Protecting the Ozone

Day 259 – The ozone layer is a thin part of the Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs almost all of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet light.

“Ozone is only a trace gas in the atmosphere—only about 3 molecules for every 10 million molecules of air. But it does a very important job. Like a sponge, the ozone layer absorbs bits of radiation hitting Earth from the sun. Even though we need some of the sun’s radiation to live, too much of it can damage living things. The ozone layer acts as a shield for life on Earth.” – National Geographic

Starting in the early 1970’s, however, scientists found evidence that human activities were disrupting the ozone balance. Human production of chlorine-containing chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has added an additional factor that destroys ozone. This depletion of the ozone layer, in turn, was affecting life on Earth — the destruction of plants and ecosystems, increase in skin cancer, etc. The scientists’ discovery highlighted the importance of the ozone layer and the dire need to preserve it.

The scientific confirmation of the depletion of the ozone layer prompted the international community to establish a mechanism for cooperation to take action to protect the ozone layer. This was formalized in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was adopted and signed by 28 countries, on 22 March 1985. In September 1987, this led to the drafting of The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.” – United Nations

On 16th September 2009, the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol became the first treaties in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratification. September 16 has since then been dedicated each year to the appreciation and preservation of this protective layer and the success of the Vienna Convention.

On this International Day of the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, make sure you are doing your part to protect the ozone.

  1. Avoid the consumption of gases dangerous to the ozone layer, due to their content or manufacturing process. Some of the most dangerous gases are CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), halogenated hydrocarbon, methyl bromide and nitrous oxide.
  2. Minimize the use of cars. The best transport option is urban, bicycle, or walking. If you use a car to a destination, try to carpool with others to decrease the use of cars in order to pollute less and save.
  3. Do not use cleaning products that are harmful to the environment and to us. Many cleaning products contain solvents and substances corrosive, but you can replace these dangerous substances with non-toxic products such as vinegar or bicarbonate.
  4. Buy local products. In this way, you not only get fresh products but you avoid consuming food that has traveled long distances. As the more distance traveled, the more nitrous oxide is produced due to the medium used to transport that product.
  5. Maintain air conditioners, as their malfunctions cause CFC to escape into the atmosphere.

Tomorrow, Grand Rapids is doing something right when it comes to recycling.

Seven Generations Ahead: Building ecological sustainable and healthy communities

Day 242 – Who is Seven Generations Ahead?

SGA works with local government, community and private sector leaders to help communities make the changes they need to build a healthy and sustainable future. Through community-wide sustainability planning and implementation, project design and implementation, educational conferences and forums, community network development, consulting, and programs, SGA is a catalyst for local community solutions to global environmental issues. SGA’s work covers a broad range of sustainability topic areas, including: energy efficiency and renewable energy; transportation; healthy community development; waste reduction; water conservation; green business; procurement; local, sustainable food; healthy eating; open space and ecosystem enhancement; and sustainability education.” – Seven Generations Ahead

Seven Generations Ahead works with various networks, in order to achieve sustainability and healthy communities.

  1. PlanItGreen is the sustainability plan for the communities of Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois.
  2. The Fox Valley Sustainability Network (FVSN) brings together the public and private sectors from around the Fox Valley to cut across boundaries and create a healthy, sustainable and vibrant Fox Valley.
  3. GreenTown conferences are the best way to work with community stakeholders, civic leaders and passionate citizens to jump start a network.
  4. The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) grew out of a one-year food scrap composting forum planning process to support research, programs, education and policy initiatives.
  5. The Wasted Food Action Alliance (WFAA) aims to develop a working strategy and action platform that makes Illinois a leader in reducing wasted food through collaboration, education, and policy.

Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) works with schools, businesses, institutions, and municipalities to provide support for all steps along a path to zero waste from planning to implementation.

  1. Zero Waste Schools
  2. Food Waste Reductions and Composting

Seven Generations Ahead created the Illinois Farm to School Network (IFSN).

IFSN is comprised of teachers, early care providers, food service staff, farmers, students, and others who are working to change food purchasing and education practices in their communities. The network provides training, connects partners, and shares resources about all aspects of farm to school– including local food sourcing, hands-on nutrition education, and school gardening.” – SGA

Seven Generations Ahead also created a project called It’s Our Future.  The project will equip young leaders in Oak Park/River Forest to advocate for climate change solutions that benefit all members of our community.

