Eco-friendly initiatives, from zero-waste living to reducing meat consumption, are no longer concepts relegated to cities, progressive coastal communities, or the tired trope of yesterday’s “hippie.” With growing scientific evidence of the roles we all play in polluting our waterways, affecting climate change, and harming fragile eco systems all over the world, choosing to “live green” and tread more lightly aren’t fringe ideas at all—nor are they new in the north country.
By Nicole Caldwell for Stacker
About 300 million tons of plastic are produced from oil each year. Almost half of that is used for single-use packaging, such as plastic wrap on food, containers for personal care items, bottles for cleaning products, and other everyday purchases—including the plastic bags we carry them home in. Worse, only about 9% of all the plastic ever created has been recycled. And things are getting worse, not better: Almost half of all the plastic ever made has been created since 2000, the production of plastic is way up, and recycling alone can't stop the flow of plastic pollution into the world's oceans.
As more statistics come out about the volume of plastic ocean pollution (18 billion pounds annually from coastal regions alone) and the effect that is having on marine life (267 species worldwide have already been adversely affected), people have begun eschewing plastic products for zero-waste, eco-friendly options. Most global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, which has inspired thousands of companies to seek alternatives to plastic items from zero-waste personal care products and kitchen items to office equipment and ethically sourced, sustainable clothing.
Stacker has pored over the research and scoured product reviews and company backgrounds to compile this gallery of 50 easy, eco-friendly replacements for common plastic items in your life. Prices have been provided, and represent the cost for long-term use, except in the case of items that run out, like toothpaste. Those numbers should be compared to an individual's or family's spending on similar, single-use products over time for items such as sandwich bags or disposable razors. Wherever possible, products listed in this gallery represent less expensive options over time to their plastic, disposable counterparts.
In the interest of being most serviceable, Stacker has left two of the most ubiquitous, eco-friendly items—stainless steel drink canteens and reusable shopping bags—off the list in order to make room for items that may be less well-known. Wherever possible, products referenced come in zero-waste, plastic-free packaging, as well.
Fast fashion is costing us dearly.
Worldwide, fashion is a $2.5 trillion industry that is one of the biggest consumers of water. People go through 80 billion pieces of clothing every year, and the average American produces 82 pounds of textile waste annually. Far from previous generations, when clothes were made to last, mended, and invested in, our cheap clothes today are seen as disposable. So we dump them, en masse, into landfills every single day.
It’s easy to succumb to the greenwashing of eco-friendly packaging.
Buzzwords like recycled, organic, compostable and recyclable convince us to buy additional products just because they say they’re better for the environment. But the central ethos of reducing our impacts and waste have to start with buying high-quality and long-lasting items, and end with nothing getting tossed out (even if it’s being thrown into a recycle bin).
Nowhere in our lives is this process more difficult than in the kitchen. From the excessive packaging on food to the wastefulness of food storage methods, the kitchen ends up being one of the most wasteful zones of the home. Composting is simply not enough to counteract the onslaught of garbage that comes with virtually every meal. So we talked to three heavyweights in the zero-waste movement about how to turn a kitchen from wasteful to waste-free.
A charitable grant from the Ford Motor Co. has made possible a "mobile farm" partnership between the automaker and a Detroit charity that promises to educate children on healthy eating, provide food for the hungry, and teach people to be more self-sufficient by growing their own food.
Two essential (if unlikely) pieces required to make this project happen? A 40-foot-long shipping container and an F-150 pickup truck.
At-home meal delivery services have brought convenient, home-cooked meals to the masses.
But what we’re earning in reduced food waste and controlled cooking experiments come at a huge deficit to the environment through excessive packaging and ice packs—and too often cost us our relationship to the food we eat.
Green Matters has teamed up with WeWork for the month of April to celebrate Earth Day 2018 with a #workgreen challenge and Q&A series spotlighting sustainability-minded WeWork member companies. In this installment, we’re sitting down with Robert Olivier, founder and CEO of Grub Tubs. Olivier has spent the last 17 years developing insect-based technologies; and Grub Hub stands to be his pinnacle achievement.
