Yes, you read that correctly. 5 trillion pieces of plastic. After 24 expeditions occurring from 2007 to 2013, 5 Gyres Institute has recently concluded and published a report that states that there are a total of 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently circulating in our oceans. These pieces, which equal 296,000 tons, can be found throughout the entire ocean, including many ecosystems; this contradicts the common assumptions that most of the plastic pieces are found mainly in gyres, which are large systems of rotating ocean currents.
But where does all of this trash come from? According to Anastasia Pantsios’ article, the plastic is “swept into the ocean from rivers, coastal activity and shipping lanes.” The plastic then becomes degraded into microplastics and travels throughout the ocean. It becomes very easy for marine animals to then accidentally ingest these pieces. With this report, 5 Gyres Institute hopes to spark companies into taking action to create better, more eco-friendly packaging that will eliminate many –single use packages. Fortunately, according to Michael Eriksen, 5 Gyres Institute’s director of research, “if we stop adding to the problem, the oceans will clean themselves.”
Read the full story here.
Based in Vancouver, Canada, LUSH Handmade Cosmetics’ mission is to make effective products from fresh organic fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils, and safe synthetics. The cosmetics company purchases ingredients only from companies that do not conduct or commission tests on animals, and they only test their products on humans. Furthermore, LUSH invents its own products and fragrances, making its products fresh by hand using little or no preservative or packaging and using only vegetarian ingredients.
The company’s inventors started making products by visiting farmer’s markets and flower shops, bringing their fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers back to their labs, and infusing them into their newest inventions. In fact, LUSH has its own ingredient encyclopedia called LUSHopedia. LUSH keeps track of all of the ingredients it uses in its products and lists them alphabetically in LUSHopedia (from African marigold oil to zinc oxide).
In addition to using as little packaging as possible, LUSH’s commitment to environmental stewardship includes finding ways to eliminate waste. The company works hard to ensure that the majority of its output from making and transporting products is recycled, composted, or re-used. Also, LUSH makes it a priority to use ingredients that are produced in a sustainable way. In keeping with this fresh, eco-friendly philosophy, LUSH uses almond and olive oil—not mineral oil—partly because the company thinks (as they state on their website) that “fields of trees make our lives much richer than oil fields.”
By the numbers: Just this year at LUSH, responsible buying of recycled supplies for the company’s administrative offices helped save over 300 trees; 511,363 liters of water (135,000 gallons of water); and 675 gallons of oil. Moreover, LUSH’s responsible buying also helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28,000 CO2 equivalents. Thus, LUSH’s commitment to environmental stewardship has had and continues to have a significant, positive impact on the environment.
To visit LUSH’s website, click here.
To peruse the complete list of ingredients LUSH uses in its products, click here.
To learn why LUSH made the 2014 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers, click here.
Earth Day 2014 marks the 44th anniversary of the annual event and will see over a billion people worldwide celebrating the day of action.
This year’s Earth Day focuses on green cities to highlight the impact of more and more people migrating to cities to live.
“With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future,” event organisers said. “Nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people.”
To mark Earth Day 2014, IBTimes UK looks at some of the ways people can save energy, become more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Taking public transport, cycling or using a car pool for just two days out of the week for the commute to work can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1,600 pounds per year. Similarly, by saving up car journeys for shopping trips and errands, and doing them all in one go, will help reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, and save money.
Check how energy efficient you are by looking into how much of your power comes from renewable sources, such as wind or solar energy. Using green power – if optional – will help to reduce greenhouse emissions as well as protect against future costs of fossil fuel scarcity.
Completing an energy audit of your home to work out where you can save money will have a big impact on the environment and your wallet. This can be through simple changes, such as replacing conventional light bulbs with energy efficient ones, or through installing your own green power sources such as solar panels.
There are a number of ways people can use water more efficiently. The planet only has a small amount of water available for human consumption, so using this resource sensibly is paramount.
