Packaging Myths: Don’t Believe Everything on Product Labels

May 16, 2022 by  
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Recycling is the most basic environmental action, but it’s not as simple as you think…. The post Packaging Myths: Don’t Believe Everything on Product Labels appeared first on Earth911.

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Packaging Myths: Don’t Believe Everything on Product Labels

In Common underwear focuses on the health of the planet

April 27, 2022 by  
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As humans, we have a lot in common, including the planet we live on and the desire for a comfortable and functional wardrobe. Sustainable underwear and clothing company In Common was the result of the frustration of shopping during the pandemic. Founder Allison Bloch explains she and her partner “struggled to find affordable basics that didn’t compromise on either quality, fit or ethics.” In Common’s mission is to go beyond fast fashion, creating a line of bras, underwear, tanks, joggers, hoodies and more that are long lasting and environmentally -friendly. In fact, the company’s focus goes well beyond making clothing to giving back to the community. Related: These beautiful textiles are an earthy breath of fresh air In Common was born out of a desire to build a brand that conscious consumers could feel good about. Therefore, they put the spotlight on the core principles of “better manufacturing processes, sustainable fabrics , fair-wage employment and modern and comfortable design, all at a fair price.” Sustainable underwear fabrics In Common’s standout product is the wire-free Zero Bra. The innovative design features natural materials like non-toxic sugarcane pads (with no harmful chemicals). “The In Common team knows that sustainability is a spectrum and very nuanced,” said the company. “With plans to continue evolving and improving over time, the brand has built a strong foundation [in its material selections].” One example is TENCE Modal, a plant-based fiber extracted from beechwood . The fibers are produced using low-energy requirements. Additionally, they are certified as compostable and biodegradable so they can complete the circle back into nature at the end of the product life cycle.  Products also include BCI Cotton, a brand dedicated to supporting cotton farmers and the environment through improving soil health, water management, greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilience. It also addresses inequality, farm working conditions and ensuring fair wages for a higher standard of living.  Regardless of the fabric being used, it is stitched together with EcoVerde Threads, which is made from 100% recycled premium polyester. The product is built for durability. It’s also both STANDARD 100 and OEKO-TEX Certified. Packaging the underwear In Common material selection also rolls into the packaging and shipping department with the use of plant-based poly bags. Each product is packaged in corn-based bags, which are 100% biodegradable. Then, they are shipped in compostable mailers to avoid the use of petroleum-based plastic.  Community focus Furthermore, the company encourages community involvement and enrichment. With this in mind, the company has hosted an assortment of “successful pop-ups and community meet-ups (beach clean-ups, etc.) in Los Angeles, Austin and up next, NYC.”  Review of In Common Zero Bra When the company offered to send me a product sample, I accepted delivery of the flagship Zero Bra. If you wear bras, you’ll understand my general hatred for bra shopping and regular discomfort in having them as part of my wearable wardrobe. Let’s be honest, bras are problematic on many levels. They either dig into your skin or leave you looking like you have a “uni-boob” while squished into a sports bra.  Traditionally, the idea of “lift and separate” included underwires to help the bra maintain its shape while providing support. However, anyone who’s spent any time wearing an underwire has also experienced the jab once the wire inevitably busts out of the fabric and into your skin.  Rant over and onto the review. My Zero Bra arrived quickly and packaged in plant-based, plastic-free packaging as promised.  I requested a very neutral almond color, because I’m practical like that. The bra is available in six colors and a wide range of sizes. I ordered a size on the smaller end of the sizing recommendations because, in past experiences, the material stretches over time. The goal is, therefore, to start on the largest setting and have additional hooks to move to as the bra relaxes. This bra offers four sets of hook options to grow with the lifespan of the product.  The first time I put the bra on, it felt a little snug around the ribcage, but within a few hours I was no longer uncomfortable. The material is very soft and pliable, so it moves with me rather than being rigid. The stitching is close together and appears durable. The hooks and straps are made of quality materials as well.  All in all, the Zero Bra provides great support without an underwire. I appreciate the strap around the ribcage doesn’t roll or tuck beneath the breasts, but stays in place as it’s supposed to do. Since it’s a common issue, it’s also worth mentioning the straps didn’t dig into my skin anywhere. Overall, it’s a bra that performs like you’d expect a bra to perform, without the plastic , wires, inferior construction and environmental damage we can all do without.  + In Common Images via Brad Ogbonna Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by In Common. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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In Common underwear focuses on the health of the planet

