Tag: Zero Waste

Russian Roulette | Great Pacific Garbage Patch 2X Size of Texas Keeps Expanding

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 17, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floats, swirls, and grows in the North Pacific between Hawaii and the coast of North America. It is 1.6 million kilometers around (about 1 million miles), which is three times the size of France and two times the size of Texas. It weighs roughly 80,000 tons, and the only way to view the massive expanse is through photos from space. Discarded fishing lines, nets, and other fishing equipment comprise about half of the mass of the GPGP. Used plastics coming from land make up the vast bulk of the rest of the GPGP. According to the acclaimed documentary, Midway: Message from the Gyre, 136,000 seals, sea lions, and whales are killed each year from the GPGP. Beaches of islands in the vicinity of the GPGP are littered with dead bird carcasses, which are filled with plastics from the patch. If you think you are not affected by this, you are wrong because eventually these plastics will end up on your plate through a process known as bioaccumulation where the plastics pass to organisms and then to humans. And 84% of the plastics contain at least one toxic, cancer causing agent, which makes eating seafood like a game of Russain roulette.

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Heart of the matter. The GPGP is a giant succubus due to its two gyres that constantly move and suck plastic into it, most of which comes from land (Note: when this article was written 6 years ago, it was believed 80% of plastics came from land. That number is probably somewhere in the 55% range because the amount of nets, fishing line, and other debris dumped by fishermen was, perhaps, underestimated.). And it has formed since the 1970s. Think of it as a blackhole on Earth that sucks in millions of tons of plastic and then spits it out killing animals, destroying the ecosystem, and killing humans.

By 2050, production of plastics is expected to quadruple. By the way, it takes plastic 100,000 years to decompose. In other words, this thing is a long term monster, which is why since 2013 an effort known as The Ocean Cleanup has been underway.

How this impacts you personally. You are already ingesting this stuff if you eat seafood, or at least you will be, so it is affecting you. And this is based solely on what you eat. This does not even begin to examine the problem of the toxins in these plastics, damage to the oceans, and greenhouse gasses released. This beast hits from all directions. 

Sadly, it is only one part of a problem that keeps compounding and joining with other environmental disasters such as nuclear spills, toxic water, forest fires, and any other myriad problems we hear about and likely dismiss daily. A great discussion of all these problems can be found in the book Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed? by Fred Siegel.

What you can do. The easiest thing people can do is reduce the amount of plastics they use. This includes plastic bottles, straws, bags, toothbrushes, and other inorganic materials. It is about consumption, the less people consume the better off everything will be. It is that simple and that difficult.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

The easiest thing people can do is reduce the amount of plastics they use. This includes plastic bottles, straws, bags, toothbrushes, and other inorganic materials. It is about consumption, the less people consume the better off everything will be. It is that simple and that difficult.

Next Steps

  • Stop using plastic bottles, straw, bags, and toothbrushes;
  • Start your own local environmental group; 
  • Research the GPGP and consider donating to the cleanup. You can follow the Ocean Cleanup on Twitter; and
  • Contact your local, state, and federal officials and let them know you care about this topic. 

All of these stories are bleak, but that does not mean people should fail to act. The problems persist because people do not modify their behavior. A few small, deliberate acts can make all the difference and begin the process of lessening the environmental blight human beings inflict upon the Earth.

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Say Yes to French Press | Ditch Your Keurig

Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 20, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

For years now, we have known that Keurig K-Cups are an environmental hazard.  Made from plastic, these little cups are too small to be properly sorted by recycling centers and machines.  Billions of K-Cups are piling up in landfills around the world, and many have been incinerated in Keurig’s program, Grounds to Grow On.  

John Hocevar, of GreenPeace USA, said “coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet”. 

Twitter- @grtamericanovel

Heart of the matter. This past year was supposed to be Keurig’s year. After many cities banned commercial use of K-Cups, the brand promised that their products would be recyclable by the start of 2020.  However, that promise has not been fulfilled, only replaced by an ambiguous delayed timeline of the “end of 2020.”  They also promise to convert to a combination of 100% recyclable and compostable materials by 2025.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

What you can do about this. Until then, consumers can get their at home caffeine fix a more sustainable way: using a french press.  According to eco-friendly resource and magazine, TenTree, the french press is the most environmentally friendly way to fuel your caffeine habit. Using a french press is less wasteful than traditional coffee pots, in that they do not use filters.  The design is simple, and the process is easy: boil water, grind the beans, pour the water over the growns, and press.

