Day 240 – The word upcycle was first used in the early 1990s. Upcycling is defined as the reuse of discarded objects or material in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. Today, upcycling is more popular then ever. We are running out of space to put our trash. So, we need to find ways to reuse our stuff and get a second and possibly a third life out of them.
We now have companies that upcycle materials to create new products for resale. Looptworks is one of those companies. They are a Portland, Oregon based business that re-purposes and upcycles abandoned, pre-consumer and post-consumer materials into limited edition products.
“All the materials used to create Looptworks products at one time were headed to the landfill, or worse. We intercept and utilize these industry excess materials, transforming them into new, useful products — a process known as upcycling. Our sustainable, eco-friendly products are made in limited editions, and in the process save materials from landfills or incinerators.” – Looptworks
Looptworks has collaborated with numerous companies to create new products from discarded materials.
They partnered with the NBA to give a second life to all those game jerseys that become obsolete. They created backpacks and crossbody bags.
They partnered with Southwest Airlines when they replaced their heavy leather airline seats with a lighter weight material. Southwest Airlines wanted to ensure that the journey didn’t end for 80,000 leather seat covers. Looptworks upcycled the seat leather into the In Flight Collection.
Looptworks is always looking for new partners and the possibilities are endless. I look forward to seeing what new and improved products they will create from materials that were once on their way to the landfill.
Day 207 – It may sound counterproductive to write about plasticware, especially during Plastic Free July. However, Preserve is not your typical plasticware. Preserve has been making products good for people and the planet since 1996.
Here are just a few of the ways Preserve is making a difference:
Preserve’s plastic products are made from 100% recycled plastic.
Preserve’s plastic products are dishwasher safe and made to last.
Preserve’s products are made in the U.S.
Preserve has a line of 100% compostable items that are plant based and gluten free.
Preserve has a take back program called Gimme 5, which collects #5 plastic that they transform into new Preserve products.
Preserve even takes back their own products that reach the end of their life. They then recycle and create new products from those items.
Preserve makes a line of products made from ocean plastic. Through sales of our POPi products, they support organizations that prevent plastic from reaching the ocean. 25% of proceeds from POPi products are donated to non-profits that work on issues including:
Developing better recycling systems around the world.
Researching the effects of plastic in the ocean and on marine life.
Creating catchment technologies (ways to trap plastic in waterways before it reaches the ocean).
Providing better end of life solutions for recovered and recycled packages that were heading for the ocean.
I recently purchased the On the Go Party Set (currently sold out) and couldn’t be happier with the product. The plates, cups and plasticware will be used for countless parties to come.
Tomorrow, fun at the beach is becoming more environmentally friendly.
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
Day 186 – “I can’t wait until we get back to normal.”
This sentence has been spoken by many of us this past year. We all want the pandemic behind us and be able to move on. Unfortunately, going back to normal will not work. “Normal” has not been working. Real change needs to happen and it needs to happen now.
Our resource consumption is abnormal. At the current consumption rate, by 2050 we will use Earth’s resources three times faster than can be regenerated. Scientists suggest that we have roughly eight to 10 years to save the planet by slowing global warming, but our actions in the next 12–18 months are critical in sealing the planet’s fate.
Our measures of growth and success are askew. Gross domestic product (GDP), a commonly used measure of economic growth and success for nations, does not account for the cost to create monetary wealth, wellness of its people, or damage to the planet.
Recycling is a myth. Less than 9% of the 800 billion tonnes of plastic has ever been recycled. Most of it gets incinerated, resulting in further air pollution and an increased risk of respiratory conditions, or it ends up in the oceans where it breaks down into micro and nanoparticles and lives on for hundreds of years.
The pandemic forced us all to slow down. It made us realize what was important and what we could do without. It would be easy to go right back to the hustle and bustle and forget the lessons learned from this experience. However, if we don’t learn, we are destined to repeat the same mistakes.
“Our best hope for a livable future is to embrace sustainability on a massive scale. To achieve this, we don’t need a handful of people achieving sustainability perfection. We need MILLIONS of people making concrete, positive changes to the best of their ability, even if they do so imperfectly.” – Rainforest Alliance
Everyday we are reminded that the environment is in need of help. Wildfires, extreme heat and weather conditions are an indication that change needs to happen, now. The new normal involves making a real effort to reverse the current trends. It starts with small steps. As long as those steps are in the right direction, we will reach our main goal of saving the planet.
