Plastic Flood: Another “Contribution” of COVID-19

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


DISPOSABLE MASKS: PLASTIC IN DISGUISE

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

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

Marine plastic waste. Source: World Economic Forum


WHAT CAUSED THE PLASTIC OVERFLOW IN COVID?

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

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

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO EASE THE SITUATION?

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

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

— Barbara Mikulski

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


CONCLUSION

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

Sources 

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on waste management. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10668-020-00956-y

From the barrel to the pump: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prices for petroleum products. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2020/article/from-the-barrel-to-the-pump.htm#_edn3

Face masks and the environment: Preventing the next plastic problem. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210310122431.htm 

How face masks, gloves and other coronavirus waste is polluting our ocean. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/ppe-masks-gloves-coronavirus-ocean-pollution/

Coronavirus is causing a flurry of plastic waste. Campaigners fear it may be permanent. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/04/world/coronavirus-plastic-waste-pollution-intl/index.html

Radioactivity In The Environment

In the 21st century, there are lots of chemicals and locations of poison that might affect our health. Something that is unavoidable in this day and age is radiation.Every gadget we have, own, or have/will be around gives off some form of radiation. Depending on the severity of the radiation exposure, the long and short effects vary. It is important to know, the same way low-level radiation is a “contributor to our overall cancer risk” (EPA, n.d.), the environment feels the effects of radiation the same way. At first glance, it might be difficult that two different kingdoms of organisms-plantae and animalia- can feel the same effects of both low and high levels of radiation. Since cells are the building blocks of life, both plant and animal cells contain the same components (except for a few minor structural differences but still would not withstand radiation damage). Radiation in certain levels and types can be beneficial for plants and animals such as aiding in photosynthesis (solar radiation); however, for the following discussion primarily man made radiation will be the focal point to add emphasis on the dettsutuce qualities that man made objects have on the environment. 

Short term effects of radiation are seen within a reasonable observable time period and hopefully can be replicated for other scientists to conduct and observe as well. Roughly what radiation does to a cell is destroy the DNA inside, preventing it from properly replicating. (Reggiel, 2018). Animals may experience radiation sickness of which the symptoms are similar to those experienced in humans. Plants too have damaged DNA if exposed to long enough radiation and experience stunted growth, “reproduction effects, including sterility, reduction in reproduction rate, and occurrence of developmental abnormalities or reduction in viability of offspring… mortality, including both acute lethality and long-term reduction in lifespan… and, direct burn damage to exposed tissue” (Miller, 2015). Ionizing radiation and its damage is the reason why the defects observed by ionized plants and radiation survivors occur.

Photo Researchers, Inc. (2013). Radiation And Tomato Plants [Photograph]. Fine Art American. https://fineartamerica.com/featured/radiation-and-tomato-plants-photo-researchers-inc.html

There is one location in the Pacific Island that needs more attention because of the serious effects it could have in the future if damaged. The Runit Dome serves as a repository for all the “atomic waste the United States produced during Cold War weapons testing” (Rust, 2020). Storing atomic waste is always difficult to do due to the risks and high safety produced needed to maintain the sites of storage. Storage facilities need high manitiane condiring the high danger the ionizing radiation has on the environment. Nathan Falde from GreenTumble explain the storage of leftover atomic waste as, “Extra care must be taken if nuclear waste is transported to offsite locations, to make sure accidents don’t happen and that any possibility of leakage or theft”, and that “Deep underground burial in geologically stable locations is the best way to dispose of radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants” (Falde, 2018). Given that nuclear fuel is a better alternative to burning fossil fuels, the side effects of nuclear power seem to be just as terrible. The underground burials as described by Falde are safe from humans because of their large distance from us; however, at some point underground locations run out of space and when that happens, where will scientists and governments find room to place the leftover atomic waste?

As for the Runit Dome on the Marshalls Islands, as of June 2020, “is not in any immediate danger of collapse or failure”, and “[t]here are no data to suggest that…  the radioactive material encapsulated within the containment structure, … is expected to have any adverse effect on the environment in 5, 10, or 20 years” (U.S. Department of Energy, 2020). As the document shows, the news that nothing negative can or will happen is uplifting because it proves that the dome is contained well enough to preserve the integrity of human life. However, tagging with climate change and its effects on storm severity can prove otherwise. With current weather patterns it could be safe to write that nothing can happen to the dome and its contents; however, because climate change amplifies storm severity, erosion of the dome can occur quicker and its effects unknown. Although reports say that the dome is no immediate danger, leakage into nearby waterways can lead to biomagnification of the ionizing particles leading to poisoned waterways and fish. The Marshall Islands main exports are, “ Passenger and Cargo Ships ($852M), Non-fillet Frozen Fish ($83.2M), Recreational Boats ($56.6M), Broadcasting Equipment ($33.9M), and Coal Tar Oil ($20.2M)” and their top imports are” (OEC, 2019). One can only infer that if $83 million dollars worth of fish is being exported from these Islands, the magnification of toxins will not only affect the local people of the islands but also the people of the lands that they are exporting to which are Poland and Denmark (OEC, 2019). 