Winners of the 2022 Design Educates Awards

April 27, 2022 by  
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Each year, the Design Educates Awards highlight international design projects that tackle context-specific concerns and educate users about sustainability. The awards were set up by the Laka Foundation and were inspired by Dr. Peter Kuczia’s research, Educating Buildings (Bildende Bauten). The awards transcend beyond aesthetic value and seek to recognize projects that educate by inspiring change. These changes can be subtle, but the projects play an important role in adopting social, environmental and economic sustainability. In doing so, the winning projects have meaningful impacts on users and the community at large. Related: eVolo’s 2021 Skyscraper Competition winners focus on sustainable urban design The Design Educates Awards span over four design categories, namely architectural, product, universal and responsive design. Additional awards include the Emerging Designer Award for a student design project, as well as the Solarlux Choice Award, selected by Solarlux representatives. The project criteria ranges from feasibility to the potential for educational influence. This year, there were 400 entries from 30 countries, with 43 winners and honorable mentions. The 2022 jury included 15 international experts in various design disciplines, including Professor Toyo It?, Jette Cathrin Hopp, Professor Mark L. Gardner, Professor Masayo Ave, Senior Professor Ranjana Dani, Aidin Ardjomandi and Dr. Peter Kuczia, among others. The following is a list of the 2022 Design Educates Awards winners by category. Architectural Design Winner 2022: Timber Bridge in Gulao Waterfront by LUO Studio The project is located in the town of Gulao, China , a small farming and fishing village. Since many abandon the town to seek an urban lifestyle, the bridge provides a balance between rural and urban by constructing a modern structure that uses traditional construction techniques. Gold Prize: Terra Cotta Studio by Tropical Space The Terra Cotta Studio in Vietnam is a space for potters to work in and be inspired to create. The patterned brick facade creates various interplays of light and shadow inside. The perforations in the building shell also allow for interactions between the artists and nature, while sheltering from the elements. Silver Prize: Wiki World Natural Camp by Wiki World Located on the outskirts of Wuhan, Wiki World put together an education-based campsite. The site consists of prefabricated wooden cabins, public classrooms and space to build architecture using natural materials. This way, the space becomes a place dedicated to education and fosters interaction amongst rural communities and students in collaborative construction. Bronze Prize: House of Dreams by Insitu Project The House of Dreams transforms an abandoned cave settlement in China into a rural development training center. The project aims to recover the surrounding caves , revive traditions and skills of the community and materialize collective memories. Product Design Winner 2022: Deployable Emergency Shelter by Henry Glogau Studio Since sub-zero temperature environments often present hostile conditions, the project proposes a tent-like shelter that harnesses these environmental factors. The Deployable Emergency Shelter is a lightweight structure with an aerodynamic form that disperses strong winds. Inspired by snow caves and igloos , snow gathers in the tent’s mylar pockets and creates a form of insulation, maintaining interior temperatures of up to 37 degrees Celsius warmer than the external conditions. Gold Prize: Looop by Cheuk Laam Wong and Central Saint Martins Often overlooked, period poverty is a major concern for women in refugee camps. To combat this, Looop is a cleaning kit for reusable menstruation pads that uses less than 500 milliliter of water. The kit uses recycled steel cans and polypropylene washing parts. The