HempWood offers a sustainable wood alternative with endless applications

February 24, 2021 by  
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With an educational background in vinyl siding and wood flooring, Fibonacci owner Greg Wilson has developed HempWood, an American-produced wood material made from a fast-growing agricultural product. Hemp has long been acclaimed for its versatility, but regulations in the United States have historically hampered research and development on the material. Now, hemp may be the material surrounding you inside your home. Replacing wood with other natural materials The company’s name is Fibonacci, although it’s now mostly known as HempWood with a focus on its primary product. No trees were harmed in the making of HempWood, since it is made of all-natural, U.S.-grown hemp, and the uses are just beginning to take shape.  Related: Levi’s announces product line made with Cottonized Hemp In the grand scheme of things, HempWood sees the opportunity to sit alongside the major players in the wood industry. Its current products include flooring, furniture, countertops and accent walls. Basically anything for indoor use made out of hardwoods, tropical woods, cork or other agricultural products, such as bamboo and eucalyptus , can be made using HempWood instead. Wilson originally worked in China with another plant-to-product material, bamboo. While great for many things, bamboo lacked strength as a commercial product. Wilson was part of a team that unlocked a process that turned bamboo into a more durable product. Later, he used a similar process in working with strand wood eucalyptus. As hemp availability and an interest in the possibilities for the material grew, Wilson moved back to the U.S. and opened shop in Kentucky to use his prior experiences in the advancement of hemp development. The environmental impact of hemp Even with Wilson’s prior dealings with similarly behaving materials, hemp has presented some unique challenges. Plus, launching a business in 2020 was no easy feat. Wilson told Cool Hunting in a recent interview, “It’s all based off this one algorithm that allows you to transform a plant fiber into a wood composite,” he explained. “You’ve got to modify it a little bit for the different fiber coming in, but for hemp we’ve also had to duck and weave around government regulation, COVID, wildfires and everything else 2020 has to offer.” Wilson and his team were already aware of the sustainability aspects of hemp, like the fact that plants grow quickly and are ready for harvest in only 120 days. Compared to traditional tree-based woods such as oak, hickory and maple that grow for hundreds of years, hemp can provide a renewable option for the wood industry. Plus, as a plant, hemp naturally helps create cleaner air by removing carbon and releasing oxygen. Hemp’s versatility means every part of the plant is used, leaving no waste behind. While HempWood primarily relies on the bottom part of the plant, the upper parts of thhe plant has other commercial uses, such as chicken feed. From a sustainability aspect, HempWood offers additional advantages. Harvesting trees damages the natural habitat of plants and animals . For example, removing a single large oak tree takes away a food and housing source. Plus, it eliminates protection for the plants growing underneath it. Forests are a carefully balanced ecosystem, so removing a single component can easily upset the stability within the region. As an agricultural product, hemp doesn’t have that lasting effect.  As a bio-based product, HempWood avoids creating future issues with its natural ability to biodegrade . Even the non-toxic, soy-based adhesive can dissolve back into the soil. “It’s a wood-composite comprised of greater than 80% hemp fiber,” Wilson explained. “We take the whole stalk and put it through a crushing machine which breaks open the cell structure. Then we dunk it into these enormous vats of soy protein, mixed with water and with the organic acid used by the paper towel industry. It’s essentially papier-mâché.” Corporate responsibility Fibonacci chose a location within 100 miles of the hemp farms it relies on for materials. This decreases transportation costs and the carbon emissions that result from shipping materials across the country. The company is currently looking into expanding with more facilities to create a web of strategically placed hubs on each coast and around the U.S. Inside the HempWood facility, the company is committed to a small carbon footprint . In addition to basic steps like using low-consuming LED bulbs throughout the buildings, the company has installed a bio-burner. This device not only vents heat throughout the facility, but it also provides energy savings and comprehensive waste reduction by burning material off-cuts onsite. The team at HempWood has enjoyed promoting an alternative for the green building community as well as creating a base product that people can get creative with. Customers report making many types of products out of the material, including duck calls, art projects, bowls and picture frames. There is no cap on the number of applications this material can be used for in the building industry and beyond. + HempWood Images via HempWood

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HempWood offers a sustainable wood alternative with endless applications

Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals

January 28, 2021 by  
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Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals Scott Breen Thu, 01/28/2021 – 01:15 Numerous companies have set 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging goals such as Colgate-Palmolive and Kellogg. Virtually all these companies, though, are not tracking whether their packaging is actually recycled and what new products their packaging becomes. Without this end-of-life tracking, they cannot determine the extent of the economic and environmental impact from how their packaging was recycled. Technical recyclability is only the first step of many questions to determine if your packaging works in today’s recycling system. Other questions include: Is the packaging collected in the vast majority of recycling programs? Can the packaging be easily separated from the rest of the single stream recyclables? Once baled with like materials, does the material the packaging was made of sell for an amount that pays for the cost to collect and separate it and, ideally, provide additional needed revenue to the material recovery facilities (MRF) that separate single stream recyclables? Is the packaging downcycled into a product unlikely to be recycled at its end-of-life?  These questions are harder to answer. Further, some companies may not want to look under the recycling hood. They might fear uncovering negative characteristics for a packaging type that they want to continue using because they’ve invested in it, it provides higher margins than other packaging, or consumers find it attractive. If companies are serious about fixing the U.S. recycling system, they need to go beyond a new willingness to fee-setting and long-term recyclability goals . They need to consider what inputs they are pumping into the recycling system. Material flows One way to answer some of the above questions is to use material flow analyses (MFA). MFAs show visually how materials flow through the waste management system. They make it easier to identify where material is being lost and whether there is downcycling or ” real recycling .” While the whopping 82% of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. Metabolic’s ” Recycling Unpacked: Assessing the Circular Potential of Beverage Containers in the U.S. ” has a beverage container MFA. One can see that a third of PET is lost during the mechanical recycling process and 40 percent of the glass material collected from single-stream recycling systems is used as landfill cover. The MFA also shows the best performer. It is aluminum cans with 82 percent of used beverage cans entering the U.S. recycling system able to be recovered for high-quality closed-loop recycling into another can, which easily can be recycled at the end of its useful life. Closed Loop Partners (CLP) also has conducted a detailed MFA for a variety of plastic resins. While the whopping 82 percent of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. End uses vary by resin. One of the top end-uses noted in the MFA is synthetic fiber, which typically is used for clothing. Most new clothing , regardless of if it is made with recycled material, will go to landfill unless nascent solutions are scaled. One extra revolution is far from true circularity. Also consider plastic polyethylene (PE) film in CLP’s MFA. The only PE film that is recycled is the small percent that goes to retail store drop-off and commercial direct bales. So, PE film is technically recyclable . Thus, some companies may count it towards their 100 percent recyclable goal, but it is far from being truly recycled in today’s system. It may be difficult for a company to do an MFA of just its products. Still, companies should look to MFAs of material types and packaging generally to get a sense of if there is ” real recycling ” with their packaging. Revenue source or cost for recyclers The more than 350 residential MRFs in the U.S. are struggling with incessant contamination and often pay more to separate recyclables than they earn selling them.  Companies should consider whether the packaging they put into the marketplace will help recyclers on the back end with added revenue. The consistent, relatively high revenue sources for MRFs are certain kinds of paper ( cardboard ), aluminum beverage cans and certain kinds of plastic ( HDPE ). In fact, one recent study by Gershman, Brickner & Bratton determined that without the revenue from used beverage cans, most MRFs wouldn’t be able to operate . Typically low or even negative value materials for MRFs include glass , mixed paper and cartons .  They also should consider if the material is easy to separate and bale to sell for the needed revenue. For example, steel cans are easy to remove from the rest of the single stream recyclables via a magnet . Artificial Intelligence , robotics and optical scanners help address materials being missorted . Nonetheless, many MRFs do not have this kind of technology, nor the capital to purchase it . Environmental impact of recycling In addition to the economic impact of recycling, companies should consider the environmental impact that comes with how their packaging is recycled. The amount of energy saved from making a product with recycled material versus virgin material differs. With plastic and glass, it’s about a third . In contrast, aluminum cans and steel cans save 90 percent and 75 percent , respectively. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Recycled content goals are certainly a step in the right direction toward building up domestic recycling markets and achieving the above environmental impact with greater displacement of virgin material. However, companies still should consider whether the materials in their packaging can loop numerous times. Plastic can be recycled only two or three times . Alternatively, glass and metal can recycle many more times as there is no loss in quality when they are recycled. When multiple loops from the same piece of material are considered , the environmental and economic impacts stack up . Packaging choice is critical to recycling system health The key to a thriving recycling system is either investing in the technology and infrastructure necessary such that all recyclable materials can be economically and efficiently recycled at scale or having more consumer goods companies choose packaging that recycles economically and efficiently in the current system. Neither is happening right now. Too much packaging dumped into the marketplace does not work in today’s recycling system. It’s worthless, multi-material, hard to separate and/or not easy to recycle into anything useful/recyclable. No wonder there are now calls for the chasing arrows symbol to be taken off all plastic packaging, and Greenpeace is suing Walmart for misleading recyclability labels on its plastic products and packaging. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Companies need to go beyond technically “recyclable” in the sustainability metrics they use to choose their packaging . Potential alternative metrics include some percent of all the company’s packaging is above a certain value per ton, some percent of all the company’s packaging is primarily made of material that does not degrade during the recycling process and some percent of all the company’s packaging is primarily recycled into the same kind of packaging or other useful, easy to recycle products. There’s an opportunity for a company to be the first mover in next level recycling metrics and packaging choice. Once many companies make the shift, the recycling system will thrive and the economic and environmental impact from recycling will multiply. Pull Quote While the whopping 82% of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Topics Design & Packaging Circular Economy Recycling Packaging Circular Packaging Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash .

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Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals

Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals

January 28, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals

Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals Scott Breen Thu, 01/28/2021 – 01:15 Numerous companies have set 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging goals such as Colgate-Palmolive and Kellogg. Virtually all these companies, though, are not tracking whether their packaging is actually recycled and what new products their packaging becomes. Without this end-of-life tracking, they cannot determine the extent of the economic and environmental impact from how their packaging was recycled. Technical recyclability is only the first step of many questions to determine if your packaging works in today’s recycling system. Other questions include: Is the packaging collected in the vast majority of recycling programs? Can the packaging be easily separated from the rest of the single stream recyclables? Once baled with like materials, does the material the packaging was made of sell for an amount that pays for the cost to collect and separate it and, ideally, provide additional needed revenue to the material recovery facilities (MRF) that separate single stream recyclables? Is the packaging downcycled into a product unlikely to be recycled at its end-of-life?  These questions are harder to answer. Further, some companies may not want to look under the recycling hood. They might fear uncovering negative characteristics for a packaging type that they want to continue using because they’ve invested in it, it provides higher margins than other packaging, or consumers find it attractive. If companies are serious about fixing the U.S. recycling system, they need to go beyond a new willingness to fee-setting and long-term recyclability goals . They need to consider what inputs they are pumping into the recycling system. Material flows One way to answer some of the above questions is to use material flow analyses (MFA). MFAs show visually how materials flow through the waste management system. They make it easier to identify where material is being lost and whether there is downcycling or ” real recycling .” While the whopping 82% of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. Metabolic’s ” Recycling Unpacked: Assessing the Circular Potential of Beverage Containers in the U.S. ” has a beverage container MFA. One can see that a third of PET is lost during the mechanical recycling process and 40 percent of the glass material collected from single-stream recycling systems is used as landfill cover. The MFA also shows the best performer. It is aluminum cans with 82 percent of used beverage cans entering the U.S. recycling system able to be recovered for high-quality closed-loop recycling into another can, which easily can be recycled at the end of its useful life. Closed Loop Partners (CLP) also has conducted a detailed MFA for a variety of plastic resins. While the whopping 82 percent of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. End uses vary by resin. One of the top end-uses noted in the MFA is synthetic fiber, which typically is used for clothing. Most new clothing , regardless of if it is made with recycled material, will go to landfill unless nascent solutions are scaled. One extra revolution is far from true circularity. Also consider plastic polyethylene (PE) film in CLP’s MFA. The only PE film that is recycled is the small percent that goes to retail store drop-off and commercial direct bales. So, PE film is technically recyclable . Thus, some companies may count it towards their 100 percent recyclable goal, but it is far from being truly recycled in today’s system. It may be difficult for a company to do an MFA of just its products. Still, companies should look to MFAs of material types and packaging generally to get a sense of if there is ” real recycling ” with their packaging. Revenue source or cost for recyclers The more than 350 residential MRFs in the U.S. are struggling with incessant contamination and often pay more to separate recyclables than they earn selling them.  Companies should consider whether the packaging they put into the marketplace will help recyclers on the back end with added revenue. The consistent, relatively high revenue sources for MRFs are certain kinds of paper ( cardboard ), aluminum beverage cans and certain kinds of plastic ( HDPE ). In fact, one recent study by Gershman, Brickner & Bratton determined that without the revenue from used beverage cans, most MRFs wouldn’t be able to operate . Typically low or even negative value materials for MRFs include glass , mixed paper and cartons .  They also should consider if the material is easy to separate and bale to sell for the needed revenue. For example, steel cans are easy to remove from the rest of the single stream recyclables via a magnet . Artificial Intelligence , robotics and optical scanners help address materials being missorted . Nonetheless, many MRFs do not have this kind of technology, nor the capital to purchase it . Environmental impact of recycling In addition to the economic impact of recycling, companies should consider the environmental impact that comes with how their packaging is recycled. The amount of energy saved from making a product with recycled material versus virgin material differs. With plastic and glass, it’s about a third . In contrast, aluminum cans and steel cans save 90 percent and 75 percent , respectively. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Recycled content goals are certainly a step in the right direction toward building up domestic recycling markets and achieving the above environmental impact with greater displacement of virgin material. However, companies still should consider whether the materials in their packaging can loop numerous times. Plastic can be recycled only two or three times . Alternatively, glass and metal can recycle many more times as there is no loss in quality when they are recycled. When multiple loops from the same piece of material are considered , the environmental and economic impacts stack up . Packaging choice is critical to recycling system health The key to a thriving recycling system is either investing in the technology and infrastructure necessary such that all recyclable materials can be economically and efficiently recycled at scale or having more consumer goods companies choose packaging that recycles economically and efficiently in the current system. Neither is happening right now. Too much packaging dumped into the marketplace does not work in today’s recycling system. It’s worthless, multi-material, hard to separate and/or not easy to recycle into anything useful/recyclable. No wonder there are now calls for the chasing arrows symbol to be taken off all plastic packaging, and Greenpeace is suing Walmart for misleading recyclability labels on its plastic products and packaging. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Companies need to go beyond technically “recyclable” in the sustainability metrics they use to choose their packaging . Potential alternative metrics include some percent of all the company’s packaging is above a certain value per ton, some percent of all the company’s packaging is primarily made of material that does not degrade during the recycling process and some percent of all the company’s packaging is primarily recycled into the same kind of packaging or other useful, easy to recycle products. There’s an opportunity for a company to be the first mover in next level recycling metrics and packaging choice. Once many companies make the shift, the recycling system will thrive and the economic and environmental impact from recycling will multiply. Pull Quote While the whopping 82% of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Topics Design & Packaging Circular Economy Recycling Packaging Circular Packaging Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash .

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Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals

University in Germany designs an alpine hut from reeds

October 28, 2020 by  
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A team of craftspeople and students from the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Building Material, Building Physics, Building Technology and Design have created an alpine hut designed from sustainable, renewable reed material. The project, SkinOver Reed, is meant to research the feasibility of the material as facade and roof cladding for use in high-altitude Alpine regions. Also known as thatch , reed is a carbon-neutral resource, known generationally for its rapid growth, short process chain, low-energy demand, low emissions and lack of pollutants. According to the designers, reed generates better water quality where it grows and helps to provide home to many different animals in the natural environment. It is harvested by cutting off the dead part of the plant, which is replaced by natural growth every year. Using the dead reed as cladding requires no need for any further treatment. At the end of its life, the construction material can be composted, closing the life cycle organically. Related: Prefab alpine shelter boasts phenomenal views and a small footprint The SkinOver Reed project was developed after two years of research, with reed chosen for the facade and roof to help generate a monolithic, three-dimensional design with a single material. The prototype thatched hut was built in Austria using local reed and wood with a foundation of stone from an existing building. The team researched examples of contemporary thatch architecture from France, Denmark and Sweden for inspiration and insight into building with reed. The first hut was completed in 2019, so the team spent summer 2020 monitoring, documenting and analyzing the effects of last winter’s cold weather on the reed. Long-term, they plan to implement both permanent and periodic measurements to monitor the hut’s aging process, hopefully inspiring other architects to see the favorability and quality of renewable materials like reed. The project has already garnered favorable attention, as it was shortlisted in the small building category for the Dezeen Awards 2020. + University of Stuttgart Via Dezeen Images via University of Stuttgart

