Scotland bans plastic-stemmed cotton swabs in bid to combat plastic pollution

October 17, 2019 by  
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Following backlash concerning plastic waste buildup in beaches and oceans, Scotland is now the first country in the United Kingdom to officially ban the manufacture, supply and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, commonly known by the brand name of Q-tips. Environmentalists and conservationists are hailing the change as wonderful news for wildlife and ecosystems. Before the new ban came into effect, several cosmetic giants already made the switch to manufacturing more biodegradable alternatives, like paper-stemmed versions. For instance, pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson made the switch two years ago. Related: The reusable LastSwab might just be the last ear swab you ever buy Speaking about the new legislation, Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham shared that she is “proud the Scottish government has become the first U.K. administration to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds. Single-use plastic products are not only wasteful but generate unnecessary litter that blights our beautiful beaches and green spaces while threatening our wildlife on land and at sea.” The Marine Conservation Society has indicated that plastic-stemmed cotton swabs have been pervasively littering coastal regions and damaging marine ecology, often disconcertingly found in the intestines of seabird, mammal, fish and turtle populations. In the U.K. alone, estimated consumption of the plastic-stemmed cotton buds is in excess of 1.8 million. Besides that, the journal Science Advances has cited that humans have created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics since the early 1950s. Sadly, plastic’s durability wreaks environmental havoc, and current recycling systems are not able to keep up with plastic pollution. Even the Ellen MacArthur Foundation , in partnership with the World Economic Forum, has reported that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, if plastic production rates continue. It is hoped that the new ban will promote more useful regulation to protect the environment while simultaneously affecting consumer behaviors so that the public is better informed about best practices where single-use plastic is concerned. Emma Burlow, Head of Circular Economy at Resource Futures, said that the ban is not only positive for the environment but also for both the economy and job creation. “Banning a product stimulates innovation and that leads to opportunity,” Burlow said. This new ban plays a huge role in the current struggle against ocean pollution, opening up further environmental action and reforms to the U.K.’s resource and waste management system. By 2020, the U.K. is also expected to ban single-use plastic drink straws and single-use plastic stirrers to curtail plastic waste. Via TreeHugger Image via Hans

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Scotland bans plastic-stemmed cotton swabs in bid to combat plastic pollution

