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Sneakers

Finnish Firm Seeks Funding For ‘Performative Sneakers’ Made Of Coffee Waste

Finnish footwear firm Rens is working on creating performative trainer sneakers that are made from recycled plastic bottles and used coffee beans. 

The company recently launched an online fundraising campaign for their latest sustainable clothing, which they claim to be completely climate neutral in its production, packaging, and transport. 

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“Shoes made from recycled coffee grounds may seem novel to some, but we wholeheartedly believe that this is just the beginning of a revolution in garment technology and manufacturing.”

Sun Chu, the firm’s co-founder, said the shoe, known as Nomad, will be made from coffee waste and recycled bottles. Recycled polyester will be used to create the membrane of the shoe which will also make it waterproof. 

This is the company’s second shoe that they’ve produced using sustainable materials and practices. 

Their initial shoe was extremely successful, but Jesse Tran, co-founder and CEO of Rens, claims the popularity of their initial product created a demand for a more performance-related product. 

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The original shoe was made up of 21 cups of coffee waste and six bottles of recycled plastic each. 

“With the new model, we are continuing our mission to promote sustainable fashion with technology and innovation.” 

“We are particularly pleased that we were able to include the feedback from our previous customers in the development of the Nomad, who explicitly requested a performance sneaker,” Tran explained. 

Athletic wear made from sustainable and recycled materials have become extremely popular in recent years, as the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to worldwide climate change. 

Mintel, a market analyst tool, revealed that in June more fashion brands were releasing athletic wear specifically made from recycled materials. Mintel predicted that more brands will begin switching to sustainable production processes to encourage customers and other brands to go green.

Bottled Water

Bottled Water Impacts The Environment ‘3,500 Times Greater Than Tap Water,’ Research Shows 

Scientists have found that the impact of bottled water on natural resources is 3,500 times higher than for tap water. 

The research specifically examined the impact of bottled water in Barcelona, where the demand for single-use bottled water has increased in popularity in recent years despite the city’s improvements to their tap water quality. 

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The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) found that if the city’s entire population drank bottled water, the city would be paying 3,500 times more on resource extraction than if they all drank tap water; it costs about $83.9 million a year. 

The impact of bottled water on ecosystems is also 1,400 greater than tap water. 

The lead author of the study, the ISGlobal researcher Cristina Villanueva, said: “Health reasons don’t justify the wide use of bottled water. Yes, strictly speaking, drinking tap water is worse for local health, but when you weigh both, what you gain from drinking bottled water is minimal. 

“It’s quite obvious that the environmental impacts of bottled water are higher compared to tap water.”

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In the US, about 17 million barrels of oil are required to produce the plastic needed to meet the annual bottled water demand. Bottled water in the UK is also 500 times more expensive than tap water. 

“I think this study can help to reduce bottled water consumption, but we need more active policies to change that.”

“For example, in Barcelona, we could have more education campaigns to make the public aware that the health gains from drinking bottled water are minor compared to the environmental impacts. We need to improve access to public water, to public fountains, to public buildings where you can bring your own bottle and don’t need to buy one,” Villanueva explained. 

“We need to facilitate access to public water in public streets. People trust bottled water because advertisers have done a good job of convincing people it’s a good option, so we need the effort on the other side.”

Plastics

China Wants To Ban All Single-Use Plastic By 2025

China has announced their plan to help combat the damaging effects of climate change by reducing their plastic waste as a country. One of the most harmful man-made products that’s currently killing our planet is single-use plastic. These products not only are impossible to decompose, but are the most wasteful in terms of use. Things such as the Great Pacific garbage patch and the microplastic epidemic currently taking over could’ve all been avoided had policies such as the one China is about to implement been around. 

By 2025, China is planning on reducing their single-use plastic product distribution and use greatly, starting with a ban on single-use plastic straws and bags throughout the country. Obviously, this is a major shift for such a large country, hence why the government is giving itself a 2025 goal. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) made a statement this past Sunday (1/19) in which they claimed that certain plastics will be banned in different territories at specific times throughout the next five years to gradually phase out all single-use plastic. 

