Ioncell technology creates eco-textile clothing fibers from birch trees

April 9, 2019 by  
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With clothing production leading the world as one of the highest-polluting industries, a new fiber contradicts the earth-damaging qualities of traditional materials. Ioncell technology , developed at Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, uses a range of materials, including wood, recycled newspaper, cardboard and old cotton to make fabric. This is good news for an environment scarred by cotton production and the development of synthetic fibers. The new and improved material can also be recycled at the end of its life cycle, significantly reducing clothing waste . In a country already acutely aware of sustainable practices in forest management, the trees sourced from Finland offer a much lower carbon footprint than traditional clothing. Ioncell materials also protect the water supply by using ionic liquid in place of harsh chemicals. Related: The convenience of “highway fitting” your clothes is hurting the planet While the designers focus on sustainable sourcing and manufacturing, the clothing also avoids contributing to a massive post-consumer waste problem. That’s because the fibers are biodegradable. Additionally, the fibers do not contain any harmful microfibers now associated with massive ocean pollution and damage to sea life. Sourced from birch trees , the wood is responsibly harvested as part of a forest management program that grows more trees than they harvest. Once cut into smaller logs, the wood is sent through a machine that turns it into large chips. At this phase, the chips are sent to the cooker and then turned into sheets of pulp. The pulp is then mixed with the ionic liquid that results in a cellulose material. Fibers are then spun into yarn and turned into fabric. Designers and researchers involved in the project report that the resulting material is soft and drapes naturally, making it a good choice for formalwear, coats, scarves, gloves and other products. It also accepts dye well. The process for making Ioncell fibers is still in the research and development phase and they currently only produce it on a small scale, but they are hoping to unveil a preliminary product line as early as 2020. + Aalto University Via World Economic Forum Images via Aalto University

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Ioncell technology creates eco-textile clothing fibers from birch trees

Eco-friendly replacements for common bathroom products

April 9, 2019 by  
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Common bathroom products, like toilet paper, cotton swabs and baby wipes, are a convenience for people around the world, but they come at a cost to the environment. These products take centuries to biodegrade and contribute to our growing problem of carbon emissions. Luckily, there are great eco-friendly alternatives to these common  bathroom  products that will not break your budget. Here is a quick list of the most common bathroom products and suggestions on how to find sustainable alternatives. Toilet paper The issue with toilet paper is that the majority of it is manufactured from boreal forests in Canada. These forests are crucial in absorbing carbon and cleaning the air. According to Quartzy , people in the United States use far more toilet paper per year than anywhere else in the world. This is creating a dangerous situation for trees , as the demand is reaching an unsustainable pace. Related: The environmental problem with toilet paper and what to use instead The solution to the toilet paper problem is to use single-ply paper sourced from recycled wood pulp. The key here is to find brands that are using recycled pulp instead of just looking for single-ply products. Many companies that make single-ply options do not use recycled wood . There are also tree-free options, such as those made from bamboo. Consider installing a bidet in your home. You can purchase a bidet lid that is easy to install and affordable to boot. This might not eliminate the need for toilet paper, but it will significantly reduce its use and save you money. Feminine care products Like other products on this list, tampons and sanitary pads clutter our landfills and can do a number on plumbing. The biggest problem is that these products are essential for daily living, but fortunately there are eco-friendly alternatives if you look carefully. If you want to improve your impact on the environment, buy tampons that do not feature an applicator. In 2017, the Clean Ocean Action group cleaned up over 4,000 applicators from shores in New Jersey. Also, choose feminine care products made from unscented organic cotton. You can look for underwear companies that make more absorbent products, such as Thinx, Luna and Knix. The downside to this alternative is that they can get pricey. If you are interested, try a menstrual cup, which can safely last for up to 10 years. Dental products Most dental floss is made from synthetic fibers, which makes it hard for these products to biodegrade within a reasonable time. This means that the floss either ends up in landfills or gets flushed down the toilet, where it can create problems for marine  wildlife . Related: 8 ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly Fortunately, there are companies out there who make plastic-free dental floss. According to Household Wonders , Dental Lace’s dental floss is mostly made of silk and is free of plastics. The company also offers refillable floss. Instead of plastic toothbrushes, find a bamboo option that will biodegrade. As far as toothpaste goes, try making your own or find a tooth powder or tooth tablets sold in glass jars for zero-waste alternatives. Cotton swabs Cotton swabs often end up in undesirable places after they are discarded. Some people flush them down the toilet, leaving them to end up in waterways and ultimately in the bellies of aquatic life. Because of these disposal problems, some countries have banned cotton swabs altogether, especially the ones that have plastic stems. The good news is that you do not really need to use cotton swabs. In fact, doctors do not recommend using them to clean ears, as they are easily the biggest source of ear-related trauma. Instead, simply wash out your ears with warm water and let the wax do the rest. If you cannot give up cotton swabs, consider purchasing ones that have paper or bamboo stems. These are better for the environment and break up more easily after they are thrown away. Baby wipes There are a lot of problems with baby wipes. Not only are they primarily made out of cotton — which is one of the worst crops for the environment — but they are also comprised of plastic polymers, which are added for extra strength. These wipes can lead to multiple plumbing issues and have been known to clog up water treatment facilities. Related: New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers If you have to use baby wipes, avoid flushing them down the toilet, even if the packaging says they are safe to do so. Instead, try using burp cloths or washcloths for daily cleaning . Speaking of wipes, you should also avoid all types of disposable cleaning and makeup-removing wipes, just as a general rule of thumb. For best practices, consider investing in reusable wipes. You can even use an old wipes container to house them. Make your own wipes out of old T-shirts or towels; all you need is something that is absorbent and soft. Deodorant Deodorant may be great at keeping smells at bay, but this product comes at a cost to the planet and your health. Most deodorant on the market is actually antiperspirant and contains chemicals, toxins, BPA and aluminum. This combination of chemicals usually leads to harmful reactions after extended use, not to mention that sourcing the material is hazardous to the environment. The best eco-friendly alternative to conventional deodorant is purchasing products that are completely organic and free of those harmful toxins. Images via Shutterstock

