away?” Basmati, 24 Dec. 2017, basmati.com/2016/12/01/what-happens-food-scraps-are-thrown-away `