Tomorrow, covering those summer cuts and scrapes with a non-plastic bandage.
Day 173 – We lose 40 football fields worth of rainforests every minute. In less than 10 years, there may only be 10% of rainforest left. We have already lost over 9 million acres.
So, why should we care about the rainforests?
Rainforests absorbs carbon dioxide and release the oxygen that we depend on for our survival. The absorption of this CO2 also helps to stabilize the Earth’s climate.
Rainforests help to maintain the world’s water cycle by adding water to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration which creates clouds.
Tropical rainforests contain over 30 million species of plants and animals. That’s half of the Earth’s wildlife and at least two-thirds of its plant species. There’s thousands of species that have not been identified, yet.
Many indigenous people have been living in harmony with the rainforest for thousands of years, depending on it for their food, shelter and medicines. They are often forced to move away from their homes to unfamiliar places, sometimes even being killed in the process.
it is believed that the Amazonian forests alone store over half of the Earth’s rainwater. Without rainforests continually recycling huge quantities of water, feeding the rivers, lakes and irrigation systems, droughts would become more common, potentially leading to widespread famine and disease.
Soil in the rainforest is very poor in nutrients. What little nutrients it has comes from decaying trees and plants. However, if trees are removed from the forest, the nutrients are removed with it. The unprotected soil is then simply washed away in heavy rains, causing blockages and floods in lowland rivers, while leaving upland rivers dry.
More than 25% of our modern medicines originate from tropical forest plants. However, we have only learned how to use 1% of these amazing plants.
What can we do to help protect the rainforests?
Many rainforest are cleared to make room for cattle. Reducing your beef intake and buying your meat from local farms that use sustainable practices will help.
Choosing products that are responsibly sourced or made from recycled materials can go a long way to curbing tropical deforestation. You can also refrain from purchasing products from companies who score poorly in terms of eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.
It’s best to buy less. But when you do buy, choose companies that donate to environmental causes.There are hundreds of companies – specializing in a variety of products – that give back to the environment. Certified B Corporations has narrowed down some of the best.
Buying artisanal and fair trade products made by indigenous peoples is a unique and effective way to protect rainforests and sustainable livelihoods.
Reduce your carbon footprint. Drive less, take public transportation, turn down your home thermostat (even a couple degrees makes a big difference!), turn off lights and electronics when not in use, and avoid unnecessary air travel, can all help reduce carbon emissions.
Whenever you cannot reduce, you can mitigate by supporting projects that offer carbon emissions reductions by keeping forests standing.
Share what you know. The more people that know what is happening to rainforests and the indigenous communities who rely on them, the more likely they are to join and support the cause.
Day 74 – When I started to pay closer attention to the products I was purchasing and how they affected the environment, I started noticing certain labels on products. Some I had seen before, but others were new to me. I wanted to make sure others were aware of these labels and the importance they bring when choosing the things you eat, products you clean with, the clothes you wear, and everything in between. As we learned on Day 17, there are plenty of people out there that want to greenwash us and make us believe their product is environmentally friendly. Here’s a list of 20 labels you can trust.
Certified B Corporation – I wrote a post about Certified B Corporations back on Day 16. In that post, I explain how the Certified B Corporation label shows the consumer that the business they are purchasing from or working with has met the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are building a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Climate Neutral Certified – It’s the standard earned by companies that offset and reduce all of their greenhouse gas emissions. Companies will measure all of the carbon emissions from making and delivering products and services to customers. They will then purchase carbon credits to completely offset their carbon footprint by funding a mix of projects, like reforestation or renewable energy. The final step is to develop and implement a plan to reduce future emissions.
1% for the Planet – On Day 43, I wrote about how 1% for the Planet was created. On Day 53, I wrote about how I joined 1% for the Planet as an individual member and I listed the organizations I am planning to support this year. 1% for the Planet exists to help companies and individuals partner with highly vetted environmental groups. This partnership allows companies and individuals to donate money and time (through volunteering) to organizations that are helping to preserve and protect the planet.