Seven Generations Ahead is an amazing resource for any community. They are committed to building a healthy and sustainable future for us all.

Tomorrow, a company that will recycle your batteries, for a fee.

Dogs are cute, but their poop stinks!

Day 238 – It’s estimated that there are around 900 million dogs in the world. That means there are a lot of bowls to fill, walks to be taken and poop to clean up. As this blog as mentioned on numerous occasions, I have been on a mission to make my home more environmentally friendly. Just taking the recyclables out to the recycle bin was just not cutting it. So, as I made my way around the house making changes that would benefit the planet, I came across the dog poop issue. I thought I solved the problem by purchasing 100% biodegradable and certified compostable poop bags. Unfortunately, as I was doing research on my biodegradable trash bags (Day 12), I found out a very important fact. Unless that biodegradable/compostable bag is finding its way to a commercial composter and not the landfill, it will not breakdown very easily. Oxygen and warm temperatures are needed in the composting process. Since these two important factors are missing in the landfill, these bags end up staying intact for a very long time.

I looked up commercial composting facilities that deal in dog waste and found nothing in my city or state. There are very few in the country. I looked into at-home dog waste composting systems and they did not appear to be ideal, especially living in a rather dense city dwelling. I’m sure the neighbors would not have appreciated that very much. I even looked up information about flushing dog waste down the toilet. From what I read it was not advised. Also, leaving where it lies is never a good option. People like myself that are magnets for stepping in poop, really do not appreciate those that do not pick up after their dogs. Not to mention there are health concerns connected to not properly disposing of dog waste.

My final solution was to try to minimize the number of bags I put in the trash. Since my dogs prefer to go number two in the backyard, this option was the easiest for us. So, I purchased a small metal garbage can. Once, the waste is picked up the bag goes in the can. I continue to use the same bag until it is filled. I used to use around two to three bags a day, wanting to make sure I kept the backyard clean of dog waste. Now we use one bag every two to three days*. If you do the math, we are down to under 150 bags a year instead of using over 1,000 bags.

As for those biodegradable/compostable poop bags, I will continue to use them. Since, Doogy Be Good bags are made from cornstarch and other bio-based components, when they do eventually breakdown, they will not be releasing any toxic chemicals.

On this National Dog Day find ways that you and your dog can help be more environmentally friendly.

*During the summer months, bag use increases compared to the cooler months. I don’t think I need to explain why.

Tomorrow, the importance of extended producer responsibility.

Yoga Mats Made from Recycled or Renewable Materials

Day 237 – Many yoga mats are made from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). Back on Day 179, I wrote about the harmful effects of PVC and its potential to lead to health issues. So, you can bet having a yoga mat made from PVC is not a wise choice. Here are a few examples of yoga mats made with safer and earth friendly materials. One brand is made from natural rubber, another natural cork and a third, recycled wetsuits.

Jade Yoga

Jade Yoga is the first brand in the US that makes yoga mats with natural rubber. When harvested sustainably, natural rubber is a renewable material that can decompose at the end of life. Jade Yoga provides tips for properly recycling / upcycling old yoga mats. Jade Yoga plants a tree for every yoga mat they sell—so far, they’ve planted more than two million trees with their partnership with Trees for the Future. They also have a Community Partners program where people who generally don’t have a chance to try yoga can receive a grant to do so.

Urbivore

This mat is made from a thin layer of natural cork on top of a natural rubber backing—both are biodegradable and renewable materials. Cork is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, which means it requires minimal maintenance and won’t give off a bad smell. Cork is made from the bark of cork oak trees, mostly grown in Portugal. A cork oak tree stripped of its bark can absorb more CO2 in the regeneration process, so it actually helps combat climate change.

Suga

Suga recycles wetsuits into yoga mats. The name Suga comes from the combination of the words “surf” and “yoga”. Suga has diverted 12,500 wetsuits from the landfill. Not only are the mats made from recycled material, but they are also recyclable. When you are done with your old mat, you can send it back to Suga to make new ones. Suga mats are made in the US.

The next time you are in search of a new yoga mat, consider how healthy the mat is for you and the planet.

Tomorrow, celebrating the dogs.

Nail Polish: Recycling Options & Sustainable Brands

Day 230 – Nail polish is another one of those things that I do not use, but have daughters that do. So, looking into what to do with half used bottles was on the to-do-list. I’m sure many think it’s alright to throw nail polish bottles in the trash. However, the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) considers nail polish to be a household hazardous waste (HHW) due to the toxic chemicals found in nail polish. So, throwing bottles in the trash or pouring unused polish down the drain is not an option.

