Sustainable Phone Cases

Day 164 – Our household was in need of a couple new phone cases. There were numerous options for environmentally friendly phone cases. We decided to go with Pela.

Here are a few of the reasons we decided to purchase Pela phone cases.

  1. Their cases are 100% compostable. They will completely break down in 3 to 6 months, in proper composting conditions.
  2. They are Climate Neutral Certified. They offset and reduce all of their greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. They are a certified B-Corporation. B-Corporations have met the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
  4. They are a member of 1% for the Planet. They take 1% of their profits and donate to environmental organizations.
  5. Pela’s 360 program will take your old phone case (from another brand) for FREE to recycle or upcycle it for you and if it’s an old Pela case, they’ll upcycle it into a new Pela product or compost it for you.
  6. Pela offers a Screen Protection Guarantee Policy on almost all of their phone cases.

Pela also has Habitat, which offers a line of plastic free personal hygiene products. They also created Lomi, a countertop composter. Pela has a line of plastic free pet care products called Barxby. They also have a line of compostable sunglasses and blue light glasses, Pela Vision.

If you end up switching to a more sustainable phone case and the company does not offer to recycle your old case, be sure to check out TerraCycle’s PopSockets Recycling Program. Through this program you can recycle phone cases. You can also drop off your old phone cases at the Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s Recycle Popup. Our next popup is on June 19th.

We look forward to the arrival of our new environmentally friendly phone cases. They should be arriving any day!

Tomorrow, our first farmer’s market experience.

Random Acts of Green

Day 161 – I can only hope that this blog has brought some people a few good ideas and a little inspiration when it comes to living a more environmentally friendly life. I am just one of thousands blogs/websites that offer helpful information. Today, I wanted to share one of those thousands.

They may be located in Canada, but their message is for the world to hear. Random Acts of Green is a climate action community where everyone is empowered to take action together and promote environmental sustainability. Their mission is to prove that we can all make changes that add up to make a big collective impact. They are dedicated to encouraging and motivating people to choose greener choices.

They offer membership to businesses and individuals. However, information on their blog is free to everyone.

You could read about various topics, all focused on sustainability and the environment.

  1. 15 Sustainable Products to Try
  2. How Does Paint Get Recycled
  3. 8 Best Upcycling Garden Ideas for an Eco-friendly Outdoors
  4. It’s Time to Breakup with Plastic
  5. 9 Ways to Extend the Lifespan of Your Food and How You Can Use Up Everything

A little reading can lead to some action that can result in significant changes in helping the planet. Take a little time to educate yourself on how you can make a difference.

Tomorrow, a great option to recycle those well used children clothing.

The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods

Day 159 – Oceans Day was first declared on June 8, 1992 in Rio de Janeiro at the Global Forum, a parallel event at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which provided an opportunity for non-government organizations and civil society to express their views on environmental issues. In 2008, led by Canada, the General Assembly resolved that June 8 would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day”. The theme of the inaugural observance of World Oceans Day was ‘Our Oceans, Our Responsibility’.

This year’s theme is ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods‘. The day will shed light on the wonder of the ocean and how it is our lifesource, supporting humanity and every other organism on earth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gives many reasons as to why we should care about the ocean.

  1. The ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen and stores more than 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.
  2. Covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns.
  3. 76% of U.S. trade involves some form marine transportation.
  4. The ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services per year. Ocean dependent businesses employ almost 3 million people.
  5. The ocean provides so much more than just seafood. Ingredients from the sea are found in things like peanut butter and soy milk.
  6. Many medicinal products come from the ocean. Medicines that fight cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart disease can be traced back to the ocean.

So, what can we do to help the oceans?

NOAA gives us 10 ways we can help.

  1. Conserve Water – Use less water so excess runoff and wastewater will not flow into the ocean.
  2. Reduce Pollutants – Choose nontoxic chemicals and dispose of herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning products properly.
  3. Reduce Waste – Cut down on what you throw away.
  4. Shop Wisely – Choose sustainable seafood. Buy less plastic and bring a reusable bag.
  5. Reduce Vehicle Pollution – Use fuel efficient vehicles, carpool or ride a bike.
  6. Use Less Energy – Choose energy efficient light bulbs and don’t overset your thermostat.
  7. Fish Responsibly – Follow “catch and release” practices and keep more fish alive.
  8. Practice Safe Boating – Anchor in sandy areas far from coral and sea grasses. Adhere to “no wake” zones.
  9. Respect Habitat – Healthy habitat and survival go hand in hand. Treat with care.
  10. Volunteer – Volunteer for cleanups at the beach and in your community. You can get involved in protecting your watershed too!

Even if you don’t live near the ocean, your actions can have an impact. Make sure your impact is a positive one.