reusable pads are made from bamboo and polyurethane laminate (PUL) fabrics. Silver Prize: SeeTang Collection by Jana-Aimée Wiesenberger SeeTang is a zero-waste bioplastic made from algae, dyed with natural colorants including onion skin, hibiscus, coffee and saffron. Used for various types of food packaging, the internal packing material is edible, while the outer packaging is either reusable or compostable. Bronze Prize: Canairi by Canairi Canairi is a CO2 monitor used to measure air quality in interior spaces. When air quality drops, the monitor notifies the user to ventilate the space and re-establish appropriate air quality. This lowers the risk of poor air quality-induced ailments, including headaches and sleep disorders. Responsive Design Winner 2022: Solar Desalination Skylight by Henry Glogau Studio The Solar Desalination Skylight is a multi-functional element that harnesses sunlight and seawater, while flooding interiors with natural light. It produces drinking water and a brine solution, used to make salt batteries. The salt batteries can power LED lights at night and can be charged using solar energy from a mini photovoltaic panel. Gold Prize: Portable Solar Distiller by Henry Glogau Studio The Portable Solar Distiller uses sunlight to distill between 12 to 18 liters of polluted seawater in 12 hours. The system uses easily-available materials such as plastic tarps and bamboo/timber and can also serve as a rainwater catchment system. Silver Prize: Coastalock by ECOncrete Tech Ltd Approximately 70% of all marine infrastructure uses concrete , which is highly toxic for sea creatures. Coastalock uses a patented healthy concrete mixture to create interlocking units that form wave breakers and simultaneously foster marine ecosystems. The units have customizable orientations to suit the ecosystem needs of local sea creatures. Bronze Prize: 1300 Recycling Pavilion by Hyunjejoo_Baukunst The project features 1300 semi-transparent baskets that form the pavilion’s structure. By using standard, commercially-available baskets, the pavilion encourages mindfulness of how we use everyday objects and how architecture can adapt to environmental needs by repurposing non-traditional materials. Universal Design Winner 2022: BetaPort – Circular Building Technology On-Demand by Urban Beta UG BetaPort is a system that uses modular building blocks, which can react to design requirements such as user capacity and function. The BetaPort configurator is the digital tool that efficiently plans the construction of each space based on its needs. Furthermore, all construction materials are renewable or upcycled to create sustainable, carbon-sink buildings. Silver Prize: The Inxect Suit by Pavels Liepins-Hedström The Inxect Suit is a wearable plastic waste management and protein harvesting system. Mealworms live in a habitat inside the suit that uses heat and humidity from the suit-wearer to maintain an ideal colony environment. These worms eat plastic waste , which is not toxic for them, and expand the colony. Thus, the growing colony provides the suit-wearer with valuable protein for consumption. Bronze Prize: Voxel Cloud by Julian Edelmann The Voxel Cloud explores complex geometries generated by algorithms to try and blend nature and technology. Machines used data-scapes to create a complex scaffold-like structure . Currently, the installation is located in a park in Austria where it will blend into the environment over time. Additional Awards Solarlux Choice: GO! Campus Zottegem by Rosan Bosch Studio The GO! Campus Zottegem is a public school in Belgium , designed to maximize student learning through play. The school has various learning landscapes that encourage exploration and curiosity. + Design Educates Awards Images courtesy of Jin Weiqi, Hiroyuki Oki, Insitu Project, Wu Ting, Henry Glogau Studio, Larry Turner, SeeTang Collection, ECOncrete Tech Ltd, Urban Beta, Studio Naaro, Pavels Liepins-Hedström, and Kim Wendt