Recycled botanical garden in Seattle brings visitors decades of joy

October 17, 2019 by  
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When Wendy Morgan accepted a friend’s invitation to go see Elda Behm’s garden in the 1990s, she had no idea she would become entangled in a project for the next 25 years. “Elda popped her head around the garage and that was the beginning of it,” Morgan says with a laugh. “She was a saleswoman.” The Port of Seattle was planning its third runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport . Behm’s home and garden were in the way, so the port slated them for demolition, but Behm wasn’t giving up her garden without a fight. By the end of the decade, her charisma and love of her plants would entice Morgan and 200 other volunteers to move Behm’s entire garden. As Morgan and her dog Snooks show my tour group around the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden , we see the rich community partnership that has grown up around the original effort to recycle a garden into a new space. Five local flower societies have started gardens within Highline, and many individuals pay $40 per year for a community garden plot. Some people include the garden in their daily dog walk, and hundreds turn out for the annual summer time ice cream social. The garden’s beginnings Elda Gothke Behm was born in 1913 and raised on a farm near Wenatchee, Washington. She became a certified landscape designer in 1953 and moved to Burien, near SeaTac, in 1954. “Elda never met a plant she didn’t like,” Morgan reminisces as we wander through the Elda Behm Paradise Garden section of Highline. Plants flourished under her care — enough so that the Burien City Council and the City of SeaTac (yes, there’s a city as well as an airport with that name) agreed to develop 11 acres in North SeaTac Park into a public garden, starting with relocating Behm’s plants to save them from runway three. The Highline Botanical Garden Foundation was incorporated to oversee the garden. Volunteers worked with the Port of Seattle and the City of SeaTac from late 1999 into the spring of 2000 to move plants, trees and shrubs from Behm’s home into a holding area while gardeners prepared the soil. Behm favored native species, especially rhododendrons. The port supplied cranes and trucks to hoist conifers and other trees into their new home. The garden is planted on former residential land that the port had claimed in the 1950s, demolishing houses for a buffer zone around runway two. Morgan, who promotes interactive tours by asking questions and urging visitors to guess the answers, wants to know what we think they found when they started digging. “Water heaters!” she tells us triumphantly after we guess wrong a few times. Buried appliances had been left behind, which had to be cleared out. But some trees and shrubs had survived from the long ago houses, so those are incorporated in the garden today. Behm didn’t quietly slide into the background once her garden was moved. “She stayed on the board even in her nineties,” Morgan recalls. “She never gave up leadership.” Morgan remembers lots of arguments Behm had with the board over features she wanted added to the garden. Her last project was a shade garden featuring ferns, hostas, hellebores and her special favorite black trilliums. Behm died in 2008 at the age of 94. The Japanese garden While the thought of transplanting one entire garden is astonishing enough, in 2005 Highline relocated a second garden. The Seike family came from Japan , settling in Des Moines, Washington around 1920. The three sons all studied horticulture and helped run the family-owned Des Moines Nursery. They were forced into an internment camp during World War Two. Unlike most Japanese families, the Seikes were lucky in that a German-American family tended their plants during their internment and returned their property intact after the war. However, a much greater wartime loss befell them: their second son, Toll, died while fighting in France. Later, in conjunction with the 1962 Seattle World Fair, they hired a gardener to come from Hiroshima and build an authentic Japanese garden in Toll’s honor. Fast forward to 2004. Again, the Port of Seattle wanted more property. This time, the Seike family nursery was on the chopping block. The city of SeaTac found funding to move the miniature mountain and waterfall garden to Highline. Now generations who were born long after World War Two can sit by the pond and contemplate this family’s suffering and perseverance. The garden today Highline covers 11 acres today, with half developed and half still just dreams in gardeners’ heads. In addition to grants, donations and bequests, Highline raises money at its annual plant sales. Volunteer coordinator and gardener Jolly Eitelberg propagates the plants in the garden’s greenhouse. The garden is an extremely peaceful place, despite being so close to planes landing and taking off. Many out of town visitors with long layovers find their way to Highline, Morgan says, as it’s one of the closest attractions to the airport. But the airport has one unexpected effect on the garden — Highline can’t put koi in its ponds, because koi attract herons , which could get sucked into jet engines. Morgan is especially proud of the victory garden, modeled after those who tended to the home front during World War Two, when fresh vegetables supplemented ration cards. Highline donates green beans, tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables grow in the victory garden to the Tukwila Food Bank. Morgan is a big believer in sharing food. She even takes our group into her plot in the community garden and offers us parsley, cucumbers and tomatoes. “Where do you think we get most of our volunteers?” she asks, a twinkle in her eye. “Most of our volunteers run red lights. And then when the judge says that will be 500 dollars they say they don’t have that kind of money.” They choose working in the garden as their community service so they can get outside, she says. Some like it so much they stay. After 25 years, the garden still inspires Morgan, who loves to share its message with visitors. To her, Highline is a triumph over what looked like insurmountable odds for Behm’s beautiful garden. She repeats herself several times over the course of our tour, driving her point home: “If you have something in your life that you think should be preserved or kept somehow, you can. If you gather people around you and keep pushing.” Images via Inhabitat

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Recycled botanical garden in Seattle brings visitors decades of joy