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It’s expected that the government will start with larger metropolitan areas first and then move to banning plastics in more suburban/rural areas as time progresses. It’s much easier to regulate plastic product distribution in larger cities, as most receive their shipments of single-use plastic products from the same companies, so they can collectively switch to more sustainable options. Rural areas are given more time so residential businesses can transition at their own pace. 

For example, “thin, single-use plastic bags will be banned in most stores in large cities by the end of 2020, but smaller cities and villages have until 2022 or even 2025 to begin phasing them out. By the end of 2025, hotels will no longer be allowed to provide single-use plastic items and no postal service nationwide will be allowed to use any plastic packaging,” according to the NDRC.

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China has mapped out other plastic ban specifics in their official new policy for the next five years, including a ban on all single-use plastic cutlery within China’s catering industry by the end of 2020. The plan is to have all plastic tableware phased out of China’s restaurants by 2025, however, with the takeout industry being as huge as it is, single-use containers will only be partially phased out by the end of the five years. Plastic straws will also be banned entirely throughout the whole country by the end of the year. 

A policy as major as this one happening in a country as impactful as China is extremely important, and will hopefully set a precedent for other major countries. China alone produces up to 30% of the plastic products distributed throughout the world every year, making it the number one plastic manufacturer on the planet.

The significance of that statistic is major, for example, the Yangtze River in China carries more plastic pollution into our oceans than any other water way in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. Plastic levels in our oceans are at an all time high, with an estimated 8 million tons of it being dumped into them every year, a majority of which is coming from China. While it can be argued that the damage has already been done, at least China is leading the way on making major systematic changes to at least try and combat the harmful repercussions of humanity’s actions. 

Along with the new policy, Chinese lawmakers announced that they would be creating a new comprehensive recycling program for the entire country to abide by. This way, it’ll be easier to organize and regulate the recycling process in a country as massive as this one. China is hoping it can return its country’s health to what it once was, and hopes the rest of the world catches up with them soon. Our oceans are hoping for the same.

Bushfire

2019 Was One Of The Hottest Years In History

2019 was officially the second-hottest year in world history, following 2016 as the hottest. In general, this past decade, and the past five years specifically (2015-now) were the hottest ever recorded by man. The data comes from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, an online climate change resource that, according to their website, provides “authoritative information about the past, present and future climate, as well as tools to enable climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies by policy makers and businesses.”

2016 overall was only 32 degrees fahrenheit (.04 degrees Celsius) warmer than 2019, and within the past five years the global average has reached about 35 degrees fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) more than what it averaged pre-industrial revolution. Scientists have claimed in the past that once the global average reaches 1.5 degrees Celsius more than what it was pre-industrialization, the planet will have reached a critical threshold for maintaining life on Earth. This means if the average increases by .3 degrees Celsius, we’re all in trouble. 

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The planetary destruction that scientists warned about if global temperatures rise are already occurring. A major increase in extreme wildfires, floods, and food shortages impacting millions are all current problems that we’ve been warned about for decades. Greenhouse gas emissions, plastic in our oceans, single-use plastic product distribution in general, and more are all worldwide problems that continue to plague our planet and raise our climate. The impact has been extremely devastating. 

Currently over half a billion animals are thought to be dead as a result of the deadly bushfires engulfing Australia. These fires have been the worst of hundreds of other wildfires that the planet has endured this past year, the Amazon rainforest and California being other notable ones. Additionally, the planet has seen an increase in flooding and starvation, as predicted, in Venice, which is currently still recovering from massive flooding throughout the city, and Yemen, which has been in the midst of a major famine since 2016. 

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According to Copernicus’ report, Europe, Australia, and the Arctic were hit the hardest with above average temperatures in 2019, but the entirety of the planet also experienced increases in temperatures throughout the year. 

Europe especially broke records this past summer. In June and July of 2019 Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all broke their summer heat records with average daily temperatures reaching 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology reported at the end of 2019 that the nation had never experienced a drier or hotter climate in a given year. The average temperatures reported to be 35 degrees (fahrenheit) warmer than their yearly average, and they saw the worst of it during December, which only worked to further fuel the already devastating bushfires that have been taking over the continent for the past month. 