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Eco-friendly replacements for common bathroom products

Inhabitat Interview with Beth Cosmos, owner of Billygoats & Raincoats

April 5, 2019 by  
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In 2016, Beth Cosmos was fresh out of design school at the University of South Wales and volunteering at several music festivals. Eager to see the hundreds of thousands of displaced tents left after music festivals in her native U.K., Cosmos decided to combine her love of sustainability and fashion . The lightbulb moment came when she woke up to what seemed like an endless ocean of abandoned tents left behind by festival-goers at a venue. The tents were made of a good material: sturdy, waterproof and sadly destined for a landfill where it would never fully decompose. Armed with an idea, she took a few of the tents home to turn into clothes. Fast forward to 2019, and Billygoats & Raincoats is now Cosmos’ full-time job. We talked to Cosmos about her passion project and what’s next for the brand. Inhabitat: “Have you always been passionate about sustainability?” Cosmos: “Most definitely, I was that uni housemate who reinforced what exactly could be recycled or not and in which bags … super fun housemate, right?” Inhabitat: “You initially got the idea for Billygoats & Raincoats after noticing leftover tents at a festival. Were you looking for a project at the time?” Cosmos: “It’s an incredibly wasteful and upsetting sight to see. I was already designing children’s raincoats and seeking out the most sustainable options fabric -wise. The realization of the scale of waste and need for an alternative to using new fabrics came together perfectly, really.” Related: Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste Inhabitat: “Tell us about your company’s zero-waste initiative. How do you use each part of the tent?” Cosmos: “All the best parts, nicest weight and condition fabrics are used for the kids coats. I tend to use all the primary colors first, smaller panels of the good stuff go to the tote bags. If there are any pieces with marks, I use them in reverse for the linings of the bags. Blacks, grays and darker colors are being saved for my big kid, AKA adult’s wear, range. I have designed the range and will be launching a Kickstarter very soon to help fund that collection, so keep a look out on our Instagram for a heads up on when that’s going to be launched. There will be opportunities to win lots of goodies, like kids coats, one-offs and custom adult coats. I use all the fly nets for pouches on bags and lining on pockets, and they will be used as a large part of the lining in the big kid range. Guy lines have a few uses, namely pocket hooks and ties on packaging and will be getting used a lot more in the future as handy hooks. I use the ground sheets for packaging , and everything else gets cleaned and stored until I think of something to do with it. There is a lot of hauling going on.” Inhabitat: “Any plans for repurposing the coats once children grow out of them?” Cosmos: “The coats are made to a very high standard and designed to fit children for more than a year; once one cool kid grows out of the coat, it would be great to see the coat handed down. The coats can be sent back to us at the end of their life. We will offer 50 percent off the next purchase, and we will reuse the salvageable fabric.” Inhabitat: “How do you make the coats breathable with such a notoriously durable material? Do the coats get ‘muggy’ or ‘clammy’ at all?” Cosmos: “The coats are a very loose fitting, boxy shape that allows children to move freely in, and they are designed to be worn layered up.” Inhabitat: “Are you working with any festival companies directly?” Cosmos: “We will be working with and recovering tents from Glastonbury, Boomtown and Camp Bestival this year. We hope to be working very closely with them this time next year. We’re planning very exciting collaborations.” Inhabitat: “What’s next for Billygoats and Raincoats?” Cosmos: “To take over the world of rainwear, of course!” To check out Billygoats & Raincoats, head to its  website or Instagram page . + Billygoats & Raincoats Images via Billygoats & Raincoats