Chicago residents can drop off nail polish at the Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility, located at 1150 N. North Branch Street. Check out their website for days and times of operation. You can also click HERE to see a full list of other household chemicals they accept. You can also read about what happens to items taken to the Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility by clicking HERE.

For those outside of Chicago, you can enter your ZIP code into Earth911’s recycling search directory to find your nearby HHW facility.

If you’re looking to replace your nail polish with more eco-friendly brands check out the companies below.

Habit – Habit is a black-owned and female-founded vegan cosmetics brand based in the U.S. All of their nail polish is vegan and sustainably made in the US. Their luxurious nail polish bottles are sustainably packaged with a removable bamboo cap and all of the plastic components are made with recycled plastic materials.

Dazzle Dry – Dazzle Dry is based in the US and they continuously strive to adopt more sustainable and ethical practices. They currently uses eco-conscious materials like biodegradable packing peanuts. With every purchase made, a tree is planted in partnership with WeForest.

Base Coat – Base Coat is located in Denver, Colorado. All Base Coat products are formulated to be as clean as possible by cutting out toxins and using plant-based ingredients whenever they can. They also cut down on unnecessary packaging and use recycled, compostable materials to reduce their impact on the environment.

Elle – All of Elle Polish are Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free and vegan. Elle Polish also offers a recycling program where you can send in 5 empty elle polish bottles to be recycled and in return, you’ll get a special edition polish.

Jolie Vegan – Vegan and cruelty free nail polish made in the U.S. Jolie Vegan also gives back. With every purchase, they donate a portion of their sales to charitable organizations such as Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Rooted Woman – Rooted Woman is a black-owned business that offers cruelty-free, gluten free nail polish which is made in the U.S. Rooted Woman curates non-toxic and ethically sourced nail polish.

Tenoverten – A vegan and cruelty-free brand made in the U.S. Tenoverten contains horsetail leaf extract, essential oils, vitamin E and aloe to care for and protect nails. It can be found at Target.

So, if you happen to have environmentally unfriendly nail polish, be sure to dispose of it responsibly. And the next time you’re ready to pick up a new bottle, be sure to check out a more friendly option.

Tomorrow, the best and worst cars emitting carbon dioxide emissions.

Cleaning Has Never Felt So Good

Day 225 – Clorox wipes have always been a staple on many back to school lists. However, the popularity of this cleaning wipe exploded when the pandemic arrived. Stores could not keep them on their shelves and the company could not produce enough to meet the demand.

As we emerge from the pandemic, the need for Clorox wipes has decreased, slightly. However, the need to clean and disinfect surfaces is still a top priority for many. So, I was very exciting to find out that Clorox has a compostable wipe.

Clorox® Compostable Cleaning Wipes pick up dirt — and compost back into dirt. They come in both Simply Lemon and Free & Clear, an unscented version for those who prefer a fragrance-free clean. Best of all, they’re safe to use around kids, pets and food. They’re made with a compostable plant-based cloth, which makes them safe to compost at home, or through your local municipal facility.” – Clorox

Since, they are compostable, they will only break down in conditions ideal for composting (air and heat). These wipes will not break down if placed in your garbage. Just one more reason to start composting!

A three pack of Clorox Compostable Wipes is currently less expensive than a three pack of regular throwaway Clorox wipes. Can the decision to use compostable wipes get any easier?

Tomorrow, green parking.

How Long?

Day 206 – Many of us don’t give much thought as to how long it takes for everyday items to decompose. We throw things out everyday, leaving any and all concern at the trash can. What if we asked the question, “How long until it’s decomposed? Well, the U.S. Coast Guard put together an easy to understand illustration. Take a look and see the amount of time your everyday disposable items take to breakdown and decompose.

As you can see, some plastic will never decompose. It will most likely breakdown and enter our waterways and food chain. It’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed and needs everyone to take notice and make changes in their daily behavior.

Tomorrow, a company using recycled plastic to make their products and even offers a take back program.

Zero Waste Makeup Brands

Day 199 – Those who know me, know I am not big on wearing makeup. However, I do have my moments and I know plenty of people that wear makeup quite often. So, I thought today’s post would be helpful.