Finally, the report stated that both the Arctic and Alaska experienced the largest increase in temperature in 2019. This is a major red flag for scientists, as the Arctic itself is critical for regulating temperatures around the entire planet, meaning when the Arctic heats, so will the rest of the world, as the data is clearly showing. 

Scientists claim that the biggest contributor to global warming is greenhouse gas emissions that get trapped within our atmosphere, deplete our ozone layer, and thus leave the Earth exposed to increased levels of UV radiation. Systematic change is the solution, and living a greener life individually can help, but for now we must wait and continue to raise awareness for the massive levels of devastation occurring across the globe.

Beached Whale

Beached Sperm Whale Has Over 200 Pounds Of Plastic In Its Stomach

Plastic in our planet’s oceans is one of the leading environmental issues that’s killing the Earth today. Mounds of garbage fill the natural aquatic world’s that make up a majority of our planet’s ecosystems, thus affecting the ecosystems of any other part of the world that requires a clean body of water to run. Plastics shed off micro-plastic particles that spread into all aspects of life and leave uncertain damage to all living and nonliving things in our world, but they don’t even need those tiny particles to cause serious damage. A small Scottish Island has become all too familiar with these kind of effects this week when a deceased young sperm whale washed to shore, the cause of death? It might have had something to do with the hundreds of pounds of plastic in its stomach. 

Residents around Seilebost beach on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides discovered the young male carcass Thursday, according to CNN. According to Dan Parry, the administrator of a Luskentyre beach Facebook page which has a goal of keeping the local beaches completely litter free, the animal had a ball of plastic debris in it’s stomach weighing close to 220 pounds. This discovery was made by the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS). This organization specifically works on collecting data regarding stranded marine life animals around the Scotland area. They performed the autopsy and made the discovery of the ball of plastic debris in the sperm whales stomach. 

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“Among the debris, which seemingly came from both the land and fishing sector, were sections of net, plastic cups and tubing. [SMASS] could not find evidence that the waste had blocked the creature’s intestines, but it said the amount of debris could have played a part in its live stranding. This amount of plastic in the stomach is nonetheless horrific, must have compromised digestion, and serves to demonstrate, yet again, the hazards that marine litter and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life,” according to the Facebook Posts. 

The whale weighed close to 26 tons, making it impossible to move, so the autopsy was performed on the beach where the body already was. Afterwards, members of the coast guard and the council of the Western Isles all gathered to help bury the whales body on the beach. The burial was meant to keep the young whale close to the world it unfortunately never got the chance to fully explore, but at least it would lay there for the rest of eternity. 

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This isn’t the first time Europe in general has faced a beached whale epidemic due to plastic ingestion. Back in May, Sicily discovered one out of five different whale carcass’ that had washed to shore within a five month span. All the causes of death were due to plastic ingestion. Scientists often suggest that whales ingest plastic bags more than anything, because they often look exactly like squid, a common prey for certain whale species. 

“Debris in our oceans is everyone’s problem – the fishing industry need to do better, but equally, we all need to do more. Watching this today, makes me despair for the environment, totally falling apart around us,” said Parry, who added on Facebook that he himself goes and cleans the local beaches of litter and plastic every single day.

Parry isn’t incorrect in his call onto the fishing industry to change their ways, as a majority of litter in our ocean’s is stranded materials from industrial fishing boats. However, there is also a major call to action for everyone on the planet to reduce their toxic single use plastic product use, and recycle, to prevent further unnecessary marine life death.

 

Recycle

Individual Lifestyle Change’s Will Lead To Systematic Climate Action

Climate change has been an ongoing issue, and recently, there’s been heavy debate over how systematic change for improvement compares to individual lifestyle modifications. To generalize, real major systematic change has to occur if our planet has any chance of recovering from the extensive damage that has already been done to it. However, individual lifestyle adjustments don’t go unrecognized, and do actually make a difference when it comes to improving the Earth’s health. 