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Make your own custom sunglasses from recycled plastic with FOS

April 4, 2019 by  
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This company in Spain lets customers design and handcraft sunglasses, and that’s not even the best part! FOS sunglasses are made from 100% recycled plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill . Head to the FOS studio in Barcelona to take part in the workshop, where clients can choose the color of the sunglasses and build them themselves with the help of FOS designers. After picking a color and assembling the frames, you then can choose a lens color that complements your design. Related: These marbled Bluetooth speakers are made from non-recyclable plastic waste Even better, the frame is designed to be recycled over again. Customers are encouraged to bring their sunglasses back to the studio instead of throwing them out so that someone else can benefit from the frames. The sunglasses come with frame repairs, screw replacements and even lens restoration. Can’t make it to Spain? You can purchase the glasses online from the FOS website–they ship internationally. If you are lucky enough to attend a workshop (reservations can be made on their website), the designers will lead you every step of the way in making your own recycled sunglasses. Classes are offered in multiple languages, and will also offer insight into different recycling techniques and sustainability practices. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have any prior design knowledge or artistic skills, FOS promises that anyone can join the workshop. Through the two-hour-long class, participants will: learn the basics of plastic, understand the importance of recycling plastic waste , learn about molds, choose a color, craft, assemble, and polish their own new unique pair of sunglasses. The different plastic flakes allow for plenty of options for different patterns as well. After making the frames, it will be time to choose one of FOS’ five UV lens options (gray, brown, green, faded gray and faded brown). The workshops, held at Nest City Lab in Barcelona, include the price of the sunglasses and only cost 70 euro (less than $80 US). +fosworks Via Designboom Images via  Esfèrica

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H&M releases sustainable fashion line made from fruit and algae