Aerial photo of the Runit Dome. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
U.S. Department of Education. (n.d). Aerial photo of the Runit [Photograph]. Earth Animals. https://earthanimals.org/the-runit-dome-is-a-radioactive-tomb-thats-slowly-cracking-open/

Ionising radiation is starting to seep into our environment with the government’s permission. With enough leakage into ecosystems and the environments, sooner or later, they will get polluted past the point of saving. The Runit Dome on the Marshall Islands should set the example of past mistakes seeping future generation’s problems. There is no excuse for covering up the damage on the dome and other atomic waste sites. Places like these should be taken care of to ensure the safety of the current and future generations. If not, the survival of the food sources in local waterways, major export and import islands would cease to contribute to international food trade, causing the world to go into an international food shortage.

Works Cited

Effects of Radiation on Plants, large.stanford.edu/courses/2015/ph241/miller1/.

Falde, Nathan, et al. “Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal Problems.” Greentumble, 5 Dec. 2020, greentumble.com/nuclear-waste-storage-and-disposal-problems/.

“Healthy Pets: A Dog Owners Manual on How To Treat For Radiation Sickness.” Healthy Pets: All About Your Pet And Radiation Sickness, http://www.dogfooddangers.com/news/healthy-pets-radiation-sickness.php.

“Marshall Islands (MHL) Exports, Imports, and Trade Partners.” OEC, oec.world/en/profile/country/mhl/.

Mizokami, Kyle. “Congress Demands Investigation Into the U.S.’s Nuclear Coffin.” Popular Mechanics, Popular Mechanics, 30 Dec. 2019, http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a30338371/congress-investigation-runit-dome-nuclear-waste/.

Qrius, and Qrius. “The Impact of Nuclear Radiation on the Environment: from Lethal to Life-Saving.” Qrius, 18 Feb. 2021, qrius.com/the-impact-of-nuclear-radiation-on-the-environment-from-lethal-to-life-saving/.

“Radiation Health Effects.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 14 Apr. 2021, http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radiation-health-effects.

“Report on the Status of the Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands.” U.S. Department of Energy, June 2020, https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/06/f76/DOE-Runit-Dome-Report-to-Congress.pdf

“This Dome in the Pacific Houses Tons of Radioactive Waste – and It’s Leaking.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 July 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/03/runit-dome-pacific-radioactive-waste.“U.S. Says Leaking Nuclear Waste Dome Is Safe; Marshall Islands Leaders Don’t Believe It.”

Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 1 July 2020, http://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-07-01/us-says-nuclear-waste-safe-marshall-islands-runit-dome.

McDouble Trouble

Introduction 

McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast-food restaurant chain. The enamored restaurant chain feeds 68 million people every day and makes 75 million US dollars each day. This corporate giant alone has one of the largest cultural, political, economic, and environmental impacts of any company in history. Their influence is one of the strongest in many aspects and life and can change lifestyles globally. However, their track record is far from unsoiled.

The Problem

As one of the world’s largest purchasers of beef, McDonalds uses over 350,000 cattle a year. Its menus are rooted in the suffering and slaughter of millions of animals. The majority of them are intensively farmed, with little access to fresh air or sunlight, as well as little freedom of movement in tight quarters. Needless to say, the quality of life for these animals is atrocious. Along with this, the raising of such farms is labor-intensive and is environmentally costly. A problem that is surprisingly an issue with cattle is the  large amount of farts released by cows into the atmosphere. Farts produce methane, a chemical that is “80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere” (Methane: A Crucial Opportunity in the Climate Fight) is a major contributor to the global warming crisis. McDonald’s receives their meat from privatized farms. Within these privatized farms, their practices include many unethical ones because they are not held responsible for their accountability. These farms are major contributors to the deforestation of large jungles and forests that displace many forms of wildlife all for creating cattle farms. The destruction of rainforests is used to grow grain for the large livestock and poultry demand globally. Soybean farms, which are the cheapest way of feeding poultry, are also a contributor to mass deforestation and a major contributor to greenhouse gasses. This increasing demand only incentivizes them to continue to keep up with demand and increase their profits. 

Mcdonalds promise

 The good news is that Mcdonald’s is taking some sort of accountability. On their website, they have updated their plans for a more sustainable future. Among the many promises, important ones the company plans on fulfilling are: 

  • Packaging and waste

There is a lot of waste that is created from a single order. Just think of the wrapper, cup, lid, straw, napkin, bag, etc. it takes to serve one person. A lot of the packaging is unnecessary.