- Don’t pre-rinse dishes before loading them into a dishwasher – tests showed it does not improve cleaning and you will save about 20 gallons per load. If your dishwasher is inefficient, buy a new one that saves water – it will be worth it in the long-term.
- Shower instead of bath – a five minutes shower will save up to 25 gallons of water in comparison to running a full bath.
- Installing a water-efficient showerhead will also save water and money.
- Fix leaks from faucets as this will mean you use less water and save thousands of gallons each year. To test if you have leaks, you can check the metre before and after a period of a few hours while no water is being used. If the meter has changed, there is likely a leak somewhere.
- Only use the washing machine when you have a full load and if the machine is inefficient, buy a new one. Newer models use just 28 gallons compared with older machines that use up to 41.
Recycling around the home can be done in a number of ways – instead of throwing out garden waste, create a for natural disposal. Food waste from the kitchen can also be added to the heap to break down naturally, meaning you can also save money on fertilisers.
Read the full story here.
Metro Vancouver’s waste stream continues to be littered with an over-abundance of food waste and plastics, but paper products aren’t piling up as much they once were.
A 2013 waste composition monitoring study suggests food waste remains the largest component of the overall waste stream — making up 42 per cent of all multi-family waste, 40 per cent among single families and 29 per cent in the industrial, commercial and institutional facilities.
The findings come as Metro Vancouver is in the midst of banning all food waste from garbage bins across the region, effective next year.
Kitchen trash cans will be officially off limits to table scraps — including everything from tea bags and mashed potatoes to greasy paper towels and chicken bones — which are to be dumped into lawn clipping bins for curbside collection.
The push is part of Metro Vancouver’s goal to divert 70 per cent of the region’s waste from landfills by 2015 — up from 55 per cent now — and 80 per cent by 2020.
Read the full story here.
In addition to being one of Canada’s most successful integrated media and entertainment companies, Corus Entertainment has received accolades such as being among the 2013 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers and the 2013 list of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. The company owns 39 radio stations and delivers numerous television services, and it does so in a sustainable way.
Corus Quay, the new Toronto headquarters for Corus Entertainment, has implemented a number of eco-friendly initiatives. The building is accessible by public transportation, and the company encourages sustainable forms of transportation by offering 75 tenant-exclusive bicycle racks. Moreover, Corus Entertainment has taken steps toward water and energy conservation. The company has installed low-flow water fixtures throughout the building and a rooftop cistern that collects rainwater, initiatives that have resulted in Corus Entertainment reducing water consumption by upwards of 30%. A Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) system has been installed throughout the interior of the building, which consists of occupancy sensors that provide light only when someone is present and a daylight harvesting technique that dims the ballasts when natural light is abundant. These system features have reduced the amount of energy required by the lighting system by upwards of 30%. Energy efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment that is programmed based on solar exposure, location, occupancy, and space utilization has also been installed in the building. Also, carbon dioxide sensors have been installed to measure the approximate number of occupants in a particular area at any given time—information that is used to determine the exact amount of ventilated air required in a specific area, thereby reducing the amount of energy required for the HVAC system.
During the Corus Quay construction process, more than 75% of construction waste was diverted from landfills by salvaging materials for reuse and recycling. In addition, upwards of 20% of the materials used in the construction of Corus Quay’s interiors were made from recycled content, reducing the amount of energy required in the production of the materials. Upwards of 10% of the materials used were both extracted and manufactured locally. The wood wall treatment in the Orientation and Atrium space is reclaimed hemlock from a 1910 ferry terminal wharf in Toronto Harbour. The use of local goods and materials promotes the growth of local businesses and reduces the energy required to transport materials and products to the construction site.
Corus Quay features green rooftops that help reduce the heat-island effect. It also features a five story biowall in the Atrium. The plants that compose the biowall naturally clean the air and reduce energy consumption, improving air quality in the building.
To visit the Corus Entertainment website, click here.
To learn more about Corus Entertainment’s sustainability initiatives, click here.