April 4, 2019 by  
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Many people remember Lady Gaga’s jaw dropping meat dress , so when you hear of a dress made out of fruit, your mind is not likely to think of the trendy pieces H&M is releasing next week. On April 11, 2019, fashion giant H&M will release its ninth Conscious Exclusive line, but this year, it has partnered with eco textile companies to make cutting-edge food waste clothing technology a global success. Eco textiles made from fruit waste This newest technology in sustainable fashion includes vegan leather made out of pineapple leaves by Piñatex , a silk alternative made from orange peels by Orange Fiber and shoe soles made from algae by  BLOOM Foam . All of these organic materials are readily available and otherwise considered waste by-products from the harvest of pineapples, juicing of oranges and the harmful overpopulation of algae in waterways. The materials would otherwise rot in landfills but are processed in factories so that they do not biodegrade while you’re wearing them. Related: These vegan “Star Wars” sneakers are made with discarded pineapple leaves Like other fabrics, these eco textiles are finished with harmful chemicals that prevent the fabrics from biodegrading. That also means that they cannot be recycled and do not break down in a landfill, not to mention that the harmful chemical process pollutes waterways. In the end, these textiles have an environmental impact sadly similar to their conventional counterparts. On the positive side, most conventional textiles materials are sourced from endangered  rainforests . Though they aren’t perfect, eco textiles do succeed in more sustainable sourcing. H&M is one of the largest fashion brands, with more than  4,433 retail locations worldwide and nearly 50 online markets. Its Conscious Exclusive line is a way to experiment with and scale-up sustainable technologies that otherwise get little traction from limited boutique markets. Despite H&M’s ninth consecutive sustainable line, critics still argue that experiments with food waste do not address the major environmental problems with fast fashion and that these distracting pineapple gimmicks are just that — gimmicks. Fast fashion and its toll on the environment According to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change , the fast fashion industry contributes approximately 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined. The report said that the fashion industry produces 20 percent of all waste water, and 85 percent of textiles end up in landfills. Related: The environmental secrets the fashion industry does not want you to know More than just the harmful sourcing and toxic processing of fabrics, fast fashion culture is highly problematic in terms of the quantities of materials produced, purchased and disposed of. According to the World Resource Institute , the average consumer bought 60 percent more clothing between 2000 and 2014 than previous years and had each item for half as long. Relevant Magazine added that the average article of clothing is only worn five times before it is discarded. Both responsible for and responding to these trends, fast fashion companies like H&M aren’t making clothes to last, but instead to be trendy, cheap enough to be disposable and in quantities that seem endless. H&M as a trendsetter for sustainable fashion There is plenty to criticize about fast fashion and companies’ feeble attempts at sustainability; however, the size and scale of H&M makes it an important ally and trendsetter in shifting the market toward sustainable fashion. The Swedish company has made serious commitments toward sustainability goals that could equate to substantial shifts because of its size. For example, H&M claimed that 57 percent of all its clothing comes from recycled or sustainable sources, and it has set a benchmark goal to get to 100 percent by 2030. In addition, many H&M retail stores have recycling programs where customers can bring in old clothing to be recycled, reused or disposed of properly. Global Citizen also reported that H&M promises to eliminate problematic plastics from its supply chain by 2025. Can eco textiles save fashion? Textiles made from pineapples and oranges are fun and stylish, and they get people talking. As Vogue explained, if your clothing was made from pineapples, isn’t that the first thing you would tell your friends when they compliment your outfit? Despite the sustainable sourcing, though, critics argue that there is simply not enough leaves from pineapple harvests to make this a scalable solution to even address unsustainable fashion within H&M’s own markets. It is only a small bandage and cute talking point. Fashion sustainability expert and former scientist at the Natural Resource Defense Council Linda Greer  argued , “They need to focus on things that matter the most and stop spending time on these amateur initiatives that are never going to scale. They’re just trying to tickle our fancy.” There is still a lot of work to turn shoppers and companies into conscious consumers and producers. Before the general public will consider or prioritize the ethics of their clothing, it has to be the right aesthetic and price point to even get their attention. Even if the eco textiles are not sustainable at a global scale or making a huge impact, a fashion giant like H&M showing public commitment and getting people talking sends a message to consumers around the world and amplifies the conversation. It also sends a message to designers and experimental sustainable fashion start-ups that large manufacturers are paying attention, committing to sustainability goals and looking to their inventions for the next big thing. That motivation alone could be enough to shift the future of the industry. + H&M Via Global Citizen Images via H&M

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H&M releases sustainable fashion line made from fruit and algae

Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly

April 3, 2019 by  
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When the spring cleaning season comes around, many homeowners turn to their favorite cleaning products to tidy up. But not all of your go-to cleaners are good for the environment. Many products on the market feature harmful chemicals that leach into the ecosystem, causing harm to people and the environment alike. If you are looking to get into spring cleaning mode without potentially hurting your health, here is a quick guide on what chemicals to avoid and how to clean with the environment in mind. Chemicals linked to health problems Cleaning chemicals may eliminate harmful bacteria from your home, but they also can lead to serious health problems. This includes irritating eyes, skin and respiratory systems. The most obvious health issues that arise are due to skin contact with toxic chemicals that are absorbed by the body. According to AcuuWeather , harmful chemicals can also enter the air and cause respiratory problems. Individuals who clean on a daily basis are more susceptible to these issues, especially when it comes to long-term health concerns. Identify harmful chemicals There are a number of different chemicals that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed volatile. According to SF Gate , this includes ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus, all of which are commonly found in household cleaning products. For example, most dishwasher detergents contain about 40 percent phosphorus, while nitrogen is a common ingredient in glass cleaner. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners Keep chemicals out of the water Many of the chemicals you use in the spring cleaning process end up in the sewage, whether they are rinsed down the sink or flushed in the toilet. Fortunately, the majority of chemicals are filtered out in sewage plants before the water goes to rivers and lakes. That said, nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorus are not removed in treatment plants. Instead, these three chemicals usually end up in waterways, where they contaminate larger bodies of water like lakes and oceans . Once they enter freshwater environments, they can wreak havoc on aquatic life and plants. These chemicals can also contaminate water supplies if they are dumped in large concentrations. Avoid air contamination As noted earlier, harmful chemicals in household products can enter the air and cause respiratory issues. If you open windows while cleaning for better ventilation, you are simply pushing these volatile chemicals into the atmosphere. In fact, the EPA has found that cleaning chemicals contribute to pollution and smog, which is why some are restricted in select locations, such as California. Ventilating the harmful chemicals outside may be better for the indoor air quality , but it is more harmful for the environment in the long-term. Although using harmful chemicals has major side effects, there are plenty of ways you can keep your house clean without harming yourself or the environment. Use eco-friendly cleaners The best way to avoid harmful cleaning products is to look for non-toxic chemicals. These products are usually equipped with an eco-friendly or biodegradable label. You should also avoid buying products that are known to irritate skin or are flammable. Related: Truman’s wants to reduce single-use plastics in the household cleaner industry You can also make your own eco-friendly cleaning products with a few household staples. Ingredients like lemon, vinegar, baking soda and glycerine are great at combating dirt and grease. A mixture of soap and water or water and vinegar can easily remove tough stains while eliminating germs. You can also add a little baking soda for some added abrasion. Get rid of paper towels You can burn through a lot of paper towels during spring cleaning, which is not great for the environment in the long run. As an alternative, try buying reusable towels to clean. You can pick up some affordable towels at your local grocery store or cut up old T-shirts. Using old clothes will also keep waste out of the landfill. Clean up the laundry There is no denying that dryers are a big convenience of modern society. But, according to Planet Aid , you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by hang-drying your clothes on a regular basis. Dyers consume a lot of electricity, so only using them on rainy days helps the environment and puts some money back in your pocket. Related: Get ready to use soapnuts for everything from cleaning to self care When it comes to washing, look for detergents that have an eco-friendly label. Although these cleaners used to be expensive, the costs have come down considerably, and you can usually find natural alternatives at competitive price points. You can also purchase cleaners in bulk to save even more money. Reuse household items for cleaning Instead of throwing away old clothing items or toothbrushes, use them for cleaning. Toothbrushes are great for reaching tight corners, and even an old sock can be put to work dusting. If you are really creative, you can even sew together old towels to create a makeshift mop cover. Once you are done with these items, you can either wash and reuse them or put them in the recycle bin. Images via Public Domain Pictures , Fotoblend , Pasja1000 , Alex and Stevepb

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Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly

Burger King unveils the plant-based Impossible Whopper

April 3, 2019 by  
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The Impossible Burger is coming to a Burger King near you. The fast food chain is releasing a new burger with a vegetarian patty called the Impossible Whopper. The company is teaming up with the creators of Impossible Foods to bring a plant-based vegetarian option to nearly 60 Burger Kings in the St. Louis area and potentially to thousands across the country. Burger King hopes the Impossible Whopper will quickly become the new staple for people looking to swap meat for plant-based options. To that end, Burger King is partnering with Impossible Foods to bring the vegetarian patty to a much wider audience than ever before. The vegetarian option will include the same toppings and bun as the regular Whopper and will cost about $1 more. Related: We tried the new Impossible Burger at CES — here’s what we thought Impossible Foods has collaborated with other burger joints in the past. The company featured its Impossible Burger in more than one thousand Carl’s Jr. franchises. It also partnered with White Castle , which sold a slider variety of the food in a little under 400 of its establishments. But the new deal with Burger King is much larger in scale. In fact, the fast food chain plans to release the burger in more than 7,000 restaurants across the United States. That is well over double the amount of venues that currently offer the Impossible Burger. The head of marketing for Burger King, Fernando Machado, said that early tests confirm that people have not been able to tell the difference between the old beef Whopper and the new plant-based one. “People on my team who know the Whopper inside and out, they try it and they struggle to differentiate which one is which,” Machado shared. Burger King is featuring the Impossible Whopper in 59 restaurants in St. Louis to start before expanding to other locations. If things in St. Louis go smoothly, then the company plans to release the Impossible Burger to its other restaurants. Machado believes that the new burger will be a major hit with customers and has every intention in spreading it to other locations. The company hopes that offering the Impossible Burger in multiple venues across the U.S. will encourage people to stop eating beef and opt for a more eco-friendly diet. + Impossible Foods Via NY Times Image via Impossible Foods

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Burger King unveils the plant-based Impossible Whopper

Hidden in the Vinhedo rainforests of Brazil, this glass house was built for a scholar

March 29, 2019 by  
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The architects at Atelier Branco Arquitetura were asked to build a glass house that could accommodate the owner’s need to think, read and escape from the bustling cities of Brazil . The owner, a famous political scholar, dreamed of a structure that was neither a permanent residence nor a vacation home, but a lush and peaceful retreat. Coming from the main road, you’re first met with a vast wooden deck atop the concrete roof of the building, which gives one the sensation of floating among the dense rainforest plants that surround the property. Instead of using a parapet (a protective barrier or wall along the edge), the architects installed a water bed around the perimeter of the deck. This way, the roof is not only a sitting deck, but it is also somewhat of an island. Related: Minimalist tiny cabin is a secluded retreat in a Brazilian rainforest Continuing down the stairs, you’ll find the entrance to the main structure of the house. This volume was built entirely out of reinforced concrete, and the floors were made from long Garapeira wood boards. Because of the sloping and uneven terrain upon which the home is built, the architects created a descending series of steps that open into different parts of the home. Floor-to-ceiling windows encompass the entire house, allowing for natural light to penetrate the interior and give one the sensation of being inside the jungle foliage on the other side of the glass. The house is designed so that the location of each space takes into account the lighting and level of privacy allotted. Because of this, the sleeping areas are located on the top level with the least amount of natural light, and the owner’s studio is situated in the central part of the home. The studio level has the greatest vantages for enjoying the surrounding landscape, which is why the owner chose this spot in the first place. On the bottom level is the living and dining area, the brightest and most exposed section of the house. Contrarily, the two bathrooms were built with cast concrete and are lit from above only by skylights , providing very limited natural lighting, but ultimate privacy, compared to the rest of the house. + Atelier Branco Arquitetura Via ArchDaily Images via Atelier Branco Arquitectura

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Hidden in the Vinhedo rainforests of Brazil, this glass house was built for a scholar