BLUESIGN – BLUESIGN represents the vision and mindset of responsible and sustainable manufacturing of textile consumer products. BLUESIGN traces each textile’s path along the manufacturing process, making improvements at every stage from factory floor to finished product. BLUESIGN changes the environmental impact of textiles for good. As a solution provider and knowledge broker, BLUESIGN acts as an independent verifier to secure trust and transparency. Currently, there are not too many clothing brands that have this certification. Numerous outdoor clothing brands carry the BLUESIGN label.
Leaping Bunny – Eight national animal protection groups have banded together to form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). The CCIC promotes a single comprehensive standard and an internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo to notify consumers that the products they are purchasing have not harmed any animals during production. They work with companies to help make shopping for animal-friendly products easier and more trustworthy.
Cradle to Cradle – Cradle to Cradle Certified™ is a globally recognized measure of safer, more sustainable products made for the circular economy. Product designers, manufacturers and brands around the world rely on the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard as a transformative pathway for designing and making products with a positive impact on people and planet. From fragrances to flooring, t-shirts and jeans to water bottles and window treatments, thousands of products are Cradle to Cradle Certified. What’s more, a growing number of brands, organizations and standards also recognize Cradle to Cradle Certified as a preferred product standard for responsible purchasing decisions.
USDA Organic – Organic is a labeling term found on products that have been produced using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. The National Organic Program – part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service – enforces the organic regulations, ensuring the integrity of the USDA Organic Seal. In order to use the USDA Organic Seal, the final product must follow strict production, handling and labeling standards and go through the organic certification process. The standards address a variety of factors such as soil quality, animal raising practices, and pest and weed control. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.
Fair Trade Certified – When you see a product with the Fair Trade Certified seal, you can be sure it meets rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. That means: Safe working conditions, environmental protection, sustainable livelihoods and community development funds. A choice for Fair Trade Certified™ goods is a choice to support responsible companies, empower farmers, workers, and fishermen, and protect the environment.
Non-GMOProject – The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization offering rigorous product verification and trustworthy education that empowers people to care for themselves, the planet, and future generations. The Non-GMO label allows consumers to know that the food they are purchasing has not been genetically modified. They also encourage a non-GMO seed supply, which supports the restoration of traditional seed breeding and the right of farmers to save and plant their own seeds and grow varieties of their choice.
Green Seal– Green Seal’s rigorous standards for health, sustainability and product performance have driven permanent shifts in the marketplace. With thousands of certified products, services and spaces from the world’s leading companies, the Green Seal certification mark is a universal symbol that a product or service meets the highest benchmark of health and environmental leadership.
ENERGY STAR -ENERGY STAR is the trusted, government-backed symbol for energy efficiency helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. The ENERGY STAR label was established to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy; and make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort.
Certified Humane Raised and Handled – Certified Humane® is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit certification organization, operating internationally and dedicated to improving the lives of farm animals in food production from birth through slaughter. The goal of the program is to improve the lives of farm animals by driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices. When you see the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® logo you can be assured that the food products have come from facilities that meet precise, objective standards for farm animal treatment.
Blue Fish Label – The Blue Fish Label is only placed on seafood from fisheries that meet the Marine Stewardship Council’s strict standard for sustainability. It’s their way of making sure you know that your seafood purchase is good for the oceans because it’s wild, sustainable, and traceable back to a certified fishery.
WaterSense – WaterSense, a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is both a label for water-efficient products and a resource for helping you save water. The WaterSense label makes it simple to find water-efficient products, new homes, and programs that meet EPA’s criteria for efficiency and performance. WaterSense-labeled products and services are certified to use at least 20 percent less water, save energy, and perform as well as or better than regular models.
Made Safe – MADE SAFE® is a program of Nontoxic Certified, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. They provide America’s first comprehensive human health and ecosystem-focused certification for nontoxic products across store aisles, from baby to personal care to household and beyond. Their goal is to change the way products are made in this country to ultimately eliminate the use of toxic chemicals altogether. The MADE SAFE (Made With Safe Ingredients) seal literally means that a product is made with safe ingredients, without toxic chemicals known to harm our health.
Rainforest Alliance – The Rainforest Alliance seal promotes collective action for people and nature. It amplifies and reinforces the beneficial impacts of responsible choices, from farms and forests all the way to the supermarket check-out. The seal allows you to recognize and choose products that contribute toward a better future for people and planet. The seal means that the certified product or ingredient was produced using methods that support the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental.