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Winners of the 2022 Design Educates Awards

Silestone innovates with carbon-neutral quartz collection

January 28, 2022 by  
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Silestone® Sunlit Days carbon-neutral technology has garnered the line a win in the Hard Surfacing, Tiles & Stone Category in 2021 Architizer A+ Product Awards. It was even a finalist in the Sustainable Design category. The win gives credit to Cosentino, the company behind the innovative quartz surface, but the product is a win for consumers and the environment , too. Silestone® Sunlit Days is the newest release by the company, which is a well-established leader in the quartz and engineered stone industry.  Related: LIVDEN decorative tiles are made with recycled materials The technology behind the product is called HybriQ+® by Silestone®, which has drawn attention for both material composition and manufacturing processes. The resulting material, Silestone® Sunlit Days, is a hybrid formulation of mineral raw materials, such as quartz and  recycled  ingredients. Notably, the collection is the first ever to achieve carbon-neutral status.  Looking past the line’s natural and minimum 20% recycled materials, the process for manufacturing Silestone® Sunlit Days focuses on sustainability. The multi-purpose product is made in a factory that recycles 99% of the  water  used during production.  The company also produces 100% renewable electric energy to fulfill energy requirements. According to a statement by the company, “The new manufacturing process also has zero water discharge, ensuring that local water sources are not  polluted  by chemicals.” “The introduction of the Sunlit Days Collection embodies a new dawn of Silestone®,” said Eduardo Cosentino, CEO of Cosentino North America and EVP of Global Sales. “It celebrates a pivotal change for the global design world, demonstrating that change for the betterment of our planet is possible when we embolden ourselves to reimagine our manufacturing process and make the commitments necessary to reach carbon neutrality.”  In addition to the industry-leading sustainability practices, the newest lineup reflects nature in the color options. The Sunlit Days collection is Mediterranean-inspired, offering shades titled Faro White, Cincel Gray, Arcilla Red, Cala Blue and Posidonia Green. Another product line by the company, called Ethereal, offers marble -inspired options. All products can be used for countertops, backsplashes or wall cladding in high-use areas. + Cosentino Images via Cosentino 

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Silestone innovates with carbon-neutral quartz collection

This frying pan gives new life to recycled aluminum

January 12, 2022 by  
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For most people, using cookware is a way of life. Even if you make little more than scrambled eggs, pots and pans are a basic requirement for every kitchen. Inasmuch, the type of pans you use has the power to positively or negatively impact the planet and your health. Many cheaply-made skillets lack a durable design and contribute to the waste stream with their short lifespans. Then there’s the peeling that accompanies some nonstick pans. It is not only unhealthy for you, but also inefficient for a pan that is supposed to be nonstick.  In short: Not all pans are created equal. A higher quality pan can last a lifetime. When a company invests in that quality and makes the pan from recycled materials, it’s a double win. Enter the New Life Frying Pan from Kuhn Rikon, a Swiss company. This nonstick pan is available in three sizes: eight inches, nine and a half inches and 11 inches. Each size is made from 100% recycled aluminum.  Related: Essential old-fashioned tools and practices to make your kitchen more sustainable Whether your New Year’s goal is to reduce waste in your life or to use more eco-friendly products, the New Life Frying Pan brings it home. Of course, green design can mean creating a product that performs for many years, or one that cuts down your carbon footprint through eco-friendly materials. This pan does both.  