Tomorrow, saving the fireflies.

From Plastic Toys to Children’s Furniture

Day 153 – Co-founders Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel started ecoBirdy (Certified B-Corporation), a Belgium company that recycles old toys into furniture, as a way to reduce plastic waste. ecoBirdy collects toys from schools and recycling centers.

Check out the VIDEO to see how they do it.

“Recycled plastic products are usually recognized as being greyish, dullish and not very attractive. Our aim was to change this, and make something colorful out of the colorful plastic waste. Following an in-depth two-year study period, ecoBirdy created a special production process that gives the characteristic look to its products. The material resulting from this unique production process we named ecothylene®. Due to accurate sorting and using state-of-the-art technology, we are able to transform post-consumer plastic waste into high-grade raw material. The patented technology features integrated material separation and an improved binding formula for polymers. The result is that no pigments or new plastics need to be added. Making ecothylene® is significantly more eco-friendly than most recycling procedures for plastics.” – ecoBirdy

The recycled plastic used for the production of ecothylene® is 100% recyclable. Which means that ecothylene® can easily be recycled again.

The plastic waste goes through several stages.

  1. The collected plastic waste is brought to our partner, a professional recycling center.
  2. Every single object is manually checked.
  3. The volume is ground to smaller fragments and washed.
  4. Precise sorting is conducted automatically.
  5. Lab quality control is carried out.

Throughout the whole production process, the material is checked by people as well as machines to avoid contamination. 

The end product is safe and stylish children’s furniture that is helping keep plastic toys out of the landfill. We can only hope that more manufacturers will see the benefits of using recycled materials. As consumers, we can also help by supporting companies that put the planet first, but also by making good decisions when purchasing products. All you have to ask, “Does this product have a negative effect on the planet?”

Tomorrow, celebrating World Bicycle Day.

Plastic Toys: It’s not all fun and games

Day 152 – One of my least favorite toys that I had to assemble for my children was a kitchen. A rather large, plastic kitchen. All the pieces were attached and had to be separated before they could be reassembled to resemble a kitchen set. I did it all by myself on a Christmas Eve and it was absolutely the worst. However, the kids loved it! And when it’s all said and done, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Well, I sure drank the KoolAid on that misconception. Most of us don’t give much thought about the cheap, plastic toys we purchase for our children or young people in our lives. Our main concern is usually their happiness. So, we spend our money on toys that will most likely not even last a year and will end up in the trash.

About 90% of today’s toys are made from plastic. Sadly, most of the plastic is not recyclable. Think about the plastic toys you played with as a kid. Those same toys are still sitting in a landfill somewhere and will be there for centuries to come.

So, what are our options when looking to purchase toys?

Find toys made from other materials, like wood, cotton, metal or natural rubber

Companies like Big Future Toys and Begin Again Toys are finding other ways to produce fun and entertaining toys without the use of plastic.

Find toys made from recycled material

Companies like Green Toys and Luke’s Toy Factory are using recycled material to create their toys.

Find toys with take back programs

Numerous toy manufacturers are taking back their toys. If you have toys that have reached the end of their life, from any of the following companies, you can ship them, at no cost, to be recycled. Be sure to check out the list of accepted toys for each program.

Hasbro

V-Tech

Leap Frog

SpinMaster

Matel

Lego

*The Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup collects all the toys listed here. The next popup is June 19th.

Find alternatives to toys

Another great option to avoid plastic toys, is to give the gift of an experience. Maybe it’s a trip to the bowling alley, or the arcade. A movie with all the popcorn and candy you can eat, a hike in a beautiful wooded area, or a day at the waterpark, would all make awesome gifts.

So, the next time you are faced with the challenge of finding that perfect gift consider avoiding the cheap plastic toys. There are so many great alternatives out there. You just need to look.

Tomorrow, a company that has found a purpose for the plastic from discarded children toys.

Footwear: Sustainable options

Day 150 – If you read this title and thought I would be sharing a variety of footwear options, like heels, boots or nice dress shoes, sorry. My footwear consists of gym shoes. Thankfully, I do not have many opportunities to wear anything different. So, today’s post is a list of sustainable gym shoes, also known as sneakers. What? Sustainable gym shoes? Yes, they do exist and they just might find their way on to your feet in the future. While researching for this post, I purchased my first eco-friendly gym shoe. I can’t wait for my new shoes to arrive!

This list consists of shoes good for running, while other are better for walking. It is by no means a complete list. There are many sustainable brands out there. Which is a good thing. I’m always a bit shocked by the price of athletic shoes. The cost of these sustainable brands are comparable to non-sustainable brands.