“It is really important that scientists, or other messengers who communicate with the public, model those behaviors that reduce carbon emissions to drive their point home. Our new research showed that the carbon footprints of those communicating the science not only affects their credibility, but also affects audience support for the public policies for which the communicators advocated,” Professor Elke Weber, associate director for education at Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment said in an interview.

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Basically, the general public is more likely to support systematic change in policies if those advocating for it are themselves making major changes in their own lifestyles. Especially the individuals in the public eye who are supporting this systematic change, such as Greta Thunberg who often discusses the ways she makes personal life adjustments to reduce her own carbon footprint. When someone like Thunberg is showing her following what she’s doing personally to improve the environment, the individuals who support her message are more likely to do the same, and thus speak up more and demand for more large scale adjustments to made from the government. Thunberg truly is the best example of this; during many of her speeches she advocates a message that demands individual change, while also preaching how if we want a real difference to be made, we need those in power to do something more than anything. 

The reason this comparison is so important is because many individuals know that in order for the planet to truly recover, systematic change is the only real answer, so they just assume that their own personal lifestyle choices don’t matter either way. This couldn’t be any more false, every person who actively is trying to reduce their carbon footprint makes a real impact. While that impact may only go as far as your community, it still matters. Imagine if everyone in your small town cut out single-use plastic products, or rode public transportation every other day instead of driving, the real world results of that don’t go unnoticed!

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“Advocates for energy conservation and for policies that reduce carbon emissions must expect ad hominem arguments based on their own energy use. Such arguments are probably best countered personally, by leading the way and demonstrating how to act in concordance with one’s own beliefs and recommendations, and by being an exemplar others can follow, rather than relying primarily on communicating scientific facts about global warming and its risks,” reports Forbes Magazine. 

Systematically, many changes need to occur. We need direct and clear policies that actively work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy, ban toxic and wasteful materials such as single-use plastic, regulate human population increases, and makes public transportation more reliable, safe and accessible to all. These are major steps that need to be taken and they only scratch the surface of the global change that needs to occur in order for the planet to truly survive. However, if individuals are witnessing famous advocates integrating these own policies into their own lives, they’re most likely to do so as well. Forbes reports that out of a survey of 3,600 people, all of them would support at least one of the systematic changes listed above, so imagine the impact if that group just decided to establish those changes into their own lifestyles; the planet would surely thank them.

Cleaning up Plastic

Plastic Bank Is Cleaning Up The Planet Of All Plastic, One Country At A Time

When it comes to climate change, one of the biggest man-made contributions lies in our single-use plastic consumption. Plastic floods our oceans, litters our forests, and distributes micro plastic pieces throughout our bodies. Efforts are always increasing to make the planet more green, and less artificial, now, Plastic Bank, a relatively new “social enterprise” based in Canada, is monetizing recycling plastic to benefit the planet, and the people in more underdeveloped areas of the world in which plastic creates the most issues. 

According to CNN, the overall goal of Plastic Bank, is to motivate individuals in underdeveloped areas of the world to collect and recycle plastic products in exchange for cash, goods, and services such as food, clean water resources, and even tuition for children struggling to afford education. 

“After collection, plastic is weighed, sorted, chipped, melted into pellets and sold on as ‘raw material feedstock’ to be manufactured into everything from bottles for cleaning products to clothing. I saw an abundance; I saw an opportunity. We inherently reveal the value in this material,” CEO David Katz told an audience at the Sustainable Brands Oceans conference in Porto, Portugal. 

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Katz went on to explain that the company began back in 2013, and started in one of the poorest countries on the planet, Haiti. Now, there’s over 2,000 individuals working for Plastic Bank in the country and all those individuals are, on average, 63% above the poverty line thanks to income they’ve made recycling! The business is able to pay its workers through an app based system, which has also helped a lot of those individuals open their first bank account, (CNN). 