The Kuhn Rikon New Life Skillet is priced at $128. That’s no small investment. However, achieving high quality comes at a cost, especially in a pan that offers Swiss expertise alongside 100% recycled materials. The aluminum used in the skillet comes from soda cans, bicycles and factory waste. All materials are sourced in Europe, resulting in minimal transport emissions en route to the production facility in Switzerland.  Aluminum is not only highly recyclable, but acts as an efficient conductor of heat. This means the pan heats quickly and maintains heat, saving energy. As a durable material, the aluminum is easy to clean with a quick wipe and rinse, but it’s also dishwasher safe. Dried and caked on foods may need a bit of time to soak before cleaning. With this nonstick pan, you can fry and sauté with less oil. Use it for eggs , steaks, stir fry, fish, potatoes and countless other dishes. The pan is built to handle the heat, even in oven temperatures up to 220°C/464°F. With a flat bottom, it can be used on all stove types, including induction. However, avoid dragging the pan across glass surfaces.  According to the company, each pan produced requires 95% less energy than pans made with virgin materials. The company even ships the pan using recycled paper packaging.  Proper care will extend the life of the pan. Use soap and hot water when cleaning. Although the pan features a long-lasting finish, avoid harsh cleaners or metal scrubbers that could remove the nonstick surface. Instead, stick with nylon. Also use silicone or wooden spatulas and other utensils, rather than metal. Avoid cutting or scraping the nonstick surface with knives, electric blenders or other sharp instruments.  New Life Frying Pan review The company offered to send a sample product for review and subsequently provided an eight inch New Life Frying Pan. The product arrived quickly and was packaged in paper, with no plastic bags, foam or other materials. It arrived in perfect, new condition with no damage.  Knowing the product is made from 100% recycled aluminum materials, I was somehow surprised by its substantial weight. It’s only a fraction as heavy as the cast iron I typically use, but I expected it to be lightweight like many other pans of the same size I’ve used in the past. There’s nothing flimsy about it. This pan demands respect in regards to durable design . Weight is evenly distributed for a comfortable transfer when moving from one place to another. This is especially important when moving it loaded with hot food.  The handle is firmly mounted with no wiggle movement. I love the feel of the handle with a soft and comfortable grip. The company reports they are ergonomically designed. I’m no expert on that, but can report it fits my hands and provides easy mobility . Although the handles are heat resistant, they will get dangerously hot if flames from gas stoves reach up the sides of the pan. Obviously, also use caution when removing the pan from the oven.  I’ve used the pan a few times and it’s great. It still looks brand new . The nonstick finish is thick and baked into the pan rather than just sitting on the surface, waiting to peel away. It works best on a burner of the same size. Predictably, our larger burner allowed excess heat to transfer up the sides. On all burners on my electric stove, the pan heated evenly and retained heat exceptionally well. There was no need to transfer food from the outer edges into the middle portion, since the heat distributed to the edges. It produced an evenly-browned grilled cheese sandwich and a balanced finish for fried eggs.  Overall, this is a high-quality nonstick skillet I expect to last for many years.  + Kuhn Rikon  Images via Kuhn Rikon and Dawn Hammon Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Kuhn Rikon. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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This frying pan gives new life to recycled aluminum