Compact By Design – Amazon created Compact by Design to identify products that, while they may not always look very different, have a more efficient design. With the removal of excess air and water, products require less packaging and become more efficient to ship. At scale, these small differences in product size and weight lead to significant carbon emission reductions.
ECOLOGO – ECOLOGO® Certified products, services and packaging are certified for reduced environmental impact. ECOLOGO Certifications are voluntary, multiattribute, life cycle-based environmental certifications that indicate a product has undergone rigorous scientific testing, exhaustive auditing or both, to prove its compliance with stringent, third-party, environmental performance standards. These standards set metrics for a wide variety of criteria in some or all of the following categories: materials, energy, manufacturing and operations, health and environment, product performance and use, and product stewardship and innovation.
The Forest Stewardship Council – FSC labels can be found on millions of products around the world – from toilet rolls to your favorite book, to that milk carton in your fridge, and other food products. By choosing products with FSC labels, you are helping to take care of the world’s forests. Each label provides information about the origin of the materials used to make the finished and labeled product.
Textile Exchange – The Textile Exchange provides both the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and Global Recycled Standard (GRS). Both are international, voluntary standards that set requirements for third-party certification of recycled input and chain of custody. The shared goal of the standards is to increase the use of recycled materials. They verify recycled content in products and provide consumers with a tool to make informed decisions.
It’s not always easy to identify an Earth friendly product. It’s nice to know that there are people out there taking the guess work out of being environmentally responsible.
Day 27 – On January 27, 1888, National Geographic was founded in Washington D.C. Its purpose was for “the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”
As a kid, I had a subscription to National Geographic. Sadly, I was not a big reader and spent most of my time looking at all the beautiful pictures. I dreamed of working for National Geographic one day. I figured I would probably have to be a photographer, because I was not the best writer.
Fast forward 35 years, I’m still dreaming of being a National Geographic photographer and I’m still enjoying the National Geographic magazine. The only difference, I’m reading a few more articles now. And it’s those articles that have given me a glimpse into the vast world around me. Giving me a window into places and people, I may never have a chance to see for myself.
National Geographic has also been a wonderful resource in my journey to a more sustainable lifestyle. They have covered every topic imaginable when it comes to having a more environment friendly way of living.
Day 26 – I don’t think I have ever been this excited about toilet paper. In all honesty, I have never been exciting about toilet paper. However, that has all changed with my purchase of Who Gives a Crap. This Australian company has found a way to make toilet paper environmentally friendly, charitable and fun!
Before purchasing Who Gives a Crap, we would alternate between Charmin and Costco’s Kirkland brand. Little did I know that these brands, along with other big name brands, are not very good for the environment. In 2019, a study was done by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Stand.earth to determine which toilet paper companies had the best sustainability practices. My two brands received “F” scores. This score was given because these companies (along with Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Target’s brand Up & Up) do not use any recycled content in their toilet paper. Instead, these brands get their paper by clear-cutting the Canadian boreal forest. With the amount of carbon dioxide being released in our atmosphere, we need to keep every tree we can.
I decided to look for a better alternative. The reviews were not great on recycled toilet paper products. That is, until I came upon, Who Gives a Crap. Here are all the reasons why this company is awesome!
It is a plastic free product. No plastic bags or wraps, just paper.
The toilet paper comes from recycled school and office paper.
The toilet paper does not use any inks, dyes or scents.
Day 16 – I have heard of B-Corporations, but I can honestly say I did not pay much attention to them. I have even made some purchases from some Certified B-Corporations without even realizing, some more (Ben & Jerry’s) than others (Patagonia).
“Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.” – About B Corps
After learning more about B-Corporations and the certification process, it became very clear that any company displaying the Certified B-Corporation label is a company that is setting the “gold standard for good business”.
“Certifying as a B Corporation goes beyond product- or service-level certification. B Corp Certification is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. The B Impact Assessment evaluates how your company’s operations and business model impact your workers, community, environment, and customers. From your supply chain and input materials to your charitable giving and employee benefits, B Corp Certification proves your business is meeting the highest standards of verified performance.” – B-Corporation
So, be on the look out for these companies that place the highest priority on their employees, communities and the environment. I will be highlighting a few B-Corporation companies throughout the year.
If you would like to verify a company’s certification or find a business in a particular industry or location, check out the B-Corp Directory.
Tomorrow, companies on the other end of the spectrum.