Plastic Bank has reported on their website that since 2013, the company has expanded into the Philippines, Indonesia, and most recently Brazil. Through their efforts and now multiple collaborations with major corporations such as S.C. Johnson, they’ve recycled over 13 million pounds of plastic! The company also reported that in 2020 they plan to expand into parts of Egypt, Colombia, and Vietnam. Egypt and Vietnam have been on the Bank’s radar for quite some time, both the Nile River in Egypt, and the Mekong River in Vietnam are responsible for up to 90% of plastic debris travelling into the planets seas, (CNN). 

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While the business is constantly growing and helping reduce the massive amounts of plastic littering our natural world, there needs to be more done on the opposite end, in terms of plastic manufacturing and distribution. In order to truly clean up the planet and help make a real major difference, more plastic alternatives need to be introduced and mass produced. Single-use plastic is one of the number one culprits in terms of pollution, general society can help by switching to more paper-based, or any other biodegradable alternative for those single use products.  

“If we add large streams of other bio-materials … and we eliminate the value of what’s already on the planet [single use plastic], and nobody goes to collect any of it, and no one wants to trade it, then what? An increase in plastic alternatives has to occur while not interrupting or degrading the value of the plastic that’s already on the planet. What we need to do is get away from traditional capitalism where shareholders benefit first. Companies that stand forward to repair the damage will win. The regeneration economy is emerging,” Katz discussed at the conference

At the end of the day, Katz says his company’s mission is clear, we know the world has all the resources, and means to end excessive plastic use and production, and increase much greener options while remaining economically stable. It’s about everyone coming together and agreeing upon a plan to help save our planet and all the individuals habituating it.

Scientist

11,000 Scientists Unite In Declaration Of Climate Emergency

Over 11,000 scientists have come together from across the globe in a united effort to declare a climate emergency, and have warned of the potential for ‘untold suffering’ that may come if we continue to ignore the state of our planet.

The warning was issued by scientists from the University of Sydney, Australia, Oregon State University and Tufts University in the US and the University of Cape Town in South Africa, backed up by over 11,000 signatories from 153 countries.

With thousands of scientists agreeing on the fact that planet Earth is facing destruction, it is vital that the problem is addressed. 2019 has been the year of climate change awareness with Extinction Rebellion protests sweeping the country and a climate emergency being declared. As more and more people are galvanised by climate action, questions are being asked concerning what can be done. Who is responsible and what can we do ourselves to prevent climate change becoming irreversible?

By now we all know how damaging plastic can be for the environment. In fact, it is the number one cause of beach and ocean pollution, killing marine life, plants and ecosystems. Plastic is an epidemic which must be defeated in order to tackle climate change head on in order to save thousands of species and habitats. The biggest culprit is microplastics which are pieces of plastics less than five millimeters in length commonly found in drinking supplies, bottled water, oceans, lakes and rivers. Whilst also found in the human body, they are less harmful to us than they are to oceans and other water sources as they damage the marine ecosystems. The problem is intensifying as fishing and shipping industries spread.

Poorly regulated incineration of plastic waste not only negatively impacts marine ecosystems, but also human health. In 2019 alone, scientists have estimated that the production and incineration of plastic will release more than 850 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; by 2050 it is estimated this could rise to 2.8 billion tonnes. It has been suggested that a system should be implemented to fine polluters for their impact of their produce on the environment, forcing corporations to be responsible for their impact on climate change.

Whilst it is important that corporations cut down on their plastic use, there are simple ways you can help from home to decrease the global demand for plastic. In England, 35 million water bottles are used every day with over half ending up in landfills, putting more microplastics in the environment. If everyone cut down their use of single use plastic water bottles by investing in a good reusable bottle, the demand for single use plastics will decrease. Other ways to help easily at home include using reusable shopping bags, ditching face wipes and opting for a wooden toothbrush.

Greenhouses gases are also a major culprit, trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing drastic habitat changes to those in colder climates. Greenhouses gases are caused by burning fossil fuels; emitting coal, natural gas and oil; decaying waste in landfills and the process of agricultural and industrial activities. Gases remain in the atmosphere from a few years to thousands of years, causing lasting damage to ecosystems and human health. Greenhouse gases essentially thicken the Earth’s blanket, trapping heat inside.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the average temperature globally has risen by around 1°C, a rapid change as previous temperature changes are thought of have happened over much longer periods of time. The ten hottest years in the UK since 1884 have all happened in the last 17 years whilst globally the 20 warmest years on record have all occurred in the past 22 years.