  • Sustainable Agriculture & Beef

There is no real way of sustaining beef. McDonald’s must find new ways of serving food with different ingredients to move towards a greener future. A good way would be to implement plant-based options and their agriculture needs to be restructured to successfully serve their promise of eliminating deforestation.

  • Water Stewardship

          Too much water is sacrificed for the convenience of quickly watering plants.

“Where McDonald’s goes, usually the rest of the restaurant industry eventually follows,” said Sara Senatore, a senior research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., who focuses on the restaurant industry. “It’s hard for other companies not to follow suit eventually” (Washington Post, 2021) .

On their website, the plan overall is to move towards a much more “sustainable future” by 2030. On the surface, this seems like a good thing, but it is not enough. These promises should realistically be placed in effect immediately, but they are not. As a company, they are more worried about their image and that is the issue. A great benefit to McDonalds promise is that other large fast-food chains will see this and follow suit.It is how other companies get good press and remain competitive, so it is overall not the worst problem to have.

What you can do 

There is no doubt that McDonalds number one  priority is to line their pockets with as much money as possible, but by continuing to pressure them and making decisions on the individual level, people will be able to have a positive effect on the environment. McDonalds ,of course, is not alone in this problem and all of the restaurant industry should be held accountable. One of the best ways to combat this is to eat home-cooked meals. Besides all the great environmental impacts meals cooked at home can have, your health will also substantially improve. 

“It takes seven kilocalories of energy to produce food, but processing, packaging, and transporting it takes another ten. In plain language, that means it takes more than double the amount of energy to process food than it does to grow it”(Forbes, 2012). 

As a society, we should take strides to also improve our lifestyles. There is extensive research that has revealed the multitude of evidence that advocates for cooking at home. Why wouldn’t anyone want to increase their quality of life? Making meals at home allows you to acquire sustainable foods, waste less food, use less energy, and it also has a lower environmental effect. The best way to implement this lifestyle is to try incorporating a plant-based diet. McDonalds is just one of the many dynastic food chains that need to be held accountable for their actions, thus stay out of the McTrouble!

Sources:

Siegel, Rachel. “McDonald’s Announces Major Environmental Goals for 2030, Sending a Signal to the Restaurant Industry.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Mar. 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/03/21/mcdonalds-announces-green-initiatives-for-2030-and-sends-a-signal-to-the-restaurant-industry/.  

“If McDonald’s Is Serious about Reducing Its Carbon Footprint, It May Need to Rethink the Hamburger.” The Counter, 14 Jan. 2020, thecounter.org/mcdonalds-greenhouse-gas-emissions-reduction-pledge-beef/. 

What’s Wrong with McDonald’s?, http://www.mcspotlight.org/campaigns/translations/trans_uk.html. 

https://corporate.mcdonalds.com/corpmcd/our-purpose-and-impact/our-planet.html

“40 Interesting Facts about McDonald’s.” Serious Facts, 24 July 2020, http://www.seriousfacts.com/mcdonalds-facts/. 

“Methane: A Crucial Opportunity in the Climate Fight.” Environmental Defense Fund, http://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight. 

Hoffman, Beth. “What’s So Great About Cooking? Four Reasons (and Resources) to DIY.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Aug. 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2012/06/18/whats-so-great-about-cooking-four-reasons-and-resources-to-diy/?sh=678d58a35756. 

Prioritizing Climate Change & Inequality in Agriculture

THE JUSTICE FOR BLACK FARMERS ACT

Sign Our Petition in Support of the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 to Cancel Pigford Debt. Acres of Ancestry Initiative/ Black Agraian Fund, sign.moveon.org/petitions/join-acres-of-ancestry-initiative-black-agrarian-fund-in-support-of-justice-for-black-farmers-act.

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

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

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

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

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

Specifically, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will:

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

Sources:

January 29, 2021 Allison Johnson Andrea Spacht Collins. “Biden Sets Stage for Climate Resilient Food & Agriculture.” NRDC, 29 Jan. 2021, www.nrdc.org/experts/andrea-spacht-collins/biden-sets-stage-climate-resistant-food-agriculture.

Rappeport, Alan, and Ana Swanson. “Biden Administration Ramps Up Debt Relief Program to Help Black Farmers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Mar. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/03/25/us/politics/biden-debt-relief-black-farmers.html.  

Tabuchi, Hiroko, and Nadja Popovich. “Two Biden Priorities, Climate and Inequality, Meet on Black-Owned Farms.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 Jan. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/climate/black-farmers-discrimination-agriculture.html.  

“U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.” Home, 9 Feb. 2021, www.booker.senate.gov/news/press/booker-warren-gillibrand-smith-warnock-and-leahy-announce-comprehensive-bill-to-address-the-history-of-discrimination-in-federal-agricultural-policy.   