Twitter- @essential2learn

Next Step: The result is a classic, fresh, and eco-friendly way to start your day! Now, make sure your coffee grounds are ethically and sustainably sourced– and pour your delicious elixir into a reusable mug– and you have just become an eco-pro!

Tl;dr

  • Keurig K-Cups are an environmental hazard
  • Billions of K-Cups end up in landfills
  • Keurig’s program, Grounds to Grow On, is responsible for incinerating the plastic cups
  •  “Coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet.” – John Hocevar of GreenPeace USA
  • A french press is the most environmentally friendly way to fuel your caffeine habit
  • No coffee filters are needed & little every is used in the process
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Overhauling Packaging of Consumer Brands | Circular Economy

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 19, 2021 by Noreen Wise

With the circular economy now in full swing outside the United Statesit becomes that much more clear just how many everyday items cannot be recycled. The reality is alarming. We’ll never reach zero waste unless we find innovative solutions to meet this imperative.

Further, even the plastics that can be recycled, often aren’t. Many items become litter or are tossed in a landfill. It takes 450 years for plastic bottles to decompose and 50 years for tin cans. Plastics breakdown into microplastics, which, unbelievably, land in our food supply as a result of their microscopic size slipping through water filters. On average, we humans eat 100 bits of microplastic with every meal. Microplastics cause toxicity that negatively impacts our life history.

Recycling existing plastic is highly beneficial. But, the following is a list of common plastic packaging/ additional items that cannot be recycled:

  • plastic single use shopping bags
  • straws
  • plastic film wrap
  • frozen food bags (nearly all vegetables are sold in non-recyclable bags)
  • cereal box liner
  • chip bags
  • granola bar, candy bar and nearly all snack items wrappers
  • six-pack rings
  • plastic hangers
  • any plastic containers that can’t be cleaned, ie toothpaste tubes
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The heart of the matter. After a year of Covid and staying home, who’s pumped to go out and live? Surely, the vast majority of us are. So, let’s factor the health impact of plastic into our decision making, for surely it will have health consequences. We must be more cognizant of all the plastic we consume.

Thankfully, innovative sustainability companies have gone plastic free for our safety. According to Healthy Human, the following are the top sustainable packaging innovations of 2019:

  • Loop, Returnity and Share Pack – companies that enable consumers to conveniently return packaging either by dropping off at targeted locations, or sending back in company provided totes
  • Plant based packaging – plastics made from plants
  • Edible packaging – typically this is seaweed, hopefully they’ll soon find additional alternatives
  • Plantable packaging – contains seeds so the packaging can be planted after use
  • Compostable plastic alternatives
  • Minimal packaging design
  • Upcycled or recycled packaging

What you can do about this. Consumers have the power to change the world by how we shop. Sustainable packaging solutions are here. All we need to do is grow the demand by purchasing the products and posting about it through social media. We must be motivated to seek out the brands packaged in recyclable material such as paper and thin cardboard, and use our wallets to influence corporations like Heinz and Coke to invest in overhauling their plastic packaging or lose their customers. If we all refuseto buy particular brands because of the packaging, corporations will make the change.

Nest steps:

  • Laundry detergent sheets wrapped in paper instead of the big plastic jugs
  • Toothpaste tablets replace plastic toothpaste tubes
  • Shampoo & conditioner bars, and ditch the plastic bottles
  • Glass packaged condiments and soft drinks instead of plastic may cut the cancer rate dramatically
  • New loop companies that package food in reusable containers; they pick up the empty containers each week when they drop off the next week’s grocery order

Let’s go! We can do this.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Let’s Rush to Win One Eco Battle | Commit To Zero Waste 2021

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 6, 2020 by Noreen Wise

It’s exciting to think about all the ways we can rush forward on the climate front in 2021, with John Kerry as the US Climate Envoy, and our 46th President, Joe Biden promising to rejoin the Paris Agreement on the day he’s inaugurated, January 20, 2021.