Ireland plans to ban single-use plastics

September 18, 2019 by  
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In a move that has environmentalists cheering, Ireland recently overhauled its waste sector by announcing a ban on single-use plastics, including cutlery, straws, cups, food containers and cotton bud sticks. The initiative also called for doubling the rate of recycled material and is considering new levy requirements for non-recyclable plastics, such as those found in food packaging at groceries. Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, explained that the new policies are part of the Irish government’s improved climate action campaign to eliminate unnecessary packaging, reduce food waste by 50 percent, improve plastic recycling by 60 percent and cut landfill disposal by 60 percent. Related: Ireland will plant 440 million trees in 20 years In recent years, single-use plastic pollution has skyrocketed, prompting dismal reports that project an Earth of 2050 where our oceans are filled with more plastic than fish. Many people are realizing the urgency, and government officials are being pressured into addressing the plastic waste dilemma. Accordingly, the European Union has proposed banning single-use plastics — and Ireland is the latest EU member to join the bandwagon. That the campaign to remove single-use plastics has already taken hold on the Emerald Isle is a profound step in the right direction. To date, it is estimated that every person in Ireland annually generates more than 400 pounds of waste packaging, of which 130 pounds are plastic, and these per capita statistics are above the EU average. Implementing this single-use plastic ban is expected to bring promising results to Ireland’s ongoing war on plastic pollution . Bruton said, “All along the supply chain we can do better — 70 percent of food waste is avoidable, half of the material we use is not being segregated properly, two-thirds of plastic used is not on the recycling list and labels are confusing.” For those sectors unable to readily comply with the ban, heavy environmental taxes will have to be paid. These tax levies are a further measure designed to deter the widespread use of single-use plastics, especially non-recyclable ones. Conservation and ecology advocates are supportive of Ireland’s ban, confirming that plastic consumption must be reduced to safeguard the environment. Supporters also uphold that the cost of the added tax should reflect the dire impact single-use plastic has on the environment. Of course, the issue is not without its critics, some of whom claim the tax would do little to alleviate environmental conditions but would instead disproportionately affect lower-income consumers. Nonetheless, optimists assert that the Irish ban on plastic waste will mobilize a shift in industrial, business and consumer behavior that can ultimately contribute to a cleaner, greener Ireland, perhaps bringing the country closer to a sustainable Emerald Isle ideal. Via EcoWatch , RTE and Irish Times Image via Flockine

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Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle

March 7, 2019 by  
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Officially launched in California on Feb. 28, 2019 and targeted to expand to new markets throughout the year, the Cove brand’s 100 percent biodegradable water bottles have become available as a sustainable plastic alternative. Cove offers an eco-friendly solution for water on the go at every phase of production and regardless of the disposal technique used. Single-use plastic water bottles have made the headlines in every fight for sustainability over the years for good reason — they are toxic for the environment. With the amount of plastic in the oceans as well as little hope of any plastic ever truly disappearing, it’s no wonder companies are looking for better ways to package our must-have water. While some companies have invested in plastic alternatives already, they each include metal, plastic or glass that needs to be separated out at the recycling stage. In contrast, the Cove water bottle sidesteps the recycling process altogether. Related: Everlane introduces long-lasting outerwear made from recycled water bottles Although it looks, feels and functions like regular plastic, the Cove water bottle is made from naturally occurring biopolymers called PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) that are biodegradable and compostable. These bottles break down into carbon dioxide, water and organic waste after being tossed into the compost or hauled to the landfill. They will even break down in the soil or the ocean with zero toxic byproducts. Construction of this innovative water bottle begins with a paper core. Attached to that is the PHA formed cylinder, cap and top dome. While the bottle might not last forever like its plastic counterparts, it is shelf-stable for six months. During that period, the bottle can also be reused . Currently, the Cove bottles are filled with natural spring water sourced from Palomar Mountain, California, for the initial launch. However, founder Alex Totterman believes that businesses have an environmental responsibility, so rather than shipping water across long distances, the company vows to source locally in each region as sales and availability spread across different markets. The idea behind the Cove water bottle is simple — produce an earth-friendly alternative to single-use plastic while keeping it convenient to the consumer. As we all know, people find it much easier to participate if the process is easy, and there is nothing easier than grabbing a bottle made from PHA instead of petroleum-based plastic. + Cove Via Packaging 360 Photography by Ryan Lowry and Sergiy Barchuk via Cove

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Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle

9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents

January 7, 2019 by  
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Our grandparents and great-grandparents lived in a simpler time, and we aren’t just talking about technology . During the Great Depression, many rural areas didn’t have running water or electricity, and things like proper refrigeration, freezers and air conditioning were a luxury. What’s more, big-box chains and massive supermarkets didn’t exist, and you didn’t have the option of throwing a pre-packaged meal into a microwave or hitting a drive-thru for lunch. Many modern conveniences are great, and in many ways, living in 2019 is much more enjoyable than 1935. But there are a lot of things we can learn from older generations to help live a more sustainable life. Here are some things our grandparents and great-grandparents did to live a simpler life that was a lot more eco-friendly. Make meals from scratch For the first time in American history, people are eating at restaurants more than they are cooking at home . In 2016, sales in restaurants passed grocery sales, meaning that people are spending more on eating out than eating in. Cooking from scratch is starting to become a skill that fewer and fewer of us know how to do, and that is resulting in people not knowing where their food comes from or how it was prepared. Related: 10 tasty and easy vegan dinner ideas Not only is cooking a survival skill that everyone should have, but preparing food at home makes you more self-sufficient, and it leads to a healthier diet. Plus, it saves your family a ton of cash, and it is much more environmentally friendly. You will use less packaging when you buy fresh ingredients, and when you skip the restaurant, you can reduce your food waste . If it breaks, fix it We admit that things are made differently than they used to be. With the strategy of planned obsolescence , products aren’t designed to last as long and can break rather easily. From fashion to cars to appliances to electronics, things break, go out of style and become obsolete faster than ever. This can lead to spending money on the newest gadgets and trends, even though we could easily fix what is broken or alter what we have to fit our needs. Our grandparents knew how to mend their clothes and fix broken items, or at least knew where to go to get things fixed. Instead of tossing things out the moment they aren’t perfect, take the time to fix or mend them. Bring your lunch Remember when having a sweet lunchbox was an important part of your life? I loved my old-school metal Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox when I was in first grade, and I didn’t even realize that I was eco-friendly while being stylish. Instead of hitting a vending machine or drive-thru for lunch, avoid the single-use plastic packaging and pack your own sandwich and sides at home, or brown-bag last night’s leftovers. For our grandparents, eating out was a special occasion, not something you do every day. Plant a garden Now this is one popular trend that is rooted in the past. Buying local or growing food in your own garden was a staple of life for our grandparents and great-grandparents. Growing veggies and herbs is something you can easily do, no matter if you live in a rural or urban area, and it is friendly to the environment and your wallet. Related: How to grow a lush garden in your tiny kitchen windowsill Shop smart Those who lived through the Great Depression knew what it meant to be smart with their purchases. If they couldn’t afford it, they didn’t buy it, and they never bought more than they needed. Buying in bulk and using up everything that you buy is a much more sustainable way to live. Buy less and use it all. Go to the store with a specific plan, and reduce those impulse buys. Downsize Less stuff means less worry, and that is what minimalism is all about. That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of every modern convenience, but saying no to some things will help reduce your waste and make life tidier. Huge homes, closets full of clothes you don’t wear and cupboards full of food you won’t eat were foreign concepts to our grandparents. Those things would just give you more things to pay for, service and clean. You don’t have to downsize absolutely every aspect of your life, but simply getting rid of excess clutter can make a big difference in your quality of life and environmental impact. Use a clothesline One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to give your dryer a rest and hang up your clothes to dry. This option will keep your clothes from shrinking, and your sheets, blankets, shirts and tees will smell clean and fresh. Start sewing During the Great Depression, nearly every household had at least one person that knew how to full-out sew . But now, it’s hard to find people that even know how to sew a button. Get the most out of your clothes and shoes by learning how to patch a hole, replace a zipper or fix a hem. We aren’t saying you have to make all of your own clothes, but knowing how to fix basic problems can lead to more a sustainable lifestyle with less waste. Related: How to sew buttons onto pants and shirts Rethink disposables Ziploc bags didn’t show up until the 1960s, so our grandparents and great-grandparents would store things in jars. After they were done using them, they would wash and reuse. Instead of using single-use plastics to store food or pack your lunch, use containers that you can use over and over again to help reduce waste. Images via Oldmermaid ,  Bruno Glätsch , Maxmann , Priscilla Du Preez , Maria Michelle , Monika P , Monicore and Shutterstock

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9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents

This couch made from recycled water bottles is built to last a lifetime

December 7, 2018 by  
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In recent years, companies have started to repurpose the massive amounts of used-once-then-trashed plastic in new and exciting ways. For example, REPREVE, a sustainable fiber created from 100 percent food-quality and BPA-free plastic, is being used in a variety of products from clothing to couches. Lovesac is a green furniture company using the recycled fabric to cover sofa cushions. While the eco-friendly material is a huge component of the design, it’s just a sample of an entire furniture line aimed at sustainability. In a world of disposables, the company’s goals push back with a focus on design for a lifetime. It’s a concept that not only includes durability in its couches, called sactionals, but also caters to the ever-changing needs of seating demands. Related: Repreve — sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles The sactional is a versatile, modular design that you can easily customize to fit your space. Simply choose from the many ottoman, seat and side arrangements for the look and seating capacity that suits your needs. Then, arrange and rearrange any way you like. With a lifetime guarantee on the sactional, the company estimates that this grow-with-your-demands product will replace the purchase of four couches during its lifetime. With the introduction of the the Sactional, Lovesac has continued its theme of lifetime products with removable, washable and replaceable covers. Dirty covers can be washed. Torn covers can be replaced. When the now-trendy slate twill color becomes a throwback, you can update it without the cost or waste of replacing the entire couch. Even better, the upholstery fabric for the couches is made from hundreds of tossed single-use water bottles, which are given new life through REPREVE fabric. Depending on the components chosen, between 600-1200 water bottles are used in the production of each Sactional. For 2018 alone, Lovesac expects to repurpose around 11 million water bottles through its efforts. Related: How to recycle a sweater into a cuddly pillow for your couch True to the overarching goal of creating an environmentally-friendly couch, the Sactional is neatly packaged and shipped in bleach and dye-free  recyclable  kraft cardboard. Unlike the traditional sofa set that requires two heavy lifters for transport, when it’s time to relocate to a different level of the house or new home altogether, the entire sectional can be broken down into manageable pieces for the move. + Lovesac Images via Lovesac

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This couch made from recycled water bottles is built to last a lifetime

‘Single-use’ is announced as the Word of the Year 2018

November 8, 2018 by  
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Collins Dictionary has announced its choice for 2018 Word of the Year — single-use. This term describes items, often plastic, that are made to be used just once before they are thrown away. The frequent use of these items has been blamed for damaging the environment and negatively affecting the food chain. Since 2013, use of the word has increased fourfold with a rise in public awareness thanks to news stories, images of plastic items adrift in oceans and the global campaign to reduce the proliferation of single-use items, including the infamous plastic straw. Collins Dictionary selects the word of the year after its lexicographers monitor the 4.5-billion-word Collins Corpus, which is an analytical database that contains written material from websites, newspapers, magazines and books published around the world. The Collins Corpus database also includes words from spoken material on TV and radio, plus everyday conversations. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future? After the lexicographers monitor the Collins Corpus, they create a list of new and notable words that reflect our ever-changing culture. Things that rose to the top this year included environmental issues, political movements, dance trends and technology. Other words on the shortlist included ‘floss,’ a dance where you twist your hips in one direction while swinging your arms with fists closed in the opposite direction, made popular by the game Fortnight; ‘VAR,’ or video assistant referee, which became popular in 2018 after being used in the FIFA World Cup; ‘gammon,’ a red-faced, angry person who is the opposite of a “snowflake”; and ‘plogging,’ or picking up litter while jogging, which has become successful following the increase in awareness of humanity’s impact on the environment. Collins ended up choosing single-use because of the global movement to kick the addiction to disposable products and the increase in awareness of how people’s habits and behaviors impact our world. + Collins Dictionary Image via Jonathan Chng

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‘Single-use’ is announced as the Word of the Year 2018

Insidious single-use coffee pods banned in German city

February 22, 2016 by  
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Single-use coffee pods are among the most insidious products to ever enter the global supply chain, and now one German city is taking huge strides to get rid of them. Hamburg’s Department of the Environment and Energy announced that the second largest city in the country has banned single use coffee pods in all state-run buildings to help reduce waste . Read the rest of Insidious single-use coffee pods banned in German city

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Insidious single-use coffee pods banned in German city

Italy to Ban Plastic Bags Starting in the New Year

December 27, 2010 by  
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Single use plastic bag bans and taxes are becoming increasingly popular with governments across the world (though unpopular with most store owners) and now Italy is gearing up to implement their own. In other parts of the world, these types of regulations span from the very stringent, you can’t use them at all bans of San Jose, California to the you can use them if you want to pay taxes of Washington DC , and we’re impressed to see that Italy is leaning towards the stricter end of the spectrum. Starting next week, the whole country will ban all conventional single use plastic bags and mandate that all new single use bags be biodegradable.

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Italy to Ban Plastic Bags Starting in the New Year

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