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University in Germany designs an alpine hut from reeds

Zeabuz is launching a self-driving electric ferry in Norway

October 28, 2020 by  
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Norwegian company Zeabuz has announced that it will be launching a self-driving ferry next year. This zero-emission ferry was first developed in 2018 by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The ferry is expected to carry 12 passengers and will operate like an elevator, with passengers able to call the ferry to their location by pressing a button. The launch of the first self-driving electric ferry in Norway just goes to show the strides the country is making in developing water transport . In 2015, Norway was the first country to launch the world’s first electric car and passenger ferry . Related: 100% electric passenger vehicle and cargo ferry could help decarbonize sea travel According to Narve Mjøs, the director of DNV GL — a company that advises the maritime industry and organizes the Green Shipping Program in Norway — the country is on the right track when it comes to pioneering new technologies in water transport. Mjøs said that the use of new boats, like the one being launched by Zeabuz, provides a greener alternative to road transport. Further, he said that the process of automation via self-driving helps cut down operation costs. The newly launched ferry will operate along the canal that connects the port and the city center of Trondheim. Passengers will have a 1-minute travel time, rather than the 15 minutes it typically takes to walk between the two locations. The ferry also has the capacity to transport passenger bicycles, and it is designed to charge while docked. Riding the ferry will be free of charge, at least in Trondheim. Many countries are turning back to water transport, which was a popular means of travel before the invention of cars. For instance, Bangkok intends to launch 30 new electric ferries and 5,000 electric water taxis come next year. In July 2020, Uber announced plans to launch boat taxis along the Thames River in London. If such plans are actualized, we are likely to see a future with fewer cars and more zero-emission boats. + Zeabuz Via CNN Images via Zeabuz

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Zeabuz is launching a self-driving electric ferry in Norway

How companies can source leather more sustainably

January 30, 2020 by  
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The environmental impact of using this material mirrors that of using cattle as a protein source.

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How companies can source leather more sustainably

How companies can source leather more sustainably

January 30, 2020 by  
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The environmental impact of using this material mirrors that of using cattle as a protein source.

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How companies can source leather more sustainably

Who’s the biggest force in corporate patents for climate-related innovations?

January 30, 2020 by  
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Hint: It’s probably not a Silicon Valley startup.

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Who’s the biggest force in corporate patents for climate-related innovations?

Designer creates algae-sourced alternative for plastic packaging

February 27, 2019 by  
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Food packaging has a become a target in the world of sustainability and environmentalism. Walk down the aisle of any supermarket or look in your own shopping cart, and you’re likely to see package after package made from petroleum-based plastic. A few resourceful scientists and engineers have chosen to tackle the problem, including designer Margarita Talep, who has developed an algae-based alternative to plastic. With the short lifecycle of most packaging, Talep wanted to create a material that would stand up to the task of holding food and other products but break down quickly once it hit the waste stream. Related: Nuatan is the bioplastic that could answer the plastic pollution crisis Agar, a gel-like substance sourced from seaweed, is not new to the food world, as it is commonly used as a food thickener. With that understanding, Talep heats the agar to create a polymer and then adds water as a plasticizer and natural dyes for color. To achieve the goal of all-natural ingredients, natural dyes are sourced from fruits and vegetables such as beets, carrots, blueberries and purple cabbage. After the mixture of agar and other ingredients is heated, it is cooled, a process that transforms it into a gel. At this point, the mixture is turned into thin plastic or poured into molds to cool. By adjusting the ingredients, Talep has created a firm material that will mold into shapes, such as the trays that a package of donuts sit in. The technique is versatile enough that it can also create a replacement for plastic bags, like those pasta is sold in. With the overarching goal of replacing single-use , disposable packaging, the algae packaging breaks down naturally within two to three months during warm summer months, depending on the thickness of the material. In the colder winter months, the material still breaks down, but requires a few extra weeks. + Margarita Talep Images via Margarita Talep

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Designer creates algae-sourced alternative for plastic packaging

Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet?