In order to avoid further dramatic increases to the average surface temperature of planet Earth, it is vital that greenhouse gas emissions are cut and renewable energy sources are implemented. Greenhouse gasses can also be reduced by better land practices, cutting carbon dioxide levels in the air. An easy way to do this would be to reduce beef farming which has a significantly high impact on greenhouse gas emissions globally.

It is estimated that if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the same rate, we could see the average global temperature rise by more than 4°C by 2100. The drastic consequences arising from this would change planet Earth forever. For example, the extinction risk of global warming is formidable with thousands of species thought to be at risk as a result.

Making simple changes at home, while helpful, is unlikely to help stop climate change becoming irreversible. Massive changes are required on the part of global corporations and governments to address the situation that threatens to destroy our only home.

Ice Cream

Owner Of Ben & Jerry’s and Dove Pledge To Be Plastic Free By 2025

Unilever, the parent brand that’s responsible for making Ben & Jerry’s and Dove products, is taking action to help combat climate change, and make their brand a little greener. The company announced this week that they’re pledging to reduce their annual plastic use by half within the next coming years. 

In 2018, the company used around 772,000 tons of plastic, according to CNN, and by 2025 they plan to use no more than 386,000 tons. The company plans on accomplishing this massive goal by incorporating more reusable and refillable packaging into their products, and taking advantage of recycled materials to use as well. Additionally, they hope to adopt more “naked” packaging, meaning unwrapped without any plastic at all. Incorporating these new methods and transitioning from their current production system to adapt to this more Eco-friendly one will take time, hence the 2025 estimation. 

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“There is a lot of plastic pollution in the environment, and the fact of the matter is too much of it carries our name. This problem demands a fundamental rethink in our company’s approach to packaging and products. It requires us to introduce new and innovative materials, and scale up new business models, like reuse and refill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity,” Unilever CEO Alan Jope said in a statement. 

According to CNN, Unilever’s products are used in over 190 countries by 2.5 billion people daily! Think of the environmental impact it would have if all those people began using products made from recycled materials with little to no waste. This move is part of the company’s ongoing effort to make their products more green, they’ve already began selling ice cream bars wrapped in non-plastic packaging, and has transitioned a lot of their cleaning products to be distributed in reusable bottles so customers can buy the cleaning solutions in bulk, and refill their containers. Unilever is also one of the first major companies to become a part of a service known as Loop, that is taking the green product market by storm. 

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“Loop is a new way to shop, offering about 300 items — from Tide detergent to Pantene shampoo, Häagen-Dazs ice cream to Crest mouthwash — all in reusable packaging. After using the products, customers put the empty containers in a Loop tote on their doorstep. The containers are then picked up by a delivery service, cleaned and refilled, and shipped out to consumers again. In other words, it’s the 21st century milk man — here to save the world from single-use plastics,” according to CNN

Consumers and administrators of Unilever alike have all recently begun to notice how much single-use plastic is being used worldwide, and how much it’s contributing to the deterioration of our planet. Plastic is projected to outnumber fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, according to CNN, and the plastic that doesn’t end up in the ocean piles up in landfills, emitting greenhouse gases and further contributing to climate change. So, in an effort to combat that prediction Unilever has committed to making all the plastic it uses for its products completely reusable, refillable, recyclable, and compostable by 2025. It hopes that all products used with recycled plastic will make up about 25% of its inventories. To accomplish that 25%, Unilever plans on collecting and processing more plastic that they can recycle and reuse. The company plans on investing more in waste collection processes and expanding the amount of products it distributes through the Loop program. Hopefully more companies take note of Unilever’s massive contribution to the environment with this set plan, and join them on the journey to save our planet.

Reusable Straws

Reusable Straws Are Just A Baby Step To Actually Resolving Climate Change

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is “calling the whole thing a sideshow meant to distract from the larger issue of overhauling the energy industry and forcing corporations to reduce emissions.”