These bags are made with Fairtrade Certified organic cotton

January 7, 2022 by  
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Each travel, duffle, shopping and computer bag that hits the stores adds to the ongoing use of synthetic fibers, environmental pollution and waste. The reality is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Terra Thread has taken that idea to heart with a line of bags that are sustainably and ethically produced. In fact, the mission of the company “is to create the best Fairtrade certified organic cotton bags by always being sustainable , ethical, traceable and transparent.” Related: Cariloha luxury textiles use organic, sustainable bamboo Its approach towards this goal is multifaceted, starting with the materials sourced for its product line. Terra Thread products are made using Fairtrade Certified Organic Cotton. This is cotton from farmers that are guaranteed fair pricing for their product. The farms are small and mostly family or community-owned. Rainwater is the primary source for watering the cotton plants so it requires few resources to produce, which means a small impact to the planet.  Fair Trade also ensures safe working conditions, gender equality and other benefits. In addition, the cotton is organic, so it’s grown without chemicals. This is not only good for the skin it touches, but also for the environment, soil health and wildlife .  Terra Thread products are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) too. This means that not only is the material organic, but the process of turning it into bags is also fair and ethical. GOTS certification ensures a safe standard throughout the spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing of the bags. It’s important to Terra Thread founders, a father-daughter duo, to be transparent in the supply and production chain.  Terra Thread products are made in a Fair Trade USA Certified Factory . In addition to the materials being Fair Trade Certified, the factory conditions are also evaluated to ensure fair wages, safe working conditions and a voice for workers within the work environment. With the focus on safe, fair and eco-friendly material sourcing and production, Terra Thread bags also produce less waste . In contrast to bags made with petroleum-based materials, when Terra Thread bags hit the landfill at the end of life, they won’t leach chemicals into the soil or stick around for generations.  Terra Thread understands the process of making any goods results in some carbon emissions, so the company is committed to investing in carbon offsets in order to remain carbon neutral overall. For example, Terra Thread invests in a reforestation and afforestation project that plants trees in order to sequester carbon from the air and improve degraded land. So far, the project has contributed to reforestation for over 12,000 farmers in India. This not only improves the land, but also provides an economic livelihood for the farmers. Terra Thread also supports a solar energy project in Rajasthan, India, which generates clean and renewable electricity. Food insecurity is an issue close to the heart of co-founder Vik Giri, so together with his daughter and co-founder Vizan Giri, the company contributes to Feeding America’s campaign to end hunger in the U.S.  Terra Thread offers a selection of bags that include backpacks, gym and duffel bags and laptop sleeves. It produces different sizes and provides several color options. The description of each product includes an impact section so you can see the effect your purchase has. For example, the Earth Backpack results in the donation of meals to children and families in need, 268 days of drinking water saved, three miles of reduced driving emissions and the support of 66 square feet of pesticide-free farmland.  Personal Review Terra Thread sent me its Earth Backpack in black for review. The package arrived quickly. It’s based out of California even though the materials and production are sourced from India, so there was no international travel to get the product to me in Oregon.  The packaging was minimalistic and plastic-free. Just the way I like it. Even the sweet note inside was printed on recycled paper. Product tags are also sourced from natural materials and the bags are colored with GOTS-certified dyes.  The first impression of the backpack is its durability. It’s a thick canvas material that’s heavy to the touch. The buckles, zipper and stitching all speak of quality. Unless something unforeseen happens, this bag is built to last. It’s also equipped with thoughtful features such as a generous outside pocket with zipper closure and drink holders above either hip. Inside, the backpack has a built-in pouch for smaller items and a full-depth section for a small laptop. The central area of the bag is large enough for a change of clothes or several large books.   The company also provided a canvas cosmetic bag called the Honua Pouch. This bag compresses flat for efficient storage but expands to hold a fair amount of makeup or other goods. The two-tone coloring is striking and the quality matches the backpack.  I really can’t say enough about the fortified edges and attention to reinforcements around high-pressure areas of both bags. Durability is one aspect of sustainable production and I see both of these bags being around for a very long time. + Terra Thread  Images via Terra Thread Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Terra Thread. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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These bags are made with Fairtrade Certified organic cotton

House in Ecuador is hidden in a forest of carob trees

January 7, 2022 by  
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The Kaisen House by Rama Estudio in Ecuador is placed in a grove of carob trees in the middle of a slightly sloping landscape. It is intended to influence the natural environment in a minimal way. The designers explained, “[We] took advantage of the benefits of the shade thrown by each of the existing trees.” Kaisen House is a timber construction combined with a traditional local building style called bahareque, with air circulation built in and ample windows looking out on the surrounding natural environment . The house is designed with a minimal depth to create the smallest footprint and best views of the forest , as well as to affect the carob trees in the least amount possible. The house is implemented as a bar shape that is 7.50 meters wide and 24 meters long. Related: This prefab home expansion in Ecuador enjoys gorgeous views It’s shaped a bit like a shipping container home, with second-story balconies situated on top of doorways that open onto the grounds. Inside, the views from every angle of the house redirect the individual to look back to the outdoors at every chance. There are two wings to the house: service and family wings. In the family side of the house, the kitchen and the dining room are connected to a deck through a sliding screen that opens to the forest. A social area is connected through a deck with the dining room, encouraging outdoor use of the space and enhancing air circulation . In this wing there is also a multifunction room that connects to another patio. “On the second floor, under the same logic, there is an area with two bedrooms that open to the best view and a family area that is in complete relationship with the front forest,” the designers said. The traditional building technique called bahareque inspired the building’s enclosure by cane-style wood slats to create air circulation indoors. Materials used include laminated wood and metal, which was molded for use as a staircase, for balcony railings and floor plates. Kaisen House is at once completely modern and completely traditional in its layout and style. From every angle, it’s a fresh air experience. + Rama Estudio Photography by JAG Studio

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House in Ecuador is hidden in a forest of carob trees

From Pollutant to Product: Consumer Goods From Captured Carbon

November 29, 2021 by  
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We’ve already poured so much carbon into the atmosphere that now simply cutting emissions isn’t… The post From Pollutant to Product: Consumer Goods From Captured Carbon appeared first on Earth911.

