4Ocean: On a Mission to End the Ocean Plastic Crisis

Day 202 – It all started in Bali, Indonesia in 2015. Friends, Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper saw first hand how the plastic pollution problem was negatively impacting the marine life and those that lived along the coast.

After speaking with local fishermen whose livelihoods were negatively impacted by plastic pollution, Alex and Andrew decided to build a company that would hire boat captains and fishermen in communities heavily impacted by plastic pollution as full-time, professional cleanup crew members to recover plastic and other harmful debris from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines seven days a week.” – 4Ocean

4Ocean uses some of the plastic pulled from the ocean to create products (shoes, jewelry, phones cases). They also offer items that can swap out your single-use plastics (water bottles, bamboo utensils, reusable straw). They pull one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines for every product purchased. 4ocean has cleanup divisions in Florida, Bali, Haiti, and Guatemala, and recovers millions of pounds of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines every year.

4Ocean is a certified B-Corporation and a 1% for the Planet member. Their captains and crews have recovered 16,035,392 pounds of plastic, and counting, since 2017.

4Ocean hopes that their business model will have to change in the near future. They hope there won’t be any more plastic to pull from the oceans, rivers and coastline. They imagine a world with plastic free oceans.

Tomorrow, a company using plastic bags to create eco-friendly decking.

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.

Sunscreen: Protecting you and the planet

Day 147 – When I thought about putting on sunscreen, I didn’t give much thought about the brand or what was in it. I just slapped it on and went about my day. However, this technique has become problematic with each passing year.

So, on this National Sunscreen Day, also known as “Don’t Fry Day“, I wanted to encourage everyone to wear sunscreen, but also consider a brand that is Earth friendly.

What is an Earth friendly sunscreen?

“Sunscreen ends up in the ocean and other waterways after you swim or shower it off. Common ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano titanium dioxide, and nano zinc oxide can harm coral reefs and sea creatures. That’s why in 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. And the Surfrider Foundation is campaigning for a federal bill that would ban those sunscreens from national marine sanctuaries.” – Sierra Club

It is clear that these chemicals are harmful to ocean life. However, it is unclear if these chemicals are harmful to us. Oxybenzone and octinoxate can be absorbed by the body and have shown up in everything from urine to breast milk. Personally, I do not need further studies to know I would rather not have chemicals in my body that are not supposed to be there in the first place.

A compiled a list from various sources of sunscreens that are good for you, the environment and your wallet.

  1. Raw Elements – Click HERE to read more about Raw Elements products.
  2. Bare Republic – Click HERE to read more about Bare Republic products.
  3. Think Sport – Click HERE to read more about Think Sport products.
  4. Badger – Click HERE to read more about Badger Balm.
  5. Coppertone Pure & Simple – Click HERE to read more about Coppertone Pure & Simple.
  6. Alba Botanica – Click HERE to learn about Alba Bontanica products.
  7. Wax Head – Click HERE to learn more about Wax Head products.
  8. Juice Beauty – Click HERE to learn more about Juice Beauty products.
  9. Banana Boat – Click HERE to learn more about Banana Boat reef friendly products.
  10. All Good – Click HERE to learn more about All Good products.

For more guidance when choosing a sunscreen, check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to sunscreens.

I have All Good sunscreen on the way for our summertime needs. All Good is a B-Corporation, 1% for the Planet, Leaping Bunny Certified, Reef Friendly, Certified Organic Ingredients, Climate Neutral, Woman owner and founded company and use wild land farming techniques. WOW! Do I need to say more?

While you’re shopping for sunscreen this summer, don’t just keep your own safety in mind. Think about the bigger picture, as well.

Tomorrow, Costa Rica is making big changes and the U.S. needs to follow in their footsteps.

Your Last Plastic Water Bottle

Day 81 – I have not written a post solely on water bottles. Though, I know they have been mentioned in various posts. I have shared the importance of choosing reusable water bottles over single use plastic water bottles. Today, I wanted to let you know about my very last purchase of plastic water bottles.

Fill it Forward website

This past Christmas, I was on a mission to include some gifts for the family that could be beneficial to the planet and maybe even help others. Even though we have our fair share of reusable water bottles in the house, I was very interested in the Fill It Forward, Cupanion bottle.

  1. They were similar in size to regular store bought water bottles (they also offer metal bottles). Which, I thought would be great when it came to packing water for a day trip. Our reusable water bottles are pretty large and take up a lot of space in a cooler bag. Not to mention, no one ever seems to want to carry it around. 
  2. Your bottle comes with a sticker that has a barcode. When you fill your bottle, you can scan the barcode with the Fill It Forward app. With every bottle of water you drink, using their reusable bottle, they contribute to their charitable partners that specialize in creating sustainable solutions that help bring clean water and nutritious food to people in need.
  3. They are also a B-Corporation.

So, I ordered the 4 pack and the kids got to drinking and scanning. Fill It Forward not only promotes reusable bottles and encourages people to stop using single use water bottles, but they are also helping people in need. 

Fill it Forward has partnered with the following organizations:

  1. Water Aid has teams in 35 countries, changing millions of lives every year with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.
  2. Charity Water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.
  3. DIGDEEP is a non-profit organization working to ensure that every American has clean, running water.
  4. Water First is dedicated to working with First Nations communities to resolve local water challenges through education, training and collaboration.
  5. Wine to Water is a non-profit organization committed to supporting life and dignity for all through the power of clean water.
  6. Second Harvest is one of the largest food rescue charities with a dual mission of environmental protection and hunger relief.