Let’s nail the waste scene as soon as possible. It’s not complicated. It just takes focus.

I look forward to 2021 super jazzed to be living a circular economy life. I took the leap year ago, and was pumped to have it nearly perfected by December 2019, which is when I successfully managed a zero waste month. I felt like I’d won an olympic gold medal, not to mention the excitement of having extra money in my pocket the way Wall Street geniuses always do.

Waste is something we can all manage on our own without being forced by laws. We just wake up one morning (this morning hopefully) and say, “I’m in!” And voila, we’re three quarters of the way there.

A zero waste life is about setting up a defined circular economy zone in our households where we can easily breakdown everything we consume so that it can quickly be turned around for multiple uses. The goal is:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle & Upcycle

Refuse is a big deal. We have the power to motivate businesses to do the right thing very effectively by refusing to buy certain products that create waste. For example, back at the beginning of October 2019, I made the decision to never buy ketchup packaged in plastic again. This was very difficult, because Heinz has cornered the market and there were no glass alternatives. I called Heinz, but Heinz refuses to sell ketchup packaged in glass in the US the way they used to. So I made the bold decision to switch to BBQ sauce, 85 percent of which is packaged in glass.

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•A month later, Red Duck created a brand new product, ketchup in glass. It’s delicious, so much healthier. And it’s organic too. Thank you, Red Duck! A responsive American corporation meeting consumer demand.

•Additionally, I now use the recyclable paper towels made from bamboo that can be washed a hundred times. They dry on the counter so quickly. This has dramatically reduced our household waste.

•In 2020, wonderful new eco-products have been rolled out, shunning the standard plastic packaging and using paper instead: toothpaste tablets, laundry detergent sheets, shampoo and conditioner bars, and more.

•I recently purchased my first vegan leather tote bag, handmade from cork in Portugal. Vegan leather is a massive new industry. No more animal cruelty.

We must all transition to these new basics. We hold all the power in this climate crisis. By wielding our money in the right direction, we can preserve our children’s future.

Composting kitchen scraps is a very big deal. Our oceans are stuffed with carbon and can’t handle one more ounce. We lost billions of trees in 2020 as a result of the infernos out West. We suddenly find ourselves at a staggering loss in the ability to sequester the carbon we emit in the US. Soil holds 70 percent of the carbon stored in forests. We must rush to plant tons of green —trees, shrubs, ground cover, flowers — as well as fill the soil with compost from home kitchen scraps in the hopes that we can move the needle at twice the speed we’d otherwise be able to do. This is life or death. It’s an imperative.

US household kitchens should have multiple bins just like in Canada and the EU:

  • Composting for food scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Paper recycling
  • Plastic recycling
  • Glass recycling or reuse for storage containers, drinking glasses, vases, etc
  • Aluminum recycling

Once this is all set up, you’ll soon find that you have no garbage. It’s startling. A year ago, on New Years Eve 2019, I lifted the lid and my garbage bin was completely empty.

We’ve got this. Let’s rush!~

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Top 3 Vegan and Eco-friendly Solutions to the Planet’s Period Problem

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 16, 2020 by Sarah J. Kings

For many of us who menstruate, a visit from Aunt Flo means a week’s worth of pads, tampons, and pantiliners paired with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and a sprinkling of Midol.  Between cramps, bloating, headaches, and checking for leaks, we might be overlooking one major aspect of our periods.

Plastic.

Traditional period products are loaded with plastic.  Wrappers, applicators, leak guard liners, and even the products themselves have plastic interwoven in the fibers.  These tiny applicators may not seem like much, but they add up.  According to National Geographic, Americans purchase 5.8 billion tampons annually.  The global number is a staggering 17 billion 400 million!  Even worse, the plastic in period products cannot be recycled, as they are considered medical waste— this means that these products ultimately end up in landfills and oceans.

Instagram– @theoceanproject.sey

If you are looking for a vegan and planet-friendly way to reduce the negative impact of single-use plastics during your period, don’t stress. You have 3 easy sustainable options! You can try reusable pads, menstrual cups, or period panties. Throughout my last three cycles, I decided to give each a try. I purchased BugaluBaby Bamboo Cloth MenstrualPads, an OrganiCup, and a couple of pairs of Thinx underwear.

I found BugaluBaby on Etsy.  I’ve never been big into pads, but these pads come in a variety of fun prints, made with bamboo, and come with a handy “wet bag” for convenience.  They are also easy to wash and are very cost-effective, costing only $25 for a pack of 9. 

Thinx underwear boasts a similar idea, but it feels less like a pad.  In my experience, you can wear one pair throughout the day while still feeling clean and dry.  This option works and works well, but it is a little less cost-friendly, costing between $24-$39 per pair. 

Lastly, the OrganiCup is a soft, flexible, reliable option that comes in a variety of sizes.  For those of us who are comfortable with insertable sanitary items, this is a great option.  It is incredibly sustainable and cost-effective.  One OrganiCup lasts two years, and costs only $28!  All three products have their consumer perks, and most importantly, they are vegan and pack a punch in the fight against the climate crisis!

Twitter – @Thinx

Come back every Thursday to learn more about the role veganism plays in combating climate change!

Tl;dr

  • Over 17 Billion tampons flood landfills and oceans each year
  • The plastic in pads, tampons, and liners are a major contributor to the climate crisis
  • Sustainable vegan period options DO exist
  • If you’re looking for an eco-friendly change, try  BugaluBaby Bamboo Cloth MenstrualPads, an OrganiCup or Thinx underwear

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.


How Cool Is This? | Loop Shopping for Zero-Waste

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 18, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

The vast majority of plastic waste is product packaging. If our goal is to have a sustainable circular economy, and rid the environment of as much plastic waste as possible, we have to find a series of solutions to overhaul the way we package consumer products.

So why hasn’t Loop become a familiar buzzword and pathway for all of us to take  advantage of for waste free weekly shopping? It’s quite brilliant.

  • No membership is required
  • We just pay a small one-time fee at the start for the returnable durable Loop Tote
  • We’ll use the Loop Tote with each shipment delivery which will eliminate the cardboard waste
  • All the products are delivered in reusable containers that are returned when we’re through
  • Most containers are stainless steel, while others are glass
  • Loop will sanitize each container and reuse

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Loop has even managed to solve the toothpaste crisis, which has always seemed too tricky for a feasible alternative. Many of our favorite name brands are Loop partners. But most importantly, Loop is an excellent fix for personal care products that we use everyday and create the bulk of plastic waste.

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Innovative creativity is so exciting.I’m IN… can’t wait to check it out!

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Are You Ever Confused About What Can Be Recycled? | Check Out This Link

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 10, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

Recycling has the world’s undivided attention as we strive to reach our lofty goal of zero waste.  Proper recycling is of the utmost importance in the new circular economy era. As we attempt to deposit each item into the correct bin, it’s become more clear that the packaging industry has to be overhauled.

  • Paper labels stickered to a glass container is a very big problem. When glass is pure,  it’s 100% recyclable. When paper stickers are added to the mix, it changes everything.
  • How about the bubble wrap mailing envelopes? Paper on the outside, plastic inside. These can’y be recycled, which is unacceptable.
  • Toothpaste has to have a package redesign as well. It’s impossible to recycle toothpaste tubes because they can’t be cleaned.
  • Plastic bags can’t be recycled. This includes bread bags, frozen fruit and vegetables, Saran wrap, sandwich bags, etc.
  • If we can’t reuse or recycle, we must refuse.

On the subject of cleaning, any plastic container that’s dirty cannot be recycled. Plastic packaging with skinny necks, and there are many, are a very serious problem. The hair conditioner I use, is nearly impossible to clean. I have to work so hard at it, I become aggravated at the selfish business practices of the manufacturer. My time is very valuable. Being forced to be clever and resourceful after a long day of work, so that the manufacturer’s job is easier, isn’t right.

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Here’s an exceptional link that makes recycling super easy. Just enter the name of the item you want to recycle, and it will tell you how to take care of it.

By the way, plastic shopping bags cannot be recycled either. ZeroWaste.gov recommends that these be recycled by returning them to the store where they came from. Excellent idea! Better yet, invest in reusable bags to make your life easier, and the world a better place.~

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