After Freshair Boutique owner Praise Okwumabua had two children, she began to notice just how badly the hair industry affected the environment. She established Freshair Boutique in 2010 with the goal of putting “the best you together, while doing the least damage possible to the earth and ourselves.” She recognized that there were ways her business could help the environment while helping customers with their beauty concerns.
Shortly after opening Freshair, Praise was able to get a green business certification for her business. She managed to do so by using environmentally conscious products that are sourced and manufactured in Winnipeg. All of Freshair’s shampoos and conditioners are free of harmful chemicals like parabens and sulphates, and most of its products are made with 100% natural ingredients. Freshair also offers recycling programs to its clients.
The motto Praise adopted for the boutique was: “Reclaim your beauty, restore your individuality, rejuvinate your perspective.” The Freshair philosophy is that looking good is a large part of feeling good and that taking care of yourself physically and being aware of the environment that you live in should, and can, work together.
To visit the Freshair Boutique website, click here.
To read more about Freshair from Yelp’s business review, click here.
As bitter winter winds blow through the leafless trees and forest birds search for the shelter of an evergreen, we can offer them some help by repurposing our leftover holiday greenery.
With the loss of woodlands, backyard habitats have become increasingly important for birds that stay with us through the winter months. Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology just published a friendly reminder that we can extend the usefulness of our holiday trees, wreaths and other greenery by putting them near feeders and in yards, among other things, to offer birds thermal refuge, instead of just tossing them to the curb.
Arranging evergreen branches near feeders and birdbaths can protect birds from wind and storms and provide hours of bird watching entertainment from the comfort of our homes. They can also be turned into birdhouses, which small birds will use in the winter if they’re left up year round. However, if that kind of project isn’t in the cards for you, simply creating a pile of brush outside with leftover trees will also help provide shelter and create a refuge and hiding place for birds and other wildlife.
Roosting in dense conifers in the cold of winter provides body heat for birds and can save them 1.3 hours of feeding the next day, according to the lab.
Read the full story here.
California has become an interesting test-case for both approaches to one plastic problem.
Back in 2006, California passed a law that mandated a system for recycling plastic shopping bags. Today, supermarkets and other large stores have receptacles where plastic bags can be returned for recycling.
However, a recent report from the Associated Press found that it’s difficult to measure how successful this program has been. They found that the data collected by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery has not been analyzed since 2009, when about 3 percent of bags made it to recycling. The department did provide reporters with the raw data:
“Retailers reported purchasing 62.3 million pounds of bags in 2012, down from 107.4 million in 2008. They reported 4 million pounds of bags and 27 million pounds of mixed bags and plastic film were returned for recycling in 2012.
Read the full story here.
Help Create a Less Wasteful Future: Take the Waste Out of Takeout!
We are on a quest to make the world a better, cleaner, less wasteful place, and we’re starting with takeout containers. BizeeBoxTM drastically reduces the need for disposable takeout containers by offering the easiest-to-use, most technologically advanced reusable takeout container service in the United States.
What is a “reusable takeout container service,” you ask? Well, after you sign up for BizeeBox for free, it basically works like this:
- You ask for a BizeeBox container when you order takeout food or take leftovers home from a restaurant
- You check out the container (just like you would a library book) using our super-cool smartphone application
- You enjoy your food when and where you want, then return the container to one of BizeeBox’s convenient drop-off locations
- BizeeBox collects used containers from the drop-off locations, checks them in for you, cleans and sanitizes so they are good as new, and redistributes clean containers to restaurants to start the cycle again!
To view this Indiegogo campaign, click here: Bizeebox: Taking the Waste Out of Takeout
As ambassadors to the planet, the creators of “EcoStreet” provide product reviews and compile the top stories that inspire green living, including eco-travel to an Ecuadorian hut or treehouse in the Philippines and artful recycling that turns soda cans into sculpture, plastic bottles into a chandelier and circuit boards into collage.
To check out this blog, click here: