Truths And Myths Of Sustainability
Sustainability is a ubiquitous topic nowadays, but like all movements, it's easy to get misinformed or so caught up by a buzz word that we aren't seeing the bigger picture. To advocate for self-education on matters as crucial as the environment, we've started the conversation on truths about sustainability, diving below the surface of topics like sustainable fashion, plant-based diets and plastics, to get to the bottom of the facts and find real solutions to our world's problems.
Greenwashing or “green sheen” occurs when companies or organisation spend more time claiming to be “green” through advertising campaigns than actually implementing ethical or ecological business practices that help minimise their environmental impact.
In an era where media is present at every second of our lives, it is important to make sure that we do our research to about those wonderful companies who are telling real environmental stories to the world and not only using eco-friendly, organic, natural, green words that can confuse and mislead consumers to acquire a product.
How can you find out if a company is using greenwashing marketing? The best way is to be educated and looking beyond a brands advertising or read their ingredients list. You can also look them up on Ecolabel Index, a global dictionary that tracks more than 400 different eco-labels worldwide.
Remember, just because a label says “all natural” or "eco-friendly" doesn’t mean the product is certified.
Vegan Or Superhero? Same Thing.
Have you ever wondered the true cost of a burger? Beyond the price that is written on the menu, your burger is a product of animal agriculture, and the animal agriculture industry is one of the major contributors to climate change and pollution in the world. The practice not only produces dangerous greenhouses in methane but is also incredibly inefficient. An enormous swathe of land is required to feed these animals, with 90 per cent of the deforestation in the Amazon forest used for farmland. Going vegan would reduce farmland usage by up to 75 per cent. In fact, recent scientific research has found estimated that if everyone in the United States merely reduced their meat intake by just a quarter, substituting it with plant proteins, 82 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions would be saved (330 million metric tonnes if everyone went vegan).
Plus it’s healthier! A plant-based diet puts you at a decreased risk for heart disease and many cancers. If you’re hesitant to give up your burgers, there are alternatives like Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meat. Going vegan is a big commitment, and if you still think cutting meat and dairy is a step too far, you can still consider keeping your consumption of meat and dairy to a minimum. It’s more than your diet, it’s a global issue.
Say No To Plastic Straws But What About Fish?
Surely, you're aware of the green trend of saying no to plastic straws and other single-use plastics we can survive without. The movement comes from an awareness that 1) these conveniences end up in our ocean by the million metric tonne and 2) they don't degrade and essentially exist on our planet forever as waste material. While saying no to plastic straws, plastic bottles and plastic bags at the groceries is no doubt a helpful habit to adopt—imagine a Bangkok where plastic from 7-Elevens, Tops supermarkets and street food vendors were completely eradicated—green-goers who are passionate about saving our oceans from plastic pollution may be missing the point if they're still consuming fish. Here's why:
It is both an accessible and overlooked fact that an overwhelming percentage of ocean plastics is not our single-use consumer items but industrial fishing gear. Here are the facts: drinking straws make up less than one per cent of plastic debris in the ocean. By comparison, discarded fishing equipment represent about 46 per cent of ocean plastics.
Historically, the fishing industry is not one that tends to hold itself socially or environmentally responsible. Therefore, implying the same mechanism and logic we use to reduce single-use plastics for our environment, "supply follows demand", reducing our fish intake may be the only way to reduce the biggest plastic pollutant to our oceans.
Biodegradable plastic is one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding sustainable alternatives. When we think of "biodegradable", we imagine a material that decomposes to practically nothing over a reasonable period of time, like say three years. A study published this year, however, found that plastic bags marketed as biodegradable were still intact enough to carry groceries after three years spent at sea or buried underground.
The gap between conventional plastics and so-called "biodegradable" may be too small for the latter to be considered a sustainable alternative. It's important to understand that biodegradable plastic, at today's standards, is not compostable. They are still plastics just slightly less resilient than your traditional high-density polyethylene, which actually poses a new problem. Biodegradable plastics have a higher tendency of breaking down into microplastics, which are being found more and more in the bodies of organisms we may consume.
In short, biodegradable plastics isn't quite where we want it to be yet, at least not on a mass consumer level, so be cautious and mindful. The best way to reduce plastic pollution is to cut down on plastic bags altogether. Your grocery tote is important.
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The Consequences Of E-Waste