Green Matters teamed up with WeWork for the month of April to celebrate Earth Day 2018 with a #workgreen challenge and Q&A series spotlighting sustainability-minded WeWork member companies. In this installment, we’re sitting down with Dr. Lisa Dyson, CEO of Kiverdi.
By Nicole Caldwell for the Thousand Islands Sun
I was outside checking on our beehive this morning when the drumming started.
Somewhere ahead of me, through the feathered edge of young forest running along the east property line at Better Farm, came the unmistakable thud-thud-thud of a lawnmower or small motorcycle starting up somewhere in the woods.
It took me a second to realize what the noise actually was. Every winter, I forget some of the sounds from the seasons before. I had a small laugh at my expense when I realized what I was actually listening to.
The source of this steady rhythm was a chubby, round creature barely bigger than a pigeon who suffices to beat his wings together for a few seconds at a time, over and over, in order to find a girlfriend. All the while this little cherub is thumping his feathered arms together, his bird-brained friends bother with the silly nonsense of calling in their mates with song.
The coloring of ruffed grouse makes them blend seamlessly into their surroundings. The birds are all shades of neutral browns, greys and tans, with a spiky little hairdo that makes them appear permanently alert—if you can find them, that is. Their elusiveness is part of their charming, notorious drumming. These guys seem to come from nowhere, even though ruffed grouse often select the same stump or log upon which to stand while thundering their wings together year after year, for upwards of a decade. They live in New York State throughout the seasons, waiting (mostly) quietly for the freeze to break, savoring winter for its still silence.
Spring is for singing. Chirping. And drumming to one’s heart’s content.
I have no ambivalence about my love of spring sounds, not the least of which being bird calls. I’m a terrible birder, but have through the years acquired the unimpressive ability to discern between an owl and whip-poor-will, chickadee and golden-winged warbler. Generally, I just enjoy hearing the symphony outside. But there’s something about that drumming that evokes a sense of restlessness. The sound, once you hear it, surpasses all other sounds of nature in my backyard.
Neuroscience research confirms that talented drummers have clear, anatomical differences from the rest of the herd; namely, an intuitive understanding of rhythms and patterns happening all around us. That intuition gives human drummers a leg up when it comes to analytical thinking, perception, and logic.
The purpose of drumming, at its essence, is communication. That’s true whether you’re a ruffed grouse or part of a marching band. The drum has been central for all time to dance, sporting events, ceremonies and religious rites, and even as a lead-up to war. Each of these is a method for communication, necessary or frivolous. Their universal use has allowed drums to firmly plant their flags in every culture on earth. All this is to say, you can’t separate the drum from our experience as human beings—or as animals.
In nature, we’re designed to seek out rhythms. The noises you hear on a warm night outside might collectively present as a disorganized jumble of high and low notes. But as you suss out the separate sounds therein, you find unmistakable rhythms and measures. Bird songs, frog croaks, bat calls, and those lovable cicadas. We’re hardwired to appreciate the repetition of a steady beat.
Which must be why I lingered in that chilly morning air, looking out toward the woods and waiting for the next lick of buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh to sound.
It did. I smiled.
Until next time, better be.
Nicole Caldwell is an author, journalist and editor in Redwood. She is also co-founder and CEO of Better Farm, a sustainability campus, artist colony, animal sanctuary and organic farm. Learn more about Caldwell at www.nicolecaldwellwrites.com.
The Tesla Tiny House is hitting the road in order to offer a public view of how anyone can create, store and use renewable energy at home. For the tour, which will wind through all of Australia’s major cities, Tesla put together a state-of-the-art, tiny home wrapped in locally sourced, sustainable timber and hooked to a 2,000-watt solar system and Tesla Powerwall. In addition to alternative energy offerings, the Tesla Tiny House also boasts a mobile design studio and configurator that allows people to calculate their own at-home energy needs and customize a system that works for them.
People spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors. But our dwellings are subject to all kinds of air pollutants, from pollen and pet dander to molds and bacteria. Even upholstery, furniture, cleaning products and synthetic building materials can off-gas toxic compounds. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency ranked indoor air pollutants among the top-five environmental risks to public health.