To date, Fill it Forward has 5,063,954 total reuses and has been able to fund 277 projects through their partnerships. They have also prevented 19,867 pounds of ocean pollution, diverted 176.316 pounds of waste and saved 2,069,528 pounds of emissions.

So, on this World Water Day, consider supporting a company that is doing their part to keep plastic out of our oceans and provide clean drinking water to those in need. 

Toothpaste: Is tubeless the answer?

Day 54 – While working my way through the bathroom and figuring out where we could eliminate plastic, I came upon the toothpaste tube or should I say toothpaste tubes. Easily, we could have about four different types of toothpaste in the bathroom draw. Regular, kid friendly, for sensitive teeth and extra whitening, we covered it all. All plastic and all non-recyclable, a double whammy!

In my search, I came across numerous alternatives to the plastic tube of toothpaste.

  1. All natural – I have read numerous zero waste posts that suggest using baking soda and water. While this can help whiten teeth and can eliminate plaque, the baking soda can be abrasive to the tooth enamel. I did not find this a good option for the family.
  2. Toothpaste tablets – I first saw these on Shark Tank. There are countless brands available. I was intrigued by this option, but for a family of 6 it would be rather costly and I wasn’t sure how the kids would do with chewing a tablet without swallowing most of it.
  3. Metal tube – There are numerous brands that offer toothpaste in aluminum tubes (David’s, Marvis). Aluminum is a recyclable material, so it makes for a good option. Once again, the cost became an issue. One 5oz tube could cost around $10.

Then I found Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. They were the first to create a fully recyclable plastic tube. So, once we completely empty the tube, we can put the cap on and place it in our plastics bin. Though, this is not completely ideal, it’s better than our previous tubes. And since we started sorting our recyclables and bringing them to the North Park Recycling Center, I do feel a bit better about recycling plastic. Eventually, I would love to get to a place where I am not putting any plastics in the recycle bin.

Other factors that turned me on to Toms’s were the following:

  1. They use natural ingredients in their products.
  2. They are a B-Corporation.
  3. They have partnered with TerraCycle to take back products to be recycled. I am currently on the waiting list for this program.
  4. They donate 10% of their profits to nonprofit organizations, like The Nature Conservancy and United Way.
  5. They encourage their employees to use 5% of their paid time to the organization of their choice (animal shelters and schools, repairing trails and removing invasive species, and coaching kids teams).

Tom’s of Maine has been around since 1970. In 2006 they became part of the Colgate-Palmolive company. Today you can find numerous Colgate brands that offer recyclable plastic tubes. TerraCycle also has a take back program with Colgate.

Procter and Gamble (makers Oral-B and Crest) introduced their first fully recyclable tube last month. They announced that all their toothpaste tubes should be recyclable by 2025.

So, if the tube is your preference, check the label and make sure that it’s recyclable. If your tube is not recyclable or you’re not pleased with your city’s recycling program, be sure to check out take back programs.

We’ll tackle the plastic toothbrush in a future post.

Tomorrow, safely storing your food.

Paper Towels: Lessening the need

Day 38 – The first step in minimizing our need for paper towels was to purchase some microfiber cleaning cloths. I liked the idea that they were effective when dealing with dusty surfaces. We have been using them for over six months and have been happy with there versatility in cleaning countless dirty situations. Now, the downside. I have learned that the microfiber cloth (and synthetic material in general) releases microplastics into the water. There are numerous ways to clean these cloths without releasing microplastics. I discussed numerous option in my post on microplastics (Day 33). If I had to do it all over again, I would stick to 100% cotton cloths (that you could make yourself from 100% cotton t-shirts). Not only will they not release harmful microplastics in the water, but they can be composted once they have worn out.

The second thing we started to do was use the awesome cloth napkins my sister-in-law made for a Christmas gift. We love using them and there is a nice supply. So I’m not constantly washing them. It has made dinnertime feel a little extra fancy.

Thankfully, any paper towels we do use are put into the compost bin. So, not one towel is placed into the garbage. However, there was one more change I wanted to make.

The Costco Kirkland paper towel was the towel of choice. However, after learning how their toilet paper was produced, I can only imagine that there paper towels are produced in the same manner. So, I was on the hunt for a more friendly brand.

There are numerous brands out there, but here are a few:

Who Gives a Crap – Each absorbent roll is made using a blend of bamboo and sugarcane. Our 2 ply sheets can handle spills and messes from countertops to cubicles to wiping that dusty corner of that room you never go in.

Green Forest – Green Forest paper towels are strong and absorbent for your clean-up needs. Like all of there products, they are made from 100% recycled paper, and a minimum of 90% of that is post-consumer recycled content.

Seventh Generation – Seventh generation white paper towels are made of 100 percent recycled paper (minimum 50 percent post-consumer recycled content). Paper towels are strong and absorbent featuring right size half sheets, customizable for little or big messes. No added chlorine, dyes, inks or fragrances.

We still have quite a few rolls of our Kirkland paper towels to get through (not using them as fast). However, once we finish, I will most likely start using the Seventh Generation towels. They are the least expensive per sheet and another one of those companies doing good in the world.

  1. They are a B-Corporation.
  2. Their products are biobased – derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials.
  3. Many of their packaging is made from 100% PCR (post consumer recycled) material. For those that are not, they are working toward 100%.
  4. They are also taking action on many topics relating to climate change and renewable energy, just to name a few.

So, when it comes to paper towels, we are reducing, using recycled and composting.

Tomorrow, an update on those holiday lights I collected.