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Try these vegan and gluten-free teas from Oteas

October 28, 2021 by  
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Whether enjoying earl grey for tea time or serving chai during book club , the vast array of teas in the world is intriguing and ever changing. For those who enjoy a regular or even infrequent spot of tea should also pay attention to the quality of the product and the sustainability of the packaging. Oteas has you covered on both accounts.  Oteas is a Canadian brand, presumably a name stemming from the fact that it offers a wide variety of “O”rganic “Teas” (Oteas). They offer certified vegan, GMO-free and gluten-free assortments. Each blend is made from whole leaves rather than crushed. In addition to a focus on providing a high-quality beverage, it’s mission since its start is to remain committed to sustainable actions, saying, “We recognize the effects of our current climate crisis and knew as a small business we needed to be the change.” Related: XpreSole Panto waterproof boots are made from coffee grounds Oteas are also hand-blended with sustainably-sourced, plant-based ingredients. They offer a wide breadth of flavors, including black tea and apricot, black tea and white chocolate, cinnamon punch and honey and white nougat. There are rarely seen blends like rhubarb and passionfruit and orange. Then there are the common green, black, matcha, mint and chai teas. Even the standby flavors come with a bit of a unique twist such as the standard Moroccan mint. Similarly, there are six combinations that include Rooibos. According to the company, they are “responsibly sourcing ingredients from popular growing areas, including Darjeeling, Assam, South India, Nepal, Ceylon, Japan, Kenya and Java/Sumatra.” Teas are available in loose leaf form or can come in bags. The company is committed to 100% plant-based packaging and provides 100% plastic-free, biodegradable, zero-waste quality tea. To achieve this goal, they use bio-based plastic inside the cardboard box that houses the tea, so it is plastic-free. These bags, along with the tea bags and tags, are certified biodegradable and household compostable.  To further show its commitment to the environment ,  Oteas partners with 1 Percent for the Planet with 1% of sales going towards non-profit groups and organizations working together to better the environment. Oteas earned Clean Eating Magazine’s Clean Choice Award for Innovation in Sustainable Beverages. Personal review The company reached out, offering to send samples. As a daily tea drinker, I happily accepted. A few days later, a generous sampling arrived, and I’ve been eagerly sipping my way through the options in the awesome glass travel glass they included. We even had a nighttime tea party with the young adults in the house for some tastings and feedback.  The box arrived and, as promised, packaging was entirely plastic-free . Each of the seven boxes of tea I received was made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mix cardboard, sourcing that ensures sustainable forest harvests. The colorful and artistic box designs are printed with vegetable ink so the boxes can also go into the recycling or the compost bin. The only suggestion I have is to label the flavor on each tag so the user can identify the tea bag once removed from the box. Berry blend, raspberry leaf and strawberries and cream These three options each smell exactly as the name suggests, and they are fragrant ! A steeping time is suggested for each tea. The berry blend and strawberries and cream both steep five to 10 minutes. Of course I started sipping before the 10-minute mark. I couldn’t help myself. I will say the flavors are pleasantly bold, so consider removing the bag by the maximum steep time suggested. The strawberries and cream got a little strong for me after 15 minutes or so, but I balanced it out with a bit more hot water. I’m not sure how they achieved the subtle cream flavor, but it’s there. Both these blends have the primary ingredient of hibiscus, yet they achieve vastly different flavors from there. While the hibiscus is notable, the combination of ingredients like raisins, elderberries, rose hips and apple pieces fill in the taste profile, each with its own contribution. The raspberry leaf has a short three to five minute steep time and, although it also contains hibiscus and rose hips, it has a taste all its own with more of a green contribution from the primary ingredient of raspberry leaves.  Lemongrass, ginger and cinnamon This is my favorite combination of the selections I tasted. However, taste is extremely subjective. My son enjoyed the raspberry leaf and his girlfriend couldn’t get enough of the berry blend . These flavors filter through, offering a taste of each ingredient in the name. It’s balanced with a bit of a citrus overtone and a lingering dab of spice in the mix. Hey dude organic hemp tea This is the most unusual tea I’ve ever had. The name is fun and it’s the only tea I received that has caffeine. Honestly, this one’s not my cup of tea (pun intended). The primary ingredients are bean peels and roasted mate, which gives it a very earthy flavor. The apple pieces, hemp and cinnamon move in a little slower for the finish. When I come back around to this one, I plan to try it with a pinch of honey or agave. Organic digestive liquorice and mint I was apprehensive of a title with liquorice in it. I like liquorice but it can easily be an overwhelming flavor. Not here. This combination does everything right. The mint is the overtone flavor and the liquorice slips in with just enough strength to make you question what it is. The ingredient list is literally peppermint leaves and liquorice root. It doesn’t get any more natural than that.  Organic sleep well Finally, we have the bedtime tea as I call it. My system may be programmed to pass out following a dose of chamomile and mint in my standby bedtime teas, but this blend offers an intriguing variety that goes well beyond the standard chamomile, which it does contain as the final ingredient on the list. Surprisingly, the main ingredient is green rooibos, which, based on prior experience, may have been a turnoff if I had known prior. But the typical flavor I found very earthy. It is mellowed with lemon verbena and a touch of ginger, delightful but subtle orange peel and a dash of fennel, liquorice and peppermint.  I’ve never really considered myself a tea connoisseur, but I do select fair trade and organic blends when making my choices. Oteas raised the bar for me, and I’m already considering what flavors I’m going to explore next.  + Oteas Photography by Dawn Hammon Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by YouBodyCare. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own. 