Allbirds – Allbirds uses wool from merino wool. With fibers that are 20% the diameter of human hair, superfine merino wool is breathable, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking, all without that irritating scratchiness. Shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles. Castor bean oil helps increase the natural content in their insoles. Their packaging is made from 90% recycled cardboard. They are a B-Corporation. They offset all emissions to operate as a carbon neutral business.

Adidas & Parley -Adidas has partnered with Parlay, whose technology turns plastic into high-performance fabrics. Adidas has a goal to use no virgin polyester by 2024. They have created a line of shoes and apparel. Adidas also has a take back program, which will recycle material from old shoes to be used in their new shoes.

Merrell – Merrell is beginning to incorporate more sustainable practices into their shoe making process. Instead of using virgin polyester, they are using material created from plastic bottles. They are incorporating post-industrial scrap rubber into the soles of some of their shoes (Gridway collection). They use EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) from the midsole manufacturing process in a variety of their shoes.

Newton Running – Boulder, Colorado-based Newton Running is the leader in performance running shoes that promote gait efficiency for people at all levels of the sport, from first-time 5k runners to seasoned marathoners. In addition to its devotion to help people run better, Newton Running is committed to corporate responsibility through sustainability efforts and through the support of numerous charitable organizations and has been nationally recognized for these efforts.

Icebug – Since 2019, Icebug is the first climate positive outdoor footwear brand. From 2020 onwards, they’re offsetting 200% of carbon emissions caused. They are a 1% for the Planet member. They have reduced the number of different materials they use and switched to less environmentally harmful alternatives. Whenever it’s possible, they use recycled material.

Nothing New – With every pair of sneakers produced, 5.6 plastic bottles are repurposed & 160 gallons of water are saved. They are committed to purchasing “carbon offsets” from verified emissions reduction projects to offset the emission created from shipping their shoes. Their shoes are made from 100% sustainable materials. They offer a take back program, where you send your shoes back to Nothing New, they’ll pay for shipping and give you $20 off your next purchase.

Arbor Collective – Arbor’s footwear collection is produced from low-emissions factories and features repurposed materials like their Rubber Regrind and recycled materials such as their polyester fabrics and paper packaging. With every purchase of Arbor footwear, a portion of the proceeds is donated towards their Returning Roots program, which assists in the preservation of the Koa forests in Hawaii.

SAOLA – Depending on the style, each pair of SAOLA shoes contains between 3 and 7 recycled PET bottles. SAOLA insoles and many of the shoes’ outsoles are made with recycled Algae Foam. SAOLA has partnered with the team at Bloom Foam to harvest harmful algae and create eco-friendly, bio-sourced materials for the insoles and outsoles of their shoes. They use organic cotton for their shoelaces. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are replaced by natural compost, and this cotton requires half as much water as traditional cotton. SAOLA is also a member of 1% for the Planet.

I’m very excited for my SAOLA shoes to arrive! This company is super impressive, the shoes look good and the price fit my budget. Looking forward to taking another step to helping the planet.

Tomorrow, another great option for recycling your sneakers.

Costa Rica Plans to Eliminate Single Use Plastics. Why can’t the U.S.?

Day 148 – Costa Rica hopes to be the first country to eliminate single use plastics. In 2020, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada announced the ambitious plan at his inauguration. He wants to achieve this goal this year, 2021. It does seem like an impossible achievement, but Costa Rica has proven time and time again that they are committed to finding ways to protect and preserve their country. Costa Rica has been an example to the world by reversing deforestation and doubling its forest cover from 26% in 1984 to more than 52% in 2020. They also get almost 99% of their energy from renewable sources. The country uses resources like rivers, volcanos, geothermal, solar, and wind power to make energy.

The plan to eliminate single use plastics consists of 5 strategic axes:

  1. Municipal incentives
  2. Policies and institutional guidelines for suppliers
  3. Replacement of single-use plastic products
  4. Research and development
  5. Investment in strategic initiatives

In June of last year, the country officially launched its national strategy to replace the consumption of single use plastics for renewable and water-soluble alternatives. All single-use items must be recyclable or biodegradable. Petroleum based single-use items will not be allowed in Costa Rica.

So, why wouldn’t this work in the U.S.?

In an article published by NPR on May 18, 2021, a report by Australia’s Minderoo Foundation is discussed. The report offers one of the fullest accountings, to date, of the companies behind the production of single-use plastics. The study identifies 20 companies as the source of 55% of the world’s single-use plastic waste, while the top 100 companies account for more than 90%.