The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead

March 28, 2019 by  
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Many Americans have become accustomed to using single-serving brewers to make their morning cup of coffee. Not only are these coffee pods — such as K-Cups and Nespresso pods — convenient to use, but they come in an assortment of flavors and coffee types to meet anyone’s taste. While coffee pods are a convenience of modern times, they come with a dark side. The vast majority of these plastic capsules end up in our  landfills  every year, contributing to the  growing problem of plastic pollution . Fortunately, there are viable alternatives to the  single-use  coffee pod — and even coffee distributors like Keurig are doing their best to address the problem. What are coffee pods? Coffee capsules, like K-Cups and Nespresso pods, are typically filled with enough coffee  grounds for a single cup of a caffeinated (or decaffeinated) beverage. They generally consist of small plastic containers fitted with an aluminum foil lid. Once the coffee has been dispensed, the containers are no longer of use and are disposed of in the trash. The coffee pods end up in a variety of places after they are thrown away. The majority of them end their lives in landfills, though a good amount ends up in rivers, lakes and ultimately oceans. The plastic containers eventually break apart into smaller chunks, which can endanger  wildlife . Why are they so popular? Coffee pods have been around since the ’90s , but they only recently boomed in popularity. The rise of single-use coffee pods happened in 2012, when the number of pod users jumped to around 10 percent. That number has steadily risen over the years. According to USA Today , over 40 percent of residents in the United States have purchased a single-cup coffee brewer at some point in time. Convenience is the biggest reason people are switching over to coffee pods, and companies, like Keurig, Folgers, Starbucks and Kraft Heinz, have made them more accessible than ever. Coffee pods are difficult to recycle One big issue with coffee pods is that they are frequently too small to recycle . The sorting systems used in recycling plants have trouble picking them up, which means most of them end up in the trash. Related: This British cafe is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste There are a few companies that use aluminum coffee capsules, which are easier to recycle. The downside, however, is that aluminum exposure is a health concern. Luckily, companies are looking into making pods out of polypropylene, which can be shredded and recycled. How many coffee pods end up in landfills? It is difficult to determine how many coffee capsules end up in the trash on an annual basis. Some researchers estimate that there were enough coffee pods buried in landfills in 2014 to go around the Earth 10.5 times, though other estimates put that number at 12. In 2018 alone, Keurig sold close to 10 billion K-Cups, though its new multi-cup pods are recyclable. Speaking of recyclable pods, more and more companies are offering these eco-friendly alternatives . In fact, Keurig plans to become completely recyclable by next year, though it is still up to users to actually put them in the recycling bin. Compostable and biodegradable options There are a few companies, such as San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee, that offer biodegradable and compostable pods. These pods can be placed in compost bins, or users can put them in their home compost piles. Related: HuskeeCup is an eco-friendly cup made entirely from coffee waste The downside to these pods is that you need to have a public composting facility in your town if you are not composting at home. You should also know that the biodegradable pods still take a long time to break down and are not that beneficial to the environment. Refillable pods With  plastic waste  continuing to be an issue around the world, the best way to improve the environment is to curb our dependence on single-use plastics altogether. To that end, the better alternative is coffee pods that are  refillable and reusable . These pods are not thrown away after use and can be cleaned and refilled on a daily basis. There are several companies that offer reusable capsules, including Keurig, Fill ‘n’ Save and Eko-Brew. Just ensure the refillable pod fits your machine before purchasing one. Single-serve alternatives For those who have not purchased a Keurig coffee maker or are looking to switch things up, there are single-serve systems that do not use plastic pods. In fact, several coffee makers have features that enable users to make anywhere between one to 12 cups of coffee at a time. This includes Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach. French press systems are another good alternative to using coffee pods. A few companies even have single-serve French press machines, some of which attach themselves on top of a coffee mug. What does the future hold for coffee pods? Given the environmental concerns, the future of coffee capsules remains in question. If companies are able to produce more eco-friendly alternatives to the plastic model, it is possible that single-serve pods will continue to grow in popularity. If the environmental concerns are not addressed, there are fortunately other alternatives that will hopefully replace the single-use pods once and for all. Images via Shutterstock, Tony Webster and Inhabitat

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The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead

Kooshoo introduces the first plastic-free, sustainable hair ties

March 27, 2019 by  
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Amid growing concerns of plastic waste around the world, one company has created sustainable hair ties that are better for the environment. Made from organic materials like cotton and rubber, Kooshoo has come up with the world’s first plastic-free hair ties that are completely biodegradable. These hair ties come in a variety of colors and styles and are made with sustainability in mind — from the way the materials are sourced to how the products are manufactured. About the company Jesse and Rachel, a couple based out of Victoria, Canada, founded  Kooshoo . The two, who made a name for themselves as yoga teachers, built the company from the ground up. Their goal was to create a business model with sustainability in mind. They are also hoping to lead the change in the fashion industry when it comes to eliminating plastics in clothing. With its core values being love, honesty and transparency, Kooshoo is well on its way to meeting its sustainability goals. Given that more than 20,000 pounds of hair-related products end up in the trash each day, Kooshoo’s mission is important in preserving the future of our planet. An inside look at Kooshoo hair ties People around the world lose hair ties on a daily basis. Most of these elastics end up in the trash or litter the environment, which is why it is important that Kooshoo hair ties are completely  biodegradable . Related: Saving the environment one hair wash at a time Kooshoo hair ties only contain two ingredients: natural rubber and organic cotton. This includes the thread that is used to keep the ties together. Each and every product is also certified by the GOTS, or better known as the Global Organic Textile Standard. Natural materials According to Kooshoo, all of the materials used in its hair ties are sourced from organic cotton. There are absolutely zero synthetics in the products, and the cotton is grown without the use of toxic pesticides . Not only is the end result better for the environment, but it is also beneficial to your skin. Each hair tie is manufactured in California, though all of the design work and testing is done in Canada. The materials are sent to local shops in Los Angeles , where workers cut, weave, sew and dye the ties before distributing them around the world. The dying process Kooshoo hand dyes all of its hair ties. The company employs a crew of artisans that are specially trained in dying  textiles , which also means that each product is unique. How fast do the hair ties biodegrade? The rate of degradation depends on how the hair ties are disposed. If the ties are put in a compost pile, then the organic materials — which make up about 75 percent of the product — will start to degrade in less than one year. In fact, microorganisms in the environment will feed on these organics until there is basically nothing left. The other 25 percent of the product is the natural rubber. This material is drawn from trees in a similar way as maple syrup. It does take a bit longer to biodegrade, though organisms will eventually eliminate it in anywhere from three to seven years. Compared to traditional hair ties that contain plastics, this is much more sustainable. Even if you were to lose the hair tie in water, it will still break down completely. According to a recent article published by  Kooshoo , it takes about double the time for its hair ties to completely biodegrade in water. Scientists estimate that these sustainable hair ties take about 14 years to break down in water conditions, but once they biodegrade, they leave absolutely no trace. What other kind of products does it offer? The main selling item for the company is its twist headband. These  organic  head pieces come in a variety of colors and styles and are suitable for men, women and children alike. The company, of course, has an assortment of plastic-free hair ties that come in various color schemes, including black and brown, blonde, rainbow assorted and sea shepherd. These ties are secure enough for the thickest of hair, yet soft enough to remain gentle on the head. Kooshoo also offers a few clothing options, including a versatile shawl for women and children’s pants that grow as the kid grows. Sustainability in mind Kooshoo facilities feature dye houses that are completely powered by solar energy . The organization also packages its hair ties in reusable shipping containers and bags. These practices help curb carbon emissions and lessen the amount of waste that ends up in landfills — and ultimately  oceans — across the globe. Charitable offerings For the people who own and operate Kooshoo, selling hair ties is not only about making money. The business has also donated a portion of its profits, along with some of its products, to  charitable  organizations. Related: 6 of the best places to donate your things For instance, the establishment initiated a fitness and wellness plan for people in marginalized communities. More than 1,000 individuals in these communities were given access to meditation courses and yoga classes. + Kooshoo Images via Kooshoo

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Kooshoo introduces the first plastic-free, sustainable hair ties

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