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Try these vegan and gluten-free teas from Oteas

These top companies are to blame for climate change

October 28, 2021 by  
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The Guardian published an interesting opinion piece yesterday about who is really responsible for climate change . According to the progressive U.K. newspaper, the average person doesn’t need to feel so guilty about ruining the world. Mostly, it’s the fault of a dozen rich, white American men. Instead of blaming ourselves, working and middle-class people need to band together and hold the supervillains accountable. Not surprisingly, oil execs made the list. The Guardian deems Chevron CEO Mike Wirth a “notorious corporate polluter” and a greenwasher. Under CEO Darren Woods, Exxon is a climate denier and the fourth largest carbon emitter of any investor-owned company around the world. Attorney Ted Boutrous, a partner at Gibson Dunn law firm, got his villain status for defending oil companies. He insists that everybody shares equal blame for climate change and that oil companies are being unfairly singled out. Related: 60% of Americans blame fossil fuel companies for climate change Then there are the money people. Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, oversees a huge fossil fuel investment portfolio valued at about 87 billion dollars. Fink makes climate promises while profiting from deforestation. Chase Bank CEO Jamie Dimon has provided more than 317 billion in fossil fuel financing just since 2015, the year of the Paris Agreement’s adoption. Chase also dug two billion into heinous tar sand projects between 2016 and 2019, according to The Guardian. A couple of politicians made the list. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell finally admitted humans cause climate change in 2020. But he did plenty of damage to progressive climate strategies before that and continues to do so. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin accepts more money from the fossil fuel industry than any of his fellow Democrats, and Exxon lobbyists have referred to the West Virginian as “their guy.” Others who made the list: CEO of Koch Industries Charles Koch, an early adopter of politicizing climate change; News Corps founder Rupert Murdoch, whose news outlets keep conspiracies flowing into the brains of rightwing nut jobs; Richard Edelman of Edelman PR, which peddles climate denial; Cargill CEO David MacLennan, whose global food company profits off rainforest destruction; and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who profits from just about everything. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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These top companies are to blame for climate change

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