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 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.