January 9, 2019 by  
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Remember the days when anti-fur advocates would sling red paint onto the fur-clad fashion lovers dressed in mink? The fur debate has come a long way since then, with many key players in the fashion world now becoming some of the biggest voices in the anti-fur movement. But, instead of ditching fur altogether, some brands have switched to lavish faux fur options, and that has pivoted the discussion. Instead of focusing on ethics and animal welfare, the spotlight is now shining on its  environmental sustainability. Is it good for the environment? Over the past couple of decades, faux fur has evolved from a cheap, itchy material to a luxurious, affordable option that looks just like the real thing. Faux fur now looks so realistic that consumers can’t tell the difference, but is this option really better for the environment? If you are morally opposed to wearing fur, then it is easy to avoid it. However, if you are just trying to make the best choice for the environment, there are some things you need to know. Just because a piece of clothing might be animal -free, it doesn’t mean it’s not causing damage. Fur industry lobbyists now argue that faux fur is a less sustainable choice because it is made from acrylic, which is a synthetic material made from a non-renewable source that takes centuries to biodegrade. “Petroleum-based faux fur products are the complete antithesis of the concept of responsible environmental conservation,” says Keith Kaplan, director of communications at the Fur Information Council of America. “Right off the top, petrol-based plastic fur is extremely harmful to the environment. It isn’t biodegradable. It’s harmful to wildlife .” Kaplan also points out that trapping wild animals like fox, coyotes and beavers— which is about 15 percent of the fur trade— actually helps manage the wildlife population, and it also provides a livelihood for many indigenous communities. What do the experts say? The research is starting to support this opinion , and we are just beginning to learn about the environmental impact of microfibers— the tiny plastic particles that synthetic fabrics shed when you wash them. A 2016 study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that when you wash a synthetic jacket, it can release an average of 1,174 milligrams of microfibers. And, whatever isn’t filtered out by wastewater treatment plants can end up in waterways, and aquatic animals will ingest them. Many designers, like London-based footwear label Mou, have taken the stance that real fur is a more sustainable option than faux fur because the synthetic is a “non-biodegradable pollutant.” Mou founder Shelley Tichborne says that the faux fabrics don’t “breathe” like natural materials, and that causes unpleasant smells and shortens the product’s lifespan. Related: This couch made from recycled water bottles is built to last a lifetime “In contrast, the natural fiber materials we use such as calfskin, goatskin, sheepskin, antelope, lambskin and rabbit fur are by-products of the meat and dairy industries — all the animals are eaten for their meat, and some produce milk for human consumption,” Tichborne says. “The skins from these animals are naturally beautiful, soft to the touch, warm, bio-degradable and durable, lasting — with care — for up to thirty years.” Anti-fur advocates admit that synthetics like faux fur aren’t the best substitute, but they say the environmental hazards in the fur manufacturing process make real fur the worse option. Advocates claim that CO2 emissions produced from feeding thousands of minks on a single farm, manure runoffs into nearby lakes and rivers and toxic chemicals used in fur dressing and dyeing is evidence enough that real fur is far worse for the environment compared to its alternative counterpart. They also mention that the traps used to hunt wild animals ensnare “non-target” animals like domestic dogs, cats and birds. Which is best? There is a ton of evidence that backs up both sides of the argument, and it is a lot of information to process. But, the reality is that banning fur outright doesn’t solve all of the issues in fashion’s supply chains since the alternatives are petroleum-based textiles. However, the consumer interest in this issue can only be a good thing. We know for sure that cheap, disposable clothing— and our tendency to buy and throw out almost all of it— is terrible for the environment. But, is it really a good idea to wear genuine fur instead of faux fur? Ultimately, it comes down to your own morals and ethics, and the debate won’t be settled anytime soon. Fortunately, with technological advancements happening every day, it probably won’t be long before we start seeing faux furs that have a smaller environmental footprint. Via Fashionista , Refinery29 , HuffPost Images via Shutterstock, Tamara Bellis

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Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet?

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