“At the top of what the foundation calls its “Plastic Waste Makers Index” is the energy giant Exxon Mobil, followed by the Dow Chemical Co. and China’s Sinopec. The report found that Exxon Mobil was responsible for 5.9 million metric tons of such waste in 2019, while Dow and Sinopec contributed 5.6 million and 5.3 million, respectively. Taken together, the three companies account for 16% of all waste from single-use plastics such as bottles, bags and food packaging, according to the report.”NPR

Big business and big money is preventing the U.S. from making any headway in the fight to eliminate single use plastics.

“The report also traced the money invested in the production of single-use plastics, finding that 20 institutional asset managers hold shares worth close to $300 billion in the parent companies that make up the foundation’s rankings. The top three investors are U.S.-based Vanguard Group, BlackRock and Capital Group, which according to the report have an estimated $6 billion invested in the production of single-use plastics.” – NPR

Until, the U.S. can get everyone on board (government, industry, and consumers), we will never be able to accomplish what Costa Rica plans to do and will most likely be successful in doing, saying goodbye to single-use plastics forever.

Tomorrow, celebrating National Learn About Composting Day.

Polywood: Outdoor furniture produced from recycled plastic materials

Day 143 – I love learning about companies like Polywood. They saw a problem and decided to do something about it.

“30 years ago, we were the first to create outdoor furniture from recycled plastic materials. Our mission remains to recover and transform landfill-bound and ocean-bound plastic into durable outdoor furniture that will last for generations.” – Polywood

Their line of outdoor furniture is extensive and are backed with a 20 year warranty. The Polywood lumber doesn’t splinter, crack, chip, peel or rot.

As if outdoor furniture created from recycled plastic wasn’t cool enough, here are a few other reasons to check out Polywood:

  1. The all-weather material is built to withstand all four seasons and a range of climates including hot sun, snowy winters, salt spray and heavy winds.
  2. Polywood lumber cleans easily with soap and water and require no painting, staining, or waterproofing.
  3. UV inhibitors and stabilizers protect the lumber from harmful environmental degradation.

I’m leaning toward the Nautical 3 piece Porch Rocking Chair Set. I love a good rocking chair. I’ll keep you posted if I end up making the purchase.

So, if you’re in the market for some new outdoor furniture consider supporting a company that is helping to keep plastic out of landfills and oceans.

Tomorrow, the recyclability of tires.

Climate Pledge Products

Day 139 – I feel like you either love Amazon or you hate them. I don’t know if there are many people that feel indifferent. Many count on Amazon to make quick and easy purchases. While others, blame the mega company for putting a lot of businesses out of business.

Whether, if you’re a fan or not, Amazon is making efforts to be more environmentally friendly. They have come out with Climate Pledge Products.

“We partnered with trusted third-party certifications and created our own certification, Compact by Design, to highlight products that meet sustainability standards and help preserve the natural world. We are committed to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet.” – Amazon

Click HERE to see the certifications involved in making a product qualify for Climate Pledge Friendly. A product only needs one of the listed certifications to qualify. However, the more certifications the better!

To find Climate Pledge Products on Amazon, you could type in “Climate Pledge Products” in the search box. You can also browse by category by clicking HERE.

So, feel a little better knowing that the products you are purchasing are making the planet a priority.

Tomorrow, saving the bees.

Does Infinitely Recyclable Plastic Exist?

Day 138 – Wouldn’t it be amazing if companies were responsible for the products they manufactured? We’re not just talking about in the beginning, at the moment of purchase, but at the end, as well. The consumer needs help to figure out how to responsibly dispose of their “stuff” and manufactures are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, more times than not, the consumer is left to navigate the confusing world of recycling and for those that don’t have the time and patience, the landfill seems to be the only option.

It is cheaper for manufacturers to use virgin resin (new plastic) then it is to use recycled plastic. Add the fact that in many countries there are no rules or regulations in place to steer companies away from single use plastics. Combine that with zero infrastructure to deal with the absurd amount of plastics flooding waste management facilities and you have a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, science is coming to the rescue.

“A multidisciplinary team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has created a plastic that can be disassembled at a molecular level using an acidic solution. Then, it can be reassembled with a new color, texture, and shape, again and again. Unlike traditional plastic, which can only be recycled two or three times at most, this material, called poly(diketoenamine), or PDK, is infinitely recyclable.” – Earth911

Even though the initial creation of PDK is expensive to manufacture, it is significantly less expensive to recycle this type of plastic compared to the very popular, PET and HDPE plastics. Recycled PDK will even be less expensive than virgin plastic, making it very appealing to manufactures.

While it’s helpful to have plastics that are infinitely recyclable, we also need to hold companies accountable for the products they produce. The responsibility can longer be placed solely on the consumer. We need to start supporting companies with take back programs and trade in options. By supporting these companies we are making it very clear that we are tired for carrying the burden and need other companies to step up and create a plan to help the planet.

Tomorrow, products on Amazon that are environmentally friendly.