Here are just a few brands that have gone plastic and waste free.

  1. Elate Cosmetics – All products are Cruelty-free International certified, PETA certified vegan, and gluten free. This Canadian company lies at the heart of the “conscious beauty movement” that prioritizes ethical sourcing of their ingredients.  They offer zero waste beauty products (including compacts, tools, and palates) that are made of or housed in reusable bamboo. These can then be easily refilled with new product that comes in a seed paper pouch. Just refill your palate then wet the pouch and plant it in your garden to grow herbs and wildflowers.
  2. Clean Faced Cosmetics – They are based in Michigan and make custom made-to-order zero waste beauty products that are palm-oil free, vegan, cruelty-free and as organic as possible. Their products come in reusable metal tins, or you can use containers you already have and order a refill packaged in biodegradable cello bags. Currently, all product packaging is either biodegradable or reusable.
  3. Fat and the Moon – All products are hand-made fresh to order using “plants that are abundant, ethically harvested and organically cultivated and combine them in formulations that are radically non-toxic”. All ingredients are cruelty-free and ethically sourced, every single product comes in reusable tins and all are shipped without extra unneeded packaging. Fat and the Moon is a women owned and run business. They also support various charities and causes in their community.
  4. River Organics – Their makeups are formulated using only organic oils and butters, like Cacao butter, Mango seed butter, Macadamia Nut oil, and Coconut oil. Everything is vegan, cruelty-free, and palm-oil free, and of course packed in compostable cardboard tubes. Based in North Carolina, husband and wife duo Corinne and Fabian handcraft every single one of their products. 
  5. Nudi Goods – Nudi uses only natural and non-toxic ingredients that are cruelty-free and palm-oil free. They prefer to support smaller suppliers that still adhere to organic practices but maybe just can’t afford to pay for the official certification.

A few others you may want to check out include; RMS, Zao and Ilia and Principle Beauty.

Not only will these brands make you feel and look good, but they will help the planet feel and look good, too!

Tomorrow, a very popular doll is getting a makeover.

Hey Humans! You need to check out this brand

Day 196 – I know many people are trying to find plastic free options when out shopping. I also know they are having a difficult time finding those options. Many of the plastic free products that I have purchased, I have found online. Sadly, the plastic free movement has not yet found a home at many brick and mortar stores. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered a line of plastic free personal care products at my local Target. I was also happy to see that the price point was reasonable.

Hey Humans offers 99% plastic free packaging. The 1% that is not plastic free includes the plastic toothpaste cap. Other than that, everything is plastic free. All products are made from recycled aluminum or paper. All products are vegan and cruelty free. All products are naturally derived and are all under $6 (many similar products are twice, if not three times as much).

They offer toothpaste, body wash and deodorant. I am currently using the lavender vanilla deodorant. Check out Day 124, to read my post about the difference between deodorant and antiperspirants. The kids have been using the lavender vanilla body wash. We have all been happy with the products.

Hey Humans can only be found at Target, online and in stores.

Tomorrow, having fun with ocean bound plastic.

Eco Bandages: Plastic free options for your cuts and scrapes

Day 187 – There was always an uptick in the number of Band-Aids that my children needed, once the summer arrived. The combination of more time outside and frequency of wearing shorts, increased the likelihood that an injury would occur. I never gave much thought about the plastic waste created from all those bandages.

It wasn’t until a recent visit to the pharmacy that I noticed an eco-friendly bandage brand. PATCH bandages are 100 percent compostable (wrapper and paper backing included), natural, kid-friendly, hypoallergenic, soothing, vegan, and cruelty-free. It is the world’s first compostable and 100% plastic-free wound care product. It is entirely made out of bamboo fibers and is infused with different natural minerals and oils for different types of wounds. Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource that grows many times faster than trees, uses much less water, produces up to 35 percent more oxygen and doesn’t need pesticides or herbicides.

Patch is a Certified B Corporation. So, you know they are a business that prioritizes the environment and producing a safe product for their consumers. Patch bandages can be found at your local pharmacy and come in a variety of sizes.

So, the next time you need to make someone feel better with a kiss and a bandage, grab a PATCH. It will make yourself feel better, too, knowing you are helping the planet.

“We see scratches, bruises and cuts as little badges of honor. Signs of a life lived to the fullest! Because scratches are natural, so is PATCH.” – PATCH by Nutricare

Tomorrow, inventive ways to use plastic waste.