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

The Effect of Climate Change on Food Security

“Food Insecurity and Climate Change.” Climate Change – Hunger Risk Multiplier, World Food Programme (WFP), awellfedworld.org/food-insecurity-climate-change/

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

What is Food Security & Food Insecurity?

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

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

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

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

How is Climate Change Specifically Threatening Food Security?

Andrew J. Challinor et al., Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (New York: IPCC, 2014), https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WGIIAR5-Chap7_FINAL.pdf.

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

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

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

How Do We Strengthen Food Security & Fight Hunger?

The Future of Food and Farming: 2030. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), http://www.elsevier.com/connect/how-will-climate-change-affect-food-security.

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

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

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

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

Sources:

“Climate Change and Food Security: A Test of U.S. Leadership in a Fragile World.” Climate Change and Food Security: A Test of U.S. Leadership in a Fragile World | Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS Briefs, 15 Oct. 2019, www.csis.org/analysis/climate-change-and-food-security-test-us-leadership-fragile-world

“Food Security.” Ifpri.org, International Food Policy Research Institute, www.ifpri.org/topic/food-security.  

“Agriculture and Food Security.” U.S. Agency for International Development, 15 Apr. 2019, www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/agriculture-and-food-security.  

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.

Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawaiʻi Interview

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have a social media interview on Instagram  with Dyason Chee, founder of Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i. We are so honored to work with such a special, hard-working, and determined individual. At only such a young age, Chee has done so many outstanding things in tackling plastic pollution and helping improve the environment.

Briefly introduce yourself to the audience and tell us about your journey – where do you live and study, what got you interested in the environment and plastic pollution, and what are you doing at the moment?

Aloha mai kākou! My name is Dyson Chee, and I am a college freshman living in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. My story starts with the ocean. Living in Hawaiʻi youʻre completely surrounded by the ocean, so I grew up with it and it became my second home. I loved going to the beach and exploring the deep blue waters. Eventually, my exploration of the ocean led me to something called plastic pollution. As I went to the beach, I gradually began to notice the rubbish that was strewn about it, and it only got worse as time went by. I eventually decided that I had to do something to protect my second home, and that is when I started taking on plastic pollution through Project O.C.E.A.N.

What is Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what is its main goal(s)?

Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawaii takes on single-use plastic pollution through two means: education and activism. Education involves letting people know that plastic pollution is a problem, and more importantly what we can do about it. And one of the ways we can take on plastic pollution is through activism. Activism involves passing legislation and getting the community civically engaged with this legislation.

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

I believe that everyone should be civically involved. I know a lot of the solutions are focused on individual consumption, which does matter. Unfortunately, individual consumption alone will never solve the climate crisis. We are already seeing this in the COVID-19 pandemic–air travel has gone down drastically, yet the amount of emissions going into the air are still extraordinarily high. Why? Well part of it is the fact that we are still largely dependent on fossil fuels, and as we are all at home we are having to use more energy than usual. But for those of use who are dependent on the electricity grid, itʻs not like we can just say, “well Iʻm not going to use electricity since itʻs all fossil fuels.” And you can only reduce your consumption by so much. As an individual you still do have power, and that power is strongest when we get together and advocate. Advocate for energy companies to transition to clean energy. Advocate for the government to take meaningful climate action. This is what makes me excited: when the community gets together and successfully advocates for something.

Do you have any advice to people who want to help the environment, particularly 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?

This advice is very specifically geared towards those who are interested in using activism and advocacy as a means of fighting climate change (or any issue, really). Donʻt be afraid to start small. When we think of government, we usually think of national or international bodies. Like the President, or the United Nations. While it is true that both are a part of governments, they are not necessarily the most impactful ones in your community. The state, county, and city governments have a lot of power, and their decisions are usually the ones that impact everyday life for you and your community. So start there. They are easier to access, are more likely to listen to you, and can be more open to change.

What great things does Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i plan to do next? What is its future and do you plan to expand this initiative beyond just Hawai’i?

For growing your platform and building a larger audience, Iʻll be honest, you just have to put in the work and energy. But what does help is to partner with other organizations. You can both help each other grow your platforms, collaborate on projects, and create coalitions to support each other. That coalition building has been very helpful in Hawaiʻi, especially when there is a specific goal (for example, passing a bill). I have actually since moved on to Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition, another organization focused on achieving climate justice. However, I still do presentations under the umbrella of Project O.C.E.A.N.

Besides being a guest on the Lonely Whale podcast, 52 Hertz, where can people learn more about you and Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i?

So if anyone would like to contact me, please feel free to reach out to either projectoceanhawaii@gmail.com or my Instagram @project_ocean_hawaii.

Listen to Dyson Chee on Episode 4 of 52 Hertz: The Lonely Whale Podcast. Check out Eco-Youth’s article, Lonely Whale Interiew, to learn more about Lonely Whale.

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!